eNewsletter for January 27, 2014 January 31st, 2014
Amtrak was in trouble because of growing deficits by 1978 which had grown to $578 million dollars. Based on the then RPS accounting, to save money Amtrak cut 4 long distance trains in 1979. Instead of saving money and reducing the deficit which RPS predicted, Amtrak’s deficit rose to $729 million by 1981. It was shortly after this time that Mr. Claytor took over at Amtrak. To keep the Reagan Administration from eliminating Amtrak , Claytor had to make major progress in reducing its deficit. To do this Claytor ignored RPS and expanded Amtrak’s Long Distance service. Mr. Claytor was quoted about how he was reducing Amtrak’s deficit. “That is one of the ways we hope to reach it and to get additional equipment in order to increase our revenues faster than our costs. That spread is what counts… We have more people wanting to go than we can carry, because we do not have the capacity . The first priority is to get more capacity on the routes we serve. The second priority will be to start new routes that we think have a good possibility of working.” – Interview with Graham Claytor, Trains magazine, June 1991
eNewsletter for January 21, 2014 January 24th, 2014
There is talk that Amtrak is planning to soon eliminate the Pacific Parlour Cars on the Coast Starlight. The rational behind this is to save money by eliminating one attendant on board. That attendant sells alcohol. How Amtrak is able to lose money selling alcohol is a mystery to me. Also on the Coast Starlight the fares for the Sleeping Cars remain high. But at least on some dates this winter there have been vacant sleepers. It seems odd that Amtrak doesn’t lower prices before departure time to insure more of the sleeper space is sold. As if things couldn’t get worse for the Empire Builder: they are. Seems Amtrak is giving up keeping connections for the Builder in the face of current poor on-time performance. This includes eliminating connecting buses for the passengers on the Builder to make connections when the Builder is late. NB
eNewsletter for January 13, 2014 January 17th, 2014
Despite the often misleading headlines about the court’s rulings, it doesn’t shut down the (CA-HSR) project or ask for a funding plan for the entire project. Current construction in the San Joaquin Valley is about 6 billion dollars. To build a new right of way between Bakersfield and Palmdale is estimated to cost 10 billion dollars. Four billion of that is expected to come from Prop 1A bonds. With Prop 1A and Federal funding that’s 13 billion dollars that should be available now for High Speed Rail. To finish the entire 300 miles between Merced and Burbank to run electrified HSR will require an additional 18 billion for a total of 31 billion dollars. With the State’s Budget in the black with over 100 billion dollars of spending annually, spreading $18 Billion dollars of additional funding to complete High Rail over 10 years or more is feasible. Once the 300 miles of HSR (some of it “blended” with existing railroads) is built, the CHSRA is on its own according to Prop 1A to finance the rest of the project from its own revenues. NB
eNewsletter for January 6, 2014 January 10th, 2014
When some people hear about plans to build a major stadium depending on rail transit; the first thing they complain about is people won’t take the trains and there won’t be enough parking. These were the same complaints when PETCO Park was built in San Diego. Parking is limited in this part of San Diego. I have lived in San Diego County for about 25 years. I remember the opposition to PETCO Park because of its location and limited parking. Parking has never been a problem at PETCO Park. I remember that after the first baseball season at PETCO Park which set attendance records compared to the recent past, it was found that there was in fact surplus parking all baseball season long with Trolley and Coaster ridership higher than expected.
eNewsletter for December 30, 2013 January 3rd, 2014
The Peak Oil Crisis: California’s Bubble Pops Falls Church News Press-Dec 11, 2013 Rapid increases in production, however, mean that the faster we use up something the sooner will come the day when production starts to decline and that may not be very far away…As the U.S. burns about 7 billion barrels of oil a year we have at least a three-year supply of shale oil – if we can get it out of the ground. Interestingly, the government’s contractor reported that some 15.4 billion barrels of this shale oil were buried under California while only 3.6 billion was in North Dakota and 3.4 billion in south Texas. The rest was sort of scattered around.
eNewsletter for December 23, 2013 December 27th, 2013
Expo Line leads to drop in driving USC News-Dec 16, 2013 Los Angeles residents who live near a Metro Expo Line station on Exposition Boulevard reduced the number of miles they drove and tripled their rail ridership since the rail line opened last year, according to a new USC study.
eNewsletter for December 16, 2013 December 19th, 2013
To try to reduce the number of homeless at LAUS, LA Metro now only allows ticketed passengers to sit in the station for 2 hours max with separate sections for Amtrak and Metrolink passengers. Transit passengers can’t sit in the main station.
eNewsletter for December 9, 2013 December 12th, 2013
A 220-mph NEC? A contrarian weighs in RailwayAge Magazine (blog)-Dec 3, 2013 But as a contrarian points out, the infrastructure improvement costs of upping maximum Northeast Corridor speeds to 220 mph is equivalent to almost $1 billion per minute saved, and when one arrives a half-hour earlier at origin to await boarding, and then stands in a cab line at destination for 10 minutes, much of the train-time savings value evaporates…. The contrarian suggests Amtrak scrap its $117 billion, 220-mph vision for the Northeast Corridor and redirect scarce dollars to eliminating corridor deferred maintenance, expanding its car and locomotive fleet to accommodate growing passenger demand, and rehabilitate and improve track and signaling for long-distance trains—such as in western Kansas
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