Amtrak Speaks with Forked Tongue.
I assume that most of you are up to date on Amtrak’s threat to discontinue the Southwest Chief or, at the very least, seriously modify it’s schedule and quality of service. You can go here for a recap of the story if you need to.
Meanwhile, in a distressing new development, we find that Amtrak has been decietful in communicating with its own employees about the future of the Chief.
In a recent memo to employees, Amtrak’s management stated “we will need to invest more than $100M in the next 3-5 years to bring the [Southwest Chief’s] route to a State of Good Repair and to fully implement Positive Train Control …” But at least twice over the past several weeks in meetings with government officials and representatives of Rail Passengers Association—meetings also attended by Amtrak executives—BNSF Railroad employees have said the cost of repairing and maintaining that very same stretch of track was estimated at $30 to $50 million over a ten-year period.
Apparently to justify their $100 million figure, Amtrak has said it includes the cost of implementing Positive Train Control. But the truth is, the Chief’s route is either already covered by PTC where rail traffic requires it (mostly east of La Junta and west of Lamy) or has already been properly exempted by the Federal Railroad Administration.
Over the past fifty years, the Rail Passengers Association has continually gone to bat for Amtrak. RPA members—on our own time and at our own expense—have repeatedly contacted their elected members of Congress in person and with phone calls and emails urging support for Amtrak. It is distressing at the very least that Amtrak’s leadership not only seems to be looking for ways to justify the elimination of much of the long distance service, but they are being deceitful in the information they present to justify their position.
Hi Jim. Is there a way we can obtain managements source for their dollar figure? So as to explain our members and Amtrak employees how accurate it is. Just a thought,
As far as I know, those numbers came from Amtrak staff. I don’t know how much of the $100 million they allocated for PTC, but I would guess that’s where the big discrepancy lies.
Jim, Do you know how RPA is going to address this current development to members of Congress or what is is currently doing to address this manipulation of numbers? I was under the impression that those members of Congress who acted to retain the entire rail route of the Chief believed they had been successful.
There were members of Congress present at one of the meetings and they scolded the Amtrak people at that time. Since then, a resolution was attached to a bill (my terminology may be off, but you get the point) admonishing Amtrak to continue operating the Southwest Chief and to retain the current level of service. RPA has launched a major effort asking members to contact their representatives and senators to alert them to our concern that Amtrak may be looking for an excuse to shut down some or even all of the long-distance service. In short, RPA has mobilized!
Jim this off topic. But wishing you and your family safety as Hurricane Lane makes its way to the islands. Have gone through my share here in North Carolina so make sure you have you storm supplies ready if needed.
Thank you. That’s kind and thoughtful of you, Reid. I must admit, it is uncomfortable not being able to hop in a car and drive 500 to 600 miles out of the storm’s path.