Meeting Minutes – Executive Committee — Owosso – December 7, 2013

DECEMBER 7, 2013

Members Present: Rosemary Horvath, Kay Chase, Jim Wallington, Larry Krieg, Robert Patterson, Don Monteith, John Langdon, Hugh Gurney, Robert Tischbein

Also Present: Chris Bagwell, Great Lakes Central RR, Mike Whims.

Call to Order: Vice Chairman Krieg called the meeting to order at 10:13 a.m.  He thanked Bagwell for hosting the meeting and for Great Lake Central’s support of MARP and passenger rail initiatives.

Agenda: Observing that the proposed agenda would take the entire weekend to get through, the Krieg moved to address what seemed to be the most critical issues first. The motion was seconded by Gurney and approved by the members present.

Route Enhancement Report for 2014: After a review of the 2013 Route Enhancement Recommendations, Gurney affirmed that the Route Enhancement Recommendations for 2014 will include a request to MDOT and Amtrak to operate one through train between Chicago and the East Coast through Michigan once funded track and signal improvements are completed.  The Route Enhancement Committee will meet early in the coming year to finalize the 2014 Route Enhancement Recommendations.

Removal of Signaling on the CSX Line Between Plymouth and Flint. After considerable discussion, Langdon moved that Mike Whims, asked to attend the meeting because of his expertise in Federal Regulatory matters, track the request by CSX to remove current signaling between Plymouth and Flint.  The line is included in MARP’s Vision, but not in the Michigan State Rail Plan.  The consensus of the group was that entirely new and more sophisticated signaling would be required before passenger trains could operate on that rail line. Gurney seconded the motion and it was approved by the members present.

Community Conversation:  Krieg moved that MARP pursue a Community Conversation Forum with the Center for Michigan at Central Michigan University on Saturday, April 5, 2014  We willencourage as many MARP members to attend as possible to participate in this discussion of transportation issues in advance of this fall’s elections.   A regular MARP meeting will be scheduled in Mount Pleasant in conjunction with the forum.  Krieg, Chase, Wallington, Langdon, Horvath and Monteith will be involved in organizing MARP’s part of the forum. The motion was seconded by Horvath and approved by the members of the Executive Committee present.

Turning All Seats Forward On Michigan Trains:   After a discussion of the issue, Langdon moved that MARP not pursue the issue of having all seats turned forward on Michigan trains.  This would require Amtrak to assign people classified as trainmen to Pontiac, Port Huron and Grand Rapids in addition to the present contract coach cleaners.  For safety reasons, passengers are not permitted to turn the seats themselves.  MARP would prefer to have any additional funding put first into station staffing and increased frequencies. The motion was seconded by Patterson and approved by the members of the Executive Committee present.  Gurney was asked to convey this decision to members who had brought this issue to the attention of the Executive Committee.

MARP Archives: Gurney and Chase were asked to continue review of the best way to preserve MARP’s archives and have them available for use.  They are currently stored at Durand Union Station but not considered part of the Railroad Museum’s collections.

Thanks to Amtrak and MDOT for Extra Holiday Trains:  Members were informed that Chase and Langdon have already sent thank you notes to Amtrak and MDOT for the increased frequencies scheduled for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  They are seeking the proper channels to thank Norfolk Southern, CN, and CSX for their cooperation. 

Meetings: Tischbein recommended that MARP not schedule a meeting during Toledo National Train Day.  Too many members are committed to staffing the MARP table, serving as hosts on the display train or involved in other aspects of the program.

MARP will schedule a monthly meeting on Saturday, July 12, 2014 in Traverse City in conjunction with the Ales by the Rails Festival.  Chris Bagwell of Great Lakes Central Railroad doubted that passenger trains could be operated in conjunction with the meeting because of the poor condition of the tracks in that area.

Membership: Langdon and Chase will work with Newell on the implementation of a Membership Committee. It was agreed that MARP provide a one year free membership to invited meeting speakers. After discussion, it was agreed that MARP will continue to offer life memberships.

Outreach: It was agreed that, while looking for additional opportunities to promote membership at green fairs, senior expos, women’s expos, college events, MARP will continue to staff tables at model train shows.  Amtrak really appreciates MARP’s promotional efforts at such venues.

Teaching Opportunity: Krieg informed the group that Wayne County Community College is setting up a course of study in light rail.  They are looking for teachers with knowledge of signaling and car body maintenance and repair.

Great Lakes Central Operations:  Bagwell provided an overview of Great Lakes Central operations.  Watco’s recent acquisition of a minority share in Federated Holdings, Great Lakes Central’s parent company, has not changed operations in any way.  The fact that Watco now owns the Ann Arbor Railroad increases the possibilities for greater cooperation between GLC and AARR. Watco appears to be more receptive to passenger operations.

Bagwell then gave the group a complete tour of the Great Lakes Central shops, including one of the recently refurbished MI-Train coaches with a cut out area where the new prefabricated restroom will be installed by the end of the month.  Bagwell hopes to retrofit remaining coaches with restrooms at a rate of two per month.  Cab cars will not have restrooms.

Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 12:30 p.m.


Respectfully Submitted:                                 Accepted:

Hugh D. Gurney                                             Robert Tischbein

Secretary                                                         Chair