Amtrak Under Pressure to Add Service.
As noted in my post of two days ago, several different constituencies continue to press Amtrak to upgrade the Cardinal from a three-day-a-week schedule to daily service. And, indeed, an increase in frequency like that would be enthusiastically welcomed by people all along the Cardinal’s route, not to mention those of us who have tried and failed to work the Cardinal into a cross-country rail itinerary … failed because we couldn’t coordinate the inconvenient three-day schedule with the rest of our schedules.
But pressure is also being applied to Amtrak elsewhere in the country.
With some financial help from Rail Passengers Association (RPA)*, a full time executive director is being hired to run All Aboard Arizona. That organization has been re-energized and is vigorously pressing ahead on two related issues.
First, they are renewing the effort to have Amtrak increase Sunset Limited schedule between Los Angeles and New Orleans from three days a week to a daily train. As with the Cardinal, the three-day-a-week service makes it difficult to include this train in a rail itinerary.
But the Arizona folks have a second issue: they want the Sunset Limited to once again stop in downtown Phoenix instead of at Maricopa, almost 50 miles away. Passengers with a Phoenix destination must endure a 90-minute bus ride after leaving the comfort of the train in Maricopa. For heaven’s sake, what a half-assed way to travel to and from a major U.S. city . . . and a state capital to boot!
Farther east and still pending is the restoration and upgrading of passenger service between New Orleans and Orlando, Florida. That was part of the Sunset Limited’s route until portions of the track were wiped out by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. There are three possible fixes to that situation, but the most probable appears to be extending the City of New Orleans and turning that train into a Chicago-New Orleans-Orlando service. Daily service, by the way.
Amtrak? The ball is in your court! Are you going to undertake one or more of these proposals? And if not, why not?
*Name of organization is transitioning from National Association of Railroad Passengers.
Prior to Katrina, I’d taken Amtrak from Fargo, ND to Tallahassee a number of times. I’ve ridden the Cardinal a number of times from D.C. to Chicago, adjusting my schedule to the 3-day per week service.
I’ve written letters to Amtrak encouraging reinstatement of service to destinations east of New Orleans and to provide daily service of the Cardinal and to upgrade it’s dining car service.
However,I have not read of any “outcry” or strong (or visible) support to provide this service from NARP or other passenger rail advocates (am I not “tuned in”?}.
Amtrak published their P.R.I.I.A. Section 226, Gulf Coast Service Plan, dated July 16, 2009. Apparently, no action or results to date . . . and it’s November 2017. What year was Katrina?
Prior Amtrak management has done everything it could to discourage the progress and improvement of long distance passenger rail.
Your articles and info are great, Jim. Keep ’em coming!
Thanks for the note. NARP has been very vocal in support of restoring the New Orleans-Florida service. Our President/CEO, Jim Mathews rode the special train with other dignitaries and NARP organized crowds at each station along the route to welcome the special train. Here’s a link I think you’ll find interesting and reassuring: http://thehill.com/opinion/finance/354136-gutting-amtrak-would-hurt-flyover-states-most