By Noel T. Braymer

What’s the answer for America’s Long Distance Passenger Trains? Since W. Graham Claytor retired as Amtrak President in 1993 the Long Distance Trains have been slowly decaying. New and more equipment is needed now just for current demand. The equipment is now not being properly maintained which often causes problem on the road and delays. The railroads are increasingly unhappy with Amtrak because they don’t get paid enough to make money with Amtrak’s trains and often deal with its breakdowns. How can we turn things around to create a growing, vibrant and self-supporting Long Distance Passenger Rail service in this Country?

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for October 28, 2013   October 31st, 2013

This is the plan for overhauling Los Angeles Union Station just approved by the Board of LA Metro. The old pedestrian tunnel will be replaced with a large open area under the tracks to eliminate crowding and add more retail space at the Station. A new 2 story bus facility will be build along side of track one just west of the Gold Line Platforms. There will also be direct access under the tracks between the Gold Line to the Red and Purple Subway station as well as buses and the trains at original tracks. At the east end where the current bus area is will be use for more retail and office buildings.

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Posted in eNewsletter

By Noel T. Braymer

The most critical segment for decent passenger rail service in California is a new alignment between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. The current route built mostly by hand with mules and black powder would still take around 4 hours even if millions for track improvements were spent to get between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. With a new fast link instead rail passenger service can run quickly and economically serving most of California. Lack of a decent alignment on this segment is what is preventing massive ridership growth on California rail passenger service. Until such a link is built investors are not willing to invest in California High Speed Rail.

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eNewsletter for October 21, 2013   October 25th, 2013

Most of the hyperbole about the High Speed Rail program is driven by old fashion partisan politics rather than sound transportation policy. The Prop 1A Ballot measure allows the State to sell 10 Billion dollars in bonds for Public/Private financing of a High Speed Railroad through California. The assumption was the bonds would be matched with Federal Funds. The ballot measure prevents the State from subsidizing operation of HSR Train service. But the intent of the project is that the majority of the funding will be privately raised and serviced by profits from the operation of the HSR trains. Most High Speed trains, most intercity passenger trains for that matter make an operating profit. The ballot measure does not require the train’s profits to pay off all of the capital costs of the HSR project. Much of the hysterical opposition to the HSR project is either ignorant of what is in the Prop 1A ballot measure or is intentionally trying to mislead the public. NB

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Posted in eNewsletter

By Noel T. Braymer

For years in the past the Greyhound Bus Company complained about how unfair it was that as a private business it had to “compete” with Amtrak which received a government subsidy. An example of this is a California State Law, Senate Bill 804 (Perata) for the year 1999 which Greyhound sponsored. This law forbids passengers from using Amtrak connecting buses if they don’t also ride the train. It doesn’t matter if there are no reasonable alternative bus services to the Amtrak connecting bus to where the passenger is coming or going.

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eNewsletter for October 14, 2013   October 18th, 2013

Re: Amtrak no bargain for the States    The states that fund their own intercity services, including California, will go on getting gouged by Amtrak to the limits of credibility only as long as they continue to treat Amtrak as a sole supplier rather than put these services out to competitive bid.                                                                     States and commuter agencies do this routinely for commuter services, and have all but run Amtrak–always the high cost provider–completely out of that business. Why the states don’t do this for local and regional intercity services, especially in markets like California where there is proportionally little use for connecting traffic to national system trains, is a complete mystery.                                                                                             I’m sure many of your regular readers will recall that California had essentially brought the San Diegan service to a breakeven level of operation, even under Amtrak’s phony cost allocation regime, under the old “403(b)” program, when Amtrak suddenly changed the rules ostensibly to avoid having to pay a share of looming PROFITS from the San Diegans back to Caltrans.                                                                                           Andrew Selden

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Posted in eNewsletter

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

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Posted in CA Rail Statistics

By Noel T. Braymer

It is no secret that the key to being profitable is to bring in more money than you spend. To run a profitable passenger railroad the keys are maximizing productivity and increasing revenue with increased ridership. Here are basic steps that other successful transportation services use to do more than just cover their costs.

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eNewsletter for October 7, 2013   October 12th, 2013

Dan Richards, Chair of the California High Speed Rail Authority addressing the RailPAC/NARP Joint Meeting in San Francisco on October 5, 2013. Mr. Richard gave the funniest and most charming talk of the day about the many problems he has faced at the High Speed Rail Authority. He admitted that in 2008 the Authority was like a stickball team that found itself playing in the baseball major leagues. He also pointed out that almost all High Speed Rail services generate an operating profit and he says California is a good market for High Speed Rail. Prop 1A passed by the voters in 2008 calls for High Speed Rail to make an operating profit but doesn’t call for it to pay all capital costs. Mr Richard thinks with only 3 lawsuits pending for California High Speed Rail it is doing better than the Golden State Bridge which in the 1930′s faced over 2,000 lawsuits.

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Posted in eNewsletter

By Noel T. Braymer

I wasn’t in the mood this time to ride buses for 2 night in a row for this year’s meeting in San Francisco. So I got a flight out of San Diego at 7:56 AM for an arrival at 9:35 AM at San Francisco. Since the first Coaster Train to San Diego on Saturday morning arrives at 9:36 AM it clearly wasn’t an option for getting to the airport on time. Both of my flights which flew when there was no rail service were full. This was an example of yield management at work which discounts tickets to fill seats when needed. Empty seats means lost money on planes and trains.

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Posted in Editorials