September 3, 2010

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Fast Mail for RAIL is a regular compilation of the latest news and updates from the passenger rail industry that delivers timely information, resources, and announcements to RAIL Magazine subscribers, colleagues and friends. Please keep us posted on your latest news and developments by emailing your content to

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The Capitol Limited

News on federal passenger rail policy and developments from the Nation's Capitol

  • LaHood Announces First Technical Standards for High-Speed Rail: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the first-ever uniform technical standards for the manufacture of high-speed intercity passenger rail cars, a development that will enhance the ability of U.S. manufacturers to compete in what is set to become a burgeoning industry. A uniform standard creates a level playing field and economies of scale based on a common set of designs and technical requirements allowing U.S. based manufacturers to more effectively compete. Fostering healthy economic competition will drive down costs for rail owners and operators and the traveling public. Further, maintenance and repair costs will be lower because of lower parts acquisition costs. And, training can be streamlined with just one type of equipment, allowing faster turnaround for repairs.
  • Rep. Brown -- U.S. Should Fund High-Speed Rail: The expansion of passenger, high-speed and freight rail is critical to the economic growth of the United States. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, my goal is to have high-speed, intercity passenger and commuter rail lines connecting nationwide to enhance and improve our systems of transportation. A robust passenger rail system in America will go a long way toward solving some of our nation's economic, energy, environmental and transportation challenges, as well as create thousands of jobs. These benefits, however, do not come without a price tag, and experience in other countries makes it clear that a successful high-speed rail system will require consistent, committed funding.
  • Amtrak to Improve Chicago Union Station, New Control Center: Under way and slated for completion in February 2011, the projects include work at Chicago's Union Station and a new control center. Amtrak previously awarded a $106.2 million contract to Jacobs Inc. and subcontractors Kiewit Western Co. and Swanson Contracting to replace or renew five miles of track; renovate or repair buildings used to inspect and maintain trains at Union Station; and replace or upgrade water, air, lighting, natural gas and heated track switching systems.
  • Commentary: Leveraging Existing Transit Assets for New Transit-Oriented Development: "Of the dozens of metro and light rail lines completed in the United States between World War II and the 1990s, few took serious advantage of the ability of transit systems to increase property value by easing commutes into city centers. Most, on the other hand, maintained their focus on getting suburbanites to drive into stations and then use the train only to make the final journey into downtown. That approach, however, failed to deliver the same sort of high ridership as had systems constructed in the prewar period, when lines principally served dense residential and commercial areas close to downtown. It also increased the cost of implementation because it required the extension of lines miles from the city center and necessitated associated investments like park-and-ride lots. Meanwhile, because of a general misunderstanding about the value transit brings to neighborhoods, cities failed to develop areas near stations, leaving potentially highly valuable sites fallow."

The Community Flyer

Updates on passenger rail systems and projects from across the country

  • Chicago-Michigan Service Increases Frequency on Trial Basis (PDF): From Sept. 2-6, five eastbound Amtrak trains will depart Chicago once in the morning, twice in the afternoon and twice in the evening, making stops in New Buffalo, Niles and Kalamazoo, Mich. From Sept. 3-7, five westbound Amtrak trains will depart Kalamazoo three times in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. Some of these trains will also serve Hammond-Whiting and Michigan City, Ind., along with Dowagiac, Mich. The Amtrak Wolverine Service trains have been selling out -- even after adding additional coach and business class seats on the Chicago-Kalamazoo-Detroit/Pontiac corridor on weekends this year. For the period October 2009 through July 2010, more than 390,000 passengers rode the route, up nearly six percent from the previous year, with July 2010 ridership up nearly 23 percent from July 2009.
  • Virginia to Introduce New Richmond-Norfolk Train: In three years, travelers will be able to board an Amtrak train at Harbor Park in Norfolk and ride to Richmond and beyond for the first time in more than three decades. When it signed off on its six-year building plan Wednesday, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $93 million to re-establish passenger rail in South Hampton Roads. Since passenger rail in South Hampton Roads ended in 1977, the closest trains are across the harbor in Newport News.
  • FTA Approves Environmental Impact Statement for Honolulu Rail Project: The Federal Transit Administration has approved the final environmental impact statement for Oahu's rail transit project, but the document must be signed by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle before ground can be broken on the $5 billion project. When, or if, that will happen is not known because the EIS has to go through a review process by the state Office of Environmental Quality Control, said Lenny Klompus, spokesman for the governor. Once the review is complete, the EIS will be sent to Lingle for further review.
  • Sound Transit (Wash.) Completes First Mixed-Use Development Project: Seattle's Sound Transit is scheduled to open its first public-private transit-oriented development project, the Korean Women's Association's Senior City housing facility, at the Federal Way Transit Center. The mixed-use facility provides rental housing for 61 low-income residents and 3,125 square feet of office space for the organization. The project supports transit use by emphasizing pedestrian and commuter access to a mixed-use development clustered at and around stations.
  • New Station to Be Constructed in Exeter (N.H.): With more than half a million riders in eight years, the Exeter Train Station has firmly ensconced itself as a premiere destination for travelers. Now station supporters will have more to brag about with the announcement of a grant through the state Department of Transportation's 2009-10 Transportation Enhancement Program totaling close to $300,000. The money will go toward creating a transportation center on the site of the train station's former baggage building.
  • Housatonic Railroad Company Considering Restoration of Passenger Rail: Over the past two years, the Housatonic Railroad Company, headquartered in Canaan, Conn., has sent out feelers to the possibility of beginning another passenger service. But, according to Vice President of Special Projects F. Colin Pease and President John Hanlon, it's become time to stop talking and start doing, or at least research. In a letter sent this week to regional officials, Mr. Hanlon announced the initiation of a comprehensive study to determine ridership demand for a passenger rail service on the currently existing lines between Pittsfield, Mass., and New York City, and speculating that with the combined revenue from freight services, it may even be possible to operate passenger rails with little or no public subsidy.

The Locomotive Works

The latest news on equipment, products and services from the passenger rail industry

  • High-Speed Manufacturing Competition Gather Steam: The Obama administration wants to put 13 new, high-speed rail links between cities in Florida, California, the Midwest, the Northeast and the Northwest. The Transportation Department is working with states to plan train-service upgrades and new rail lines for trains running at speeds of 150 to 220 miles an hour. To qualify for the stimulus funding, overseas companies must hire American workers and make parts on American soil, a stipulation the Obama administration cites when asked if the global competition disadvantages U.S. companies.
  • Toronto Orders 182 Light-Rail Vehicles from Bombardier: Bombardier Transportation said Monday it has signed an agreement valued at $745 million to build 182 light-rail vehicles for Metrolinx in Toronto. Bombardier said the vehicles are scheduled to be delivered between 2013 and 2020. Metrolinx also may order up to an additional 118 vehicles as part of the agreement. Metrolinx operates mass transit in Toronto.
  • MBTA Purchases New Locomotives from Wabtec: MotivePower, a unit of Wabtec Corporation, has signed a contract with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to supply 20 next-generation HSP46 passenger locomotives to be delivered in 2012-13. The order is valued at $115 million including training, manuals and spare parts. The EPA Tier 3-compliant locomotives will be manufactured in Boise, Idaho with major components supplied by GE Transportation of Erie, Pa. GE also will work closely with MotivePower on design, integration and testing. Major components supplied by GE from its Erie and Grove City, Pa. facilities will include diesel engines, head-end power systems, computer control systems and its unique individual-axle AC traction systems. The project is expected to create or retain over 1,200 jobs.
  • AECOM Acquires INOCSA Ingenieria, S.L.: AECOM Technology Corporation has acquired INOCSA Ingenieria, S.L., a professional technical services firm headquartered in Madrid, Spain. Founded in 1976, INOCSA has earned a stellar reputation for high-speed rail implementation in Spain and beyond. According to AECOM-a leading global provider of professional and technical and management support services for government and commercial clients-the INOCSA acquisition provides advantages for both firms. Featuring 550 architecture, design, engineering, program management, and urban planning professionals, INOCSA has offices in Bosnia, Georgia, Honduras, Mali, Mexico, Romania, and Peru, in addition to its Madrid headquarters. Noted for successfully completing some of Spain's most high-profile infrastructure projects, INOCSA provides transportation, environmental, water, and architectural services.
  • UTA Debuts New Light Rail Vehicles: UTA has ordered 77 new light rail vehicles for its four new light rail lines: to the Airport, Draper, Mid-Jordan and West Valley. New vehicles began arriving in March and are being tested on the newly completed Daybreak section of the Mid-Jordan TRAX line. The Siemens-built S70 light rail vehicles have low floors for platform-level boarding and doorways have deployable boarding ramps for greater accessibility. The new vehicles are expected to first enter service in 2011.

Around the Depot

New products, documents and upcoming events from RAIL Magazine and CTAA's staff

  • RAIL #26 to Focus on Light Rail, Streetcars: When light rail emerged three decades ago as a new approach to rail transit in North America, it was an exciting, but risky concept. Today, its role as a key factor in developing livable communities and fueling economic development has not only been proven, but enhanced. Meanwhile, recent federal investment for streetcar projects will see a wave of new projects come on line in the next few years. RAIL #26 will revisit these modes from a fresh perspective: as powerful tools to shape and connect communities.
  • The Potomac Express: RAIL Magazine Editor Rich Sampson has recently developed The Potomac Express blog. This venue will bridge the gaps between our quarterly editions of RAIL and our monthly electronic newsletter, Fast Mail for RAIL. Since this is a blog, the Potomac Express will be presented in a less formal style and include postings as news and developments occur in the passenger rail industry, or simply when there's an idea to share or concept to discuss. This means sometimes there may be several posts in a week, and in other weeks none. Some will be more substantive, and others more brief. In all, the Potomac Express represents another means to get you the latest happenings, trends and ideas in passenger rail, while also offering a new interactive medium for you to share your reactions and connect with other passenger rail leaders, experts, advocates and observers. As always, feel free to contact Rich at if you'd like to spread the word on any interesting news, resources or events.
  • Recap from Connecting Communities: A Passenger Rail Symposium: This important symposium held at CTAA's EXPO 2010 focused on the future of all aspects of passenger rail. Leaders from across the industry shared their vision for how passenger rail can fuel economic growth, shape the livability of our communities and connect our communities, regions and nation. The proceedings of the symposium with presentation documents in PDF and other links are now available here. Meanwhile, LA Streets Blog also covered the symposium and links to their coverage are available here (Day One) and here (Day Two).

About Our Sponsor

USA Rail Conference: Explore new business opportunities in rail, discover funding models for rail projects, and improve your operations through smarter rail planning -- all this and more will be covered at this year's USA Rail conference, taking place Sept. 13-15 in Denver, Colo. At USA Rail you will hear freight and passenger rail operators, state DOTs, government officials and investors discuss their development and investment tactics to rebuild North America's rail network. Sign up today to join North America's rail experts and learn how you can maximize you revenue! Learn best practices for obtaining government funding and deliver projects on time and on budget, and profit through sustainable practices. Attend USA Rail and you will network with industry leaders and discover how to efficiently and effectively manage your operation. For more information please go to or call 646.619.1792.

And Finally...

An update from overseas.

cat's rail passCat Nips into Town on Trip: Lilou, a house cat from suburban Dublin, Ireland, wandered onto a city-bound commuter train riding it to the city center station. After discovering the cat, Iarnróid Éireann (Irish Rail) staff used CCTV to figure out at which station the cat boarded, and through an alert sent out on the service's Twitter account, the cat and its owner were reunited. After dodging the fare, Lilou has been issued a rail smart card by Iarnróid Éireann for any future travel.


Richard Sampson
Communications Specialist
Community Transportation and RAIL Magazines
800.891.0590 x729