Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Otranto Road Regional Library, North Charleston, SC
May 19, 2018 Open - 1:09 PM

Present - Martin Wheeler, Jim Frierson, Gene Kirkland, Bob Bischoff, Ed Locklin.

(The guest speaker scheduled for this meeting, Sharon Hollis of the BCD Council of Governments, was unable to attend.)

Treasurer's Report - Gene gave the highlights from the treasurer's report and handed out copies of the Financial Report for the period January 20, 2018 through May 18, 2018. Closing balance as of this date is $1,196.79.

Secretary's Report - In the absence of the secretary, Phil Astwood, Martin read the minutes of the last meeting held in Burlington, NC in January, 2018. Minutes were approved unanimously with no corrections.

Update on resolution drive in South Carolina - Phil has written the cover letter and has it ready for send-out to members of the SC House and Senate. It was the consensus of the group that CAPT hold off on sending out these letters until Fall 2018 timeframe (Nov. or Dec.) in order to hopefully capture more of the attention of the lawmakers. Martin read Phil's draft cover letter to the group.

Update on CAPT fostering creation of an association similar to Virginians for High Speed Rail - It was agreed that David Robinson has probably not been able to do anything on this subject.

Update on CAPT newsletter and website - Newsletter is in “good shape” according to Gene. Martin said there were no issues he was aware of with regard to the website.

Amtrak Update - There followed a discussion about concerns regarding parking at Charlotte Amtrak Station and the Raleigh Amtrak Station. Martin noted the changes in schedules for the Piedmont and the Carolinian and said they were effective on June 4, 2018. NCDOT's Allan Paul had noted that those changes were what people wanted.

Reports by Officers and Directors - Ed informed the group that NS (Norfolk Southern) is parking their freight trains on lines used in “mainline” passenger service.

Bob handed out copies of a letter he had written concerning problems in parking at the Charlotte Amtrak Station. He noted that the problems will be worsened if there is a fourth frequency added to Charlotte.

Jim told those present that he and his wife had recently taken a trip via Amtrak from Columbia, SC to Washington state to visit his son and his wife. They traveled round-trip on the Silver Star, Capitol Limited and the Empire Builder. Jim said that service was really good except for a delay on the return trip which was not Amtrak's fault. Tracks in West Virginia had washed out and they were forced to take another train into Philadelphia which caused a missed connection and subsequent delay in reaching home. Meals were good and other than this inconvenience, he and his wife had a mostly enjoyable trip.

Jim informed the group that public meetings have been scheduled in Columbia for the Assembly Street railroad grade crossing relocation project. He said that he would try to attend one of the meetings to learn of the latest plans for this long-awaited project.

Martin stated that Florida's Brightline service started today (Saturday). Gene asked if there is a possibility that the route will be extended beyond West Palm Beach. It was stated that Brightline service may eventually go to Jacksonville or even Orlando and Tampa.

Martin said that the Gold Line Trolley (in Charlotte) will be temporarily shut down sometime this year for track and platform improvements. He also noted the “system” will order new, shorter light rail cars to use on the line.

On being asked about ridership on the new Blue Line Extension, Martin said the south end was as busy as ever and the north end (toward UNCC) is seeing some increased ridership among the students. He also mentioned that CATS is looking at new alignments that may go to Mooresville and the airport and even a line out to Lake Norman.

Martin further noted that the Blue Line has some ongoing issues such as a shortage of qualified operators as well as signaling and interlocking problems. He remarked that morale is low at CATS at this time.

Discussion followed on an 'Orange Line' between Durham and Chapel Hill. This is to be a light rail line that was proposed to have elevated portions but much of it now will be “at grade”; the elevated portions will only be over wetlands.

Planning for Future Meetings - Martin informed the group that we may wish to switch our Raleigh (July) and Charlotte (September) meetings so that we can meet in Raleigh after the new station has officially opened. Therefore, the July 21st meeting will now be in Charlotte and the September 15th meeting will now be in Raleigh. All members in attendance were in agreement with this change in meeting schedule.

Adjourn - 3:45 PM

At the conclusion of the meeting, members who could do so were invited to drive the short distance into North Charleston to see construction progress made at the site of the new North Charleston Multi-Modal Passenger Station.