Governor Brown Signs Two Bills That Could Reorganize Amtrak California Operations

Oct 1st, 2012 | Posted by

Late last week Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills that could reorganize operations on two Amtrak California routes, allowing the creation of a Joint Powers Authority along the lines of the authority that governs the Capitol Corridor. AB 1779, pertaining to the San Joaquins route, and SB 1225 for the LOSSAN corridor where the Pacific Surfliner operates, are now law.

Amtrak California #6462 Coach - Moss Beach 2

But what exactly does this mean? The implications for intercity passenger rail in California aren’t yet clear.

In August this blog looked at the proposed San Joaquin JPA, noting that local governments in the area, especially Kings County, were intrigued by the possibility of gaining both more local control over the train’s operations as well as having more influence in Sacramento.

Passenger rail advocates have been warier. In a very detailed look at these two bills, Dana Gabbard of Streetsblog LA cited concerns from advocates that setting up JPAs for the San Joaquins and the LOSSAN corridor could make it harder, not easier, to coordinate operations and could undermine the passenger experience:

Ed Imai, Principal Consultant to the Assembly Transportation Committee, in his analysis of the bill notes several concerns regarding statewide coordination, questions about statutory changes that seem unnecessary, uncertainty about how any funding shortfalls would be managed, criticized the narrative of the purported success of the Capitols Corridor as being worth of being emulated given that its farebox recover ratio (i.e. the extent that its fares cover the cost of operations) are below that of the Surfliner and lastly echoing Dyson about tensions over the make-up of local representation of agencies on the JPA Board Imai notes “Unlike the legislation forming the CCJPA, this bill would not codify the structure or membership of the JPA that would assume management of the LOSSAN rail corridor. This raises doubts about the capacity of the JPA to manage the corridor because if its prospective members cannot even agree on the representational makeup and structure of the JPA it is unclear that they could effectively manage the more complex task of corridor operations”.

Even the Coast Rail Coordinating Council (a coalition that has for some years been working on behalf of the Coast Daylight, a proposed daily train to run between San Francisco and Los Angeles) at its August 30th joint meeting with the LOSSAN Board in San Luis Obispo expressed worries “What will happen to state support for emerging corridors if SB 1225 and AB 1779 are implemented?” (item #3).

Noel Braymer in an e-mail to me regarding the two bills shared his concern that “The biggest potential problem with creating 3 separate JPA’s for the California Rail Corridors is coordinating connections between the different services for passengers making transfers. In particular is the question of the future of the highly successful Ambus service connecting the 3 corridor trains managed by Caltrans Division of Rail”. A local activist shared with me his travails in attempting to get a reservation via Amtrak’s reservation system for a Thruway bus from Salinas to San Jose to connect with a Capitol Corridor train that in turn would connect with a San Joaquin train. They instead offered a convoluted alternative, stating their system had a limitation of only being able to make reservations for service connecting with trains that have reserved seating (which the Capitol does not). Is this a hint a JPA spinoff could impede rider access to the Amtrak national reservation system? I am told this is an issue never raised while the Surfliner stakeholders discussed the JPA takeover.

However, there has been support for having a single agency manage the corridor. RailPAC endorsed a LOSSAN JPA, but with caveats:

Now RailPAC has consistently called for a single regional agency to operate passenger trains in Southern California. However, we have been asked by a number of elected officials to support this body’s attempt to reorganize itself into a JPA to more directly manage this corridor. Recognizing the institutional relationships and the agencies already in place, I will state that RailPAC strongly supports the creation of a LOSSAN Joint Powers Authority. However, we do so with the caveat that this has to be an interim step on the way to a unified authority. We see such a single agency as the only way to overcome the turf battles that are unacceptable to railroad passengers and taxpayers in general.

With the bill now law, we will see how this plays out in practice – and we may see sooner rather than later. Metro is planning to apply to provide management services for the LOSSAN JPA. That may help provide some improvement in passenger rail connectivity, especially at Union Station which is the hub of Metro’s rail operations. Metro’s headquarters building (next door to Union Station) already houses Metrolink, and Metro is one of the members of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority that governs Metrolink.

Some may say Metro is empire-building, but that ship sailed a long time ago. It would make sense, from a conceptual perspective, to have Metro operate the service. But I’ll be interested to hear what others think of the specific proposal.

This all matters for high speed rail since the Surfliner will play a crucial role in connecting passengers to the HSR trains at Union Station in LA. Let’s hope these bills lead to improved passenger rail service and good HSR connectivity.

  1. jimsf
    Oct 1st, 2012 at 11:48
    #1

    Statewide regional rail – high speed rail, surfliner, capitols and san joquins, should be managed by a single rail authority and be completely coordinated, connections/skeds etc. to create a seamless trip including ticketing.

    adjoining commuter networks – metrolink, caltrain, coaster, ace, should have liasons to ensure that their services have coordinated connections.

    Its not rocket science but it will never happen because the people in charge are too busy protecting turf and playing personal choo choo empire, instead of doing what makes common sense for the traveling public.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Jim you are quite right. Unfortunately the State, in its wisdom, gave most of the funding for transportation to the counties to determine how to spend it. Thus we have these “choo choo empires” So the bus network will likely be hosed because the counties won’t pay for anything outside their own jurisdiction when the money runs out. As far as southern California is concerned, and probably the rest of the state, the artificial division between intercity and commuter is a cross we have to bear. Let’s face it, services such as Caltrain and Metrolink, as well as Surfliner, are multiple use regional services that carry passengers making journeys for many reasons. There are commuters on Amtrak trains and leisure riders on commuter trains. Totum Scrotum Est. It’s time the feds changed these definitions to stop the artificial distortion of funding mechanisms.

    jimsf Reply:

    I find it disappointing that advocating for common sense is a waste of time.

    Today I heard through the grapevine that “caltrans” is still expressing “displeasure” that i post on this blog with you all knowing I work for the railroad even though its clearly obvious that I am here expressing my personal opinion as a california resident, voter and taxpayer. I have never come here to portray myself as any kind of representative of the company. I share personal opinions and personal experiences and most importantly i tell the truth. so now i guess ill have to periodically reiterate that what i post here are just my big fat personal opiniosn and and my personal life experiences and that im not here representing amtrak inany capacity

    Im a californian and i expect that the people in charge of transportation in this state pay more attention to getting californians from point a to point be in a fast simple convenient manner -with focus on making that happen instead why it cant be done and i know that everyone here agrees with that as doesthe public.

    IT IS not rocket science to get a person from eureka to san diego inunder 8 hours nor is it rocket sscience to make sure that one can make timed connections from 42nd and judah all the way to rancho cucamonga without ones hair turning gray.

    whats missing is the political will and leadership to make that happen.

    please, tell me im wrong

    VBobier Reply:

    Mr Franklin is reputed to have said that ‘Common Sense isn’t so common’ and I’d have to agree, as to You being wrong, I think yer right…

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and Caltrans, hands off of Jimsf, We like Him…

    jimsf Reply:

    And none of californias transportation issues are new- from nimbyism to uncooperative freight railroads so after decades why havent the problems been solved?

    Ill bet if you got the folks at google facebook and apple together in a room they could solve the problems and figure out how ton make it happen

    joe Reply:

    IMHO things get better when the deciders are required to use the service.

    Congress flies to DC. You can bet your ass that any problems with airline efficency will be promptly addressed.

    Not Boxer’s doing but when she flies she is recognized by the flight crew. She was in coach BTW.

    VBobier Reply:

    That’s a good point, maybe they should at least try the train, just for fact finding…

    joe Reply:

    Eat your own dog food.

    All VTA and MTC and etc should be required to use the service they manage or quit their posts. Like a general easting the troops rations to understand how fit they are to fight.

    Caltrain once had a information meeting about shutting down service in south country. They did it at the Gilroy city hall area prior to the 6PM train arriving. Many noted they stayed home that day just to attend the meeting.

    blankslate Reply:

    That’s a good point, maybe they should at least try the train, just for fact finding…

    Joe Biden is pretty well known for commuting daily by Amtrak from Wilmington DE to DC, at least when he was a senator (not sure if he still does it as VP).

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Did she have to go through the porno scanner?

    joe Reply:

    I think so. I did not see Boxer in the terminal – just on board when I boarded and had to walk by her She rode in coach with staffer – used the back of the airplane potty and was coming back to her seat (UAL).

    Charles Randell the NY Rep did at SJC ~2004 (AA).

    In 2008 I did stand next to McCain at BUR airport security (SWA) when he was running for President (man is ghost white) – this was in the Primaries he was a dark horse and not nominated.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    ghost white or dark horse? Which is it?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I suppose if Washington were a hub of American and not United and US, Congress would’ve done something about the American work-to-rule strike.

    joe Reply:

    Maybe. They use fully refundable tickets so any strike issue and they switch – right?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I have no idea what kinds of tickets Congresspeople get to fly home. I don’t even know whether they can get the government to pay for them the way I can get my university to pay for some of my work travel.

    joe Reply:

    If there’s a problem with the airline, or airplane, the fed government purchased ticket is fully refundable and a new one on a different flight with that or any other available carrier issued. Fixed pre-negotiated Gov rate.

    Congress critters avoid airline issues that I cannot when I buy my ticket and have some fee or restricted ticket with that airline or a university purchased ticket with grant money or even forgiven Gov’t reimburses me (or buys my ticket).

    http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/products/milgov/default.aspx
    http://www.united.com/web/en-US/apps/booking/flight/searchRTGov.aspx?BT=F

    Joey Reply:

    Aren’t you the one usually telling everyone that “it’s always been this way and it’s not going to change” ?

    jimsf Reply:

    yes because it has and it wont. but that doesnt mean i agree im just being a realist. i think commonsense should prevail. i know common sense will not prevail

    VBobier Reply:

    I agree Jimsf and that’s all that I can say.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    you are wrong, happier now? :-)

    jimsf Reply:

    can you do it again but change the emphasis and with more conviction…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    YOU are wrong!
    If that’s not good enough I’ll call up VerbalLeatherDaddyBear and have him give me some lessons.

    jimsf Reply:

    not necessary. that worked.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Awww it would have been a good excuse to call him…

    Peter Reply:

    Today I heard through the grapevine that “caltrans” is still expressing “displeasure” that i post on this blog

    What was that about people claiming no one of any consequence reads this blog?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    People actually claim that? I can assure you it isn’t true.

  2. jimsf
    Oct 1st, 2012 at 12:00
    #2

    Now I am working as part of the surfliner which is a different division and I can tell you its like a different world that doesn’t resemble ccjp or san joaquin. There are issues with thruway bus connections that can’t be fixed because when one suggests fixes, one is told, “we can’t do that”…. there are always more reasons for what can’t be done than what can be done. its bizarre.

    Another example, train and bus connections, on the front lines, we work hard to do whatever possible to hold trains for late buses and hold buses for late trains, on the passengers behalf.

    Recently a upper level manager said, “we are no longer holding trains (surfliner) trains for late buses” apparently caltrans is putting on pressure to run trains on time. At the same time, its caltrans who wants the thruway buses in place, who makes the schedules, and who won’t make adjustments – for what reason who knows – and then at the same time we get memos per the carmageddon event, that trains will in fact hold for late buses at BFD.

    So which is it.

    Its a schizophrenic way to run a railroad. This is the kind of thing that makes passengers and front line employees shake their heads in disbelief.

    Anyone who thinks that further balkanization of the railroads and buses is going to result in better statewide travel is smoking crack. The employees know it and the passengers know it.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    One man’s “balkanization” is another man’s “realignment”, Jim.

    If I had to guess how all this ends up, I would figure on four major high speed rail networks nationally run by airline concessionaires. So the question then becomes if HSR becomes an interstate entity, then does the State really need to decide on where all the residual services are, including the thruway buses, or should that be a matter of regional control?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Four = Florida, California, Pacific Northwest, and everyone else?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Or are you talking about four different hubs (NY, LA, Chicago, and a fourth one, which IIRC you place in New Orleans) with some interconnections between them?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I just make your tin foil hat tingle when I talk about this subject, don’t I? (Of course, I say that in jest..)

    So here’s the ultimate build out of HSR in the US: http://goo.gl/maps/1Xq9C

    My guess is that eventually there will be United in Chicago running its operation out of there along with Delta doing the same in some southern city (just not sold that Atlanta will remain that important). I would peg Alaska Airlines to handle the West Coast and then on the Eastern Seaboard Amtrak would survive as it owns the NEC but it might partner with American Airlines to complete the “planes-to-trains” axis.

    How this could pan out is that deregulation would end for service inside each of these four zones. But between the zones you could continue to have deregulated air service and international services.

    Clem Reply:

    apparently caltrans is putting on pressure to run trains on time

    How dare they. That verges on un-American.

    jimsf Reply:

    The point being that the state has put the thrway bus system in place to bridge gaps in the rail network. so what do you do when one hand wants trains on time and another hand wants to make sure passengers make connections?

    do you hold trains for late buses? (keeping in mind that trains are operating on someone elses railroad)do you hold buses for late trains?(keeping in mind that buses are operated by several different private companies each with there own labor,equipment and policy issues)

    do you put so much pad time in schedules that it makes the travel even less appealing?

    blankslate Reply:

    do you hold trains for late buses?

    No. You would be holding up hundreds of train passengers for a few bus passengers, maybe 20-30 tops (the most I’ve ever seen on an Amtrak bus), sometimes 10 or less.

    do you hold buses for late trains?

    Yes. Train passengers are the entire raison d’etre of Amtrak buses. They aren’t even supposed to carry anyone who hasn’t bought a train-bus combo ticket, so what would be the alternative to holding them for the train? Running them completely empty?

    jimsf Reply:

    ok so what do you do with the 20 people who mis connect when there isnt another departure for several hours or nothing until the next day and when some of them have more critical long distance connections downline? just tell them they are sol?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    The same thing they do if a train to train connection is missed, like routinely happens with the LD trains?

    jimsf Reply:

    Then you wind up housing and cabbing people for hundreds of dollars when the only have a 39 dollar ticket to begin with.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If you can’t control the reliability of the bus schedules, you pad the bus schedules longer.

    Ugly, but there you go. The bus schedules should have enough padding that you don’t *have* to hold the trains for them except in exceptional circumstances.

  3. francis
    Oct 1st, 2012 at 12:46
    #3

    One way this division could work is if service frequencies rise to the point that timed connections aren’t as critical, for example, hourly trains.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    service frequencies rise to the point that timed connections aren’t as critical, for example, hourly trains.

    Do you seriously believe this?

    US Transportation Special Olympics. Where “might arrive the the scheduled day” is cause for a Super Gold Star Award for Trying and a bonus extra billion dollars of cash to pile in a heap and burn.

    jim Reply:

    He’s been trained by American Airlines.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    i agree with Richard (!): in central Europe (czech republic etc) the trains, tracks etc are old. But the trains are always on time, except when it’s unusally hot in the summer. One can prance about the country, counting on connections. It’s criminal that in the US, it proves impossible to coordinate rail services.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Indeed. Running trains on time is very much a function of the operating culture. You need “all” stakeholders (excuse the corporatespeak) to buy in and do their jobs to ensure trains and connections are on time. Even when you have a portion of staff working hard to keep trains on time, some other factor (whether it’s lackadaisical staff elsewhere or outdated operating practices/clueless management) cancels those efforts. Just increasing train frequency is a shotgun solution, i.e. a “spray and pray” solution to making a connection.

    joe Reply:

    Any measure will distort the service to optimize what is being measured.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell's_law

    “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

    IMHO make the people in charge depend on the service for their day to day lives or fire them.

    Public transit is still a service for the poor, riders should be grateful the managers even try.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not everything works (or doesn’t) like teaching to standardized tests at American schools. Elsewhere, the obsession with reliability has produced good results, and unlike in the US, railroads don’t look for creative solutions like padding to boost on-paper reliability without improving anything. In Switzerland they’ve actually gone in the opposite direction, defining reliability up (namely, including missed connections and averaging over customers and not trains so that more delay-prone peak trains are weighted more heavily).

    joe Reply:

    Europeans are not special.

    When you are the customer – you measure what you experience. They happen to use the rail system in Europe. Latent requirements and end to end efficiency is best understood when decision makers use he service.

    The cultural stereotypes are correlations, not explanations. It’s insulting to think otherwise.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, I don’t understand your comment. Can you explain what the phrase “latent requirements and end to end efficiency” means?

    joe Reply:

    Latent requirements; The inability of non-transit users to correctly understand and capture all that is required to operate/design a good transit system. These full set of requirements cannot be adequately written down – they are known to users who have contain a deeper understanding that is latent / hidden in a set of requirements. It’s based, IMHO on experience as a user/customer, not designer.

    end to end efficiency; here, the time a user experiences when using the system . In airlines the actual departure time for me is when the plane is in the air – the airline metric (FAA measured) is when the door is shut on the plane. For trains – the time in station and getting to station from a set of points.

    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/765017?uid=3739560&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101225407821

    http://wikisum.com/w/Hart:_Incomplete_contracts_and_the_theory_of_the_firm

    Hart’s work centers around RESIDUAL RIGHTS OF CONTROL. In a world of no transactions costs, we would always write perfect contracts (b/c it wouldn’t cost anything to specify every possible contingency); even if we didn’t, there would be no transactions costs to revise it. But with transactions costs, we necessarily right incomplete contracts. These contracts assign (sometimes explicitly, sometimes not) “residual rights of control.” Example 1: I contract to buy car bodies from you. Demand goes up, and I want to get more bodies than the contract specifies. It is up to you whether to comply, since the contract doesn’t obligate you to; you retain residual rights of control over use of your factory. Example 2: I contract to rent a house to you. You cannot repaint a room without my permission, though; I retain residual rights of control. If the paint all peels off and the house generally falls into disrepair, though, you may have residual rights of control that allow you to compel me (in court, perhaps) to clean up.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    This entire thread of discussion highlights the dysfunctional mind-set and lack of public-spiritedness which so characterize America and Americans today. This sorry state of affairs is rampant everywhere, from Congress’s obstructing their president at every turn right on down to the parochial turf war here over who should run – coordinate – schedule – have oversight of – California’s rail and bus services.

    As a people and a nation, we have become insular and stubborn in our thinking, as if we were all senile, brain-ossified and unable to think beyond the circumference of our own particular turf.

    Hence this endless and fruitless struggle (and discussion) to determine what might be California’s best overall organizational strategy to provide quality and dependable rail and bus service state-wide to the largest number of people – and do so in a thoughtful, coordinated and all-inclusive manner.

    Ain’t gonna happen, it seems.

    As a people, we are stuck at the bottom of a very deep well with no way out, and there’s no one on the surface above who is about, willing or able, to come to our rescue.

  4. Reedman
    Oct 1st, 2012 at 14:48
    #4

    More government rail operating groups in California — a complete waste.

  5. Reedman
    Oct 1st, 2012 at 15:03
    #5

    Breaking News —
    A truck/train collision in Kings County, near Hanford.
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Big-rig-slams-into-Amtrak-train-in-Central-Valley-3910064.php

    JJJ Reply:

    Fresno bee has the pictures.
    http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/10/01/3013437/amtrak-train-derails-south-of.html

    VBobier Reply:

    Totally terrible, hopefully We’ll know how this happened soon…

  6. William
    Oct 1st, 2012 at 17:26
    #6

    Both centralization and localization have their advantages and disadvantages. So the questions are how big an organization can be when it is too big, and how small when it is too small? A lot of difference we discuss here between US rail policies and foreign policies can trace back to the fundamental difference that US is less centralized in domestic policies from other countries.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    A lot of difference we discuss here between US rail policies and foreign policies can trace back to the fundamental difference that US is less centralized in domestic policies from other countries.

    Do you have a single example of this “a lot of difference”?

    California’s 403933 km^2 of land is larger than the “centralized(!??!)” Germany, than Japan, Finland, Taiwan, Estonia, Norway, Poland, Italy, UK, North+South Korea together, Hungary, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Israel, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Singapore, Belarus …

    Sweden is barely larger. France is only 40% bigger.

    What are these “centralized domestic policies” that these pipsqueaks wield that poor widdle itsy-witsy cowering-off-the-edge-of-the-craton 58-county California can’t muster?

    jimsf Reply:

    lol

    jimsf Reply:

    I dont generally agree with richard cuz hes such an ass about things but i cant help but imagine that putting all freight and passenger rail in california under a single separate rail agency, staffed exclusively by french german spanish swiss and japanese rail experts with no americans allowed…would result in a miraculously seamless simple and efficient freight and passenger system

    joe Reply:

    Maybe French, Spanish, German Swiss should pretend the Euro is a train, their economies might run smoother.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Swiss are running a perfectly good economic policy. They may have the same language and culture as the Germans, but they’re not part of the German Empire, and they have an independent currency that’s not artificially underpriced because of a currency union with the Greeks.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Swiss who don’t speak German may not look at it that way.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, ignoring the 7 people who speak Romansh, the Swiss all share a language with a neighboring country that’s part of the German Empire and that uses the Zweimark.

    Better?

    joe Reply:

    But my best friend ever (so far) married this lovely Swiss women who, as a US citizen in Sunnyvale CA, teaches her kids to speak Italian.

    Peter Reply:

    Hint: Check Alon Levy’s above link labeled “German Empire” and you’ll see how silly your response is.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Carolingian, HRE, KuK, or Second Empire?

    William Reply:

    Richard, you know California is a state, not its own country, and therefore subject to Federal authority, unlike the countries you cited?

    Actually, I think you would advocate for dictatorship, since most of your ideas require “knocking on someone’s head”.

    jimsf Reply:

    “you know California is a state, not its own country”

    thats problem number one to change.

    VBobier Reply:

    That probably won’t change either, cause then CA would have to assume some responsibilities that CA does not have presently and that would mean higher taxes on some…

    Winston Reply:

    CA residents pay more than their share of the Federal government’s operating expenses. It’s not hard to imagine an independent California that has lower taxes than it has now (State + Federal). It should be possible to operate California with lower taxes on everyone here. That being said, it’s hard to see how succession would work.

    Joey Reply:

    That’s ‘secession’

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In the democratic world, the countries with the weakest federal government and strongest states/provinces are the US, Germany, and Switzerland. In the latter two, trains make timed connections across state/cantonal lines and even across international lines. In the first, two subdivisions of the same agency in the same state can’t always coordinate their schedules.

    William Reply:

    Alon, isn’t Germany only served by DB, and Switzerland only served by Swiss Federal Railways?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Short answer: no. (I made the same mistake a few years ago.)

    Long answer: in Germany, long-distance trains are served by DB, but regional services are funded and planned by regional governments, which contract them out to DB or private operators. Other than the DB logo on those trains, it’s no different from the way many American commuter rail operators contract out operations to Amtrak*.

    In Switzerland, a large proportion of the long-distance network is not SBB, but rather BLS (Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon, built so that Bern can have its own mountain tunnel network), and again local S-Bahn planning is done on the local level, even if SBB owns the S-Bahn infrastructure around Zurich and BLS does around Bern. (Around Basel it’s more complicated because the S-Bahn is international.)

    In both cases, the local transit planning is intermodal, with fare and timetable coordination between buses and trains, regardless of who operates them.

    * This does not prevent Amtrak’s OIG from counting the local subsidies on those contracted operations in Europe but not in the US, so that it can claim Amtrak has better financial performance than European railroads. This has become one of the sources used to justify the common fraudulent claim that European HSR lines lose money.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Richard, you know California is a state, not its own country, and therefore subject to Federal authority, unlike the countries you cited?

    William, you know you might be outwitted by a stack of bricks.

  7. jimsf
    Oct 1st, 2012 at 19:47
    #7

    ooh ooh I did read somehere that the state is ordering more rail cars and that they teamed up with other states to get a larger order of the same type of car for a better price… perhaps there is hope on the horizon after all

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yes, that’s the Nippon Sharyo/Sumitomo contract. 42 bilevels out of the total of 130 ordered will go to California.
    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/single-view/view/sumitomo-selected-for-four-state-coach-contract/archiv/2012/september.html

    joe Reply:

    The Nippon Sharyo/Sumitomo factory in Rochelle IL is near old manufacturing and their parts suppliers. Rockford IL, was (circa 1982) the screw and nut center of the US. Belvidere IL is Chrysler’s DART auto factory.

    Chicago IL is a rail hub and buying rail cars.

    jimsf Reply:

    the screw and nut center? Now we know how mid westerners counter boredom

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yep. Should improve the very tight rolling stock situation and allow for more, longer trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “Better” = “half a million per car more than what Israel pays for bilevels.”

    And Israel is not a country with good government or low procurement costs.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    To be fair, that order by Israel was an add on to an existing contract which was about $2.5 million per car iirc and this order includes an option for 200 additional cars, the follow ons should be more reasonably priced. And the Czechs recently purchased 49 single level cars for 2.04M euros (2.63 million dollars) each. In 2007, Austria ordered 44 Railjets (each of which is 7 permanently coupled single level rail cars for push/pull ops), for 540 million euros. Converted and inflated by CPI, that’s $829 million for 308 cars, or $2.7 million each. So I don’t think there’s really that much of a price premium going on (though I may simply be missing examples; I can’t find [i]any[/i] other double deck coach car purchases than that Israeli one for instance).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Why “be fair” by shooting yourself in the foot, if not the head?

    Apples and apples is contemporary production of rail vehicles with comparable functionality.

    If US policy is to choose to pay twice or more public money for for inferior products delivered years late, then why bend over backwards (as opposed to just bending over) be “fair” about that?

    William Reply:

    I guess setting up the factory in Rochelle, Ill proved to be a wise decision for Nippon Sharyo.

    joe Reply:

    And Milwaukee not so good a decision for Talgo.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you want to encourage more competition among vendors, don’t force them to gamble on which states will order more trains when they open factories.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are bilevels so there’s hope on your Superliner :)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horizon_(railcar)

  8. Nathanael
    Oct 4th, 2012 at 18:17
    #8

    Since nobody’s commented on this yet:

    “With the bill now law, we will see how this plays out in practice – and we may see sooner rather than later. Metro is planning to apply to provide management services for the LOSSAN JPA. That may help provide some improvement in passenger rail connectivity, especially at Union Station which is the hub of Metro’s rail operations. Metro’s headquarters building (next door to Union Station) already houses Metrolink, and Metro is one of the members of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority that governs Metrolink.

    Some may say Metro is empire-building, but that ship sailed a long time ago. It would make sense, from a conceptual perspective, to have Metro operate the service. But I’ll be interested to hear what others think of the specific proposal.”

    I think Metro is the second-best-behaved of the California transit agencies (after San Diego MTS). I’m perfectly happy to have them build an integrated empire.

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