Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SC
October 10, 2009 Open - 11:45 A.M.
Present: Martin Wheeler, Jim Frierson, Ed Locklin, Mike Adams, Larry Libater, Dave Churchill, Dan Gurley (Go21), Jeff Burns (Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester COG), & Phil Astwood.

Action Items:
  • Phil will print cover letters for the Resolution campaign and send them to Gene
  • Gene will collate cover letter, resolution, and brochure; and mail
  • Martin will contact Don Stewart about the CAPT brochure
  • Martin will continue the search for a new newsletter editor
  • John will place new SC brochure on the website
  • Martin will confer with members of the Board to compile a slate of candidates
1. Dan Gurley - (Growth Options for the 21 Century- 'GO21). Our purpose is to promote the use of freight (and now passenger) rail and add capacity throughout the country. Our primary strategy is to work through partnerships of all sorts. Most rail policy is set at the federal level, but is handled at the local level. Outreach to local governments is important to educate them about rail and help them interpret policy since rail policy touches many other areas such as fuel price and availability, congestion, and highway use and construction. Many local officials end up dealing with problems such as these over which they have no control. We do indirect lobbying through a 3rd party in the local area because it is important the all people understand the future. Freight volume is predicted to increase by 90% in the next 10 years and rail must be a significant part of this. There is also a definite increase in interest in passenger rail. The American Public Transportation Association has reported that passenger rail use is at a 50 year high. This will require a significant increase in rail capacity that rail companies will not be able to handle alone. The planning agency, Cambridge Systematics, projects that in the next 25 years $140 billion must be invested to handle this increase. Freight rail companies are expected to be able to cover 70% of the cost, but the balance must come from other sources. If rail capacity is not sufficiently increased, this load will be on the highways. AASHTO (American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials) representing the DOTs in all 50 states has supported increases in rail capacity as a positive investment for public funds. This might involve direct appropriations, public/private partnerships or various forms of tax incentives. CREATE (The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program), a partnership between the U.S. DOT, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, and the nation's freight railroads, is working on this problem. So is a similar program in California. In Virginia the state is working with NS to relieve highway congestions. Since Class I freight railroads host most of Amtrak’s service, increases in capacity are needed in both areas. GO21 is involved in several projects to accomplish this. 1- Promoting legislation in congress to give an additional 25% tax incentive to railroads to increase capacity. Improvements can be in signals, bridges, second tracks, etc. 2- Trying to avoid changes in railroad regulations that interfere with rail performance. The anticipated increases in freight traffic will remove load from highways and barges. The increases are due in part to increasing imports, increasing demands for clean coal from greater distances due to the “greening” of America, increasing rail traffic due to improvements in the Panama Canal that will allow larger ships to reach east coast ports. ConRail is an example of how government can step in, fix a problem, and then sell off the result to private railroads. The Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP) described at “” is an example of an organization working on a comprehensive approach to rail policy. GO21’s support comes from the AAR, rail suppliers, and environmental organizations. GO21 is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, but tries to place representatives around the country in areas where they can best influence members of congress in areas of tax and transportation.

2. Jeff Burns - (Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester COG - Senior Transportation Planner). Our primary task is to deal with funding for road and transit. In so doing we need to consider what is being moved and what is the best way to move it. If you build roads you will get an increase in the number cars to fill them. We are not yet sure what is the best choice. At the Federal level transportation is funded by the Highway Trust Fund, at the state level it is funded by the state gasoline tax, and at the local level by user fees and private sources. Our organization seems to be aligned with CAPT’s goals. One of the ways to look at transportation planning is in terms of land use and the location of jobs. We wonder why this is not taken into account in highway building decisions. For example, in areas with 24-hour/day use (like housing and retail in the same building) there is much greater support for transit. Most post-war housing arrangements required road use and wasted space on parking. With increasing density there is more support and demand for transit. In 1990 it was decided that Charleston was not ready for intensive transit service. In 2003 as the density of land use increased it looked like a better bet. Costs and arrangements are being studied and a plan is due in 2010. Commuter rail is a good bet for Charleston due to track layout and affordability. Summerville to Charleston is a 45 min ride, 22 miles with a fare of $3. This, in fact, is the same route as the “Best Friend of Charleston’s” first run in 1830. The terminal at that time was on Ann Street and might be used again. As the search for money begins, we will have to present a locally acceptable alternative as well. We are trying to work with NS as a partner in the laying of double track to Summerville. Older study projected two million passengers by 2030 with up to a 75% fare box recovery. This is much better than most systems get. There will be a great deal of additional information available when the plan is complete in January. We were pleased that NS sent representatives to discuss commuter rail along with freight service for the new port. NS was pleased to see proposed double track that would be provided. NS CEO said the following 5 points must be addressed if there is to be commuter rail on its lines: 1-Current freight capacity must not be impaired, 2- A plan must exist concerning methods to handle future capacity 3-NS must receive a return on its assets, 4- (I did not get this), 5-Liability for passenger operations must not lie with NS (VRE is an example of how it should be done). Public/Private partnerships such as this are essential for success and there are many options with educational institutions as well as industry.

3. Update on Resolution in Support of Transportation Options for the State of South Carolina - Martin Wheeler presented and described the brochure. Phil Astwood reported that he had completed the mailing labels with addresses of COGs, cities, and counties within 10 miles of existing rail lines. The addresses were supplied by Jim Frierson. The labels were sent to Gene Kirkland. Martin reviewed the plans for mailing the brochures, resolutions and cover letters. Dan agreed to send us a list of congressional transportation staffers. Martin said the abbreviated “highlight” brochure is still under consideration.

4. Status of Efforts to Produce new CAPT Brochure - Martin Wheeler reported that some Board members are getting frustrated with the lack of progress on this brochure. Martin will ask Don Stewart if he will send whatever parts of the brochure he has completed so someone else can work on it.

5. Secretary's Report - Phil Astwood distributed the minutes of the August meeting via e-mail and post to members of the Board prior to this meeting. Martin Wheeler pointed out the word ‘Charlotte’ should be added to the mention of Blue Line and Trolley Museum in the minutes. With these corrections the minutes were accepted.

6. Treasurer's Report - As Gene Kirkland could not attend the meeting he mailed copies of the treasurer’s report in advance. The Association has $7,217.42 in its operating account and $6,535.00 in the CAPT Challenge account for a total of $13,752.42. The association has 192 members. The report was accepted as information.

7. Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website -
Newsletter - Malcolm Kenton has moved to NARP. Martin Wheeler is corresponding with possible outside editors. The newsletter should come out 6 times a year. Martin will report on progress. Malcolm has some material left over that might be useful in a future newsletter.
Website - The new website is working at Martin sent SC brochure to John Bobinyec. Should be on the site soon.

8. Update on Rail Developments across the Carolinas including Start of 3rd Charlotte/Raleigh Frequency - In a written report sent to Martin Wheeler, Gene Kirkland reports that the new train should begin operation on March 1. Train #s will change in the new October 26 schedule. The current Piedmont running north will be #73 and #76 running south. The new service will have #74 running from Raleigh and #75 running from Charlotte. Train #76 will depart Charlotte at 5:30 PM. The new service will depart Raleigh at 12:00 noon and depart Charlotte at 12:30 PM. Trains #73 & 74 will use 56- seat cars; #75 & 76 will have 66-seat cars. Two locomotives acquired from GO Transit are in NY being rebuilt to NC standards. The locomotives will be numbered 1810 (City of Greensboro) and 1859 (City of High Point). Current locomotives (1756 & 1797) will go back for midlife rebuilds as soon as the GO Transit units are ready. The food service car #400201 (Pamlico Sound) has returned from rebuilding. It will include vending machines and complimentary snack service will end. All current equipment has been rebuilt and returned to service. The state (NC) is in the process of acquiring two more 66-seat KCS coaches and two 56-seat UP cars. The state is also getting another hospital car to be converted for food service. It will be #400102 (Catawba River). Salisbury platform work is complete and has space for a second track for mountain service. No progress yet to enlarge the Cary station because funding was removed to deal with recent state shortages. Longer platforms are being planned for Burlington, High Point & Selma. Double tracking from High Point to Greensboro should be complete in about a month. The new line is complete and is being used while the old line is being rebuilt. Stimulus funds have been requested for double tracking between Charlotte and Greensboro.

9. Officers & Directors Reports

Jim Frierson – Roy Tolson will ask the SCDOT commission to add passenger element to State Rail Plan. Another study is needed and will be funded by SCDOT. Assembly Street grade separation will use stimulus funds. Plans are ready. Work might begin in early 2010.

Ed Locklin – Why is it that Amtrak shows no interest in expanding service at this opportune time? There is no talk about new equipment or return of closed lines. Martin – Repair and maintenance are their first priority. Dan – GE is discussing a new line of passenger locomotives. Colorado Railcar is back in business as US Railcar. They manufacture DMU’s and Princess cars.

Martin Wheeler – The Charlotte Blue Line has averaged 14,000 riders/day which is consistently over projections. The Blue Line will receive 4 new cars from Siemens to make a total of 20 by the end of the year. 30% of the design is complete for extension of the Blue Line. 90% of design is complete for the Mooresville commuter line, but no federal money is available and there has been a drop in sales tax revenue so this is on hold. Bob and Martin looked at Piedmont & Northern track work. Might be ready to start freight operation in November. Only 3.4 miles to be put in service so far. There used to be 50-minute service on P&N between Gastonia and Charlotte. This is not one of the lines on the Master Plan, but it is a possibility for commuter service. Charlotte intermodal center is bogged down due to funding and finalization of the Master Plan.

10. New Business - The Resolution from GO21 (attached) was unanimously approved.

12. Election - The Board has been empowered as a nominating committee. A slate of candidates for open positions on the Board and among the officers will be prepared and presented at the December meeting.

11. Future Meetings - Next meeting will be on December 12 in Durham close to the new station. Martin will contact Dan Smith for ideas and help with arrangements. Future Meetings: February – Greenville/Spartanburg, April - Charlotte, June – Columbia, August – Asheville, October – Myrtle Beach, December – Raleigh
Adjourn - 3:51

Resolution in Support of Increased Rail Capacity

  Whereas, federal transportation officials and others project that United States freight volumes will increase by almost 90 percent over the next 25 years;

  Whereas, the American Public Transit Association announced earlier this year that transit ridership was at a 52 year high;

  Whereas, the nation’s highways are already stretched to capacity;

  Whereas, the efficient movement of goods and people are directly related to the strength of a nation’s economy and its citizens’ quality of life;

  Whereas, public policies promoting increased investment in rail infrastructure would result in increased rail capacity for both passenger and freight services;

  Whereas, expansion of rail capacity would yield impressive public benefits by relieving worsening congestion, reducing highway costs, providing a critical intermodal link to international trade, and improving air quality and fuel efficiency;

  Whereas, relatively modest public investments in rail infrastructure would yield impressive returns on investment in savings to motorists, businesses, and taxpayers;

  Whereas, bi-partisan legislation was recently introduced in Congress that would create tax incentives to increase investment in rail infrastructure (H.R.272);

  Whereas, this legislation is the type of proposal that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials says is needed to accommodate increasing passenger and freight volumes and realize the public benefits that come from moving more passengers and freight by rail; and

  Whereas, Congress is considering changes in the law that would undermine the balanced regulation established under the Staggers Act and potentially constrict rail transportation in this country; .

  Therefore, Be It Resolved the ________________________________________ supports building a stronger economy, reducing highway congestion, improving air quality, using tax dollars more efficiently, and improving quality of life by advocating for increased use of rail transportation ; and

  Be It Further Resolved the __________________________________________ endorses federal investment tax incentives to increase rail capacity for both passenger and freight services and opposes efforts to significantly alter the current railroad regulatory structure.

Adopted this _____day of ______, 2009,

__________________________ Signature