Why Does it Take So Long to Get More and Faster Trains? December 5th, 2013
By Noel T. Braymer
The short answer is money: or rather the lack of money. Things looked much brighter back in 2000. In 2000 the State of California had a budget surplus of 12.3 billion dollars! The Federal Government also had a budget surplus and the Federal Debt was shrinking. Unemployment was low and economic growth was high.
eNewsletter for December 2, 2013 December 5th, 2013
Editorial: High-speed rail proceeds in fits and start Sacramento Bee – Nov 27, 2013 In a mixed ruling on Monday, Kenny did not question going forward with the project. So the gleeful comment that “The high-speed rail project is derailed,” by Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, is an extravagant exaggeration.
RailPAC PHOTOS of the Month (November, 2013) December 2nd, 2013
Here are this month’s photos by RailPAC photographers. Click on each photo to see it full size! Contributions to this page are welcome. Send your jpg rail photos to RailPAC Photo Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Russ Jackson, Photo page editor.
What’s the Future of California High Speed Rail? November 29th, 2013
Opinion by Noel T. Braymer
The impact of the recent court decision on the use of voter approved bonds for High Speed Rail is unknown. This ruling doesn’t stop current construction which for now is being paid with Federal Funds. What the judge ruled is that the California High Speed Rail Authority CHSRA) according to the Prop 1A bond measure must identify what funding is available to build the Initial Operating Segment before the bond money can be released for the project. For this the Authority needs to present a new and detailed funding plan for his approval. This means that the judge expects the Authority to identify the funding sources needed up to 2022, not for the entire project.
Rail Service We Need Before High Speed Rail in California November 29th, 2013
Opinion by Noel T. Braymer
The most optimistic deadline for the start up of High Speed Rail in California is 2022 between Burbank and Merced. This includes connecting feeder trains to most of Southern California and from the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area and Sacramento. There are many improvements needed for conventional rail for these connections before we can successfully run High Speed Rail service. These improvements are needed even without High Speed Rail and needed before it is built.
eNewsletter for November 25, 2013 November 29th, 2013
Boardman fires more Amtrak upper managers Trainorders.com Nov 19, 2013 On Monday Nov. 18, Amtrak fired more upper managers, eliminating twenty senior positions. Causalities reportedly included a 40-year Amtrak veteran and visionary whose last two decades were directly involved with the long distance trains and customer service, with many innovations to his credit. Comment: The person who Gene Poon refers to in the original post was indeed Brian Rosenwald. He wasn’t fired, but chose to retire this week after being passed over for several positions in the new management structure. Brian is a bright and creative man, and his energy, integrity, and creative problem-solving skills will be missed. Fred Frailey
What’s Up with the Coaster? November 22nd, 2013
eNewslettter for November 18, 2013 November 22nd, 2013
Amtrak Serving Free Wine to Steak Loses Millions on Food Bloomberg-Nov 14, 2013 …Almost all of last year’s $72 million in food-service losses were from providing meals on long-distance trains, Inspector General Ted Alves said in testimony at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing today. I remember at least 30 years ago I heard the same story that insider theft was costing Amtrak a fortune for food service on the Long Distance Trains. To “solve” this problem the china and silverware was replaced with disposable plastic to save money and food was served much like the airlines pre-cooked at a central kitchen and heated like TV Dinners to discourage food theft. I wonder if this latest effort will be anymore successful than what was done in the past? I question any cost claims by Amtrak which are based on an allocated basis and are not itemized. Too often Amtrak uses the Long Distance Trains as a scapegoat to distract politicians and media from their real problems. NB
New Amtrak Cars, But (sigh) Not For The West November 21st, 2013
Commentary by Russ Jackson, URPA/RailPAC
On October 24, 2013, Amtrak rolled out the new low-level Viewliner cars at the manufacturer CAF’s plant in Elmira, New York. The order is for 130 cars: 25 sleeper cars, 25 dining cars, 25 baggage/dormitory cars and 55 baggage cars, and Amtrak is excited. They should be. This is the first order for the passenger fleet since the Superliner II cars were purchased in the 1990s. That’s a long time. In a blog report, Amtrak was enthusiastic about “how cool” these new cars are. They will all be painted in “Phase III” red and blue stripes, which was Amtrak’s most popular design, and will have the heritage “pointless arrow” on the first cars to be released. See http://blog.amtrak.com/2013/10/coming-soon-new-long-distance-cars for pictures of the exterior and interior of these new cars. Will they increase capacity for the routes where they will run? Not much, because current plans call for all the older Viewliners to be withdrawn from service for upgrade to Viewliner II standards, and there is no funding for that yet. Remember, too, Amtrak is also buying new electric locomotives for use on the Northeast Corridor. It’s nice they are being built in Sacramento, though.