Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

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SMART could run in 2012 just not 79 mph

Smart is trying to build a Cadillac system with a Chevy budget. As I understand it the only alternative considered at the Nov 6th meeting were for parts of a Cadillac. What should be considered is a whole Chevy. The tracks are ready for Freight AND PASSENGERS from the Ignacio wye to Windsor. It is possible to reasonably make improvements to the existing Freight tracks to run Passenger trains at 45 or 55 Miles per hour. According to my calculations the 12 miles between Petaluma and Novato would take 9 minutes at 79 miles per hour and it would take 13 minutes at 55 miles per hour, this is only 4 minutes longer, even less when you include slowing down for the bridge.

Here is what smart should do. Replace as many ties as required for 45 or 55 MPH track speeds. Replace switches for 79 mph, or repair switches for the slower speed. Only make repairs to bridges that are needed. Replace all road crossings for 79 mph. Use existing rail, but have a rail inspection car check out the rail and replace as needed. Do this all the way to Cloverdale

From Ignacio to larkspur you may do the same or selectively improve for 79 mph trains.

It is my understanding that trains running slower than 59 mph do not require signaling. All the ties replaced for the slower speeds can be reused for the higher speed trains.

This would mean that you could have a complete but slower system. You could also consider leasing locomotives and passenger cars for a start. Once the system is complete, and you have something to show, it might be easier to get addition funding for the upgrade. When money becomes available you can upgrade the system. Remember between Ignacio and Windsor the work is already done, and at a cost of less than $50 million dollars.

I think that the citizens of Marin & Sonoma county will demand a complete Chevy rather than part of a Cadillac. And you might even have some money left over for a bike path.

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Comment by HUTCH 7.62 on March 29, 2011 at 8:51pm
For Obvious reasons I'm sure most of the Taxpayers are gonna be disappointed once the smart service starts.
Comment by Roger Graeber on November 23, 2010 at 9:56am
Hello Lawrence

All that I am saying is that signaling is not require NOW. This would alought trains now. SMART is claiming that each switch for freight service cost $750,000 partly because of the signaling requirement.

I personally would like signaling on day one. But giving the money problems SMART has they should be able to safely start without signals and at a slower speed.

As I said PTC is a good idea and long overdue.

Comment by Lawrence LaBranche on November 22, 2010 at 10:14pm
PTC is MANDATORY, it isn't an option after 2015. Along with that, is signaling will be MANDATORY, unless you can cite within the PTC regs that same old rule about not not requiring signaling below 59mph. Not likely. Any mix of freight and commuter rail will require PTC be installed. No way around it.

SMART's approval for FRA inspection, not required.

I'm not arguing that age of rail is a factor in train speeds, only that the age of the rail is not likely to be around 100 years old. In fact I'm arguing that the rail, at least down there is much newer. I don't my railfan trips down there, so I know some of it is much newer, and rated at higher speeds.

Looking at my SP timetable #26 29 Apr 1986, max mainline speed was 40mph, and was allowed in, a few places.

You have to look at rail defects, rail poundage, ties, etc. the higher the class of the track, the tighter the gauge tolerances are. I believe with the work that has been done, the lower passenger speeds will be achievable in many places.
Comment by Roger Graeber on November 22, 2010 at 8:53am
Hello Lawrence

Yes the rail is old but the age of the rail does not determind the track speed. The quality of the roadbed and ties determind the speed. The faster you go the better the roadbed and ties must be. I suggest that if passengers are run over the track at 59 mph that a rail inspection service be used to find and replace suspect rails. Freight trains would not run that fast but light weight DMU cars could run at 59 mph.

I beleive that PTC is a good idea. But at 59 mph or less the FRA does not require signaling.

Getting the passenger trains rolling would generate funds that could then be used to upgrade the track to 79 mph with new CWR and a better roadbed.

Remember this is a short term solution to get the passenger trains rolling.

Check out the SMART Oct 20 meeting audio. SMART wants to hold up freight trains for LEVERAGE. In the Nov 6 meeting SMART wants to stop all freight trains. SMART should be working with the NWPco and not holding freight service for ransome
Comment by Lawrence LaBranche on November 21, 2010 at 9:57pm
If I may, I doubt the rails are almost 100 years old in the SMART area, except maybe south of the wye. The reason is poundage of that age of rail wouldn't survive the weight of modern railcars. North of the Petaluma depot is a section of new rail, dated 2000 something if i remember right, replaces at USACE expense due to removal of a trestle for flood reduction. South of Petaluma was a section of 40mph, CWR. About Loleta area was another section of 40mph. A few more section were 35mph, and more yet 30mph. Now, if I could find my timetable, I'd give you MP. FRA as part of allowing the reopening of the freight, will do a fine tooth comb inspection of the railroad.

With the requirement of PTC by 2015, any idea of not requiring signaling below 59 is likely thrown out the window.
Comment by Roger Graeber on November 21, 2010 at 12:21pm
Hello Phil

That is why I suggest a rail inspection service to make sure that the rails had no defects. Yes the section north of Windsor and south of Ignatio will need lots of work and I am thinking that 55 mph would be a resonable maximum speed. If you think of 79 mph, there are not that many places where ther would be a big differance in the commute time
Comment by Phil Grinton on November 21, 2010 at 10:46am
Years ago I read a report somewhere that it was the condition of the rails along this section are almost 100 years old and the steel/iron that was used in those days was not the best and one of the reasons that rail traffic can only run at less than 25 mph. If that's the case then the only ones who would ride the train would be the tortoises in that TV add for DSL. I maybe wrong on this so help me out here.
Comment by Chad Gustafson on November 21, 2010 at 10:20am
I totaly agree. I read that they would save a couple mil. a year leasing Baby Bullit passenger cars and locomotives. This would also make some railfans happy.
Also, im kind of iffy on the bike path. They did the same thing between Sacramento and Dixon along UP Sac Sub and Amtrak Capital Corridor, making it sound like a good idea. Now its just a popular hangout for theves and the homless, and the route between Wndsor and larkspur is 90% bushes.

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