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Steel Wheels Conference

Events, Steel Wheels Conference

Registration for the RailPAC Annual Meeting on October 16th is Now Available!

Registration for the Steel Wheels Conference on October 16 is now available. Additional details and the registration link are available on the Events tab. As noted earlier, the in-person meeting has been canceled. The 2021 conference will be a Zoom meeting.

CITIZENS FOR RAIL CALIFORNIA dba RAIL PASSENGER ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA

NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEMBERS MEETING

Date:  Saturday October 16, 2021

Time:   10 a.m.   (Formal business meeting scheduled after the presentation)

Format:  Zoom meeting (see below for registration and invitation details)

Agenda:

Welcome

In remembrance of Bruce Jenkins and Marcia Johnston

The 2021 Annual Meeting is being held in the memory of these two dedicated RailPAC members

Guest Speaker:                  Jim Allison, Manager of Planning, Capitol Corridor JPA 

Business Meeting:           To conduct the regular business of the organization:
To elect the Board of Directors.
To receive reports from the President and Secretary/Treasurer

Any other business

Meeting Registration: Register at http://railpac2021.eventbrite.com/      

Upon Zoom registration, the invitation will be sent to the registrant’s email address. Please also check your Spam folder if it does not arrive. Please be advised last-minute registrations may be affected by a Zoom meeting cap.

Meeting Invitation: A day or two before the meeting, those who registered will be sent a Zoom invitation for connection on the day of the meeting.

Meeting Protocol: On Saturday October 16, for meeting security purposes, we will be using a “waiting room.” As a result, there will be a short delay between the time of your electronic connection with the meeting and your entrance into the meeting. Please mute your microphone upon meeting entry.

Amtrak Long Distance, Arizona, Bay Area, Caltrain, Commentary, Editorials, Electrification, High Speed Rail, LA Metro, LOSSAN, Metrolink/SCCRA, Nevada, Rail Photos, Rail Technology, SCORE Program, Steel Wheels Conference, Technical and Rolling Stock

Steel Wheels, 3rd Quarter 2021 Issue Available Online

Download the pdf of Steel Wheels, 3rd Quarter 2021 by clicking here.

In this issue:

  • Hydrogen and battery-electric rail propulsion
  • Dumbarton rail corridor
  • Amtrak dining
  • Amtrak to Glacier Park, group trip report
  • RailPAC California infrastructure priorities
  • Arizona News
  • Nevada News
  • RailPAC board member Marcia Johnston remembered
  • and more!

Amtrak Long Distance, Arizona, Caltrain, Commentary, Editorials, High Speed Rail, Metrolink/SCCRA, Orange County, San Diego County, Steel Wheels Conference, The Steel Wheels Column

Steel Wheels, 3rd quarter 2020 available online

Download the pdf of Steel Wheels magazine, 3rd quarter 2020 by clicking here.

In this issue:

  • RailPAC and Steel Wheels Coalition to Amtrak: “Daily is Minimum Acceptable Standard for Long Distance Trains”, and Amtrak’s reply, with Russ Jackson’s reply to Amtrak, Paul Dyson response.
  • High Speed Rail update
  • Tri Weekly and the Heartland Flyer
  • Orange County developments
  • Arizona news
  • and more!
Events, Steel Wheels Conference

Fullerton hosts the 2019 Steel Wheel Conference of the Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC)

[This post was originally published as an article in the Mid October 2019 edition of the Fullerton Observer newspaper]

Cleve Cleveland of OCTA describing the OC Streetcar project (photo: Brian Yanity)

On September 28th, 2019, over 50 rail transportation advocates from around the state gathered for the annual 2019 Steel Wheels Conference of the Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC) at the Fullerton Old Spaghetti Factory (the former Union Pacific depot).

RailPAC promotes the development of a modern, sustainable, environmentally friendly passenger rail system through education of the public and government officials.  Fullerton city council member Ahmad Zahra, whose district includes the train station, welcomed the attendees and described the role of Santa Fe Railway in the establishment of Fullerton.  Zahra said “we are trying to improve public transportation, and part of it is looking at our trains, and our train station… We want to encourage people to ride trains more”.  He emphasized the role of local government in improving the passenger’s experience at the train station with adequate pedestrian infrastructure and connecting bus service.

Carrie Schindler. Director of Transit and Rail at San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, gave a presentation on the ‘Arrow’, a 9-mile passenger rail line under construction between Redlands and San Bernardino, scheduled to start running in 2022. The Arrow will start with three new diesel-powered small ‘multiple-unit’ trains, along with one experimental hydrogen-powered train, made by Swiss manufacturer Stadler Rail.

Rick Meade, Senior Executive Officer – Program Management at the LA Metropolitan Transportation Authority, presented on the 13 large-scale rail transit projects in Los Angeles County planned to be completed before the 2028 Olympics. Cleve Cleveland, Department Manager for Orange County Streetcar Operations for OCTA, spoke about the construction of the OC Streetcar project, which is now under construction between Santa Ana and Garden Grove. Expected to begin operations in 2022, the OC Streetcar will be the first electric rail transit system to run in Orange County since the last Pacific Electric “Red Car” to Santa Ana ran in 1950.

RailPAC president Steve Roberts described efforts by rail passenger advocates in different states collaborating on saving the nation’s long distance trains, such as the Southwest Chief which stops in Fullerton, from cancellation by Amtrak management. Congress continues to provide funding for Amtrak long-distance trains, despite opposition from the Trump administration. Roberts and former RailPAC president Paul Dyson also gave updates on the LOSSAN (or Pacific Surfliner) corridor rail Los Angeles-San Diego services which serve Fullerton. Over the next year, the number of daily Amtrak Surfliner trains which stop in Fullerton will soon increase to 13, up from 12 currently, and several more Fullerton-LA daily trains on Metrolink will be added.

Steel Wheels Conference

RailPAC Fullerton Meeting Details

Fullerton Meeting

If you need more information please contact Paul Dyson – pdyson@xg1.b3e.myftpupload.com

If you register by mail please be sure to note your menu choice on your check.

We look forward to seeing you there.  Non members welcome.

Register at www.RailPAC2019.eventbrite.com

 

Events, Steel Wheels Conference

RailPAC Members Meeting – Fullerton – September 28, 2019

SAVE THE DATE

The 2019 RailPAC members meeting and Steel Wheels Conference will be held on Saturday, 28th September at the Old Spaghetti Factory adjacent to Fullerton Station.

Keynote speaker will be Jennifer Bergener, Managing Director, LOSSAN who will talk about the real world challenges of passenger rail.

Other speakers to be announced.

Online registration coming soon.

See you there, and come by train!

 

 

Amtrak National Network Campaign 2018, Editorials, Issues, Steel Wheels Conference

Our Most Important RailPAC Steel Wheels Conference Ever

2018 has become a critical year for passenger rail in California.  The threat to the interstate network trains, California Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Southwest Chief and Coast Starlight, puts them on the brink of fading into history barring radical action by Amtrak management and the Federal government.  Two decades of under-investment would have been enough to doom these overnight sleeper trains without the deliberate destruction by Amtrak’s new management team.  Amtrak CEO Anderson stated in April at the Los Angeles summit that “they are not viable” and he means to replace them.  Well, that’s a plain enough statement for me.  Perhaps from his standpoint its a reasonable position to take.  Anderson was not at the helm during the decades of neglect and channeling of of the majority of available funds to the NEC.  Nor is he responsible for the repeated calls from past Presidents and the Congress for the elimination of Amtrak, based on dubious data from Amtrak themselves.  But as CEO he is responsible for ensuring that he has good data on which to base his decisions.  He should understand the value of a connected 500 station network, and he should know the value of the cash flow from these trains.  When you stop selling a product, the first thing that you lose is the revenue.  How much of the allocated costs end at the same time?

Let’s not fool ourselves.  “Saving” the Southwest Chief is not just about maintaining the present operation with some cooperation from the FRA regarding Positive Train Control.  Saving the National Network, especially the “Superliner” trains in the west will require a huge capital investment.  Locomotives and cars do not come cheap.  Indeed they are made more expensive by another Amtrak management failure, the lack of consistent orders for replacement and additional cars which could have formed the basis of an ongoing, low volume production line.  This would have retained the skills and tools needed, rather than trying to start from scratch with the “lowest bidder”.  Nippon Sharyo is now closing their factory in Rochelle, IL, having failed to produce a bi-level car.  We’re in danger of the passenger rail manufacturing business becoming like halloween shops,  the pop up economy.

Siemens is selling passenger locomotives at $7 million a copy, and passenger cars can be had for about $3 million each.  It doesn’t take long to run up a $2 billion tab at that rate, and that’s without refurbishing the best of the existing fleet.  But then, $2 billion pales in comparison with the $150 billion I’ve heard quoted to maintain and modernize the Northwest Corridor.  Let’s not be afraid of large numbers.  And let’s not forget that $2 billion represents a lot of skilled work hours from a number of suppliers around the country.  It also represent the continuation of work opportunities for train crews, station staff and maintenance personnel.  In my view it’s an investment that we can afford, and that is well justified.

Here in California, with a new Governor taking office in January, questions will inevitably raised about the High Speed Rail project.  Even the most ardent supporter has to be disappointed in the lack of progress since 2008.  Rather than rehash all the reasons for the current situation, RailPAC will be looking at ways to exploit the work done so far and make recommendations based on what can realistically be delivered in the next decade.  That will be the debate that we will have in Sacramento, and continuing into the New Year.

Speaking of disappointment, what real progress have we seen with the state corridors?  In 2018 it still takes most of three hours to travel by train between Los Angeles and San Diego, about the same as 1971.  And how about an hour and ten minutes for 50 miles between Oakland and San Jose?  RailPAC’s early campaigns were about using existing routes and making incremental improvements, and that was OK for the first decade or so.  But the low hanging fruit has long since been harvested, and the boards that now govern the state corridors had better wake up to the fact.  Single track railroads along the beach may be picturesque but they don’t move people quickly or efficiently.  Both LOSSAN and CapCor need major capital investments if they are to have real impact on our mobility needs.  Yes, we’re talking billions again.

This is why we have an annual conference, and this is why it’s more important than ever that you attend.  National Network, State Corridors, High Speed Rail are all at a turning point and in need of very large investments if they are to continue and prosper.  This is your chance to meet industry experts and RailPAC leaders and tell us your ideas and where we should focus our efforts.  REGISTER TODAY!

Paul Dyson, RailPAC President

pdyson@xg1.b3e.myftpupload.com

 

 

Amtrak National Network Campaign 2018, Events, Steel Wheels Conference

Steel Wheels Conference Sacramento September 29

If you want to help RailPAC preserve and expand the National Network of passenger trains, and grow the regional services in California you should attend this important event.  Registration is open at eventbrite.com.

railpac2018.eventbrite.com

The event will be held at the California State Railroad Museum from 10.00am and we have a number of experts who will be giving presentations about the State of the passenger rail State, and the future of passenger rail in general.  There will be plenty of time for Q&A and discussion.  Bring your questions and ideas.

NOTE: REGISTER BEFORE SEPTEMBER 16TH YOU WILL RECEIVE A FREE BOX LUNCH

Final Agenda and Speaker Times (8/23/18)

Check-In Morning Coffee snack 10:00 AM  – 10:30 AM (Check-in to remain open until Capitol Corridor riders arrive)

10:15 AM – 10:30 AM – Welcome and Housekeeping

10:30 AM – 11:15 AM – Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Association, will discuss current Amtrak funding status, the National Network initiative and the Southwest Chief effort

 

11:15 AM – 11:59 AM – Dan Leavitt, Manager of Regional Initiatives San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, will  provide an  overview of “Valley Rail”, a major expansion of passenger rail service in the Northern San Joaquin Valley

12:01 PM – Lunch

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM – Frank Vacca, Chief of Rail Operations, California High-Speed Rail Authority, will present an update on California High-Speed Rail and an overview of ongoing projects, challenges and upcoming initiatives to fulfill goals of 2018 Business Plan

 

1:45 PM – 2:30 PM – Jim Allison, Manager of Planning, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, will present Capitol Corridor’s future vision for faster/expanded service between Roseville and San Jose

 

2:30 PM – 3:15 PM – Mark Singer, Rail Provocateur

RailPAC Business Meeting            3:15 PM – 3:45 PM