Monthly Archives

May 2009

Rail Photos

Art Lloyd receives Golden Star Award PHOTOS

District HQTrain Day, May 9, 2009, at the California State Rail Museum, Sacramento.
Photos courtesy Debbie Mullins, Caltrans Rail Marketing Branch; Comments by Bill Kerby, RailPAC Treasurer. (Photo) Art Lloyd with Caltrans Rail Chief Bill Bronte

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A California Car used on the Capitol Corridor and the San Joaquin Valley trains was on display for touring by visitors to the CSRM on Train Day along with all the great regular displays of California’s railroad history.

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Art Lloyd (right) visits with RailPAC Treasurer Bill Kerby (left) and President, Paul Dyson before the ceremony. Seated behind/between them is RailPAC Director Bruce Jenkins.

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Caltrans Rail Division Chief Bill Bronte, standing in as master of ceremonies for Caltrans Director Will Kempton, warmly and graciously noted Art Lloyd’s accomplishments over a 67 year career in railroading. Art’s career included many years with the Western Pacific before becomming one of Amtrak’s first employees, so it was appropriate the award was given in front of the Museum’s WP#913, an EMD F7A.

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Art proudly accepted the crystal Golden STAR award, presented to a person with a life-long career of passenger rail advocacy by the California Division of Rail. (Photo) Art Lloyd is congratulated by RailPAC President, Paul Dyson. Art continues to serve as RailPAC’s VP North.

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Art greets Doras Briggs, who was the first recipient of the Golden Star award. To the right behind them, the man standing on the right is Bruce Heard, who succeeded Art as Amtrak’s PR Director West when Art retired.

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Eleanor Lloyd should be with her man in front of a WP locomotive. Art and Ellie have been married for 64 years. RailPAC knows Art has certainly earned this latest recognition of his continuing achievements to build strong rail passenger service in this country. Is there anyone in western railroading that doesn’t know Art Lloyd? Or that Art Lloyd doesn’t know? We suspect the answer is “no.” RailPAC was proud to be a part of this Train Day salute.

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The RailPAC banner highlights the day, held by Treasurer Bill Kerby (left), Eleanor and Art Lloyd, President Paul Dyson, with Associate Director Mike Barnbaum in the back.

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The next generations of railroaders tried out this locomotive cab simulator on Train Day at the Rail Museum, a fitting look at the future.

Issues

Move the Sacramento Depot?

Sacramento Preservation Commission Votes to Leave Depot in Place.
Special Meeting May 21, 2009
Report by Bill Kerby, RailPAC Treasurer
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With only one dissenting vote, the Sacramento Preservation Commission voted to recommend the City Council rescind its 2004 compromise plan that would have kept the Sacramento Valley Station in proximity of the Union Pacific mainline by moving the entire depot complex more than a football field length.

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(Looking east) The relocated tracks will approximately follow the pole line in this photo. The former SP shops now owned by the CSRM are in the background.

Citing the urgency to maintain a competitive bid for $20 million in federal stimulus funds to prepare the site for relocating tracks north of the station, the commission chose between options “don’t move” and “move” the historic structure. The City Council will receive this recommendation for a formal decision June Second.
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The classic Sacramento train station is located near the current track alignment.

If the council chooses the “don’t move” alternative, the former Southern Pacific Railroad depot will be included in a three phase conversion plan. Phase one consists of a package of site preparation by the City and track construction by Union Pacific contractors. New tangent tracks, platforms and overhead canopies will be relocated north of the existing structures. Phase two consists of site and building improvements, including new main electrical service to and within the depot. A new tunnel will connect the existing depot to serve AMTRAK and Capitol Corridor passengers as they walk to the Union Pacific tracks. Sacramento Regional Transit riders of the light rail system will connect with the existing depot on relocated light rail tracks. In phase three, the section requiring much more study, new facilities must be scaled to accommodate high speed rail with a broader passenger base projected to handle 15 million people annually.

Distributed at the May 21st meeting, a May 14th letter by State Historic Preservation Officer, Milford Wayne Donaldson, took an unusual step in commenting early in their formal review process. “[T]his case is unusual,” Milford wrote, “in that it is a three-phase undertaking, with minimal impacts to historic properties in the initial phases and the potential for huge and adverse effects in the third phase.” He continued with a caution that “…the relocated building would leave behind the basement, a major part of the square footage of the structure. It is also highly probable that the relocation effort would result in major damage to the walls, the roof, and the remainder of the building, as it would surely be moved in pieces and reassembled at the new site.” Preservation in place is projected to cost $10 million less than moving the building, but cost projections were not discussed in this Preservation Commission meeting. By the end of phase two, the existing station and the adjacent former Railway Express Agency building will remain in place.

Keeping the buildings in place also prevents new buildings from blocking views between the depot and the I Street neighborhood. Fourth Street will be reopened from the Depot to I Street for outbound vehicular traffic; traffic that formerly admitted street cars and autos in the front parking area. Aside from one citizen’s comment, there was no discussion of access by a possible downtown street car system. Train passengers will continue to use the original structure for ticketing and baggage handling. Board member, Russ Jackson, upon hearing the results of the meeting, expressed optimism that the present depot can be configured into a functional train station where passengers move about the same distance from station to tracks as one finds at Los Angeles Union Station. Stay tuned to see if the Sacramento City Council agrees with the Preservation Commission recommendation.
(File Photos by Russ Jackson)

Issues

Passenger Rail and the CA State budget crisis

“WE HAVE NO MONEY SO WE HAVE TO THINK*”
Commentary on a vital current issue by Paul J. Dyson, RailPAC President REVISED 5/25/09.
Well, the party’s over for the United States and especially for California.

From now on, instead of running up debt, we’re going to have to pay for what we consume or go without. This is the harsh reality of our current situation, and intercity rail will not be exempt from the painful cuts coming soon.

At the national level we are almost certain to see increased operating deficits at Amtrak, driven by the reduction in high fare paying passengers on the NEC as a result of the recession on Wall Street. Only the overnight trains seem to be holding their own. In spite of the additional capital money for Amtrak, most of which is going to fix NEC infrastructure, I think there will soon be pressure for reduced operating expenses. We can all guess where the axe will fall! The decades of propaganda denigrating the western trains will surely make them the first targets of “economizing” by our friends in DC.

How should RailPAC and NARP react? Should we picket the state capitol at Sacramento and demand that we keep our trains? Should we lobby Washington for a bigger subsidy? It seems to me that we cannot demand the retention of passenger rail programs at the expense of such items as health care and education, even though we know that there is bureaucratic waste that could be eliminated in all government programs. We need to find an alternative strategy; we need to think.

What do we do now? We should be constantly seeking farebox recovery, not increased subsidy! In spite of the recession there is still disposable income being spent by the majority of the population. A good rail passenger product can be sold even in this climate. We have 35 million people in California. We need about 10,000 more people per day to spend $30 on train fares to make $100,000,000 additional revenue per year. That’s about the level of state support for the intercity program. Do you think we can do it? What would it take?

We need the immediate formation of a task force to review the schedules of passenger and commuter trains, especially where those services overlap or share routes, to ensure optimum connectivity and productivity. The current abominable schedules of trains 798/799 are a case in point. If that is a passenger’s first impression of passenger rail, how can we hope for repeat business? I believe we can generate a lot more revenue with connections between e.g. the Metrolink Antelope Valley service and the Surfliners, or between BART and the Capital Corridor, and with the use of weekend family tickets and other such promotions. There is no excuse for the current state of affairs. NARP and RailPAC should be demanding more of Amtrak and commuter rail management from existing resources; better coordination, better maintenance practices, better marketing, customer friendly personnel.

The next thing we need is more seats to sell. We can probably put another 100 people on most of the trains that run on most days, but that is less than half of the 10,000 target. We need cars so that we can put more backsides on seats. Division of Rail has a plan to put single level cars on the San Joaquins and free up California Cars to strengthen the other corridors. This should be a matter of urgency. Further, we need to concentrate these assets on the longer haul passenger market, including starting the Coast Daylight as soon as possible. This means reducing Amtrak service between San Diego and Los Angeles and filling the gaps with a combined Metrolink/Coaster schedule. Many of these trains carry large numbers of “Rail to Rail” passengers generating $2 revenue per passenger to Amtrak. This is a luxury we can no longer afford.

Next, we can play the money game by demanding that Amtrak charge less for the state supported trains. How they can possibly justify the current level of charges when they have been given the trains by the taxpayers of California and pay very little for the right of way? It’s time for a detailed accounting! At the same time an independent auditor should be tasked with finding out the true cost of operating the long distance trains.

We should not be downhearted. We have to use this crisis as an opportunity to demonstrate that passenger rail operations should not be a major drain on the public purse but can, if run in a commercial fashion, be largely self supporting and therefore deserving of capital investment.

These are my thoughts. I’ve revised them since first published 21st Many thanks to some excellent feedback from members. E-mail me at pdyson@railpac.org with your opinions.

Paul Dyson
RailPAC President,
Division Leader, SW. NARP.

* attr. Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand scientist.

Rail Photos

More Train Day Photos from LAUS

From a different perspective, by RailPAC Member Alexander Friedman! 43ma25469510-00081

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California High-Speed Rail Authority took an important part on National Train Day.

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Freshly laid-out tracks at the Union Station, of soon-to-be-opened the Gold Line East LA extension.

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People enjoy unique train exhibits at Los Angeles Union Station.

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Mini-concert with Christmas spirit at the Los Angeles Union Station.

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Meals are displayed in Amtrak diner on National Train Day in Los Angeles.
Looks decent, however Amtrak should really invest to enhance our train dining experience!

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Displays of Amtrak’s diner amenities on National Train Day in Los Angeles.
Are real dishes & china finally starting to re-appear in Amtrak Diners?

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Pacific Surfliner, in front of the Display Holiday train at Los Angeles Union Station, is ready to depart!

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The new & improved Metrolink locomotives, in Los Angeles Union Station, look great, and are in full use!

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A Gold-line Breda train on approach to Los Angeles Union Station.

Rail Photos

Train Day PHOTOS

From Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, and Ft. Worth!
May 9, 2009.
Photos and comments by RailPAC photographers. lausplaza5-9-091

1. LOS ANGELES UNION STATION (Photos by Mike Palmer, who rode Surfliner trains to get to Train Day at LAUS.)

lausplaza5-9-09 The Plaza (right) looking back at the clock tower. The historic Harvey restaurant was open for displays.

On Display: (below) A Pacific Surfliner locomotive decked out in bright orange and red as part of the Operation Life Saver program, aimed at surfers! Other passenger cars from Amtrak were available for tours by the public.
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The RailPAC table inside LAUS. The next table was the table for The Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata, MO. Members who attended the May 2 RailPAC-NARP joint meeting received a 2 for 1 coupon for that hotel, which is home of the Exhibition of Amtrak History. Amtrak President Joe Boardman will attend a function there soon.

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Display tables for many rail organizations filled the area including Amtrak’s Energy Usage Display.

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A very popular attraction was Disney’s “Christmas Carol” 6-car national tour train, which includes 3 former Art Train cars, which will visit 40 cities starting later this month. Visitors are treated to a tour using movie set, sound stage, and state of the art interactive video technologies.

2. SAN LUIS OBISPO (Photos and comments by David Weisman)
td-15s The Train Day band at the San Luis Obispo station, Justin Au and the “Basin Street Regulars” poses in front of “cabbage car” (ex-F-40) 90208, which awaits departure of the Coast Daylight/Surfliner train 798/99.

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SLO “station host” David Weisman at the Train Day table inside SLO station, which was stocked with brochures, food and drinks, and much friendly train advice.

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The band plays outside for the entertainment not only of the visitors, but also passengers on the Coast Starlight trains that arrived on time at SLO that day.

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Also inside SLO station was a big display of railroad photography by Rich Hansen, and (shown) an HO model train exhibit from members of the SLO Model Railroad Club. The Amtrak ticket counter can be seen in the background.

3. Ft. Worth, Texas, Intermodal station. (Photos by Russ Jackson)

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Amtrak’s Texas Eagle #22 stands ready to depart Ft. Worth on Train Day. Visitors were able to see the cars during its servicing stop there. Also during Train Day hours the Heartland Flyer arrived from Oklahoma City.

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Amtrak 203, the backup locomotive stationed at Ft. Worth, was open for visitors to board. An engineer was there to help visitors learn about how it operates.

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Also on display were UP’s newest switcher, UPY 2300; UP 1988, painted in MKT (Katy) red; and BNSF GE ES44DC #7547. Several BNSF officials were on duty, including one who said he was “in charge of FREDs” (the rear end warning devices on freight trains). The foreground platform is used by the TRE.

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A TRE “push” commuter train is about to depart Ft. Worth for its trip to Dallas Union Station. Many Train Day visitors arrived on the TRE, or on the many buses that come to the station. Greyhound is now operating from this location. There is a new Subway Sandwich shop in the building, too!

Commentary

CA Corridors April 2009 Stats

Reported by Eugene K. Skoropowski
Managing Director, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

April numbers on the Capitol Corridor were somewhat improved from March, and a strong showing on the San Joaquins and positive numbers on the Pacific Surfliners were among the few corridor services to show improvement nationally.

It is likely that we will have to wait until the May numbers are in before we can make a determination if there is a continuing trend up or down. In fact, the busy Northeast Corridor continues to get hammered the worst with April ridership down -8.9%, and year-to-date ridership down -9.4%.

Only the long distance trains across the country showed consistent positive ridership growth both during April (+5.6%) as well as year-to-date (+5.8%).

April 2009 Capitol Corridor ridership was down -4.6% compared to April 2008, (but was still a respectable 138,623 for the month of April 2009), and revenue was actually up +6.6%. The San Joaquins ridership spiked in April +15.8%, with revenue up +10.8% compared to April 2008. The Pacific Surfliner also turned around with an increase in April 2009 riders of +2.7% and a revenue increase +17.4% compared to April 2008. Both of these routes were likely benefitting from the fact that Easter fell in April this year, as opposed to March last year.

Capitol Corridor on-time performance for April was an outstanding 95.9%, among the best months ever for on-time performance. The San Joaquins April 2009 reliability improved to 92.8% on-time, and the Pacific Surfliners
slipped a bit from March to 83.0% on-time in April.

Overall, given the economy, the California Corridor services are holding up fairly well, particularly compared to the downturn on the Northeast Corridor.

Capitol Corridor (April 2009):

  • 138,623 passengers -4.6% vs. April 2008.
    The rate of decline in April is half that of March, and daily counts for May are showing a steady increase. The Capitol Corridor route is still the third busiest route in the country, by a wide margin.
    Passengers for the last 12 months: 1,705,246
    YTD ridership is +1.3% ahead of last year, after 7 months.
  • $1,909,012 April 2009 ticket revenue +6.6% vs. April 2008
    The farebox recovery revenue-to-cost ratio for April is 45.2%, (FY to date: 44.6%, still a bit lower than the 50% target). We are hoping that our upcoming Kids-Ride-Free-on-Weekends/Holidays will help improve our farebox recovery rate. This promotion will continue through the summer. YTD revenue is running +5.7% ahead of last year.
  • On-time performance for April ‘delivered to the customer’ was: 95.9%.
    Union Pacific performance rebounded to 99% on time. The proportion of delays attributable to Amtrak mechanical performance has begun to creep up,
    and we are working with Amtrak to address these concerns. (FFY to date on-time: 92.1% on time) This is our best-ever 7 month year-to-date on-time performance.
    These first month stats keep the Capitol Corridor on-time performance (92.1%) the best in the country, topped only by the once-a-day Pennsylvanian (Philadelphia-Pittsburgh) and still well above the premier Acela Express service on the Northeast Corridor (86.5%).
  • __________________________________________________

    Pacific Surfliners (April 2009):

  • 219,229 passengers +2.7% vs. April 2008, but still the second busiest route in the nation, by a wide margin YTD ridership is down -6.9%, after 7 months
  • $3,820,810 April 2009 revenue: +17.4% vs. April 2008
  • On-time performance for April 2009: 83.0% (FFY to date: 82.7%)
  • __________________________________________________

    San Joaquins (April 2009):

  • 79,108 passengers +15.8% vs. April 2008
    YTD ridership is up +6.5%, after 7 months
  • $2,225,958 April 2009 revenue: +10.8% vs. April 2008
  • On-time performance for April 2009: 92.8% (FFY to date: 89.0%)
  • __________________________________________________________

    Total California 3 Intercity Corridors Ridership for April 2009: 436,960
    Total Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’ ridership for April 2009: 865,339
    For April 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 50.5% of Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’
    Boston-Washington ridership
    Total Northeast Corridor ridership for April 2009 with branches to Springfield, MA; Albany, NY and Harrisburg, PA: 1,070,553
    For April 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 40.9% of the total Northeast Corridor
    ridership. Overall NEC Spine ridership declined by -8.9%, but the Keystone service (Philadelphia-Harrisburg) grew by +4.1%.

    YTD 3 California Corridors ridership is 2,880,608
    YTD NEC Spine ridership is 5,738,595
    YTD NEC Spine + branches ridership is 7,156,789

    Rail Photos

    RailPAC-NARP May 2 PHOTO Report

    Photos and Comments by Noel Braymer, Editor, Western Rail Passenger Review

    The meeting was held on Saturday, May 2, 2009, from 10:00 to 4:30 in the Board Room of the Los Angeles MTA.
    100_2475 RailPAC President Paul Dyson (right) opened the meeting with NARP Chairman George Chilson (seated left). Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge (center) welcomed the some 200 attendees.

    100_2483 The keynote speaker was Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman, whose amusing, very political speech was well received, even though specifics of interest to western train advocates were sparse. For a full report of his talk, see Bill Lindley’s report posted on this site.
    100_2488 Councilman LaBonge presented a Certificate of Welcome to Amtrak’s Joseph Boardman.

    100_2493 TRAINS magazine writer Don Phillips was welcomed back, as he spoke at the Sacramento meeting last year. Don followed Mr. Boardman and challenged him on several issues related to Amtrak’s future.

    100_24981 Walter N. Smith, BNSF General Director Commuter Contracts, who said, “We are in the passenger business, and are willing to cooperate on passenger rail studies and provide state and local officials with information.”

    100_25251 Art Leahy, CEO of the LAMTA (left) and Art Brown, long time member of LOSSAN, spoke of local issues.

    RailPAC-NARP attendees came from all over the west:
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    (Top Left photo:) Bob Manning, Palm Springs , speaking to reporters from his city. (Top right photo:) (standing left) John Blaubach, Santa Barbara, attended a week before the fires devastated his city; he is safe, as is Dennis Story from there who also attended. Both are in our thoughts), and Arizona RPA’s Bill Lindley, Scottsdale, with RailPAC Secretary Dick Spotswood, Mill Valley. (Left photo:) RailPAC Directors Bruce Jenkins, Sunnyvale (left), and Vaughn Wolffe, Pleasanton. (Right photo:) Anthony Lee, Oakland with Bill Lindley.

    100_2538 California High Speed Rail board member Rod Diridon, San Jose, gave a rousing presentation on the HSR project, saying that they must spend their money before it all goes away!

    100_2528 (Left) Dan Feger, Bob Hope Airport Executive Director, Burbank, introduced by Paul Dyson. The airport plans to build a moving sidewalk and pedestrian bridge over Hollywood Way and the train tracks to serve rail and bus passengers, and rental car customers.

    100_2542 Amtrak VP Brian Rosenwald , the father of the Pacific Parlour Cars, spoke on the future PLANS for the Sunset Limited, saying it would be going DAILY, restore the connections with the Coast Starlight (and San Joaquins), have a late departure time from LAUS, and be merged with the Texas Eagle gaining a new train name (possibly the Golden State). A new train would connect San Antonio to New Orleans (possibly named the Argonaut). He said nothing about the extension to Florida.

    100_2513 Caltrans Division of Rail Chief, Bill Bronte (right), with NARP’s Matt Melzer. Mr. Bronte admitted he “has plenty of capital money now,” but is not sure if he will have enough for Operations. His job now includes making Amtrak California trains feeders for HSR.

    100_2476 NARP Chairman George Chilson wrapped up the successful day.

    On the next post below is Bill Lindley’s full report of the major Amtrak speakers.

    Commentary, Reports

    RailPAC-NARP Meeting Report

    William “Bill” Lindley of Scottsdale, Arizona attended the joint RailPAC/NARP meeting in Los Angeles and files this report and personal observations. Mr. Lindley is an Associate Director/website maintainer for RailPAC.

    Saturday, May 2, 2009 in Los Angles, Amtrak Interim President and CEO Joseph Boardman and longtime and well-respected Vice President Brian Rosenwald laid out the company’s new direction. The scene was an auditorium in the office tower adjoining Los Angeles Union Station, at the well-attended joint membership meeting of the Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC) and the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP).

    Amtrak has had some good leaders before; and on occasion there has even been money enough to work with; but like the Chicago Cubs where everything so promising in Spring seems to not quite come together by the end of the baseball season, there has always been a missing link. On Saturday, though, one received the impression that – with folks like the determined and visionary, yet, realistic Mr. Boardman, and the experienced and capable Mr. Rosenwald – there might, this year, be a World Series to be had for Amtrak.

    In a letter to Amtrak employees shortly after he arrived in his new position, Mr. Boardman wrote, “In my view, a national intercity, interconnected passenger rail service is critically important for the mobility and energy independence of the United States.” Saturday’s presentation was consistent with realistically expanding passenger trains’ role across the country.

    Mr. Boardman spoke of Amtrak as momentarily feeling like “the dog that caught the car” with the recent stimulus funds – “What do you do now?” Yet, plans are moving quickly, with the $1.3 billion already 70% obligated. He said “a healthier Amtrak includes a better relationship with employees” and the May 1st employee appreciation day included due back pay.

    Touching on the Obama Administration’s high speed rail plans, he explained systems like the French TGV only occurred after the existing networks were at capacity. America does not yet have a “high speed rail culture … we are not ready for orphan systems” that do not have appropriate feeder networks including bus, streetcar, subway, and commuter trains. Boardman described a high speed network emerging through incremental improvements, using improved track such as “Class 6 at 110 MPH,” and even using (relatively common) Class 5 mainline freight tracks at 90 MPH. And, “I don’t buy the argument you can’t mix passenger trains and freight at 110 MPH.” This from the man whose immediate previous job as Amtrak’s interim president and CEO was the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, whose primary role is that of the safety of America’s railroads.

    Concluding his remarks, Boardman characterized the discussion of revising the existing Sunset route as representing a “new way of thinking, not an announcement” and continued, “We recognize the need to reconnect Florida (to the West).”

    Replying to questions from the audience, Mr. Boardman indicated there would be a Viewliner (single-level, as used on eastern trains) equipment order, of all types (Coach, Sleeper, and Diner); that “Diner Lite” never worked, and it would be eliminated this year; and that “we will have a long distance fleet plan.” He said Amtrak had begun to study new options for serving Phoenix, but that Las Vegas service would be further in the future.

    Later, VP Brian Rosenwald spoke of several issues; of particular interest was the Sunset Route realignment proposal which is “within range of demonstrating that added revenue from daily service will offset the additional costs. Our only bias in developing this proposal is that there be daily service” with a primary factor being the highest projected revenue segment via Dallas to Chicago. He was clear this is all still a proposal, subject to further input, not an announcement.

    As the proposal stands now, there would be a daily train operating from Los Angeles via San Antonio and Dallas to Chicago, with a cross-platform transfer to a daily train operating from San Antonio via Houston to New Orleans. Running time between Los Angeles and Chicago may be up to eight hours less than today’s Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle schedule. There would be daily through-car service with sleepers and full diner between Los Angeles and Chicago by extending the daily service between Chicago and San Antonio and tri-weekly service west of San Antonio of the Texas Eagle on the Sunset Limited route to a single train on the full Los Angeles-Chicago route, and dropping the two existing names of the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited.

    Departure from Los Angeles under this scenario would be closer to the Sunset Limited’s traditional one, perhaps 10:30 P.M., in order to offer better times at Maricopa (for Phoenix) and San Antonio. The desert Maricopa station “will do for the moment” until a better plan for serving Phoenix can be devised. Estimate a 9:30 P.M. arrival at New Orleans from the west. Also, by moving to the traditional departure time of the Sunset Limited in Los Angeles eastbound, this re-establishes the connection with the Coast Starlight with its “strong revenue potential” because of the matrix effect. Further, a single onboard services crew could operate between LA and Chicago, thus simplifying operations.

    To describe this new service, the “Sunset Limited” name might be shelved in favor of, potentially, the “Golden State.” When equipment permits, Mr. Rosenwald was hopeful through cars between New Orleans and Los Angeles could be added.

    In my opinion, the Sunset restructuring could bring a far stronger, functional passenger train presence to America’s entire south and west. Coupled with new and developing commuter-rail and light-rail projects widely perceived as successes in Sunbelt cities like Phoenix, Dallas, and Houston, the seeds of a “rail culture” could well germinate.

    My impression was that Joseph Boardman knows when to be specific, when to be delicate, and when to be bold. Mr. Rosenwald has demonstrated ability to manage a train and work with the parties involved. Together, Mr. Rosenwald and Mr. Boardman represent an Amtrak that may at last find its balance.

    Walter Smith, BNSF, General Director Commuter Contracts, also spoke, saying “We are in the passenger business.” Here are the
    Highlights of BNSF’s Passenger Principles:

  • BNSF is willing to cooperate on passenger rail studies and provide state and local officials with information
  • Any passenger operation or service change must not negatively affect
    freight customers or our ability to serve them
  • BNSF must retain operating control of rail facilities used for passenger service. All dispatching, maintenance and construction must be done under the control of BNSF
  • Studies must reflect actual operating conditions and cost structures. BNSF will not incur any liability for passenger operations that it would not have but for those operations
  • This report also appeared in the May 5 URPA “This Week at Amtrak.”

    Issues

    Resolution Calling for Amtrak to order new cars

    Passed by approximately 120 RailPAC and/or NARP members at the May 2 joint meeting in Los Angeles.

    Resolution calling on Amtrak to place an order for rolling stock for the “Superliner” routes.

  • Whereas the Rail Passenger Association of California is deeply concerned that there has been no new investment in rolling stock for the Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited, California Zephyr and Southwest Chief (the western overnight trains) since 1991, and
  • Whereas currently up to 95% of Amtrak’s capital investments go to the North East Corridor trains and infrastructure, and
  • Whereas there is a growing demand for rail passenger travel and these trains are often sold out, and
  • Whereas old equipment is expensive to maintain, is subject to mechanical failure, and is unattractive to passengers, and
  • Whereas without new investment these trains and other routes will eventually be withdrawn for want of serviceable equipment,
  • Therefore the Rail Passenger Association of California calls upon the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”) to meet its obligation to provide a national network by allocating a reasonable proportion of its capital investment budget to purchase new coaches, sleeping cars and dining cars for the western overnight trains, to a common design that can also be used for corridor services.

    Rail Photos, Reports

    LAUS Celebrates its 70th

    Reported by Paul Dyson, with PHOTOS!
    Monday, May 4, was the 70th anniversary of the opening of Union Station. laus-from-the-front1 This view is 20 years old (Noel Braymer photo)

    L.A. City Council member Tom LaBonge, who is a great promoter of passenger rail and of the city, made sure that the occasion was honored with a ceremony at Union Station. There was excellent local media coverage.
    laus-70-anniversary-photo

    Pictured (L to R) Art Leahy, LACMTA CEO;
    Keith Millhouse
    , Metrolink Board Chairman; L.A. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge;
    Lynn Berberian, Amtrak SW Division passenger superintendent; Paul Dyson representing RailPAC and NARP; L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, whose district includes Union Station; Schezel Pough, Station Manager; Dorothy Perez, Tom LaBonge’s staff person and a daily Metrolink commuter through Union Station.

    laus-70-anniversary-photo-2 Union Station on May 4, 2009. Looks the same, but it’s who is inside that differs!

    Paul Dyson thanked the Coucnil members for reminding Los Angeles citizens of the architectural gem in their midst. But he suggested that they didn’t come and see it during the rush hour because they would be bowled over by the thousands of people that now use the station. “You would not recognize the place from 25 years ago. Who said we couldn’t get Angelenos out of their cars?” said Dyson.