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October 2008 Meeting Minutes

Carolina Association for Passenger Trains
City Range Steakhouse, Spartanburg, SC
(Amended and Approved 1/10/09)
October 11, 2008 Open - 1:50 PM
Present: Martin Wheeler, Gene Kirkland, John Bobinyec Jim Frierson, Bob Bischoff, John Wagner, & Phil Astwood.

Action Items:
          Phil Astwood will distribute minutes to all directors via e-mail
          Gene Kirkland will distribute directors' e-mail addresses
          Don Stewart will have brochure ready in November
          If brochure is not ready, Martin Wheeler will find alternate way to have it printed
          John Bobinyec will post SC Resolution on website
          Gene Kirkland will send copies of the newsletter to John Wagner
          John Bobinyec will peruse purchase of website name ""
          Jim Frierson will find a site for the December 13 meeting in Columbia.

1. Secretary's Report - The report was presented by Bob Bischof and accepted without additions or corrections. Gene Kirkland agreed to distribute e-mail addresses for all directors. Phil Astwood distributed corrected copies of the minutes for the June 23 meeting.

2. Treasurer's Report - The report was distributed in the mail by Gene Kirkland and showed a closing balance of $7,465.48 in the operating account, and $6,535.00 in the CAPT Challenge account for a total of $14,000.48. With the addition of 3 new members and the renewal of 17, total membership is currently 172.

3. Elections: The following directors have served the first year of two-year terms and will continue in office for the next year: Martin Wheeler, Jim Frierson, Gene Kirkland, Bill Cole, Art Peterson, Jack Stein, Ralph Ward, and Phil Astwood. Directors Bob Bischoff, Ed Locklin & Don Stewart completed two-year terms and agreed to stand for re-election. All three were re-elected. All five officers were re-elected for 2009: President – Martin Wheeler, NC Vice President – Don Stewart, SC Vice President – Jim Frierson, Secretary – Phil Astwood, and Treasurer – Gene Kirkland

4. SC Resolution Drive Update - Martin announced that the Resolution in support of extended passenger service in South Carolina is complete and will be presented to SC legislators as they return for their next session in January of 2009. At that time we will also distribute copies of the Resolution to city and county councils and other influential bodies. A copy of CAPT’s most recent brochure should accompany the Resolution, but the brochure is yet to be completed. Don Stewart has said that he will have it complete in November. Martin distributed copies of the Resolution and John Bobinyec agreed to post it on the website. If the brochure is not completed by November, Martin suggested Don be asked to send the materials to him and he will find a way to get it printed.

5. CAPT Newsletter - Gene Kirkland said that he had the articles collected and the next issue would be printed in 2 – 3 weeks. Gene reported that Malcolm Kenton is doing a great job. John suggested the newsletter might go on line. Gene said that older copies are on line, but the newest issue goes to members first. If they so choose, it can be sent via e-mail. At present 8 members have requested this. Free copies are available to non-members in most stations in the Carolinas. Gene said that this was one of the best sources for new members. At his request, Gene will get copies to John Wagner to be put in the Clemson station.

6. Website Issues - John reported that the website name “ is available at a cost of about $50-$60 per year. The meeting’s consensus was that we purchase this site and move our material from the Trainweb site.

7. Rail Developments in the Carolinas -

Gene Kirkland – Additional Frequency for Charlotte/Raleigh Service – The first two cars (one food service and a coach) were delivered to Wilmington, Del. today to be refurbished. Two cars are already there. In addition, 2 locomotives (P42’s) will be leased from Amtrak for 6 months allowing the existing 3 locomotives to receive mid-life rebuilds. Two baggage/food service cars (also leased) will be made ready for service. Service is to begin on May 25, 2009. This is the same start date as the Carolinian and the Palmetto. Training has begun for engineers and conductors. When all upgrading is complete, the service will have 8 coaches, 2 baggage/food service cars, a combine, and 3 locomotives. The new trains (#75 & 76) will be in the Amtrak system and are expected to leave Raleigh and Charlotte at 12:00 and 12:35 respectively. Carolinian ridership is up 23% over the past 3 months. A contract for a new platform at Salisbury has been let. Interior and exterior work at Durham station is expected to be complete by March ’09. Work at Cary is expected to be complete by then as well. Work at Goldsboro will only be exterior as there are not sufficient funds to do the inside at the moment. A flagman is needed to control trains during construction. The Statesville station has been purchased and will be available for Asheville trains when service is initiated. Land has been bought for a station in Wilmington, and land has also been bought in Ashville which contains a building that will be rented until needed. Amtrak has agreement to increase staffing in Durham. Cary will have one at a time (2 people working). Double track High Point to Greensboro being built. This will cure greatest delay point. Next is Lake to Bowers between Thomasville and Lexington.

John Bobinyec – Preparation for High-Speed Rail will involve straightening curves or in some places the laying of a new line. Old structures will be used where possible. The new rail bill has $500 million for local projects, and some of the money can be used to refund money used on past work. It is important to remember, however, that this is only authorized money it still has to be appropriated.

Bob Bischoff - The Charlotte trolley is running on weekends, but CATS is not interested in weekday running unless the trolley has been chartered. The Trolley Museum on Camden Road is to open in a few weeks. Only exhibits. The North Carolina DOT, owners of the Piedmont & Northern Railroad, claim there is business available on the line and plan to begin operating. Some local residents object (NIMBY). If made operable, this might be a commuter rail line some day.

Jim Frierson – A study is being conducted in Charleston concerning commuter rail to Moncks Corner and Summerville. This is to be a pre-implementation study. Following a similar study in Columbia to determine the feasibility of three possible rail commuter links, a link to Camden was selected as the most viable. As yet, no action has been taken. Another study examined the feasibility of linking Myrtle Beach, Florence, and Charleston as part of a high-speed rail project. DOT in Columbia has received the Volpe study of high-speed rail in the upstate. The South Carolina Public Railways Commission is planning a study of statewide passenger and freight needs. This is really an economic development study. Completion is expected in January 2009. Charleston is planning a multi-modal center. The site has been selected, but no construction has begun. Many studies; no action. (Items in italics represent corrections by Jim Frierson)

Martin Wheeler – NCDOT has authorization to begin work on the Charlotte Gateway Station Project. Greyhound will move so that a multi-model center can be built at the site of its current depot. North corridor commuter rail platform will be on west side. This could begin by 2010 or 2011.Lynx Blue line is running ‘on-time’ 99% of the time. Some days it reaches 100%. On average it carries 18,000 passengers per day. This is 10 years ahead of projections. The non-compliance rate (riding without a ticket) is very low. The national average is 3-4%. CATS average is under 1%. Extension of the Blue Line northeast to the University is under consideration. . There may be 2 stations at UNCC since the University wants the trains to come onto the campus. CATS might buy used rail cars from the Houston system in order to expand service and run 3-car trains. Additional service might be available by 2015. The north corridor will need to complete design of a maintenance center. There also are grade crossings that should be eliminated. Charlotte street cars are planned to be modern cars such as are used in Portland, OR. The west corridor is supposed to get an enhanced bus service program to be called the “Sprinter”.

8. Next meeting - Columbia December 13. Jim will find a place.
Adjourn - 3:45 PM