California Trains Running Even Slower Due to Homeless on Tracks

Amtrak Union Station (Nick Ut / Associated Press)
Nick Ut / Associated Press

California’s terrible commuter rail service speeds and on-time performance are growing worse, due to homeless camps near the tracks and transients wandering on the rails.

The Sacramento Bee reports that train engineers are warning system operators and passengers that homeless people wandering on the rails have been hit, and engineers have been forced to slow and make high-speed emergency stops to avoid hitting transients.

But even with Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor passenger service, which operates between Sacramento and Silicon Valley, combining with the Union Pacific Railroad freight service on adjacent tracks to report homeless encampments to law enforcement, California’s homeless have civil rights allowing them to nest on city sidewalks and near isolated train tracks.

Breitbart News reported in July that the Trump administration plans to dump about half of Amtrak’s $1.4 billion annual taxpayer subsidy for passenger trains that have an on-time performance as low as 6 percent.

The San Francisco Chronicle noted that the Amtrak subsidy for the Capitol Corridor — running for 170 miles from Sacramento to Oakland and San Jose — was $700 million, or about $50.98 for each of the about 3,500 passengers who take the train each day.

Although the Capitol Corridor claims to have an average speed of 68 miles per hour, the Vision Implementation Report stated that Capitol Corridor trains “can’t go on forever making just 15 daily round trips, at an average speed of less than 45 miles per hour.”

The government-produced report made no mention of the homeless causing delays. Advocates instead blamed the drastically under-performing train speeds and abysmal on-time performance failures on the improper alignment of the tracks. Their solution would be to spend another $3.8 billion on a four-phase straightening of the train tracks.

The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) forecasts that California transportation funding beginning in 2017‑18 would receive an average of $4.2 billion in extra funding per year from a new $65 vehicle registration tax, increases to gasoline and diesel excise taxes, and cap‑and‑trade auction revenues.

About 40 percent of that new spending, or $1.7 billion, is dedicated to fixed rail. Although the $1 billion winner is California’s moribund high-speed rail — which still hasn’t completed a mile of track — intercity and low-carbon rail projects will receive about $600 million in new funding.

California is the homeless capital of America, with about 118,000 people experiencing homelessness on an average night — a quarter of the nation’s homeless population.

Breitbart News has reported that homeless encampments are a major source of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, diphtheria, bloody diarrhea, and a deadly new strain of Streptococcus. The California Department of Public Health’s most recent bi-weekly report blames the homeless for the hepatitis A epidemic that it blames for 703 new cases, 461 hospitalizations, and 21 deaths.

Breitbart News reported that when Orange County removed 700 homeless people from the Santa Ana River, a federal judge forced the county to rent 400 motel rooms each night at a cost of about $780,000 a month to house the displaced people.


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