By Noel T. Braymer

It is looking more likely with secure funding from Cap and Trade money that the first 300 miles of High Speed Rail will be running between Burbank and Merced in the next 8-10 years.The High Speed Rail Authority is planning to finish 800 miles in California in about 16 years. However for this first segment to serve more of California effectively, better connections are going to be needed to fill up these future High Speed Trains. So far much of the planning for connections are at best preliminary. New, connecting services need to be up and running before High Speed Trains.

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By Noel T. Braymer

Many would love to be able to catch a train in the evening and wake up near their destination from one end of California to the next. This isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. There has been talk for years about extending a round trip San Joaquin over the Tehachapis overnight with with sleepers and lots of padding in the schedule. This is going nowhere as far as the UP is concerned. So what is the next best thing?

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By Noel T. Braymer

I am not a big fan of BART. One of my biggest complaints about BART is their less than ideal connections to Caltrain, Muni Metro and Amtrak. But between BART routes, the connections are excellent. I can’t say the same about LA Metro. Transferring between the Blue Line to the Red or Green Lines requires taking stairs or riding an elevator to get to different levels between trains. Often just as you see the platform with your connecting train at it, you see it leaving the station. There is often a lot of time wasted waiting for trains.

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By Noel T. Braymer

Recently Shawn Nelson, Chairman of the Orange County Transportation Authority called for closing the gap of about 2.5 miles between the end of LA Metro’s Green Line (which by 2019 will connect with LAX) to the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Metrolink Station. No doubt LA Metro would agree, but would ask who is going pay to do this? As a comparison, the 2 mile Regional Connector rail transit tunnel, soon to be built in downtown Los Angeles with 3 stations for the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines will cost $1.4 billion dollars.

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By Noel T. Braymer

Long distance rail passenger service has been in decline in this country since the mid-1990′s. Without a major overhaul, sooner or later long distance rail service in this country will collapse. If the long distance trains fail, this will bring down Amtrak and create problems for the Northeast Corridor. Passenger rail service in this Country depends on long distance trains both economically and politically.

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By Noel T. Braymer

The Sprinter is the 22 mile Light Rail service between Oceanside and Escondido in northern San Diego County. It operates every half hour with diesel multiple unit (DMU) cars. The Sprinter stops just outside of downtown Escondido at the Escondido Transit Center. Early planning for the Sprinter called for extending it roughly 5 miles to the south mostly along an existing highway median and terminating at a major shopping mall at the south end of Escondido. However the high cost of building a new right of way to serve Cal State University San Marcos for the Sprinter ended any plans to extend the train in Escondido.

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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 »

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By Noel T. Braymer

The two most important passenger  transportation hubs in Southern California, the 2nd most populated area in the country are Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In terms of passenger miles generated, LAX is more important. Road traffic to LAX is also a major source of traffic congestion and pollution. LAUS is rapidly becoming the center of surface transportation in Southern California because of 3 major projects. There are run-through tracks that will be added which will allow trains to hub in and out of Union Station, connecting the whole region. There is the Regional Connector which will greatly expand local Light Rail service through LAUS. Plus there  plans for a major rebuild and expansion of the area under the platforms to handle more passengers and improve connections between trains and buses. About the only important destination to LAUS not seeing improvement is direct rail service from LAX.

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Story and Photographs By Noel T. Braymer

When the city of Los Angeles originally proposed building a Union Station on the current site, the railroads opposed it. One of their reasons was that site would have station tracks that would dead end as stub tracks. This would require departing trains to back in to the station and terminating trains to be backed out to go to the yards. These excessive moves would easily create congestion with trains needing to back in and our of the new station’s throat. It also would create extra costs often requiring switching moves.

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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.

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