FROM THE CAB - January 2022

By Martin Wheeler, President

Upcoming 2022 CAPT Board Meetings -- March 19, Greensboro, NC; May 21, Raleigh, NC; July 16, Myrtle Beach; September 17, Fayetteville, and November 19, Charlotte. Meetings will be in-person and “zoomed.”

RailNation: DC 2022 -- Spring Advocacy Summit and Day-On-The-Hill, March 27-30, for members of the Rail Passengers Association (RPA). An in-person event is planned at the Embassy Suites in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Check the RPA website for meeting details, to register for the event, and book a hotel room.

Dr. David Robinson and Don Yehle, CAPT board members, have submitted applications to be RPA council representatives for the States for North Carolina and South Carolina, respectively.

Truck Driver Shortage and America’s transportation problems -- Phil Streby, a longtime passenger train advocate from Indiana, has addressed this issue. “The shortage is not because of a lack of truck drivers. The shortage is caused by depending upon trucks to transport goods long distances when trains could be handling those same goods to smaller distribution centers scattered more widely about the country.

“Said another way, our transportation policies are sadly too dependent upon motor vehicles and highways in this country.

“A more balanced transportation network would include rail, but state departments of transportation are comprised mainly of people who have no or very limited knowledge of the capabilities and usefulness of rail.

“Consequently, those DOT planners don’t include rail in their planning, and all too often eliminate rail connections when constructing highway projects.

FRA Explains New Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) -– Passenger Rail Advocates are encouraged to visit the Federal Railroad Administration website to learn more about a “generational investment in America’s intermodal transportation system of which freight and intercity passenger rail are an integral part and an engine of our economy.” (Type into your browser and scroll to Areas of Interest – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – near the end of its website.)

Passed by Congress last November, the law includes advanced appropriations in four categories: Amtrak, $22 billion; Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements, $5 billion; Railroad Crossing Elimination, $3 billion, and Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail, $36 billion.

Total rail funding from this law is $102 billion, of which $36 billion is authorized funding.

At a webinar the last week of January, many RPA members listened to two administrators discuss the “process through which rail corridors will receive funding.” Speakers were BIL Implementation Manager Ryan Arbuckle and Matthew Lorah, Grant and Program Management Division Chief.

“Whether you’re a local official or a passenger advocate, it’s important to understand the mechanics of who is eligible to apply for these funds, what that application process looks like, and the criteria the FRA will use to evaluate project submissions,” explains the RPA in its pre-webinar publicity.

CAPT CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF SERVICE -– Established in 1982, the Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains continues as “an independent organization of citizens dedicated to the improvement and expansion of passenger rail service, as part of a balanced transportation policy, through and within the Carolinas.”

As posted on its website, CAPT’s goals and objectives are:

  • Increased daytime passenger service along the Piedmont Corridor (Raleigh-Charlotte-Columbia) with connections to the Northeast Corridor, Atlanta, and Florida.
  • Extension of services connecting coastal Carolina cities (Charleston, Wilmington and Morehead City) and Asheville, Fort Mill, SC, Greenville, NC, and Winston-Salem, NC, to the Piedmont Corridor.
  • Promotion of increased ridership and frequencies of all Carolina passenger trains.
  • Improved safety for all trains and vehicles at grade level crossings.
  • Promotion of rail transit as an alternative to increased highway capacity in those situations where urban growth patterns and transport demands indicate that rail can be a viable component of a region’s congestion management or air quality program.
  • Increased coordination of passenger rail services with other forms of public transportation which includes air, intercity bus and local and regional transit.
  • Supporting the timely planning and implementation of the high- speed rail corridor through North and South Carolina.