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New Orleans and the railroad

(This letter was sent to the Department of Homeland Security, March 10, 2006)

To: ready@dhs.gov
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 10:37 PM
Subject: New Orleans & Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform

Missing is the railway component in local infrastructure that once was part of the transport inventory in most USA cities & towns .

I wish to recommend to DHS an article I have published in The Website of: The Association For The Study Of Peak Oil & Gas, (peakoil.net) article 374. Along with this reference, a question? Why haven't obsoleted & retired hopper cars, 1000's annually retired from the RR's of the USA, been utilized for debris removal in the Gulf Disaster? This points up the disconnect plaguing a new generation of leadership that has no knowledge or imagination regarding the railway mode in disaster remediation.

Up intil the 1960's or so, Railway was understood to be the "Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform"- a stand alone system/network that has in-house capability to maintain operations. Has DHS noted independent & apolitical (CSX) railway ability to get bridges and trackwork back in operation to the Port facilities in New Orleans? Why weren't other secondary lines rehabbed under direction of DHS for the purpose of increasing ability and speed regarding removal of debris? Why not even now? Much remains to be done...

I wish to meet or at least teleconference with DHS staff regarding re-establishing the rail mode as an integral part of the Homeland Defense methodologies for rehab, distribution, and logistics. Further, I am interested in beginning a program of cataloguing ALL retired, abandoned, and otherwise unused rail corridor, including ALL branchline, Electric Interurban Systems, and warehousing trackage footprint, privately operated; as well as extant and formerly existing on Military bases in the continental US. Victuals centers, rail served, must be part of the homeland defense policy mainstays.

I have already made contact with Mr. James Woolsey, at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, regarding researching and compilation of a compendium of maps, including all mid-century Thomas Bros. City & County maps showing downtown victuals warehouse track geometry & footprint. These should be available as a set, in every regional FEMA office, with appropriate locales' sets for every *logistics official in all the State National Guard headquarters.

This is admittedly over the head of the first screener- kindly cc the Director, and persons intermediate in the chain of command that have to do with disaster scenario regional resupply. Please include cc each regional manager in the individual regions. EVERY responsible party dealing with rebuild, evacuation, resupply, or relocation of populations needs to have available current mapping of rail corridor, including operations status of track if still insitu, corridor, etc.

Also, incremental rehab of critical spurs, victuals warehousing links, equipment sources and suppliers should be readily available for time of need. Determination of suitable branchline operators, contractors, and mainline rr personnel, including retirees qualified in operations and maintenance should be identified, including use of advertisements asking for volunteers to be on lists of rr qualified staff and managers.

*Finally at this point of contact, it is suggested that the US Transportation Command, who purportedly still maintain RR operating capability at Fort Eustis, should be engaged as an office to liaison with all the individual State National Guard units, via the Governor's office of the respective States, for the purpose of establishing a cadre of railway savvy personnel sufficient in number to independently act as federal presence in a general disaster scenario, widespread quarantine requiring rail victuals deliveries, etc. In line with these proceedings, the US Army Transportation Command should either cross train trucking personnel with the necessary knowledge and hands-on railway experience, and/or add appropriately to staffing to deal with homeland railway operation responsibilities if and as required. For example, widespread contagion by debillitating flu, may disable trucking in various victuals delivery/distribution schedules, requiring rail/military trucking interface. This points up and explains need for re-established victuals logistics at military bases across the country.

This call to revisit the railway component in US strategic logistics is prompted in part by the complete lack of awareness of rail component utilization for disaster remediation in the September flooding and subsequent breakdown in the Gulf States. Which continues, sadly, thru the present time.

I am hoping to hear acknowledgement of these particulars in the next week or ten days. I will cc other parties, as time passes, regarding the strategic need for re-emphasis of the railway component, and the requisite role of the railways in meeting the inexorable consequences of oilwell depletion on transport, agriculture, and natural or man made events that occur from time to time, that require the "Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform". Please do follow thru, including CC to Mr. Chertoff's logistics management staff.

Thank you very much; this is not an easy thing to handle, but it is necessary to put back in place this critical component of homeland security/defense capability. Costs of implementaion can be minimized with incremental steps, most importantly the mapping/cataloguing and prioritization of rail corridor rehab.

Gunnar Henrioulle, Associate, Tahoe Valley Lines.