Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Durham County Public Library, Durham, NC
January 16, 2016
Open: 1:00 PM

Present: Martin Wheeler, Gene Kirkland, Dan Smith, Robert Johnson, Ernest Robl, John Stein, Ed Locklin, Mike Noonkester, Harry Clapp, Ralph Messera, Bill Muller, David Robinson & Phil Astwood

Secretary's Report: Phil Astwood did not attend the last meeting and thus minutes were taken by Jim Frierson. Jim was not present at this meeting, but had circulated the minutes via e-mail. Martin Wheeler read the minutes and they were accepted as read.

Treasurerís Report: Gene Kirkland distributed a treasurer's report for the period Nov 20, 2015 to Jan 15, 2016. The starting balance was $3,227.09. Expenses for postage, printing and box rental were $212.33. Income was $40.00 leaving a closing balance of $3,054.76. Gene will start sending out 5 renewal notices each week. It was suggested that it might be easier if all renewals occurred on the same day.

Review of Election of Officers and Directors for 2016: The whole slate for 2015 was renewed, but apparently Art Peterson was in the hospital and may not be able to serve. There has been no contact with him about this.

Update on Resolution Drive in SC: Now that the SC legislature is back in session, CAPT plans to again contact mayors and county council chairs in areas along the routes where we have proposed passenger rail service. We will send a copy of our brochure, copies of the schedule inserts, a copy of the resolution, and a cover letter explaining the contents. Phil distributed a potential cover letter asking for suggestions. These will be incorporated in the final letter. It was suggested that the letter and materials also be sent to county and city clerks.

Update on CAPT Fostering Creation of an Association Similar to Virginians for High-Speed Rail (VHSR): David Robinson spoke about organizing a business oriented passenger rail advocacy group for North Carolina (OnTrackNC). Using the proposed new route from Salisbury to Asheville as an example, David talked about the actions he believes will be necessary to establish a new passenger rail route in NC. The project cannot be based on nostalgia. Rather it must be shown to fill a real present day economic need. David believes that such a project must be led by individuals within the business community who have come to realize that passenger rail service would serve their purposes in several ways. Most passenger rail routes serve three primary needs: 1. Tourism - On the Asheville route the obvious tourist draw is the Biltmore House and Asheville itself, but to increase the chances of success, locations along the route must be encouraged to promote additional tourist opportunities in their areas. If the trains are comfortable and convenient, the train trip itself will become an important part of the tourist experience. 2. Business Travel - Rail offers business travelers downtown to downtown service accompanied by the opportunity to work enroute. Rail also offers access to smaller communities lacking any other public transportation. 3. Personal Travel - Many existing communities along the route to Asheville currently have no access to intercity public transportation without driving a considerable distance. This line would provide easy access to Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville and many points in between. More important, however, is the increasing desire by younger people to live in communities that are less dependent on the automobile. This could provide an opportunity for developers to create such communities with easy access to rail travel. The success of all three of these uses, however, depends on proper planning and sufficient financial support. Planning must locate stations where they have easy access to communities. Schedules must be planned so that as many arrivals and departures as possible take place during daylight hours. People want to travel in the daytime, but also along this route in particular, views from the train are an important part of the trip. Financial support must be sufficient to allow a minimum of two trains in each direction right from the start of operations. Tourists and business travelers must have the option to arrive and depart on the same day. Overall, in order for a route such as this to come into being, it must have the support of a business community which sees its value and is thus willing to invest in the promotion that will convince legislators, other businesses, and the public at large that new rail service is not a costly pet project for the few, but an essential project that will benefit everyone. David plans to speak to a variety of organizations including chambers of commerce in the hope of spreading interest in the project and soliciting ideas. If anyone would like to contact him, his e-mail address is: dr.david.robinson@gmail.com.

Update on News in NC and SC Affecting Transit and Passenger Rail: Jim Frierson wrote that he had nothing to report in SC. Gene Kirkland reported that in NC all of the Piedmonts will become push-pull in mid-March. Trains will actually be pull-pull as they will have a locomotive at each end; at least until cab control units are available. The seats in each coach will be turned so that half face in each direction. All of this is necessary because the 'Y' in Raleigh is being removed in connection with the building of the new station. This change will last for at least 8 months and may become permanent. There are three new coaches coming and two locomotives are returning to service. Ridership has been very strong and they have been experimenting with a few special trains, such as a 'Santa train' and very popular football trains. Ernest Robl pointed out that CSX is investing $150 million in an intermodal/transload terminal near Selma.

Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website: John Bobinyec says there are no longer any website issues. Martin said he and Ed Locklin are still intending to send out meeting notices that include a few important news items. We also need to update our mailing list.

Amtrak Update: Martin - The Crescent will experience track work on Mondays-Thursdays until Feb 4. There will be no train service between Atlanta and New Orleans on those days. Bus service will be substituted. Ralph Messera reported that sleeper bookings on the Star have increased despite the removal of the dining car. Perhaps it is due to a decrease in price since the fare no longer includes food. Martin - Iowa Pacific is the new operator of the Piedmont and Northern. They brought in new equipment to run a 'Santa train' and are now planning several excursions using dome cars. Shelters will now be placed on the platform at Cary since the city has changed its regulations to permit them. WiFi is incrementally being put on most trains. A business class car is being added to the Cardinal

Reports from Officers and Directors: No reports

Planning for Future Meetings: March 19 - Raleigh (at Red Hot and Blue?), May 21 - Spartanburg (perhaps Frank Ezell could attend), July 9 - Charlotte, Sept 17- Charleston, Nov 19 - Columbia (perhaps the Mayor or a Senator could attend)

Adjourn: 3:40