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 Post subject: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:48 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 141
Location: North Carolina USA
No mention was made of the current battlefronts so well commented upon here but what I found more than a little puzzling was his stance on rails with trails which he somewhat promoted by citing the safety statistics. ( one fatality in 20 years)
Mr Laughlin seems to have taken the side of the Adirondack Scenic Railway perhaps in a inadvertent and extensive manner or he was playing to the venue the interview was published in. I thought it this advocacy for side by side existence of the two was worth noting. He mentions the Highway Trust Fund as being a significant financial contributor to this groups projects as he anticipates a 30% decrease in set asides. Makes you wonder how many projects are actually taking commuters off the roads especially in some of the more remote locations such has been the subject(s) here on "bicycle tourists"
I came away with the impression they were avoiding hard questions and yet no prompted him to advocate for side by side existence. and yet he did.
I wish they had pushed him to go on record with the specific examples we are all too familiar with. The interview is in the current issue of Trains.


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:38 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2072
rails to trails is weird. Get money to throw around some people get gooey, take a certain mayor of a certain town, and weird things happen.

Some of this shreds off from the auto industry like LA trashing the streetcar line for busses because GM was selling them. Then go to the North Shore line being owned by a holding company and it was controlled by GM, now see what happenned.

What I don't like is they might be trying to go out and wreck functioning rail systems whether indutrial/ tourist etc in the guise of Rails to Trails. We've seen it all before, now what...


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:52 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 457
Bruce Duensing wrote:
No mention was made of the current battlefronts so well commented upon here but what I found more than a little puzzling was his stance on rails with trails which he somewhat promoted by citing the safety statistics. ( one fatality in 20 years)

The USPS delivered my copy yesterday, so I was able to read the interview with Rails-to-Trails Conservacy President Keith Laughlin.

In one of his answers, Mr. Laughlin said:
Rails to Trails Conservancy President Keith Laughlin, in full-page interview on page 12 of the March 2014 issue of Trains Magazine wrote:
We are convinced that active rail lines with a trail are safer than those without a trail. We believe that the presence of the trail helps railroads manage their tresspass problem by providing a place to walk that is separated from the tracks. A recent report found that over the past 20 years, there has been one fatality in a rails-with-trails setting, while there have been many trespassing accidents on rail lines without trails."

Mr. Laughlin's answer makes a lot of sense if you consider national railroad fatality statistics.

The railroad industry has done an amazing job of reducing fatalities at grade crossings by eliminating and upgrading those crossings. Consider the reduction documented by Operation Lifesaver:
Crossing Collisions & Casualties by Year (Operation Lifesaver)
1981: there were 9,461 collisions & 728 fatalities at highway-railroad grade crossings
2012: there were 1,967 collisions & 273 fatalities at highway-railroad grade crossings

Unfortunately, the number of people killed each year while walking along tracks (trespassing) has not been dropping. According to the Federal Railroad Administration's Rail Trespasser Fatalities - Demographic and Behavioral Profiles report (June 2013):
Federal Railroad Administration wrote:
An average of 458 people are killed in railroad-trespasser incidents each year. Between 2005 and 2010, there were approximately 2,749 trespasser fatalities.

So what Mr. Laughlin is saying is that the way to address those 458 people killed each year is to build trails parallel to the tracks. The idea makes a lot of sense to me.

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Personal Website Last Updated in 1996


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2072
I can think of various roads with no sidewalks, one short road I know has a lot of traffic and local people are constantly walking on the road, no sidewalk, so the familiarity breeds a problem.

From what I hear from him makes sense but other things reported on this forum gives a differrent air.


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:47 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
I call balderdash when I see it.

How many miles of rails-with-trails are there in the United States, and just how "active" are the rail lines in question?
Now, how many miles of active rail line are there in the rest of the nation, and how many trains a day do they see on average?

This is like comparing the number of deer that get hit on the streets of my city with how many deer get killed on highways nationwide.


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:28 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:29 am
Posts: 212
This is no different than the misrepresentation of unemployment figures, or just about any other statistic....A group, no matter what their political slant, can cherry pick various numbers to show a result that is, at least, friendly to whatever angle they are seeking to promote. I don't doubt that one could find numbers that show trails to be dangerous when placed next to a railroad, or even show a spike in deaths due to walking on the right of way in urban areas rather than rural.....
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain....


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:00 pm 
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But do pay attention to the reports that Chris referenced. Suicide by train is a portion of the railroad trespasser death totals, particularly in heavily populated areas, so be aware that any comparisons using the total numbers are distorted by those incidents.

PC

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Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:53 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:41 pm
Posts: 377
Location: Minneapolis, MN
It's all balderdash. The operative subject is RAILS TO TRAILS wherein abandoned rights of way are converted to another use. Sometimes these rights of way are truly abandoned and have reverted to public ownership and sometimes these are still in the bank of available rail routes and are "temporarily" converted to trails. However, from a liability standpoint I cannot see any situation where an ACTIVE RR, whether commercial or tourist would be willing to share its right of way. I can just see the headlines when a wheel or a rail breaks and 1000 tons of freight train ends up on top of the trail and its users. A fence between the rails and the trail isn't going to be very effective in saving the lives of the trail inhabitants.

One has to ask the question why the head of the Rails to Trails organization is being all friendly with operating railroads. Being within 30 feet of an active rail line is a lot more risky than being smack in the middle of an abandoned one and sharing the right of way brings the trail users right into the realm of the trespassers.


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3031
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Considering the comments here, the trail debates elsewhere (and apparently currently the loudest in New York), and also not wanting to start another thread, I ponder the question, "What has happened to the rails-to-trails movement?"

It is as though it has morphed from simply being something to preserve abandoned railroads for additional use to an actual anti-railroad group. A poster from New York on my Facebook page wonders if they will only stop when the former Water Level Route is a trail and Grand Central a museum.

Does anyone care to speculate on what has happened? What drives what looks an awful lot like hatred to railroads in this group? I would argue that some of it is generational (some older members who think railroads should go the way of the stagecoach because they were "replaced" by automobiles), but this doesn't explain all of what we see.

Floor open for comments. . .


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:12 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
J3a-614 wrote:
Does anyone care to speculate on what has happened? What drives what looks an awful lot like hatred to railroads in this group? I would argue that some of it is generational (some older members who think railroads should go the way of the stagecoach because they were "replaced" by automobiles), but this doesn't explain all of what we see.

Floor open for comments. . .


Easy enough to at least attempt to explain....

Certain factions of the human populace develop an aversion, if not an outright hatred, for what I will very loosely call "corporate beings." They view any "corporation" or private company as an affront, an adversary. To their philosophy, everything should belong to all. Companies like WalMart, ExxonMobil, AOLTimeWarnerBeatriceWeOwnEverything, etc., represent a being that not only do they have no control over, but they feel is trying to exert control over them via economic, legal, or other means. Government, meanwhile, is something in which they are a partner and participate. Thus: greedy corporations evil; government good.

Railroads are unique among transportation companies in North America in that they own and control the means by which they move stuff from point A to point B, for the most part. Trucks, buses, and cars use public highways and are thus controlled by state and Federal agencies. Airports and marine shippers use publicly-owned facilities. Even sidewalks and park trails get government oversight.

To the minds of folks with the mindset described above, all means of transport, including and especially their rights of way, are a public resource to be shared by all. In most nations at the moment, the model that has been imposed by the European Union, and those that wish to be a part or partner to them, is that the rail network is a public utility to be used with the sanction and permission of the government that owns it. This, by default, extends to railroad rights-of-way. The rest of the world does it that way, they reason--are you saying everyone else in the world is wrong?

This is a fairly simplistic interpretation of the mindset in question. I wish it were a product of bigoted stereotypes and prejudice. But I have heard, firsthand and in my face, such arguments made. I have seen and heard the people that literally believe throwing trash in the street makes work for their neighbors and government workers. I have heard people insist that all manner of museums and excursion operations--the B&O Railroad Museum, the Strasburg RR, the East Broad Top, the Grand Canyon Railway, the Wilmington & Western, various streetcar museums, etc.--are all "run by the government" and all suck at the public teat. Because, to their eyes, government does that--it's their job. They can't understand why there has to be any fundraising for Long Island 39 or Western Maryland 734's repair or 3713's rebuild or to repair the Stewartstown or a station. "The government does that." And because they pay taxes, they feel it's theirs to enjoy--rightly or wrongly.


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:45 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
Posts: 2332
You can win against the trail lobby. 10 years ago the Paran Pathway group tried to get the Vermont Railway's Bennington - North Bennington branch torn up since there were no active customers on it. The railroad laughed, common sense prevailed, and two weeks ago I watched a 40+ car freight use the branch to shuffle interchange cars with PanAm.


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:49 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 141
Location: North Carolina USA
It struck me as odd that there is a disconnect from what the President of this group is selling which is the co-existence of the two modes and what appears to be an all or nothing antagonism from his local chapters which gives an inaccurate set of choices to the general public which does not provide a shared vision or real world attempt to plan what the President preaches. I would agree that New York appears to be the nexus of this splintered philosophy that goes out out of its way to conquer by attempting to divide the public's opinion.
From a strategic point of view this sort of aggressive antagonism could easily backfire on them whereas cooperation would allow a win-win scenario. I would daresay the situation in New York is a form of radicalism that from a pay back point of view in upkeep costs versus potential tourism is a will-o-the -wisp position. Two attractions versus one melded as one route is a no brainer to my way of thinking. The whole convoluted path that ignores common sense is a mystery to me.


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:17 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
This "disconnect" is hardly unusual. There have always been groups with such disconnects. Look at, for just one example, what whatever occupant of the White House says versus things advocated or said by their underlings--the local Democrat/Republican groups, the political-activism groups ostensibly tied to said political parties, etc. The national leaderships of groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Sierra Club, the Boy/Girl Scouts, American Legion, Planned Parenthood, etc. are sometimes at sharp odds with the objectives of the local groups. (Local MADD chapters typically just want to educate teens about the perils of impaired driving; the national leadership has mutated into a neo-Prohibition political lobby, in the eyes of even the founder of the organization.) This disconnect can even be found between local National Railway Historical Society chapters and the national NRHS.

The RTT President occupies a primarily political position. This can be seen in the fact that some of his "answers" in the aforementioned interview were classic "political" answers--telling the interviewer what he wanted to say without actually answering the question being asked. I ran into this evasive technique constantly with a certain local city councilman when I talked with him in an Irish pub. He's now a state governor with delusions that he can keep up that evasion well and long enough to get elected president. (Hey, it worked for one of his mentors....)


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:48 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 141
Location: North Carolina USA
I have to absolutely agree with your assessment and the convoluted path of any public endeavor these days in terms of spin rather than forthright dialog that recognizes compromise is a fact of life.
What seems even more prevalent is winning taking precedence over logic. Regardless, however politically spun his position is, it does point out just one of several contradictory aspects of their stance on this that has become rote, and like any socially political organisation these days most of their conclusive arguments have the same import as the spin..certainly to me its a long way around the mountain.


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 Post subject: Re: President of Rails To Trails In Trains Magazine
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:16 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3031
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
I have heard people insist that all manner of museums and excursion operations--the B&O Railroad Museum, the Strasburg RR, the East Broad Top, the Grand Canyon Railway, the Wilmington & Western, various streetcar museums, etc.--are all "run by the government" and all suck at the public teat. Because, to their eyes, government does that--it's their job. They can't understand why there has to be any fundraising for Long Island 39 or Western Maryland 734's repair or 3713's rebuild or to repair the Stewartstown or a station. "The government does that." And because they pay taxes, they feel it's theirs to enjoy--rightly or wrongly.


Ugh! And if only it were true; we could use the money!

I'm particularly disappointed at the mean-spirited comments directed to us by the trail people; I've heard comments about how we play with trains and that since I was a teenager, over 40 years ago. It's been old for a while now.

It's equally disappointing, indeed enraging, to hear some of the false comments about railroads and in particular heritage lines--and simply amazing that these loons get more credibility than we do, in spite of the work we actually perform. It's disappointing enough that I am beginning to think my parents and my church brought me up wrong; instead of being taught to be honest, I should have been taught to lie, steal, and be a bully. Might get more done that way.

Anyway, what were the reactions from those other people when you tried to set them straight? In particular, how strong were the reactions, or even how angry were the reactions?


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