Monthly Archives

December 2011

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for December 26, 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.

December 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 December 12, 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.

December 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

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for December 5, 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

December 5, 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 December 19, 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

December 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

 

 

 

 

 

Reports

Coast Daylight/CRCC Policy Meeting Report

By Bruce Jenkins, RailPAC Director

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

The foremost concern now is to achieve a satisfactory capacity model. The initial capacity modeling resulted in unrealistic and unobtainable scheduling. The Coast Route remains a strategic line for Union Pacific freight operations, e.g., overflow traffic from the Tehachipi Route and growing local volume. The UP maintains that a single passenger train consumes the eguivalent of 2 to 4 freight train slots.

CRCC raised three main points of the modeling:
a) There are an unreasonable high number of freight trains assumed.
b) The modeling results can’t be verified.
c) The necessity of including projects south of San Luis Obispo (SLO) and north of SanJose (SJC) is unclear and unjustified.

UP responded :
a) The rail assets must earn a fair return for stockholders.
b) The high number of freight trains (20 trains/day) in the model include trains to east Oakland (Elmhurst), and 17.3 freight trains per day operate on the same tracks as the proposed Daylight.
c) The schedule can be modified and run again.
d) Model times can be set at SLO and SJC for the next run.
e) It is expected additional passenger operations would contribute to Positve Train Control (PTC).

CRCC will continue to refine the schedule working in good faith with UP, Caltrans Division of Rail (DoR), and Amtrak. An AdHoc committee was formed to continue to resolve issues and work out compatible parameters to acheive a working model.

The following schedule was approved by the Technical Committee for the next model run (read down):

Southbound / Northbound
Proposed to dpt SJC 07:55/ dpt LAUS 07:30 (existing train#799)
Proposed to ar SLO 13:20/ ar SLO 13:00 (12/1/11 sched change)
Now dpt SLO 13:35 (12/1/11 sched change)/ Proposed to dpt SLO 13:20/
Now ar LAUS 19:15 (existing train#798)/ Proposed to ar SJC 18:10

The proposed schedule is intended to blend with the existing service south of SLO. UP has stated that rerunning the model at different schedule times and stops will likely result in little change to their findings. They have also stated that a functioning model run must be completed before they will negotiate access rights for a “train slot”. Therefore the next model run must be completed as soon as possible so that the required capital projects can be indentified and and built.

(Editor’s note: the estimated startup date of the Coast Daylight is now in 2015.)

UP is doing major track work (welded rail, ties etc) Camarillo to SLO and will include CTC. Jonathon Hutchison of Amtrak reported that this work will require Coast Starlight #14 to be be routed over Tehachapi on February 1st thru the 8th.

Christina Watson of TAMC reported that TAMC has recieved funding and the right of way for a future commute train from Salinas to San Jose.

Reports

Southwest Chief and the snow delays

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.

A positive for Amtrak in this holiday season is the availability of extra coaches. The Chief is carrying four this week. Too bad extra sleepers aren’t available to add high revenue space to the trains. We know the demand is there.

Train 3 that departed Los Angeles Union Station on Sunday night, December 18, was hit the hardest, arriving in Chicago’s Union Station at 2:08 AM on the 21st, well past its scheduled arrival time of 3:15 PM on the 20th, the previous day. Below is a chronology of how it kept getting later and later. The trainset was due to turn around and depart Chicago that afternoon at 3:00. The turnaround maintenance was performed by the crew that came in the next morning in addition to their other duties, and the train left CUS 2:44 late.

Additional delays to the #4 that departed Los Angeles on the 19th were mechanical as well as weather-related, and an extra BNSF freight locomotive had to be added at Gallup, NM. Train 4 that departed LAX the night before had to add one at Newton, KS. Notice the delays crossing Raton Pass below were not too bad, but then they got to La Junta, CO (LAJ) where the storm was the fiercest. Northeast New Mexico out into western Kansas was hit very hard, with Interstate highways 25, 40, and 70 shut down for periods due to whiteouts. Amtrak got through each day!

Chart courtesy Amtrak Status Maps. You can always check the progress of ALL Amtrak trains on that site, http://www.dixielandsoftware.com/Amtrak/status/StatusMaps/

* Train 4 of 12/18/2011.
* Southwest Chief

* +—————- Station code
* | +———– Schedule Arrival Day
* | | +——– Schedule Arrival time
* | | | +—– Schedule Departure Day
* | | | | +– Schedule Departure Time
* | | | | | +————- Actual Arrival Time
* | | | | | | +——- Actual Departure Time

* LAX * * 1 615P * 615P Departed: on time.
* FUL * * 1 650P * 651P Departed: 1 minute late.
* RIV * * 1 733P * 746P Departed: 13 minutes late.
* SNB * * 1 759P * 809P Departed: 10 minutes late.
* VRV * * 1 910P * 911P Departed: 1 minute late.
* BAR * * 1 956P * 956P Departed: on time.
* NDL * * 2 1223A * 1229A Departed: 6 minutes late.
* KNG 2 223A 2 233A 246A 252A Departed: 19 minutes late.
* WMJ * * 2 450A * 509A Departed: 19 minutes late.
* FLG 2 536A 2 541A 545A 553A Departed: 12 minutes late.
* WLO * * 2 639A * 649A Departed: 10 minutes late.
* GLP * * 2 821A * 835A Departed: 14 minutes late.
* ABQ 2 1142A 2 1210P 1104A 1210P Departed: on time.
* LMY * * 2 117P * 140P Departed: 23 minutes late.
* LSV * * 2 303P * 421P Departed: 1 hour and 18 min late.
* RAT * * 2 450P * 643P Departed: 1 hour and 53 min late.
* TRI * * 2 549P * 755P Departed: 2 hours and 6 min late.
* LAJ 2 731P 2 741P 934P 946P Departed: 2 hours and 5 min late.
* LMR * * 2 840P * 256A Departed: 6 hours and 16 min late.
* GCK * * 2 1117P * 624A Departed: 7 hours and 7 min late.
* DDG 3 1212A 3 1227A 727A 740A Departed: 7 hours and 13 min late.
* HUT * * 3 219A * 1026A Departed: 8 hours and 7 min late.
* NEW 3 255A 3 259A 1106A 1230P Departed: 9 hours and 31 min late.
* TOP * * 3 518A * 312P Departed: 9 hours and 54 min late.
* LRC * * 3 547A * 341P Departed: 9 hours and 54 min late.
* KCY 3 724A 3 743A 448P 513P Departed: 9 hours and 30 min late.
* LAP * * 3 955A * 824P Departed: 10 hours and 29 min late.
* FMD * * 3 1109A * 955P Departed: 10 hours and 46 min late.
* GBB * * 3 1208P * 1112P Departed: 11 hours and 4 min late.
* PCT * * 3 1258P * 1209A Departed: 11 hours and 11 min late.
* MDT * * 3 119P * 1237A Departed: 11 hours and 18 min late.
* NPV * * 3 242P * 134A Departed: 10 hours and 52 min late.
* CHI 3 315P * * 208A * Arrived: 10 hours and 53 min late.

Reports

Amtrak Advisory: Coast Starlight Train 14 and Amtrak Cascades Schedules

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:

Train 14 Operates Two Hours Later: January 3 – 30, 2012
Train 14 will depart all stations on the route approximately two hours
later than the times shown in Amtrak printed timetables. This schedule
change becomes effective with Train 14 that departs Los Angeles on
Tuesday, January 3, through its arrival in Seattle the following day.
The schedule change will remain in effect through the train’s
departure from Los Angeles on January 29 through its arrival in
Seattle on January 30, 2012.

To accommodate this schedule change, the following service adjustments
have been made:

Richmond Service: Train 14 will not stop at Richmond during this
period. Passengers may contact Amtrak for alternate schedules to and
from Richmond.
Empire Builder Connection: Train 14 will not make connections with
Empire Builder train 28.

Motorcoach Schedules: The following Thruway motorcoach schedules have
been adjusted to allow passengers to make connections with Train 14.
Salinas Motorcoaches 3514 and 3614 Oakland – San Francisco Motorcoach
6014 Emeryville – San Francisco Motorcoach 5014 Chemult Motorcoaches
6114 and 6214 Seattle Motorcoach 8914

NOTE: Thruway connections will not be available from San Jose to Santa Cruz.

Train 14 Operates Nonstop Los Angeles – Oakland: February 1 – 8, 2012

From February 1 through February 8, Train 14 will travel on an
alternate route from Los Angeles to Oakland and will not stop at any
intermediate stations. Passengers may contact Amtrak for other trains
or Thruway motorcoaches serving stations between Los Angeles to
Oakland.

Trains 508 and 1514: January 4 – 30, 2012

Train 508 Canceled: Beginning January 4 through January 30, Train 508
will be canceled. Passengers planning travel between Portland and
Seattle may make reservations aboard other Amtrak Cascades trains or
Coast Starlight Train 14. Train 1514: During this period, Amtrak
Cascades will operate a special train (Train 1514) between Portland,
Seattle and intermediate stations. Train 1514 will depart Portland at
5:15 pm and arrive at Seattle at 8:45 pm. The departure times printed
on tickets issued prior to these changes may not reflect the revised
schedules. Passengers are encouraged to confirm their departure times
prior to travel. The most up-to-date schedule and train status
information is available on Amtrak.com, the free iPhone app and at
1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

Thank you for traveling with Amtrak. We appreciate your patronage and
apologize for any inconvenience you may experience.

Thanks to RailPAC Associate Director, Ken Ruben, for providing this to us.

Commentary

We hear you, Mr. Boardman, now let’s see some Action!

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.

On December 7, 2011, a “Special employee Advisory” was published to all Amtrak employees by President Joseph Boardman. It begins, “I know that there is a feeling of uncertainty in the air for some of you, and that many of you have questions. I don’t have all the answers that many of you are seeking, but I want to tell you where the company is going….etc.” He goes on with a lengthy explanation of some of the changes he is seeking based on the Strategic Plan they published in October which calls on Amtrak to be “more bottom-line business focused.” He reported that 150 non-agreement-covered executive level people have taken the buy-out offered to help reduce costs and streamline the company’s operations, although the expertise of many of those folks is badly needed. He talks of improvements inside the Northeast Corridor, but outside of the Northeast Corridor he only speaks of cost cutting because, “Our operations outside of the NEC do not cover their basic operating costs,” so, “What should we stop doing?”

Now you can see where Fred Frailey and others like this writer heard alarm bells about the future of the long-distance trains. The Congress had just removed the provision in the Amtrak legislation that would have eliminated federal funding for the short-distance corridors. With the NEC Amtrak’s #1 priority, and these corridor trains #2, that left only the long-distance trains as the source of cutbacks when the Congress reduced Amtrak’s subsidy for the rest of this fiscal year. We all waited for the bombshell that we felt was coming.

On December 12, Trains Magazine’s veteran writer, Don Phillips, who has spoken at several RailPAC meetings in recent years, posted an intriguing article on the Trains news wire, titled, “Amtrak boss: Long-distance trains are sacrosanct.” That article, written following an “impromptu interview while touring mockups of new single-level equipment,” begins, “Amtrak President Joe Boardman says all long-distance trains will be protected as long as he is head of Amtrak, without any exceptions.” He goes on to tell Mr. Phillips, “We’re not cutting any long-distance trains…We’re not cutting any service.” Phillips then asked why he had not made such an unequivocal statement earlier when speculation was intensifying, and Mr. Boardman replied, “I’m not a bragger.” Well, knock us over with a feather. There it is. Or is it? Was this really “damage control” as some have suggested? Is he only trying to “improve his defensive game and is outright reacting to what Business and Politics and others are saying?”

Yes, Mr. Boardman has now promised that all long-distance trains will be protected as long as he is there. Yes, there is little doubt Bob Manning’s timely visit, Fred Frailey’s devastating article, Don Phillips’ interview report, and RailPAC’s long and vocal commitment to the long-distance trains were all instrumental in Boardman’s response. Maybe there was a political firestorm that descended upon the Amtrak President, but whatever happened we now have his word to rely on. We will give him the benefit of the doubt, and confidently use our tickets for our annual winter trip on the Sunset Limited. But, what happens when the Congress gets to working on the 2013 money for Amtrak? Eventually, they will have to. Will they give Amtrak what they say they “need”? Or, will another cutback be coming that will allow Mr. Boardman to throw up his hands and say “goodbye,” and/or “there’s nothing I can do now, it’s out of my hands?” You know he won’t touch the NEC or the state-supported short-distance corridor trains.

If Mr. Boardman means that the long-distance trains are “sacrosanct,” his Actions will speak louder than his words. Here’s where he could provide real assurance: 1) A contract to get the Sunset Limited daily; 2) A contract for purchase OR LEASE of new bi-level cars for the western long-distance trains; 3) A contract for continuance of the Southwest Chief on the current historic route; and 4) a realistic commitment to funding improvements to the quality of service and for GROWTH through added capacity. Then he should BE a “bragger,” telling the world how great passenger rail is through his company. In his interview with Don Phillips, Mr. Boardman said he is looking for ways to finance other equipment beyond the ones already announced, but “cannot yet announce any other purchases.” Let’s see that happen soon!

If we were instrumental in “saving the system” again, let’s be smug and proud, but skeptical. We have worked how long, only 30 plus years to get Amtrak to do what they should have been doing all along? Thank you to all who participated in this “victory,” if it does indeed prove to be one. Now let’s get back to work.

Commentary

RailPAC’s Bob Manning Goes to Washington, Meets with Senator Boxer and others!

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:

The Sunset Limited operates three days a week – two nights to reach its destination. This exemplifies Amtrak’s worst financially performing train. Federal Legislation requires Amtrak to improve its lowest performing trains. As a result Amtrak completed an internal on how to best improve the fabled Sunset Limited. The study clearly simply revealed that if this train operated daily, it would be one of the best financially performing trains.

Apparently Amtrak took the case to the Union Pacific Railroad. It was told the cost would be approximately $760 million plus, to operate four more daily passenger trains. Unfortunately, the Sunset Limited operates almost 80% on the line owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. As a result nothing has happened.

Recently Amtrak CEO, Joe Boardman, stated that the BNSF Railroad, over which the Southwest Chief operates most of its route, does an excellent job. It appears too good! Amtrak pays BNSF an on time bonus, causing Southwest Chief to become a very expensive train to operate, and one of the first trains to be eliminated. According to Mr. Boardman, this cancellation would occur if Congress does not approve full funding as requested by Amtrak. You can bet full funding will not happen. At this point I will refrain from comment as to why Amtrak does not have any Western representation on the Amtrak Board of Directors.

Another problem: The Western Long Distance trains are aging and no new ones have been ordered. Yet, new passenger cars were ordered for the Eastern trains. It appears the Western part of our country is being ignored. Therefore, it was decided to bring this information to the attention of some members of our California Congressional delegation, along with Amtrak senior management.

My colleague and friend Greg Pettis, a Cathedral City, CA Councilman and current Chair for the Riverside County Transportation Commission, and I arrived in Washington, DC on Sunday, October l6, 2011. Co-incidentally, we landed at Baltimore Washington International Airport just as Rail Volution 2011, a huge event, attended by politicians, decision makers, business leaders was getting started. An event committed to creating transit for livable communities. Subsequently, I was fortunate to attend several compelling conferences dealing with transit planned communities, as described below.

Gregg and I met with Joe McHugh Amtrak Vice President of Government Affairs & Corporate Communications. He expressed concern regarding the overall situation of Amtrak funding, given the financial situation in Congress.

Joe was very supportive of the issues facing the West, especially California. He discussed the various issues endeavoring to satisfy our concerns, but he pretty much indicated a stalemate existed with Sunset Limited and the Union Pacific Railroad. He was very interested in a new corridor train from Los Angeles to Palm Springs/Indio, and wanted to work with us to achieve this goal.

Mr. McHugh stated that he and Steven Gardner Amtrak Vice President of Policy & Development would be in Orange County, California the following week to address the LOSSAN Board of Directors. LOSSAN was forming a new Joint Powers Agreement and the meeting with the LOSSAN Board by Amtrak was to clearly demonstrate that Amtrak would remain a strong partner in California passenger rail service.

I had a separate meeting with Emmett Fremaux Amtrak Vice President, Marketing & Product Management. We talked at length regarding the new proposed passenger train from Los Angeles to Palm Springs and Indio. I indicated that we could possibly showcase this service by providing a demonstration weekend train for the Coachella Fest 2012 weekend. Emmett was truly enthused about this prospect after a very informative discussion. He immediately authorized his staff to initiate the process so the demo-weekend train would happen.

I was delighted to meet with Matthew Nelson, Legislative Assistant for US Senator Dianne Feinstein. Our talk also concerned the Western long distance trains, the proposed new passenger service between Los Angeles to Palm Springs/Indio and of course the Sunset Limited.

Matthew knew that the Sunset Limited was at the bottom of the financial heap of long distance trains, and asked how to deal with it. I explained that the Sunset Limited only runs thrice weekly, and that if it were a daily train according to Amtrak’s internal study, this train would become one of the top performing trains. I also advised that the Union Pacific Railroad wanted to charge Amtrak 760 million plus dollars to run four additional trains a week. Keep in mind that about 80% of the route of the Sunset Limited runs over the tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad.

Mr. Nelson stated that Senator Feinstein is very supportive of passenger rail in general and especially for California. He asked that I keep the Senator’s office informed regarding passenger rail issues, which I plan to do.

I was fortunate to have my picture taken with Senator Boxer, and then the Senator’s Legislative Aide Kyle Chapman took another picture with my phone camera.

Next: my visit with Senator Barbara Boxer and her Legislative Assistant, Lynn Abramson. Meanwhile, Senator McCain offered Amendment No.739 which according to the National Association of Railroad Passengers could have a detrimental effect on public transportation. (NARP E-mail by Ross Capon Wednesday, October 19, 2011). Senator Boxer offered a counter amendment and immediately went to the Senate chamber for Senate discussion and vote.

At the same time, I was in a detailed discussion with Lynn Abramson, pointing out the current situation with the Sunset Limited, and the uncertain future of Western long distance trains. Lynn was deeply interested as I explained the problems we are facing regarding the daily train from Los Angeles to Palm Springs/Indio. Lynn asked that we keep her office and Senator Boxer’s up to date on the situation. Lynn re-emphasized that the Senator remains supportive of passenger rail in California. After this lengthy, frank discussion, I went to the Senate Gallery. Here I watched first hand as Senator Boxer spoke to the members of the Senate regarding the counter amendment. Then a vote was taken. Senator Boxer prevailed. Witnessing our government in action is a profound experience.

Our special thanks to Senator Boxer and her staff for the ongoing support of passenger rail in general. I must also add that Mr. Alton Garrett, the local senior staffer for Senator Boxer has been vital in assisting our efforts. Alton is very easy to work with and very down to earth.

On another front Greg Pettis had positive meetings with the staffs of Congressmen Mica, Gus Billirakis, Raul Grijalva, and very assuring talks with staff members of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Greg was non committal in his meeting with Frank Cullen, chief of Staff of Congresswoman Mary Bono-Mack, who represents the 45th California Congressional District which includes the greater Coachella Valley area.

It does make a difference to visit members of Congress with an educational theme. That’s what we do and that is what we are all about. We can make a difference.

Editorials

How High Speed Rail is like Rail Rapid Transit

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.

In 1981 San Diego opened the first leg of its San Diego Trolley service. For many people this changed everything: it certainly did for me. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and I and a small group of advocates started promoting Light Rail between Long Beach and Los Angeles to be built in time for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. The San Diego Trolley had been built for 86 million dollars in 1981 in a short period of time and we hoped to replicate the Trolley’s success using the existing Pacific Electric right of way. At the Los Angeles Caltrans Office planners wrote a feasibility study on how this could be done with a bare bones single track service like San Diego’s and proposed using Washington Blvd and Flower Street in Los Angeles to get trains from the P.E. to the west side of downtown Los Angeles at 7th Street. One of these Caltrans planners got a meeting with then Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor member Kenny Hahn who’s District would be served most by a Long Beach to Los Angeles Light Rail line. Kenny Hahn who remembered the Pacfic Electric Trains was won over to the project which was the turning point to getting Los Angeles County to adopt the project soon named the Blue Line.

The then Los Angeles County Transportation Commission now found itself with a project to build Light Rail between Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Commission was a fairly new organization with a small staff and the job of overseeing the road and transit services of the county. One thing the Commission was sure about was it didn’t want to give Caltran responsibility for this or any transit project. Caltrans was a very unpopular state agency with local governments  in the 1970’s. The Commission awarded a contract to a major consulting firm to write a new feasibility study which took about a year to do. Other than being on better paper, in color and more expensive it mostly replicated the work Caltrans had done. But now the project was fully double tracked and much more expensive with several grade separations. This pushed back completion of this project to 1990. At the same time the RTD or Los Angeles County Rapid Transit District was working to secure Federal funding and start work on the first leg in downtown Los Angeles for the subway which would go from Union Station to North Hollywood. Many people supporting the subway didn’t like the LA-Long Beach project which they saw as competing for funding and attention from their dream of county wide Rail Rapid Transit.

Well the Blue Line was finished first before the first leg of the subway. Ridership for the Blue Line exceeded projections and the service was popular. Because of this the decision was made to put Light Rail on a transitway to be built in the Century Freeway just starting construction. During this time early ridership of the subway was below projections  plus construction and accidents in construction were very disruptive particularly in Hollywood. The high cost of subway construction sucked up most of the available money for rail transit and delayed many future projects. The Green Line which was mostly built in the Century Freeway was expected by many “experts” to be a disaster with few people riding it. Again ridership exceeded projections with many passengers transferring to the Blue Line. Also interesting and unexpected by the RTD was that a significant number of people were transferring to the subway from the Blue Line. This grew after the Green Line was opened. Instead of hurting the subway Red Line, the Light Rail Lines where a major factor in feeding traffic to it.

Another factor the Rapid Transit believers didn’t expect was the creation of Metrolink. This grew out of the success of rail service on the state supported Amtrak trains between San Diego and Los Angeles. Many of the routes planned in the 1960’s for Rapid Transit in the Los Angeles region were finally being served by Metrolink. Using existing resources Metrolink service was much cheaper to build than Rapid Transit and ridership grew.

What does this have to do with High Speed Rail? Like the original planning for Rail Rapid Transit, most of the estimates for High Speed Rail are very expensive and the ridership projections attacked as unrealistic. Also like Rail Rapid Transit most of the planning for High Speed Rail has largely ignored connections with other services and had no desire to share trackage or facilities with other rail services. Modern Light Rail started in Frankfurt, Germany. In the 1950’s as Germany was recovering from the destruction of World War II, Frankfurt was working on what to do about transit. The city did a study looking at either building a Rail Rapid Transit system, a Monorail system or upgrading the existing Streetcar system. The study discovered that upgrading the Streetcar system was not only cheaper to do, but would attract more riders and allow faster trip times for most riders. The reason for this was by using a larger network with the old Streetcar lines passengers would have more direct service and save time because they wouldn’t have to transfer as much. Despite higher speeds the increased need to transfer with Rapid Transit or Monorails meant trip times were often longer. Frankfurt built miles of subway tunnels and upgraded the rights of ways and bought larger and more modern trains for their new Light Rail system. Over the years Frankfurt and other cities have evolved their rail service building incrementally a fast and extensive transportation network. Much can be learned about creating a rail service based on the experiences of Frankfurt.