Reported by Bruce Jenkins, RailPAC Director — The Coast Rail Coordinating Council met at the Paraiso Winery in Soledad on Friday, 9/22. Meeting in Soledad was mainly a good will gesture, and to familiarize the council members of the growth and potentials of the area persuant to a Coast Daylight stop in Soledad.After the normal opening business (minutes approval etc) was over a lively discussion commenced on getting the Daylight started. Tom Mulligan of UP stated that they would need a formal request from Amtrak (on behalf of DoR) to start service. This request “shall include a start date”. A joint evaluation of the road would also be required as the last capacity study has a “limited shelf life”.
Jonathan Hutchison of Amtrak stated that leases (Amtrak) rolling stock is available from Beech Grove (both single level and Superliner). This equipment would need refurbishing and would fill the need till new cars come online. Chair Dave Potter emphasized how we all have to get behind Prop 1B and that CRCC is striving to get local support from cities and counties. 1B would yield $450 M for transit, $125M needed for rolling stock and $50M required for track and signals. RailPAC VP North Art Lloyd, also representing Caltrain, emphasized that key persons from the counties should make appeals to Bill Bronte (at Caltrans Division of Rail) to pursue the Amtrak cars.
Art Lloyd will make a Daylight presentation to the Peninsula Joint Powers Board (Caltrain) on October 5th pursuant to obtaining a “Baby Bullet” slot in their 96 train schedule to operate the Coast Daylight to/from San Francisco.
Jonathan Hutchison (Amtrak) reported that “The Starlight” has been badly bruised by the OTP wth ridership and revenue plummeting, and in name (e.g “Starlate”). Amtrak and UP are now in “High Level” meetings addressing the OTP. Tom Mulligan (UP) stated that track gangs have now moved to the Zephyr route and UP is striving to keep a max 90 minute “down” time on #11 and 14 north of Sacramento. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Amtrak reported on September 25: “Following the completion of UP track work and recent discussions with the railroad, Coast Starlight on-time performance has improved significantly. In the last seven days (through Sept. 23), the train arrived 36% on time, and 86% within 90 minutes; compared to fiscal-year-to-date 3% on time and 11% within 90 minutes.”