Analysis by Noel T. Braymer

Amtrak says that they lose over $500 million dollars a year running the Long Distance Passenger Trains. But Amtrak endures this hardship because of the transportation necessity provided by the Long Distance Trains in much of rural America. Amtrak has been hinting that they would like the States to help pay for the costs of the Long Distance Trains to keep them running. This would be much like how States pay for their Short Distance Trains.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for April 22, 2013   April 26th, 2013

AMTRAK’S NEW COST ACCOUNTING SYSTEM IS A SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT BUT CONCERNS OVER PRECISION AND LONG TERM VIABILITY REMAIN  In 2010, Amtrak implemented its new system, Amtrak’s Performance Tracking (APT), which is based on a cost methodology developed jointly by FRA and Amtrak, to track and report on its financial performance… Amtrak is unable to assign a greater percentage of its costs or allocate costs more precisely because Amtrak does not collect sufficiently detailed cost data…As a result, like RPS, APT allocates rather than assigns a majority of Amtrak’s operating costs…Use of Statistical Estimation to Identify Avoidable Costs Is Not Standard Practice in the Railroad Industry. None of the passenger and freight rail entities we interviewed uses statistical estimation to identify avoidable costs.

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And other California Corridor statistics.
Reported by DAVID B. KUTROSKY, Managing Director

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By Noel T. Braymer

A major problem since the creation of Amtrak is there are so many places it is impossible for passengers to get to by Rail in this country. It isn’t for lack of stations with over 400 Amtrak Stations over most of the continental United States. But you can’t take a train from Los Angeles to Denver or Omaha. You also can’t get from St. Louis to Salt Lake City or Sacramento by passenger train. The problem is most long distance trains run east-west between Chicago and the West Coast. Practically the only north-south trains are at the ends between Los Angeles and Seattle and Chicago to New Orleans. There is a simple way to solve this problem by running connecting trains as sections of some of these long distance trains.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for April 15, 2013   April 19th, 2013

It is amazing that the mechanics and the NCTD engineer in charge of Sprinter maintenance knew only a year after the start of Sprinter service that there was a problem with these rotors, but not management. In 2009 this engineer was contacting manufacturers about replacement rotors and it was 3 years before he got a reply. Still there is no word if the cause of this excessive wear and a solution to stop it has been found. NB

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Analysis by Noel T. Braymer

After several near death experiences the California High Speed Rail project is poised to soon start construction for 130 miles of new railroad in the San Joaquin Valley. This is assured with almost $6 billion dollars in funding from Federal and State sources. This is after several changes were made as part of the final draft of the California High Speed Rail Business Plan in 2012. The current Business Plan calls for 300 miles of 220 miles per hour railroad to be built and running between Merced and the San Fernando Valley by 2022. To do this will require an additional $26 billion dollars to the $6 billion dollars already funded. The expectation is with the new 300 mile core service with connections at both terminals by rail to most of California this service will be able to operate at a profit and service new private debt to continue to expand the system.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for April 8, 2013   April 12th, 2013

The western trains ALL cover their variable and direct fixed costs of operations handily, but fail only to cover Amtrak’s allocations of system fixed costs which exist irrespective of the fact or volume of long distance train operations. It is still the case also that Amtrak deliberately misallocates substantial shares of NEC fixed costs to long distance trains, including long distance trains in the west that never use the NEC. The purported “success” or “profitability” of the NEC is a BIG LIE because to make that claim (and to hide the NEC’s staggering and growing annual losses), Amtrak routinely mischaracterizes its infrastructure costs as “capital” items, as if that changes the fact that these costs are caused by and indispensible for the operation of trains in the NEC.

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Mr. Michael R. Peevey 8th April, 2013
President,
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco CA 94102
SAFE OPERATION OF “SPRINTER” RAIL PASSENGER SERVICE
Dear President Peevey:

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Posted in Commentary

Report and Photo by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC e-newsletter Editor

The Sprinter started out as a simple project to serve the 22 miles between Oceanside and Escondido. The original proposal by RailPAC’s Byron Nordberg back in the 1980′s was to rebuild the existing single tracked short line railroad between these 2 cities for about 70-80 million dollars. Inexpensive, self-propelled diesel rail cars, proven and in production, would be used. The idea was to finish it in 1988, which was the centennial of these two cities and of the construction of this short line. After that things got complicated. The budget went up and opening day got pushed back to 2000 then 2005, 2007 and it finally opened in March 2008. By then the construction budget was almost half a billion dollars!

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Posted in Issues, Reports

NOTE: This letter from Paul Dyson and Noel Braymer’s article below express the RailPAC opinions on this subject.
8th April, 2013
Mr. William D. Bronte,
Chief, Division of Rail
Department of Transportation
1120 N Street MS 74
Sacramento, CA 95814
Surfliner: Degrading Intercity Schedules to cover gaps in Commuter Service a bad policy and contrary to State Rail Plan
Dear Mr. Bronte:

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Posted in Commentary