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Commentary, Issues, Reports

Amtrak’s 2014 – The Real Stats

Amtrak continually tells us about how many passengers they put into seats in the Northeast corridor. What many suspect because of far longer travel distances, but never can get Amtrak to say, is that in passenger miles (passenger mile = one passenger riding for one mile), and is said by some to be the most proper measure of how much transportation is being produced … the Northeast Corridor is the least productive part of the company. Here are the statistics that Amtrak doesn’t tell us for FY 2014.


Includes over 3 million on NEC Spine Special Trains, and over 4 million on State Corridor Special Trains; none on Long Distance Special Trains

  • NEC Spine – 1,931,319,000
  • State Corridors – 1,961,953,000
  • Long Distance – 2,760,957,000

Includes 14,000 on NEC Spine Special Trains, 10,000 on State Corridor Special Trains; none on Long Distance Special Trains

  • NEC Spine – 9,094,000
  • State Corridors – 15,232,000
  • Long Distance – 14,732,000

Includes over 9.2 million on NEC Spine Special Trains, 5.9 million on State Corridor Special Trains; none on Long Distance Special Trains

  • NEC Spine – 3,462,836,268
  • State Corridors – 4,607,897,790
  • Long Distance – 4,678,361,006

Load factors on NEC Special Trains 33.8%, State Corridor Special Trains 72.2%, no Long Distance Special Trains

  • NEC Spine – 55.8%
  • State Corridors – 42.6%
  • Long Distance – 59.0%
Source: AMTRAK

More Good News for California High Speed Rail

By Noel T. Braymer

After passage of Prop 1A in November 2008 which gave the California High Speed Rail project almost 10 billion dollars in funding,everything seemed to go wrong. The project was on death’s door by 2012 with growing opposition from property owners who could be affected by the project. This was particularly true in the San Joaquin Valley. Since 2012 after a new Business Plan was written and with major management changes, the project and its relations with many of the impacted communities has slowly improved.

The most recent good news is the settlement of a lawsuit brought by the City of Bakersfield against the California High Speed Rail Authority. As part of the settlement the Authority has agreed to study a second possible route of High Speed Rail into Bakersfield which is the city’s preferred choice. This route is along the UP right of way at the north end of downtown Bakersfield. The motivation for settling this lawsuit was a recent ruling by the Surface Transportation Board that it had jurisdiction over environmental issues, not the State on the California High Speed Rail Project. Since the Surface Transportation Board had already approved the California High Speed Rail Project, the Bakersfield lawsuit as well as 6 other pending lawsuits against the the California High Speed Rail project on environmental grounds would soon be dismissed. By reaching a settlement before the lawsuit was dismissed, Bakersfield was able to save face and get their preferred alignment studied.

It is too soon to say which of the 2 alignments will be the final route to Bakersfield. There are several problems with the city’s choice of the UP right of way instead of the BNSF which is the preferred route of the Authority. First there is the problem of getting the cooperation of the UP which can never be taken for granted. Second using the UP would make it easier to reach the Tehachapi Mountains, but would eliminate the only connections to the San Joaquin Trains to High Speed Rail which will run mostly by the BNSF. Third, most of the route of High Speed Rail in the San Joaquin Valley is along the BNSF, not the UP and an expensive connector would be needed between the UP and the BNSF for a UP/ HSR Bakersfield Station.

There may still be some changes made on the High Speed Rail alignment on the BNSF to downtown Bakersfield to reduce opposition to the project. It was a good move the Authority’s part to offer a face saving deal with the City of Bakersfield for settling their lawsuit. The Authority didn’t need to to so since the city’s lawsuit was bound to be dismissed anyway. But this should help in future negotiations with the city when a final route is selected.

The other hot spot now for California High Speed Rail is the final route between Burbank and Palmdale. The original preferred route follows Highway 14 along the cities of Santa Clarita and Acton. The new route being looked at as an alternative is 10 miles shorter at 35 miles between Palmdale and Burbank opposed to 45 miles following the 14. It does this with a direct route in a long tunnel that goes under the mountains and bypasses Santa Clarita. Most of the opposition to High Speed Rail is from home owners in Acton and Santa Clarita. It is likely that the final choice will be a direct tunnel route that follows the line of least resistance.

The California High Speed Rail Authority now has momentum to speed up construction on High Speed Rail. In early January there will be the official Ground Breaking Ceremony in Fresno. There has been much reporting about the slow rate of land acquisition for the project. There are renewed efforts to speed up this process. With a second construction contract signed now for the route south of Fresno to the Kern County northern border, we should soon see progress toward starting construction on this segment.

The issue of connectivity is still to be resolved. The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) is planning to run 6 round trips a day between San Jose and Merced by 2022. The plan for High Speed Rail is to run 34 round trips a day between Burbank and Merced by 2022. Only 2 of the 6 ACE trains will connect directly with High Speed Rail along the UP right of way. The other 4 ACE trains will run on the BNSF to the Amtrak Station which is several blocks from the future High Speed Rail Station in Merced. The San Joaquin Trains will also continue to stop at the Amtrak Station.

The only station for San Joaquin trains with direct connections to High Speed Rail service so far was at Bakersfield. If that was moved to the UP, that would leave none. Shuttle bus connections are a possibility, but not as good as a joint station. Not only could the San Joaquin trains serve as a feeder to the rest of the San Joaquin Valley, but it would provide connections to the northern east bay area of the Bay Area. The San Joaquins have 2 round trips a day to Sacramento. Expanding and improving this service and providing connections to High Speed Rail at Merced would open a major travel market in California by rail.This could be done quickly and cheaply (compared to the cost for a High Speed Rail connection which won’t happen until after 2029).

Things are better at Burbank with expanded Metrolink and Surfliner train service planed by 2022 to connect with High Speed Rail at Bob Hope Airport. But it may be 2029 before there is direct High Speed Rail service at Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim. There will be a great deal of work needed south of Burbank before the Authority can operated up to 64 round trips a day to Union Station and Anaheim.


RailPAC eNewsletter for December 22, 2014

High-speed rail project settles Bakersfield lawsuit
Visalia Times-Delta – Dec 19, 2014
SACRAMENTO – The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced Friday that it has settled one of seven environmental lawsuits challenging the route of the $68 billion bullet train through the Central Valley.
The Surface Transportation Board ruling that it can overrule local state environmental laws would have brought the dismissal of the Bakersfield Lawsuit if the city hadn’t settled. The six other lawsuits still pending will likely be soon settled or dismissed. NB

December 22, 2014

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Rail Photos

RailPAC trip report PHOTOS for Christmas (2014)

This is a SPECIAL 10 PHOTO EDITION. All the photos (except one) are from Russ Jackson on his family’s Fall trip across the country. To see these photos larger, click on the photo. To read the full trip report, see “Trip Report on the Texas Eagle and other trains: How was it?” that was posted on this site on November 28.
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1. Amtrak’s Texas Eagle departing the St. Louis, MO, station is about to cross the Mississippi River on a cold November day with full view of the Gateway Arch.
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2. The Texas Eagle has arrived at the Chicago Union Station platform on a very cold and wintry November, 2014 day.
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3. Many Amtrak sleeping car attendants “dress up” the area at the top of the stairs like this one on California Zephyr #5, providing passengers with books and other items. On this trip the ice, fruit juice and coffee were always available.
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4. November snow was visible out the car windows across Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado. This is the platform at the Denver station just as #5 has arrived. Because of the weather the photographer was unable to visit the newly remodeled station (seen in the background).
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5. The trip of the California Zephyr up the face of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in the snow is always a much anticipated view out the car windows.
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6. The writer is in better weather on the platform in the Reno trench where #5 has made a very productive stop.
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7. It was a cold day, but this non-rail photo tells the story of the beautiful California Central Coast at Pt. Joe on the Monterey Peninsula 17 Mile Drive.
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8. The return trip on Amtrak took us on #422, the combined Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle through car. At the Tucson, AZ, station the disabled ramp has been removed from its storage shed to assist loading a passenger in a motorized wheel chair. Note the new-style “stepstool” by the car door alongside the traditional yellow one.
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9. Many Amtrak car attendants decorate their cars for the holiday season. This is one of the displays that Lisa, our sleeping car attendant, provided. Lisa will also conduct holiday bingo games in the Sunset Limited’s Sightseer Lounge on her runs during December.
LAUS Christmas tree 2014 Braymer photo
10. With this photo of the Christmas tree next to the main entrance at Los Angeles Union Station we close our trip and wish all the readers a Happy Holiday from the RailPAC Photo department. If this picture looks familiar, it was seen first on the December 7 RailPAC e-newsletter. This report writer was standing next to Noel Braymer when he took the photo.


Metrolink Needs a Plan, and some Leadership

By Noel T. Braymer

Metrolink has failed to fulfill its mission to be the Southern California Regional Rail Passenger Railroad. The official name for Metrolink is the Southern California Regional Rail Authority. Instead the management of Metrolink at its inception was under the impression that they were running a commuter railroad to primarily carry people to downtown Los Angeles. Instead of being leaders, the people hired to run Metrolink (the very name reflects the downtown LA mentality) turned out to be expensive bureaucrats. Instead of bold action, Metrolink senior staff fretted over avoiding possible turf wars with other rail service agencies instead of working to create an integrated train service between providers.

A good example of this comes from a now retired civil engineer of Metrolink’s. On his own he wrote a feasibility study for fixing up the publicly owned former Santa Fe Harbor Line to create a Metrolink connection to the LAX area with connections to downtown Los Angeles and possible connections to the Inland Empire and Orange County. He was told in no uncertain words by top management never to mention this idea again or to tell anyone outside of Metrolink about. He was told that there was an “unwritten rule” that Metrolink couldn’t go south or west of downtown Los Angeles and Union Station: that this would infringe on LA Metro territory. The old Santa Fe Harbor line is now being used for the Crenshaw Light Rail Line to LAX and proposed for a bike path.

I can’t think of any healthy rail transportation system with such a stupid “unwritten rule”. Look at most rail service maps in major cities in Europe where intercity, regional and transit rail services often overlap each other and help to feed and distribute passenger to and from each rail service. What is needed is a spirit of cooperation and joint purpose between the different rail services, not to create rival bureaucratic empires that avoid each other’s “turf”. To sell an idea like Metrolink service to LAX, the emphasis has to be the advantages to all the services by doing so.

The defensive nature, lack of vision and incompetence of the former management of Metrolink is directly responsible for the climate at Metrolink which led to the mess Metrolink is in today. Metrolink management have been hiding accounting problems and cash shortages from its board for years. Metrolink hasn’t had a plan to replace aging and unreliable station ticket machines that often failed. Only after much unfavorable publicity in the news about the problems with the ticket machines did the board vote money to replace them recently. At the same time the board started a major shake up of Metrolink management.

The biggest problem at Metrolink which management has failed to address is ridership. Instead of growing it has been shrinking. This is a failure of marketing. Marketing is not advertising. Marketing is identifying the different markets for your service and finding ways to make your service more appealing to these markets. Instead Metrolink management has complained that there are fewer people commuting to work in downtown Los Angeles which is the reason for ridership decline. No word about other markets in a region with over 18 million people.

What is needed to increase ridership on Metrolink is with better service connecting to more markets all day, 7 days a week in Southern California. Most drivers go past downtown Los Angeles not into downtown. Downtown is a natural road junction, but not the destination for many travelers. The same is true of many potential riders for Metrolink. Downtown Los Angeles is a good hub to transfer from, not the only place passengers are headed. Many simple improvements can be made on Metrolink with better connections between trains and better bus connections to increase ridership. Discount ticketing for off peak trains should be used to fill up otherwise underused trains. We need management at Metrolink that produce results, not excuses.

An example of what can and should be done is on the Inland Empire-Orange County Metrolink Line. This line has 8 round trips between Irvine and Riverside.Six of these trains also serve Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo, 3 of these 8 trains also serve San Juan Capistrano, and 2 of the 8 goes as far as Oceanside. Also 4 of the 8 trains also serve San Bernardino. By simply running connecting round trips buses on 4 of these trains between Riverside to San Bernardino there could be 8 round trip services between San Bernardino and Irvine. With 6 round trips by buses south of Irvine to Oceanside there could be round trip service 8 times a day between Oceanside and San Bernardino. At Oceanside with some scheduling changes we could also see many connections on the Coaster to San Diego to the Inland Empire-Orange County Line. These bus connections would add more passengers to all of these existing trains. This would also create a new corridor between San Diego and San Bernardino in an area of about 8 million people. This should have been done years ago.


RailPAC eNewsletter for December 15, 2014

Metrolink chief Michael P. DePallo quits after two years
Los Angeles Times-Dec 12, 2014
Metrolink’s chief executive officer resigned Friday amid ongoing scrutiny of the six-county commuter railroad’s operations, governance and financial controls.Michael P. DePallo, a former transit leader from New York, stepped down two years after he replaced John Fenton, who left the top post unexpectedly in 2012 to head a Florida-based freight railroad…

December 15, 2014

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RailPAC eNewsletter for December 8, 2014

FRA waives Buy America rules on high speed train prototypes
Railway Gazette International – Dec 4, 2014
‘FRA believes a waiver is appropriate because domestically-produced high speed trainsets meeting the specific technical, design, and schedule needs of Amtrak and CHSRA are not currently available in the USA’, the letter explains. ‘Moreover, domestically-produced high speed trainsets cannot be bought or produced in the USA within a reasonable time given the programme schedule associated with Amtrak’s and CHSRA’s projects.’

December 8, 2014

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Rail Connections to California’s Major Airports

By Noel T. Braymer

California now has some connections by rail at its airports. This will improve over the next 10 to 20 years. The two airports now with the best rail connections are San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank near downtown Los Angeles..

SFO has direct and regular service from BART and connections via BART to Caltrain at Millbrae. The alignment used for this has left BART with a stub end track at the International Terminal of SFO. Because of the stub end track which reduces track capacity of  BART trains to SFO . The connection to SFO from Caltrain is slow and expensive

BART system Map Click on all images to enlarge

BART system Map
Click on all images to enlarge

The original plan was for a much cheaper connection to BART with the SFO People Mover for a joint BART/Caltrain station in San Bruno which is near the People Mover’s terminal at the Rental Car Center for SFO. This would have allowed all BART and Caltrain trains to connect to all the terminals at the airport, not just the International Terminal. But the decision to extend BART into the airport at great expense was a political decision. After a slow start, ridership to the airport on BART has grown and is an economical alternative to driving and paying for parking at the airport. SFO will also be getting a High Speed Rail connection by 2029.

SFO Map showing the terminals, People Mover and rail connections.

SFO Map showing the terminals, People Mover and rail connections.

For several years there has been a train station at Bob Hope Airport which is a short 10 minute walk from the terminals The station is served by Metrolink and Surfliner trains with service between downtown Los Angeles and Ventura County. Unlike BART train service, it is not as regular and has gaps between trains sometimes of a few hours. But improvements are on the way.

Recently Bob Hope Airport opened a new Regional Intermodal Transportation Center. Part of this included a consolidated rental car facility across the street from the train station. As well as a large parking structure for the rental cars, a covered pedestrian walkway was built with moving sidewalks to make getting to the terminals faster and more comfortable. Access to this walkway is now possible by a nearby crosswalk to the train station. In a few years a new pedestrian bridge will be built to encourage more passengers to ride the train and use the walkway to get to the terminals

View from trains station at Bob Hope Airport. The covered walkway under construction can be seen on the right.

View from the train station at Bob Hope Airport. The covered walkway under construction can be seen on the right.

Inside the walkway to the Bob Hope Airport terminals

Inside the walkway to the Bob Hope Airport terminals

Bob Hope Airport will before 2022 have a second train station on the line between Los Angeles and Palmdale. This station will also be served by Surfliner, Metrolink and High Speed Rail. In fact this station will be a temporary terminus for High Speed Rail as part of its initial service. This will be the first High Speed Rail Station in California to serve an airport. At the beginning there will be a short shuttle bus ride from the station to the terminals.

LA Metro graphic on the planned 2nd train station at Bob Hope.

LA Metro graphic on the planned 2nd train station at Bob Hope.

Just recently Oakland Airport began service with a new People Mover built by BART to connect the terminals with the BART and Amtrak stations in Oakland by the Oakland Coliseum. This replaces a previous dedicated bus connection between the trains stations and the terminals. Ridership is already up on the People Mover compared with the bus connection. The People Movers is faster and runs more frequently than the bus.

The next airport to get rail connections will be San Diego no later than 2016. The first leg will be a shuttle bus connection at the Washington Street Trolley Station. The shuttle bus will be using a new temporary inter-airport road for a new Consolidated Rental Car Facility being built near Washington Street. This new road will reduce traffic congestion on the surface streets to the terminals. It will do this by diverting passengers picking up or dropping off rental cars, parking at nearby airport parking and from the Trolley off the city streets to the new road.

The long range plan at the San Diego Airport is for all passengers to enter near Washington St to the airport where it is next to the freeway and railroad. This will include a new train station for Coaster and Surfliner trains, as well as Trolley service with a pedestrian bridge to connect to a new People Mover which will go under the runway to new and enlarged terminals. The plan is for the new airport train station to also be the High Speed Rail Station and main San Diego Train Station. The People Mover is planned to be in operation by the 2020’s and the rest of construction done by 2030-2035.

San Diego's plans to rebuild the airport with a new entrance and train station.

San Diego’s plans to rebuild the airport with a new entrance and train station.

It was recently announced that the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) plans to build a People Mover by 2024. This is also part of a Consolidated Rental Car Facility to by built a little over a mile mile from the terminals. The People Mover will remove traffic from car rental customers with a ride to the terminal and eliminate the many rental car shuttle buses. The LAX People Mover will also serve an airport bus station and a Light Rail Station at 96th Street to be built just to connect to the People Mover. This Light Rail Station will be served by the Green Line and the new Crenshaw Line. The Green and Crenshaw Lines will share about a mile of trackage between 96th Street and Imperial Highway.

LAX graphic of plan for a  People Mover

LAX graphic of plan for a People Mover

While this will be a big improvement, this rail service will miss many of the areas where many of LAX’s passengers live. The Green Line runs both south of LAX near the coast and due east to Norwalk along the Century Freeway. The Crenshaw Line will run from Imperial Highway north through Inglewood to Exposition Blvd at Crenshaw for a distance of 8.5 miles. Neither line directly serves West Los Angeles or downtown Los Angeles where many LAX travelers either live or are going to. At the Crenshaw Line, passenger can transfer from the subway station to the at-grade platforms of the Expo Line at Exposition Blvd. Here passengers can transfer to either West Los Angeles, Santa Monica or to downtown Los Angeles.

Crenshaw Line with connections to Green and Expo Lines

Crenshaw Line with connections to Green and Expo Lines

On the Green Line passengers can transfer to downtown Los Angeles and Los Angeles Union Station or Long Beach in the future at Willowbrook on the Blue Line. Currently there is no plans to extend the end of the Green Line in Norwalk to the Metrolink Station in Norwalk. For some time in the future the best connection to LAX from downtown will remain the Flyaway Bus from Los Angeles Union Station.

The likely alignment of the People Mover at LAX

The likely alignment of the People Mover at LAX

As part of the California High Speed Rail project, there are plans to have connections to the Palmdale and Ontario Airports. Both airports have plenty of underused capacity. High Speed Rail service should be open to Palmdale by 2022. The station will be in Palmdale so a connection will be needed to the airport. Currently there is little commercial passenger traffic at Palmdale, and it is hard to attract airlines to use it. Local Palmdale officials are counting on High Speed Rail to increase passenger volumes at the airport.

It will likely be sometime after 2029 before High Speed Rail is built to Ontario. In the meantime there are constant battles between local officials and the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) over control of Ontario Airport. The LAWA controls both LAX and Ontario Airports. The people in the Inland Empire complain that LAWA isn’t doing enough to bring in air traffic to Ontario which has been in decline for years. There are increasing demands in the Inland Empire that control of Ontario Airport be in local hands and not LAWA’s.

Sacramento for years has been planning to extend its RT Light Rail service to the airport some 12 miles away from downtown Sacramento. This would be as an extension of the Green Line which was extended north of downtown in 2012 with the expectation it would be extended to the airport by 2017. Planning is underway to do just that. But so far there is no assured funding to extend the RT to the airport.

Route map of proposed extension of Sacramento Green Line to the airport

Route map of proposed extension of Sacramento Green Line to the airport

At the San Jose Airport there is connecting bus service to the Santa Clara station for Caltrain and ACE. There is also connections to the local light rail service VAT. John Wayne Airport is roughly 10 miles from the train stations at Irvine, Tustin and Santa Ana. The iShuttle, Route A, connects the Tustin Metrolink Station to John Wayne Airport . Nothing is currently planned to extend rail service to John Wayne.


The Top 3 Most Needed High Speed Rail Connections in California

By Noel T. Braymer

Current planning by the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is for initial High Speed Rail service of 34 round trips daily by 2022 between Merced and Burbank. By 2022 with the completion of run through tracks by 2020 at Los Angeles Union Station there will be plenty of connections from Metrolink and Surfliner trains at Burbank. But by 2022 the running times from San Diego to Burbank won’t be much shorter than today unless we see more improvements. The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) is planning to run 6 trains from Merced via Fremont to San Jose. Two of these trains would connect with High Speed Rail at Merced while the other 4 with the San Joaquins.There are no plans for connections to Sacramento from Merced with the San Joaquin trains to High Speed Rail. There isn’t even a joint station in Merced for High Speed Rail and the San Joaquins.

By 2029 the plan is to extend High Speed Rail from Merced via Gilroy to San Jose and San Francisco. From Burbank, by 2029 the plan is to extend High Speed Rail to Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim. There are no firm dates after 2029 when High Speed Rail will be extended to San Diego via the Inland Empire or to Sacramento. There are no plans to extend High Speed Rail directly to the East Bay by Fremont.

These three travel markets, San Diego, the East Bay and Sacramento are all major transportation centers in California. It will be years before it will be possible to build High Speed Rail to these places. But there are existing railroads that can be used and improved to run more and faster service to connect and feed High Speed Rail trains long before High Speed Rail can be built to connect to these places.

LOSSAN is planning to run additional trains between San Diego and Los Angeles in the future. By 2040 the plan is for up to 16 round trip local trains and 4 round trip express trains. The plan is to use the same equipment on all trains similar to the current Surfliners. One problem in California is there is not enough equipment for current and future travel demand. One way to reduce running times even more is by using new equipment able to accelerate, go up grades and around curves faster. One way to do this is to use multiple unit equipment with train tilting. With multiple unit equipment, such trains would have more powered axles for more traction for better acceleration and grade climbing than with a locomotive. With tilting, the train can go through curves faster without passenger discomfort. With additional track work, an even faster running time could be possible with limited stops than using the existing equipment.

The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) has long term plans to use Multiple Unit trains for faster service between between Stockton, Merced and San Jose. The plan now is to use existing equipment by 2022 to run up to 10 trains a day between Stockton and San Jose with connections at Santa Clara to Caltrain.
The operator of ACE also manages the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority which is responsible for the San Joaquin Trains. The San Joaquins currently operate 2 round trips a day between Bakersfield and Sacramento.

Most planning for the San Joaquin trains in the near future is to expand local service for the Valley to the Bay Area with 2 more round trip trains by 2016 up from the current 4 round trips from Bakersfield. The plan includes adding service that would leave from Fresno or Merced earlier in the morning to arrive earlier in Oakland and Emeryville. There would be no early morning service in the south San Joaquin Valley or bus connections to Southern California. These 2 new trains would be basically commuter trains.

The main problem with expanding service to bring the California Rail Passenger network together with High Speed Rail is lack of money. More money will be needed to connect High Speed Rail in the near future to San Diego, the East Bay and Sacramento. Even after 2029, the connection from San Diego at Anaheim to High Speed Rail will be slow if more isn’t done. There will still be limited ACE service even by 2029 and it is unknown when there will be connections to Sacramento to High Speed Rail and more service.

More track improvements in San Diego and south Orange County combined with faster, new equipment could be running to Burbank by 2022. This service could also be extended as part of faster service to Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and ultimately to San Jose. But for now nothing is being planned to run much faster between the second largest city in California to the largest city in California.

Even by 2029 when the CHSRA plans to run service to San Jose and San Francisco, there still will be a need for additional rail service and High Speed Rail connections from the upper San Joaquin Valley to the East Bay. High Speed Rail connections are needed in the East Bay to ACE, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor and BART. Planning and funding are both needed to make this happen. Sacramento is a transportation hub and always has been. Not only does Sacramento attract many tourists to our State’s Capitol, but many government and business employees with contracts with the State travel in and out of Sacramento too. This is a perfect travel corridor for good rail service. But there is no telling when there will be money to extend High Speed Rail service to Sacramento.

In a short period of time we can upgrade and double track much of the San Joaquin train route for higher speed and more rail service between Bakersfield and Sacramento. Even after High Speed Rail is extended to Sacramento, there will still be a need for good local service in the San Joaquin Valley to Sacramento.

There will be many potential passengers unable to use the California High Speed Rail system until we can connect it to San Diego County, the East Bay around Fremont and Oakland put Sacramento.

Rail Photos

RailPAC rail PHOTOS of the month (November, 2014)

Here are this month’s photos by RailPAC photographers!
Click on each photo to see it full size!
Contributions to this page are welcome. Send your jpg rail photos to Russ Jackson, RailPAC Photo Editor, at

Donner pass with rainbow 11-2014
This is Donner Lake at 7000 ft in the Sierra Nevada, with the photo taken through the window of Amtrak’s California Zephyr on a dry day in November, 2014. On this day there was enough mist in the air that a rainbow formed, a portent of a possible end to the drought? Russ Jackson photo

The Union Pacific Railroad continues its project to double track the “Sunset Route.” While segments east of Maricopa, Arizona to El Paso have been completed, there are segments yet to be done in western Arizona and in California east of Indio. In this November 3, 2014 photo grading for the second main west from Mohawk, Arizona awaits rail. A UP freight is about to roar by on the single track. Ralph James photo

At the RailPAC-NARP meeting November 15 in Sacramento RailPAC President Paul Dyson (right) presented a plaque to retired Caltrans Divison of Rail Chief Bill Bronte, honoring Bill’s work in building the California Corridors into the huge success they are. Bruce Jenkins photo

The eastbound California Zephyr is arriving at Emeryville station on November 17, 2014. The photographer boarded there to ride it as far as Sacramento, although he was planning on going to Roseville to ride both Zephyrs that day, but with the westbound train running 3 plus hours late that day he cut his trip short. Mike Palmer photo

The eastbound California Zephyr has arrived at Ft. Morgan, Colorado only 15 minutes late on the evening of October 26, 2014. This photo shows the importance of the Amtrak long distance trains to small communities, with this small group preparing to board. Steven Crosmer photo

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Veterans Day, 2014, at Chicago’s Union Station where there was a busy “Hire Veterans” event in the Grand Hall. Russ Jackson photo

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The Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco sees an F Line historic trolley about to pass by on this November day. Russ Jackson photo

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The SMART project in Marin and Sonoma Counties is under construction, as seen in this new ballast at the Hamilton Parkway crossing in Novato in November, 2014. Russ Jackson photo