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Letters to the Editor

May 1, 2014
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Dear editor,

National Train Day will be commemorated in Jamestown, NY on Saturday May 10 at the historic Jamestown Gateway Train Station (the former Erie Lackawanna passenger station) 211-217 West Second Street from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Rolling stock of the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad will be on display along with various exhibits and a toy train sale. Regional rail author Ken Springirth, who has spent the last 50 years researching rail systems and has completed 22 rail books, will have a book signing on his latest book "Jamestown to Buffalo by Trolley" which includes the Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad plus the Chautauqua Traction Company which linked Westfield to Jamestown along with the Buffalo and Lake Erie Traction Company which linked Westfield east to Buffalo and west to Erie.

National Train Day May10 marks the 100th anniversary of the electrification of the Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad from Westfield to Jamestown which occurred in 1914. Railroad passenger service in the tri-state region of southwestern New York, northwestern Pennsylvania, northeastern Ohio and throughout the nation peaked in 1916. Growing use of motor vehicles, the Great Depression, plus the growth of bus and air service resulted in a steady decline. World War II resulted in a temporary increase, but following the war and the beginning of the interstate highway system in 1956 accelerated the decline.

By the 1960s railroad passenger service was used by a small percentage of travelers. The last New York Central Railroad passenger train stopped at Westfield in 1960. Of the 364 passenger trains that operated on April 30, 1971, only 182 survived when Amtrak began operations. Many experts thought that Amtrak would eventually disappear. Amtrak did survive funding battles, and the argument has largely changed from whether it should be abandoned to how and if it should be expanded.

The 1973 Arab Oil Embargo plus increased gridlock on the nation's interstate highway system in major metropolitan areas resulted in a new look at rail transportation. Trolley car systems in the United States, which had declined to only seven systems by 1970, began a rebirth with a new name light rail transit. Today there are 30 trolley car (light rail) systems in the United States and 350 around the world with more on the way. This is the first time in the history of the world that a mode of transportation that almost went out of existence has made a comeback.

In New York State, rail transportation means jobs. Amtrak has an order for 130 passenger cars being built at the Elmira, New York plant of CAF which means employment for hundreds of people. In northwestern Pennsylvania, Brookville Equipment Corporation in Brookville, Pennsylvania has refurbished trolley cars for New Orleans, Philadelphia, and San Francisco plus completed locomotives for Metro North Railroad, MTA Capital Construction and Staten Island Railroad, and is currently constructing two new trolley cars for the Dallas, Texas transit system.

Get on track by marking your calendar for May 10 and head on down to the beautifully restored Jamestown Gateway Train Station for this free educational event that is open to the public. You have the premier train station in the tri state area of southwestern New York, Northwestern Pennsylvania, and Northeastern Ohio. For additional information, phone the Jamestown Gateway Station at 483-3041.

Ken Springirth

Rail transit author

 
 

 

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