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Railway Age Article: "The Amtrak Era is Over"

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https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/the-amtrak-era-is-over-its-time-for-a-replacement/

 

According to the article, we have a Federal Highway Administration and a Federal Aviation Administration, so why not a :"Federal Rail Administration". Why can't the government care about passenger rail service the same way it does roads and planes? Why is Amtrak required to be profitable but the FHA and FAA not?

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We do have a Federal Rail Administration it's called, get this, the Federal Railroad Administration.

 

Different directives. Amtrak is required to transport passengers, the FHWA, FAA & FRA are required to set the rules (and enforce them) to allow for safe transport.

 

peter

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Exactly...the FAA doesn't fly airliner's.....the FHWA doesn't operate buses or trucks....

Apples and Oranges.... ;)

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The writers of the piece are employed full time with Corridor Capital the company that unsuccessfully tried to operate the Hoosier State. To be honest I wouldn't trust anything that outfit put out either due to bias issues, or I think they are too pie in the sky.

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Exactly...the FAA doesn't fly airliner's.....the FHWA doesn't operate buses or trucks....

Apples and Oranges.... ;)

True, but there are some interesting things that catch my attention...

 

The FAA does operate the ATC. That is akin to the FRA operating all dispatching for all railroads, which it does not. Indeed there is a move afoot to spin off ATC as a not for profit private operation which is yet to come to fruition.

 

Amtrak as originally conceived was supposed to be a train operating company owning no infrastructure. But then a huge hunk of infrastructure with at least a $50 Billion, perhaps more, backlog became part of it, and that is at the core of the perennial national vs. NEC debate, which is unlikely to and until at the infrastructure is separated out from the TOC. It is not all clear how, or if anyone will ever fix that.

 

The point made in the article regarding FAA and FHWA is at best trying to baffle with BS. The article is remarkably poorly written with remarkably poorly formulated arguments. Just IMO of course.

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There are a couple of decent points made, mostly that Amtrak has no real goal other than profitability and no one really seems to care about them enough to truly fix the problems.

 

Part of the reason why I want to work for Amtrak post college is to help fix that. Easier said than done, but getting someone in the CEO spot who really knows how to run not only a railroad but also a customer service company is key. Whoever is leading Amtrak needs to be able to see things from the customer’s perspective and really create a “customer first” culture along with strengthening the “Safety” culture and working with the Feds and Class Is to speed up and expand service.

 

There is a lot of untapped potential for Amtrak still, largely in the corridor network outside of the NEC. Someone needs to tap into it.

 

I also agree with Seaboard92....if I remember correctly Corridor Capital really screwed the pooch with the Hoosier State operations and the article was mostly trash anyway.

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Exactly...the FAA doesn't fly airliner's.....the FHWA doesn't operate buses or trucks....

Apples and Oranges.... ;)

True, but there are some interesting things that catch my attention...

 

The FAA does operate the ATC. That is akin to the FRA operating all dispatching for all railroads, which it does not. Indeed there is a move afoot to spin off ATC as a not for profit private operation which is yet to come to fruition.

 

Amtrak as originally conceived was supposed to be a train operating company owning no infrastructure. But then a huge hunk of infrastructure with at least a $50 Billion, perhaps more, backlog became part of it, and that is at the core of the perennial national vs. NEC debate, which is unlikely to and until at the infrastructure is separated out from the TOC. It is not all clear how, or if anyone will ever fix that.

 

The point made in the article regarding FAA and FHWA is at best trying to baffle with BS. The article is remarkably poorly written with remarkably poorly formulated arguments. Just IMO of course.

 

The FAA operates the ATC, as well the government operates street and highway traffic control devices...

Those are "public spaces" open to use by anyone. Railroads are private rights of way, hence they dispatch them, themselves. In the case of the NEC, which Amtrak owns, Amtrak dispatches. I don't think any freight railroad would agree to the FRA dispatching their railroad, even if it saved them the cost of dispatcher's (and signals)....

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My working hypothesis is that until the dispatching issue is fixed we will not have a reasonable passenger system running on freight railroad property That is just the way it is.

 

Actually Amtrak itself is pretty bad in how it treats its client Commuter roads on its property when it comes to dispatching.

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It would take a big push in government, but I still think the US could pull of the UK-style rail network. Where the infrastructure & dispatching is owned and handled by the government; and the railroads lease/bid to run trains on the tracks.

 

peter

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It would take a big push in government, but I still think the US could pull of the UK-style rail network. Where the infrastructure & dispatching is owned and handled by the government; and the railroads lease/bid to run trains on the tracks.

 

peter

We'd need Amtrak to overthrow the government and seize all the railroads for a UK-style train system to happen.

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