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Panel 1 - California’s Successful Intercity Passenger Rail Partnership 

Panel 1 - California’s Successful Intercity Passenger Rail Partnership

Linda Culp (SANDAG) Moderator

"Linda Culp made this whole Summit come together," was a comment I heard more than once from the organizers.
She mentioned that in 2016 there will be 6 new locomotives and 42 new cars in the system.

Hon. Gail Murray, Vice Chair, (CCJPA)

Gail Murray said that each city along their route (San Joaquin and Capitol Corridors) would like a station just like each city has a library. Already in place are 4 new locomotives and 22 new cars.

Hon. Henry Perea (SJJPA)

Henry Perea said they must promote to over 50% of their Latino base.  The Asian population is increasing so multi-language promotion materials are used.

Hon. Fred Strong, Chair, (LOSSAN JPA)

Fred Strong's jurisdiction has 351 miles or right-of-way through 6 counties with 41 stations.

Hon. Dave Potter (CRCC)

Dave Potter talked of the net generation of corridors.  Coast Rail Coordinating Council.  Three of the 5 top corridors in the country are in California.  In 1971, the Coast Daylight from LA to San Francisco was taken out of service.  Mr. Potter would like to bring back the Coast Daylight by extending the Surfliner route north from its current termination in Sal Luis Obispo.  Monterey County is the missing link.  An extension is needed from San Jose to Salinas.  Wharf to Wharf would be good from Santa Cruz to Monterey. There are more people living in the Central Valley than in 24 states.  

I had heard proposals for a Monterey to Salinas train, but Mr. Potter said this is not yet a reality.

Bob Manning, SWRPA, Conference Co-Chair, provided a microphone to all who had questions after each panel.


Link to Panel 1 presentation slides. (Open in Adobe Reader)

Panel 2 - Transportation & Tourism, Collaboration is Critical

Scott White (Greater Palm Springs CVB) Moderator


Scott White was kind enough to give me all the videos his panel showed about California Tourism plus all their PowerPoint slides involving California tourism's research on visitors to Caifornia.

After viewing each of the following videos, close the video in your browser, return to this page, and play the next video:

Link to video on kids visiting California.

Link to video on What is it about California that inspires dreamers?

Link to video on The Dream 365 Project.

Link to video on People thing Californians are just a bunch of Dreamers.

Patti MacJennett
(Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board)

IMG_1014.jpg      IMG_1022.jpg

Ms. MacJennett referred the audience to a very extensive website about "Car Free LA".

She also referred attendees to two new rail lines.  One is Florida's new rail line which will be marketed to Disney World and Cruise Lines: 

The proposed “Express Intercity Passenger Rail” service would operate between Miami and Orlando with two intermediate stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The first segment, approximately 195 miles, follows existing FEC rail track from Miami to Cocoa Beach. The second segment, approximately 40 miles, will be constructed alongside the Florida Beachline Expressway—or Route 528—from Cocoa to Orlando International Airport (OIA). The project already has Federal Railroad Administration approval and has received environmental approvals for the initial Miami to West Palm Beach segment.

The rail service is planned to operate at speeds up to 125 mph and is projected to move passengers from Orlando to Miami in about three hours. These speeds offer an improvement for travelers in comparison to driving on the Florida Turnpike and will qualify to serve as “Regional Services” and “Core Express Services” as part of the Federal Railroad Administration’s national High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program. Other comparable modes of transportation along the route include driving (between 3.5 and 4 hours without traffic), flying (45 minutes, but high cost in air fares), and Amtrak passenger rail service (about 10 hours). Trains will run hourly with 16 round trips a day with service scheduled to begin in late 2015.

To attract those passengers, the plan calls for stations located in downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, as well as a station at OIA. The proposed stations will benefit from transit connections and easy access for tourists and business travelers.

--Entire story:

She referenced to a second new rail line: 

XpressWest is an exclusive, dual-track high-speed train which will be the most advanced and fastest in the United States. With a top operating speed of 150 mph, the service will reduce travel between Las Vegas and Southern California to 80 minutes at an av erage cost of $89 for a roundtrip ticket. XpressWest is the only construction-ready dedicated high-speed rail project in the United States as it has completed all of its permitting requirements and has applied for a Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing loan established through Federal Rail Administration in 1998.
--Entire story:

Lynn Carpenter (Visit California)


Ms. Carpenter urged us to visit her website:

Ashlee Ciora (Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau)


Link to the presentation slides by all three presentors on the panel.
(Requires Adobe Reader)

After the audience saw the videos and the presentation slides, they were asked what they thought.  Random comments included "There were no trains in the videos." 

I asked the VisitCalifornia representative, "Where is the longest ocean-view train ride in America?"  None on the panel knew the answer.  (The answer is:  The Coast Starlight between just south of Ventura to San Luis Obispo, California.)  The fact that the Coast Starlight leaves LA every day up the coast would be a good thing to promote to visitors from countries where trains are more popular than in California.

Panel 3 - CEO Perspective - Putting Plans to Reality

Hon. Gail Murray, Vice Chair, (CCJPA) / Moderator


Art Leahy (LA Metro)


Art Leahy, Metro, showed a promotional/recruiting video. 

Mr. Leahy mentioned that Metro is buying rail cars and buses for its five rail lines.  75,000 passengers a day go through LAX.  Los Angeles' civic center is the largest west of the Hudson River.

Michael DePallo (SCRRA)


Michael DePallo said $210 million being spent on Positive Train Control and will be installed eleven months ahead of deadline.  They are retrofitting locomotives and buying new Tier 4 low emissions locomotives.  These new locomotives will have 85% lower emissions than the current locomotives, with crash technology.  Metrolink's 91 Line is being extended  24 miles to Perris Valley and in service in 2015. 

Stacey Mortenson (ACES/SJJPA)

(Ill, did not attend)

Hasan Ikhrata (SCAG)


Mr. Ikhrata the University of Moscow.  1946 - 1960 were the red cars.  1990 there was no rail in LA.  Currently there is a great system of rail in LA.  18 million people in the counties in the Southern California Association of Governments.  4 million people will be added equal to the size of Chicago.  A rail problem was pointed out, "First mile/Last mile."  Getting to the train from home to start the journey and getting home after the rail journey.  Transportation should provide options to people for better opportunities.  18 cents a gallon gas tax is the same as 1993.  Revenue from gas tax is not growing because of more fuel efficient cars.

Run-through tracks will increase the capacity of Los Angeles Union Station by 40%.

Don Sepulveda, Metro, Co-Chair


Don Sepulveda helped man the microphones for those in the audience who had questions after each Panel presentation.

Welcome Reception - Yvonne Burke, Amtrak Board of Directors

Fred Harvey House, Los Angeles Union Station

From 5:30 to 7 the attendees adjourned to the Harvey House at the east entrance to Union Station.  The only time I had been in the historic Harvey House was during National Train Days in previous years.


It was very unusual to see it lightly sprinkling rain as we walked from the Metro Building to the east entrance to Union Station.


We walked through the elegant Waiting Room of Union Station to the west entrance.  A previous problem of homeless people sleeping in the large chairs has been eliminated by sectioning the seating areas into areas for ticketed passengers only with patrolling deputies removing sleeping homeless individuals.


Signs by the California Passenger Rail Summit clearly marked our way to the Harvey House.  The information booth at the west entrance to the station was being renovated behind the plywood wall.  According to Peter Warner, they were installing a lowered section to the information counter for wheelchair passengers.


I stepped outside to find the light shower had ended but the pavement was still damp for my photo of the clock tower.


Tasty appetizers and desserts were served in the main lobby of the Harvey House with hosted soft drinks in the bar.






The seating area next to the bar has been restored to its classic appearance and colors in this rare photo opportunity.


I took the opportunity to climb to the balcony for a few overview shots of this classic Harvey House.



Soon Yvonne Burke made her remarks about being on the Amtrak Board of Directors.



Bob Manning, SWRPA, Conference Co-Chair, with Yvonne Burke


Bob Manning, Yvonne Burke, and Joyce Manning.


Eric Smith with his Stetson fit perfectly with the decor of the 1939 Harvey House. 

Eric is the Superintendent, Metrolink Commuter Operations.  Amtrak is the contract operator for Metrolink train and engine crews, and he and his staff are responsible for the day to day operations and interfacing with the SCRRA on behalf of Amtrak.
Currently, the only public place his art is on display is the lounge for Long Distance Train sleeping car and Surfliner Business Class passengers at Union Station. His Coast Starlight painting is on the current Amtrak National Timetable cover. 


Eric Smith's Coast Starlight painting on the cover of the Amtrak National Timetable Winter-Spring 2014.

See more of Eric Smith's railroad-related paintings at his Facebook page:





Thursday - Opening Keynote Address

"Getting Shovels in the Ground: California High-Speed Rail Program"

Dan Richard (Chair CHSRA)


 Those concerned about the 4,500 acres taken for California High Speed Rail need to realize that for each acre taken, one acre is being preserved.  Mr. Richard stressed a new approach to HSR calling it part of the Statewide Rail Modernization program. 

HSR was thought of as one train, but it is the anchor or spine for the integration of regional rail.  Local connectivity money was frozen by the past and current California governors, but is now unfrozen.  Regional enhancements are the Book Ends of HSR.  Electrification of CalTrain from San Jose to San Francisco is part of the $180 million for three corridors.  Run-through tracks at Los Angeles Union Station is part of the HSR connectivity funds.

High Speed Rail is an infrastructure improvement like Highways, Airports, and Railroads, all paid for by governments.

The first HSR track will be Merced to Bakersfield, then Palmdale, then San Fernando Valley to the Burbank Airport.  The first step is to grab the right-of-way which is currently happening.  HSR is now in the design-build phase in Fresno.  HSR in the Central Valley is important for that "Appalachia of the West" with unemployment the highest in the state.

California is not a North/South state, but rather a coast and desert divided state, divided by the Coastal Range.  There is wealth and educational institutions on the coast and poverty in the valleys.

Link to his presentation slides. (Open in Adobe Reader)

Panel 4 - Emerging California Passenger Rail Corridors

Tom Kirk / Moderator (CVAG) Moderator


Pete Rodgers (SLOCOG)


Link to his presentation slides. (Open in Adobe Reader)

Hon. Glenn Miller (City of Indio)

Twenty percent (124) of all golf courses in California are in Coachella Valley.  Palm Desert recently held a tennis tournament and attracted 450,000 people.  Coachella Valley is on the route of the Sunset Limited between Los Angeles and Phoenix.  Currently that route is mostly freight trains.

Christina Watson (TAMC)


Monterey County's largest city is Salinas.  Its main industry is agriculture with three growing seasons and lots of produce trucks on the roads.  Their second industry is Tourism.

Lauren Skiver (Sunline Transit)


Passenger service to a vacation area must include facilities on the transportation system so they can take all their stuff to the beach.

Lauren Skiver talked only about a past study completed in Delaware where she previously worked five months ago.

Link to her presentation slides.

Hon. Paul Lewin (City of Palm Springs)


Paul Lewin said it is 104 miles from Palm Springs to Los Angeles, usually 3 hour's drive, but he took 5 to assure he could be at this meeting on time.  Traffic congestion means lost economic opportunity.  All traffic between the Coachella Valley and Los Angeles is currently by way of I-10.

Panel 5 - Out of many systems – One Network

Don Sepulveda (Metro) Moderator


Paul Dyson (RailPAC)


Paul Dyson said that It is always better to be for something rather than against something. 

Instutional Relationships make the rail network work.


Mr. Dyson showed the graphic above and stressed that Southern California and Switzerland are about the same size, each with mountains, yet Switzerland has an excellent rail system.  There are 33 million arrivals at LAX and there is only one Flyaway Bus every 30 minutes to serve them as transportation to downtown.  The Flyaway Bus should be upgraded to every 15 minutes, double the current schedule.

David Kutrosky (CCJPA)


His CalTrain has a free rail to bus transfer, but you must get the transfer from the Conductor.  His 3 "Cs" of CalTrain are Connectivity, Communication, and Convenience.

James Dreisbach-Towle


James Dreisbach-Towle talked about his San Diego Compass Card.  90% of the passengers use the Compas card on the combined 9 transit agencies in San Diego County.  There is a mobile app that can predict congestion.  The cell phone can become a Universal Transportation Account.  Car, bike, and Segway huts are planned at transportation terminals.

Link to his presentation slides.

Bryan Pennington (LA Metro)

Chad Edison (CalSTA)


The next Rail Plan will be in 2017.  Plans for next year include information to passengers on how to use the system more efficiently.  He is using the California Houlsehold Travel Data Report.  If 10 - 15% of all trips are by rail, that is good.  With HSR it should go up to 30%.  Google Transit Data is used by all transit agencies.

Panel 6 -  Shared Rail Corridor Success Stories

Hon. Salud Carbajal (Santa Barbara County) Moderator


John Standiford (RCTC)


The first expansion of Metrolink in 20 years will be the addition of 24 miles to South Perris, California.  The expansion started in 2013 with the purchase of the right-of-way from Southern Pacific.  It will be opened in 2015.  In the future, Riverside County will be the 2nd largest populated county.  This private alternative to driving is needed to bring in jobs.  Some workers are making the 60 mile drive into Orange County now.  One station will be Hunter Park, a high tech area.  March Field is to become the University of California Offices and will be near the station.  South Perris Station is the current last planned station.  Hemet and San Jacinto, and Coachella Valley want stations as well.  Some of the line will be double-tracked to safely separate passenger from freight.

Royce Gotcher, CalTrans


Raising the top speed on a railroad compared to the average speed:  Top Speed of 79 means 50+ average mph, 90 top speed means 60+ average speed.  Locomotives and operators used to be owned by the railorad, but now are leased.  You must have trust between passenger and freight railroads.

D. J. Mitchell (BNSF)

David Kutrosky


There are 170 miles in the Capitol Corridors.  There are 3 sections:  Sacramento,  Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area, and San Jose.  They have gone from 6 to 14 trains daily serving San Jose and Silicon Valley.  They are Class 5 but need track improvements to run 90 mph.

The Moderator asked the panel what the most important thing to do to get agreements with Union Pacific.  Panel members agreed that it was important to go to Omaha, home of UP.  In the audience, a retired UP guy said that Capitol Corridor got their original agreement with Southern Pacific and SP had a different business plan than Union Pacific, who bought SP.  Therefore, the Capitol Corridor agreement was not possible to be made any more.

Richard Phelps, RailPlan


Richard Phelps gave many insightful suggestions after each panel presentation.  He was a former Amtrak executive and now works for RailPlan.

Panel 7 - Strategy Roundtable/Call to Action

Hon. Helene Schneider, (LOSSAN)

David Golonski, LOSSAN JPA

Don Sepulveda, Metro, Conference Co-Chair


Bob Manning
, SWRPA, Conference Co-Chair


Jennifer Bergener, LOSSAN JPA (Moderator)

Hon. Greg Pettis, (SCAG)
Closing Remarks

Although I did not see many of these broken at the Summit, I give you: The 10 Commandments of Presentations

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