eNewsletter for September 23, 2013 September 27th, 2013
BART was the first of several subway systems over the last 40 tears to operate with automation. Except in yard limits at slow speeds with operators at the controls BART trains have been mostly run by computers for over 40 years. The primary job of the operators is to check the doors at the station to insure no one gets stuck at the door going in or out of the train while it is moving. There have been several times when operators have left their cabs only to find their BART or Washington Metro trains left the station without them. When this happens the passengers can’t get out of the trains at their stops or get on since without the operator the train doors won’t open. NB
eNewsletter for September 16, 2013 September 19th, 2013
This sounds like a great deal for the North County Transit District allowing them to add 3 additional round trips trains to their commuter train service for a fraction of the cost of adding more commuter trains. But it is a terrible deal for intercity rail passengers. In the 1970′s passengers trains ran between Los Angles and San Diego in 2 hours and 35 minutes. Plans long in the making have called for running times by now of under 2 hours and 20 minutes. The long term goal is still to bring running times under 2 hours. With over $1.5 billion dollars spent for better equipment and major track improvements built since 1979 the current running time of train 567 from San Diego to Los Angeles is 2 hours and 52 minutes. This is without 4 additional Coaster station stops being added to the mix. NB
eNewsletter for September 9, 2013 September 13th, 2013
Highlights from the LOSSAN TAC meeting minutes for August 8, 2013. San Diego County plans to go to bid soon for a new siding at San Onofre to Pulgas, a third through track with a 3rd platform at Oceanside, and the Los Peñasquitos Bridges Replacement. San Diego County has committed over $400 million in LOSSAN rail corridor projects and plans to double track nearly the entire corridor in San Diego County by 2030. In Los Angeles County bids are planned to go out soon for run-through tracks at Los Angeles Union Station and for a grade separation in the San Fernando Valley at Doran Street. Rail traffic will be closed between San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside September 21, September 28, and October 5 on Saturdays for work done on the pedestrian crossing and rehabbing of the San Clemente Pier Station.
eNewsletter for September 3, 2013 September 6th, 2013
New crossing relieves train bottleneck Press-Enterprise- Aug 25. 2013 For long-suffering Colton residents, the project promises relief from the constant sound of horns blowing as trains made their way through the crossing… Passenger rail also should see some improvements. The Union Pacific line also is used by Amtrak, and BNSF has agreed to allow additional Metrolink trains to run on its line. The UP last year came to an agreement with Amtrak for some changes to the Sunset Limited between Los Angeles and New Orleans in return that Amtrak not discuss a daily Sunset for 2 years. Well that was the time needed to finish the Colton Flyover. Now is the time to start talking again about a daily Sunset which would still not be ready for service before 2014.NB
eNewsletter for August 26, 2013 August 31st, 2013
NEC Upgrades: Andrew Selden responds to Progressive Railroading Train traffic congestion in the NEC reflects mostly the overload of regional commuter trains taking advantage of the severely under-priced federal infrastructure of the NEC. (Amtrak’s capital subsidies include somewhere in the range of $200 million a year in direct subsidy to the regional agencies for facilities and capacity that are of no use to Amtrak.) Bring SEPTA’s and NJT’s track rents up to true market rates and the train congestion will abate in a big hurry. And to the extent that Amtrak itself contributes to train congestion, it is largely its own operating practices that are responsible. Amtrak does not need to send four or more short (5-6 car), more than half-empty, NEC trains up the corridor in peak hours when two longer (10-car) trains would suffice, and STILL have sub-50% load factors..
eNewsletter for August 19, 2013 August 23rd, 2013
In a brilliant display of self-promotion, Mr. Musk gave on a slow news month a massive dose of sensational distraction the media was hungry for. However a high speed shuttle from kinda close to Los Angeles and somewhere in the Bay Area is not a State wide transportation system. As it is there isn’t a prototype let alone a working scale model of this proposal to see how well it will work or how much it will really cost. It will be considerably more complicated and expensive to build and run such a system serving the entire State than a single shuttle in between 2 cities. NB
eNewsletter for August 12, 2013 August 15th, 2013
Amtrak has finished its management reorganization which means laying off many competent and highly experienced employees. Standing out in this group leaving Amtrak is Brian Rosenwald best known for his introduction of the Pacific Parlor Car among many upgrades on the Coast Starlight. Despite Amtrak’s PR and misleading accounting, it has been in a slow downwards spiral since the 1990′s. Amtrak had to be bailed out with a massive increase of its subsidy after a near shutdown in 2002 which the taxpayers are still paying. Behind this downwards spiral is Amtrak’s fixation on the Northeast Corridor and High Speed Trains both of which are very expensive to operate. Amtrak neglects its long distance service and does so at its peril. Amtrak need broad political support from most of country to survive which is only served by Long Distance Trains. Amtrak ignores the fact that long distance service is the most productive revenue producers for all transportation services, not only passenger rail service. NB
eNewsletter for August 5, 2013 August 8th, 2013
Metrolink has hired additional security to check passengers for valid tickets before allowing them to board trains. Only half of the doors are opened for boarding where security and train crew inspects tickets at half opened doors. Many trains have security on board to check tickets for boarding at intermediate stations. This is an attempt to increase revenues from fare evaders. Tickets inspections are important to prevent fare evasion. However there is a point of diminishing returns when the cost of ticket inspections cost more than the revenue generated. A statistician can calculate the optimum level of ticket inspections for maximum revenue at the lowest cost. This has been done in Europe for years. The best way to increase revenue on any train is to attract more paying passengers.
eNewsletter for July 29, 2013 August 2nd, 2013
Francisco Jose Garzon Amo the operator of the Spanish train that crashed killing 79 people and injured at least 130 of the 247 on board was recorded telling dispatchers shortly after the crash. ” I’ve derailed, What do I do? What am I supposed to do? I ****ed up. I want to die.” The train in this crash was on a conventional railroad, not a High Speed one. The High Speed Trains of Spain generally operate on brand new exclusive HSR right of ways at speeds over 190 miles per hours. This train is a hybrid train than can operate with electric catenary or diesel power and can run on High Speed standard gauge or conventional Spanish board gauge. The trackage where this crash happened had a top speed of 137 miles per hour and was an improved conventional electrified Spanish Broad Gauge line, not a new High Speed Rail Line. The curve was a 50 mph curve and clearly not built for high speeds.
eNewsletter for July 22, 2013 July 27th, 2013
LIRR watchdog group: Amtrak board lacks commuter rep Newsday Jul 19, 2013 Mark Epstein, chairman of the LIRR Commuter Council, said Thursday that a vacancy on Amtrak’s seven-member board should be filled by a New York commuter. No Way! Amtrak was never suppose to be involved with commuter rail in the first place because it is a money sponge. The Amtrak Board is already dominated by officials from the East Coast. What is long overdue is a new authority instead of Amtrak to be responsible for the infrastructure of the NEC. It should be locally controlled and funded by a combination of local and Federal Funding. The fact is Amtrak’s Federal funding subsidizes commuter trains on the NEC at the expense of the National System. This is at the heart of Amtrak’s budget problems not the cost of food on the Long Distance Trains. NB