Quantcast

Amendment to CR blocking furloughs and thrice weekly long distance trains

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Exvalley

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
174
I've never understood the, "Amtrak should run more trains by reducing trains," argument.

If you want Amtrak to run daily long distance service, you should be embracing more NEC service. Don't make the argument that less service is bad.

Let's celebrate the victories and work on MORE victories rather than arguing for Peter to pay Paul.
 
Last edited:

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,959
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Unless we can get access to the revenue and yield situation we have no way of knowing that Amtrak is being partial to NEC. I know in this forum that is not a popular position and belief in the magic of LD is the favorite theme here. So I will not try to lean against that windmill, beyond pointing out that the arguments being made based on the theme of NEC vs. LD is (a) destructive, and to those that are not invested into a preconceived position are (b) based on mostly hot air, absent more concrete information regarding actual yield, revenue and cost numbers.

Just as an aside, I am not an NEC person. I live in Florida getting hit with significant reduction of service. The way to fix that is not to attack the NEC though that is fashionable escape valve for some who are unwilling to spend the time to come up with an aggressive plan for overall growth of the system, i.e. those that have already declared defeat and now are trying to play the zero sum game. Good luck with that. You will lose all your service, which will mostly affect LD, since NEC, and the regional corridors will get funded some way or the other. just wait and watch. 😎

As it turns out within Florida regional corridors will get funded through public-private partnesrhips as thigns are evolving. Same is true in Texas as things evolve. Many other states may not be that fortunate, specially the more rural ones.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,403
Location
Chicago, Illinois
I've never understood the, "Amtrak should run more trains by reducing trains," argument.

If you want Amtrak to run daily long distance service, you should be embracing more NEC service. Don't make the argument that less service is bad.

Let's celebrate the victories and work on MORE victories rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Generally I agree, but in the current conditions some temporary cuts are virtually inevitable. I would strongly support improving NEC service in the aftermath of the pandemic. I just don't see an issue reducing frequencies on high-frequency routes when there is severely reduced demand, just as Amtrak has done for the past 6 months. Service may be slightly less convenient, but even if funding were available I'd much rather see it invested in long-term improvements rather than running mostly empty trains when there is still an alternative train within an hour. The LD cuts are different because cutting below daily service significantly reduces the usefulness of the service, and there are not alternative trains or in many cases not even any type of alternative public transit.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ziv

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,403
Location
Chicago, Illinois
Unless we can get access to the revenue and yield situation we have no way of knowing that Amtrak is being partial to NEC. I know in this forum that is not a popular position and belief in the magic of LD is the favorite theme here. So I will not try to lean against that windmill, beyond pointing out that the arguments being made based on the theme of NEC vs. LD is (a) destructive, and to those that are not invested into a preconceived position are (b) based on mostly hot air, absent more concrete information regarding actual yield, revenue and cost numbers.

Just as an aside, I am not an NEC person. I live in Florida getting hit with significant reduction of service. The way to fix that is not to attack the NEC though that is fashionable escape valve for some who are unwilling to spend the time to come up with an aggressive plan for overall growth of the system, i.e. those that have already declared defeat and now are trying to play the zero sum game. Good luck with that. You will lose all your service, which will mostly affect LD, since NEC, and the regional corridors will get funded some way or the other. just wait and watch. 😎

As it turns out within Florida regional corridors will get funded through public-private partnesrhips as thigns are evolving. Same is true in Texas as things evolve. Many other states may not be that fortunate, specially the more rural ones.
I don't necessarily even think they are being partial to NEC; the service cuts are roughly proportional on the LDs to those implemented on the NEC. You're right that we don't have the data, but given the low ridership it seems hard to believe that NEC trains would not be losing money at the moment.

For an example of my point, look at the airline service requirements from the first stimulus bill. Airlines were allowed to cut frequencies, but were required to maintain service to all airports. While Amtrak's LD cuts technically do so as well, running one train a month would also maintain service to all stations. There has to be a minimum accepted service level, and to me that is once daily.

I don't see the issue with discussing funding distribution within Amtrak. I would certainly not be opposed to additional NEC funding, but if Amtrak has a set amount of money available I think it's reasonable to criticize where it is being spent.

Since you mentioned you don't live near the NEC, I will say that I live in Chicago and use corridor service just as much as LD. The Lincoln Service has been running only twice daily for months now, while the Hiawatha Service frequency has also been cut roughly in half. Neither cut has deterred me significantly from travelling, despite my usual trains being cancelled. Meanwhile, the LD cuts would probably reduce my trips from every other month to once or twice a year.
 

nferr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 24, 2009
Messages
279
NEC frequencies have been cut. I don't even get the point of the argument against the NEC.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
960
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 😤
Technically this is both an appropriations bill and an authorization bill believe it or not. The first section is the appropriations CR - the second section consists of one year temporary extensions of various authorization bills including the FAST act. The Mica mandate alteration is under the section on the one year extension of the FAST act/PRIIA.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jis

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,235
Location
Baltimore. MD
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.
Having just taken a trip on the NEC, I can assure you that service has been cut back to the point that there are a lot fewer than "two trains per hour."
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
960
Today they just did the cloture vote on the bill and have not moved to the amendments/final passage. Well know tomorrow.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,403
Location
Chicago, Illinois
Today they just did the cloture vote on the bill and have not moved to the amendments/final passage. Well know tomorrow.
Yeah, I spent 2 hours watching C-SPAN and it wasn't mentioned.😄
Does anyone have an opinion as to it's probability of passing? I would think it being proposed by a Republican may help it's chance of passing, but I'm not really familiar with the process and whether most similar amendments pass or not. RPA has also been very quiet over the amendment; I have only seen it mentioned briefly in the article about the poor performance of the SS and SM since their cuts.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
960
I honestly don’t know what the prospects of it getting into the bill are.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
643
I can't speak for anyone else, but I would really rather see NEC trains cut from 20 per day to 16, or a similar number for Acela trains, rather than seeing the EB and the CZ cut from daily to 3x a week. I very much want a strong NEC with frequent trains but if Amtrak has to cut spending in these horrific times, I would rather see the NEC see a small cut rather than the LD trains going to less than daily service.
LD trains going to less than daily is a huge problem. NEC trains going to roughly hourly instead of 2 an hour is not.

NEC frequencies have been cut. I don't even get the point of the argument against the NEC.
 

Exvalley

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
174
I am sure that Amtrak is keeping an extremely close eye on demand - and that they are scaling train service accordingly with the intent of preserving as much cash as they can.

It will be interesting to see if they reduce NEC service now that Covid appears to be resurging in the northeast.
 

toddinde

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2015
Messages
139
Location
Sierra Vista, AZ
This is absolutely the right answer right now. It’s clean, simple, can pass, and solves the immediate hurdle. Funding for the annual appropriation can be dealt with later.
 

toddinde

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2015
Messages
139
Location
Sierra Vista, AZ
I am sure that Amtrak is keeping an extremely close eye on demand - and that they are scaling train service accordingly with the intent of preserving as much cash as they can.

It will be interesting to see if they reduce NEC service now that Covid appears to be resurging in the northeast.
Three day a week service doesn’t save money and does permanent damage to the system. Conserving cash doesn’t do any good if you don’t have a railroad to run anymore.
 

Exvalley

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
174
Three day a week service doesn’t save money
The studies that argue that thrice-weekly service costs money are based on pre-Covid market demand and are not relevant to the current situation.

Trust me. Amtrak is in cash preservation mode right now.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jis

AmtrakFlyer

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
68
The people of our county are in preservation mode for the next 90 days or so. Unfortunately Trump trumps everything right now. We can’t let the infrastructure burn down in the mean time.
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,585
Location
Virginia
I am sure that Amtrak is keeping an extremely close eye on demand - and that they are scaling train service accordingly with the intent of preserving as much cash as they can.

It will be interesting to see if they reduce NEC service now that Covid appears to be resurging in the northeast.
At least with the LD trains, this is BS. Adjusting for capacity constraints, the LD trains are running about where they were last year (the Builder, in particular, was back to where it was in the winter in terms of revenue in August). Moreover, RPA put together some hard data that ridership on the Silvers took a nosedive (particularly since transportation utility between RMT and SAV went to hell with how they chose to alternate the schedule (four days in a row of one train followed by three of the other is particularly idiotic, and the way it combines with the Palmetto cuts means there are days that stations along the A-line will have two trains, one train, or no trains in a given direction...it's the sort of insanity that shows up in Queensland).
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,959
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Technically this is both an appropriations bill and an authorization bill believe it or not. The first section is the appropriations CR - the second section consists of one year temporary extensions of various authorization bills including the FAST act. The Mica mandate alteration is under the section on the one year extension of the FAST act/PRIIA.
Good point! I had missed that. Thanks!
 

Exvalley

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
174
At least with the LD trains, this is BS. Adjusting for capacity constraints, the LD trains are running about where they were last year (the Builder, in particular, was back to where it was in the winter in terms of revenue in August).
I'm not sure why you adjusted for capacity constraints since we are talking about real money here.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jis

lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
960
The CR bill passed but I didn’t watch at all due to phone dying. Perhaps the amendment was not accepted.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
643
Was it just the Mica rule revocation that was deleted or the entire delay of the reduction of daily service to 3x a week deleted?
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,959
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Was it just the Mica rule revocation that was deleted or the entire delay of the reduction of daily service to 3x a week deleted?
HR 8337 was passed by the Senate by 86-10 apparently without any modification, because there was no time to get any modification approved by the House before Oct 1 when the government shuts down absent a CR signed into law.

Since the Mica language was axed by the following segment in the House Bill:
SEC. 1104. Rail-related provisions.


(a) Federal funding for operating losses.—Section 24321 of title 49, United States Code, is amended—
(1) by striking subsection (d); and

(2) by redesignating subsection (e) as subsection (d).
came from the House, it is still part of the adopted CR.

This removes the following from Section 24321 of Title 49:
(d) No Federal Funding for Operating Losses.—
Beginning on the date that is 5 years after the date of enactment of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, no Federal funds may be used to cover any operating loss associated with providing food and beverage service on a route operated by Amtrak or a rail carrier that operates a route in lieu of Amtrak pursuant to section 24711.
Since no changes were made in the Senate the Daines amendment language is not in the final bill.

At least that is my understanding reading through the text of the final adopted bill.

The CR allows appropriations for Amtrak at the same rate of appropriation as for FY2020 for period Oct 1 through Dec 11, 2020.

In effect the can has been kicked down the road to after the election. In all likelihood there will be another CR at that point to cover the period between Dec 11 to whenever the new Congress picks things up.
 
Top