Monthly Archives

August 2007


Bay Bridge Closure- Labor Day Weekend (Followup)

The Bay Bridge reopened at 6 PM on Monday, September 3, 11 hours ahead of schedule. Over the weekend BART carried a record number of passengers, became a rolling party with its overnight service, and other public transportation systems saw record numbers of riders! No major tieups were encountered. Congratulations to Caltrans for its $1 million campaign of information leading up to this event!

Amtrak bus connections to/from San Francisco and other Bay Area cities affected! From Friday August 31st through Tuesday, September 4th Caltrans will be performing extensive construction on the Bay Bridge.



Thanks to Ed VonNordeck for the updated information.


August 11 Train and Tribute to Bob Conheim

The “Lord Mayor” of the Capitol Corridor Riders group who passed away on July 15 at age 63 was honored by his friends and family at Recreation Park in his hometown of Auburn on August 11. hpim0903.JPG lmmemor024a640.jpg

In his honor a special Capitol train traveled from the Bay Area to Auburn for the event. Many friends chose to ride “Bob’s train” to Auburn in his honor, boarding at stations all along the route.

(Photo by RailPAC Director Marcia Johnston)

Gene Skoropowski, Managing Director of the Capitol Corridor, wrote, “Bob was well known among Northern California rail riders, and he was affectionately dubbed “The Lord Mayor” of the CC Riders (Capitol Corridor Riders). His quick wit, love of life and family, plus his passion for good passenger train service, were his hallmarks. An attorney in California State government for most of his career, he recently retired and hoped to find a niche influencing elected decision makers on the value of public investment in passenger rail, with his Capitol Corridor experience as a solid example of what we could have in many places in California and across America. I will miss him.”

Mr. Conheim, shown when he spoke to the RailPAC Annual Meeting in 2006. (Photo by Russ Jackson)

In the Auburn Journal’s tribute article, Mr. Conheim’s wife, artist Paula Amerine, said the trains “got him off the freway and it was a way to conserve the environment, and the people on the train were so much fun to spend time with, instead of sitting in a car by himself.”

The Special train’s engineer, Mark Jones, is a regular engineer on the Capitol train that departs Auburn each morning, carrying CC riders into Sacramento and the Bay Area. Mr. Jones attended the tribute along with regular cafe car attendant “Eddie.”

On August 27 A proposal to name Auburn’s Amtrak train/bus station in Mr. Conheim’s honor was unanimously approved by the City Council in that historic Sierra foothills town. Councilman Hanley, who introduced the measure, said, “I believe that when a governmental body names a facility, road or park after a deceased community member that it expresses its heartfelt values. Bob, throughout his life, displayed unquestioned integrity and advocated for the public good. By naming our train and bus station after Robert F. Conheim, we would be clearly expressing our support for the values that he embodied.”

Rail Photos

New rail construction in Southern California

Photos taken August 22, 2007, by Noel Braymer
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The new Metrolink station at Buena Park is nearly finished including this pedestrian bridge across the tracks.

Looking at the new Los Angeles Gold Line “run-through” bridge that crosses US 101 at the south end of Union Station. The freeway is in the foreground. RailPAC has long supported a “run-through” crossing for Amtrak trains here too, which would speed up service on the Surfliner route.

The portal at First Street into the extended Gold Line Subway in East Los Angeles.


Santa Barbara City Council Adopts Pro-Rail Program 7–0

Document closely follows RailPAC policy.
Commentary by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President
At the regular Santa Barbara City Council meeting on Tuesday August 21 the Council unanimously adopted the staff’s report that outlined a policy of passenger rail improvements.

The full text of the document can be seen on line at

While the City is not the lead agency in carrying out the proposed upgrades to the Coast Line and service enhancements, the document is important because it sets in motion a process of coalition building with neighboring cities and counties. RailPAC has recommended this action to all of the agencies involved in the LOSSAN corridor, the Coast Daylight project, and local commuter rail.

Included in the plan is a request to Amtrak and Caltrans Rail to reschedule early morning and afternoon Surfliner trains to provide service between Ventura and Santa Barbara at more popular times. The current 799 in the morning does not perform well and has a poor schedule because of Metrolink meets. The 792 in the afternoon could also fill a gap by leaving later. Currently the train stands at Moorpark for a half hour for Metrolink because of the lack of passing sidings.

While the City’s proposals fall short of the 101 in Motion plan for commuter rail between Ventura County and Santa Barbara, it is an important first step. Without additional sidings and double track it is simply not possible to add trains without causing a further reduction in reliability and punctuality. A commuter service will not be successful unless the trains run on time, it’s that simple. If the coastal cities and counties work together to bring the much-needed investment to the Coast line we can have the long distance, regional and local services that the communities deserve.


Bay Area “Regional Rail” meeting report

August 20, 2007, Suisun City Hall
Reported by Russ Jackson

The Draft “Regional Rail” Plan was presented at a series of August meetings around the Bay Area.

This writer chose to attend the afternoon session in Solano County, while other RailPAC members attended other meetings. The Plan is called a “blueprint for expanding the region’s network of rail lines,” and “will identify potential rail passenger and rail freight improvements for near-, intermediate-, and long-term.” The long-term stretches out to the year 2050. It succeeds in its goals, and while the Plan has received coverage from other media, my report will cover items I think are of importance to RailPAC readers.

The briefing was given by Brent Ogden of DMJM-Harris, the project consultants hired by the Bay Area MTC for this purpose. First, he gave a comprehensive review of Regional Rail strategies, and gave a “vision for an interconnected rail system to guide investment decisions.” Planning in the Bay Area started with the 1956 BART Plan. BART and Caltrain are now considered to be the “backbone” of the rail system in the Bay Area. BART will double its ridership between now and 2030, going to 30 trains per hour and 2 minute headways. After that, only an expansion of capacity will suffice, as BART’s outward expansion potential is nearly complete. The Bay Area population will increase dramatically, highway congestion will increase (Solano County alone will see a 498% increase in vehicle hours of delay) so Regional Rail is the best alternative for transit improvements. .

RailPAC members participated in the first round of meetings, held last year, and our Richard Silver spoke forcefully for the critical element of connectivity between elements of the rail service. The report agreed, and it is #1 on the list, along with resolving the freight and passenger conflicts, the need for a new Bay crossing for rail, preserving and purchasing rights-of-way, exploring advanced technology (mostly electrification), desirable land uses, minimizing impacts on low income areas, a safe and secure system, and a “One system one ticket” convenience for riders. All of these items were incorporated in the Plan.

The Plan’s “Vision” is to “Ring the Bay” with a rail network, with the right technology in the right corridor. By 2050 the Plan would include:

SMART in the North Bay (Cloverdale to Larkspur), an enhanced Capitol Corridor with 3, 4 tracks wherever possible and a new Benicia-Martinez bridge, ACE to Sacramento and Lodi and to Merced, light weight electrified Caltrain equipment between San Francisco and San Jose, “infill” service between Hercules and Union City, a new transbay BART connection tunnel which would permit Caltrain to go to Oakland through the new Transbay Terminal in San Francisco, the Dumbarton rail bridge connection, the Altamont Pass right-of-way by way of public ownership plus using the largely abandoned Southern Pacific right-of-way giving double track to Stockton, and double track from San Jose to Salinas with standard equipment and with an interline with the Capitol Corridor and Caltrain, and extension to Monterey and Hollister.

That’s an extensive list of projects, many of which have been or are on the books already. Also included in this report are two interesting variables: one assumes the California High Speed Rail project will be funded and built, and the other that it won’t. In the former assumption the report discusses the advantages and disadvantages of both proposed routes into the Bay Area, and instead of recommending one it says both routes, through Altamont Pass and through Pacheco Pass should be built.

Altamont would provide high speed “commuter” trains into the region, while Pacheco would be for the express trains to Los Angeles and serve San Jose. Inherent in this idea would be that there would be only a need for double track on both routes rather than the four tracks required on much of the route if only one is selected. This writer was intrigued with the idea that a new cross-Bay rail tunnel would be able to carry not only BART, but also an extension of Caltrain and the HSR, which would make an expensive construction from Fremont to Oakland and Fremont to San Jose unnecessary for HSR. What is largely left out is service into Napa County which the report concluded did not generate enough potential ridership, but did have freight potential.

The Plan’s cost and governance issues are addressed and are of vital concern. The estimated costs to implement all the elements is $45 Billion, and if the High Speed Rail project is approved it adds another $17 Billion statewide. This writer asked what the plan for coordinating all the elements of the Plan were, as if it is left to each provider to carry out only their own segments it could be a very long time before the Regional Plan was implemented if at all. The Plan recommends a “Regional Rail Authority” to do the heavy lifting, and we would support that. Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering, one of the “fathers” of the Capitol Corridor when he was Suisun City Mayor, agreed, saying a “Single Source Regional Rail Authority” was absolutely necessary, and that “no new operators” be created in the meantime. On August 21 the Sacramento Bee editorialized that “For Northern California rail, the future is here.” It says that the new Bay Area rail plan “lays out what needs to be done. Now’s (the) time to begin.” The Bee adds that each element, like the Capitol Corridor, is “only one slice of the pie,” adding, “What portion of the rail plan is feasible and (the) financing options will be debated in the months ahead.”

What the final Plan will look like will be interesting, and Northern California residents will have a big stake in the outcomes. We recommend readers look at the Plan and quickly submit your comments. Maps and the full draft Plan are available at As the report says, “Help lay the track for the future of our Regional Rail System.”


Capitol Corridor Friday Accident

Special Message to Riders – August 20, 2007 The What, When, and Why

“An apology and a report to Capitol Corridor riders on the events of Friday afternoon and evening, August 17th” from Gene Skoropowski

For those of you who were caught up in the events of Friday afternoon and evening, and there were some two-thousand of you on several trains, I apologize to you for your experiences and your delays. I do not need to tell you that this was the worst series of delays, both in terms of duration and numbers of trains and passengers impacted, in the history of the Capitol Corridor service.

First is my apology to you for your delay, and second is my apology to you for the things that did not go right after the incident, particularly on the communication front.

No sooner had we just printed my latest regular quarterly “Message to Riders” (issue #30), wherein I refer to some days being like encountering ‘The Perils of Pauline’, than the events of Friday made these words harsh reality.

Let me describe to you the events, what was attempted to be done, and what actually happened and why. There are several ‘lessons learned’ that have emerged from this situation that identify things we need to do better.

I welcome any comments, criticisms and suggestions for improvement from any of you that were caught in this event. (, telephone:1.877.9 RIDE CC, regular mail: Capitol Corridor JPA, 300 Lakeside Drive, 14th floor, Oakland, CA 94568)

What happened? At about 3.15 pm, Westbound Capitol Corridor train #541 was traveling towards Oakland from Sacramento on Union Pacific Main Track #2, just south of Suisun-Fairfield Station. At a street crossing on Union Pacific Main Track #1 (the location is identified as MilePost 40.1), three trucks with the special ability to travel on the tracks were being positioned to travel along Main Track #1, to pick up debris along the tracks from recently completed trackwork done by railroad forces in days prior. These vehicles belong to an experienced railroad contractor that Union Pacific had engaged specifically for the debris removal work. At the time train #541 was approaching the crossing on track #2, two-of the three vehicles had been properly mounted on the rails on track #1, and they were awaiting the completion of the mounting of the third vehicle, which was still being positioned on track #1. This is the vehicle which was hit by Train #541. It appears that the vehicle was positioned too far into the clearance envelop of track #2, and was struck by the locomotive of train #541. The incident also damaged adjacent signal indicators.

Union Pacific is investigating in detail the circumstances and conformance to mandatory procedures employed regarding this entire incident. However, it is known that Train #541 had been cleared by dispatchers for travel on Track #2, and was operating according the railroad rules and within authorized speed limits. The contractor and the vehicles getting prepared to work on track #1 had been given permission by the railroad dispatchers to occupy track #1. Union Pacific’s operating and safety rules are very specific about the circumstances, procedures and conditions when tracks may be occupied by any vehicles that are not freight or passenger trains. These operating procedures and safety rules are recognized as among the best and safest in the industry, and they meet or exceed all Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) standards.

As a result of the ensuing collision, Train #541 was stopped and all service on both main tracks was terminated for a five-hour period while emergency crews removed the one contractor employee with a broken arm and the locomotive engineer (removal of the injured locomotive engineer took several hours due to getting access for a stretcher into the cab), and treated the one passenger for minor injuries, and inspected the railroad facilities (track and signals). Some 149 passengers were on Train #541, but also impacted were trains #543, #547, #549, #536, #538, #540, #542, #544, and all later evening trains. During the 5 hour delay, more than 2,000 Capitol Corridor passengers were delayed, many for the full 5 hours.

At about 3.30 pm when an emergency notice went out to all operating people about the magnitude of the collision and the expected magnitude of delay to trains, immediate actions were implemented. Union Pacific Railroad forces were deployed from Roseville to the site. Amtrak supervisors were dispatched to the site. Carl Malvo, Capitol Corridor’s Transportation Officer was at the site and on the phone during the entire event to try to assist Amtrak. An instruction was conveyed by Amtrak to all food service attendants in dining and cafe cars of Capitol Corridor trains already en-route and caught in the delay, to offer food and non-alcoholic beverages to passengers without charge, recognizing that the delay was going to be extensive, although no one anticipated that the delay could be as long as 5 hours, which it was..

Crews were asked to make announcements that an incident had occurred and that the delays would be lengthy. Union Pacific and Amtrak tried to move as many trains as possible into station platform locations to allow passengers to get off the train to try to make alternate travel arrangements. Buses were called to try to build a bus-bridge between Martinez and Suisun-Fairfield Station in an attempt to get passengers to their destinations. At the time buses finally arrived, word was received from Union Pacific that the tracks would be opened shortly. Buses which had boarded passengers transferred them back to trains, only to find out after the buses were released that there was a fuel spill from the truck, and the local fire department would not release the tracks for use until the fuel spill was taken care of. Too many folks, this looked like a saga from the old “Keystone Kops” comedy movies, maybe justifiably so.

Complicating all of this was both the location of the incident, a difficult site along the marsh land in Benicia, and the fact that this occurred on a Friday afternoon (the busiest day for Capitol Corridor travel at the start of the busiest time for travel) during the peak travel hours. Both Union Pacific and Amtrak personnel were caught in heavy traffic on I-80 and I-680 en route to the site. Traffic was so bad that the injured contractor’s employee and the train engineer were removed from the site by helicopter. The attempt to get buses deployed was also complicated because it was peak travel time on a Friday, and the traffic on the roads to the train stations that buses would use were also jammed with congested traffic.

Making the frustration level even higher is that the communication system (electronic boards and telephone lines) were not providing specific information that might have useful to passengers. Only one complaint was received about ‘not being told anything by the train crew’, so I assume that crews told passengers what they knew, which may not have been much. One report from a passenger advised me that the telephone information he was given is that ‘all trains are operating on time’. Other passengers were told that trains would be moving within an hour, when in fact, it was several hours. Clearly, we at the Capitol Corridor and Amtrak need to do a better job of using the resources we already have to provide better, accurate and more frequent information updates.

While I cannot recreate Friday and try to change things for the better, I promise you that we will review every aspect of this incident, and, together with our partners at Amtrak and Union Pacific, we will identify what should be done, by whom, and when, if ever an incident like this occurs again that causes the level of disruption to our service that this incident caused.

I am sorry that this report is so long, but I felt each of you that were caught up in Friday’s event deserve as complete an explanation as I can provide.

Again, I apologize to all of you who were caught up in this incident and its ensuing extensive delays.


Eugene K. Skoropowski
Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority


The Coast Starlight’s summer On Time Performance has improved!

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Report and Photos by Russ Jackson
Rail passengers wanting to use the Coast Starlight, Amtrak trains 11 and 14, in recent years have agonized about the late trains not only at the endpoints of Seattle and Los Angeles, but at all stations in between.

On February 15, 2007, the status of that day’s two Starlights was 0% trains on time; for the month of February 1.8% had been OT, and since October 1, 2006, only 21.9% of the trains had been OT. The “official” reason given by Amtrak was “Due to track conditions (on the UPRR) between Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Sacramento, with numerous slow orders in effect, trains 11 and 14 are subject to delays.” Updated information for August shows on the 15th it was 0% for both trains, for that month it was 18.8%, and for the FY 20.2%

On May 30, 2006 the Coast Starlight, train 11, was at the Emeryville station at 1:45 pm, running 5 1/2 hours late.

In the last few months, however, the portion of the UP’s Coast line south of Oakland has shown an improvement, so that train 14, the northbound, could reliably run close to on time every day. The hangups there were largely solved with the completion of work in the Chatsworth tunnels in March. Train 11 was the same between Seattle and Portland. The problem continued to be the portion of the route between Sacramento and Klamath Falls into Eugene. It was such a consistent problem of no reliability that in the current Amtrak timetable, on page 94 train 11 appears along with the Cascades, but in the companion northbound timetable on page 95 train 14 does not appear, as Amtrak cannot guarantee it will arrive near to on time to carry passengers north of Eugene.

On July 26, 2007, at 12:44 pm, it’s scheduled train arrival time for train 14 at the Eugene, Oregon Amtrak station. The train will not arrive until after 6:00 pm.

On August 15 the official reason for the delays showed only 27 minutes of delay between Klamath Falls and Sacramento for train 11, and 59 minutes for train 14. Here are some recent performances in the segment between Eugene and Sacramento.

Train 11 Arrival at Sacramento
Scheduled time: 6:15 am

Date Actual time

  • July 7 1:00 pm
  • August

  • 6 9:33 am
  • 9 6:15 am (On Time)
  • 11 7:11 am
  • 13 7:04 am
  • 15 6:47 am
  • 17 8:01 am
  • 19 6:50 am
  • In the same time period the arrival of train 11 into Los Angeles Union Station was similarly improved, with early arrival actually happening on August 8 and 14, and within 30 minutes on most other dates.

    Train 14 Arrival at Eugene
    Scheduled time: 12:44 pm

    Date Actual time

  • 1 6:25 pm
  • 12 2:17 pm
  • 13 3:32 pm
  • 14 2:01 pm
  • 15 3:57 pm
  • 16 3:05 pm
  • 18 3:04 pm
  • In the same time period the arrival of train 14 into Seattle was approximately the same amount of delay, but with four days times being double digit minutes late instead of triple digits.

    So, what’s happened? The UP completed track projects in that segment some time ago, which no doubt contribute to the improvement. Why the southbound now does so much better between Sacramento and Eugene is yet to be determined. Passengers can take assurance that improvements are being made.

    But, it is still slow out there. As RailPAC Oakland member Bob Mac Donald wrote in the year 2000, “There’s no reason for the Coast Line to be ‘scenic but slow. Scenic Yes, Slow, No.'” The Starlight is scheduled to run the segment between Oakland and Los Angeles now in 12 hours 20 minutes. As Mr. Mac Donald points out, in 1956 the Southern Pacific ran that trip in 9 hours 45 minutes, with only one fewer stop.

    With the on time performance improved now it’s time to work on returning the Starlight’s on board amenities, and improving service in the Pacific Parlour car!

    Next month we’ll look at the Southwest Chief.


    July Amtrak California Corridor Ridership and ticket revenue results

    Provided by Gene Skoropowski, Managing Director, Capitol Corridor JPB. RailPAC thanks Gene for this information and commentary he sends us each month: Gene says, “We have received the ridership and revenue results for July 2007 from Amtrak, and, once again, the Capitol Corridor is setting records, the 10th month in a row.

    “After 10 months in our fiscal year, we continue to AVERAGE a +13.8% growth rate in riders and +20.4% growth in revenue. While the only thing inhibiting greater growth, particularly in peak weekday travel periods, is availability of more coaches to add to existing trains, Caltrans has contracted with Amtrak to repair and renovate Amtrak Superliner coaches in exchange for 6 years of use here in California to help our capacity in peak travel periods. The first 2 such “Caltrans-liners” have already been completed by Amtrak, delivered to Oakland, and are now in service. You need to look carefully from the outside to see them, as their paint scheme is our standard Amtrak California paint scheme. Caltrans Division of Rail should get an award for this innovative approach to help meet our continuing passenger growth needs until new coaches arrive.”

    Capitol Corridor:
    ● 121,991 passengers +18.6% vs. FY06 and another record for the month!
    ● $1,571,625 ticket revenue +14.6% vs. FY06

    “July 2006 had 102,845 riders, so the 18.6% growth in July to 2007 to nearly 122,000 riders is consistent with the incrementally increasing growth in the prior 9 months. Total riders for the past 12 months is now well past 1.4 million at 1,417,975. If on-time performance can be improved and sustained to 90% or above, we should, with only modest growth in the coming year, approach or exceed 1.6 million passengers by September 30, 2008.

    “Revenue is now +20.4% above last year, with revenue-to-cost ratio now at 46.5%. We continue to expect that the revenue in August and September will push this ratio to 50% by close of the fiscal year at the end of September.

    “On time performance improved for the first 3 weeks of July (it was 84% on July 25th), but poor performance in the last week of the month dragged it down to 81.4%. Union Pacific performance is still running in the mid-high eighties (87% approximately), but mechanical failures have increased, especially in late July and early August. All partners (CCJPA, Amtrak, UPRR and Caltrans) are still striving to deliver a quality, reliable service on the Capitol Corridor, and the customers are clearly responding. We are still looking forward to a state budget package that will provide the at least some of needed capital for reliability/track improvements and to enable Caltrans Rail to initiate the procurement of additional California Cars for all three of our state-supported Amtrak-operated passenger services. If at least some capital for infrastructure investments can be provided for intercity rail, UPRR will be able to construct track improvements that are already designed, and these improvements will help on-time reliability.”

    Pacific Surfliner:
    ● 268,475 passengers +1.2% vs. FY06
    ● $5,082,760 ticket revenue +5.2% vs. FY06

    San Joaquins:
    ● 76,107 passengers +1.6% vs. FY06
    ● $2,335,680 ticket revenue -6.0% vs. FY06


    Bay Area Regional Rail Plan Workshops

    Dates and Times

    Track the Bay Area’s rail future by attending a public meeting near you on the Draft Regional Rail Plan

    After 18 months of analysis and stakeholder involvement, we are unveiling a blueprint for expanding the region’s network of rail lines. The Draft Regional Rail Plan will identify potential rail passenger and rail freight improvements for the near-, intermediate-, and long-term.

    Come to one of a series of public meetings (listed below) where you can:

    · See and comment on what’s proposed to move people and freight throughout the region in the coming 50 years

    · Learn how the regional rail network would be enhanced with proposed California high-speed rail investments (and view alternatives for bringing high-speed rail into the Bay Area)

    Workshop Dates and Times

  • Oakland Wednesday, August 15, 2007
    Session One: 3 pm – 5 pm
    Session Two: 6 pm – 8 pm
    Open house first half hour followed by presentation/discussion
    Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter
    Lawrence D. Dahms Auditorium
    101 Eighth Street
  • San Jose Thursday, August 16, 2007
    Session One: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
    Session Two: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
    Open house first half hour followed by presentation/discussion
    Santa Clara County Administration Building
    Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium, 1st Floor
    70 W Hedding Street
  • Suisun City Monday, August 20, 2007
    Session One: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
    Session Two: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
    Open house first half hour followed by presentation/discussion
    Suisun City Hall Council Chambers
    701 Civic Center Blvd.
  • Livermore Wednesday, August 22, 2007
    Session One: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
    Session Two: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
    Open house first half hour followed by presentation/discussion
    Livermore Public Library
    Community Rooms A & B
    1188 S. Livermore Ave.
  • San Carlos Monday, August 27, 2007
    3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Open house first half hour followed by presentation/discussion
    San Mateo County Transit District Offices
    1250 San Carlos Avenue, 2nd Floor Auditorium
  • Please note that in locations where two session times are offered, the format and content are identical.

    If you are not able to attend the workshops, please visit the regional rail Web site where interactive maps describe the proposed alternatives for the regional rail network.

    Written comments will be accepted until August 29, 2007, and should be directed to Katie Balk, Regional Rail Project Offices, c/o BART, 300 Lakeside Drive, 16th Floor, Oakland, CA 94612,

    For directions or more information, visit or email

    This information provided to you as a service of RailPAC.

    Rail Photos

    Dunsmuir Amtrak Stations

    A Rail station and a Bus station at the foot of Mt. Shasta!
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    PHOTO report by Russ Jackson.

    Dunsmuir is an historic railroad town 55 rail miles north of Redding. The Southern Pacific had shops and a yard there from steam locomotive days. Amtrak’s Coast Starlight continues to stop there, usually in the middle of the night, and Amtrak California’s bus that originates in Medford, Oregon, stops there on its round trip connecting with the San Joaquin and Capitol trains in Sacramento.

    The Dunsmuir train station looked like this through most of Amtrak’s history of stopping in this town of 2,000 people. Shasta County’s population is over 175,000. In the year 2004-2005, 5,000 folks rode the train to/from here.

    The Dunsmuir train station now looks like this after the city responded to requests for a more comfortable place to wait for the trains. With the on time performance of #11/14 being what it’s been, riders have had to wait for hours, and when winter is in full blow it can be very cold and snowy there. The building now has a heated waiting room. In the photo is a young man who arrived on the southbound Starlight on July 27, and is still waiting on the bench at 10:30 for his ride to pick him up. Folks up there are in no hurry.

    Amtrak Thruway bus route 3 arrives on the dot of 10:50 at its stop at City Hall (left) on Dunsmuir Avenue, just a few blocks from the train station. It cannot easily get into the hillside train station parking lot, so this is the alternative stop. The bus will arrive in Sacramento at 3:55, connecting with San Joaquin train 704.

    All bus riders must have train tickets under current law, which does not permit Amtrak buses to take riders between towns on any of its routes even if there is no private service available, until a new law, SB684 (Cox) is passed by the state legislature. This bus route, only recently extended north to Medford, is doing well. The driver told RailPAC that he “picked up riders in Medford, Ashland, and Shasta City this morning” (7/27), and that he usually “has several on board by the time he gets here.” RailPAC urges support for SB684.