Gardner reiterates corridor focus

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NES28

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Yes, this is why there are no routes longer than 500 miles in the ConnectUS plan.

A major advantage of true high speed rail is that, as long as they are implemented on major routes, they typically operate at a profit, avoiding the need for either the states or Feds from having to paying ongoing operating costs. Of course, there is a big upfront cost.
 

jis

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Very few, if any, of the proposed ConnectUS Corridors are expected to be true HSR though.

I am surprised that Gardner's statement would be a matter of surprise for anyone. If not anything else, Gardner has been completely consistent in stating what ConnectUS is all about. It has also been obvious that unless Congress explicitly says "add this and that LD train" with funding attached for doing so, the LD network is at best in a maintenance mode.
 
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This is the problem with how Amtrak is currently structured. You can vote a gazillion dollars at the federal level but any new corridors are at the mercy of state funding, and in some states like Indiana and Ohio it doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon in spite of the need.
 

bms

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Requiring states to pay all the operating costs of the new routes means that Amtrak will spend the entire $75 billion in 10-12 states - mostly wealthier states that already have fairly good service. That wasn't the intent of Congress, isn't fair to taxpayers in the rest of the states, and isn't a smart way to operate a national railroad.
 
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Requiring states to pay all the operating costs of the new routes means that Amtrak will spend the entire $75 billion in 10-12 states - mostly wealthier states that already have fairly good service. That wasn't the intent of Congress, isn't fair to taxpayers in the rest of the states, and isn't a smart way to operate a national railroad.
Agree. That $75 billion is being paid by the taxpayers and people in the less populated states deserve and have every right to expect reliable train service. Notice that there are no plans in place to replace any LD equipment. This must be brought to the attention of congress.
 
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Agree. That $75 billion is being paid by the taxpayers and people in the less populated states deserve and have every right to expect reliable train service. Notice that there are no plans in place to replace any LD equipment. This must be brought to the attention of congress.
That’s not entirely true. There are some long pdf booklets of Amtrak’s plans available that discuss replacing the fleet. For one, it’s how we know that the LD fleet will be replaced by single level, not bi level.

Maybe the plans aren’t as hashed out and public as the Amfleet replacements, but then again, superliners, on average, aren’t as old as amfleets.
 
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jis

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Agree. That $75 billion is being paid by the taxpayers and people in the less populated states deserve and have every right to expect reliable train service. Notice that there are no plans in place to replace any LD equipment. This must be brought to the attention of congress.
It is patently false to claim "there are no plans". The ten year fleet plan has it in black and white starting 2025 which is outside the current 5 year plans window that are available in greater detail. Congress has appropriated the money in the Infrastructure bill. Expect to start hearing more details around late 2023 to 2024.

What is not fully hashed out is future growth in the LD route structure. The first step to address that has been taken in Congress essentially requiring a plan for that. As to whether that will happen or not depends on how the collective mood of Congress and the Executive branch evolves on that matter.

If Congress does not follow through the route structure will likely remain the same. If they do not collectively push for changing the top management at Amtrak, it will have to be dragged in by its heels to do any growth in the LD network. Just IMHO.

At the RPA we are currently actively involved in getting them to use the currently available fleet to the fullest instead of mothballing parts of it while withdrawing facilities from select trains. This seems ot have become a perennial issue with the current Amtrak management.
 
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Amtrakfflyer

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One thing I noticed right away was the timing of this article. Was it a stock article like the "Insider" trip reports or done that day. Going back and reading it, it says Gardner did the interview Wednesday (1/12). That was a day or two before cuts were announced. A time when by most accounts Amtrak service was imploding to a point we've never seen before. Trains delayed 24 hours with horrible PR outcomes, trains cancelled all together with little notice, etc.

Why would Gardner sit down to do that, "pie in the sky" interview while his company was literally, that day falling apart at the seams? I think it's obvious at this point the network trains are still in jeopardy under his rein. He will keep enough of the status quo to appease Congress for now. Honestly, I don't consider the Texas Eagle without a lounge status quo, but it meets the letter of the law, so it continues with no push back. The loss of repeat passengers and revenue be damned. If this Congress and Administration allow Gardner to continue to drag his heals and remain in charge, he will have played them perfectly. The political pendulum will swing back, and it may be as early as two years from now. Gardner knows that. Trains like the Texas Eagle are set up to be discontinued or broken up with little notice in that scenario. We got lucky with the SWC, a group of very motivated parties from both sides of the aisle that have/had amazing staffers that pushed back. I've personally struck a friendship with one staffer from the local office here and she has nothing nice to say about Gardner after dealing with him regarding the SWC negotiations.

Gardner is sly like a fox (unlike Anderson). His "B" list of trains will be the first to go when the political wind is right. Go down the list of Senators and Representatives on the Eagle. Does anyone think Ted Cruz, Jon Cornyn, Bill Cassidy, John Kennedy, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley would lift a finger to save the train if push came to shove? The House Reps in those districts are even more extreme in some cases. The City of NOLA is in the same boat. Senators from other states may or may not come to the rescue but since it wouldn't affect them, I wouldn't expect it.




Below was on the "Cancelation Thread" but I think it backs up my thoughts.
Trainswire on current cuts by By Bob Johnston | January 17, 2022

"Other ramifications
How did the company get in this position?

Amtrak management has continued to disinvest in national network operating, onboard service, and maintenance staff. After deciding not to reactivate sufficient equipment to capture long distance revenue — its highest revenue-per-passenger segment last summer — the company also made no effort to step up recruiting at crew bases last fall, which has left operations vulnerable to the uncertainties of the labor market and COVID-19 variants.

Trains News Wire learned from an employee in late November that discussions of adding at least one new conductor at a Midwest crew base were not followed up. And in two instances experienced firsthand between October and December, trains were operated on at least one segment without an assistant conductor because no one was available to work that day.

Onboard service workers traveling on one long-distance train when the cutbacks were announced were reportedly told to rebid their positions and were not told that the new five-day-per-week schedule is “temporary.” Rebidding when operational changes occur is standard procedure and doesn’t necessarily mean positions are being eliminated, but the changes exacerbate a sense that job security could be threatened, and thus makes recruitment more problematic.

The new long-distance schedules mean operating personnel away from home at the end of a five-day cycle will either have to deadhead, be vanned back to their base, or be compensated with “held away” pay. This adds costs and may require new transportation vendors to be identified and paid. This was one reason frequency cutbacks during mid-1990s budget squeezes did not achieve anticipated cost savings.

That isn’t a problem now. Congress has repeatedly telegraphed to Amtrak management over the past year that it expects robust investment in the national network, first appropriating COVID-19 relief funds in 2020 and early 2021, then doubling down in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Amtrak reauthorization language in that legislation stresses the importance of long-distance service, and includes $16 billion for national-network investment over five years.

The language was in the bill long before it was passed in November, but Amtrak management has yet to prove it intends to make serious attempts to grow its business rather than fall victim to events precipitated by a lack of vision or investment planning. The latest cutbacks are evidence company leaders still haven’t taken seriously the stated mission to provide national mobility."
 
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