Carolina Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Burlington Station, Burlington, N.C.
February 28, 2009 Open - Noon
Present: Martin Wheeler, Gene Kirkland, John Bobinyec, Ken Davis, Bill Muller, Don Bell, Ernest Robl, Bob Bischoff, Charles Hiatt, Paul Killough, Lynn Wilson, Jack Stein, Malcolm Kenton, Don Stewart, Bill Cole, Gerald Croll, Joe Cole, Rafe Royce, & Phil Astwood.

Action Items:
Gene will collect information and report on transit planning in the triangle area
Jim will submit a list of organizations in SC to which the Resolution will be sent
Bob and Martin will complete corrections to the SC brochure in about a week
Martin will work with Jim to draft a cover letter to accompany the Resolution
Bob will determine the cost of printing additional copies of the SC brochure to include with the next newsletter
Don will complete a draft of the new CAPT brochure for the April Meeting
Gene will look for an account in which the Association’s funds will earn a higher return
Gene will send meeting notices electronically to those who receive the newsletter that way

1. Triangle Transit - Since the speaker invited to discuss transit planning in the Triangle Area (Raleigh/Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill) could not attend, Gene Kirkland agreed to collect information about these plans and present them at the June meeting. Gene pointed out that there are many ambitious plans for the area including light rail (or commuter rail) connecting Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest University, Durham and Chapel Hill. However, unlike Charlotte whose successes the area would like to emulate, this area has longer distances and is controlled by multiple city and county governments that have trouble reaching consensus on any specific set of plans. Opportunities exist such as the fact that Triangle Transit owns a current freight line from Raleigh to Wake Forest, and the North Carolina Railroad has completed an extensive study of all types of rail transportation in the Greensboro to Goldsboro area which includes cost estimates for a variety of transportation options. There are significant traffic problems that could be solved by rail transit, but unfortunately there is no central planning agency to bring it all together.

2. Update on Resolution in Support of Transportation Options for the State of South Carolina - Martin Wheeler and Bob Bischoff circulated a copy of the brochure they are developing to accompany mailings of the Resolution. The brochure shows existing and proposed intercity and commuter rail lines in South Carolina. Several typos and other small corrections were noted. After a discussion concerning the routes that should be depicted, the Board decided to include all routes that have been discussed over the past few years, marking those that seem unlikely for current development as “potential”. Martin said these changes will be made and the brochure should be ready in about a week. Jim Frierson plans to complete by mid-March a list of organizations in South Carolina to which the Resolution should be sent. Jim will work with Martin to draft a cover letter similar to the one that was used in North Carolina. Martin reported that printing 1000 copies will cost 58 cents per copy for a total cost of about $800 including the design fee of $210. The Board asked Martin to determine the cost of printing additional copies with the intention of including the brochure with the next newsletter. It was also suggested that the brochure be put on the website and that the address for CAPT’s website be put on the front of the brochure. The logo will remain on the cover printed in black.

3. Status of Efforts to Produce new CAPT Brochure - Don Stewart is working to update CAPT’s current brochure. Jim Frierson has sent information on routes in South Carolina. Gene Kirkland will send information on the Triangle and Triad areas. Information on the Charlotte area could be taken from the recently prepared SC brochure. Information might also be included about the Rock Hill Trolley study proposed in 2008 and the “stimulus” funding and increased Amtrak funding soon to be available. In an attempt to increase the useful lifetime of each brochure, Don plans to add the request that the reader pass his copy along to a friend when he is finished with it.

4. Secretary’s Report - Phil Astwood distributed copies of the minutes of the January 10th meeting to those who had not received them as e-mail. The minutes were approved as corrected by Martin. The corrected minutes will be placed on the website.

5. Treasurer’s Report - Gene distributed copies of the treasurer’s report. The Association has $7,850.00 is its operating account and $6,535.00 in the CAPT Challenge account for a total of $14,115.00. The majority of this money is in a Wachovia money market account drawing very little interest and Gene requested and received permission to check on accounts in which the funds might earn a better return. One member suggested buying one or more CD’s, but Martin said this would not allow sufficient flexibility. Gene also reported a growth in membership to 182. The report was accepted as distributed.

6. Update on CAPT Newsletter and WebsiteNewsletter - Malcolm Kenton received many compliments of the January/February issue. He said it will be put on the website and be made available in Carolina train stations. He said he welcomed contributions and in particular would like opinion pieces approximately 500-words in length. Website - John Bobinyec said the site has not yet been moved to its new location, but it is available at When moved it will look the same without the TrainWeb logos.

7. Update on 3rd Charlotte/Raleigh Frequency - Gene reported that startup of the service is most likely being delayed until September or October of this year. He will know more after the upcoming Train Hosts meeting. Gene will try to report on this in the next newsletter.

8. NAPR Update - Don Stewart reported that George Chilson had reorganized NARP so as to allow each state and each area of the country to receive more balanced representation. In place of an 80-member board of directors, NAPR will have a council consisting of at least one member from each state. The number of representatives from each state will be based on the state’s NARP membership. For example, SC will get one representative; NC will get two. This council will elect (Don said 16, NARP News says 32) representatives to serve on a new Board of Directors. Chilson as chairman will be assisted by four vice chairs who will each be responsible for a portion of NARP’s mission. Bob Stewart, for example, will be in charge of “Mission Accomplishment”. The original 16 Regions will be replaced by 6 divisions each of which will have a “Leader”.

9. Amtrak Update - Don also reported that the new Stimulus package will contain $8 billion for high speed rail and various other services. Amtrak is supposed to receive $1.3 billion for improvements leading to increased safety and security; no more than 60% of this to be spent in the Northeast. Amtrak will also receive money to pay down debt. Don mentioned that Amtrak was not in a position to build the system up quickly. Much of the funding must first be used for deferred maintenance and thus will not be visible right away.

10. Officers & Directors Reports -

Gene Kirkland – The DOT offices have moved out and the Cary station is being remodeled and the parking area increased. The club across the street is both a parking and an aesthetic problem. It would nice if it moved. Work is proceeding on the Durham station platform and the station should be completed by the end of the year. Double tracking between Greensboro and High Point is proceeding with ties and rail in place in many locations. Installation of switches will close the line several times between now and the end of April when the work is expected to be complete Forms are in place to pour concrete for the platform at the Salisbury station. This is a current problem for passengers because there is very little space to board trains. The siding and platform for the Asheville service should also be installed now. For the third Charlotte/Raleigh frequency, one lounge car and one coach are in Wilmington for renovation. Two additional cars will be sent up and renovation of a 3ed lounge/baggage car is underway. Three engines are getting a “mid-life” rebuild. Engine # 55, damaged in an accident a few weeks ago, is back in service. They keep a spare nose in Raleigh to facilitate rapid repair. As soon as a food service car with vending machines comes back from the shop it will be put in service on the Piedmont. NCDOT is looking for four new locomotives. Responding to several requests, Gene agreed to send out meeting notices electronically to those who have asked to receive the newsletter that way.

Bill Cole – Something needs to be done about water in the tunnel at the Charlotte station. Last night 240 people and a large load of luggage had to deal with it

Ken Davis – A new owner is planning to reactivate the old Piedmont and Northern line in Gastonia. He claims there are several freight customers available and suggests that it might some day be a commuter line to Charlotte

Martin Wheeler – On February 3, 75 people met in Mt. Holly to discuss this reactivation with the owner, Bill Gray, who plans to call the line the Carolina Central Railway. He presented information on the old P & N and said he expected 7 or 8 customers with a demand for at least 1500 car loads, perhaps up to 5000. He expects to sign a lease with NCDOT in the spring. Work will start in July with Mt. Holly to Gastonia service to begin in the fall. Cost is expected to be $8 million with the installation of grade crossings. To bring the line up to Class C standards (45 MPH for freight and 60 MPH for passengers) would cost $12 million. Gaston County has provided $500,000.

Ernest Robl – There is a new commentary on his website discussing the rebuilding of passenger stations and the problems that result from the premature removal of pre-existing tracks. The recent increase in news coverage for passenger rail is very encouraging even if some is not very accurate.

Martin Wheeler – Service will change on the Lynx Blue Line in a few days when rush hour head times increase from 7.5 to 10 minutes. This will allow all trains to carry two cars. Head times will be 20 minutes on Sundays. Many bus routes will change as well. Ridership has declined over the past few months to an average of 16,000 per day. This may be due to loss of jobs decreasing the need to travel. Extension of the Blue Line to the Northeast and the University is still being planned. The estimate for the cost has risen from $750 million to $900million. One route being considered is along the NS main then over to North Tryon Street where it will run in the median and then pass under the road to enter the University campus. It will terminate at I-485. Ridership for the corridor is projected to be 22,000 per day. The stations will be designed for 3-car trains. South corridor stations that currently accommodate only 2-car trains will need to be modified. There are currently 16 cars in use. Charlotte has ordered 4 additional cars. If cars ordered by the City of Norfolk, but not currently needed, are rerouted to Charlotte they could arrive this summer. Otherwise the new cars will come by the end of the year. CATS is working with NS to add a north commuter line. The existing line between Huntersville and Charlotte is being straightened. The line will have 9 stations. Progress is being made on all. Martin was not sure how far the line will eventually go. Design work for the Multi-Modal Center is 60-90% complete. There is hope that some money from the “Stimulus” package will be available for this. The Greyhound station is still in place, but environmental planning is underway for the Gateway Station. The cost of the Charlotte Streetcar Project has been revised up to $372 million. Although the projected opening date is 2015 or later, some rail has already been laid in streets in connection with other road construction projects. There is a plan to run a streetcar to the airport, but in the interim service will be provided by an express bus. On time performance on the Lynx line has been 99-100% based on arrivals within 2 minutes of schedule.

11. Future Meetings - To facilitate advanced planning, tentative meeting dates were selected for the remainder of the year. The next meeting will be Saturday April 18 in Salisbury at the Rowan Public Library. Gene will ask a proponent of establishing a stop in Lexington to meet with us. The June 13 meeting will be in Raleigh and later meetings are scheduled for August 8, October 10 and December 12.
Adjourn - 4:00 PM