Amtrak May Get Almost All The Monies Requested

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AlanB

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Aug 22, 2002
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Amtrak would get nearly all the money it requested in the 2003 spending package being finalized by congressional Republicans, but with new conditions.
The $397.4 spending bill includes $1.05 billion for Amtrak, $150 million less than Amtrak insists it needs to continue full rail service through Sept. 30.
While it's still not finalized, it does look like Amtrak may get most of the money it requested for this year. David Gunn back in October had already said that he could live with the amounts of money from the Continuing Resolution. That amount was very close to what Congress seems prepared to give.

However before you start cheering, in an effort to please the President and his ill considered plans for Amtrak, Congress may impose some conditions on this money. These are conditions that I personally don't think that Amtrak can live with, nor will David Gunn accept.

Under the plan, funds would go to the transportation secretary, rather than directly to Amtrak. Amtrak would have to provide Congress with capital and operating plans, and money could be spent only on projects in its business plan.
For the first time, Amtrak would have to seek funds for its long-distance trains -- which are among its biggest money-losers -- by making separate grant requests to the transportation secretary.
This is clearly an attempt by the Republican's to kill Amtrak while making it look like they didn't do it. Amtrak will be forced to ask for money to run the LD trains, even though everyone in Congress knows that the LD trains is exactly where Amtrak needs to spend some of the money. Congress is also planning to put money aside to ensure the continuance of commuter ops, should Amtrak shut down.

This is their way of trying to blunt the spear that David used to stab them with last summer. By taking away his biggest weapon, they can now ignore Amtrak and David Gunn. Plus not only are they taking away the weapon, but they are also taking away some of the money David needs to run Amtrak with, after appropriating less than he needs.

Hang on to your hats if this sails through Congress, it's going to be a very bumpy ride. In fact I wouldn't be at all surprised if the above restrictions are passed, to see David shut down Amtrak immediately before Congress can stop him and rescue the commuter services. Apparently Congress and the Administration didn't get the message last summer, "Don't play games with David Gunn".

Well in any event, that's my 2 cents on this matter. :angry: You can read the full story, including the quotes above, from 1010 WINS News.
 

Amtrak Watcher

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Oct 1, 2002
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This is clearly another effort to get rid of Amtrak. Mr. Gunn said, himself, that the long distance losers are nothing compared to the enormous capital costs that the NEC demands, and that the long distance trains serve the benefit of giving Amtrak funding a national character. Taxpayers may not want to support a service that benefits only a few states in the north east.

If you read the Republican commentary over the years on this and other similar matters (electric power deregulation and health care are other examples), there is a kind of religious war being conducted against everything which is government funded with no regard for practical maters. If you look at the way Southwest Airlines got the U.S. government to sponsor their almost exclusive use of Dallas Love field, then you know it is cash and free enterprise that rule. Prudent government, which is exempt from the influences of dirty money (insurance companies, airlines, etc.) have no place. Amtrak has no political capital to spend.

Perhaps a sudden and complete shut down may help. It looks like a certainty now. Like the man seen beating his horse over the head with a 2 inch lead pipe said, you must first try to get the beast's attention.
 

AlanB

Conductor
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Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
Officials of the intercity passenger carrier still were examining the details of the agreement, part of a $397.4 billion spending bill that would complete the fiscal 2003 federal budget. The agreement now goes to the full Congress, which is expected to approve the compromise.
"We have no plans to shut down," Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Van Veen told Gannett News Service.
It would appear that Amtrak is less concerned with some of the conditions than I am. I suppose that it's also possible that there are some revisions that I don't know about, yet Amtrak is aware of.

We can only hope that Amtrak can indeed live with both the amount of money and the conditions. It would be a tragedy to loose what is not only a big part of our nations heritage, but a necessary means of travel for thousands.

You can read the full story quoted above at Trains.com.
 

Viewliner

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
2,662
AlanB said:
We can only hope that Amtrak can indeed live with both the amount of money and the conditions. It would be a tragedy to loose what is not only a big part of our nations heritage, but a necessary means of travel for thousands.
Well said, I hope theres an Amtrak to ride (and one that will prosper) in the future, because as I get older I will have more opportunities to ride and hopefully there will be trains to do so.
 

Bill Haithcoat

Conductor
Honored Member
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Aug 23, 2002
Messages
4,031
Man, this all gets sooooooo old....wish it would get resolved(the right way) once and for all. Seems trains are something you either"get" or "don't get"......but even people who "don't get' trains should see we need them in a national emergency if nothing else......man, when will all the sqabbling about it be over? The government wastes so much on so many things.Just watch the "pork barrel' segment on NBC at night---of course Amtrak was featured on that once! But by cutting Amtrak short, I think these people do not realize we are lopping off an entire industry. They have this fantasy about "somebody else" being out there who can pick up the ball and run with it. They are living in an illusion.
 
S

Steve Relei

Guest
I don't think of the long distance trains as losers. True, they lose money, but it is not because people don't use them, because they do. At least, they did before all these budget-cutting problems. At least it used to be: trains such as the Empire Builder and the Coast Starlight were constantly filled up. It was sometimes difficult to get a seat at a moment's notice on one of these trains. Sleeping car compartments were often sold out months in advance. Long distance trains are some of Amtrak's most visible and most publicity-laden trains: California Zephyr, Adirondack, Auto Train (actually the only train that does make a profit), Capitol Limited, etc.; Trains riding along the ocean surf, through narrow canyons, along the border of Glacier National Park, through New England Autumn folliage, Southwestern desert and Indian country, among other highlights.

And there are a number of communities along these lines that do not have airline service, and many do not have bus services either. Most of the towns in Northern Montana and North Dakota along the Empire Builder route fit this profile. People somes take the train to a city where they can board a plane to somewhere. The train is sometimes the main access to the outside world--the only real aspect of modernity (except maybe satelite dishes). Some communities came into service because of the railroads; they came into existence as rail heads during construction. Havre, Malta, Glasgow all got their names from the railroad.

I would like to know, too, how people get the $300 a passenger subsidy (on some trains) figure. How much do these trains cost in comparison to other forms of transportation and for other things the government spends money on? How much do other countries around the world spend on their passenger trains and railroads. Some argue that some countries are privatizing their passenger trains. Perhaps. But those governments spent a lot of money (including American money) to build and rebuild their railroads and get them up to par before letting a private organization run them.
 
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