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.
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.
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.
Councilman LaBonge presented a Certificate of Welcome to Amtrak’s Joseph Boardman.
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.
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.”
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:
(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.
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!
(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.
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.
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.
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.