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San Joaquin Valley to get double-deck passenger trains

(The following appeared on the Fresno Bee website on April 27, 2011.)

FRESNO, Calif. ó Amtrak California will add double-deck coach cars on two of its passenger train lines, including the San Joaquin line that runs through the Valley, with a $100 million federal grant announced Wednesday.

The Federal Railroad Administration is awarding the money to the California Department of Transportation, which funds Amtrak service in the state, for 27 coach cars and two diesel-electric locomotives.

Eight cars will add capacity to the San Joaquin trains, which run six times daily in each direction between Bakersfield and Oakland or Sacramento.

The San Joaquin line attracted nearly 978,000 riders between October 2009 and October 2010, making it the fifth busiest intercity passenger route in the Amtrak system.

Nine of the new bi-level cars will replace older single-level cars on the Pacific Surfliner line, which runs between San Diego and San Luis Obispo. The remaining cars will be used to increase capacity of the Pacific Surfliner trains, said Debbie Mullins, a spokeswoman for Caltrans' Division of Rail.

The Pacific Surfliner is the second-busiest Amtrak corridor in the U.S., carrying more than 2.6 million riders in 2010.

The two new locomotives will replace a pair of aging engines that are part of Amtrak California's fleet in Oakland and will serve either the Capitol Corridor or San Joaquin lines.

Full story: www.FresnoBee.com.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

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