eNewsletter for June 10, 2013 June 15th, 2013
This contract may not be the bargain the bid for it would lead you to believe. But this doesn’t mean High Speed Rail service will be unsafe. …Rail structures are built to much higher standards than most construction. While buildings and freeways collapsed both during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 and the Northridge Earthquake of 1994 NO railroad structures failed during either earthquake. The most common cause of death in transportation is from fire and smoke inhalation. … Passenger trains cars rarely catch fire because if there is any fuel it is isolated at the locomotive. By 2015 passenger rail lines in California will have Positive Train Control (PTC) which will stop trains to prevent most accidents, particularly those between trains which are the most serious. Grade Crossing accidents are also a problem on the railroads, but won’t be on this line since it will be fully grade separated. NB
eNewsletter for June 3, 2013 June 7th, 2013
Here is a quote from the motion LA Metro Chair Supervisor Antonovich made on this issue of expanding Metrolink service. Since Los Angeles County has 40 percent of the votes on the Metrolink board and Supervisor Antonovich is also on the Metrolink (SCRRA) Board, it sounds like he means business. NB “Furthermore, in contrast to our regional goal of coordinating and synchronizing transit transfer schedules, weekend train trips on the Antelope Valley Line are uncoordinated with Amtrak trains and other Metrolink trains at Union Station, creating major service gaps for Los Angeles County residents connecting to destinations between Los Angeles and Orange County, San Diego and San Bernardino.”
eNewsletter for May 28, 2013 May 31st, 2013
Metrolink: Raise Ridership Not Fares for More Revenue
There is no mystery how to increase rail passenger revenue. Train revenue increases with longer routes serving as many markets as possible by selling more of the highest priced and longest distance tickets. The next best thing are good connections with other trains and connecting buses to increase the number of markets for each train. Lastly it is important to keep trains in revenue service as much as possible.
eNewsletter for May 20, 2013 May 23rd, 2013
Your experience confirms what I had heard that what was behind the fee and reservations on bikes on the Surfliners were because of problems running on-time with the low-level equipment and problems loading and unloading bikes on the Cab/Baggage Car. The Surfliners only have one low-level trainset but it is a major cause of Surfliners being late and is preventing running times being reduced on the the Surfliners. There is a simple solution to this problem. Metrolink is now storing many of its older cars that have been replaced by newer cars. These can be leased and added to low-level equipment trainsets. One or two to theses bi-level cars added to low level train sets will speed up loading and unloading of these train sets at stations. Metrolink has already converted some of these cars as bike cars by pulling out some seats on the lower level. Not only bikes but luggage could be stored on such cars reducing the hassle of using the Cab/Baggage Cars. Also these bi-level cars are easier to use for people with disabilities and have handicap toilets. They also allow groups to sit together facing each other with tables which is very popular with passengers and not available on the low-level equipment. NB
eNewsletter for May 13, 2013 May 17th, 2013
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner Adopts Wildly Anti-Bicycle Policy Streetsblog Los Angeles (blog)-May 7, 2013 Starting on June 1, the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service connecting San Luis Obispo to San Diego by way of Los Angeles is adopting a new policy that will make life harder for anyone planning on biking to or from the train. The policy is so onerous for bicycle commuters, one has to assume it’s intentional. This policy of requiring reservations and charging for bikes on the Surfliners could prove a public relations nightmare for LOSSAN and Amtrak. NB
eNewsletter for May 6, 2013 May 9th, 2013
Draft alternatives released for Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan
The Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan team is releasing its draft alternatives today for improving the venerable station as a transit center. Among some of the proposals are replacing the parking lots in front of the station with open space, building a new bus terminal to handle most of the considerable bus traffic at the station and possibly replacing the current transit plaza at the rear of the station with other structures and/or green space.
eNewsletter for April 29, 2013 May 3rd, 2013
I have 34 years of experience as a rail passenger service advocate in California which has been the leader for rail passenger service expansion now for almost 40 years. I have seen and in many cases been involved in what works and have seen what doesn’t work to get more and better rail passenger service. A good example of what works is the San Diego Trolley, which was the first new Light Rail service in this country since World War II. This spawned the introduction of Light Rail to many places in the US including Denver. Why did the San Diego Trolley succeed? By starting small and cheap. Like many major cities San Diego had studied several expensive transit projects all to be killed due to opposition over cost. NB
eNewsletter for April 22, 2013 April 26th, 2013
AMTRAK’S NEW COST ACCOUNTING SYSTEM IS A SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT BUT CONCERNS OVER PRECISION AND LONG TERM VIABILITY REMAIN In 2010, Amtrak implemented its new system, Amtrak’s Performance Tracking (APT), which is based on a cost methodology developed jointly by FRA and Amtrak, to track and report on its financial performance… Amtrak is unable to assign a greater percentage of its costs or allocate costs more precisely because Amtrak does not collect sufficiently detailed cost data…As a result, like RPS, APT allocates rather than assigns a majority of Amtrak’s operating costs…Use of Statistical Estimation to Identify Avoidable Costs Is Not Standard Practice in the Railroad Industry. None of the passenger and freight rail entities we interviewed uses statistical estimation to identify avoidable costs.
eNewsletter for April 15, 2013 April 19th, 2013
It is amazing that the mechanics and the NCTD engineer in charge of Sprinter maintenance knew only a year after the start of Sprinter service that there was a problem with these rotors, but not management. In 2009 this engineer was contacting manufacturers about replacement rotors and it was 3 years before he got a reply. Still there is no word if the cause of this excessive wear and a solution to stop it has been found. NB
eNewsletter for April 8, 2013 April 12th, 2013
The western trains ALL cover their variable and direct fixed costs of operations handily, but fail only to cover Amtrak’s allocations of system fixed costs which exist irrespective of the fact or volume of long distance train operations. It is still the case also that Amtrak deliberately misallocates substantial shares of NEC fixed costs to long distance trains, including long distance trains in the west that never use the NEC. The purported “success” or “profitability” of the NEC is a BIG LIE because to make that claim (and to hide the NEC’s staggering and growing annual losses), Amtrak routinely mischaracterizes its infrastructure costs as “capital” items, as if that changes the fact that these costs are caused by and indispensible for the operation of trains in the NEC.