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What is your predictive outlook for the future of Amtrak in the next 3 years?

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20th Century Rider

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Based on your past experiences and understanding of what is going on in the world today, where do you think Amtrak will be 2 or 3 years from now? We have the ‘givens’ of a new national administration, uncertainty with a tragic pandemic, concerns for the environment, and an economy that needs to turn around.

What actually does happen will likely be determined by need, resources, attitudes, optimism, and a stabilizing world. I do wonder that if responses from this forum are examined collectively… this could be a real and credible possible forecast?

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I personally believe we have reasons to be optimistic other than the new train friendly government.
The word is out to most people: trains are a crucial part of a country’s infrastructure system and have been tragically neglected in America.

a few soft predictions:
-The gateway project completed
-complete dedicated HSR tracks for the Acela, and upgrades (such as bridges) that allow for shorter travel times
-Re-evaluation of night trains for better or for worse
-announce official Superliner replacements
 

IndyLions

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Frankly, I think we will know a lot more after the first 100 days.

I’m really concerned things could really get off track during that time period - especially if impeachment proceeds right away. Congress will be at a standstill - and nothing will happen with infrastructure - which is where Amtrak fits in.

If, on the other hand we can move forward and see some reasonable level of cooperation between parties – that can only be good for Amtrak.

I apologize if someone thinks that this is a political post. It’s not meant to be. When and whether impeachment happens will have a big impact on how much and how soon Biden is able to advance his agenda. And infrastructure is a big part of his agenda.
 

Exvalley

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My biggest concern is that, while the new administration will be friendly to Amtrak, there will be numerous other projects that take precedence - and that Amtrak will be "okay", but any improvements will be incremental.
 

20th Century Rider

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My biggest concern is that, while the new administration will be friendly to Amtrak, there will be numerous other projects that take precedence - and that Amtrak will be "okay", but any improvements will be incremental.
With the focus being on saving lives from the pandemic, the economy, and the environment... will get justifiable priority, I kind-a think that Amtrak will come soon after... Amtrak Joe is showing us he cares about Amtrak in his plans to take the train to the inauguration... but along with many other AU'ers, I have my fingers crossed for Amtrak! 😇
 
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Frankly, I think we will know a lot more after the first 100 days.

I’m really concerned things could really get off track during that time period - especially if impeachment proceeds right away. Congress will be at a standstill - and nothing will happen with infrastructure - which is where Amtrak fits in.

If, on the other hand we can move forward and see some reasonable level of cooperation between parties – that can only be good for Amtrak.

I apologize if someone thinks that this is a political post. It’s not meant to be. When and whether impeachment happens will have a big impact on how much and how soon Biden is able to advance his agenda. And infrastructure is a big part of his agenda.
I think your post is fine, as trains and politics in the country are deeply intertwined.

From what I understand (which could be wrong), Biden's economic plan includes an infrastructure overall, and centering job creation around that concept, which would be good for trains.

My hope is that if we can get the virus under control in the first two quarters, that by fall/winter 2021 and early 2022, projects like the Gateway tunnel can be addressed.

Worst case scenario, I think, is we see a marginally better funded Amtrak. This is still is good news for things like rolling stock, track improvements, and smaller projects.


Best case scenario, I think, is a few major projects, such as proposed routes, gain significant traction, and maybe even break ground. My personal hope is the South Station expansion project, which would see the station double its tracks, and return to its former glory days. As the northern Terminus for the NE Corridor, this would significantly change Acela/NE regional experience for the better, and allow more trains to run.
 

Devil's Advocate

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We have the ‘givens’ of a new national administration, uncertainty with a tragic pandemic, concerns for the environment, and an economy that needs to turn around.
I find it hard to move past the violent insurrection, breaching of our Capitol, and lack of resolve in punishing the promoters. Maybe if we can neutralize the subversive elements I can get back to worrying about Amtrak again.

I’m really concerned things could really get off track during that time period - especially if impeachment proceeds right away. Congress will be at a standstill - and nothing will happen with infrastructure - which is where Amtrak fits in.
If you can confirm a Supreme Court Justice in 8 days you can impeach a President in 10.

If, on the other hand we can move forward and see some reasonable level of cooperation between parties – that can only be good for Amtrak.
We can either have justice or we can move forward with sweeping everything under the rug again. Since moving forward only seems to lead to further subversion and dysfunction I suggest we try the other path for a change.
 

Exvalley

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If you can confirm a Supreme Court Justice in 8 days you can impeach a President in 10.
Biden is concerned that impeachment will negatively impact his ability to quickly implement his agenda.

Whether or not this will impact Amtrak remains to be seen.
 

20th Century Rider

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When a train derails, a crew arrives t lift the stock and repair it if possible, they fix the track to get trains rolling again, then they investigate for cause, investigate measures to be taken so same doesn't happen again, look everywhere else to see if similar flaws exist, make safety improvements ... pass legislation and or laws to promote that safety, and remain vigilant reminded that 'perfection' is always being chased by those who know nothing on the planet is absolutely perfect.

The same can be said for a lot of things that have been happening. It's not a perfect world.

Few stop to realize and consider there has never been an extended period of time when there was total peace in the world. That's because life isn't perfect.

About that derailed train... things become fixed again and trains once again start moving.
12182017_derailaerialCP_114158-1020x680.jpg


9d8552872c5a40448aaa4e3b297a4a57.jpg
 

jis

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It did take quite a while to get trains running again on Point Defiance Bypass. Have they started running again. I had heard it was imminent.

And BTW, the Talgo 6s one of which was involved in the crash, are not going to ever run again in commercial service. Fixing things takes time, unless everything is swept under a rug until the next time. In the process of fixing some things don't ever happen again, including hopefully the accident of the sort.
 

20th Century Rider

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It did take quite a while to get trains running again on Point Defiance Bypass. Have they started running again. I had heard it was imminent.

And BTW, the Talgo 6s one of which was involved in the crash, are not going to ever run again in commercial service. Fixing things takes time, unless everything is swept under a rug until the next time. In the process of fixing some things don;t ever happen again, including hopefully the accident of the sort.
Supposedly it will open this year. I've been through there on I-5 many times and that is a very tight curve!

.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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Biden is concerned that impeachment will negatively impact his ability to quickly implement his agenda. Whether or not this will impact Amtrak remains to be seen.
Lame duck impeachment is unlikely to help a president-elect but neither is it likely to hurt him so long as he makes it clear this is not his initiative. What it does do is push incumbents out of the spin zone and into the record books. How that plays out is anyone's guess but this move may also give a 50+1 party some additional leverage as they negotiate rules and committees. What the president-elect really needs right now is for everyone to survive inauguration, which is kind of mind numbing to type honestly, but it's also the truth.
 

Exvalley

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Lame duck impeachment is unlikely to help a president-elect but neither is it likely to hurt him so long as he makes it clear this is not his initiative.
I am pretty sure that Biden is more worried about Congress being distracted (and not acting quickly on his legislative proposals) than Biden himself being distracted.
 

jis

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In this country everyone needs to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time instead of making silly excuses about why that might be impossible. :D Both the impeachment and the next round of stimulus is important. Fortunately the issue of the 2021 Appropriation is already done, so that does not need any more attention. Meanwhile Biden has a large enough pile of Executive Orders to undo with Executive Orders and get the COVID issue to fix with proper execution of the use of funds already appropriated.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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I am pretty sure that Biden is more worried about Congress being distracted (and not acting quickly on his legislative proposals) than Biden himself being distracted.
The House will be done debating and voting by the time the next president is sworn and the scheduling/severity of any Senate action will probably be up to an as-yet undetermined de facto majority leader. This detail will likely be referenced in power sharing negotiations between parties. How much weight it carries (if any) is also yet to be determined and probably depends on what the current administration does (or fails to do) between now and then.
 

fredmcain

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When Bill Clinton got elected in 1992, I got my hopes up that he would really do something for Amtrak and rail transit. But I was disappointed. Then, when Obama got in there, I was *REALLY* encouraged with some of his rhetoric. But again, we were let down.

So, with Biden will it be different this time? I certainly hope so but I'm not holding my breath either. I do think there are reasons once again to be encouraged but...........................
 

sttom

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My guess would be the clock being rolled back to 2014 as far as Amtrak is concerned considering that was what was promised on the campaign trail. I’m fairly certain the following will happen

1) More money for NEC infrastructure.
2) RFP for Superliner Replacement.
3) Maybe funding for the pathetic 2035 plan in conjunction with NEC funding to get people from the rest of America accepting an equal amount just going to the NEC.

Two things I’m certain about are 1) the 750 will not die since anything Obama did was an act of Gods love (saying this with full sarcasm) that can never be contradicted. At most it might be loosened a bit and 2) a bunch of states will refuse free money for new Amtrak routes because of the 750 mile rule.
 

Exvalley

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The House will be done debating and voting by the time the next president is sworn and the scheduling/severity of any Senate action will probably be up to an as-yet undetermined de facto majority leader...
Interesting. In essence, you are accusing Biden and his advisors of being wrong about the likelihood of impeachment as a distraction. The Biden campaign has taken a different position, especially since we now know that the Senate will not take the matter up until Biden is President. Biden's team has suggested that the Senate alternate days between impeachment and addressing Biden's agenda. Since Biden's proposed compromise only gives him half of the Senate's attention, his team is clearly concerned.

In any event, if the Senate is looking in the rear view mirror for much of their time, one has to wonder how much attention will be left for forward looking matters. Something will have to give, which is why Biden is trying to mitigate the negative impact.
 

Devil's Advocate

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When Bill Clinton got elected in 1992, I got my hopes up that he would really do something for Amtrak and rail transit. But I was disappointed. Then, when Obama got in there, I was *REALLY* encouraged with some of his rhetoric. But again, we were let down. So, with Biden will it be different this time? I certainly hope so but I'm not holding my breath either. I do think there are reasons once again to be encouraged but...........................
The first two years of 44's administration approved billions for passenger rail that was used to upgrade tracks and repair rolling stock, but the Executive branch does not exist in a vacuum and after the opposition turned on passenger rail further progress was blocked and reversed at every turn. Not sure how you missed that but it's still true today.

Since Biden's proposed compromise only gives him half of the Senate's attention, his team is clearly concerned.
Half the Senate's attention plus a tie-breaker should be plenty.

In any event, if the Senate is looking in the rear view mirror for much of their time, one has to wonder how much attention will be left for forward looking matters.
Considering that no time has yet been lost one has to wonder what you're actually so worried about.
 
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jis

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I am not sure how the direction that the Senate would be viewing under a new leadership would or would not be related to what it has been doing under the current leadership. What is the evidence that they will continue to "look at rear view mirror" whatever that might mean?
 

Exvalley

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My point is merely that Biden's administration is concerned that impeachment will negatively impact Biden's ability to get his agenda pushed through in a timely manner. Presumably this could have some collateral consequences in regard to Amtrak.
 

me_little_me

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Half the Senate's attention plus a tie-breaker should be plenty.
That's not how it works. All it would take is a solid Republican party and one Democrat who opposes a particular piece of legislation and it will fail.

In reality, I would expect some more conservative Democrats and those who represent more conservative districts to cross the line at times and, on the other hand, more liberal Republicans and those who represent more liberal districts to do the same.

The bigger reality - money talks. Have big donors at want you to vote their way and you are not in a "safe" district and what few ethics you have quickly go out the window. And if it means trading away what you would go along with to get something you want, ethics again takes a back seat - on both sides.
 

jis

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Currently there are two major means for providing additional funding to Amtrak, since I doubt anyone will entertain an Amtrak only bill in the busy schedule.

1. The next round of Stimulus, which everyone wants on the Democratic side and most like a biug chunk of Republicans will now oppose as they flop over conveniently to the fiscal conservative side again. This is unlikely to be ignored impeachment or not.

2. The 2022 Appropriation - that is still a few months away. I don't think impeachment will last that long.
 
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