Report and Pictures by Noel T. Braymer

I amazed myself by getting up and out the door before 9 AM on my day off  to catch the 644 Coaster out of Oceanside at 9:22 AM. This gave me almost 4 hours in San Diego so I could still get home early enough to take care of some chores. I wanted to go to San Diego to check out the reconstruction of much of the older parts of the Trolley. Rebuilt stations will allow the use of new low level cars which will be faster to load and easier to use for people with disabilities. Everything went smoothly at Oceanside with the Coaster train waiting at the station when I got there. The equipment was clean and in good shape. It wasn’t a rush hour crowd but the train had a decent load. No wonder, the San Diego Fair runs for most of June until July 4th and the Coaster has  special fares for the Fair. On the weekends for $15 you get admission to the County Fair and round trip tickets on the Coaster with transfers which you can order online and you don’t have to pick up tickets at a station. The rest of the week with your bus or train ticket you get a $3.50 discount on admission to the Fair.

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Posted in Editorials

Enewsletter for June 25, 2012   June 29th, 2012

California bullet train faces tough vote in Senate Los Angeles Times – Jun 24, 2012 Gov. Jerry Brown is requesting $6 billion to start construction in the Central Valley, but some senators hope to distribute the funds elsewhere geographically. The issue isn’t over not spending the money, but where it will be spent. Some Democratic State Senators want most of the money to go to the urban areas instead of the San Joaquin Valley. NB

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Posted in eNewsletter

Analysis and photos by Noel T. Braymer

The California High Speed Rail Project has been a bi-partisan project  since 1996 from the very start. The High Speed Rail Authority was created by Republican Governor Pete Wilson and Republican Governor Schwarzenegger placed the Prop 1A measure on the ballot in 2008 which has the bonds central to financing this project. Transportation in general has been a bastion of bi-partisanship because almost everyone depends on good transportation and benefits from transportation spending. The current problems in the House of Representatives passing the Transportation Bill are due to the obstructionism of a minority. As a bi-partisan project there is plenty of blame to share for the problems of the California High Speed Rail Project. But what is largely overlooked are the efforts to fix the problems with the High Speed Rail Project by one powerful local Republican politician in Los Angeles County: County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

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eNewsletter for June 18, 2012   June 22nd, 2012

In order to get a time slot during morning rush hour in the opposite direction of rush hour train traffic, Caltrans and Amtrak had to borrow an existing Metrolink slot to start up service to San Luis Obispo. As part of the deal train 761 is a joint Amtrak/Metrolink train and Metrolink tickets are accepted on the train. Not only does the 761 connect with Metrolink 603 from Oceanside during the work week but also the 204 at 7:26 AM from Lancaster and the 307 at 7:20 AM from San Bernardino.

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Posted in eNewsletter

Can Metrolink be a Thruway Bus?   June 15th, 2012

Opinions by Noel T. Braymer

Train 761 is the only Amtrak Train to travel north of Los Angeles that doesn’t have either a connecting train or origination from San Diego. Train 761 travels to San Luis Obispo and has connecting Thruway Bus service there to San Jose. The plan is to extend the 761 all the way to San Francisco some time in the future. Ridership on the 761 could be better. Some think the problem is 761 leaves Los Angeles too early at 7:35 AM. Considering how crowded airports, freeways and commuter train stations are at 6 AM and earlier I have my doubts that is the problem. There is a connecting Thruway Bus that leaves Santa Ana at 5:25 AM with one stop at Fullerton which gets to Los Angeles at 6:35 AM. But from Oceanside I can catch Metrolink 603 at 5:16 AM and arrive at LAUS by 7:20 AM. I did this once and my biggest worry was arriving early enough to catch the Amtrak Train. Turned out I didn’t have to worry the two trains shared the same platform and it was a guaranteed connection. In order to get a time slot during morning rush hour in the opposite direction of rush hour train traffic, Caltrans and Amtrak had to borrow an existing Metrolink slot to start up service to San Luis Obispo. As part of the deal train 761 is a joint Amtrak/Metrolink train and Metrolink tickets are accepted on the train. Not only does the 761 connect with Metrolink 603 from Oceanside during the work week but also the 204 at 7:26 AM from Lancaster and the 307 at 7:20 AM from San Bernardino.

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eNewsletter for June 11, 2012   June 15th, 2012

The problem with overnight service on the Coast Line isn’t lack of potential riders, it is getting cooperation from the UP and equipment from Amtrak. Just trying to get the morning train to San Luis Obispo extended to San Francisco and back has been going on for over 10 years. The best solution for overnight service would be to extend the Zephyr to Los Angeles. This would only need one additional trainset and opens a new major market for the Zephyr.

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Posted in eNewsletter

Opinion By Noel T. Braymer

Recently the Los Angeles Times ran a story about a USC Dornsife Poll it helped pay for claiming that The Majority of Californians now oppose High Speed Rail and Most people want a revote on High Speed Rail. So where are the mobs of angry citizens with their torches and pitchforks marching on Sacramento to kill High Speed Rail? Just recently an effort to get a Ballot Measure to stop the High Speed Rail project failed to get even enough signatures for this year’s ballot. In Kings County, Ground Zero for opposition to the High Speed Rail Project the local paper noted the small turnout at a California High Speed Rail Authority meeting in Hanford last month. The question that is rarely bought up is who is responsible for the USC Dornife Polls which in this case the Los Angeles Times helped pay for? The man who oversees the polling is a Professor at USC named Dan Schnur also long known as a veteran California Republican Party strategist. This Poll asked many leading questions which is a common technique in Polling to get results supporting the viewpoint of the group paying for the poll. It is common to get contradictory results between different Polls on the same issue and the differences are usually based on how the questions are asked in the Polls. You can see the questions used in this poll at USC/Los Angeles Times High-Speed Rail Poll Misleads Public .

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for June 4, 2012   June 8th, 2012

It is no secret that the old low level equipment is slow getting people on and off the train and they spend a long time at stations when a crowd shows up. …If the older equipment can’t be replaced just yet, what can be done is to add some bi-level commuter cars to low level trains to allow passengers to board and deboard the train more quickly. …Currently with the new order of equipment Metrolink has surplus bi-level cars that could be added to low level trains.

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Report and Comments by Russ Jackson, RailPAC Photos!

How is Amtrak’s Sunset Limited doing since the schedule change on May 7, 2012, for the tri-weekly service which dates back to the pre-Amtrak days when the Southern Pacific reduced its departures from daily in the late 1960′s. The new schedule has train #2 depart Los Angeles Union Station at 10 PM on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. Train #1 is scheduled to arrive at LAUS at 5:35 AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Restoring connections from the Coast Starlight and the San Joaqins has been beneficial and enhanced revenue even though already nearly-sold-out trains have not resulted in consist expansion to meet increasing demand.

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Posted in Commentary

Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

The experiment with running the morning Surfliner Express from San Diego to Los Angeles isn’t going well. The train has a poor on-time record and ridership is lower than the train it replaced. What would be better is to run all Surfliners between San Diego and Los Angeles in 2 hours and 25 minutes which is 3 minutes faster than the express. This could be done with 7 stops instead of the 4 for the express. This doesn’t require running the trains any faster but spending less time stopped at the stations. If you save 2 minutes at 7 station stops that is up to 14 minutes saved on the running time. In addition if you take out some of the padding in the schedule then more time is saved. So if all the Surfliner trains are run with 7 stops which now are scheduled at 2 hours and 40, cutting out 15 minutes from the schedule is a running time of 2 hours and 25 minutes.

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Posted in Editorials