Monthly Archives

September 2011

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for September 26, 2011

More rail service could spring from new agency
SignOnSanDiego.com – Sep 23, 2011
The San Diego-LA-San Luis Obisbo rail corridor — known as LOSSAN to officials … no farther than Northern California for a role model: the Capitol Corridor …

September 26, 2011

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and  you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like an emailed copy of this enewsletter or to subscribe to it email nbraymer@railpac.org

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for September 19, 2011

Suit in fatal NV Amtrak crash says door locked
San Jose Mercury News – Sept 15, 2011
Another lawsuit filed against Amtrak in the fatal crash with a truck in Nevada this summer blames a locked door on the train for making the disaster worse …

September 19, 2011

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and  you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like an emailed copy of this enewsletter or to subscribe to it email nbraymer@railpac.org

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for September 12, 2011

There are now just 6 more grade crossings left between Los Angeles and Fullerton. Last week the final funding was approved to finish triple tracking between Los Angeles and Fullerton. These project don’t just help passenger rail service. They insure that freight service isn’t effected by passenger trains, they eliminate traffic back up at crossings, and both freight and passenger rail service relieve highway traffic and give alternatives when there are problems on the freeway. There are many more needed project like this one and they need funding.

September 12, 2011

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and  you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like an emailed copy of this enewsletter or to subscribe to it email nbraymer@railpac.org

Editorials

Infrastructure: Pay for it Now, or You Will Later!

Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

Most people heard about the power outage on Thursday September 8th in the San Diego area. I was caught in the middle of it. Nothing forces you to realize how much “civilized” life depends or how much we take infrastructure for granted until it fails. People couldn’t work because because they were in the dark, the computers were down as was the air conditioning. Traffic was a mess with people trying to get home and with the traffic lights out. Most stores had to close for the same reason most people couldn’t work. If you were driving the gas stations were closed because they couldn’t pump gasoline. If you were away from home you couldn’t eat because most restaurants and stores were closed. And if you had to go the bathroom where would you go? Away from home most people use gas stations and stores bathrooms. Also with pumps not running sewage in some cases was dumped in the Ocean. At the time it seemed the outage might last for days, fortunately it was only for hours.

In San Diego the Trolley was shut down because it runs on electricity. The diesel powered trains generally kept running. Most people don’t realize that railroads by law have to have battery back up power for signaling and at all grade-crossings for the flashing lights, bells and crossing gates. Failures of infrastructure is becoming more common. This is the result of aging infrastructure and Trillions of dollars of deferred maintenance and replacement.This recent power outage started in Arizona near Yuma when repair work on a major power line connected to California had a problem. This caused a domino effect which shut down power plants in California and disrupted substations to dozens of communities. We can expect more problems like this in the future. Not only is infrastructure aging faster than we are repairing it (in an effort to “save money”) but weather is taking a toll on it as well. The fact is we are seeing more heat, flooding and wind storm damage which destroys infrastructure in addition to earthquakes.

With the 10th Anniversary of the 911 attacks we are hearing more about American security. Yet we have more to worry about failures of our infrastructure than from terrorist attacks. If terrorists really wanted to damage this country they would go after our electrical system. This could be done with coordinated attacks with metallic balloons at major power lines which would short-circuit them.We need major upgrades to our infrastructure in general and to our electrical system in particular to be less vulnerable. The electrical grid needs to be less centralized so the whole system doesn’t crash because of  a local problem. We need more back up power from generators, wind, solar  and batteries. Our transportation system needs upgrading too. In Japan which after recent earthquake and Tsunami damage has lost much of its electrical production. Despite this it was found it was easier to charge electric cars in many cases at night during periods of low demand than it was to pump and transport gasoline which was disrupted after the earthquake and flooding   Recently the trains between Philadelphia and New York were down for several days recently due to flooding. With more train electrification we need to assure that the trains can run even when there are power problems. All of this will cost money. But it will not only make our lives safer, it will create jobs and increase the efficiency of the the economy which in turn will make money in the long run

Reports

Amtrak advisory, and a comment

See the special commentary at the end.

Special employee advisory
September 8, 2011

Message from Joe Boardman

Dear Co-workers,

The House Transportation Housing and Urban Development Appropriations
Subcommittee has released a proposal for FY ’12 that would significantly reduce Amtrak’s federal funding, specifically the operating support.

The proposal also prohibits the use of federal operating funds provided to Amtrak to be used for state-supported trains. If enacted by the full Congress, it would effectively eliminate nearly 150 weekday state-supported Amtrak trains and negatively impact the more than nine million passengers who ride those trains each year, and the communities they live in.

While I am intent on doing our very best to continue to carry out our mission of providing national service, the cuts in funding would mean job losses for Amtrak.

The House proposal is shortsighted and steers our national transportation policy down the wrong road. It will force states that have made decades of investment in passenger rail, and have made rail an important part of their future transportation plans, to eliminate service.

Under PRIIA, which was passed by Congress in 2008, we are already working cooperatively with our state partners to shift more of the costs of state-supported trains directly to the states.

Amtrak is part of the solution, not the problem. We’re on the verge of setting new ridership and ticket revenue records. We serve as a local and regional economic engine for communities across the country, we help relieve congestion and we help reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. And we provide 15 states — nearly half of our departures — the service they want to meet their transportation needs.

We will continue to meet with members of Congress to make our case nd explain the repercussions of this budget proposal. This is the start of the legislative process for FY ’12, but don’t expect this to be like other years in recent history. We are living in a very tough political and economic climate, and it’s going to be a challenge.

Sincerely,
Joe Boardman
President and CEO

Comment by Russ Jackson, RailPAC Associate Director This is definitely not good news for passenger rail in California and other states that support rail corridors such as Washington, Oregon, Illinois, New York, and North Carolina. With the exception of North Carolina, each of these states is considered a “blue” state. North Carolina currently has a “blue” Governor. Politics is the enemy of the continuance of government-supported passenger rail, whether it be Amtrak’s long distance trains or, as we now find, state-supported corridor trains are included. If the motivation is to get the states to contract with private operating companies instead of Amtrak, that idea has some merit. In the short run we are sadly now entering another trauma for not only Amtrak but also for passenger rail at all levels. We know much of the fault for this situation lies with Amtrak’s past refusal to actively pursue growth that would contribute to a more prosperous bottom line. The fact is we are at a point in history where the entire concept of intercity and interstate passenger, high speed or conventional rail, is facing problems beyond the squabbles of the past. While I don’t think the Congress will approve of draconian measures for passenger rail or most anything else under attack, passenger rail supporters must keep aware of the possible consequences ahead.

Reports

Train Travel; It’s the people you meet that make a difference

Report by Chuck Robuck, CCRiders

With all the BAD news we are being bombarded with these days, I thought I’d share a GOOD story with you for a change. I have long been a believer in the “Karma” and “you reap what you sow” philosophies. This week, something happened that strengthens my belief in these principles even further.

One of our long time CC Riders, Patty Atherton, was traveling on the San Joaquin train on a business trip a week or so ago. While enroute to Bakersfield, she met a gentleman and his wife who were enroute from a wedding they had attended in Washington State to Los Angeles to catch the “Southwest Chief” back to their home in New Mexico.

The man’s name is George Two Feathers Tippin and his wife’s name is Helen and they got along famously with Patty on the long trip. As George and Helen shared their stories, Patty told them about the CC Riders, and, noticing that George was very fond of pins (of which he had many on his hat), she decided to induct them both as CC Riders.

After reading them our CC Riders Philosophy and administering the Oath, she presented both with pins, which they were overjoyed to receive. Upon arrival in Bakersfield, Patty helped them with their luggage and gave George one of her business cards and told him to give her a call if they were ever in the Sacramento area. The Tippins went on their merry way to Los Angeles and eventually to their home in Capitan, New Mexico.

End of story? No, not by a long shot. A week or so later Patty received a package at her office, and enclosed was a letter from George and Helen. What a TOTAL SURPRISE! Inside were a hand-made Native American basket and two figurines. Here are some excerpts from the enclosed letter to explain:

“Dear fellow CC Rider. At the beginning we want to say how much we enjoyed your company, and thank you for all your assistance. I have the C.C. Rider pin affixed to the band on the hat, and have partied as much as one can in Capitan. Smoky sends his greetings. A word about the three enclosures (in the package).

The pine needle basket, although it looks more like a bowl, is made with the needles from the Ponderosa Pine in front of the Smokey Bear Historical Park, here in Capitan. Smokey was found as a cub clinging to a tree with burned paws after a fire in the Capitan Mountains, about 5 miles north. He was adopted by the Forest Service as the symbol for fire prevention, and spent his life in the National Zoo in Washington, living about 25 years. It is said he received so much mail the Postal Service gave him his own zip code. I understand he would wear the smoky hat and stand up but would have nothing to do with the blue jeans. When he died the remains were returned to Capitan and are buried in the Historical Park. The basket is made in the general Southwestern style. The white beads are bone and the brown beads are horn. The wooden arrow head is my way of signing the baskets.

The two little figures are made in the general Zuni style, but are not copies of any of the Zuni’s spirits. They are my design and are the spirit(s) of the C.C. Riders, — all the trains will be on time, suitcases will arrive with their owner, traveling companions will be as friendly and generous with their time as you.

May the spirit always ride with you.”

You can see a picture of George Two Feathers and the basket and figure by clicking on this link http://www.flickr.com/photos/foothillsccriders/sets/72157627471154712/show/

I wanted to share this wonderful story with all of you — it clearly demonstrates the power of kindness, karma and the CC Rider Spirit. Also, I wanted to let you know that we will be reciprocating George and Helen’s gifts by sending them a GOLDEN SPIKE signed by the CC Riders along with a PICTURE of the group.
Mr. Robuck has been a rail traveler for 11 years; he heads up the lively CCRiders group that travels daily on the Capitol Corridor between Auburn and Sacramento.

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for September 6, 2011

Prop 1A which approved up to almost 10 billion dollars in state bonds for High Speed Rail also had a provision for a Peer Review Group to oversee the project to see that it was well managed and money not wasted… This group, none of whom are paid for their services is under the leadership of former Caltrans Director and current CEO of the Orange County Transportation Authority William Kempton. In a Letter dated August 22, Mr. Kempton speaking for the Peer Review Group wrote to State Senator Simitan (D-Palo Alto) and Assemblyman Gordon (D-Menlo Park) in reply to their’s and Representative Eschoo questions about the possibility of Caltrain and HSR sharing tracks in the Bay Area Peninsula. …“For those reasons, the Group has previously recommended a “shared use” or “phased implementation” approach that is consistent with your proposal. With that said, however, the concept will have no point unless the HSRA acts to shift an appropriate amount of investment into the two end segments…”

September 6, 2011

 

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and  you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like an emailed copy of this enewsletter or to subscribe to it email nbraymer@railpac.org

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for August 29, 2011

…What is the history of rail during  major earthquakes? During the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 many buildings and several roads suffered damage. The Bay Bridge had to be shut down and a large section of viaduct for the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland was destroyed. Caltrain ran on the night of the earthquake. BART was mostly undamaged but because of electrical outages from the earthquake it wasn’t able to restart service until the next day. In the wake of the Northridge Earthquake of 1994 Highway 14 was shut down for months when the interchange with I-5 was destroyed. Other roads also suffered damage such as I-10 and Highway 118. Rail service was unaffected. In fact Metrolink was greatly expanded to help out during the emergency…

August 29, 2011

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and  you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like an emailed copy of this enewsletter or to subscribe to it email nbraymer@railpac.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reports

Some Amtrak California Zephyr Service to Resume

Trains 5 & 6 to operate between California and Colorado this weekend

Reported by Amtrak and Gene Poon

CHICAGO – Daily service by the Amtrak California Zephyr between San
Francisco Bay Area and Denver will resume this weekend, effective with
the departure of eastbound Train 6 from Emeryville, Calif., on Sept. 3,
and the westbound Train 5 from Denver on Sept. 4.

Direct train service between Denver and Chicago will continue to be
suspended between Fort Morgan, Colo., and Burlington, Iowa, until a date
to be announced later this month. The BNSF Railway Co. continues to make
repairs to massive flood damage near Omaha that had led to a detour
route resulting in lengthy delays to Amtrak service across Nebraska and
Iowa.

Amtrak service for the full California Zephyr route has been suspended
since Aug. 26, when a portion of a construction crane at a grain
elevator obstructed the BNSF Railway Co., tracks and caused an Amtrak
train to become disabled near Benkelman, Neb. That suspension allowed
Amtrak to deploy equipment and crews to resume this limited California
Zephyr service.

-Amtrak

===========================================

Comment: Some truth, some not.

The restoration of service over at least part of the route is good news.

The “detour route” around Omaha did not result in the “lengthy delays”
which can be attributed instead to extreme freight congestion over the
entire Lincoln NE-Galesburg IL route, where BNSF freight traffic that
usually uses routes now flood-damaged has been rerouted.

Although it is true that the service has been suspended since the Zephyr
was wrecked (“disabled” is such a politically correct word) at
Benkelman, the last paragraph may appear to attribute the suspension of
service to the wreck, when it was the “lengthy delays” referred to
earlier that were the real cause. The disruption in service, the second
attempt that has been made in an effort to get the delays under control,
was already planned when the Zephyr was wrecked at Benkelman.

Note: This report first appeared on Trainorders.