Category Archives: Trains

A Second Avenue Stare

Dear Diary

Once upon a time Second Avenue in the City was clogged with construction. You know: stores closed, pedestrians confused. Well, it took 100 years to build the 2d Avenue Subway.

One day I see a girl with long dark hair, short leather moto jacket, really tight jeans, really high heels. Walking just ahead of me.

A couple of construction workers leaned over their plastic barrier and ogled her as she passed. I remembered the old song “Standing On The Corner”. As I passed the construction workers, I looked at them knowingly and sort of accusingly.

I was surprised when one looked at me, grinned and sheeplishly said “I`m sorry”.

 

Amtrak to Chicago: Advocates hope train service can grow from limited options Cincinnati has now

CINCINNATI — It’s the last remaining portion of Union Terminal’s original use, but many today don’t even know it’s there.

Tucked behind the now under-construction Cincinnati Museum Center is the city’s access point to Amtrak, the country’s primary regional and long-distance passenger railroad service.

The station is a modestly sized version of the terminal in its heyday, which originally was designed to accommodate more than 200 trains and some 17,000 passengers each day. Today — secondary to housing the museum center — the station serves only a fraction of the railroads and passengers it once did, with just three arrivals and departures scheduled each week.

But there is a growing conversation in the region to change that.

Here’s why the future of the Caltrain Corridor is so important

Information from Curbed SF Mar 2, 2017 and Streetsblog Los Angeles (blog)-Feb 27, 2017

The electrification of commuter rail service between San Jose and San Francisco was all but ready to begin construction when Donald Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, pulled the rug out from under the project earlier this month..

When California Republicans convinced the Department of Transportation to hold off on a $647 million federal grant for the transit corridor’s electrification plan, they did more than stall transportation progress for the region. The delay would put thousands of new jobs and much-needed housing projects on hold indefinitely. It’s not hyperbolic to say that the future economic growth of California stands in peril.

This is worrisome, to say the least. So much so that Caltrain created a petition on the White House site, urging the current administration to reverse course. But it’s about more than simply moving forward with electrification. Caltrain’s success is inextricably tied to multiple transportation and housing issues throughout the state.

New AMTRAK “Charger”Locomotives Testing on Cascades Route in Washington

National certification testing of Amtrak’s new Charger locomotive is being conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The WSDOT said that the Siemens SC-44 Charger units are testing on the Amtrak Cascades corridor throughout February. If all goes well they are scheduled to enter regular service later this year.

The WSDOT has ordered eight of the 4,400-horsepower locomotives, which are being assembled by Siemens in Sacramento.

Siemens is headquartered in Germany and builds locomotives also for Florida East Coast Railway’s BRIGHTLINE

President Trump is “barking up the wrong tree” about High Speed Rail

Just read a great story by MARK WHITTINGTON about Donald Trump’s interest in high speed rail may be made obsolete by the Hyperloop. Passengers and cargo could be moved at supersonic speeds at a fraction of the cost.

President Donald Trump is interested in building high-speed rail lines across the United States. The idea is that 200 miles per hour trains would whisk passengers and cargo between destinations, substantially cutting down travel times. However, an emerging technology called the #hyperloop may already be about to make the high-speed train obsolete.

The Hyperloop would propel people and cargo in pods down a sealed tube using magnetic accelerators at speeds more than 700 miles an hour. The technology was invented by SpaceX’s Elon Musk and is now being refined by a number of private companies. Musk claims that a Hyperloop line between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost about $6 billion to build as opposed to the nearly $70 billion (and growing) that the proposed high-speed rail line is estimated to cost. The line would be solar powered and, since it is built on elevated pylons, would have less of a “footprint” than a rail line. Hyperloop lines could be built along Interstate highways.

The Trump administration should approach the siren call of building railroads with caution. To be sure existing rail lines and tunnels, some of them approaching a century old, need upgrading. But if a way can be found to move people and cargo between cities at greater speeds, as less cost, powered by renewable energy, using less land, then that way should be seriously considered. Great care, at any rate, should be taken when spending hundreds of billions of dollars. Perhaps a prototype project, connecting two cities somewhere in the United States, should be undertaken to test the usefulness of the Hyperloop before committing to high-speed rail.

Perhaps President Trump should start with a “smallish” project: connect Louisville and Chicago. AMTRAK has fallen on it’s face over the years on this one. Well, they have an airport and an Interstate Highway.

Our company has already proposed this project to HYPERLOOP ONE, the leading company in the Hyperloop field. We have already published details of this project.

We have tried to make it as simple as possible and bring costs down. We follow Interstate Highway 65 from Louisville to Gary, Indiana. Then, knowing the extreme difficulty of entering Chicago from the East, we took a novel change. Passengers and freight stop at the Gary International Airport and change to the South Shore Railroad (already rebuilt with government funds). Passengers get off at Millennium Station in downtown Chicago.

Nothing But Great Comments About The Second Avenue Subway

The first comment is from the guy who finally stepped up and said “I AM IN CHARGE”
The Second Avenue subway has already become an “integral” part of the city’s transit network, touted Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday.The governor announced that Phase I of the project, which brought three new stations on the Upper East Side, has also successfully attracted riders away from the dreadfully congested subway stations nearby.

The next comment comes right from the heart: The MTA
It was a given that when the Second Avenue Subway opened on the Upper East Side on New Year’s Day it would change how the neighborhood commutes. But the rapid speed at which Upper East Siders have embraced the Q train has surprised MTA officials. Ridership on the Second Avenue Subway line increased by an average of 8,000 riders a week in January, peaking at 155,000 daily riders according to MTA data released Wednesday. After just one month the daily ridership is nearing the projected 200,000 daily riders MTA officials said the new line would service. The new Q line has also eased the burden on the nearby 4, 5 and 6 lines which run on Lexington Avenue and have long been some of the most crowded lines in the city. Daily weekday ridership at Upper East Side stations on the Lexington Avenue line has dropped 27 percent — 46 percent during peak morning rush hours of 8-9 a.m. — compared to January numbers from 2016, according to the MTA.

southferry

The opening of three new stations of the century-in-the-making Second Avenue Subway, and the top-to-bottom renovation of the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street station, provide a new emphasis on subway design over the years. I’m no architecture critic, but I have paid keen attention over the years as several design aesthetics have come and gone. Let’s take a look at these efforts from the very beginning. Above we see one of the ceramic sailing ships that grace the walls of the curved South Ferry station, which serves patrons of the Staten Island Ferry, accessing the #1 train. The nearby Whitehall Street station does the same for the R train. Until 2009, it was never thought to connect the two and allow free transfers until a new South Ferry station opened that year and the two lines were united. Hurricane Sandy made short work of the new South Ferry station in October 2012, so, after a few months of making Rector Street the southern terminal of the #1, the old reliable South Ferry station reopened, revealing the colorful station name tablets and ceramics one again. As a matter of fact, the ceramics were relieved of the dull brown paint job they had received and once again sport colors resembling the ones they had when the station opened in 1905.
The architects of subway stations that opened between 1904 and 1908, including the flagship City Hall station that is closed to the public except for sanctioned tours, were George Lewis Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge, who also designed the massive Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Harlem and the original Astor Court buildings of the Central Park Zoo. Heins and LaFarge incorporated several design items they used at the Bronx Zoo into the City Hall station. These included such techniques as arches, vaulted ceilings, and polychrome tile.

If you are into politics, you had BETTER BE SUPPORTING THE SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY

The Trump administration might be threatening to cut funds to sanctuary cities like New York, but it’s thrown its support behind the Second Avenue Subway’s expansion into Harlem and Midtown, according to Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

The last two phases of the Second Avenue Subway line — which would bring service up to Harlem first and then to Midtown and neighborhoods below it all the way down to East 14th Street — has gotten the support of the new president’s transition team, who’s put the project on a “list of [national] infrastructure building priorities,” Maloney said.

The federal government is expected to allocate $14.2 billion towards the next two phases, which could mean progress on the line will be faster than it was during the first phase, Maloney said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Phase 1 of the project cost roughly $4.5 billion.

Information about the list and the project’s funding was leaked from the president’s transition team, and hasn’t been yet been confirmed by the White House, Maloney added.

Although she has not seen the list, she said $137 billion total will be dedicated to the 50 projects on it, including the Second Avenue Subway.

Maloney, who has been pressing Congress and the Trump administration to include the project on the list, spoke directly with the people who worked on creating it and was “repeatedly assured” that Phase 2 and 3 would be part of the plan, she said.

“We’re competing with every great project across United States of America,” she said. “We need to bring service to the underserved area of East Harlem, bring more economic activity, and relieve the over-congested area below 62nd street.”

The news comes in the shadow of Trump’s announcement that the government will seek to cut funding to sanctuary cities that refuse to adhere to his immigrant policies. Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to keep New York a sanctuary city, announcing that he would set aside a reserve fund in case Trump cuts federal funding.

When asked by a reporter whether funding for the Second Avenue Subway was in jeopardy considering Trump’s decree, Maloney said she doubted it because Trump is a New Yorker.

“I’ve been told by the transition team and the transportation team that we are on the first cut of $137 billion for an estimated $14 billion,” she said. “I will go back to Congress to address that. I’m opposed to any cuts to the City of New York. We give far more money to the federal government than what comes back.”

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Federal Transit Administration has already approved funding for the second phase of the Second Avenue line, which will run from 125th to 96th streets. But the project will have to go through two years of environmental review, engineering design and community outreach before the funding will become available.

The MTA has signed two contracts for the environmental review and preliminary engineering and design portions, and a request for proposals has been posted for the community outreach part, Maloney said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on March 30, 2016 that $1 billion has been earmarked for Phase 2 in the new 2016-17 state budget.

The MTA did not respond to questions regarding the timeline and cost of the project, or whether they would be connecting the Second Avenue line to small tunnel sections that were built in East Harlem in the 1970s but were never used.

State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, who represents East Harlem and is the chairman of the State Assembly Office of State and Federal Relations, said he was “glad to see that Phase 2 and 3 of the Second Avenue Subway will be a priority project moving forward.”

“I will continue to work diligently with my federal partners to ensure all funding commitments are met,” he said.

‘Put the Junction Back in the Junction’

Every seat was occupied in the waiting room at the Essex Junction Amtrak station on the first Wednesday in January. Passengers going south to New York City and Washington, D.C., spilled onto the platform next to the tracks. The drab station was the center of activity as the shops and restaurants in the old commercial buildings along Railroad Avenue began to open.

With a blast of its horn, the Vermonter arrived promptly at 9:54 a.m. from St. Albans, and 110 people climbed aboard the train. Such large crowds delight Essex Junction leaders, who want to boost train ridership in the historic railroad town.

The goal is “to put the junction back in the Junction,” said George Tyler, president of the Essex Junction Board of Trustees.

To that end, he and his colleagues are doing everything they can to accelerate the proposed extension of passenger rail to Montréal, which they figure could bring throngs of Canadians to Essex Junction, the train’s sole stop in Chittenden County. It would restore the old Montréaler service that for decades brought tourists and skiers through Vermont, linking Quebéc and Washington, D.C. The trains ran until 1995, when Amtrak discontinued the run because of financial problems. St. Albans became the northern terminus, and the line was renamed the Vermonter.

Citing renewed interest in rail and a national increase in Amtrak ridership, state officials predict the new service to Montréal will start in 2019. “Everything that needs to be done is in Canada,” said Dan Delabruere, rail director at the Vermont Agency of Transportation. “We’re ready on the Vermont side.”

Village leaders are touting other rail projects, too, as part of a broader village revitalization that encourages better pedestrian access, more street life and taller buildings in the core of the commuter burg.

For years, the area around the Junction sprouted strip development, parking lots and outlet stores while commercial spaces in the historic center sat empty. No more. New planning and zoning goals promote downtown-style redevelopment and seek to inject more life into the village.

“This community came into existence because of rail, and one of the best things we can do is take advantage of this fact and redevelop our rail assets,” said Tyler.

Originally named Painesville after Vermont governor and railroad owner Charles Paine, the village in the town of Essex earned a different moniker in the 1850s. It became known as “the Junction” because at least six rail lines chugged through it.

Read more on this story

AMTRAK Builds Momentum Behind Critical Upgrades

THE appointment of Mr Wick Moorman as president and CEO of Amtrak last September was greeted with enthusiasm from across the North American railway industry, bringing more than 40 years of railway experience and an intimate understanding of the freight carriers to the top job in US passenger rail.

Moorman began his railway career with NS’ predecessor Southern, initially working in track maintenance during his college days, before rising from management trainee to become president and CEO of the Class 1 railway. At a time of considerable political and economic uncertainty for the United States, Moorman’s understanding of how the railway operates, how it makes money, and how to influence policymakers in Washington DC should help to give Amtrak stability and build a future based on growth.

Indeed, growth has been a defining feature of Amtrak’s recent history, and ridership has now exceeded 30 million passengers for six consecutive years. Unaudited ticket sales for the 2016 fiscal year, which ended on September 30 2016, reached a record $US 2.14bn, a $US 12m increase compared with 2015. This was driven by a 400,000 increase in passenger journeys, which rose to a record 31.3 million.

Amtrak covered 94% of its operating costs from ticket sales and other revenues, up from 92% in 2015. Unaudited total revenue in 2016 reached $US 3.2bn and as a result, Amtrak reduced its operating loss by $US 78m to $US 227m, its lowest since 1973.

As he begins his first full year at the helm, Moorman is seeking to build on these results by driving efficiency and making Amtrak more responsive to the needs of customers. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published in January 2016 recommended that Amtrak should extend the use of its strategic management system company-wide and improve its financial reporting, and Moorman is keen to follow this path in 2017.

Read More on Wick Moorman

Old Pictures From An Early AMTRAK

In posters from the era, trains were pitched to passengers as the most modern and aspirational way to travel.

amtraktaglines

With taglines in the 1970s encouraging travellers to ‘get off your wheels and on to ours’ Amtrak showcased a series of vibrant adverts depicting the freedom of the network

amtrakpresidentford

President Ford on an Amtrak train in the 1970s surrounded by supporters and the press

amtrakredcaps

Staff members known as Red Caps at Santa Fe Depot in Fort Worth, Texas, move sacks and parcels between the baggage car and depot. Red Caps helped passengers with baggage navigate through the station; here they wear a jumpsuit introduced in early 1972 and their trademark red hats. The baggage car features the Phase II paint scheme introduced in 1975.

amtrakturbotrain

A color photograph showing the TurboTrain stopped at Petersburg, Virginia, during its 1971 national tour. This type of train was primarily used between New York and Boston until its retirement in 1976

amtrakcustomerservice

Passenger service representative Patty Saunders speaks with travellers in a first-class Metroliner club car – known as Metroclub. In her role, Saunders assisted customers on the train and served them food and beverages at their seat. The first class Metroclub had roomy, individually reclining swivel parlour chairs and there was also a phone booth available to passengers

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-4084712/Fascinating-photos-1970s-reveal-Amtrak-s-early-days.html#ixzz4WmS5pDKL

Buskers are Protesting Crackdown from NYPD on 2nd Avenue Subway

OK give up. What are BUSKERS? According to the WIKI: “Street performance or busking is the act of performing in public places for gratuities. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given.”

We all know who the NYPD is: Largest and most heavily-armed police force in the “free World”. Larger than armies of most countries.

So what is the big hassle between NYPD and the Buskers?

Less than three weeks have passed since the Second Avenue Subway line made its long-awaited debut, yet conflict is already brewing between the station’s buskers and the NYPD. On Thursday afternoon, around a dozen subway performers gathered in the mezzanine of the 72nd Street station to protest what they view as illegal harassment by police seeking to keep the newly opened stations busker-free.

While the MTA’s rules of conduct explicitly allow for artistic performances within stations, many officers and station managers seem to remain ignorant of the three-decade-old rule.

buskersprotest

Busk NY posted a video showing two police officers asking violinist Matthew Christian to leave the 86th Street station last weekend.

“You cannot play music here. Sir, I’m asking you to leave. If you don’t want to leave, we can place you in handcuffs and you can leave then,” one of the officers said, adding ” it’s unlawful to play music on the platform.”

It is not illegal to perform on the platform, nor is it against the MTA (New York City Metropolitan Transortation Authority) rules, unless it’s getting in the way of foot traffic.

“Whenever there’s public scrutiny at stations the police step up enforcement of what they perceive to be minor violations”.

The MTA said any musician is welcome to perform in the subway as long as they follow the rules of conduct.

A band of city buskers sang a sad song Thursday, claiming overzealous cops are unfairly harassing them on the Second Ave. subway line.

The musicians and artists said they were forced to speak out after enduring a rash of recent police confrontations inside the gleaming new stations on the Upper East Side.

“This is particularly ironic given that the MTA has highlighted the stations for promoting public art,” grumbled Matthew Christian, co-founder of Busk NY, a group representing subway performers.

A band of city buskers sang a sad song Thursday, claiming overzealous cops are unfairly harassing them on the Second Ave. subway line.

The musicians and artists said they were forced to speak out after enduring a rash of recent police confrontations inside the gleaming new stations on the Upper East Side.

“This is particularly ironic given that the MTA has highlighted the stations for promoting public art,” grumbled Matthew Christian, co-founder of Busk NY, a group representing subway performers.

Musicians are allowed to perform underground as long as they follow certain rules such as avoiding busy areas and not using amplifiers.
But mandolin player Marc Orleans said he was doing none of those things Wednesday when a cop ordered him to leave a subway platform at the 72nd Ave. station and move to the mezzanine level.

“I told him I’d do it this time but I’m within my rights,” said Orleans, 49. “This happens all the time, where the police just seem like they’re not adequately trained.”

Artist David Everitt-Carlson whipped out a summons he received last weekend for setting up an art exhibit tucked behind a station elevator.
“This was surprising to me,” said Carlson, 60, of the East Village. “We’ve been on the Highline for four years and have never had issues.”

Busted subway busker reveals why he refused“The MTA is proud to support and promote the arts and musical performances,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “Any musician is welcome to perform in the New York City subway system as long as they follow the Transit Rules of Conduct.”

NYPD Transit Chief Joseph Fox said officers monitoring subway stations are forced to perform a delicate balancing act.

“Our officers work to protect the rights of everyone who lawfully uses the transit system — artistic performers and commuters alike,” Fox said. “This often means a balance between protecting the uniquely New York experience performers provide, while at the same time ensuring safe passage for subway riders.”

New York’s New Second Avenue Subway Has Already Become A Culture Destination!

“There are several contenders for coolest neighborhood in New York, but the Upper East Side is usually not one of them.”

Musicians can also perform even if they are not part of the MTA’s Music Under New York program.

But the group Busk NY says police harrassment has become common at the new stations.

The MTA issued a statement saying it is proud to support arts and musical performances.

It goes on to say, “Any musician is welcome to perform in the New York City subway system as long as they follow the Transit Rules of Conduct.”