Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Richland County Public Library, Columbia, SC
   
January 15, 2022 Open: 1:25 PM
 

Present: (In person and via Zoom) Martin Wheeler, Ralph Messera, Jim Frierson, Ed Locklin, Bill Easterling, Charles Gossett, Don Stewart, David Robinson, Bill Cole, Joel McCurry and Phil Astwood

Secretary's Report: Phil Astwood distributed the minutes of the December meeting via e-mail. Martin Wheeler discussed corrections he made to the minutes. The minutes were reprinted and re e-mailed. The minutes were accepted as distributed.

Treasurer's Report: Ralph Messera distributed the report which stated a current balance of $1,713.29. There was no revenue or expenses. The association has a current total of 48 members, NC - 32, SC - 9, Corporate Members - 2, Spouses - 2.

Consideration of Additional Board Members Needed: Phil prepared a letter to be sent to all NC members soliciting volunteers for the open Board positions. Martin will edit this and send it to Ralph to be mailed to NC members.

Economic Feasibility Study of Charlotte-Columbia- Charleston Route: Martin said we are currently trying to work cooperatively with RPA to fund such a study. Jim Tilley sent us some information on ways to use "Go Fund Me" to raise funds.

It was mentioned that we also need to pay attention to the funding of I-73 to Myrtle Beach because of the possibility of incorporating a rail line with the construction of the highway. Tourist interests in Myrtle Beach should also be interested in this possibility.

Using the promised additional equipment, a Raleigh-Charlotte-Columbia route should be considered. Martin is looking for software that would allow him to set up maps and schedules for proposed routes.

In response to questions from Don Stewart, Martin pointed out that in order to make progress on proposed routes in North Carolina we are going to have to work with NS and CSX who most likely will try to block any such additions. We will need to work with the State in order to be able to offer the railroads deals in which they receive something in return for cooperation on passenger service. Martin also asked Don about the possibility of reactivating an old ACL line from Fayetteville to Wilmington. Could some of this be brought back as part of road-widening projects? (Don's response on Zoom was difficult to understand)

Update on SC Resolution Drive: Phil had nothing to report on this.

Consideration of Two Additional Rail Initiatives in SC: This was discussed earlier.

Western NC Rail Committee Inc Update: David attended the most recent meeting and sent out information about what occurred. He pointed out that they have been quite successful at raising money.

Discussion of Infrastructure Money for NC Rail Projects: Ralph said that Charlotte could probably receive about $300 million from the infrastructure bill over 10 years. This is probably mostly for highways. There may be another pool for rail.

NC On Track: David said we needed to pay attention to the rebuilding of the old bridge over the Roanoke River at Weldon and the necessary rail connections as this is a critical point on the A line susceptible to congestion. Also this would facilitate the construction of a station at Weldon for which plans exist, but there has been no progress as yet.

News in NC and SC Affecting Rail Service: Ed Locklin pointed out that Amtrak has repainted a locomotive to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Operation Life Saver.

Jim Frierson wrote to Columbia's new mayor, Daniel Rickenmann, to ask for an opportunity to meet with him and discuss the establishment of passenger rail service between Columbia and Charlotte (Letter attached). Jim pointed out that this was supported by former mayor Benjamin. Jim also said that he knew of no progress on the Assembly Street Rail Relocation project or any plans to replace the Columbia Amtrak station.

Bill Cole is happy to have the baggage car back on the Carolinian but it will soon be removed. The train is currently running with only one conductor when 2 are needed. Bill also said that the Texas connection in Meridian, MS with the Crescent is being considered again after many years. Apparently Amtrak and KCS/CP have reached an agreement that will make the Dallas-Meridian train possible. Bill is also bothered by scheduling of the northbound Crescent and Carolinian that can switch places when the Crescent is particularly late.

Newsletter and Website Issues: Don and Martin plan to continue working on the newsletter and are interested in any items that might be added. David would like the newsletter to cover more than one topic. Toward that end he is willing to submit some materials. David also feels our site should be more secure. He will look into this.

Amtrak Update: Ralph discussed the recent 7-10% cut-backs in Amtrak service due to personnel shortages. Ed commented on time keeping on the Crescent.

Reports by Officers and Directors: Martin - A route for the high-speed train between Charlotte and Atlanta has been selected, but nothing else yet. It is possible that Brightline is interested in establishing this train. Jim said the RPA is offering bimonthly webinars. The next is January 26 at 2 PM to discuss with the FRA the process for rail corridors to receive infrastructure funding. Martin will send out a notification about this.

Planning for Future Meetings:

March 19 Greensboro - Harry Clapp or Martin Wheeler will work on this

May 21 Raleigh/Cary David will check on this

July 16 Myrtle Beach

September 17 Fayetteville Check with Don Stewart

November 19 (Annual Meeting) Charlotte


Adjourn: 2:50 PM