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With a new administration in D.C., it's time to think outside of the box because passenger rail's survival just may depend on it

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Station Issues Part 4: The Future in Los Angeles

This article from RailPAC two months ago brought up something that I've been thinking about for a while: A second main train station will be needed in Los Angeles sooner or later. I have never been able to pinpoint exactly where such a facility would go but I'm glad someone has come up with something.


First, some background: There are currently 12 stub-end tracks and the four tracks that were taken out of service are being restored. Backing out of the station is a major issue for any train that doesn't terminate in L.A. Through tracks are also being built to handle future train traffic.


Mr. Braymer brings up the possibility of building a temporary station near First Street. This proposal would result in relocating through trains to the facility and passengers using the subway to transfer to Union Station.


From the way that I see it, a mini-station could be the beginning of a second main station as Metrolink's Cal State-Los Angeles stop is too small for any meaningful intercity service. The momentum to restore Tracks 13-16 could in time shift over to building a new permanent station in the city as a way of relieving overcrowding at LAUS. The sticking point could be whether to build a longer lasting building at the same site as a temporary station or somewhere else. No matter what, LACMTA would be crazy to not advocate such a plan and provide passengers seamless transfers between stations.


I can also think of two last reasons to build a new station in L.A.:

  1. Within the next 20-30 years, as many as seven intercity operators--Amtrak, the CAHSR operator (likely to be European or Asian), Virgin Trains (HSR to Las Vegas), Pullman Palace Car Company (to Las Vegas via Pomona), the X Train (to Las Vegas via Fullerton), Desert Lightning (HSR to Las Vegas and Phoenix via Palm Springs) and an extended DesertXpress--could make LAUS a logistical nightmare alongside Metrolink and LACMTA trains. Plus, who's to say that some of these companies or future operators would want to deal with crowding and space issues since LAUS is on the list of the National Register of Historic Places? The planning for a new station for anyone of these operators as well as others not listed has to begin now.
  2. For any Auto Train route, an operator will need open space. Currently, the only place that would be appropriate would be in the suburbs. A new Los Angeles station should be built with Auto Train accessibility in mind.

1 comment:

  1. Service in the suburbs may expand. Last time that I took the Southwest Chief to southern California, I ended up changing trains in Fullerton for my final destination even though I was ticketed through to Los Angeles. A lot of people who take the overnight trains are not actually going to Los Angeles. As information gets better, more people can use other, already existing stations, especially if more routes start running.

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