Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

The impact of the recent court decision on the use of voter approved bonds for High Speed Rail is unknown. This ruling doesn’t stop current construction which for now is being paid with Federal Funds. What the judge ruled is that the California High Speed Rail Authority CHSRA) according to the Prop 1A bond measure must identify what funding is available to build the Initial Operating Segment before the bond money can be released for the project. For this the Authority needs to present a new and detailed funding plan for his approval. This means that the judge expects the Authority to identify the funding sources needed up to 2022, not for the entire project.

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Posted in Editorials

Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

The most optimistic deadline for the start up of High Speed Rail in California is 2022 between Burbank and Merced. This includes connecting feeder trains to most of Southern California and from the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area and Sacramento. There are many improvements needed for conventional rail for these connections before we can successfully run High Speed Rail service. These improvements are needed even without High Speed Rail and needed before it is built.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for November 25, 2013   November 29th, 2013

Boardman fires more Amtrak upper managers Trainorders.com Nov 19, 2013 On Monday Nov. 18, Amtrak fired more upper managers, eliminating twenty senior positions. Causalities reportedly included a 40-year Amtrak veteran and visionary whose last two decades were directly involved with the long distance trains and customer service, with many innovations to his credit. Comment: The person who Gene Poon refers to in the original post was indeed Brian Rosenwald. He wasn’t fired, but chose to retire this week after being passed over for several positions in the new management structure. Brian is a bright and creative man, and his energy, integrity, and creative problem-solving skills will be missed. Fred Frailey

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Posted in eNewsletter

What’s Up with the Coaster?   November 22nd, 2013

By Noel T. Braymer                                                                                                             For the past few years there has been almost constant ridership growth on the Coaster, the rail service on 41 miles of track between Oceanside and San Diego. Other California services have seen ridership go up and down while ridership has generally been constantly growing on the Coaster. One factor for this steady growth could be the excellent on time performance, generally better than most other rail services in California. Another could be the Day Pass for $12 dollars.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewslettter for November 18, 2013   November 22nd, 2013

Amtrak Serving Free Wine to Steak Loses Millions on Food Bloomberg-Nov 14, 2013 …Almost all of last year’s $72 million in food-service losses were from providing meals on long-distance trains, Inspector General Ted Alves said in testimony at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing today. I remember at least 30 years ago I heard the same story that insider theft was costing Amtrak a fortune for food service on the Long Distance Trains. To “solve” this problem the china and silverware was replaced with disposable plastic to save money and food was served much like the airlines pre-cooked at a central kitchen and heated like TV Dinners to discourage food theft. I wonder if this latest effort will be anymore successful than what was done in the past? I question any cost claims by Amtrak which are based on an allocated basis and are not itemized. Too often Amtrak uses the Long Distance Trains as a scapegoat to distract politicians and media from their real problems. NB

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Posted in eNewsletter

Commentary by Russ Jackson, URPA/RailPAC

On October 24, 2013, Amtrak rolled out the new low-level Viewliner cars at the manufacturer CAF’s plant in Elmira, New York. The order is for 130 cars: 25 sleeper cars, 25 dining cars, 25 baggage/dormitory cars and 55 baggage cars, and Amtrak is excited. They should be. This is the first order for the passenger fleet since the Superliner II cars were purchased in the 1990s. That’s a long time. In a blog report, Amtrak was enthusiastic about “how cool” these new cars are. They will all be painted in “Phase III” red and blue stripes, which was Amtrak’s most popular design, and will have the heritage “pointless arrow” on the first cars to be released. See http://blog.amtrak.com/2013/10/coming-soon-new-long-distance-cars for pictures of the exterior and interior of these new cars. Will they increase capacity for the routes where they will run? Not much, because current plans call for all the older Viewliners to be withdrawn from service for upgrade to Viewliner II standards, and there is no funding for that yet. Remember, too, Amtrak is also buying new electric locomotives for use on the Northeast Corridor. It’s nice they are being built in Sacramento, though.

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Posted in Commentary

By David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
Service Performance Overview
FY2013 Projected Results

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Posted in CA Rail Statistics

By Noel T. Braymer

Despite numerous predictions of the imminent death of the California High Speed Rail Project it is still chugging along and even picking up speed now. Not that it hasn’t had a few near death experiences along the way since the voters approved nearly 10 billion dollars in Bonds for it in 2008. The first construction contract was awarded this summer between Fresno and Madera. Already money is being spent around Fresno to hire employees for preliminary work to start construction.

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Posted in Editorials

eNewsletter for November 12, 2013   November 15th, 2013

At the November 7th Board Meeting of the California High Speed Rail Authority in Sacramento the board approved the HSR route between Bakersfield and Fresno. The route shown above in red is still subject to possible changes before construction. Most of the approved alternatives have local acceptance in the San Joaquin Valley. The route in Kings County continues to have opposition while nearby Tulare County supports the route which is near to it. There is a developer in Bakersfield who is threatening to sue over use of a sixth of one of his projects for the Bakersfield route.

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Posted in eNewsletter

Our Biggest Problem is The Weather   November 9th, 2013

By Noel T. Braymer

It is now just over a year since Hurricane Sandy caused record breaking damage along the East Coast. There was wind and flood damage which disrupted electrical power, fuel supplies, destroyed homes while damaging roads, railroads and rail transit. For the first time 100 plus year old river tunnels to Manhattan were flooded. Rail passenger traffic in and out of the New York area was largely shut down at the same time gasoline was in short supply in the area. Even if the gas stations had fuel they couldn’t pump it because there was no electricity. Much of the infrastructure of the region suffered major damage some of which which is still being repaired.

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Posted in Editorials