Daily service (maybe)

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Exvalley

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If this passes, it is fantastic news! I have two trips in October and I was getting very nervous since they are coordinated with airline travel.
 

Ziv

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Oct 25, 2011
Messages
628
Could someone parse this a bit for me? I am glad Amtrak is getting attention at that level, but is $26Bn a bit of overkill? Or is this just setting a marker up high because they know it will be whittled down?

"The so-called “emergency title,” Title V, makes $26 billion in additional money available into Fiscal 2022. It includes $5 billion for the Northeast Corridor, $3 billion for the National Network, $5 billion for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, $3 billion for BUILD grants, $5 billion for Capital Investment Grants targeting surface transportation and $100 million for Maglev on top of $5 million in Maglev appropriations in the core appropriations measure."
$5Bn for the NEC and $3Bn for the National Network sounds great, but that is a huge amount of money, is the loss of revenue that large? I knew the drop in revenue was huge, but I guess I never saw a figure for the actual shortfall. The NEC funds are broken out a bit below, but what will the capital projects be? Are we talking about funding for the Gateway Project or is this going to be used for something else? Or both?
Another $5Bn for the Capital Investment Grants is a huge amount as well. Where will this go, in all likelihood?
Will much of the Capital Investments Grants targeting surface transport got to rail improvements or will it be roads and non-rail transport?

"Within the $5 billion NEC provision, subcommittee members set aside $1 billion for capital projects, $200 million for upgrades related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and $172 million to cover 2021 capital payments that would have come from states. On the National Network side, the subcommittee stipulated that $424 million of the $3 billion be used for state-related payments, capital projects and positive train control."
Where will the remaining, un-directed $2.576Bn be spent on the National Network? Will some be spent on double/triple tracking in high traffic areas that are current chokepoints? Improving Amtrak stations or adding service back?
I apologize for all the questions but the article seems to paint a broad picture without filling in a lot of the details that are probably known to people that are more familiar with this process. Or I missed the meat of the article somehow...
On edit: And I am not even sure if this money will be used over the course of 2 fiscal years, or less, or more...
And the docs I have found are split on how much Amtrak was actually spending. Some said total spending was $3.7Bn and others said that that was just for the NEC with the national network spending $3.2Bn more for a total of $6.9Bn. And I am not sure if that includes items like the Gateway Project or the new Baltimore tunnel. Again, sorry for all the questions but I am curious about the numbers we have seen in the past.
 
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20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 26, 2020
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452
Profoundly glad and relieved to see that at least our elected lawmakers are taking into consideration the wellbeing of Amtrak patrons and employees. Pair with that support from the Executive Branch and there's renewed hope for a vigorous Amtrak system. Again and again we are reminded to get out there and vote!

November is a short 6 months away and each one of us has the power to make a difference! ;) 🌈
 

20th Century Rider

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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
452
Could someone parse this a bit for me? I am glad Amtrak is getting attention at that level, but is $26Bn a bit of overkill? Or is this just setting a marker up high because they know it will be whittled down?

"The so-called “emergency title,” Title V, makes $26 billion in additional money available into Fiscal 2022. It includes $5 billion for the Northeast Corridor, $3 billion for the National Network, $5 billion for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, $3 billion for BUILD grants, $5 billion for Capital Investment Grants targeting surface transportation and $100 million for Maglev on top of $5 million in Maglev appropriations in the core appropriations measure."
$5Bn for the NEC and $3Bn for the National Network sounds great, but that is a huge amount of money, is the loss of revenue that large? I knew the drop in revenue was huge, but I guess I never saw a figure for the actual shortfall. The NEC funds are broken out a bit below, but what will the capital projects be? Are we talking about funding for the Gateway Project or is this going to be used for something else? Or both?
Another $5Bn for the Capital Investment Grants is a huge amount as well. Where will this go, in all likelihood?
Will much of the Capital Investments Grants targeting surface transport got to rail improvements or will it be roads and non-rail transport?

"Within the $5 billion NEC provision, subcommittee members set aside $1 billion for capital projects, $200 million for upgrades related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and $172 million to cover 2021 capital payments that would have come from states. On the National Network side, the subcommittee stipulated that $424 million of the $3 billion be used for state-related payments, capital projects and positive train control."
Where will the remaining, un-directed $2.576Bn be spent on the National Network? Will some be spent on double/triple tracking in high traffic areas that are current chokepoints? Improving Amtrak stations or adding service back?
I apologize for all the questions but the article seems to paint a broad picture without filling in a lot of the details that are probably known to people that are more familiar with this process. Or I missed the meat of the article somehow...
On edit: And I am not even sure if this money will be used over the course of 2 fiscal years, or less, or more...
Revenue shortfall was like falling off a cliff when the pandemic hit.
 

Devil's Advocate

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May 24, 2010
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11,423
“Since May 28th, we’ve been saying that while we strongly support additional emergency funds for Amtrak, we’ve also insisted that any additional funds need to buy certainty for workers and passengers alike,” Mathews said. “Daily train service must be the very minimum service level. Title I includes important language protecting that service at 2018 levels in exchange for the additional dollars.”
I couldn't agree more with this position and hope that these stipulations survive future negotiations.

$5Bn for the NEC and $3Bn for the National Network sounds great, but that is a huge amount of money, is the loss of revenue that large? I knew the drop in revenue was huge, but I guess I never saw a figure for the actual shortfall.
Huge amount of money compared to what? The pandemic isn't even over yet and chances are good passenger rail will need more money in the future. I have no problem with using my taxes to help keep our passenger rail systems open and operating on a dependable basis.
 

20th Century Rider

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Messages
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I couldn't agree more with this position and hope that these stipulations survive future negotiations.


Huge amount of money compared to what? The pandemic isn't even over yet and chances are good passenger rail will need more money in the future. I have no problem with using my taxes to help keep our passenger rail systems open and operating on a dependable basis.
Well said! 🤠
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
716
Profoundly glad and relieved to see that at least our elected lawmakers are taking into consideration the wellbeing of Amtrak patrons and employees. Pair with that support from the Executive Branch and there's renewed hope for a vigorous Amtrak system. Again and again we are reminded to get out there and vote!

November is a short 6 months away and each one of us has the power to make a difference! ;) 🌈
And by a SHORT six months, that is just under four months...
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,911
While this report is encouraging news and is demonstrating why the House of Representatives is nick-named "The House of the People", there is still the United States Senate that the Appropriation Bill has to face.
 

AmtrakFlyer

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Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
51
So Amtrak’s price to maintain daily service and avoid layoffs is now 10 billion?? What the blank...

Today’s RPA is all about the House funding bill. I can’t tell if that headline is taken out of context or a line in the sand now by Amtrak’s management that 10 billion is the actual price they want to keep the network trains daily. Either way I don’t know why RPA is so happy about that quote from Flynn. It shows the LD trains will be the sacrificial lamb if they don’t get what they want for their beloved corridors. Yes the money is sorely needed but claiming 10 billion to keep daily service and avoid layoffs is extortion.

Flynns letter has bullet points listed there’s a lot of NEC and state corridor improvements but not much for the network with this 10 billion save for the fact they still want to install PTC on the two train a day track the SWC uses and as stated earlier avoid LD frequency reductions.

Am I being too pessimistic?
 

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Exvalley

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As much as I am a proponent of keeping daily service, doesn’t it make sense to scale to demand and use the extra money for infrastructure and capital improvements?
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,354
As much as I am a proponent of keeping daily service, doesn’t it make sense to scale to demand and use the extra money for infrastructure and capital improvements?
That would make sense if you could maintain the same ridership with either tri-weekly or daily service. However, past experience has shown that not only does ridership not stay the same when such cuts are made, it is reduced by a greater ratio than the cuts in frequency, resulting in more empty trains than prior to the service reductions. The other major consideration is that a huge proportion of the costs are fixed, so would not be reduced by such cuts.
 

Acela150

Conductor
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Messages
8,776
So Amtrak’s price to maintain daily service and avoid layoffs is now 10 billion?? What the blank...

Today’s RPA is all about the House funding bill. I can’t tell if that headline is taken out of context or a line in the sand now by Amtrak’s management that 10 billion is the actual price they want to keep the network trains daily. Either way I don’t know why RPA is so happy about that quote from Flynn. It shows the LD trains will be the sacrificial lamb if they don’t get what they want for their beloved corridors. Yes the money is sorely needed but claiming 10 billion to keep daily service and avoid layoffs is extortion.

Flynns letter has bullet points listed there’s a lot of NEC and state corridor improvements but not much for the network with this 10 billion save for the fact they still want to install PTC on the two train a day track the SWC uses and as stated earlier avoid LD frequency reductions.

Am I being too pessimistic?
As someone who has advocated for funding for Projects such as Gateway and overall funding of Passenger Rail. $10 Billion is a lot of money to do things that are sorely needed. Sadly, our government has neglected Amtrak for years, and they are finally realizing that Amtrak needs the funding.

Part of the $10 Billion will go to fund a wide variety of projects that are desperately needed, like new equipment, and Gateway. It will also prevent massive furloughs and terminations, and may even bring Amtrak to bring back new hire classes. But that is widely depending on passenger traffic returning.

As much as I am a proponent of keeping daily service, doesn’t it make sense to scale to demand and use the extra money for infrastructure and capital improvements?
NO! Absolutely not! That would bring back Amtrak's plan A, which is reduce LD service to Tri-Weekly and massive furloughs and terminations.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
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Sep 15, 2017
Messages
896
Although infrastructure spending is important and I can see the idea of doing everything 3x weekly and putting all the money into capital, part of the idea from congress’ prospective of keeping the trains daily is probably to avoid the layoffs involved (as well as not risking losing the time slots). In an economic recovery the more people still working the better. I’m sure this is also about keeping Amtrak employees on the job as much as it is the affects on the usefulness of the network.
 

Acela150

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Jan 11, 2008
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Although infrastructure spending is important and I can see the idea of doing everything 3x weekly and putting all the money into capital, part of the idea from congress’ prospective of keeping the trains daily is probably to avoid the layoffs involved (as well as not risking losing the time slots). In an economic recovery the more people still working the better. I’m sure this is also about keeping Amtrak employees on the job as much as it is the affects on the usefulness of the network.
Congress has repeated the same statement over and over to now Past President Anderson, and they'll tell Mr. Flynn the same thing. "It's National or Nothing".

But, I tend to agree all around with your statement. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a great amount of money spent on infrastructure. Even more so, the new Tunnels under the Hudson. But keeping thousands of Employees employed is critical during these times. Sending 4000 workers to the Unemployment line is just bad news all around.

I have had a conversation with another AU member about how many employees are eligible for retirement. I won't go into the numbers that we believe are eligible. But the one thing that I have missed feelings about is "forcing" retirements. Their are quite a few employees that are just working for something to do, or just don't want to retire. This is due in part to no mandatory retirement age to work for any RR. This makes junior employees at risk for furlough. It's my belief that the number of workers that are eligible for retirement could easily save junior employees and open up jobs for new hires. I know of one senior employee who thinks that junior guys need to quit whining about people who need to retire and fight for their jobs. I honestly see both sides of the story.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Messages
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As much as I am a proponent of keeping daily service, doesn’t it make sense to scale to demand and use the extra money for infrastructure and capital improvements?
Scaling back is how we ended up with daily trains where there used to be several runs per day. Amtrak has proven you can rebuild ridership and support with daily service but you are virtually guaranteed to lose riders and support with less-than-daily service. I wouldn't wish the Sunset situation on anyone else.
 
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NES28

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
24
I assume that a big chunk of the National Network money is to replace the Superliners. An interesting question is whether it would make sense from an ADA compliance point-of-view, and for fleet uniformity, to buy more View liners. We could have domes in the West, again! (with lifts!).

A full reauthorization won't go through Congress until after the people elected in November are seated in January.
 

20th Century Rider

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Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
452
That would make sense if you could maintain the same ridership with either tri-weekly or daily service. However, past experience has shown that not only does ridership not stay the same when such cuts are made, it is reduced by a greater ratio than the cuts in frequency, resulting in more empty trains than prior to the service reductions. The other major consideration is that a huge proportion of the costs are fixed, so would not be reduced by such cuts.
I agree along with so many others on this forum... reducing frequency to less than once a day discourages passengers who need to navigate around the ever changing scheduling patterns. Less begets less.

A huge difference is anticipated should another administration come into office next January 20th. Success and for our national rail system can only be as solid as the leadership of the country standing behind it. That means Amtrak... having the backing of the executive branch and congress... can once again move forward with needed maintenance, updating, and focus on meeting the needs of the traveling public. As an Amtrak traveler and enthusiast I am optimistically hoping for the best.
 

Willbridge

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Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
392
I agree along with so many others on this forum... reducing frequency to less than once a day discourages passengers who need to navigate around the ever changing scheduling patterns. Less begets less.
It doesn't mean much to some people, but the Thruway bus connections are also threatened by 3x weekly service. Imagine being owner of a small bus company and having to coordinate and protect a connection in that situation.
 

MARC Rider

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Could someone parse this a bit for me? I am glad Amtrak is getting attention at that level, but is $26Bn a bit of overkill? Or is this just setting a marker up high because they know it will be whittled down?
Probably that. Remember, this has to get through the Senate and be signed by the President, too.
 
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MARC Rider

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While this report is encouraging news and is demonstrating why the House of Representatives is nick-named "The House of the People", there is still the United States Senate that the Appropriation Bill has to face.
Re,member, there are a lot more Senators from states that have national network service than states in the NEC. And the NEC states also have national network service. Given past performance, there may be more support for this in the Senate than people think. But the House maybe needed to put a little padding in it to allow the Senators to save ideological face by being able to cut it a bit.
 

Dakota 400

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A full reauthorization won't go through Congress until after the people elected in November are seated in January.
If the Appropriations Bill that includes money for Amtrak does not get through this Congress by December 31, 2020, then the entire process has to begin anew in the next Congress. Bills "in the hopper" and not acted upon by the end of one Congress (or any legislative session) die.
 
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