On June 20, Dr. William Huneke, the former Director of the Office of Economics at the Surface Transportation Board (STB), offered his observations in Railway Age regarding the recently released Rate Reform Task Force Report. This article offers a view from the shippers’ perspective.
WATCHING WASHINGTON, JULY 2019: If paper smothers rock, scissors cut paper and rock smashes scissors, short line railroads, controlling neither the paper nor rock, face a grim outcome in a quest to “cut up” so-called paper barriers erected by Class I railroads and sanctioned by the Surface Transportation Board (STB).
New Jersey Transit is marking its 40th anniversary this month, and among other activities is rolling out six MultiLevel “Heritage Coaches” decorated with the logos of several predecessor railroads that came together to form the agency’s 660-route-mile, statewide regional/commuter rail network—Pennsylvania Railroad, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Erie-Lackawanna, Conrail, Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines—and the agency that created NJT in 1979, the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
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.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced a total of $300 million in federal funding—provided via its Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program—allocations to three transit projects in Arizona, California and Washington.
Four years ago, I lost my wife at a railroad crossing in the New York City suburbs. This catastrophe led to the loss of five other lives, and caused millions in damage. Needless to say, I had a lot of reasons to take a long, hard look at the railroad signage surrounding this incident.
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.