Passengers Get Short End from U.P.
Back 50 or more years ago, the private railroads in this country hauled both freight and passengers. Regulating the passenger operations was the Interstate Commerce Commission. That meant the railroads had to get permission from the ICC before they could make changes of any consequence in schedules and or in fares.
Even when passenger service was losing millions, the railroads had to petition the ICC for approval before they could shut down a route or increase a fare. The Commission would then decide if the proposed change would be detrimental to the general public.
My, my . . . how times have changed.
Last week, the Union Pacific Railroad announced that beginning January 17th, they would be doing extensive track maintenance and to accommodate their work crews, Amtrak would have to reduce the schedules through February 14th for the Crescent, and through March 9th for the Sunset and the Eagle.
In addition, there were specific restrictions announced. Here’s one for the Texas Eagle:
“Through cars that depart Chicago on Sundays will terminate at San Antonio instead of Los Angeles.”
And another, this one for the Crescent, a daily train:
“Monday through Thursday departures from Atlanta and New Orleans are cancelled.”
And now, having been given only 13 days’ notice, several thousand Amtrak passengers will have to look for other trains on other days or-—wouldn’t you agree this would be the more likely choice–they’ll decide to fly.
We can’t blame UP, without them there wouldn’t be any California Zephyr from Denver to SFO or other routes. They’re what keep Amtrak’s long-distance routes in business. However, they usually delay our trains. A couple days ago I saw an on-time 30 Capitol Limited near Harper’s Ferry surprising because CSX and Norfolk Southern aren’t usually very friendly to Amtrak.
Over the years, I’ve heard any number of stories about individual dispatchers at Union Pacific seeming to go out of their way to make life difficult for Amtrak trains. That said, I think the issue here is that Amtrak apparently got very short notice of what will be major disruptions.
Hopefully, the RPA has contacted Chairman DeFazio of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Comm. regarding this matter. It would be hard to believe that the UP didn’t plan this maintenance far in advance, which begs the question, why wasn’t Amtrak notified of it in a timely manner??