Dear Mr. Boardman,
Now that you have been given an extra two years, here's some advice for you: Amtrak needs to have a concrete plan for future routes and should display such routes on its system map. Ridership is up and more people are traveling but seats are sold out and there's a serious lack of equipment.
What is your focus? That is, will you continue to provide lip service to routes outside of the Northeast, Wolverine, and Lincoln corridors? If the NEC is truly your future, Amtrak should go to Congress, the FRA, and the STB to put some of your other routes up for bidding.
Speaking of other operators, Mr. Boardman, you yourself know that other passenger entities are waiting in the wings to outbid Amtrak on existing and future routes. Rather than relying on your congressional buddies to unfairly tilt the playing field in your company's favor, provide Congress, the states, President Obama, and riders compelling reasons why Amtrak is better than AIPRO members, Virgin, and other carriers.
The next time you conduct a route study, call the host railroads on their bluff, and for goodness sake, don't throw your own employees under the bus when the going gets tough. There is no reason why the Cardinal shouldn't be a daily train. There is no reason why Panhandle residents should be without train service for almost eight years now. Speaking of the Sunset Limited, either restore the eastern link or allow another operator to conduct daily service between New Orleans and Orlando because the drama has dragged on long enough. When it comes to the Southwest Chief, fight to keep the train on its current route between Newton, KS and Gallup, NM.
The Rail Enthusiast