Amtrak moving forward to stop all, most LDT

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Amtrakfflyer, Feb 20, 2019.

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  1. Mar 12, 2019 #326

    AGM.12

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    One other thing to be aware of is that Amtrak has enraged private car operators, groups that run excursions, as well as perhaps even some state governments enough so that these former allies will say to hell with Amtrak and not oppose this budget.
     
  2. Mar 12, 2019 #327

    lordsigma

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    If Anderson/Gardner are indeed in cahoots with the administration that may ultimately help doom their proposals though due to the current political climate. This budget is surely dead on arrival in congress but as I said before, the similarity between the language here and what Gardner has been alluding to may give a preview of what is to come at reauth if Anderson/Gardner did have a roll in crafting that language. The question is - is what they are going to propose going to be as complete and direct a cancellation of the national network as the budget states or a more moderate approach with a trimmed down network where there may still be some trains and some buses.
     
  3. Mar 12, 2019 #328

    TiBike

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    The resemblance between Amtrak's plans and the administration's proposed budget doesn't look like a coincidence. The article about Gardner was published just ahead of the budget plan, and was written by a guy who also wrote rail policy for the Heritage Foundation. The Amtrak priority for democrats appears so far to be labor concerns, per the committee letter to Anderson. But a potentially bigger passenger rail issue, primarily for democrats but also affecting some republicans, is the Gateway program. It's been zeroed out again in Trump's budget. Money for the NEC, something for corridors elsewhere and better rural bus service, combined with some guarantees for employees, might turn out to be acceptable sausage.
     
  4. Mar 12, 2019 #329

    Amtrak706

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    It's over. Ride them while you can.
     
  5. Mar 12, 2019 #330

    lordsigma

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    I’m not so sure it’s over. Again I think they’ve done themselves a disservice by hitching their wagon to the current controversial administration if they have. That is automatically going to make some folks in congress oppose it. Remember again the senate votes recently for language in reference to the Southwest Chief plan. I don’t think congress is going to ignore the RPA and other advocacy voices opposing this plan and just rubber stamp it. This would amount to a substantial domestic program cut with fancy language saying its “enhancement” and Democrats don’t like domestic cuts and there really isn’t a reason right now for them to do it politically as the republican controlled senate isn’t even likely to support this plan. There are some republican senators who have supported Amtrak in the past. This budget proposal also adds billions and billions more to the pentagon budget which will have a much greater impact on deficits - big picture this Amtrak cut doesn’t amount to much compared to other areas of federal spending.

    If one looks at January Amtrak reports, Amtrak’s operational subsidy is on track to once again be an all time low this coming year which means a bigger slice of their federal money will go to capital programs. All service line expenses are down across the board even though Amtrak ridership seems to have hit a plateau and is unfavorable to their forecast - and these decreases are not focused to the long distance routes the NEC is seeing some decreases as well but even despite this the expenses continue to fall. Even the long distance trains that still have dining and baggage cars are seeing expense decreases which means less of a subsidy will be needed. The urgency of cutting these trains seems to decrease each and every year. If you dealt with OTP and refreshed the superliner and amfleet II equipment those expense numbers would drop even more as you’d grow ridership. It should also be noted that with state supported trains a large portion of them also lose money and not all have stellar ridership. But usually no one cares about that because those operating subsidies are picked up by states.
     
  6. Mar 12, 2019 #331

    Amtrakfflyer

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    Re: Gardner’s Article Railway age March 9th

    Instead of sitting down to do that interview maybe they should have replied to the House letter that was due March 8th. Blantant disregard and contempt for Congress.  In effect Gardner’s letter was the response it’s not a coincidence.
     
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  7. Mar 12, 2019 #332

    PRR 60

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    How do you know they did not respond? Just because they did not post a PR "letter" does not mean they did not contact the reps through direct channels as would be customary for response to congressional inquiries.
     
  8. Mar 12, 2019 #333

    Amtrakfflyer

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    It would have and will eventually  leak shortly after received. There’s 51 signers on that letter so potentially 100 plus staffers in addition to the reps will see it. The timing of the article is suspicious. Plus RPA will probably have it leaked to them the day it’s received whether they publish it is another story but somebody will.
     
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  9. Mar 12, 2019 #334

    neroden

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    Yeah, a response to a letter with that many Congressional signers does NOT remain confidential for long. Amtrak hasn't responded yet.
     
  10. Mar 12, 2019 #335

    PRR 60

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    Communications does not always take place in the form of a letter. Amtrak government affairs people have phone numbers and in-person access to both representatives and staffers.
     
  11. Mar 12, 2019 #336

    Amtrakfflyer

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    51 phone calls or a memo they can   throw together in an hour and send to commitee chair? The questions were softball and Amtrak management knows how they want to answer them. In fact Gardner did. 
     
  12. Mar 12, 2019 #337

    pennyk

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    MODERATOR NOTE:  Discussions concerning the Amtrak FY 2020 Budget have been moved here 
     
  13. Mar 13, 2019 #338

    Amtrak706

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    There's no doubt about the fact that externally, Amtrak was doing better than ever. As you stated, there were record ridership numbers and a record low deficit for several years in a row, in spite of low gas prices and declining service quality. Their appropriations were way up and they actually had major support from Congress.

    The disaster that has been unfolding over the past year or so is completely internal. Anderson, Gardner, and whoever on the board supports them seem intent on bludgeoning the fragile status quo at Amtrak out of existence, despite the fact that the status quo was actually positive and improving for the first time in decades. Now there are ridership problems on long distance routes where service was lowered, and the inexplicable support and funding from Congress may not last too much longer. When it goes, there will be no one left defending Amtrak as it exists now, and with that it'll be over.
     
  14. Mar 13, 2019 #339

    west point

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    Thoughts!   We need a deep dive into how the 750 mile rule came about?  Especially those involved in crafting that provision?

    The Va Amtrak service is technically interstate and that includes VRE.  The  NJT  to NYP is also interstate.  PATH also.

    Exactly how should  the commerce clause of the constitution be  applied especially the post road section.  So the application of that has been applied to include RRs.  That was applied to the building of RRs. 
     
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  15. Mar 14, 2019 #340

    bretton88

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    I think the line should be whether the trains are there for the primary benefit of one State or many. I.e. the keystone's are technically multi State, but they really are there for the benefit of Pennsylvania. Versus say an Atlanta to Charlotte corridor where there are multiple states involved and it will benefit multiple states. I could see a shortening of the 750 mile rule to 400/500 miles OR entirely in one State (looking at the California services).
     
  16. Mar 14, 2019 #341

    MikefromCrete

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    Explain to me why states which have supported Amtrak for years should be punished why those who have ignored Amtrak should be given a free pass. Georgia,  South Carolina and North Carolina are doing just fine. Let them pay for their short distance trains like everyone else.
     
  17. Mar 14, 2019 #342

    John Bredin

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    Is the same criteria applied to Federal funding of highway projects? There are Interstate highways in Alaska and Hawaii, for pete's sake!  :giggle:

    The 750 mile rule was imposed on Amtrak by Congress. IMHO, supporters of passenger rail should not tie themselves into knots separating "true" intercity sheep from interloper state goats that don't deserve federal money, so that some rail supporters are pitted against others. The only people that benefit from that are the highway people. who walk away with sacks of money while we fight each other over scraps. Intercity rail is intercity rail.

    If I was president* I'd provide for a base level of service, maybe two trains a day, at Federal expense. A state would be able to get better service by ponying up the same percentage a state contributes to highway projects, not 100%. If highways are 80 Fed-20 state, rail should be too. If highways are 50-50, rail should be too.

    *Cue up music from the old Popeye cartoon.  :giggle:
     
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  18. Mar 14, 2019 #343

    bretton88

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    Because you just named 3 states in that statement. Getting multiple states to cooperate is near impossible, that's where Amtrak comes into play. Now if Amtrak started running intrastate trains with no state support (I.e. Dallas to Houston), then there should be questions asked.
     
  19. Mar 15, 2019 #344

    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    I wouldn't mind if they did run a Dallas-Houston train with federal funding, I don't know why they don't. Houston is the fourth most populous city in the US and they have one train that runs 3x/week and the connections in New Orleans require an overnight stay. If more than half of the country wanted to visit Houston on Amtrak, they'd either have to overnight in NOL or transfer to a bus in some rinky dink city in the middle of nowhere. They should have never cut the Houston leg of the Texas Eagle.

    If you want a true "national" system, you have to think what is best for the nation, no state boundaries, no mileage requirements. Where do people live, where do they want to go? Imagine someone wanting to go from Point A to Point B, how can they get there? If there isn't a train there now, get one there.
     
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  20. Mar 15, 2019 #345

    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    Two trains per state? So California would get the same number of trains and level of service as Wyoming? Umm, no.
     
  21. Mar 15, 2019 #346

    John Bredin

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    Two trains per existing or possible new* long-distance line, not per state. California has more than one LD line.

    *As to new lines, IMHO the first criteria is how much $ and train equipment Amtrak has (of course), the second is the condition of the line (how fast could Amtrak trains go without a whole lot of capital improvements to the line), and the third is the willingness of the communities along a possible route to support a station. Trains serve communities, not states. If a community will support a station, it gets one. If enough communities on a possible route (that Amtrak has $ and equipment for, with decent speeds) show willingness to pony up for a station, they get service. And I don't care if the community support comes from the state, city, county, transit authority, tourism board, chamber of commerce, a downtown landowner, or the man in the moon.
     
  22. Mar 15, 2019 #347

    Amtrakfflyer

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    That didn’t work too well for the Hoosier state cities and colleges that ponied up money. I just did a post on that under the Hoosier state thread,last day of service 6/30/19.
     
  23. Mar 15, 2019 #348

    cpotisch

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    I agree with the intent here, but I just think that would be too subjective to work well. And the way something is intended is also very different from how people use it. Something could be intended as or expected to be primarily intrastate, but riders may see and use it the other way.
     
  24. Mar 15, 2019 #349

    cpotisch

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    Couldn't agree more. That gives Amtrak the freedom to provide service where it wishes (which can also be used as a feeder to bring more passengers to other routes), while also giving the states an incentive to chip in and improve service.
     
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  25. Mar 16, 2019 #350

    Tokkyu40

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    The dishonest accounting system is the main problem with most of the plans being put forward. Much of the infrastructure costs of the NEC are wrapped up in the general overhead and distributed among the routes according to route length.
    If you deduct the corporate overhead from the money losing LD trains and just account for the cost of the train and the route itself, the Autotrain, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited, Palmetto and Empire Builder are running at a profit.
    Average trip length on Amtrak is 800 miles, the same as on airlines.
    Long Distance trains have a higher load factor and higher output in revenue passenger miles than the NEC. They are major revenue drivers and Amtrak would be economically crippled if they get closed down in favor of corridor services.
    Worse, there would be no place to shift the costs of the NEC, and the true cost of the infrastructure would become obvious.
    It's almost as if someone came in from an airline with a deliberate intention of ending Amtrak.
     
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