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.

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Posted in Editorials, Reports

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.

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Posted in Editorials, Reports

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.

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Posted in Reports

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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted in Reports

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.

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Posted in Reports

For information about Train Day activities near you, go to http://www.nationaltrainday.com/events/other/and click on your state for a list of events! Now read about some of the activities in California: RailPAC salutes one of the Train Day events to be held in California: at the Dunsmuir Amtrak station from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This historic railroad town on the route of the Coast Starlight, built in the 1880s, will have many features, an exhibit of train use during World War II, and the 4th annual Pie Social! Pie is $3 a slice, $20 for a whole pie. Come on up!

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Posted in Reports

Report and Comments by Russ Jackson, RailPAC, Dallas. PHOTOS by Richard Strandberg, Mike Palmer, Russ Jackson. Maps from the Amtrak timetable.

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RailPAC Report by Russ Jackson, Robert Manning, and from the Amtrak.com timetable. Photo by Robert Manning.
In its revised schedule dated December 5, 2011, Amtrak California quietly added a new train-bus service finally recognizing the importance of travel from Palm Springs, Indio, and the Coachella Valley to/from Los Angeles. Until then the only Amtrak service was the tri-weekly Sunset Limited long-distance train, and connecting buses to/from the San Joaquin trains. These new buses do not go to the Palm Springs train station, but go to the downtown Airport station and other cities enroute.

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Posted in Issues, Reports