Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Red Hot & Blue Restaurant, Raleigh, NC
December 11, 2010 Open - 12:45 P.M.
Present: Martin Wheeler, Gene Kirkland, John Bobinyec, Ed Locklin, Bob Bischoff, Art Peterson, David Hill, Robert Johnson, John Stein, Allan Paul (NCDOT), and Phil Astwood

Action Items:
  • Phil will discuss the next step in the SC resolution drive with Jim
  • Phil will send SC brochures to Jim
  • Martin and Bob will work on insert for the SC brochure
  • Martin will contact newsletter service and report to February meeting
  • Art will set up Greensboro meeting and send information to Gene by 1/15
1. Allan Paul - (NCDOT - Rail Division) Guest speaker - The Rail Division of NCDOT has a variety of functions including: rail bank, corridor restoration, crossing safety, economic development, coordination with highway design, development of high speed rail, environmental protection, rail revitalization (current double tracking project for example), freight handling, ports, and industrial safety

Passenger rail – Between 1984 and 2010 yearly rail passenger totals for NC increased from 150,000 to 800,000. Plans continue for service to Asheville, Wilmington, and Greenville with much of the necessary property already purchased

Track improvement – The $540 million received in February is funding a number of projects that include: completing the replacement of all equilateral turnouts Clt - Rgh (thus allowing train on primary route to maintain 79 mph), work on double tracking Clt - Gro is planned to begin in 2012 and be complete in 2015, Gro – Cyn to get new longer sidings, double track will soon extend from Dnc to Rgh, and faster speeds will be possible north of Raleigh with resurfaced track. Improvements such as these are necessitated by NC’s rapid growth. NC’s population is projected to double by 2030. Currently ranked 10th in population, NC is projected to be 7th by 2030. Increases in vehicle miles traveled in NC currently outpace growth in population and collection of gasoline taxes are not expected to cover the increases in cost.

High speed rail corridors – Plans exist for high speed rail from Montreal to Florida. Planning is proceeding for high speed service in the Chicago area, in Southern California, in central Texas, and the Pacific Northwest. The Southeastern corridor has the best ridership estimate. SC and GA received money this fall for tier one documents; NC has completed tier 2. Plans for the 475 miles from Charlotte to Washington, DC include: speeds of 90 – 110 mph, 4 additional daily trains Clt – Rgh and 4 daily trains Clt - Was. These are the maximum speeds on tracks shared with freight. The first high speed operation is projected for 2018. This is the only program that is projected to be in the black when finished. There is money for 28 more miles of double track, 12 bridges, 36 crossing closures, and 2 new sidings. Plans also include the expansion of the station building and parking area at Cary. This station will be staffed when complete at the end of August. There will be a longer platform at Burlington, parking will be added at High Point, and there will be a canopy at Kannapolis. Work to refurbish engines and cars is continuing. By this time next year there will be 6 new locomotives and enough new cars to run the 4th daily roundtrip Clt – Rgh. There are plans for a new maintenance shop in Charlotte and new passenger information systems in 9 stations. Stations will have generators so that during severe storms the trains can continue to run and the stations can serve as safe havens for their communities.

CRISP (Charlotte Railway Improvement & Safety Program) – This includes plans for: an intermodal facility at the Charlotte airport, the movement of the Greyhound terminal with a new Charlotte gateway station being built at the site of the current bus terminal, a CSX /NS grade separation, and the extension of CATS light rail. In addition the program outlines the development of NCDOT property in Charlotte for residential, educational, and entertainment uses through public/private partnerships. Since NC now has its first Republican legislature, no growth in funding can be expected in the next two years. The Federal Congress with greater Republican representation is expected to be a problem as well. Private money may be the only available source. To make further progress it will be necessary to convince the new Congress of rail’s advantages for passengers and freight. For example, air pollution is already a problem in the Charlotte – Raleigh corridor and increased use of rail is a reasonable solution. Additionally, rail in general is seen as a good investment by foreign companies.

Answers to questions:
There are currently no plans to bring any rail car manufacturing to NC
ACW is still part of CRISP ($7.5-8 million)
It is better to build toward high speed in increments. Obama wants to have 2 high-speed projects in operation. Florida has completed a good plan, California has not. NC has the best and most complete program.
The Rail Division works with bus service in general. Multimodal station is a good example
The new engines (F59PHs) will be: 1859 City of High Point, 1893 City of Burlington, 1810 City of Greensboro, and 1866 City of Durham.
There is money for 7 more cars. These will be ready in 2.5 years and be sufficient for a 4th Rgh/Clt frequency. If federal funds are available, the first batch of new cars will be purchased for a 5th frequency. It would be the first new train to travel outside the state connecting with the NEC. The 5th frequency is projected to start in 2017or 2018. New cars used in state will be bi-level. Cars going out of state will be single level.
With 4th frequency, trains will leave Charlotte at 7:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 6:00 PM. Trains will leave Raleigh at 6:50 AM, 10:50 AM, 2:50 PM, and 5:50 PM. It is planned that the Raleigh times will eventually move to the half hour.

2. Secretary's Report - Bob Bischoff distributed the minutes of the October 9 meeting via e-mail to Board members and as hardcopy at the meeting. He read the minutes to the meeting and they were approved as read.

3. Treasurer's Report - Gene Kirkland distributed the report showing a continuing balance of $6,535.00 in the CAPT Challenge account and $7,975.94 in the operating account for a total balance of $14,510.94. The Association currently has 194 members. In addition Gene reported that he will be sending out renewal notices soon and that we do not need to file a special report with the IRS since we have filed reports regularly.

4. Update on Resolution Drive in South Carolina - Phil reviewed the actions to date including the original mailing of the Resolution, the ”thank you’s” sent to the 14 communities that responded, and the “reminders” sent to those that did not. The next step is to bundle the returned resolutions and send them to key SC legislators. That project was delayed by the “crash” of Phil’s computer. As the legislature has changed with the recent election, Phil will discuss the next step with Jim Frierson. Phil will also send some copies of the SC brochure to Jim. Martin and Bob will continue to work on the insert showing possible additional passenger service in SC.

5. Status of Efforts to Produce New CAPT Brochure - Gene showed a proof copy of the new brochure containing new pictures and updated information. The cover is new and the inside is lighter. He circulated the copy soliciting comments and suggestions. After minor editing, he hopes to have the brochure ready to print in February. The brochure has cost about $1600 to date and will cost approximately $500 more before it is ready to print. The printer estimates 10,000 brochures can be printed for a basic cost of $2,469. We probably should not print more so that the brochure does not become out of date before all copies are used up. We will get all of the materials once the job is done. We need to decide how the brochure will be distributed. For example, it can be handed out at conventions and visitor centers, made available in libraries, rail stations, and AAA offices, and mailed to elected officials.

6. Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website - Website John Bobinyec said all was working well and there was nothing new. Newsletter - Gene reports he has been working on it, but not recently. Martin has had contact from a person who would like to produce a newsletter for us. Martin will contact him and report in February. It was suggested that some news should go on the web site

7. New IRS Requirement - As Gene reported earlier, this does not apply to CAPT since we submit regular reports to the IRS.

8. Amtrak Update - Art reports that the daily Sunset is probably far in the future since Southern Pacific expects Amtrak to pay all associated expenses. Service improvements on the Capitol Limited and the Empire Builder are going forward. Art expects to ride these trains in the spring and will report on what he sees. NARP reports that the Coast Starlight has improved on time performance to 90%. Other trains doing better as well. Capitol Limited is often held for connections. In general host railroads are doing a good job. BNSF and So Pac are doing well; CSX is better most of the time

9. NARP Meeting - David attended the October meeting and distributed notes on the Wednesday session “The Benefits of Closer Association with NARP” in which several speakers discussed aspects of closer association between NARP and local associations such as our own. David reported that Sean Jeans-Gail (NARP communications) has acquired software used by Obama’s campaign which will provide mailing lists of public officials. We also should be able to get lists of NARP members in NC and SC. At the meeting, Ross Capon was asked to consider a discount for NARP members who simultaneously join a local ARP. David reported that he was approved as SC representative on the NARP Council.

10. NC Transit Update - Martin reported that a prototype street car has just arrived in Charlotte. It will be tested on the light rail at night and eventually put on display around the country. The car runs on a battery charged through the pantograph allowing it to run for short distances without catenary. CATS rail grinding to smooth the ride and catenary work to reduce pantograph wear are underway. Blue Line ridership increased 5.5% in December while maintaining 99.2% on time performance. There were no accidents. Bus system ridership is up 1.2%. CATS is searching for funding to build the Red Line (north) and to extend the Blue Line. One proposal is to cut the projected Blue Line cost by 20%. A better plan would be to schedule work in phases. CRISP will supply funding for a study to integrate all services at the Charlotte Gateway Station. Street car project design work is underway; it may be 2 years before work begins. CSX has agreed to an 88’ span for proposed Blue Line bridge over its mainline. Intermodal yard at airport should be complete by 2013. NPR reporters working on a documentary on transit visited CATS in November.

11. Reports From Officers and Directors -

Jim Frierson – (Note to Martin) – The SC Secretary of Transportation has appointed a rail advisory committee. Jim will be re-assigned to the Office of Public Transit and will work with Roy Tolson in the Office of Railroads as well as the Office of Public Transit..

Gene Kirkland – The Piedmont is sold out every Sunday. It does not have enough cars.

Bob Bischoff – Charlotte Trolley will have to do environmental impact study of the Stewart Creek area. The $10,000 cost may be prohibitive

12. Planning for Future Meetings – Future Meetings:
February 12 – Greensboro (Art will set this up and get information to Gene by Jan 15),
April 9 – Columbia (Jim will set this up),
June 11 – Charlotte (Martin will set up),
August 13 - Greenville (Phil & David will set up),
October 8 – Asheville (Art will set this up),
December 10 - Charleston.(Jim?)

Adjourn - 3:50 P.M.