San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee March 9th, 2006
Fresno — Reported by Russ Jackson
- HOT RUMORS in Washington DC are that Norman Mineta will resign as DOT Secretary “in the next 30 days,” and Congressman Bill Thomas, (R-Bakersfield) who announced his retirement this month, will become the next Secretary of the Treasury if Secretary Snow resigns. No speculation about a replacement for Secretary Mineta if the rumor is correct. (NOTE: As of the posting of this report after April 1 neither rumor had been confirmed.)
- SAN JOAQUIN TRAIN 712 that many of us rode to the meeting arrived in Fresno 6 minutes EARLY. Excellent dispatching. However, train 715 that brought us back north was delayed 45 minutes at the Fresno station because the BNSF had a minor derailment a mile north of the station. Committee Chairman, Fresno County Supervisor Bob Waterston, opened the meeting by recognizing the 712′s early arrival, saying, “People are paying attention to us, and we are all focused on the same thing” of providing service to the Valley.
- RailPAC PRESIDENT, PAUL DYSON, spoke to the meeting introducing himself and commented not only on RailPAC but he spoke about how “we have a lot to crow about; rail is finally on the agenda” all over the state as well as the Valley and across the nation. “We can do more by thinking up alternatives to promote mobility.” It must be a “service.” He went on to describe the growth that has taken place in the railroad industry in the past 5 to 10 years, which “makes it harder to accomplish goals for passenger rail.” We must “figure out how to make it work.” In response to committee member questions, Mr. Dyson pointed out what the philosophy was at British Rail, where he learned the business, which is to be “expeditious and punctual.” The public-private partnership is vital to the future, and while we must “play the hand we’re dealt,” the future looks good. Chairman Waterston thanked Mr. Dyson for his remarks, following up by pointing out that “capacity is a big issue. We (passenger rail) seem to be on the back burner, I am encouraged, but it can’t all be on state money.”
- This being the COMMITTEE’S ANNUAL MEETING, the election of a Chairman and Vice Chairman for the next year was held. Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall is the new Chairman, and Merced County Supervisor John Pedrozo will be Vice Chairman. Mayor Hall took the gavel. Read the rest of this entry »
In America, Passenger Trains get no respect March 1st, 2006
By RailPAC Director and Review Editor Noel T. Braymer — One of my favorite TV shows is “Mythbusters” on the Discovery Channel. A group of eccentric but technically qualified people put “urban legends” and “common wisdom” to the test to see if they can be true. An example of this is the “fact” that “if you throw a penny off the Empire State Building, it would kill a person if it hit them on the ground.” We’ve all heard this; is it true? No, pennies lacks both the mass and terminal velocity to do much damage no matter how high you drop them. Simple physics, but most people accept the “common wisdom.”
There are Many Challenges Ahead March 1st, 2006
By RailPAC President Paul Dyson — It’s a great honor for me to take on the duties of President of RailPAC. Our organization has been very effective in the past in uniting rail passenger advocates and politicians behind a policy of affordable, incremental investments in improving mobility in the state of California. We identified surplus equipment in the old “San Diegan” pool and campaigned for through service to Santa Barbara and beyond. We helped create the climate for investments in the Capitol, San Joaquin and Peninsula corridors, and we have continued our support for the Amtrak long distance trains as essential for maintaining a national network.