Reported, with an editorial, by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President

I traveled to Fresno Friday 26th July for the San Joaquin JPA meeting, the third of this newly formed corridor agency. Travel both ways from Burbank Airport via Thruway bus and San Joaquin train was on time and uneventful. The trains were well loaded, about 95% in my coach both ways, and the buses about 50% northbound (including 8 from Burbank!) and 33% southbound. Both modes deployed clean equipment and courteous and helpful crews.

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Posted in Editorials, Reports
By Noel T. Braymer                                                                                                              It’s not easy going from Los Angeles to San Francisco by train; particularly for a one day trip. But Los Angeles-San Francisco is one of the largest travel markets in this country. On the Coast Starlight it takes about 12 hours and a bus ride from Emeryville to get to San Francisco. Taking the San Joaquins to San Francisco requires both a bus ride from Emeryville and from Los Angeles to Bakersfield. If you take the 1:45AM bus from Los Angeles and catch the San Joaquin at 4:55AM you can be in San Francisco by 11:20 AM. To get back to Los Angeles the last bus of the night leaves San Francisco at 5:15PM which will get you to Los Angeles by 2:20 AM.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for July 22, 2013   July 27th, 2013

LIRR watchdog group: Amtrak board lacks commuter rep Newsday Jul 19, 2013 Mark Epstein, chairman of the LIRR Commuter Council, said Thursday that a vacancy on Amtrak’s seven-member board should be filled by a New York commuter. No Way! Amtrak was never suppose to be involved with commuter rail in the first place because it is a money sponge. The Amtrak Board is already dominated by officials from the East Coast. What is long overdue is a new authority instead of Amtrak to be responsible for the infrastructure of the NEC. It should be locally controlled and funded by a combination of local and Federal Funding. The fact is Amtrak’s Federal funding subsidizes commuter trains on the NEC at the expense of the National System. This is at the heart of Amtrak’s budget problems not the cost of food on the Long Distance Trains. NB

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Posted in eNewsletter

By David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director,
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

Capitol Corridor Service Performance: Ridership for June 2013 was down 4% compared to June 2012 with Year to Date (YTD) ridership 3% lower than last year. YTD revenue is slightly below last year by 0.7%; however, YTD system operating ratio is 54% thanks to lower diesel fuel prices. As always, our On-time performance (OTP) continues to keep an element of performance on the bright side: for June our OTP was 95%; YTD OTP is 95% keeping the Capitol Corridor on top of the leader board in service reliability in the Amtrak system.

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Posted in CA Rail Statistics

By Noel T. Braymer

The Coast Line between Los Angeles and San Jose is a natural for more passenger rail service. The demand is there to fill up more passenger trains. For over 15 years there have been plans to start up day service between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the Coast Line. Yet we are no closer today than 15 years ago. Why? The conventional wisdom is that it is because the Union Pacific is opposed to passenger rail service.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for July 15, 2013   July 19th, 2013

What is being proposed are elevated tubes 5 feet in diameter. In them a pressurized mag-lev pod weighing 400 pounds carrying 6 passengers and luggage would travel in a vacuum with almost no friction and needing little energy for propulsion. A single High Speed Train can easily carry 600 passengers with between 6 to 20 such trains running in one direction per hour. To just carry 600 passengers on the Hyperloop would require 100 carloads an hour. That’s a pod every 36 seconds. The closest separation allowed between trains is 90 seconds for roughly 2 blocks of separation. At up to 4,000 miles per hour how quickly can one of these pods stop and how much distance is required to do so? NB

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Posted in eNewsletter

By Noel T. Braymer

The recent court decision to throw out a part of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008 means that the railroads no longer have to give priority to Amtrak Trains on their tracks. This overturns years of precedent which has given passenger trains priority over freight. Since the 19th Century railroads were expected to operate passenger service and give them priority for the public good. Passenger service was never very profitable even in the best of times for the railroads. It was considered part of the cost of doing business to get government approval to operate a railroad.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for July 8, 2013   July 12th, 2013

Amtrak Barred From Rulemaking Power For Freight Railroad Bloomberg- Jul 3, 2013 The court threw out a law passed to enforce a requirement, dating to Amtrak’s creation in 1970, that freight trains give priority to passenger trains on tracks they share, which they do in most of the U.S. In other words if we want Long Distance Trains, we will need government funding to maintain the tracks to passenger trains standards. NB

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Posted in eNewsletter
By Noel T. Braymer

Recently I was looking at a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) from 2009 for the Las Vegas to California High Speed Rail project. What struck me about it was it seemed the people planning improvements for the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) learned a great deal from the Las Vegas High Speed Rail Project. Both ACE and XpressWest the company behind the Las Vegas High Speed Rail project plan to use multiple unit or MU trains. MU trains are usually used on transit with each car having powered trucks instead of using locomotives. Many High Speed Trains also use MU equipment. MU trains have much more traction and a higher horsepower to weight ratio than using a locomotive. This means faster acceleration and faster speeds going over grades and being able to go over higher grades. MU trains have been around since the late 19th century. Electric MU trains were very popular as Interurban trains about 100 years ago because they were cheaper to build and operate than steam railroads.

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Posted in Editorials

By Noel T. Braymer

The California High Speed Rail Authority put off decisions back at their June 7th Board meeting over the final routes through Hanford and Bakersfield. At this meeting the CHSRA’s board did approve the contract for the first 29 miles of construction between Fresno and Madera. It also handed over most of the responsibility and funding for faster service over the Altamont Pass to the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission which operates the Altamont Corridor Express or ACE.

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Posted in Editorials