Category Archives: Public Transit

Critics of high-speed rail step up pressure as federal decision

Took afew minutes for me to get the mail on this.Started out in THE HOUR in Norwalk, Connecticut. Went to California who reblogged it their E-NEWS. Then friend sent to me.

In simplicity: With a major decision looming, preservationists are stepping up their efforts to get the Federal Railroad Administration to rethink its proposed high-speed rail route through Connecticut.

The FRA’s NEC Future would cut 29 miles of new rail lines, between New Rochelle, N.Y., and Greens Farms, under preliminary plans released late last year.

“There is significant concern that the Federal Railroad Administration intends to push through public opposition to the New Rochelle, N.Y. to Greens Farms bypass through Fairfield County,” said Gregory Stroud, director of special projects for The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. “Until we hear otherwise, the Connecticut Trust intends to exert maximum pressure possible so that this poorly-considered project will be dropped from the plan.”

Stroud said The Connecticut Trust expects the FRA to release its Record of Decision regarding NEC Future around June 1. The decision will identify a Selected Alternative and outline short- and long-term improvements to the Northeast Corridor, the rail line between Washington, D.C., and Boston.

The Washington bureaucrats who are “planning” the “new” Northeast Corridor should understand that Fairfield County is unlike most US counties. The people who run the United States live there or formerly lived there. They throw FRA bureaucrats out on their tails!

Can Amtrak bar NJ Transit from Northeast Corridor if state withholds rent?

Governor Chris Christie (best known for George Washington Bridge) posed this question and NJ.com covered the story.

NJ Transit pays Amtrak $93 million a year so that more than 400 of its trains can use the Northeast Corridor, but Gov. Chris Christie wants to stop making the lease payment until he gets answers to maintenance questions after an April 3 derailment in Penn Station…
NJ Transit paid $62 million for maintenance for 2016, in a lump sum payment after executing a contract with Amtrak in February, spokesperson Nancy Snyder said. That payment wasn’t late under the agreement, she said.

NJ Transit officials are waiting for an invoice from Amtrak for this year’s $74 million maintenance payment. That bill will be reviewed and, once any discrepancies have been reconciled, NJ Transit will make arrangements to pay, Snyder said. Amtrak officials said NJ Transit makes monthly rent payments.

At the same time, NJ.com reported Amtrak officials are citing mechanical issues with an NJ Transit train as the cause for the incident that stranded 1,200 passengers for several hours in the Hudson River tunnels between New Jersey and New York on Friday night.

“Amtrak has determined that the incident involving NJ Transit Train 3850 last Friday was not caused by Amtrak infrastructure, and that the preliminary cause appears to be a NJ Transit mechanical problem involving the train’s pantograph (power collector),” said Mike Tolbert, an Amtrak spokesman in a statement on Monday.

Then a story from Bloomburg: After three passenger-train mishaps in the past month underscored the fragility of New York City rail travel, Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Wick Moorman said the only solution is the $23 billion Gateway tunnel project.

“The fundamental problem is: What is plan B?” Moorman, 65, said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “I don’t know.”

Then WABC-TV chimed in: Recent train disruptions in New York that caused cascading delays between Boston and Washington, D.C., have refocused attention on a multibillion-dollar tunnel project that could have ameliorated future problems if it hadn’t been canceled by Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2010.

Whether Christie feels any pangs of remorse over the decision was left unanswered Wednesday at a news conference to urge President Donald Trump’s administration to honor a pre-existing commitment to fund a new tunnel project.

Patrons Upset With Trump Administration Over AMTRAK Long Distance

The current California RailPAC Newsletter is just CRAWLING with upset riders over Washington’s handeling of long distance AMTRAK.

Pictured above, this is the eastbound California Zephyr stopping at Colfax on April 20th. One passenger got off and 13 got on including one person with a sleeper. The Zephyr this time of year runs with 3 coaches and 2 usually full sleepers. Think what they could do with more cars!

The DesMoines Register: Tell Congress to choo, choo, choose rail service. On my way home from Sacramento, Calif., last month, I saw scores of passengers board Amtrak’s California Zephyr at Osceola, Ottumwa and Mount Pleasant. And this was on a Thursday in March! Even though the train bypasses Iowa’s largest cities, it remains very popular. Yet the Donald Trump administration wants to kill the Zephyr as well as every other long-distance train. We should be improving rail passenger service, as candidate Trump said on the campaign trail.

But his administration’s budget team, giving in to the Heritage Foundation and its like, wants to eliminate service to the national system while continuing lavish subsidies to highway and air travel. Ironically, the proposed cuts would hurt the very regions which supported Trump last November.

If you don’t want to lose your Amtrak service, write or call your representatives in Congress. As author Peter Lyon wrote: “Passengers of America unite! You have nothing to lose but your trains!”

A local meeting coincides with efforts by Gov. Jim Justice and both Democratic and Republican state lawmakers to increase Amtrak passenger train service in the state and with President Donald Trump’s budget proposal to slash funding for Amtrak in “fly-over states, ” including West Virginia.

Amtrak is a federally-funded passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the United States.

The Cardinal, an Amtrak train which runs between Chicago and New York, currently provides service in Prince, Hinton, White Sulphur Springs and other stations in southern West Virginia on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

The “troops” are not happy campers!

California: Connecting With High Speed Rail

This map from ACE shows the future connections with ACE to future High Speed Rail, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, Caltrain and BART. The future ACE route will be on the UP right of way with a separate track for ACE passenger trains. The UP will be able to use this track when there are no passenger trains using it to relieve UP freight congestion in the San Joaquin Valley.

Philadelphia Trolley 2266 “North Carolina” postcard

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) “North Carolina”.

SEPTA’s Star-Spangled Bicentennial motif trolley was purchased for Philadelphia’s system from Kansas City in 1955, then patriotically refurbished for about $25,000. It is viewed on Fifth Street at Girard Avenue.

Find more great stories on Philadelphia
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/philadelphia-pennsylvania/

You’ll soon be able to get to Chicago an hour faster

From the Belleville News-Democrat via California Rail News

“We’re getting close to finishing the project,” said Scott Speegle, the Passenger Rail communications manager for IDOT.
Work this year includes upgrades at 21 rail crossings between Granite City and Shipman, Speegle said.
Upgrades include putting in four quad gates to prevent cars from weaving through crossings when a train is approaching. Signaling upgrades, increased fencing and pedestrian gates, if necessary, also are planned. Most of the work is expected to be completed by the end of the summer, Speegle said.
The crossings will be temporarily closed while upgrades are taking place.
What has not received much press are efforts to throw a money wrench to raise passenger speeds in the Midwest by the UP. Where it controls the rails that used government funding for track improvements to reduce running times for passenger trains, the UP is trying to block the use of new High Speed “Charger” locomotives. Among the issues UP is claiming is the the Chargers don’t meet current FRA regulations. One thing the UP is claiming is that since the Charger uses LED lights, it can’t be used on American railroads since FRA regulations says nothing about LED lights.

Car Culture

A real story for this era is how General Motors, Ford and Chrysler reshaped American ground transportation to serve their corporate wants instead of social needs.

As a result of their monopolistic structure, the Big Three automakers acted in a way detrimental to public interest. GM had control of auto, truck, bus and locomotive production. We are seeing a collapse of a society based on the automobile. We have consumed too much oil, polluted the atmosphere, and turned our cities into highways and parking lots. We see a government bias in favor of highways, failure to produce transport vehicles consistent with energy/environmental restraints, and a consumer dependence on the auto.

GM had the power and economic incentive to suppress rail and bus transportation: one bus can eliminate 35 automobiles; one rail transit vehicle can supplant 50 passenger cars; one train can displace 1000 cars or a fleet of 150 cargo-laden trucks.

GM had a role in the destruction of more than 100 electric surface rail systems in 45 cities including New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis, Oakland, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. In southern California, GM and other highway interests acquired local transit companies and replaced them with busses. The noisy, foul-smelling busses turned people away from mass transit and therefore sold millions of automobiles.

General Motors received a criminal conviction for its part in monopolizing street transportation. In spite of this, GM continued to acquire and dieselize electric transit properties into 1955. 40,000 streetcars were in service in 1936 when National City Lines was organized by GM. By 1955, only 5,000 remained. While substituting buses for electric street railways helped GM stockholders, it deprived the riding public of a pollution free and energy efficient mode of transportation.

Substitution of buses for streetcar lines contributed indirectly to the abandonment of electric railway freight service. Merchants used to rely on this service to deliver goods and interchange with railroads. For instance, Pacific Electric was once the third largest freight railroad in California. It just proved uneconomical to maintain city track for freight-only. General Motors even benefited from this demise. They also sold trucks! They even used to have an interest in Associated Transport and Consolidated Freightways.

GM used its leverage as the largest freight shipper to coerce railroads to scrap their equipment, including pollution-free electrics, in favor of less durable, less efficient GM diesels. New Haven Railroad showed a profit during 50 years of electrification but started heavy losses after it dieselized its operations.

General Motors diversification into bus transportation: (1) shifted passengers from rail to bus and eventually into automobiles; and (2) shifted freight from rail to truck. An additional factor was GM’s integration into locomotive production. In 1930, they acquired Winton Engine and Electro-Motive. Unfortunately, GM could make 25 to 30 times more gross revenue selling cars and trucks than it could diesel locomotives.

In 1956 the government sued General Motors for monopolization of the bus industry and requested divestiture of its bus production facilities. The case was a failure for the government because GM had combined bus and truck production within the same facilities. A few years later the Justice Department started and then abandoned an antitrust case against GM Locomotive.

Many of the anti-competitive forces of the automobile industry could be diffused by a remedy suggested several years ago by Bradford C. Snell of the International Conference on Appropriate Transportation. First, deconcentration of the motor vehicle industry would reduce the automakers ability to pass on the cost of their anti-rail lobbying to consumers. Second, reorganization of GM’s bus and rail divisions into independent corporations would enable them to operate free from the conflict of interest they currently have. Finally, the facilitation of entry by a number of new bus and rail enterprises would provide competitive capability to build a modern passenger and freight transport system.

It has been the policy of Congress in the past to maintain competition by prohibiting common control of competing modes of transport. The Air Mail Act of 1934 forced GM to sell its interests in several airlines. GM also had interests in several aircraft manufacturers. At that time, GM chairman Sloan implied to Congress that his company had entered the aviation industry to protect its interests in the promotion of automobiles.

At one time there were more than 150 competing manufacturers of bus and rail vehicles. The technological development of these vehicles stopped in the 1930’s.

In Europe and Japan, where there is a limited amount of common auto/rail/bus ownership, there are much more balanced transportation systems.

GM owned Hertz from 1925 to 1953. Because it was perceived to lessen sales of cars, GM limited its growth. Its success after disposition by GM shows what could happen to bus and rail operations.

General Motors got into bus production in 1925 by acquiring Yellow Coach. In 1926 they assisted in the formation of the Greyhound Corporation. 1932 saw GM going into the business of converting interurban electric railways as well as electric streetcar systems to bus operations. Due to the high cost of operation and slow speed on congested streets, buses ultimately contributed to the collapse of hundreds of transit systems.

Several railroads converted substantial portions of their commuter rail service with buses: Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines (Pennsylvania RR); Central Greyhound Lines (New York Central); Pacific Greyhound Lines (Southern Pacific); New England Greyhound Lines (New York, New Haven & Hartford); Northland Greyhound Lines (Great Northern); and Southwestern Greyhound Lines (St. Louis Southwestern Railroad). The railroads were eventually forced out of ownership by the government. By 1950, Greyhound carried half as many intercity passengers as the railroads. Until 1948, General Motors was the largest stockholder in Greyhound.

General Motors used various devices to convert street car lines to bus. At first, United Cities Motor Transit was directly owned by GM and would buy electric street car companies, convert them to GM motorbus operation, and then resell them. After being censured by the American Transit Association, GM went “undercover” with other organizations, primarily National City Lines, Inc. Other participants in National City Lines were Greyhound, Standard Oil of California and Firestone Tire. By reselling properties after conversion, they were assured that capital was continually reinvested in the motorization of additional systems. The biggest GM “triumph” was California’s Pacific Electric. Within a 75-mile radius of Los Angeles, it carried 80 million people annually. In 1949, GM, Greyhound, Standard Oil and Firestone were found guilty of criminally conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses. General Motors was fined $5,000! The GM treasurer who masterminded the destruction of Pacific Electric was fined $1!

Additional Reading on this subject: great reference is Revisiting the Great American Streetcar Scandal, by Al Mankoff– Vol. 4, Summer 1999

and The Great American Streetcar Myth

Please read “The Streetcar Conspiracy” by Bradford Snell and “The Conspiracy Revisted Rebutted” by Louis Guilbault. I do not have links and will not tell you about Amazon or Borders and Noble because those people would not even give me the time of day.

See more about similar articles

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/Connecticut%20To%20Philadelphia/

After NYC mess, senators call for Amtrak funding

RailwayAge Magazine – ‎Apr 12, 2017‎

Senators Bob Mendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) sent a letter to Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Committee on Appropriations Chairman Susan Collins and Ranking Member Jack Reed, calling for $2.3 billion for the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts capital grant program and $1.6 billion to support Amtrak. The New Starts grant program funding was slashed and Amtrak’s funding for long distance service was eliminated in President Donald Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

“The President proposed, Congress disposes”

The Awful Merger called “PENN CENTRAL”

The Penn Central was born amid great expectations and promises on February 1,1968 by the merger of the New York Central System into the Pennsylvania Railroad on that date.
Neither railroad had been forced through the trauma of bankruptcy and reorganization.
With incompatible computer systems ,signal systems, operating styles, and personalities at the top, the new railroad remained essentially two in operation though it was one in name.

The merger between the New York Central RR and the Pennsylvania RR was like a shotgun wedding. Both bride and groom hated each other. Yet, there was no other option but to join hands in unholy matrimony, and if this wasn’t bad enough, the bride and groom had to accept the New Haven RR as an unwelcome boarder in their honeymoon suite.

Find other stories like this one at
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/contact/other-interesting-websites/

Amtrak close to reviving Gulf Coast rail line despite Trump budget concerns

AL.COM via California Rail News

 

Plans to bring passenger rail back to the eastern part of the Gulf Coast for the first time in 12 years are close to being realized, according to Amtrak and other officials that met in Mobile Wednesday night. However, the plans hang in the balance because of extensive cuts contained within President Donald Trump’s recent budget proposal that outlines $54 billion worth of cuts aimed at programs across the country.

“When we look at the situation of where we are, we are closer now than we have ever been over the course of the last 12 years,” said Thomas Stennis III, Amtrak’s Director of Government Affairs South, who told stakeholders from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida to urge their respective members of Congress to reject Trump’s America First Budget. “I cannot urge that enough.”

Once agreements are finalized between the states, CSX and Amtrak, the rail service could be up and running in as little as six to 12 months, according to Amtrak Director of Government Affairs Todd Stenniss.

Amtrak officials and members of the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) hosted a meeting Wednesday to update the public on efforts to restore passenger rail service to the Gulf Coast.

The meeting in Marianna was the second in a series of six taking place across the stakeholder states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.