Such a great letter. It appears Amtrak has someone watching and questioning their position on the LD trains. I copied and pasted this letter to my senators here in Iowa. One replied still waiting on the other. Has anyone else contacted their Senator to inquire as to whether they have signed off on this letter or perhaps even plan to?
To the Rail Passengers Council & Board,
I wanted to share a letter Rail Passengers staff developed with Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)concerning Amtrak's recent announcement that they will be reducing all the long-distance service to three times per week and suspending a quarter of state-supported train frequncies.
I would ask for your help in securing sign-ons from your senators. I've already reached out to several key offices, including Senators Cory Gardner, Michael Bennett, Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Jon Tester, Steve Daines, Dick Durbin, Jerry Moran, Pat Roberts, Tammy Duckworth, Patty Murray , Maria Cantwell, Shelley Moore Capito, Joe Manchin, and Roy Blunt. Any additional points of contact to these transportation staffers from constituents would certainly help, and reaching out to other offices would be immensely helpful to our small staff.
Daines' Letter Sign-on Information
Lead Office: Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)
Staff Contact: Corey Sellers
Deadline: Monday, June 22, 12pm Eastern
Thank you in advance for your help,
Sean Jeans-Gail | VP of Gov't Affairs | Rail Passengers Association
Text of Letter
June 17, 2020
President and Chief Executive Officer, Amtrak
60 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
Dear Mr. Flynn,
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Congress passed the CARES Act, which provided Amtrak with $1.02 billion to alleviate the severe economic impact COVID-19 produced. You have asked Congress to provide record levels of taxpayer funding, yet, in your supplemental funding request for Fiscal Year 2021 you are proposing to cut service and staff during an unprecedented time. We are deeply concerned by the downsizing plan outlined in your supplemental funding request and believe it to be contrary to public interest. These cuts would not only dramatically reduce the utility of the nation’s passenger rail network, but would also ignore Congressional intent to expedite economic recovery following the pandemic.
Amtrak’s plan to terminate one out of every five employees would put thousands of Americans out of work at a time when millions of Americans have lost their jobs. This severe reduction in workforce raises serious doubts about whether a realistic plan exists for fully restoring service in a timely fashion. Your plan also calls for reducing the frequency of all National Network long- distance trains, while consolidating three routes into one, thus greatly reducing Amtrak’s ability to operate its Network at full capacity. These actions will eliminate thousands of points of connection and dramatically reduce the utility of Amtrak as a transportation provider, irrevocably hurting hundreds of communities and small towns already devastated by the COVID19 pandemic.
In your FY2021 supplemental funding request you stated “[w]e understand how important Amtrak service is to the nation and, particularly, small communities across the nation where we play a unique role in connecting these communities to the rest of America.” Your request, unfortunately, does not reflect that understanding.
As Congress considers your supplementary request for FY2021, we ask that you provide the following information:
• How much would it cost to maintain the current service levels on all long-distance routes?
• How does the cost of retaining the current workforce in active status, ready to return to work, compare with that of hiring and training new employees?
• By reducing the workforce, what is your desired outcome? Why?
• What ridership metrics will Amtrak use to decide when to restore capacity, and how will they account for the reduced demand signal resulting from fewer frequencies and connections? Do you plan to restore service in phases?
• You wrote restoring these frequencies will be “subject to adequate funding;” What does Amtrak consider adequate funding?
Thank you for your time and cooperation, we look forward to your response.
United States Senator
After reading Senator Grassley’s response below one wonders how Amtrak can rid itself of the LD trains.Here's a version signed by six Senators in addition to Daines ...
At least you got a response. I sent a letter to my House Rep and I still haven't even gotten a copy pasted letter back yet.After reading Senator Grassley’s response below one wonders how Amtrak can rid itself of the LD trains.
July 7, 2020
Thank you for sharing with me your support for passenger rail service in Iowa and across the nation. As your senator, it is important for me to hear from you.
I appreciate knowing of your support for Amtrak. In December 2019, the Senate passed and the President signed into law H.R.1865, a fiscal year 2020 domestic and international-related minibus appropriations bill. This minibus appropriations bill provided $2.0 billion for Amtrak, an increase of $58 million from the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. Of that total amount, $1.3 billion is for the national network and $700 million is for the Northeast Corridor. The bill also provides $255 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants, $300 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants, and $2 million each for MagLev grants and Restoration and Enhancement grants.
The bill included language, which reiterates congressional support for long-distance passenger rail service: “It is the sense of Congress that long-distance passenger rail routes provide much-needed transportation access for 4,700,000 riders in 325 communities in 40 States and are particularly important in rural areas; and (2) long-distance passenger rail routes and services should be sustained to ensure connectivity throughout the National Network.”
The bill also directed Amtrak to provide a station agent in each Amtrak station that had a ticket agent position eliminated in fiscal year 2018, and to improve communication and collaboration with local partners.
Additionally, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Congress passed and the President signed into law H.R.748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This bill provides direct economic relief to American families, workers, employers and health care providers coping with the coronavirus pandemic. Congress included $1.018 billion for Amtrak in this bill to make up for revenue losses it has sustained due to the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Of that amount, $492 million is designated for the Northeast Corridor and $526 million will be appropriated for the National Network Grants to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.
As Congress considers appropriations bills for fiscal year 2021 and works on surface transportation legislation, I will keep your support for passenger rail and enhanced services in mind.
Thank you again for contacting me. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of federal matters that are important to you. My offices in Iowa, as well as in Washington, D.C., are here to serve you.
United States Senate