Now’s your chance to voice your opinion on the next generation of California Cars – the  national standardized railcar. We posted a story a few days ago with information on the new cars.  We invite you to check that story out and then visit Amtrak California’s virtual open house (available until May 28, 2010).   There you will be able to:

  • Review railcar information
  • View floorplans
  • View design concepts
  • Make comments via an online survey

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Posted in Issues

Statement by Bill Kerby, RailPAC Director and Treasurer
at the April 29, 2010 meeting in Fresno, CA

Three events motivate this statement:

  • Development of ideas at the joint RailPAC/NARP meeting in Los Angeles on April 17
  • Joint agreement proposals among regional railroads and the HSR
  • The 29th anniversary of the last run of the SP San Joaquin Daylight from Sacramento to Los Angeles.

Although the words are now definitely chiseled in the frieze of State Office Building #1, across 10th street from the State Capitol, are the words “Bring me Men … and now Women … to Match my Mountains”.  Since that last run April 30, 1971 the Mountains, specifically the Tehachipi Mountains, have more than matched the men.  They have stopped people from taking a single seat ride from the north to the south.

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Posted in Commentary, Issues, Reports

April 29, 2010

Dear Mr. Boardman:

Having heard no announcements regarding the proposal to introduce a daily Sunset/Eagle we conclude that negotiations are continuing with Union Pacific regarding the operating details, schedules, etc.  It seems to us that if there is capacity for a train three days a week there should be capacity daily, especially given the major investments in double tracking that UP has made over the past few years.  We hope these negotiations bear fruit in the very near future. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Commentary, Issues

National Train Day Events   April 26th, 2010

NationalTrainDayNational Train Day is approaching fast and we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some events taking place around the state on May 8, 2010!  2010 marks Amtrak’s third year celebrating America’s love of train travel.  It’s a perfect day to get your kids, family and neighbors to discover the benefits of traveling by train!

Which event will you be attending on National Train Day?  Hosting an event or want to get involved?  Let us know!

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Posted in Uncategorized

Report by Jarrod DellaChiesa, Director and Website Editor

As we all know, there are currently no funds available for new railcars.  In 2006, Californians approved the procurement of new railcars through Proposition 1B.  The budget crisis has caused the release of the Prop 1B bonds to be put on hold indefinitely.

In the midst of this, Caltrans is once again being a leader in intercity rail and is, on their own, working with Amtrak, other states, railcar builders, rail groups and riders to design the third generation of California Cars – a National standardized railcar.  This design will allow any state to purchase railcars quickly, at a lower cost and will provide railcar manufactures an incentive to tool a shop for continuous building of bi-level intercity railcars.  Since the cars are being designed now, once funds are released, a bid will be able to be sent out without further delays.  Any state will be able to add onto the car order and make any minor modifications to suit their own needs.
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Editorial By Noel T. Braymer

Transportation is second only to housing of the cost of living for most people. Flying today often means crowded planes, long waits because of annoying security searches and sudden cancellations. Rail passenger service what little there is of it is no less subject to disruption. Generally we are dependent on our cars. But driving is increasingly becoming a more expensive hassle with rising fuel prices (often caused by Wall Street speculation) high auto repair bills plus crowded and often poorly maintained roads.

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Posted in Editorials

Commentary by Paul Dyson, President

This year at Steel Wheels in California we tried a couple of innovations.  While most of the day consisted of the usual (excellent) presentations by politicians and industry professionals, we also put together a forum of passenger rail advocates from different groups to discuss High Speed Rail, and to attempt to answer the question:  “How to spend the first billion dollars?”  I had a couple of reasons for doing this.  First, however good the speakers might be we needed some variety in the format to keep the audience interested.  Second, and more important in the long run, was the thought that such a free form discussion would reveal that we have more common ground than disagreement among passenger rail advocates and that this could form the basis for united action in the future towards achieving our common goals.

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Posted in Commentary, Reports

As promised, we are providing the files presented on April 17, 2010 at Steel Wheels in California, our annual RailPAC/NARP Joint Annual Meeting.  Some files are large, so please be patient.

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Reported by David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director, CCJPA

For the first time in 13 months ridership for the Capitol Corridor increased compared to the same period in the prior year.  For March 2010 ridership increased 5.8% compared to March 2009. Most notable is this ridership reporting period included significant train service delays due to the second phase (February 22 – March 15, 2010) of the tie renewal program between San Pablo and Oakland.  While this ridership growth is welcomed, we shall continue to monitor ridership on a weekly basis.  From an initial evaluation, the greatest limitation in ridership growth is still the
on-going mandate of three (3) Friday furloughs per month for state government employees (which also impacts businesses, vendors, and service industries in the Capitol).

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Posted in Commentary

Tracking Rail News: April 2010   April 13th, 2010

Photos and Commentary by Russ Jackson

. . . On Time Performance. As usual, we start with some current facts, and then take an historical look at the Amtrak Western long distance trains. The Sunset Limited fell back slightly in March, but is still above 90% since October 1. Its companion, the Texas Eagle, also fell back to an acceptable 77%. The Southwest Chief is at 86%, the Empire Builder is 77%, the Coast Starlight is 88%, and the California Zephyr still struggles at 58% for end-point OTP. RailPAC correspondent, Ralph James, reports from Blue Canyon in the Sierra Nevada overlooking the UP main line that Zephyr #5 can be as much as 2 to 5 hours late while #6 is normally only several minutes down. Also, recent consists are back to three coaches after a few weeks running with only two. Now for history: According to the Fall, 1979, “CRC News”, the predecessor publication to this one, in “July, 1979 the OTP for the Starlight was 37.1% compared to 69.4% in July 1978; the Sunset is down from 50% to goose eggs; the Zephyr goes from a fatal 12.9 to an atrocious 33.9%.” What else is new? Read the rest of this entry »