Featured Photos for 2004   December 31st, 2004

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AMTRAK/CALTRANS Food Service   November 11th, 2004

A RailPAC Special Report, November, 2004. — In its September issue, the Train Riders Association of California’s (TRAC) “California Rail News” displays a front page photograph taken without permission from the RailPAC website. The photo isn’t shown in its entirety. The entire photo was published in the August 2004, “Western Rail Passenger Review” magazine (on page 6), and was posted to www.railpac.org that same month (and is reproduced here). Three people are shown in the edited version with their heads cropped off. The two males are wearing suits and ties as if the editor wants the audience to believe, that “Amtrak suits repeatedly had free dinners at the now-closed Chef Mario’s Island Lighthouse Seafood Grotto.” Absent evidence, does the article’s author hope the gullible will believe the worst as a result of seeing the cropped photo? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reports

by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President — Faster Rail Passenger service not only increases ridership but also improves productivity. It does this by carrying more passengers per day with the same number of train crews and equipment. To achieve these results require major investments in equipment and trackwork. A fast, efficient railroad infrastructure can benefit not only intercity passenger rail, but commuter and freight services as well. The biggest bottleneck in California to faster intrastate rail service is between the San Fernando Valley and Bakersfield. No single project could do more to improve intercity, commuter and freight service in California.

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Posted in Commentary

by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President

The gods help those who first help themselves: Or, It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

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Posted in Commentary

On my August 2004 commentary   September 1st, 2004

by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President

NOTE: The following was received from Elizabeth O’Donoghue, Director-Communication Public and Government Affairs (West) Amtrak. My comments follow hers, and refer to my August commentary. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Commentary

What Do We Need From Amtrak?   August 1st, 2004

by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President – Amtrak over the last thirty plus years never seems to change. Amtrak always seems to want more money from Congress, and threaten to shut down most or all service if it doesn’t get what it wants. Most of the money Amtrak gets goes to the NEC to run a railroad which it is a minority user. Amtrak keeps trying to develop expensive high speed rail service in intercity corridors which are low revenue producers. Service on Amtrak doesn’t seem to get better, only slowly to get worse. And Long Distance Trains remain the stepchild of Amtrak, even though they brings in over half of Amtrak passenger income!

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Posted in Commentary

by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President – As in any business, time is money when running a railroad. The Union Pacific Railroad is learning this the hard way. In the face of growing traffic Union Pacific’s earning are declining. They are declining because traffic congestion on their lines is causing their trains to run late. The result is less freight being carried, many angry customers and lost business. As RailPAC’s Russ Jackson observed after a recent auto trip to Texas, siding after siding on the UP was clogged with idle freight trains. Because of delays many train crews hit their maximum 12 hour workdays miles away from their intended destination. The UP is already short on train crews so replacement crews often are not available. Many of these trains were left stranded without replacement crews to run them. The trains that are running are hindered by the lack of available sidings on busy mainlines further adding to the slowdown and congestion.

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Posted in Commentary

Technology is not the Solution   June 1st, 2004

by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President — When it comes to transportation, many people get hung up on technology. People argue we need the latest in monorail, or maglev, bullet trains or whatever. Naturally the people most hung up on the technology are the people trying to sell a particular technology. Now, technology can be wonderful. But most transportation systems boil down to a box carrying people usually on a right of way. This is true of trains, planes, cars, ships, maglev or monorails. What most people care about when they travel is safety, convenience and economy. The technology is secondary.

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Posted in Commentary

by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President — SCAG, the Southern California Association of Governments continues to promote its plan to build a regional MagLev system in Southern California. This would start with a 54 mile starter line connecting Ontario Airport with Downtown Los Angeles and West Los Angeles. Eventually this starter line would be part of a 92 mile corridor connecting LAX, Ontario Airport and March Air Base which would be part of three corridors of an even larger network. SCAG wants to build their MagLev mostly above freeways at an estimated cost of 80 million dollars a mile. SCAG wants to bet the farm on MagLev, which is an unproven technology. The only operating MagLev service is a 19 mile, 1 billion dollar airport connector in Shanghai, China that started passenger service in January of this year. The German Government spent over 120 million dollars helping to build this project as a showcase for MagLev Technology which the German Government has already spent billions to develop. Despite its best efforts the German Government has been unable to build a MagLev service in Germany or anyplace else besides Shanghai. The hope was that this starter line would be part of a bigger project running from Shanghai to Beijing. Two weeks after the opening of the Shanghai MagLev the Chinese Government announced the new Shanghai-Beijing service would be built as High Speed Rail.

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Posted in Commentary

The Terrorists Among Us   April 1st, 2004

by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC President — Since the bombing of commuter trains in Madrid, Spain that killed 190 people this March, there has been a heightened state of awareness for transportation security. It is true there are terrorists among us in America. Many kill themselves in their terrorist deeds, some are unknowing accomplices spreading death and destruction. These terrorists kill on average 117 people a day, over 40,000 annually. They cost the economy up to $230 Billion in damage every year. I’m talking about the terror on our nation’s roads. We have far more to fear driving to work every day than riding a train.

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Posted in Commentary