I wanted to emphasize that the comments made by Russ Jackson and Paul Dyson on the seriousness of the Sunset Ltd. amendment are not overstated. (Note: See their commentaries also on railpac.org) The whole long-distance network is at risk. Also this is a battle unlike any we have seen in the past for the following reasons:
NOTE: Reprinted with permission of Peter LeCody and the TRA, from their website: www.Texasrailadvocates.org
A quick look at the Future of the San Joaquin’s July 5th, 2014
Complied by Noel T. Braymer
Recently the board of the new San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority approved their first Business Plan for the San Joaquin Trains. There is a great deal of information in the 156 page packet which includes comments of the draft and the revised final draft of the Business Plan showing changes from the original draft. Here is a Link to this Agenda item on the Business Plan for the meeting held in Sacramento on June 27th. There are several interesting issues in the Business Plan. The Comet Cars are not popular with the Authority since they have higher operating costs and have problems running on time with slower passenger loading and unloading. They want more bi-level cars. The Authority is not thrilled with the idea of running express San Joaquins on the High Speed Rail tracks while HSR is waiting for electrified trains. They find that disruptive and want to stay on the existing route. Track work is needed to add more trains. A 7th round trip will be possible after track work is finished in mid-2015. More money is needed to finish work for an 8th train. There are plans of running additional trains at mid-corridor, Fresno being the place for the new terminal. More stations are planned and extending the San Joaquin’s to Oakland’s Coliseum Station is planned.
Commentary by Paul Dyson
You know, sometimes the old light bulb above my head doesn’t go on as quickly as it once did. You know what I mean, it used to be that I’d read or hear something and in a flash I’d figure out the agenda behind the innocuous statement. Well it took me weeks, even months, as new information dripped in, to understand the true import of PRIIA. Read the rest of this entry »
Commentary by Paul Dyson
President, Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada
House amendments to kill the Sunset and remove food service will accelerate the demise of the Superliner network. This is not a drill! Read the rest of this entry »
Tuesday was not a good day for the Sunset Limited June 11th, 2014
Commentary by Russ Jackson, RailPAC, Dallas
All passenger rail advocates know Amtrak’s Sunset Limited travels between New Orleans and Los Angeles three times a week in each direction. Many of us ride it. We all know that these trains run with full cars most of the route and that not everyone rides the full distance. In fact, less than 20% of the train’s riders do. When the train reaches San Antonio two cars, a sleeper and a coach, are added to the train or taken from the train to/from the Texas Eagle. Those two cars are almost always filled with riders coming from or going to the mid-West. The financial success of the Sunset Limited is constrained by its tri-weekly service, and the successful through cars from the Texas Eagle are not credited to the Sunset but belongs to the Eagle. Currently, trains 1 and 2 have an excellent on time performance, nearly 80% for the fiscal year 2013. Efforts to get daily service on the route have been unsuccessful, not that much effort has been made by Amtrak to accomplish it. The current agreement with the Union Pacific is that Amtrak will not even bring up the subject of daily service for another year, or when the railroad’s double tracking project between Los Angeles and El Paso is completed. That is a good idea, but does Amtrak plan to re-introduce the idea with the UP? They may not have to.
From our Orange County Steel Wheels correspondent
I don’t think Anaheim City Council was ever shown the trashy view that reality has presented to future riders. You will enter the breathtaking vast public space that is Artic wedged between California Route 57 overhead and the Santa Ana River to be shuffled to the platform to await amongst Anaheim’s growing homeless population and pigeons that live next to the river under the overhead Route 57 bridge. What a squandered opportunity. While waiting at track level you can admire local graffiti artists work on the drab concrete piers. You will have no view of the station, the ballpark or the Platinum Triangle.
Cap and Trade Funds May 19th, 2014
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.
Rail Photos of the Month: April 2014 May 3rd, 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 email@example.com.
May Day means Amtrak Day #1 May 1st, 2014
Commentary By Bruce Richardson, URPA
Once again, for the 43rd time, here we are on May Day, the anniversary of the official day of Amtrak operations beginning on May 1, 1971. It was the day most of the still-operating passenger trains in the country disappeared, and the freight railroads breathed a sigh of relief because the heavy hand of the ICC was no longer upon them forcing them to run trains they didn’t want to run “in the public interest.”