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===Railroads=== ===Railroads===
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Sprinter trains


VISTA: Sprinter blasts at crossing resume after state steps in. Residents irked after commission tells NCTD that standard warning blasts necessary.

Train's horn has locals sounding off. Sprinter about to get 4th set since last year.

Bumpy ride. Sprinter's inaugural year marked by ups and downs.

Sprinter revises its earlier limit on bicycles. Transit district will now allow as many as fit in marked area.

Sprinter special section

Man struck by Sprinter train in critical condition. Investigators still waiting to talk to the man.

Sprinter employs multiple safety systems. Man apparently eluded patrols, warnings.

Sprinting to work.

Commuters take to Sprinter. After a busy inaugural running on Sunday, the new Sprinter rail line slipped into its workaday schedule Monday, with new links between rail and wheel receiving mixed reviews from commuters. Transit officials estimated that 13,000 people rode Sunday. But it was a vastly different crowd that arrived at the Sprinter's 15 stations Monday morning. These were commuters headed to work and students traveling to class, not day-trippers looking for a bit of entertainment on the shiny new train.

Man in critical condition after being hit by Sprinter. Sprinter trains are back on schedule following a morning collision with a man laying on the tracks near East Mission Road at Rancheros Drive, according to North County Transit District officials. At 9:17 a.m. on the train's second day of service, a 30-year-old man believed to be transient and possibly suicidal was struck by a westbound train. Contrary to radio reports, the victim has not died, Palomar Hospital spokesman Andy Hoang said at noon.

Passenger train sprints into service.

Standing-room-only crowds greet Sprinter Sunday.

The Sprinter's long road to today. North County rail line has cleared many hurdles over the years.

Sprinter project fined $685K for pollution. Water cops say rail construction adding silt to lagoons.

Sprinter due to start Sunday.

Problem with Sprinter gates galls motorists. Technical malfunctions continue to dog the new Sprinter light-rail line, causing traffic headaches for commuters stuck behind crossing gates that drop even when no train is approaching or stay down long after a train has passed. Gate glitches occurred at least four times in North County last week, including one incident in Vista that shut down a busy intersection Wednesday for more than 45 minutes during rush hour.

Transit district to fix gap at Vista station.

Transit district gets orders to clean up its act. Water board wants pollution stopped

Creek problems rise near Sprinter tracks in Oceanside

Many find Sprinter noise tolerable; Vista withholds judgment

Sprinter is finally ready to connect coast, inland

Thugs beware. Transit cops will aggressively patrol the new Sprinter line when it opens in mid-January, officials with the rail line said this week.

Sprinter follows historic route built more than century ago

Inaugural Sprinter ride is for VIPs only. Start date up in air for regular service

Sprinter cars, crews begin 10-mile trial runs

November 15, 2007 There was no lurching at all. As the operator eased the gleaming new Sprinter passenger train from the blocks at the Escondido Transit Center on a test run to San Marcos, it accelerated smoothly and quietly.

NORTH COUNTY – There was no lurching at all. As the operator eased the gleaming new Sprinter passenger train from the blocks at the Escondido Transit Center on a test run to San Marcos, it accelerated smoothly and quietly.

Inside the train, riders didn't need to raise their voices to be heard over the two diesel engines that power each car. The horn, which the operator sounds before each crossing, could barely be heard inside.

Sprinter trains have become more visible since Sunday, as operators have begun testing and learning on 10 miles of track between the Escondido Transit Center and Buena Creek Road in Vista.

The North County Transit District took possession of that section of track this week and turned it over to Veolia Transportation, which will run the new Sprinter for the district.

The move is a step toward starting passenger service by the end of next month, said Don Bullock, the transit district's project manager for the Sprinter. “We're pushing hard and it's looking a lot better than it did a couple weeks ago,” Bullock said. “At this point we're feeling pretty good about it.”

The Sprinter's arrival marks the first time since the late 1940s that scheduled passenger trains will operate between Escondido and Oceanside. The transit district rebuilt 22 miles of freight rail and added a 1.7-mile loop that will serve California State University San Marcos.

The construction contractor is completing work on the western 12 miles of track so the transit district can begin operating trains there, Bullock said. He said he hopes that happens by the end of the month.

Transit district spokesman Tom Kelleher said the operators are not just learning the track and vehicle, but also are simulating actual runs.

“We're trying to operate under real-world conditions as best we can,” Kelleher said. “They're trying to see if under real-world conditions they can adhere to the schedule that has been laid out for the system.”

He said Veolia's dispatchers are directing the trains through the corridor for the first time. Safety systems also are being tested.

Operators were at the controls Monday, familiarizing themselves with the new vehicles and the track. They communicated directly with Veolia's dispatch center in Escondido, taking care to slow at low-visibility curves and watching for a stray pedestrian or car that might venture into the right-of-way.

Operators sounded the horn and a louder squawk box when necessary to attract attention to the speeding train. They slowed noticeably to ease the two-car train over the banked bridge that crosses state Route 78 at Woodland Parkway in San Marcos.

The legendary clickety-clack of metal wheels on steel rail wasn't heard as the train glided along a seamless ribbon of track.

As he watched the San Marcos landscape slide by from behind a large picture window, Kelleher said he is looking forward to seeing the train full of passengers.

“Right now,” he said, “everything is focused on start-up day.”

Rail problem throws wrench in Sprinter testing

Rustlike 'mill scale' can prohibit crossing gates from operating properly

October 04, 2007 NORTH COUNTY -- A rustlike substance on the Sprinter's new metal rails is the latest in a string of problems threatening to keep the light-rail line from opening in December, transit officials told the North County Times on Wednesday.

The Sprinter's tight construction schedule called for the entire 22-mile line from Escondido to Oceanside to be ready for testing by Monday. However, trains still aren't moving all the way from Escondido to Oceanside.

When asked about the situation Wednesday, transit district executive director Karen King said workers were trying to iron out kinks in the Sprinter's electrical signaling system.

The district has a few weeks to solve the problem to keep the Sprinter's launch date on schedule, King said, adding that she was confident workers can accomplish that goal.

"If we get to Nov. 1 and we're still not there, then that's a different story," King said.

King said there were delays installing the signaling system that have kept Sprinter trains confined to a relatively short section of track in Escondido and eastern San Marcos.

When rail engineers thought they had all of the system's bugs squashed, she said, a new problem appeared. Workers found that a brown rustlike coating called "mill scale" attached to the Sprinter's steel rails was reducing its ability to conduct electricity.

Project manager Don Bullock said that the Sprinter's $480 million metal rails are a critical component in sending signals to railroad crossing equipment.

"When the train passes over a certain detector in the track, it sends a message to the crossing that tells it to drop the gates and start the bells and all the other things that we have to do when a train is coming," Bullock said. "The (mill) scale was stopping the signals from getting there."

Bullock said the district used wire brushes to remove the scale, but it didn't fix the problem. He said a specialized piece of equipment arrived Tuesday and immediately got to work grinding away the mill scale.

"We've got the equipment for the next four days, and we're going to do as much of the rail as we can," Bullock said.

King said waiting for the equipment had significantly delayed the Sprinter's construction schedule.

"If we could have gotten a grinder here a month ago, we could have gotten past this milestone already," King said.

Signaling has been an problem for the Sprinter in 2007.

In January, the San Diego Association of Governments warned that if the project's contractor did not increase the number of signal workers on the job, the project would not open in December. Designs for signals at some of the crossings also had to be reworked as those crossings were modified.

The Sprinter's original construction schedule called for a three-month period designed to give new train operators, dispatchers and security personnel time to find and fix problems before the first passengers climb aboard.

That time frame has already been significantly reduced and is shrinking daily -- a factor that is cause for concern, King said.

"You don't want, on your first day out there, to have the train break down or have a major accident because a signal fails," she said.

However, the transit district chief said she believes the Sprinter will be able to make due with a much shorter testing period and will open in December.

"We won't begin service to the public if we don't believe the service can be operated reliably and safely," King said.

She said the train's operating schedule remains the largest unknown entity between now and opening day. Today, that schedule is only theoretical. Until conductors can begin running east and west on a complete rail line, they will not know whether the proposed schedule of arrivals and departures at each of the 15 stations will work.

"We need to make sure that the trains perform and that the drivers can keep these schedules as they are written," King said. "They need to have as much practice as they can get, and they need time to get to know every inch of the new right of way."

Warren Flateau, a spokesman for the Federal Rail Authority, which governs the nation's rail activity, said Wednesday that there is no prescribed amount of testing time for new rail lines.

"They should take as much time as is necessary to ensure the safe operation of the service," Flateau said.

Sprinter's rail installation complete

August 02, 2007 NORTH COUNTY -- Transit officials said the Sprinter light-rail line reached a significant milestone Thursday with all 22 miles of rail installed and significant progress made on the $460 million project's signaling equipment.

Don Bullock, capital projects manager for the North County Transit District, said the Sprinter's general contractor, West Coast Rail Constructors, stands to earn a hefty bonus if the work was completed by Thursday. Bullock said an initial inspection Thursday showed that the contractor likely hit the mark, but added that a progress report will not be ready until next week.

"We are still doing inspections, but it looks like they hit that deadline," Bullock said.

In May the district's governing board approved a $12.2 million settlement with West Coast Rail to compensate for design flaws in the project that have delayed construction. The settlement agreement also included a $3 million "incentive" plan that allows West Coast Rail to earn bonuses provided that it completes remaining Sprinter work on schedule.

Bullock said he expects West Coast Rail to earn about $800,000 of the $3 million total bonus for having rail and signal equipment installed. A more significant date, Bullock said, is Oct. 1, when the contractor must transfer ownership of the railway to the district.

"At that time we will be able to begin end-to-end testing," Bullock said.

Though all of the Sprinter rail is installed, the project is still far from completed.

Crews continue to work on the project's 15 stations, paving parking lots and installing electronic signs, ticket machines and video cameras on new concrete train platforms.

Karen King, the transit district's executive director, said Thursday that installation of all Sprinter rail is significant, even though the project isn't finished.

"It's nice, after struggling over the course of the project, to finally be able to see the results of our labor," King said. "We really are shifting from construction to gearing up for operation."

The district announced Thursday that it will extend Sprinter testing, which previously stretched from Escondido west to the San Marcos Civic Center, to Las Posas Avenue. Trains are scheduled to begin traveling to Las Posas and back on Monday. In addition to normal drop-down gates, warning bells and flashing red lights, workers with flags will initially be stationed at each railroad crossing to warn traffic of approaching trains.

In San Marcos, two concrete bridges carry the Sprinter tracks over Highway 78. But Bullock said the trains will not use the bridges Monday.

"We will be using a bypass track between the bridges for awhile. But we should see them in use in a few weeks," Bullock said.

The Sprinter project is the first in the United States to use a particular type of diesel engine-powered trains.

King said that the modern-looking blue vehicles, which can reach speeds of 50 mph, are common in Europe. But because they are new in the U.S., they must undergo more rigorous testing than other, more established designs might. She said the California Public Utilities Commission recently certified the braking systems for the Sprinter's 12 trains, after a long series of tests where steel ingots were loaded into passenger seats to simulate stopping with a full load of riders.

"That, in my mind, was a major milestone for us that hasn't received that much attention," King said.

Now, Vista explores sites for quiet zones

Dave Berg, right working in the hole, and Broc Rowley, left, install a new cantlever at the Escondido Avenue and the Sprinter crossing in Vista Friday.

May 19, 2007 NORTH COUNTY -- Now that North County Transit District has agreed to pay Vista more than $2.2 million to effectively turn down the volume on the Sprinter light-rail line, the city is turning its attention to pinpointing the best places to create so-called quiet zones, officials said Friday.

The transit agency, which is building the 22-mile line that will stretch from Oceanside to Escondido, announced an agreement with Vista Thursday to provide money for noise reduction measures in city neighborhoods along the track.

Michael Cowett, the district's general counsel, said the agreement was the result of two studies that concluded that Vista neighborhoods would be adversely affected by train noise and a long-held community expectation that it would get relief from the agency.

The $440 million passenger train is scheduled to operate in December.

However, noise relief won't arrive until the middle or latter part of next year, city officials said. That's because the community won't realize the full extent of the impact until Sprinter trains start running, and because it will take time to design a strategy and apply for federal approval.

"Our intent is to use that money primarily for quiet-zone crossings," said Vista Mayor Morris Vance. The Sprinter is going to "cut right through the middle of our town, so we want to do as much as we can. It's going to cause some consternation."

In places, tracks are less than 50 feet from homes.

A quiet zone is a relatively new option for addressing train noise, something that stems from a rule the Federal Railroad Administration adopted on June 24, 2005. Through the rule, the agency laid out what it considers to be an appropriate way to silence train horns without compromising public safety.

For much of railroad history, whistles and horns have been the primary vehicles for warning people that trains are approaching. And when Florida adopted a statewide whistle ban in the early 1990s, train-vehicle collisions rose dramatically, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

After studying the issue for several years, the agency determined that silent trains would not significantly increase danger if crossings were beefed up with other warning equipment.

As a result, quiet zones in Vista will be likely to entail equipping crossings with four sets of gate arms rather than two, and raised medians to prevent people from trying to drive around gates. As well, horns may be posted on either side of crossings and aimed at the cars approaching the tracks.

"I hope it works well for at least some of the neighborhoods that will be (affected) by the Sprinter," said Vista Councilman Bob Campbell, the city's representative on the North County Transit District board of directors.

But Campbell said the money from the transit district was probably not enough to create quiet zones at all of the city's eight crossings, and not every one of them will be suitable places for such zones.

Where tracks curve and cross streets at an angle, placing horns on crossing posts could result in their being aimed directly at houses or apartments, Campbell said. The Mar Vista Drive crossing, with homes close by, is an example of one that might not work, he said.

In some places, he said, walls or landscaping might be better tools for reducing sound.

Cowett, the district's attorney, said the other cities along the rail line -- Oceanside, San Marcos and Escondido -- are welcome to seek quiet zones as well. But he said the district has no intention of providing money for such zones.

"We have limited financial resources to be doing this for everybody," he said.

Cowett said the district decided to write a check for Vista because tracks run closer to back walls of houses there than in the other communities.

"Vista is in a very, very unique situation there," he said. "It just has to do with the proximity of some of those neighborhoods to the right of way."

Vista filed a lawsuit against the district in 1997 seeking to block the Sprinter's construction. In 1998, the parties settled the suit, with the district promising to work to obtain federal and state funding to mitigate environmental impact of the rail project in Vista.

San Marcos sued in 2004 to stop the district from carrying out a plan to close Shelly Drive to pave the way for the Sprinter's arrival there, but the city lost.

Karen Frostrom, a San Diego attorney who represented about 30 Walnut Hills homeowners in San Marcos in a complaint against the district at about the same time, said the San Marcos fight over Shelly Drive was "a very different kind of case" and can't be compared to Vista's victory.

Still, Frostrom said "it would be unusual for (the Vista monetary award) to foreclose San Marcos or Oceanside or Escondido from seeking the same relief. It would seem that they all have the right to seek their own relief ... unless Vista is a unique position somehow."

With homes near the tracks, Cowett maintains that Vista is indeed in a unique position.

The trains may not start on time

N. County rail link estimates now at '08

January 20, 2007

Regional transportation officials are concerned that the North County Transit District may be unable to start passenger train service between Oceanside and Escondido by the end of this year.

But district officials said yesterday they still can hit that date.

Jim Linthicum, a San Diego Association of Governments project manager, told the association's Transportation Committee yesterday the project has fallen two months behind schedule and may not begin service until February 2008. Linthicum said the original December 2007 start of passenger operations on the line remains “achievable,” but to make that date, the prime contractor “needs to be more creative and more aggressive.”

“I think he can do it,” Linthicum told the committee. “My concern is he's not being aggressive enough.”

Tom Lichterman, the transit district's director of rail services, said yesterday in an interview that Linthicum is basing his statement on a computer program that evaluates work tasks and projects completion dates.

Track construction is on schedule, and construction of a maintenance facility is ahead of schedule, he said.

Electrical signaling and communications systems are lagging, but the district is working with the contractor on that, Lichterman said.

The Sprinter rail project involves rebuilding and modernizing 22 miles of freight rail to handle passenger service during the day and freight trains at night.

The project budget, originally approved at $351.5 million in 2002, was recently increased to $484 million by the Federal Railroad Administration, although the transit district said it can finish the project for $440 million.

The Federal Railroad Administration also approved a startup date for train service of July 2008, but the transit district said that is pessimistic.

Peter Aadland, the transit district's director of communications and business development, said yesterday the district is still aiming to begin service at the end of December or the first two weeks of January.

It was the first time a transit official publicly deviated from a December date.

“We are proceeding with all of our operational plans to begin late this year or early next year,” Aadland said. “At this time we believe that is doable.”

Del Mar Councilman David Druker, a member of the transit district board and the SANDAG committee, questioned district staff about the possible delay at Thursday's board meeting.

“NCTD and the contractor need to get working on a recovery plan,” Druker said yesterday in an interview.

Sprinter hits 55 mph for first time


December 14, 2006 SAN MARCOS ---- After years of planning, the Sprinter finally began to sprint, reaching its top speed of 55 mph on a short section of track Wednesday.

"We've never had it over 15 mph, but they were up to full speed today," said Don Bullock, capital projects manager for the North County Transit District that is building the $440 million Sprinter light-rail line from Oceanside to Escondido.

The significance of Wednesday's milestone was not lost on Bullock, who has been involved in the Sprinter project since long before the $50 million contract for the Sprinter's 12 vehicles was awarded to Siemens Corp. of Germany in December 2003.

"It's pretty amazing," Bullock said. "We started looking at these vehicles years ago, and, to get to the point of finally seeing them run, is significant."

Yesterday was also the first day motorists might have encountered a passing train as they drove down a series of public streets in west Escondido and east San Marcos. Before, Sprinter testing was confined to a short section of track between Hale Avenue and Andreesen Drive, where the Sprinter's main rail yard is located.

But Wednesday, the modern-looking, diesel-powered Sprinter train left the rail yard heading west into San Marcos. After passing through a half-dozen public intersections, the vehicle arrived at a section of freight track between Woodland Parkway and West San Marcos Boulevard in San Marcos.

The stretch of track bridges either end of the Sprinter's loop, which dips south of Highway 78 to stop near Cal State San Marcos before coming north again to cross the highway and enter Escondido. It is here that all 12 Sprinter vehicles will be tested to make sure they perform as specified in the transit district's purchase contract. Testing will continue on the section of track until Dec. 22 and will resume full time after the first of the year.

Bullock said the rail has a few characteristics that make it ideal for testing.

"It's a long stretch, almost a mile, with no crossings," he said. "It's relatively flat and does not curve too much."

On Wednesday's trip out to the testing track, the train stopped at each railroad crossing before easing across the public right of way with cars stopped on either side of the dropped gates. Flagmen were present in case the newly installed gates failed to drop and keep traffic out of the crossing as the train passed. Bullock said it will be a while before Sprinter conductors leave the rail yard in Escondido and gun the engines for San Marcos.

"We are not up to the point where we are going to run at full speed through these intersections yet," Bullock said.

The Sprinter is expected to begin carrying passengers in December 2007.

Sprinter trains take first local trip

October 28, 2006 ESCONDIDO ---- It was only a half mile, but it was still history. For the first time, two Sprinter trains rolled onto a short section of the rail line's main track Friday for a calibration run between Hale Avenue and West Valley Parkway. The trains repeatedly accelerated to 20 mph before hitting the brakes, bringing the 135-foot-long, diesel-powered vehicles to a rapid, squealing halt.

[View A Video]

Friday's trial trips, conducted next to the Sprinter's 40,000-square-foot maintenance facility on West Washington Avenue in Escondido, were necessary to make sure that the trains' internal computer systems were functioning properly.

Helen Bueno, general manager for Veolia Inc., the company hired by the North County Transit District to operate the Sprinter on a new 22-mile line from Oceanside to Escondido, said the preliminary results were positive.

"So far, from the data we have received, they are operating within specs," Bueno said.

Each of 12 Sprinter trains contains a computer very similar to the famous "black box" recorders installed on every commercial airliner. Sprinter manager Don Bullock explained that the computers keep a constant recording of each train's speed, braking and other vital statistics.

"In an accident situation, it is important to have all of that information," Bullock said.

But before the transit district begins breaking in its new fleet of Sprinter trains, it must make sure that the computers are working correctly. Friday's testing simply consisted of driving up and down the rail and making sure that the computer accurately recorded the trains movements.

Brakes and computers were not the only equipment tested Friday. As the trains approached Hale Avenue, conductors repeatedly tested their warning horns. The volume is of interest to anyone who lives near the Sprinter tracks, because the horns must be blown every time a train approaches a railroad crossing. A video recording of the Sprinter underway, which includes a short warning horn blast, can be found under the audio-video section of

The Sprinter trains were built by Siemens Inc. in Germany and were brought to the United States by ship. Transit district spokesman Tom Kelleher said Friday that Siemens will continue to own the vehicles until final acceptance testing is finished. Each of the 12 Sprinter trains cost about $4.3 million. The $52 million total purchase price for Sprinter trains is about 12 percent of the rail line's $440 million budget.

Wolfgang Husemann, a supervisor for Siemens Inc., came to North County with the new trains to oversee testing. Husemann said each Sprinter train has two 400-horsepower diesel engines made by Mercedes Corp., have never been run in America. The train style, called a diesel multiple unit, is much more popular in Europe, where more than 600 are currently in service.

He said California's stringent air quality laws required some modifications to the European design.

"These trains make less smoke," Husemann said. "They are designed special for California."

The width of American rails also requires Sprinter trains to have somewhat narrower wheels than their European counterparts. The transit district also ordered additional air conditioning units for each train because North County summers tend to be hotter than those in Europe.

The Sprinter is scheduled to begin public operation in December 2007. Longer testing runs west as far as Rancheros Drive in San Marcos are scheduled to begin in two to three weeks.

High Speed Trains

news and links

New plan for bullet train could cut cost by $30 billion The high-speed rail authority now proposes to connect the train with existing lines on the outskirts of L.A. and the Bay Area and have the initial segment run between Merced and the San Fernando Valley.,0,2256846.story

Economic impact of high-speed rail varies in Spain.

Brown enlarges his role in California's foundering bullet train project. With the $100-billion project at a critical juncture, the governor puts his people in key positions.,0,7372153.story

Richard White is a professor of history at Stanford University and the author of "Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America." Take this bullet train. Please. California's proposed high-speed rail project is a costly boondoggle.,0,7483888.story

California bullet train: The high price of speed Its proposed route would destroy churches, schools, homes, warehouses, banks, medical offices, stores and much more.,0,2248881.story

Could the US crack high-speed rail?

One of the vacancies at the agency attempting to build a bullet train was filled Friday, when Bay Area financial expert Dan Richard was appointed to the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority by Gov. Jerry Brown. Richard has moved in and out of public projects, serving on groups involved in Bay Area transit and airport projects.

California's futuristic plans for 220-mph bullet trains linking the Bay Area with Los Angeles and beyond are facing a moment of truth. Prospects for a $19 billion federal infusion - covering more than 40 percent of a $43 billion system that would be the nation's largest single investment in transportation infrastructure in decades - dim each day as Washington scrambles madly for trillions of dollars in savings to raise the national debt ceiling. If completed, California's system would be the first truly high-speed-rail network in the United States. Bullet trains would race down the San Joaquin Valley, linking Sacramento to San Diego and tying into the Peninsula that links San Francisco and San Jose. More than $250 million has been spent so far, but the real money will kick in with the scheduled start of construction between Bakersfield and Fresno in 2012, which is estimated to cost $5.5 billion.

Former Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle resigned on Monday from the California High-Speed Rail Authority board, saying he would like to concentrate on his government consulting and lobbying firm. Pringle, a former Assembly speaker, sent a resignation letter to board Chairman Tom Umberg, who praised his colleague for advancing the project, working to attract federal funding and helping to hire the authority's current chief executive, Roelof Van Ark. In his letter, Pringle wrote that the high-speed rail project will not be successful without political leadership from Gov. Jerry Brown. His resignation, he noted, would give the governor an opportunity to appoint someone to the board who reflects Brown's view of the proposal.

Mayors of five major California cities step up to endorse high-speed rail in an opinion piece published in the Sacramento Bee. "In the last 2 1/2 years the case for high-speed rail has gotten stronger, not weaker," say mayors Edwin Lee of San Francisco; Kevin Johnson of Sacramento; Chuck Reed of San Jose; Ashley Swearengin of Fresno; and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles. The opinion piece notes a recent report from the state Analyst's Office, critical of the high-speed rail project and tackles four of the report's key concerns.

Democratic and Republican leaders on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee endorsed spending $1 billion a year, up from the current $110 million, for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. L.A. officials have eyed the program as a possible funding source for their efforts to build about a dozen rail projects in one decade instead of three, including the Westside subway extension.

California High-Speed Rail Authority board

A new independent assessment of California's high-speed rail project warns that the $43-billion effort — thought to be one of the nation's most developed — has inadequate management and a governing structure in need of sweeping reform. In a report released Tuesday, the state Legislative Analyst's Office also said funding uncertainties and conditions attached to almost $3.5 billion in assistance from the Obama administration further threaten the proposal as it heads into its first phase of construction in the Central Valley. The report recommended that the Legislature strip the nine-member California High-Speed Rail Authority board of its decision-making powers and that responsibility for the line's development be shifted to the California Department of Transportation. Until the organizational issues and federal funding restrictions are resolved, analysts called on the Legislature to cut funding for the bullet train from $185 million to $7 million in the proposed 2011-2012 state budget. "We have concluded that the current governance structure for the project is no longer appropriate and is too weak to ensure that this mega-project is coordinated and managed effectively," researchers said.,0,710485.story

California, Illinois and 13 other states, along with Amtrak, will share $2 billion in federal grants aimed at developing high-speed rail service, money that had been rejected by Florida, officials announced on Monday. The grants were announced by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. The winners were chosen from among 100 applications by 24 states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak.,0,2530593.story

High-speed rail planners revive Grapevine route The California High-Speed Rail Authority board votes to reconsider building the first 500-mile leg portion of the L.A.-to-Bay Area line along Interstate 5. That plan had been discarded in favor of a circuitous route through the Antelope Valley. Now, both plans will be considered.,0,7371109.story

DesertXpress, a proposed $6 billion high-speed rail line that would link Las Vegas with Victorville, Calif., cleared another major hurdle Friday with the Federal Railroad Administration’s release of its final environmental report on the route. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the completion of the environmental impact statement, a document that was reviewed by five federal agencies, during a press conference at UNLV’s Science and Engineering Building. The announcement also included presentations by Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Department of Transportation Director Susan Martinovich and UNLV President Neal Smatresk. DesertXpress officials had expected the environmental report to be completed by the end of 2010 so the fact that was completed was no big surprise. But transportation experts say the announcement is significant because it is one of the first reports involving high-speed rail transportation, an important piece of President Obama’s transportation initiative.

Members of Congress have rallied around President Obama’s high-speed rail plan and have organized into group with the unwieldy name of Congressional Bicameral High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus, in an announcement made today in Washington’s Union Station. Naturally the members are all Democrats. Even a virulent foe of high-speed rail, like the California blogger High Speed Train Talk, appreciates the challenge facing the caucus: " I also wonder if they realize that preaching to their own choir won't change the minds of the adamant House Republicans."

Time To Commit or Quit on High-Speed Rail.

State senator proposes restructuring leadership of California's high-speed rail system. State Sen. Alan Lowenthal's legislation would place the California High-Speed Rail Authority under the executive branch of state government and recast the make-up of the board.,0,1969567.story

All aboard: California high-speed rail planners prepare to put out billions in contracts.

The Chinese high-speed rail system is a serious feat of engineering accomplishment. Not only is it the biggest network of high-speed rail tracks, but a recent test run by a commercial train set a new speed record of 302 mph.

First leg of California high-speed rail project chosen, critics call it a 'train to nowhere'

California audit questions documentation of contract work on high-speed rail project. However, the inspector general's office said management of the rail agency is improving under new Chief Executive Roelof van Ark.,0,6989242.story

California bullet train agency can't document details of officials' foreign trips. The travel was funded by governments of nations whose companies may seek contracts on the massive project. Disclosure of information on such trips is generally required by state ethics regulations.,0,7950616.story?page=1

Amtrak reveals vision for East high-speed rail.

Critics ask attorney general to investigate state rail officials who also hold local offices. Pringle said the incompatible office question “is a gray area,” and it remains speculative that there would be a disqualifying conflict between the interests of the local agencies he represents and the high-speed rail authority. Until there is a ruling to the contrary, he said, his understanding is he may continue to serve in multiple roles. Katz, a former state legislator and an experienced transportation official, recently discounted the April letter from the legislative counsel, saying the office “always takes the middle ground.” He said the matter will be clearly resolved only if and when a court rules on the question. Both Katz and Pringle argue that their local government experience has been a significant help to various agencies coordinating bullet train plans and trying to integrate them with local rail systems and communities along the route. “There’s been more access to high-speed rail from local government in Southern California since Pringle and I got on the board than there ever has been before,” Katz said. “I don’t see how just sitting on the MTA or Metrolink board is inherently incompatible.”

China's high-speed rail.;_ylt=AvSG9oU.VVI7fpuQmmJEjKOs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTFoZWt2MDRsBHBvcwMxMzQEc2VjA2FjY29yZGlvbl90ZWNobm9sb2d5BHNsawNzY2h3YXJ6ZW5lZ2c-

High-Speed-Rail Plan Will Test California.

The proposal to build a high-speed rail system in California has the potential to create more than 127,000 permanent jobs in the Los Angeles-Orange County area by 2035 and contribute to the economic revitalization of the region, according to a new study by UC Irvine. “Cities with a high-speed rail station will grow and transition into hubs of commerce,” said Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, who is also chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “This report is a reminder that high-speed rail can provide communities tremendous opportunities to reinvent themselves, and prosper in the process.” The study by UCI’s Institute for Transportation Studies was released Thursday during a conference at Brandman University in Irvine, where more than 100 elected officials, business leaders, transportation experts and academics gathered to discuss the project’s potential effects in the region. The event was sponsored by the Orange County Transportation Assn., Veolia Transportation, HDR Engineering, NRG Energy West and the Center for Urban Infrastructure at Brandman, which is part of the Chapman University system based in Orange.

Companies hoping for a piece of California's future high-speed rail project would have to disclose whether they transported Holocaust victims or POWs to Nazi camps during World War II, under a bill that passed the state Senate on Thursday. The measure would require companies seeking contracts with the state's High-Speed Rail Authority to reveal any involvement in transporting people to concentration, prisoner-of-war, labor or extermination camps. They also must report whether they took remedial steps for their action or paid restitution to victims. The Senate voted 31-1 to approve AB619, sending it back to the Assembly for a final concurrence vote before it heads to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk.

Bullet Trains: Obama Spends Billions on High-Speed Rail.;

A high-speed zip across Europe by train. A father and son discover that getting around Europe is a breeze, thanks to the high-speed and regional train service. Good thing, since the stations are a bit on the brisk side.,0,4066569.story

The proponents of this idea are the same people who pulled the double track and other LOSSAN corridor enhancement projects from the HSR funding applications because the HSR folks thought that it would improve their chances of getting more of the money. Now for political and prestige reasons they want to pretend that they are bringing HSR service. That’s how it works in California, you can’t deliver so you study or pretend. Consider also that San Diego is decades away from HSR service. It’s an insult to San Diego county to disrupt what service they have for political propaganda.

New player enters race for rail line to Las Vegas. Wilder said about $35 million would cover the study's cost. If Desert Lightning succeeds in getting the study money, it would still take years to get the environmental permits and engineering completed. Wilder said once a study is completed, investors would help fund what could be a $35 billion to $40 billion project.

Schwarzenegger seeks to create high-speed demonstration train between L.A. and San Diego. The governor proposes that a train be set up by November, before he leaves office, to give commuters a taste of European-style fast rail travel. Skeptics say extensive upgrades must first be made. Skeptics of the idea say the project might not demonstrate high-speed rail's capabilities and is too ambitious to do in five months, especially if extensive improvements turn out to be needed to accommodate the train. "This will not be high-speed rail," said Jim Mills, a former state senator who helped create commuter rail service between San Diego and Los Angeles. "The difference in the running time compared to conventional equipment might only be a few minutes. And, if one of these lighter European designs derails or hits a gravel truck on the tracks, it will be a catastrophe." Others pointedly questioned the governor's motivation beyond his long-time support for high-speed rail. "What hit me first about this was the desperation of having a ribbon-cutting shortly before the governor leaves," said Rich Tolmach of the California Rail Foundation. "They've realized there's no legacy for the governor.",0,5073909.story

New high-speed rail chief faces tall challenge.

A high-speed rail system that wouldn't serve Californians. The focus should be on developing intra-urban rail networks, not connecting far-flung regions of the state.,0,41604.story

German railways shunt English into sidings.

An independent review of the December train breakdowns that stranded thousands of travelers in Britain and France blamed Eurostar and the operator of the tunnel beneath the English Channel for being unprepared for severe winter weather and rebuked their emergency responses as slow and uncoordinated.

Opponents to high-speed rail route through Rose Canyon stand firm. Read more:

China unveils 'world's fastest train link' video

Schwarzenegger quietly quashed effort to get commuter rail funds. The governor halted a request for $1.1 billion to improve commuter lines and instead ordered officials to only seek federal money for the proposed bullet train between San Francisco and San Diego. The governor "took shovel-ready projects and put them aside, " said Rich Tolmach, president of the California Rail Foundation. "Hundreds of millions of dollars were thrown away. Now these rail projects will not get their fair share of federal stimulus money." Tolmach and other critics said the Caltrans rail division and other transportation agencies would try to seek alternate funding, but those sources are not as large as the federal funds allocated for high-speed rail, and the state has little money because of an unprecedented and ongoing budget shortfall. "We may never get this money now," said Jim Mills, a former state senator who helped to create commuter rail service between San Diego and Los Angeles. "The lives of rail travelers will be jeopardized by this. One of the major items requested was positive train control, which can prevent the kind of accidents that have occurred on Metrolink.",0,6550006.story

Derailed projects.,0,6952574.story

High-speed trains may collide with L.A. River plans. Two environmental goals -- mass transit and reclaimed open space -- may be mutually exclusive.,0,961221.story

State applies for federal funds for high-speed rail line.

California rail board to reopen bidding on PR contract. A staff recommendation to give the $9-million pact to a firm with close ties to Schwarzenegger has been scrapped.,0,2814439.story

Trains in Spain signal the future.


The Obama administration is pushing the development of high-speed-rail lines, claiming that ultrafast trains would ease traffic, help the environment and boost the economy. Critics question those claims — and say the United States has a long way to go to catch up with other countries' rail travel.

California Edges Ahead In High-Speed-Train 'Race'

Some Regions Better Prepared For High-Speed Rail.

States Make Pitches For High-Speed-Rail Money.

Though California is in the throes of a budget crisis, Vice President Joe Biden said today that the state’s high-speed rail project was well-positioned to compete for a significant share of the $8 billion that the Obama administration has set aside in the Recovery Act for high-speed rail lines -- possibly more than 10%. This summer, California officials will be vying against other states and regions for federal money to build a high-speed rail corridor that would ferry passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in a quick, 2-hour, 40-minute trip. The state’s voters approved $9 billion in bonds for the project in November -- and promoters hope the federal government and the private sector will kick in enough money to help them complete the $34-billion first phase.

Spain’s High-Speed Rail Offers Guideposts for U.S.

Moving America The Association of American Railroads

Obama Outlines Plan for High-Speed Rail. "Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination," he said. "It's happening right now, it's been happening for decades. The problem is, it's been happening elsewhere, not here."

A New Maglev Train Finds Hope in a Stimulus World.

Japan: Blurring the line between bullets and trains.,0,2177731.story


Time Flies and Drinks Flow on German High-Speed Rail.

High-Speed Trains Return to U.S. Fast Track. After languishing at the margins of federal policy for most of the past decade, passenger rail is moving to the fore as President Barack Obama joins a growing number of states in calling for heavy investment in America's rail infrastructure. The president's $825 billion economic stimulus package includes $30 billion for rail and mass transit projects; a Senate version specifically allocates $850 million for Amtrak and $2 billion for high-speed rail. It's significant, because Obama has long favored expanding passenger rail service and has specifically called for a rail network linking Chicago with the major cities of the Midwest.

Full Steam Ahead for California's High-Speed Rail. Before the final ballots had even been tallied, high-speed rail advocates in California were getting down to work, laying the foundation for a bullet train that will link San Francisco and Los Angeles as early as 2020. Voters on Tuesday approved the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act, more commonly known as Proposition 1A, by a margin of 52 percent to 47 percent. The law authorizes the Legslature to issue almost $10 billion in bonds to fund the first phase of an 800-mile high speed rail link between Northern and Southern California. Advocates of high-speed rail hailed the victory as a watershed for high-speed rail in America.

How much will Prop. 1A cost taxpayers? Adrian Moore says the proposed high-speed rail system will cost Californians billions of dollars a year to operate. Dan Tempelis says high-speed rail would be an antidote to what ails the state's economy.,0,7452843.story

High-speed rail advocates in California have long dreamed of the day when bullet trains would revolutionize transportation, and they're counting on voters to pony up nearly $10 billion to bankroll what would be the nation's first true high-speed rail line. Proponents have been pushing high-speed rail for 25 years and always fallen short. But they say a confluence of events -- rising fuel prices, gridlocked roads, jammed airports and concern about global warming -- present the best chance yet to bring bullet trains to America. "We have a perfect storm ... those four factors make a perfect case for high-speed rail," Ron Diridion of the state's High Speed Rail Authority, recently told the San Francisco Chronicle. We've heard this before. There once was talk of a bullet train between Los Angeles and San Diego, and of a line linking L.A. and Las Vegas. Both were shot down. Will things be any different this time, and will America finally follow Europe and Japan in embracing high-speed rail? If it does, it will require changing how we live and how our cities grow. Proposition 1A would authorize $9.95 billion in bonds to finance the first phase of an 800-mile high-speed rail line that would connect the San Francisco Bay Area with Los Angeles. Several transportation, environmental and business groups say it would offer a faster, cheaper and greener travel while easing the strain on California's notoriously backed-up highways and airports. Trains would make the 400-mile run between the two cities at about 220 mph (considerably faster than the 150 mph top speed attained by the Acela Express linking Washington, D.C. with Boston). The trip would take about 2 1/2 hours and cost riders $55, according to the High Speed Rail Authority.

Backers push bullet-train measure as a dramatic change in California transportation. Foes of Prop. 1A, which would authorize about $10 billion in bonds as a down payment on the vision of an 800-mile network, say its cost projections and estimated travel times are way too low.,0,1537262.story

letters Tracking high-speed rail's promises.

$10 billion bond for high-speed rail sought. Even in a state known for dreaming big, the idea's a doozy: a train so swift that it could speed from San Diego to San Francisco in a little less than four hours.


Governor's vow could derail high-speed rail. Legislative fix sought to spread bond money around. The state budget stalemate could derail legislation that would ensure San Diego and Riverside counties get a crack at a portion of the $9 billion set aside for a high-speed rail line in a November ballot measure. After several delays going back six years, the bond that was intended to jump-start construction of the 800-mile network finally is set to go to voters in November in the form of Proposition 1. The plan is to connect California's major urban regions with speedy trains traveling as fast as 200 mph. Between Los Angeles and San Diego, the tracks are proposed to run through Riverside, Murrieta and Escondido along Interstates 215 and 15.

High-speed rail called dead

June 10, 2007 More than a decade after a state agency was given the task of designing a 700-mile high-speed rail system for California, not a single mile of track has been laid and there is growing speculation the $40 billion project never will get built.

With the state forging ahead with a $20 billion campaign to rebuild California's freeways and trade corridors, the dream of a speedy train that would pick up passengers in San Diego and drop them off in San Francisco 3 1/2 hours later has been put on the shelf.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed to give the agency $1.6 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1. That's barely enough to keep the doors open and the lights on at the California High-Speed Rail Authority's offices, with its staff of six.

Tens of millions more are needed to keep on track environmental and design contracts the agency's board approved in January.

"A long time ago I thought it was dead," said Temecula Councilman Ron Roberts, board chairman for the six-county Metrolink commuter rail system, in a recent interview. "And I still think it is dead."

Lake Elsinore Mayor Bob Magee, a Riverside County transportation commissioner, agreed.

"I don't think we're going to see high-speed rail in my lifetime."

Despite the temptation for many to write the project's obituary, Schwarzenegger's staff insists he is not out to kill it.

And a prominent Democratic lawmaker from San Diego, Sen. Christine Kehoe, maintains the project is not dead ---- at least not yet.

"It's going to live to fight another day," Kehoe said.

Kehoe said Democrats, who control both houses of the Legislature, are determined to boost the authority's budget by $50 million to $60 million.

Still, even if the agency gets enough money to keep contracts on schedule, the bigger question of where funding for construction will come from may remain unanswered.

Several years ago, Sacramento passed legislation to place a $10 billion bond on the November 2004 ballot to jump-start construction of the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco leg of the system. But the measure was moved to the 2006 ballot, and then to one in 2008.

Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, a project opponent, said his guess is the bond will be pulled yet again.

"The state's finances are going to have to improve at a pretty remarkable clip to make it attractive to go out for a big bond for something that would be completely new," Hollingsworth said.

Sabrina Lockhart, the governor's deputy press secretary, said Schwarzenegger would prefer to see a measure that provides all of the $40 billion needed for the project.

"He has serious reservations about asking taxpayers to mortgage $10 billion when the rail authority hasn't determined where the full funding will come from," Lockhart said. "That is why he is asking for a delay in the bonds."

Kehoe suggests the uncertainty about high-speed rail's future is the result of the governor's uncertain leadership, underscored by delays.

"The governor is sending a very mixed message on the high-speed rail, unfortunately," she said. "We need leadership that says California is committed to this project. And we don't have that yet."

On the contrary, Lockhart said, the governor is trying to prevent California from ending up with a partially built project.

The construction funding issue aside, there are concerns the rail authority's ongoing planning efforts could ground to a halt next year.

Deputy Director Dan Leavitt said the agency requested $103 million, including $66 million for design and environmental studies and $37 million for land purchases. Leavitt said the land buys could be put on hold, but the studies must stay on track or consultants who recently won contracts will go elsewhere.

Without those contracts, there would be little for the staff to do next year, he said.

"Our main purpose is to oversee contracts and consultants, so what would we be overseeing?" Leavitt asked. "All the work that we have started would come to a standstill."

Kehoe said the Democratic leadership is determined to keep the studies on schedule.

Whichever direction the debate ends up going, area transportation officials say one thing's clear: The chance high-speed rail will reach San Diego and Riverside counties is so remote, and so far out into the future, planners must turn to other solutions to the swelling inland congestion.

The rail authority's plan calls for taking the San Diego-to-Los Angeles leg of the network through Escondido, Temecula and Riverside. And transportation planners had been counting on it to deliver relief to commuters on jammed Interstate 15.

But Lake Elsinore's Magee said officials have no choice now but to forge ahead with other options that could be completed decades earlier. For example, he said, the region should explore extending Metrolink tracks south along Interstates 15 and 215 from Riverside to Temecula and Escondido.

"Metrolink is taking congestion off the 91 Freeway," Magee said. "Ridership continues to go up. Metrolink is a success and we need to continue to build on that."

Roberts, of Temecula, said, however, that bus rapid transit would work better between Temecula and Escondido because of the mountainous terrain.

The stage is being set for a fast bus system. San Diego Association of Governments is building exclusive lanes in Rancho Bernardo and Escondido for buses, car pools and toll-paying drivers, and is exploring the idea of extending those lanes north to the Riverside County line.

Solana Beach Councilman Joe Kellejian, a longtime fan of high-speed rail, said the enormous cost of building a railroad through steep terrain is precisely why the region should not give up on the statewide project. He said the state would be in a better position than local agencies to cover that cost.

"In the areas south of Temecula, we have very steep grades," Kellejian said. "And, so, there is going to be a lot of tunneling and you're going to have bridges."

Despite the project delays, Kellejian urges patience. He maintains high-speed rail will eventually arrive.

"I remain optimistic that it will be built," Kellejian said. "Once you start looking at gasoline pushing $4 a gallon ---- while you're sitting in traffic ---- it's going to make a lot of sense."

Rail authority board member Lynn Schenk of San Diego and former chief of staff for former Gov. Gray Davis has been a proponent of high-speed rail since the 1970s. And she, for one, is not giving up.

"This is a huge undertaking and so it is going to take awhile," Schenk said. "I hope it is going to happen in my lifetime, and I am fairly confident that it will."

Contact staff writer Dave Downey at (760) 740-5442 or

Public officials, residents and community leaders had a few things to say about the likelihood that California's proposed $40 billion, 700-mile high-speed rail system will be built:

"Because of the cost, I am skeptical that it will ever be built. The high-speed rail concept is a good idea. But I don't know how the taxpayers are going to be able to afford it." ---- Jim Waldorf, Encinitas

"A long time ago I thought it was dead. And I still think it is dead." ---- Temecula Councilman Ron Roberts

"If there was a high-speed rail system between the Temecula Valley and San Diego, I'd definitely use it. It'd be nice to have. But I just don't think it will happen. I don't think our government's committed to it, personally. If they were committed to it they would be planning it, they would be doing it." ---- David Kennedy of Murrieta, who commutes to San Diego

"I don't think we're going to see high-speed rail in my lifetime." ---- Lake Elsinore Mayor Bob Magee

"I remain optimistic that it will be built. Once you start looking at gasoline pushing $4 a gallon ---- while you're sitting in traffic ---- it's going to make a lot of sense." ---- Solana Beach Councilman Joe Kellejian

"I think high-speed rail is the next generation of transportation, and it is critical to the economic success of California. I think it has to get built because, fundamentally, our highways are constrained, our airports are at capacity and our railroads are at capacity. If we want to keep moving people and goods, our next choice is going to be high-speed rail." ---- Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler

"Why would you ride on a train for 3 1/2 hours to San Francisco when you could hop on a plane and be there in an hour?" ---- State Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta

"A lot more study needs to be done to determine if it is truly cost-effective versus using funds for other transportation infrastructure, such as freeway expansion and completion of intracity light-rail projects. Also, can high-speed rail compete with airlines like Southwest?" ---- Scott Barnett, former Del Mar councilman and president of

A streetcar with a past - Negaunee group reclaims a rolling piece of history

NEGAUNEE — A recently discovered electric streetcar, probably built sometime around the mid-1800s, was set to find its way to a new home at the Negaunee Senior Center today. If all goes according to plan, it may one day carry passengers again between the cities of Ishpeming and Negaunee.

According to Dan Landmark, a Negaunee resident who secured the streetcar on behalf of the Negaunee Historical Society, the car was found in the backyard of a local resident who had been using it as a storage shed for a number of years. After a little convincing, the owner was willing to donate the car to the society.

Landmark said the streetcar is much like the cars that used to operate with the Negaunee and Ishpeming Railway and Light Company, which ran from 1892 until the company closed in 1927, forced out of business by America’s growing infatuation with the automobile.


Amtrak outlines infrastructure renewal, fleet and other priorities for 2012.

Nine cars derailed in the accident, which involved a crane that was dismantling the Doane elevator. Off the tracks after the accident were two locomotives, a baggage car, crew members' dorm car, a sleeper car, a lounge car and three coaches. The last three cars did not derail, Zimbelman said. It's estimated that 300 to 400 yards of track were torn up. Amtrak officials spent the remainder of the morning and into the early afternoon making arrangements for buses to take passengers on to Chicago. Several passengers left before buses arrived, two couples summoning taxis from McCook.

An Amtrak crew reportedly saw a construction crane blocking the track, but were unable to avoid a collision that derailed two engines and several cars as well as sending 20 to area hospitals. The remainder of the 175 passengers and 17 crewmembers were taken by school bus to the Dundy County High School.

A tractor-trailer left 200 feet of skid marks on the pavement as the driver tried in vain to stop before skidding into the path of an Amtrak train cruising at 70 mph, causing a fiery collision that killed the trucker and injured several of the train's passengers and crew members on Monday. The locomotive smashed the truck's cab into several pieces, and witnesses described a fireball shooting skyward. Witnesses reported that safety lights were flashing and gates were down at the railroad crossing on Route 4, and police don't know why the tractor-trailer driver failed to stop. Killed was Peter Barnum, 35, of Farmington, N.H., who was hauling a load of trash to a regional incinerator, police said.

Nevada railroaders feared tragedy at intersection.

Six people are confirmed dead and about 28 remained unaccounted for following the fiery collision of the California Zephyr passenger train and a truck in the Nevada desert.,0,4724347.story

Amtrak apologizes for 'communications breakdown' that led to 11-hour D.C.-N.Y. trip.,0,67805.story

Collision between an Amtrak train and a semi-trailer injures 21 people [Updated]

All aboard: America by Amtrak train. From New York to Chicago to Seattle to L.A., a 3,582-mile journey on some of America's storied trains, including the Empire Builder and the Coast Starlight. From the magnificent to the mundane, it's a fine way to see the country.,0,1308066.story

Errant tarp traps Amtrak trains between Boston, NY. NEW LONDON, Conn. — Amtrak trains between Boston and New York were delayed up to three hours after a tarp got caught up in overhead trains wires in Groton, Conn. Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham says six trains were delayed Saturday. She said one train, which stalled just south of New London, Conn., was delayed nearly three hours. She said train services resumed around 3 p.m. after workers removed the tarp from the wires. Carl Mayer, a New York attorney, was on the three-hour delayed train. He says he and other passengers weren't sure what was happening.

Amtrak, all boxed in. Q: What's stranger than wanting to bring firearms aboard trains? A: Language in the law that appears to require passengers to be secured in boxes.,0,7450529.story

Video from a surveillance camera on the Amtrak train that collided with a car in Canton on July 9 — killing five young people — clearly shows that the car drove around a downed crossing gate into the train’s path.

Hannan Rd, Canton, Wayne, Michigan 48187,-83.426775&spn=0.004049,0.006598&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=42.271141,-83.426785&panoid=ThZJRqLBG7IEAMhpqXSGiA&cbp=12,76.17,,0,-4.44,+Canton,+Wayne,+Michigan+48187&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF8&hl=en&cd=2&geocode=FekbhgIdBvcG-w&split=0&sll=42.27114,-83.426785&sspn=0.004049,0.006598&ll=42.272228,-83.428588&spn=0.016195,0.026393&t=h&z=15

Fewer moons over Amtrak.

Surveillance video of train accident that killed 5 released.

Laguna Niguel wants to cover up Amtrak mooning event.

Uncle Sam Opens Wallet for Amtrak. We're not sure what happened. Maybe President Bush stopped by the Tiger Mart for some Cheetos and a Coke and discovered gas is $3.57 a gallon. Maybe Dick Cheney freaked out when he saw what it costs to fill up his limo. Whatever it was, it must've been a big deal, because suddenly the Bush administration is willing to spend some money on rail. Bush plans to sign legislation that will double Amtrak funding to $13 billion over five years. It's an about-face for an administration that's been committed to whittling down Amtrak's budget and replacing it with "private sector funding," W's answer to everything but defense spending and Wall Street bailouts. Democrats aren't fans of this idea, and the Senate passed the funding bill — which also requires Amtrak and other rail companies to adopt collision avoidance technology — by a 74-24 vote. The legislation will "substantially change our federal policy toward passenger rail travel," Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said during Senate debate this week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Travel by Train

Oldest living Pullman porter looks back. Lee Wesley Gibson, 100, began working for Union Pacific in 1936. The railroad job helped him lift his family into the middle class.,0,7194062.story?page=1

The rail thread that links Europe. In the week the Lisbon Treaty was finally ratified, the BBC's Johnny Dymond travelled the continent's railways to glean a sense of its past and future.




Putt-Putting Along the Rails. A RAILWAY motorcar, or railcar, is a peculiar, no-frills, gasoline-powered vehicle not much bigger than a golf cart and not much more powerful than a riding mower. The seats do not have much padding, if any, so the rider feels every clickety-clack. A railcar ride is not like a trip on any comfy old commuter train.

Alaska, by train: Ticket to the Last Frontier. Parts of the 49th state are accessible only by rail. And that's absolutely fine. The train is affordable, big, grand -- and, oh, the views.

US Trains

This is Canadian National locomotive number 2699. It is a 212 ton, 6 axle machine powered by a 4400 hp V16 4 stroke Diesel. The engine & train were passing the town of Independence, Louisiana when she threw a piston.

The 18,000-foot-long train was two to three times the length of a typical freight train, Clark said, and the largest he knew to operate in the state. It linked 295 rail cars, carrying more than 600 cargo containers, mostly double-stacked, said Tom Lange, a Union Pacific spokesman. Nine locomotives were spread along the train and additional personnel were on board to monitor equipment. The train, the longest ever assembled by Union Pacific, was permitted to travel up to 65 mph as it crossed the Los Angeles Basin, Lange said. He said the train needed three to five minutes to clear a grade crossing.

Embattled Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano, under investigation by his own agency for financial issues, stood in front of a Metra train and was killed this morning in an apparent suicide attempt, officials said. McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren said Pagano left a letter "indicating his intentions" before going onto the tracks near Crystal Lake just after 8 a.m. "This was an intentional act on his part," Nygren said.,phil-pagano-metra-train-death-050710.article

Close-Up: Riding New York's A-train.

Freight trains make big comeback in nation's transportation network. Warren Buffett's recent purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe shows the renewed importance of railroads in the global supply chain.,0,27378.story

In Phoenix, Weekend Users Make Light Rail a Success. The light rail here, which opened in December, has been a greater success than its proponents thought it would be, but not quite the way they envisioned. Unlike the rest of the country’s public transportation systems, which are used principally by commuters, the 20 miles of light rail here stretching from central Phoenix to Mesa and Tempe is used largely by people going to restaurants, bars, ball games and cultural events downtown. The rail was projected to attract 26,000 riders per day, but the number is closer to 33,000, boosted in large part by weekend riders. Only 27 percent use the train for work, according to its operator, compared with 60 percent of other public transit users on average nationwide. In some part thanks to the new system, downtown Phoenix appears to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise economically pummeled city, which like the rest of Arizona has suffered under the crushing slide of the state’s economy. The state, for years almost totally dependent on growth, has one of the deepest budget deficits in the country. In the first quarter of 2009, downtown Phoenix saw its revenues increase 13 percent, while the rest of the city saw a fall of 16 percent, according to Eric Johnson, a redevelopment program manager for the city’s Community and Economic Development Department. (Businesses along the line suffered greatly during the many years of construction, it should be noted.)

A New Jersey program using subway cars to build artificial reefs has now been discontinued when it was discovered that the cars weren't holding up as expected.

Operator Activated Brake in Failed Effort to Stop Metro Train.

One Metro transit train smashed into the rear of another at the height of Washington's Monday evening rush hour, killing at least four people and injuring scores of others as cars of the trailing train jackknifed into the air and fell atop the first.,0,193291.story

World Trains

Worlds longest train!

‘Solar Tunnel’ To Power 4,000 Trains Annually.

From Sucre to Potosí by Train. By bus, a trip from Sucre to Potosí takes just a few hours, and is even faster by taxi. But if you’re more interested in scenery than speed, check out the ultra slow bus-train, which winds its wobbly way around mountains, lakes and valleys, offering spectacular views every inch of the way.

A head-on collision between a cargo train and a passenger train killed 10 people and injured 23 others in eastern Germany, and left wreckage scattered across a frost-covered field. Authorities said Sunday they believe the death toll in one of the country's worst train accidents ever could still rise. The trains crashed in heavy fog late Saturday on a single-line track near the village of Hordorf, close to Saxony-Anhalt's state capital Magdeburg, vaulting the passenger train from the track and tipping it onto its side. The front rows of the first passenger compartment were crushed and several seats lay outside the train. Both trains caught fire, but most of the dead were killed on impact, police said. "The crash was so strong that the passenger train was catapulted off the tracks," Armin Friedrich, the police officer in charge of the rescue efforts, said at a news conference in Hordorf, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Berlin, Germany's capital. Nearly 200 police and rescue workers were sent to the crash site.,0,2791626.story

Sweden deploys vintage trains to battle the snow.

Workers during cleanup efforts one day after a passenger train of a Glacier Express derailed in Fiesch, Switzerland, Saturday, July 24, 2010. A popular tourist train traveling between Lax and Fiesch in the canton of Valais derailed on Friday, leaving at least 42 people injured and one passenger dead.

The New Silk Road. A railroad through the southern Caucasus will soon connect Europe and Asia, fueling dreams and discord in the region.

Secret Stations And Boyhood Love On The Paris Metro.

June 24, 1812: Coal-Powered Locomotive Hauls Coal.

Minsk ChRWs fotos

End of the line for Cambodia's bamboo trains. For decades the precarious bamboo platforms have ferried people and goods in the nation's hinterlands. But increasingly there is little room, or need, for them.,0,7791976.story

Belgium Train Crash: Two Commuter Trains Collide Head-On, 11 Reported Dead.

LA Area Trains


Evacuees return home after freight train derailment.

Carmageddon: Travelers, commuters turn to trains amid 405 closure.

Angels Flight railway reopens after safety shutdown. Crews spent three weeks installing eight new custom-made steel wheels on the funicular's two cars, said John Welborne, president of the Angels Flight Railway. Safety inspectors visited the railway Tuesday morning and in the afternoon told operators they could reopen.

State safety inspectors Thursday ordered the historic Angels Flight downtown to stop operating immediately because of deterioration to the wheels of the funicular railway. Inspectors for the California Public Utilities Commission discovered wheel flange damage during a routine inspection of the Los Angeles landmark. The flanges hold the cars’ wheels on the rails, the agency said in a statement. The operators of Angels Flight were ordered to determine the cause of the problems and make repairs before the railway can be reopened. John H. Welborne, president of Angels Flight Railway, could not be immediately reached for comment. The historic railway, which first opened in 1901 in a different location, was shut down in 2001 after the brakes failed on one car, which crashed into the other one, killing an 83-year-old passenger and injuring seven others. It reopened in March 2010.

A pedestrian was struck and killed Friday afternoon by a Metro Blue Line train at the Artesia station, a spokesman for the transit authority said. The accident involving a southbound train occurred at 3:27 p.m. and the pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene, said Metro spokesman Rick Jager. Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were still investigating, Jager said, and no information was immediately available about the age or gender of the victim. It was not immediately known what led to the fatal collision. Traffic on the busy Los Angeles-to-Long Beach line was "single-tracking" to bypass the accident scene, which has closed one side of the tracks between Artesia and Compton, Jager said. "There are going to be some delays until the investigation is concluded," he said.

Los Angeles County is poised to accelerate its rail projects With financial support from Measure R, a voter-approved sales tax, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's proposed $4.15-billion budget could pay for planning or construction for roughly a dozen lines.,0,5726891.story

Metrolink on Friday approved an unlimited weekend pass for $10 and replaced the commuter rail network's 10-trip ticket with a seven-day pass, a move officials hope will reduce revenue losses caused by fare evasion. The changes go into effect July 1. The new weekend pass will be valid from 7 p.m. Friday to midnight Sunday and include connections to bus and rail systems throughout the region -- excluding Amtrak -- at no additional cost. The same privileges will be extended to monthly pass-holders. Metrolink officials said replacement of the 10-trip ticket should stop the loss of millions of dollars a year. Some passengers would not get those tickets validated on each trip and reuse them more than 10 times. Last year, sampling indicated that the railroad, which serves six counties, lost about $1 million on the Antelope Valley line alone.

news archived May 7, 2011

Chemical attack detection system, more cameras planned for L.A. rail lines.

MTA plans security upgrades on rail lines Transit officials in Los Angeles County say $10 million in improvements were planned before the discovery that Osama bin Laden had wanted Al Qaeda to strike U.S. rail systems.,0,6576653.story

Expo Line to begin running test trains to Westside. After numerous delays and cost overruns, the first phase of the project is scheduled to begin carrying commuters between downtown and La Cienega Boulevard in November.,0,5629052.story

Metrolink plans rush-hour express trains to downtown.

Downtown's historic Union Station will be purchased by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for $75 million under a deal approved Thursday that will clear the way for the expansion of transit operations and new development on the property. The MTA board decided to buy the famous rail hub from Catellus Operating Limited Partnership, which is owned by ProLogis, based in Colorado. The deal, which is expected to close in 30 days, includes 38 acres and 5.9 million square feet of development rights. “Los Angeles Union Station is absolutely critical to the current and future mobility of our region,” said county Supervisor Don Knabe, chairman of the MTA board. “We now have the ability to retain the historic nature of Union Station and prepare it to serve as a world-class 21st century transportation hub.” MTA officials wanted control of the station to help accommodate an expected surge in passengers from the proposed Westside subway extension, a planned downtown connector for the region’s light-rail lines, increased bus service and the state’s high-speed rail system if it is built.

Villaraigosa seeks innovative ways to finance mass transit.

A suicide in Tustin marked the second of two fatalities Friday involving Metrolink commuter trains in Southern California, officials said. A man apparently threw himself in front of a southbound train on the Orange County line between Santa Ana and Tustin about 6:55 p.m., authorities said. None of the 300 passengers onboard the No. 606 train suffered any injuries. According to Tustin Police Lt. John Strain, witnesses said the unidentified man "walked out in front of the train" on tracks near the 55 Freeway. About four hours earlier, a man and the horse he was riding were struck and killed by another Metrolink train in the Sun Valley area. In both incidents, train passengers were transferred to buses to reach the next station.

A horse and its rider were killed Friday after being struck by a Metrolink commuter train north of Burbank, authorities said. The rider, an unidentified, 36-year-old man, and his horse were hit about 3 p.m. in the 9300 block of North San Fernando Road, said Capt. Jamie Moore of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Both died at the scene, Moore said. The circumstances surrounding the accident were not immediately clear, Moore said. No one on the train was injured. [Updated at 4:48 p.m.: The circumstances of the collision, including whether it might have been a suicide, remain under investigation, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott. "We couldn’t even begin to speculate," he said, adding that the case has been handed over to Los Angeles police. Metrolink No. 216 had four cars and an engine and was southbound on the Antelope Valley line at the time of the 3:01 p.m. accident, which occurred about a mile north of the Sun Valley station, said Metrolink spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt. The train has been moved to the station for investigators to examine. Passengers were put on buses to the Burbank station, where they boarded another train bound for Union Station.]

A girl was struck and killed by a Metrolink train Tuesday afternoon in Riverside. Witnesses told authorities that the girl was at a rail crossing at Buchanan Street and waited as a freight train roared by, the Riverside Police Department said. After the freight train passed, the girl walked around the barricades and ignored warning lights and bells of an oncoming westbound Metrolink train, according to police. Their were no other injuries reported in the accident, which was being investigated. Authorities would only say that the girl was a minor.

Man hit by train at Hollywood subway station.,0,7226106.story

3 men killed on train tracks in Commerce.,0,1280588.story

Metrolink adding to fleet of crash-savvy cars. The commuter railroad is buying 20 more Hyundai Rotem Co. coaches, which will make up 137 of 160 passenger cars. Some of the state-of-the-art passenger units will be rolled out next month.,0,939252.story

GOP-controlled House might hinder Villaraigosa's transit funding request.

911 call: 'We were laying down on the tracks and I passed out'

2 killed by Metrolink train were sleeping on the tracks, authorities believe. A survivor who was clipped by the train tells of the trio's activities the night before the accident Thursday morning in Mission Viejo.,0,5840774.story

Drugs, drinking popular at park near Metrolink tracks where teens were killed, neighbor says.

Debt load weighs on Alameda Corridor. The rail expressway that helped make the L.A. and Long Beach ports complex the giant it is could become a burden to it thanks to the recession.,0,4479488.story

Expo Line Update: 3/4 Done, Possible April 2011 Partial Opening.

Proof That Train to LAX May Happen In Your Lifetime.

MTA and its beleaguered Transit Access Pass system. Someday Los Angeles may have an efficient electronic pass system for bus and train travel. But for now, the switch is proving to be a poorly planned, confusing mess.,0,7894291.story

Costly turnstiles at L.A. County subway stations sit unused.

Today is the crystal anniversary of the Metro Green Line. It opened to the public August 12, 1995. If the Metro Rail lines were Baldwin brothers, the Green Line would be Stephen. (The decision to bypass LAX is the Green Line’s “Bio-Dome.”) The high concept for the Green Line would be worthy of a Hollywood farce. (”A train line is built solely for the sake of getting a freeway completed, designed to miss as many destinations as it serves, and yet somehow attracts riders.”)

Pedestrian is struck, killed by Metrolink train .

Los Angeles Pushing To Become Nation's Mass Transit Leader.

L.A. marks 20 years of riding the rails — the second time around. Five light-rail train and subway lines have been built in two decades, and plans call for more growth.,0,4673739.story

Californians bare bottoms for passing trains.

Blue Line train ran signal before hitting police car in Long Beach, videotapes show. The police vehicle had a green light to cross Long Beach Boulevard when it was struck, cameras show. Injured officer remains in hospital.,0,329818.story

Judge throws out challenge to Metrolink cameras that monitor engineers. Metrolink’s use of video surveillance cameras in the control cabs of its passenger trains has survived a federal court challenge from a union representing locomotive engineers. In a case closely watched within the rail industry, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson in Los Angeles dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming the Southern California commuter rail agency violated employees' rights by installing cameras to monitor train engineer activities.

First phase of Gold Line extension begins on Saturday. Real estate developers, politicians and residents hope that the 11.3 mile extension, scheduled to be completed in four years, will bring new development to the San Gabriel Valley.,0,7477847.story?

Las Vegas train: Will it ever happen? Competing plans are afoot for rail service to the desert, but questions remain, such as where to put the western terminus; which technology will be used; and will car-crazy SoCal buy in?,0,3591682.story

The San Fernando Valley's decade-old subway stations show their age in small ways. At the North Hollywood station, sun and storms have faded the rainbow colors of the entryway awning. One stop down the line at Universal City, vandals have added key-scratchings to the pillars near the platforms' distinctive mosaic art. In both places, escalators creak and lurch under morning commuters' hurrying feet, floor tiles are scuffed, and the trains have lost their original gleam. But mention these blemishes to an out-of-towner, and expect a laugh. "I'm from Philadelphia. Our subway doesn't touch this," Bill Thompson said last week as he and a colleague waited for a Metro Red Line train to take them on a 24-minute underground journey from Universal City to downtown for a business meeting. "In Philadelphia, I hold my breath going up and down the steps because it smells so bad," said Thompson, who said subway crime is another problem back home. "I haven't noticed any of that here. It's still clean, it looks like it's well-maintained. "You can tell we're in California. It's the art and the architecture. The colors. The openness." It will be 10 years ago Thursday that the North Hollywood and Universal City stations opened, marking the subway's arrival in the Valley, connecting the giant suburb with Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles.

L.A. plans for more rail lines gets a boost in Washington.

Many L.A. transit systems never got a move on. The funicular cars of Angels Flight are again rattling up and down Bunker Hill, but don't expect comebacks from the camel train, the Aerial Swallow monorail or other failed conveyances from the past.,0,3926096.story?page=1

'Cadillac of steam' to ride the rails again. The Santa Fe 3751, bought for $1 by train fans in 1986, will rumble to life again this weekend, hauling passengers from L.A. to San Diego.,0,5362179.story

Metro turning to videos to promote mass transit.

A high-speed rail configuration that backers say could save up to $2 billion and greatly reduce demolition of homes and business across the heart of Southern California was revived Thursday by project officials. In the 6-1 voted at a meeting in San Jose, the California High-Speed Rail Authority agreed to revisit a plan, discarded in 2008, to share existing rail where feasible with commuter and freight services operating along a 34-mile route between Anaheim and downtown’s Union Station.

Safety first at Metrolink. Personality tests for conductors and engineers are just one part of upgrading the rail system.,0,6457241.story

Metrolink workers object to personality testing. Unions for engineers and conductors threaten a boycott of the tests that the agency and Amtrak, which takes over operation of the regional rail system July 1, plan to require.,0,5078660.story

Commuter rail from Pasadena to Azusa wins funding.

Truck driver killed in Metrolink crash near El Monte.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was back in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday wearing a "30/10 for L.A." sticker as he made the rounds to build support for federal help to speed expansion of the region’s transit network, including the subway to Westwood. The mayor already has picked up a key ally, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), in his effort to get Washington to provide the Los Angeles region with assistance -- perhaps federal help in paying interest on loans or using federal stimulus money -- so that projects now expected to take 30 years could be built in 10.

Two men wounded in Hollywood bus shooting.

Mayor Art Brown spent years pushing for a commuter train station combined with nearby housing in his community. But as townhouses are being finished around the $14 million Metrolink station, he's facing the prospect that California's high-speed rail line may plow right through his beloved project. "The only option they presented to us was either losing the condo units or losing our train station," Brown said of an engineering presentation to city leaders last year.,0,6411422.story

Police looking at case of O.C. man struck by trains twice in two weeks.

Repairs continue on Central California rail line damaged by freight train fire.

Residents near Tehachapi Loop urged to stay inside as derailed train continues to burn.

Rail line to Santa Monica wins approval.

Video cameras watching train crews. Needed for safety? Or going too far?

NTSB declares official causes of Chatsworth crash: text messaging and lack of automatic braking system.

Final report on deadly Metrolink crash comes down to signal color. As the National Transportation Safety Board meets this week to draft its conclusion on the Chatsworth collision, members must resolve eyewitness reports of a green light and technical evidence showing it was red.,0,785407.story

A big train fan tracks a really big train. Railroad enthusiast Joe Perry got wind of an 18,000-foot-long 'monster' freight train heading to Los Angeles. He shot videos -- as well as what might be the only still photo of the entire behemoth.,0,182927.story

Spurred by Metrolink crash, rails move closer to installing automatic brakes.

An apparently unprecedented super freight train -- extending some 3½ miles -- rolled through Southern California over the weekend, catching state regulators off guard and prompting concerns about potential safety risks and traffic delays, The Times has learned. Union Pacific said the train was a test of equipment and ways to improve operating efficiency, but that the company does not have plans to run such trains regularly.

Metrolink cuts some weekend trains, but fares stay put.

Metrolink may cut some trains amid budget shortfall.

MTA approves $1.7-billion rail line along Crenshaw Boulevard [Updated].

Metrolink chief, under pressure since Chatsworth crash, could be moved aside.

Metrolink engineer may have run red signal, prompting new concerns about rail safety.

Which is the best way west for L.A.'s subway? Wilshire or West Hollywood? As a subway extension draws closer to reality, the debate over the route intensifies.,0,3140003.story

East L.A. hails arrival of Gold Line; activities are to be held today at four stations.

MTA's rail-car contract falls apart at last minute, scuttling hundreds of jobs [Updated]

Villaraigosa has bullish plan for rail transit projects.

Amtrak has agreed to run Metrolink commuter trains in Southern California, replacing the contractor involved in the Metrolink crash that killed 25 people last year in Los Angeles. Read more:

Westside subway prevails in MTA's long-range plan.

Metrolink engineers union sues to block surveillance cameras in locomotives.

Mayor's effort to fast-track Westside subway faces challenge.

Will California crack down on rail-yard pollution?

Metrolink system's toll: 244. The regional rail agency is criticized for paying too little attention to safety -- including dangerous crossings -- on tracks it owns and uses.,0,2843534.story

Metrolink struggles with reforms. A year after the fatal crash in Chatsworth, safety improvements are growing costlier and more complicated.,0,74.story?page=1

Drunk motorist blocks Gold Line tracks in South Pasadena.

Metrolink reverses course on running its own train crews, opens talks with Amtrak.

Firm's track record may decide fate of its MTA contract. In other cities, AnsaldoBreda has been accused of missing deadlines and specifications on rail cars -- but so have its competitors. A $300-million contract in Los Angeles is at stake.,0,1561313.story

Reports of negligence fuel pain after Metrolink crash. Disclosures may help increase compensation awards, experts say. Metrolink and Connex, the company that employed the engineer, are suing each other over which bears liability.,0,3293047.story

Angels Flight takes a step toward reopening.

Metrolink officials said today they were removing two of the top managers who supervised the train engineer suspected of causing last year’s Chatsworth rail crash. The employees -- who worked for Connex Railroad, a Metrolink subcontractor -- are General Manager Tom McDonald and Assistant General Manager Gregg Konstanzer. Both testified earlier this week at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing in Washington.

Federal hearing on deadly Chatsworth crash reveals engineer had previously been reprimanded for on-duty cellphone use, and that he sent teen a text message saying 'ur gonna run the locomotive.',0,401451.story

The colorful saga of Los Angeles' first subway tunnel. After rail service ended, the mile-long route was used as a storage site for survival rations and impounded vehicles, as a movie set and then as a giant graffiti canvas.,0,4619678.story

Management knew about train engineer's texting, lawyers say. An employee of Metrolink contractor Connex Railroad had allegedly complained about Robert M. Sanchez's cellphone use on the job before the deadly Sept. 12 crash.,0,4043863.story

Don't blame the signal placements. A former British Railways operations manager argues that the deadly Chatsworth collision in September wasn't the fault of misplaced warning lights.,0,2646765.story

Chatsworth crash's roots lie 20 years in Metrolink's past. The commuter line's founders gambled that the line could operate without an automatic braking system, interviews with safety experts and documents show.,0,4551895.story?page=1

Surviving Metrolink crewman says track-side warning light was green. The conductor and others contradict the preliminary findings of the National Transportation Safety Board, which has said the commuter train ran a red light just before colliding with a freight train.,0,3449298.story

Metrolink malfunction delays some trains. The malfunction, which began around 7 a.m., is under investigation and could have been caused by a variety of things, including radio or telephone line issues. A signal communication problem delays passengers up to an hour and 15 minutes and affects areas across the system.,0,1645389.story

Metrolink sues engineer's employer. The commuter rail line takes legal action against the company that provides the crews that work on its trains in the wake of the deadly Chatsworth crash.,0,5464830.story

MTA may have to cut commuter service. It may not be able to keep trains and buses running if it has to quickly pay investors in AIG-related lease-back deals.,0,3698748.story

Witnesses say they saw a green light just before Metrolink train crashed. Three observers who were at the Chatsworth station -- a security guard and two train enthusiasts -- insist that the engineer had a green light.,0,1252160.story

Metrolink engineer sent text message moments before fatal crash. In a preliminary finding, the NTSB says Robert M. Sanchez sent a message 22 seconds before his train hit a freight train in Chatsworth. Sanchez received and sent 57 messages while on duty Sept. 12.,0,4888640.story

Metro train, bus collide in downtown L.A. A Metro Blue Line train collided Friday morning with a Metro bus in downtown Los Angeles, causing minor injuries to 15 people, authorities said. The collision, which occurred near Washington Boulevard and Griffith Avenue, was reported about 6:15 a.m. as the Blue Line train was traveling south to Long Beach, said Officer Ana Aguirre of the Los Angeles Police Department. Paramedics took 15 people with "just bumps and bruises" to area hospitals, said d'Lisa Davies, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Officials initially reported that seven to 13 people were hurt. All of the injured were on the Blue Line train, including the operator, said Brian Humphrey, another Fire Department spokesman. There were no passengers on the bus.,0,355169.story

Metrolink dispatcher tried to warn engineer. Metrolink officials on Saturday said the train's engineer apparently failed to heed a trackside red light near a junction with a railroad siding. But they did not disclose how they knew the red light was functioning properly. Regular riders on the route said the Metrolink train heading toward Simi Valley often stops at the junction to wait for a Union Pacific freight train headed toward downtown Los Angeles to switch to the siding. On Friday, however, the Metrolink train continued north before the freight train had passed, tripping an alarm at the commuter line's dispatch center in Pomona. A Metrolink dispatcher called the train and reached the conductor, according to a Metrolink spokesman. But by then, the crash had already occurred on the curve leading west toward Simi Valley, killing the engineer.,0,4447318.story

Metrolink says its train's engineer ignored signal in Chatsworth crash. Had the engineer stopped, a spokeswoman says, the accident would not have occurred. At least 24 have been reported killed and 135 injured in the collision of the commuter train and a freight train.,0,3660884.story

Metrolink train collision,0,286376.photogallery?1

7 reported dead as Metrolink cars crash into freight train. A Metrolink train and a Union Pacific freight train collided in Chatsworth this afternoon, killing at least seven people and injuring at least 23 others. Dozens of people were believed to be trapped in the wreckage despite the efforts of more than 100 firefighters, police officers and paramedics. Authorities said they expect the death toll to rise as firefighters reach the part of the train that suffered the greatest impact.,0,2874450.story

Passengers at Union Station wonder how, when they will get home. News of the Chatsworth crash spreads quickly among Metrolink commuters standing on the boarding platforms. It inspires a mix of dread, relief and frustration.,0,3471258.story

Low ridership drives Megabus out of business in L.A.,0,304612.story

Amid rising gas prices, more in L.A. turning to commuter rail. Metrolink recorded its highest number of riders for a single day. More than 50,000 people boarded its trains Tuesday. Metrolink recorded its highest number of riders in a single day ever Tuesday -- 50,232 -- a 15.6% increase over the volume on the Tuesday of the same week last year. Metro Rail ridership last month shot up 6% over May 2007, with the downtown L.A.-to-Pasadena Gold Line also setting an all-time ridership record, said Dave Sotero, a Metro spokesman.,0,2576654.story

Anaheim seeks Disneyland monorail extension

New monorail arrives at Disneyland

museums and Tourist Trains

Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum.

In Hollywood, all trains lead to Fillmore.

Fillmore & Western Railway Company

Travel Town Transportation Museum

Mojave Subdivision, Tehachapi Loop

Historic and Geologic Resources of South Central California (Including, Tehachapi, the Mojave Desert and Southern San Joaquin Valley)

From this spot may be seen a portion of the world-renowned “Loop.” It was completed in 1876 under the direction of William Hood, Southern Pacific Railroad Engineer. In gaining elevation around central hill of loop a 4000 foot train will cross 77 feet above its rear cars in tunnel below.


Antelope Valley Line

Picture Gallery of Southern Pacific Railroad and Santa Fe Railway trains in the Tehachapi Mountains.

Nevada trains


A rail project that would connect Las Vegas and Southern California and could create tens of thousands of jobs is moving forward. The federal Department of Transportation has formally finished reviewing the environmental impacts of the DesertXpress and is giving planners the green light to proceed.

The DesertXpress would travel to Victorville, Calif., in 84 minutes at speeds of 130 miles per hour. In contrast, the maglev would reach Anaheim, Calif., in 81 minutes at speeds up to 300 mph. Reid initially supported the Maglev technology but jumped off board two years ago and dedicated his support to the DesertXpress, an endeavor whose partners include political consultant Sig Rogich; transportation expert Tom Stone; Gary Tharaldson, a North Dakota-based self-made centimillionaire; and resort builder Tony Marnell.


The Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum (NSRM)

McKeen Motor Car restoration complete. Celebration on May 9 to mark 100 years since its arrival to Carson City.

Nevada State Railroad Museum/Boulder City,-114.855881&spn=0.008665,0.013304&t=h&z=16&iwloc=193506794475319894&lci=lmc:panoramio

Death Valley Area Trains

Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad

  1. 99 Motor Car

Death Valley Railroad

Carson Colorado RY

20 Mule Team Wagon Train


Marine Mule team

rose parade

Beast of Burden.

MWTC Marines take a load off with pack mules.

Mules assist Corps in war effort.

Marines, soldiers gain solid footing at animal packers training.,soldiersgainsolidfootingatanimalpackerstraining.aspx

San Diego area trains


Less waiting, more coasting thanks to Carlsbad train track upgrade.

Safety tests will begin Sunday for the new San Diego "Quiet Zone" project in downtown. Advanced safety features such as gates, signals and fencing have been installed at more than a dozen rail crossings to reduce the amount of noise coming from trains blasting their horns as they make their way through downtown. The tests will determine if the safety equipment works.

Del Mar OKs quieter train horn.

Statement: "An emergency intercom is located on the lower level of each Coaster car near the restroom," the website for the North County Transit District said as of Jan. 25. Determination: False.

Coaster Needs Better Emergency System: Grand Jury.

Authorities are investigating an incident in which a 44-year-old San Diego man was struck and killed by an Amtrak train while walking in the middle of railroad tracks in Midtown.

Lifeguards pull body from water in Rose Canyon. An autopsy is pending on a 38-year-old man whose body was found in a flood control channel near La Jolla. The body of Chadley Cole Moore was pulled from the creek by lifeguards Saturday. A train conductor and passenger spotted Moore's naked body as the coaster passed through Rose Canyon. According to a woman who identified herself as Moore's mother, he was homeless and had recently spent some time in prison.**

Body Found Near Railroad Tracks.

Train-hopping accident costs woman her leg.

Teen stabbed at Chollas View trolley station.

Faced with a budget gap partly fueled by a drop in ridership, San Diego transit authorities are weighing cuts in Sunday bus service. The Metropolitan Transit System board is considering ending service on 28 of the 60 routes it operates on Sundays and reducing frequency of stops on most of the remaining Sunday routes. Late-night and Sunday service on the trolley may also be trimmed. The proposals will be discussed today as the board begins a series of meetings on how to cover a $13 million operating deficit caused by an erosion in state and local sales tax revenue, along with ridership declines.

Local trains have safety feature. A safety feature on the Coaster and Amtrak trains that run in San Diego County make it far less likely that a crash like the one last week in Los Angeles will occur here. If an operator ignores a signal, which may have happened Friday when a Metrolink commuter train collided with a freight train, an automated stopping system sounds an alarm and ultimately can apply the brakes.

Increase seen in Coaster ridership.

Additional railroad crossings in limbo. Goal to ease traffic limited by budget.



Smith Ranch & Julian Railroad

BNSF photos

San Diego Imperial Valley Railroad

Carrizo Gorge Railway



San Diego Electric Railway Association

San Diego Electric Railway Association (SDERA)

Orange Empire Railway Museum

85 miles 1 1/2 hours

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

Carizzo Gorge/Goat Canyon Trestle

Carrizo Gorge

Plaster City, 1947... but what the heck is going on with this 8 wheel double front ended railcar. Read more:

Campo Pacific Southwest Railway Museum. Demonstration and Display of Pacific Southwest Railroad History.

Visit Tecate by train for dose of border goodwill. A leisurely ride by the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum sets just the right mood for a day trip into the genial town -- site of the famous brewery. pics,0,7780279.photogallery?track=rss

Detroit Trains


Park Trains


The man at the helm of the children's train ride that crashed and killed a 6-year-old boy said Wednesday that the wreck hurt him emotionally and physically. "I'm as much a victim here as anyone else," said Matt Conrad, flanked by two attorneys, his right arm in a sling. "I'm suffering, too." Conrad, who had not spoken out publicly until the Greenville news conference, said he was unprepared for the onslaught of media attention he's received since the wreck Saturday at Spartanburg's Cleveland Park. Benji Easler was killed and 27 other passengers injured when the nearly 60-year-old train derailed on a bridge. Standing by statements he'd made in an online trains forum about repairs he made to the train and its tracks last summer, Conrad also said he had absolute confidence in both when he was driving the engine. "They were safe, and that train stopped very nicely," he said, of the brakes. "I'm always evaluating the track. ... If I had felt anything, anything at all that would have told me there's a problem, I would have stopped." Police said Tuesday that Conrad told an officer accompanying him to a hospital, "I was going too (expletive) fast." On Wednesday, Conrad's attorneys said their client was in shock when he made that statement and now feels mechanical error caused the crash.


Midwest Area Trains

Black Hills Central Railroad

New England Trains

Cellphone Ban After Boston Trolley Crash.

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum

Explore this fascinating part of New England's history on wheels. Amid beautiful scenery, meet with railroad historians, naturalists, and people who operated these historic railroads. Aboard the Cape Cod Central Railroad, a local naturalist will discuss the flora and fauna of Cape Cod. Hear about New Hampshire's railroads from a railroad historian and journalist, and then join him for a full day program aboard the Conway Notch Train and Mount Washington Cog Railroad. A special highlight is this spectacular ride to the summit of Mount Washington aboard the Cog Railway to its museum where you will meet with an engineer. Journey aboard the Lake Winnipesaukee Railroad to enjoy views of New Hampshire's beautiful waterways and countryside. Hear a presentation on the Essex Steam Train and, for a change of pace, board a 70' Mississippi-style riverboat as it travels along the Connecticut River. The coach will return to the hotel in Hyannis, Massachusetts at the end of the program.

Cape Cod Central Railroad

Conway Notch Train

Mount Washington Cog Railway

Lake Winnipesaukee Railroad

Flying Yankee

Essex Steam Train

Edaville Railroad

Historic Railway Chugs Along On Biodiesel.

San Fransisco Trains and trolleys

News and Links

The killing of Oscar Grant III, 22, set off protests and rioting in Oakland. Grainy video footage of the shooting was captured by several witnesses and shows Mehserle, who is white, firing one round into the back of Grant, who was black. Alameda County prosecutors accused the officer of murder. Mehserle testified that he meant to use his Taser as he struggled to handcuff Grant but mistakenly grabbed his pistol.

'Safety train' ride shows danger to pedestrians.

San Francisco: The rolling transit museum known as the F line. Cities from around the world have sent historic streetcars, which roam the streets here as part of daily commuter service. Riding, and watching, is a trip back in time.,0,2288918.story

Visitor Passports


Ardenwood Historic Farm

PACIFIC LOCOMOTIVE ASSOCIATION. The purpose of the organization is to preserve the physical aspects and atmosphere of Pacific Coast railroading during the period from 1910 to 1960. Our mission is to develop and operate a working railroad museum for the benefit of the general public. The Association welcomes men and women who would like to share in our mission. The Niles Canyon Railway. A railroad museum where the exhibits come to life.

Beating the Bounds, A Walking Exploration of the Capital Corridor Rail Line

sometime last year, staring out the window of the capital corridor train from berkeley (where i lived) and davis (where i go to school), i started thinking about all of the places that i know so well from the train window, and had never seen up close: the sugar refinery, the town of hercules, the tiny fishing huts in the bay-delta. and i got curious. so for my thesis project, i came up with this project, "beating the bounds," in which i would walk along the railroad tracks from oakland, where the train originates, to sacramento in order to see what i could see. or more officially, to explore regional change in the area and its basis in the historical landscape.

Beating the bounds, an English tradition, is the title for this piece:

A custom dating from the 5th century when parishioners asked for God's blessing to protect their crops. During the Reformation walking the parish boundary became a more important part of the ceremony as it provided the community with a mental map which could be drawn on in disputes over boundaries. (

though the project seemed to me (and others) a bit outlandish, my advisor seemed to think this was a *good* idea, and encouraged me to do it. when i applied for a grant (and received it!), i realized i had to actually go through with this. so yesterday i bought my first-ever digital camera, and started walking; today i started my first-ever blog.

Sacramento Area



SUV, Light Rail Train Collide In Sacramento, 3 Dead in Multiple Injury Accident.

Northern California and Pacific Coast Trains

Skunk Train

California Western M-200

Skunk Train

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

Yreka Western Railroad

Sumpter Valley Railroad

Toy Trains


Train hobbyists show what gets them steamed up. Nearly a dozen put their miniature rail systems on display for public viewing in an event presented by members of the Model Railroads of Southern California online chat group.,0,6035133.story

German Toy Train Maker Off The Tracks. there is an unseen, but very real Grinch-like villain lurking behind this quaint tableau: the global recession. Marklin is close to collapse. Small, family-owned manufacturing companies like Marklin once formed the backbone of the German economy. Now 400 workers at Marklin have lost their jobs and a plant in Nuremberg was just shuttered, tossing dozens more people out of work.


other interesting trains

a day in the life of the tonopah & tidewater railroad.

The 408-mile, 14-hour Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway, or El Chepe, links the Pacific coast in Sinaloa with the Chihuahua desert on a spectacularly rugged route though the Copper Canyon. Between Los Mochis and Chihuahua, it climbs 8,000 feet on 37 bridges and through 86 tunnels. It runs daily; one-way economy class is 854 pesos, $57 at 15 pesos to the dollar, first express is 1,708 pesos (888-484-1623;

Train tracks to link Asian nations.

In a Town Called Bill, a Boomlet of Sorts.

French Aerotrain/monorail


Market on the Railway Tracks

rail fan


Budd Rail Diesel Car #6211


RDC and more

Santa Fe Motorcar

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Motorcar M.177 was jointly constructed by the General Motors Electro-Motive Division and the Pullman Car and Manufacturing Company, in Chicago, Illinois, in September 1929.

ATSF M190 (Motorcar)

California Western Railcars



Rail Bus

Southern Railway power-RPO-baggage unit No. 40, lettered for service on the Birmingham, Ala.–Meridian, Miss., Vulcan, stands at Birmingham’s Terminal Station on June 16, 1941. Southern acquired six such Fairbanks-Morse-powered, St. Louis Car-built motor cars in 1939.

Erie motor car 18 pulls a single coach with commuter train at Passaic, New Jersey on December 28, 1940.


other links

Encinitas train tragedy repeats itself. Stepdaughter killed on same track where stepdad took his life.

Operation Life Saver, Safety News

Couple killed while trying to outrun train in Taylor.

Stroller Baby Survives Train Collision (VIDEO) Read more at:


Railway death toll hits 20,000. MORE than 20,000 people have been killed on Mumbai's overcrowded train system over the past five years – many of them crushed, run over or electrocuted. Mumbai's trains are the lifeline of India's financial capital, carrying some seven million commuters every day, but an average of ten people don't survive the trip each day. India's Central and Western Railway was forced this week to release the harrowing data.

photos, ads, postcards, movies

It was a train wreck of an event In 1906, on a mile-long stretch of track where the L.A. Coliseum now stands, promoters hurtled two giant locomotives toward each other. As the engineers leaped to safety, the climactic moment came.,0,4657351.story

Star Trek’s Chris Pine Jumps an Unstoppable Train. Read More

Union Pacific loses bridge to fire.

In this collection of television and radio programmes we celebrate the craftsmanship inherent in steam trains and the beauty of the British countryside through which these locomotives have passed. These broadcasts also acknowledge the dedicated enthusiasts who have saved this important part of British heritage for the enjoyment of generations to come.


San Diego Electric Railway Association

Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site. Operated by the Bishop Museum & Historical Society PO Box 363 Bishop, California 93515 (760) 873-5950

Old Pueblo Trolley. An Operating Transit Museum. (trolleys, buses, railroads)

Steam Railroading Institute

Travel Town Transportation Museum

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum. Demonstration and Display of Pacific Southwest Railroad History.

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

Tonopah & Tidewater, Bullfrog Goldfield, Death Valley, Tecopa, and Ludlow & Southern Railroads.

National RR Museum

Orange Empire Railway Museum

California State Railroad Museum

Western Pacific Railroad Museum and Collection

California Zephyr Virtual Museum