Location: Los Angeles Union Station in the North Patio behind Traxx Restaurant.

When: From Noon until 2 P.M.
Topics: The November 4th Election, Prop 1A ( HIgh Speed Rail) Prop R ( Los Angeles County Sales Tax for Rail Transit. )

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A few years ago I was concerned about the timing of building a High Speed Rail system in California.  Business worldwide was booming.  Prices for steel, cement and other basic construction materials were skyrocketing, even supposing you could find a supplier.  It seemed to me that cost estimates would soon be out of date as inflation took hold and we’d end up spending far more than we had bargained for. 

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Editorial by Noel T. Braymer

There are three good reasons for voting for Prop 1A. They are jobs, jobs and jobs. Expanded high speed, intercity and commuter rail passenger services will create jobs from construction, in the operation of rail service and from the economic development that improved transportation creates. At the heart of the current recession and all economic downturns is the fact that consumers are not spending money. The reason for this is simple; people don’t have money to spend. The solution is to this is to create jobs so people have spending money. The problems we have now like banks running out of money, going out of business and people losing their homes happened before in the 1930’s. So what happened back then? Things got built, like Hoover Dam, the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge which created jobs. Many of these and other projects were built with borrowed money. How can we do this when our current problems are from to much debt? Well the problems in the 1930’s were caused by the same problems we have now: too much money was borrowed to gamble on speculation which disappeared when the speculative bubble burst. When you invest borrowed money in things with concrete value and worth, you create wealth. This is what it means to spend money to make money.

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The growth continues!

California and the entire country continues “getting on board the train!”While it is a bit surprising that none of our national candidates for office seem to focus on passenger rail investments, and the mobility, jobs and economic stimulus such investments bring, as more and more Americans step on-board trains, maybe the message will get through that there is an opportunity here for a major investment program that creates jobs HERE, and provides a permanent transport service to our people that cannot be ‘off-shored’.

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October 4, 2008

After more than two years of nudging and cajoling by RailPAC, Amtrak has finally rescheduled the weekend 798 Surfliner train and reduced the running time by over 30 minutes. 

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Report by Chris Flescher

The first part of the meeting was news of passenger rail south of here.  The local transit agency in San Luis Obispo County offers free transfers from the Pacific Surfliner trains.  At this time, in Grover Beach, the passenger train platform is on one side of the tracks, but the stop for connecting buses is on the other side of the tracks.  There is an interest in changing the layout of the station, so that passengers making a transfer between trains and buses will not have to cross the tracks.  Recently, the Coast Starlight began to stop at Paso Robles.  Some other issues include: on the LOSSAN corridor, a study was done about service improvement projects, and about 20 improvements were found that can implemented quickly and relatively cheaply; Orange County wants to have mid-day stops on some long distance trains; soon there will be a single statewide timetable booklet, which will include the Capitol Corridor trains (whose schedule is not in the present timetable booklet); and about 50% of delays on Pacific Surfliner trains come from commuter or other Amtrak trains, so freight trains are not the biggest problem at this time. 

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By Noel T. Braymer

Since the disastrous collision at Chatsworth on September 12th, Metrolink has been in a panic to improve its public image and find quick ways to improve the safety of its trains. One step will be the rapid installation of Automatic Train Stop or ATS signaling on most or all of its train lines.

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Editorial By Noel T. Braymer

We know that on September 12th the engineer of Metrolink Train 111 failed to acknowledge or apply brakes for both a yellow and red signal. He even failed to apply brakes before running into a local UP Freight on a single track segment just outside of Tunnel 26. What we don’t know is why he failed to apply his brakes. This is a question for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to answer. The answer to this question will have a major effect on the lawsuits now being filed for damages because of this fatal crash. Human failure to stop for red signals on railroads is a major safety problem. Technology has existed for over 100 years to stop trains that run red signals. In California between Santa Ana and San Diego, Automatic Train Stop (ATS) signals first installed by the Santa Fe Railway are still in use. ATS will stop a train that runs a red signal. The ATS system used in Southern California is only used on passenger trains. Freight trains also run red signals, and a system is needed to prevent any train from running red signals to fully protect the public. A major issue for better signaling is their cost, and much of the cost comes from the amount of wiring needed to install existing systems.

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