Coast Rail Coordinating Council June Meeting Report

Meeting, June 20, 2008
Santa Barbara

Reported by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President

The meeting was well attended. Clem Bomar, Division of Rail, Pete Rodgers and Tim Gillham, SLOCOG, Mike Powers SBCAG, Rob Dayton, (staff) and Council members Helene Schneider and Roger Horton of RailPAC member city Santa Barbara, Tom Mulligan of UP, Izzy Rodriguez, City of Soledad, plus myself, Dennis Story and Gene Wilson from RailPAC. Jonathan Hutchison (Amtrak) and Christina Watson (TAMC) were on the ‘phone.

Pete Rodgers conducted the meeting at a brisk pace. Clem Bomar updated the group on the slow but steady progress of negotiations with UP over their requirements to run the Coast Daylight. Tom Mulligan pointed out that UP resources were stretched with numerous projects around the system. Nevertheless general terms have been agreed (but not disclosed to the meeting) and are now subject to legal review by each side.

The three needs for a Coast Daylight start up, operating support, rolling stock and track access are still far from guaranteed. There is also continuing concern about tunnel clearance for Surfliners immediately south of San Francisco following tunnel maintenance. This should be clarified soon, as Caltrain is assessing the tunnel clearances for their electrification project.

Jonathan Hutchison reported that the ADA platform height regulation is “no longer an issue”. I need to clarify this, as far as I know the ruling has not actually been withdrawn.

Reports were made on the state and federal budget which we have covered elsewhere, as well as the California corridor statistics.

Pete Rodgers proposed that CRCC should oppose the HSR bond as there is “nothing in it” for the Central Coast. I countered that it is impossible for all projects to have funding for every corner of the state. In addition the funds for inter city rail would bring improvements to coast line service since the largest projects (e.g. double track Van Nuys to Chatsworth and second Van Nuys platform) tend to be at the ends of the route rather than the middle. Helene Schneider recommended that instead of opposing the group should support “as amended”, the amendments to include more funds ($45 million) for central coast projects.

Gary Gerber from Monterey County suggested that a new JPA should be considered to raise money by issuing bonds for Central Coast rail projects. This will be a future agenda item.

During the round table discussion that concluded the meeting I made an appeal for CRCC to take up the issue of weekend schedules for 799/798 when Metrolink trains are not running. This was proposed by Roger Horton and carried unanimously. In addition I pointed out some of the shortcomings of the new Amtrak California timetable, which does not show the Coast Starlight as part of the coast timetable. Also, the timetable does not include the Capitol Corridor trains.