As Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, approaches its golden anniversary in 2021, it is quite apparent that it has squandered opportunities to mature into a stable and useful transportation entity, given the plethora of internal issues that have historically crippled Amtrak operating under the federal umbrella as a state-owned enterprise. Adding to this position is the impact from a shortage of experienced senior management.
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Michigan State University’s Center for Railway Research and Education (CRRE) recently announced “Transit & Urban Railways: Technology, Engineering and Management”—a new educational program to be held in Newark, N.J., October 7-11, 2019.
Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor, and dignity of the profession by using their knowledge and skills for the enhancement of human welfare, by being honest and impartial, by serving with fidelity to public, their employers and clients, by striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession, and by supporting the professional and technical societies of their disciplines.
I have this friend, a railroad professional. I know I would never question his commitment to safety. I hope he wouldn’t question mine. This friend is concerned that railroad management will unfairly use medical information it obtains from employees, from employees’ medical care providers, and from the requirements of a medical fitness for duty regulation, to disqualify employees from service. He fears railroads will weaponize the information.
Kenneth Leslie Lawson, who enjoyed a distinguished career in railway engineering, planning and research and development, died at his home Bluemont, Va., June 19, 2019. He was 90.
At a legislative hearing on Aug. 16, 2018, Gateway Program Development Corp Interim Executive Director John D. Porcari said, “There is no Plan B.” He was wrong. At the same hearing, this writer (as Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition, a New Jersey-based advocacy organization) outlined the “Plan B” that some rider-advocates had formulated and submitted, in the event that the entire $30 billion-plus Gateway program as currently proposed fails to attract sufficient funding. Porcari stuck to his story that the existing North River Tunnels are deteriorating so quickly that they constitute a disaster waiting to happen but, under his proposal, they would not be repaired until 2030 or some time shortly thereafter.
In 1995, one of the alternatives of the original Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Project would have developed a track connection for New Jersey Transit (NJT) trains to go to Grand Central Terminal (GCT) on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan. New Jersey riders, especially commuters whose offices are nearby, would have enjoyed convenient access to them for the first time. That alternative was eliminated in 2003, and the means for delivering new Manhattan capacity was downgraded to a stub-end deep-cavern station 20 stories below ground.
After five years of internal planning, VIA Rail’s vision of a dedicated, high-frequency passenger railway from Quebec City to Toronto has secured the backing of the new Canada Infrastructure Bank. A C$55 million investment by the bank was announced June 25 for final pre-procurement planning, including the engineering of technical inter-operation with existing commuter lines in Montreal and Toronto.
Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline) recently broke ground on 170 miles of new track in the intermodal facility located in the South Terminal at the Orlando International Airport as part of the company’s Phase 2 expansion into Central Florida.