Report and Commentary by Russ Jackson, PHOTOS by Russ Jackson, Mike Palmer, Bill Lindley.
We all know that two major transcontinental railroads have crossed the state of Arizona for over 100 years, built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe in the north and the Southern Pacific across the southern route. Today the AT&SF is the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the SP route is owned by the Union Pacific. Passenger trains have always been a part of the state’s railroad picture from the days of Fred Harvey and the tourist trains that brought winter visitors to the state. Amtrak operates the daily Southwest Chief across the BNSF and the tri-weekly Sunset Limited on the UP, but is there a chance for increasing that level of service? Not likely, what with the current hard-nosed attitude that exists at the freight railroads and Amtrak’s reluctance to challenge it. What the UP and BNSF do is run the current passenger schedules quite efficiently; trains 1 and 2 ran 66% on time at end points on the UP in the fiscal year 2011 which ended September 30, 2012, and 92.3% in the month of October, 2012. Trains 3 and 4 were at 80% for the FY and 91.9% on time on the BNSF in October.

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Posted in Commentary

How Profitable is the NEC?   November 24th, 2012

Report by Noel T. Braymer

According to Amtrak’s 2011 Fiscal Year their NEC Passenger Trains grossed just over 1 billion dollars. Revenue that year was roughly split evenly between the Acela Trains and the conventional Northeast Regional Trains. In 2011 according to Amtrak the Acelas covered their fully allocated costs and had an operating profit of $165 million dollars. The Northeast Regional service exceeded their allocated costs by an additional 15 million dollars. That compares to a reported 18 million dollar operating loss back in Fiscal 2003 for Amtrak’s NEC Trains. This was reported in Fred W. Frailey’s column in the November 2012 issue of Trains Magazine.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for November 19, 2012   November 24th, 2012

California bullet train moves forward, judge denies farmers’ plea to …San Jose Mercury News- Nov 16, 2012 SACRAMENTO — California’s $69 billion bullet train will continue zooming toward a groundbreaking next year after a judge on Friday denied a …

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What’s next for LOSSAN?   November 23rd, 2012

By Paul Dyson
President, Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada

The LOSSAN Board met Monday 19th November in the wake of the unanimous decision by NCTD on Thursday 15th to reject the proposed Joint Powers Board. Some of the reasons: The expected $79,000 share of the cost to set up the agency, and, after over three years debate and negotiation, NCTD felt “rushed”. I have written before in the Review about the “Berlin Wall” at Oceanside, the ridiculous decision by NCTD to set up their own dispatch office, and the lack of coordination between Metrolink, Coaster and Amtrak. The parochial board of NCTD (prompted by their xenophobic staff) fear that “Los Angeles”, the perennial bogeyman of San Diego county, will somehow put them out of a job. While that is not the plan, one can’t help but think that this would be the best outcome. Suggested action: Write to NCTD and tell them that we want coordination and connections, and that the status quo is unacceptable. Their Chair is Chris Orlando, Council member from San Marcos. E mail him at corlando@ci.san-marcos.ca.us.

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Posted in Editorials

Here are 5 photos taken by RailPAC photographers. Clic on the photo to see it full size!


1. The Coast Starlight in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon in October, 2012. Photo by Alexander Friedman.

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Report by Noel T. Braymer

Los Angeles World Airports is the city agency which operates the airports owned by the City of Los Angeles including LAX. The LAWA also operates the Flyaway bus service which provides direct connections to LAX.  The busiest Flyaway bus service is at Van Nuys where the LAWA has a satellite parking lot with frequent bus connections to LAX. The Flyaway bus service from Los Angeles Union Station to LAX is very successful, exceeding original projection.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for November 12, 2012   November 17th, 2012

This is the current planning for development at LAUS. Like Sacramento there are plans for office buildings and another sports arena. Los Angeles has 3 sports arenas already and plans for a NFL Stadium without a team. A station’s first need is to be for transportation! Also needed are shops, services and recreation for travelers, hotels and in most cities today a growing need for housing. But this is not on the radar of the planners who are seemingly clueless of the needs of the traveling public. NB

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Train Trip to LAUS and Lancaster   November 10th, 2012

Report by Noel T. Braymer with Photos

Nothing beats going out and riding the trains to see what is going on by finding problems and improvements of local rail service. It is the only way to get photos of what is going too. Well I got to bed early for me just after midnight planning to try to get up by 6 AM after getting home from work around 11 PM. My plan was to catch Metrolink out of Oceanside at 7:35 AM and connect to Los Angeles in Orange County to a LAUS bound train. I was awake before 5 and got up, got ready and left the house just after 6 AM. Got to the station with time to spare for the 6:36 AM departure but with only 2 ticket machines both were busy. I foresee a bright future of eTicketing by mobile phones for all trains soon.

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Posted in Editorials

By Noel T. Braymer

Since 1996 with the creation of the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) it has had the dream to build the most sophisticated High Speed Rail service in the World with the highest running speed in California. Such a service would serve the largest cities in the State in less time than it takes to fly. This would be quite a giant leap forward considering that Rail Passenger service in California now is no faster than it was 60 years ago. Central to this dream of the CHSRA is that this project will be profitable and much of the money to build it will come from investors and not all from taxpayers. Well like most great dreams, the plans of the CHSRA are not all going according to plan. All that is certain for now is there is 6 billion dollars in Federal and State Money to build 130 miles of new railroad between Madera and Bakersfield. This new HSR Line is expected to be finished by the end of 2017 after which it will be used by San Joaquin Trains at speeds up to 125 miles per hour. Currently there are no funds to electrify this line or buy trainsets capable of 220 miles per hour speed.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for November 5, 2012   November 10th, 2012

With the National Elections upon us I think I speak for most rail passenger supporters in appreciating the efforts and funding for improving rail passenger service by our elected officials. But I also realize that given the unstable nature of politics that we can’t depend on partisan politics to complete a truly extensive, economical and efficient rail passenger system in California let alone the rest of the the County. A broad base of support is what is needed to build a good rail passenger system. NB

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