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Capitol Corridor extension delayed by freight troubles

Paul Raymore
Sierra Sun

Travelers wanting to ride the rail from the Bay Area to Reno will have to wait for the Union Pacific Railroad to get its freight business on track.

That’s according to Jim Allison, a senior planner with the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority ” the group that’s managing the current passenger service.

Right now, Amtrak’s Capital Corridor route runs 24 trains on weekdays (12 round trips) and 19 on weekends, and stops at 16 stations along its 170-mile route from San Jose to Sacramento. The extension of the Amtrack Capitol Corridor route is proposed to go all the way to Reno.

Proponents of expanding the service to run all the way to Northern Nevada would like to see four daily round trips between Oakland and Sparks, Nev. ” a prospect that may not happen anytime soon, Allison said, because Union Pacific, which owns the tracks, is too busy trying to sort out its freight business to worry about adding passenger service into the mix.

“I think they’re in triage mode now,” Allison said at Thursday’s Truckee-North Tahoe Transportation Management Association meeting. “I think we need to let them get through that and then get on it when they are in a better position to deal with [passenger service].”

Allison recommended that interested parties in the North Lake Tahoe-Truckee region work to line up political and financial support for the project in anticipation of Union Pacific becoming more favorable to the Capitol Corridor extension sometime in the future. However, pressuring the railroad to allow more passenger service now might backfire, he said.

Many of those in attendance were eager to see train service from the Bay Area and Sacramento to Tahoe, and did not like the idea of waiting for Union Pacific to turn their attention to it.

Gordon Shaw, the president of LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc. said, “I think this is probably one of the biggest issues we’ll face over the next 10 to 20 years. We’ve put a lot of effort and are moving forward on local transit… but if we can’t get people here without their cars, we’re really limited on what the local system can do.”

For more information on the proposed Capitol Corridor extension, see “Train service over Sierra coming down the tracks” in the Sierra Sun’s online archives.


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