How CSX is Trying to Screw Us.
Amtrak’s Sunset Limited once ran the entire width of the North American continent, from Los Angeles, California, to Orlando, Florida . . . or, putting it another way, from Disneyland to Disney World. But in 2005, Hurricane Katrina put an end to that epic rail journey, washing out entire sections of track east of New Orleans.
The damaged track has long since been repaired and is busy with CSX freight traffic. However, there are still no passenger trains running between New Orleans and Orlando. In fact, the only pending proposal for “new” service is a daily train from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama. It’s a service the public has been asking for and Amtrak is ready to provide, and the federal law that created Amtrak fifty years ago says the freight railroad, CSX, is legally obligated to make their track available.
The law also says that CSX is entitled to receive compensation for the use of its track and that is what’s holding things up.
For accommodating two trains a day—one in each direction—CSX is demanding two billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a “B”. Just imagine receiving two thousand envelopes in tomorrow mail, each one containing a check for a million bucks!
It’s preposterous. It’s insulting. For more information and another quite wonderful perspective on this issue, click on this link—put up or shut up— for comments by Jim Mathews, president and CEO of Rail Passengers Association.
Bottom Line: We can only hope that when a deal is made, Amtrak will end up paying a fair and reasonable amount to CSX . . . something fair to compensate this multi-billion dollar corporation fo the inconvenience of allowing two passenger trains a day on 140 miles of its 21,000 miles of track.