Amtrak Board May Kill Eight Routes.
TRAINS magazine reports Amtrak’s Board of Directors will demand full implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on any route over which an Amtrak train operates by the end of the calendar year or it will cancel those trains.
If the board does indeed adopt this position, as a practical matter it would mean at least a temporary shut-down of eight Amtrak trains, five of which are long-distance trains that run overnight: the Southwest Chief, the California Zephyr, the Texas Eagle, the Cardinal and the City of New Orleans. The other three trains affected would be the Downeaster, the Vermonter and the Ethan Allen.
This information contradicts previous testimony by Amtrak executives who stated under oath before a congressional committee that Amtrak would continue to operate trains over routes that had been exempted from the PTC requirement by the Federal Railroad Administration. It now appears, however, that position has been reversed by the Amtrak board.
Jim Mathews, president and CEO of Rail Passengers Association, has demanded an honest discussion with Amtrak on this subject. “If Amtrak’s answer to the questions posed by our duly elected officials has changed, said Mathews, it is absolutely essential that they publicly state that fact.”
In addition, Mathews urged all RPA members to contact their representatives and senators to urge the entire Congress to retain the language in the Senate’s funding bill—language that specifically protects the Southwest Chief—and pass that bill into law.
That’s well and good, but if the Amtrak board is taken at their word, it appears there is a very real possibility that one or more of the long-distance trains could be terminated, at least temporarily. That proposition is made all the more insidious because of the duplicitous way in which Amtrak has treated both elected officials and citizen volunteers from affected towns and cities. Even worse, if that’s possible, it would seem that Amtrak has also misled members of Congress.
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