I would like to share a message that I posted on another group. I hope I don't step on any toes here.
What follows is my idea for replacing Amtrak but first I have to make it clear that it WOULD require Congress to pass new legislation.
The first part of that legislation would be to FREEZE the current system so that Richard “Doofus” Anderson can’t cut anything until the transition is complete.
Then the transition to turn back the passenger trains to the contracting freight roads could begin. I know, I know, we’ve been down that road before and it didn’t work. But first consider that times have changed AND new legislation could provide a new environment for intercity rail passenger service that would be more attractive to the companies than it was in the 1960s.
The first thing Congress would need to do is to completely and totally replace most of the equipment AND provide ENOUGH equipment to allow for expansion (both frequencies and possible new routes) as well as for maintenance downtime and wreck damage.
Then, the legislation could provide the railroads with low or no interest government backed loans in the future to help cover any further purchases.
The legislation could/should persuade or mandate the post office to move “head end” business back to passenger trains wherever feasible.
The roads could also go after UPS or FedEx head end business. Remember Ed Ellis tried that before but ran into extreme opposition from the Class 1s because they were afraid of losing a little bit of TOFC or COFC business to Amtrak. But with the Class 1s on the engineer’s seat, that would not be an issue this time. In fact, they’d probably like it.
What I like the most of my idea is that it would all but eliminate the “Our tracks and your trains” issue that exists between the Class 1s and Amtrak. The trains could also be marketed in such a way as to boost corporate pride not unlike the U.P. Steam Program. Maybe BNSF would consider revival of the Super Chief name. Warbonnets? Why not?
If this were ever to happen, something would also need to be done to address the issue of the Northeast Corridor – I’m not sure what. Perhaps it could be turned over to some kind of multistate agency and managed much as the Port Authority manages the PATH trains in the New York/New Jersey area. A similar kind of thing would need to be done in California. But I think the “Joint Powers” board might be able to take care of that (where they have rights to the tracks, that is).
Another idea I had would be similar but instead of Congress passing legislation to turn the trains back to the Class 1s, they could turn it over to some kind of a Brightline-like business or a series of such companies. Unfortunately, if they did that then we’d still be stuck with this “our tracks but your trains conflict”.
Fred M. Cain,
Amtrak patron from Topeka, IN