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California Rail 2020 Conference

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Report by Carl Morrison,

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Panelo DSC06135.jpg

  1. Panel, "Public Needs Versus Crowded Tracks":
    • Lea Simpson, Capital Projects North, Caltrans Div. of Rail (above right)
    • Richard Tolmach,  TRAC President (below)
    • Hon. Hannah-Beth Jackson, former State Assembly Member (second from left above)
    • David Solo, Metrolink Chief Executive Officer (above left)

/Corridor6143.jpg/Corridor6143.jpgLea Simpson related that the San Joaquin Corridor, which she manages, goes up California's San Joaquin Valley to Stockton, where it "y"s to Sacramento and San Francisco.  It is a single track railroad, "not good enough for a premier railroad."  It is experiencing freight traffic growth.  Projects underway are siding extensions in Fresno and Hanford; relocating Madera station; double-tracking in some areas.

Richard Tolmach suggested, through a power point presentation, an Hourly Network system similar to the Dutch Railways in 1950 and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 1966, which was adopted in Germany in 1976 and Bern region in 1992.  This Hourly Network would be augmented with busses filling in the gaps.

Hon. Hannah-Beth Jackson, formerly of the California State Assembly, brought Santa Barbara Area notes.  She remarked that they have a Jobs/Housing imbalance; Populated areas are moving toward Los Angeles.; Political Polarization of Rail vs. Pavements.  Ventura is 30 miles from Santa Barbara and used to be a 30 minute drive.  Now, however, it takes one to one and a half hours.  Some drivers can watch the dolphins from their traffic jam.  Because the average home price in Santa Barbara is $1 million, many Santa Barbara workers do not live in Santa Barbara..  "A Land and A Train" (a lane added to Hwy. 101 and a train added) will require an extension, in 2007,  of Measure D tax and will include busses.  They must show that driving and freeways costs more than rail passenger travel.  Infrastructure and education are the basis of economic viability in any state.  Infrastructure means railroads.  Massachusetts, with the highest taxes, has a good economy.  Therefore, taxes are not a deterrent to economic growth.

David Solow talked about his Metrolink five-county operation.  Sales tax is an issue for revenue in all counties.  Orange County in 2006 may be the hardest to pass.  Multiple use of train seats is important, that is, moving from city to city with the same train and reusing vacated seats along the route.  Rail Integration is the Key to the Program.  Rail-to-Rail has been very successful.  There is a built in connection, for 50 cents, in each ticket.  MTA Easy Pass uses rail, trolley, and bus on one pass.  Stationing Service in Orange County..recording the untimate station destination.  The Key Word in Southern California is "Goods Movement."  We must have that solved for good passenger movement to work.  Therefore, the Los Angeles/Long Beach port growth is important to rail and passenger movement.  Metrolink must be in bed with freight haulers.  Quad gates and median barriers are the best crash avoidance techniques.

Official TRAC Website: