The National Corridors Initiative Logo

Oct 3, 2016
Vol. 16 No. 40

Copyright © 2016
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 16th Newsletter Year

 Destination:Freedom 

A Weekly North American Transportation Update For Transportation
Advocates, Professionals, Journalists, And Elected Or Appointed Officials,
At All Levels Of Government.

Publisher
James P. RePass, Sr.
Editor
Molly N. McKay
Foreign Editor
David Beale
Contributing Editor
David Peter Alan
Managing Editor / Webmaster
Dennis Kirkpatrick
 
 

Facebook Logo

Twitter Logo

 
Green Energy Badge
Green Energy Badge

IN THIS EDITION...   In This Edition...

  News Items …
NJT Accident In Hoboken
  Commentary …
It Took A Life, But New Jersey’s 2nd Lowest-In-
   The-Nation Gas Tax Will Increase At Last
After Hoboken Train Crash, New Jersey Finally
   Raises Gas Tax
  Advocacy Lines …
Advocates Urge MBTA To Offer Late-Night
   Bus Service
  Transit Lines …
Getting to Hoboken Without the Train:
   A Trip Report
Honolulu Transit Agency Hosts Public Viewing
   Of First Train
MBTA Wachusett Commuter Rail Station
   In Fitchburg, MA Opens
Are The Odds Of Daily Rail Service From Cincinnati
   To Chicago, Improving?
  Funding Lines …
New Deadline Set For $177 Million Passenger
   Rail Grant
Saturday SunRail Service In Florida Could
   Become Reality
 
  Builders Lines …
Talgo Will Return To Milwaukee To Refurbish
   Trains For Los Angeles
Siemens To Supply 122 LRVs To Sound Transit
In Joint Venture, Skanska Books $307.3 Million To
   Build Light Rail In San Diego, CA.
  Selected Rail Stocks …
  Political Lines …
After New York Attack, Congress Wants TSA To
   Secure Amtrak, Buses
  Maintenance Lines …
PANYNJ OKs $400 Million In PATH Tunnel Repairs
  Across The Pond …
Bombardier To Supply Up To 300 EMUs to ÖBB
ÖBB Reveals Nightjet Brand For Overnight Trains
  To The North …
GO Transit To Give $100 Presto Credit
   To Each Passenger Stuck On Train
  Publication Notes …


 
NEWS ITEMS... News Items...  

On Friday, September 30, 2016, we released a special extra edition of Destination: Freedom on the New Jersey Transit crash at Hoboken Station.  The edition included coverage by contributing editor, David Peter Alan, and an editorial by publisher James P. RePass.

We invite readers to view that edition here:
http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df4/df09302016.shtml


Return To Index
 
COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

It Took A Life, But New Jersey’s
2nd Lowest-In-The-Nation Gas Tax
Will Increase At Last

By James P. RePass
CEO, National Corridors Initiative
Publisher, Destination Freedom

It took a terrible accident to get them to finally agree, but this past Thursday’s terrible commuter rail crash in New Jersey ---- which injured scores, and tragically took the life a young New Jersey mother who had the bad fortune to be on a platform just as NJT 1614 barreled into it --- has brought together Republican Governor Chris Christie and the state legislature’s Democratic leadership in a bi-partisan agreement to raise New Jersey’s second-lowest-in-the-nation gas tax by 23 cents, from 14 cents to 37 cents, more in line with state gas taxes in the heavily congested Northeastern United States

While the specific cause of Thursday’s accident, where a New Jersey Transit commuter rail train entered the station area platform tracks without slowing down, crashing into concourse platforms containing pedestrians, remains unknown, the fact is that New Jersey transportation systems have languished for years with insufficient infrastructure funding that can only make existing bridge, rail, and ferry service less functional and more dangerous than it has to be.

The next bi-partisan step should be for the Congress, and the President, to get together to raise the Federal gas tax, fixed at 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline, and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel since 1993, which is a joke among first-world industrial powers as a means of raising infrastructure funds, where the tax per gallon is in dollars, not pennies. And, like Europe, we need to create a capital and operating cost trust find for passenger rail --- Amtrak, and commuter rail --- from a part of that revenue base.

Calling for bi-partisan action during an election year, and after a decade of divisive ideological warfare, may seem odd, but stranger things have happened. Why not give it a try?

Editor Note:  The Gothamist carried this item on the gas tax increase.

After Hoboken Train Crash, New Jersey
Finally Raises Gas Tax

By David Colon
The Gothamist

Even before [last] Wednesday’s fatal New Jersey Transit crash in Hoboken, the New Jersey Transit authority was seen as underfunded and leaderless. Incidentally, New Jersey’s state infrastructure fund was supported by the state’s gas tax, which hadn’t been raised since 1988. The fund ran out of money this summer, and after a stalemate over whether or not to raise the state gas tax, Governor Chris Christie (R) and Democratic leaders finally announced a compromise that will increase the tax and fund the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.

The deal on the gas tax was announced yesterday afternoon, just two days after the train crash that left one person dead and more than 100 people injured. The tax will increase by 23 cents and will kick in sometime in early October. With the hike, taxes on gas in New Jersey will rise to 37.5 cents per gallon, which is still lower than the gas tax in New York (42.64 cents per gallon) and Pennsylvania (50.4 cents per gallon), a fact NJ State Senate president Stephen Sweeney was sure to mention to NJ.com. The good news is, this means you can still stop in New Jersey to fill up your tank on the way back from a road trip in order to save a few bucks.

The gas tax increase will fund the state’s Transportation Trust Fund with either $16 billion or $32 billion over eight years. Since he’s still a Republican and a Trump surrogate, though, Governor Christie promised the gas tax hike will be the only tax hike he’ll authorize. The increase also came with a series of tax cuts, including the elimination of the state estate tax a decrease in the state sales tax.

Found at:
http://gothamist.com/2016/10/01/after_hoboken_train_crash_new_jerse.php


Return To Index

ADVOCACY LINES... Advocacy Lines...  

Advocates Urge MBTA To Offer
Late-Night Bus Service

By Nicole Dungca
Boston Globe

A transit advocacy group is calling on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to run eight overnight bus routes in the Boston area to compensate for the loss of late-night rail and bus service earlier this year.

Transit Matters, which lobbies for improved public transportation, is backing an estimated $3.5 million plan to run overnight buses every 75 minutes. The expanded service would cater to early- and late-shift workers in the hospitality and health care industries.

“This latest proposal similarly addresses not the desire, but the need of so many businesses and workers across the city,” Michelle Wu, president of the Boston City Council, said Monday at the weekly meeting of the MBTA’s fiscal control board.

Transit Matters had brought forward a similar proposal earlier this year. While MBTA officials appeared more open to the latest plan, they still voiced some reservations.

Brian Kane, the MBTA’s director of operations analysis, said the agency must gather more information, such as whether people would be willing to wait 75 minutes for a bus, whether the MBTA could use smaller buses, and what the service should cost.

“No one knows what the current need for overnight transportation services is,” he said.

Kane said the agency will work with Boston officials to gauge demand for overnight service. Chris Osgood, Boston’s chief of streets, told the MBTA board that Boston would support expanding hours to help “third-shift” workers.

The proposed routes are combinations of popular bus lines in the region, and would take advantage of several early morning bus routes the MBTA already provides.

ImageFile Map:  Transit Matters

Click On This Image To View A Full-Sized Version Of The Map

Transit Matters estimated that the MBTA could run the expanded service with 10 to 15 extra buses, and that it could provide nearly 420,000 rides per year. MBTA officials said the total would be closer to 200,200 rides a year.

The plan would represent another gamble on late-night service, which has failed twice in the past 15 years. The MBTA’s fiscal control board eliminated weekend late-night service in March after concluding the ridership didn’t justify the $14.4 million cost.

But those affiliated with Transit Matters, including former Massachusetts transportation secretary James Aloisi, say the $3.5 million proposal is more cost-effective because it relies solely on buses, incorporates existing routes, and can reach more workers running throughout the week.

“We’re not explicitly asking for an expansion, but a necessary service that was cut before its time,” said Marc Ebuńa, a leader of Transit Matters.

The agency’s budget woes, however, may stand in the way. Paul Regan, executive director of the MBTA Advisory Board, told the fiscal control board that it must focus on improving its existing routes.

“There may well be a time when the T can focus on service expansion, large and small,” he said. “But it’s not now.”

Stephanie Pollack, the state’s transportation secretary, also said that the agency would need to talk to neighbors in affected areas to determine their support. “There are clearly people who do not want people driving down their streets at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday,” she said.

The MBTA also announced Monday that beginning Nov. 21, riders will face nearly 100 changes to weekday commuter rail schedules, which had already been changed in May. Officials will gather input on another eight changes before implementing them.

MBTA officials said about 25 of the changes had been announced, and another 38 are related to construction and expanding service, including adding trains to a new station in Fitchburg. Overall, the changes affect about 20 percent of weekday trains.

The board also addressed protests from the Service Employees Union International district that represents the MBTA’s janitors. The two companies that employ the janitors recently laid off about 50 janitors and cut hours for another 83, the union said.

Some janitors said their schedules were cut by a single hour so they didn’t qualify for health benefits. Janitors could go on strike as soon as Friday, the group said.

Brian Lang, a fiscal board member and the president of a local union that represents food and hospitality workers, said he found it “unconscionable” for companies to make hourly cuts to eliminate health benefits. He called for an investigation and suggested the MBTA could rebid the janitors’ contract if the allegations are true.

Found at:
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/09/26/could-mbta-run-overnight-bus-routes-some-advocates-say-yes/1Wo9phLrioBL5h29R9lCJO/story.html

More on Transit Matters recommendations can be found here:
http://action.transitmatters.info/initiative-nightbus


Return To Index
TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Getting to Hoboken Without the Train:
A Trip Report

By David Peter Alan

Under normal circumstances, it is easy for this writer to travel between home in South Orange, New Jersey and the historic Hoboken Terminal.  The trip takes slightly longer than 30 minutes each way, and there is essentially hourly service on weekdays, along with the usual frequent service during peak-commuting hours.  Until 2008, mid-day trains ran to Hoboken every half-hour.  There was once hourly service on week-ends, too, but that was taken away in 2006.  Today, there is a train only every two hours, and a week-end ride to Hoboken requires a change of trains at Broad Street Station in Newark.

These are not normal times for Hoboken Terminal, though.  Last Thursday morning, a train coming from the Pascack Valley Line approached the historic stub-end terminal at a high rate of speed, jumped the cement bumper block, and came to a stop only after it ran up against the terminal head house. The 109-year-old building appears to be intact, and a structural evaluation will determine how much damage it has suffered.  The same cannot be said of the roof of the train shed.  The front car of the train knocked over some posts that provided support for the roof, and part of it collapsed.  So, now, the Hoboken Terminal looks like a dark and eerie (or is that Erie) ghost from the past, despite the activity around it.

New Jersey Transit (NJT) suspended all rail service at Hoboken soon after the accident on Thursday, although the privately-owned ferries continued to operate from slips behind the terminal building.  Port-Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) trains to New York, which operate from an underground station, came back late Thursday afternoon for the commuting peak.  

On Thursday, buses accommodated passengers at Hoboken City Hall, three blocks from the terminal.  By Friday, the bus lanes in front of the terminal were back in operation.  Service was suspended on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, but it was also running to and from Hoboken again on Friday.  The historic station building is a different matter.  It remained dark and sullen, and will be for some time. Dozens of police guarded it, keeping everyone out and making sure that nobody took any pictures.  

Nobody knows exactly when the terminal or the trains that go there will come back.  Until investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) can reach the ill-fated train, they cannot inspect it or recover information they need.   Before they can get there safely, it will be necessary to remove at least some of the debris from the portion of the roof that collapsed.  Before the station can be restored to service, all of it must be removed, and the tracks and power wires must be inspected and repaired.

NJT managed to provide service at the other stations on all lines that normally go to Hoboken on Friday.  It seemed to be a difficult task for everybody, and that includes the riders.  Trains on the Pascack Valley and Main-Bergen Lines, including trains to and from Port Jervis, turned at Secaucus. Montclair-Boonton trains turned on the center track at Broad Street Station in Newark.  Gladstone trains, which normally originate and terminate at Hoboken on weekdays, operated as a shuttle west of Summit, as they normally do on week-ends.  There was essentially no skip-stop running, either.  Trains on the Morris & Essex (M&E) and other lines that normally run express ran as all-stops locals on Friday, which meant that it took riders longer to get to their destinations.

There were other problems, too.  The departure boards at Broad Street Station in Newark were not changed to reflect the special schedule in effect on Friday, so they displayed departure times for trains that would never come.

Nonetheless, it was still possible to get to Hoboken.  How difficult would the trip be?  This writer took the trip on Friday afternoon to find out.  There is no exact comparison, because trains that normally go to Hoboken were not running.  Therefore, it was necessary to get to Hoboken another way.

Trains that go to Hoboken on the M&E Line do not stop at Secaucus; only trains that go to Penn Station, New York do.  Secaucus is east of the junction where the Penn Station and Hoboken lines split, so the only way to get to Hoboken was to take a train bound for New York.  Most M&E trains do not stop at Secaucus during peak-commuting hours, and the train scheduled to leave South Orange at 3:33 was the last one-seat-ride train that was scheduled to make the Secaucus stop.  It arrived at South Orange at 3:35 and at Secaucus at 4:08, rather than the advertised time of 3:57.

There are bus bays at Secaucus, and special shuttle buses used them.  On Thursday, those buses went directly to Hoboken.  On Friday, they used another route: to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, a station on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line, which was again operating to Hoboken.  The buses were highway cruisers owned by Coach USA, and the comfortable seats came in handy, given the schedule.  The bus did not leave Secaucus until 4:25, and did not arrive at the light rail station until 4:52, just in time to miss the car to Hoboken.  The next one left at 5:04 and finally arrived in Hoboken at 5:20, making a total travel time from South Orange to Hoboken of one hour and 45 minutes.  On the normal schedule, a local train makes the trip directly from South Orange to Hoboken in 34 minutes.

The concourse and plaza of the Hoboken Terminal building were crowded with police vehicles, trucks and construction equipment.  The entire perimeter of the building was closed off.  Riders who arrived on the light rail had to walk to the back of the building and circle behind it to reach the street.  It was raining, and Hoboken was not exhibiting the bustling activity for which it has recently become famous.  There was no reason to explore Hoboken.  The rain was dampening the city’s spirits even further, after the accident on Thursday had already cast a pall over the city.

The trip from Secaucus to Hoboken on the shuttle bus and light rail took 55 minutes, plus a 17-minute wait for the bus to leave, for a total of 72 minutes.  When trains run between those two points, they are scheduled to take ten minutes.  So the alternative to such a long travel time was the bus; or so it seemed at the time.  The #126 bus between Hoboken and the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) in Manhattan is supposed to run frequently.  It did not live up to that supposition on Friday.  This writer  arrived at the bus lanes at 5:33, just in time to miss the bus.  The next one did not leave until 5:55, and it was very crowded.  So was the Lincoln Tunnel, so the bus did not get to PABT until 6:40.  

It would have been impossible to walk to Penn Station and catch the 6:49 train, and the one after that was not scheduled to leave until 7:18.  There was a #107 bus leaving for South Orange at 6:45, though.  Due to the Byzantine construction of the PABT, it is very difficult to get from one bus platform to another.  This writer had five minutes to make the transfer, and made it with only seconds to spare.  The #107 bus finally arrived in South Orange at 7:56; eighteen minutes behind schedule and four minutes ahead of the 7:18 train.  The total trip time by bus was two hours and one minute; sixteen minutes longer than the three-seat combination of train, bus and light rail that was required to get to Hoboken from South Orange and 87 minutes longer than the trip is scheduled to take when trains are running.

Yes, even with the station closed, you can still get to Hoboken.  But it certainly will not be easy.


Return To Index
 

Honolulu Transit Agency Hosts
Public Viewing Of First Train

From Progressive Railroading

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) last week held the first public viewing of one of its new trains.

Visitors toured the driverless train, which is the first of its kind in the United States, HART officials said in a press release. Locals also took brief entry tours of the agency’s rail operations center in Pearl City, Hawaii.

Image

Photo: Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation

HART’s first train arrived in Oahu in May

HART staff and volunteers were on hand to answer questions about the agency’s plan to build a 20-mile passenger-rail system in Honolulu. Construction on the system is underway, with the first phase slated to open in late 2020. The entire system will open in 2025, according to HART’s website.

HART and Move Oahu Forward, a non-partisan coalition of Hawaii business and community leaders, coordinated yesterday’s event.


From an item at:
http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/Honolulu-transit-agency-hosts-public-viewing-of-first-train--49587


Return To Index
 

MBTA Wachusett Commuter Rail Station
In Fitchburg, MA Opens

From A MassDOT/MBTA Press Release
And DF Staff

The new Wachusett Commuter Rail Station on the Fitchburg Line opened on Friday, September 30, to a limited number of trains. This partial opening will provide limited train service, allowing final elements of the station’s construction to be completed.  Full service begins in November.

The station is located at 55 Authority Drive in Fitchburg. Beginning Friday, there will be two inbound and two outbound trains to Wachusett. There are no other changes to the rest of the Fitchburg Line schedule.

Inbound:

Outbound:

The Wachusett Extension Project extends the Fitchburg Line commuter rail service five miles west to a new Wachusett station in West Fitchburg near Route 2 at Route 31.  The new station is fully accessible and includes parking for 360 automobiles.  The project also includes the rehabilitation of the track, signals, and bridges on the existing PanAm Southern freight rail line along with construction of a new MBTA train layover facility in Westminster, Massachusetts.

The $93 million project was funded, in part, by a $59.2 million federal ARRA-TIGER Grant.

More information about the project can be found at:   http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/t_projects/default.asp?id=25985.


Return To Index
 

Are The Odds Of Daily Rail Service
From Cincinnati To Chicago, Improving?

By Chris Wetterich
Cincinnati Business Courier

Dozens of representatives of communities along the Amtrak Cardinal line, which runs from New York to Chicago, gathered at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce’s headquarters last week to start building a coalition to bring daily service to the line.

Rail advocates and Amtrak officials outlined the hurdles and potential opportunities as the nation’s passenger rail service grows in ridership and revenue and coal traffic on the freight route the Cardinal runs on decreases. Amtrak ridership overall is up 47 percent since 2000 and subsidies to it have been cut in half since 2004. But train travel in America badly lags both the speed and reliability present in Europe and Asia.

“We’ve been building towards an event like this for a very long time. If you truly want to make this train better, you’ve got to run it seven days a week,” said Charlie Monte Verde, senior government affairs specialist for Amtrak. “We’re pitching this as a modern economic engine. We’re not trying to trade on the ghosts of the past.”

The chamber’s participation and host of the event indicates the route’s potential goes beyond the backing of rail enthusiasts, those willing to endure long but scenic trips to get to where they’re going, to a resource that could better connect Cincinnati to the rest of the Midwest.

“This is a piece of the puzzle for the chamber’s transportation strategy of connecting people to jobs,” said Jason Kershner, the chamber’s vice president for government relations. “We’ve really put our stake in the ground that transportation is important to business.”

The Cardinal arrives at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal at 1:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. three days a week and local rail advocacy group All Aboard Ohio and some local elected officials have been considering ways to boost service for several years. The total trip time from New York to Chicago takes 26 hours and 30 minutes, although the train often does not run on time.

“We’re not trying to corner the market on (trips from) New York to Chicago,” said Morrell Savoy, Amtrak’s deputy general manager for its long distance service. “The key is providing connectivity to communities between those two population centers.”

Rail advocates and Amtrak are emboldened now because funding for Amtrak has been included in the federal surface transportation legislation, the first time that has occurred since Amtrak was formed in 1971.

The first hurdle is to build a coalition of communities along the route who want better service, advocates and Amtrak officials said. The cost is unknown. It could be minimal or it could require capital improvements to the privately owned rail infrastructure along the route, Monte Verde said. Nearly 98 percent of Amtrak’s service runs along private railroads.

Once the capital needs are met, Amtrak could ask for an appropriation from Congress or attempt to build seven-day-a-week service into its budget somehow. Officials declined to discuss potential costs.

“We think there is the space out there to make this train daily, but the first real step is to work with the railroads to see what their traffic is like,” Monte Verde said.

Amtrak officials believe ridership on the route will improve with more service because trains become more reliable the more they run. If Cincinnati residents could catch the train more often than three days a week, it could whet the region’s appetite for more rail service, Monte Verde said.

“A daily Cardinal is a starting point,” he added. “From there, you build the kind of awareness you need to have a discussion a Cincinnati-Indianapolis-Chicago short corridor service.”

Image

The Cardinal Route

Image via BizJournal.Com

Advocates emphasized that progress will be incremental, so Cincinnati’s middle-of-the-night departure times won’t immediately change if the Cardinal does run seven days a week.

“It’s a step forward, and it’s going to be a step we build upon,” said Derek Bauman, the southwest Ohio chair of rail advocacy group All Aboard Ohio, which took a lead role in organizing the conference.

About the Cardinal line

The Cardinal was briefly cancelled in the early 1980s only to be resuscitated by U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, the late West Virginia Democrat, through legislation with the provision that it only run three times per week. The Cardinal route has eight stops in the remote Mountaineer State, more than any other state.

Improving the Cardinal.

The plan includes:

From an item at:
http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2016/09/23/are-the-odds-of-daily-rail-service-from.html


Return To Index
FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

New Deadline Set For $177 Million
Passenger Rail Grant

By Anthony Watt
Dispatch-Argus-Qconline.Com

Illinois has a new deadline for an agreement with the federal government designed to provide $177 million for a planned passenger rail line between Moline and Chicago.

The long-planned project was at risk of losing the federal money earlier this year because state officials had to confirm they would provide matching funds by June 30. The administration of Gov. Pat Quinn had committed about $45 million for the project, but Gov. Bruce Rauner put the project under review after taking office and, at that time, a timeline for the review process was not provided.

With a few days left to go, the Illinois Department of Transportation told Federal Railroad Administration that the state was proceeding with the project. At that time, the state still had to get a new deadline for use of the money.

That deadline has been set at Sept. 30, 2017, according to a news release issued Thursday by the office of U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline.

Moline officials have been preparing for the yet-to-be-established passenger rail service by working with MetroLINK and private developer Moline Promenade Investors/Amin Group to build “The Q,” the Quad Cities Multi-Modal passenger rail station and business development.

The project will use the old O’Rourke building as its core. The downtown site is just south of MetroLINK’s Centre Station. The building’s design incorporates the train station with a 95-room Westin Element Hotel, retail space, a fitness center and a park.

Ray Forsythe, Moline’s city planning and development director, has said The Q is scheduled to be done by May 2017, but could be completed as early as March or April.

Found at:
http://www.qconline.com/news/local/new-deadline-set-for-million-passenger-rail-grant/article_169c7f52-94db-57d7-b029-573c3ac2ba2d.html


Return To Index
 

Public Private Partnerships


Saturday SunRail Service In Florida
Could Become Reality

From WFTV News

SunRail wants private businesses to help test out Saturday service. The agency is collecting donations for a new pilot program.

Channel 9’s Michael Lopardi found out the extra train could run in about two weeks.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told Eyewitness News the goal is to capitalize on all the events scheduled for downtown in the next few months.

“Events would probably be a main motivator to take the train on Saturday, I think at least,” SunRail rider Steven Lopez said.

Dyer sent a letter to local businesses asking for donations between $25 and $25,000 to pay for the expanded service.

“Saturday seems to be one of those types of service that seems like it would make a lot of sense especially during the fall time frame,” Dyer said.

The mayor said Saturday service could cost up to $14,000 each day and riders would have to pay to board. Eyewitness News asked the mayor why he’s asking businesses for donations.

“The public funding is only for commuter operation Monday through Friday. Any additional service has to be paid for in some fashion because the fare box doesn’t do that,” Dyer said.

SunRail transported roughly 3,500 riders’ downtown on a Sunday in June for the vigil following the Pulse mass shooting attack. That’s comparable to what the train carries on most weekdays.

“I know some people who would take advantage of like, ‘Hey, I get to do extra work on Saturday,’ but not really sure how many people would be doing that,” Lopez said.

SunRail is also hoping to lure new riders and turn them into regulars.

Saturday service would run from noon to midnight and if the pilot program takes off.

From a story at:
http://www.wftv.com/news/local/saturday-sunrail-service-could-become-a-reality/450663185


Return To Index
BUILDERS LINES... Builders Lines...  

Talgo Will Return To Milwaukee To
Refurbish Trains For Los Angeles

By Sean Ryan
Milwaukee Business Journal

Train manufacturer Talgo Inc. will return to Milwaukee’s Century City Business Park to refurbish trains under a $73 million contract with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority.

It marks a return for the Spanish train manufacturer, which left Milwaukee in spring 2014 after a lengthy battle with state officials over canceled contracts to manufacture and maintain trains. Talgo will move back into the building it formerly leased from the city of Milwaukee in the Century City Business Park.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced the move during his budget speech on Monday.

“This is more than a positive Milwaukee business story,” Barrett said. “It’s more than simply good news for the dozens of workers who will be rebuilding and refurbishing train cars. This is an affirmation of Century City as a location for manufacturing.”

The contract with Los Angeles Metro covers the refurbishment of 38 vehicles, with the potential to add 36 more in the future, according to an LA Metro report. Based in Seattle, Talgo would do the overhaul work in Milwaukee and also relocate its global engineering resources to the city for the project, according to the report.

The contract is valued at $72.9 million. Of that, $2.2 million would be done with commitments to hire workers from the Los Angeles area.

The length of the contract is 46 months to complete work on all 74 vehicles. The Los Angeles Metro board of directors approved the contract Sept. 22.

Milwaukee’s relationship with Talgo stretches back to 2010, when city officials agreed to renovate a vacant building in the Century City business park for Talgo to use for train manufacturing operations. Those trains were to be built under a contract with the state of Wisconsin.

Talgo (BME: TLGO) built two trains for Wisconsin and two for Oregon in the facility. It ran out of work there after Wisconsin canceled its order for two trains to run on the never-built high-speed rail service between Milwaukee and Madison. The company officially moved out in 2014 after the Wisconsin officials refused a contract for Talgo to maintain the two trains it built for the state.

After a lengthy dispute, Tango and the state of Wisconsin settled, and the manufacturer got to keep the two trains it built for the state of Wisconsin, and receive a $9.75 million payment.

“The Talgo saga has its share of disappointment,” Barrett said. “Shortly after Gov. (Scott) Walker was first elected, the state of Wisconsin broke its contract with Talgo — leaving state taxpayers with nothing — except for a bill for about $40- to $50-million. As hard as the governor worked to kill this project, we worked even harder to build a solid relationship with the company. And that paid off.”

Talgo officials declined comment because the contract, although approved by Los Angeles Metro’s board, has not been officially awarded.

Milwaukee Ald. Khalif Rainey issued a statement about Talgo’s return, saying it means jobs for local residents and bodes well for the redevelopment of the Century City property. The land formerly was a manufacturing plant for Tower Automotive and A.O. Smith Corp., but it now belongs to the city.

“For too long, the site has been a sad reminder of jobs that left town and lives that were shattered by the departure of A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive,” Rainey said. “But with extensive work, environmental remediation and a $35 million investment by the city, the 84-acre site has been redeveloped as an attractive business park that could someday feature up to 900 jobs.”

Benson Industries currently operations in part of the same building Talgo will move into. Benson is making glass curtain walls for the exterior of Northwestern Mutual’s downtown office tower there.

From a story at:
http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/blog/real_estate/2016/09/talgo-will-return-to-milwaukee-to-refurbish-trains.html?ana=bbg


Return To Index
 

Siemens To Supply 122 LRVs To Sound Transit

From Railway Gazette

Seattle area transport authority Sound Transit announced on September 22 that it had selected Siemens to supply 122 light rail vehicles (LRV) under a contract worth $554m.

To be built at Siemens’ Sacramento (CA) plant, the first vehicles are due to arrive in Seattle (WA) in 2019, in time for the opening of the Northgate extension two years later. The LRVs will have more capacity than Sound Transit’s existing fleet, more under-seat luggage storage and vertical storage for four bicycles.

Sound Transit says that it needs to triple the size of its fleet to operate the extensions which are due to open by 2023. The network is due to expand by around 50 km as part of the Sound Transit 2 plan.

Found at:
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/news/n-america/single-view/view/siemens-to-supply-122-lrvs-to-sound-transit.html


Return To Index
 

In Joint Venture, Skanska Books $307.3 Million
To Build Light Rail In San Diego, CA.

Press Release From Skanska
By Jody Fisher
VP, Media & Content
Skanska USA Inc. NY, NY

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Skanska, one of the world’s leading construction and development firms, announced that Mid-Coast Transit Contractors – a joint venture of Stacy and Witbeck, Herzog and Skanska – has been awarded a $921.8 million construction manager/general contractor contract from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to construct the Mid-Coast Trolley.

Skanska USA Civil will include its $307.3 million portion of the contract in its Q3 2016 order bookings. Stacy and Witbeck is the joint venture lead. Parsons Brinkerhoff, Kimley Horn and HDR are the designers for the project.

The Mid-Coast Trolley will extend existing service from the Old Town Transit Center to the University City community, serving major activity centers such as the Mission Bay area, the VA Medical Center, the UC San Diego, and Westfield UTC Transit Center. The 11.5-mile project includes nine new stations.

The project will connect corridor residents with other Trolley lines serving Mission Valley, East County, and South County. An extension of the existing Metropolitan Transit System Trolley Blue Line, it will offer a one-seat (no transfer) ride from the international border and communities south of Downtown San Diego all the way to University City. This new service will enhance direct public access to other regional activity centers and improve travel options to employment, education, medical, and retail centers for corridor residents, commuters, and visitors.

Construction of the project is under way, with revenue service anticipated to begin in 2021.

For further information, please contact:
Jay Weisberger, Skanska, 206-494-5469
jay.weisberger@skanska.com

This and previous releases can also be found at:   http://www.usa.skanska.com

About Skanska

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, education, sports, data centers, government, aviation and commercial.  Headquartered in New York with offices in 31 metro areas, we have more than 11,000 employees committed to being leaders in safety, project execution, sustainability, ethics and people development. In 2015, our work in building construction, civil and power/industrial construction, commercial development and infrastructure development (public-private partnerships) generated $7.1 billion in revenue.  Global revenue of parent company Skanska AB, headquartered in Stockholm and listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, totaled $18.4 billion in 2015. Skanska shares are publicly traded in the U.S. on the OTC market under the symbol SKBSY through a Level I American Depository Receipt program.   


Return To Index

 

STOCKS...    Selected Rail Stocks...
BRKB – Burlington Northern Santa Fe

CNI – Canadian National

CP –  Canadian Pacific

CSX – CSX Corp

GWR – Genessee & Wyoming

KSU – Kansas City-Southern

NSC – Norfolk Southern

PWX – Providence & Worcester

UNP – Union Pacific


      Return To Index


POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

After New York Attack, Congress Wants
TSA To Secure Amtrak, Buses

A Bill Pushing The Agency To Focus More On Surface Transport Follows
A Critical Report And An Attempted Bombing Near A Train Station.

By Justin Bachman
Bloomberg News

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is one of those federal agencies that tends to inspire intense reactions among the traveling public. It’s a bureaucracy that interacts with millions of passengers each day, requiring their shoes, jackets, laptops—and time.

Virtually all this occurs at airports, with about 80 percent of the agency’s $7.4 billion budget spent on aviation security. Only 2 percent of the TSA’s funding goes to surface transportation, according to a report by the Office of Inspector General earlier this month. Congress is looking to change that.

Several U.S. senators want the TSA to focus more attention and resources on rail, highway, and marine transportation, which would mean greater security oversight at such places as Amtrak stations and Megabus coach stops. A bipartisan bill introduced Thursday by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) would require the TSA to use a risk-based security model for these transport modes and to budget money based on those risks. It would require a wider use of the agency’s terrorist watch list by train operators and more detailed passenger manifests along with tighter screening of marine employees. The legislation also would increase the TSA’s canine use by as many as 70 dog-handler teams for surface transportation.

Lest you begin hyperventilating, it’s virtually impossible to envision airport-style screening detectors or security queues snaked around America’s train and bus passenger depots. “This is very much not creating for bus or rail transportation the [security] model that exists for aviation,” said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which Thune chairs.

Moreover, it’s unlikely Congress has the will or the wherewithal to fund any massive increase in TSA personnel, already stretched thin this year to handle airport staffing amid budget cuts. In the spring, airline passengers experienced extreme delays at many of the largest airports, leading to a national outcry and quick injection of funds from Congress. The TSA also shifted security agents among airports to ease the crisis. Now, with a budget impasse brewing on Capitol Hill, sufficient funding may again pose a problem for the agency.

The new bill “addresses gaps in TSA’s approach to assessing security risks and will help the agency better fulfill its role as a hub of analysis, planning, and information,” Thune said in a statement. Thune and a co-sponsor, Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), also pointed to the Sept. 18 incident in which police in Elizabeth, N.J., and the FBI were summoned to a train station after a bag containing pipe bombs was discovered. The day before, a device exploded harmlessly in a garbage can in Seaside Heights, N.J., and 29 people were injured in a bombing on a Manhattan street. Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested Sept. 19 on charges related to the attacks.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), also came less than two weeks after the Homeland Security Department’s Inspector General criticized the agency for gaps in its approach to non-aviation security. “TSA’s publicized ‘intelligence-driven, risk-based approach’ was designed for the aviation mode and chiefly for air passenger screening,” auditors wrote. The report also said the TSA lacks a formal process for using risk in its budgeting decisions. The TSA is developing a risk-based security protocol for all transport modes and for allocating its budgets. The agency—which concurred with the recommendations in the IG report—expects to complete the process in 2017.

TSA spokesman Michael England declined to comment on pending legislation.

Amtrak wouldn’t be required to use TSA watch lists or other resources, but the bill would force the TSA to give the rail operator access to its Secure Flight program within six months, if Amtrak directors requested it. Spokesman Craig Schulz said Amtrak looks forward to working with Thune’s committee to develop a “comprehensive policy that helps keep the passenger rail system secure.”

Lanesha Gipson, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Greyhound Lines Inc., said the bus operator hasn’t yet reviewed the bill. To date, the TSA has conducted security inspections at 33 terminals in Greyhound’s network, Gipson said in an e-mail. “Additional assistance making sure our passengers, employees and buses are safe” would be welcome, said Sean Hughes, a spokesman for Megabus.com, owned by U.K.-based Stagecoach Group Plc.

From an article at:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-26/congress-wants-the-tsa-to-help-secure-amtrak-and-buses


Return To Index
MAINTENANCE LINES... Maintenance Lines...  

PANYNJ OKs $400 Million In
PATH Tunnel Repairs

From Progressive Railroading

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s (PANYNJ) board has approved a $400 million overhaul of two Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail tunnels damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

PANYNJ will repair Tunnels E and F, which run under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. The projects will repair and upgrade critical rail, electrical and signal systems damaged by the storm, according to a PANYNJ press release.

In particular, crews will replace PATH track; third rail; and electrical, signal and communications infrastructure along portions of the tunnels.

The project is expected to last eight years, but PANYNJ officials are reviewing ways to shorten the schedule. Work will be completed on 35 weekends per year.

“Hurricane Sandy took a major toll on PATH and on other critical transportation facilities, and this project will aim to not only fix the damage, but mitigate future potential problems from severe flooding,” said PANYNJ Vice Chairman Steven Cohen.

The repair work is slated to begin in third-quarter 2017 and wrap up in 2026. PATH will run trains on a single-track during weekends to allow for continuous train service and minimize disruption, PANYNJ officials said.

Presently, the authority is installing a positive train control system on PATH’s 33rd Street Line. That work is expected to continue through December.

From an item at:
http://www.progressiverailroading.com/mow/news/PANYNJ-OKs-400-million-in-PATH-tunnel-repairs--49600


Return To Index
ACROSS THE POND... Across The Pond...  

Bombardier To Supply Up To
300 EMUs to ÖBB

By Erwin Reidinger
International Railway Journal

Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) announced on September 21 that Bombardier has been selected as preferred bidder for a framework contract to supply up to 300 EMUs.

Bombardier has offered its latest-generation Talent 3 train for the contract, which comprises up to 150 100m-long and 150 75m-long trains.

The deal includes an initial firm order worth ?100m for 21 100m-long trains for S-Bahn services in the western province of Vorarlberg, with deliveries scheduled to start in April 2019. A public service obligation (PSO) contract for the operation of these services was recently awarded to ÖBB by the provincial government.

Another PSO contract for Tyrol is currently being negotiated and Talent 3 EMUs are likely to be used for these services.

ÖBB will release further details of the contract with Bombardier in 10 days if no appeals are made against the outcome of the tender.

Found at:
http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/rolling-stock/bombardier-to-supply-up-to-300-emus-to-obb.html


Return To Index
 

Also:


ÖBB Reveals Nightjet Brand
For Overnight Trains

By Erwin Reidinger
International Railway Journal

Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) has announced its new brand for overnight services as well as further details of its plans for night trains, some of which will be taken over from German Rail (DB) in December 2016.

The EuroNight brand will disappear and to be replaced by “Nightjet” which follows on from ÖBB’s Railjet and Cityjet brands.

A new livery has been unveiled, and coaches will carry a dark blue color scheme with a red/white strip below the windows.

Concerning Nightjet routes, ÖBB will offer the following night train services from December 2016:

Feldkirch - Graz
Vienna - Bregenz
Vienna – Florence – Rome
Vienna – Venice
Vienna – Hamburg
Vienna – Düsseldorf, and
Zürich – Vienna/Graz.


All of these have been ÖBB trains for many years. In addition the following new services from Germany will be introduced:

Hamburg – Berlin – Basle
Hamburg – Munich – Innsbruck, and
Düsseldorf – Munich – Innsbruck.


Bologna – Munich services will no longer be routed via the Brenner line and will instead be combined with the Rome – Vienna service via Tarvisio. For the time being ÖBB will use ex-DB coaches, some of which have already been noted with ÖBB TS maintenance inscriptions.

From an item at:
http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/main-line/obb-reveals-nightjet-brand-for-overnight-trains.html


Return To Index
TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

GO Transit To Give $100 Presto Credit
To Each Passenger Stuck On Train


‘It Doesn’t Eliminate What Happened Last Night,’ Metrolinx Spokesperson Says

ByDexter Brown
CBC News

GOTransit says it willgive $100 creditto each passengerstuck on a rush-hour Lakeshore East express train for over three hours on Tuesday.
The credit will be uploadedto each passenger’s electronic Presto fare card. It could take two to five days for passengers to see the credit on their Presto cards and itcould take 12 hoursto get the e-mail from Presto about the compensation,Metrolinx says.

The train suffered a complete breakdown after it leftAjax Station, and with about 600 people on board,it sat stationary on the tracks without power or air-conditioning.

“If you got stuck on that train and got stranded for the three, four hours, we want to compensate you for that,” Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said Wednesday night.

GOTransit has a service guarantee that will reimburse a customer’s fare if his or hertrain is more than 15 minutes late and if GOTransit is to blame for the delay.

AikinssaidTuesday’s delay goes beyond itsnormal service guarantee and that it islooking for a fair amount to compensate all of the passengerswho were stuck on the train.

“We have been looking at, all day, at a fairamount to compensate.It doesn’t eliminate what happened last night,” shesaid. “It will probably take us about 24 hours to communicate with them all and provide them with a little bit of compensation.”

Aikins said GO Transit knows who was on that trainbecause most of itscustomers use the Presto cardand passengersdon’t need to do anything to get compensated for the delay.

“They don’t have to prove anything. The money will go right back onto their Presto card as a small token to say how sorry we areand how we appreciate that they are our customer,” Aikins said.

From a news item at:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/go-transit-passengers-train-compensation-1.3783371


Return To Index
Events... Events...  

RUN to Lafayette, Indiana!

The Annual Meeting of the Rail Users’ Network (RUN) will take place at the Lafayette, Indiana train station on Saturday, October 8th.

The main attraction of the day will be a Rail Summit about the Hoosier State train, presented in cooperation with the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance (IPRA).

Here is an opportunity to learn about the most unusual train in the Amtrak system, with its unique appearance, level of service and governance structure. Ed Ellis, head of Iowa Pacific Holdings (IPH), which provides equipment and on-board services for the train, will be on hand to tell us more about this one-of-a-kind train and his future plans for it. The mayors of Lafayette and other towns, who advocated for keeping the Hoosier State on the rails, will recount their experiences. Representatives from Amtrak, IPRA and RUN will present their views, as well.

So RUN to Lafayette, Indiana to learn more about an interesting and comfortable train, and about the advocacy effort by elected officials and rider advocates that kept it going.

From the East, you can take Amtrak’s Cardinal on Friday, October 7th and return from Lafayette on Saturday evening, after the event.

To learn more, please check the RUN web site, http://www.railusers.net, or contact RUN Chair Richard Rudolph. His phone number is (207) 776-4961 and his e-mail is rrudolph1022@gmail.com


Return To Index
PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2016 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Logo Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

Photo submissions are welcome. NCI is always interested in images that demonstrate the positive aspects of rail, transit, intermodalism, transportation-oriented development, and current newsworthy events associated with our mission. Please contact the webmaster in advance of sending large images so we can recommend attachment by e-mail or grant direct file transfer protocols (FTP) access depending on size. Descriptive text which includes location and something about the content of the image is required. We will credit the photographer and offer a return link to your web site or e-mail address.

In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives, state DOTs, legislators, government offices, and transportation organizations or professionals, as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the web address (URL) to our webmaster.

Destination Freedom is partially funded by the Surdna Foundation, and other contributors.

|| Top of Page || Past Newsletter Editions || NCI Home Page || Contact Us

  || page viewings since date of release.