Here are some excerpts from a report from October 26, 2012 by Stacey Mortensen and Dan Leavitt of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission. This report makes very clear that the San Joaquin Trains will continue to run on the BNSF with possible additional stops after 2020  with express trains using the new HSR tracks. It is unclear if there will be joint stations between services at Bakersfield, Hanford, Fresno and Merced after 2020. There is planning  for expanded connecting ACE service and improved direct service to Sacramento  after 2020. Nothing was  said about future improvements for  the feeder bus services to the Valley or faster bus service to connect with express trains. With the updating for the State Rail Plan by Caltrans now underway it is critical to know what is in the works and to insure good connections are planned.

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Posted in Editorials, Reports

Report and Photos by Noel T. Braymer

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them

I woke up early on December 21st and noticed that the world hadn’t ended so I decided that it was good day to go for a train ride. I arrived at my local station in Oceanside for the 7:35 AM departure of Metrolink 850 to Riverside. I like this train because I can sleep later than the trains going directly to Los Angeles for the morning commute and I can also use it to go to Riverside or make a connection to San Bernardino. The 850 is never crowded and I think that is because few know about the connections with this train. Metrolink doesn’t recognize the connections on its web site or when buying tickets. I’d like to see all  Metrolink trains from Oceanside connect with Coaster Trains and in Orange County connect to Inland Empire Metrolink trains.  This would boost ridership and increase the places you can go by train at little extra cost.

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eNewsletter for December 24, 2012   December 28th, 2012

There are 3 potential LAX Light Rail Station sites being considered. One is a possible subway station at the airport terminal area, the second at Lot C on the east side of Sepulveda Blvd as part of a larger transportation center and the third along the old Santa Fe Harbor Right of Way (seen as the green dotted line) near Century Blvd which is the road into the airport. All three station sites would be connected to an airport people mover to get passengers to all terminals.The red line shows the route of the people mover the airport authority is planning to build.

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eNewsletter for December 17, 2012   December 22nd, 2012

Buying 40 ACELA cars as a small stand alone order was uneconomical from the start and that plan should never had gotten this far. If the ACELA is “profitable” as Amtrak claims, then shouldn’t those “profits” finance the purchase of these new cars? Again Amtrak is ignoring the most crowded trains on its system with the highest fares which are the Long Distance Trains particularly on the Sleepers. With the Bi-level car order in place for regional corridor service, Amtrak could still get a good deal on new cars to add sleepers and coaches with this order on the Long Distance Superliner Trains. Adding 1 or 2 sleepers and coaches to existing trains would greatly increase the revenue from the Superliner Trains. The added revenues can be used to finance leasing for the new cars. This is how most commercial transportation finance new equipment. NB

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2012: A look Back in Pictures   December 22nd, 2012

Edited by Noel T. Braymer

Much happened with rail service in California and the best way to show it is to look back with photos. To enlarge a picture place cursor over the picture and left click with mouse.

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Why Not Lease the Coast Line?   December 15th, 2012

Opinion and Photos by Noel T. Braymer

Amtrak is leasing for at least the next 25 years 95 miles of railroad from the CSX of the Empire Corridor in upstate New York. The reasons for doing this are so Amtrak can dispatch their train to improve their on-time performance and have a free hand in installing up to 191 million dollars in track improvements mostly from Federal Grant monies. Why can’t California get a deal like this? Where such an arrangement is most needed in California is on the roughly 360 miles of the Coast Line between Ventura County and San Jose. There is a large potential market along the coast of California for more Rail Passenger service but progress expanding service has been very slow. The root of the problem stems from resistance from the owner; the Union Pacific Railroad which has made it clear its management isn’t interested in Rail Passenger service.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for December 10, 2012   December 15th, 2012

Rumor has it? Back in 2011 Amtrak announced its intentions to buy 40 additional ACELA cars to add capacity to the ACELA Trains on the NEC. There was no discussion of “off the shelf” cars or a larger car order with economies of scale for cars to be used on other services besides ACELA. Since the ACELA cars were a one of a kind order and no longer in production start up of such a small order would be expensive. There are now unconfirmed reports on the Web that plans for more ACELA cars has been cancelled.

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Report by Noel T. Braymer with illustrations from LA METRO

Los Angeles County has two major Light Rail extensions under construction now that are planned to be finished by 2015 which will be added to its existing 87.8 miles of rail transit. There is the 6.6 mile extension of the Expo Line using an old PE ROW which will connect Santa Monica at Culver City to downtown Los Angeles at a cost of $1.5 Billion Dollars. This will connect with the existing 8.6 miles Expo Line which opened in April 2012. The other project now under construction is a $735 million dollar, 11 mile extension of the Gold Line from eastern Pasadena further east in the San Gabriel Valley to Azusa on the old Santa Fe Line between Pasadena and San Bernardino. This is the first of 3 segment with the next planned to continue past Azusa to Montclair at the Los Angeles/San Bernardino Counties Border. Ultimate plans are to extend the Gold Line to Ontario Airport in San Bernardino County.

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Posted in Commentary, Editorials

eNewsletter for December 3, 2012   December 8th, 2012

The following is from the 276 page Environmental Report from Caltrans NB San Joaquin Corridor Programmatic Environmental Impact Report – 2035 Vision – Project Description — Page 26 Attachment 1 Caltrans envisions that the intercity system, including the bus feeder system, will serve as a feeder system to the high-speed rail system, much like the feeder buses serve the intercity rail passenger system. Pass… Because the High Speed Rail system has not yet been clearly defined, the exact manner and location of specific connections has not yet been determined,… In other words no one has planned on joint stations NB

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The Mission of LOSSAN   December 2nd, 2012

Analysis and Photos by Noel T. Braymer

LOSSAN started out as a loose coalition, a network really of local elected officials, mostly city council members and mayors along the route of the San Diegans in the early 1980′s. Most of these elected officials were from cities that had or were planning to build or improve stations in their towns served by the San Diegans. Two issues which drove the networking were plans by Amtrak to turn an existing train into an express which meant a loss of service for several cities. The other issue was a proposed “Bullet Train” that would have been built between San Diego, Los Angeles and LAX. This scheme was also done without consulting local officials or thought given to how this “Bullet Train” would serve places it went through but didn’t stop at. The express San Diegan was a flop and the Bullet Train scheme died for lack of support.

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Posted in Editorials