Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Greensboro Station, Greensboro, NC
   
September 19, 2015 Open - 2:10 PM
 
Present: Martin Wheeler, Jim Stevenson, Harry Clapp, Ernest Robl, Dan Smith, Ralph Messera, Gayle McCurry, Dick Peacock & Phil Astwood

Secretary's Report - As Phil Astwood was not present at the July meeting, Bob Bischoff took minutes. These were sent out via e-mail and read at the meeting. The minutes were accepted as read with minor corrections.

Treasurerís Report - Gene Kirkland was unable to attend the meeting and will mail a treasurer's report this evening.

Update on Yahoo Chat list - Martin Wheeler described a chat list CAPT had operated at Yahoo for a number of years. We lost our moderator and thus have not been able to use the list properly. John Bobinyec worked with Yahoo to fix this and other problems and has agreed to serve as a moderator. Martin and Ralph Messera will serve as moderators as well.

Update on the Resolution Drive in SC - Martin described the SC Resolution Drive and our present plans to conduct another mailing to city and county officials along our two proposed routes in SC. Jim Frierson will provide an updated address list for mayors and county council chairs, and Phil will write a cover letter and eventually mail out the materials. The cover letter will describe the new support the project has received from the Passenger Rail Consortium, from Mayor Benjamin's task force, and in a recent article in several state newspapers. In addition to the cover letter, the mailing will contain a copy of our brochure, our proposed schedules, and a copy of our resolution in support of improved and increased passenger rail service in South Carolina.

Update on CAPT Fostering an Association Similar to 'Virginians for High-Speed Rail' (VHSR) - Martin discussed a meeting approximately a year ago in which CAPT decided to establish a group similar to VHSR in North Carolina. At that time, David Robinson appeared to be interested in serving in a paid position as executive director. His responsibility would be to recruit members from industry and government who would realize the benefits and thus be interested in promoting high-speed rail in North Carolina. In addition, the executive director would be responsible for raising the funds necessary to carry out the organizations goals. It now appears that David may not want to take on this role and CAPT may need to determine who would be willing and able to do this. Art Peterson will discuss this with David. Dick Peacock, from Manassas, VA, suggested we contact Danny Plaugher (804-864-5193) in Richmond for advice. Danny is the executive director of the VA organization.

Update on News in NC and SC Affecting Transit and Passenger Rail -
South Carolina - Jim Frierson was unable to attend the meeting, but sent a report which Martin read. Jim stated that there had been very little activity related to passenger rail in SC. He is still on the e-mail list for Frank Ezell's Passenger Rail Consortium, but he has not received any information recently. He also has not received anything from Mayor Benjamin's task force. SCDOT's Secretary of Transportation, Janet Oakley, resigned abruptly in June claiming "overwhelming bureaucracy" as the cause. Ms. Oakley seemed to be pro-transit and pro- passenger rail and the current acting secretary of transportation is a highway engineer with little knowledge and probably little interest in either of these. It was suggested to the Board that we consider inviting Mayor Benjamin to our next meeting which will be in Columbia.

North Carolina - Martin - The Pembroke connection to the Wilmington line is going to be done. In the future this will be important for passenger service. NC pays $15 million per year to support the Carolinian and the three Piedmonts. CATS is expecting to complete the extension of the Blue Line by 2017. The Street Car is running using the old cars. The full line is expected to be complete by 2019. Ralph - The NC General assembly intends to limit light rail spending in the future to $500,000 per project. Ernest Robl has seen signs in Durham opposing light rail in the triangle area. Ralph - A cross-over is being placed on the'A'Line near Enfield, NC that will allow greater flexibility for the Carolinian. About 75% of the earth moving is done on the three remaining single-track sections and there are long sections of track in place. Several curves are being straightened. Nothing is being done at new Raleigh station. CATS has taken over the Gateway project in Charlotte. Some money is available to buy and prepare the land, but no money to build a station. Dan - A year or so ago Mary Richards mentioned possible extension of the Crescent line down into NC. Will this harm the Carolinian? Allan Paul will be very careful not to harm the Carolinian, but they will discuss the project with Virginia. Dick - Recently the train was about 1 1/2 hours late into Raleigh due to construction and a medical emergency. When I got to Raleigh I could not find a cab. There needs to be a sign. Ralph will send a note to Allan Paul about this. Gayle - Is CAPT involved with future Asheville rail or bus service? Martin - Yes, but the cost is getting very high. To upgrade the rails would be over $150 million. The State (NC) is willing to pay that amount, but NS wants it up front and the State wants to pay over the expected 4 years of the project. Bus service would be a good lead for train service.

Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website - John Bobinyec has placed our website on a new server, but the address (captrail.org) has not changed. The newsletter is still dormant and Gene does not have the time to do more than maintain the treasury. It was suggested that Gene turn over all other responsibilities to others. Ralph, and perhaps Ed Locklin, agreed to deal with the membership records. No decision was made about future action on the newsletter.

Amtrak Update - Martin- NARP has initiated a campaign intended to save the dining car by selling food bags. Some do not find this a reasonable approach. There is some doubt about what will happen at the end of the year when Positive Train Control (PTC) is not in place as has been mandated. Freight railroads are not sure how to avoid threatened fines. Congress is being requested to extend the deadline by 3 years. Massachusetts DOT is studying a Boston to Montreal train and there is talk about a rail connection between North and South stations in Boston. A flag stop is being planned for in Marks, MS which is supposed to facilitate bus and air connections. Dick - Found the conductors to be very courteous on the Piedmonts and the Florida service. Gayle - If you see problems, report them to the train host who will include them in their reports and these receive action in at least some cases.

Reports by Officers and Directors -
  • Ralph Messera - Is trying to get back on the MTC Board after retirement as public works director for Matthews.
We need to send out membership reminders. Should dues be increased?

Planning for Future Meetings - The only remaining meeting is in Columbia - Nov 21 (Jim will arrange this)
Adjourn - 3:45 PM