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Stephen Gardner new Amtrak president

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Trogdor

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The solution to this, is to make all stops south of Maine as discharge only southbound, and receive only northbound, if those states don't contribute. That way Maine passengers wanting those stops would still benefit. ,Another way would be to charge a higher fare over those segments, perhaps even equal to the first stop in Maine. If it is found that the local out of state traffic benefits the train, they could just keep as is.
The problem with this approach is that you forego any revenue that might be obtained from passengers riding between Boston and stops in New Hampshire, while retaining 100% of the costs. This increases the losses, which increases the subsidy requirement that Maine must pay.

So you will almost always have to keep it as-is, which really eliminates the practicality of using that as a way to get intermediate states to pay for it.
 

Qapla

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There has been multiple comments on AU that Amtrak should run a train from Tampa to Miami daily ... this would certainly NOT be 750 miles.

So, should we have a 750 mile rule or not?

Surely, if the politics were removed from reasonable decision making the entire National Rail System could be funded without the "I don't want my money paying for trains I don't use" idea.

If the same 750 mile rule had been imposed on the Interstate Highway system - a good part of that system would never have been built and other portions would still be 2-lanes with traffic lights.
 

jis

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OK - OK

I know the trains actually terminate in MIA and NYP. I was just trying to illustrate a point. A train running through 5 states from JAX to ALX [or DC] (were it to terminate in both places) would not be thought of as anything less than "Long Distance" by any normal person ... but the 750 rule could make it otherwise.

I hope that clears up the confusion ...
Gosh! I have to remember that even when one is warned about being pedantic people can really go off the deep end arguing a point. I was surprised by the $hitshow that followed my more or less non serious leg pulling comment, where I even mentioned the Alexandria thing. 🤷‍♂️

But more seriously as I mentioned earlier, the 750 mile thing is a rather low quality proxy for the desire to have local and regional service funded predominantly from local or regional funds. It also came as a desire to protect the funding from long distance service from redirected spending on short/medium distance trains ( complaint that persists viz-a-viz the NEC still). To some extent the fact that everyone is up in arms about 750 miles suggest that that mission may have succeeded., but the method used is in dispute. Now stating and illustrating the obvious faults with it a zillion times is neither going to fix the fault nor cause anyone to get more excited about it. The whole funding formulae was a mess before this and it is a new form of mess now.

I suspect in some quarters, part of the motivation of the 750 miles was also to get the likes of NY State to pay for their Regional service which until then was grandfathered as federal responsibility, except the 403b Adirondack. Interestingly, the folks who were complaining the most about it also had a few grandfathered regional trains, but they had been investing local money for adding service, unlike New York, which even now has added no new service, and is yet to get food service back in its own funded trains between NYP and ALB. In some sense it was to an extent an attempt by regional service "have nots" to get regional service "haves" to contribute a bit more local fund. In some sense the same struggle, reasonably or otherwise, continue regarding the NEC.

The problem with this approach is that you forego any revenue that might be obtained from passengers riding between Boston and stops in New Hampshire, while retaining 100% of the costs. This increases the losses, which increases the subsidy requirement that Maine must pay.

So you will almost always have to keep it as-is, which really eliminates the practicality of using that as a way to get intermediate states to pay for it.
In colloquial language it is very nicely characterized as "cutting your nose to spite your face". 🤷‍♂️

The fact of the matter is that in principle we do run LD trains through lots of net receiver states, so in some sense they do not pay for them either. But we do so for the sake of maintaining connectivity and providing meaningful service. People who board in NH do bring certain amount of economic activity to the places that they visit in Maine and Massachusetts too, so it is not entirely a loss, and as Trog mentioned, it does bring in revenue that would otherwise be foregone while the costs pretty much remain the same.
 
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Palmetto

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Massachusetts contributes to the DE by providing the infrastructure and the dispatching, AFAIK. And a good part of the service--let's face it--is oriented toward the commuter crowd. One can even buy a monthly ticket for the service, which is what most commuters are used to doing, I am not sure that dinging passengers from MA and NH would be helpful. What WOULD be helpful is to build the North-South Rail Link in Boston. That would open up a lot of destinations more easily attainable than the current crosstown transfer in Beantown.

BTW, none of this has to do with Stephen Gardner!:D
 

jimdex

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I recall hearing that the Capitol Limited was the reason the cut-off was set at 750 miles. Congress wanted the Capitol Limited grandfathered as part of the national network, but they didn't want to be pressured to fund any shorter lines.
 

Deni

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I think another argument over getting rid of the arbitrary 750-mile rule and just funding the system is this: Corridor trains are important to the health of the national system. Connections to long-distance trains benefit those long-distance trains. One example for me, when I live in NYC I often visited Macomb, IL where I went to college and still have friends. I would take the train to Chicago and connect to Macomb. So if the IL Zephyr and Carl Sandburg don't exist then I don't make that trip by train because too much of a hassle. I realize that is an anecdotal example and I have no numbers on that, but it seems to me that all the trains matter to the national system regardless of length. So what I never take the Heartland Flyer? Someone in OK likely never takes the IL Zephyr either. I don't think either on of us should be mad that "our" money paid for their projects. The more places you can get on Amtrak, the more people take Amtrak. Besides, the federal government is in a better position to fund transportation projects.

Also the fact that political tides take a turn in a state and suddenly a project gets canceled after so much hard work. Our last governor should not have been able to shut down the Chicago-Rockford and Chicago-Quad Cities progress and put us years behind yet again.
 

jiml

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I may be naive on the actual political wording, but isn't any route in-place before the 750 mile "rule" grandfathered? In other words, if Amtrak wants to start a new (previously un-served) train <750 miles they need state support, but if it's additional service on a route already running do the rules apply?
 

jis

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I may be naive on the actual political wording, but isn't any route in-place before the 750 mile "rule" grandfathered? In other words, if Amtrak wants to start a new (previously un-served) train <750 miles they need state support, but if it's additional service on a route already running do the rules apply?
No. New York State had to start paying for Empire Service as a result of the 750 mile rule. Previously it was funded as part of the national network.
 

railiner

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No. New York State had to start paying for Empire Service as a result of the 750 mile rule. Previously it was funded as part of the national network.
I assume it was similar for 'Keystone Service'?
Or did PennDot previously support that?
 

lordsigma

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Amtrak has suggested a new program as part of reauthorization to help spur corridor growth that accommodates the 750 mile rule. It would involve a block of corridor grant funding that states could apply for that would help get a corridor setup that would be separate from the national network funding. The funding could be used for initial capital costs and would pay operating costs for a trial period - state support would gradually be phased in (in an increasing percentage per year the first year or two they would pay nothing) until after a certain period it would reach maturity and the normal support requirements for the involved states would kick in and after that it would be treated like the existing state supported routes. This doesn't seem like a bad approach.
 

Trogdor

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No. New York State had to start paying for Empire Service as a result of the 750 mile rule. Previously it was funded as part of the national network.
Same with the Hoosier State. Indiana wanted no part of paying for it (they did for a brief period, even contracting with Ed Ellis to provide equipment as it was cheaper than Amtrak, but eventually gave up). So, even though it operated the same route as the Cardinal from CHI to IND on the days the Cardinal didn’t run, the train had to go away.
 

MARC Rider

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I assume it was similar for 'Keystone Service'?
Or did PennDot previously support that?
What we now call the "Keystone service" was originally part of SEPTA and was state-supported even before Amtrak. I'm not sure when it got handed off to Amtrak, but it was Amtrak service when I rode it a lot in the fall of 1974 and the summer of 1975. They were using the same Silverliner cars as they used when it was part of SEPTA.
 

railiner

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What we now call the "Keystone service" was originally part of SEPTA and was state-supported even before Amtrak. I'm not sure when it got handed off to Amtrak, but it was Amtrak service when I rode it a lot in the fall of 1974 and the summer of 1975. They were using the same Silverliner cars as they used when it was part of SEPTA.
I remember that...back when they went into Suburban Station...
 

MARC Rider

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I remember that...back when they went into Suburban Station...
...and didn't go to New York. I'd have to change at 30th St. Despite the inconvenience, it did give me the opportunity to get dinner in the dining car of the Merchants Limited on my way to New York.
 

AmtrakFlyer

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Sounds similar to what was offered to Iowa 7 years ago. Even with approximately 90 percent of the costs covered by grants Iowa refused to chip in the 10 percent required to get service going.


“The Iowa extension was priced at $108.6 million, according to a previous estimate. Federal authorities would have covered $88 million, leaving the state’s share at about $20 million.“

froQUOTE="lordsigma, post: 866592, member: 14106"]
Amtrak has suggested a new program as part of reauthorization to help spur corridor growth that accommodates the 750 mile rule. It would involve a block of corridor grant funding that states could apply for that would help get a corridor setup that would be separate from the national network funding. The funding could be used for initial capital costs and would pay operating costs for a trial period - state support would gradually be phased in (in an increasing percentage per year the first year or two they would pay nothing) until after a certain period it would reach maturity and the normal support requirements for the involved states would kick in and after that it would be treated like the existing state supported routes. This doesn't seem like a bad approach.
[/QUOTE]
 

Rasputin

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The solution to this, is to make all stops south of Maine as discharge only southbound, and receive only northbound, if those states don't contribute. That way Maine passengers wanting those stops would still benefit. ,Another way would be to charge a higher fare over those segments, perhaps even equal to the first stop in Maine. If it is found that the local out of state traffic benefits the train, they could just keep as is.
As others have said, it would probably not be realistic and probably counterproductive but it would still be fun to try just to see how New Hampshire reacts.
 

IndyLions

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Same with the Hoosier State. Indiana wanted no part of paying for it (they did for a brief period, even contracting with Ed Ellis to provide equipment as it was cheaper than Amtrak, but eventually gave up). So, even though it operated the same route as the Cardinal from CHI to IND on the days the Cardinal didn’t run, the train had to go away.
And it was a ginormous $3 million they refused to pay. The equivalent of 1 mile of interstate. So Amtrak pays to run cars up and down the route to Beech Grove (on days the Cardinal doesn’t run) but it is illegal to put passengers on them.

Again - no common sense.
 

toddinde

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I totally agree. I also think twice daily service should run 2 different routes in many cases like the Meteor / Star. The crescent for example, run one train to New Orleans, the other one to Mobile on the old gulf breeze route. That way you hit Birmingham - DC twice daily (which it desperately needs) but also serve the towns in Alabama that haven’t had Amtrak service in 20+ years.

Same with the zephyr, run the second train through Cheyenne.

And then there is getting back the pioneer, desert wind, silver palm, etc.

So much work to be done just with long distance trains. Get the national network taken care of first.
That has both positives and negatives. Running multiple daily frequencies on the same route builds ridership and makes service to those communities more convenient. It maximizes economies of scale. Adding a different routing increases costs. The California Zephyr and Silver Star/Meteor could make sense since they would share the route and add frequencies on portions of the route.
 

toddinde

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I think they will eventually connect Phoenix with Tucson with their transit system trains, but not Maricopa.
Amtrak is possibly missing an opportunity.


That's an interesting idea. I wonder how many other possible detours there are that would add new stops?
The daily Sunset will return to Phoenix because the LA-Phoenix-Tucson corridor makes sense and will necessitate the rebuilding of the Wellton Cutoff/West Line. We’re building partnerships and working on it.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Why can't I support an expanded National Network, the NEC, AND better Corridor services?
You can. I do as well. I support regional corridors like the Piedmont and Cascades and I support long distance trains like the Crescent. I just think they should be funded differently.

That has both positives and negatives. Running multiple daily frequencies on the same route builds ridership and makes service to those communities more convenient. It maximizes economies of scale. Adding a different routing increases costs. The California Zephyr and Silver Star/Meteor could make sense since they would share the route and add frequencies on portions of the route.
Yes, sorry if I wasn’t clear. When I said 2 routes, I meant like Silver Meteor / Star / Palm and the Zephyr, and the old Gulf Breeze Route. Hit the same major cities but run different routes to hit different smaller towns as well.

You add service at different times for the major cities, and add more once daily service to smaller towns.

So yes we agree on that.
 

IndyLions

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Sounds similar to what was offered to Iowa 7 years ago. Even with approximately 90 percent of the costs covered by grants Iowa refused to chip in the 10 percent required to get service going.


“The Iowa extension was priced at $108.6 million, according to a previous estimate. Federal authorities would have covered $88 million, leaving the state’s share at about $20 million.“
This sort of thing is where we have very few answers. For these idiots in Indiana, Iowa and Ohio - it is a “badge of honor” to reject projects like these. It was true under Obama and will be equally true under Biden as well.

This is probably why the Rail Passengers Association has been pushing so hard for contributions so they can renew their IMPLAN software license which helps them produce economic impact studies to enhance justification.

I fully support that - but I’m not so sure that will work either.
 

jis

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What we now call the "Keystone service" was originally part of SEPTA and was state-supported even before Amtrak. I'm not sure when it got handed off to Amtrak, but it was Amtrak service when I rode it a lot in the fall of 1974 and the summer of 1975. They were using the same Silverliner cars as they used when it was part of SEPTA.
You can find the complex history of Keystone and Pennsylvanina in Wikipedia:


The Keystones and the Pennsylvanian were more or less always partially funded by SEPTA. PRIIA 209 just caused PA to become fully responsible for funding them and the PA Governor and Legislature had a cow about it for a while.
 

IndyLions

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So .... the 750 mile rule caused Amtrak to receive new funding from New York and Pennsylvania - and what did they do with it? They certainly didn’t use it to expand LD service did they?

Sounds like the 750 mile rule didn’t really help fund expanded LD at all.
 

jis

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So .... the 750 mile rule caused Amtrak to receive new funding from New York and Pennsylvania - and what did they do with it? They certainly didn’t use it to expand LD service did they?

Sounds like the 750 mile rule didn’t really help fund expanded LD at all.
The funding was to run those trains. So they ran those trains. The 750 mile rule was intended to reduce Amtrak's dependency on federal funding. As I have mentioned before, it was part of a deal to continue funding the LD trains, which were facing a major cut at that point in the then budget negotiations. So in that sense it helped keep the national network intact. Expanding LD network was not on the table. Cutting it down is what was avoided.

Expanding the network I am afraid is only mostly in the feverish imagination of a few folks here. I will believe it when I see it. It has mostly been a struggle to avoidn contracting network over the years.
 

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