RailPAC - NARP 2014
(Rail Passenger Association of California & Nevada and
National Association of Railroad Passengers)
Annual Steel Wheels Conference
Saturday February 1, 2014
Los Angeles Metro Board Room at Union Station, Los Angeles
9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Photos and Text by Carl Morrison (Carl@TrainWeb.com); Power Point
Slides by Speakers; Produced by TrainWeb.com
Original Promo for this conference: http://www.railpac.org/2014/01/07/2014-steel-wheels-conference-1-february/
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In this report
you will learn (click the blue link at the end of each question to find the answer):
Who said of Rail
Travel, "When you are on the ground, you see the beauty of California." La Bonge
What would the US map look like with no Amtrak Long Distance Trains? Murphy
Where will the new tracks for the run through go at Los Angeles Union Station? Sepulveda
What are the short- and long-term service goals of LOSSAN between SLO and San Diego? LOSSAN
Why is the California High Speed Rail project starting in the Central Valley? Rail Modernization
How many of the five busiest intercity rail corridors in the US are in California? Caltrans
What do the new locomotives and the new bi-level
cars look like inside and out? Caltrans
What company can rebuild/repair 15 rail vehicles at
a time in California of these manufacturers - Budd/Vickers, Kinki
Sharyo, Kawasaki, Morrison-Knudsen, ABB? Alstrom
What current energy technology can provide +12.8%
average speed and -46.5% energy consumption than current Passenger
Trains in California? Energy Conversions
How many high speed trains were running during the
January 11, 2011, Japanese earthquake? How many derailed? Roger Rudick
When is the 2014 California Passenger Rail Summit
Assigned to report on the Conference, I soon realized what I had
missed by not attending this conference for 4 years...Starbucks and
cookies as an opener.
With the Conference always held at
a rail-friendly location, it was only a few steps from the East Portal
of Union Station in Los Angeles to the Metro Board Room for the
meeting. Many of us who attended had arrived on an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner,
as I had (top photo), or on Metro subway/light rail.
Downtown view from the Metro building, across the Los Angles Union
Station's platform roofs to downtown.
Forms were available to join this organization and you will see
from the presenters that RailPAC is on the cutting edge of rail
advocacy. Membership Form
The mission of the National Association
of Railroad Passengers (NARP) is to work for a modern, customer-focused
national passenger train network that provides a travel choice
NARP is the largest national membership advocacy organization for train
and rail transit passengers. We have worked since 1967 to expand the
quality and quantity of passenger rail in the United States. Our work
is supported by around 20,000 individual members. Membership Form
Los Angeles Metro Building at
The large graphics on the Boardroom level are classic (above and
Santa Fe through the orange groves and the Los Angeles Union
Passenger Terminal which will soon celebrate it's 75th anniversary.
A new video ViewSonic is on the Boardroom level with a slide show
of Metro-related images. I like the top view of Union Station,
perhaps from near Olvera St.
This poster was in the lobby. Don't know if it was for the
Metro employees or our conference.
Robert Manning, before the conference opened, introduced me to
Mark Murphy of Amtrak who was the keynote speaker.
Welcome - Tom LaBonge, Los
Angeles City Council, Paul Dyson, RailPAC, Matt Melzer, NARP
Paul Dyson welcomed the guests and thanked them for attending on
such short notice - perhaps the reason for the lighter attendance than
Tom LaBonge, Los Angeles City Council
, welcomed the guests
and gave Paul and Mat Melzer, NARP, a certificate.
Councilman LaBonge mentioned the
75th anniversary of Union Station which is coming up in May.
Union Station was partially designed by
John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson (the Parkinsons) who had also
designed Los Angeles City Hall and other landmark Los Angeles
buildings. They were assisted by a group of supporting architects,
including Jan van der Linden. The structure combines Dutch Colonial
Revival architecture (the suggestion of the Dutch-born Jan von der
Linden), Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne style, with
architectural details such as eight-pointed stars.
Enclosed garden patios are on either side of the waiting room, and
passengers exiting the trains were originally directed through the
southern garden. The lower part of the interior walls is covered in
travertine marble, and the upper part is covered with an early form of
acoustical tile. The floor in the large rooms is terra cotta tile with
a central strip of inlaid marble (including travertine, somewhat
unusual in floors since it is soft).
Attached to the main building to the south is the station restaurant
(the last of the "Harvey House" restaurants to be constructed as a part
of a passenger terminal) designed by southwestern architect Mary
Colter. Although now usually padlocked and stripped of many interior
furnishings, the topology of its rounded central counter, streamlined
booths, and inlaid floor patterns remain.
Mr. La Bonge said of Rail Travel, "When you are on the ground, you
see the beauty of California," in reference to the California High
Speed Rail Project. He suggested running the project right up
Interstate 5, we already own the land and would not anger the
farmers. Then, run baby bullets into adjoining areas.
Paul's Certificate (Matt's said "National Association of Railroad
Keynote Speaker: Mark Murphy, General Manager, Long Distance
Mr. Murphy brought two Amtrak managers - Joy Smith, Business
Liaison Director of Service Excellence, Long Distance Services
and Mike Dwyer, Route
Director, Coast Starlight and Southwest Chief. firstname.lastname@example.org
Unfortunately, Joy and Mike were
not given an opportunity to speak. I chased down Mike during the
beginning of the next speaker's presentation, and asked him
about the current situation with the Southwest Chief reroute
possibly from Albuquerque through Wichita and back to the current
route in Newton, Kansas. Mr. Dwyer says that Colorado and Kansas
are onboard to provide the money for improvements to keep the SWChief
on the current route. However, the New Mexico governor is against
using money to improve their portion of the route (north of Albuquerque
and Lamy). She has even given back the federal money. Kirk
Schneider, a friend and conference attendee, says the state is bankrupt
and even their Rail Runner might have to be shut down. Other
considerations are routing the SWChief through Pueblo and/or Wichita,
Kansas. There seems to be no deadline for the reroute.
Matt Melzer was the able computer operator for Mr. Murphy.
You can see how far the audience
was from the screen, I was sitting in the front row with a telephoto
lens. Mr. Murphy's slides were readable, but, as you will see,
many slides, especially with maps, were entirely unreadable by the
attendees. Some presenters even apologized by saying, "You can't
see this, but..." (What a way to make a professional
Hmm, do you like the photo on this
initial slide? I believe it to be inside the repair shops in
Beech Grove, Indiana. Hope he used a different slide photo if he
makes this presentation to other rail passengers.
Mr. Murphy's slides about Amtrak
Long Distance Trains were in
color, but I had been taking people photos at 3200 ISO to keep from
using a flash and needed to change to 800 to avoid red, blue, and green
sections of the slides. If I did have the RGB sections in my
slides, I simply turned them to monochrome for this report.
Mr. Murphy mentioned that two new
Talgo train sets are online now. He also mentioned that new
single-level long distance cars will go online in 2015-2016.
(This was probably not something to tout to westerners since
single-level cars means they will go in service somewhere east of
Chicago. This just adds fuel to the fire that Amtrak management
things the center of the universe is the Northeast Corridor and that
the west is a step-child.
This is WAY too much information
for a slide. Mr. Murphy could not even read it from his position
1/2 the distance from the screen to the audience as the
attendees. In fact, you will be able to read this slide than the
NEC = North East Corridor LD = Long Distance
Note the "Three geographical regions," above, and the cities
The photos on the slide above should have been separated for
Think about it, what politicians advocate eliminating
Amtrak. Notice how many states' populations that would affect.
I think the bottom line is important in slide No. 12, above.
F & B?
(Food and Beverage)
Questions followed and the LOSSAN
Group said that there are two gaps in California Serviced - San Luis
Obispo to San Jose and Bakersfield to Los Angeles.
A question about Parlour Cars from
Robert Manning got this answer: The Parlour Cars are here to
stay, but they are out of the consist about 20% of the time for leaky
windows or irreplaceable parts. They have the problem whether to
take them all out at once and repair them or one at a time.
Locals feel that one at a time is better and while one is out, use a
This ends the Amtrak presentation. Are you
Regional Rail - Don Sepulveda
- LACMTA Executive Officer
This might be the most exciting
slide of the afternoon - the run-through tracks at Los Angeles Union
Station. This is something RailPAC has advocated for years.
Mr. Sepulveda said it takes 15 to 20 minutes to change from a train
arriving and the same train leaving as it now stands with a stub in
station. The run through would greatly enhance dwell time on
Mr. Sepulveda said that safety is a big issue and this slide
explains what is being done about it.
These slides address double
tracking. After these projects, there will be double track
between Ventura and Los Angeles Counties (Not Santa Barbara and San
LOSSAN in Transition
Hmmm, gave this same presentation
November 2, 2013. Nothing new? So attending TRAC means
we've heard all this. At least change the date to the current
meeting so the folks do not walk out on your section of the
program. I stayed since I did not go to TRAC this year.
Jacki Bacharach, Moderator, LOSSAN past Vice Chair
Jennifer Bergener, OCTA managing agency
Dave Golonski, LOSSAN Vice Chair
Dave made an important point - The
length of a Rail Plan is longer than the term of supporting board
members. I think Fullerton is well aware of this. Since the
Fullerton Railway Plaza received support, those members have been
replaced with less enthusiastic rail supports and who knows what the
current plan is nowadays.
Fred Strong, LOSSAN Chair
Fred commented on a portion of
their slides, fielded questions after their presentation, and provided
about 100 printed "California Passenger Rail Program Guiding
Principles" which I have copied below.
Has not "'through' commuter trains between L.A. and San Diego"
been tried and deemed unsuccessful?
Before increased number of trains
can be accomplished, Paul Dyson pointed out that additional track
(double or triple) must be added. You cannot put more trains on
tracks that are already congested.
I think this is a very meaningful and informative slide - what is
If you have questions or comments about LOSSAN, please direct them
to the folks above via their e-mail addresses.
Perhaps the youngest rail advocate at the conference (right).
Noel T. Braymer taking some official photos.
Some attendees have thought provoking questions after each presentation.
High Speed Rail - Michelle Boehm,
Michelle looks more like a modern-day
advocate of High Speed Rail than most of the RailPAC membership in
attendance. RailPAC has been criticized for not appealing to
younger members, and California High Speed Rail has found a
spokesperson who would appeal to that younger set as well. Now
RailPAC just has to get younger rail advocates to meetings to hear her.
Perhaps RailPAC members, after her presentation, had a positive
impression of her breadth of knowledge and good delivery style than
they might have had at first impression. Roger Rudick had a
criticism saying that she should take 'bus bridge' out of her
vocabulary about High Speed Rail. Roger suggested showing a
slide, as he did, of a traditional locomotive pulling a French high
speed train to an off-route destination and saying that this is how HSR
will deliver riders to their final destination.
Thank you Michelle for spending the time to put the current date
and group on your title slide.
California's High Speed Rail project has a new and better
name: California Rail Modernization Plan
What is the photo and how does it
relate? (Why is the photo from behind
other photographers? iPhone photo? Use professional
Even though the map is unreadable, the text tells the story.
I took a closer photo of the earlier map so you could see what names
were on the map.
The photo is of the Tehachapi loop, which Michelle mentioned, and
relates to bullet point 1.
To question or comment to Michelle, use her e-mail address above.
The State of the State, Rail -
Bruce Roberts, Acting Chief, Division of Rail
Bruce's presentation had a photo
background that made the text harder to read for the audience.
The message was important to us, however.
I have greatly cropped this slide, but the city names are still
Sorry I missed the Pacific Surfliner map, but the state operating
support dollars are listed below.
Bruce showed this historic slide to show the Colton Crossing and how it
has been improved in the next 2 slides.
A horizontal photo with trains on both tracks would have been more
STIP and RTIP mean what?
Do you understand this slide?
Good, readable information.
Industry: Roy Van
RailPAC: Why did the speakers have
to turn their backs to the audience to look at the large screen to
check the sequence of their slides when their slides were coming from a
portable computer with a handhold remote? (Answer: The laptop
should have been on the podium in front of the speakers).
Roy had prepared this presentation
specifically for this meeting, good job. This slide shows what
most non-railroad people do not know - how little contact space a Steel
Wheel has to a steel track. I have heard that space referred as the
same as a dime or postage stamp.
When I saw the "ALSTOM on Mare Island"
name, I remembered having been there before. It was on a CALIFORNIA
RAIL 2020 CONFERENCE - SACRAMENTO CALIFORNIA - Sunday 14 NOVEMBER 2010
Excursion to Alstom on Mare Island (Vallejo), California.
My photo from the California Rail Conference Excursion to the Alstom
shops in 2010.
Roy Van Winsbergh's Slides:
Roy noticed the strange symbols at the top of the organization chart
and explained them as his PowerPoint version perhaps being a different
version than the one in the board room.
Wait! What happened to the font size...this is like typing and
entirely unreadable by the audience. Almost unreadable on this
Industry - Dave Cook, Energy
Dave Cook holding an Ultra-Capacitor Module (right) with Paul Dyson.
His research shows that a Metrolink train on a 4-mile segment between
stations spends most of its time a full throttle followed by breaking.
Dave mentioned needing a large space for holding the many
Ultra-Capacitor Modules and the solution:
A closer look.
The most important slide that Dave showed.
Media Strategy for Rail
Advocates - Roger Rudick
Photo of Roger, taken by is father, of an electric locomotive from the
past. He said his dad was a railfan and that is why he is out of
focus and the locomotive is in focus.
He says that Foundations and Think Tanks are anti-passenger rail
lobbyists, especially these.
LA had light rail, but the oil companies eliminated it in favor of automobiles
Some say we should not use government money for passenger trains...the above is not a government project?
How many high speed trains were running during the
Japanese earthquake? Over 26. How many derailed?
None. What about the one that was "lost"? The electrical
system on the system board went out and it did not show up, it was fine.
One critic of HSR said that the only way France's HSR makes money is
because it is entirely in an urban area. The above photo shows
that it is not.
How many miles per hour is 574.8 km/h? 357.16 mph. Rail
Museums should have a diorama like this showing visitors that trains
are not a thing of the past.
What are "High Speed Trains"? Educate the public. Take down signs like this in Oceanside.
Rail advocates should solicit support from these entities.
No. His "TrainWars" aired and PBS was to purchase "Train Wars II" but Koch said no and PBS folded.
Rather than a 'bus bridge' like Michelle mentioned, at the end of a
segment of high speed trail track, you hook on a diesel and take the
passengers to their destination.
Roger sent me the following
information for you. After the conference, I asked him for more
information on his informative video, Train Wars, which ran on some PBS stations. He said Train Wars is not online for your viewing, but he did send me these links:
There were versions that aired on KQED in SF (our funding source) and KPBS in San Diego. Part of it also aired on PBS NewsHour.
Disclaimer: Presenters and
Attendees: If you dislike the photo that I took of you at the
conference. (Yes, this has happened in the past, usually by
political office holders or appointees.) Send one (72 dpi 640 dpi on
the longest side) that I can substitute to Carl@TrainWeb.com.
Remember the tomato farmer from Hanford interviewed in the Roger Rudick
videos above. At 6:30 into this video, he explains why he is a
big proponent of High Speed Rail. Interesting, is it not, how the
other reports made you think he was against HSR. A PBS reporter's
take on HSR: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business-jan-june12-highspeedrail_03-01/
Comments welcomed at Carl@TrainWeb.com
Report and photos by Carl "Hobo Mo" Morrison, "Will Write for Rail Tickets."