NY Times: Anderson out, William Flynn in

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west point

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As to Moorman. I have to wonder if he had been made aware of the track problems at NYP. What ever once they became public ( and to him ) he rapidly started the program to rebuild the tracks there. The rebuilding evidently is going to take a few years. As well it has also been announced that one at a time East river tunnel bores will be closed for rehabilitation starting soon..
 

toddinde

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I think we can all agree that Anderson was not positive. The war on the long distance trains was especially ridiculous. Anyone with a brain can understand that they serve many states and congressional districts and thus, are politically essential to Amtrak’s existence. On the other hand, that fact has been firmly established now. Hopefully, the new guy will focus on expanding and improving the long distance network because in reality, that’s the easiest, most cost effective place to grow the system.
 

Barb Stout

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Boardman and Moorman were both successfully destaffing smaller stations, quietly. Anderson was idiotic enough to destaff Cincinatti, which obviously should be staffed, and that got a backlash. Again, dumbassery.
I have heard this about Cincinnati, but when did it take place? I rode through there last August and there was a station agent there and a very good one he was.
 

jis

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I think we can all agree that Anderson was not positive. The war on the long distance trains was especially ridiculous. Anyone with a brain can understand that they serve many states and congressional districts and thus, are politically essential to Amtrak’s existence. On the other hand, that fact has been firmly established now. Hopefully, the new guy will focus on expanding and improving the long distance network because in reality, that’s the easiest, most cost effective place to grow the system.
I am not sure we all agree that Anderson was universally not positive. He did a few really bad things, but he also did a bunch of good, like refreshing rolling stock, ordering new rolling stock, including for LD service, and such. His stance on LD trains was indeed negative, but that was not everything that he did. His stance on food service should have forced Congress to legislatively put an end to it, which they chose not to, which says quite a bit about how Congress overall feels about that matter I suppose - not something that I like. And oddly enough, because of his negative stance, as a reaction to it, the LD network is probably on firmer financial footing with more subsidy than ever budgeted for it. So there are pluses and minuses to consider.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I live at the junction of the Eagle and Sunset and mainly ride Western trains. I've seen zero refreshed anything. The only new rolling stock came in the form of barely used baggage cars that weren't ordered or deployed by Anderson. I've seen no meaningful improvements to dining, on time performance, service standards, interruption recovery, timely communication, fare restrictions, ticket prices, etc. Anderson seemed to go out of his way to antagonize people like me, and I will not be thanking him for inadvertently helping the long distance network by repeatedly attacking and undermining those who support it while trying to promote a replacement network of stub trains and bus bridges.
 

fdaley

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To me Anderson's achievements seem unremarkable at best and are far outweighed by his destructive legacy with the long-distance trains, with "flexible" non-dining as the worst example. From upstate New York I have historically used both corridor and long-distance trains. But the Lake Shore Limited, the only national network train that serves my home turf, has become such an abomination under Anderson that I avoid it like the plague. The corridor trains are still pretty well run, which they were before Anderson. But Devil's Advocate is right: Anderson's message to long-distance travelers, even high-revenue sleeper customers, has been to get lost. And in my case, it's working, as I've simply opted to stay home rather than to take discretionary long-distance trips over the past year and half. I don't think that's progress.
 

Palmetto

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I live at the junction of the Eagle and Sunset and mainly ride Western trains. I've seen zero refreshed anything. The only new rolling stock came in the form of barely used baggage cars that weren't ordered or deployed by Anderson. I've seen no meaningful improvements to dining, on time performance, service standards, interruption recovery, timely communication, fare restrictions, ticket prices, etc. Anderson seemed to go out of his way to antagonize people like me, and I will not be thanking him for inadvertently helping the long distance network by repeatedly attacking and undermining those who support it while trying to promote a replacement network of stub trains and bus bridges.
All this because you live on 2 LD routes, unfortunately. And your state [formerly mine, too] will most like do absolutely nothing to improve passenger rail.
 

jis

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The fact of the matter is that the service that Anderson has been promoting, namely short-medium distance corridor service has actually improved with better offerings in the cafe and fully refurbished cars. OTOH the service that Anderson has been negative about has not improved and gone downhill. Depending on which of the Amtrak service you use predominantly is bound to color ones attitude about Anderson. That is for most casual users of Amtrak who are blissfully ignorant about what goes on in the corners of Amtrak that don't touch them.

Hopefully, going forward a better balance will be struck. But that depends on what the agenda is that the Board chooses to set for Amtrak more than anything else. The CEO is an employee and is not going to do things that are at odds with what the Board wants him to do.
 
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west point

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John Bredin

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Having read the above-linked annual report and grant request (thanks, west point!), and maybe being in a particularly optimistic mood today ;), I don't see an Amtrak leadership out to screw long-distance trains as some other people do. I noticed that, while many of the budget request line-items are broken down by long-distance vs. state-supported trains, the narrative portions of the report seem to talk about intercity passenger rail or the National Network without singling out long-distance trains and definitely without denigrating them.

I particularly liked:
"Likewise, at our smaller stations found throughout our 46 state network, we provide a vital alternative and connection to places where harsh winters can make driving a challenge, to communities where airlines and bus companies have reduced service, and for people who do not wish to drive or fly or are unable to do so. Today many such locations are only served once a day, often by late trains in the middle of the night. We continue to seek collaboration and support from Congress to build the necessary partnerships and policies to help us serve such communities better through improved train performance, new and more passenger equipment, and increased frequencies and city-pair connections, where demand warrants. Across the continental United States, Amtrak serves more locations than are served by scheduled commercial airlines combined, demonstrating our importance as a link to the nation for many."

Despite the budget asking for the same or an increased amount of money for every line item, I'm sure the remark about "improving our ability to sustainably maintain the operation of appropriate long distance routes" will be read by some as being not suitably rah-rah about long-distance trains because "appropriate" could mean something less than the existing number. :)

All that said, I have a question. The largest line item under National Network (non-NEC) equipment is the somewhat vague "all other equipment" at $170,549,070, of which long distance is $119,384,349. Judging from the other line items, it isn't for overhauling Amfleet or bilevel cars, nor for Amfleet I replacement. So what is it?
 

jis

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Request for first tranche funding of new equipment to get the ball rolling?
 

John Bredin

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I forgot to mention something else that struck me about the report/grant request: the proposed corridor development program, for which Amtrak is seeking a $300 million grant. I think this is a clever idea. I also think it's the basis for the recent discussion on the Amtrak futures subforum that Amtrak was proposing Nashville-Atlanta service to Tennessee officials.

As some noted in that thread, the sticky wicket for getting a new corridor started in a state that doesn't already have corridor service is getting the state government to cough up money. The work-around for the Gulf Coast has been to ask entities other than the state gov't, such as the city of Mobile, for funding. This corridor program is clearly intended to get a state onboard (pun intended) with new corridor service by providing service first at wholly federal expense. I imagine state support will be needed after a few years when the initial grant runs out, but by then the service will have been running for some time and will have a local constituency (riders, chambers of commerce in towns with stations, etc.) that can push their elected officials for funding to keep it going.

I think this is clever because it is an attempt to beat the chicken-and-egg problem of getting new service off the ground. Look at how many cities have struggled to get their first light-rail line running, with much opposition based on NIMBYism, ginned-up fear of "loot rail" :confused: etc., but then once one line is running and people see that it increases rather than decreases property values, neighborhoods and suburbs not on the initial line start pushing for extensions and new lines instead of fighting against them.

Or look at the Southeastern states that have state-sponsored trains: Virginia and North Carolina. They inherited or began state service before the 2000s when intercity passenger rail became a "culture wars" shibboleth, and they couldn't or wouldn't drop service even with GOP state governments and even while passenger rail was being politicized by GOP politicians in other states in the Southeast and elsewhere (Ohio! Wisconsin!). Indeed, look at Wisconsin: while Walker [spit!] cravenly politicized the extension of the Hiawatha to Madison, he had to repeatedly talk up the existing Hiawatha service to make it clear to its constituents that his anti-rail talk didn't extend to ending the existing service.
 
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crescent-zephyr

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The fact of the matter is that the service that Anderson has been promoting, namely short-medium distance corridor service has actually improved with better offerings in the cafe and fully refurbished cars.
Replacing upholstery = fully refurbished?

And what better offerings? Dunkin coffee?
 

west point

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John: You may have an insight on a possible Amtrak plan ? It may not be the ATL - Nashville proposal but let us take it as a possibility. The loss of the proposal terminal location in ATL does not help. Atlanta's biggest problem right now is no location and beginning engineering for a new terminal. However ATL <> NVL could start the beginning of a hub and spoke system around ATL such as NYP, CHI, LAX and the bay area ? CHI type would be the best comparison as ATL could have as many as 13 separate routes into the city. A couple would be problematic. 4 would be ones that combine with others outside of ATL. The Georgia population is increasing rapidly which will mean the addition of 1 or possibly 2 more congressional seats at this years census..
 

Rover

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Once again, if Amtrak devolves into mainly NEC service, I will be pressing my Texas Congressmen & women, to not use my tax dollars to fund that. Fund yourself NEC.
 

jis

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Once again, if Amtrak devolves into mainly NEC service, I will be pressing my Texas Congressmen & women, to not use my tax dollars to fund that. Fund yourself NEC.
Since all NEC states are net donor states as far as federal taxes and expenses go, it can be argued that the paltry subsidy that NEC is getting is not using a single penny of Texas money. Grow up!
 

MARC Rider

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Replacing upholstery = fully refurbished?

And what better offerings? Dunkin coffee?
They also replaced the carpets, which, in my opinion, is almost as important. A tually, I don't really like the new upholstery, but I understand that it's easier to keep clean, which counts for something.

The Corridor Cafe menu upgrades were more than the coffee. And the Dunkin coffee is a big upgrade compared to what they served before.
 

jis

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They also replaced the carpets, which, in my opinion, is almost as important. Actually, I don't really like the new upholstery, but I understand that it's easier to keep clean, which counts for something.

The Corridor Cafe menu upgrades were more than the coffee. And the Dunkin coffee is a big upgrade compared to what they served before.
The toilets were also refreshed, and the addition of en-route cleaning has generally been appreciated by the riders too. I should probably have said "refreshed" instead of "refurbished". But beyond that semantic quibble, all indications are that the corridor customers liked those changes, and at the end of the day that is what matters.

The changes to Acela and Amfleet and Horizon fleet equipment is quite similar to the refresh that for example, United Airlines has given to their ex-con Rolls-Royce 757s to upgrade to Polaris though still using the Diamond seats in Polaris Business. The customers generally like the new fresh feel instead of the admittedly tired feel that was replaced.

Having said that, it is also true that LD has been generally neglected both in the hard product in cars and decline in the soft product, though the LD locomotive order is absolutely critical for maintaining LD service.
 
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Let’s hope not if it’s as twisted an agenda as Andersons.
I have just arrived home from a New Orleans to New York trip on the Crescent (Anderson's "end points"). This is my first experience with "contemporary" dining. The food was tasty enough though on a long haul trip of 29 plus hours it got old. We bought sandwiches from the cafe for lunch since we really didn't want another "bowl (so much for being free)." The first wine was NOT free for the second of our two dinners which was not made clear. I paid a whopping $2,700 for two fares plus a bedroom. The bedroom on the way North was worn out and rattled and had doors that didn't close and lights that didn't work. The sleeping car attendant was usually missing in action somewhere. We had to wander around the train to find her to put the beds down. The Lead Service Attendant in the dining car was not a happy person and "self service" was not working well, especially for the older folks. There were no Millennials in site in the diner probably because they didn't know what a sleeper was and couldn't afford one if they did. So whether they were willing to sit with others was moot. The little signs inviting people to sit together were a joke. I truly missed intermingling with the coach folks as did everyone else. And I think coach people on a long trip should be able to purchase dinners though I am sure Amtrak would over charge.

On the way back the sleeper attendant was far more personable and the dining attendant made an effort at table service, her choice, though on a previous trip she was "scolded" by some official for making the extra effort! The train was 2 and half hours late into New York and 3 into New Orleans, which I am told was the earliest arrival time in NOLA all that week! The time keeping issue is not entirely Anderson's fault and must be corrected,somehow, since people can't rely on the time keeping. Other than that, my experience tells me Anderson's administration is a disaster and the company doesn't care that much. Good riddance. Now let's see if another airline guy can do any better. As far as food and service goes, they can save money and still offer a good product - they can and should do far better, especially for that kind of money.
 

Devil's Advocate

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The fact of the matter is that the service that Anderson has been promoting, namely short-medium distance corridor service has actually improved with better offerings in the cafe and fully refurbished cars. OTOH the service that Anderson has been negative about has not improved and gone downhill. Depending on which of the Amtrak service you use predominantly is bound to color ones attitude about Anderson. That is for most casual users of Amtrak who are blissfully ignorant about what goes on in the corners of Amtrak that don't touch them.
It's true that we each have our own views and agendas, but one major difference I've noticed is that corridor focused members don't seem to have a problem supporting the loss of long distance amenities or offering up entire long distance routes for abandonment unsolicited. Even in cases where they live a thousand miles away from a route they've ridden maybe once or not at all they'll offer to give our trains away for nothing. Which is odd because I don't see folks who live out on the long distance network suggesting we discontinue commuter trains just because we don't like the schedule or they carry fewer passengers than some other train. It's unfortunate but also unsurprising that people who live along commuter rail areas are willing to give Anderson a pass for moves that actively undermined and devalued the long distance network.
 
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railiner

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I have just arrived home from a New Orleans to New York trip on the Crescent (Anderson's "end points"). This is my first experience with "contemporary" dining. The food was tasty enough though on a long haul trip of 29 plus hours it got old. We bought sandwiches from the cafe for lunch since we really didn't want another "bowl (so much for being free)." The first wine was NOT free for the second of our two dinners which was not made clear. I paid a whopping $2,700 for two fares plus a bedroom. The bedroom on the way North was worn out and rattled and had doors that didn't close and lights that didn't work. The sleeping car attendant was usually missing in action somewhere. We had to wander around the train to find her to put the beds down. The Lead Service Attendant in the dining car was not a happy person and "self service" was not working well, especially for the older folks. There were no Millennials in site in the diner probably because they didn't know what a sleeper was and couldn't afford one if they did. So whether they were willing to sit with others was moot. The little signs inviting people to sit together were a joke. I truly missed intermingling with the coach folks as did everyone else. And I think coach people on a long trip should be able to purchase dinners though I am sure Amtrak would over charge.

On the way back the sleeper attendant was far more personable and the dining attendant made an effort at table service, her choice, though on a previous trip she was "scolded" by some official for making the extra effort! The train was 2 and half hours late into New York and 3 into New Orleans, which I am told was the earliest arrival time in NOLA all that week! The time keeping issue is not entirely Anderson's fault and must be corrected,somehow, since people can't rely on the time keeping. Other than that, my experience tells me Anderson's administration is a disaster and the company doesn't care that much. Good riddance. Now let's see if another airline guy can do any better. As far as food and service goes, they can save money and still offer a good product - they can and should do far better, especially for that kind of money.
The experience you had, at the fare you paid is IMHO, entirely unsatisfactory...
I would strongly suggest you call Amtrak Customer Relation’s, and read them your review.
I believe they would offer you a nice voucher applicable toward future travel...
 

tricia

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The experience you had, at the fare you paid is IMHO, entirely unsatisfactory...
I would strongly suggest you call Amtrak Customer Relation’s, and read them your review.
I believe they would offer you a nice voucher applicable toward future travel...
Or just send it in a letter. They do read and respond to thoughtful, detailed letters of complaint and/or praise--at least sometimes. As with everything Amtrak, YMMV.
 
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