San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee report

January 10, 2008
Merced, California

Reported by Bruce Jenkins, RailPAC Director

The meeting was abbreviated because train #701 (north) was delayed due to a grade crossing accident south of Merced.

The SJVRC Board entertained a request to change the meeting date to the 3rd Thursday of the month. However, because of schedule conflicts with a majority of the Board it was moved, seconded and passed to move the date to the 4th Thursday of the scheduled meeting months.

Funding for new badly needed rolling stock is not forthcoming in the near future. Caltrans Division of Rail reported that with our present ridership growth (all corridors) we will be at standing room only capacity if there is no capital funding. Some of these capital items that need attention are double track at Port Chicago, a cross-over at Merced, and the new Stocton station. $6.5 mil has been proposed for the Electronic Train Management System (that BNSF has been developing) which would greatly enhance OTP.

John Pedroza of Merced County was elected for a term of 2 years as Chair. Dianne Fritz of Mariposa County was elected for 2 years as Vice Chair.

A letter of appreciation was sent to BNSF for their superb effort in handling of passenger trains will be drafted for the Chair’s signature. It was pointed out that SJV trains had an 85% OTP for the last year, which is good considering the problems. DoR is working diligently with BNSF to achieve better service. One aspect is to have BNSF dispatching give track warrants when the train is in a station so the engineer is free to copy.

Enroute cleaning of coaches and restrooms is being explored due to customer complaints. However, Amtrak indicates this will require additional funding from DoR.

Connecting bus routes are being studied to achieve better connectivity and DoR is meeting with Bus Contractors to improve customer service and to improve driver training. No bus routes are being eliminated.

The next SJVRC meeting will be March 13 in Fresno.

Riders flocking to San Joaquin train
January 18 2008 – Visalia Times-Delta

The number of passengers using Amtrak`s San Joaquin train from Bakersfield to the Bay Area and Sacramento set new records in the last half of 2007.

In November and December, riders were up 13.1 percent and 11.3 percent, according to a report from Caltrans, which operates the train system in conjunction with Amtrak.

Caltrans said the San Joaquin train set records in five of the last six months, for an increase during the period of 7.3 percent. The passenger growth on the San Joaquin train surpassed Amtrak`s two other California trains, the Capital Corridor from Sacramento to the Bay Area and the Pacific Surfrider from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Those trains also had greater numbers of passengers, though percentagewise not as great as the Valley train.

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