Martin Wheeler, Gene Kirkland, Dan Scanlen, Bob Bischoff, Jim Frierson, Ralph Messera, Carl Mascio, Jim Hoyt and Phil Astwood
Secretary's Report -
The minutes of the March meeting were accepted as e-mailed with one correction.
Treasurer's Report -
Gene Kirkland presented a treasurer’s report covering the period from March 16 to May 17, 2017. He reported an opening balance of $835.75, expenses of $162.57, income of $295.00 for an ending balance of $968.18. The association currently has 191 members. Gene is still sending renewals, but has temporarily slowed down due to injury to his hand. Martin Wheeler asked for approval to close CAPT’s post office box in Charlotte since it has not been used in over a year. This was approved and the treasurer’s report was accepted as information.
Update on the Resolution drive in South Carolina -
In the last meeting the Board requested one more mailing of the packets that had been sent twice to cities, towns and counties within 10 miles of an existing rail line in SC. This time the packets were to be mailed to the mayors of Greenville, Spartanburg, Summerville, Rock Hill, Winnsboro, Orangeburg, Florence and Myrtle Beach, the 8 largest cities that had not yet responded to our earlier mailings. Phil Astwood sent these on April 24, but as yet there has been no response from any city. Ralph Messera suggsted that a graphic be added that shows the locations of cities that have responded so far. This will be used at the end of the year when the signed resolutions we have collected by that time will be sent to members of the SC House and SC Senate committees dealing with transportation. Jim Frierson will prepare a cover letter for this mailing.
Update on CAPT Fostering Creation of an Association similar to Virginians for Highspeed Rail -
Martin Wheeler reported that this project has been turned over to David Robinson and there has been no recent report from him. It was mentioned that service to Roanoke should be starting this year. Roanoke will have a covered platform but no station at this time.
Update on News in NC and SC Affecting Transit and Rail Passenger Service -
SC – Jim Frierson recently visited the site of Charleston’s future intermodal center. Despite earlier announced plans to begin construction in May, nothing seems to have started yet. At this point the project is at least 18 months behind schedule. The establishment of ‘Busways’ in Charleston is being discussed. If it is done, the busways will be dedicated highway lanes, former rail rights of way will not be used.. Carl Mascio reported that Amtrak is planning to “unman” the Greenville, SC station. It will probably be opened by an attendant before train arrivals.
NC – Gene Kirkland said that again this year the ‘Football Trains’ will not go all the way to the stadium, but will stop at the Charlotte station and passengers will be bused to the stadium. He also said the first ‘Control Cab’ is in service on the Piedmonts. It is number CC102 and is basically a weighted empty shell with a control stand. The wye track at the Raleigh station is back in place and should be in use soon. It is doubtful the Piedmonts will need to use it, but apparently NS used it extensively in the past. Construction of the Raleigh station is on schedule and should be complete at the end of the year. A ‘leasing agent’ will be in place by the end of June to recruit stores and restaurants for the station. Martin Wheeler reported that the double-tracking project in the Charlotte area is nearly complete and construction is under way at the Charlotte Rail Maintenance facility. The deadline for completion there is July 31.There was nothing new to report on the possible extension of the Carolinian to New Haven. Dan Scanlen reminded the Board that we have permission to place our brochure at NC’s 9 welcome centers. This was done a while ago. Gene will check to see if any resupply is needed.
Update on CAPT newsletter and Website Issues -
Newsletter - The Board continues to be very pleased with the current newsletter/meeting notice combination produced by Gene Kirkland. Gene asked that anyone who had something to contribute to please send it in.
Website - John Bobinyec was unable to attend the meeting so there was no report on the website.
Amtrak Update -
Martin Wheeler pointed out that though Trump’s proposed budget would “ruin Amtrak”, the Congress was not able to work out a budget in time and thus passed a ‘continuing resolution’ that extends current government spending until the end of the fiscal year (October). NARP is happy with this since it actually increases the amount of funding Amtrak will receive over that period of time. Donald Trump stressed infrastructure improvment, including railroads, as a major goal during his campaign. It now appears that the plan to do this is for the government to provide ‘seed money’ for projects that will be completed by public/private partnerships. It is not at all clear yet exactly how this will work. To end on a positive note, Brightline is soon going to begin service between West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale with planned extensions south to Maimi and north to Orlando if all goes well. Martin reminded the Board that there are several ways by which to contact Congress and express ones views about the future of rail travel in the US.
Planning for Future Meetings -
Greensboro, NC - July 15; Columbia, SC - September 16; Charlotte, NC - November 18; Charleston, SC - January 20, 2018 and Raleigh, NC - March 17, 2018.