Boardman on LD Trains

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leemell

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Trains Magazine in this (Subscription only) link had this among other things, to say:

Amtrak boss: Long-distance trains are sacrosanct

by Don Phillips

December 12, 2011

Amtrak President Joe Boardman says all long-distance trains will be protected as long as he is head of Amtrak, without any exceptions. In an impromptu interview while touring mockups of new single-level e quipment at a design facility in Maryland, Boardman said he had heard talk that he was favoring Northeast Corridor trains and would allow long-distance trains to go away. That simply is not true in any way, ... he said, adding that the same statement applies to all other service including short-distance service, whether it receives state subsidies or is fully paid for by Amtrak. "We're not cutting any service."

...

Boardman also said he is looking for ways to finance other equipment beyond [those] ... that have already been ordered, as well as the 40 extra cars for current Acela trains that will be ordered next year, but he said he cannot yet announce any other purchases.

....
 
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jis

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I am developing a strong urge to say "See, what did I tell you?"

Not growing the LD network without a policy decision from Congress is not the same as gutting the LD network as some have been claiming here and elsewhere.

BTW this is the first definitive information that the 40 Acela Cars are indeed being ordered and that the order will be placed this coming year which is less than 3 weeks away. Of course the order may be placed later in the year, but the beginning of the year is already upon us.
 
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afigg

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The full text of the article can be found in a posting in the passenger train section at trainorders.com, BTW.

On the 40 car Acela order, my take is that Amtrak has gotten a formal price quote and delivery schedule proposal from Bombardier. The sole source RFP was issued in late August. There were no show stoppers in the Bombardier quote, so Boardman felt safe to state that an order will be placed. Amtrak and Bombardier are presumably working out the details of the contract, deliverables, schedule. By "next year", my guess is that either Boardman or the writer paraphrasing Boardman meant next calender year, so the Acela order would be formally announced early in 2012.

We will know more about the current equipment order plans when the next version of the Fleet Strategy Plan is published to satisfy the planning document dump in 60 days request from Congress contained in the FY12 funding bill.

However, I boldly predict that when the order for the 40 Acela cars is announced, that people will post complaints, saying see all Amtrak management cares about is the NEC. :eek:hboy:

When the combined state order for the 120 corridor bi-levels is announced by CA and IL, maybe at the same time or at different times, people will complain, see all they care about are the corridor services!

Don't know when, which LD car order or how many will come next. But if Viewliner IIs come next as the Amfleet II replacements, but Amtrak orders 100 Viewliner IIs in a mix of coach and café/diner configurations to be delivered in late 2014 to 2016 as an incremental order, there will be 2 complaints: 1) Amtrak only cares about the eastern LD trains and has it in for the western Superliner trains, and 2) Boardman is planning to kill some eastern LD trains because he did not order enough to replace all the Amfleet IIs at once. The flip side complaints will occur if a 80 to 100 car Superliner III order is announced. And few people will have read the Fleet Strategy Plan which spells out what Amtrak was planning to do given the constraints of their funding situation.

BTW, could a moderator correct the spelling of Boardman's name in the title of this thread? Fixed!
 
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Devil's Advocate

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I am developing a strong urge to say "See, what did I tell you?" Not growing the LD network without a policy decision from Congress is not the same as gutting the LD network as some have been claiming here and elsewhere.
What I mainly see is Boardman trying to allay fears of eminent cutting coming from his direction. It's one thing to say you're going to protect virtually everything in equal measure but that sort of "all or nothing" attitude would not seem to be a very practical and pragmatic approach to actual management. As for the LD network itself, well, that's still up to Congress and the President. They can choose to fund it or not and nothing Boardman would say or do can change that. Presumably Obama would at least consider vetoing any major disruption to Amtrak funding, but if we end up with Newt or Mittens then they might very well veto the current spending levels until drastically cut back.
 

jis

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Boardman knows as well as anyone else that has cared to work the numbers that he does not need to cut any trains at all in 2012 if revenues and state support hold up. If some state decides to cancel trains funded by them that isn't exactly Boardman's problem, and that is pretty unlikely anyway, notwithstanding all the alarm mongering that is going on. Indeed revenues don't even need to grow by much to keep the trains running.

2013 is pretty much up in the air and will depend on the election outcome. I can almost bet that we will go into FY 13 with continuing resolution of some sort pending the constitution of the new Congress. So at this point in time there is no reasons for him to dwell on the finer points of what he might need to do in the second half of 2013.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Boardman knows as well as anyone else that has cared to work the numbers that he does not need to cut any trains at all in 2012 if revenues and state support hold up. If some state decides to cancel trains funded by them that isn't exactly Boardman's problem, and that is pretty unlikely anyway, notwithstanding all the alarm mongering that is going on. Indeed revenues don't even need to grow by much to keep the trains running.
I'm confused. Who exactly is "alarm mongering" with regard to 2012 funding in your view?
 

jis

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Boardman knows as well as anyone else that has cared to work the numbers that he does not need to cut any trains at all in 2012 if revenues and state support hold up. If some state decides to cancel trains funded by them that isn't exactly Boardman's problem, and that is pretty unlikely anyway, notwithstanding all the alarm mongering that is going on. Indeed revenues don't even need to grow by much to keep the trains running.
I'm confused. Who exactly is "alarm mongering" with regard to 2012 funding in your view?
It is relatively subdued on this forum, but you should some of the post-fest that is going on in trainorders for example.
 

henryj

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I still remember his testimony about Amtrak losses where he stated "It's the long distance trains" so I think he just says what he thinks his audience wants to hear and thus is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. There are no Amtrak plans to expand service outside of the NEC other than what the states will fund. There are no orders for Superliner equipment even to replace what they have lost through accidents and such much less any expansion. So sometime down the road they will just announce they don't have enough equipment to continue LD services on some corridors.
 

cirdan

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I still remember his testimony about Amtrak losses where he stated "It's the long distance trains" so I think he just says what he thinks his audience wants to hear and thus is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. There are no Amtrak plans to expand service outside of the NEC other than what the states will fund. There are no orders for Superliner equipment even to replace what they have lost through accidents and such much less any expansion. So sometime down the road they will just announce they don't have enough equipment to continue LD services on some corridors.
I don't know if this has been discussed before, but onviously investments have to be prioritised and new equipment for LD is not near the top of that list.

So would it be a solution, at least in principle, if states were able to support LD services in the same way they currently support corridor services. After all, some LD trains overlap with corridors so there is some synergy. Some states also benefit considerably through tourism and having LD rail service is definitely something of local value. I' not saying states should shoulder all the burden but in individual cases where investments are required maybe some of the more rail-friendly states would be prepared to do something. Of course the reverse of the coin would be that the more anti-rail states would eventually lose their LD services if these cannot be made profitable. But the Superliners have a lot of life in them yet so by the time the last finally need to be retired, hopefully attitudes will have changed.
 

Ryan

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I don't know if this has been discussed before, but onviously investments have to be prioritised and new equipment for LD is not near the top of that list.
It's discussed extensively in the fleet strategy plan (which was a Boardman initiative). I think that you meant to say "new Superliner equipment" and not "new equipment for LD", since a bunch of Viewliner equipment is on order.
 

jis

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I still remember his testimony about Amtrak losses where he stated "It's the long distance trains" so I think he just says what he thinks his audience wants to hear and thus is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. There are no Amtrak plans to expand service outside of the NEC other than what the states will fund. There are no orders for Superliner equipment even to replace what they have lost through accidents and such much less any expansion. So sometime down the road they will just announce they don't have enough equipment to continue LD services on some corridors.
So you would want him to lie and say that LD trains are not the loss leaders? Amtrak's audited account pretty much bears that out, notwithstanding all the carping from the likes of URPA. Do you have an alternative account that would pass an audit that shows otherwise?

All that he has said is that he plans to try to keep running all the existing LD trains. Nothing that you have stated above suggests that he is being dishonest about it. Superliner orders need to be placed within the next 5 to 10 years. It is not a huge urgency at present. It is there in the Fleet Strategy. The last sentence is just the way you feel. Whether that is connected to reality or not only time will tell. I think either much worse will happen to all of Amtrak before then or things will be significantly rearranged way before then. Boardman has only partial control over those events, and probably infinitisimal at that.
 

afigg

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I don't know if this has been discussed before, but onviously investments have to be prioritised and new equipment for LD is not near the top of that list.
It's discussed extensively in the fleet strategy plan (which was a Boardman initiative). I think that you meant to say "new Superliner equipment" and not "new equipment for LD", since a bunch of Viewliner equipment is on order.
It should also be noted that the Viewliner II order is not just for the eastern LD trains as the baggage cars will be used on the western LD trains. If Amtrak was secretly planning to shut down some of the western LD trains, would they have ordered 55 baggage cars? The new baggage cars will provide an additional benefit with bike racks that may attract some new business to the LD trains from the biking crowd.
 

AlanB

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I don't know if this has been discussed before, but onviously investments have to be prioritised and new equipment for LD is not near the top of that list.
It's discussed extensively in the fleet strategy plan (which was a Boardman initiative). I think that you meant to say "new Superliner equipment" and not "new equipment for LD", since a bunch of Viewliner equipment is on order.
It should also be noted that the Viewliner II order is not just for the eastern LD trains as the baggage cars will be used on the western LD trains. If Amtrak was secretly planning to shut down some of the western LD trains, would they have ordered 55 baggage cars? The new baggage cars will provide an additional benefit with bike racks that may attract some new business to the LD trains from the biking crowd.
Agreed, Amtrak could have just as easily brought 55 coaches, or added more sleepers/diners and maybe a cafe cars/lounges to the order. Or just saved the money for that matter.
 
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