Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Charlotte Trolley Powerhouse Museum, Charlotte, NC
April 10, 2010 Open - 1:05 P.M.
Present: Martin Wheeler, Art Peterson, Jim Frierson, Gene Kirkland, Ralph Massera, Bob Bischoff, Ken Davis, Bill Cole, John Stein, Lynette Peterson, Ed Locklin, John Bobinyec, Jim Stevenson, Rafe Royle & Phil Astwood.

Action Items:
  • Phil will send copies of completed Resolutions to SC legislators & transportation officials
  • Phil will prepare drafts for a reminder letter and thank you note for Resolution mailing
  • Martin will send Gene a receipt for the speaker’s meal in Greenville
  • Martin and Bob will continue work on a ‘SC Sample Service Brochure’
  • Gene will check with the printer in Fayetteville about work done on the brochure so far
  • Martin will then contact Don about what he has completed thus far on the brochure
  • Gene will send out old NL mailing list to determine those who would still like to receive it
  • Gene will contact Amtrak Head of Station Agents to co-sign letter to accompany NL
  • Gene will send out renewal notices
  • Jim will select a location and set up the June meeting in Columbia
1. Secretary's Report - Since the minutes of the December meeting could not be approved at the February meeting (low attendance), those minutes were distributed, considered and approved first. Phil Astwood distributed the minutes of the February 13 meeting via e-mail to Board members and as hardcopy at the meeting. With corrections from Martin Wheeler (spelling of Lynx) & Ralph Massera (amount of funds received by NC for rail work), the February minutes were approved

2. Treasurer's Report - Gene Kirkland reported that as the Association had $6,561.73 in its operating account and continues to hold $6,535 in the CAPT Challenge account for a total of $13,096.73. After a minor correction, the report was accepted as information. Gene will begin sending out renewal notices next week. The Board approved his request to spend about $400 on stamps, $400 on envelope, and about $50 on labels. Martin agreed to send him the receipt for the speaker’s meal at the Greenville meeting.

3. Update on Resolution Drive in South Carolina - Phil reported that we have received 14 signed resolutions thus far. Jim Frierson suggested we send copies of these to Walt McLeod and to representatives on the SC House Transportation Committee and its equivalent in the senate. The Board also suggested that copies be sent to the governor’s appointee to the SCDOT. Phil will obtain names and addresses from Jim and send these with a brief cover letter. Phil will also send a ‘reminder’ letter to those who have not returned a signed resolution asking them to sign and return the Resolution if they approve the content. The letter will also ask that if they do not approve of the resolution to please write and let us know about their objections. Finally, the Board asked that Phil send a ‘thank you’ note to those who have signed the resolution. Phil will prepare drafts of these letters and send them to Martin and Jim for revision and approval. Martin and Bob Bischoff will continue work on a SC Sample Service Brochure which could be sent with the letters if ready. The brochure might examine a Charlotte-Columbia-Charleston route, a Columbia-Florence-Myrtle Beach route, or an alternate route through Greenville-Spartanburg. They will bring a draft of the brochure to the next meeting.

4. Status of Efforts to Produce New CAPT Brochure - The Association has $6,535 in the CAPT Challenge Fund to complete the new brochure. Despite several attempts, Martin has been unable to determine how much of the brochure Don Stewart has completed and if he has any real intention of finishing the work. Gene reported that in 2001 Don paid a $500 deposit to the printer. Gene will check to see what that printer has and then Martin will contact Don about what he has and what he plans to do. According to John Bobinyec, Don has the disc for the original brochure. John suggested that we set deadlines so as to complete the project by October. The Board decided to have a plan by the June meeting (money, time, information, etc.).The brochure will be taken to the printer in August and be complete by September in time for the NC State Fair in October. The Board approved Martin’s request to use the printer who created the recent SC brochure.

5. Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website - Website John Bobinyec reports the website is working fine, but needs content. If we send it, he will post it. Newsletter - Gene reports he is close to finishing the information on the 3rd Charlotte/Raleigh frequency and the newsletter will be out in two weeks. The Board discussed the people to whom complimentary copies should be sent. Since the old list is far out of date, it was suggested that the list be sent out to everyone letting them know all names will be scrapped unless we are notified. In addition, Gene agreed to continue sending the newsletter to all Amtrak station agents in NC and SC. Gene will contact the head Amtrak station agent for this area asking that he co-sign a letter to agents asking them to place copies of the newsletter so travelers have access to them.

6. Update on Rail Developments across the Carolinas including 3rd Charlotte-Raleigh Frequency and new Durham Station - According to information released on Thursday (4/8) service will begin June 4 with a VIP train. The train will run in two sections, one originating in Raleigh, and one in Charlotte. VIPs will board in Charlotte, Raleigh and at stops along the way. The trains will meet in Goldsboro for a noontime ceremony and then return to their originating points. Regular passenger service will begin on June 5. There will be a 15% discount offered to those riding in June. The new trains will allow Amtrak crews to turn without an overnight stay. The Piedmont will be crewed out of Raleigh. The Crescent and Carolinian will be crewed out of Charlotte. The new locomotives will be City of Greensboro, City of High Point and City of Durham. There will be four new coaches, 2 food service cars, and a combine. The combine will serve as food service on low traffic days (Tues & Wed). There have been no real problems with the vending service and the amount of trash is dramatically decreased. There will eventually be five more Amtrak coaches, similar to those in use today, bought with ‘stimulus’ money intended for the fourth train.. Ridership is up significantly on all Amtrak trains, the Piedmont and Carolinian in particular.

7. Amtrak Update - It is likely that the Sunset will become daily this fall running from Los Angeles as far as San Antonio and then turning north to follow the Texas Eagle route to Chicago. Its schedule will make more stops during daylight hours in major markets and the change will free up equipment for the Capitol Limited and perhaps the Cardinal. A connecter will run from San Antonio to New Orleans. Another possible change is for the Lake Shore to split at Toledo (instead of Albany) with the Boston section following the current route and the other section going south through central Ohio and Pennsylvania (Akron, Youngstown, Pittsburgh) and on to New York. It is possible that the Cardinal will get superliners and a dome car, but if so it will have to originate in Washington. Riderhship is up on most trains and cars are in short supply. Ninety to one hundred cars are being refurbished with ‘stimulus’ money. Art Peterson reminded us that Jim Wrinn from ‘Trains Magazine’ will speak on historic preservation on Friday June 18 at the Rail Structures Convention at the Airport South Ramada Inn in Charlotte. Tickets are available.

8. Reports From Officers and Directors

Martin Wheeler – Ridership on the Blue Line is holding well at 14,000 passengers per day. It is running on the same schedule with 10 minute head ways during rush times, 15 minute and 30 minute heads evenings and weekends. The fare increase from $1.50 to $1.75 in July, should allow this schedule to continue. Three new S70 cars have arrived. One is tested and ready, 118 & 119 are being prepared and “burned in”. (Each car must travel 1000 miles before being put into public use.) #120 will be the last of the current order to arrive. At that point, the Blue Line will have 20 cars which will allow greater flexibility in operation. Caroline Flowers (CATS CEO) recently toured the facilities and spoke about fares and costs. It is possible the Blue Line will be extended to 9th Street. The Charlotte Trolley is expected to end regular service on weekends and be available only for special event. The City of Charlotte is trying to get a grant to fund a 1.5 mile street car line. Preliminary design work is complete on the University extension of the Blue Line though no money is currently available. Any work on the Mooresville commuter line seems to have stopped. Part of the problem is that sales tax revenues have fallen to 2005 levels. At the Train Hosts meeting in Kannapolis, Allan Paul (Director of Operations for the NCDOT Rail Division) spoke about the $545 million in recent funding NC has received for a variety of projects related to high-speed rail. $25 million will go to CSX for high-speed crossovers, $520 million will build 2 major sidings, double-track to Greensboro, close 4 crossings, eliminate 37 grade crossings, and a total of 19 projects in Charlotte. In addition, the Cary station will be upgraded soon, the platform in Burlington will be extended, a canopy built at Kannapolis, and tracks will be extended and the service facility improved at Raleigh A great deal of work will also go into facilitating the movement of freight as the number or trains passing through the Charlotte area on CSX and NS increases from 47 to 75.

Bob Bischoff – The Trolley is going away. We are also looking for a new location to run car #85 in place of the PN line in the Belmont area. Perhaps the new streetcar line could be used. The parking lot at the Charlotte Amtrak station really needs work. Apparently Virginia has pulled out of the bi-state commission on high-speed rail.

Jim Frierson – Charleston mayor Joe Riley supports a commuter line between Charleston and Summerville using existing rail, but there is currently no money to pay for it. Roy Tolson at SCDOT reports a Florence-Myrtle Beach commuter line study, and a whole state passenger study is still supposed to be done. SC applied for stimulus money, but as yet has not received any. GA DOT is reported to have hosted a high-speed rail summit that established a group whose task is to develop a regional service plan. However, it is believed that GA has lost interest in working with NC since that state received far more stimulus funding that GA.

Bill Cole – The Transportation Museum is expected to run excursions on October 30 & 31. One trip to Roanoke and the other to Asheville. These excursions were very successful last year.

Art Peterson – Is looking into possible locations for the Asheville meeting. Since a library branch is closed, Earth Fair’s meeting room might be a good choice. He will report on this at the next meeting. Could we invite Allen Paul to speak at the December meeting? Martin will check with him. Meeting will probably have to be scheduled for a Friday.

Ed Locklin – Steam locomotive at the rail museum in Winnsboro will be moved to Spencer (probably) for refurbishing and will eventually be a static exhibit in Goldsboro

9. Planning for Future Meetings - Future Meetings: June 12 – Columbia, August – Asheville, October – Myrtle Beach, December – Raleigh

Adjourn - 3:45 P.M.