Background and Activities – Update: 9-30-2011 (updates in bold italics)
Public law 110-432 required Amtrak to:
…establish a Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee, comprised of representatives of Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, host freight railroad companies, passenger railroad equipment manufacturers, interested States, and, as appropriate, other passenger railroad operators.
“The purpose of the Committee shall be to design, develop specifications for, and procure standardized next-generation corridor equipment.
(b) Functions – the Committee may –
1) Determine the number of different types of equipment required, taking into account variations in operational needs and corridor infrastructure.
2) Establish a pool of equipment to be used on corridor routes funded by participating states; and 3) Subject agreements between Amtrak and States, utilize services provided by Amtrak to design, maintain and remanufacture equipment.”
On January 13th and 14th, 2010, acting on the requirements of Section 305 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), Amtrak established the next Generation Equipment Pool Committee (NGEC). During the course of this initial meeting, the Committee constituted itself; formed an Executive Board; elected officers, appointed members; developed and approved a Work Plan with a very aggressive schedule and timeline; and adopted By-Laws.
The elected Officers of the Section 305 NGEC Executive Board are:
Alan Ware, Georgia – Secretary (Appointed by the Board to fill the vacancy – Sept. 15, 2011
Voting members of the Executive Board, including the officers, represent eleven (11) State Departments of Transportation (DOTs), the Federal Railroad Administration, (FRA) and Amtrak (full Executive Board member and support staff list is included in this package)
At the initial meeting, and in accordance with the By-Laws, the Executive Board established two subcommittees: the Technical subcommittee and the Finance subcommittee; and also established an Administrative task force. The subcommittees and the task force were tasked with constituting themselves, electing officers, and developing work plans and a first year budget.
Section 305 Next Generation Equipment Pool Committee – approved Work Plan:
Develop Diesel Locomotive specifications – specs to accommodate 125 MPH
Develop Ownership and Organizational Structures
Develop Procurement Strategies
Develop Fleet management (pool) Strategies
Prepare Initial Procurement
Determine Strategy on Equipment Specification Development
Assess State Needs (amount, timing, type) - AASHTO to work with Amtrak to develop a survey of the states to truly assess/update current needs including; types of cars and timeframe with a 5, 10, 15 year outlook. AASHTO will be responsible for distributing the survey and will work with Amtrak to help define the questions.
Develop/refine State corridor specific Operating Plan, Facilities, Fleet Needs – these issues would also be included in the survey of the states.
Answering key Questions:
Does one size fit all?
What types of Equipment are appropriate?
Single level Tilt/Non-Tilt – this issue will be included in the states survey
Tier II high speed equipment
Car based procurements or trainsets? – This issue is also to be included in the survey of the states.
Provide common vision and direction to manufacturing community
Safety Standards, ADA and Buy American
e. Reporting to Congress/others as appropriate
i. Vital for funding and implementation – important for both visibility and to provide information
2) Finance subcommittee – DJ Stadtler, Amtrak, Chair
b. Evaluate Funding/procurement Strategies for Fleet Acquisition
c. Prepare Initial Fleet Procurement – first year goal/deliverable
d. Identify institutional opportunities/structures for successful implementation of procurement strategies
The Finance subcommittee will also serve as liaison to financial institutions, and manufacturers looking for finance opportunities. The issue of establishing a corporation is one which the Finance subcommittee should take up and can propose it to the Executive Board, but it is ultimately the Board’s decision.
3) Technical subcommittee – Mario Bergeron, Amtrak, Chair
a. Salient Features – core features of the Sub-Committee are of a technical nature
b. Determine appropriate level of involvement from industry – The Technical subcommittee should make the agenda and seek involvement of the larger community.
c. Establish Interoperability and Safety Standards
d. Adapt Current Bi-Level Spec for generic Use
e. Develop Single Level Specification(s) for State Use
f. Develop Additional Specification(s) for State Use
A direct result of the subcommittee discussions was the realization of the need for an administrative arm of the overall committee to be established. It was agreed that the committee should establish an Administrative task force to handle budget issues and manage the operation of the NGEC. The Administrative task force would be able to determine protocols for various issues that may come up such as; site tours, definition of what the NGEC can present to Congress – ensuring that the Board is not engaging in lobbying activities, but is getting information out and maintaining visibility and, in general, establish administrative policy for the NGEC. The task force would also determine where and how the administrative support is housed and provided to the NGEC.
From the inception of the S305 NGEC, it was clear to the Executive Board that support services would be essential in order to fulfill the work of the committee in an organized, efficient manner – providing access to records; coordination among the subcommittees, task force(s) and the Board; ensuring adherence to the work plan, schedules and timelines, as set by the Executive Board; providing meeting support – logistical and material preparation (agendas, member list maintenance, meeting summaries preparation) – for conference calls, webinars and in-person meetings; maintaining lines of communication among all parties; and providing quality assurance support by conforming process and committee business with the adopted By-laws. Such support is being provided to the Board and subcommittees and task force(s) by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). AASHTO was asked, and agreed, to serve as the support team and provide the services as described.
At the March 10, 2010 meeting of the Executive Board, AASHTO notified the Board that Steve Hewitt, consultant to AASHTO, would serve in the capacity of S305 NGEC Support Services Manager. His responsibilities include managing and coordinating communication within and among the “305” Executive Board, its subcommittees, and task force(s). He also provides Secretariat services; ensures consistency and clarity of message; serves as the communication hub; manages the business of the Board, the subcommittees and task force(s); ensures that schedules are adhered to; questions and concerns of the public and the industry are responded to; timelines are met; and action items are completed on time. In general, he helps to preserve the integrity of the process established in the NGEC Work Plan.
AASHTO also provides the needed interaction with all of the states (those who are not NGEC members) and has provided information support and open records management through the establishment of the AASHTO Rail Resource Center (ARRC) web site. The web site, as currently identified, is: www.highspeed-rail.org. It contains links to all Executive Board, subcommittees, and task force(s) activities including, but not limited to; meeting summaries; the approved PRIIA Bi-Level Specification; requirements documents; NGEC By-laws; the PRIIA statute; Buy America provisions; Amtrak Fleet Plan; Executive Board, subcommittees, and task force(s) member lists, and industry participants lists as well as links to the Locomotive Technology Task Force, ADA Working Group, the Joint Procurement Task Force, Document Change Pilot Program, Standardization Pilot and more….
S 305 NGEC Activities through September 30, 2011:
Since the initial meeting held January 13-14, 2010 in Washington, DC, the Section 305 NGEC has aggressively implemented its work plan. The Executive Board has held seven more in-person meetings: March 10, 2010, May 26, 2010,August 31, 2010, February 15, 2011, March 16, 2011, and June 23, 2011, September 15, 2011, as well as conference call and/or webinar meetings on June 2, 2010, July 21, 2010, September 15, 2010, November 18, 2010, January 28, 2011, February 10, 2011, March 29, 2011,April 12, 2011, May 10, 2011, May 24, 2011, June 7, 2011, and July 5, 2011, August 2, 2011, August 16, 2011, August 30, 2011, and September 27, 2011. Summaries are available on line at www.highspeed-rail.org for all of the Board meetings held to date.
In January of 2010, both subcommittees and the Administrative task force constituted themselves, named officers, appointed members, and submitted work plans and proposed first year budgets. All three have been conducting regularly scheduled conference call meetings and have been adhering to the schedules and timelines set by the Board. (subcommittees and task force member lists are included in this package)
The Executive Board met on June 2, 2010 via conference call to review and approve the S305 NGEC first year Budget and narrative to be submitted to Amtrak for finalization and presentation to FRA to execute the S305 Funding Grant Agreement. The Board unanimously approved the budget and provided suggested edits to the narrative which were to be incorporated in the final package submitted to FRA.
On June 17, 2010, the Executive Board held an electronic vote to approve a modification to the budget to increase the budgeted amount from $1.85 million to the fully funded level of $2 million. All members of the Executive Board participated in the vote, and the modification was approved with consensus achieved (approval was unanimous).
On July 16, 2010, all members of the Executive Board received a draft Bi-level specification requirements document for review and comment.
On July 21, 2010, the Executive Board approved the requirements document during a webinar meeting of the Board. The document was approved by all voting members of the board present on the call (11 of 14 were present) and consensus was determined to have been achieved. The document will be used as a basis for measuring the specification against. There may be modifications made to the document prior to the July 29-30, 2010 meeting of the Technical subcommittee – if so – it will be entitled Version 2 and will be voted on via conference call of the Executive Board.
On August 31, 2010, the Executive Board held an in-person meeting in Washington, DC with a full business agenda. During this meeting the Board voted unanimously to approve the PRIIA Bi-level specification developed by the Technical subcommittee. This approval was a landmarkevent and represented the first standardized specification developed by the S305 NGEC in accordance with the requirements of PRIIA.
Additionally, at the August 31, 2010 meeting of the Board, it was decided that the priority order established in January for developing the next sets of specifications would be revised to accommodate the immediate needs of states who had acquired federal funding through the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program for procurement of equipment; and whose plans called for that equipment to be single level trainsets. Equipment purchased with federal funding through the HSIPR program requires that the equipment to be procured uses an approved PRIIA specification; and the states looking to purchase trainsets were concerned with meeting the timeline guidance provided by the FRA in announcing the HSIPR grant program. It was understood that the money must be obligated by September 30, 2011 or it would be lost. If that is indeed the case, the development of the PRIIA specification for trainsets, as soon as possible, was considered vital to the states whose service development plans called for trainsets. After a great deal of discussion, a poll of member states was taken in regards to their intentions to procure single level standalone cars in the immediate future. After it was determined that none of the member states were ready to procure at this point in time; it was generally agreed that the most pressing need was that of the states who were ready to procure trainsets.
By an 11-3 vote, and consensus determined to have been achieved by the Chair, it was agreed that the priorities set in January, 2010, be revised to call for the Technical subcommittee to develop the single level Tier I trainset specifications next (along with the already agreed to development of the diesel-electric locomotive specifications) with completion targeted for December 31, 2010; and that the single level standalone cars specification would follow thereafter with a target completion date of first or second quarter 2011.
On September 15, 2010, Chairman Bill Bronte, acting on a request from the FRA, convened an emergency conference call of the S305 Executive Board for the purpose of reconsidering the August 31, 2010 decision to change priorities to develop trainsets first and standalone cars next. The FRA request for consideration was based on the fact that the President had subsequently announced a $50 Billion stimulus plan, which included funding for replacing much of the existing Amtrak Fleet. The fact that the Board (and the FRA voting member) did not have access to this information at the time of the August 31, 2010 vote; led the FRA to formally request a reconsideration of that decision. With the President’s proposal targeting replacement of the Amtrak Fleet, it was felt that the impetus to be derived by an order of substantial volume; would go a long way towards rebuilding the rail equipment manufacturing industry in the United States (U.S.) and the creation of sustainable jobs.
The representatives of the FRA attending the emergency meeting, understood the concern of the states looking to procure trainsets; and assured them that the HSIPR grant money, once obligated, (by February, 2011) would remain available to the recipient states until 2017. The short term delay in developing the specifications for trainsets, therefore, would not preclude those states from procurement in accordance with the HSIPR program guidance and their Service Development Plans (SDP). Further, the FRA representatives offered to provide additional resources to the Technical subcommittee to help to expedite the development of the standalone cars to meet the December 31, 2010 timeline; and to expedite the trainset specification development immediately thereafter.
After a long discussion had ensued, the Executive Board achieved consensus and agreed to reconsider the August 31, 2010 decision to reprioritize the mandate of the Technical subcommittee to develop trainsets first, with standalone cars to follow. A consensus was determined by the Chair as a result of a poll of the voting members, which resulted in; 11 favoring reconsideration, 1 opposed, and 2 absent. After additional discussion, the Board acted on a motion to change its priority to have the subcommittee develop the single level standalone cars first, with trainsets to follow. A poll of the voting members present resulted in; 10 favoring the motion to again reprioritize, 1 opposed, and 3 absent.
On November 18, 2010, the Executive Board held a webinar/conference call meeting to review and consider, for approval, the requirements documents for the two sets of specifications currently under development by the Technical subcommittee. (diesel-electric locomotive specification and single level standalone cars specification)
The webinar resulted in the unanimous approval of the requirements documents, as presented and modified, in real-time during the meeting. The requirements documents approved were for the diesel-electric locomotives and for single level standalone cars and trainsets (As a result, the trainsets specification to be developed after the standalone cars, will already have a requirements document against which the specifications will be measured)) The requirements documents, as approved/adopted by the Executive Board, can be found on the AASHTO website: www.highspeed-rail.org.
The Board also appointed two Review Panels, each to review one of the specifications (single level standalone cars and diesel-electric locomotives) against the approved/adopted requirements documents. The Review Panels will be assisted by a consultant provided by the FRA (Larry Salci). The Panels will provide a written report on their findings along with recommendations to the Executive Board for its consideration at the next meeting of the Board to be held in Washington, DC on February 15, 2011.
The Review Panels received a written report with recommendations prepared by Larry Salci on January 25, 2011. The Panels reviewed the respective report and recommendations pertaining to the specification to which they were assigned, and, on February 1, 2011, the Reports with recommendations were distributed to the Executive Board Members for their review. On February 15, 2011, at the Annual Meeting of the NGEC, consultant Larry Salci was to give a presentation summarizing the two reports and providing the Review Panels’ recommendations. It was intended that the Board would vote for approval/adoption of each of the specifications at the February 15, 2011 meeting.
The Annual Meeting of the NGEC was scheduled by the Executive Board for February 15, 2011, to be held in Washington, DC at USDOT facilities. The meeting was to serve dual purposes – to hold the S305 NGEC Annual Meeting, as required in the By-laws, and to conduct an Executive Board business meeting.
On January 28, 2011, the Executive Board met via conference call, to review and finalize the agenda items for February 15, 2011, as well as to review draft work plans and budgets requested of the subcommittees and the Administrative task force; and an estimated AASHTO Support Services Budget for the period beginning April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012.
The Board approved the “final draft” agenda for the February 15, 2011 Annual Meeting with minor modifications.
The subcommittees and the task force submitted budget and work plan proposals, which were reviewed by the Executive Board Members. AASHTO provided a preliminary estimate for support services for the same 12 month period.
Ken Uznanski, Amtrak’s 305 NGEC project manager, worked with the subcommittees and task force chairs, and AASHTO, to reconcile the budgets and work plans. He submitted a summary for Board review on Wednesday February 2, 2011. On February 10, 2011, on a conference call of the Board; the revised budget and work plan was finalized in preparation for its consideration at the February 15, 2011 Annual Meeting.
On the January 28, 2011 Executive Board conference call, a general agreement was made to hold more frequent Executive Board calls throughout the coming year. Members were to provide input in regards to frequency of those calls by the February 10, 2011 Executive Board Call.
On January 28, 2011, the Executive Board also approved, with minor modifications, the Procurements Approval Process Matrix as developed and approved by the Finance subcommittee and Administrative task force.
On February 10, 2011 the Executive Board met, once again, via conference call, to finalize the agenda and all plans for the February 15, 2011 NGEC Annual Meeting.
On February 15, 2011 the first Annual Meeting of the NGEC took place in Washington, DC at USDOT facilities. In addition to the members of the Executive Board, (13 of 14 were in attendance – 1 was represented via proxy) approximately 75 members of the rail manufacturing and supply industry, state DOTS, Amtrak, and FRA participated in this historic event.
Administrator Szabo welcomed the Committee to the USDOT facilities, and thanked the Board and all Committee members for their hard work to date. Mr. Szabo also noted that, with what is in the President’s budget proposal, it is clear that the work of this Committee has just begun.
Administrator Szabo described the elements in the President’s transportation budget as “a transformative vision for travel in the future. We now have a President who says that passenger rail should be an integral part of the vision.” The President has stated that his goal is, within 25 years, to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. To implement the President’s vision “we are proposing $53 billion in funding over the next 6 years including over $8 billion in Fiscal Year 2012, which begins in October.”
This is the type of multi-year commitment that made the Interstate Highway program a reality. Through it we will become a reliable and stable market for rail infrastructure and passenger rail equipment.”
“What we seek is the development of a domestic rail car manufacturing industry that covers the entire spectrum from design, to the manufacture of components and subcomponents, to assembly, and repair.”
“We want commonality of design and standardization of components and parts that will permit multiple firms to build essentially the same, interoperable equipment and its components.”
Mr. Szabo emphasized “we are presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to literally change our world and realize the benefits that rail offers to our passenger mobility. The Secretary and I are counting on the Section 305 Committee to help lay the foundation for success”.
Actions taken by the Board on February 15, 2011:
During the meeting, the Board took a number of actions including;
the adoption of the second PRIIA specification, the Single Level Standalone Car Specification;
deferral of adoption of the Diesel-Electric Locomotive Specification until recommendations made by the Locomotive Review Panel are incorporated into a revised specification;
acceptance of the Standardization working group’s process recommendations;
the approval of the proposed concept for developing a Systems Engineering process;
a By-law amendment allowing the Executive Board to make changes to the By-laws at regular meetings of the Board (with 30 day prior notice) rather than only at the Annual meeting;
tasked the Finance subcommittee and the Administrative task force with jointly working on the issue of intellectual property;
Agreed to begin holding bi-weekly conference calls of the Executive Board – every other Tuesday at 11:30am Eastern time (The first of these calls is scheduled for March 29, 2011);
The Board also accepted the revised work plans and budgets presented by the subcommittees and the Administrative task force chairs for the period of April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012;
the Board directed Amtrak’s 305 project manager, Ken Uznanski, to work with Amtrak and FRA to make the necessary grant agreement modifications to extend the agreement and revise the initial work plan in accordingly;
Scheduled the next in-person meeting of the Board for March 16, 2011 from 8:00 am to 4:00pm Eastern. The meeting will be held at the Phoenix Park Hotel, Washington, DC. At this meeting, among other agenda items, the Board will consider approval of the revised Diesel-electric locomotive specification and will spend time working towards developing an outline for a long range “business plan” for the NGEC.
As agreed on February 15, 2011, the Executive Board met in Washington, DC, on March 16, 2011 to approve the revised diesel-electric locomotive specification. Consensus to approve this specification was achieved. (Support was unanimous)
This marked the third PRIIA specification successfully developed and adopted by the S305 NGEC since its inaugural meeting of January 13-14, 2010. At that time, the Board set an aggressive schedule and has been ever diligent in adhering to it. The next specification to be considered for Board approval will be the Tier I single level trainset specification currently under development by the Technical subcommittee. (The subcommittee completed its development of the trainset specification and held a final review and approval meeting on June 22, 2011)
In addition to the adoption of the diesel-electric locomotive specification, the Board took the following actions:
Approved the establishment of a Locomotive Technology Task Force within the Technical subcommittee
Approved a Document Management Control Pilot to begin immediately as a part of the Systems Engineering effort underway within the Technical subcommittee. The Pilot will run until the Board meets at a date yet to be determined in June, 2011. At that time recommendations will be presented to the Board for making the Pilot permanent.
A timeline was established for the Finance subcommittee to present a work plan and budget for funding and structuring options to the Board on its April 12, 2011 conference call.
A disclaimer statement, presented by the Administrative task force was approved by the Board and will be added to all current and future PRIIA specifications on the inside cover page and as a link on the website.
A proposed “Rolling Stock 101” timeline and syllabus is being prepared by a working group comprised of members of the Finance subcommittee and Administrative task force and will be presented to the Board for approval in the near future.
A discussion regarding the possible establishment of the NGEC as a formal entity took place during a “brainstorming” session of the Board. It was agreed to continue the discussion on the Board’s scheduled March 29, 2011 conference call. Jack Basso, AASHTO CFO was to be invited to attend the call to provide input on some suggestions arising out of the discussions including; AASHTO as a repository for specifications and as a potential “vehicle” for an NGEC entity.
On March 29, 2011, the Executive Board held the first of what will be bi-weekly conference calls. The primary discussion topic for this call was a continuation of the “brainstorming” session from March 16, 2011.
Decisions/actions taken on the call included:
Chairman Bill Bronte will formally request that FRA provide a representative to participate on the Finance subcommittee – preferably a representative from legal or finance.
The Finance subcommittee working group will finalize its scope of work and budget for securing outside support for developing funding and structure options for the NGEC. The scope of work and budget will be presented to the Board for its consideration on the April 12, 2011 conference call.
On April 12, 2011, the Executive Board held the second of its newly established bi-weekly conference calls.
Decisions/actions taken on the call included:
The proposed Scope of Work and Budget for the Funding and Structure Options Working Group was approved unanimously
The Rolling Stock 101 educational webinar series will be discussed further before approval of the proposed work plan. A small working group comprised of FRA, Amtrak, and states representatives, will meet separately to clarify what the scope and purpose of the proposed webinar series is.
DJ Stadtler reported that the process for modifying the grant agreement as approved by the Board on February 15, 2011, was proceeding and was anticipated to be turned around quickly.
Bill Bronte agreed to develop an Equipment Procurement Process outline for distribution prior to the next Executive Board Conference call. The outline would be for the purpose of “getting the discussion going and planting the seed.”
It was agreed that the Board would meet via webinar/conference call on August 2, 2011 at 11:30 am to consider the trainset specification document for approval. It was also agreed that the Board would appoint a Review Panel for the trainset specification on the next Board conference call.
It was agreed that the next “in-person” meeting of the Executive Board would be held in Charlotte, NC on September 15, 2011 following the AASHTO SCORT meeting.
On May 10, 2011, held its regularly scheduled bi-weekly conference call
Decisions/actions resulting from the call included:
Steve Hewitt was asked to arrange a states-only conference call to discuss filling the Board vacancy created by the resignation of Caitlin Hughes Rayman, on behalf of Maryland DOT.
It was agreed that the notes from the conference call held between members of the Rolling Stock 101 (now Railroading 101) working group and the FRA will be provided to Steve Hewitt (from Rob Edgcumbe) for distribution to the Board Members. Rob Edgcumbe will also circulate (through Steve Hewitt) the proposed equipment module for this webinar series, once he has received feedback from working group members.
Board Members and/or support staff wishing to volunteer to be a member of the procurement/equipment acquisition task force are asked to contact Stan Hunter, Caltrans, before June 21, 2011.
Comments on the procurement issues document circulated prior to this call are also due to Stan Hunter prior to June 21, 2011.
It was agreed that the Executive Board would plan to meet in Chicago, in conjunction with the Technical subcommittee – either June 21 (prior to the Technical subcommittee meeting) or June 23, 2011 (the day after the Technical subcommittee meeting). AASHTO and Steve Hewitt will work with the Holiday Inn Chicago Plaza mart to secure a room for a half day meeting of the Board on either June 21 or June 23, 2011. The primary purpose of the Board meeting is to focus on procurement/acquisition issues and process.
The Executive Board appointed a Trainset Specification Review Panel. The members of the Review Panel are:
Scott Witt, Washington State DOT (Andrew Wood to provide support)
John Tunna, FRA
It was agreed that Ken Uznanski, Amtrak, (Amtrak’s NGEC Project Manager) will work with Amtrak and FRA Grants people to finalize the current grant agreement modification, in accordance with the scope and budget approved by the Executive Board on February 15, 2011. Further, it was agreed that this grant agreement modification would be completed separately from the $2 million additional grant money that has (apparently) been appropriated in the FY 2011 Omnibus bill. Mark Yachmetz, FRA, to get clarification on the purported additional funding.
There was a discussion of possibly developing specifications for DMUs. This item remains open, no decision was reached. A determination of demand is yet to be made, and a suggestion was made that the party or parties interested in asking that DMU specs be developed; prepare a requirements document first. Bill Bronte will “encourage those who have approached me to move in that direction.”
On May 24, 2011, the Board held its regularly scheduled bi-weekly conference call
Decisions/actions resulting from the call included:
Bill Bronte reported that the states had met via conference call on May 17, 2011, and agreed to invite Illinois DOT (IDOT) to become a member of the Executive Board to fill the vacancy created by Maryland DOT’s resignation. Bill has reached out to Illinois DOT Rail Division head, George Weber. George has agreed to accept the invitation, contingent upon Illinois DOT upper management’s approval. Bill Bronte has drafted a letter to send to Illinois DOT Secretary of Transportation, Gary Hanning, formally extending an invitation to IDOT to join the NGEC Executive Board. Until formal acceptance has occurred, George Weber will be considered as an ad hoc member of the Board.
Ken Uznanski reported that he has completed the paper work necessary to modify the grant agreement in accordance with the Scope of Work and Budget (from April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012) approved by the Board on February 15, 2011. The modification was to be submitted to the Amtrak grants people and CFO DJ Stadtler “today”. (March 24, 2011)
DJ Stadtler notified Board members that the additional $2 million in funding that had been previously reported as having been appropriated to the NGEC in the FY 2011 Omnibus bill was a misinterpretation, and that there was no additional funding provided for the NGEC in FY 2011.
It was agreed that DJ Stadtler will take the lead in developing a list of questions to be answered in preparing to make a compelling story for moving forward beyond the current grant agreement modification (which utilizes the remaining 2010 funds). DJ will provide a draft (at least list of questions) to the Board on the June 7, 2011 conference call.
It was agreed that the Board will hold a half day meeting in Chicago at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza on June 23, 2011. AASHTO and Steve Hewitt will finalize logistics for the meeting and arrange a call –in line and easel and paper).
It was agreed that Stan Hunter will provide an update on the procurement strategies to the Board on its June 7, 2011 conference call.
It was agreed that Rob Edgcumbe, on behalf of the Railroad 101 webinar series working group, will continue to move forward and will provide a status update to the Board on June 7, 2011.
It was agreed that Kevin Kesler, FRA, will continue to provide updates on the Document Control Management pilot and to provide AASHTO (through Steve Hewitt) with information/change forms, etc. to post the website.
It was agreed that Rob Edgcumbe will report on the status of the FSWG on the June 7, 2011 Board conference call.
It was agreed that Rob Edgcumbe will provide an update on the Standardization implementation efforts on the June 7, 2011 Executive Board conference call.
On June 7, 2011 the Board held its bi-weekly call.
Decisions/action items resulting from this call included:
It was agreed that DJ Stadtler, Chairman of the Finance subcommittee and Treasurer of the S305 Executive Board would draft a letter and proposed template for a letter to be sent to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, making the case for the need for additional funding to move the NGEC forward as it now enters the procurement phase for equipment acquisition.
Chairman Bill Bronte was tasked to draft a letter to the editor of Trains magazine in response to an article in the July, 2011 issue of Trains which called the NGEC lethargic. Bill’s letter will highlight the many accomplishments the Committee has made in a very short time, and will correct factual misstatements found in the article.
Illinois DOT has been invited to join the S305 NGEC as a member of the Executive Board; and is expected to accept. Bill Bronte will confirm with IDOT’s Rail Division Director, George Weber.
The Board began to finalize agenda items for the upcoming in-person meeting to be held in Chicago June 23, 2011. Agenda Items were to include updates on Standardization implementation; the Railroading 101 webinar series; the Document Control Management Pilot, and the progress of the Finance and Structure Working Group.
Stan Hunter, Caltrans was asked to prepare a schedule, RFI, and an updated matrix for the focused procurement session scheduled as a part of the June 23, 2011 meeting.
On June 23, 2011 the Board held an in-person meeting in Chicago. The Board had a full business agenda as well as a separate agenda focusing on detailed discussions in regards to procurement issues.
Decisions/Action items resulting from this meeting included:
DJ Stadtler prepared a presentation outlining the need for additional funding for the NGEC moving forward, and describing the basis for the letter to go to the Appropriations Committees for funding requests for FY2012. The Board agreed with the premise of the letter, and agreed to provide DJ with high level goals and funding requirements from each of the two subcommittee chairs and the Administrative Task Force, for inclusion in the letter. These goals and funding requirements are due to DJ by June 30, 2011. The intent is to have a final letter approved for submission to the Appropriators by July 15, 2011. All members of the Board will be asked to sign the letter. (It was also noted that the letter will build on the letter written to Trains magazine)
Illinois DOT was officially named as a state member of the S305 NGEC Executive Board, with George Weber named as the state’s representative. George was present at the June 23, 2011 meeting.
Chairman Bronte reported that the letter to the editor of Trains magazine, as agreed, has been sent to the magazine.
The Technical subcommittee Chairman, Mario Bergeron, reported that the Technical subcommittee (which met on June 22, 2011) had approved the Trainset Specification for submission to the Board and the Board’s review panel. (details of that meeting can be found in the Technical subcommittee section of this report)
The Board established a Joint Procurement Task Force (JPTF) comprised of representatives of states who have received HSIPR grant awards for equipment acquisition, namely; Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Washington State and California, as well as Amtrak and FRA. The PTF will develop an approach to joint procurements; a structure to advance the procurement grant agreement; and will help to develop a model that can be used by future procuring states. The PTF will hold an in-person meeting to begin discussions in early to mid-July, 2011 and will hold weekly conference calls. As a basis for beginning discussions, California will provide PTF and Executive Board Members with a “white paper” describing a “participating agreement”. The PTF will be asked to provide a progress report to the Board at each of its meetings. It will be a standing agenda item.
The Board asked that the Locomotive Technology Task Force of the Technical subcommittee develop a “white paper” on the issue of 110-125 mph.
On July 5, 2011, the Executive Board held its bi-weekly conference call.
Decisions/Action Items resulting from the call included:
In regards to making a case to Congress for the need for additional funding to move the NGEC forward:
DJ Stadtler will draft the letter for Board member consideration
The Administrative Task Force, Finance subcommittee and Technical subcommittee will submit (by July 6, 2011) draft goals and budget requirements for the period from April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013. AASHTO will also submit its support services budget requirements for that same 12 month period.
The intent is to have the letter approved by the Board by July 10, 2011 and taken “to the Hill” by no later than July 15, 2011. (Later in the month, due to the Appropriations committees deferring mark up action until September – the subcommittees and Board members revised the date for finalizing the letter – but acknowledged that it was still vital that the letter be completed and presented prior to mark up)
The FRA informed the Board that it will not be a signatory on the letter
The Joint Procurement Task Force (JPTF) formed on June 23, 2011, will begin holding regular (weekly to start) conference calls beginning on July 7, 2011 and will hold a one and a half day face to face meeting in Chicago on July 19 and 20, 2011.
California agreed to provide a description of a ‘participating agreement” (white paper) to the Board and JPTF members.
The FRA is working on the CEM position paper, agreed to on June 22 and 23, 2011, and will have it available for the August 2, 2011 Executive Board webinar/conference call meeting.
Shayne Gill, AASHTO, will send out an email inviting states to participate in the upcoming webinar course on Equipment as part of the AASHTO Rail Resource Center Railroading 101 webinar series. Steve Hewitt will notify all NGEC states, Amtrak and FRA members. The anticipated timeframe for the first webinar will be late August-early September, 2011. (Steve did send out the email notice to NGEC members on July 6, 2011 – to date approximately 7 individuals have responded)
The Board will next meet in-person in Charlotte, NC on September 15, 2011. Steve Hewitt is working with AASHTO on logistics and will provide Board members with Hotel information by July 7, 2011. (This was done and a reminder was sent out on July 22, 2011)
In deference to the JPTF meeting on July 19 and 20, 2011, the Board’s regularly scheduled bi-weekly call of July 19, 2011 was cancelled – the next call will be the August 2, 2011 webinar meeting during which the Trainset specification will be considered for Board approval.
In August, 2011, the Executive Board held three meetings:
On August 2, 2011 the Board held a webinar meeting with the primary purpose being to vote for adoption of the PRIIA 305 Trainset specification. After a presentation given by Larry Salci, on behalf of the Trainset Review Panel, which summarized the panel’s findings and recommendation for approval; the Board voted on adoption of the specification.
After a poll of the Board, with all members voting in favor, except the FRA, which abstained due to concerns over current CEM language, it was agreed that the PRIIA Trainset specification was adopted.
This is another landmark accomplishment. The Committee has now approved four PRIIA specifications – Bi-Level Cars; Single Level Standalone Cars; Diesel-Electric Locomotives; and Single Level Trainsets in approximately 18 months!
On August 16, 2011, the Board met via conference call. On this call, Bill Bronte announced that Board members, Rod Massman Missouri DOT and Scott Witt, Washington State DOT, had (or were) leaving state service, and the Board would need to ascertain whether or not their resignations were on behalf of their states and/or themselves as Board members.
Key decisions/action items of the call included:
Rod Massman, attending his final Board call agreed to check with Missouri DOT officials to see if the state was going to remain an active 305 NGEC participant and member of the Board.
Jeannie Beckett, a consultant to Washington State DOT reported that it was her understanding that the state intended to remain on the Board and would likely name John Sibold as its representative.
The issue of CEM language remained open, as the FRA position paper was being revised to include a disclaimer statement which would make it clear that the PRIIA requirements documents and specifications in no way reflected an intent to modify FRA safety regulations.
DJ Stadtler reported that the 305 Committee letter to appropriators to request additional funding in FY 2012 was being finalized and would be distributed to Board members shortly for their review and approval.
Bill Bronte reported on the progress being made by the Joint Procurement Task Force. Bill Bronte reported that the cooperative agreement that California is preparing on behalf of California and the mid-west states is being reviewed internally. He expects to get these reviews completed shortly, and will get the document out to other members of the JPTF by next week.
The RFI that is to go to the industry should be ready to go by the end of the month. The RFI is using what APTA has done as a frame work. The intent is to get input from the industry as to whether or not it is biddable and buildable, as well as finding out what issues there are from an industry perspective.
Bill mentioned the Buy America provisions and Intellectual Property as two issues to cover, and said there are “many more.” He also noted that the FRA has distributed a Buy America questionnaire to some industry members, and these questions would be part of the RFI.
The question of a DMU specification was, once again discussed. A survey of interest had been sent to the states and to the industry. Since the states survey response due date was set at August 24, 2011; the Board agreed to keep this as an open agenda item to be considered on the August 30, 2011 conference call.
Bill Bronte raised the possibility that it may be necessary for the Board to consider modifying its Diesel-Electric Locomotive Requirements Document and ultimately the specification document as well.
The issue is the feasibility of building a locomotive that meets Tier IV and operates at 125 mph. The real concern is “can it even be built?’ Should we, instead, move forward with 110 mph and Tier III locomotives? He is concerned that with the 36 locomotives planned for procurement by California and the impending large order from the Class I Railroads; the 36 locomotives will get sent to the end of the line, and “be forced into Tier IV”. It is possible that the result will be that “the order of 36 will get lost”.
After much discussion, It was agreed that Mario Bergeron will ask Dave Warner to prepare a draft revision. Mario did not think it would take too long, and felt that “we should be able to act on the next call.” He will try to get the proposed change sent out next week.
On August 30, 2011, the Executive Board met via conference call.
Key decisions/action items resulting from this call included:
It was agreed that the 305 appropriations request letter would be sent out by DJ Stadtler by August 31, 2011. The letter would contain 9 Executive Board Members signatures: (possibly 10 – awaiting Louisiana)
The FRA expects to complete the CEM position paper and disclaimer statement over the next several weeks. The intent is to be sure it is resolved before the RFI for the Joint Procurement goes out.
Mark Yachmetz reported that the end of the year budget discussions/decisions at FRA may include a “plus up” of funding for the S305 NGEC. Mark will know over the next few days and let the Committee know. If the additional funds are allocated to the NGEC, a grant agreement modification between FRA and Amtrak, reflecting the additional funds, would need to be completed.
The FRA has proposed revisions to the Diesel-electric locomotive requirements document revisions prepared by the Technical subcommittee as requested by the Board on August 16, 2011. The Locomotive Task Force of the Technical subcommittee will review the FRA proposal and it will be an agenda item on the subcommittee’s call on September 8, 2011.
The Executive Board achieved consensus on a motion to direct the Technical subcommittee to begin developing a 305 DMU specification. The subcommittee will begin with the development of a Requirements document. The Board anticipates reviewing and voting on the requirements in 6 weeks. (Its next call, following the September 15th in-person Board meeting)
Missouri DOT has decided to remain on the NGEC Board and has named Eric Curtit as its representative. Eric will attend the September 15th meeting in Charlotte, NC.
Washington State has also decided to remain on the NGEC Board and has named John Sibold as its representative. John will participate, via phone, at the September 15th Board meeting.
In Charlotte, September 15, 2011, the Board will try to fill the vacancies of Chair of the Administrative Task Force and the officer position of Secretary – both vacant due to Rod Massman’s resignation.
The FRA-Amtrak 305 NGEC Grant agreement modification covering the period from April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012 has been signed by both parties.
On September 15, 2011, the Executive Board held a full day in-person meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Key decisions/action items established during this meeting were:
The FRA continues to finalize its position paper on CEM. The paper will include a proposed disclaimer statement. The intent is to have the paper done before the RFI goes out. This will remain an open agenda item until it has been resolved.
The FRA reported that it continues to finalize year end funding, and will inform the Board within ten days as to whether or not the NGEC will receive additional funding from the FRA to continue its work through 3-31-2013. If “plus” money is provided, the Board will need to move quickly to revise work plans and a budget for the period covering 4-1-2012 through 3-31-2013.
Alan Ware, Georgia DOT, was named as Executive Board Secretary and Chairman of the Administrative Task Force. Alan fills the vacancies created by the departure of Rod Massman from Missouri State service. Alan resumes his new duties immediately.
The Joint Procurement Task Force (JPTF) continues to make progress – and will remain as an open agenda item for future calls/meetings of the Board so as to provide regular updates on progress being made.
Mario Bergeron will provide a Statement of Work (SOW) for Rob Edgcumbe’s services to DJ Stadtler by COB September 9, 2011. DJ will make arrangements for Rob to meet with Amtrak Lawyers for an “ethics debrief” and will then proceed with taking the approved steps to procure Rob’s services for the 305 Committee.
A Review panel was appointed by the Board to review the Bi-level Change summary Revision A to ensure consistency with the Bi-Level Requirements document. Members named to the Review Panel were: Bill Bronte, Caltrans, Ron Adams, Wisconsin DOT, Eric Curtit, Missouri DOT, Tammy Nicholson, Iowa DOT, and John Tunna, FRA.
Larry Salci, consultant, has been asked to begin work on reviewing the Bi-Level Car change summary – Revision A provided by the Document Control Board. Larry will prepare a report with recommendations to the Review Panel. The Review Panel will make its recommendations to Board members for their consideration on the September 27, 2011 Board conference call.
On September 27, 2011, it is anticipated that the Technical subcommittee will provide a draft Requirements document for DMUs to the Board for its consideration.
The Dual Mode Locomotive Requirements Document remains as an open agenda item to be taken up by the Board once the CEM issue is resolved.
Chairman Bronte will formally request of Chad Edison, FRA and Dale Engelhardt, Amtrak a set of questions for the RFI.
The ADA Working Group (ADA WG) continues its work and will survey wheel chair providers to determine real time needs. The ADA WG will also look at comparing regulatory requirements once its report is complete, and work with FRA on how to best move forward.
The ADA WG will also provide a list of questions for the RFI
The Board will, at some point in the future, begin to look a developing a process to efficiently monitor and track contracts. It may well be an assignment for the Administrative task force.
Kevin Kesler will work with Steve Hewitt to distribute or present a briefing on the results of the FRA’s survey of industry members in regards to Buy America. Questions will also be forthcoming for the RFI concerning Buy America.
The Standardization working group (SWG) will look at options to possibly engage the services of an outside consultant to assist in moving this effort forward without bias.
The Board will take up the issue of the Technical subcommittee’s role in design/design review as the Bi-level and Locomotive procurement processes move forward. This will be an agenda item for September 27, 2011.
In regards to the issue of changing the Diesel-electric Locomotive requirements document to call for a top speed of 110 mph rather that 125 mph as is currently required, the Board, via roll call vote, achieved consensus (unanimous)on a motion that stated:
The Section 305 Next Generation Equipment Committee (NGEC) will utilize the RFI process to assess the capability of the industry to deliver locomotives in full compliance with spec #___ and with sustained operating speeds up to 125 mph.”
The Executive Board met again, via conference call on September 27, 2011. Some of the action items from the meeting of September 15, 2011 were carried over and will be addressed on the next call – October 11, 2011.
Key decisions/action items that were addressed during this meeting were:
The Executive Board accepted the recommendations of the Review Panel to accept the Bi-Level Changes presented in Revision A. After a roll call vote of the Board was taken, consensus was determined to have been easily achieved with all members present voting in favor.
The Executive Board approved a proposed by-law change presented by the Administrative Task Force. The change was to number 5.2 which states:
5.2 State Representation on Executive Board
The States shall determine their representation on the Executive Board based on such factors as geographic diversity, technical expertise, procurement and operational experience, including experience with different types of equipment. States will endeavor to obtain a balance of representation on the Executive Board. Each representative [will] may have an alternate person designated to participate in and vote in meetings in the absence of the designated representative.
It is recommended that state representatives be familiar with the day to day and longer term financial challenges of developing and/or operating a corridor route.
The Board unanimously approved the change denoted in bold – changing the word will to may.
Kevin Kesler will provide Steve Hewitt with the Buy America Survey results presentation for distribution to the Board and Technical subcommittee members, following the call today.
The FRA position paper on CEM has been finalized and will be distributed once all required signatures have been collected.
The FRA has provided an additional $2 million in funding for the NGEC to continue its work. A grant agreement for the additional funding has been signed by DJ Stadtler, Amtrak and sent back to FRA, where it has been or is about to be signed by Administrator Szabo.
The Board has asked the chairs of the Technical and Finance subcommittees and the chair of the Administrative task force to begin developing their revised work plans for consideration at the Board’s October 25, 2011 conference call.
The Board has also asked that the subcommittees and task force prepare a work plan and budget for any potential consultant needs they may have. These work plans are to be considered by the Board on its October 11, 2011 conference call.
Consultant Larry Salci and the SWG have been asked to draft a proposed SOW and cost “guesstimate” for bringing in an independent assessor to advance the standardization effort. The draft SOW and budget will be considered by the Board on October 11, 2011.
The 305 DMU Requirements document is undergoing a revision by the Technical subcommittee based on feedback received on the initial draft presented on September 22, 2011 to the subcommittee. The intent is to consider the revised version for approval on the October 6, 2011 Technical subcommittee call and, if approved, present it to the Board for its consideration on October 11, 2011.
DJ Stadtler will present the SOW for Rob Edgcumbe, based on Mario Bergeron’s submittal, to the Finance subcommittee and ultimately to the Technical subcommittee and the Board for its approval. It is intended that the contract be completed and Rob Edgcumbe be brought on board by the next Board call. (October 11, 2011) Rob’s SOW primarily calls for completion of the various tasks he was working on previously.