Issue 41, September 2010

September 22, 2010

Dear Riders:
Greetings from the Capitol Corridor team! As seasons change it serves to remind me that it’s time to send an updated Message to Riders.

Although temperatures didn’t rise much this summer, Capitol Corridor’s performance and ridership did! Ridership began trending upward in May with a 1.4% increase compared to the same period in 2009. In June, ridership jumped 7%. Additionally, a remarkable 5% more riders chose to ride the train instead of drive their cars in both July and August.

Also in July and August, the Capitol Corridor attained a 97% and 96% on-time performance respectively—the best in our history. Kudos to the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Amtrak, our rail partners, for helping us achieve this milestone!

Tips for Riders
With more people on the trains, here are a few of our top tips to help your experience on Capitol Corridor go smoother:
Please be ready to present your ticket to the conductor once you are seated, or to the motorcoach bus driver at the time of boarding. Even if you are a frequent rider, hold a multi-ride ticket and are familiar with the conductor or driver, you must still present your ticket every time.
It’s a good idea to purchase tickets in advance and arrive early at stations as parking is limited at many stations.
Please make sure to have a valid government-issued identification card with you when purchasing tickets and at all times when riding the train.
Riders are limited to two pieces of carry-on baggage. Each carry-on bag must weigh less than 50 pounds and be tagged with your name and address.
We ask that you be considerate of your fellow passengers and keep your shoes off the seats.

September is Rail Safety Month in California
California lawmakers have designated September as “Rail Safety Month.” The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) is working with Amtrak, Union Pacific and Caltrans Division of Rail staff to build public awareness about safety near railroad tracks. Rail Safety Month gives us the opportunity to remind the public that they need to keep safety in mind each time they approach a rail crossing—trains can’t swerve to avoid people walking, playing or illegally crossing railroad tracks.

Since the very first Rail Safety Month was declared in 2009, rail trespassing incidents involving Capitol Corridor trains decreased 58% compared to the prior year. We want that trend to keep spiraling downwards, so we ask that you please follow these safety precautions and share them with your friends and family:

  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.
  • Make sure to look both ways when crossing railroad tracks at designated walkways. If you see a train coming, don’t try to ‘beat’ it, stay off the tracks.
  • Always expect a train at every railroad crossing intersection. Freight trains do not travel on a predictable schedule and schedules for passenger trains change.
  • If there are rails on the railroad ties, assume that the track is in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks “rusty.”
  • Modern trains are quieter than ever, with no telltale “clackety-clack” sound. They can move in either direction at any time. Also, an approaching train will always be closer and moving faster than you think.
  • Don’t socialize on or near train tracks.
  • Remember:
    Stay off the tracks, stay alive!

    CCJPA Seeks Federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Funds to Improve Service
    In my June Message to Riders, I shared CCJPA’s investment plan to enhance our service. On August 5th we threw our hat in the competitive grant process ring for the Fiscal Year 2010 (FY 2010) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) funding awards. CCJPA submitted an application for $57 million that if awarded, will allow us to increase service frequency between Auburn and Sacramento by adding one additional round trip as well as improve reliability between Fremont and Newark. If we are successful in getting FRA HSIPR dollars, UPRR will commit $10 million of their own resources to complete the track upgrades for the added train to/from Auburn. This match of private funding helps put the CCJPA’s application on the competitive edge as it shows this project can create jobs and be up-and-running sooner rather than later.

    Our application also includes upgrades for our South Bay passengers as well. We hope to get funding to lengthen the Fremont platform, which will improve train meets at that station. The improvements include connecting the sidings between Mowry Avenue and Automall Parkway, which will improve reliability for trains operating between Oakland and San Jose.

    These FY2010 project applications set the groundwork to link the Capitol Corridor to the future High Speed Rail system at Sacramento and San Jose stations.

    Get Connected to Capitol Corridor!
    This summer, the CCJPA team enhanced communications with our passengers by migrating to a new digital subscription service that allows users to subscribe to one or more Capitol Corridor-related topics. Through the E-Updates programs you’ll still get the CC Rail e-newsletter, but you can also sign up to receive schedule changes and service alerts. Service alerts for major train delays can be delivered to you via email or SMS text messages.

    Thank you for your continued loyalty. We strive to be your preferred travel choice. Many of you ride our trains for business travel and we hope you choose Capitol Corridor for your leisure travel as well. Take advantage of the discounts we are offering to seniors, families with kids, group travel, and A’s and Raider fans. Details of all our discounted promotions can be found at

    We consider customer service and passenger safety to be our top priorities. Our goal is to deliver you, the paying customer, a high-quality transportation experience. We’d like to know if we are successful in meeting that goal. Let us know how we are doing via our website at or by phone at 1-877-9-RIDECC.

    David B. Kutrosky
    CCJPA Managing Director

    Issue 40, June 2010

    May 25, 2010

    Dear Riders –
    This is only my third message since taking the helm of Capitol Corridor and I’m stunned to realize that 2010 is nearly at its midway mark! I have much to share in this latest “Message to Riders.”

    Fight Hunger – One Stop at a Time
    The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), in partnership with our colleagues at Amtrak and six northern California food banks, will embark on its very first food drive to help “Fight Hunger – One Stop at a Time.” From June 1 to June 15, 2010, Capitol Corridor and Amtrak will have food collection bins at the following stations: Sacramento, Davis, Martinez, Emeryville, San Francisco Ferry Building, Oakland Jack London Square and San Jose.
    The beginning of summer is a critical time to replenish food banks. During the school year, many needy children are served meals at school, but they lose that resource when classes break for summer. The CCJPA wants to fight hunger by asking our passengers and the communities along our corridor to donate nutritious, non-perishable food items at the stations listed above.
    You can also help by publicizing the food drive. At staffed stations, ask your station agent for a handful of our Fight Hunger flyers or bookmarks and please share the information with your fellow train riders, friends or co-workers.

    State Funding to Support Intercity Passenger Rail in Latest Budget Proposal
    In my last issue I reported that a transit-saving bill was on the Governor’s desk to include in the state budget for Fiscal Year 2011. Transit-supportive California lawmakers responded to the Governor’s initial state budget, which did little to support California’s Intercity Passenger Rail (CA IPR) program, by proposing to increase sales tax on diesel. This solution supports the CA IPR Program and provides the ability for CA IPR services to apply for Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) grants that are available under our current FY2010 federal appropriation. Fortunately, the Governor accepted the diesel tax proposal; thus once the budget is final, the CA IPR program should be financially “safe” for now as the diesel sales tax proceeds will provide a stable program of annual operating funds to support the existing Capitol Corridor service levels and future expansion.
    While we’re on the topic of expansion and federal appropriations, the CCJPA is in the process of developing several significant corridor applications for the FY 2010 round of FRA HSIPR grant funding. We are applying for funds that will allow us to increase service frequency between Auburn and Sacramento (one additional round trip) and between Oakland and San Jose (four additional round trips). We will file these applications this summer, and if we are awarded the grants, our intent is to implement the Auburn service expansion as soon as funding is secured; whereas the more extensive service expansion to San Jose will require construction of numerous projects that will be implemented over the next five years.

    Reinvesting to Improve Our Service
    The CCJPA has a long history of using its resources to reinvest in our system to expand service, enhance communications with our riders and improve security. Recently, the CCJPA funded construction of new crossovers on the Union Pacific rail line. Crossovers benefit our riders by improving train operations and reducing delays. In Emeryville, two new crossovers are being constructed which will reduce/eliminate delays that sometimes occur when more than one train needs to access the station. We expect to complete the Emeryville crossovers in June. Similarly, at Benicia we completed an additional crossover in April. The two crossovers along that span of track will improve train operations around the Benicia industrial facilities by reducing delays the Capitol Corridor sometimes experiences while waiting for freight trains to serve these facilities. Here’s an update of planned Capitol Corridor projects and activities:

    Customer Communications
    Passenger Service Alerts program: In response to rider feedback, CCJPA is working with a vendor to improve communications with you via text message alerts (SMS) and email. In June we expect to implement Phase 1, which will migrate our current e-newsletter, CC Rail Mail to the new service. A trial program will also offer subscription-based email or SMS alerts about major train delays and service changes.
    Sign Upgrades: By June 1 we will have replaced all of the electronic platform message signs. The new signs are being installed, which will be followed by software upgrades to expand the display to four lines of text to convey detailed real-time service information to you at our platforms.
    Sacramento Interior Electronic Message Board Replacement: By mid-July we expect to complete the board replacement in Sacramento station. This board is the large display which shows train data to our riders. The upgraded board will have less glare and be easier to read.

    Enhanced Security
    Security Cameras at Unstaffed Stations: This summer we will put a Security Camera Installation contract out to bid and expect to have cameras and related security equipment completely installed at unstaffed stations by the end of this year.

    As always, it’s our pleasure to serve you. Please take advantage of the many discounts we are currently offering for seniors, kids, group travel, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan at Ferry Park and A’s fans. Details of all our summer promotions can be found at
    At the Capitol Corridor we pride ourselves in delivering a high-quality transportation experience. As paying customers you are entitled to the best we can offer. Feel free to drop us a note and let us know how we are doing via our website at or by phone at 1-877-9-RIDECC.

    David B. Kutrosky
    CCJPA Managing Director

    Issue 39, March 30

    March 12, 2010

    Dear Riders –We are well into 2010 and there is much to share with you! You’ll be pleased to know that Union Pacific Railroad’s (UPRR) multi-year track infrastructure project, which affected Capitol Corridor service in January, February and March should be completed by the time you read this message. Although this work is necessary to keep the railroad in good condition, the service plan didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped.
    I sincerely apologize to any Capitol Corridor rider who may have experienced connection delays as a result of the latest bus bridge we operated between the Martinez and Jack London Square stations. Please be assured that we are doing a “Lessons Learned” on this bus bridge and should we ever need to implement another extended bus bridge (hopefully not for a couple of years) it will operate much smoother.
    The good news is, once this project is complete, UPRR will be done with major track work for this year! The better news is overall, in January and February the Capitol Corridor achieved a 93% on-time performance record. Year-to-date we have an on-time performance measure of 92%, which makes Capitol Corridor the most reliable multi-frequency Amtrak service in the nation.

    Capitol Corridor Scores Stimulus Funds

    For the first time in our history, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) will receive $29.2 million in federal funding for three projects in Northern California to improve Capitol Corridor service. In January, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) joined us to announce that federal High Speed/Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) stimulus funds were allocated to projects along our corridor. These HSIPR funds were awarded through a competitive grant program administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) within the U.S. Department of Transportation.
    $6.2 million was awarded to the Sacramento Rail Relocation Project which will fill a funding gap and allow for the installation of a new passenger platform as part of the City of Sacramento’s
    intermodal station development program. The remaining $23 million will be allocated to easing bottleneck conditions between Sacramento and Davis—known as the Yolo Crossover—and to
    expand the San Jose station platforms and tracks. Upgrading station boarding platforms will help address passenger capacity issues and promote intermodal transit use, and the Yolo Crossover will help improve Capitol Corridor train reliability by improving meets with freight and other passenger trains.
    Not only will this $29 million federal grant improve Capitol Corridor service, it positions our San Jose and Sacramento stations to become major connections with the planned high-speed rail trains that will serve these stations.
    State Lawmakers Approve Budget Plan that Supports Public Transit
    The Governor’s proposed FY 2010-11 State Budget would abolish California’s sales tax on gas. Getting rid of state gas taxes would eliminate the Public Transportation Account (PTA), the sole source of operating and capital funds for the Capitol Corridor and the other two intercity passenger rail (IPR) services (San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner). While there would be enough PTA funds to finance the state’s successful IPR services for two years, in FY 2012-13 these train services would compete for funding in the State’s underfunded General Fund. If the Governor’s proposed budget passes, California’s IPR operators will have nowhere to turn as IPR trains are supported only by state transit funds—no local, regional or federal funds support our day-to-day operations or capital programs. With this potential funding shortfall, there would be massive service cuts/reductions to Capitol Corridor, as well as lost opportunities to seek federal grants to help us expand our service.
    Fortunately, the state Assembly has come to our rescue! In response to the proposed Governor’s budget plan above, transit-supportive Assemblymembers developed and enacted legislative bills that support the CA IPR Program and provide the Capitol Corridor the opportunity to apply for federal capital grants, similar to the ARRA High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) capital program grants awarded to us in January. At the time this message went to print, these transit-supportive budget solutions were passed by the Assembly and Senate and are on the Governor’s desk for review and hopefully signature.

    Fare Increase Effective March 30, 2010
    Now that I’ve shared good news, historical news and legislative news–I must segue to the less-than-good news. The poor economy and the “Furlough Fridays” that are imposed on state government workers continue to contribute to an overall ridership reduction of 9%, with the furloughs contributing to over 5% of our total ridership decline. To maintain our current service level, effective March 30, 2010, all ticket prices will go up 2% for city pairs between Sacramento and San Jose. This modest fare increase helps us meet our revenue and farebox operating ratio projections for this fiscal year. The Capitol Corridor train service depends on two sources of operating revenue: passenger fares and annually allocated state funds. Given the state’s dire financial situation, it is becoming clear that a slight fare increase is required to meet this year’s revenue projections and maintain our current service levels.
    Please know that we tried to lessen the blow to your wallets as much as we could. We cancelled the November 2009 fare increase and postponed and lowered this adjustment—it was initially planned to be a 3% increase effective February 2010.
    We truly appreciate your continued loyalty and thank you for continued patronage during the weeks of track work. We consider Capitol Corridor to be your service and we strive to provide the best service that we can.

    David B. Kutrosky
    CCJPA Managing Director

    Issue 38, December 2009

    December 14, 2009

    Dear Riders:
    Last month, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) Board of Directors bid farewell to retiring Managing Director Eugene (Gene) Skoropowski, and I was appointed as his replacement. As an introduction, I worked with Gene for 10 years, the last four as his deputy. Gene was a great mentor, friend and colleague and it was a pleasure to work closely with someone who is considered a leader in the passenger rail industry. Gene successfully guided the CCJPA team for the last 10 years, and I am looking forward to continue our success into the future.

    As your new Managing Director, I am honored to be at the helm of the management team and excited to sustain and build upon the upward performance trends the Capitol Corridor rail service has achieved. I have been with the CCJPA since its inception in December 1996 and was one of the first employees on the team who began managing the Capitol Corridor service in October 1998. Since that time, the CCJPA has steadily built ridership and a solid track record of financial and operational success for the Capitol Corridor. Our annual ridership has more than tripled and service levels quadrupled – from 8 daily train trips between Sacramento and San Jose to the current schedule of 32 daily trips.

    To our regular riders, I want you to know how muchI and the CCJPA team and Board of Directors value your support and your feedback. Our success was made possible because we made a commitment to offer you superior customer service and followed an intercity passenger rail plan that focuses on operational efficiency, safety and security, collaborative planning and partnerships. It’s my goal to continue this vision and improve our service delivery, reliability and customer satisfaction.

    Thank you for being loyal partners, not only in our success but also in our efforts to provide a service that protects the environment—taking cars off the road, and reducing gasoline usage, carbon dioxide emissions and other automobile-related pollutants.

    End-of-Year Summary
    As the year comes to a close and a new one approaches, it’s a fitting time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished. The challenging economic climate affected all sectors of the travel and transportation industry, including intercity passenger rail. Although our performance in 2009 was not as strong as 2008 —when high gas prices and a stronger economy drove record ridership—we continued the positive growth trend from 2007 and years past, and reinforced our record of prudently managing public funds to deliver a high-quality passenger rail service. One major accomplishment was our impressive improvement in on-time performance. This commitment from Union Pacific Railroad allowed the Capitol Corridor to achieve an all-time high of 93%, making the Capitol Corridor the most reliable multi-frequency train service in the Amtrak national system. Also, customer satisfaction scores continued to improve with the continued hard work and dedication from our operating partner, Amtrak, in delivering Capitol Corridor passengers the best passenger rail experience in the nation.
    In our surveys, you, the riders, let us know that protecting the environment was one of the top reasons they choose to ride the Capitol Corridor. In November, we joined several clean-air partners to unveil the cleanest passenger locomotive in the nation. Updating the fleet to cleaner technology is another way to maximize the environmental benefits of rail travel and to help maintain healthful air in the communities along our corridor.

    This year, we partnered with Caltrans Rail (the owner of rail cars and locomotives) to make customer-related improvements to our fleet. In addition to adding new bike racks to our cab cars, train car interiors were refreshed with new upholstery, carpets and curtains to make your ride more comfortable.

    Plans for 2010
    In 2010, we will continue to seek funding to enhance our service to implement safety, communications and reliability-improvement projects. In addition, we hope to define a plan with Union Pacific Railroad and secure future capital funding sufficient to meet the CCJPA’s goal for expanded train service to San Jose and Roseville/Auburn.

    In order to continue our stellar on-time performance record, Union Pacific maintenance crews will again be performing an extensive two-part tie-renewal project between January and March. Phase one will take place from mid-January to mid-February where UPRR work crews will be working between Roseville and west Davis. For this period, some late-morning and mid-day trains will be bus bridged between Sacramento and Suisun. No changes are planned for the busier early morning and late afternoon/evening trains. The CCJPA is working with Amtrak and Union Pacific to develop a schedule that will have the least impact on these busy trains and hope to release that schedule by the end of December.

    Phase two of the tie-renewal project will take place between Richmond and Oakland Jack London stations from approximately the end of February to mid-March. Once again, we are still working to find a schedule that will allow our busiest trains to travel through the work area. As this portion of route is the most heavily utilized with numerous users (UPRR freight, San Joaquin trains, Amtrak long distance trains), we may have to extensively modify our schedule to accommodate the work crews.

    Please remember that these intensive maintenance projects are to keep the tracks we operate on safe and in a good state of repair, thereby ensuring a continuing high quality, reliable ride on the Capitol Corridor trains.

    Watch for updates as we solidify dates for phase two of this project. We know you are anxious to plan your schedule and as soon as we come to an agreement on the schedule with our operating partners, we will release it to you.

    Happy Holidays!
    Throughout the past 10 years we have continuously improved our service, and I’m eager to continue CCJPA’s upward trend for the next10 years. We’ve attained a solid performance record that makes us a viable transportation option for those who travel between Placer County and Silicon Valley. As always, we are committed to improving the quality of life for our passengers and the communities we serve by providing safe, frequent, reliable, affordable intercity train service–and a “greener” way to travel. On behalf of the CCJPA and our member agencies and partners, I thank you for your ongoing loyalty to the Capitol Corridor. We are honored to serve you. May you have a safe and joyful holiday season, as well as a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010!

    David B. Kutrosky
    CCJPA Managing Director

    Issue 37, November 2009

    November 19, 2009

    Dear Capitol Corridor Riders & Friends,

    In my time as Capitol Corridor Managing Director, now more than 10 years, I have personally written 37 “Messages” to you. This will be my final one, as I am retiring and entrusting the future of the Capitol Corridor to some of the most passionate, caring and customer focused railroad managers that I have encountered in my 42-year career. They should have all the right attributes to continue what we have achieved, as they have worked with me as a true team during these past 10 years.

    For the riders who have been on our trains less than five years, you won’t remember “the good old days”….or maybe we should call them “the not-so-good-old-days.’” With 32 trains a day plying the Capitol Corridor route today, it seems like it would have been silly to try to get passengers to ride a train service that had only four trains each way a day. Yet, in October 1998, that was the Capitol Corridor service. To those who have been riding since way-back-then, you know how extensive the service improvements have  been. Not only are there more trains, but also better trains, smoother track, shorter travel times, better stations and better parking facilities (well, better facilities at SOME stations!).


    In the beginning…

    When I was hired into this job, there were two basic missions set out for me to accomplish: 1) grow the service and the ridership, and 2) build a better and more constructive relationship with Union Pacific, our host railroad. The first mission saw results fairly soon, and by 2002, we had more than doubled ridership and train frequency. The second mission took a little longer. However, the working relationship between the Capitol Corridor and the Union Pacific Railroad today is described by many in the industry as “the best partnership” in the country between a private freight railroad and a public passenger rail service. Indeed, the on-time performance of our service, now the most-on-time of any Amtrak-operated multi-frequency service in the country, is testament to that working partnership.

    Amtrak and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans Division of Rail) have been strong and positive partners with the Capitol Corridor over the years, and I suspect this situation will remain strong. There is also support for intercity passenger rail from the Governor and the Legislature. With high-speed rail looming on the horizon, (I think we will see it first in California, within 10 years), conventional-speed intercity rail service like the Capitol Corridor will take on new markets, acting as feeder-distributor service at stations served by both high-speed rail and conventional-speed rail, such as at San Jose and Sacramento.


    What the future holds

    A Capitol Corridor capital investment program has been developed for the next 10 years, and we are seeking funds to implement our business plan. We need more double track to get train frequency to San Jose up to the same level as train frequency to Sacramento, which will provide convenient connections to high-speed rail trains. There is an ongoing effort with Union Pacific to identify what is needed and how much it will cost to build these added capacity facilities.

    Expanded service east of Sacramento into Placer County has been in the planning stages for many years, but now there is an active design process underway with Union Pacific to define the needed capacity improvements and secure funding for expanded service. Placer County is our most underserved market, and it’s a market with substantial ridership potential.

    For now, it is essential that the State order additional rolling stock (coaches and locomo­tives), so that the growth in riders can con­tinue. Our locomotives and station platforms can handle eight-car trains, but we have only enough coaches to operate four- or five-car trains. Longer trains can increase capacity by up to 60% at very little incremental cost and will make room for many more riders.

    New cars will be designed to provide the long-awaited Capitol Corridor Business Class service, plus they will have expanded bicycle storage lockers. So we know what needs to be done to continue this success; all we need to do now is shake loose the funding (most of which has actually been voter-approved). And now, the federal government has a capital funding program; with the state funds available, we will have the required 20% match.

    So I am leaving this job in capable hands, with a team of well-trained younger ‘pups’ who will both carry on, as well as further improve, the Capitol Corridor success story.


    Thank you, riders

    To you, the riders, I say thank you for your patronage. You are the sole reason we exist: to serve you and provide you with an attractive means of transport. We follow a public policy mandate, established by the CCJPA Board. That mandate is specific in its charge, with respect to frequency of service all along our route, financial performance, on-time performance and station criteria guidelines. This document, called the Vision Plan, was initially adopted in 2002 and updated in 2005. It is the document that sets our goals and objectives and provides our policy leaders with criteria to judge our progress. 

    The train crews (engineers, food service attendants, conductors, and assistant conductors), station agents, and equipment maintenance technicians actually deliver the Capitol Corridor service to you.  In turn, you, in your surveys, rate them ‘tops’ in terms of service, professionalism and customer focus.  According to your responses to our surveys, their uniforms and pay-checks may say “Amtrak”, but their hearts and demeanor say “Capitol Corridor”.


    From me to you

    As I enter retirement, I offer you a sincere ‘thank you’.  Few of us are given the chance to serve others in a way that really is appreciated and has a positive impact on the quality of life of their customers.  The passengers we carry on the Capitol Corridor tell us how much they appreciate the service and then often describe the particular circumstance that makes our service important and special to them.  This is what has kept me going over the years, your encouragement, your use of our trains, and your support for the additional funding resources to sustain and grow the service.  That encouragement has been especially important to me during some dark days when we were experiencing significantly less-than-high-quality performance.  Your notes, letters and e-mails provided me with the motivation to keep working to fix the problems.  And we did.  Together.

    Please accept my heartfelt “thank you” for riding the Capitol Corridor trains and for being supporters of your Northern California intercity passenger rail service. We didn’t know that intercity passenger trains weren’t supposed to work here in Northern California, according to the best travel forecaster studies in the country; so we just did it. It seems to work, work well consistently, and almost everyone likes it. We must be doing something right.

    Again, many thanks to you all. May the improvements continue…

    Eugene K. Skoropowski

    Managing Director

    Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority