New Edict Hurts Little Guys Big Time.
Rumor and speculation are running rampant within the passenger rail community. One reader reports hearing that the geniuses running Amtrak are going to take the full service dining car off of the Capitol Limited. There was a time, literally just weeks ago, when I would have poo-pooed that as utter nonsense. Not today. And if true, it really pisses me off because I’ve booked a roomette on that train when I travel to Washington next month.
So in today’s world it is indeed possible that I could be dining on microwaved meals while traveling to Washington on my own dime where I’ll spend one full day asking members of Congress for more money for Amtrak. I don’t have to point out the irony in that, do I?
Two days ago, Amtrak’s new boss, Richard Anderson, issued another edict in which he announced that Amtrak would no longer operate “special trains” or haul private rail cars. Among others, this will effectively eliminate an immensely popular excursion train that takes visitors from all over the country on a scenic ride through West Virginia’s New River Gorge. The train operates with Amtrak locomotives and crews and about 30 privately owned passenger cars. It makes several trips over a total of four days on two weekends in October every year.
A story in yesterday’s Huntington, WV, Herald-Dispatch includes the following quote from Tyson Compton of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau:
“ . . . there is an economic impact to our area of around $2.2 million. We average about 4,800 people each year, and they are staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants and many stay for several days to enjoy other sites in the city.”
All that notwithstanding, I’m afraid you’ll just have to kiss it all good-by, folks. According to Richard Anderson, “These operations caused significant operational distraction.” In this case, that must refer to Amtrak’s regularly scheduled train, the Cardinal . . . a significant operational distraction that operates three days a week.