Amtrak Capitol Corridor Wildly Succesful Despite Union Pacific Woes

Amtrak's Capitol Corridor, connecting the Bay Area to the state capitol, Sacramento, is the third busiest Amtrak route in the country. Yet it faces formidable obstacles -- because it runs on Union Pacific tracks.
May 2, 2006, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"In the Land of the Freeway, people are rediscovering trains. Here in Northern California, ridership on the Capitol Corridor trains, running between Auburn and the Bay Area, has tripled over the past seven years, making it the third busiest Amtrak route in the country."

"These ridership increases are all the more impressive when you consider that Capitol Corridor trains had a miserable 72 percent on-time performance last year..."

"Passengers on those trains are at the mercy of Union Pacific dispatchers in Omaha, who work for a company that wishes passengers would just go away. But they keep coming back, and in even greater numbers, so they're shunted off to the sidings to make way for the railroad's lucrative freight business. That business, thanks in large part to exports from China, is booming. Passenger trains just get in the way of all that.

What the Capitol Corridor badly needs is its own track and its own dispatchers so it can guarantee its passengers on-time performance. One single 170-mile-long track, enough to handle the current 12 trains a day in each direction -- and a projected 16 trains by this summer -- would cost approximately $1 billion."

Thanks to ABAG-MTC Library

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, April 30, 2006 in The San Francisco Chronicle
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