Daily Sunset Limited Campaign

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dogbert617

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 19, 2016
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840
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Chicago, IL
Good luck, to those fighting for the Sunset to finally run daily! While you're at it, you should try to get letters of support from Lafayette, LA's city council and mayor written, as well. Don't forget to also try to get similar letters of support written from those in Lake Charles, Houma and Schreiver(IIRC that's the town outside of Houma where Amtrak actually stops in, correct me if wrong), and Alpine, TX as well!

Also, don't forget to see if you can get letters of support written, from those in Palm Springs as well. I know that place has the similar challenge of Yuma, where it runs overnight. :(
 

SanAntonioClyde

Service Attendant
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Nov 22, 2012
Messages
214
Location
SAN ANTONIO, TX
Good luck, to those fighting for the Sunset to finally run daily! While you're at it, you should try to get letters of support from Lafayette, LA's city council and mayor written, as well. Don't forget to also try to get similar letters of support written from those in Lake Charles, Houma and Schreiver(IIRC that's the town outside of Houma where Amtrak actually stops in, correct me if wrong), and Alpine, TX as well!

Also, don't forget to see if you can get letters of support written, from those in Palm Springs as well. I know that place has the similar challenge of Yuma, where it runs overnight. :(

I've covered the 900 miles in Texas from Beaumont to El Paso with great results. My fellow RPA members in Palm Springs are not having much luck to date, so if you have any connections please let me know. Have emailed Louisiana RPA organization (via their website) asking for help but have never received reply.
 

SanAntonioClyde

Service Attendant
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Nov 22, 2012
Messages
214
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SAN ANTONIO, TX

TheTuck

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 1, 2009
Messages
58
Another move for a daily Sunset Limited.
"Three people with the Rail Passengers Association, an organization that represents rail passengers, presented their case to increase routes to county commissioners Tuesday."
Still a ways to go.
https://www.kens5.com/article/news/local/bexar-county-commissioners-vote-to-increase-amtrak-train-routes/273-9a9f3851-0bef-4cde-bf4e-6f9e20a5e371
The article implies that Amtrak is all for going daily, but I am not so sure. Anderson and his flyboys have clearly indicated their disdain for long distance trains as non profitable routes. Being as the Sunset Limited is one of the worst performers, why would they all of a sudden invest in making it a daily train? Their allocated costing methodology would undoubtedly put this through the ringer before the very first daily run, which will only strengthen the company's argument to stay triweekly (or worse).

It's not the UP we should be concerned; they can be negotiated with. The current Amtrak regime is not willing to do any of this by themselves, nor spend the money needed for the upgrades. In fact, I predict Amtrak will try to break up this route into smaller segments, remove amenities such as dining cars, sleepers etc... It will take a very strong political push from the representatives along the route to simply maintain the current service levels, much less invest in expansion.
 

Anthony V

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
231
The article implies that Amtrak is all for going daily, but I am not so sure. Anderson and his flyboys have clearly indicated their disdain for long distance trains as non profitable routes. Being as the Sunset Limited is one of the worst performers, why would they all of a sudden invest in making it a daily train? Their allocated costing methodology would undoubtedly put this through the ringer before the very first daily run, which will only strengthen the company's argument to stay triweekly (or worse).

It's not the UP we should be concerned; they can be negotiated with. The current Amtrak regime is not willing to do any of this by themselves, nor spend the money needed for the upgrades. In fact, I predict Amtrak will try to break up this route into smaller segments, remove amenities such as dining cars, sleepers etc... It will take a very strong political push from the representatives along the route to simply maintain the current service levels, much less invest in expansion.
The reason UP asked for so much money back in 2010 when Amtrak wanted to make the Sunset a daily train is because they were planning to double track much of the route themselves to improve capacity for their freight trains. When Amtrak asked UP for a daily Sunset, UP saw that as an opportunity to not have to pay for the upgrades themselves. In other words, the $750 million price tag of a daily Sunset was really UP attempting to exploit Amtrak's desires for improved service. When Amtrak's plans stopped due to the price tag, UP was forced to pay for the capacity upgrades for freight service on the route themselves.
 

TheTuck

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 1, 2009
Messages
58
There seems to be an unspoken assumption that Anderson will remain the boss from now till eternity, which may not be as true as some think it might be. His days may be more numbered than anyone imagines. ;)
Maybe so, but he has installed a lot of airplane parts into the passenger railroad. Unless Wick comes out of retirement again, I don't see much reverting back to pre-Anderson levels.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
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Location
Ithaca, NY
There seems to be an unspoken assumption that Anderson will remain the boss from now till eternity, which may not be as true as some think it might be. His days may be more numbered than anyone imagines. ;)
Given his disdainful attitude towards *his bosses* in Congress? He may not last long!

The sad thing is that I don't even think it's entirely Anderson's fault. Much of the stuff he's been proposing is really, really dumb and if he actually understood Amtrak's finances he would never have proposed much of it. There's someone under him feeding him bad information and making him look bad, and the evidence points to Stephen Gardner.

The question in my mind is whether *Gardner* can be pushed out; Gardner clearly has a bad attitude and doesn't understand Amtrak customers or finances, but he's mostly managing to keep his head down and direct most of the flak at Anderson. However, a couple of Gardner interviews, supiciously timed to defend the indefensible, gave Gardner's agenda away. A very bad outcome, IMO, would be if Gardner got promoted.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
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Ithaca, NY
I've covered the 900 miles in Texas from Beaumont to El Paso with great results. My fellow RPA members in Palm Springs are not having much luck to date, so if you have any connections please let me know. Have emailed Louisiana RPA organization (via their website) asking for help but have never received reply.
Frankly, I suspect that RPA doesn't have many members in Louisiana. The only one I can think of of the top of my head... isn't in Louisiana any more.

Louisiana ARP looks in bad shape -- although they had a meeting scheduled for October 12, they haven't posted on their website since then and they haven't put anything on their blog since 2017. You might have to look a little further afield to assemble advocacy within Louisiana; I think the localities *would* be interested.

The only local-transit advocacy organization I can find in Louisiana is Ride New Orleans; they'd probably decide this was outside their area of interest, but they might be convinced to support a daily train for the value of daily service to Houston.

All Aboard Arizona advocates are clearly happy to help, they've been advocating for daily service forever, and still seem to be going; I'm glad they're making good progress.
 

Palmetto

Conductor
AU Supporter
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Miami
TxARP isn't anything to write home about either. I don't even know if it still exists.
 

Willbridge

OBS Chief
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Denver
The reason UP asked for so much money back in 2010 when Amtrak wanted to make the Sunset a daily train is because they were planning to double track much of the route themselves to improve capacity for their freight trains. When Amtrak asked UP for a daily Sunset, UP saw that as an opportunity to not have to pay for the upgrades themselves. In other words, the $750 million price tag of a daily Sunset was really UP attempting to exploit Amtrak's desires for improved service. When Amtrak's plans stopped due to the price tag, UP was forced to pay for the capacity upgrades for freight service on the route themselves.
Similar to what happened with the simultaneous Pioneer study. Amtrak made no attempt to negotiate over what obviously was a starting point. My favorite expense was for fencing the main line at the Shoshone station due to trespass casualties from the wrong side of the tracks saloons, solving a problem that has existed since the 19th century.
 

Cal

Conductor
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
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Location
Socal
Progress is being made in gaining support from various Texas cities served by the Sunset. Since September 2018 we have gathered supporting resolutions from Jefferson Cty Judge (Beaumont), Mayor of Houston, San Antonio City council, Del Rio Mayor and county judge, Del Rio

chamber of Commerce, Terrell Cty Judge (Sanderson) and Alpine city council. Mayor of Tucson has also supplied a supporting letter. Now in process of backfilling to see addition support can be gathered.
It's 2021 now, any updates?
 

SanAntonioClyde

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 22, 2012
Messages
214
Location
SAN ANTONIO, TX
Pandemic has put us on hold. Rail Passengers Association has just renewed a license agreement which will allow us to run models that will help us show various cities the economic benefits they will have by having daily
Sunset service. At this time I am not sure when results will be available and when they can be presented. The purpose of doing this is to have the communities show increased interest and help us push for improved service.
 

Devil's Advocate

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May 24, 2010
Messages
12,422
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Texas
Pandemic has put us on hold. Rail Passengers Association has just renewed a license agreement which will allow us to run models that will help us show various cities the economic benefits they will have by having daily
Sunset service. At this time I am not sure when results will be available and when they can be presented. The purpose of doing this is to have the communities show increased interest and help us push for improved service.
Is there something we can do to help? I'd love to get the city back on track but they seem resigned and intractable when it comes to supporting passenger rail. I do not think it's an accident that even the HSR project has ignored SAS.
 

SanAntonioClyde

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 22, 2012
Messages
214
Location
SAN ANTONIO, TX
Is there something we can do to help? I'd love to get the city back on track but they seem resigned and intractable when it comes to supporting passenger rail. I do not think it's an accident that even the HSR project has ignored SAS.
Just got results of study. Members of RPA ad hoc Daily Sunset Campaign are now writing to our senators and local leaders pointing out tremendous financial benefits daily service brings to each state. Lots to digest n these results.

Believe we need to have high speed rail first developed for Dallas Houston as this is most viable option, then we can push for Austin and San Antonio service. Perhaps Gov. Perry"s loop around Austin will some day be useful for rail.
 

Cal

Conductor
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Jan 23, 2021
Messages
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Socal
Just got results of study. Members of RPA ad hoc Daily Sunset Campaign are now writing to our senators and local leaders pointing out tremendous financial benefits daily service brings to each state. Lots to digest n these results.
How many times has this been done in the past? Is this the furthest anyone's ever gotten to making the Sunset daily?
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Ground work is ground work. While it might not be seen as much. It is one of those things you need to do. Better to have and be able to show local support, than not to have that support. You just don’t want a local government to gummy up your project, for the lack of a meeting.
 

Willbridge

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If a couple of local governments would participate you might consider holding your own public hearings. We did that for the Pioneer in 1976 and had good turnouts at each prospective stop from Hood River to Ontario. We had a panel (myself for ODOT) that took testimony and asked questions of the witnesses. OreARP (now AORTA) paid most of the expenses (we rented two vans so the team could travel together). Travel expenses went to individuals or their agencies.

In a similar vein, a 1984 conference at Jasper was what helped get that resort and Edmonton back on track for the Super Continental. In that case we emphasized the business development aspect. In the first photo, VIA Rail veep Harold Murray addresses the group (imagine, they had a "western" office in Winnipeg). Transport 2000 Canada, Alberta and BC were represented. In the second photo, a Jasper tour operator is telling how loss of the connection to international travel at Vancouver, BC destroyed Japanese tourism links and in the third photo Edmonton Mayor Laurence Decore (in the turtleneck sweater) listens intently while his overstressed chief of staff looks exhausted on the Liberal mayor's left. As in the Oregon example there was no legal requirement to hold these sessions but they got the attention of people in Our Nations' Capitols.

1984 067.jpg

1984 071.jpg
1984 070.jpg
 

Just-Thinking-51

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“Walk the walk.”

There a lot of way to support your ideals.
Cash, sitting on a meeting, or been the force of nature that scheduled and hold meetings.

I am not much myself, but will say thanks for those who do take the time to host those meetings.
 

George Harris

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now in California
Politically do you think there is any reasonable possibility of getting any support out of this current administration for service in the parts of the country that resoundingly does not support them? You can figure any significant Amtrak money is going down that black hole called the Northeast Corridor, where if you are lucky you get 10 cents value for every dollar spent.
 

PaTrainFan

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366
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Pittsburgh, Pa.
Politically do you think there is any reasonable possibility of getting any support out of this current administration for service in the parts of the country that resoundingly does not support them? You can figure any significant Amtrak money is going down that black hole called the Northeast Corridor, where if you are lucky you get 10 cents value for every dollar spent.
Generally speaking, if Biden supports it, the Republicans won't give himwhat he wants. That is very obvious in the current "negotiations" on the infrastructure bill.
 

John Bredin

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Dec 18, 2007
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suburban Chicago (Deerfield)
Politically do you think there is any reasonable possibility of getting any support out of this current administration for service in the parts of the country that resoundingly does not support them?
Is there any evidence for this other than projection (that's what the Republicans would do)?! 🤔 Biden typically rode the NEC before he became President because that's where he lived and worked, but I've seen no indication he wants Amtrak to improve only in the NEC. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg is from Indiana. And Amtrak's corridor improvement plan does little for long-distance trains but it does propose a lot of new corridor service in red and purple states. A Presidential Administration or Amtrak seeking only to spend money in blue states wouldn't be proposing an Atlanta hub connecting to Nashville TN, Birmingham AL, and Montgomery AL, or eight trains a day between Chicago and Indianapolis, or new corridors in Texas extending into Oklahoma and up to Kansas.

You can figure any significant Amtrak money is going down that black hole called the Northeast Corridor, where if you are lucky you get 10 cents value for every dollar spent.
Yes, a good chunk of the money from Congress, however much that is in the end, will be for the NEC. Tens of millions of taxpaying Americans live and work there, and owning the right-of-way ain't cheap. But like home ownership, ROW ownership may involve shelling out more money than being a tenant but gives you control that a tenant will never have.

However, it's not true that "any significant Amtrak money" is strictly for the NEC. Picking a random link from a Google search, Amtrak's 2021 budget request (from early 2020 before Biden was elected) was roughly 2:1 National Network-to-NEC. The 2022 transportation budget from the Biden Administration (here) (go to numbered page 59/actual page 62) seems to be roughly half NEC & half National Network.

The problem isn't the NEC, it's how much hasn't been spent on better service outside the NEC. Once you start playing the zero-sum "if it's not Scottish my service, it's crap!" game, you lose because you're playing on the opponents' field. While you're arguing that the NEC is a waste, the highways-only people are arguing that public spending on the NEC, other corridor trains, long-distance trains, local transit, or anything other than cars and trucks is a waste. Only they're arguing louder and with more money than you, and they're nodding along as you condemn the wasteful NEC and the NEC-only faction condemns the wasteful LD trains.
 
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