Opinion By Noel T. Braymer 

At the end of July LA Supervisor  Michael Antonovich as Chairman of LA Metro introduced a motion which passed unanimously calling for more rail and bus connections to the regional airports in the Los Angeles area. The following are some excepts from that motion.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for July 23, 2012   July 27th, 2012

The money for construction of run-through tracks at LAUS is a BIG DEAL for RailPAC. It will cut at least 5 minutes out of the running time for trains coming and going from LAUS and greatly increase track capacity at the station which is now congested. Back in the late 1970′s there were plans to use Union Station as a massive parking lot and terminal for the Downtown People Mover which would have been an automated mostly elevated, grade-separated mini train running through downtown LA. The original plans would have made it impossible to extend the tracks over the freeway to build run-through tracks at LAUS. Heavy lobbying by what is now RailPAC lead by then President Byron Nordberg was able to reroute the People Mover so not to block future run-through tracks. The People Mover Project was finally killed by the Reagan Administration in April 1981.

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Report (with PHOTOS) and Comments by Russ Jackson

How is Train #3 doing into Los Angeles Union Station this summer? The short answer is, not bad, but with a few exceptions. On May 24, 2012, the Southwest Chief departed Chicago Union Station on time, with three non-regular consist cars on the end and Amtrak CEO, Joseph Boardman taking a long summer trip “getting out to ride the trains and visit with the (employees) who do all the things needed to serve our customers.” He rode several trains in that two-week period. How did Amtrak and the BNSF handle his Southwest Chief? It was 31 minutes late at Raton, NM, but by the time it arrived in Los Angeles it was 3 hours and 52 minutes late.

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Opinions and Facts from Noel T. Braymer

During the ongoing debate over High Speed Rail and improved rail passenger service in general such projects are generally dismissed as Boondoggles by its critics. The term Boondoggle implies something is wasteful, expensive and corrupt. The California High Speed Rail Project has gone through several evolutions and has been subject rightly to criticism. The current proposal is greatly improved over the original unrealistic proposal but will likely  see more changes for the better before it is finished. For now 12 Billion dollars is available;  2 billion from the 4.7 billion in new bond money matched with 4 billion dollars from other sources goes towards building long overdue projects that will be needed to feed or be shared with the future High Speed Rail service. The other 6 billion from Federal Funding and State Bonds will build 130 miles of new high speed tracks between Madera and Bakersfield. These new tracks will be used by San Joaquin Trains capable of 125 mile per hour by 2017 and used in the future by faster trains.

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eNewslettter for July 16, 2012   July 20th, 2012

Options dwindling to stop California’s high-speed rail project Boston Herald – Jul 11, 2012 As California secures the riches needed to start building a high-speed rail line, some longtime bitter foes of the bullet train are beginning to back off — yet from the courtroom to the boardroom, other opponents are preparing for one last shot at … This is a very informative article showing that even the UP is looking to settle to with the CHSRA to sell land needed for the project. You won’t find this article on the San Jose Mercury News website even though its reporter wrote this story. NB

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By: Dick Spotswood. Originally published in the Steel Wheels newsletter, May/June 2012.

THE DILEMMA:

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Posted in Commentary

What is Amtrak’s Problem?   July 15th, 2012

Opinion by Noel T. Braymer 

Amtrak’s problem is the same problem the railroads had for most of the 20th Century: too much overhead costs and not enough revenue. After the Civil War to just before World War I the railroads built many lines of questionable value. Local governments also often subsidized railroad construction to build in places which didn’t pay off. With government regulation the railroads had trouble eliminating money losing lines and rates were often too low to be profitable. After World War II the railroads lost many freight customers to trucking and new highways while stuck with surplus pre-war infrastructure. These problems for the railroads were greatest in the Northeast and Mid-West. This came to a head in 1970 with the bankruptcy of the PennCentral and only turned around with railroad deregulation after 1980.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for July 8, 2012   July 15th, 2012

The breakdown of the roughly $8 billion dollars pledged for rail construction from this legislation is $5.9 billion dollars for construction between Madera and Bakerfield for a new high speed railroad to be finished in 5 year. It will be use by the San Joaquin Trains by 2016. This comes with a $3.3 billion Federal grant and $2.6 billion State match from the approved sale of State Bonds. An additional $2.1 billion dollars from bond funding is for local projects including money for electrification of Caltrain, car order for BART, subway construction for Muni, as well as money for ACE improvement with an extension to Merced and $500 million in Southern California for track improvements between Anaheim and Palmdale. NB

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Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

A major reason for reorganizing LOSSAN from a Joint Powers Agency into a Joint Powers Authority is to make it possible for it to take over management of the Pacific Surfliners. Much of this is modeled after the arrangement  the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority has over the operation of the Capitol Corridor trains. The general assumption is that the new LOSSAN JPA will continue to contract with Amtrak to operate the trains. But before doing that it would be a wise to look at other possibly better alternatives.

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RailPAC welcomes Bob Hope Airport Transit Center – calls for improved Metrolink service to make it work

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