My Bio and This Blog's Purpose

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tackling the Headlines 70

Amtrak's last-ditch effort to keep the Hoosier State

Just when it was safe and clear to assume that Amtrak would cede the Hoosier State, it added wi-fi, Business Class, and food and beverage service in a desperate attempt to keep the route.

Take #1: If INDOT and the cities along the route have any sense, then, they will realize this move as just that--desperate. Where was this effort beforehand? 

Take #2: I seriously thought that Amtrak and its supporters were going to let the Hoosier go simply due to the fact that it's the only PRIIA Section 209 route that runs less than daily. Boy was I wrong!

Take #3: Predictably, the peanut gallery on various message boards (1 2 3 4 5 6) is showing their true colors. It wasn't enough that they expressed righteous indignation 2-3 months ago when Corridor Capital was awarded the vendor contract. Now, they are belittling INDOT and CorrCap as a bunch of amateurs. However, CorrCap's James Coston fired back by saying that Amtrak delayed the handover of the Hoosier State and broke off negotiations with his company after INDOT selected CorrCap as the vendor. Speaking of which, that brings me to... 

Take #4: The delaying tactics by Amtrak are clearly being done to create doubt among the cities and towns along the 196-mile-route. That way, Amtrak can actually keep the route come wintertime. These tactics are nothing new. In 2003, Missouri handed one of its St. Louis-Kansas City frequencies over to Herzog during a budget shortfall. Amtrak blackballed Herzog by threatening to keep it out of the stations of each endpoint. The result? No expansion 11 1/2 years after MO went crawling back to Amtrak. In 2010, the national carrier threatened to strip the seniority status of anyone who remained with Virginia Railway Express after Keolis beat it in bidding. The result? VRE is happier with the French operator. The following year, a similar threat was made to Caltrain employees when "America's Railroad" lost that contract to a Herzog subsidiary. The result? The threat also failed on the West Coast and there are no problems between Caltrain and the new operator.

Take #5: At least Corridor Capital has a plan for the Hoosier Corridor. Where is Amtrak's plan? Will it provide more marketable times? Will it provide additional frequencies?

Take #6: The two states in charge of the Cascades have to be watching this very closely--as should other states wishing to expand...because...

Take #7: If Indiana follows Missouri's lead but wants more roundtrips, it will be subject to another one of Amtrak's controversial feasibility studies where the costs will be high and revenues low. As a matter of fact, any state that doesn't already have future plans in place will. The end result? Stifled expansion efforts.

Wolverine State station news

New stations in Dearborn and Troy are about to open.

Take #1: The multimodal Dearborn station will actually be a merger of two stations--an Amshack that serves as the main station and a special stop only intended for large groups near the Henry Ford Museum.

Take #2: Troy is a lesson in perseverance. First, neighboring Birmingham pulled out of the multimodal station project in early 2011. Second, Troy elected a Tea Party mayor who then proceeded to follow the Walker-Kasich-Scott playbook and nix the project at the end of 2011 (fortunately, the citizens had the sense to recall her in 2012 and revive the project). Most recently, there was a dispute between the city and the developer over who owned the land around the station after it was completed last November.

Japanese operator expresses interest in CAHSR route

A consortium including the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) is going really hard after the California project.

Take: A company like JR East has a lot to teach Californians about dealing with major adversities like earthquakes. Now, if the CAHSR Authority would just assign an operator for the route...

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