Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains

August 2006 Meeting Minutes

Date: August 19, 2006
Time: 1:00 P.M.
Site: Old Towne Restaurant
City: Ridgeway, S.C.

Board Members: Martin Wheeler, Jr., Ed Locklin, Bill Cole, Don Stewart.
Others: Jim Fierson (SC DOT), Howard Shepherd, Matt Conrad, Pete Gustafson.

The meeting was called to order by Martin Wheeler, Jr., President. He asked those present to introduce themselves and to allow time for individual comments.

Minutes of the last CAPT Meeting in Fayetteville on May 27th were presented, and approved as amended.

President Wheeler presented the Treasurer's Report forwarded by Treasurer Gene Kirkland who could not attend the meeting.

Jim Fierson reported on recent developments at SC DOT. He reported Jim Daniels is the new part-time Rail Manager for the Mass Transit Division replacing Bill McIlwaine who retired recently. Jim also reported a statewide multi-modal transportation plan is being developed by consultant Trans System of Greenville, SC. The plan will have 3 components: A Rail right of way preservation plan (similar to the preservation plan in place at NC DOT), a Mass Transit and Rail Passenger Service plan, and a Rail Freight plan. The plan is expected to be completed in December.

In other news..........
A Charleston area update on potential commuter rail service from Summerville is being conducted by Wilbur Smith and Associates, and a Columbia area commuter rail study by URS has deemed Columbia-Camden as the most viable of 3 routes studied........ In the area of High Speed Rail, completion of the Environmental Impact Study on the Charlotte-Atlanta-Macon segment of the SE High Speed Rail Corridor is expected in the near future. Finally, Jim indicated South Carolina's .25 cent mass transit tax only brings in about 6 million dollars a year for transit. There followed a short discussion on how to jump start a planned resolution drive in the Palmetto state advocating support for cross state Rail Passenger Service. A similar resolution drive was done in North Carolina during 2004-2005. Liz Mabry and John Hardee were mentioned as the appropriate SC DOT Board of Transportation members to correspond with in advocating rail passenger and transit improvements.

CAPT NC Vice-Present Don Stewart and Board Member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) suggested having Columbia as the meeting site for a NARP board meeting in 2008 might help spur interest in rail issues there. Don also reported finishing touches were being put on a new CAPT Brochure and Map, and that funding for Amtrak for the next fiscal year was still uncertain. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee had approved 1.4 billion dollars for 2006-2007, but bad provisions on the cost of food service and sleeping car service needed to be addressed. A House-Senate conference committee was expected to consider working out differences in the respective bills in the Congress. Senate Bill 1516 authorizing Amtrak for the next 6 years had passed the Senate 93-6.

Bill Cole gave an update on NC DOT Rail developments. Double tracking the Cox-Hoskins segment south of Greensboro was expected to get underway in September. Work on the 9.8 mile segment on the Charlotte-Raleigh corridor is expected to take at least a year for completion. Former UP (CN&W) equipment being refurbished by NC DOT in Delaware is running behind schedule. A combine is to precede 3 coaches later this year. A possible 3rd frequency between Charlotte and Raleigh now appears unlikely before the Fall of 2007.

President Wheeler gave a brief update on light rail and commuter rail developments in the Charlotte area.

A decision was made to archive at least a year's worth of newsletters on our website. Previous newsletters are placed on the site when the current issue goes out.

The CAPT Board was designated as the Nominating Committee to solicit board member candidates for the October annual meeting.

CAPT will hold it's annual meeting in October in Cary, NC, and will attempt to get a speaker from the Triangle Transit Authority (TTA) to talk about recent developments with plan to construct a regional rail system between Durham and Raleigh.

The meeting adjourned shortly after 2:30 p.m. to allow those interested to ride the 3 p.m. excursion at the Rockton, Rion and Western Railroad in Winnsboro.

Martin Wheeler
for Secretary Dan Smith