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Anderson Speaks on Long Distance Trains


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#181 jis

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Posted 29 April 2018 - 01:21 PM

Unfortunately, there is a tremendous lack of trust between the majority of advocates on one side and Amtrak management, Board, and such on the other side. This creates a toxic situation of much speculation about the  worst of possible outcomes, and a call to arms to deal with that. Unfortunately there is some amount, some would say a very considerable amount, of justification for such mistrust. Notice that the material that at least I have been posting, even when I don't agree with quite a bit of it on occasions, is actually from people who have been in the advocacy trenches far longer than AU (and even some of its members) has existed. Since this is the hand that we are dealt with for the last 50 or so years, unfortunately this is all that we get to use in our game, and sometimes it is pretty ugly and occasionally even ineffectual or counter-productive. But it is what it is.

 

It does not help that Anderson chooses to make pithy statements that gets everyone's paranoia run along full steam either. Maybe it is indeed his game to smoke out the "advocates" and have them make fools of themselves, before he actually does something, either not as bad as the worst fears, or given the age we are in, possibly worse than the worst fears. Who knows? We'll see how this unfolds.


Edited by jis, 29 April 2018 - 01:44 PM.

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#182 Ryan

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Posted 29 April 2018 - 01:28 PM

I don't disagree, it would just good to see a little bit more thought go into things like this. But, as you said, "it is what it is".
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#183 JRR

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Posted 29 April 2018 - 08:28 PM

If I didn’t consider rail travel as part of my vacation, I would never go by Amtrak. It is cheaper and faster to either fly or drive.

That being said, we really enjoy train travel and will continue to “vacation” on Amtrak as long as we can.
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#184 DSS&A

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 07:15 AM

From what I've seen from RAILPAC, over this debacle, I'm not impressed.

I don't get "can and should destroy the national network" from the materials provided my Amtrak.

We'll do far better as rail advocates if we stick to the facts.


Hi Ryan, I agree with you on your statements. We will have to wait for Anderson's next announcements, which I hope have more details. Amtrak's future depends on rehabilitating or buying new equipment which take a lot of time and money to implement.

#185 MSprintz

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 10:28 AM

What (non-railfan) millennial knows or cares what a locomotive is or how the train is moving? I'm trying to give this guy a chance but comments like that make it difficult.

Millenials care about the same things other customers care about... Comfortable seats, a clean train, good customer service, wifi, and yes decent food / drink options.


In the grand scheme of travel most travelers care more about timeliness then comfortable seats and WiFi. If they cared more about amenities like comfortable seats the airlines would be hurting and we’d see more highway travel because let’s face it, it’s more comfortable in your own vehicle where one can stop at their own leisure. Decent food and drink is nice, if you’re traveling greater than one day versus say the 3-4 hrs on the NEC where it’s of lesser importance.

What the population wants is true high-speed rail service between Chicago and eastern cities. A 220 mph train service between CHI-WAS would be well received and greatly reduce costs. They don’t want flashy DMU’s that will only at best manage 125-130 mph on short stretches and 75-80mph elsewhere.


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#186 jis

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 10:42 AM

Want is one thing. The usual issue is what are they willing to spend collectively from taxes to build their alleged want, and then what fares are they willing to pay to use such, usually is the stumbling block, specially in a political setup where everybody is empowered to torpedo anything based on some triviality. More often than not the spirit is extremely willing, but the flesh is quite weak. Everyone seem to want something for nothing.


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#187 jis

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 11:27 AM

I don't disagree, it would just good to see a little bit more thought go into things like this. But, as you said, "it is what it is".

I agree with you that there is a bit too much of manufactured or tenuously deduced conclusions being used by some rail advocates to stir up some excitement. I find that unfortunate, but they claim they are experts at advocacy. Which of course may or may not be so considering the slim pickings of the results from said advocacy so far. I suppose it is better to have poorly thought out advocacy sometimes than none at all, but of course we will see how things go. Can't have perfection when many disjointed groups and people are involved.

 

This is specially a concern if it is a seasoned CEO's game to  discredit advocates by having them over react intentionally and send 'em over the edge so to speak. The ambiguous provocative statements that he makes and then backs off when faced with coherent push back suggests that we need to be very careful about how we handle his tactics.

 

One thing that Anderson did clearly say regarding restoring LD trains is that he will do nothing since they don't make any economic sense, and that would suggest that there will be no expansion of the LD network as long as Anderson is around, which does run against what a majority of folks around here appear to want. Therefore it is probably reasonable to start playing the political game to get rid of him, without getting too shrill about it, even though he has not said anything about discontinuing all LD trains.


Edited by jis, 30 April 2018 - 02:06 PM.


#188 railiner

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 01:51 PM

Unfortunately, if Anderson accomplishes his mission to make Amtrak "profitable", by whatever measure, then he will become the darling of the pols and may serve for a long tenure, with whatever it takes to achieve that goal...


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#189 Lonestar648

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 03:31 PM

Anderson probably sees the LD network as a thorn in his side. He gets pressure from Congress to get rid of it, then he gets pressure from some not to affect their states or district.  In the end, he needs the majority of both houses to support him in what ever he decides.  Getting rid of LD would certainly eliminate a number of nagging issues, maintenance, refurbish or replace, F&B mandate, etc. But that elimination effects the most on Capitol Hill.  In the end, I think he and his managers bring on board a group of Senators and Representatives after the elections to help sell to their colleagues the idea of no more long distance., after that, he has to sell the unions on the idea of no LD.  Getting rid of LD sounds easy enough, but when you peal back the layers, it is actually quite complicated.



#190 jis

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 03:39 PM

I find no evidence that Anderson is getting any pressure from the Congress to get rid of the LD network. Some loud mouths in Congress, maybe. But remember Congress appropriated more money for the national System in FY18 than even what Amtrak asked for. That is a mighty strange way to pressure someone to get rid of something.

 

All that Anderson had said definitively so far is that adding/restoring LD trains does not make economic sense. But then at the end of the day Congress gets the last word on what is or is not economic sense for Amtrak. From Anderson;s perspective it makes sense to take a hard nosed position to test Congress' resolve to actually do the needful to maintain the current network and grow it, so that it ceases being Anderson;s problem to go with a begging bowl and beat up by Congress. It is more of a come to Uncle moment for Congress which has traditionally mismanaged the entire transportation infrastructure and planning for the nation because of various reasons. And this is nothing new.



#191 Ryan

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 03:59 PM

All that Anderson had said definitively so far is that adding/restoring LD trains does not make economic sense. But then at the end of the day Congress gets the last word on what is or is not economic sense for Amtrak.


Incidentally, this isn't all that different than Boardman's "if Congress wants me to run new trains, someone needs to pay me to do it" position.

Nothing new indeed...

Edited by Ryan, 30 April 2018 - 04:00 PM.

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#192 Thirdrail7

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 04:01 PM

Unfortunately, if Anderson accomplishes his mission to make Amtrak "profitable", by whatever measure, then he will become the darling of the pols and may serve for a long tenure, with whatever it takes to achieve that goal...

 

 

This goes back to something I previously stated that I want to address.  These quotes are at the heart of my concern:

 

Theres nothing about which to feel sorry for Wick Moorman. He was more or less doing Amtrak a favor by taking the job when he really didnt want. He was retired and really had no intention of coming back to work, but he was the one that felt sorry for Amtrak, and took the job, temporarily, to help Amtrak extend the search for a permanent CEO.

When Boardman announced his retirement, essentially nobody wanted the job. Thats why Moorman was brought in.
<snip>

Many folks dont like Anderson, but I really dont know who would be qualified for the job and actually want it. Experienced railroad executives are better off with freight companies (and they know it), and experienced passenger executives are better off at more stable transit and commuter railroads (and they know it). Who does that leave you with?
 

 

Indeed!

 

You raise an interesting point.

Has anyone gone on from the Amtrak job to go and do great things elsewhere?

 

 

Here's the concern and here is what typically happens. When these executives and leaders arrive at Amtrak, they are people that are at the end of their careers or attempting to bolster their careers. I've nicknamed them the Resume Padders.  When they become "the darlings of the pols" as Railiner puts it, it can lead to great things. As such, they do things to pad their resume and promote themselves. Then, they leave...and whatever wreckage or fallout that occurs will happen after they have left. They don't have a long term view or a long term commitment.  They tend to be a bit more timid with their visions because they are lining themselves up.

 

The people that are retired or at the end of the careers can operate with the same flexibility. After all, what do they have to lose? They don't have to worry about any burnt bridges or bad feelings because they too, can just leave. Then, the next person comes in with a bad hand, spending time doing repair work instead of moving forward.

 

What brought Mr Anderson to the railroad? It is extremely likely he doesn't need the money, he doesn't seem like he values keeping the system together (like previous leaders) and he doesn't appear to be a buff. Some wonder whether he is lining himself up for a government job, like Secretary of Transportation or something like that.

 

Why he is here doesn't concern me. What he does now is not gnawing at me. How he positions Amtrak for the FUTURE is what concerns me because not unlike other leaders, the decisions he makes now may help or hurt us for decades to come...and sometimes what seems helpful becomes hurtful...years later.

 

Does he have that much vision? Let's hope so.

 

I find no evidence that Anderson is getting any pressure from the Congress to get rid of the LD network. Some loud mouths in Congress, maybe. But remember Congress appropriated more money for the national System in FY18 than even what Amtrak asked for. That is a mighty strange way to pressure someone to get rid of something.

 

All that Anderson had said definitively so far is that adding/restoring LD trains does not make economic sense. But then at the end of the day Congress gets the last word on what is or is not economic sense for Amtrak. From Anderson;s perspective it makes sense to take a hard nosed position to test Congress' resolve to actually do the needful to maintain the current network and grow it, so that it ceases being Anderson;s problem to go with a begging bowl and beat up by Congress. It is more of a come to Uncle moment for Congress which has traditionally mismanaged the entire transportation infrastructure and planning for the nation because of various reasons. And this is nothing new.

 

Very true but given that he doesn't think additional service makes sense, 10 will get you 20 that he thinks the current network doesn't make economic sense.


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#193 jis

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 05:22 PM

And indeed given the hand he has been dealt, it doesn’t. But if it was Congress’ unequivocal policy definition that it does make senses provided its support costs no more than X, like is the case in the UK for example, then by definition of his job it makes economic sense. He is not the Secretary of the Treasury or Transportation, or the President or the Congress. It is not up to him to decide what makes sense for the nation.

#194 railiner

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 10:24 PM

What Amtrak needs, is another W.G. Claytor, Jr....professional lawyer, railroader, politician, and advocate of good passenger service.  He knew how to play the game with the pols very well.

That said however, I wonder how even he would deal with the challenges the Amtrak CEO faces today..... :unsure:


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#195 Skyline

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 11:15 PM

What Amtrak needs, is another W.G. Claytor, Jr....professional lawyer, railroader, politician, and advocate of good passenger service.  He knew how to play the game with the pols very well.

That said however, I wonder how even he would deal with the challenges the Amtrak CEO faces today..... :unsure:

 

Indeed, how would Claytor have dealt with the anti-Amtrak President, whose budget would have ended most service had Congress gone along with it?



#196 Lonestar648

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 11:28 PM

Previously, Amtrak Presidents stated that the network was a whole unit.  Stop once piece and the whole networks stops including the NEC and state supported routes. The nightmare from shutting the NEC for all traffic put politicians into a panic. IIRC it was all hot air so Congress didn't believe until Gunn issues cancellation orders, union notices, and user notices. Now the Pols want to make sure the NEC is separate so a complete end to passenger rail in the NEC can not happen.  Anderson definitely doesn't care about the longevity of the network, sacrificing pieces of it is totally acceptable.



#197 railiner

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Posted 01 May 2018 - 07:35 AM

Very depressing...

So in the words from the CZ ads, back in 1969 and '70....."Ride it, while you can"... :(


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#198 cpotisch

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Posted 01 May 2018 - 07:49 AM

Very depressing...
So in the words from the CZ ads, back in 1969 and '70....."Ride it, while you can"... :(

They actually said that in the ads back then? Whoever came up with that must have just gotten dumped or something...

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#199 jis

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Posted 01 May 2018 - 09:03 AM

 

Very depressing...
So in the words from the CZ ads, back in 1969 and '70....."Ride it, while you can"... :(

They actually said that in the ads back then? Whoever came up with that must have just gotten dumped or something...

 

Given that Rio Grande was not joining Amtrak, it was a foregone conclusion that CZ as was known then would cease to operate on A-Day, though the exact disposition of that affair was not known until the very last minute. On A day what remained was a three times a week Rio Grande Zephyr that ran from Denver to Salt lake City via the Moffatt Route, and a Chicago - Oakland through train called the San Francisco Zephyr which ran Denver to Oakland via Wyoming, including Chyenne, through Ogden UT (did not touch Salt lake City). But it did run on the Lucin Cutoff.



#200 railiner

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Posted 01 May 2018 - 10:07 AM

 

Very depressing...
So in the words from the CZ ads, back in 1969 and '70....."Ride it, while you can"... :(

They actually said that in the ads back then? Whoever came up with that must have just gotten dumped or something...

 

Yes....they actually said that in ads in 1969, and '70...they first extolled all of the virtues of the train, but finished at the bottom with the admonition, to "ride it, while you can"...

The train was losing a fortune for the three railroads that operated it, and the WP was vigorously trying to discontinue it.  The ICC finally gave its permission to the WP, and it made its last run in March of 1970, 13 months before Amtrak started up.  The BN and D&RGW continued its operation, until A-Day, as the "California Service/Rio Grande Zephyr", and forwarded its thru passenger's to its former arch-rival, City of San Francisco, at Ogden.

 

I tried finding a copy of the ads on the net, but could not.   I may have one buried somewhere, deep in my 'archives'...


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