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fredmcain

Southwest Chief News & Future Operations

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Does anybody have any more up-to-the-date news on the future of the Southwest Chief? The future of this train has been in the news a lot lately but not for about the last week or week and a half.

 

Anybody on this forum know what's going on? Does anybody at Amtrak know what's going on?

 

It was widely reported that Anderson would not complete Amtrak's share of the commitment to track improvements. But then this new board member appointee stated something like he didn't "think it would be right to renege on a previously established commitment". So? Are the track improvement on again, off again on again?

 

I'd be interested to know if anyone has any recent news.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain,

Topeka, IN

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See my post made today in Travelogues. One of the conductors told me that Amtrak returned Tiger grant money to Colorado. However, I cannot vouch for the complete accuracy of that. It has been stated that Amtrak employees are often not well informed and rumors abound.

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The Board candidate in question is yet to be confirmed by the Senate, so he is no quite on the Board yet, unless he got confirmed today.

 

Not clear how everyone will save their respective faces and back off from the $3million kerfuffle, but I suspect they eventually will, because anything else will be politically quiet painful.

 

The greatest danger that the Southwest Chief faces at present IMHO is the possible failure of Rail Runner to meet the PTC deadline. Of all the potential PTC outages that were discussed at the Spring RPA Meeting, the Rail Runner one appeared to be the most problematic. Working through Senator Nelson's office we have determined that the two Florida ones will get resolved by December. Nothing similar has been found about the Rail Runner yet.

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<snip>

The greatest danger that the Southwest Chief faces at present IMHO is the possible failure of Rail Runner to meet the PTC deadline. Of all the potential PTC outages that were discussed at the Spring RPA Meeting, the Rail Runner one appeared to be the most problematic. Working through Senator Nelson's office we have determined that the two Florida ones will get resolved by December. Nothing similar has been found about the Rail Runner yet.

 

Well, I thought I heard that lines which are protected by the older Automatic Train Stop ( which I thought this line is ) would be granted a waiver for an unclear period of time. Is that incorrect or perhaps misunderstood?

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Congress will have to change the law to make that possible. The current law does not quite allow that. It is quite specific as to what criteria must be met, and that does not satisfy the criteria.

 

Of course anything is possible, but no solution is in the bag at the present time, in a manner of speaking.

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Congress will have to change the law to make that possible. The current law does not quite allow that. It is quite specific as to what criteria must be met, and that does not satisfy the criteria.

 

Of course anything is possible, but no solution is in the bag at the present time, in a manner of speaking.

Unfortunately, I cannot cite my source 'cause I can't find it anymore. Does anybody else know? Can ATS be accepted on an interim basis for PTC?

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

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Jishnu knows and has already provided the answer you seek.

Edited by Ryan

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I was under the impression that PTC was only required on lines where passenger and freight trains shared the ROW. Does BNSF run ANYTHING on this branch any more? Not relevant?

 

I'd hate to see Amtrak rerouted through Belen. Way too much freight traffic, loss of ABQ as a station without a massive Wye, not near as scenic.

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The issue is not BNSF it's the Rail Runner.

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Actually, I came across a piece of possible good news this morning. The latest Rail Passenger Association "Hotline" reported that there was a meeting last week between Jim Matthews, President of the RPA (formerly NARP) and Richard Anderson. Anderson stated that there are NO plans to cut any long distance trains at this time. He also stated that for lines where PTC has not been installed by the end of the year, that this will result in temporary service disruptions and not a permanent discontinuance. (Whatever that means).

 

You can read the report here: https://www.railpassengers.org/happening-now/news/hotline/

 

As someone else on this group stated earlier, some of this stuff may have been started as rumor. It's either that or Anderson sensed he was starting to get his butt in a ringer and backed off. Either way, I feel better about this - for now.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

Edited by fredmcain

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So if Railrunner doesnt meet the end of the year date as expected, then will the SWC stop running? Is there any incentive for Railrunning to get PTC completed in 2019 or could they let it drag on, thus in effect canceling the SWC?

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Actually, I came across a piece of possible good news this morning. The latest Rail Passenger Association "Hotline" reported that there was a meeting last week between Jim Matthews, President of the RPA (formerly NARP) and Richard Anderson. Anderson stated that there are NO plans to cut any long distance trains at this time. He also stated that for lines where PTC has not been installed by the end of the year, that this will result in temporary service disruptions and not a permanent discontinuance. (Whatever that means).

 

You can read the report here: https://www.railpassengers.org/happening-now/news/hotline/

 

As someone else on this group stated earlier, some of this stuff may have been started as rumor. It's either that or Anderson sensed he was starting to get his butt in a ringer and backed off. Either way, I feel better about this - for now.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

 

I am glad that you are feeling better. The information that I have been giving here is no rumor. Everything is based on a presentation made by the guy at Amtrak who is in charge of PTC, SMS and other Safety matters, which took place during the RPA Spring Meeting in Alexandria VA. It is he who had a bright red marking out the Rail Runner segment stating there was no resolution of the issue as of then and they were working diligently on figuring something out. There still is no resolution and the issue is being worked.

 

Incidentally, he also had SFRTA (Tri Rail) and CFRC (Sun Rail) in the "at risk" column. Since then we got in touch with Senator Nelson's Transportation staff who nudged both of them into action and got a commitment from both to complete all necessary steps to get and "Alternative Schedule Agreement" with the FRA, so that there is no discontinuity come Jan 1, 2019.

 

Just FYI I am an RPA Council Member and the Division Leader for the Southeast Division. In case of doubt, look it up at the source: https://www.railpassengers.org/about/leadership/council-of-representatives/division-leader/

 

 

The issue is not BNSF it's the Rail Runner.

Indeed. The problem is RailRunner. There are two solutions:

 

1. Install all the trackside hardware and run a short demo segment before the end of December to qualify for an extension.

 

2. Run 6 round trips or less altogether per day to qualify for exception (IIRC, don;t remember the exact number off the top of my head). This will mean significant reduction in weekday Rail Runner service and and a small reduction in weekend service so as to scale back operations to 5 trips each way, leaving one slot for the SWC. That would probably be the absolute drop dead alternative.

 

But stay tuned. Maybe Thirdrail has more current information.

Edited by jis

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The information that I have been giving here is no rumor. Everything is based on a presentation made by the guy at Amtrak who is in charge of PTC, SMS and other Safety matters, which took place during the RPA Spring Meeting in Alexandria VA. It is he who had a bright red marking out the Rail Runner segment stating there was no resolution of the issue as of then and they were working diligently on figuring something out. There still is no resolution and the issue is being worked.

 

Incidentally, he also had SFRC (Tri Rail) and CFRC (Sun Rail) in the "at risk" column. Since then we got in touch with Senator Nelson's Transportation staff who nudged both of them into action and got a commitment from both to complete all necessary steps to get and "Alternative Schedule Agreement" with the FRA, so that there is no discontinuity come Jan 1, 2019.

 

Just FYI I am an RPA Council Member and the Division Leader for the Southeast Division. In case of doubt, look it up at the source: https://www.railpassengers.org/about/leadership/council-of-representatives/division-leader/

I will confirm the accuracy of what Jis stated above. I was present at the RPA meeting and confirm that he is the Division Leader for the SE Division.

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Actually, I came across a piece of possible good news this morning. The latest Rail Passenger Association "Hotline" reported that there was a meeting last week between Jim Matthews, President of the RPA (formerly NARP) and Richard Anderson. Anderson stated that there are NO plans to cut any long distance trains at this time. He also stated that for lines where PTC has not been installed by the end of the year, that this will result in temporary service disruptions and not a permanent discontinuance. (Whatever that means).

 

You can read the report here: https://www.railpassengers.org/happening-now/news/hotline/

 

As someone else on this group stated earlier, some of this stuff may have been started as rumor. It's either that or Anderson sensed he was starting to get his butt in a ringer and backed off. Either way, I feel better about this - for now.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

 

I am glad that you are feeling better. The information that I have been giving here is no rumor. Everything is based on a presentation made by the guy at Amtrak who is in charge of PTC, SMS and other Safety matters, which took place during the RPA Spring Meeting in Alexandria VA. It is he who had a bright red marking out the Rail Runner segment stating there was no resolution of the issue as of then and they were working diligently on figuring something out. There still is no resolution and the issue is being worked.

 

Incidentally, he also had SFRC (Tri Rail) and CFRC (Sun Rail) in the "at risk" column. Since then we got in touch with Senator Nelson's Transportation staff who nudged both of them into action and got a commitment from both to complete all necessary steps to get and "Alternative Schedule Agreement" with the FRA, so that there is no discontinuity come Jan 1, 2019.

 

Just FYI I am an RPA Council Member and the Division Leader for the Southeast Division. In case of doubt, look it up at the source: https://www.railpassengers.org/about/leadership/council-of-representatives/division-leader/

 

 

The issue is not BNSF it's the Rail Runner.

Indeed. The problem is RailRunner. There are two solutions:

 

1. Install all the trackside hardware and run a short demo segment before the end of December to qualify for an extension.

 

2. Run less than 6 round trips or less altogether per day to qualify for exception (IIRC, don;t remember the exact number off the top of my head). This will mean significant reduction in weekday Rail Runner service and and a small reduction in weekend service so as to scale back operations to 5 trips each way, leaving one slot for the SWC. That would probably be the absolute drop dead alternative.

 

But stay tuned. Maybe Thirdrail has more current information.

 

Currently Railrunner runs only 4 RTs on weekends between Santa Fe and ABQ, and 8 weekday RTs between ABQ and Santa Fe, so weekend service would not have to be adjusted. Weekday service reductions would be painful (killing 3 trips) but Railrunner has been nothing but service reductions and low ridership, so the cuts might not be so bad.

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Just FYI I am an RPA Council Member and the Division Leader for the Southeast Division. In case of doubt, look it up at the source: https://www.railpassengers.org/about/leadership/council-of-representatives/division-leader/

I will confirm the accuracy of what Jis stated above. I was present at the RPA meeting and confirm that he is the Division Leader for the SE Division.

 

I see your name on their website, too...looks like AU is well represented at RPA... ;)

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JIS,

 

I am sorry, but I didn't mean to insinuate that what you said was based on a rumor. The "rumor" I was referring to reflects back to an earlier post someone had made that Amtrak had returned $3 Million of Tiger grants to the states. The individual who made that statement suggested that it might have been a rumor. That was his suggestion - not mine. Perhaps it was merely a rumor but then again maybe it's not. I don't know for sure but it'd be interesting to know.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

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Railrunner is going to meet the PTC requirements eventually; the state legislature, after multiple studies, concluded it would cost a *lot* more to shut it down than to keep it running, so they'll do what it takes. The legislature is being very grudging with funding, though, hence the delays. If political pressure can dislodge the funding, it would be a good thing.

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JIS,

 

I am sorry, but I didn't mean to insinuate that what you said was based on a rumor. The "rumor" I was referring to reflects back to an earlier post someone had made that Amtrak had returned $3 Million of Tiger grants to the states. The individual who made that statement suggested that it might have been a rumor. That was his suggestion - not mine. Perhaps it was merely a rumor but then again maybe it's not. I don't know for sure but it'd be interesting to know.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

No problem. I just wanted to make sure that we clearly separate what is rumor from what is documented fact.

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If the NM legislature is tight with money for Rail Runner, would it be more beneficial for them to cut three RT weekdays than install and activate and maintain PTC?

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Things are heating up.

 

Fair Use:

 

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/railroads/390155-lawmakers-request-meeting-with-amtrak-ceo-over-funding-for

 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday asked for a meeting with Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson over the company’s plans to deny funding for its Southwest Chief route pending additional financial investments.

The letter, penned by multiple House and Senate lawmakers in both parties, argues the route that runs through Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico is “vital to the economic well-being of our communities.”

“The lack of transparency by Amtrak management about its changing position on the Southwest Chief is troubling, particularly for a Government-Sponsored Enterprise entrusted with an important public transportation mission,” the letter reads.

“We request Amtrak take the lead in developing cooperative plans to ensure the Southwest Chief’s successful operation, including seeking funding from the various federal grant programs established to address these specific issues.”

Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) signed the document, as did a group of House lawmakers from New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas.

 

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Maybe UAL can be persuaded to hire Anderson away from Amtrak, to replace their Chairman and CEO position's... :D

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Maybe Congress can get enough pull to push Anderson out and bring in someone who has customer service skills and experience and railroad skills and experience!

You know, one thing I've wondered about. Why exactly did Anderson leave Delta to begin with? If he really and truly "retired" then why did he come on board at Amtrak? Or, did the Delta board push him out?

 

And then there's Wick Moorman. At the beginning of the year it was publicly stated that he would be staying on at Amtrak as a "consultant" for an unspecified length of time. Is he still there now? If so, why? Why should taxpayers fund Amtrak to effectively employ TWO chiefs? And if by chance Moorman's still there he sure doesn't appear to be helping matters any.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

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