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With a new administration in D.C., it's time to think outside of the box because passenger rail's survival just may depend on it

Monday, November 24, 2014

Phillips vs Boardman

Everybody seems to have an opinion on the November Trains Magazine article but the M.O. from various message boards have painted columnist Don Phillips as "bitter" because the Amtrak president wouldn't grant him an interview.
But the facts are this:

  1. Joseph Boardman has done very little to advance the long distance trains. During a 2011 congressional hearing, he threw those routes under the proverbial bus (no pun intended).
  2. Instead of embracing a bill to relieve Amtrak of its biggest albatross, he "rallied the troops" by denouncing a plan to transfer the Northeast Corridor from Amtrak to another government entity as "privatization." Over three years later, Boardman's now whining about how the Hudson River Tunnels only have 20 years left when he could have easily embraced Jayanti's proposal.
  3. None of the recommendations as mandated by PRIIA to improve long distance trains have been followed. This shouldn't have happened, especially with someone of Brian Rosenwald's stature trying to follow the '08 law.
  4. Boardman's unwillingness to call the host railroads' bluff was way beyond disturbing. Seven hundred fifty million dollars to operate a daily Sunset Limited? Stalled negotiations with CSX over a daily Cardinal? "Never mind" seemed to be Boardman's M.O. A true leader would have been front and center, and had that failed, I would have then taken my case to the STB.
  5. Sure he ordered new equipment for the eastern long distance trains, but what about their western counterparts?
  6. A true leader would have never allowed himself to be caught flat-footed the way Boardman was in 2009 when European and Asian operators--public and private--openly expressed interest to operate high speed trains here.
  7. As a followup, where were Amtrak's expansion plans when other operators began expressing interest in running trains during Stimulus Mania and in 2011 when a group representing Amtrak's commuter competitors was formed to take on "America's Railroad?" The feasibility studies for three long distance routes and the stillborn 3C corridor service were all examples of Amtrak management discouraging restoring or implementing service.

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