Capdiamont\’s Weblog

SMART DMUs will be delivered next year
Monday 20 Feb 2012, 05:16
Filed under: Marin, Novato, Railroad, Santa Rosa, SMART, Sonoma, transit

Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The cars have passed the crash test for use with freight(NCRA/NWP). The shells were and are built in Japan. Over sixty percent of the work will be done in Illinois. Then they will be transported over the rail network to be delivered by NWP. These cars and the new petaluma bridge will generate additional revenue for NWP/NCRA.

The new Haystack bridge in Petaluma was bought from Texas. SMART did a smart move with buying that bridge. Train speeds will be higher, the channel will be wider, and will save about thirty million over the long haul. Barge operators will be happier with the wider channel.

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SMART to have computer aided control
Sunday 22 Jan 2012, 08:53
Filed under: Marin, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Novato, Railroad, Santa Rosa, SMART, Sonoma, transit

SMART system to depend on computer-aided routing

Also using GPS to aid in location biased control

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SMART continues to gain steam
Saturday 7 Jan 2012, 07:22
Filed under: Marin, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, Santa Rosa, SMART, Sonoma, transit

Despite sales tax and criticism SMART continues to gain, making it as good a project as it can be with the funds they have.

A long process allowed the moving of the Rohnert Park station to a more desired location to bring more riders on board. Because of the density of the new location, that allowed another station in Novato to be built adding riders.

Many financial companies looked at the books. They decided the financial outlook was good. The only problem with the bonds seems there wasn’t enough for everybody to buy.

Construction has been signed, for two million less than expected for more stations than expected. Smart was able to add in a busy northern Santa Rosa station at Guerneville Road and redoing the Novato bridge.

Ridership is expected to be 80% with this segment vs the whole line.

I do intend to ride it when I can.

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SRPD: Freight trains to return to North Bay on Wednesday

Freight trains could roll on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties today after the Novato City Council late Tuesday agreed to revise a legal settlement that sets guidelines for trains running through the city.

Two council members voted against the proposed changes in the settlement, saying they were worried about the impacts of train traffic.

SMART-EcoOdyssey Santa Rosa Excursion
Saturday 16 Apr 2011, 07:52
Filed under: Marin, NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Novato, Petaluma, Railroad, Santa Rosa, SMART, Sonoma

MOW is pleased to announce our first motorcar excursion on the newly
renovated ex NWP rails since they were bought by SMART (Sonoma Marin Area
Rail Transit). This is also a very special excursion in support of
“eco-tourism” in Sonoma and Marin counties. EcoRing is a non-profit
organization which is organizing this “EcoOdyssey” event to promote tourism
using alternatives to cars for transportation. Since SMART is not in service
yet EcoRing asked if we could provide rail transportation for this event. We
will have guests joining us from the railroad, local and state politicians
and dignitaries, and members of the press who support rail transportation.

May 6 Set-on, Santa Rosa to Healdsburg and return to Santa Rosa. May 7,
Santa Rosa to Petaluma and Navato and return and set-off. Limit 25 cars each
day. $40 for both days, $15 for May 6 only, $25 for May 7.

This is supported by the Motorcar Operators West, a wonderful group of speeder enthusiasts. Done using a group of speeders. The kind environmentalists threw a fit up here about. Down there, they are eco-transportation.

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SRPD: Santa Rosa’s Handcar Regatta to charge for first time
Sunday 10 Apr 2011, 10:14
Filed under: NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, Santa Rosa, SMART, Sonoma

Producers of the Great West End & Railroad Square Handcar Regatta, scheduled for its fourth incarnation in Santa Rosa this fall, will charge admission this year for the first time.

Good luck to you all, and I hope you have another great year! Twelve to fifteen thousand people attended the event last year.

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THA gets Santa Rosa passenger cars, and other railroad news
Sunday 18 Apr 2010, 09:54
Filed under: Fortuna, Humboldt, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, Samoa, Santa Rosa, SMART, Sonoma, THA

Besides the five passengers we are getting from Portola, looks like we are getting the NWP Passenger cars sitting next to the Santa Rosa depot.

The dining car is the most restored of the group. It does have thin
wheels. The parlor car is fairly well along in the restoration.
Mechanically, is looks pretty good. The business car needs more interior
wood work restoration. The business car and parlor car are made from NWP
harriman coaches. The diner is a six axle heavyweight car, from SP
subsidiary. There is also a six axle Santa FE former tourist sleeper that
was in work train service. The interior has been sand blasted and primed.
It is similar to our Inside Track car stored at Calif Redwood on US 101.
There is also a wooden Fruit Growers Express refrig car, full of wood and
items from the cars. There is also some rail and ties.

As steps has been removed from 4 of 5 passenger cars in Portola. The remaining one is welded on. The speeder trailer, is coming along nicely. Brake test done and decking being installed.

EDIT: The dinner seemed to go pretty well last night with a pair of NWP books going over $400.

Innovative surveying work was done for SMART

Amberg Technologies’ (Regensdorf, Switzerland) rail and tunnel solutions are well established in Europe and Asia, but are just being introduced to the United States. Dickey asked the Kara Company, Inc. (Countryside, IL), Amberg’s U.S. distributor, to demonstrate the system, which is based on a three-wheeled instrument that rides along rails. The GRP is equipped with extremely precise sensors that continuously measure track gauge and super-elevation, as well as an odometer for relative stationing. The horizontal and vertical alignment of the track is established by streaming position data (N, E, Z) to the GRP from either a Leica robotic total station or RTK GPS. All of the data are simultaneously managed in the onboard Amberg Rail software. In practice, the GRP is pushed along the track and in a single process, provides all track information. Depending on how it is configured, the GRP System FX can also be used for real-time track adjustment in slab track construction (used in high-speed and light rail projects), tamping surveys for ballasted tracks, real-time clearance analysis and 3D mobile laser scanning. (See sidebar)

“The Kara Company provided training for the system”, says Dickey. “We trained four people–two field guys and two office guys–which took about a week. Once we learned the software, the field work went very efficiently.”

For this project, the GRP’s horizontal and vertical positioning was provided by RTK GPS. A Leica GX1230 receiver was connected via cellular modem to the California Surveying Virtual Survey Network (CSVSN). The CSVSN covered the SMART corridor and allowed CPI to start work each morning without setting up a base station or stopping every few miles to move the base station forward.

The only GRP-specific setup needed was a daily calibration of the cant sensor, which measures the super-elevation of the track. The calibration takes only a couple of minutes and works much like checking any level: the GRP is set on the track, a measurement is taken, then the GRP is turned the opposite direction (one person can do this) and a new measurement is taken and automatically evaluated by the onboard software.

Although the GRP only requires one person to operate, a two-man crew was used on this project for safety reasons. CPI had estimated that the time required to complete this survey with traditional methods would have been three months. The GRP enabled CPI to cover five to nine miles a day and complete the fieldwork for the entire 60-mile corridor survey in just under two weeks.

Museum opens doors to redheads | |
Monday 15 Feb 2010, 10:37
Filed under: Santa Rosa, Sonoma

Redheads got a little extra love on Valentine’s Day at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.

All redheads were admitted free to the museum Sunday, thanks to its annual tradition of paying homage to Charlie Brown’s unrequited love for a little red-haired girl.

via Museum opens doors to redheads | |

NWP, and Napa area railroad news

North Coast Railroad Authority has extended the comment period for the recirculated Draft EIR to 5:00 p.m. January 14, 2010.

Green Wheels:An Update on the Eureka-Arcata 101 Improvement Project

In the grand scheme of regional non-motorized connectivity between cities, the 101 is at the top of the list. If built, the 101 Eureka-Arcata Corridor Improvement Project has the potential to negatively impact trail development between Arcata and Eureka. Designing “improvements” for the 101 without certain accommodation for the Humboldt Bay Trail— a future portion of the California Coastal Trail (SB908)— could potentially hem us in. The proposed Humboldt Bay Trail will likely fall on either Caltrans right of way or the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) right-of-way. So, any development along the 101 that increases the width of 101 could impact our ability to have a Rail-with-Trail. This leaves us with our other option, Rail-to-Trail, not only a harder sell among railroad stalwarts, but a cue to Caltrans that this issue cannot be talked about in isolation from the HBT.

The NCRA and Caltrans share another issue in common—sea level rise—which goes hand in hand with trail design as well. To protect the highway from rising sea levels, either the entire highway needs to be elevated, or the railroad prism needs to be enhanced to act as a levy. If Caltrans chooses to enhance the railroad prism as a levy, it makes fiscal sense to do it in a way that accommodates the proposed Class I multi-use trail on the levy. If they choose to raise the level of 101, either gradually as it undergoes maintenance, or as part of this project, Caltrans musti establish that a Class I multi-use trail is fully feasible outside the Caltrans right-of-way in the face of wetland constraints and sea level rise challenges to the trail, or must accommodate the trail within its right-of-way and protect it, along with the highway facility from sea level rise. This will require Caltrans to conduct design, engineering and permitting for the trail to fully establish its feasibility.

MIJ: Report: Alto Hill Tunnel reopening carries big price tag

The $225,000 study, paid for with federal funds, will be discussed at a meeting Wednesday in Mill Valley.

It estimates reopening the half-mile Alto Tunnel between the two communities would cost $48 million to $52 million, which would include adding a 10-foot-wide bike path and an 8-foot-wide pedestrian walkway.

SRPD: Public makes pitch for SMART train features

It’s their trains, and the public at a Wednesday night workshop made it clear what they would like the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit cars to look like.

An open letter from Wine Train to Sen. McCain

It worries me that no calls were made before we were held up to the entire American public — a small business in Northern California — as an enormous source of government waste.
If you had spoken with us, or even project officials, you might have asked: Why would the Napa Valley Wine Train need, or take,

$54 million in taxpayer money to move a small section of rail line 33 feet? The answer is: We didn’t!

So, who does? Napa County has an award-winning flood control project and design; one that was proposed, and approved by voters, many years ago. This is the project that is being funded. That design has impacted a lot of businesses. It has necessitated the movement of several rights-of-way, and at my last count four or five bridges (including the Wine Train’s). The goal of this project is to protect the city of Napa from continued flooding, period, not enhance specific companies.

SRPD: SMART gets $2.5 million for commute-rail work

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district has received $2.5 million in federal funds for preliminary engineering and environmental work on its planned commuter rail line.

SRPD: Builder, taxpayer groups protest SMART deal

Leaders of the North Coast Builders Exchange and the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association demanded Wednesday that SMART directors put a stop to negotiations between their Railroad Square project developer and a group representing labor and environmental interests.

UDJ: Possible sites for new courthouse discussed


“It’s a classic win-win, because we would have enough property for freight and passenger service in the future, and the land could be used for an important public service,” Stogner said.

The site used to be a railroad maintenance yard, and the land was contaminated when the NCRA bought it from Pacific Union Railroad in 1996, according to Stogner. He said a study needs to be done to determine what the contamination is and how to go about cleaning up the site.

“They (Pacific Union) have until 2013,” Stogner said. “Whatever is done with the property, the cleanup responsibility will have to be assigned by the purchaser, or worked out with the responsible party, which is Union Pacific Railroad.”

The AOC expects to complete the new Ukiah courthouse by 2015, and planned $5.6 million for property acquisition.

Stogner said another hurdle to jump for locating at the depot site is that the NCRA needs permission to sell the land from Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration, which contributed money for the purchase.

MIJ: Not all on board for high-density housing near rail stations

Last week the Metropolitan Transportation Commission handed out $1.8 million to cities to provide financial support “for planning processes that seek to increase transit ridership by maximizing the development potential around current or future transit stations and corridors.”

The MTC – which is pushing housing and retail around transit hubs to limit car trips – happily handed out the cash to every city that applied for the dollars in Marin and Sonoma. But in Marin only one of the three eligible cities stepped forward: San Rafael. Novato and Larkspur passed, each saying they were not quite ready to embrace the concept until they know more.

San Rafael received $140,000 to plan around a Civic Center Station, which will go in along the west side of Civic Center Drive, and another $388,000 for planning at its downtown station just north the transit center. The city will have to provide a 20 percent match.

NVR: Hidden history in Napa

Amid the grit and grease that is Wine Country Motors on Sixth Street, mechanics tromp over ribbons of steel embedded in the concrete floor.

These rails might seem as out of place as a mounted moose head, but they tell a story. Wine Country Motors occupies a building that accommodated a century of the city’s transportation history.
Wine Country Motors and half a dozen other contemporary businesses are housed within the shell of the enormous car barn of the old Vallejo, Benicia & Napa Valley Railroad.

Built in 1905, the car barn and repair shop remained after the electric railroad went belly-up in 1935. Today people visit the ghost of the old railroad to rent a car, buy smoking supplies, or get their vehicle smogged.

Win A Trip Aboard A Private Rail Car, THA, and other NWP area news

I’ve been a miss, with the news lately, though that makes some of you happy.

Samoa Roundhouse with Timber Heritage Association collection

Samoa Roundhouse with Timber Heritage Association collection

Win A Trip Aboard A Private Rail Car
Emeryville – Reno – Emeryville
January 15th to 17th or February 12th – 14th
Step aboard the opulent private rail car and experience all
the romance and nostalgia of a bygone era. Enjoy spectacular
scenery, fine food, warm and friendly staff to pamper you, so
you can relax and have fun in an elegant atmosphere. The
Virginia City is an elegant private rail car that has a brassrailed
open observation platform, cozy lounge with a working
fireplace, and dramatic dining room with an ornate crystal
The package includes round trip for two, meals, alcohol and
overnight accommodations. The value of the package is
$1,118. raffle conducted by the timber heritage association
Raffle Tickets Are Only $10
need not be present to win ˜ Drawing October 23rd
Purchase as many as you want now!

Timber Heritage Association will have an Oktoberfest Fundraiser, Oct 23rd. Oysters and ale event won’t be happening this year, last I heard.

The last speeder run for this year is this Saturday.

A neat site with some old Humboldt photos, including rail.

Down in Santa Rosa, The Great Handcar Regatta will take place at the depot on Sunday
SR PD article, and website.

Hand-Built Railcar Races, Arts, Performance, Live Music, Crafts, Fine Foods, Costumed Rabble & more!
Sunday, September 27th, 2009. 11 am to 6 pm.
Railroad Square, Santa Rosa, CA, in Depot Park between 4th / 5th Streets & Wilson Street
ITEM! Free Valet Bike Parking!
FREE to all denizens of delight, curiosity, and “Play-ticipation”
Why, for a Splendid Celebration of Art, Science and Ingenuity for the Joy and Edification of all who attend, of course!

Last I heard, they have the ballast completed from the wye under the interchange of freeway 101 and freeway 37 to the interchange with the other railroads. They should be fully in Navato now.

MIJ: Final site of gravity car decided by council [Mill Valley] in the same plaza.

The wooden structure would be angled more so the front of the car faces the end of the plaza and shifted about four feet closer to a grove of redwood trees, according to City Manager Anne Montgomery.

Over in Napa, stimulus funds have shortened the building two new bridges for the wine train. One is a replacement for a trestle over the Napa river, which clogged up the river during storms, and the other for a new flood bypass channel.


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