The complicated history of the Sprinter April 11th, 2013
Report and Photo by Noel T. Braymer, RailPAC e-newsletter Editor
The Sprinter started out as a simple project to serve the 22 miles between Oceanside and Escondido. The original proposal by RailPAC’s Byron Nordberg back in the 1980′s was to rebuild the existing single tracked short line railroad between these 2 cities for about 70-80 million dollars. Inexpensive, self-propelled diesel rail cars, proven and in production, would be used. The idea was to finish it in 1988, which was the centennial of these two cities and of the construction of this short line. After that things got complicated. The budget went up and opening day got pushed back to 2000 then 2005, 2007 and it finally opened in March 2008. By then the construction budget was almost half a billion dollars!
Report of the First Ever San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority March 25th, 2013
Report by Mike Barnbaum, Associate Director of the Rail Passenger Association of California & Nevada, on Sunday 24 March 2013
San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee meeting report March 2nd, 2013
Report by Bruce Jenkins
I attended the SJVRC Meeting on Thursday, 2/28 in Fresno. Some of the more important items are as follows:
Pro’s and Con’s of Replacing Amtrak February 8th, 2013
Analysis by Noel T. Braymer
With changes coming this October to the billing for State supported trains run by Amtrak, California and the other States supporting Amtrak Trains are getting sticker shock. Congress which is forcing Amtrak to raise its prices is also considering allowing private companies to take over some of these Amtrak trains. This would be similar to many commuter trains run by a private company under contract to a government agency.
Planning for Rail Service up to 2030 in the San Joaquin Valley December 29th, 2012
Here are some excerpts from a report from October 26, 2012 by Stacey Mortensen and Dan Leavitt of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission. This report makes very clear that the San Joaquin Trains will continue to run on the BNSF with possible additional stops after 2020 with express trains using the new HSR tracks. It is unclear if there will be joint stations between services at Bakersfield, Hanford, Fresno and Merced after 2020. There is planning for expanded connecting ACE service and improved direct service to Sacramento after 2020. Nothing was said about future improvements for the feeder bus services to the Valley or faster bus service to connect with express trains. With the updating for the State Rail Plan by Caltrans now underway it is critical to know what is in the works and to insure good connections are planned.
Caltrain Modernization Program October 25th, 2012
Report by Bruce Jenkins, RailPAC Director
Caltrain is the commuter railroad operating on it’s own Right of Way (RoW) from San Francisco to San Jose with a limited six train service further south to Gilroy on Union Pacific RoW. The San Francisco/San Jose leg has been a rail commuter line since 1863 and was known as the San Francisco San Jose Railroad Company. Caltrain is owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB),formed in 1992 and is made up of three representatives from each of the three counties served, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. SAMTRANS of San Mateo is the managing agency, providing administration and the oversight of the operating contract.
To Sacramento by way of the Sunset Limited-Texas Eagle October 12th, 2012
Photo and Trip Report in newly rebuilt Superliner cars by Russ Jackson, RailPAC
“It isn’t the destination it’s the journey.” That’s what the retired doctor sitting across from us in the Sunset Limited dining car said about train travel. He was the personification of that statement, as his trip started in Seattle on the Coast Starlight, joined us on the Sunset Limited on our return journey to Ft. Worth from attending the RailPAC Steel Wheels Conference in Sacramento, and stayed on the Texas Eagle to Chicago where he would board the Empire Builder for his trip home. That’s a veteran train traveler, and the type who is willing to spend to enjoy his trips. We all were satisfied travelers, pleased with our journey and the opportunities to see the country close up. There was a full train-load of passengers both ways, with “on’s” and “off’s” at every station.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief: Anything new? July 24th, 2012
Report (with PHOTOS) and Comments by Russ Jackson
How is Train #3 doing into Los Angeles Union Station this summer? The short answer is, not bad, but with a few exceptions. On May 24, 2012, the Southwest Chief departed Chicago Union Station on time, with three non-regular consist cars on the end and Amtrak CEO, Joseph Boardman taking a long summer trip “getting out to ride the trains and visit with the (employees) who do all the things needed to serve our customers.” He rode several trains in that two-week period. How did Amtrak and the BNSF handle his Southwest Chief? It was 31 minutes late at Raton, NM, but by the time it arrived in Los Angeles it was 3 hours and 52 minutes late.
Sunset Limited Early Morning Arrival in LA Information May 9th, 2012
NOTE: The info below is being distributed to passengers arriving on the Sunset Limited, train #1, at Los Angeles Union Station. The scheduled arrival time of this train there is 5:35 AM now with the new timetable effective May 7, 2012.
Meeting date: April 26, 2012 in Fresno, California; Reported by Mike Barnbaum, RailPAC Associate Director, Sacramento
Late April was a busy time for the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee. The Fresno meeting kept members busy with legislation pending in Sacramento that would allow for the possible formation of a Joint Powers Authority for the Amtrak San Joaquins.