August 25 Meeting Report by Bill Kerby, RailPAC Treasurer

Public comments, invited by the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) Board at the opening of the meeting August 25, 2011, lasted about a half hour with two minute presentations: hiring opportunities for small businesses; environmental justice; support for HSRA recommended route alignments; and one instance where an individual engaged in self promotion for employment. Planners and business owners weighed in on alignment A2 through Fresno arguing that tracks will divide the communities on this route.

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Posted in Reports

Recently the RailPAC website published four “theories” of how the July accident between a truck and Amtrak’s California Zephyr in the Nevada desert east of Reno might have happened (posted July 15, 2011). We asked Jason Brown, a commercial trucker, for his opinion on the events surrounding that crash.

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Posted in Commentary

eNewslsetter for August 22, 2011   August 24th, 2011

I led a student Rail Study Trip to China last March and we covered most of the new CRH lines; we rode part of the new Shanghai-Beijing line (not then fully opened), and the entire Wuhan-Guangzhou line at 350 kph.  Most impressive.  We also rode the new coastal line from Fuzhou to Shanghai. The recent accident occurred on the latter line, which IS NOT one of the super high-speed lines, with top speeds of only 200-kph, and the equipment involved was the older, fast train equipment that is used on many D-class trains on conventional rail lines in China.  That equipment has never impressed me from a ride quality standpoint.  It was not the velvet smooth G-class equipment, of various designs,  found on the true CRH lines.   Still, a signal failure is just that, and the political fallout in China has been enormous, even if much of the press coverage has been just plain wrong.    August 22, 2011

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Posted in eNewsletter

Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

Building run-through tracks at Union Station to eliminate the need to back trains in or out of the station is a long held dream. This will be critical for High Speed Rail service for travels from Orange County to points north of Los  Angeles. Construction is now underway to put back 3 former station tracks into service which are needed before construction of run-through tracks can begin. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Editorials

Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

The California High Speed Rail Authority is now planning to run the shortest economically viable segment for an initial start up service rather than wait to have the entire phase I line running from Anaheim to San Francisco. This is a good idea to get revenue and let people see the service in operation which will increase support for expanding High Speed Rail service in the state. The Authority is now looking at 3 possible routes for this initial service: San Jose to Bakersfield, Merced to the San Fernando Valley and Merced to Palmdale. My recommendation is the later, Merced to Palmdale. There is a market of 22 million people south of Bakersfield compared with 6 million in the Bay Area. Also Palmdale is less distant and will be cheaper than going to San Fernando. But such a service can still serve most of California.  Many High Speed Rail services such as the TGV in France and ICE in Germany run trains on both dedicated high speed tracks as well as the old conventional tracks. Even Europe still has grade crossing and high speed trains run on tracks with them. French TGV trains have even been in accidents at grade crossings.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for August 15, 2011   August 17th, 2011

Mr. Fenton, CEO of Metrolink is working to expand the market for Rail Passenger service and is talking about better connections and faster service on Metrolink trains with speeds over 100 miles per hour. One of the markets he talks about for faster speed is the Antelope Valley where Palmdale is. Much is being looked at that the interview doesn’t cover including better coordination between Amtrak, Metrolink and Coaster. There is discussion of  some Coaster Trains extending north as far as Fullerton and reducing the number of Amtrak stops on the Surfliners but having connections to all stations for Amtrak with Metrolink and Coaster. NB

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Posted in eNewsletter

eNewsletter for August 8, 2011   August 10th, 2011

We could see in the next 3 years 3 more round trips between Fullerton and Laguna Niguel/ Mission Viejo, 3 more round trips between Oceanside and San Diego, and an additional round trip between Los Angeles and San Diego. There will be additional double tracking in San Diego County, more triple tracking between Fullerton and Los Angeles and a local Santa Barbara commuter train likely by 2014. August 8, 2011

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Posted in eNewsletter

Report and Photos by Russ Jackson, Dallas

As relief from the heavy rail news, all the local and national budget crises, and the summer Amtrak train-delaying floods and heat, there was good rail news: the June 18 startup of the “A Train” (to the appropriate tune) commuter rail line operated by the line owner Denton County Transit Authority here in Texas. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Rail Photos, Reports

eNewsletter for August 1, 2011   August 4th, 2011

We got your email on what our readers thinks should be done with the California High Speed Rail Project. The questions were: Cancel the project, give back the Federal money and what would be your alternative ? Keep the project the way it is ? Where would you build first outside of the San Joaquin Valley , to San Jose or Palmdale ? Do you think there are ways to save money on the High Speed Project, if so how ? August 1, 2011

Posted in eNewsletter