Texas Central Railway

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

cirdan

Engineer
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,723
In addition to answering questions from first-time rail travelers, members of the train crew have other duties that might be better done without interruption from passengers. A conductor can go off and do paperwork, and the assistant conductor is still on hand for dealing with passengers. Even cafe attendants, who are, after all, service workers, not servants, sometimes need to do stuff like inventory and balancing accounts without interruption. Obviously, that sort of work should be done at times when they don't need to interact with the passengers.
This is probably true on an LD train on a multi-day trip.

But we are talking about a 90 minute train ride here.

Surely most of the paperwork and inventory can be done before, between and after the journey?

There are commuter railroads that have longer end-to-end journey times.
 
Last edited:

cirdan

Engineer
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,723
I think there's a balance. The point, IMO, is that the staff have a "You go here, not there" space (both for reasons such as not losing seating in the cafe and so pax know where they can find someone). Whether that is an "office", seat 60 in the Business Class car, or Table 16 in the lounge car, it should at least be clear where to find them.
On my last trip in Austria there was a web page you could access through the train wifi and besides displaying up to date information on the progress of the train and listing connecting trains at the stations served, you could order from a selection of food and drinks and also hygienic and sanitary items and even assorted souvenirs, pay online, and the ordered would be brought to your seat within a couple of minutes.

Some items could not be ordered because I assume they had run out. This would indicate the ordering system was connected to the inventory system and would thus lessen the need to do the inventory manually.

They also had airline style buttons to summon personnel, but I never tried that.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,203
Location
finally! Back in Mississippi
Not much new here for the readers on this site, but from a semi-technical publication:
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,728
Location
Virginia
IIRC, someone said somewhere that the 2nd part of Brightline's car order (now in production for the Orlando segment) includes some sort of food service car. I don't have any further details.
That was my understanding early on (and it makes sense since the trip in question is around three hours, and Miami-Tampa [or Miami-Jacksonville] would be in the 4-5 hour range IINM). I've heard some mixed reports as to whether that is still the case (the order seems to have morphed a few times).
 

John Bredin

OBS Chief
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
892
Location
suburban Chicago (Deerfield)
Texas Supreme Court will hear the case of whether the Texas Central Railway is a railroad for purposes of exercising eminent domain. Link. Link.

The appellants' proposition, swallowed by the trial court but not the intermediate appellate court, is that TCR isn't a railroad, and thus cannot exercise the eminent domain powers Texas statutes clearly grant to railroads, because TCR doesn't have a railroad in being right now. How a railroad is ever supposed to begin under this "logic" is a puzzlement ... to nobody but the appellants, their NIMBY supporters, and the judge who bought this mind-numbingly-stupid argument. :mad:
 

MARC Rider

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,845
Location
Baltimore. MD
How a railroad is ever supposed to begin under this "logic" is a puzzlement ... to nobody but the appellants, their NIMBY supporters, and the judge who bought this mind-numbingly-stupid argument. :mad:
The argument may be "mind-numbingly stupid," but our legal history is full of court rulings that enshrine "mind-numbingly stupid" arguments. And this is 21st century Texas we're talking about. :) So nothing would surprise me.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,203
Location
finally! Back in Mississippi
The appellants' proposition, swallowed by the trial court but not the intermediate appellate court, is that TCR isn't a railroad, and thus cannot exercise the eminent domain powers Texas statutes clearly grant to railroads, because TCR doesn't have a railroad in being right now. How a railroad is ever supposed to begin under this "logic" is a puzzlement ... to nobody but the appellants, their NIMBY supporters, and the judge who bought this mind-numbingly-stupid argument. :mad:
First, note, "not the intermediate appellate court", so it looks like the NIMBY logic is now trying an appeal further up the chain of courts. If they fail in the Texas system, will they then try to make a federal case out of it? If all else fails, the TC should go out and buy some short line somewhere so they truly are an operating railroad. As you say, eminent domain had to be available for the initial construction of all the railroads in Texas (and most other states as well.) Further, up until something like 50 or less years ago, a railroad operating in Texas had to be headquartered in Texas. This led to such entities as the Gulf Colorado and Santa Fe for the ATSF lines in Texas, the Missouri Kansas Texas of Texas for MKT lines in Texas. For the later, they solved the issue by closing their St. Louis corporate headquarters and headquartering their entire system in Dallas.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
23,672
Location
Austin Texas
Texas Supreme Court will hear the case of whether the Texas Central Railway is a railroad for purposes of exercising eminent domain. Link. Link.

The appellants' proposition, swallowed by the trial court but not the intermediate appellate court, is that TCR isn't a railroad, and thus cannot exercise the eminent domain powers Texas statutes clearly grant to railroads, because TCR doesn't have a railroad in being right now. How a railroad is ever supposed to begin under this "logic" is a puzzlement ... to nobody but the appellants, their NIMBY supporters, and the judge who bought this mind-numbingly-stupid argument. :mad:
This is surprising since the All Republican Supreme Court( Texas hasn't elected a Democrat Statewide since 1994) are Shills for Corporations as the Court only deals with Civil Matters.(our Court of Criminal Appeals handles all Criminal Matters)
 

John Bredin

OBS Chief
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
892
Location
suburban Chicago (Deerfield)
If they fail in the Texas system, will they then try to make a federal case out of it?
I seriously doubt they could. The federal courts generally don't take appeals on questions of state law, and whether TCR is a railroad under Texas eminent domain statutes is purely a question of state law.

That's a double-edged sword. If TCR wins in the Texas Supreme Court, that's almost surely it for this challenge. But if they lose, that's probably it as well. I suppose if TCR lost they could argue in federal court that such a crabbed interpretation of state law was aimed directly at TCR (UP, BNSF, etc. can exercise eminent domain, as can electric utilities and pipelines, but TCR can't even though it's clearly building a railroad) and thus a "class of one" equal protection violation.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,969
Location
Ithaca, NY
I don't know the politics of the Texas Supreme Court members, but the signs are -- given that they already rejected this appeal once -- that they're planning to shut the door to this sort of complaint for good. Supporting Texas Central would be the corporatist approach and they seem to lean corporatist. It's also legally correct, of course, not that that usually matters in Texas.

The alternative is that they've been bribed or blackmailed by Abbott or something to take anti-rail positions for political reasons, but I don't think he is enough of an anti-rail fanatic to do that.
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,728
Location
Virginia
I still don't see why TCR hasn't just bought a shortline somewhere in the state (with a view towards selling it off ASAP once their main operation is running...) so as to moot this whole thing. Frankly, buying a faltering shortline might be cheaper than the cost of litigation, and there's plenty of precedent for antics like this being carried out to acquire charters and the like over the decades.
 

cirdan

Engineer
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,723
I think most railroads built in Texas and elsewhere in the 19th century were either land grants, or built by wealthy financiers and politicians who could pretty much do whatever the heck they wanted.
It was a time that virtually everybody welcomed railroads . Except maybe the First Nations whose land was being taken .
 

ehbowen

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,500
Location
Houston, Texas
I think most railroads built in Texas and elsewhere in the 19th century were either land grants, or built by wealthy financiers and politicians who could pretty much do whatever the heck they wanted.
Back in the day a railroad surveying team would often be met by city fathers offering them a right-of-way straight through the middle of town and their choice of lots for a depot and terminal. Sometimes a cash bonus to boot. Read Keith L. Bryant Jr.'s History of the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway. Or play Railroad Tycoon!

Editing to add: That's exactly why Galesburg, IL, is on the main line of the Santa Fe. The midwest was already overbuilt when William Barstow Strong decided to extend the AT&SF from Kansas City (where it already had a strong gateway) to Chicago over its own rails (thus making the Santa Fe the only through carrier from Chicago to California until the arrival of the mega-merger era). Strong was prepared to just forego all local traffic and build the fastest, most direct route from KC to Chi, although he was hampered a bit at the eastern end, as the most expeditious way for him to earn entrance to Chicago proper was to buy up the failed Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, "two streaks of rust" but Strong's "airline" was able to use their alignment from Streator into Chicago, not to mention their lease at Dearborn Station. However, when the city fathers of Galesburg got wind of the new construction, they held out a $100,000 (plus right-of-way, plus twenty acres of land for terminal facilities) carrot to earn a place on the main line...and the rest is history!
 
Last edited:

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,969
Location
Ithaca, NY
I still don't see why TCR hasn't just bought a shortline somewhere in the state (with a view towards selling it off ASAP once their main operation is running...) so as to moot this whole thing. Frankly, buying a faltering shortline might be cheaper than the cost of litigation, and there's plenty of precedent for antics like this being carried out to acquire charters and the like over the decades.
Well, I looked at the list of shortlines. Some are joint lines owned by the class Is; many are owned by Watco or G&W or another large firm; some are captives of specific factories; many are controlled by local port authorities; there are, frankly, only a few others. None of them are faltering.

Fort Worth & Western, which cooperates with the operation of tourist trains and runs extensively on DART-owned trackage, might be the most cooperative to expanding passenger service.
 

cirdan

Engineer
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,723
Well, I looked at the list of shortlines. Some are joint lines owned by the class Is; many are owned by Watco or G&W or another large firm; some are captives of specific factories; many are controlled by local port authorities; there are, frankly, only a few others. None of them are faltering.

Fort Worth & Western, which cooperates with the operation of tourist trains and runs extensively on DART-owned trackage, might be the most cooperative to expanding passenger service.
I ma sure there must be disused but operable trackage somewhere that somebody would be willing to sell and on which a pro forma minimal railroad could be established. A couple of switching moves a year would surely suffice to be able to claim to have an operational railroad?
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,728
Location
Virginia
I ma sure there must be disused but operable trackage somewhere that somebody would be willing to sell and on which a pro forma minimal railroad could be established. A couple of switching moves a year would surely suffice to be able to claim to have an operational railroad?
Well, I looked at the list of shortlines. Some are joint lines owned by the class Is; many are owned by Watco or G&W or another large firm; some are captives of specific factories; many are controlled by local port authorities; there are, frankly, only a few others. None of them are faltering.

Fort Worth & Western, which cooperates with the operation of tourist trains and runs extensively on DART-owned trackage, might be the most cooperative to expanding passenger service.
I don't think having a pax operation is necessary. Just something moving...something...over tracks...would seem to suffice.
 

AmtrakMaineiac

Streetcar Motorman
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
161
Location
Lubec, ME
I wonder how the courts might view obtaining a short line strictly for this reason. There is a case I have been following in my own backyard where a shipper was trucking frozen fish brought from Akaska to St. Stephen NB by ship into the US. Normally the Jones Act would require this fish to have been carried from Alaska by a US flag carrier. The shipper got around this by building a 100 foot "railroad" onto which they would load the cargo then offload it onto the trucks for delivery to the US. This used a loophole in the Jones Act that allowed foreign flag vessels as long as the cargo traveled through Canada by rail. The courts ruled that the Jones Act still applied as the 100 foot RR was obviously a ruse to get around the Jones Act. Currently the case is still being appealed.
 

cirdan

Engineer
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,723
I wonder how the courts might view obtaining a short line strictly for this reason. There is a case I have been following in my own backyard where a shipper was trucking frozen fish brought from Akaska to St. Stephen NB by ship into the US. Normally the Jones Act would require this fish to have been carried from Alaska by a US flag carrier. The shipper got around this by building a 100 foot "railroad" onto which they would load the cargo then offload it onto the trucks for delivery to the US. This used a loophole in the Jones Act that allowed foreign flag vessels as long as the cargo traveled through Canada by rail. The courts ruled that the Jones Act still applied as the 100 foot RR was obviously a ruse to get around the Jones Act. Currently the case is still being appealed.
In this case the ruse was to "carry stuff by railroad" which IMHO is a clearly defined principle and what they did was maybe within the letter of the law but clearly not within its spirit. In the case of Texas Central the bar is much lower as they only need to "have a railroad" - and you can clearly question what the spirit of such a requirement is and probably conclude its pure legal malarkey. Besides which there are plenty of railroad lines all over the USA which clearly have ceased to have any purpose but are still legally and officially railroads and nobody would question this. If not being used suffices to disqualify track from being a railroad then this would have pretty far reaching consequences.
 

frequentflyer

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 10, 2008
Messages
946
On another website there is an article about TCR having funding issues. They went with a Japan Railroad design, why not have them set up funding? Too much pie in the sky thinking going on here. TCR need to look at ways to cut costs, not looking hopeful for this line and I was a supporter of the concept.
 
Top