eNewsletter for September 23, 2012   September 29th, 2012

The problem with the current rail route built in the 1870′s is it takes over 4 hours to go from Los Angeles to Bakersfield which takes 2 hours by bus. Also between Mojave and Bakersfield the line is very congested with 2 freight railroads sharing a single track rail line. … Even though the State and BNSF are paying over 100 million dollars to add more double tracking in the Tehachapi’s, that will barely keep up with current freight traffic on that line. What is needed is a new fast passenger rail line between Palmdale and Bakersfield to close this critical gap in the State’s Rail Passenger Network. It is not an engineering problem, what is needed is money. NB

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Commentary by Russ Jackson, RailPAC

It is safe to say that Amtrak’s Chief, Product Development, Brian Rosenwald is held in very high esteem by rail advocates in this country. His huge success in developing the Pacific Parlour Car and other enhancements for the Coast Starlight in the mid-1990′s is legendary, and he calls those five years the best in his career. But that success has only been partially duplicated on other Amtrak trains since then. Today’s Empire Builder is a very successful off-shoot of what Mr. Rosenwald under his boss at the time, Amtrak West President Gil Mallery, accomplished back then.

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Questions from Noel T. Braymer 

My one disappointment at the September 15th RailPAC/NARP meeting was that Stacey Mortensen wasn’t able to attend. Stacey Mortensen is the Executive Director of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission which runs the Altamont Commuter Express Trains or ACE between Stockton and San Jose. ACE is also planning to build a rapid rail network for speeds up to 125 mile per hour) from Sacramento and Merced to San Jose through the Altamont Pass while future High Speed Rail travel is expected over the Pacheco Pass to San Jose and San Francisco. Stacey Mortensen also was placed this year on the California High Speed Rail Peer Review Group which provides the legislature advice on the High Speed Rail Project. I have many question of what will happen in five years as the construction finishes for the first leg of High Speed Rail. By 2018 we should see up to an hour removed from the running times of some San Joaquin trains and the creation of the Northern California Unified Service which will be a combined effort to improve and expand service on the Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin and ACE to provide good connections by rail between these services. The goal by 2022 is 300 miles of High Speed Rail between Merced and the San Fernando Valley with Merced the transfer point for passengers traveling to and from the Bay Area and upper San Joaquin Valley on the Initial High Speed Rail segment. I could think of no one better to talk about these issues and what is being planned than Stacey Mortensen.

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eNewsletter for September 17, 2012   September 22nd, 2012

Big Week for Metrolink and Hightlights of the RailPAC/NARP Meeting in Sacramento

September 17, 2012 Part 1   September 17, 2012 Part 2

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Observations and Photos by Noel T. Braymer

This is just a short report on the September 15th Meeting in Sacramento of my personal impressions as I tap away on my phone on the train going home. I got on the connecting bus for train 711 in the wee hours of Saturday morning to get to Sacramento. The bus was crowded and there were few free seats north of LA. It is times like this why I wonder there are no connecting buses for the San Joaquins south of Orange County for the Trains going directly to Sacramento. There are potential riders if the buses were there: people will ride the bus to catch trains at ungodly hours. Also the connecting bus from Stockton to Sacramento was nearly full. The good news is Stockton is getting new platforms. The bad news is the station in the mean time doesn’t have platforms. The resulting problems of getting off the train at Stockton and the confusion of so many passengers trying to find which of the three buses to catch resulted in the bus to Sacramento being twenty minites late leaving Stockton. Amazing to me was how many people transferred at Sacramento to the bus to Reno. At least I had 3 hours of free time before the meeting.

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eNewsletter for September 10, 2012   September 14th, 2012

Why is coordinating the services of these 3 regions so important? In a word connections. For people in California to be able to get around the entire State by rail the trains must be scheduled with good connections to each other. A major part of the connectivity of the existing State Rail Passenger network are with connecting buses. Buses play a major role in connecting the Pacific Surfliners with both the San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor trains. Creating the connecting bus system and coordinating the 3 State Rail Corridor has been handled by Caltrans from the beginning.

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Opinion By Noel T. Braymer

Legislation is in the works to create Joint Power Authorities for local control of the planning and administration of both the Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin Trains. This is modeled after the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority or CCJPA which has successfully managed the Capitol Corridor Trains. Some of the advantages of local management are the ability to lobby for service improvements and funding while being able to concentrate on local issues of rail passenger service. Caltrans Rail Division now administers the Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin Trains. Unlike a JPA as a state government agency Caltrans cannot lobby for funding and must be non-partisan on issues. Also as a State-wide agency it is stretched thin serving the whole State with shrinking budget.

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eNewsletter for September 4, 2012   September 7th, 2012

Amtrak told 3 states have no funding for route                                                                  Sacramento Bee – Aug 31, 2012                                                                                   Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico transportation officials say the states don’t have funding to save Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route through the three states.

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