Why Trains need Buses   February 22nd, 2013

Analysis by Noel T. Braymer

Trains can’t go everywhere, but buses can go to many places or when trains can’t. Buses can economically carry passengers to trains when it isn’t possible to use trains. Combining trains and buses can make travel faster for passengers to more places while increasing ridership and revenue for trains. This has been proven with bus connections in California to State supported Corridor Trains. The buses connecting with these trains do so at a profit. If they don’t the bus route is eliminated.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for February 18, 2013   February 22nd, 2013

Many of the problems at Metrolink stem from previous management which lacked leadership and failed to understand the mission of Metrolink which is stated in the name of the body running it: Southern California Regional Rail Authority. A better name for Metrolink would be SoCal Rail. Previous management was under the illusion that Metrolink was a traditional commuter railroad with its principle task to serve downtown Los Angeles during rush hours. The invention of the Model T destroyed this business model. The result has been Metrolink has missed many opportunities to increase revenues and efficiencies by running additional service on weekends and off peak periods with regional service from one side of Los Angeles to the other for non-commuting travel. Management also failed to promote itself to economically expand service on new lines or connect more with local rail transit. If management’s attitude is we can’t do anything about it, then as we have seen nothing gets done. NB

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eNewsletter for February 11, 2013   February 16th, 2013

CONCLUSION:This is the third trial of an “express” service on this corridor. The dropped stops were reinstated after a similar decrease in ridership in the earlier trials. The same declining pattern repeats with 2011 – 2013 express train. The corridor as a whole is overall holding steady on ridership and overall up on revenue during the period the express has been running. The express train is down severely in both ridership and revenue, with a continuing downward trend. Caltrans believes that reinstating the three dropped stops and the associated 21 additional city pair markets for the train will increase both ridership and revenue for the train, bringing the train in line with, and adding to, the positive trend of the corridor as a whole, and giving those travel ling between the 21 lost city pairs an additional daily travel choice.

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Analysis and Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

The short answer is nobody knows for sure. The revised draft of this year’s California State Rail Plan (CSRP) was suppose to report on planning for a Blended High Speed Rail System using both conventional and high speed railroads. The current draft of the CSRP says by 2025 there will be 34 daily High Speed Trains between Burbank and Merced with connections at Burbank of 34 trains from Metrolink and Amtrak. This for a project that is not yet funded. But by 2018 there is funding for 130 miles of new railroad built for high speeds though not funded for electrification. This new railroad will be used by some express San Joaquin trains at 125 mile per hour speeds until there is money to build an electrified High Speed Railroad between Merced and Burbank no sooner than 2022.

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eNewsletter for February 4, 2013   February 9th, 2013

Amtrak last September after the end of the 2012 Fiscal Year ballyhooed the fact that they had recovered 85% of their OPERATING costs and only needed $361 million extra in 2012 to cover operations. But the final figure for Federal funds for Amtrak is $1.418 billion. The biggest chunk at $623 million is for Capital mostly for track and catenary projects on the NEC. In 2010 Amtrak estimated that $5.2 billion was needed to get the NEC is a “good state of repair” and that at about $700 million a year over the next 15 years would be needed to repair the NEC. The $255 million for Debt service is likely needed to pay off much of the debt Amtrak ran up in the late 1990′s to start up the Aclea trains which was the reason Amtrak almost ceased operations in 2002. The DOT charges Amtrak $10 million from their funding to pay for the DOT’s oversight of Amtrak. What is missing is any money for more equipment which is needed if Amtrak is to increase ridership and revenues to cover more of their costs. NB

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Analysis by Noel T. Braymer

With changes coming this October to the billing for State supported trains run by Amtrak, California and the other States supporting Amtrak Trains are getting sticker shock. Congress which is forcing Amtrak to raise its prices is also considering allowing private companies to take over some of these Amtrak trains. This would be similar to many commuter trains run by a private company under contract to a government agency.

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Posted in Editorials, Reports

Report by Noel T. Braymer

Cutting back on Long Distance Passenger Service has never saved money for Amtrak. It was tried in 1979 and again in 1997 with losses increasing not decreasing. Amtrak’s losses increased 150 million dollars from 1978 to 1981 after the October 1979 service cutbacks of 5 Long Distance Trains. Despite service cutbacks after 1994 which included in 1997 elimination of 2 Long Distance Trains, Amtrak almost ran out of cash for operations by 2002 from the cost of the start up of the Acela Trains.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for January 28, 2013   February 2nd, 2013

LA Subcommittee To Discuss Metrolink Connection To ONT Los Angeles Daily News Jan 22, 2013 Last week, Councilman Bill Rosendahl introduced a motion requesting that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office and officials from Los Angeles World Airports work with Metrolink to consider options for connecting the Ontario airport to the rail line.His motion also suggested there would be a 20-minute connection.”At our current schedule, we will not be able to provide a 20-minute route,” Metrolink spokesman Scott Johnson said. A 20 minute trip on the 57 miles between downtown LA and Ontario Airport would be an average speed of about 170 miles per hour. NB

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