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Posted by bender 03/16/2009 @ 17:09

Tags : railroads, transportation, business

News headlines
Railway Keeps Its Furloughed at Hand - Wall Street Journal
All big US railroads face a complicated calculus now: how to cut expenses as freight volumes fall without leaving themselves unable to respond quickly as the economy rebounds. Union Pacific's approach represents a compromise of sorts....
PUCO issues 2008 Railroad Crossing Statistics Report - Wilmington News Journal, OH
“With more than 40 railroads operating on nearly 5500 miles of track and across more than 6500 public grade crossings, railroads contribute a great deal to Ohio's life and economy.” Being a national leader in railroad traffic brings an even greater...
Jacobs Engineering spent $180K lobbying in 1Q - Forbes
AP , 05.18.09, 11:48 AM EDT Engineering and construction company Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. spent $180000 in the first quarter to lobby on immigration issues and federal spending on aerospace and railroads, according to a recent disclosure report....
Homes with history in railroad industry - The Herald | HeraldOnline.com
Mills were built near the railroads for ready shipping, said Stephen Turner, executive director of the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. Construction was completed in 1907. While other mills had added electrical power later, the Aragon Mill was...
ge's Green Locomotives - Greentech Media
Railroads are already about three times more fuel efficient than trucks for freight hauling, according to railroad company CSX. That efficiency has led some to consider railroads as a "clean" form of transportation as they stand today (see Green...
Legislature Considers Electing TxDOT Commissioner - The Tribune
The railroad commission was set up in 1891, during a populist uprising aimed at keeping railroads from gouging farmers with freight rates. It may make sense to reduce the number of commissioners, since the three commission spots often have been used as...
Why not travel by train for summer vacation? - Pocono Record
While the US claims more than 140000 miles of Class I railroad line, and freight railroads haul more than 40 percent of all US freight — everything from lumber to vegetables, coal to chemicals, grain to scrap iron — Amtrak travels along a mere 21000...
AAR: Traffic woes continue for North American railroads - Progressive Rail Roading
New month, same traffic story for North American railroads. During the week ending May 9, US railroads' originated 249576 carloads, down 25.5 percent compared with data from the same week in 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads....
FDR's Biggest Mistake During the Depression - Lew Rockwell
State governments lost money in railroads. Economic historian Clifford Thies noted that “turnpikes were also money-losers.” Economic historians Ernest L. Bogart and Donald L. Kemmerer observed that “Most of the enterprises were extravagantly,...
Years of inaction later, feds may bend CSX's deaf ear - Under the Sun
As Congress prepares to take up a huge transportation authorization bill, city planning officials are asking Maryland's congressional delegation to back a federal crackdown on the railroads. The request comes in a wish list of transportation projects...

Railroads in Omaha

The Burlington Station in the Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District near the Old Market.

Railroads in Omaha, Nebraska have been integral to the growth and development of the city, the state of Nebraska, the Western United States and the entire United States. The convergence of many railroad forces upon the city was by happenstance and synergy, as none of the Omaha leaders had a comprehensive strategy for bringing railroads to the city.

Omaha was not supposed to be the center of the First Transcontinental Railroad; its neighbor across the Missouri River, Council Bluffs, Iowa was. In July 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act into law, which chartered a new organization called the Union Pacific Railroad. It was authorized to build a single line west from an "initial point" at the 100-degree meridian (near present-day Lexington, Nebraska). While the legislation seemed to favor Omaha, in 1863 Lincoln issued an executive order designating the terminal at Council Bluffs. Thomas C. Durant, the first head of the Union Pacific, arbitrarily decided the railroad should start at Omaha.

In 1863 ground was broken near Miller's Landing on the Missouri River for the First Transcontinental Railroad. Along with local financier Edward Creighton, George Francis Train was the promoter who was chiefly responsible for the city's landing the railroad. He was made rich by its location convenient to the land which he owned near Deer Park. Landing the railroad made the value of his property for development skyrocket. The Union Pacific Railroad has been headquartered in Omaha since its inception in 1867, starting with its fifty-year occupancy of the Herndon House in downtown. In 1872 Union Pacific opened the first bridge across the Missouri to Omaha. The historic Overland Route continues to run through the city.

The Union Stockyards Railroad Company, a subsidiary of the Union Stockyards Company, was a spur line established to serve the Omaha Stockyards, which opened in the 1880s. It was transformed into the South Omaha Railroad in the 1920s. Because of the Stockyards, by the 1880s Omaha was served by every major railroad in the country. Other railroads in the city included the Omaha Road, Omaha, Lincoln and Beatrice Railway, Omaha Southern Railroad, Kansas, Nebraska and Omaha Railway, Omaha and Republican Valley Railway, Omaha and Southwestern Rail Road and Omaha, Abilene and Wichita Railway.

Making use of the constellation of railroads, the US Army built the Omaha Quartermaster Depot in Omaha in 1881. It supplied many military institutions in Nebraska and throughout the Western United States.

In the mid-20th century, Omaha had the second largest stockyards and packing industry in the world. It processed thousands of animals per week. The packing plants received animals from 22 states, with most of the stock transported by railroad.

The Omaha Belt Line was a 15-mile long railroad that circumnavigated the city starting in 1885. Carrying passengers and cargo, the rail was operated by the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The railroad also had branches into Lincoln, Wahoo and Nebraska City. The line was discontinued in the early 1960s.

There were several railroads that went from Omaha throughout the state of Nebraska and beyond. The Kansas, Nebraska and Omaha Railway ran from Omaha to southwestern Kansas, specifically to provide access from the cattle regions of present-day Oklahoma and Texas.

In 1867 Ezra Millard, Andrew J. Hanscom, and Augustus Kountze formed the Omaha Horse Railway, the first horsecar in the city. The Omaha Cable Tramway Company was the city's only cable car. It started in 1884 and ended in 1895 after consolidating with the Horse Railway as the Omaha Street Railway Company. In 1896 the new company disbanded as competitors moved in. An electric car was built between Omaha and Benson specifically to promote that suburb's development during these years.

By 1901 Gurdon Wattles consolidated several of the older companies to organize the Omaha and Council Bluffs Streetcar Company. After receiving a 30-year franchise from the City of Omaha, the company established a mass transit system that covered the entire city, including commuter trains and interurbans. Streetcar lines operated in Omaha until 1955.

By the opening of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in 1898 the city boasted two important train stations. The Union Station was served by the Chicago and North Western Railroad, Wabash Railroad, Missouri Pacific Railroad, Chicago Great Western Railway, Rock Island Railroad, Milwaukee Road and the Union Pacific Railroad.

It also served as the Union Pacific headquarters, which needed to expand in the 20th century. Architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood remarked on his 1931 design of Union Station, "We have tried to express the distinctive character of the railroad: strength, power, masculinity." Union Station was the first Art Deco station in the country.

The Burlington Station was served by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and later the Amtrak. Other stations in the city included the Webster Street Station, Gibson Station, Ralston Station, Florence Depot and the North 34 Street Station.

In 1939 Union Pacific, a major Hollywood film, was premiered in Omaha to celebrate the city's railroad heritage. The McKeen railroad motor car was a specialized self-propelled passenger car manufactured in Omaha.

The railroads continued to be important to freight, business and passenger travel into the 20th century. In 1947 the city's two stations had 114 passenger trains per day that connected all across the West and Midwest.

Railroads carried many of the tens of thousands of animals for processing at the packing plants, located near the stockyards and railroads. The city's stockyards and packing industry were the second largest in the world, close to those of Chicago.

Today, the Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District celebrates this connection, as do the listing of the Burlington Train Station and the Union Station on the National Register of Historic Places. Two large train engines have been placed as monuments and industrial art in Kenefick Park in South Omaha. They face Interstate 80, one of the successor transportation modes.

Several major railroads formerly served Omaha, including Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific (CRIP), Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CBQ); Chicago Great Western (CGW); Illinois Central (IC); Chicago & Northwestern (CNW); Wabash (WAB); Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific (The Milwaukee Road) (CMStP&P); Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha; Missouri Pacific (MP); and the Union Pacific.

Omaha is the location of Union Pacific Railroad's corporate headquarters. Located downtown, Union Pacific Center is the largest building by square feet in the state of Nebraska, and the 4th tallest in Omaha. Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service through Omaha, operating its California Zephyr daily in each direction between Chicago and Emeryville, California, across the bay from San Francisco.

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United States Senate Committee on Railroads

The Senate Committee on Railroads is a defunct committee of the United States Senate. It succeeded the Committee on the Pacific Railroad on March 12, 1873. The committee reviewed legislation and matters related to railroad transportation on the United States. The committee existed until April 8, 1921, when it was abolished due to inactivity. The committee's role waned after the 50th Congress (1887-89) as other Senate committees acquired legislative jurisdiction over railroad matters. The United States Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce, in particular, focused on regulating railroad rates and assuring safety of railroad passengers and crews. A separate Committee on Pacific Railroads also operated from 1893-1921, investigating the financial status of the Union Pacific Railroad.

While it no longer formerly exists as a standing committee, the Senate still conducts oversight over the railroad industry through the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and its Surface Transportation and Interstate Commerce subcommittees.

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List of Nebraska railroads

The following railroads operate in the U.S. state of Nebraska.

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List of Oregon railroads

The following railroads operate in the U.S. state of Oregon.

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List of Kansas railroads

The following railroads operate in the U.S. state of Kansas.

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Rail transport in California

Californian poppy

The establishment of America's transcontinental rail lines securely linked California to the rest of the country, and the far-reaching transportation systems that grew out of them during the century that followed contributed to the state’s social, political, and economic development. When California was admitted as a state to the United States in 1850, and for nearly two decades thereafter, it was in many ways isolated, an outpost on the Pacific. In recent years, passenger railroad building has picked up steam, with the introduction of services such as Metrolink, Caltrain, Amtrak California, and others. This is expected to continue, thanks to the passing of various rail-construction measures on November 4, 2008, including Proposition 1a.

The early Forty-Niners of the California Gold Rush wishing to come to California were faced with limited options. From the East Coast, for example, a sailing voyage around the tip of South America would take five to eight months, and cover some 18,000 nautical miles (33,000 km). An alternative route was to sail to the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama, to take canoes and mules for a week through the jungle, and then on the Pacific side, to wait for a ship sailing for San Francisco. Eventually, most gold-seekers took the overland route across the continental United States, particularly along the California Trail. Each of these routes had its own deadly hazards, from shipwreck to typhoid fever to cholera or Indian attack.

The very first "inter-oceanic" railroad which affected California was built in 1855 across the Isthmus of Panama, the Panama Railway. The Panama Railway reduced the time needed to cross the Isthmus from a week of difficult and dangerous travel to a day of relative comfort. The building of the Panama Railroad, in combination with the increasing use of steamships (instead of sailing ships) meant that travel to and from California via Panama was the primary method used by people who could afford to do so, and was used for valuable cargo, such as the gold being shipped from California to the East Coast.

California's symbolic and tangible connection to the rest of the country was fused at Promontory Summit, Utah, as the last spike was driven to join the tracks of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads, thereby completing the First Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869 (before that time, only a few local rail lines operated in the State, the first being the Sacramento Valley Railroad). The 1,600 mile (2,575-kilometer) trip cross-country would now take mere days. The Wild West was quickly transformed from a lawless, agrarian frontier to what would become an urbanized, industrialized economic and political powerhouse. Of perhaps greater significance is the unbridled economic growth that was spurred on by the sheer diversity of opportunities available in the region.

The four years following the Golden Spike ceremony saw the length of track in the U.S. double to over 70,000 miles (nearly 113,000 kilometers). By the turn of the century, the completion of four subsequent transcontinental routes in the United States and one in Canada would provide not only additional pathways to the Pacific Ocean, but would forge ties to all of the economically-important areas between the coasts as well. Virtually the entire country was accessible by rail, making a national economy possible for the first time. And while federal financial assistance (in the form of land grants and guaranteed low-interest loans, a well-established government policy) was vital to the railroads’ expansion across North America, this support accounted for less than eight percent (8%) of the total length of rails laid; private investment was responsible for the vast majority of railroad construction.

As rail lines pushed further and further into the wilderness, they opened up huge areas which would have otherwise lain fallow. The railroads helped establish countless towns and settlements, paved the way to abundant mineral deposits and fertile tracts of pastures and farmland, and created new markets for eastern goods. It is estimated that by the end of World War II, rail companies nationwide remunerated to the government over $1 billion dollars, more than eight times the original value of the lands granted. The principal commodity transported across the rails to California was people: by reducing the cross-country travel time to as little as six days, men with westward ambitions were no longer forced to leave their families behind. The railroads would, in time, provide equally-important linkages to move the inhabitants throughout the state, interconnecting its blossoming communities.

When the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad charted its own solo course across the continent in 1885 it chose Los Angeles as its western terminus, and in doing so fractured the Southern Pacific Railroad's near total monopoly on rail transportation within the state. The original purpose of this new line was to augment the route to San Diego, established three years prior as part of a joint venture with the California Southern Railroad, but the Santa Fe would subsequently be forced to all but abandon these inland tracks through the Temecula Canyon (due to constant washouts) and construct its Surf Line along the coast to maintain its exclusive ties to San Diego. Santa Fe's entry into Southern California resulted in widespread economic growth and ignited a fervent rate war with the Southern Pacific, or "Espee" as the road was often referred to; it also led to Los Angeles' well-documented real estate "Boom of the Eighties."  The Santa Fe Route led the way in passenger rate reductions (often referred to as "colonist fares") by, within a period of five months, lowering the price of a ticket from Kansas City, Missouri to Los Angeles from $125 to $15, and, on March 6, 1887 to a dollar! The Southern Pacific soon followed suit and the level of real estate speculation reached a new high, with "boom towns" springing up literally overnight. Free, daily railroad-sponsored excursions (complete with lunch and live entertainment) enticed overeager potential buyers to visit the many undeveloped properties firsthand and (hopefully) invest in the potential of the land.

Unfortunately, as with the Comstock mining securities boom of the 1870s, Los Angeles' land boom attracted an unscrupulous element that often sold interest in properties whose titles were not properly recorded, or in tracts that did not even exist. Major advertising campaigns by the SP, Santa Fe, Union Pacific, and other major carriers of the day not only helped transform southern California into a major tourist attraction but generated intense interest in exploiting the area's agricultural potential. Word of the abundant work opportunities, high wages, and the temperate and healthful California climate spread throughout the Midwestern United States, and led to an exodus from such states as Iowa, Indiana, and Kansas; although the real estate bubble "burst" in 1889 and most investors lost their all, the Southern California landscape was forever transformed by the many towns, farms, and citrus groves left in the wake of this event.

Historians James Rawls and Walton Bean have speculated that were it not for the discovery of gold in 1848, Oregon might have been granted statehood ahead of California, and therefore the first Pacific Railroad might have been built to that state, or at least been born to a more benevolent group of founding fathers. This speculation lacks support, however, when one considers that a significant hide and tallow trade between California and the eastern seaports was already well-established, that the federal government had long planned for the acquisition of San Francisco Bay as a western port, and that suspicions regarding England's intentions towards potentially extending their holdings in the region southward into California would almost certainly have forced the government to embark on the same course of action.

Even today, California is well-known for the abundance and many varieties of fruit trees that are cultivated throughout the state. The only fruits indigenous to the region, however, consisted of wild berries or grew on small bushes. Spanish missionaries brought fruit seeds over from Europe, many of which had been introduced to the Old World from Asia following earlier expeditions to the continent; orange, grape, apple, peach, pear, and fig seeds were among the most prolific of the imports.

Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, fourth in the Alta California chain, was founded in 1771 near what would one day be the City of Los Angeles. Thirty-three years later the mission would unknowingly witness the origin of the California citrus industry with the planting of the region's first significant orchard, though the commercial potential of citrus would not be realized until 1841. Several small carloads of California crops were shipped eastward via the new transcontinental route almost immediately after its completion, using a special type of ventilated boxcar modified specifically for this purpose. The advent of the iced refrigerator car or "reefer" led to increases in both the amount of product carried and in the distances traveled.

For years, the overall scarcity of oranges in particular led to the general perception that they were suitable only for holiday table decoration or as indulgences for the affluent. During the 1870s, however, hybridization of California oranges led to the creation of several flavorful strains, chief among these the Navel and Valencia varieties, whose development allowed for year-round cultivation of the fruit. Substantial foreign (out-of-state) markets for California citrus would come into full stature by 1890, initiating a period referred to as the Orange Era.

With the expansion of agriculture interests throughout the state (along with new rail lines to carry the goods to faraway markets), new communities were founded and existing towns expanded. Agrarian successes led to the establishment of post offices, schools, churches, mercantile outlets, and ancillary industries such as packing houses. The discovery of brea, more commonly referred to as tar, in Southern California would lead to an oil boom in the early twentieth century. Railroad companies soon discovered that shipping wooden barrels loaded with oil via boxcars was not cost-effective, and developed steel cylindrical tank cars capable of transporting bulk liquids virtually anywhere. By 1915, the transportation of petroleum products had become a lucrative endeavor for western railroads.

Most oil tank cars would remain in revenue service for decades until the "Black Bonanza" had run its course. The Southern Pacific is credited with being the first western railroad to experiment in 1879 with the use of oil in its locomotives as a fuel source in lieu of coal (with substantial technical assistance from the Union Oil Company, one of the SP’s biggest accounts). By 1895, oil-burning locomotives were in operation on a number of Southern Pacific routes, and on the competing California Southern and Great Northern Railway as well. This innovation not only allowed the SP (and other railroads that soon followed their example) to benefit from the use of this abundant and economically-viable fuel source, but to create new markets by capitalizing on the burgeoning petroleum industry. The conversion from coal to oil also help solved the Southern Pacific's problem of intense smoke in the tunnels of the Sierra Nevada. Thanks to the railroads, California was once again thrust into the limelight.

As has been previously discussed, the railroads were among the first to promote California tourism as early as the 1870s, both as a means to increase ridership and to create new markets for the freight hauling business in the areas they served. Some sixty years later, the Santa Fe would lead a resurgence in leisure travel to and along the west coast aboard such "name" trains as the Chief and later the Super Chief; the Southern Pacific would soon follow suit with their Golden State and Overland Flyer trains, and the Union Pacific with its City of Los Angeles and City of San Francisco. The immense popularity of Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 novel Ramona in particular fueled a surge in tourism which happened to coincide with the opening of SP's Southern California lines.

But it can be said that only the Santa Fé embraced the aura of the American Southwest so completely in its advertising campaigns as well as its operations. The AT&SF routes and the extraordinary level of service provided thereon became particularly popular with stars of the film industry in the thirties, forties and fifties, both building on and adding to the Hollywood mystique. The "golden age" of railroading would eventually end as travel by automobile and airplane became more cost-effective, and popular.

In 1901, Frank Norris vilified the Southern Pacific for its monopolistic practices in his acclaimed novel The Octopus: A Story of California; John Moody’s 1919 work The Railroad Builders: A Chronicle of the Welding of the States referred to "the American railroad problem" wherein the men who rode the iron horse were characterized as "monsters" that too often suppressed government reform and economic growth through political chicanery and corrupt business practices.

While it is true that much of the traveling public would have been unable to make the trip to California's sunny clime were it not for the fleet, relatively safe, and affordable trains of the western railroads, it is also true that those companies in effect preyed on those same settlers once they arrived at the end of the line. For instance, while the railroads provided much-needed transportation routes to out-of-state markets for locally-produced raw materials and avenues of the import for eastern goods, there were numerous instances of rate fixing schemes among the various carriers, the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific included. Opposition to the railroads began early in Southern California's history due to the questionable practices of The Big Four in conducting the business of the Central (later Southern) Pacific. The Central Pacific Railroad (and later the Southern Pacific) maintained and operated whole fleets of ferry boats that connected Oakland with San Francisco by water. Early on, the Central Pacific gained control of the existing ferry lines for the purpose of linking the northern rail lines with those from the south and east; during the late 1860s the company purchased nearly every bayside plot in Oakland, creating what author and historian Oscar Lewis described as a "wall around the waterfront" that put the town’s fate squarely in the hands of the corporation. Competitors for ferry passengers or dock space were ruthlessly run out of business, and not even stage coach lines could escape the group's notice, or wrath.

Competition between carriers for rail routes was fierce as well, and unscrupulous means were often used to gain any advantage over one another. Santa Fe work crews engaged in sabotage to slow the progress of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad through the Sierra Nevada as the two fought their way toward the Coast; the Santa Fe (in conjunction with the California Southern) would win the race in establishing its connection to Bakersfield in 1883. Some eleven years earlier, the Southern Pacific essentially blackmailed the then-fledgling City of Los Angeles into paying a hefty subsidy to ensure that the railroad’s north-south line would pass through town; in 1878, the company would be rebuffed in its attempts to extend its Anaheim branch southward to San Diego through Orange County's Irvine Ranch without securing the permission of James Irvine, Sr., a longtime rival of Collis Huntington. The Southern Pacific would similarly block the westward progress of the Santa Fe (known to some as the People's Railroad) until September 1882, when a group of enraged citizens ultimately forced the railroad's management to relent. Numerous accounts of similar "frog wars" and other such tactics have been recorded throughout California's railroad history.

Perhaps the most notorious examples of impropriety on the part of the railroads surround the process of land acquisition and sales. Since the federal government granted to the companies alternate tracks of land that ran along the tracks they had laid, it was generally assumed that the land would in turn be sold at its fair market value at the time the land was subdivided; circulars distributed by the SP (which was at the time a holding company formed by the Central Pacific Railroad) certainly implied as much. However, at least some of the tracts were put on the market only after considerable time had passed, and the land improved well beyond its raw state.

Families faced with asking prices of ten times or more of the initial value more often than not had no choice but to vacate their homes and farms, in the process losing everything they worked for; often it turned out to be a railroad employee who had purchased the property in question. A group of immigrant San Joaquin Valley farmers formed the Settlers' League in order to challenge the Southern Pacific's actions in court, but after all of the lawsuits were decided in the favor of the railroads, one group decided to take matters into their own hands. What resulted was the infamous Battle at Mussel Slough, in which armed settlers clashed with railroad employees and law enforcement officers engaged in eviction proceedings. Six people were killed in the ensuing gunfight. The Southern Pacific would emerge from the tragedy as the prime target of journalists such as William Randolph Hearst, ambitious politicians, and crusade groups for decades to follow. Leland Stanford's term as Governor of California (while still serving on the SP's board of directors) enhanced the corporation's political clout, but simultaneously further increased its notoriety as well.

Public response to the corruption that arose from California's economic "explosion" led to the enactment of numerous reform and regulation measures, many of which coincided with the ascendancy of the Populist and Progressive movements. Early examples of railroad regulation include Granger case decisions in the 1870s, and the creation of the first (albeit ineffective) Railroad Commission via amendment of the State's Constitution of 1879, forerunner of today's California Public Utilities Commission. In 1886, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Santa Clara County in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. The documents of the Court decision included a statement that a corporation henceforth could be considered an American citizen, with all the associated immunities and privileges (except the right to vote). The document phrasing has long made it difficult for states to pass legislation that could make corporations accountable to the people. The Stetson-Eshelman Act of 1911 provided for the fixing of shipping rates by state legislatures. In 1911, California's new Progressive government established the second Railroad Commission, more effective and less corrupted than the first one.

Southern Pacific was purchased by Union Pacific and acquisition was finalized in 1996. With the ATSF-BN merger, the two major railroads in California are now Union Pacific and the BNSF. Amtrak serves California with the Coast Starlight, the California Zephyr, the Southwest Chief, and the Sunset Limited. Amtrak California runs the Capitol Corridor, San Joaquins and the Pacific Surfliner. Also, Caltrain, Altamont Commuter Express, COASTER and Metrolink all provide commuter rail service. The future of passenger rail in California looks promising, with funding being implemented for transit in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, as well as for a high-speed rail system.

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Source : Wikipedia