NNEPRA Board Meeting - June, 2011

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Great news!  As NNEPRA's fiscal year comes to an end later this month, the Downeaster is already celebrating record-breaking ridership and revenue!

From Executive Director, Patricia Quinn:

  • FY 2011 YTD - 464,287 riders vs. 429,839 in FY '10 YTD
  • FY 2011 YRD - $6,474,808 in revenue vs. $6,054,496 in FY '10 YTD
  • May, 2011 - 42,543 riders vs 38,025 in May of '10, an 11% increase
  • May, 2011 - On Time Performance at 91%

The Public Comment time was moved to the top of the agenda in deference to three citizens from Brunswick. They were representing residents who oppose the proposed location of the Downeaster Maintenance Facility in the vicinity of their neighborhood.

Brunswick Forum Hears Objections to Proposed Downeaster Maintenance Facility

The proposed location of the Downeaster maintenance facility in Brunswick was the subject of a public forum last night. The MDOT-sponsored session heard from residents who, though welcoming the arrival of Downeaster service next fall, expressed deep concerns about the location of the work area in their neighborhood. They cited expected noise, light and air pollution as primary concerns.

NNEPRA's Excecutive Director Patricia Quinn informed residents that other sites will be examined before a final decision is made.

The 40,000 square foot shed will house up to three trainsets when service to Freeport and Brunswick commences in the fall of 2012.

A full article at the Press Herald's website.

NH Members - Contact Your Senators in Concord

nhWe encourage TRN NH members to contact their Senators to sustain Gov. Lynch's veto of HB 218 which would derail (kill) the NH Rail Transit Authority.

Content suggestions from several of members include these points:

  • Sustaining the governor's veto of HB 218 demonstrates NH’s continued commitment to creative approaches to rail improvement
  • The NHRTA will be critical in working on bipartisan efforts at the national level to enhance public-private partnerships in rail
  • Our neighboring states have successful authorities
  • The success of the Downeaster is managed by Maine’s rail authority (NNEPRA)


You can go to the NH Senate's website for postal/email addresses along with phone numbers.

Privatize Amtrak? CEO Boardman Responds

boardmancnbcCEO Joseph Boardman appeared on CNBC’s "Keeping America Great with Brian Mooar" this past week. Mooar gave him the usual grilling about losing money (though he said he’s a frequent Acela rider), but Boardman was very cordial and stood his ground, calmly pointing out where Mooar had his facts wrong. You can watch the 6-minute video, and read a transcript, at http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000028117 {jcomments on}

Updated NH Rail Plan Draft

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The NH DOT released an update to its comprehensive rail plan. As Steve Pesci noted in a comment, it is still in draft form.

It addresses both freight and passenger rail needs. The Lynch administration has a forward-looking vision of how rail can spur economic development for businesses and ease commuter and visitor travel in the state..

The latest draft is available here.

Gov. Lynch's Veto Message

Governor Lynch's Veto Message Regarding HB 218

By the authority vested in me, pursuant to part II, Article 44 of the New Hampshire Constitution, on June 15, 2011, I vetoed HB 218, relative to the New Hampshire rail transit authority.

I am vetoing this legislation because business leaders, particularly in Nashua and Manchester, has clearly said that this bill will hurt their efforts to grow their businesses, to create jobs and to attract new companies to New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire business community has made a clear statement that it sees rail, in the words of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, as "a proven economic catalyst that will spur economic development and create jobs." Several major companies have made clear that they believe rail will improve their ability to attract workers, access their markets, attract additional customers and grow their businesses in New Hampshire. In addition, the Manchester and Nashua chambers of commerce both believe that developing the state's rail infrastructure will assist their efforts to attract new businesses and jobs to the state. That is one reason both chambers have asked me to veto this legislation. The Merrimack Town Council, the Bedford Town Council, and the Nashua Board of Aldermen have also passed resolutions expressing support for expanded rail service and the benefits it would bring to their communities.

The support of the business community is validated by an independent study that concluded that the development of rail in the capital corridor could result in more than $2.4 billion in new business sales and nearly 1,000 new jobs created and sustained in New Hampshire in the first twenty years of operation.

HB 218 makes substantial changes to New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority that will reduce its ability to fully consider all transit options for the state. New Hampshire businesses banded together to raise $120,000 to fund the Rail Authority's grant application without any state funds because they believe a full consideration of rail is important to New Hampshire's economic future. Going back on our commitment to the businesses who contributed funds to pay for grant applications sends the wrong signal to the private sector about state government's willingness to stand by its commitments. We should see the study through to its conclusion with a fully functioning Rail Authority so that we can make informed policy choices about the best way forward for our state.

Concerns about specific provisions in the Rail Authority statute could have been addressed through much more narrowly drafted language that would leave intact important functions of the rail authority. As currently written, this legislation takes away the rail authority's ability to enter into contracts with partner organizations, to accept gifts and to work with the private sector on economic development projects adjacent to potential rail sites.

Given the strong concerns among New Hampshire business leaders that this legislation will jeopardize their efforts to grow their businesses and create new jobs, I am vetoing House Bill 218.

Gov Lynch Vetos Bill to Eliminate NH Transit Authority

lynchThe governor of NH, John Lynch, has vetoed a bill that would have shut down the NH Transit Authority. Although both houses of the state legislature approved the bill, a "No" from the governor stopped this effort in its tracks.

The NH Transit Authority cost the state nothing and was an all-volunteer organization. New Hampshire had received a federal grant to study passenger rail between Boston and Concord serving Nashua, Merrimack, Manchester and Concord.

TrainRiders/NE opposed the legislation as had many public interest groups in New Hampshire. Article from the Boston Globe.

Gov. Lynch's Veto Message

NARP Action Alert

From NARP:

The appropriations process determines how much money federal programs will get in Fiscal 2012, which starts October 1, 2011. Although the first step in the formal House appropriations process is not expected until mid-July, it seems certain that the subcommittee will impose a crushing funding reduction on Amtrak, possibly zeroing out the national network and limiting capital funding to the bare minimum needed to avoid bankruptcy.

Go here to take action on their alert.

Construction Begins on Brunswick Platform

The expansion to Freeport and Brunswick continues apace with crews beginning the construction of the Brunswick platform (Freeport's will follow upon the completion of the Brunswick project). Both concrete platforms will be 400 feet long and cost a total $1.57 million, the cost of which is part of the overall FRA grant to NNEPRA for the Brunswick expansion.

The full story can be read at the Times Record website.