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Amtrak CEO says passenger trains may not run over track without PTC


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#21 jis

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 05:05 PM

 

Cardinal Route is going to be a issue.

What about the Zephyr? UP says that PTC is not required between Provo and Grand Junction.

 

If FRA agrees then I would be very surprised if Amtrak would overrule FRA and still refuse to operate. If they do that could be indicative of Amtrak administration's desire to use this as an opportunity to prune the LD network. but I don;t believe that is on the cards.



#22 Palmetto

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 05:11 PM

How many of Amtrak's current LD routes are expected to reach 100% PTC with no waivers?

Don't know, but BNSF says it's now 100% compliant.  So, the Cascades between Portland and the Canadian Border, the Empire Builder [assuming a re-route between Chicago and MSP], and Chicago-Denver.  


Edited by Palmetto, 15 February 2018 - 05:14 PM.


#23 fairviewroad

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 05:23 PM

 

 

Such an excellent excuse to kill select LD trains, no?

 

Would dovetail nicely with the proposed Trump budget, amirite?  :o :huh:



#24 jis

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 05:25 PM

 

How many of Amtrak's current LD routes are expected to reach 100% PTC with no waivers?

Don't know, but BNSF says it's now 100% compliant.  So, the Cascades between Portland and the Canadian Border, the Empire Builder [assuming a re-route between Chicago and MSP], and Chicago-Denver.  

 

And Southwest Chief except for La Junta to Albuquerque or perhaps Isleta (of which la Junta to somewhere in NM is BNSF that is not compliant). Also Illinois Zephyr.

 

In the Q3 '17 report BNSF said it was non compliant in 10 segments (11%) consisting of about 1,207 miles (11%)


Edited by jis, 15 February 2018 - 05:26 PM.


#25 stappend

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 06:21 PM

Some of his comments could be for congress or a negotiating tactic.  He also said NJT could be blocked from the NEC because they won't be compliant for their personnel and equipment.  They also owe Amtrak a ton of money they they are refusing to pay.



#26 jis

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 06:28 PM

How the business about trackage charges and the NEC Commission play out is a completely different thing and has nothing to do with the PTC related stuff.

 

My guess is that the entire thing is a negotiating posture and does not reflect what will actually happen come Jan 1, 2019 at all.



#27 Chey

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 07:20 PM

And Southwest Chief except for La Junta to Albuquerque or perhaps Isleta (of which la Junta to somewhere in NM is BNSF that is not compliant). Also Illinois Zephyr.
 
In the Q3 '17 report BNSF said it was non compliant in 10 segments (11%) consisting of about 1,207 miles (11%)


Interesting. Brings to mind the rerouting on the Southern Transcom through Amarillo/Clovis/Belen that saw so much discussion here a couple of years ago. But I know from the talk of local BNSF people that they never wanted Amtrak on that route.

#28 Thirdrail7

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 07:54 PM



 

If FRA agrees then I would be very surprised if Amtrak would overrule FRA and still refuse to operate. If they do that could be indicative of Amtrak administration's desire to use this as an opportunity to prune the LD network. but I don;t believe that is on the cards.

 

 

Hmmm....that is almost the perfect excuse to curtail long distance, particularly if you've never really wrapped your mind around the idea. Sounds like Amtrak 2.0 indeed.  :ph34r:


They say laughter is the best medicine. Obviously they never posted on AU.


#29 lordsigma

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 10:14 PM

This seems more like posturing to try to get congress to act than a convenient way to target the long distance service. This would also affect a significant amount of state-supported corridor routes and not just long distance trains and some of the territories Mr. Anderson directly mentioned affect corridor routes and not LD. A big one local to me is the Vermonter which would most certainly be axed with such a policy. NECR is exempt from PTC. Would also flush all the money spent on the Connecticut River line that Mass did down the drain as I believe that is also PTC exempt since its still operated by Pan Am even though Mass physically bought it. Vermonter would be dead along with any hope of Montreal restoration. Train would likely have to be truncated to a Regional train between WDC and SPG.


Edited by lordsigma, 15 February 2018 - 10:15 PM.


#30 Lonestar648

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 12:21 AM

It seems like political posturing, because why would a new CEO want to decimate his company. That certainly would hurt his reputation for the future that he couldn't grow the business. Those few in Congress who side with Amtrak are being warned that something needs to happen to keep Amtrak alive and to grow the business. Also, he put on notice those in Congress wanting a profitable operation, their help with the host railroads is needed. I do not think this is a red flag to passengers that you only have have until January 1st to ride on Amtrak.

#31 LookingGlassTie

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 10:45 AM

@Lonestar648, that's my perspective too.


"And you know that notion just crossed my mind............"


#32 west point

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 09:55 PM

Maybe a way to get congress to enact fines to the freight RRs ?



#33 niemi24s

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 10:52 PM

IMHO, a better wording in the title of this thread would be ". . .trains might not run. . .".



#34 neroden

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 09:38 AM

Mr. Anderson's written testimony can be found HERE.

So, to quote the crucial bits:

...It is now clear that we are likely to encounter four different scenarios where PTC is not yet operational by
the end of the year.
 
First, there will be carriers that have made sufficient progress to apply to FRA for an al-
ternative PTC implementation schedule under the law. In these instances, Amtrak’s equipment
will be ready for PTC operation, but additional work, testing or approvals are still required by the
host railroad before the system is considered functional. We believe a significant number of
routes outside of the NEC will face this situation. The question we must ask ourselves is
whether we continue to operate over such routes until PTC is turned on and if so, what additional
safety protections are appropriate to reduce risks?
 
Second, there will be carriers over which we operate who appear unlikely to achieve suf-
ficient progress to apply for an alternative PTC implementation schedule by year’s end. For any
such route segments, Amtrak will suspend operations until such time as the carrier becomes com-
pliant with the law.
 
Third, there are areas over which we operate for which there is an FRA “Mainline Track
Exclusion” in place exempting that segment from the PTC requirements based on the low levels
of freight and passenger train traffic or the presence of low-speed operations, such as in yards
and terminals. We are currently reviewing our policy on operating passenger trains on Exclu-
sions to determine whether we have adequate safety mitigation practices in place for each
territory and in certain areas, where signal systems are not in place, we will reconsider whether
we operate at all.
 
Lastly, there may be railroads that operate over Amtrak tracks in the NEC which may not
have sufficient PTC-commissioned rolling stock by the December 31, 2018 deadline to operatenormal services. Under the present rules, Amtrak cannot permit non-compliant equipment to be
used over our railroad after the deadline and we will be working closely with our partners and
the FRA to determine the best way to address this situation.

 
Mr. Anderson is saying different things about these four situations. 
 
For the first situation (an approved extension of time), I believe Mr. Anderson is saying that he will keep trains running but add additional safety measures until PTC is active.
 
The second situation is carriers who will be breaking the law plain and simple, and it's a warning to those carriers.  I'm not sure who is most likely to be in that situation: perhaps MBTA on the Northside (Downeaster line) if it doesn't get its act together, perhaps Metro-North, perhaps RailRunner, perhaps Terminal Railroad Association of St Louis.  Most of the potential carriers in this siuation are commuter lines; the fact is that most of these commuter railroads will have to shut down their own operations if they don't comply with the law -- so they will probably do whatever they can to comply.  I'm not sure how many freight hosts (if any) are in this situation; probably none of the Class Is, and I know that matters were resolved for Kansas City Terminal, so maybe TRRA in St. Louis, and maybe Pan Am in Massachusetts?
 
The third situation is the one most of y'all are talking about: the lines which are exempt from PTC due to low traffic or yard status or whatever.  I read Mr. Anderson as saying that he will continue operations on such areas which *do* have signalling systems -- adding additional safety rules to stop things like the Hoboken crash -- but will probably discontinue operations on totally unsignalled "dark territory" lines.  I think almost all of the routes are actually signalled.  The Moffat Tunnel line and the Raton Pass line and the California Coast line are all signalled, so they'll presumably continue.  Everything on the LSL route is signalled from end to end.  Does anyone know the status of the Minnesota Commercial in Minneapolis-St Paul?  I think it has signals.  Anyway, is there any "dark territory" on which Amtrak actually operates right now?  I can't think of any.
 

Approximately 1 percent of our current or planned routes transit through dark territory, totaling 222 miles in Indiana, Maine, New York, Quebec, and Vermont.

Oh-kay.  Where are these tracks?
 
-- The Maine dark territory has to be the Downeaster.  Pan Am is also a PTC laggard, so the Downeaster is at risk if Maine doesn't step up to pay for the upgrades.
-- The Quebec dark territory has to be the Adirondack.  A route also planned for the Vermonter extension to Montreal.  Some state or province would have to pay for these upgrades.
-- The New York dark territory is most likely the Ethan Allen Express.  Though it might be the Adirondack.  I believe the LSL and Empire Service routes are fully signalled.
-- The Vermont dark territory is either the Vermonter or the Ethan Allen Express.  Considering those and the costs in Quebec, Vermont is going to have a bill to pay.
-- I have no idea what the Indiana dark territory is.  All I know for sure is that it isn't the LSL/CL route.  It probably isn't the Detroit route either.  It could be the Pere Marquette but I doubt it (since there's no dark territory in Michigan).  I'm guessing it's the Cardinal/Hoosier State route?  The west end of that route is a mess of undermaintained trackage.
 
But he's leaving the door open to keep running in dark territory (or to signal it, if it's a short section):

Based on hazard analyses and mitigation options, the application of new technologies like switch
position indicators; altered operating practices; signal system and PTC investments or rerouting
or route abandonments may all be appropriate for such dark territory.

 
I think perhaps the most significant meaning of the third situation is that planned signal outages, such as the one on CSX, will cause train cancellation in the future (just as would be done for bridge outages).  Except:
 

We are changing our policies on operating on host railroad territories with temporarily
inoperable signal systems. While we are evaluating two different approaches, they both boil
down to reducing speed significantly in these circumstances in advance of known hazards.

...maybe they'll just slow down in this situation.
 
The fourth situation is directed at Amtrak's tenants and is a direct order to NJT, MARC, VRE, et alia to get their locomotives equipped by the deadline.  (SEPTA's already finished.)  Since the locomotive side is the simple side, and ACSES is way easier to implement than I-ETMS, I'm pretty sure the commuter lines will do so.

 

 

-----

So, Maine, Vermont, and possibly New York and Quebec are facing large bills to get their signal systems up to snuff.  Based on past history, I think everyone except Quebec will pay to get it done, probably with grumbling -- but do write your state legislators and governor to tell them to pay for it!

 

The two routes which seem to me to be actually at risk of discontinuation are the Adirondack service from the border to Montreal (due to Quebec's historic unwillingness to support cross-border routes), and the Cardinal/Hoosier State (due to Indiana's historic unwillingness to support any upgrades).  Both Quebec and Indiana have shown signs of attitude change so both of these might be saved, but I wouldn't reckon on good odds.


Edited by neroden, 17 February 2018 - 09:47 AM.

--Nathanael--

Please feel free to moderate my posts.

#35 niemi24s

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 12:08 PM

Neroden's post changed my mind.  A better thread title phrasing would be ". . .trains may or may not run. . .".



#36 MiniMax

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 01:05 PM

Is this GOP administration is dead set on eliminating programs that service quality of life systems? Do they want to defund Amtrak altogether?



#37 jis

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 03:57 PM

Mostly what Anderson has said is that Amtrak will follow the law and consider taking extra care in waivered and possibly even exempt territories, if one takes a minimalist interpretation of his statements.

Now once one projects ones own fears and concerns to embellish the semantics of his statement, one can come to all sorts of progressively less supportable and believable conclusions.

But all that is quite separable from any of the GOP budget shenanigans and are most likely unrelated anyway.


Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Edited by jis, 17 February 2018 - 03:58 PM.


#38 Dakota 400

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 07:45 PM

Is it realistic to expect this Congress to respond to any current issue of any importance?  



#39 Lonestar648

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 01:20 AM

Democrat or Republican, they are self centered egomaniacs who do not want to rock the Good Old Boy lives they all have right now.  Do the political rhetoric for the media then all get together for drinks and party every night and get paid big big bucks, lifetime pension and healthcare. So why care about taking a chance on getting involved in passing or not passing controversial legislation.



#40 lordsigma

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 04:31 PM

 

Mr. Anderson's written testimony can be found HERE.

So, to quote the crucial bits:

...It is now clear that we are likely to encounter four different scenarios where PTC is not yet operational by
the end of the year.
 
First, there will be carriers that have made sufficient progress to apply to FRA for an al-
ternative PTC implementation schedule under the law. In these instances, Amtrak’s equipment
will be ready for PTC operation, but additional work, testing or approvals are still required by the
host railroad before the system is considered functional. We believe a significant number of
routes outside of the NEC will face this situation. The question we must ask ourselves is
whether we continue to operate over such routes until PTC is turned on and if so, what additional
safety protections are appropriate to reduce risks?
 
Second, there will be carriers over which we operate who appear unlikely to achieve suf-
ficient progress to apply for an alternative PTC implementation schedule by year’s end. For any
such route segments, Amtrak will suspend operations until such time as the carrier becomes com-
pliant with the law.
 
Third, there are areas over which we operate for which there is an FRA “Mainline Track
Exclusion” in place exempting that segment from the PTC requirements based on the low levels
of freight and passenger train traffic or the presence of low-speed operations, such as in yards
and terminals. We are currently reviewing our policy on operating passenger trains on Exclu-
sions to determine whether we have adequate safety mitigation practices in place for each
territory and in certain areas, where signal systems are not in place, we will reconsider whether
we operate at all.
 
Lastly, there may be railroads that operate over Amtrak tracks in the NEC which may not
have sufficient PTC-commissioned rolling stock by the December 31, 2018 deadline to operatenormal services. Under the present rules, Amtrak cannot permit non-compliant equipment to be
used over our railroad after the deadline and we will be working closely with our partners and
the FRA to determine the best way to address this situation.

 
Mr. Anderson is saying different things about these four situations. 
 
For the first situation (an approved extension of time), I believe Mr. Anderson is saying that he will keep trains running but add additional safety measures until PTC is active.
 
The second situation is carriers who will be breaking the law plain and simple, and it's a warning to those carriers.  I'm not sure who is most likely to be in that situation: perhaps MBTA on the Northside (Downeaster line) if it doesn't get its act together, perhaps Metro-North, perhaps RailRunner, perhaps Terminal Railroad Association of St Louis.  Most of the potential carriers in this siuation are commuter lines; the fact is that most of these commuter railroads will have to shut down their own operations if they don't comply with the law -- so they will probably do whatever they can to comply.  I'm not sure how many freight hosts (if any) are in this situation; probably none of the Class Is, and I know that matters were resolved for Kansas City Terminal, so maybe TRRA in St. Louis, and maybe Pan Am in Massachusetts?
 
The third situation is the one most of y'all are talking about: the lines which are exempt from PTC due to low traffic or yard status or whatever.  I read Mr. Anderson as saying that he will continue operations on such areas which *do* have signalling systems -- adding additional safety rules to stop things like the Hoboken crash -- but will probably discontinue operations on totally unsignalled "dark territory" lines.  I think almost all of the routes are actually signalled.  The Moffat Tunnel line and the Raton Pass line and the California Coast line are all signalled, so they'll presumably continue.  Everything on the LSL route is signalled from end to end.  Does anyone know the status of the Minnesota Commercial in Minneapolis-St Paul?  I think it has signals.  Anyway, is there any "dark territory" on which Amtrak actually operates right now?  I can't think of any.
 

Approximately 1 percent of our current or planned routes transit through dark territory, totaling 222 miles in Indiana, Maine, New York, Quebec, and Vermont.

Oh-kay.  Where are these tracks?
 
-- The Maine dark territory has to be the Downeaster.  Pan Am is also a PTC laggard, so the Downeaster is at risk if Maine doesn't step up to pay for the upgrades.
-- The Quebec dark territory has to be the Adirondack.  A route also planned for the Vermonter extension to Montreal.  Some state or province would have to pay for these upgrades.
-- The New York dark territory is most likely the Ethan Allen Express.  Though it might be the Adirondack.  I believe the LSL and Empire Service routes are fully signalled.
-- The Vermont dark territory is either the Vermonter or the Ethan Allen Express.  Considering those and the costs in Quebec, Vermont is going to have a bill to pay.
-- I have no idea what the Indiana dark territory is.  All I know for sure is that it isn't the LSL/CL route.  It probably isn't the Detroit route either.  It could be the Pere Marquette but I doubt it (since there's no dark territory in Michigan).  I'm guessing it's the Cardinal/Hoosier State route?  The west end of that route is a mess of undermaintained trackage.
 
But he's leaving the door open to keep running in dark territory (or to signal it, if it's a short section):

Based on hazard analyses and mitigation options, the application of new technologies like switch
position indicators; altered operating practices; signal system and PTC investments or rerouting
or route abandonments may all be appropriate for such dark territory.

 
I think perhaps the most significant meaning of the third situation is that planned signal outages, such as the one on CSX, will cause train cancellation in the future (just as would be done for bridge outages).  Except:
 

We are changing our policies on operating on host railroad territories with temporarily
inoperable signal systems. While we are evaluating two different approaches, they both boil
down to reducing speed significantly in these circumstances in advance of known hazards.

...maybe they'll just slow down in this situation.
 
The fourth situation is directed at Amtrak's tenants and is a direct order to NJT, MARC, VRE, et alia to get their locomotives equipped by the deadline.  (SEPTA's already finished.)  Since the locomotive side is the simple side, and ACSES is way easier to implement than I-ETMS, I'm pretty sure the commuter lines will do so.

 

 

-----

So, Maine, Vermont, and possibly New York and Quebec are facing large bills to get their signal systems up to snuff.  Based on past history, I think everyone except Quebec will pay to get it done, probably with grumbling -- but do write your state legislators and governor to tell them to pay for it!

 

The two routes which seem to me to be actually at risk of discontinuation are the Adirondack service from the border to Montreal (due to Quebec's historic unwillingness to support cross-border routes), and the Cardinal/Hoosier State (due to Indiana's historic unwillingness to support any upgrades).  Both Quebec and Indiana have shown signs of attitude change so both of these might be saved, but I wouldn't reckon on good odds.

 

Vermonter route is dark on the NECR tracks between St. Albans and White River Junction. From White River Junction down to Northfield it is signaled. Both sections are PTC exempt. I don't know about Ethan Allen Express.






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