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A satellite photo of Ryongchon, looking eastward, taken on May 13, 2003, shows the rail line. The fearsome picture of devastation from the North Korean train explosions near the Chinese border took shape Friday with initial reports saying 150 were killed, 1,249 injured and 1,850 apartments or houses destroyed in Ryongchon. Red Cross spokesman John Sparrow in Beijing said the blast had killed at least 54 people and injured 1,249, but that he expected the toll to rise, citing the massive damage. The explosion damaged an additional 6,350 apartments or houses, Sparrow said, citing information from Red Cross officials in the North.
Concern official Chris Wardle in Pyongyang confirmed the government had told aid workers the death toll was 150. CNN reported several hundred people were killed and thousands were injured in the massive rail explosion in North Korea, Britain’s Foreign Office said on Friday, relaying information from its ambassador to North Korea. Sweden’s ambassador to North Korea, Paul Beijer, said after an early Friday morning briefing with North Korean officials that 100 bodies already had been pulled from the wreckage. The catastrophe happened at Ryongchon’s rail yard, Beijer said, while trainmen were moving two freight cars carrying explosives slated for canal construction, but a car touched a live electrical wire. Beijer told CNN in a phone call from Pyongyang that “all indications are that it was simply an accident. South Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said although South Korea has not officially communicated with North Korea, Seoul is prepared to offer any aid it can to the reclusive communist country. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Thursday in Washington at the daily press briefing the agency had no information of the disaster.
Initial reports by South Korean media said 3,000 people were killed or hurt in the disaster at a railway station in Ryongchon, a bustling town about 90 miles north of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
The secretive North’s communist government was silent Friday about the disaster, despite confirmation from the South Korean and Chinese governments.
The blast leveled a train station, a school, and apartments within a 500-yard radius, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, quoting Chinese witnesses. North Korean officials invited foreign officials to visit the site of the disaster Saturday, O’Mahony said.
There was no sign in Dandong, the Chinese border city nearest to the crash site, of injured people being brought out of North Korea, but the city’s three biggest hospitals were preparing for a possible surge of patients.
In Seoul, Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said China was urging North Korea to send the injured across the border to hospitals in China, but he said Pyongyang was instead asking China to dispatch relief workers to the scene. China confirmed the first fatalities Friday afternoon, saying two Chinese were killed and 12 others injured in the disaster.
The European Union said Friday its humanitarian aid representatives would travel to the scene over the weekend to assess how it could help victims of the accident. European Commission spokesman Jean-Charles Ellerman-Kingombe said EU officials had been invited by the North Korean authorities to go on location on Saturday, two days after the explosion. North Korea declared an emergency in the area while cutting off international telephone connections to prevent crash details from leaking out, Yonhap reported.
The chief of the South Korean Red Cross was in North Korea on an unrelated business trip, and is evaluating what kind of aid North Korea might need, Jeong said. The blast reportedly occurred nine hours after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il passed through the station on his way home from a three-day visit to China. At the time of the blast, an international passenger train carrying many ethnic Chinese was parked in the station, South Korea’s Joong Ang Ilbo newspaper reported, without citing sources. Will Amtrak finally move at 79 mph over Guilford and pick up 10 minutes on its schedules, or will Guilford find another way to obstruct faster trains? The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is calling on Congress to provide $2 billion in the Fiscal Year 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations bill to improve security for America’s millions of transit riders. In written testimony to the House and Senate Subcommittees on Homeland Security Appropriations, on April 19, APTA President William W. APTA is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 organizations, including public transportation systems. Despite the fact that considerably more people travel on public transportation than aviation, the aviation industry has received $11 billion from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for security funding since 9-11, while only $115 million was earmarked for transit agencies from DHS. In a recent security survey, APTA members identified $6 billion in unmet transit security needs. An Amtrak engineer is being blamed for a Penn Station, New York, collision that injured nearly 130 people, railroad officials said on April 20.
The lack of active work came because the unnamed engineer was not busy at his shift moving trains between Sunnyside Yard and Penn Station, said Amtrak spokesman Dan Stessel. Speeds are relative slow after passing a restricting signal – 15 mph within interlocking limits, and 20 mph outside. A hearing is expected within two weeks, after the results of the engineer’s blood-alcohol and drug tests are determined, he added.
The official disputed the notion that the engineer fell asleep, noting that another Amtrak employee was in the cab at the time of the accident. A spokesman for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, which represents the Amtrak engineer, questioned Amtrak’s quick determination of the cause of the accident. The collision occurred as the LIRR train waited for another Amtrak train, a Washington-bound Acela Express, No. Developments in Washington regarding Amtrak are coming to light in an unlikely place – Whitefish, Mont. Amtrak funding is on the chopping block once more, with the Bush administration supporting a maximum of $900 million for the next funding cycle. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told House and Senate subcommittees last month that Amtrak should get no more than $900 million in the coming year. That amount is 26 percent below the $1.218 billion enacted for 2004 and half of what Amtrak says it needs to repair and maintain existing service. Gunn noted that Amtrak has been streamlining its operation, trimming about 3,400 employees from 2002 to 2003. Meanwhile, bills such as the proposed Freeing Alternatives to Speedy Transportation, or FAST Act, could undermine Amtrak funding. Mineta, in his March 3 testimony to the House Transportation and Treasury Appropriations Subcommittee, said on some rail lines, passengers could be flown faster and cheaper than the per-passenger subsidy. The continued funding dilemma for Amtrak has long been a cause for concern among tourism officials who tout the passenger service as a vital transportation link for rural Montana communities. The federal government enacted The Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act in 1997, requiring Amtrak to eliminate the need for federal subsidies within five years, and created a reform council to monitor Amtrak performance.
Amtrak’s number for the current fiscal year through March 2004 show ridership totaled 12,140,180. Florida House and Senate budget negotiators have slashed all state funding for the Constitutionally mandated bullet train, likely delaying the start of the project for at least another year.
Under state budget proposals outlined Monday, only $4 million in federal funding is to be spent on high-speed rail development, The Tampa Tribune reported from its Tallahassee Bureau on April 20. Bullet-train backers had hoped for a minimum of $19 million this year to complete planning and design studies, said Sen. The move came as House and Senate budget negotiators worked to settle differences in a roughly $57 billion state budget for the year that begins July 1.
House budget writers initially earmarked almost $38 million for high-speed rail, which could have been spent on right-of-way acquisition for the initial Orlando-to-Tampa leg, but they quickly stripped that money out of the budget during negotiations with the Senate.
The Senate allocated only the $4 million for high-speed rail from the beginning of budget talks.
Bombardier Transportation said on Thursday the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City has ordered an additional 120 M-7 electric multiple unit (EMU) commuter rail cars for its Metro-North Railroad.
Bombardier stated that includes a base order of 192 cars for LIRR and 786 option cars for both LIRR and M-N. Stainless steel carbodies for the M-7 cars are constructed at Bombardier’s manufacturing site in La Pocatiere, Quebec with final assembly and manufacturing taking place at facilities in Plattsburgh, New York. The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled April 19 the state can’t use gasoline tax money to help pay for a commuter rail line. The state constitution states the money, 18 cents a gallon, must be used exclusively for highway construction and maintenance, or supervising highway traffic. The state argued that railroads are public highways and that the rail project would improve roads by reducing traffic, so it fits the Constitutional restriction.
The court, in Concord, sided with the New Hampshire Motor Transport Assn., a trucking industry group that argued the money should go only to highways. The route will connect downtown and Northgate via First Hill, Capitol Hill and the University District, creating a fast, high-capacity transportation solution that is expected serve the region for several generations.
North Link travel times to downtown will be 16 minutes from Northgate, 12 minutes from the University District and six minutes from Capitol Hill. From Westlake Station in downtown Seattle, which is the northern terminus of the Central Link initial segment, the North Link line extends east to First Hill, running in a continuation of the existing downtown Seattle transit tunnel. The route continues north, crossing beneath the Lake Washington Ship Canal near Montlake Bridge.
The line then follows a route proposed by the university, passing beneath the eastern edge of the main campus and curving west to reach an underground station in the area of Brooklyn Avenue and Northeast 45th Street. The route continues to a station in the Roosevelt neighborhood and a northern terminus station at Northgate, following either Eighth Avenue Northeast or 12th Avenue Northeast. The addition of $3 million in funding for a planned international transportation center in Buffalo, N.Y. Paul Dyster, a former councilman who was heavily involved in the project, said the station may attract more federal grants than other projects because it includes NFTA Metro Bus service and its greater emphasis on security.

The $3 million from Slaughter will be used to finish the design and planning of the building, and acquire nearby property, said Thomas DeSantis, senior planner for the city. The project -- expected to be finished by 2007, with construction starting as early as next year -- will move the Amtrak station from the Lockport Road rail yard to the foot of the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, where it would be integrated with the Customs House in a new two-story, 14,000-square-foot station.
The project also would require the realignment of an existing CSX mainline track and the replacement of two old railroad bridges over Main Street.
The bill has started to arrive for a troubled section of track in the Tacoma Tideflats where problems with sinking soil caused Sound Transit to pull its Sounder commuter rail trains off the track in January. Sound Transit staff members asked the board's finance committee on April 15 to approve $1.14 million to pay two companies to oversee and build a temporary fix that could get the trains running on the tracks again by early June, reports the Seattle Post Intelligencer. A permanent fix, what it would cost and who will pay hasn't been figured out yet, said Sounder Director Martin Minkhoff. The temporary fix involves installing piles along the toe of the walls of the earthen embankment between Bay Street and East Portland Avenue. The track segment has been a headache and embarrassment for Sound Transit for several reasons. Daily streetcar service resumed on Canal Street in New Orleans on April 18 after an absence of nearly four decades.
Here are some other transit headlines, from the pages of Passenger Transport, the weekly newspaper of the public transportation industry published by the non-profit American Public Transportation Assn. The nation must increase the quality and quantity of transportation assistance it offers to the older population as the number of Americans age 65 and over continues to increase. The study released April 14 shows that more than one in five Americans age 65 and over do not drive, and that more than half of this non-driving population stays at home on a given day, in part because of limited transportation options. The report notes that seniors take an estimated 310 million trips per year on public transportation.
For example, the study shows that older non-drivers have a decreased ability to participate in their community and the economy. Transit security continues to be in the forefront of top-level discussions in Washington, following the deadly March 11 terrorist bombing of four rush-hour commuter trains in Madrid.
APTA has been at the center of discussions on policy issues and has been making the case for increased, predictable federal funding for transit security. Most specifically, APTA requested $2 billion in transit security funding for Fiscal Year 2005 in testimony submitted April 9 to the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. The Topeka system has seen major growth during Butts’ tenure while retaining fare levels. Butts previously served two years as president of KPTA, and has received the organization’s Willie E.
On CSX tracks with NS 965 leading as run-through power, the train exits the hole at Folkston, Ga. Many constituencies are looking to rail to help address a myriad of problems, reports the Blue Ridge Business Journal, Roanoke Va. One of the biggest issues is an increasingly inadequate highway infrastructure, coupled with an alarming growth in demand for freight transportation services. There is no dedicated federal funding, nor state funding to support rail, says Karen Rae, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
There needs to be a balance against safety issues, she added, when funding needs to be used to repair bridges, for example.
Fred Altizer, former local Virginia DOT district administrator noted, “In general, rail in Virginia is not a publicly owned entity. A 2003 report by the National Association of Rail Passengers explained “The American rail industry falls largely outside the public policy framework for transportation. Fitzpatrick added that “trains generate a lot less pollution, and it costs a lot less to run a railroad. Executives at the six largest railroads sent a letter to the governor arguing that his proposal to end a tax break on the purchase of diesel fuel would lead them to fill their tanks in other, cheaper states. Joseph Ciaccio, president of the Illinois Railroad Assn., said Illinois is a key national transportation hub.
The complaining is notable because most railroad companies are large campaign contributors. The letter is just the latest from special interest groups worried about the governor’s budget plan, which relies heavily on fee increases and the end of tax breaks for certain kinds of businesses. Farm groups also are fighting the governor, who wants to generate $27 million by taxing agricultural chemicals, seed, and other farm products purchased by a small percentage of wealthy farmers.
Although Republican lawmakers and business groups have vowed to fight the proposals, Carroll said the governor is pressing forward.
Houston Mayor Bill White is engineering a movement to derail using remote-controlled locomotives within city limits – but his crusade could be a lost cause. His opposition was heightened by an April 1 incident when a stalled train forced children in east Houston to scurry between railcars on their way to school, The Houston Business Journal reported on April 16. In blowing a warning whistle now, White joins a growing chorus of metropolitan areas nationwide opposed to the emerging trend. A City Hall resolution targets any remote-controlled train that runs over and across any public or private streets or highway rail crossings, public water supplies or other property within the city of Houston. Adopted by Houston City Council this week, the resolution requests the FRA to develop comprehensive regulations ensuring the highest level of training, skill, experience and qualifications for all persons operating remote-controlled locomotives. The resolution also will be relayed to the STB, which has broad regulatory authority over railroads but has yet to take a public stand on the use of remote-controlled locomotives.
An investigation currently being conducted by freshly appointed City Attorney Arturo Michel at the behest of White is unlikely to find any legal argument that will increase the city’s leverage in addressing stalled trains.
John Bromley, UP public affairs director, said the push to ban remote-controlled locomotives was fueled by a union dispute last year. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers claimed that remote-controlled trains eliminate jobs and refused to negotiate with UP, so the railroad’s contract went to the United Transportation Union.
The much-touted, hot, once-weekly transcontinental United Parcel Service trains operated by Union Pacific, connecting with CSX, and partly over BNSF tracks, appear to be dead.
An informed source said the service would not return even if or when UP solves its current traffic meltdown.
On Canadian railroads, during the week ended April 17 carload traffic totaled 72,993 cars, up 13.3 percent from last year.
The AAR also reported that originated carload freight on the Mexican railroad Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana (TFM) during the week ended April 17 totaled 8,742 cars, up 7.6 percent from last year. Shareholders also approved an amendment and restatement of the BNSF 1999 Stock Incentive Plan and, in an advisory vote, supported the selection of the company’s independent auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
Its directors also approved a second-quarter 2004 dividend on its outstanding common shares.
Revenues for first-quarter 2004 declined 4 per cent to $1.438 million, owing largely to the higher Canadian dollar and lost intermodal revenue caused by the strike.
The month-long CAW strike had a minimal impact on operating expenses, because the benefit of lower labor and fringe benefit expenses was mostly offset by increases in other expense categories. The carrier said quarterly profits, excluding special items, rose on across-the-board gains in cargoes as the economy expanded.
In the first quarterly results by a leading North American railroad, Reuters reported, NS said first-quarter income from continuing operations before accounting changes was $158 million, or 40 cents a share, compared with $85 million, or 22 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts forecast NS would earn 31 cents a share, according to the Reuters Research unit of Reuters Group Plc. Net profit for the 2003 quarter was $209 million, or 54 cents a share, including a gain of $114 million, or 29 cents a share, on an accounting change on the cost of removing crossties.
Revenue from carrying coal, general merchandise such as chemicals and wood products, and consumer goods all increased year-over-year, the company said. Norfolk Southern said railway operating revenues rose to $1.7 billion in the quarter, up 8 percent from a year earlier. Norfolk Southern said its revenue from carrying coal, general merchandise such as chemicals and wood products, and consumer goods all increased year-over-year. Volumes in April were running 5 percent ahead of a year ago and bode well for profits in coming quarters, Goode said. In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other rail travel sites. If you have a favorite rail link, please send the uniform resource locator address (URL) to the webmaster in care of this web site. At least 150 people died and more than 1,000 were injured following an explosion near a North Korean station last Thursday.
The Foreign Office said ambassador David Slinn had met with North Korean officials in Pyongyang. He said officials told him Thursday night’s powerful blast was ignited by a spark, caused when a freight car carrying explosives touched a live power cable. Many of the victims were taken to hospitals in the nearby Chinese city of Dandong and other areas, officials told Yonhap.
The numbers we’ve been told are 150 dead, 1,000-plus injured, and some dead are thought to be schoolchildren. China’s Xinhua News Agency reported the blast was blamed on ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizers, leaking from one train. It said there were about 500 passengers and railway officials in the station at the time of the blast. Ryongchon is the site of chemical and metalworking plants, and has a reported population of 130,000.

Millar asked that $1.2 billion be provided for capital security needs and $800 million be provided for security related operating costs.
He said the unnamed engineer had 14 hours off work before his shift started late Sunday evening. A final determination of the cause could take about six months, said Jennifer Post, a spokesman for the New York DOT, which is assisting in the investigation. Amtrak said the engineer had spent the shift moving trains back and forth from Sunnyside, but Amtrak’s Stessel said the engineer was alone in the cab. That’s a figure Amtrak officials say would essentially shut down the passenger-train service.
In February, Amtrak President David Gunn asked for $1.8 billion for fiscal 2005, and NARP went on record in support of the request.
The bill would repeal an outdated law from the 1950s that prevents transportation innovation, and give states the ability to fund the expansion of interstate highways with electronically collected user fees.
At the East Glacier stop, an average of 12,000 passengers arrive and depart annually; at West Glacier the annual count is between 3,000 and 4,000 passengers. While the deadline has passed, the reform council submitted a restructuring plan to Congress two years ago. Both commuter railroads represent the largest commuter rail network in North America, serving more than 500,000 riders each weekday.
Cannito said “We can retire our oldest cars 18 months sooner, reduce maintenance costs and improve fleet reliability. They feature state-of-the-art rail transportation technology, including energy efficient dynamic braking and on-board monitoring and diagnostic systems. Sub-assembly and manufacturing processes for some components, such as bogie frames, are carried out at Bombardier’s facility in Auburn, New York. The state said that should include the proposed commuter railroad connecting Nashua with the commuter line that runs from Lowell, Mass., to Boston.
The court noted that the legislature has rejected numerous efforts to change the Constitution to include railroads. Staff members are now preparing a formal resolution on the preferred route for the board’s approval in May. From the underground station at First Hill, the line will continue north to a tunnel station serving Capitol Hill located beneath Nagle Place, one block east of Broadway Avenue. An underground station located adjacent to Husky Stadium will provide access to the southern Univ. The board narrowed options for a Montlake-area tunnel vent facility to a single site near the Hop-In Market. In addition, the new Customs and Immigration facility will make the customs process easier and more efficient for Amtrak passengers traveling between New York and Canada," she said. That embankment, which has been sinking, will be closely monitored afterwards, officials said. The rest will go to consultant HNTB, which provides geo- technical and structural evaluations. Other than a ceremonial ribbon-cutting by Regional Transit Authority executives, nothing was planned to mark the historic moment. That is the conclusion of Aging Americans: Stranded Without Options, a new report prepared by the Surface Transportation Policy Project in collaboration with APTA and AARP. The highest percentage of senior non-drivers staying home, 69 percent, is in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
It cites research showing that seniors take transit when it is available, and access to goods and services reduces seniors’ isolation and increases their mobility.
Butts has resigned as Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority, say its directors He held the position for eight years. The number of people served by its demand-response service has more than doubled, from 12,000 in 1999 to 25,000 now.
Other concerns include public safety, the environment, dependence on foreign oil, desire for passenger rail, economic development and homeland security, wrote Roanoke County, Va. Similarly, a number of societal obstacles are serving as choke points to any progress in improving rail infrastructure and services. As the AASHTO report explained, “The rail industry today is stable, productive, and competitive, with enough business and profit to operate but not to replenish its infrastructure quickly or grow rapidly.
Diverting freight to trains and to lower the percentage of trucks on highways will have a positive impact on public safety, environmental protection, and fuel efficiency.
In his campaign for governor, for example, Blagojevich received more than $35,000 from railroad interests.
White said a fortnight ago the practice of allowing locomotives to run without engineers aboard is a hazard to public safety. On March 26, White met with Surface Transportation Board Chairman Roger Nober to address the issue.
BNSF was offered the traffic, but declined, saying they could not handle it on the same high-speed, guaranteed basis.
TFM reported intermodal volume of 3,630 originated trailers or containers, up 24.1 percent from the 15th week of 2003. A quarterly dividend of 19.5 cents Canadian per common share will be paid on June 30 to shareholders of record on June 9.
Excluding the cumulative effect of change in accounting policy in the year-earlier period, diluted earnings per share for the first three months of 2004 increased by 6 per cent. The carrier’s free cash flow of $272 million, compared with $181 million for the same three-month period of 2003. Partly offsetting these losses were increased Canadian grain, forest products, and metals and mineral volumes.
The decrease largely reflected the translation impact of the stronger Canadian dollar on U.S.
The dividend will be payable on May 17 to stockholders of record at the close of business on May 3.
2003 net profits also included a gain of $10 million, or 3 cents a share, on discontinued operations. The 2003 net profit also included a gain of $10 million, or 3 cents a share, on discontinued operations.
Goode said the big gain partly reflected past spending on information technology and other capital spending. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we'd like to hear from you. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives - state DOTs, legislators, governor's offices, and transportation professionals - as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists.
He said Red Cross workers in the North were distributing tents and blankets to 4,000 families, while the international group was putting together hospital kits containing antibiotics, bandages, and anesthetics. One transportation official, who declined to be identified, said the engineer told investigators that he was momentarily distracted and did not brake fast enough after seeing the LIRR train. Gunn, who took the reins of Amtrak in May 2002 as president and CEO, vowed to put the railroad’s finances in order by cutting costs and proposing a five-year infrastructure improvement program. The added cars are part of an existing contract, and are an option that has now been exercised.
Slaughter, D-Fairport, announced that her office had secured funds from a transportation bill recently passed in the House of Representatives for the $20 million Niagara Falls Intermodal Transportation Center & International Railway Station, a project that will relocate the city's Amtrak passenger station and serve as a regional transportation hub. A celebration has been scheduled for the Memorial Day weekend, May 29 and 30, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the last trip by a streetcar along the length of Canal Street. Specifically, older people who live in sparsely populated geographical areas have fewer transportation options, such as regular transit services, than those living in denser geographic areas.
This entity, modeled after the Virginia Port Authority, would be able to attract private capital by issuing revenue bonds to pay for rail infrastructure improvements. While the mayor’s motivations may be well-intentioned, his resolution amounts to little more than political posturing. UP will retain the UPS traffic between Memphis, Dallas and Los Angeles, and BNSF will gain some non-expedited Los Angeles-East Coast UPS traffic, most of it to be handled on existing trains.
Good Friday, which is observed as a holiday on many railroads, was included in the comparison week from last year, but not in this year’s week. Rose, chairman, president, and CEO at the company’s annual shareholders meeting held in Fort Worth on April 21.
Shapiro, 56, retired vice chairman for finance, risk management, and administration of J.P. The dividend is payable on July 26 to holders of record at the close of business on June 25.
After all, the New Haven was a top-drawer freight mover at one time, so it might also have been getting ready to run as a freight extra. The company noted that higher taxes on printing equipment, imposed last year, could stall possible expansion plans in Dwight and Pontiac. Partly offsetting these decreases were higher depreciation and amortization expenses and the impact of higher fuel prices on fuel expense. The Canadian railroads reporting to the AAR account for 90 percent of Canadian rail traffic.

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