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Union Pacific: All fired up

By enelson
Tuesday, March 27th, 2007 at 5:44 pm in Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Funding, rail, Safety.

sacto-trestle-fire-ap-photo.jpgToday I wrote a piece on Union Pacific’s miraculous reconstruction of the wooden train trestle in Sacramento that was so well protected by creosote that it went up in flames last March 15 like a book of matches.

This time, they used concrete and steel.

Anyway, read the story on www.insidebayarea.com. Unfortunately, I found out too late to get into the story the specifics of how opening one of the two tracks will improve service.

For anyone who obsesses over rail service to Auburn and the California Zephyr (and I know some of you read this blog), I offer the e-mail I got from Gene Skoropowski, managing director of the Capitol Corridor:

Today, we received confirmation from both Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak that regular Capitol Corridor passenger rail service will be restored to/from Placer County starting with next Sunday evening’s train #742 (April 1, 2007), and thence on a regular weekday schedule starting with Monday morning’s Train #529 (April 2, 2007) from Auburn to Sacramento and on to Oakland/San Francisco.

Most of the “backed-up” freight trains will have been moved through the area by then, as Union Pacific has implemented an interim operating plan which is routing Eastbound freight trains via Marysville (Binney Junction), thence to Roseville and points East, while Westbound trains both freight and passenger will use the newly opened track across the new trestle. The two Eastbound passenger trains, Amtrak #6 to Denver/Chicago (California Zephyr) and Capitol Corridor train #536, will use the new single track trestle in both directions until the second track is reopened by UPRR at the end of April.

On behalf of the Capitol Corridor, and all our passengers, we extend sincere thanks and appreciation to Union Pacific for their efforts to restore train service, and we also extend an awe-struck commendation to them for the incredibly fast response of Union Pacific’s engineering forces in rebuilding the American River bridge approach trestle in what can only be described as “monumental speed.” Completion of one track in only 12 days from the time of the fire is virtually unheard of in today’s world.

Train riders had visions of “month’s of substitute service.”  Again, I am still in awe of the fantastic response of Union Pacific.

So enjoy the good news and we look forward to seeing all of you on the train next week.

Gene

One of the remarkable parts of this is that UP, better known to California’s passenger rail aficionados as an obstacle to reliable service, has come through and gotten it running again. One might explain this by saying UP has a vested interest in moving its freight across that trestle, but they must deserve some credit for getting this done so quickly.

Not to mention, if they can build this stuff so quickly, imagine how they’ll perform when Gov. Schwarzenegger and the state legislature gets around to budgeting that $400 million for intercity rail service from the Proposition 1B transportation bond. Even before that happens, it’s likely that the California Transportation Commission will be putting some of 1B’s $2 billion worth of Trade Corridors money into those same freight lines that our commuter rail service must endure.

After all, if the freight traffic congestion is eased, so, too, will passenger delays, n’est pas?

<small>Photo of March 15 Sacramento trestle fire from Associated Press</small> 

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