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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

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fragmenting Long-Distance Passenger Trains?

Railfan & Railroad, August







NEC a different matter 

  • Not only is the NEC huge but the region but the region's congressional delegation would block any effort by AIPRO members to compete against Amtrak
  • Maybe when the folks in D.C. get serious about infrastructure, then, we'll see Amtrak face competition in its home region. Until then, I wish the LEO Express people good luck because they'll need it
  • By avoiding the NEC, Chambers is sticking to what he knows since the bulk of the AIPRO's commuter contracts are outside of Amtrak-friendly Northeast and Chicagoland territories
Opaque
  • By opening the overnight routes up to competition, we'd finally be able to find out the truth about the financial condition of the routes
Cutting a deal?
  • By capping the subsidy at 90 percent, the FAST Act is actually doing all potential Amtrak competitors a favor because these newcomers will be hungry and eager to demonstrate that the long distance train of the future is better off without Amtrak

Amtrak--another shot at the target
  • "America's Railroad" may get the chance to counterbid but it'd be wise to figure out just which three routes it can do without

Role of Class Is
  • As far as the major railroads go, Sections 209 & 214 of PRIIA as well as Section 205 of the FAST Act supersede their long-held Amtrak-only stance
  • If the major railroads (continue) flout(ing) the laws, then Congress will have to play hardball: Allow non-Amtrak operators who fairly get contracts for state-supported or overnight routes on your rails or you'll be in charge of every intercity route outside of the Northeast--and in the process, reducing Amtrak to an NEC-only entity
Who bids?
  • To me, it's simple: A partnership between independent and Class I railroads--shades of my rail consortium

Another thorny complaint
  • Vernon discusses how the major railroads have griped about how Amtrak has never paid them market rates for access on their tracks. As it turns out, a fellow AIPRO member Stan Feinsod advocated a scenario in which other operators would use the commuter model in order to access fright tracks
  • In the event the AIPRO is able to see its vision happen, then perhaps we could actually see some of its members revive and actively push for the restoration of service along routs Amtrak abandoned
High mountains to climb

  • As far as the RRIF loan scenario goes, whatever it takes


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