Rail Nation Symposium October 6th - 8th, 2023 in Meridian MS

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I keep getting emails from the RPA about their Rail Nation Advocacy Symposium that will take place Friday Oct 6th to Sunday Oct 8th. in Meridian MS.
According to RPA the conference will be filled with panels and presentations from local, regional, and federal speakers all discussing the very bright future of passenger rail in the US, with a nod to how we got here over the years.
I'm not really sure what the goal of this symposium will be outside of it being a social event with speakers. I have not heard of any attendee who will be there, who is in a position to affect change.
Admission at the door or online is $199.00 which seems a bit steep. Anyone here going?
 
I keep getting emails from the RPA about their Rail Nation Advocacy Symposium that will take place Friday Oct 6th to Sunday Oct 8th. in Meridian MS.
According to RPA the conference will be filled with panels and presentations from local, regional, and federal speakers all discussing the very bright future of passenger rail in the US, with a nod to how we got here over the years.
I'm not really sure what the goal of this symposium will be outside of it being a social event with speakers. I have not heard of any attendee who will be there, who is in a position to affect change.
Admission at the door or online is $199.00 which seems a bit steep. Anyone here going?
Sorry I’m late to the thread - I’m a Council Member but day job precluded in person attendance … checked the agenda and speakers ahead of time and already got my money’s worth as of 11:00 am on day one … transparent and informative Q&A
 
Here are some interesting tidbits from the presentation by Anna Lynn Smith, Amtrak VP, Strategy and Planning (excerpts from slides that were presented. The full slides set will be posted on RPA website in the future):

1. FY22 CRISI $200M Amtrak participation:

Amtrak Led:
  • Gulf Coast Corridor Improvement (upto $178M)
  • NEC Fencing ($8M)
  • Worksforce Development Apprenticeship Training Program (upto $8.8M)
  • Mississippi-Louisiana Grade Crossing Improvement Project (upto $1.8M)
Amtrak Supported:
  • Boston & Albany Line Improvement Project (Springfield - Worcester)
  • Franconia Springfield Bypass Project (Washington DC - Richmond)
  • MARC Penn-Camden Line Connector
  • REDESIGN Alabama
  • Sacramento Roseville Third Track Project
2. Amtrak Network Development-Led Grant Application: Central and West
  • Corridor Identification Development Program (CID)
    • Amtrak Cardinal daily service
    • Amtrak Sunset Limited daily service
  • Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail (FSP-NN)
    • Amtrak Cardinal Indianapolis-Dyer Improvements (PE/NEPA) - Joint Application with INDOT
    • I-20 Amtrak Crescent Extension from Meridian, MS - Dallas (Project Planning/SDP + PE/NEPA)
    • Amtrak Sunset Limited: Return to Phoenix (Project Planning)
3. FY24 Funding situation:
  • FY23 Enacted: $2,453M
  • FY24 Proposed:
    • Amtrak Request: $3,650M (Authorized)
    • Amtrak Base Needs: $2,622M
    • Senate: $2,450M
    • House: $857M
  • If Base Needs are not appropriated then the effect will be:
    • Train Service: 20 Million Riders nationwide may be impacted
    • Jobs: Current estimates indicate 10,000 employees could be affected by furloughs, separations, reduced work hours
    • Capital Projects: Critical projects including infrastructure improvements, equipment refreshes, would be deferred or cancelled
    • Economy: Amtrak's network generates at least $9.2 billion per year in economic activity. Major reduction in service dramatically impact small and rural communities.
4. Near-term Service Expansion:
  • Berkshire Flyer: July 8, 2022
  • Second Roanoke Train: July 11, 2022
  • Third Norfolk Train: July 11, 2022
  • Ethan Allen Burlington Extension: July 29, 2022
  • Second Cascade to Vancouver: March 6, 2023
  • Adirondack to Montreal: April 3, 2023
  • Fourth Piedmont Train: July 10, 2023
  • Fifth and Sixth Cascade Trains: Late 2023
  • Twin Cities - Milwaukee - Chicago: 2024
  • New Orleans - Mobile: 2024
5. Higher-Speed Service Improvements: Recent and Coming Soon
  • CHI-STL - 110mph
  • NJ HSR Improvement Program - 150mph, soon 160 mph
  • New Acela Trainset (Rumor has it that this may spill over into 2025)
  • NEC Investments
    • Gateway
    • Portal Bridge
    • B&P Tunnel
    • Hell Gate Line
    • Connecticut River bridge
    • Susquehanna Bridge

There was a second presentation from Larry Chestler focused on LD Service. I will excerpt that in the next day or two. So be on the lookout for that.
 
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Corridor Identification Development Program (CID)
  • Amtrak Cardinal daily service
  • Amtrak Sunset Limited daily service
Glad to see this on the agenda but I’m curious why it’s shown as a Corridor initiative. This part of the program appears all about planning and studies. I believe it was Anna Smith I saw on recording of another event. She seemed more impressive to me than Mr Chestler.

But I am certainly interested to see your report on his remarks as that is probably of more immediate interest. Thanks for the report.
 
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Much of Larry’s presentation dealt with the equipment situation and what’s planned for restoration this year much of the information was already known. He seemed to shy away from commenting too much on food and beverage plans presuming because their response to the food and beverage working group, which RPA participated in, is due soon and it sounds like that will have information on their future direction for F&B so he probably didn’t want to get too ahead of the official report.
 
Glad to see this on the agenda but I’m curious why it’s shown as a Corridor initiative. This part of the program appears all about planning and studies. I believe it was Anna Smith I saw on recording of another event. She seemed more impressive to me than Mr Chestler.
One of the criteria for Corridor ID consideration is changing less than daily service to daily service. Amtrak just picked up on it and ran with it getting ahead of the thing.
 
Appreciate reading the conference reports but nowhere did we read anything about buying the necessary equipment to support and implement the plans. Daily service needs additional train consists.

The long distance equipment procurement will include options for that purpose. The base order will support the current routes - options will be for any expansion.
 
Appreciate reading the conference reports but nowhere did we read anything about buying the necessary equipment to support and implement the plans. Daily service needs additional train consists.
And haven't we discussed here that Amtrak has a large number of cars soon to be coming back into service from their repair shops?
 
Here are a few salient points from Larry Chestler's presentation:

1. Long Distance Recovery
  • Ridership has recovered to 3.9 million for FY23. FY19 ridership was 4.55 million
  • Revenue has surpassed FY19 level ($494.6 million) and stands at $575 million for FY23
2. Long Distance pricing
  • Average LD Coach fares have remained stable and will continue to be held stable at around 2013 level. They had actually gone down from 2013 to 2017. They have since been brought up to 2013 level.
  • Sleeper fares will be allowed to float to whatever the market will bear using yield management aggressively.
3. Fleet Restoration
  • 63 LD cars (39 Superliners, 22 Viewliners and 3 Amfleet II) are returning to service in FY23 and FY24. A more detailed breakdown of all cars returning LD and non-LD):
    • FY23 LD Overhaul Backlog11 (11 Superliner)
    • FY23 LDWreck Repair 5 (1 Amfleet II, 4 Superliner)
    • FY23 Non-LD Overhaul Backlog 7 (Amfleet I 7)
    • FY24 LD Overhaul Backlog 33 (Superliner 12, Viewliner I 10, Viewliner II 11)
    • FY24 LD Wreck Repair 14 (Amfleet II 1, Superliner 12, Viewliner II 1)
    • FY24 Non-LD Overhaul Backlog 22 (Amfleet I 2, Horizon 20)
4. LD Fleet Refresh
  • Superliner Refresh
    • Coaches 149, 80% complete, Jan '24 target completion
    • Sleepers 155, 40% complete, Mar '25 target completion
    • Diner & Lounge 87, 20% complete, Mar '25 target completion
  • Viewliner Refresh
    • Viewliner I 49 Sleepers, scheduled to begin in FY24, currently finalizing design
  • A redesigned ADA-accessible bathroom is being added to 23 Superliner I Coach Cars
    • These new rooms accommodate larger wheelchairs and include a changing room
5. LD Fleet Replacement
  • Company wide team led by Capital Delivery is working on defining requirements
  • Car builders have been engaged via RFI's to understand interest and capacity
  • A formal procurement request (RFP) will be issued at the end of 2023
6. Customer Service Commitment
 
I’d add he mentioned that for the Viewliner 1 refresh additional scope beyond what was done for the Superliners is currently part of the design process but specifics and final scope decision making is still underway.
 
Here are a few salient points from Larry Chestler's presentation:

1. Long Distance Recovery
  • Ridership has recovered to 3.9 million for FY23. FY19 ridership was 4.55 million
  • Revenue has surpassed FY19 level ($494.6 million) and stands at $575 million for FY23
2. Long Distance pricing
  • Average LD Coach fares have remained stable and will continue to be held stable at around 2013 level. They had actually gone down from 2013 to 2017. They have since been brought up to 2013 level.
  • Sleeper fares will be allowed to float to whatever the market will bear using yield management aggressively.
3. Fleet Restoration
  • 63 LD cars (39 Superliners, 22 Viewliners and 3 Amfleet II) are returning to service in FY23 and FY24. A more detailed breakdown of all cars returning LD and non-LD):
    • FY23 LD Overhaul Backlog11 (11 Superliner)
    • FY23 LDWreck Repair 5 (1 Amfleet II, 4 Superliner)
    • FY23 Non-LD Overhaul Backlog 7 (Amfleet I 7)
    • FY24 LD Overhaul Backlog 33 (Superliner 12, Viewliner I 10, Viewliner II 11)
    • FY24 LD Wreck Repair 14 (Amfleet II 1, Superliner 12, Viewliner II 1)
    • FY24 Non-LD Overhaul Backlog 22 (Amfleet I 2, Horizon 20)
4. LD Fleet Refresh
  • Superliner Refresh
    • Coaches 149, 80% complete, Jan '24 target completion
    • Sleepers 155, 40% complete, Mar '25 target completion
    • Diner & Lounge 87, 20% complete, Mar '25 target completion
  • Viewliner Refresh
    • Viewliner I 49 Sleepers, scheduled to begin in FY24, currently finalizing design
  • A redesigned ADA-accessible bathroom is being added to 23 Superliner I Coach Cars
    • These new rooms accommodate larger wheelchairs and include a changing room
5. LD Fleet Replacement
  • Company wide team led by Capital Delivery is working on defining requirements
  • Car builders have been engaged via RFI's to understand interest and capacity
  • A formal procurement request (RFP) will be issued at the end of 2023
6. Customer Service Commitment
Did he break down the car type within each fleet? Are the 11 Viewliner 2’s dining cars?
 
Did he break down the car type within each fleet? Are the 11 Viewliner 2’s dining cars?
5 are Diners basically for the Crescent. The rest are a couple of Sleepers and the balance are Baggage Cars. They are likely to become available for service by the Summer rush '24.
 
For Viewliners I think it’s 10 V1 sleepers, 5 diners, and 7 baggage cars (one of which is a wreck repair the rest overhaul backlog.) note that this list just includes currently inactive cars. It does not include cars of any type from the active fleet that are scheduled for overhaul in FY24 - backlogged overhauls and wreck repairs have to be scheduled in between overhauls for the active fleet. There was a recent article with the full rundown. I can’t remember the full breakdown of Superliners but if I recall the most numerous type returning to service this year are transition sleepers.
 
For Viewliners I think it’s 10 V1 sleepers, 5 diners, and 7 baggage cars (one of which is a wreck repair the rest overhaul backlog.) note that this list just includes currently inactive cars. It does not include cars of any type from the active fleet that are scheduled for overhaul in FY24 - backlogged overhauls and wreck repairs have to be scheduled in between overhauls for the active fleet. There was a recent article with the full rundown. I can’t remember the full breakdown of Superliners but if I recall the most numerous type returning to service this year are transition sleepers.
Yeah, large number of Trans-Dorms. There are a bunch of Diners and Lounges too.
 
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