Report by Bruce Jenkins, RailPAC Director
The San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee met at the California State Rail Museum Thursday October 30, 2008.
Approval of Vice Chair Vern Moss Madera County to be effective Jan 1, 2009 was confirmed unanimously.
The 99 Corridor:
Committee members Ty Holscher (Tulare County) and Larry Miller (Fresno County) reported that that a population assessment has been made and that the “people prefer the establishment of Intercity Rail Service in this corridor”. There was a discussion of using a little used “freight corridor” which serves Porterville, Exeter and Visalia. Howard Abelson (Contra Costa County) expressed concern of expending resources considering the present posture of Union Pacific RR in view of their refusal of state money for Donner Pass trackage improvements. This matter will be brought back to the January meeting.
Gene Skoropowski (Executive Director, Capitol Corridor) reported that they have suspended the Quiet Car (QC) due to problems with enforcement. However, due to heavy public pressure, they are reintroducing the QC on early morning trains only. These trains are specified in the “New Vest Pocket” time table (trains 518,520,521.522,523,525,& 527). Additional signage thruout the train will hopefully aid enforcement. Gene made the point that: “we are a customer driven railroad ” !
George Gaekle (Stanislaus County, RailPAC) motioned that DoR make an assessment of QC on the San Joaquin Trains and report at the next meeting.
A proto-type of the new consolidated time table was passed out. At first glance it looks fairly good, showing connection information for most Amtrak trains, ACE and California Trains and Busses. However, there is an obvious (for this writer) ommission of connections with Caltrain by Capitol Corridor and the Coast Starlight trains.
Rest Room Service is a success, however, there are ongoing labor negotiations with Amtrak and decisions to be made whether to use Amtrak or Caltrans Division of Rail personnel.
Food Cart service is anticipated to be a regular service on the trains by Thanksgiving.
On Time Performance (OTP) was down to 80% in August but overall OTP for the year is the best yet.
Jonathan Hutchison (Amtrak) reported that “we will know after the first of the year how funding will be” (for HR2095).
D.J.Mitchell (VP, BNSF) reported that double track was a very good investment by DoR. Using “Slow Order Management” that slow orders are near zero this year. All short distance freights are on time tables (not like flexible time tables for long distance freights).
California will be the first in the country to have PTC (Positive Train Controls) by the year 2014. BNSF is installing “as quickly as we can”.
DoR is looking feverishly for funding source for sorely needed new locomotives.
Hinda Chandler (City of Sacramento) gave a power point presentation of the two configurations of the proposed Sacramento Station. One showing the historical building moved north adjacent to the new tracks and one depicting the station remaining at it’s present location.
Bob Snoddy (Kern County) gave a power point presentation of “Goods Movement in the San Joaquin Valley”. Depicting freight movements from the ports of Oakland and Los Angeles and future configurations.
The next SJVRC meeting is January 8, 2009 in Merced.