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Amendment to CR blocking furloughs and thrice weekly long distance trains

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Bob Dylan

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Daines from Montana has filed an amendment in the Senate to the CR that would require Amtrak to delay any furloughs and LD cuts until the end of the CR period. See RPA for full details. Vote on amendment and bill will take place tomorrow.
Hopefully itll pass in time before the Trains are tied down and the Crews are furloughed!
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Hearing anything about otentially preventing the cutbacks is a good thing, but I have a few questions regarding this amendment. Perhaps RPA will answer them but I have yet to see anything from them.

1. If this were to pass tomorrow, would it actually be possible to just cancel the cutbacks or would there still be a short period of time with tri-weekly service?

2. Is any additional funding for Amtrak to be included? If not, would Amtrak cut back elsewhere such as on long-term infrastructure projects or NEC service?
 

Ziv

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Cutting the Acela and NE Regional schedules by 20% (perhaps another percentage would work better) would have much less of a negative impact on the region served than cutting the EB or CZ to just 3 times per week. The question is, would NEC cuts of 20% cause unacceptable crowding in the remaining scheduled trips. If it did, the idea is probably a non-starter.

Amtrak should cut back on routes that are incurring the most loses. From Amtrak’s own accounts that is the NEC and Acela.
 

AmtrakFlyer

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Plus as far as loading and crowding goes Amtrak management seems to be oblivious to the fact they can adjust consist sizes.

Smaller DAILY network trains and FEWER but LONGER NEC trains would seem to check a lot of boxes to mitigate the issues of today. It’s not rocket science people but this management really leaves a lot to be desired.
 

bms

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I guess any chance of continuing service is good news, but Congress has put Amtrak in a pretty terrible position of not knowing Tuesday whether trains are running Thursday. This amendment would only continue service through December 11, and would result in a lot of empty trains since Amtrak hasn't been able to sell tickets in advance. A railroad can't operate successfully on a month-to-month basis.
 

lordsigma

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One interesting note I just realized now after reading another article - the CR as passed by the house has one item related to Amtrak - it eliminates the Mica mandate. Subsection D of the Mica food and beverage section which is the effective portion (stating that federal funds may not be used for food and beverage operating losses) is removed by the CR.
 

AmtrakFlyer

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Kinda smart slipping it in now when it’s a moot point. Hopefully in a year we will see it pay off when Amtrak doesn’t have as hostile a DOT and as incompetent management as they do today.
 

Siegmund

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Miracles never cease. Daines has actually managed to listen to his constituents, one time in six years.

It's fortunate that he introduced the amendment rather than Tester; it has a better chance of passing this way. Though not 100% clear to me whether it's an issue that the bigger states care about.
 

Bob Dylan

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Miracles never cease. Daines has actually managed to listen to his constituents, one time in six years.

It's fortunate that he introduced the amendment rather than Tester; it has a better chance of passing this way. Though not 100% clear to me whether it's an issue that the bigger states care about.
Let's hope more than 50 Senators care about this issue, they seem to be hell bent on doing only two things,filling the Supreme Court Vacancy and getting re-elected!( Job #1 for all Politicians!)🤔
 
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lordsigma

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Kicking the can down the road on this issue so that it can be addressed and debated in a full year longer term bill before Amtrak moves ahead with changes makes some political sense. Having a bunch of layoffs before the election isn't helpful. Frankly I'm surprised there isn't more momentum to help the airline industry with at least a short term relief to get them through the next few months.
 

Anderson

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Hearing anything about otentially preventing the cutbacks is a good thing, but I have a few questions regarding this amendment. Perhaps RPA will answer them but I have yet to see anything from them.

1. If this were to pass tomorrow, would it actually be possible to just cancel the cutbacks or would there still be a short period of time with tri-weekly service?

2. Is any additional funding for Amtrak to be included? If not, would Amtrak cut back elsewhere such as on long-term infrastructure projects or NEC service?
CAVEAT: There may be more than one proposal floating about, so I might have the wrong one. I don't think I do, but...well, it's DC. Here's what I see:

(1) That's not entirely certain. Depending on exactly when it passes, there's a chance you'd see a few days of reduced service but I think if it gets through. There's just enough of a lag that this might be avoided.

(2) Additional funding is included in at least one proposal I'm seeing (not sure if it's the same one, so caveats apply). Amtrak said they needed $219m for the LD trains (that's the anticipated additional losses), so one of the clauses is essentially "Here's $219m, now run the [BLEEP]ing trains you idiots." I think the total funding slug is about $2.4bn. NOTABLY it also sets the state share of corridor funding at 7% of allocated costs from last year (and puts about $300m towards that as well), which would be a significant cut.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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Fingers crossed. This is the first of many hoops over the next few months and year. Election included.
 

Exvalley

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Unfortunately a lot of damage has already been done. I have cancelled two trips in October because Amtrak cancelled my trains.
 

Nick Farr

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Amtrak should cut back on routes that are incurring the most loses. From Amtrak’s own accounts that is the NEC and Acela.
The NEC and Acela are:

1) The best viable alternative to all other forms of intercity transit for all potential customers.
2) Serve many more potential customers than the LD trains.
3) Have much higher utilization than the LD routes.
4) Are a kind of corridor we want to see repeated throughout the country

The NEC is not the enemy of the LD trains. The only way we'll ever get true, viable intercity rail transit in the US is if the NEC pattern is repeated throughout the country.
 

jis

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One interesting note I just realized now after reading another article - the CR as passed by the house has one item related to Amtrak - it eliminates the Mica mandate. Subsection D of the Mica food and beverage section which is the effective portion (stating that federal funds may not be used for food and beverage operating losses) is removed by the CR.
They should have done that four years back. Back then they said it cannot be done in an Appropriation Bill. It must wait for an Authorization Bill. I guess they changed their mind after the entire fleet of horses have fled the barn. Typical of this country of late. Try everything that does not work first, before stumbling onto something that works, that has been obvious to many for a while, but still, a dollar short and a minute too late. Sigh 😤
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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The NEC and Acela are:

1) The best viable alternative to all other forms of intercity transit for all potential customers.
2) Serve many more potential customers than the LD trains.
3) Have much higher utilization than the LD routes.
4) Are a kind of corridor we want to see repeated throughout the country

The NEC is not the enemy of the LD trains. The only way we'll ever get true, viable intercity rail transit in the US is if the NEC pattern is repeated throughout the country.
I definitely agree that the NEC is not the enemy, but in this instance cuts there seem to make more sense if it is a case of one or the other. As has been discussed extensively here, LD routes experience large demand reductions when service is cut to less than daily. Meanwhile, normal NEC service is roughly two trains per hour, so cutting that in half would still leave enough options so that demand wouldn't be as dramatically impacted.
 

jis

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I definitely agree that the NEC is not the enemy, but in this instance cuts there seem to make more sense if it is a case of one or the other. As has been discussed extensively here, LD routes experience large demand reductions when service is cut to less than daily. Meanwhile, normal NEC service is roughly two trains per hour, so cutting that in half would still leave enough options so that demand wouldn't be as dramatically impacted.
Have you perhaps noticed that NEC service has been seriously reduced too? There is no two trains per hour service for most of the day anymore, and there is no hourly Acela service either.

The argument would appear to be that NEC should be cut further beyond what is already in place, based on of course no idea whether that would reduce net earnings or not.
 

jruff001

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Have you perhaps noticed that NEC service has been seriously reduced too? There is no two trains per hour service for most of the day anymore, and there is no hourly Acela service either.
Yep, and indeed Acela trains were suspended completely for a couple of months during the lowest ridership around April / May.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Have you perhaps noticed that NEC service has been seriously reduced too? There is no two trains per hour service for most of the day anymore, and there is no hourly Acela service either.

The argument would appear to be that NEC should be cut further beyond what is already in place, based on of course no idea whether that would reduce net earnings or not.
While NEC service has been cut, the schedule is slowly returning to normal. If Amtrak is desperate for any reduction in costs, which is the argument they are using for cutting the LDs, why would they be adding service to the NEC? Based on a quick search for upcoming weekdays both before and after the LD cuts, there are still roughly 20 trains a day from NYP to WAS, which is still at least hourly most of the day. Even more frequent service is available north of PHL. Considering it appears that an average of fewer than 25% of available seats are being sold (as of a day in advance), the NEC seems like an easy place to reduce costs while not overcrowding trains or impacting demand too much. I'd be interested in seeing a study on the frequency level at which demand being to increase significantly, but I doubt even a 2 hour interval would be too much of a deterrent, especially given the that there are reduced schedules on competing modes as well. The LDs also normally provide 4 daily round trips over the southern half of the NEC, so it's not like the cuts don't impact the NEC cities as well. Finally, given Amtrak's ownership of most of the NEC and the aforementioned normally heavy ridership, Amtrak has both more control to expand schedules when demand warrants and the political pressure to do so.
 
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