Monthly Archives

May 2014

Rail Photos

Rail Photos of the Month: May 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 jpeg rail photos to Russ Jackson, RailPAC Photo Editor, at info@railpac.org.

THIS MONTH WE ARE SHOWING TEN (10!!) PHOTOS, including Art Lloyd’s honor by RailPAC; Train Day at LAUS, Santa Barbara, and Emeryville; the new Amtrak St. Paul station; and a shot for RailPAC by Carl Morrison from Fullerton RR Days. Other articles posted on this site this month have also contained interesting photos, such as at San Juan Capistrano, Florida, the Coast Line, and a full LAUS Train Day report.

1.
IMG_0190(1)
On Tuesday May 20th, the RailPAC Board honored Art Lloyd for his service not only to the group as VP North, but for the totality of his career in passenger rail at a luncheon at the Trellis Restaurant in Menlo Park. Art, at the right in the photo, was joined by many current and former RailPAC Board members, including (left to right) Marcia Johnston, Bill Kerby, and Bruce Jenkins. (RailPAC photo.)

2.
IMG_0194
RailPAC President Paul Dyson, left, presented Art Lloyd with a plaque honoring his service. Art, who would be 89 in a few days, appreciated the photo on the plaque of his favorite train, Western Pacific’s original “California Zephyr.” (Bruce Jenkins photo.)

3.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This is the RailPAC-NARP table at Los Angeles Union Station on L.A.’s Train Day, also the 75th Anniversary of LAUS, May 3, 2014. In the center is NARP’s Matt Melzer, and RailPAC Associate Director Mike Barnbaum, who spoke with the visitors about passenger rail advocacy. The photographer also spoke with the NARP people about contacting legislators. (Mike Palmer photo.)

4.
04
The 75th Anniversary of Los Angeles Union Station included performances in the huge ticket room at the front of the station, once used by the three founding railroads, AT&SF, Southern Pacific, and Union Pacific. The historic ticket windows are shown on the right side of the photo. (Alexander Friedman photo)

5.
Train Day Santa Barbara 2014 Dyson photo
This large crowd is waiting for the southbound special Surfliner to Carpinteria which was part of Train Day at Santa Barbara, which was sponsored by RailPAC and led by RailPAC Director, Dennis Story. (Paul Dyson photo.)

5.
IMG_0184
These are the Amtrak California Comet Cars that run on the San Joaquin trains. This southbound train was at the Emeryville station for National Train Day, May 10, 2014. (Bruce Jenkins photo.)

6.
IMG_0181
If this photo looks familiar, it is the same scene as in photo 3 above, but inside the Emeryville Train Day event a week later. Matt Melzer is in the center, continuing to speak with the northern California visitors about rail passenger advocacy. (Bruce Jenkins photo.)

7.
Minneapolis station closed photo
The longtime Amtrak Midway station in Minneapolis, Minnesota, closed with the last train, the eastbound Empire Builder running late on May 7, 2014. (Andy Selden photo.)

8.IMG_00000686
The first use of the new St. Paul, Minnesota, Union Depot started the night of May 7 with the arrival of the westbound Empire Builder. In this May 20 photo passengers were waiting for the chronically late train #8. Access from this waiting room is through an unmarked door, and down two floors. Agents expected 54 passengers on-off that day. (Andy Selden photo.)

9.IMG_00000689
St. Paul, Minnesota, Union Depot has this small enclosed lounge for sleeping car passengers, but it is at least 100 yards from the one Amtrak gate. (Andy Selden photo.)

10.
IMG_2251
Making sure we show a full train set this month, we are pleased to show Amfleet equipped Pacific Surfliner 572 with locomotive 145 on the point passing Fullerton, California’s very active Amtrak station on May 4, 2014 at about 11:40 a.m. during Railroad Days 2014 presented by the Southern California Railway Plaza Association. (Photo by Carl Morrison, TrainWeb.com.)

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for May 27, 2014

Brown doubles down on high-speed rail amid calls for restraint  SFGate-May 16, 2014  Preparing for looming budget battles with the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown warned Friday that lawmakers must balance “desire and need” for expensive social programs – even as he defiantly doubled down on support for the increasingly unpopular high-speed rail system, saying it remains emblematic of his passion to “build great things” in his final term as governor.

May 27, 2014

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file . If you would like to subscribe to this enewsletter write to nbraymer@railpac.org

 

Editorials

Is there a Future Shipping Oil by Rail?

By Noel T. Braymer

In the last 3 years there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of oil shipped by rail in this country. This new market has been eagerly embraced by the rail industry which naturally is looking for more business. But this has come at a price. The combination of last year’s harsh winter and the growth in oil train traffic created major congestion on parts of the rail network. This caused delays for many shippers as well as for passenger trains.

Things got so bad that shippers turned to the trucking industry to replace rail service even though it cost more. The trucking industry was eager to take over this business. But the reality of road congestion plus shortages of equipment and drivers made it impossible for the truckers to make much of a dent in the congestion on the rails.

Adding to the problems since last year have been a series of derailments which resulted in explosions and fires of trains carrying shale oil fracked in North Dakota. In the past oil companies preferred to use pipelines to move oil to refineries. Back then refineries were built for oil from specific regions and types of oil. Oil from different locations require different ways of refining. This works fine if your oil field is producing for a long period of time. In the past a conventional oil well could be expected to produce for up to 30 years.

The shift from pipelines to rail reflects the changes from shale oil production. Shale oil wells rarely produce more than 5 years and production drops rapidly after one or two years. The result is the need to constantly drill new wells to keep oil production going. Under these conditions it is easier to move oil from the field by rail to existing refineries than to build new pipelines to new refineries every few years.

For the railroads the question is how long will the good times last carrying oil? The answer is not very long. Most of the production of shale oil is in 2 places: North Dakota and Texas. Between them they both have about 3.5 billion barrels of shale oil or about 7 billion barrels total. That is about how much oil the United States burns in a year. Despite massive exploration no new major shale oil fields have been found in this Country.

Until recently the Energy Department had assumed that the country had reserves of 24 billion barrel of shale oil. Shale oil right now is helping to fill the gap from the depletion of existing wells to keep up with domestic demand for oil. Considering that current demand for oil in this country runs over 7 billion barrels a year, 24 billion barrels is just over a 3 years supply.

But it gets worse for oil. The Energy Department just admitted it goofed about reserves. It had assumed that California had 15 billion barrels of the 24 billion barrels in reserve. This was almost 2/3’s of the Nation’s shale oil reserve. The Energy Department had to admit that while there is15 billion potential barrels of shale oil in California, only 600 million barrels can be pumped economically. Despite the best efforts of the oil producers, it will take oil in today’s dollar, prices of about $200 dollars a barrel before it will be economical to pump shale oil in California.

The oil companies have a problem which is oil is running out and they are having trouble keeping up with demand. Oil production peaked worldwide in 2005 despite the best efforts of the industry to expand production. Since the recession of 2007, demand for oil still hasn’t reach the levels which peaked in 2007. There has been some growth in demand since 2008, but what is putting off a true oil supply crisis is the reduced demand since 2007 and the current pumping of shale oil. Oil production is subject to the law of diminishing returns. As the years go on there will be fewer new producing wells to replace old spent ones. While there are alternative such as shale, tar sands and heavy oils: the cost of these to pump, refine and sell are much more expensive than conventional oil. On the other hand the cost of many alternative energies is going down, not up.

When there is an oil shortage, 2 things happen. The price of oil shoots up and demand for oil goes down. This is because the economy slows down and people have less money to buy oil products and they also start looking for alternatives. The oil industry knows that if oil prices go too high they will lose money by losing customers. They are trying to put off this day as long as possible when they will be unable to meet demand with supply.

We are near the end of the era of the dominance of oil. For this transition we need the railroads more than ever to economically move freight and people in the future. The short term revenues of this current oil boom should be weighed against the costs of congestion on the railroads affecting other users. Also the danger and disruptions from explosions and fires from oil trains should be considered as an expensive liability.We should be upgrading and improving the railroads for the future instead of exploiting them for a short term boom while leaving the railroads unprepared for the future energy shock to come.

Reports

RailPAC member rides the Silver Star

Trip Report and PHOTOS by Anthony Lee, RailPAC Associate Director

After spending a couple of days at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center at Disney World as well as Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, I decided to take the Amtrak’s Sliver Service Silver Star instead of driving home. This is my first time riding the Silver Star; I have ridden the Silver Meteor several times. Before proceeding to the Amtrak/Sun Rail Station in Orlando I had breakfast at the world largest McDonald’s Restaurant which has a bowling alley.

20140521_105315

While waiting at the Amtrak/ Sunrail Station for the Silver Star# 91 to arrive from New York, which was now 38 minutes late due to other train interference from other trains( …ie Sunrail, other Amtrak trains and freight trains), the 1054 am Sunrail train from DeBray,Fl arrived. It had the Cab control car leading with two coaches and the loco pushing. The Sunrail trains use the north end of the platform (pictured) where the ticket vending machines are located. A handful of passengers got off and on for the midday Sunrail train. Five minutes later, The Silver Star #91 arrived. Approximately 40-50 passengers got off, and another 30–40 passengers got on which is pretty good for mid -week. The Orlando Amtrak/Sunrail Station and the Tampa Amtrak Station serve thruway buses as well to the West Coast of Florida.

I had my ticket scan on the platform using my smart phone, the first time I have used the smart phone on Amtrak. After some station work, we highballed to Tampa. We encounterd some slow orders to Kissimmee,Fl. After a quick stop at Kissimmee we continue on to Tampa, and because of these slow orders we ended up adding 27 mins to our late train. The track speed from Orlando to Tampa is 60-79 mph. The LSA from the dining car came through the coaches for lunch reservations.

20140521_123223

I chose the 1230 reservation. the other choices were 1145, 1230, 1315,or 1400. For lunch, I ordered the Angus beef burger (pictured below, left) and the Strawberry cheese cake (below right) for dessert. During lunch, my train met northbound Silver Meteor #98.

20140521_123959 20140521_130112

At Tampa, the train does a backup move to the station. Approximately 100 -125 passengers got off and on at Tampa. The Amtrak station is located in the Ybor City area of Tampa, which is a redeveloped and historical area with plenty of hotels and restaurants located nearby and connected by a street car system.

With everybody on board and a everyone had their smoke break, my train continued on to South Florida. The Silver Star stops in Lakeland, which has a nice new station, a stop at Winter Haven, which is the gateway to Legoland, Sebring, and at Okeechobee, which is the gateway to Lake Okeechobee and Everglades Recreational areas.

Before Sebring , at Devon Park, my trains passed Northbound #92 Amtrak’s Silver Star. After having a pleasant, wonderful trip and a friendly crew on my trip on Amtrak Silver Star, I arrived 1h 05 mins late at Ft. Lauderdale, Amtrak/Tri-Rail Station.

NOTE: I used the Amtrak Saver fare of $39 Orlando-Ft.lauderdale. If i used my car it would have cost $32 in gas and $12.00 tolls. Air would have cost $69-$563, or the Bus $30.00.

Editorials

San Juan Capistrano: A Great Rail Destination

By Noel T. Braymer

A great rail destination is one where the station is a destination and a short walking distance to places to see with plenty to do. If you like a place that is different, with lots of history, scenery, places to shop and eat: then San Juan Capistrano is a great place to visit. The Spanish first colonize San Juan Capistrano back in 1776. But the area has been inhabited for thousands of years. And the local train station is in the heart of it all.

Click on all pictures to enlarge, all Photo by Noel T. Braymer

DSCN1025The original San Juan Capistrano Station is an oldie but a goodie! Constructed in 1894 by the Santa Fe Railroad, it was an early example of Mission Style architecture both on the Santa Fe and in California. The building today houses a restaurant and is stripped to its brickwork of its original plaster coating.

DSCN1026AThis is the Amtrak Office at San Juan Capistrano. It is north of the original station building inside a converted boxcar. Several other old passenger and freight cars make up another restaurant at the San Juan Capistrano Station.

DSCN1028Just across the tracks from the station is the Los Rios Historical District. Like most of Orange County, the rail crossings in San Juan Capistrano have been upgraded to “Quiet Zone” status which means the train horns are not sounded unless someone is on the tracks. Los Rios could be described as “rustic” or “funky”. Either way there are several things here for visitors to do.

DSCN1029AThis is a sign for some of the things to do at Los Rios. There are places to eat, art galleries, shops and even a petting zoo.

DSCN1030This old house built in 1890 was originally the Olivares  Home. It was restored in 1980 and is now a restaurant. Many places in San Juan Capistrano have a long history and there are plaques to inform all of their history.

DSCN1035AYou can’t get lost in downtown San Juan Capistrano. This is a city map at the train station. Copies of this map are in several locations downtown showing where the sights are.

DSCN1049AJust around the corner from the station is the entrance to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Founded in 1776, it has many restored original adobe buildings. Seen in the background of this picture are the ruins of the old stone church which was destroyed in 1812 by a major earthquake. It was quite an accomplishment by the Spanish to build a romanesque stone church in California in the late 18th century.

DSCN1039

This is a closer view of the impressive ruins of the old stone church at San Juan Capistrano.

DSCN1043A view down the main street by the railroad tracks in the valley around San Juan Capistrano.

DSCN1046Many of the historic buildings in San Juan Capistrano are privately owned and are not open to the public.  One that is open to the public is the El Adobe restaurant. Built from 2 original adobe buildings, it is one of the few places in California that you can dine in a building built in 1778.

DSCN1047AThis is the plaque with the story behind the El Adobe restaurant.

DSCN1055Taking the train to and from San Juan Capistrano is easy to do. There are 11 round trip Pacific Surliner trains daily between San Diego and Los Angeles as well as many as 8 Metrolink trains on weekdays.

 

For more information about things to do in San Juan Capistrano we have these links:

Mission San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano Walking Guide

The O’Neill Museum

If you like a good walk from the station, there is The Ecology Center

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for May 19, 2014

A Deeper Look at LAX Connection Proposals Let’s Go LA May 13, 2014 In short, it seems that the central question of an efficient connection between LAX ground side transport and LA Metro has still not been resolved acceptably. This is LAX’s idea of a good connection between their People Mover with LA Metrorail. LAX wants Merto to reroute the Crenshaw Line to the west (which is already starting construction) sort of near but not next too their People Mover at a parking lot with a Bus Station (ITF) east of the terminals. 

May 19, 2014

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like to subscribe to this enewsletter write to nbraymer@railpac.org

 

Commentary

Cap and Trade Funds

Paul Dyson

You know that a program has established itself when it sports an acronym.  Cap and Trade is now CnT (or CapnTrade to others) and has everyone at the State Capitol excited as it appears to represent a way to pay for a lot of people’s favorite environmental programs.  As I write in mid-May there is some arm wrestling going on in the Senate Budget Committee as to how much may be reserved for intercity passenger rail, for transit, and for High Speed Rail.  Much will depend on the Governor.  In my opinion the Governor is almost alone (one or two reps from the San Joaquin Valley being the exception) in being firmly committed to High Speed Rail.  But given the near certainty of the Governor’s re-election, with a Democrat majority in both houses, he has the power to push through his own program.

Of course no one really knows how much money there will be. Every fee or tax has its loopholes. How much can industry avoid paying, or will they leave the State?  So the discussion centers around percentages as much as around dollar amounts.  The Governor’s first proposal was for $300 million for “Rail Modernization”, of which $250 million would be for High Speed Rail.  The Capitol Corridor JPB immediately wrote a letter calling for 5 times as much for intercity, based on the total capital needs of the three state corridors of $4.1 billion.   Senator Jackson and others have called for from 5% to 10% to be reserved for intercity passenger.  A compromise is being sought that does not give the Governor a political black eye but nonetheless reserves a guaranteed part of the money for intercity. Negotiations continue.

Meanwhile Senator Pavley, author of the CnT legislation, is very concerned about the way all of the money generated by the program will be distributed.  With the Governor keeping the purse strings tight this is one of the few pots of money available and so legislators are desperately trying to find a “green” angle to their favorite programs.  This is where groups like RailPAC are invaluable to supporters of passenger rail in the legislature.  We have to help make the case for investment in new rolling stock to increase service, low emissions locomotives, including rebuilding and updating the existing fleet, electrification, and infrastructure that removes bottlenecks and improves both journey times and efficiency.

RailPAC’s long term policy of continuous incremental improvements is a sensible and affordable option, but let’s face it, it’s not exactly the sexiest of ideas.  “Going so less often” is not a slogan that will set the world ablaze!   But it does parallel the Governor’s call for fiscal responsibility, and it does ensure that we do not build any stranded assets.  As for electrification, recent reports on our air quality highlight what sensible people already knew; that our freeways generate pollution.  Electrification, initially with our urban passenger routes such as Caltrain and Metrolink, could significantly alleviate this problem and is, as far as I am concerned, the ideal candidate for Cap and Trade dollars.  If you agree, share your thought with your State Senator and Assemblymember.

Editorials

How to Increase Rail Ridership to Sacramento

By Noel T. Braymer

The Sacramento station is already one of the busiest Amtrak Station in California. There is excellent ridership from the Capitol Corridor, Coast Starlight and California Zephyr trains. The same however can’t be said about the 2 round trips a day on the San Joaquin trains to and from Bakersfield. Why is that?

It is no secret what is needed to increase ridership to Sacramento on the San Joaquins. Better schedules, more frequent service, more intermediate stations and better connections to more markets are the answers. A major problem with the current schedule is the first San Joaquin train of the day in Sacramento doesn’t arrive until 12:30 in the afternoon. The only afternoon departure is at 4:55 PM. Such a schedule isn’t convenient for a day trip to Sacramento, it doesn’t give a person much time to do much. For travel from Sacramento the train leaves at 6:40 in the morning and arrives bzck in Sacramento at 11:30 PM.

For the San Joaquins to work, an earlier arrival in the day to Sacramento is needed to give passengers more time for a useful day trip. Also needed is more frequent service to give passengers more flexibility for travel. Just a third round trip would help reduce the gaps between trains. There has been planning for some time to add a third train on this segment. Planning calls for up to 6 round trips in the foreseeable future.

Just as important for ridership besides more frequencies is additional stations are needed. Comparing the Oakland bound San Joaquin trains to the Sacramento ones, you have 4 intermediate stops between Stockton and Oakland. From Stockton there is only one stop at Lodi before the trains get to Sacramento. The Sacramento Metro area has a population of over 2 million and many of those people live miles away from downtown Sacramento. There are currently 2 additional stations planned in the Sacramento area.

There are plans to build a San Joaquin trains station at Elk Grove. This is at the southern edge of the Sacramento suburbs. By itself Elk Grove has a growing population already of over 150,000. This doesn’t count the communities near it. Elk Grove is roughly the size of Oceanside on the LOSSAN Corridor which has Pacific Surfliner, Coaster and Metrolink service. For train trips south of downtown Sacramento, it is a time consuming detour to go pass Elk Grove and then back track to where one is leaving from or going to for passengers at or near Elk Grove.

A second station being proposed is at 65th Street in eastern Sacramento. This would be near the University/65th Street station of the Sacramento RT Light Rail Gold Line Station. This is also near the campus of the California State University of Sacramento. There are many people who live east of downtown Sacramento along the Highway 50 corridor to Folsom which the Gold Line also serves. For many people in the Sacramento area a station at 65th street would be more convenient than going downtown to the Sacramento station.

What makes any station works are the level of connections to other markets. This is both a matter of location and ease of transfers. Of the 3 out of 4 round trips to Oakland on the San Joaquins there are bus and train transfers to Southern California as far as San Diego. Only one round trip for the Sacramento section has a bus/train connection to San Diego. This works best for trips leaving Sacramento and returning. There are no bus connections with the trains arriving in Sacramento in the early afternoon or or leaving in the evening south of Santa Ana. This is a major market of over 4 million people not being served. This is despite the first San Joaquin leaving Bakersfield before 5 AM usually getting at least 2 busloads of passengers on a train for Oakland. Many of these passengers come from south of Santa Ana and few from north of Los Angeles. Expanding bus service to more populated areas on the Sacramento trains is needed to bring in more ridership and serve more markets.

An awkward part of the San Joaquin trains service is there are 2 separate station in Stockton. There is a different station for passenger on the Oakland section than for the Sacramento trains. It has been recognized for years that a joint station to connect with ACE trains between Stockton and San Jose is needed for all San Joaquin trains. But like many issues for the San Joaquin trains, little progress or even agreement on a site has been made so far.

There are even bigger issues coming up for Sacramento service on the San Joaquins in the near future. Finally construction is starting in the San Joaquin Valley for High Speed Rail this year. While use by High Speed Trains is not expected before 2022 on this new railroad, there are plans to expand San Joaquin service on this railroad between Bakersfield and Madera by 2018. These would use new equipment to run express service at speed up to 125 mile per hour. For this new expanded service to do well it will need better and more rail service to Sacramento as well as other connections. These other connections include better and faster bus service, particularly to Southern California and connections to more ACE trains to the East Bay and San Jose.

When the first leg of High Speed Rail is running between Merced and Burbank in the next decade, good connections will be need to Sacramento. There is no telling when a direct High Speed Rail line can or will be built to Sacramento. Sacramento is too large a travel market in California to ignore. To get to 6 daily round trips between Stockton to Sacramento will need double tracking of the line which is now single tracked. Trains speeds for much of the San Joaquin route can be raised from 79 to 90 miles per hour. This will require signal upgrades and improvements to the grade crossings. There are at least 210 grade crossings on the San Joaquin line.

But these and other improvements will cost a fraction and have fewer local impacts than building a new high speed railroad to Sacramento and most importantly in far less time. As things stand now many of the improvement proposed on the San Joaquins for Sacramento service have already been put off for years. As each of these improvements are made a noticeable increase in ridership will occur. With the work starting in the San Joaquin Valley for faster service will come the need to make it possible to use this expanded service.

eNewsletter

eNewsletter for May 14, 2014

This is the RailPAC table for National Train Day at the Santa Barbara Train Station organized by Dennis and Peggy Story. In the picture visiting our table is Das Williams of the California State Assembly. Also visiting RailPAC in Santa Barbara last Saturday were State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson who also rode the train to Carpinteria and back. Other visitors  were Santa Barbara County Supervisors Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal who is also a LOSSAN Board member, along with many others.

May 14, 2014 Part 1  May 14, 2014 Part 2

The above copy of this enewletter is on a PDF file and you will not be able to click on to the links in blue. If you would like to subscribe to this enewsletter write to nbraymer@railpac.org

CA Rail Statistics

Capitol Corridor Monthly Report (April, 2014)

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

Service Performance Overview

For April 2014, both ridership and revenue for the Capitol Corridor were above last year’s April results, with 3.2% and 1.5% growth respectively. Capitol Corridor trains carried a total of 126,831 passengers in April, 2014, with revenues of $2.44 million. The primary reason for the ridership increase was that the Easter holiday fell in mid-April, versus late March in 2013. Comparing ridership for the combined months of March and April 2014 to the same period in 2013 shows a slight increase of 1%. This is a positive indicator, but it’s still too early to determine if this trend will continue.

On-Time Performance (OTP) was again a stand out at 96%, which equates to a year-to-date (YTD) OTP of 96%. This excellent OTP maintains the Capitol Corridor’s distinction as the most reliable intercity passenger rail (IPR) service in the Amtrak system. The night-time tie renewal and replacement program that occurred from late January to early March 2014 was a success, with the lowest Host Railroad delay minutes among all IPR services. This commitment from the host railroads (UPRR and Caltrain) was matched only by Amtrak’s mechanical team that reduced mechanical delay minutes by 16% over the past 12 months for the Capitol Corridor train equipment.

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) greatly appreciates the work of our service partners. Their support and commitment helps keep the trains running on-time and maintains passenger (and employee) safety and satisfaction as the number one priority.

The operating ratio was 53% in April 2014; however, the YTD ratio is at 51%, below the expected 53% due to YTD revenues being below projection.

pic22190

While ridership (and revenues) has increased slightly over the last two months, the CCJPA is continuing its efforts to improve performance at specific stations and on specific trains:

· Trains serving Placer County stations (one in each direction): Staff
is currently working with Amtrak on various fare plans to address
ridership losses on these trains.

· Sacramento station: Based on the latest update from the City of
Sacramento, construction of 40 parking spaces at the west end of the
station parking lot is set to begin in late May. Construction should
be complete by early fall. Efforts to identify additional parking
closer to the station platform/tunnel entry continue as well.

· Weekend trains: Using data from the daily conductor e-Ticketing
reports, weekend ridership was up approximately 4% in April 2014
versus March 2013. This increase was due to Easter holiday travel,
plus the 50% off advance-purchase internet ticket discount for
weekend travel. This promotion expired at the end of April 2014.

FY2015 Amtrak Operating Forecast Budget

The CCJPA received the FY2015 budget forecasts from Amtrak for the Capitol Corridor trains on March 31, 2014. The total budget, which includes an equipment capital charge for the use of Amtrak locomotives used on the corridor, is $32.264 million versus $29.331 million in the FY2014 operating contract, an increase of $2.933 million.

$2.745 million of this budget increase is due to Amtrak’s lowered revenue forecast that uses FY2014 ridership figures from actual conductor e-Ticketing lifts, compared to previous years when ridership reports overestimated the number of multi-ride ticket users. While actual FY2014 ridership and revenue figures are equal to or slightly below estimated ridership allocations from FY 2013 e-Ticketing conductor reports, Amtrak overestimated ridership and revenues for the CCJPA’s FY2014 operating budget. In an effort to provide a more reliable revenue forecast for FY2015, Amtrak used the FY2014 actual e-Ticketing ridership reports, which better represent near-term ridership levels, and thus resulted in a revenue forecast for FY 2015 that is $2.745 million lower than the FY 2014 revenue forecast.

There was a new cost included in the FY2015 budget — $0.275 million for the use of three Amtrak locomotives in the Northern California IPR fleet (Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin). These funds represent the CCJPA’s 50% share (evenly split with the San Joaquin IPR service) for 1.5 locomotives. The funds will be used to (1) have Amtrak perform Life Cycle Preventative Maintenance (LCPM) in order to keep the locomotives in a state of good repair [$200,000] and (2) implement PTC equipment on these units [$75,000].

Overall, operating expenses remain relatively flat for FY2015 compared to FY2014 budgeted expenses, except for insurance, which increased $400,000, or 33%, due to a national increase in premiums for all railroad services (passenger and freight).

The CCJPA has begun coordinating with Caltrans, which manages the other two California Intercity Passenger Rail (CIPR) services, and Amtrak to identify possible changes to operating service plans (e.g. consist sizing, revised train schedules) to increase revenues and/or reduce operating costs.

These efforts will also involve the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), which will be allocating the state FY2015 funds to the CCJPA for the operation, marketing, and administration of the Capitol Corridor IPR service. From the submittal of the Amtrak FY2015 budget forecasts, the state financial operating support for the three California Intercity Passenger Rail (CIPR) services will need to increase from the FY2014 budget baseline of $108.9 million by approximately $10 to $13 million. This additional state financial support is the subject of current legislative hearings for the state FY2015 budget process and hopefully will be included in the Governor’s May Revise of the FY2015 budget.

Cap and Trade Revenue Proposals: Investment in the CIPR Services
There are currently two proposals for the investment of Cap and Trade Revenues into the State’s transportation network and CIPR program in particular:

– The Governor’s Draft FY2014-15 budget proposes that 70% of Cap and
Trade go toward transportation improvements, with $300 million in
revenues from Cap and Trade auction proceeds for the Rail Modernization
Program. The $300 million would be split – $250 million for the
California High Speed Rail Authority to start construction of a high
speed train system in the Central Valley, and $50 million for Caltrans’
allocation of competitive grants for existing rail transit agencies to
integrate rail systems and provide connectivity to high speed rail. The
CIPR program is identified as an eligible applicant for these funds.

The CCJPA appreciates the inclusion of the CIPR services in the Cap and
Trade-funded Rail Modernization Program and has sent a letter of
support for the Program. Nevertheless, the CCJPA believes the account
for this Cap and Trade program should be increased tenfold, to $500
million. The increased account could be distributed using a
programmatic formula that is fair and equitable and that would provide
enough funds to allow the State’s passenger rail network and rail
transit services to expand service levels to meet growing passenger
demand, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,
and support sustainability programs in our communities.

– Senator Steinberg’s Investment Strategy for Cap and Trade Revenues: On
April 11, 2014, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg
announced a proposed plan to create a permanent spending strategy for
Cap and Trade revenue that prioritizes investments in affordable
transit-oriented housing, transit expansion, and the State’s High Speed
Train (HST) system. The proposal is established in Senate Bill (SB)
1156 and differs from the Governor’s Cap and Trade investment plan.
Senator Steinberg’s plan focuses his Cap and Trade investment strategy
on implementing sustainable communities’ strategies identified in SB
375 and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions pursuant to AB 32,
California’s Global Warming Solutions Act. While Senator Steinberg does
identify local and regional transit and HST as eligible recipients in
his proposal, the CIPR services are noticeably absent. To that end,
discussions have been ongoing with the CIPR agencies, legislative
officials, and other interested parties to include the CIPR services in
Senator Steinberg’s proposal since CIPR services are included in
Governor Brown’s Cap and Trade investment strategy.

Safety Initiatives

· Positive Train Control. Installation of the PTC equipment on the
state-owned equipment is currently proceeding with all locomotives
equipped and installation on cab cars underway (~90% complete). The
completion date has slipped from April to early June 2014.

· Station Access Safety Improvements. Based on a station-by-station
site analysis conducted by CCJPA and Amtrak staff, the scheduled
program of upgrades is planned to improve passenger access to
platforms at various stations. Davis will be the first station to
receive these upgrades. Work is scheduled to begin on May 12 and be
complete by May 17. The initial project start date in April was
pushed out to May due to rainstorms in early April and subsequent
delays in securing railroad safety workers to provide protection for
workers within the railroad right-of-way and at the station
platforms.

Project Updates

· CCJPA Bicycle Access Program: Starting May 1, 2014, the CCJPA has
been working with Amtrak and Caltrans to begin implementation of a
key element of CCJPA’s Bicycle Access Plan – the addition of a
second, enhanced bike storage car on select trainsets assigned to the
Capitol Corridor. This will double the capacity of bike storage on
these trains due to (1) the completion of the retrofitted cab cars in
the Northern California IPR fleet; (2) the assignment of the six (6)
coach/bike cars (the 8200 series) to the Capitol Corridor (in turn,
the CCJPA released six coach cars to be assigned to the San Joaquin
service); and (3) the introduction of the Comet Car trainsets to the
San Joaquin service, which frees up extra cab/bike cars that can be
used as bike/coach cars on the Capitol Corridor to supplement the
8200-series coach/bike cars.

Work continues on the implementation of the at-station bicycle
amenities, which are also part of the Bicycle Access Plan. Funding
applications are being developed in concert with Caltrans/Local
Assistance to obtain an allocation of $556,000 from the California
Transportation Commission (CTC) to install e-Lockers and folding
bicycle rental systems. CTC action is anticipated no later than
summer 2014.

Outlook – Closing: The ridership increase in April 2014 for the Capitol Corridor is a movement in the right direction and has reduced the YTD ridership decline to -0.2%, compared to ridership during the same period last fiscal year. Revenue still trails by -2.4%. With fuel expenses and other operating costs even with budget projections, the revenue declines have resulted in a system operating ratio of 51% that is below the forecasted 53%. Other key service performance metrics – OTP and customer satisfaction – are performing at or above standard, and UPRR is on track to receive its maximum incentive payments for FY2014.

CIPR leaders will continue to work with Senator Jackson and other legislators, as well as the Governor’s agencies, to ensure that the Capitol Corridor and other successful CIPR services receive their fair share of the proposed Cap and Trade revenues to be used for investment in projects that expand and improve the safety and efficiency of these services, while also helping to meet the State’s clean air goals and implementation of sustainable community strategies.