Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Wrenn House Restaurant, Salisbury, N.C.
April 18, 2009 Open - 12:30 PM
Present: Martin Wheeler, John Bobinyec, Ken Davis, Linda Riddle, Helen Morrison, Joe Bundy, Jim Frierson, Bill Muller, Ralph Ward, Bob Bischoff, Charles Hiatt, Ed Locklin, Rafe Royle, William Deal & Phil Astwood.

Action Items:
  • Bob will make corrections to the brochure and request that 1,000 copies be printed
  • Jim will send Bob a list of approximately 300 cities, towns, councils of government, and chambers of commerce located within 10 miles of major rail lines in SC.
  • Martin will write and Jim will review a cover letter to accompany the Resolution and brochure
  • Martin will ask Gene to send out renewal notices
  • Don will continue work on the new CAPT brochure
  • Jim will set up an October 10 meeting in Charleston
1. William Deal (Executive Director of the Davidson County Foundation and Member of the Lexington Passenger Rail Advisory Committee) spoke about his group's efforts to reinstate a passenger rail service to the City of Lexington, NC. Service was initiated in Lexington in 1855 and ended in 1976. Since 1976, Lexington has been "Waiting for the train". In 2000 the City Council voted to support the SEHSR (Southeast High Speed Rail) Corridor. In 2004 the Council sought a plan to improve transportation that would increase use of the freight depot and add passenger service. The City currently owns an old furniture plant and 18 acres adjacent to downtown which might be useful. An Amtrak study of potential ridership in Davidson County predicted 10,600 riders annually at Lexington, and despite the fact that many of these would be drawn from adjacent stations, the idea is still being promoted. Obtaining a lease for the freight depot from NS and NCRR is proving much more complex than expected. NCDOT has agreed to do the engineering and move the idea forward if local government will develop a landscape plan. Thus far, the only passenger service at Lexington is for the barbecue festival in October. The timing of requests to extend this service is most important so as to build on the current focus on energy conservation and to take advantage of economic stimulus plans. Part of the strategy is to partner with Hillsboro to place stations in the "Gaps" between Charlotte and Raleigh. If a station spacing of approximately 25 miles is ideal, then a station in Lexington and another in Hillsboro will fill the two largest gaps. A plan such as this is more apt to be successful if it is "regional" and it is thus important to involve David Price and Mel Watt who are two significant congressmen from this area. Price has expressed an interest in rail service and was involved with the start up of the first Carolinian. Watts, though initially less interested, added this to a "wish list" of significant projects. Deal plans to set up meetings with NC Senators Burr and Hagen as soon as possible since regional projects better fit the agendas of senators than those of congressmen. Davidson and Orange are the only counties in the Charlotte/Raleigh rail corridor that do not currently have passenger service. Though it has been underway for five years, Deal believes that this may be the best time for this $9.5 million project ($6 million to build a station similar to the one in Kannapolis on the footprint of the original station, $1 million for a center platform which NCDOT recommends in order to help handle traffic on nearby single tracked section, and $2.5 million for tunnel and signal modifications without which a stop at Lexington would significantly slow running time due to reduced speed required to approach current signal location). In order to qualify for 80-10-10 funding, the land currently owned by NCRR will have be leased to NCDOT. The current plan is to initiate Lexington service in 2011 when 4th Charlotte/Raleigh frequency is expected. Deal pointed out that stops in Lexington and Hillsboro will certainly slow the train's running time, but he believed that frequency is more important than speed and increasing the number or trains and the access to those trains will be most beneficial for the Charlotte/Raleigh corridor. In closing, Deal described the Barbeque Festival and the special features available to those who attend by train.

2. Update on Resolution in Support of Transportation Options for the State of South Carolina - Bob Bischoff distributed copies of the new South Carolina brochure showing current and potential passenger rail lines in South Carolina. The brochure will accompany the Resolution. Some typos were noted and it was suggested that a publication date be added to the brochure. Page 3 will be fixed so spacing at the bottom is correct. Bob agreed to make the corrections and have the brochure out in about a week. It will cost about $1,000 to make a master disc and print 1,000 copies. The printers agreed to print smaller quantities in the future as changes are made. It was suggested that portions of the brochure could be extracted for a recruiting folder and larger portions could be used in the new CAPT brochure being designed by Don Stewart. Jim Frierson has compiled a list of all South Carolina cities, towns, and councils of government within 10 miles of a rail line. He agreed to include chambers of commerce and have the list ready within a week. It will include approximately 300 addresses. Martin Wheeler will work on a draft of the cover letter and send it to Jim. The letters will be individually addressed and printed on CAPT stationary if it is available.

3. Status of Efforts to Produce new CAPT Brochure - Don Stewart met with a printing firm about price. They might also do a feature story about CAPT.

4. Secretary's Report - Phil Astwood distributed the minutes to Board members via e-mail and in printed form at the meeting. Several corrections were noted and the minutes were accepted as corrected.

5. Treasurer's Report - As Gene Kirkland could not attend he mailed copies of the treasurer's report in advance. The Association has $7,817.06 is its operating account and $6,535.00 in the CAPT Challenge account for a total of $14,352.06. The majority of this money is in a Wachovia money market account drawing very little interest. Gene will report on the selection of a new bank account at the next meeting. The association has 187 members. Martin will ask Gene send notices when it is time for members to renew.

6. Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website -
Newsletter - Malcolm Kenton could not attend this meeting, but sent word that he has sent out a draft of the next newsletter. He is currently waiting for information from Gene. The next newsletter should be out soon.
Website - John Bobinyec said that we have the domain name at This is John's server which will pick up files from Trainweb and present them without advertising. When server is out of service the site will temporarily go back to Trainweb. He will delay 30 days before putting the current newsletter on the site.

7. Update on Rail Developments across the Carolinas including Start of 3rd Charlotte/Raleigh Frequency - Martin Wheeler reported that in the last meeting we were told that start up of the 3rd frequency would be delayed until October of this year or later. A 5th frequency might start by 2015. NCDOT plans to double track the whole route and part of the current delay results from present double tracking projects. It will not be necessary to buy any new equipment, but refurbishing must be completed. (It is interesting that the slowdown in the auto industry is affecting the refurbishing process because there is a decreased need for auto glass and thus the production of all glass including that needed for passenger cars has slowed). Work is underway on the platforms at the Durham station and all work should be done by the end of the year. Platform work is underway at Salisbury as well. Work at Rocky Mount and Selma is complete. No changes are currently planned for Raleigh. The DMV has moved out of the Cary station, but no work has begun. There will be no progress in Charlotte until the bus station moves from the site of the future multi-modal center. Charlotte to Mooresville service is 80% designed using existing NS line. Plan is to run 60 MPH without signals with hourly headways using a staging area south of I-277 to 'y' the trains. No decision yet on equipment. There is currently no money to complete the project, but perhaps Stimulus money will help. The NE light rail extension is 15% designed and is expected to cost $90 million to build an additional 15 miles. A north route is apt to be selected first. The streetcar project has installed some rail in connection with other road work, but a completion date for the project unknown. Track work south of Greensboro should be complete in May or June.

8. Amtrak Update - Amtrak is scheduled to receive $1.2 billion for the next fiscal year. It is expected that a large portion of this will be used to complete deferred maintenance projects and will not result in any significant new service. However, there are plans to extend existing regional service from NYC to Lynchburg by October or early next year. The hope is that this service can eventually be extended to Roanoke. There are also plans for an additional frequency to Richmond. In SC no stimulus money will be spent on rail travel. All will go to roads and transit. There have been many studies in SC, but planning is not far enough along to begin any project now. NC is best prepared for a high speed project. If work begins there it should stimulate planning and work in SC and GA. Establishing service to Asheville will cost about $140 mil. Many stations have been completed, but there is currently no money available to complete the project. To find out more we will meet in Asheville in June and ask Judy Ray to speak about the project.

9. Officers & Directors Reports

Bob Bischoff- CATS is considering discontinuing the current weekend only trolley service and run it as a charter service. It is clear that the demand for the service is seasonal and perhaps it should only operate in the summer. CATS is being asked to continue through the coming summer to see if demand increases. The current economic conditions probably are affecting demand as well.

Ed Locklin - Recent observation has shown the Crescent's on-time performance to be very good.

Ralph Ward - Why is NS replacing 85# rail with 100# welded rail from Highpoint to Asheboro?

Joe Bundy - It is actually 130# rail and it is needed to carry chemical cars.

10. Future Meetings - The next meeting will be June 13 in Asheville. Following meetings: August 8 in Raleigh. Jim will set up an October 10 meeting in Charleston, and December 12 at a location to be determined.
Adjourn - 3:25