eNewsletter for April 21, 2014 April 25th, 2014
State Senate President Steinberg’s proposal might look like a setback for High Speed Rail since this proposes less direct funding from Cap and Trade than what the Governor was proposing. But the Cap and Trade funding for High Speed Rail is “securitized” as propsed, that means the High Speed Rail Authority could leverage the Cap and Trade funds with bonds to greatly increase funding. This could be the basis of a financial plan needed to release Prop 1A funds for High Speed Rail to build the 300 mile Initial Operating Segment (IOS). NB
Will Most Trains in the Future run on Electricity? April 25th, 2014
By Noel T. Braymer
Technically most trains already run on electricity. Diesel-electric locomotives use a diesel engine to generate electricity to power the electric motors in the locomotive’s trucks. The question is will trains continue to be powered by fossil fuels? The cost of energy is a big issue for train operators. In North America there are plans to change over to diesel locomotives fueled by Liquid Natural Gas. With Natural Gas currently much cheaper than diesel fuel this seems to make a great deal of sense.
Capitol Corridor Monthly Report (March, 2014) April 23rd, 2014
David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
Service Performance Overview
In March 2014, both ridership and revenue for the Capitol Corridor were below last year’s March- results by 1.7% and 3.5% respectively. A total of 118,518 passengers rode Capitol Corridor trains in March 2014. The ridership decrease was primarily due to the fact that Easter fell at the end of March in 2013 (compared to mid-April this year) and because of residual night-time track work performed by Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) between Richmond and Martinez. This track work required substituting the two last weekday trains (#548 and #551) with buses between Oakland and Sacramento and was completed in mid-March instead of February as originally planned.
Is the Dumbarton Rail Bridge a Lost Opportunity? April 19th, 2014
By Noel T. Braymer
On April 9th the Metropolitan Transportation Commission had a committee meeting to reallocate money from stalled projects to others ready to go. Among the stalled projects in the Bay Area is the effort to repair the Dumbarton Rail Bridge between Redwood City and Fremont and establish rush hour commuter rail service from the East Bay to both San Francisco and San Jose. The biggest “winner” in this budget reallocation was BART which was forgiven 91 million dollars from a “loan” of Dumbarton Bridge money. What lead to this decision was the failure back in the November election of 2012 of a transit sales tax for Alameda County to be passed by less than one percent of a 2/3 majority needed for passage. Without Alameda County’s funding the projects had less than half of the minimum $700 million dollars needed for this project.
eNewsletter for April 14, 2014 April 18th, 2014
Oregon, Washington Consider Alternative To Amtrak For Cascades …OPB News-Apr 10, 2014 Oregon and Washington might turn to a private company to operate its Cascades rail service. The two states are testing the waters to see if anyone other than Amtrak is interested in operating the route that includes Seattle, Portland and Eugene. Most commuter rail services today are operated under contract by private companies. Amtrak has lost several commuter contracts recently because they were underbid. It will be interesting what the host railroads reaction will be to this, particularly on the issue of liability. NB
How to get more Tourists on Trains in California April 11th, 2014
By Noel T. Braymer
Tourists come to visit California from all over the world. Many of them would love to take the train here; just like they do back home, if they knew how. Most tourists would prefer to travel without getting stuck or lost in California traffic. But little is done to help visitors to get around by train. There is the California Rail Pass. It is good for 7 days of travel in California on most Amtrak trains over a period of 21 days. At $159 dollars for an adult and $79.50 per child it is a great deal! Many more tourists would ride the trains in California if they knew about the California Rail Pass.
Enewsletter for April 7, 2014 April 11th, 2014
Parking Sanity: Right Price Good for Congestion, Transit, & Revenue Atlantic Cities Apr 2, 2014 Costanza’s universal theory of parking states that drivers should never pay for a spot because, if they apply themselves, they’ll get it for free. Most U.S. cities do everything they can to abide the theory. They undervalue the price of street spaces. They keep parking so cheap it encourages driving (and thus undermines their own transit investments, leading to more driving). And they require a minimum number of parking spaces for new developments whether residents need them or not.
Report and Photos by Russ Jackson, RailPAC Associate Director
Tower 55 Ft. Worth TX. No BNSF trains waiting to cross, no UP traffic moving across it? No problem? Astounding. But, what happens when a westbound UP freight has a disabled car and blocks access to the Ft. Worth Intermodal Center for the southbound Texas Eagle, and it is not a dispatch situation? Passengers wait on the platform where they can see their train so close but they must wait and wait for it to back in to be loaded. On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, the wait was only about 30 minutes, but still frustrating. After efficiently loading passengers we were off and settled into car 32011 behind locomotive 170 for the overnight journey to San Antonio and on to Tucson.
Caltrain Board Honors Art Lloyd for 26 Years of Service April 7th, 2014
On April 3, RailPAC’s Vice President Art Lloyd was commended for his 26 years of service on the Caltrain Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board.He will remain involved with “Emeritus” status as a consultant and for his vast railroad historical knowledge.
We at RailPAC can only echo the sentiments expressed therein and add our congratulations and acknowledgement of your service to that organization. Without a thorough knowledge of the past, and the decisions that were made which created the circumstances of the present, it is not possible to make good decisions about the future. Your passion for the subject and the determination to bring improvements to mobility and the quality of life that public transportation can bring combines with that knowledge to make a unique contribution that has benefited the community, state and nation.
Heartiest congratulations! Read the rest of this entry »
Is this Summer Make or Break Time for CA High Speed Rail? April 4th, 2014
By Noel T. Braymer
The California High Speed Rail Authority has signed a construction contract for work in the Fresno area. Final construction plans are being made, some land has been cleared around Fresno and the process of buying right of way around Fresno is underway. This spring the Authority plans to award a second major construction contract for most of the new railroad south of Fresno to a point near the Kern County Line north of Bakersfield. What is unknown is when or even if the 4.5 billion dollars from Prop 1A bond money approved so far by the legislature out of 9.95 billion will be released by the courts. Of this money 2.6 billion dollars is the State’s share for the current 5.8 billion dollars for construction in the San Joaquin Valley. The Federal share for construction is 3.2 billion dollars. Another 1.9 billion dollars is for the Prop 1A bond money planned to help fund several projects around the State for projects to help feed passengers to the future High Speed Rail network.