NARP: New and Improved!

Things have certainly changed with NARP, the National Association of Railroad Passengers. NARP has changed its name to become the Rail Passengers Association. The name may be simpler, but the mission has expanded significantly—now we’re not only advocates for Amtrak passengers, but for the folks heading to and from their jobs on commuter rail as well. 

Whatever its name, for much of our association’s history, it was primarily an organization of train enthusiasts who showed up in Washington once a year asking Members of  Congress to squeeze out a little more money for Amtrak.

More often than not, they were greeted politely in congressional offices, given a few minutes with a junior staff person, then ushered politely-but-firmly back into the main corridor. 

But, as RPA, we are now enjoying a level of credibility that was never attained in prior years. New initiatives were aggressively mounted, and people—important people—began to take notice.

These days, when legislation affecting passenger rail comes before Congress, many staff people working for Members call NARP for facts, figures and suggestions. On at least one occasion, NARP staff was asked to suggest changes to the actual wording of legislation that eventually became law.

In Washington last April, no less than five sitting United States senators attended our reception and all five spoke to the gathering.

And on November 13th, our president/CEO Jim Mathews will testify before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. And they asked him!

When we get closer to that date, please check the RPA web site (www.railpassengers.org) because there is a real possibility that the hearing will be available on the internet.


  1. Jim,
    I was sorry to read your November 1 blog entry about the “new and improved” NARP — the organization that no longer includes “National” in its name and has adopted an “empty window” as a new logo, a logo which seems to be unfortunately appropriate.

    You characterize the “old NARP” as a bunch of railfans who rarely got audience with elected officials or even senior staffers. Perhaps that reflects your experience, but my trips to D.C. to lobby for Amtrak service in Arkansas began in 1977, and my experiences were quite different and more positive.

    I am pleased that NARP is achieving some success, but the fact that you have an Amtrak today to work with is because of the actions and efforts of many in the organization before you. To the extent that NARP is successful (and that is by no means yet assured) it is because the present organization is standing on the shoulders of dedicated NARP members from the past 50 years. Your blog characterizations are both condescending and offensive.

    I will concede that the “new” NARP does one thing better than the old organization – run through money at an alarming rate.

    1. For those who don’t know, Bill Pollard is a long-time NARP member, who has worked tirelessly for many years as an knowledgable and effective advocate for passenger rail. I just now went back and re-read what I wrote and had one of those awful “Oh, shit!” moments. That’s when you realize you’ve just written something dumb and within a very few minutes, a lot of people will know it.

    2. Bill, your comments do resonate with me but I say it with sadness for I too have been a NARP member for a very long time, I believe back before Amtrak’s inception. I’m not going to spill all my thoughts on this subject here but let me just say briefly that I’m really disappointed in their tepid defense of the dining car plus their seeming satisfaction with Messrs. Anderson and Gardner along with prominent board members. I really wish there was an organization like the “old NARP” that you describe.

      1. Bill Scott,
        It’s been my impression that our Washington office has protested the removal of the dining cars on eastern routes in the strongest terms and on multiple occasions.

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