By Noel T. Braymer

On my way to Los Angeles on the train I could see much progress recently on the railroad. It looks like the long delayed bridge over the Santa Margarita River in Camp Pendleton is now almost finished. I recently rode the train to San Diego and found the new mile of double tracking south of Sorrento Valley also seems to be in service. I remember over 30 years ago trains to San Diego use to back out of LAUS and take a 15 mile an hour curve near the LA River crossing. This was a mostly single tracked railroad on bolted rail. Slowly but surely the tracks are being improved. The Surfliners today were generally on time though no faster than trains 30 years ago. It was odd when we arrived at LAUS that the Starlight was not sharing the platform with our train for passengers to make connections. It wouldn’t have helped anyway because connecting passenger now need to enter the station to get a boarding pass before going back to the platform to get on the Starlight.

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LOSSAN”s Top Priority   January 24th, 2014

By Noel T. Braymer

Increasing ridership and passenger revenues on the LOSSAN Corridor, particularly on the Surfliners should be the priority for LOSSAN. The question is how to do this? What is needed to get passenger growth is a combination of faster running times for trains with better on-time performance for better connections by train more often to more places.

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By Noel T. Braymer

A quick check of news stories finds many about local efforts to expand rail passenger service across America. These efforts are not just in the major urban areas on the West or East Coasts either. These include local groups calling for returning service on the Sunset east of New Orleans back to Florida. There are efforts to create a section of the Crescent from Meridian, Mississippi through Shreveport, Louisiana out to Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. There are proposals to extend the Heartland Flyer past Oklahoma City to Kansas City. There are also efforts to extend the Heartland Flyer to Tulsa, Oklahoma.There are efforts to save and improve service on the Southwest Chief between New Mexico and Kansas. There are also High Speed Rail proposals in places such as Texas, Colorado, throughout the Midwest and Oregon.

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Is Shipping Oil by Rail a Good Idea?   January 10th, 2014

By Noel T. Braymer

In the last 6 months of 2013 there were 4 explosive accidents with fires in the US and Canada of unit oil trains carrying unconventional oil made from shale or tar sands. The latest accident in North Dakota on December 30th involved an 104 car train of oil tanker cars. While in this case no one was killed, the nearby town of Casselton was evacuated because of toxic smoke. The heat from the fire was so intense that after almost half of the train was pulled away the fire was left to burn itself out.

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Complied by Noel T. Braymer

There is a great deal of construction that will be finished as well as started during 2014 along the LOSSAN Rail Corridor. This is largely centered in the Counties of San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles. This is a quick review of some of these project underway now.

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By Noel T. Braymer

When  rail service is good, people will take the train in droves. When there is great rail service, many traffic congestion problems can be solved or reduced. The problems today with depending on cars for transportation are: they take up lots of space, we can’t build enough roads or parking lots in urban areas for more cars, cars waste a great deal of energy while creating pollution and they are becoming increasingly more expensive to own and operate. Plus there are many people who can’t or shouldn’t drive. As America’s population ages the number of people who can’t drive will increase.

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I Hate Driving in LA!   December 19th, 2013

By Noel T. Braymer

I Love LA, and I love going to LA. But most people, particularly those who live in LA know that its traffic is a mess. I and others would love rail alternatives to driving to get around to more of LA. But the worst traffic in LA is where there are the fewest alternatives available to driving. This area can be called the Westside or the 405 Corridor. Just about every other freeway which junctions with the 405 such as the 5, Ventura, 10, or Century are where much of the traffic congestion is.

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By Noel T. Braymer

Even the busiest passenger train lines don’t have full trains all of the time. More passengers on trains translates into more support for improved rail passenger service. It also brings in more money which is always needed for passenger rail service. So how can rail passenger providers fill up trains that would otherwise have empty seats? The same way that airlines and now bus companies fill up their empty seats: with online discount reserved ticketing.

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By Noel T. Braymer

The short answer is money: or rather the lack of money. Things looked much brighter back in 2000. In 2000 the State of California had a budget surplus of 12.3 billion dollars! The Federal Government also had a budget surplus and the Federal Debt was shrinking. Unemployment was low and economic growth was high.

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Opinion by Noel T. Braymer

The impact of the recent court decision on the use of voter approved bonds for High Speed Rail is unknown. This ruling doesn’t stop current construction which for now is being paid with Federal Funds. What the judge ruled is that the California High Speed Rail Authority CHSRA) according to the Prop 1A bond measure must identify what funding is available to build the Initial Operating Segment before the bond money can be released for the project. For this the Authority needs to present a new and detailed funding plan for his approval. This means that the judge expects the Authority to identify the funding sources needed up to 2022, not for the entire project.

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