eNewsletter for December 2, 2013 December 5th, 2013
Editorial: High-speed rail proceeds in fits and start Sacramento Bee – Nov 27, 2013 In a mixed ruling on Monday, Kenny did not question going forward with the project. So the gleeful comment that “The high-speed rail project is derailed,” by Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, is an extravagant exaggeration.
eNewsletter for November 25, 2013 November 29th, 2013
Boardman fires more Amtrak upper managers Trainorders.com Nov 19, 2013 On Monday Nov. 18, Amtrak fired more upper managers, eliminating twenty senior positions. Causalities reportedly included a 40-year Amtrak veteran and visionary whose last two decades were directly involved with the long distance trains and customer service, with many innovations to his credit. Comment: The person who Gene Poon refers to in the original post was indeed Brian Rosenwald. He wasn’t fired, but chose to retire this week after being passed over for several positions in the new management structure. Brian is a bright and creative man, and his energy, integrity, and creative problem-solving skills will be missed. Fred Frailey
eNewslettter for November 18, 2013 November 22nd, 2013
Amtrak Serving Free Wine to Steak Loses Millions on Food Bloomberg-Nov 14, 2013 …Almost all of last year’s $72 million in food-service losses were from providing meals on long-distance trains, Inspector General Ted Alves said in testimony at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing today. I remember at least 30 years ago I heard the same story that insider theft was costing Amtrak a fortune for food service on the Long Distance Trains. To “solve” this problem the china and silverware was replaced with disposable plastic to save money and food was served much like the airlines pre-cooked at a central kitchen and heated like TV Dinners to discourage food theft. I wonder if this latest effort will be anymore successful than what was done in the past? I question any cost claims by Amtrak which are based on an allocated basis and are not itemized. Too often Amtrak uses the Long Distance Trains as a scapegoat to distract politicians and media from their real problems. NB
eNewsletter for November 12, 2013 November 15th, 2013
At the November 7th Board Meeting of the California High Speed Rail Authority in Sacramento the board approved the HSR route between Bakersfield and Fresno. The route shown above in red is still subject to possible changes before construction. Most of the approved alternatives have local acceptance in the San Joaquin Valley. The route in Kings County continues to have opposition while nearby Tulare County supports the route which is near to it. There is a developer in Bakersfield who is threatening to sue over use of a sixth of one of his projects for the Bakersfield route.
eNewsletter for November 4, 2013 November 8th, 2013
One thing that needs to be made clear; much of the funding recently approved for projects such as Caltrain electrification, run through tracks at LAUS, the LA Metro Regional Connector, track upgrades for ACE and Capitol Corridor among others were part of the package for High Speed Rail. Last year the legislature approved 13 Billion dollars in rail passenger funding of which 6 billion was for High Speed Rail. Half of that $6 billion was matching Federal dollars only for High Speed Rail. Some politicians and CHSRA boad members understand that we need conventional and high speed rail to work together to get a system up and running. As for Federal Money the California High Speed Rail Authority is not counting on additional Federal Dollars. I heard that from Dan Richard, the Chair of the CHSRA at the RailPAC/NARP meeting in San Francisco on October 5th. The CHSRA needs to build a fast connection between Bakersfield to Palmdale before they can get lenders to invest in California HSR. That would cost about $10 billion and there is $4 billion left in the existing State HSR bond money. That leaves $6 billion the CHSRA needs to find. Dan Richard and other members of the CHSRA board have backgrounds in finance. It won’t be easy but raising the $6 billion shouldn’t be impossible. NB
eNewsletter for October 28, 2013 October 31st, 2013
This is the plan for overhauling Los Angeles Union Station just approved by the Board of LA Metro. The old pedestrian tunnel will be replaced with a large open area under the tracks to eliminate crowding and add more retail space at the Station. A new 2 story bus facility will be build along side of track one just west of the Gold Line Platforms. There will also be direct access under the tracks between the Gold Line to the Red and Purple Subway station as well as buses and the trains at original tracks. At the east end where the current bus area is will be use for more retail and office buildings.
eNewsletter for October 21, 2013 October 25th, 2013
Most of the hyperbole about the High Speed Rail program is driven by old fashion partisan politics rather than sound transportation policy. The Prop 1A Ballot measure allows the State to sell 10 Billion dollars in bonds for Public/Private financing of a High Speed Railroad through California. The assumption was the bonds would be matched with Federal Funds. The ballot measure prevents the State from subsidizing operation of HSR Train service. But the intent of the project is that the majority of the funding will be privately raised and serviced by profits from the operation of the HSR trains. Most High Speed trains, most intercity passenger trains for that matter make an operating profit. The ballot measure does not require the train’s profits to pay off all of the capital costs of the HSR project. Much of the hysterical opposition to the HSR project is either ignorant of what is in the Prop 1A ballot measure or is intentionally trying to mislead the public. NB
eNewsletter for October 14, 2013 October 18th, 2013
Re: Amtrak no bargain for the States The states that fund their own intercity services, including California, will go on getting gouged by Amtrak to the limits of credibility only as long as they continue to treat Amtrak as a sole supplier rather than put these services out to competitive bid. States and commuter agencies do this routinely for commuter services, and have all but run Amtrak–always the high cost provider–completely out of that business. Why the states don’t do this for local and regional intercity services, especially in markets like California where there is proportionally little use for connecting traffic to national system trains, is a complete mystery. I’m sure many of your regular readers will recall that California had essentially brought the San Diegan service to a breakeven level of operation, even under Amtrak’s phony cost allocation regime, under the old “403(b)” program, when Amtrak suddenly changed the rules ostensibly to avoid having to pay a share of looming PROFITS from the San Diegans back to Caltrans. Andrew Selden
eNewsletter for October 7, 2013 October 12th, 2013
Dan Richards, Chair of the California High Speed Rail Authority addressing the RailPAC/NARP Joint Meeting in San Francisco on October 5, 2013. Mr. Richard gave the funniest and most charming talk of the day about the many problems he has faced at the High Speed Rail Authority. He admitted that in 2008 the Authority was like a stickball team that found itself playing in the baseball major leagues. He also pointed out that almost all High Speed Rail services generate an operating profit and he says California is a good market for High Speed Rail. Prop 1A passed by the voters in 2008 calls for High Speed Rail to make an operating profit but doesn’t call for it to pay all capital costs. Mr Richard thinks with only 3 lawsuits pending for California High Speed Rail it is doing better than the Golden State Bridge which in the 1930′s faced over 2,000 lawsuits.
eNewslettter for September 30, 2013 October 4th, 2013
We’re holding ACE in drive for SJ Valley employment Manteca Bulletin- Sep 28, 2013 The real game changer for the economically challenged in the San Joaquin Valley won’t by California High Speed Rail. It’ll be well-run traditional rail modeled after the Altamont Corridor Express service. That’s because high speed rail will serve one of three classes: Upper income super-distance commuters, tourists, and Los Angeles to San Francisco business travel. I think this article illustrates a major problem the High Speed Rail Project has in the San Joaquin Valley. Many people there feel this project is only for well paid people in Southern California and the Bay Area. The people in the Valley feel left out and of being taken advantaged of by the big city slickers. The California High Speed Rail Authority needs to do a better job showing how High Speed Rail can serve more of the San Joaquin Valley and how people of modest means will be able to ride it. NB