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Proposals for Restored Gulf Coast Service


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#1 jis

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 10:11 AM

Here is a bit of progress report:

 

http://www.tallahass...ities/83241732/

 

BTW, since it is highly unlikely that Gulf Coast Service will have any relationship with the Sunset Limited, this may be the time to split off the Gulf Coast Service discussion into its own thread. It will either be a continuation of the CONO or a standalone trains. It will have nothing to do with the Sunset Limited, other than some sort of connection at NOL.


Edited by jis, 20 April 2016 - 01:35 PM.


#2 Palmetto

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 01:02 PM

+1.



#3 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 02:14 PM

Here is a bit of progress report:

 

http://www.tallahass...ities/83241732/

 

BTW ... this may be the time to split off the Gulf Coast Service discussion into its own thread. It will have nothing to do with the Sunset Limited, other than some sort of connection at NOL.

btw. Nice article. Thanks. 

 

No 'Breaking News' but good overview of the continued and growing support for this proposed train. First I've seen that focused on the Florida end of it, with the links to the Silvers in Orlando and Jacksonville.

 

Also a hint of someone thinking about a future second frequency, Orlando-Tallahassee. I'm cool with that. Ask for two trains, settle for one now and one we'll talk about later. LOL.


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 20 April 2016 - 02:18 PM.


#4 PRR 60

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 09:18 AM

Starting with the three posts above, discussion of proposals for restoration of Gulf Coast service east of New Orleans has been move to this new topic.  Prior posts on this subject are available in the older Daily Sunset Limited topic.  Discussion of proposals for daily operation of the Sunset Limited can be continued in the prior topic.



#5 Caesar La Rock

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 09:54 PM

So Amtrak will be inspecting the Tallahassee station.

 

http://www.tallahass...esday/83565726/



#6 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 11:29 PM

So Amtrak will be inspecting the Tallahassee station.

Former Mayor John Marks, a member of the Gulf Coast Rail Working Group, a federal transportation panel tasked with analyzing the restoration of rail service along the Gulf Coast, said inspectors will determine whether any improvements are needed in order to reimplement the service.

 

It's part of an effort to give Congress a cost estimate to re-establish train service. Congress, Marks said, has already authorized Amtrak to renew the route, but hasn't allocated any funds.

 

Nice report by Sean Rossman in the Tallahassee Democrat. New to me is the claim that Congress has already authorized Amtrak to renew the route.  Of course, the do or don't here is the funds.

 

+++++++++++++++++++

Is it just me? Restore, renew, reopen, re-establish, restart, return ... I'm good, and I can do without that "reimplement" thingie. LOL.


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 26 April 2016 - 11:32 PM.


#7 Cho Cho Charlie

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 06:04 AM

BTW, since it is highly unlikely that Gulf Coast Service will have any relationship with the Sunset Limited, this may be the time to split off the Gulf Coast Service discussion into its own thread. It will either be a continuation of the CONO or a standalone trains. It will have nothing to do with the Sunset Limited, other than some sort of connection at NOL.


So, the reply to the Jeopardy! clue "Rail service that was severed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina" (from the referenced article), would not be "What was the Sunset Limited, Alex?".
Me

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#8 Ryan

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 06:12 AM

There is a difference between "was" and "will".
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#9 jis

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 06:54 AM

So, the reply to the Jeopardy! clue "Rail service that was severed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina" (from the referenced article), would not be "What was the Sunset Limited, Alex?".

Huh? Could you explain why that would not be the answer and what has been stated here that is inconsistent with that? Or is it that the difference between the past and future does not exist in your world view? :P



#10 A Voice

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 07:04 AM

The two main points I took away from the article are (1), as previously noted that Congress has already authorized resumption of the route, and (2) the budget estimate is being provided to Congress as well.  This should properly and legally be a completely federally funded train, and thus it appears to be the intention.  But there has been person after person on these and other forums pronouncing that Amtrak will only run the route if the states foot the bill.  



#11 jis

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 07:46 AM

The two main points I took away from the article are (1), as previously noted that Congress has already authorized resumption of the route, and (2) the budget estimate is being provided to Congress as well.  This should properly and legally be a completely federally funded train, and thus it appears to be the intention.  But there has been person after person on these and other forums pronouncing that Amtrak will only run the route if the states foot the bill.  

Actually, at least what I have been saying is that Amtrak will only run trains beyond the ones that they already run in the national network, that are paid for explicitly from a source other than the standard Amtrak operations grant for the national network, unless directed otherwise by the Congress. So if Congress finds the funds and directs Amtrak to run a train, of course they will run it irrespective of how long its run is.

 

Fortunately the New Orleans - Orlando train is more than 750 miles, so the state funding angle strictly speaking is not an issue. Though conversely, if a collection of states decide to fund a train that runs for a distance greater than 750 miles, I doubt anyone will prevent them from running the train. More likely it looks like these things might evolve as a partnership between the feds and the state(s) and local communities involved.



#12 Hytec

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 08:17 AM

Aren't there existing LD routes that operate with joint federal/state funding? Please understand that I'm ignorant on any details, just have a vague memory of reading this.



#13 A Voice

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 08:26 AM

 

The two main points I took away from the article are (1), as previously noted that Congress has already authorized resumption of the route, and (2) the budget estimate is being provided to Congress as well.  This should properly and legally be a completely federally funded train, and thus it appears to be the intention.  But there has been person after person on these and other forums pronouncing that Amtrak will only run the route if the states foot the bill.  

Actually, at least what I have been saying is that Amtrak will only run trains beyond the ones that they already run in the national network, that are paid for explicitly from a source other than the standard Amtrak operations grant for the national network, unless directed otherwise by the Congress. So if Congress finds the funds and directs Amtrak to run a train, of course they will run it irrespective of how long its run is.

 

Fortunately the New Orleans - Orlando train is more than 750 miles, so the state funding angle strictly speaking is not an issue. Though conversely, if a collection of states decide to fund a train that runs for a distance greater than 750 miles, I doubt anyone will prevent them from running the train. More likely it looks like these things might evolve as a partnership between the feds and the state(s) and local communities involved.

 

 

Well, yes, I would expect local communities to be partially or wholly responsible for stations, etc.  



#14 jis

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 09:13 AM

Aren't there existing LD routes that operate with joint federal/state funding? Please understand that I'm ignorant on any details, just have a vague memory of reading this.

Arguably the Empire Builder has used some state funding to maintain a route, as is SWC currently. The state funding comes partly from the state and partly from other federal grants (e.g. TIGER and such).
 
Gulf Coast folks are promising some amount of local funding for infrastructure like stations etc. but are depending on federal funding to provide the operations subsidy.

Edited by jis, 27 April 2016 - 09:13 AM.


#15 Hytec

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 11:10 AM

Gulf Coast folks are promising some amount of local funding for infrastructure like stations etc. but are depending on federal funding to provide the operations subsidy.

I get the sense that a significant number of Mississippi's elected state officials, predominately upstate residents, are reluctant to fund something that, in their minds, benefits only the "sinful" Coast population. Of course what we all are aware, but they deny vehemently, is that these same officials often enjoy the Coast benefits, quietly returning to their home churches for Sunday morning services.  

 

Fortunately, Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS, Chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee, fully supports reinstatement of this route. In fact, he was at the controls bringing the inspection train into Gulfport, fulfilling a boyhood dream of driving a locomotive.  By all accounts, the train's arrival was spot on.


Edited by Hytec, 27 April 2016 - 11:11 AM.


#16 Palmetto

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 12:16 PM

If you look at the current Amtrak timetable for the Sunset Limited, there's a footnote about suspended service east of New Orleans.  I guess this means, then, that Amtrak is the responsible provider of said service should it ever be resuscitated?



#17 jis

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 12:29 PM

I think the only purpose served by that foot note is that Amtrak did not have to go through the service discontinuance rigmarole. It is the height of cynical behavior on the part of Amtrak. When service is restored the claim can be made that it was just suspended for umpteen years. At present the plan is for Amtrak to operate the service, and in reality until the law is changed only Amtrak enjoys the special track access privilages, so irrespective of what is written in the timetable, Amtrak has to be a party to any such project to gain track access using Amtrak's special privileges. Note how Amtrak continues to be the operator of Hoosier State.



#18 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 12:32 PM

I agree completely, jis. Especially the "height of cynical behavior" part.



#19 trainviews

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 01:07 PM

The two main points I took away from the article are (1), as previously noted that Congress has already authorized resumption of the route, and (2) the budget estimate is being provided to Congress as well.  This should properly and legally be a completely federally funded train, and thus it appears to be the intention.  But there has been person after person on these and other forums pronouncing that Amtrak will only run the route if the states foot the bill.  

 

It's actually not people here but Amtrak itself, that has previously made it clear, that it will not be run on Amtrak's dime. Someone else will have to pay for the operating deficit (and probably any capital expenses for rebuilt stations etc too, but that's less controversial).

 

As I understand the current rules Amtrak has to fully fund the operation of the current LD routes out of its operating subsidy. But the 750 mile rule says nothing about having to fund newly started (or restarted) LD routes. Under some conditions (which the Gulf coast service fulfills) Amtrak could fund the train out of its present budget and thus make it federally funded, but the law nowhere states that it should. I think this is probably what is meant by congress already having authorised the route. AFAIK there has been no act specifically mentioning the Gulf Coast service, but I can be mistaken.

 

On the other hand the length over 750 miles does excempt it from the PRIIA corridor rules, where the states are required to fund not only the immediate operating deficit but also most of the allocated overhead. And what Amtrak has stated is that in order to run the train, someone else has to pay the avoidable costs not covered by ticket revenue including network effects = roughly the amount that the train would increase Amtrak's total operating deficit with. But the bill will not be slashed with overhead as the shorter state supported corridors are.

 

Is that fair? Maybe not, but it is the political realities that the proponents of the service face. 

 

This leaves three options as I see it:

 

- The states or other local entities gang together and pay up.

- Congress increases its operating subsidy to Amtrak to cover the costs of the route

- Congress tells Amtrak to run the train within the current budget

 

Each of these options lets lose its own political brouhaha. But as the amount is pretty limited (can be found in the study released a while ago) there might be enough momentum to push one of the models through, or some combo of them. 

 

So clearly Marks is lobbying for Congress to pick up the tap. The current do-nothing Congress doesn't look very likely to do that, but the political climate might be somewhat different after the election. If not the states or the cities en route will have to pony up, also for the operating subsidy, however likely that is...


Edited by trainviews, 27 April 2016 - 01:11 PM.


#20 jis

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 01:11 PM

^ **LIKE** A very concise and IMHO correct characterization of the current situation.






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