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Our feature articles are Obama High Speed Rail Plan Obama Administration releases strategic plan to prompt high-speed rail development.

What is wrong with the NEC After all the money Uncle Sam has spent on the Northeast Corridor, couldn't it work a lot better?

Which direction New York and Boston Story from a few years ago about the options available between New York and Boston (tilting trains, etc)

Rail Stations: Recipe for Urban Renewal How can rebuilding of a rail station spark the renaissance of a whole area of a town? Try Hartford, Connecticut. If its Union Station did not exist, Hartford might of had to invent it. The century-old train station was transformed into a full-service transportation center as well as a retail, office and restaurant complex.

What's Doing in North Jersey Commuting? While visiting relatives in Northern New Jersey a few years ago, I couldn't help but to be amazed by the many rail lines I crossed. Most of these were CONRAIL, most of these are commuter, and most of these are ex Erie-Lackawanna.

High-Speed Rail Corridors and John R. Stilgoe U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration has drawn a map of High-Speed Rail Corridor Designations. John R. Stilgoe has commented extensively on this: Unlike many United States industries, railroads are intrinsically linked to American soil and particular regions. Yet few Americans pay attention to rail lines, even though millions of them live in an economy and culture "waiting for the train."

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Obama Administration releases strategic plan to prompt high-speed rail development

The strategic plan identifies 10 high-speed rail corridors as potential recipients of federal funding:

• the California Corridor (including stops in the Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego);

• Pacific Northwest Corridor (with stops in Eugene and Portland, Ore., Tacoma and Seattle, Wash., and Vancouver, British Columbia);

• South Central Corridor (with stops in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Okla., Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and Little Rock, Ark.);

• Gulf Coast Corridor (with stops in Houston, New Orleans, Mobile and Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta);

• Chicago Hub Network (with stops in Chicago, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, Indianapolis and Louisville, Ky.);

• Florida Corridor (with stops in Orlando, Tampa and Miami);

• Southeast Corridor (with stops in Washington, D.C., Richmond, Va., Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Macon and Savannah, Ga., Columbia, S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla.);

• Keystone Corridor (with stops in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pa.);

• Empire Corridor (with stops in New York City, Albany and Buffalo, N.Y.);
and
• Northern New England Corridor (with stops in Boston, Montreal, Portland, Maine, Springfield, Mass., New Haven, Conn., and Albany, N.Y.).

See the full Obama High Speed Rail plan

Another spin on Obama's High Speed Rail Plan from the New Haven Register.

National Rail Plan 2009.

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What's Wrong with the NEC?

After all the money Uncle Sam has spent on the Northeast Corridor, couldn't it work a lot better?

A beautiful October Friday and train #175 has just gone on the board as ten minutes late into New Haven from Boston. How can a train be late in perfect weather?

One obvious reason is that heavy track and bridge maintenance in the northeast must be concentrated in the summer. Evidence of big projects is clear. Most obvious to me are the Metro-North bridges at Stratford, Westport and Norwalk. Extraordinarily hot weather can cause lower speeds as welded rail can expand beyond acceptable tolerance, causing heat-related alignment problems. At 95 degrees F, Amtrak cuts its Northeast Corridor speed limits to 80 mph, from a top of 125 mph (37 days this summer vs. 24 last year).

Since we were traveling after 11 am on Friday, the usual round trip "excursion" fare of $78 was not in force. Rather than pay $120 for New Haven to Washington, we had purchased tickets from Providence to Washington for $82. Because Providence is over $65, we could return for $7. New London (between New Haven and Providence) cost $64 so we could not get the special. A conductor waiting to board at New Haven with us was surprised at what we were doing but acknowledged it was a smart move. This is a variation on the "hidden city" strategy (game) used by airline travelers.

How is it possible that Amtrak can take a longer time to go from New Haven to New York than Metro-North? Maybe it is because Metro-North "owns" the pike and believes "the shoemakers children shouldn't go with bare feet".

The first problem of double-stops was caused by the length of the train (2 AEM-7's; 2 snack cars; 16 coaches). The train had to make two stops at each station. Rather than follow the Metro-North practice of moving people to center cars at short platforms, Amtrak stops the front of the train at the platform, loads and unloads those cars; then moves the train in order to spot the rear cars.

At New Rochelle, we had a wait crossing onto the Hell Gate route because of the north-bound rush hour traffic. While waiting, I observed the only non-standard piece of equipment the whole trip - an Amtrak coach with "Santa Fe" still faintly visible on the sides.

Why do we slow at stations where we do not stop? One would think we could breeze through on the middle tracks. Instead, we creep by.

One problem we didn't seem to have was freight train interference. This can be a problem as rail freight traffic is rising nationwide while railroads concentrate it on fewer lines. Economic efficiency prompts railroads to run without a caboose; however this can cause longer en-route delays as crews walking along a stopped train to find a problem car start from one end rather than both ends of the train. Freights using Amtrak's Northeast Corridor between 7 AM and 10 PM are required to carry cabooses.

We were an hour late getting into Washington's newly refurbished station. The escalator from the lower level to the station was only running down. All the passengers on an 18-car train walked up the stairs!

Loading and unloading could be speeded up. Let's start with the escalator system at New York's Penn Station. The train unloads and passengers go up the escalator. When the train is unloaded, the direction of the escalator changes. Why not two sets of escalators?

Washington's METRO runs like clockwork. It accelerates and holds to its schedule. If Amtrak isn't taking advantage of the power of the AEM-7's; why nor revert back to GG1's and save lots of money. At $2.5 million, the AEM-7 is the most expensive and most sophisticated locomotive ever delivered. Its 50 foot, 101 ton body delivers 7,000 horsepower (the highest horsepower-to-weight ratio ever achieved by mankind). An on-board minicomputer insures the machine won't burn holes in the rails from wheel slip.

Air conditioning malfunctions characterized our return trip. I guess nobody believes they are necessary after September 30.

On our return trip, the snack car was closed from Washington to Baltimore. Bet it wouldn't be if it were ran as a private concession.

Is the level of equipment service causing delays? Budget cuts in 1986 caused Amtrak to raise the number of miles between heavy overhauls. Seven new AEM-7s being built will help immensely. While locomotive levels have been restored to the manufacturer-approved level, many cars have gone eight years without a major overhaul. Amtrak has a goal of overhauling 150 Amfleet cars annually at Bear, DE. Their goal for preventive maintenance is 120-days. Unfortunately, peak travel periods require "stealing" cars scheduled for PM.

Amtrak is redesigning the toilets on older Amfleet cars using all-stainless steel and eliminating the plastic shroud which retains unpleasant odors. In addition, the pump-out frequency is being increased. This is a costly, time-consuming process. Other improvements in the works are a reassessment of the interval for filling the water tanks and installation of receptacle locks on the 480-volt power cables between cars which can become disconnected en route.

The 456-mile Corridor accounts for nearly half of Amtrak's riders. Not even the budget cuts of the Reagan presidency contemplated killing the Corridor. While much was done in the way of track reconstruction, grade crossing elimination, station improvements, electric power distribution and train performance; we could have had more. The "unwatered" Northeast Corridor Improvement Project proposed 150 mph speeds plus electrification from New Haven to Boston. As finally signed by Gerald Ford in 1976, speed was cut to 120 mph and New Haven-Boston is still an issue. The NECIP ran like a typical government program: that which the Federal Railroad Administration planned turned out to be different than what the outside consultants designed which in turn bore little resemblance to what Amtrak actually built. Many innovations were incorporated into the project. The best example is concrete ties which should last 50 years (versus 25 for wood), provide more stable support for high-speed trains, and save on alignment maintenance.

One final complaint - what ever happened to foot bars on the floor of the seat in front of you?

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com
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WHICH DIRECTION NEW YORK & BOSTON?

The campaign for high-speed rail service between New York and Boston is heating up. Presidential aspirant Michael Dukakis (Governor of Massachusetts in real life) made a trip between Boston and Providence on two "tilting" trains that proponents claim could be the key to faster service.

The 43-mile route took 34 minutes each way. Outbound on a Canadian train and inbound on a Spanish one. These trains are capable of holding 110 mph on curves. This is vital since the 232 New York to Boston route miles have 230 curves.

The Canadian train is the LRC built by Bombardier of Quebec and used by VIA Rail. The Spanish train is a Talgo. These trains are undergoing evaluation on the entire route. Testing is under the direction of AMTRAK and the Federal Railroad Administration. A lot of the testing occurs at night so as to not interfere with current schedules. These trains have been seen "holed up" during the day at the motor storage area in New Haven.

The object of the whole exercise is to find a way to better the 4 3/4 hour trip time. Something between three and 3 1/2 hours would provide a viable alternative to a taxi-plane-taxi trip.

Several key decisions must be made:

Improve the equipment on the existing roadbed or improve the roadbed as well as the equipment?

Extend Washington to New York electrification?

How many and where are the station stops?

Will the benefits be worth the cost (ridership?)?

Who will finance (government? private? both?)?

It would be far cheaper to use "technology" trains like those being tested than it would be to improve the roadbed to the point that existing Washington to New York trains could maintain the same pace on a New York to Boston route. Electrification adds a whole new dimension to the cost picture but allows a time savings from no engine changes.

A limited-stop Boston to New York train could run today in 3 hours and 45 minutes. That assumes 7 minutes to decelerate, stop and get back to speed (for six stops). Electrification (or the ability to run in a dual power mode) would cut out the 10 minute break at New Haven leaving running time a little over 3 1/2 hours. Non-stop trains could run in even less time. Unfortunately, it is politically difficult to run non-stop - especially if Rhode Island and Connecticut help pay the bill.

Whichever route is taken to upgrade the "Northeast Corridor-North" will have to grasp with a LOT of curves and bridges. Old New Haven employee timetables have a page and a half of speed restrictions. Some of the curves are tough - for instance at Bridgeport.

Stops could be minimized by using a system of "secondary" trains. Lets assume certain Boston to New York trains only stopped at Providence and New Haven. Another Boston to Providence train would leave Boston earlier and make the intermediate stops. New York or New Haven passengers from any of these intermediate stations would change trains at Providence.

Likewise, passengers to New York from points between Providence and New Haven would take a secondary train to New Haven and change trains. New Haven to New York secondary trains would be operated by Metro-North. Providence to Boston would be operated by MBTA. Providence to New Haven would presumably be operated by AMTRAK.

After a high-speed train arrives in either Providence or New Haven, another secondary train would take passengers from the high-speed train to intermediate stops beyond the high-speed stop.

Conservative estimates show ridership doubling if train time equals taxi-plane-taxi time. About a quarter of Boston (Logan Airport) flights are to New York so a reduction in airport crowding is another benefit.

A big question is would anybody in the private sector be willing to invest and risk the capital. If they were, it might be a way around the several Federal, state and local organizations which would , as always, have trouble working together.

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com
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RAIL STATIONS - RECIPE FOR URBAN RENEWAL

How can rebuilding of a rail station spark the renaissance of a whole area of a town? Try Hartford, Connecticut. If its Union Station did not exist, Hartford might of had to invent it. The century-old train station was transformed into a full-service transportation center as well as a retail, office and restaurant complex.

Its been quite a turnaround. Just a few years ago, the neighborhood was a center for head shops, leather stores, rock and disco clubs and was filled with transients, hustlers and hookers. Now the area has taken on an upscale mood.

The Union Station project, which took 18 years and about $20 million, is almost - but not completely - finished. The train, bus taxi and limousine areas as well as the station's main hall are completed. All of the office and retail store space - including a hair salon, newsstand, travel agency and a variety of professional offices – is leased. Three of five restaurants in the food court are open, featuring Vietnamese, ice cream and burger fare respectively. A cornerstone restaurant called Hot Tomato's has opened. A deli and a cinnamon bun eatery are likely to fill the food court.

Union Station by itself would never have had an impact, but what it has done is to act as a catalyst for other changes. New upscale clubs in the area attract thousands of people, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Development plans for office buildings in the area are numerous.

Hartford train ridership in the past two years has increased from around 200,000 in 1986 to 250,000 in 1988. While most trains are New Haven-Springfield, there are several that follow the inland route to Boston. Additionally, Hartford is on the Washington-Montreal route.

The station is an important site in Hartford. It is the physical evidence of the city's shift from river-based commerce to a rail-based system that allowed the city to grow tremendously in the late 19th Century. It is also a rare local example of Romanesque architecture.

Unfortunately, Union Station is not yet a mass transportation center. Its owner, the Greater Hartford Transit District, has some ideas of what the future should hold. Its chairman, Paul A Ehrhardt, is trying to sell officials of area towns what would be one of the most ambitious efforts to change transportation, housing and commercial development in an American city.

Multi-story apartment buildings, park-and-ride lots, office buildings and shops would grow around suburban transit stops. Currently, suburbs are designed around two cars in every garage, but Hartford cannot support the huge daily influx of cars. But if transit lines were built and land around them rezoned for high-density development, then a mass transit system would work.

The transit district has received a $50,000 grant to study two rail corridors. One is the abandoned Griffin Line running north through Bloomfield. This could easily be extended to Bradley International Airport. The other line is the former New Haven Highland Line which crosses the Connecticut River to East Hartford, South Windsor and Manchester.

The study will consist of:

Cataloging how the strip of land along the rail line is currently zoned.

Sketching a suburban transportation center, possibly including "affordable" housing, the terminus for local feeder bus service and/or park-and-ride lots, day-care centers, convenience stores and commercial development.

Mapping a rail route from the end of the state-controlled Griffin Line to Bradley Airport.

Determining how much systems have cost elsewhere (for instance, Pittsburgh and Portland, Oregon). A mile of electrified rail is estimated to cost between $12 million and $20 million.

Looking at possible financing, including tapping the expected increase in value of public land near the transit line.

In Washington, Union Station spurs building. The opening of a new three-level mall last September has signaled the onset of the next stage in redevelopment of the station's neighborhood near Capitol Hill.

The success of the mall in the 81-year-old structure, renovated at a cost of $120 million, vindicated investment by developers as early as 1980 in the area.

In June, a developer completed the first phase of Union Center Plaza, a 181,000 square foot building now 70 percent leased to trade associations.

Bounded by North Capitol Street on the west, New York and Florida Avenues on the north, Second Street Northeast on the east and Massachusetts Avenue on the south, the 11-block area is now covered with warehouses, coal yards, low-quality Government buildings and two bus stations. Brokers say 18 million square feet of Class A space can be built in the neighborhood, where there is little existing housing, few zoning restrictions and convenient subway and railroad transportation.

On the west side of Union Station, another developer will add over 300,000 square feet to the historic six-story city post office. They are leasing the building from the Postal Service and expect to lease it back to the General Services Administration. It will house the offices of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Architect of the Capitol.

Yet another developer is about to close on a purchase agreement for about $50 million with Woodward & Lothrop for the department store's 500,000-square-foot warehouse alongside the railroad tracks north of the station. The department store will lease back the building at submarket rates until another site can be found for its distribution facility.

The restored Union Station has more than 100 shops, five major restaurants and cafes and a nine-screen movie complex. The Beaux-Arts building, designed by Daniel Burnham at the turn of the century, had been closed since 1981 due to rot and neglect.

Elsewhere, Washington has done it already and now Philadelphia has announced plans to spend $75 million on the dreary 54-year-old neo-classical 30th Street railroad station. 16,000 feet will be added to the existing 14,000 square feet of retail space. Included will be a food court seating 200 people. Two five-story office buildings on either end of the central passenger concourse, now all but vacant, will be renovated into 250,000 square feet of office space for AMTRAK's Northeast Corridor.

A 450-space underground garage will be built as well as extensive new lighting, landscaping and cleaning. Service for the annual 8.5 million passengers will not be interrupted. The developers view the renovation as the first stage of turning the whole area into a major business and entertainment district. Another developer has an agreement to develop 66 acres of air rights just north of the station.

Opened in 1933, 30th Street was built away from the center of Philadelphia to save the reverse move that was required at the more conveniently located Broad Street Station. Now it has to build a more suitable neighborhood for itself.

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com
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WHAT'S DOING IN NORTH JERSEY COMMUTING

While visiting relatives in Northern New Jersey, I couldn't help but to be amazed by the many rail lines I crossed. Most of these are CONRAIL, most of these are commuter, and most of these are ex Erie-Lackawanna.

The old DL&W consisted of the Boonton Branch, the Montclair branch (electrified), the Gladstone Branch (electrified), and the Morris & Essex (electrified). Ferry service from Hoboken reached Manhattan at Barclay Street and before that at West 23rd Street (shared with the Jersey Central and Erie and closed in 1946) and Christopher Street (closed in 1955). Ferry service ended in 1967 after daily passengers had dropped from 100,000/day to 3000. There was also isolated trackage in the Bronx reached by car ferry. This trackage ran early diesels such as a 1926 Alco/GE/Ingersoll-Rand). The DL&W was a coal carrier and extended west through Scranton and Binghamton to Buffalo.

The Erie consisted of a Northern Branch to Piermont, NY (also as far as Nyack at one time) running through Closter, NJ; the New Jersey & New York to Spring Valley, NY through Hillsdale, NJ; and the Main Line to Port Jervis (88 miles from New York City) as well as some smaller branches (including at one time the New York, Susquehanna & Western). The Piermont Branch ran from Sparkill on the Northern Branch, through Nanuet Junction and Spring Valley on the New Jersey & New York to Suffern on the New York Division (Main Line). 1966 saw the end of commuter service on the Northern Branch, the Newark Branch, the Caldwell Branch, and the Greenwood Lake line north of Mountain View.

1960 saw the merger of the two roads into the Erie-Lackawanna. As a result, part of the Boonton line was abandoned and a connection made with the Greenwood Lake line at Mountain View. Prior to the merger, the Erie's passenger terminal at Jersey City had been consolidated with the Lackawanna's at Hoboken. The only trains which still ran into the Erie's Pavonia Street station were the Northern Division and the New York, Susquehanna & Western trains to Butler, NJ. Both are long gone now. While the Hoboken Terminal was built as a bimodal ferry house/rail terminal, recent renovations have been on the rail side. With the retirement of the ferries "Binghamton", "Elmira", "Scranton", and "Lackawanna", the river side of the terminal has been steadily deteriorating. New Jersey Transit runs over 60,000 passengers/day through this terminal on almost 250 trains. The terminal, built in 1907, has 17 tracks, iron gates and a unique train shed.

The creation of CONRAIL saw ex-DL&W line from Port Morris to Delaware Water Gap out of service and the ex-Erie line beyond Port Jervis downgraded.

The New Jersey & New York line to Spring Valley is known as the Pascack Valley Line. 18 minutes from Hoboken is Woodridge (just past NJ&NY Junction). Montvale is 55 minutes from Hoboken and the last stop in New Jersey. It takes 14 more minutes to reach Spring Valley, NY (30.6 miles from Hoboken). In the morning there are seven inbound trains-the earliest leaves Spring Valley at 5:41 AM and the latest gets into Hoboken at 9:05 AM (9:21 AM at the World Trade Center and 9:25 AM at 33rd Street-both via PATH). In the evening there are 9 outbound trains. The earliest leaves Hoboken at 4:30 PM and the latest arrives in Spring Valley at 11:39 PM. Other commuting towns served include Oradell and Woodcliff Lake. There is no holiday, weekend or non-rush hour service. In 1957, there were only six daily trains.

The first stop on the Boonton line is Arlington (13 minutes from Hoboken). There is no weekend or holiday service and little off-peak. Five inbound trains originate in Netcong (48 miles from Hoboken) and three additional trains begin in Dover (19 miles away). There are two more afternoon trains from Lincoln Park and a 6:23 PM from Great Notch (where a line to Morristown, etc branches off). There are 12 outbound trains-the earliest is a 3:10 PM from 33rd Street-five of these go to Netcong.

The Main Line/Bergen County line has 22 inbound trains leaving Suffern. There are 39 outbound trains from Hoboken (Suffern is 30.5 miles from Hoboken). Seven trains/day serve Port Jervis (2 hours and 10 minutes - 87 miles from Hoboken). Nine trains per day terminate at Walwick. Other important commuter towns served are Mahwah and Ridgewood. The Bergen County Line leaves the Main Line near Rutherford and rejoins it near Glen Rock. Under the Erie, most of the freight was routed over the Bergen County Branch. Until the 1950's, the Erie operated a deluxe commuter train to Port Jervis which was one of the few trains in the country to carry parlor cars in regular commuter assignments.

Many branches were abandoned because of the Erie-Lackawanna consolidation and others because of the CONRAIL consolidation. Many others have no passenger service. Since 1960, the Erie-Lackawanna was increasingly dependent on State subsidies to help fund deficit-ridden commuter lines.

The Morristown Line (The Morris & Essex) is the busiest of the old EL suburban service (so busy in fact that NJ Transit is always out of timetables when I ask). There are over 100 daily trains (less than half this on weekends). Most of the trains originate or terminate at Dover. The Gladstone (42 miles long) and Montclair (13 miles long) branches are busy during commuter hours, but slacken up the rest of the time. The Gladstone Branch (sometimes known as the Passaic & Delaware Branch) splits off the main line at Summit and meanders like a rural interurban through hilly country (Far Hills, Murray Hill, etc) to a stub-end terminal at Gladstone. Overhead electrification, in-place since 1931, was recently renovated and changed from 3,000 volts direct current to 25,000 volts alternating current. In the process, 141 M-U cars along with as many trailers were replaced with "Jersey Arrows".

NJ Transit (NJDOT) is the most varied New York area commuter operation because it inherited such a varied past: CRR of NJ, Erie-Lackawanna, Reading, Lehigh Valley, Penn-Central. In 1979, NJ Transit had 90 diesels (U34CH, E8A, GP40P & GP7), 20 RDC-1s, 12 GG-1s and the since-replaced Lackawanna M-U cars. The two hubs of activity are Newark where North Jersey Coast Line passengers transfer to PATH and AMTRAK passes through and Hoboken where the old Erie-Lackawanna terminates. Until the days of public ownership under NJDOT, the Erie-Lackawanna had several subscription, or membership, parlor club cars. These cars had carpeted floors, wicker arm chairs, etc. From Hoboken, connections are made to Manhattan via PATH tunnels. PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) trains provide cheap service to either the basement of the World Trade Center or to Herald Square at 33rd Street and 6th Avenue.

The most surprising thing I found out was that service levels are higher now than under the Erie-Lackawanna in the 1970's.

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com

High-Speed Rail Corridors and John R. Stilgoe

U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration has drawn a map of High-Speed Rail Corridor Designations.



Yes there are some logical missing links that might be needed on this map such as connecting Cleveland to Buffalo, Pittsburgh to Cleveland, Kansas City to Tulsa, Little Rock to St. Louis, Houston to San Antonio, Houston to Dallas, Jacksonville to Orlando and possibly Louisville-Nashville-Atlanta. Its not that someone would necessarily travel from end to end, say Kansas City to Boston by HSR (though could) but that within that route it would serve many short trips of riders traveling to the next major metro area down the track (i.e. from Chicago to Cleveland). As much as I dislike flying one would still likely fly from New Orleans to New York even if there is a continuous HSR line the entire way. The only other real seperate HSR corridors I would think could be added to this map would be Las Vegas to Los Angeles (and the whole CA HSR system) and a route into Toronto. Ideally I see feeder lines (tying into HSR hubs) as important as the HSR lines themselves. The slower speed feeder lines going into smaller cities away from the main HSR corridors help provide full blanket coverage of a region. Plus they also would cater to rural communities which is needed to provide transport to these areas and for poltical support whereas HSR alone entirely caters solely to large cities.

Gee I wrote on this years ago with New York State's Empire Corridor....the idea of feeder lines and high speed lines.

It all goes back to using transit effectively: airlines good over 600 miles then railroads best until 50 miles. Then trams (or even smelly old busses).

Freight similar. Just don't do stupid things like cross-country tractor-trailers or expecting a train to be timely for a 20-mile move (exception: using commuter trains for small package delivery.) Maybe this is the route Amtrak should have gone 35 years ago instead of trying to give each Congressional District a Trans-Continental train of its own.

See Update on commuter rail between Delaware & Old Saybrook and A National High Speed Network.

John R. Stilgoe has commented extensively on this: Unlike many United States industries, railroads are intrinsically linked to American soil and particular regions. Yet few Americans pay attention to rail lines, even though millions of them live in an economy and culture "waiting for the train." In Train Time: Railroads and the Imminent Reshaping of the United States Landscape, John R. Stilgoe picks up where his acclaimed work Metropolitan Corridor left off, carrying his ideas about the spatial consequences of railways up to the present moment. Arguing that the train is returning, "an economic and cultural tsunami about to transform the United States," Stilgoe posits a future for railways as powerful shapers of American life.

Divided into sections that focus on particular aspects of the impending impact of railroads on the landscape, Train Time moves seamlessly between historical and contemporary analysis. From his reading of what prompted investors to reorient their thinking about the railroad industry in the late 1970s, to his exploration of creative solutions to transportation problems and land-use planning and development in the present, Stilgoe expands our perspective of an industry normally associated with bad news. Urging us that "the magic moment is now," he observes, "Now a train is often only a whistle heard far off on a sleepless night. But romantic or foreboding or empowering, the whistle announces return and change to those who listen."

For scholars with an interest in American history in general and railroad and transit history in particular, as well as general readers concerned about the future of transportation in the United States, Train Time is an engaging look at the future of our railroads.

Metropolitan Corridor
"An outstanding study of the intellectual and social ramifications of railway development in the United States from the 1880s to the 1930s. . . . Whether we are enthusiasts, scholars, buffs, commuters, or Amtrak riders, Stilgoe offers us a new way to look at railroads and railroading. . . . A brief review cannot convey the sweep of this outstanding contribution to American cultural history."—Keith L. Bryant, Jr., Railroad History

"How railroads affected the landscape and transformed American culture from 1880 to 1930 is the focus of John R. Stilgoe’s profusely illustrated work. In 1983 our reviewer, Dolores Greenberg, called the book an ’impressive’ study and said, ’Here in wonderful detail are the trains and the built environment adjacent to the rightofway they traveled."-- New York Times Book Review

Metropolitan Corridor : Railroads and the American Scene examines the United States railroad environment in the years between 1880 and 1930, focusing on railroad travel, the perceptions of train passengers, and the constituents of the rail corridor itself, everything from power plants and industrial zones to railroad yards, grade crossings, suburban depots and the first landscapes shaped by railroad abandonment.

http://www.dce.harvard.edu/pubs/lamplighter/1996/spring/success.html Stilgoe predicts the return of railroad Investment activity points to future of travel, commerce

The golden age of the railroad ended in the mid-20th century, when Americans switched from Pullman cars to Chevys and eventually 747 jetliners. Yet, to John R. Stilgoe, Robert and Lois Orchard Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Graduate School of Design, trains are anything but passé. Based on analyses of real estate investment patterns along railroad corridors, Stilgoe predicts that trains will once again play a key role in shaping American life.

“Train travel will supplant highway and air travel in the next few decades,” Stilgoe says. “Furthermore, electric railroads will increasingly be used to distribute freight items — such as coal and grain — as well as mail and express packages.” He explores this scenario in a recently published book, “Train Time: Railroads and the Imminent Reshaping of the United States Landscape” (University of Virginia Press, 2007).

Stilgoe cites investment and real estate activity as the best indicators of the impending railroad renaissance. He notes that in April 2007, for example, investor Warren Buffett purchased 39 million shares of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which operates railroad services in the Midwestern and western United States.

“It’s very clear what is happening,” Stilgoe says. “The share price of railroad stocks is going up and up. One would never imagine that railroads could be good investment … but then why is Warren Buffett so interested?”

Stilgoe also says that real estate transfers in Midwestern towns that lie along old rail routes have been more frequent, with most properties significantly increasing in value.

“There is a lot of money moving this way,” he says, “because these satellite towns will be worth a great deal when the trains come back. Investors are purchasing everything from derelict buildings to gravel plots, which can be easily transformed into parking lots when the time is right.”

Stilgoe adds that politicians are increasingly interested in exploring railroad development. In “auto-centric” cities like St. Louis and Atlanta, he says, politicians are initiating feasibility studies to determine how an increased railroad presence would enhance commercial activity.

“Rail-equipment manufacturers are already soliciting orders,” says Stilgoe. “This is well under way.”

According to Stilgoe, the three prime factors driving railroad development are population growth, rising gas prices, and advanced technology.

“Experts anticipate that there will be 150 million more Americans by 2050,” says Stilgoe. “Anyone who drives knows that the highways are already jammed and can hardly accommodate additional traffic.” Stilgoe argues that extension of high-speed rail service would alleviate crowded urban highways by enabling commuters to live farther from the city center.

“If more passenger trains were permitted to go 90 miles per hour — which they are capable of doing — that would dramatically impact the shape of urban and exurban settlement,” he says.

Development in Albuquerque, N.M., provides a compelling example of Stilgoe’s theory. In 2004, city officials ordered 10 new bi-level commuter railroad cars, at a price of $2.2 million each. The cars serve a newly expanded network that connects small communities throughout greater Albuquerque.

“Wealthy people can live north or south of the city, come in to do their work, and leave again,” says Stilgoe.

In addition to population growth, Stilgoe argues that increasing gas prices will lead more passengers to the railroad.

“As gasoline rises it becomes cheaper to travel by train,” Stilgoe says. “Railroads are part of a sustainable future.”

Fuel efficiency will not only alter passenger travel, says Stilgoe, it will also impact the distribution of freight. Electrified railways will provide a convenient and low-cost method of delivering goods and packages throughout the country.

“In the 1930s it was possible to order a fridge in the morning and have it delivered by train later the same day,” says Stilgoe. “Americans forgot about this, but we’re starting to put it back together.”

Finally, Stilgoe suggests that advanced technology will play a key role in encouraging railroad development.

“This is a high-tech industry,” he says. “We have the technology to revitalize outdated tracks, to turn them into electrified rails that can support high-speed, on-time trains.” Eco-friendly locomotives have already been developed, as well as onboard computer systems designed to calculate the most fuel-efficient speeds.

“Few people have taken notice of the developments in the railroad industry,” Stilgoe says. “But they should — because it is going to have an undeniable impact on the future of our nation.”

This November, Californians will vote on a $10 billion bond to anchor funding for its proposed all-electric high speed rail (HSR) network, intended primarily as a long-distance passenger service. The remainder of the projected $40 billion price tag is supposed to come from Washington and private investors. Governor Schwarzenegger is still sitting on the fence because he wants the funding firmed up first.

Proponents want the system to deliver downtown to downtown travel times that are competitive with intrastate air travel, e.g. between SFO, LAX and SAN. The comparison includes the time spent getting to and from the airports, check-in, security and baggage claim. In other countries, airlines are now beginning to code-share HSR stations in their booking systems, effectively expanding their number of destinations. Fewer intrastate flights would mean existing runways could be used to support more long-distance travel.

Fierce debate raged over how best to connect the Bay Area to the Central Valley. The California High Speed Rail Authority recently endorsed a southern alignment through the sparsely populated Pacheco pass (close to SR 152) and across the Central Valley to join the main line south of Merced. This expensive option would allow trains would travel at very high speed between Gilroy and Fresno.

An alternate northern route through the Altamont pass near Livermore would have required many fewer miles of HSR track and enabled regional service for a number of existing cities. It would also have provided better connectivity between the Bay Area and Sacramento, but it was feared the resulting compromise would also have made the service less competitive with airline travel between the anchor cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. After all, you can't run a train at 220mph through built-up neighborhoods, even on new, grade-separated tracks.

No-one is proposing high speed rail service from coast to coast. In developed countries, such trains are competitive with airlines at distances up to 1000km (600mi) at most, and then only if (a) the majority of the route is traversed at speeds in excess of 200mph.

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com

Who Built Amtrak's Equipment?



Surfliners- Alstom
The 22 new "California" Surfliners (also for use on the Capitols/San Joaquin) were built by Alstom in 2002.

Superliner I- Pullman Standard
The Superliner I were the last passenger cars built by Pullman before bankruptcy and divesture in 1982.

Superliner II- Bombardier
Amtrak: Awarded a $110 million contract to Bombardier for 55 new Superliner II cars.

New Auto Racks- Johnstown America Corporation/FreightCar America (Johnstown America Corporation became FreightCar America in 2004 FreightCar America (then aka Johnstown America Corporation) [also manufactures container flatbeds, boxcar, coal, industrial, auto carriers and more for freight trains].
Northeast Corridor Running Times (2007)

WAS-NYP

Acela Express 2 hours 45 minutes
Regional 3 hours 15 minutes
Shuttle 1 hour
Greyhound 4 hours 30 minutes


BOS-NYP

Acela Express 3 hours 30 minutes
Regional 4 hours 15 minutes
Shuttle 1 hour 10 minutes
Greyhound 4 hours 30 minutes


WAS-BOS

Acela Express 6 hours 30 minutes
Regional 7 hours 45 minutes
Shuttle 1 hour 25 minutes
Greyhound 10 hours 30 minutes


Note: Running times are approximate. Source: Amtrak, Greyhound, Delta and USAirways official sites.
These are terminal-to-terminal. Do not include travel from center city to terminal or check-in times (minimal except air)
Our HAND TOOL WebSite is intended in aiding you to locate HAND TOOL suppliers. You may search by product or by manufacturer. We add both products and manufacturers, so keep checking back. In addition we are a full service MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operational Supplies) supplier. If you are in the construction or farming business, we are your source.

REA Express


In 1966 REA Express was operating a system primarily engaged in the expeditious transportation of express packages, less-than-carlot, and carlot shipments requiring special handling. REA Express also provided a world-wide shipping service through contracts with air carriers, acted as an ocean freight forwarder to many countries of the world, and provided local truck express service in some large cities of the United States. A subsidiary company of REA Express leased truck trailers to railroads, forwarders, and shippers for the use in trailer-on-flat car service. Such miscellaneous services as pick-up-and-delivery services for railroads, custom brokerage on import traffic, sale of traveler's checks and money orders, and collection of C. O. D. charges were also performed. REA Express conducted its business through 8,200 offices and used in its operations 137,000 miles of railroad, 132,000 miles of air lines, 79,000 miles of motor carrier lines, and 6,600 of water lines. The company employed 30,000 persons and operated a fleet of 12,000 trucks. The company handled some 66,000,000 shipment annually. (Association of American Railroads)

-with all those assets and experience, even though rail shipping was in decline, REA dominated the private package business. It was already into trucks, had name recognition, a customer base etc. -why did it finally fail? Why didn't it follow the trends and morph into something successful like UPS and FED EX?

We have a lot of information on the Railway Express Agency, later known as REA Express and also have significant background information available that will help you understand why REA Express failed.
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Railroads On The Rebound

Over the last 50+ years, railroads have changed a lot. Now they are about to change again.

It is all about a combination of economic factors and climate factors.

Since 1950 , railroads have consolidated. Freight moved from a "box car mentality" to a "unit train,mentality". Passenger went from a robust business to a "caretaker" arrangement called AMTRAK. This happened as everybody could drive for free on the Interstate Highway System or fly on an airline system where the government subsidized both airlines and airports. In the meantime, railroad express and railroad post offices went "down the tubes". The old Post Office Department and the Railway Express Agency could not adjust to the new way. UPS and Fex Ex could.
Carbon Calculator
What's the most environmentally-friendly way to transport goods? The answer is freight rail. The EPA estimates that every ton-mile of freight that moves by rail instead of by highway reduces greenhouse emissions by two-thirds. But what does that really mean? Our easy-to-use carbon calculator will estimate the amount of carbon dioxide that can be prevented from entering our environment just by using freight rail instead of trucks. We'll even tell you how many seedlings you'd need to plant to have the same effect.
Penn Central New Haven Railroad New York Central Railroad
Interested in Penn Central? New York Central? Pennsylvania Railroad? New Haven Railroad? or in the smaller Eastern US railroads? Then you will be interested in "What if the Penn Central Merger Did Not Happen". You will also enjoy "Could George Alpert have saved the New Haven?" as well as "What if the New Haven never merged with Penn Central?"
Snow Belt in New York State Boonville Station There is a "Snow Belt" in New York State that runs above Syracuse and Utica. It goes East from Oswego to at least Boonville. Here's the station at Boonville.

Find out more about Weather around the World

Ominous Weather is about more than weather. Its about our environment. Its about our social issues that need to be surfaced if we want to save our environment. See Champions of our Environment like Al Gore SAS le Prince Albert II de Monaco John R. Stilgoe Ralph Nader. We have addressed several railroad-related projects that will conserve fuel and lessen pollution. Our Window on Europe spotlights projects that can help the rest of the World.
We have other environmental sites on garbage trucks and Rapid response temporary shelters / portable housing.

Read a story about the section of the Northeast Corridor from New Rochelle to New Haven. Read another story about trains cancelled from snow.
Monte Carlo Grand Prix Monte Carlo Grand Prix is about the most famous race in the World. The Casino is magical and crowded with the most famous and richest people in the world. All of them gather for one of the major events of the year: the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix, which takes place in the streets of the city. The nights are marvelous: charity dinner or gala organized by the Grimaldi family in its Palace, dancing in night-clubs such as The Living Room, gambling in the Casino.

SEE Monte Carlo and Monaco

JWH Rapid Response Temporary Housing

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Our containers will make a great summer camping.

We can make your summer camp a great looking building. All the comforts of home at a much less cost.
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See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History We cover New York Central, New Haven Railroad and other Eastern Railroads. Penney Vanderbilt and KC Jones See Penney Vanderbilt BLOG about Golf and Vacations, especially on the French Riviera We have a lot about Nice, France. Not only do we cover golf on the French Riviera, but also Northwest France, Quebec, Golf Hotels and THE US Open

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It morphed into MY PERFECT INTERNET



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