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									THE CALIFORNIA PASSENGER RAIL LABORATORY: Institutional Experiments August 24, 2002 By David Solow Chief Executive Officer Southern California Regional Rail Authority

• Besides federal government, state and local entities will spend large amounts on passenger rail service • 100% of intercity rail service is Amtrak service • Many of commuter rail new starts are local agency sponsored, contracted out services • Most of the Penn Central spin-off commuter rail services are local agency, direct employee services

Does the California “Model” give us any ideas for the future of passenger rail in the U.S?

Passenger Rail Statistics (2000)
Intercity Pacific Surfliner San Joaquins Capital Corridor

Annual Passengers 1,567,318 671,295 684,947 2,923,960 6,978,600 1,187,800 8,735,000 2,098,400 18,999,800 21,922,747 22,500,000 12,900,000

Avg. Trip Length 93.8 miles 155.4 miles 74.9 miles 36.7 miles 28.5 miles 21.7 miles 10.7 miles

Farebox Revenue 48%* 43%* 34%* 53% 26% 54% 41%

Metrolink Coaster Caltrain ACE

California Total


244.2 miles

*Services operate with Amtrak access rights & avoidable costs

California Investment in Amtrak
Rail Service Caltrans (for 3 intercity rail corridors) Metrolink State & Local Current Operating Capital Investment Payments (yrly.) $1,600,000,000* $79,400,000



Coaster TOTAL

$270,000,000** $4,290,200,000

$7,300,000 $139,800,000

*Since 1976 ** Since 1991

Roles & Responsibilities for Intercity Service
• What Caltrans does:
– – – – – – Subsidize operations Set service standards Provide project management Devise operating strategies Marketing & Advertising Stations & Rolling Stock

Roles & Responsibilities for Intercity Service
• What Caltrans does not do:
– – – – – Own railroad property Common carrier obligations Construct on railroad property No railroad employees Indemnify railroad or provide insurance

Roles & Responsibilities for Intercity Service
• What Amtrak does:
– – – – – – Train & engine crews Maintenance of equipment (MOE) services Portion of rolling stock Incremental costs Own or lease MOE facilities Access rights

Roles & Responsibilities for Intercity Service
• What Amtrak does not do:
– Of capital investment to date, Amtrak has provided $400 million, $300 million for rolling stock that State of California pays for through lease.

1. Local Control 2. Complimentary services in commuter/intercity corridors 3. Contracting out for services 4. Corridor management 5. Regional rail service

Traditional: “Hands Off”


State control, local advisory committees (LOSSAN, San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee)

New Institution: Calif. Senate Bill 457
Passed in 1996. Allows local agencies to form entities that can assume responsibility for intercity rail service

– Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA)
• • • 16 member governing board Represents 6 county agencies 6 representatives from Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)

– Annual allocation of operating and some capital funds from state to CCJPA

Business Plan:
– Required annually for allocation. – Includes annual budget requests, operational and service improvement strategies

– Greater oversight of regional Amtrak intercity service – Local decision making within framework of business plan – Local advocacy for intercity services

– Limited relationship between commuter and intercity rail services – May share tracks but nothing else

New View:
– Service in common and feeder corridors needs to be complimentary and coordinated

“Take the First Train” “Rail-2-Rail”
Major Elements as of 9/1/02:
– Metrolink monthly riders can “take the first train”, Amtrak or Metrolink from their origin to destination as long as ticket is good for that trip – Amtrak riders with a ticket valid for travel between two Metrolink stations can take Metrolink for that trip and then connect to Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner service for balance of trip

“Any Train Anytime”
• Amtrak/Metrolink fares are matched between Burbank Airport/Glendale/Los Angeles
– All Metrolink vended tickets are good on Amtrak trips between these points. – In conjunction with Southwest Airlines, air passengers can ride free for three months with airline ticket for that day, travel agency itinerary showing travel on Southwest that day or e-ticket receipt for that day.

Future elements
• • • • Southern California Rail Pass good on all Amtrak/Metrolink trains Ticket vending machines at all Metrolink and Metrolink/Amtrak stations will sell tickets for both services and joint tickets Joint schedule planning Transit connections coordinated for intercity trains

– Intercity rail will not work in a contracted out environment

New View:
– Contracting out has worked in the commuter rail environment

California Examples
Agency Caltrain

Region San Jose-S.F.
Stockton-San Jose

Contractors Amtrak


L.A. Basin

Amtrak (T& E) Bombardier (MOE) Herzog (Track) MEC Rail (S & C)


Oceanside-San Diego

California’s Experience
• • • Contracting out passenger rail service can work Regional commitment to substantial, comprehensive, qualified, experienced oversight May require management agencies to negotiate with common carriers for ownership, take on common carrier obligations, manage railroad or contractor employees with agency employees With right legal statute, commuter agencies can be used as middlemen for intercity service


– To be effective, efficient and operate on time, a major corridor needs to be controlled by a single entity.

New View:
– Effective coordination makes a corridor, not ownership.

Pacific Surfliner Corridor
Route Segment San Luis Obispo to Moorpark Moorpark to L.A. Los Angeles Union Station Los Angeles to Redondo Jct. Redondo Jct. To Fullerton Fullerton to Orange Co. Line Orange Co. Line to San Diego Corridor Owner Union Pacific SCRRA Agencies Catellus Develop. SCRRA Agencies BNSF SCRRA Agencies San Diego Agencies 5 Owners Corridor Maintainer Union Pacific SCRRA SCRRA SCRRA BNSF SCRRA NCTD 4 Maintaining Agencies Corridor Dispatcher Union Pacific SCRRA SCRRA SCRRA BNSF SCRRA SCRRA 3 Dispatchers Route Segment Length (mi.) 174.6 46.8 1.3 3.2 21.8 42.4 60.2 350.3

Daily Train Volumes (weekdays) on Pacific Surfliner Corridor
Segment MoorparkBurbank BurbankL.A. L.A.Fullerton FullertonOrange OrangeIrvine Amtrak 8 8 26 24 24 Metrolink 28 54 28 19 31 Freight 10 18 45 5 5 Total 46 80 99 48 60



Commuter vs. Intercity “An antiquated definition” Federal Rail Passenger Service Act:
• “Commuter rail passenger transportation” means short-haul passenger transportation in metropolitan and surburban areas usually having reduced fare, multiple-ride, and commuter tickets and morning and evening peak period operations. “Intercity rail passenger transportation” means rail passenger transportation, except commuter rail passenger transportation.


Regional Service
With urbanization/suburbanization, regional services are developing which fit neither the definitions of long-distance or commuter rail service • Less than 200 miles • Travel between major employment centers or between urbanized areas • Handle a mix of commutation and discretionary business and pleasure travelers

Intercity Examples
Operator Amtrak Amtrak Amtrak Amtrak Amtrak Endpoints ChicagoMilwaukee Portland-Boston PhiladelphiaHarrisburg L.A.-San Diego Albany-NYC Distance (mi.) 86 116 104 129 141

Commuter Examples
Operator Endpoints Distance (mi.)


Orange Co.-L.A.Oxnard



Port Jervis, N.Y. – Hoboken, N.J. Montauk, L.I.-NYC Miami-West Palm Beach


Tri-Rail (Fla.)


Distinctions are Artificial
• • • • Ignore the fact that commuter services are primarily all-day services with large #’s of discretionary riders With express and local services there is little distinction in regions between commuter and intercity service The distinctions remain because of federal law and Amtrak’s ability to provide avoidable cost and access rights With right legal statute, commuter agencies can be used as middlemen for intercity service

• • • • Federal definitions limit growth and integration potential States have no discretion under current law to do comprehensive passenger rail planning and implementation Some commuter agencies who own railroad property are cross-subsidizing Amtrak intercity service In practical terms, Amtrak is the only entity the states can work with.

Southern California’s Solution:
• Integrate to the maximum extent possible • need to remain conscious of legal limits because of possible freight railroad challenges • Some opportunities to look at future joint oversight, operation

Lessons Learned in California
• Local control of regional intercity services, even with state subsidies can work • Passengers do not distinguish between brands - they want efficient, effective coordinated service

Lessons Learned in California
• Joint marketing, ticket and schedule integration should be encouraged to “blur” the distinction between commuter and intercity rail services • There are lessons to be learned from commuter rail agencies that contract out if Amtrak reform allows privatization

Lessons Learned in California
• Without a transfer of incremental cost and access rights, there are limits to fully integrated, coordinated services • The single owner/maintainer/dispatcher model is not the only way to efficiently operate a corridor

Lessons Learned in California
• Changes to law are required to reflect current passenger rail services – definitions need to be updated

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