Republican coalition against Mobile Amtrak service

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Amtrakfflyer

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I’m really surprised to see a US Senator join Governor Ivy and local group in opposition. More studies needed for (2) trains a day??? Lets get real here. They need to flat out say they are against Amtrak service. In fact Ivy has a couple times now. Amtrak finally takes a stand against the freights only to see Red State politics potentially shoot them down.

 

Devil's Advocate

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I'm not surprised at all. They don't need to kill it yet. They just need to delay it for a couple years until they can regain control through a combination of voter suppression and lopsided gerrymandering to wipe every gain off the map.
 
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AFS1970

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I don't think anyone is actually opposed to more train service, but regardless of party, politicians love to do studies. My cynical side will say this is because the expert consultant who will do the study has some prior connection to one or more politicians, but that is just a guess. I think the main motivation is that Amtrak has never proven to be a profitable private enterprise like it was sold as. The large debate on public vs private is a major part of this, but very often politicians wither forget or never knew that the reason Amtrak was formed was because the previous private railroads determined passenger rail to not be sufficiently profitable. So like it or not, Amtrak is the only option in most areas.
Sadly too few politicians are watching projects like the Brightline to see how that works out. And we as railfans end up seeing this as an anti-train obstruction. I don't think this is as much a party issue as it is a philosophical one on who should own the trains. Studies are largely delay tactics because that is what politicians do.
 

Dakota 400

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Their reasoning in opposing passenger service to Mobile is illogical. They welcomed Carnival Cruise Line sailing from Mobile. If I recall correctly, taxpayer money was used to create a cruise passenger terminal.

Their concern that Amtrak operations would conflict with CSX rail operations and the Port of Mobile's importance to cargo coming into/out of Mobile: is it possible that 2 Amtrak trains a day would cause a serious disruption of the Port's freight operations?

Amtrak service has the potential of carrying passengers on whatever cruise ship that would use Mobile as a homeport.

Wouldn't encouraging such a service be of benefit to the community since a cruise terminal exists (and probably has bonds issued that are still being paid off for its creation)? And, wouldn't those local suppliers of fuel, food and drink, marine supplies, and other necessities benefit?

The opposition of these political leaders of their State is nothing less than one more example of short sighted thinking.
 

tricia

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Their reasoning in opposing passenger service to Mobile is illogical. ....

The opposition of these political leaders of their State is nothing less than one more example of short sighted thinking.
Look at the title of this thread and it all makes sense: "Republican coalition against Amtrak Mobile service." They see that Democrats support it, so they must oppose it. That's about as much "reasoning" as Republican politicians have needed to exercise in recent years, especially at the national level.

Moderators, if I've stepped over the political line here, please feel free to delete this post. It'll still be true, though.
 

DonNewcomb

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Does CSX have a PAC? I see some political baksheesh being bandied about here.
 

MikefromCrete

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Does CSX have a PAC? I see some political baksheesh being bandied about here.
I'm certain CSX, along with the other major railroads, have a full staff of lobbyists and are happy to make political donations to those who support their agenda ---both at the state and national level.
 

TrackWalker

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And occasionally those whom support them (railroads) by bringing in the $$ such as Congressman Al Swift (D) are then hired after serving their Congressional terms as the Vice President of Governmental Affairs and have a new siding named after them.
 

Willbridge

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Look at the title of this thread and it all makes sense: "Republican coalition against Amtrak Mobile service." They see that Democrats support it, so they must oppose it. That's about as much "reasoning" as Republican politicians have needed to exercise in recent years, especially at the national level.

Moderators, if I've stepped over the political line here, please feel free to delete this post. It'll still be true, though.
You're point is okay with me because in Oregon we experienced the opposite when a Republican governor was followed by a Democrat. That resulted in the end of the first Willamette Valley train/bus project in 1976.

In Canada, Pierre Berton's two-volume history of building the Canadian Pacific takes the first volume just to cover the studies, surveys and politics.
 

Bob Dylan

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And occasionally those whom support them (railroads) by bringing in the $$ such as Congressman Al Swift (D) are then hired after serving their Congressional terms as the Vice President of Governmental Affairs and have a new siding named after them.
I'm hoping Amtrak Joe will go on the Amtrak Board after serving as President!
 

Amtrakfflyer

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The theme is the same in every solid red state. Nothing or very little is to be spent for the “good of the people.” The harder it is for people to get around AND just live their day to day lives the easier it is to keep power over them.

If people want rail and other first world rights they need to vote for like minded politicians and not against their best interests. Harder said than done. Until then send the money to where its wanted and appreciated whether that be the Pacific NW, Cali, IL, NC or anywhere else that wants a robust and functional transportation system.
 
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NSC1109

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I don't think anyone is actually opposed to more train service, but regardless of party, politicians love to do studies. My cynical side will say this is because the expert consultant who will do the study has some prior connection to one or more politicians, but that is just a guess. I think the main motivation is that Amtrak has never proven to be a profitable private enterprise like it was sold as. The large debate on public vs private is a major part of this, but very often politicians wither forget or never knew that the reason Amtrak was formed was because the previous private railroads determined passenger rail to not be sufficiently profitable. So like it or not, Amtrak is the only option in most areas.
Sadly too few politicians are watching projects like the Brightline to see how that works out. And we as railfans end up seeing this as an anti-train obstruction. I don't think this is as much a party issue as it is a philosophical one on who should own the trains. Studies are largely delay tactics because that is what politicians do.

1) Love the profile picture.

2) Yes, politicians do indeed love studies. Some use studies to delay or derail (pardon the pun) projects like this so the other side will drop it. Other use studies to show a potentially hostile crowd that this isn't some half-baked project and that their tax dollars are being used as intended and that the gov't has done their homework. Unfortunately, Joe Schmoe probably still thinks it's government overreach and says that no one will use it but the "poor people". That argument was actually used by someone on Facebook a few years ago who said that the Amtrak Michigan Service trains were a waste of taxpayer money and should be removed and the money reallocated to widening I-94. Guy wouldn't listen to facts or reason, and anything that was contrary to his worldview was "fake news by the leftist liberal mob". Those exact words.


Does CSX have a PAC? I see some political baksheesh being bandied about here.
I'm not sure if they have their own PAC in-house, but every major corporation has lobby groups walking the halls of Congress.

The theme is the same in every solid red state. Nothing or very little is to be spent for the “good of the people.” The harder it is for people to get around AND just live their day to day lives the easier it is to keep power over them.

If people want rail and other first world rights they need to vote for like minded politicians and not against their best interests. Harder said than done. Until then send the money to where its wanted and appreciated whether that be the Pacific NW, Cali, IL, NC or anywhere else that wants a robust transportation system.
The only red state I know of that actively supported passenger rail within the last 10 years in Michigan. Gov. Snyder understood the importance of Amtrak service to the state and ensured that MDOT helped Amtrak develop the service where it is today and lay the groundwork for the future. I was of course much younger then so I'm not 100% sure if they did the "minimum" or what but I would say that the ROW acquisition from NS between Kalamazoo and CP Townline represented the level of investment MI has in this.

As much as everyone dislikes Gardner (believe me, I do as well), he and Anderson were not incorrect, IMHO, in focusing on corridor services. They are vitally important to connecting a region and I honestly believe could help justify the expansion of the LD service line in the future in order to connect those regions to each other. All it really needs to get started is the will of the people and the desire to try something new.
 

Eric S

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Probably depends how we're defining red (and blue) states. Presidential elections? Presidential election margins? Gubernatorial results?

I wouldn't hesitate to call Missouri a red state. But I think Michigan and North Carolina would be more purple-ish, varying between bluish and reddish shades of purple perhaps.
 

City of Miami

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Their concern that Amtrak operations would conflict with CSX rail operations and the Port of Mobile's importance to cargo coming into/out of Mobile: is it possible that 2 Amtrak trains a day would cause a serious disruption of the Port's freight operations?

Yes. Why else would they oppose? General cussedness? You're question is over simplified too.

Amtrak service has the potential of carrying passengers on whatever cruise ship that would use Mobile as a homeport.

Really? Where are these cruisers going to go, NOL? Will the station be in the neighborhood of the cruise terminal?



The opposition of these political leaders of their State is nothing less than one more example of short sighted thinking.

Perhaps it is a situation like Wisconsin. I don't know.
 

WICT106

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Oh, some of the political leaders know. They know their constituents, who don't use transit & have never been aboard a train. They know their constituents see no use for something they've never used, and don't plan on using in the future. In Wisconsin, this has proven to be a big obstacle to increasing support for expanded train service.
 

PaTrainFan

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Oh, some of the political leaders know. They know their constituents, who don't use transit & have never been aboard a train. They know their constituents see no use for something they've never used, and don't plan on using in the future. In Wisconsin, this has proven to be a big obstacle to increasing support for expanded train service.
This is unfortunately true. In most instances there is not a groundswell of popular grassroots demand for new transportation services. Much of it comes from business and community leaders who see the benefit and sometimes they are able to rally support from politicians and other prominent members of the public. After the services are implemented, support can grow, sure.
 

west point

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It is very few pols who really know what is going on. IMO it is more about the money. The money interests who have a longer view place the money to move pols decisions their way. Look at alll the money going to Texas [pls to stop the HSR. IMO the opponents are very worried that if it starts operating there might be a groundswell call for more ?

POLs do not like surprises and follow their money interests and aides. They can get very upset when an action has major adverse consequences. Our governor has blown his top because he did not get intelligence that the Jim Crow actions during his signing of a restrictive voting measure would have so much blow back.
 

City of Miami

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I don't know anymore than anyone else here. I can see there could be real concern for protecting the money making ability of the port and it's intermodal facility. How do amtrak's proposed tracks align? How many crossovers? How is the train to be turned? Amtrak is well known for broken down equipment and general fuckups like head-ons with freights (nevermind who was at fault, the simple fact is if Amtrak weren't there the accident wouldn't happen). If the political folk don't do due diligence there could be hell to pay later. I can see the other side of this situation easily.
 

PaTrainFan

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Here's what I don't get: There are freight railroads all over the country that have heavy commuter rail traffic on their tracks all day long and you never hear of public complaints on that. Maybe a rare exception, such as UP fighting Metra of late. But when it comes to Amtrak, proposal for a new route or even one additional train on an existing route causes all kinds of angst. NS is whining about the possibility of an additional Pittsburgh-Harrisburg train for some time. Seriously, how much distruption can that cause? I know it's been discussed here before ad nauseam, but still it's ridiculous.
 

bms

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While I always would like to have more service, I'm really not sure a Mobile to New Orleans train will have that much ridership. There are a lot of decent-sized cities close together on this route - but from what I've learned, train ridership seems to really rely on having either one huge city or a couple of big cities as endpoints. I would much rather see a long-distance train from New Orleans to Mobile to Pensacola to Jacksonville, connecting to the Silver Services in Jacksonville or even continuing to points south.
 
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