Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Coast Starlight Not So Bright

As Marcel over at TrainBlog draws attention to in his latest post, the Coast Starlight's lengthy delays are making headlines and flaring tempers in California. The Train Riders Association of California has been monitoring the train's on-time performance at the Paso Robles stop, and has found that it's typically five to 12 hours late. The association is now applying pressure to government leaders, asking them to apply pressure, in turn, to Union Pacific, whose freight traffic and track repairs between Roseville, CA and Eugene, Ore are responsible for the delays. Constructing a second track would ease the problem, but would also cost a fortune; UP pays lip service to giving passenger trains priority, but in practice this rarely happens since UP's main objective is making money, and it makes little if any off of Amtrak. The Coast Starlight, which runs between Los Angeles and Seattle, boasts a gorgeous route and used to be known for its on-time performance. But with declining service and long delays, Amtrak's crown jewel is becoming its biggest embarrassment. I hope that UP finishes its repairs and Amtrak restores the train to its earlier glory, because the route is breathtakingly scenic. On our journey last November, Patrick and I sat back in awe at the snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and gorgeous sunsets. Toss in some wine tastings, meeting new and strange people, and falling asleep to the train's gentle rocking, and you have a slice of paradise (unless, of course, you're trying to make a connection).


Blogger Marcel Marchon said...

Did you just get caught up on your feed reading? I posted about that a couple weeks ago... :-)
There has been quite a lot of activity about this issue and miraculously, the performance of the Starlight seems to have improved quite a bit lately (it has even been ontime or close to it a couple times). I've been meaning to do a followup post, but just didn't get round to it yet ... :-)

2:08 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Yes, sorry, I realize this story is a bit dated. I've been meaning to post on it for a while but kept forgetting. I recall your posts about the late arrivals, but it wasn't until I read the newsletter you linked recently that I realized the train's tardiness had made headlines. I'm pleased to hear it's getting back on schedule? Is this because UP completed its trackwork, or is UP actually giving Amtrak priority?

7:42 PM  

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