By Noel T. Braymer
Metrolink has a lot of problems. It took years to get into the mess it is in. It will take more than a year to fix all of their problems. Right now Metrolink ridership is dropping. The reasons are easy to see. Equipment breakdowns have been rising making service less reliable and more frustrating. Ticket machines are unreliable, there are not enough available at many stations and they are slow. Too often trains leave before passengers can buy their tickets after waiting in line. Connections to many destinations don’t exist. Trains often aren’t running at times or to places that people want to travel to.
A major problem is the lack of connections between Pacific Surfliner trains and Metrolink. I’m not talking about the Train 2 Train program which Metrolink and Coaster uses Surfliner trains as stand in commuter trains when their services are not running…
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Photo: Hyperloop Transport Technologies
Imagine Paris to Marseille in just 40 minutes, or Paris to Rome in just over one hour. French rail chiefs believe it’s not just a pie in the sky idea.
Hyperloop One startup, intent on zipping people along at near-supersonic speeds in pressurized tubes, announced Tuesday that the French national rail company had joined its growing list of backers.
Hyperloop One said that it raised $80 million in fresh funding from an array of investors, including GE Ventures and France’s SNCF.
“The overwhelming response we’ve had already confirms what we’ve always known, that Hyperloop One is at the forefront of a movement to solve one of the planet’s most pressing problems,” Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar said.
“The brightest minds are coming together at the right time to eliminate the distances and borders that separate economies and cultures.”
While the idea of the Hyperloop replacing France’s already high-speed TGV services might seem a little too far-fetched at the moment, French rail chiefs clearly see some potential in the project.
So why not all ow us to dream a little.
With Hyperloop’s average speed of 970km/hour, imagine all the cities in France being within an hour’s travelling time from Paris. Paris to Marseille for example could take as little as 40 minutes – the time spent by many commuters on the Paris Metro each morning.
A trip to Rome on the Hyperloop would also be little over an hour away and Berlin would be 55 minutes according to very, very early guesstimates.
Pishevar and Brogan BamBrogan founded Hyperloop One, originally named Hyperloop Technologies, in 2013 to make real Elon Musk’s well-researched vision of a lightning-fast transport system with the potential to transform how people live.
Musk outlined his futuristic idea in a paper released in 2013, challenging innovators to bring the dream to life.
Hyperloop One, one of the startups that picked up the gauntlet Musk threw down, plans a demonstration Wednesday in the desert outside Las Vegas to show what it has accomplished so far.
BamBrogan also promised a “full-scaled, full-speed” demo by the end of the year.
“It’s not just a faster train; it is an absolute on-demand experience,” he said during a presentation here late Tuesday.
“It leaves when you get there and goes directly to your destination.”
He went on to playfully describe Hyperloop as having such a controlled environment that it would be “elevator smooth” as well as “pet friendly, kid friendly, grandma friendly.”
Hyperloop One is so confident in the speed at which the project is moving that it announced a global challenge in which businesses, governments, citizens, academics and others can submit proposals for where the systems should be built.
“Just like an Olympics bidding process, we want to understand the great ideas in the world and then extract the best one,” Hyperloop One chief executive Rob Lloyd said.
NOW WE ARE STARTING ON MY (PENNEY VANDERBILT) FAVORITE PROJECT: A rail connection between Chicago and Louisville, Kentucky
It would go through Indianapolis and may also serve Cincinnati. It might not go all the way into Chicago but instead start at the Gary, Indiana airport. Connection to Chicago would be over the South Shore Line
It was one thing when Amazon was selling physical things, but the game changed the moment it started offering services, too. Ripples were promptly sent flying into all corners of the retail universe with the launch of Amazon Home Services in March 2015, and now that both mom-and-pop hardware shops, as well as national brick-and-mortar chains have had more than a calendar year to react to the changes, a definite trend has emerged.
Almost too predictably, that trend hasn’t seen Amazon move an inch from its position, while just about every other retailer scrambles to make up ground they never knew they had lost.
The latest and perhaps biggest domino in home improvement retail to fall to Amazon’s have-it-your-way style of concierge services is Lowe’s and its subsidiary furniture and lighting specialty brand, ATG Stores. Lowe’s announced that it had officially partnered with Porch to provide on-demand installation and assembly to customers who shop at ATG locations. While it might seem like a small move, Jay Rebello, vice president of emerging business at Lowe’s, explained that it’s a necessary step forward for hardware retailers that recognize the changing tides around them.
“Our partnership with Porch is a valuable asset and another way we provide personalized care and solutions to both our DIY and professional customers,” Rebello said in a statement. ”By offering the Porch Retail Solution on ATGStores.com, we believe customers will find the additional support they need to complete all of their home improvement projects.”
Make no mistake about it — the kind of service that Lowe’s, ATG and Porch are looking to offer is being seen less and less as a fringe offering among the consumers they serve. According to a study conducted by The Farnsworth Group, more than a third of millennial homeowners had consulted a home services website, like Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor, within the last 12 months, and that number dips to just 31 percent among 35-to-49-year-olds. In fact, 29 percent of 21-to-34-year-olds indicated that they were “extremely willing” to go to a digital provider for their home services, and a collective 76 percent were at least “somewhat willing.”
As usual, Amazon gets high marks for setting a trend that others follow, but the home improvement industry has certainly chosen a good time to collect itself to capture more of the market. Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) found last year that spending on home remodeling projects would increase 4 percent by Q1 2016, with sales of new homes, more often than not bought by young consumers buying their first houses, driving much of the surge.
“Recent homebuyers typically spend about a third more on home improvements than non-movers, even after controlling for any age or income differences, so increasing sales this year should translate to stronger improvement spending gains next year,” Chris Herbert, managing director of JCHS, said in a statement.
The bottom line? The sprawling brick-and-mortar store fronts of traditional hardware retail aren’t the place that young or even middle-age landowners first look to for installation or assembly help.
And it’s a mad dash for those business to get themselves up to speed. Wayfair, one of the most visible online home goods retailers, was quick to sign its own deal with Porch in April, and even Yelp got into the game with an update that lets users see price quotes for services from local handymen and women. To clear up any confusion over why so many brands are throwing resources at home services, Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichman didn’t shy away from naming the elephant in the room.
“If anyone tells you when Amazon enters their space that they were happy, they’re not telling the truth,” Ehrlichman told The Seattle Times. “But it’s been interesting because it’s actually galvanized everyone.”
Amazon’s rush toward home services has clearly steeled the legacy players in the home improvement space. It’s how their reactions will measure up to the online giant that could be harder to nail down.
Kansas City Southern Railway Co. (KCSR) will spend $20 million on construction and improvement projects on its main line from Kansas through Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and northwest Louisiana, the railroad announced yesterday.
The projects include replacement of 6 miles of rail and 92,400 cross ties, as well as improvements to more than 100 grade crossings. Work will begin April 19 and end in mid-June, according to a KCSR press release.
The line segment represents a key component of Kansas City Southern’s (KCS) network, railroad officials said. KCSR is the principal U.S. subsidiary of KCS.
Rail improvements are planned between Heavener, Okla., and Blanchard, La., beginning and completing in June. Communities that KCSR will work through include Page, Okla.; Mena, Cove, Vandervoort, Gillham and De Queen, Ark.; and Blanchard, La.
“KCS, through its U.S. and Mexican subsidiaries, continues to invest in capital projects to expand network capacity, keep maintenance in a regular and healthy cycle, and enhance the safety of our operation,” said Chief Executive Officer David Starling. “These investments also help us be an economic growth partner to our customers and the communities through which we operate.”
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has slated $548.6 million in capital projects for fiscal-year 2017.
The capex plan calls for renewing critical infrastructure, replacing aging portions of SEPTA’s fleet and expanding capacity to meet growing ridership, SEPTA officials said in a press release.
Specifically, the FY2017 budget includes $15.5 million toward acquiring new electric locomotives for SEPTA’s Regional Rail lines, as well as $43.8 million to renew several stations.
In addition, the budget advances the agency’s ongoing “Rebuilding for the Future” initiative. SEPTA kicked off that program following the November 2013 passage of Pennsylvania’s Act 89, which provides capital funds for transportation improvements throughout the state.
The FY2017 budget reflects a $14 million increase compared with the prior fiscal year.
MONTPELIER – Amtrak’s Vermonter train could resume passenger service to Montreal within three years, lawmakers were told Tuesday morning.
“The stars are aligned, and I think we are going to go as fast as we possibly can,” said Brian Searles, Vermont’s former transportation secretary who now works as a consultant on the cross-border train project.
The Vermonter brought passengers to Montreal from 1972 to 1995, when the service was suspended due to long labor- and security-related delays at the border. The train currently runs from Washington, D.C. to St. Albans.
Officials on both sides of the border are hoping to create a security clearance facility at Central Station in Montreal to make the route viable again. The security facility would also expedite border crossings for the Adirondack train that runs between New York City and Montreal.
The project depends on the success of pending legislation in Congress and the Canadian Parliament, Searles said.
“We think everybody is poised and ready for passage of this legislation,” Searles said, noting that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has led the bill in Congress.
With legislative approval in hand, a “highly speculative” timeline would require 12 months of planning and permitting and 24 months of construction, for a total of three years, Searles said.
Members of the House Transportation Committee chuckled at the optimistic estimate, but Searles listed reasons for hope.
He said Amtrak would schedule four trains through Montreal daily, or one round trip each for the Vermonter and the Adirondack.