San Luis Obispo — Reported by Bruce Jenkins, RailPAC director — Discussion of a slot for the proposed Coast Daylight train on CT (Caltrain) led to a probable solution (suggested by RailPAC VP North Art Lloyd, who also represented Caltrain at the meeting) in that the morning train, #799, would depart San Francisco at 8:15am and use a “Caltrain Bullet train” slot. This would give CT a southbound train to Gilroy in the AM. This same solution is used by Metrolink for the San Luis Obispo Surfliner.There is a major problem in getting a funding source for the new train on the ’07-’08 budget. SLOCOG’s Peter Rodgers gave a presentation on the use of “Spillover Funds”: “These are generated when gasoline prices increase at a rate faster than all other taxable items. Hence we are presently seeing unprecedented amounts of revenue in the spillover.” In recent years the Legislature has diverted $694 M of these spillover funds to the general fund for other purposes. This could very well be the source for the Daylight.
A “chicken-egg” problem exists however in that we can’t get funding from the CTC till we know what upgrades are required, and the Union Pacific won’t put in time or money on the Coast Route unless funding is forthcoming.
There was a presentation made by the City of Soledad for a station and stop. There is impressive growth going on now in that city. new hotels are coming and tourism is expanding (wineries etc). They are now planning a transportation hub which will include (obviously) the train station. A resolution to support Soledad was moved and passed by the CRCC. The Mayor of Soledad proposed that he host the next policy meeting in Soledad.
The Amtrak Report was given by Liz O’Donahue: She expressed optimism that the Senate usually increases $$ for Amtrak in the budget. She said she thinks that “Spillover” is the most promising source of funding for the Daylight. There is legislation pending to penalize the host railroad for (habitual) late passenger trains. Twelve states are now working on new design of new equipment. WI-FI is coming to more Amtrak trains.
In a discussion of On Time for train #11/14, Liz reported that 40% of the delays to the Coast Starlight are caused by “slow orders” in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Amtrak is now pursuing a permanent track gang at their own expense to remedy this problem.
The design of the new “California Car” is in progress. Amtrak invites our input ASAP. We suggest readers forward your input on what a new car should be to Richard Silver (firstname.lastname@example.org) for submittal to Amtrak. No “nit picking” please, they need good workable suggestions.
On the way to the meeting Art Lloyd and I learned that DOT Secretary Norman Mineta would be resigning. A discussion ensued at the meeting, but we heard no speculation as to his replacement.