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.

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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.

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Story and Photos By Noel T. Braymer

Most modern train stations are little more than parking lots with platforms far away from someplace people want to go to. Your busier stations are transportation centers with good connections to other trains and other travel modes like bus and rail transit. Few train stations today are destinations. People often travel for fun to go to places that are interesting with things to see and do; not because they have to go there. More people will ride the train when it is the best way to go to popular destinations.

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By Noel T. Braymer

Most of the attention now in the San Joaquin Valley is focused on High Speed Rail Construction. This would build 130 miles of new railroad between Madrea and Bakersfield in the next few years. This railroad would be first used for up to 11 express San Joaquin round trip trains a day with new equipment capable of speed up to 125 miles per hour and running before 2020. But there are also longer range plans to expand San Joaquin service and increase speeds of the trains on the current route up to 90 miles per hour from the current 79 miles per hour. In the future the plan is to increase Bakersfield to Oakland frequencies from 4 to between 6 to 10 round trips a day. There are also long term plans to increase the current 2 round trips from Bakersfield to Sacramento up to 6 round trips a day. But for any of this to happen will require track improvements. Here is what is planned and is available in the San Joaquin Valley.

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By Noel T. Braymer

In effect since 2013, California’s Cap and Trade program uses market forces to reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHG) by having those who release too much buy “credits” which are sold by those who come under their “carbon budget”. Cap and Trade is on track to meet its 2020 goals of cutting back GHG’s to 1990 levels in California. But a recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that meeting California’s Cap and Trade goals for 2050 which are 80 percent lower than the 1990 levels will be difficult to achieve. One reason for this is the State’s population now of roughly 38 million is expected to top 50 million by 2050. To achieve the 2050 goals of reduced GHG’s will require major changes in transportation and energy production. Rail service, both passenger and freight can be a major part of this. But even rail will need to make major changes to reduce its emission of GHG’s .

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By Noel T. Braymer

There is 60 miles of passenger railroad in San Diego County from the Orange County border to the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego. Right now just over half of this 60 miles is doubled tracked. San Diego County is planning to spend a billion dollars over the next 20 years to double track roughly 97 percent of this railroad in the county. This is the result of public demand 3 years ago when planning began to rebuild and widen the I-5 in north San Diego County. The public wanted more rail service and much less widening of the freeway. So now freeway improvements, double tracking and wetlands restoration are all part of the same project.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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