NS Greencastle, PA Project
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Sun Mar 14 10:18:28 EDT 2010
Hi Guys :
This news item in the Hagerstown, MD, Herald-Mail Sunday newspaper.
Norfolk Southern’s Greencastle project on track
By KATE S. ALEXANDER
March 13, 2010
_kate.alexander at herald-mail.com_ (mailto:kate.alexander at herald-mail.com)
GREENCASTLE, PA. — Norfolk Southern will break ground on its Greencastle
intermodal rail facility this summer despite news coming from Capitol Hill,
a spokesman said.
The mix of proposed legislation and _funding_
(http://www.herald-mail.com/?cmd=displaystory&story_id=241481&format=html#) denials that is troubling
company executives and local legislators has yet to slow the Greencastle
project, said Rudy Husband, director of public relations for Norfolk Southern.
In February, the U.S. Department of Transportation denied stimulus money
to Pennsylvania facilities proposed along the company’s Crescent Corridor.
Only intermodal facilities in Tennessee and Alabama received Transportation
Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) _funds_
While, in general, the company was satisfied with the grant award, Husband
said it had hoped that Pennsylvania, which took the lead in applying for
TIGER money, would reap a similar reward.
As the company seeks other streams of public revenue and pushes forward
with the Greencastle project, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., warned that
Congress could derail its efforts.
Shuster, who is a major supporter of the Greencastle facility, said in a
opinion column in “The Hill” that the rail industry is “in Congress’ cross
hairs” for re-regulation.
Legislation introduced by House and Senate Democrats in 2009 would allow
rail customers to more easily challenge transportation rates and would
subject the railroad industry to stiffer antitrust scrutiny.
Calling the legislation “re-regulation,” Shuster said if Congress
re-regulates rail, “it will be a matter of time before our once self-reliant
railroads are forced to rely on taxpayer dollars to _invest_
(http://www.herald-mail.com/?cmd=displaystory&story_id=241481&format=html#) in infrastructure
and safety improvements as federal mandates mount.”
Because the legislation is pending, it is unclear what effects it could
have on existing rail projects, Husband said.
“The proposed re-regulation of the rail industry could have a disastrous
effect on investment in railroad infrastructure,” he said. “But since the
bill has not been passed, it is impossible to say how projects currently
under way, such as Greencastle, could be affected.”
Shuster said the legislation could “erase 30 years of positive growth and
threaten to reduce the railroads to ruinous decreases in services and
disinvestment not seen since the 1970s.”
However, Jeff Urbanchuck, a spokesman for Shuster, said Friday that
neither of the two bills have been re-introduced in the current session.
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced the bills in the Senate in
December. U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., sponsored the bill in the House.
Both bills revise the objectives of U.S. rail transportation policy,
including the protection of rail shippers and workers on the tracks.
Rockefeller’s office did not respond when contacted for comment.
In addition to proposed legislation, Shuster said federal mandates are
taking a toll on the rail companies as they seek to expand services.
Positive Train Control (PTC) was a mandate in the Rail Safety Improvement
Act, which was signed into law Oct. 16, 2008, by President George Bush.
Enforced by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), PTC measures are
capable of preventing train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments and
injuries or casualties to workers, according to the FRA Web site.
While no train-to-train collisions have occurred in Franklin County’s
recent history, Norfolk Southern trains were involved in recent accidents that
claimed multiple lives in the Tri-State area.
Wick Moorman, Norfolk Southern’s chairman, president and CEO, referred to
the proposed legislation and PTC mandate as “the biggest black cloud on the
horizon for Norfolk Southern and the industry.”
Despite challenges, Norfolk Southern has invested $41 million to date in
the Greencaslte project, Husband said.
Comparatively, the company plans to spend $40 million in 2010 addressing
required changes under the PTC mandate, Moorman said.
“The upshot of this ill-conceived, if well intentioned, unfunded mandate
and its associated rule making, is that we will be forced to forgo major
capital expenditures for other critical areas of our property,” he said. “And
the result may well be less capacity than is required to handle traffic
volumes, a diminished ability to provide good service and even possibly a
less safe working environment than we might have had otherwise.”
Urbanchuck said his office has received word that both bills soon will be
reintroduced in the current session of Congress.
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