Time is On the Side of Rail Passenger Service February 28th, 2014
By Noel T. Braymer
Progress for improved Rail Passenger service in California is often uneven. But through the years progress continues to be made. Track work and plans for expanding service are ongoing for the Surflners, Metrolink, Coaster, San Joaquins, ACE, Capitol Corridor and Caltrain. Rail transit service throughout the State is also improving and feeding more passengers to transportation centers served by regional and intercity passenger rail.
eNewsletter for February 24, 2014 February 28th, 2014
Cities on the Southwest Chief line want state support Dodge City Daily Globe-Feb 20, 2014 The loss of the Southwest Chief passenger rail line would cause a substantial disruption and loss of jobs, said representatives from cities facing an end-of-year deadline to secure a plan to improve or lose the line…About 5,000 passengers per year use the depot in Dodge City despite the eastbound train arriving just after midnight and the westbound at 5 a.m. Another 7,000 use the line from Garden City. About 250,000 people ride the line each year.
Commentary by Russ Jackson, RailPAC Associate Director
On February 1, 2014, Amtrak’s General Manager Long Distance Services, Mark Murphy, spoke to the RailPAC-NARP meeting in Los Angeles. While this writer was unable to attend the meeting I have viewed the video of his presentation. In it, Mr. Murphy spoke of the future of the long distance trains, and that subject is important to California because four of them serve the state, providing mobility options for those who want to travel beyond the state’s borders by train. Accompanying him were Mike Dwyer, the route director for the Coast Starlight and the Southwest Chief, and Joy Smith, Business Liaison Director of Service Excellence, long distance services. Mr. Dwyer’s contribution was the good news that the Pacific Parlour car will be continued on the Coast Starlight. Ms Smith was not heard from and that is unfortunate, as her presentation to a TXARP meeting when she was General Manaager in Texas was excellent and very well received. Mr. Murphy spoke of Amtrak’s need for more revenue and that they are “going after every dime we can get; we can’t cut our way to success.” Rail advocates in attendance loudly applauded this and the fact he stated that Amtrak earns 89-90 cents for each operating cost dollar. He proudly spoke of the “new equipment” on order, while not mentioning that those cars are the new low-levels that will be used only on the eastern trains. As for new equipment for the western trains, he only said “nothing today, but if we can show value…” meaning that the western trains still have to show their worth to the company? He wants to add capacity to “grow our revenue,” but did not say how that would be accomplished. We all know that the way to do that is to add Superliner cars as well as the new Viewliners to current consists.
Capitol Corridor Monthly Report (January, 2014) February 20th, 2014
David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
Service Performance Overview
The service performance results in January 2014 for the Capitol Corridor were mixed. Ridership for January 2014 slightly increased 0.6% compared
with prior year-month results, while revenue was 3.8% below January 2013. On-time performance (OTP) was once again a spectacular 97%, moving year to-date (YTD) OTP up to 97%. Capitol Corridor continues to be the most reliable train service in the Amtrak system. These ridership and OTP results are even more remarkable as Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) began a night-time tie replacement project [mid-January through February 2014] that resulted in two late night trains being replaced by buses.
eNewsletter for February 18, 2014 February 20th, 2014
As things stand there is $9.95 Billion dollars in Bonds for High Speed Rail as well as $3.4 Billion from the Federal Government. From the Bond money $1.9 billion is for projects outside of the San Joaquin Valley including transit projects, positive train control and track upgrades to existing rail services. The Cap and Trade funding the Governor is talking about for High Speed Rail would go towards the $10 billion needed to extend track construction south of Bakersfield to Palmdale and “bridge the gap” between Northern and Southern California by passenger rail. There is $4 billion left for this in the Bond money which leaves $6 billion that might come from Cap and Trade. So what would happen if we cancel the High Speed Rail Project tomorrow? We would throw away the Federal Funding for starters. The Bond money would be gone too. NB
Capitol Corridor’s Expansion Plans February 20th, 2014
By Noel T. Braymer
After years of planning, the Capitol Corridor hopes to soon start construction needed to extend service 68 miles south of San Jose to Salinas. It is hoped by 2018 to start with 2 round trips a day with expansion in the future to 6 round trips. As part of this extension of the Capitol Corridor, track improvements will also be needed between Oakland and San Jose. This will include double tracking of the line, new connections with BART and ACE as well as increasing the daily number of round trip trains between San Jose to Oakland from 7 round trips up to 11.
Passenger Trains are Good for Business February 14th, 2014
By Noel T. Braymer
All cities are economic centers. As such they are also major hubs of transportation. Cities are always found at ports, major rivers, rail and road junctions as well near mountain passes: anyplace where there is transportation by water, surface or air. In the 19th century, towns fought to have railroads built in their towns so” grass wouldn’t grow in their streets”. We are again seeing towns and cities fighting to get rail passenger service and stations. They understand what a difference rail service can make to their local economy.
eNewsletter for February 10, 2014 February 14th, 2014
RailPAC for the record is non-partisan. Before 2009, High Speed Rail and transportation in general were also non-partisan issues. The bill creating the California High Speed Rail Authority was signed by Republican Governor Pete Wilson. Prop 1A with the bond money for the High Speed Rail Project was put on the 2008 ballot by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Federal Program for funding High Speed Rail nationally had been around long before 2009 and most of the planning for it was done during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. Strong supporters in 2008 for High Speed Rail projects in their States were the then Republican Governors of Wisconsin and Florida.
What’s up with California High Speed Rail? February 7th, 2014
Analysis by Noel T. Braymer
In almost a matter of hours this January there were 2 news stories about the California High Speed Rail Authority. First that they would soon order High Speed trainsets with Amtrak. The second that the Authority and the Governor were seeking an appeal to the California Supreme Court to overturn the lower court ruling which is currently blocking bond sales for the State’s funding of construction of High Speed Rail.
eNewsletter for February 3, 2014 February 7th, 2014
There are many places that would benefit from extended rail service. The limiting factor as always is funding. The 8.5 mile Crenshaw Line is costing 2 Billion dollars. What would greatly improve this line as a service would be to extend it south of Imperial Highway on the existing Green Line. In the future this could be extended to Torrance. To the north if the Crenshaw Line were extended west on the Expo Line it could serve more of the Westside for travel to LAX and reduce traffic on the I-405 freeway. This won’t be easy now to do since the Crenshaw Line will go under the Expo Line. Instead passenger are expected to transfer at the joint station at different levels. NB