eNewsletter for August 27, 2012 August 31st, 2012
Train Stations make a major impact on a town’s development and economy. …This is the view by 2007. … The freight yard had been replaced with station/beach parking. On the right hand side a station parking structure had replaced the old World War II temporary station. On the left in the background is a new time-share resort hotel near the beach and Transportation Center. The Transportation Center is a major factor in the redevelopment of downtown Oceanside.
eNewsletter for August 20, 2012 August 24th, 2012
By extending the Green Line from Old Town past the Santa Fe Depot to the 12th and Imperial Transfer Station it be possible to travel anywhere on the Trolley with just one transfer. For many riders this is a much faster ride bypassing the slow street running on 12th and on C Street. The Blue Line is being pulled back from Old Town to the station next to the Santa Fe Depot with the Orange Line stopping at the Depot and no longer heading south of Seaport Village to terminate at 12th and Imperial.
The Good News about Passenger Trains August 24th, 2012
Opinion and photos by Noel T. Braymer
The Good News is that more towns across America are discovering the economic value of rail service and of having a train station in their communities. In the news are stories of towns along the Gulf Coast banding together to work towards restarting rail passenger service between New Orleans and Florida which was “temporarily” suspended in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. You have towns along the route of the Southwest Chief from New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas raising money to lobby and find funding to insure the the Chief can continue to run through the Raton Pass at passenger train speeds. Between Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas there are ongoing efforts to get the Heartland Flyer extended into Kansas with possible service to Kansas City, Mo and possible connections to more passenger trains. Can these efforts pay off? One need only look at the Empire Builder. The Empire Builder is already a major transportation artery in the upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Business and traffic along the Empire Builder route has been growing just in the last few years. Local weather has not been kind to to the Builder and flooding last year cast doubts if the historic route could be saved through Devils Lake and Minot in North Dakota. But local efforts of the towns on the existing route and the State of North Dakota lobbying the Federal Government has secured funding to raise the tracks and keep the Empire Builder on the existing route and less likely to be washed out by future flooding.
eNewsletter for August 13, 2012 August 18th, 2012
I can’t comment on Amtrak’s Food Service but I recommend the link to the article in this issue Amtrak food and beverage service; real facts and figures . The problem with the cost of food service is we don’t know what costs are being charged by Amtrak for it. This is a quote from The High Cost of Amtrak Accounting by Andrew C. Selden and E. P. Hamilton III printed by Passenger Train Journal, 1984. As early as 1975, the late Joseph V. McDonald, an Amtrak board member, discovered Amtrak’s route accounting was arbitrarily charging train (not service) crew costs to the Montrealer at a rate sufficient to pay for 26 enginemen and trainmen per crew, rather than the actual complement of five men. He concluded that Amtrak route accounting was arbitrary and misleading.
Commentary by Russ Jackson, RailPAC-URPA, Dallas, Texas
Four Small Projects that would Rejuvenate the Long Distance Trains. August 10th, 2012
Opinion by Noel T. Braymer
In Washington the Long Distance Trains get very little love or respect. There has been no service expansion of Long Distance Rail service since W. Graham Claytor retired as Amtrak President in 1992. In fact there is less Long Distance Rail service now than in 1992. There are no lack of worthwhile projects. These include among others a Daily Sunset, Daily Cardinal with a section to St Louis and Kansas City, the California Zephyr extended to Los Angeles overnight on the Coast, a section of the Southwest Chief to the San Joaquin Valley and San Jose, a combined new Pioneer and Desert Wind from LA to Salt Lake City and Seattle, a connection at Denver from the Zephyr to the Southwest Chief at Raton and extending rail passenger service from St. Louis- Kansas City to Omaha.
eNewsletter for August 6, 2012 August 10th, 2012
Amtrak’s Food Lost Taxpayers $834 Million in 10 Years, Mica Says Bloomberg – Aug 2, 2012 Amtrak lost $84.5 million selling food and beverages last year and $833.8 million over 10 years, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica said, calling for a “better way” to run those operations. It costs taxpayers $3.40 for each can of soda … This is why we should never take Amtrak’s Accounting at face value and why it gives ammunition for its critics. The Long Distance Trains are the primary users of food service and are regularly overcharged by Amtrak’s Accounting. Since Amtrak arbitrarily applies charges to trains and services it is impossible to know what is the real cost of something like food service or what it cost to run trains. The problem is Amtrak’s overhead costs and how Amtrak’s Accounting charges those costs to the trains and passenger services. NB
Steel Wheels Conference is Coming! August 8th, 2012
How Fast can the Surfliners go? August 3rd, 2012
Opinion by Noel T. Braymer
For over 30 years the goal has been to run rail passenger service the 128 miles between Los Angeles and San Diego through Orange County in under 2 hours. To do this will require speeds of 110 miles per hour with PTC signalling as well as run-through tracks at Los Angeles Union Station, 4 tracks to separate passenger and freight trains between Los Angeles and Fullerton plus full double tracking everywhere else with tunnels costing billions under San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and Del Mar. Back in 2000 shortly after the introduction of the then new Surfliner equipment Amtrak said 34 minutes could be pulled out of the running time between Los Angeles and San Diego which would be a running time of about 2 hours and 11 minutes by 2005. A major factor in this potential time savings was the Surfliner equipment which was built for faster loading and unloading at stations the the low level equipment it was to replace. This also assumed that by 2005 there would be run through tracks at LAUS, triple tracking from LA to Fullerton and double tracking for most of Orange and San Diego Counties. In a few years we will finally have this trackage projected in 2000 to be built by 2005. Will we then see 34 minutes pulled from the Surfliners between LA and San Diego?
eNewsletter for July 30, 2012 August 3rd, 2012
Construction is almost finished for the return of Platform 7 and Tracks 13 and 14 at LAUS. These and Track 15 will be needed for the construction of run-through tracks which will take Tracks 3,4,5 and 6 out of service because they will have to be raised for the run-through project.