ex Placerville Branch excursions...

John Barnhill Oct 4, 2006

  1. John Barnhill

    John Barnhill TrainBoard Member

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    California excursion train plan gets mixed reviews

    FOLSOM, Calif. - A proposal to restore the Placerville branch of the former
    Southern Pacific for excursion trains has drawn both support and skepticism,
    the Sacramento Bee reported. Laurence Daniels, marketing director for the
    Folsom, El Dorado & Sacramento Historical Railroad Association, outlined the
    group's plans for operating excursion rail service under the name Sacramento
    Valley Railroad at a presentation before the El Dorado County Transportation
    Commission this month.

    The group operates the Folsom Railroad Museum and participated in restoring
    the turntable in Folsom's railroad block. Daniels said the historical
    association would like to operate the railroad under a franchise agreement
    with the Sacramento-Placerville Joint Powers Authority. When Southern
    Pacific abandoned the right-of-way, the joint powers authority purchased the
    53-mile corridor that extends from 65th Street near Brighton Avenue in
    Sacramento County to just west of Placerville.

    The proposed Sacramento Valley Railroad would begin by providing weekend
    excursions between Folsom's Sutter Street area and Latrobe, Daniels said. A
    station is planned in Folsom, with a gift shop and interpretive center in
    Latrobe. Service eventually would be extended to Diamond Springs, with
    stations there and in Shingle Springs, the Bee reported. Asked about costs
    of the proposed operations, Daniels said he was not prepared to publicly
    discuss a budget for the project. "I will say we intend to be fully
    self-financed," he told the commission.

    El Dorado Hills resident Paul Raveling commended the effort to restore rail
    service on the historic line. "It's a great thing to do," he said. But
    Diamond Springs resident Bob Smart, who advocates developing trails along
    the rail corridor, said county officials need to consider how the various
    transportation systems would come together. Smart said he doesn't oppose a
    railroad operation but noted the tracks have deteriorated over the years and
    questioned whether Daniels' group could afford the necessary capital
    improvements. Daniels said he is aware that track is missing in places and
    that some road crossings have been paved over and acknowledged challenges in
    operating a railroad alongside a trail. But with the exception of areas
    where the railroad runs through narrow cuts in hillsides, he said, there is
    room for a trail with a barrier separating it from the track.

    Jack Sweeney, who represents the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on
    the commission, noted that the board, not the Transportation Commission,
    represents the county in the joint powers authority. Sweeney said the
    authority likely would have to issue a request for proposals and weigh the
    Sierra Valley Railroad's plan against those of other organizations that
    might wish to provide rail service. It's not an abandoned railroad," he
    said, explaining that the corridor remains available for a bona fide rail
    operation. "We also have a nice wide corridor for the public to use for
    other purposes," Sweeney said. "There are other uses we can make of it at
    the same time. It's important that we integrate all these things," the Bee
    reported.
     

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