NARP Academic Award

The NARP Academic Award, established in 2011, is to be given annually to university and college professors who have an excellent record in developing and promoting knowledge about and progress of passenger train transportation in the United States and Canada.

Recipients of NARP Academic Award

2013 - Dr. Anthony Perl

Academic Achievements

“Why is it so hard for the United States to get on board with high-speed rail?” Dr. Anthony Perl, professor of urban studies and political science at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC and author of two books on comparative passenger rail policy, addressed this question in speaking to NARP’s Council of Representatives Oct. 20 in Jacksonville, FL.

NARP honored Perl, who in 1976 was our first intern, with our Academic Award, honoring his scholarly efforts to broaden public understanding of issues impacting North American travelers.

Asked how to advocate for passenger train investment in the face of Tea Party opposition, Perl stated that the Tea Party seems to favor economic development. Therefore, train supporters should emphasize how trains promote economic development. That, indeed, is also the best emphasis to gain the support of the business community.

“I would say investing in modern trains for a more mobile America (NARP’s first slogan), not cutting, is the way to grow the economy.”
The U.S. adopted some foreign technologies early: cars and jet aircraft (both from Germany). U.S. laggardness in high-speed rail is most evident in our infrastructure, which holds back even the most advanced trains like Acela from running at their design speeds.

While we’re not running out of oil, the remaining supply is more difficult to extract and thus permanently more expensive, said Perl. Cars and aircraft that can run without oil aren’t ready for prime time, but electrified rail is.

Aside from greater investment in rail, what remains is to figure out how electrified passenger railroads can share corridors with freight railroads, Perl said. He expressed full support for the incremental improvement approach.

2012 - Dr. Christopher Barkan

Academic Achievements

Washington D.C.—The National Association of Railroad Passengers presented Professor Christopher Barkan with the Association’s Academic Award today, for a career dedicated to promoting the understanding of railroad engineering and advancing rail technology.

Dr. Barkan is the Director of the Railroad Engineering Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; under his leadership, the school has expanded the rail curriculum from one course to six, making it the largest of any North American university. In 2010, Barkan and his colleagues added a course on High-Speed Rail Engineering—a significant step in the development of an American high-speed rail industry.

“Dr. Barkan has created something special in Urbana-Champaign, and you can see that in the high level of demand for the program’s graduates,” said NARP President Ross Capon. “The Railroad Engineering Program is the nation’s premier incubator for the next generation of men and women who will keep America’s rail network strong. Dr. Barkan’s efforts to make clear the need to expand similar capabilities at other universities are helping the nation by enhancing the industry’s ability to meet its huge human resources challenges.”

2011 - Dr. Vukan Vuchic

Academic Achievements

Washington D.C.—The National Association of Railroad Passengers awarded Dr. Vukan Vuchic its first ever Academic Award yesterday, for a career dedicated to increasing knowledge about the operations, planning and policies toward passenger trains and other advancements in the field of transportation.

As UPS Foundation Professor of Transportation Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Dr. Vuchic provided valuable insight into planning and design of urban transportation systems and the importance of all types of rail services.

Besides his teaching at Penn, from which he retired last year, he has lectured at about 90 universities, and consulted around the world.

“Dr. Vuchic’s unflagging enthusiasm in advancing our knowledge of passenger trains, along with transit- and pedestrian-friendly urban planning, has been an inspiration to his students, to his colleagues, and to public officials,” said NARP President Ross Capon. “America’s passengers are grateful for his lifetime of work.”

Vuchic holds a Ph.D. degree in engineering from the University of California-Berkeley, and an Honorary Doctor’s degree from CNAM University in Paris. He is a foreign member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences. He has authored books “Urban Transit: Operations, Planning, and Economics,” “Urban Transit Systems and Technology,” “Transportation for Livable Cities” and “Transit Operating Manual,” in addition to about 125 articles and 30 technical reports.