Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The race from Los Angeles to San Diego is beginning to heat up.

The route that Amtrak/Caltrans is referring to, in their quest for speed and customers, is called the LOSSAN corridor, along the coast between Union Station in Los Angeles, and San Diego.  Last year, then Governor Schwarzenegger wrote a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, asking that the LOSSAN corridor become the site for a high-speed rail demonstration train.  I gather that request was ignored. Actually, it was a good idea, since the LOSSAN corridor is only second in high-volume demand to the Northeast corridor.

One reason may be that the CHSRA has designated a HSR route from LA to San Diego that goes way inland, to Riverside.  So this shorter LOSSAN route would be much faster since it goes directly from Los Angeles, through Anaheim and Irvine to Santa Fe Depot in San Diego.  (Shortest distance between two points, so to speak.)

We also know that Amtrak has a strong hankering to justify itself by getting into the high-speed rail business.  They would like to be the HSR operator for California, of course.   After all, they are the sole passenger rail provider in the US today. And, the Republicans are threatening to cut off all their federal funding.  So, just as the high-speed rail debate is really heating up, Amtrak will start sending one train up (and down?) the corridor making fewer stops, and therefore being 15 minutes faster.

The race is on.  Today, it's the Surfliner.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  If Amtrak can attract more commuter business on its route, it will raise more questions about the longer HSR inland route to San Diego, and perhaps make themselves more indispensable.  Unless, of course, they lose all their Congressional funding. 

2/16/2011    Amtrak
Amtrak California unveils San Diego-to-L.A. express service

On Tuesday, Caltrans and Amtrak California launched a new northbound Pacific Surfliner express service between San Diego and Los Angeles that cuts the trip’s travel time by 15 to 20 minutes. 

“In an effort to be more responsive to passengers traveling between San Diego and Los Angeles, the new weekday express service will provide a faster trip for business travelers riding the Pacific Surfliner,” said Martin Tuttle, Caltrans deputy director for planning and modal programs, in a prepared statement.

The Pacific Surfliner train that leaves San Diego at 7:05 a.m. will make fewer stops on the way to L.A. Two other Surfliner trains that leave later in the morning will continue to stop at all stations. 

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