$66 billion for Amtrak

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neroden

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The overall big strategy on this bill is that Congress will pass a more limited "nuts and bolts" infrastructure bill (this one) that's "bipartisan" (or at least has enough Republican votes to prevent a filibuster.) Then they will include additional funding for stuff no Republican would vote for as part of a reconciliation bill, which can pass with a simple majority.
....I will add the point that the House, specifically Speaker Pelosi, has promised that they aren't going to pass the more limited "bipartisan" bill until after they pass the reconciliation bill. So they certainly won't pass the Senate bill unmodified before reconciliation passes (because then it would pass!) They'll send back modified versions via conference committee until after reconciliation has passed, and *then* sign off on something.

So, no final infrastructure bill until after reconciliation is done. Plenty of time to keep working on modifying the "bipartisan" bill.
 

neroden

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There are three chances to do reconciliation this year, by the way. This year's budget which was never done, the future year's budget, and the bill to get rid of the debt ceiling (this bill is essential, and the Republican leaders in the House and Senate are trying to block it AGAIN because they have the mentality of arsonists).
 

jis

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So there would seem to be a significant likelihood that nothing useful will pass, specially if the midterm election does not quite work out as we hope.

I am actually quite curious to see how much of the proclamations are posturing and how much actually will be reflected in actual action. After all politicians .... :)
 

neroden

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So there would seem to be a significant likelihood that nothing useful will pass, specially if the midterm election does not quite work out as we hope.
No. Reconciliation is definitely happening. They need to pass a budget. Everything and the kitchen sink will get thrown into the reconciliation bills (there are likely to be 3 of them this year), possibly followed by the House passing a bunch of other legislation which the Senate passed which it was waiting on until reconciliation was done (including this infrastructure bill).
 

jis

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No. Reconciliation is definitely happening. They need to pass a budget. Everything and the kitchen sink will get thrown into the reconciliation bills (there are likely to be 3 of them this year), possibly followed by the House passing a bunch of other legislation which the Senate passed which it was waiting on until reconciliation was done (including this infrastructure bill).
My worry is that the couple of DINOs in Senate will decide to scupper a reconciliation bill or two. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

In any case whatever they wish to do they will have to have it substantially done by mid 2022. After that things are pretty much up in the air as far as I can see.
 

neroden

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My worry is that the couple of DINOs in Senate will decide to scupper a reconciliation bill or two. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.
Manchin and Sinema are unreasonable people but I don't think they'll go far enough as to scupper reconciliation, especially when they have to raise or abolish the debt limit, which is *really urgent*. They're not *that* crazy.
 

George Harris

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I would add lack of expertise in house, leading to getting cheated. The first contractor hired by CAHSR was the infamous Tutor Perini, known for chiseling its clients on change orders while doing inferior work. To their credit they have wised up and are hiring better contractors now.
Some of the ineptitude seen in CA's Transportation Department was simply beyond belief. It is no wonder almost everything in transportation projects in California costs way more than it ought to. Remember the replacement of the east part of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Something like 4.5 Billion dollars and they did not get any improvements and a bike path that only gets you half way across the Bay. The wildly screamed about "structural deficiencies" and obsolete design were in the first part repairable, and the second part bogus. The existing structure could probably have been repaired and put into good condition for another 50 years of life for about 1% or less of the cost of the replacement.
 
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jis

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jis

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Yet another report to be submitted. Unless something has changed spectacularly, one more report to find its way into the circular file, sadly. 🤷‍♂️

It is kind of strange to task an outfit that has the least control over things that need to be fixed, to fix those things, when they can't even get the same outfit to fix a zillion things over which it actually does have control. One perhaps could not be blamed for surmising that this is an example of "kicking the can down the road" in disguise.
 
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George Harris

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IndyLions

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Don't see any connection whatsoever between "infrastructure" and Amtrak funding with border crossing processes.
I agree with JIS that funding Amtrak for a study probably is kicking the can down the road.

However, if it did get us closer to efficient transportation to Canada - a very popular destination - it would most certainly be infrastructure.
 

danasgoodstuff

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I agree with JIS that funding Amtrak for a study probably is kicking the can down the road.

However, if it did get us closer to efficient transportation to Canada - a very popular destination - it would most certainly be infrastructure.
Especially if they actually construct or repurpose facilities for pre-clearance.
 

zephyr17

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Especially if they actually construct or repurpose facilities for pre-clearance.
For existing services, or, more accurately, services that existed prior to the pandemic, the main place that needs preclearance facilities is Montreal.

Vancouver already has them, though they may require a bit of expansion, and has done a "preclearance light" with US Immigration processing but not customs for years. Hopefully that will change with the revisions to the preclearance treaty that went into effect a year or two ago that allows rail the same preclearance rights as air and the border stop at Blaine for US Customs will be eliminated. Getting that agreement cleared the biggest obstacle to doing full preclearance at Vancouver.

The other thing that would improve things is for Canada to exercise its preclearance rights and move CBSA operations into the Niagara Falls, NY station, which is pretty new and was designed with both US CBP and Canadian CBSA preclearance operations in mind. That decision is Canada's and not within the purview of the US Congress.

Toronto is unlikely to get preclearance as the Maple Leaf from Niagara Falls, ON to Toronto is a VIA operated service and serves several intermediate stops. Unless the train were to run sealed to Toronto, international border formalities would still have to be done at Niagara Falls. The main improvement would be for CBSA to do pre-clearance on the New York side using the purpose built facilities there, as mentioned above.

The biggest thing in my mind is reinstating Chicago-Toronto service and I understand the proposal is that it run via Detroit, not the former International service via Port Huron/Sarnia, which kind of complicates things. It would likely require that Amtrak move their Detroit service back into the former MC station by the tunnel. Luckily, I understand that Ford is at least somewhat open to that. The other is somehow re-jigger the track arrangements/station in Windsor, ON, as there is no direct connection from the international tunnel to the Windsor VIA station. There are operational issues for an international train as well. Both the Maple Leaf and the former International were joint Amtrak/VIA operations due the length of the run in Canada and the presence of intermediate stops, as opposed to the relatively short Canadian runs of the exclusively Amtrak operations into Vancouver and Montreal. I seriously doubt that the Canadian government, Canadian Unions, or VIA itself would allow Amtrak to operate such a long service in Canada. So VIA's cooperation is essential in starting such a service. And I understand that even the continued VIA operation of the Maple Leaf may be in at least some doubt post-pandemic, with Metrolinx now offering multiple rail frequencies Toronto-Niagara Falls. As an aside, both the Cascades and the Adirondack are back in Arrow and bookable starting early in 2022. The Maple Leaf is not.

Honestly, the money pit here is restoring Chicago-Toronto, as are most of the issues that would require study. I would expect most of the funds to flow that direction.
 
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Anthony V

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For existing services, or, more accurately, services that existed prior to the pandemic, the main place that needs preclearance facilities is Montreal.

Vancouver already has them, though they may require a bit of expansion, and has done a "preclearance light" with US Immigration processing but not customs for years. Hopefully that will change with the revisions to the preclearance treaty that went into effect a year or two ago that allows rail the same preclearance rights as air and the border stop at Blaine for US Customs will be eliminated. Getting that agreement cleared the biggest obstacle to doing full preclearance at Vancouver.

The other thing that would improve things is for Canada to exercise its preclearance rights and move CBSA operations into the Niagara Falls, NY station, which is pretty new and was designed with both US CBP and Canadian CBSA preclearance operations in mind. That decision is Canada's and not within the purview of the US Congress.

Toronto is unlikely to get preclearance as the Maple Leaf from Niagara Falls, ON to Toronto is a VIA operated service and serves several intermediate stops. Unless the train were to run sealed to Toronto, international border formalities would still have to be done at Niagara Falls. The main improvement would be for CBSA to do pre-clearance on the New York side using the purpose built facilities there, as mentioned above.

The biggest thing in my mind is reinstating Chicago-Toronto service and I understand the proposal is that it run via Detroit, not the former International service via Port Huron/Sarnia, which kind of complicates things. It would likely require that Amtrak move their Detroit service back into the former MC station by the tunnel. Luckily, I understand that Ford is at least somewhat open to that. The other is somehow re-jigger the track arrangements/station in Windsor, ON, as there is no direct connection from the international tunnel to the Windsor VIA station. There are operational issues for an international train as well. Both the Maple Leaf and the former International were joint Amtrak/VIA operations due the length of the run in Canada and the presence of intermediate stops, as opposed to the relatively short Canadian runs of the exclusively Amtrak operations into Vancouver and Montreal. I seriously doubt that the Canadian government, Canadian Unions, or VIA itself would allow Amtrak to operate such a long service in Canada. So VIA's cooperation is essential in starting such a service. And I understand that even the continued VIA operation of the Maple Leaf may be in at least some doubt post-pandemic, with Metrolinx now offering multiple rail frequencies Toronto-Niagara Falls. As an aside, both the Cascades and the Adirondack are back in Arrow and bookable starting early in 2022. The Maple Leaf is not.

Honestly, the money pit here is restoring Chicago-Toronto, as are most of the issues that would require study. I would expect most of the funds to flow that direction.
Building the preclearance facility in Montreal is the last essential step to restoring the Montrealer train (via extending the Vermonter to Montreal). That facility will also be used by the Adirondack train. As far as restoring Chicago-Toronto service, while Ford is not paying for an Amtrak return to MCS, they promise to keep that opportunity open in the future by keeping four of the station tracks in place as part of their renovation of the facility. If Amtrak returns to MCS, the other two Wolverine RT's that will not be extended would likely terminate there. To preserve service on the Detroit-Pontiac portion of the route, a commuter rail line could be started, initially using Amtrak's current schedule on that portion of the Wolverine route, connecting with Amtrak at MCS. As far as Windsor, a good location for the relocated station would be at the former station site that the Niagara Rainbow used. (Sadly, the beautiful former depot burned down due to Arson in the 1990s).
 

cirdan

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There certainly is ample recent evidence to support such a thought. There is a "new man" in charge in Washington, one who supports Amtrak. I hope--and expect--that he will be watching what the "suits" are going to do with the billions when they finally receive it.
I don't want to be a pessimist but it doesn't bode well when you recall what happened when the same guy was VP and a lot of money got distributed for HSR and all that happened was the thing in Illinois with nominally 110mph running but no reduction in journey times, plus a section in California that looks to be far far from the envisaged LA to SF bullet train that was promised, and will probably not be completed in most of our lifetimes. Plus some fixes on the NEC that in all honesty were for the most part just catching up with arrears on maintenance and thus abusing the concept of HSR investment to the extreme.

I think part of the problem was lack of clearly defined deliverables or any sufficient obligation by those who took the money. If you give out money in return for vague promises, you are rewarding vague promises.
 

jis

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When the White House replaces current Amtrak management then I will believe it.
White House does not have the power to remove Amtrak management. Only the Board can do it. So you might as well start being disappointed, since it will be a few years before the process can complete, that is if the White House thinks it is important. I actually doubt that they do. Wilmington is on the NEC and that has excellent and forever improving service.

Frankly I would prefer White House to concentrate on removing DeJoy, another thing that they cannot do.
 
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neroden

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Frankly I would prefer White House to concentrate on removing DeJoy, another thing that they cannot do.
According to a fairly recent Supreme Court ruling, it appears that Biden can sack anyone who is appointed and confirmed by the Senate, which includes the entire Postal Board of Governors. The replacement board can then sack DeJoy.

From what I've been hearing, Flynn actually is new management and has a decent attitude. Whether he will be able to straighten out the attitude problems lower down, I don't know, but he doesn't seem clueless like Mr. Anderson was.
 

Dakota 400

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According to a fairly recent Supreme Court ruling, it appears that Biden can sack anyone who is appointed and confirmed by the Senate, which includes the entire Postal Board of Governors. The replacement board can then sack DeJoy.

This is news to me. Not implying that you are incorrect, but are you able to recall the ruling?
 

neroden

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Their logic seems to apply to all similar cases, including USPS board and Amtrak board. Biden's already used it to throw Trump appointments out when the law said they could only be removed for cause. But this Supreme Court can sometimes be wildly inconsistent (lawless, I would say) so it isn't 100% sure that they'd stick with their own recent precedent.
 
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