eNewsletter for December 26, 2011   December 30th, 2011

Speed is attractive on any travel mode. Higher speeds can lead to greater productivity. But ridership is also determined by other factors such as price, comfort, safety, convenience and the number of markets served. Speed can be very expensive which can make the price of the service uncompetitive. By-passing towns to improve running times will also reduce the number of markets served unless there are good connecting services to express train which the TGV trains have.

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Posted in eNewsletter

eNewsletter for December 12, 2011   December 29th, 2011

This is from testimony by retired Republican Congressman and current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood given on December 6th before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. It didn’t get much media coverage… The effort to derail the California HSR Project is part of a larger partisan effort to derail the presidency of President Obama by giving him a “defeat”. At stake is more than the California HSR Project but also funding for most infrastructure improvements for passenger rail service.

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Posted in eNewsletter

eNewsletter for December 5, 2011   December 29th, 2011

Total public spending on transport and water infrastructure has fallen steadily since the 1960s and now stands at 2.4% of GDP. Europe, by contrast, invests 5% of GDP in its infrastructure, while China is racing into the future at 9%. America’s spending as a share of GDP has not come close to European levels for over 50 years. Over that time funds for both capital investments and operations and maintenance have steadily dropped

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Posted in eNewsletter

eNewsletter for December 19, 2011   December 22nd, 2011

Duh, they are just now noticing that building a 220 miles per hour railroad is expensive? While speeds of up to 220 miles per hour is a reasonable long term goal, first we need to look at getting service up to 125 miles per hour in California in the near future. Full funding won’t be available for 220 miles per hour construction until the public can ride improved service so they will demand more. Getting 110-125 miles per hour in the whole San Joaquin Valley, on the Peninsula and in Los Angeles/Orange County will start the ball rolling for future High Speed Rail. We will soon have the cars and locomotives to go 125 miles per hour, but what’s the point if we don’t have the railroads for that. NB

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Posted in eNewsletter

By Bruce Jenkins, RailPAC Director

The Coast Rail Coordinating Council (Coast Daylight) held it’s Policy Meeting on Friday, Dec. 16th in Monterey.

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Posted in Reports

Southwest Chief and the snow delays   December 22nd, 2011

Report by Russ Jackson, RailPAC

The first major snow storm of the winter affected Amtrak trains 3 and 4, the Southwest Chief starting December 19, and is still affecting the train’s on time performance as of this writing. As the winter progresses we will see how prepared this season the Amtrak system is for this year’s inevitable weather problems, but this storm showed two regular, continuing flaws: locomotive failure problems and yard turnaround problems. This first storm showed fast recovery on both issues, and hard work keeping the trains running out on the road.

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Posted in Reports

From Amtrak.com 12/19/11:

Coast Starlight Train 14 and Amtrak Cascades Trains 508 and 1514:
Track Work Affects Schedules and Service

Effective January 3 through February 8, 2012

Track work being performed by Union Pacific Railroad will affect the
northbound Coast Starlight and Amtrak Cascades on select dates, as
described below:

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Posted in Reports

Commentary by Russ Jackson, RailPAC

There has been much discussion in the past month or so about the immediate fate of the Amtrak long-distance trains. This writer provided his share of the verbiage in an article posted on www.railpac.org, titled “Amtrak long distance trains, the kinda good, the pretty bad, the really ugly,” which explained what was going on as of that time. That article was inspired by several sources, the work of Trains Magazine’s excellent writer Fred Frailey, who stirred up the rail advocacy community; by RailPAC Executive VP Bob Manning’s very successful trip to Washington, DC, and his personal visit with Senator Barbara Boxer among many others (his report is also on the website); and by RailPAC’s long commitment to the preservation of the long-distance trains as a needed economic part of the passenger rail transportation system in the country.

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Posted in Commentary

Report and Photo provided by Robert Manning, RailPAC Executive VP

Often we complain about things but fail to correct the problem. Yes, I’m referring to the underserved passenger train service in the west. This conveys the sad possibility that some service may be cut while we are attempting to inaugurate daily service between Los Angeles to Palm Springs and Indio California. It’s a simple fact that we have major problems. The Sunset Limited may be eliminated along with other trains such as the Southwest Chief. Here is why:

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Posted in Commentary

Opinion of Noel T. Braymer

I grew up in Orange County in the 1960′s. In Orange County all the TV stations were in Los Angeles and my family subscribed to a local newspaper and the Los Angeles Times. Even as a child I followed the news and read the newspapers. I remember all through out the 60′s and 70′s Los Angeles every few years would propose a new “Rapid Transit” rail system which after months of publicity and criticism would die out until the next attempt was made. The proposed projects were usually fully grade separated and while they might share existing rights of ways including rail ROW no attempt was made of using the existing railroads. These projects were very expensive and often got the support of major construction companies and Labor Unions. The proposed cost and the questions about ridership usually shot these projects down. Finally in the late 1970′s Los Angeles concentrated on just building a Wilshire Subway by applying for a Federal Grant instead of depending on voter approval for a county wide system. In the early 1980′s the voters of Los Angeles County approved the first sales tax increase for improvement of all forms of transportation not just for rail transit.

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Posted in Editorials