Dedicated to Sharing the Heritage of Redwood Empire Railroading
The NCRA w-site contains a copy of SB 1029 which dissolves the NCRA and allocates $4M to SMART "for the acquisition of freight rights and equipment from the" NWP.....
I'd be surprised if that amount would cover those costs. Maybe more importantly, I've had a chance to watch both the SMART BoD and General Manager and in my opinion, this public entity does not have the experience to run a freight rail operation.
If you have an opinion on this write a short letter to the Calif State Treasurer and express your concern about tax payers covering this effort. NOthing will take place without the Treasurers approval.
The person who has the authority and should be the recipient of your letter is the Calif. State Secty of Transportation, and not Treasurer.
What does this mean for freight on NWP now? Will that still happen or is NWP Co no more?
As I wrote above, this bill has still not been authorized by the members of the State i.e. the Secretary of Transportation and also others.
At the last NCRA meeting in December Doug Bosco said that the NWP Co. was still the freight carrier.
Write a support letter to keep it that way.
First of all, a publicly operated transit railway cannot maintain freight operations for the following reasons;
1. The "transit" world and the "freight" world are at the opposite ends of the business spectrum. Two completely different sets of rolling stock and power, different operating patterns, profit and loss vs. subsidy. A transit railway running freight operations is very different than a freight railroad running regular passenger service. The key word here is "transit".
2. Trucking companies will surely challenge this move in court.
3. Freight operations running over transit railway trackage is common when the privately owned trackage meets the transit trackage (ie: mainline to mainline, mainline to industrial spur etc.) Not really the issue here.
If this arrangement goes through I can envision SMART leasing/contracting with an existing private operator to perform freight service along their trackage during non-commuter hours.
Unfortunately I do not see services reaching Willits or beyond simply because of the economic shift in the region. Lumbering operations will not return to prior levels seen in the twentieth century. Trucks can and will continue to handle all remaining business due to efficiency and minimal capitol investment vs. the capitol investment for a railroad. I am a staunch fan of NWP and CWRR however railfans and historians don't pay the bills to sustain a railroad. As has the Virginia & Truckee, Amador Central, McCloud River and other's, the NWP has entered "Vahalla" let's celebrate what was, preserve what is left and feel lucky that the NWP exsisted as long as it did.
Your post is right on and I completely agree and will bring this up once again at next Wednesday's SMART board mtg. Read the minutes and you will see what I have stated in my allowed 3 minutes in Public Comment.
Last week the Press Democrat ran an article about the poor quality of Sonoma Cty roads. https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9152656-181/sebastopol-area-neig...
I had to buy an old '95 AeroStar van just to keep from destroying my good cars from being damaged by the local roads. And yet this weekend I saw a heavily loaded semi trailer that was at least 50 feet long (illegal according to Calif State VC) running south on 101.
There is 1) no CHP scale on 101 up here and 2) overloaded gypsy truckers are everywhere loading the highways.
3) Russian River Brewing (Racer 5, other IPA's etc) has built a state of the art brewing facility in Windsor withing 200 yards of the SMART RoW but the grain for this facility is brought in by these heavy trucks. This is north of the existing SMART ATC LINE but there is no allowance for NWP to build a spur just like the limitation with Lagunitas.
I've been speaking out about this at the board meetings but it seems the board members don't understand rail.
I'd LOVE to have support from others on this site when I speak at the SMART board meeting next Wednesday in Petaluma.
I believe that this w-site managed by Mark Drury really can make a difference in bringing full rail service back to this northern California area. Re-opening the line to Eureka unfortunately is most likely not realistic but rebuilding it for freight service up to Willits is a possibility IF my fellow citizens will speak out against these illegal trucks that are being allowed to damage hiway 101 and the subsidiaries up here.
As for the elements of SB 1029 I will comment after the SMART board meeting this Wednesday.
Do I have any allies up here in Sonoma Cty?
Unfortunately every time new rail is considered (let alone spoken) the famous words "environmental impact study" are spoken. This usually kills any new proposal and if not then the several years of delay waiting for approval certainly does. As a suggestion, the Sierra Northern would be a prime candidate to lease operating rights for freight service from Willits (a future vision) south Brazos Junction and the California Northern. Sierra Northern owns the CWRR, Yolo Short Line and Sierra Railroad making them a logical option for consideration.
Or better yet keep the NWP as the operator, experience is essential to keeping an operation going. All of this is besides the point as SMART has no jurisdiction "buying" a privately owned entity, they may be able to acquire the rights, but part of the rights are the remaining 88 years of NWP-NCRA operating agreement. Not to mention the fact that the NWP (as NWPCo) has common carrier status for the line.
NWP as it is isn't going anywhere.
SMART Board meeting tomorrow Wednesday 1:30 at headquarters in Petaluma.
See you there.