Monthly Archives

January 2013

Editorials, Rail Photos

Metro(Air)Link for Southern California?

Analysis by Noel T. Braymer with photos

Recently Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl called for the creation of Metrolink service between downtown Los Angeles and Ontario Airport in a Motion at the City Council. Mr Rosendahl’s district surrounds LAX and his views reflect his constituents demand that regional air travel be spread out to other local airports. This Motion calls for “A direct Metrolink connection to LA/Ontario airport would link Santa Barbara, Palmdale, Ontario and Palm Springs to the regional transportation network. It would allow international passengers to fly through Ontario and get to Downtown Los Angeles in 20 minutes, as compared to a 40-minutes commute to LAX.” Things appear to be moving quickly on this proposal. The LA City Council subommittee on Transportation which Rosendahl chairs has asked the city’s airport agency which runs both LAX and Ontario Airports to work with Metrolink on a proposal to implement this plan and asking them to report their preliminary findings in 30 days. Metrolink is already on record that they can’t achieve this goal under current conditions. It is 57 miles from Union Station to Ontario Airport which would require an average speed of around 170 miles per hour to travel in 20 minutes. Travel to Palm Springs and Santa Barbara are also out of the service area of Metrolink and would be best handled by LOSSAN. So what can be done that is reasonable to improve rail connections to the airports and reduce local traffic congestion around them?

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This picture shows the railroad that already run right in front of the terminals at Ontario Airport

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As you can see from this picture much of this railroad by Ontario Airport  has a single track on a right of way with room for more tracks

A problem that Metrolink has with serving Ontario Airport from Union Station is of its two rail lines in the area the one between Los Angeles and San Bernardino is 2 miles away from the airport at its closest point. The second Metrolink Line is on the UP Mainline to Riverside which goes along the side of the airport on the opposite end of Ontario Airport’s terminals. This Metrolink service is generally limited to rush hour traffic on this busy UP mainline. The UP is highly resistant to additional passenger service on its railroad. There is a railroad with only Amtrak service now 3 times a week that runs right in front of the terminals of Ontario Airport. It is owned by the Union Pacific which acquired it when it bought the Southern Pacific Railroad. The UP Line that is now used by Metrolink runs parallel in many places with the old SP railroad that runs in front of Ontario Airport. The old SP line is largely single tracked and the right of way has room for additional tracks. A short segment of this old SP route is already used by Metrolink for the current San Bernardino Line in El Monte. Where this old SP line has congestion problems is at Colton Yard which is near the interchange with the BNSF Railroad and to the busy UP Colton cutoff which connects the UP mainline between Arizona and the San Joaquin Valley. Because of this passenger rail service might not be able to go further east than the Ontario Airport on the old SP Line. However there is a connection from the old SP Line to the Metrolink San Bernardino Line east of Ontario at Fontana near the California Motor Speedway in an industrial area. Improvements to this currently very slow connection could extend service past San Bernardino.

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This is the view of the  downtown Pomona Metrolink Station. On the right is the UP rail line to Riverside used by some Metrolink trains. On the left sharing this broad right of way is the old SP line that goes directly to Ontario Airport.

To have decent Ontario Airport rail passenger service would require building a new railroad next to the present UP tracks on the old SP Line from Los Angeles Union Station to Ontario. Even this will require the cooperation of the UP which won’t pay attention to any proposal unless they see the money first and receive a great deal of political pressure. However using this new fast railroad has many advantages. Metrolink has capacity problems now between LA and El Monte which is hemmed in for most of this segment in a narrow right of way for only one track in the middle of the I-10 Freeway. Additional express trains could be run through Alhambra on this old SP Line and share existing Metrolink stations at El Monte and Pomona where Metrolink has a station on the UP Mainline which shares the right of way with the old SP line. There is also a downtown Ontario Amtrak Station which could be upgraded fo Metrolink service. With a connection to the San Bernadino Metrolink Line express trains could also stop at the stations at Fontana, Rialto and San Bernardino and be extended past San Bernardino. Such an upgraded passenger railroad could be used for additional Metrolink service and for the Inland Empire leg of future High Speed Rail service. It is unlikely that trains will run at over 200 miles per hour on this line or in any urban area. But speeds over 100 miles per hour with additional grade separation is quite possible.

LAXHarborline

This photo from the 1980’s shows the tracks that still butt right up to LAX . This publically owned right of way will also be used to extend light rail on the Green and future Crenshaw Lines to LAX

What would make this Metrolink service to Ontario Airport more productive would be to extend it to LAX and as far as the Harbor area of  Los Angeles. Fast express trains rarely carry many passengers because they don’t serve enough markets. The longer the route with the most stations  is where you will find the busiest passenger trains. The key to ridership and revenue growth for Metrolink or any transportation service is to maximize the number of markets at the lowest cost over the longest distance. Extending train routes adds markets and increases passenger miles which is the basis of revenues. The best way to do this on Metrolink or any rail service is to copy the airlines by extending routes through a central hub. A plane from Burbank to New York would likely stop at a hub like Denver. Not only does this plane serve 2 markets by stopping but it can connect to several other markets and gain many additional passengers at the hub. This also reduces the number of flight the airline needs while serving many more cities. Metrolink should do much the same thing by running extended trains through Union Station once run through tracks are built in the next 5 years and schedule trains to connect with other routes.

Light Rail LAX

This graphic shows the route of the LAX People Mover as the red line planned to connect light rail passengers and those renting cars to the airport. This People Mover will go as far as the railroad at the airport and could be used to connect rail passengers to LAX. To enlarge this or other images on this page just click on the image.

The easy part of getting to LAX by rail is that there is already a railroad near it. This railroad by LAX is owned by the Los Angeles County and goes from the edge of Downtown Los Angeles to LAX down to Torrance and the Harbors. However it now doesn’t have a connection to get to Union Station. A new track connection for Union Station from the LAX tracks can be built but that and dealing with several grade crossings in urban LA will have to be addressed to use this line for Metrolink service. Extending this “Airline” to LAX can use the railroad along Aviation Blvd to connect with nearby future LAX people mover for passengers going to LAX. The Green Line does and future Crenshaw Line will share right of way with this railroad. Service as frequent as every 30 minutes is possible with some single track segments. But saving at least one track for Metrolink will be needed if the railroad is used to connect LAX to Union Station. Running Metrolink service on this route and serving LAX will reduce traffic congestion not only at LAX but for much of the region along the 405.

Crenshaw Line

This image shows the right of way of the railroad along LAX. This shows how the Green and Crenshaw lines will share this right of way to get towards LAX.

Connecting airports at Ontario, LAX as well as Bob Hope in Burbank and at Palmdale with Metrolink is very viable. To insure good ridership these trains shouldn’t exclusively serve just airport travel in order to have more markets to insure good ridership. The trains from LAX should serve as far as Wilmington with connections to the Green, Crenshaw and Blue Lines. Not only will these connections increase ridership on Metrolink but also to these Light Rail Lines. These trains should run through Union Station which will be possible in a few years with the construction of run through tracks and connect with many services there. Service to Bob Hope Airport should be part of extending trains from the current San Bernardino Line to Chatsworth. Service to Palmdale should be done by extending Orange County Line service to serve a second trains station for Bob Hope Airport planned at Hollywood Way. This will increase ridership on Metrolink in general and provide a larger potential market of people travelling to all regional airports. Extending both the San Bernardino and Orange County lines to Bob Hope Airports as well as Chatsworth and Palmdale would greatly increase travel to the Airport and on all 4 of these routes. Creating a new line from Wilminton to LAX, Union Station Ontario and San Bernardino would bring more business to Ontario and reduce traffic congestion around LAX. Compared with some of the transit projects underway in Los Angeles County this is not as complicated but would serve a much greater area and population.

Bob Hope Airport Station

This is the planned additional Bob Hope Airport Train Station which will connect Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line to Palmdale  to Bob Hope Airport. This station might also be used for future High Speed Rail service to the San Joaquin Valley.

There are plans to extend Green Line and future Crenshaw Line Light Rail service to serve LAX. Also planned in the distant future is Gold Line service from downtown Los Angeles to Ontario Airport. It will be a long, slow trip from downtown to Ontario by light rail. Also there are no planned connections downtown on the Gold Line to either the Crenshaw or Green Lines. Metrolink can be used to connect downtown Los Angeles to LAX, Ontario, Bob Hope and Palmdale Airports as well as to each other. This can be done fairly quickly and at a modest price. Metrolink trains are better suited for longer travel with luggage at faster speeds than Light Rail. Light Rail is needed at airports for shorter trips and for the many people who work at or near airports. Travel speed is not the only issue for people headed to the airport. The biggest hassle is often the time spent getting into and out of the airport and then getting to and from the terminals. And that doesn’t include the time just spent waiting since for most domestic flights you should get to the terminal at least an hour before flight time and 2 hours for International flights. Where Metrolink service can save travelers time is providing an easy and quick connection from the platform to the terminals. Having airline baggage check in, pick up and issuing boarding passes at Union Station and other trains stations would save time and hassles for passengers. Having baggage check in at the platforms or platforms near terminals or transportation at the platform directly to the terminals will make Metrolink faster and more convenient than driving a rental or personal car to the airport.Things that people have to do 1 to 2 hours before arriving at the airport should be down when they get on the train to the airport. People are often more motivated by price, safety and the attractiveness of the airport than how close an airport is to them or how quickly they can get to it. People are known drive out of their way to get a better deal or a nicer airport than fly to one closer to them. Saving 30 minutes on a trip between downtown Los Angeles and any airport is not as important to passenger as convenience and value of an airport.

Start of LAX Connection to Green:Line.

 

This is the view from the Green Line of the old Santa Fe Harbor Line that runs along LAX.  Below are the remains of the start of work to extend the Green Line  towards LAX that was abandoned over 10 years ago due to budget cuts.

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This is another view of the Green Line and that start of construction in the late 90’s to extend it towards LAX.

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for January 21, 2013

The Surfliner Express has been around since February of 2011. Ridership has continued to drop since then and is lower than the all stops service this express train replaced. In October 2012 ridership was 29 percent lower than October 2011. This experiment should end as soon as possible. What is needed is to reduce running times on ALL Surfliner Trains and run them on time. NB

January 21, 2013 Part 1   January 21, 2013 Part 2

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like to subscribe to this enewsletter  write to  nbraymer@railpac.org

Rail Photos

Rail PHOTOS of the Month (January, 2013)

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

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Looking out the rear window of a Superliner car can bring some great views. Here the Coast Starlight, Train 14, is departing the Chemult, Oregon station. (Photo by Alex Friedman)

2. Strandberg trip 10-2011 Colfax platform #6

Passengers are boarding the eastbound California Zephyr at the Colfax, California station in October, 2011. This is the location of the UP freight derailment in January, 2013 which blocked the line for two days. Fortunately there were no passengers at the scene at that time. (Photo by Richard Strandberg)

3. Noel August2,2011traintrip014

This Amtrak low level trainset is still in use on the LOSSAN Corridor. Instead of a cab control car this set has a former F-40 rebuilt “cabbage” car on the end. (Photo by Noel Braymer)

4. Noel August2,2011traintrip012

This Metrolink set of Rotem cars at the Los Angeles Union Station platform makes an outstanding sight, particularly as compared with the Amfleet set above. (Photo by Noel Braymer)

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Where is that dome car going? Nowhere is the immediate answer. This car is attached to the cars on the Amtrak “protect” track south of the Ft. Worth Intermodal station on January 24, 2013. It is one of Ed Ellis’s IOWA PACIFIC fleet of dome cars, and could be eventually heading west for the Snow Train. (Photo by Russ Jackson)

Commentary

A Business Analysis of the San Diego Metroliners

By Andrew C. Selden
NOTE: This article appeared as the first article in the first issue of the “RailPAC Quarterly Review,” in September, 1984. What Mr. Selden said then bears close resemblance to the situation facing the Amtrak “experiment” with a morning limited stop train on the same corridor in 2013. Mr. Selden is President of the Minnesota Rail Passenger Association, a frequent contributor to RailPAC publications and has spoken at RailPAC Conferences. Particular note should be taken of his suggestions at the end of the article.

Claytor (Amtrak then President Graham Claytor) probably doesn’t know what the equipment utilization factors are in the Southwest Coast Corridor (now called the LOSSAN Corridor), may not care,and probably didn’t take that into account in planning this service. Two. of his senior marketing and planning officials have recently admitted they do not consider return on investment in planning major investments of Amtrak’s scarce resources. Intercity rail passenger service is not a function of running passenger trains. Rather, it is the business of furnishing a surface transportation system using trains. The distinction is real and important. Amtrak, to judge from its planning and implementation of the San Diego Metroliners, has not grasped it. These trains were foredoomed to fail, and have failed in the marketplace. Private sector rail advocates and local governments predicted this outcome. Amtrak not only failed to foresee these trains’ performance but obstinately refused to acknowledge the factors that inevitably lead to their costly failure. This article explores the history and performance of the San Diego Metroliners, explains why they failed, and concludes with suggestions how to improve the surface passenger transportation system in the Southwest Coast Corridor.

The San Diego Metroliners are the fifth consecutive failure of a limited stop, limited purpose, “express” intercity passenger train in recent American history. The failures of the prior attempts were due to fundamental misstructuring of the services for the markets being served. The New England Metroliner, the unsuccessful predecessor of the San Diego Metroliner, for example, failed because a limited stop, four-hour train serving business traffic is not and never will be competitive with one-hour jet services, or the stop flexibility and demand scheduling of the automobile.

The San Diego Metroliner has failed for similar reasons: it does not respond to the needs of the market it purports to serve. Rather than “substantially” increasing ridership and revenues as Amtrak predicted, the San Diego Metroliners have suffered material and continuing declines in ridership and revenue over the conventional trains they displaced. The Metroliners carry an average of 40 to 50 passengers per trip, less than busload quantities and clearly inadequate for a rail service.

Those who fail to heed the lessons of history are indeed condemned to repeat them. Amtrak’s and its predecessor’s history with limited stop, limited purpose trains has
not been very good, but it has been consistent. Before Amtrak’s creation, Penn Central had attempted several express Metroliners in the New York – Washington
market. These limited stop, premium fare trains were an early attempt to draw from Eastern Airlines’ air shuttle end point business traffic that wouldn’t come near PC’s dilapidated conventional trains. The trains failed. They included a nonstop, two hour thirty minute (2:30) schedule in April, 1969, that was quickly changed to a one-stop 2:30 schedule in July, 1969, then another very brief attempt at a nonstop train in October followed immediately by restoration of at least two stops (2:50 running time) and by May, 1970, three-stop schedules at 2:50. Five-stop trains were scheduled in 2:59. (Today’s 1984 best schedules, after nearly $4 billion in capital investment, are four-stop “expresses” scheduled at 2:49, not noticeably different from comparable schedules of 15 years ago.)

Despite the failure of PC’s limited stop experiments, Amtrak has twice repeated the “don1t-stop-to-pick-up-passengers” trick in the New York – Washington subsector of the NEC, with equally dismal results. In November, 1971, two Metroliners each way were changed to one-stop expresses scheduled for 2 hours, 52 minutes. These trains again went head to head with the Eastern Airlines Shuttle, an hourly, unreserved, guaranteed seat service between La Guardia and Washington National. The Shuttle took an hour gate to gate and under two hours downtown to downtown. Eastern won again.
The express Metroliners were withdrawn in June, 1972. They could not compete for end point business traffic against jet planes, even in 200 mile markets. Predictably,
the trains carried no end point traffic to speak of. A large proportion, perhaps the majority, of ridership on today’s Metroliners is only New York – Philadelphia (90
miles) and Graham Claytor has stated publicly that the Metroliners still carry virtually no end point traffic. No route and market matrix analysis was (or has been) done on the NEC spine and intermediate point markets spanning New York City to test the full potential for rail service in overlapping markets throughout the NEC.

In November, 1971, Amtrak tried a limited stop “express” operation of the Empire Builder between Chicago and Minneapolis. The Builder bypassed six stops to save twenty minutes. Some service to the bypassed cities continued with the Hiawatha.
As with the San Diego Metroliner, Amtrak theory predicted that traffic to and from bypassed cities would simply shift to the other train(s). This experiment also was a flop and was quickly withdrawn. The next timetable, June, 1972, restored two stops
(and ten minutes), and another stop was restored with no additional time the next year. Bypassing intermediate point traffic sources resulted in a sharp drop in revenue without offsetting cost savings, or traffic gains on the Hiawatha. Amtrak still disregards smaller intermediate stops when modelling projected traffic for proposed new services. With the conversion of the Empire Builder schedule, traffic to or from bypassed stops for points east and south of Chicago and west of Minneapolis as well as some intra-route traffic was completely cut off. Amtrak’s displacement theory was proven wrong. Even in tiny absolute numbers, such traffic produced high marginal revenues. Loss of just one “average” round trip long haul passenger each day at just half the bypassed stops, at today’s fares, would forfeit nearly $35,000 in monthly revenue, well over $400,000 per year, virtually free of incremental costs beyond reservations and ticketing.

The limited stop operation had no offsetting gain, because not enough time was saved to impact marketability, crew costs or equipment utilization. No stations were closed
or reduced. Travel opportunities, however, were reduced significantly. Amtrak seems to have had no awareness of route and market matrix implications, or sensitivity to network connections, resulting from limited stop, limited purpose operation.

In the NEC, ten years later, after nearly $4 billion in NECIP and Amtrak capital investments, Amtrak again tried a skip-stop service in October, 1981, with three two-stop Metroliner expresses, timed at 2:59. This quest for end point business traffic failed yet again and for the same (still unlearned) reasons, and was quickly withdrawn. The familiar excuses of rough track, bad dispatching, interference by Conrail commuter trains, etc., willfully disregarded Amtrak Marketing’s gross misperception of rail’s real market function in these areas, serving cities in the matrix not served by frequent, cheap, jet services.

Amtrak next inflicted its costly theories on the New York – Boston end of the NEC. In October, 1982, they introduced the New England Metroliners, two single-purpose daily 231 mile trains each way aimed yet again at end point business traffic between major cities with ample air service. The trains displaced multiple stop conventional schedules, and featured long distance leg rest coaches, free snacks, a full-service diner, and a million dollar, train-specific, adcampaign over and above customary, extensive NEC advertising. For a time, two 3000 h.p. F-40’s were assigned to the (normally) 4-car trains. A hefty premium fare was charged. The trains were 50% more expensive, and took four times longer, than competitive air services, bypassing such obvious sources of business traffic as Iselin, Newark, Stamford and Rye. The New England Metroliners were structured to fail. Their price and schedules were not competitive with air services for end point business traffic. They did not serve or even permit connections from points south of New York, and by bypassing critical suburban stops at Rye and Stamford (and ignoring Iselin and Newark) they turned their back on the vast majority of their potential target business travellers for whom there might not have been a viable air option. Like the New York – Washington expresses, they spurned traffic for which Amtrak has no real competition. Like the New York – Washington expresses and the entire San Diegan schedule, the New England Metroliners terminated at a major downtown metro station and ignored significant potential traffic flows to and from major population areas beyond.

Once again, Amtrak took a bath. Ridership on the Metroliners plummeted by more than 50% from the conventional trains they displaced to less than busload levels. Fewer
than 50 passengers were handled per trip. Despite the fare premium, total revenues fell. Not enough new traffic was captured to pay for so much as the direct costs of advertising and ticketing. The fare premium didn’t recover the direct costs of reservation service, or the on-board amenities or the ad campaign, much less all three. The service consumed two seven million dollar trainsets for just 462 revenue miles per weekday. Both sets sat idle for over five hours during the heart of each business day. An airline marketing officer who scheduled two 727’s to be parked from before noon to after 5:00 p.m. each weekday would be fired instantly.

At the same time the disastrous New England Metroliners were being withdrawn, Amtrak Marketing was planning yet another limited stop, limited purpose, premium fare express train aimed at end point business traffic, this time between San Diego and Los Angeles. To save fifteen scheduled minutes and the time-consuming nuisance of loading paying passengers, the trains bypass four heavily used and rapidly growing intermediate stops, three of which feature major, new regional multi-modal transportation centers. The purported time saving itself is a mirage as these trains actually add to the end point trip times. Amtrak dogma states that five minutes is consumed by a station stop, yet these trains save only fifteen minutes by skipping four stops.

Amtrak has ignored the character of San Diegan traffic. Only 15% is end point business, 35% is end point-intermediate point, and fully 50% never sees either end
point. Amtrak’s alleged “market studies” for this service (if they exist) therefore are essentially irrelevant to this market. End point expresses are even more meaningless in this corridor than in sub-segments of the NEC. Amtrak claimed that Los Angeles-San Diego was the largest single origin and destination pair of stops in this market, disregarding the fact that 85% of this market’s traffic moved between other points. Amtrak’s claim that the two intermediate stops chosen are “suburban” stops, like Metropark,N.J. or Glenview, IL., merely illustrates Amtrak’s ignorance of Southern California’s urban geography.

The two stops the trains do make suffer from poor accessibility, low visibility, stagnant traffic bases and in one case no parking availability. These stations’ principal attractions to potential rail passengers are a race track, a ballpark and Disneyland. The new Metroliners may draw business traffic, but it may not be the kind of business Amtrak had in mind. The Metroliners stop at Del Mar but bypass Oceanside’s new $7.5 million regional transportation center. Traffic at Oceanside in early 1984 was up 23% and climbing, with station revenues up 37% and climbing. Oceanside has over 250 parking places, a heavily used “kiss-and-ride” facility, a regional multi-modal transit center and excellent freeway access. Oceanside’s current population is over 15 times Del Mar’s, and by 2000 will be 21 times Del Mar’s. Del Mar’s station parking lot is already full and has no capacity for expansion, while Oceanside’s parking was just tripled and is soon to be nearly doubled again. Unlike Oceanside, Del Mar has no effective freeway access and cannot service its inland area. Amtrak’s marketers said they picked Del Mar over Oceanside because Del Mar’s population was better able to afford the higher fare, and because the Del Mar to LA fare would be higher than the Oceanside – Los Angeles fare.

The trains also bypass Santa Ana, the Orange County seat and state and federal court center. Santa Ana is the second strongest intermediate source of business traffic on
the line. It has a major new regional transportation center. Fullerton, the strongest intermediate station on the line, is the site of a $5 million station rehabilitation, with a new regional transit mall, just quintupled parking, and freeway access. It serves a major university community and is a natural throat at the end of the Santa Ana canyon tunneling traffic flowing toward downtown LA from the east. It too is bypassed.

The Metroliner scheme, never discussed with local transportation agencies or elected officials, raised a storm of bitter protest, ill will and bad press. Four cities, one
transit district and the Orange County Transportation Commission formally, and in some cases scornfully, protested the scheme. Southern California members of Congress have bitterly attacked Amtrak’s arrogant intransigience, and demanded that Amtrak re-evaluate and justify the decision to implement the Metroliner scheme.

Graham Claytor then contradicted his earlier claims and conceded the trains will produce a loss in ridership. They must, as skipping stops produces an instantaneous and exponential loss of travel opportunities. In the San Diego local market alone, numerous daily local market opportunities were lost, plus hundreds more to the extent that the schedules adversely impact connectivity at Los Angeles to national system trains. In May, 1984 total San Diegan ridership fell 4.6% due to these trains. The 30% premium fare will also drive away business. The South Coast market has proven to be exceptionally price sensitive, with a maximum tolerance limit of about twelve cents per mile. Pricing even a little beyond that drives away traffic, while modest price promotions at the net level of about nine cents per mile have strongly stimulated marginal sales and profits when left in place long enough to reach the consumer’s awareness. The Metroliner fares are well beyond the proven tolerance level and without apparent offsetting amenities. The New England Metroliners had proportionally smaller surcharges, greater amenities, greater frequencies and massive advertising support, and still failed miserably.

The San Diego Metroliners produce no cost savings. Train miles, station hours and staffing, available seat miles, trip cycles, crew hours and other relevant cost factors remain essentially constant. Indeed, the Metroliners achieve some limited cost savings only by ticketing fewer passengers, but that will be offset by substantial new reservation services costs. Amtrak charged Minnesota for the alleged “short term avoidable cost” (what Amtrak believes to be its marginal cost) of reservation services for the NorthStar at a rate equivalent to about $17 per reservation. A $5 fare premium certainly won’t recover that marginal cost on the Metroliner.

The apparent fifteen minute time savings will be ineffective as a marketing device, as many current trains, especially the first two morning northbound trains, which make all stops on a ten-minute longer 2:40 schedule, routinely arrive eight to twelve minutes early after having waited for time along the line. Business travelers to LA know and rely on this phenomenon. They won’t pay extra for a gimmick on a later train. The pronounced Metroliner traffic imbalance that quickly developed (as much as 30% more traffic on the southbound train than the northbound) shows that travelers use the trains based more on their schedule slots than their service amenities.

The Metroliner operation produced an immediate increase in labor costs of $200,000 per anum by causing a fourth crew and $5 to $7 million trainset to stay overnight in San Diego six days a week. Equipment utilization decreased substantially on a system already critically short of rolling stock. Special trainsets, including two Amdinettes, were ferried (deadhead) to Southern California to operate these trains.

Metroliner trainsets get but a single round trip a day on a 128 mile line, and sit idle at LA for six hours in the middle of each business day, consuming expensive track space, or extra switcher costs if yarded. Although Graham Claytor has said that in his view poor equipment utilization is inherent in short distance corridor operations, that is not only not true (no successful corridor or budget airline, bus or truck company operates that way), it reflects a shockingly irresponsible, lazy management attitude. Claytor has a duty to optimize utilization of $5 to $7 million trainsets, not shrug off their controllable misuse as inescapable.

Claytor probably doesn’t know what the equipment utilization factors are in the Southwest Coast Corridor, may not care, and probably didn’t take that into account in planning this service. Two of his senior marketing and planning officials have recently admitted they do not consider return on investment in planning major investments of Amtrak’s scarce resources.

Finally, Amtrak structured the service 180° off the mark. To the extent that the Southwest Coast Corridor represents a funnel to collect and deliver business traffic,
that funnel points south not north. “Los Angeles” is too diffuse a destination and too thinly served west, north and east of downtown, to be an effective target for business traffic on a limited purpose express train. If a business express is to be run, it should run south in the morning with a target San Diego arrival of 7:50 or 8:20 a.m. (depending upon one’s perception of when San Diego business meetings get underway, and on the schedule’s demands for equipment turns), with a northward departure in the late afternoon, say 4:15 or 5:15 p.m. (and with another round trip in between).

In view of these critical flaws in the San Diego Metroliner proposal, Amtrak’s intentions and possible conflict of interest must be questioned. Has Amtrak stonewalled improvements in the Southwest Coast Corridor for years, and now undermined it with the Metroliner concept and other counterproductive decisions, to benefit American High Speed Rail Corporations’s “bullet train” scheme? AHSR’s executives include former senior Amtrak officers who were responsible for San Diegan services during the same time they were planning the competing bullet train for the private benefit of AHSR’s investors, insiders and foreign suppliers and financiers. Amtrak’s senior marketing officer is a protege and confidant of AHSR’s chairman, former Amtrak president and bullet train promoter, Alan Boyd. Amtrak officers recently explicitly told an elected public official from southern California that they had no interest in improving San Diegan conventional services and preferred instead to see the bullet train implemented. The capacity of conventional rail in the Southwest Coast Corridor will be a major factor in the environmental evaluation of the bullet train proposal, and by undermining the San Diegans Amtrak is making a significant contribution to AHSR’s bullet scheme. The tragedy for the Southwest Coast Corridor is that inexpensive and profitable short term solutions are readily available. Amtrak could not be expected to discern these opportunities. They include:

(1) Immediate reduction of scheduled running time on all trains making all stops to 2 hours 30 minutes. This is not only physically possible and frequently achieved now, it would actually unclog the flow of traffic over the line, open better daytime
maintenance of way windows, greatly improve equipment and labor utilization and significantly enhance the competitive position of the train versus the freeway.

(2) Immediate institution of an eighth daily round trip, not under 403(b), to supply the early morning San Diego arrival, permitting for the first time ever use of the service for business traffic into San Diego. A 1974 professional engineering study commissioned by local governments and CalTrans projected 100 to 300 new daily riders for such a train just from the Oceanside metro area. Fullerton, Santa Ana and other on-line cities would add many more. No capital expenditures or new equipment would be required. The line as is can handle at least one more frequency. The new trip will actually bring an immediate savings of $200,000 per year in cash labor costs by cutting San Diego overnight layover crews and trainsets. Equipment utilization will improve. Significant and immediate growth in passenger miles and revenues would be realized with a net reduction in Amtrak’s operating deficit.

(3) Immediate introduction of a pricing and advertising policy aimed at maximizing ridership at compensatory, rather than exploitative, fares, such as a 25% round trip discount. This would reflect a radical departure from Amtrak’s admitted historic policy of gouging the greatest possible yield (i.e., charging the highest price the market will bear) from an extant traffic base, rather than inducing growth with fares equated to marginal costs. The positive lessons of Amtrak’s own “All Aboard” fares should be applied to the Southwest Coast Corridor now. Graham Claytor recently revealed the bankruptcy of Amtrak’s understanding of basic business economics by saying, “[Marginal cost-based pricing] unfortunately leads in the railroad business to an attempt to obtain profitability by generating high volumes of traffic, all priced on a strictly incremental basis.” (Emphasis added.) What Claytor regards as “unfortunate” is widely regarded by economists and successful private sector business executives as optimal.

(4) Immediate extension, not under 403(b), of at least three daily San Diegans to serve the populous San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, Oxnard and Santa Barbara northern leg of the Southwest Coast Corridor. No additional equipment would be required, and utilization would be further enhanced. Trains could stop in the valleys north of Los Angeles at existing platforms built by CalTrans. No track capital improvements would be necessary beyond one leg of a wye at Santa Barbara. For the first time ever, meaningful, cost-effective service would be provided to the majority of the spine of the Southwest Coast Corridor. Average SWCC ride lengths could double and revenue yields would expand materially. Terminating all SWCC trains at LAUPT makes as little sense as would stopping and turning all NEC trains back to the north at Wilmington, ignoring Baltimore, Washington and Richmond.

(5) If a persuasive case can be made for a major, focused effort to draw discretionary business traffic to the San Diegan, that effort can be accomplished far more effectively and inexpensively by adding a single car to expedited existing trains, either a 60-seat “custom coach” or a parlor/club car for truly first class service. This would support a major advertising campaign to draw consumer attention to the entire San Diegan service, entail virtually no incremental costs and maintain all existing market/demand opportunities within the SWCC market matrix.

Limited purpose, skip-stop intercity trains have failed consistently. New directions are needed. Is anyone listening?

Editorials

What the Southwest Chief Should Be

Report by Noel T. Braymer

Imagine you are at the Albuquerque Train Station and you can catch a train there to Fresno or Denver, St Louis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. as well as Chicago and Los Angeles. How many “trains” would be needed to do this? Well 5 but they would all arrive at Albuquerque at the same time.

In this country there isn’t a school to learn how to market intercity passenger trains. There are plenty of places to learn how to build railroads or how to run trains. But there is no place and little is written on how to best operate passenger trains to draw more passengers and run them at a profit. Most of what I’ve learned about rail passenger service that works and brings in passengers I learned from Byron Nordberg and Adrian Herzog through our membership in RailPAC. Byron and Adrian were mostly self-taught but they also learned a great deal from a small network of dedicated people around the country also wanting to see Passenger Trains grow and prosper in this country.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ve decided to look back at some of the work of my late friends to show what is possible and can still be done by concentrating on just the route of the Southwest Chief. Central to the work of Nordberg and Herzog was an accurate way to measure potential ridership for different types of rail service. Adrian or should I say Dr. Herzog (who was a Professor of Astronomy at Cal State University Northridge) used the University’s mainframe computer roughly 30 years ago to create a computer program to simulate ridership for rail passenger service. As a Professor he could use the computer for research of any subject of his choice. The first route that Adrian chose to simulate was that of the Southwest Chief. His program was calibrated so that it would independently produce results like the actual ridership of the Chief. From his research creating this computer simulation Dr. Herzog developed his Matrix Theory for Passenger Trains. Central to ridership is the number of markets a trains serves with station stops and connections. This can be expressed in an equation STATION PAIRS = N x (N – 1). What this means for an example if you have a train line with 3 stations. With those 3 stations there is a total of 6 combinations of potential markets that this line can serve. If you call the stations A, B and C you can go A to B, B to A, A to C, C to A, B to C and C to B. Now if you add a 4th station this jumps up to 12 possible trips you can make on this rail line. To get a real world view of what the implications of this Adrian looked at the Southwest Chief’s which now has 32 stations which using the formula N x (N-1) is 32 x 31 equals 992 city pairs or possible trip combinations. Now compare this to the Capitol Limited between Chicago and Washington and you have 16 stations which is 16 x 15 for 240 city pairs. Now at first glance if you combine the Southwest Chief and Capitol Limited into one extended train you would think if you added 992 city pairs to 240 city pairs this new extended trains would have 1232 potential trips combinations as one train right? Well the math actually is 16 and 32 which is 48 stations. Using Adrian’s formula which is 48 x 47 equals 2256 city pairs not 1232. To quote Dr. Herzog “Integration of the network is like starting a chain reaction: it ignites a growth cycle or upward spiral in utility, usage, output, and financial results.”

A good way to maximize markets at low cost is to run a train with multiple sections. This is an ancient railroad practice that was long ago proven productive. In Europe for years most intercity passenger cars have signs with the car’s destination since if you got on the wrong car you could easily end up in the wrong county! With sections it is almost like getting 2 trains for the price of one. As part of Adrian’s computer simulations he added a section of the Southwest Chief spliting off at Barstow to run up the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area and terminating at San Jose. The results astonished Adrian. Ridership on this “San Francisco Chief” section alone was greater than the present ridership on the Southwest Chief. The reason for this was there were more station stops and station pairs from San Jose to Chicago than from Los Angeles. Most modeling for ridership is based on population density and because of this the assumption is that the Los Angeles area should produce greater ridership. Adrian’s paper on his Matrix Theory has a mathematical explanation why this doesn’t always happen. But we can see this at work on the ridership of the Empire Builder which goes through some of the least populated areas of the country. Yet it produces the most income of any passenger train in this county. This is largely because the average trip is very long because the train’s stops are far apart but there still are plenty of stations on this long route which generate greater passenger miles hence the most income. A route which is long with connections to many city pairs can generate ridership and revenue. It should also be noted that the Empire Builder is the only Western Long Distance Train that still splits into 2 sections with this happening at Spokane to Seattle and Portland. Maybe there is something we can learn from that.

One of the five “trains” on the Southwest Chief route could be named the Southwest Chief which under Adrian’s proposal would run from Los Angeles to Chicago and continue on the route of the Capitol Limited. Since both trains use Superliner equipment either the Southwest Chief could be extended to Washington or cars could be transferred between the two current trains. As shown earlier connecting just these two services greatly expands both trains possible markets. What could be done with a San Francisco Chief is connect from San Jose and the San Joaquin Valley at Barstow. At Kansas City this section could be split off and head towards St Louis and end up in Chicago. This new service would require no new stations and little additional overhead but greatly increase the markets served by passenger rail. A new train we could call the El Capitan could start in Phoenix. Ideally it should start in Tucson or even Nogales but  currently there isn’t a track connection today between those cities. Since this would be a slow route it would be best to have an overnight service to Williams Junction to connect with the main Southwest Chief. At Trinidad a Denver Chief could split off of the Southwest Chief and head up to Denver for possible connections with the California Zephyr and also serve Colorado cities north of Denver and Cheyenne. With these 5 trains in one, the market for the current Southwest Chief explodes with service to Phoenix, Denver, St Louis, Washington, San Jose and Pittsburgh plus all the other stations in between. This makes possible direct trip combinations like Los Angeles to Denver, Phoenix to Kansas City, St Louis to San Jose, and Washington to Bakersfield.

To be realistic this can’t happen overnight. To do what has just been described for the Southwest Chief route for all the Western Long Distance Trains will require thousands of new rail cars when now there are only hundreds. New equipment can be financed from the increased revenues of these new services but it will still take years to build more cars and locomotives. There are also problems with the condition of the tracks on many lines and getting the cooperation of the railroads to expand service. Right now there is the possibility than unless funding soon can be found to restore the tracks between Belen and Newton to passenger rail standards then the Southwest Chief could be rerouted at Belen via Amarillo to Newton. This would bypass several potential connections to cities like Albuquerque and Denver as well as smaller towns in New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas. Something that could be done in the near future is to combine the Heartland Flyer from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City with the Southwest Chief. There are proposals to extend the Flyer north of Oklahoma City to Kansas City with some possible connections to other trains at Kansas City. As a section of the Southwest Chief not only could same seat service be available on the current Heartland Flyer Route with the current Southwest Chief but also with a section of the Chief going to Chicago by way of  St Louis from Kansas City could be served without changing trains. Extending the Flyer to Houston at the same time and connecting with the Sunset would add many more market combinations to both the Southwest Chief and the Heartland Flyer.

So why haven’t these simple fairly short sections been added to America’s intercity trains? One factor is oppositions from the operation department. Adding and breaking sections of trains is more work and works best when trains run on time. Yet railroads all over the world have and continue to add and take off cars and locomotives between trains several times on a single run. The main reason though is in this country train routes and service is determined more by politics than by economics. Corridor trains travel in populated areas with lots of voters and politicians to impress and can carry large loads of passengers on busy trains. A good example of this are commuter trains during rush hour. But commuter trains are big money losers. The distances and fares charged on commuter trains are low and outside of rush hour commuter equipment often sits idle or underused producing little or no revenue. Intercity corridor trains do better than commuter trains but still have problems with limited markets and underused equipment. On Amtrak long distance trains often run at over 60 percent occupancy while corridor trains with smaller consists generally have less than 40 percent occupancy. Plus corridor trains usually are idle overnight while long distance trains run day and all night in revenue service. Much can be done to improve the economics of corridor and commuter trains. Serving other markets besides rush hour trips in and out of downtown 7 days a week over 12 hours in a day improves the economy of commuter and corridor trains. Improving connections and extending the routes of commuter and corridor trains have a major impact on ridership and revenue. Look at the Surfliner trains and the ones to and from San Diego that have been extended to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo and you see these trains carry many more passengers and generate much more revenues then the trains just between Los Angeles and San Diego. The whole issue of trying to increase ridership with faster trains by skipping stations always lowers ridership unless there are connecting feeder trains because eliminating stops reduces the number of markets the express trains serves compared with all stop trains. If these simple principles of having maximum markets, route miles and good equipment utilization were better understood by politicians and the public we would have more and busier trains. But as long as train promoters and politicians are fixated with higher train speeds by skipping markets to reduce running times then we will keep seeing the same mistakes repeated again and again which gives trains the reputation of being wasteful and unnecessary.

To see video of Adrian Herzog explaining Matrix Theory and how it would work on trains go to  Dr Herzog explains Rail Passenger Matrix Theory Part 1 and Dr Adrian Herzog explains Rail Passenger Matrix Theory Part 2

 

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for January 14, 2013

Amtrak’s annual operating loss last year was lowest since 1975, ..Washington Post-Jan 10, 2013 The $361 million loss for the year ending Sept. 30 was down 19 percent from the previous year. The last time Amtrak losses were less was 1975.What is significant about the year 1976 is that is when Amtrak was given the NEC by Congress to get it off the back of the bankrupt PennCentral. By 1980 Amtrak’s losses went over a billion dollars (in 1980 dollars). With the help of rising gas prices, higher fares and subsidy from States such as California Amtrak has made progress improving its revenues. But Amtrak was well on its way to breaking even back in 1993 after then retiring Amtrak President Claytor made modest expansion of Long Distance services. Had Mr. Claytor’s policies been continued Amtrak would have become self supporting years ago. NB

January 14, 2013 Part 1   January 14, 2013 Part 2

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Commentary

Preserve the Railyards “Depot” site for an Intermodal District and Build Affordable Rental Units in the Railyards

Commentary By Chuck Robuck, RailPAC Director, Sacramento, and former President, CC Riders
In the past, the City of Sacramento has proposed building BOTH an Arena and an Intermodal Transit Facility on the City-owned 13-acre parcel near the Historic Train Depot (AKA the “Depot” site).
There is clearly not enough space on this site to accommodate both projects.

Downtown Sacramento seen from the Train Station

Downtown Sacramento seen from the Train Station

I propose that the “Depot” property be preserved exclusively for the Intermodal Transit Facility and related functions, such as adequate space for buses, taxes, rental cars, passenger drop-off and pick-up and short-term parking.

Here are some points to consider:• Sacramento’s Current Train Station with 1.2 million passengers is currently the 2nd busiest in California (L.A. is 1st), and 7th busiest in the Nation.
• The planned Intermodal Facility is expected to have over 15 million users by 2025 (SACOG est.)
• Building an Arena on this site would severely limit the space for an Intermodal to approx. 3.5 acres – compare this to the New Intermodal Station under Construction in Anaheim (A.R.T.I.C), which is dedicating nearly 16 acres to transit functions (and the Anaheim Station has about 1/3 of the no. of passengers as Sacramento)
• Additional Close-in Parking needs to be part of the planned Intermodal for use by transit riders as well as for those who will patronize new businesses inside the remodeled Historic Train Depot (such as restaurants, express freight pick-up, etc). Anaheim’s new Intermodal Station includes 1,082 Close-in Parking Spaces for Users.
• An Arena on the “Depot” site would create a huge visual and physical barrier (est. 135 ft. High) between Downtown and the Historic Shops and the rest of the Railyards Development. This was a major concern presented by the Urban Land Institute in their recommendations to the City.

While I think a new Arena in the Railyards could be an added attraction that could help stimulate business, I feel it should be located on OTHER parcels in the Railyards (such as the original plan to locate it NORTH of the newly relocated Tracks).

One of the keys to jump-starting the Railyards Development as well as revitalizing Downtown and Old Sacramento, is to build AFFORDABLE RENTAL housing.

Rental Housing should be targeted to be affordable to ENTRY and MID-LEVEL employees of both government and private sector companies located in the downtown area. This demographic group has been historically important in supporting retail, food service and the nightlife scene, which are vital to creating a vibrant downtown.

As a hub of Government, Sacramento has an unique, and ready-made
base of employees who could be attracted to live close to work, near two major rivers, parks and bike paths, and other downtown attractions, as well as the future Intermodal Transportation Facility which offers the ability to travel almost anywhere without owning a car.

To attract this group, Rents must be affordable. Restricting development to high priced condos and apartments will greatly reduce the chances of successful development of the entire downtown area.

Developers should be offered tax incentives for building such affordable housing.

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for January 7, 2913

Senate confirms two Amtrak board members Progressive Rail Roading-Jan 3, 2013  The U.S. Senate confirmed Christopher Beall and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke as new members of Amtrak’s board, Amtrak announced today. They will serve five-year terms. The addition of Ms. Burke, who is also a member of the California Transportation Commission and former member of Congress as well as Mr. Beall of Oklahoma with a background in transportation investment should add depth to the Amtrak Board and greater representation of the Western States. NB

January 7, 2013 Part 1  January 7, 2013 Part 2

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like to subscribe to this enewsletter  write to  nbraymer@railpac.org

Editorials

What has Amtrak President Joseph Boardman accomplished ?

Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

Amtrak President Joseph Boardman has the best of intentions. He gave priority to improving Long Distance Rail service with proposals to run daily service on the Sunset. He has supported studies to bring back the Pioneer, extend the Heartland Flyer to Kansas City, return service on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Florida as well local service between Baton Rouge and Dallas. He has overseen the order  in 2010 for new low level Long Distance Cars to replace equipment over 40 years old made possible with stimulus funding. Also with stimulus money he has ordered new electrical locomotives for the NEC. He started the process to order additional Acela cars to run longer Acela trains to increase capacity and revenue without needing to run more trains on the NEC.

But results don’t always match good intentions. In over 4 years Mr. Boardman has often failed to finish what he has started. When trying to get an agreement with the UP for a Daily Sunset he basically gave up when he realized the UP was going to oppose it. He should have known it was going to be a struggle and he should have had a strategy to counter the UP. Instead of taking the UP to court or before the Surface Transportation Board he settled for a new less padded Tri-weekly schedule while agreeing not to bring up daily service on the Sunset for several years. There have been no new rail service extensions despite all the studies in the last four years. Amtrak tries to forget that the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Jacksonville is still part of the National Amtrak System. Amtrak could bring back Sunset service or run other trains on that route if it wanted too. The reason many of these projects go nowhere is Amtrak wants the States on these routes to pay them to operate these trains. No thought is given to running a service that will cover its costs and more. To do that you need trains long enough to hold plenty of passengers and go far enough to serve enough markets and make connections to bring in enough business to succeed. Instead Amtrak under Boardman continues to offer States expensive short haul service for them to subsidize with few connections to the National Amtrak System.

What holds back Amtrak’s ability to increase revenue despite growing demand with rising gasoline prices is its small fleet of cars and locomotives.  For Amtrak’s revenue to grow it needs more equipment. Larger orders for equipment also mean economies of scale so the price per car or locomotive is lower. Yet the only order so far for Long Distance Trains has been for low level cars used east of the Mississippi. This order only replaces existing equipment over 40 years old and won’t increase ridership. There are no plans for more equipment on the Western Long Distance Trains which are often sold out most of the year and could easily carry more cars and fill them if they had them. One recent order was planned to add cars to the Acela trains on the NEC. The problem with this plan was it was for equipment 12 years out of production for a small order that no car building would make money on unless the price was very high. Amtrak Management should have realized that from the start. Now Mr. Boardman has changed his mind again and wants more and all new equipment to replace Amtrak’s newest trains. These new trains are part of a plan by Mr. Boardman to build a new High Speed NEC railroad for speeds up to 220 miles per hour between Washington and Boston which is estimated to cost about 150 billion dollars.

There are plenty of simple projects that Amtrak can do on their own now which would pay for themselves. What these services need in the way of local support are improved stations and help getting funding for track improvements. The easiest project to do would be to extend the Palmetto from Savannah back to Jacksonville. The travel market between New York and Florida is more than big enough to support a third train. The Palmetto carried more passengers when it did and had connections to other trains at Jacksonville. The next easiest project is to return service on the Gulf Coast. One way to do this is extend the City of New Orleans to Florida. The City sits in New Orleans now almost 24 hours between runs which is poor use of equipment. With one additional trainset the City could serve Orlando and Miami. This would give Amtrak service from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast and Florida with connections to the rest of the country. Amtrak should run the Cardinal daily, that alone will greatly improve the performance of this train. What would work better would be a section of the Cardinal going to St Louis and Kansas City. This would add several major new markets and connections on the Cardinal to other Amtrak trains. This would turn a looser into a winner and add traffic to other Amtrak trains. Then there is the issue of extending the Heartland Flyer. Extending it now to connect with the Southwest Chief in Kansas would improve ridership and revenues on both trains for much less money than running the Flyer as a day train to Kansas City. This brings up the future route of the Southwest Chief. If local efforts gets Federal and State Funding to eliminate slow orders between Kansas and New Mexico to keep the Chief on its current route then this could be copied in other places. Already North Dakota has received Federal Funding to save part or the route of the Empire Builder in their State. A million here and a million there adds up for a better National Rail Passenger System.

Mr. Boardman is from New York State so it should be no surprise that he is interested in the Northeast. One of his successes has been having Amtrak leasing 95 miles of CSX railroad in upstate New York to oversee 181 million dollars of Federally Funded Track improvements to this local corridor rail service.  But lack of a balanced National System endangers rail passenger service both economically and politically. Amtrak  loses  hundreds of millions of dollars a year from running the NEC of  which with over 1600 trains a day about 1500 are not Amtrak’s but mostly commuter trains. Recent headlines point out that Amtrak’s losses for 2012 are the lowest since 1975:  so what happened in 1976? As part of the program to bailout the bankrupt PennCentral Railroad on April 1st 1976 Congress gave Amtrak the NEC. The NEC had been owned by the PennCentral and ownership of it was a major cause for it going bankrupt from the cost of the commuter trains service on it.

No matter how much money the Acela “makes” on an operating profit it can’t cover the cost of the NEC that it runs on. As of 2011 just the capital cost for the NEC was 575 million dollars and this doesn’t cover all the work  needed to be done. The total revenues from freight and commuter customers for use of the NEC in 2011 was 164 million dollars. Yet Amtrak claims the Long Distance Trains lose 530 Million dollars a year. The most expensive part of running a railroad is the overhead which for a railroad is mostly owning the tracks and right of way. The Long Distance Trains use the overhead owned by the Freight Railroads which Amtrak pays a discounted price to use. Running the Long Distance Trains costs Amtrak less than operating their own trains now on the NEC plus running it for the commuter trains. For years Amtrak has hidden the true cost of the NEC by charging them to Long Distance and State subsidized trains.

Amtrak’s overhead costs will get worse if it builds a new High Speed Rail NEC and still has to pay to continue to run the old NEC which is critical in the region for commuter service. Amtrak can continue  improving its bottom line with incremental expansions of service that take advantage of existing overhead to increase revenues. Expanding service on Long Distance Trains has been proven to increase revenues faster than costs in the 1980’s under then Amtrak President Claytor. Without National political support and a broader market to increase revenues Amtrak will not be able to cover all its costs without subsidy  such as from the States,  especially for  the cost of the NEC.

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for December 31, 2012

Bike Nation is a Bicycle Rental Company which often uses train stations as part of serving a downtown area for short trips . Renters can drop off bikes near their destination downtown at a Bike Nation bike rack, then pick up another bike to get back to the train station. This is a start up operation in California. As well as at LAUS, Bike Nation is setting up bike racks around Anaheim, Fullerton and Long Beach. If this service catches on it will help move people in and out of train stations to near by areas while reducing the need to store bikes on trains.

December 31, 2012 Part 1  December 31, 2012 Part 2

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like to subscribe to this enewsletter  write to  nbraymer@railpac.org