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Archived News 2001

NO. 175 roars by Nan on May 30. The sign at the left tells boaters when the span will open. The bridge tender, Ray Salois, has few boats on this day, but summers are busy.
Photo by Leo King.


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Florida now has enough money to begin converting Florida East Coast Railway's freight line to also handle Amtrak passenger service. After thwarting high speed rail efforts in the sunshine state, Governor Jeb Bush has done an about face by supporting Amtrak's plans to run coastal service along the Florida East Coast Railroad. Local commerce and municipal leaders have backed the proposal for a couple of years now.

Governor Bush, on Thursday, December 20, arranged an $8 million rescue from the state's transportation department for the FEC/Amtrak plan that had been previously scuttled by state officials.

According to Florida Today, "Bush said he will seek federal help for the rest of the total $82 million needed to finish the project by 2005, allowing the line to eventually accommodate two daily passenger trains in each direction.

The plan includes construction of eight train stations -- at St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Titusville, Cocoa, Melbourne, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce and Stuart -- and a new rail connection between the Florida East Coast Railway and the existing South Florida Rail Corridor in Palm Beach County, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Amtrak and the FEC had signed an agreement as far back as last May for Amtrak to lease the rail line for 10 years. Amtrak estimates its own expenses at $16.5 million. When fully implemented, Amtrak will provide six trains a day in each direction from Jacksonville to various cities in the state -- including two per day in each direction on the FEC tracks from Jacksonville to West Palm Beach. The trains will continue to Miami along the South Florida Rail Corridor, which is used by Amtrak passenger trains and Tri-Rail.

"It's a wonderful Christmas present," Daytona Beach Mayor! Bud Asher said.

In asking the state Department of Transportation to fully fund a plan to restore passenger train service between Miami and Jacksonville Bush said, "The September attacks on our country showed us that we must fully develop alternative modes of transportation in and out of Florida."


CONGRESS SAYS NO LIQUIDATION PLAN FOR AMTRAK -- December 20, 2001. Congress has passed a defense appropriations bill for 2002 that explicitly includes a provision saying no federal funds can be spent on a liquidation plan for Amtrak. The liquidation plan was to be drafted by Amtrak itself following a 6-5 vote of the Amtrak Reform Council (ARC) which said that Amtrak would not become self sufficient the 2002. The ARC, a highly politicized body, was created by Congress in 1997 as part of the Amtrak Restructuring act, which gave the railroad five years to become self sufficient. The ARC was invested with the power to issue a report to Congress which obligated the railroad to draw up plans for its own liquidation should the ARC find that it could not reach self sufficiency by the Congressionally mandated deadline. Meanwhile, Amtrak was concerned that the talk of liquidation was harming its financial standing with creditors. "The Congress sent a clear message that Amtrak will not be liquidated,'' Amtrak spokesman Bill Schulz said today.

The bill also contained a provision appropriating $100 million for Amtrak for life-safety work in the New York tunnels.

And finally the House and Senate seem unable to agree on a stimulus package bill. The House version, which received overwhelming support from the GOP, contains no money for Amtrak. The House vote on the measure was 224-193 with all but 8 Democrats voting in the minority.


The following article on Maine's new "Downeaster" service is copyrighted from the National Corridors Initiative with permission for reprint in part from editor Leo King:

"We've had many highs, twice as many lows, but believe me - this is my high." That's how Maine's rail boss, Michael Murray, summarized twelve-plus years of getting train service restored from Portland to Boston, nearly 40 years after the last scheduled passenger train rolled to a stop in Portland on the Boston & Maine.

Instead of being operated by the B&M, which was the Mellon Bank's first rail acquisition which renamed it Guilford Rail Systems, this train, and the subsequent four-trains daily in each direction, are all operated by Amtrak with financial assistance from the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA), an umbrella organization which got its funding from Maine taxpayers. New Hampshire and Massachusetts also contributed to the cooperative effort. The trains operate over Guilford lines between Portland and Plaistow, N.H.

Thirteen years after a retired banker wrote a letter to former Amtrak boss W. Graham Claytor complaining about the lack of service to his part of the planet, the hard work and dedication by Wayne Davis and others led to northern New England finally getting its passenger trains back after nearly 40 years. The Portland station is still under construction, as are the trackside canopies and other amenities, but the communities are light-years ahead of where they were one day earlier. Davis received lavish praise - which he deserved - for his determination and sticking with the idea despite obstacles that would have discouraged many other people. Governor King, Senator Snowe, and several other heaped praise upon him, and National Association of Railroad Passengers executive director Ross Capon, who had also been aboard the inaugural train, presented him with a silver bell.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told her audience filled with railroaders and political figures at Boston's North Station (in the Fleet Center's Legends room), "It is a great day for all of New England."

At Haverhill, the first of six stops the train would make this day, Amtrak board chairman Michael Dukakis "This is a great day for Amtrak, and a great day for Maine." Dukakis noted at each stop. Dukakis said, during one of his addresses, "We made some dumb mistakes back in the 1950s." He was referring not only to passenger trains nearly disappearing, but even the tracks, in many cases. Now, we find ourselves in a rail renaissance, because the railroad can get to places without restrictions - no airports and their attendant delays, no highways and their attendant and frequent gridlock - as long as the tracks are there. We love our cars, but we're going to have to learn to drive less. The re-awakening is not just for the communities the train passes through, but for adjacent towns, and villages adjacent to those places. The social implications are enormous - as long as the country has the will to make it happen.

ARC REPORT SUGGESTS AMTRAK ALTERNATIVES - December 14, 2001. According to a story by the Associated Press, the Amtrak Reform Council (ARC) is suggesting nine different alternatives for a decentralized Amtrak. The AP story said that they ranged from the most drastic to least drastic. "The most drastic option has the private sector taking over train operations from Amtrak and probably eliminating long-distance routes generally considered unprofitable."

"Under the least drastic options to be considered Friday, Amtrak would continue to operate passenger trains but could face competition from private companies or regional authorities."

Jim RePass, president of the National Corridors Initiative, which supports development of high-speed rail, took issue with the premise behind privatization. "If you cherry-pick only the very, very best routes, you're going to be abandoning areas of the country that are expensive to serve,'' he said. "I have a philosophical problem with that.''

SENATE DEMOCRATS CUT LIQUIDATION LANGUAGE -- December 12, 2001. Democratic senators led by Joseph Biden (DE) and Ernest Hollings (SC) won voice-vote approval of an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would deny any funds for implementing an Amtrak liquidation plan until a reauthorization law for Amtrak is enacted, which is expected next year. The deal was struck with two of Amtrak's most vocal opponents, Senator John McCain (AZ) and Phil Gramm (TX), both Republicans.

DOWNEASTER SERVICE SET TO BEGIN - December 10, 2001. The new Boston to Portland, Maine train is selling out fast. Service on the line begins on December 15th. In Maine, the train will stop in Portland, Saco, Wells and Old Orchard Beach. The Saco station will not be ready until mid-January so the train will not stop there until then.

Thanks to a series of obstacles presented by the host railroad, this has become the longest-delayed passenger rail project in Amtrak's history.

The 114-mile trip will take 2 1/2 hours and will also include three stops in New Hampshire. The train will make four round trips daily. A one-way ticket from Portland to Boston will cost $21, and same-day round-trip service will be $35.

The website for the Downeaster is:

ACELA EXPRESS NEARS THE 1 MILLION MARK - December 10, 2001. Amtrak's high speed train, Acela Express, that runs at speeds of up to 150 mph between Boston and Washington, is expected to pass the million-passenger mark sometime this month after a year of operation. As of Nov. 30, Acela Express trains had carried nearly 857,000 passengers. Eight to 10 trains - 35 to 40 percent of those in service - are selling out on an average weekday in both first class and coach. The service is still being phased in.

Ticket revenue from Acela Express was approaching $100 million on Nov. 30. Amtrak projects that, once at full strength, Acela Express will carry nearly 3.9 million riders, generate $300 million in revenue and net $180 million each year.

"The travel industry as a whole has a tremendous challenge ahead of it as people's travel habits continue to change in the wake of Sept. 11," said Michael Dukakis, acting chairman of Amtrak. "Amtrak is meeting that challenge."

The Senate voted 97 to 2 to approve the $60 billion transportation appropriations measure for fiscal 2002, which began Oct. 1. The House approved the spending bill, 371 to 11 last week.
The spending bill provides $1.25 billion for the new Transportation Department agency that will, among other things, oversee aviation security. The money will go to help fund the establishment of a government-run passenger and baggage screening operation at U.S. airports over the next year, staffed for the first time by federal workers.

Within the $13.5 billion Federal Aviation Administration budget covered under the bill, Congress funded $292 million for other air security priorities, including bomb detection initiatives.

Total highway spending in the 2002 spending bill is $32.9 billion, which is roughly 4 percent more than last year. The legislation provides $6.7 billion for mass transit spending and $521 million for Amtrak.
The Coast Guard will receive $5 billion -- a 9 percent increase over last year.

FOUR AMTRAK TRAINS STOPPED FOR BOMB SEARCH -- November 28, 2001. The A.P. reports that four Amtrak passenger trains were stopped and searched in four states after a caller reported there was a bomb aboard one of the trains. Nothing dangerous was found.

The trains, all Southwest Chiefs which run between Chicago and Los Angeles, were stopped about 9:45 p.m. EST Tuesday near La Junta, Colo.; Bosworth, Mo.; Los Angeles, and Gallup, N.M., said Kevin Johnson, head of Amtrak media relations in Chicago.

21 SENATORS VO W TO BLOCK AMTRAK LIQUIDATION -- November 21, 2001. A bipartisan group of 21 U.S. senators pledged Monday to block any attempt to liquidate Amtrak, calling on the White House to assure Amtrak's creditors that dissolution was not an option.

The Senators wrote to President Bush that the railroad's credit has been badly damaged since a congressionally appointed board that oversees its finances recommended earlier this month that Amtrak be restructured or liquidated.

In addition the letter stated, "Members of your Administration have told us that you share the same goal and will be sending to the Congress a passenger rail proposal. We all seem to be heading in the same direction and we look forward to working with you to make a long-ternl commitment to Amtrak and passenger rail service in this country. The Transportation Department has not made it clear whether Amtrak will be a part of that plan."

Senate lawmakers reminded the White House, however, that liquidation would not happen without their support and they were not about to give it.

"Amtrak cannot be liquidated without the Senate's approval, and we will oppose any effort to do so," the lawmakers said in the letter dated Nov. 16 but released Monday. "We hope you will join with us in reassuring Amtrak's creditors that liquidation is not an option."

"The ARC's finding has not changed the public's need for intercity passenger rail transportation...", the Senators continued.

"Amtrak's passenger rail service is an essential link in our transportation system -- and a strategic asset during times of national emergency," the letter to Bush said.

The Senate Commerce Committee has approved legislation that would provide $1.77 billion for Amtrak's security needs, and the Finance Committee has approved a bill that would provide $9 billion in bonding authority for new passenger rail corridors.

Amtrak's near-term future, at least, will be determined when Congress takes up the railroad's reauthorization early next year.

Among those signing the letter were John Breaux (D-LA), Hilary Clinton (D-NY), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Joe Biden (D-DE), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Max Cleland (D-GA), Jim Jeffords (I-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Michael DeWine (R-OH), Harry Reid (D-NV), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Tom Carper (D-DE), among others.

AMTRAK REFORM COUNCIL VOTE FORCES AMTRAK TO PREPARE LIQUIDATION REPORT -November 9, 2001. The Amtrak Reform Council (ARC) has voted to issue a formal report to Congress indicating that Amtrak will not meet a 2002 deadline to become financially self sufficient. The outcome of this report is that Amtrak must now draft a plan within 90 days for its own dissolution. The vote of the Council was 6 to 5. However, Congress would be hard pressed to liquidate the only national passenger rail service given the widespread public support that Amtrak enjoys and especially in the wake of the crisis facing America post September 11. Indeed, leading Senators are calling for the elimination of the deadline on Amtrak's self sufficiency. Enactment of the High Speed Rail Investment Act now takes on greater importance in Congress.

Rep. Jack Quinn, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Transportation subcommittee on railroads said that "The Amtrak Reform Council's decision could not have come at a worse time."

Ross Capon of NARP called the self sufficiency requirement a "stupid objective."

Amtrak President George Warrington has repeatedly urged Congress to decide, once and for all, whether Amtrak should run only profitable routes or continue to serve the entire nation.

It is important to note that trains will continue to run despite the ARC report. Congress and the President will make the final decision on the fate of Amtrak.

ECONOMIC STIMULUS BILL WOULD PROVIDE MONEY FOR AMTRAK -- November 8, 2001. The Senate Finance Committee narrowly approved a $66.4 billion economic stimulus package today that would include $7 billion in bonds for Amtrak high-speed rail projects plus an additional $2 billion for a new rail tunnel under New York's Hudson River. The committee voted 11-10 along party lines for a $66.4 billion Democratic bill that is vastly different from a Republican measure which calls for tax relief instead.

BOMBARDIER SUES AMTRAK - November 8, 2001. Bombardier Corporation filed suit against Amtrak today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia claiming that Amtrak disrupted its ability to produce and deliver the high-speed trainsets and locomotives for the Northeast Corridor (Acela Express) in a timely and efficient manner.

The Corporation seeks to recover at least US$200 million in damages, which include additional and unwarranted costs incurred during the execution of the Acela Express project. These costs have already been accounted for by the Corporation, as part of the total project costs.

Amtrak quickly took issue with the lawsuit calling it a "stunning demonstration of irony." Amtrak cited its right to assert claims against the company on the following grounds:

Bombardier will continue to supply the five remaining Acela Express trainsets in the 20 set order.

INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE TELLS CONGRESS - ABANDON SELF SUFFICIENCY DEADLINE - November 2, 2001. Congress should abandon next year's deadline for Amtrak to become self-sufficient says the US Transportation Department's deputy assistant inspector general Mark R. Dayton. Eliminating the deadline would allow Amtrak to keep its focus on improvement rather than dissolution," Dayton said. For instance, Amtrak should take the lead on improving the ventilation and evacuation systems in six aging underwater tunnels to New York's Penn Station, Dayton said. Other lines use the tunnels, but developing a cost-sharing plan would result in dangerous delays, he said.

Meanwhile Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings (D-SC) noted that "There is no truly national passenger train service in the world that makes a profit." And George D. Warrington, Amtrak's president, said it has become even more difficult, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, for the railroad to make money while fulfilling a mandate to provide passenger service throughout the country. "With the economy contracting and public expectations about security and safety rising, the self-sufficiency deadline will force us to choose very soon between two evils," he said. Those are: cutting back on service to save money, or keeping service with better security, only to lose more money and risk liquidation.

DURBIN TELLS SENATE COLLEAGUES TO BACK AMTRAK -- November 2, 2001. As Amtrak came to the rescue of the nation's transportation needs in the wake of Sept. 11, the nation now must not overlook the safety needs of the passenger rail service as all eyes turn again to aviation, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) "We have put a lot of attention, as we should, on aviation safety," Durbin said during a press conference with Amtrak officials at Chicago's Union Station. "But we also want to focus on other areas of vulnerability. We have an obligation as a nation to increase security at Amtrak."

CHILDREN'S VIDEO TO FEATURE ACELA EXPRESS -- November 2, 2001. Amtrak and Trainfans, Inc. have announced an agreement regarding the production of a children's Video/DVD featuring the nation's first high-speed train, Acela Express. The product features a train journey highlighting the experience of a young boy (Alec) and girl (Kayla) traveling from Boston to Washington, D.C. and includes segments on the construction and maintenance of the new Acela Express train. Also featured are segments of the children enjoying various tourist attractions of cities on the trip including Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The product is scheduled for release December 1, 2001-- in time for the holiday season-- and will be carried by most major book and video retailers.

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP HOLDS STRONG -- November 2, 2001. Six weeks after terror attacks forced a shutdown of air travel, Amtrak's nationwide ridership remains stronger than usual, although the average number of daily passengers each day has declined from the highs reached soon after the attacks, that according to the Associated Press. October ridership was expected to come in at 1.9 million nationwide, or about 3 percent higher than a year ago, Amtrak said. Ridership has remained strongest in the Northeast Corridor with Amtrak's Acela Express becoming increasingly popular.

$1.77 BILLION AMTRAK PROPOSAL GOES TO SENATE FLOOR - October 18, 2001. The Senate Commerce Committee voted unanimously to send a $1.77 Billion security proposal for Amtrak to the full senate for a vote. The committee agreed to send the proposal forward without amendments, although it can be amended when it reaches the floor for a vote. Nearly $1 billion would address safety concerns in six aging underwater tunnels owned by Amtrak that carry rail passengers to New York's Penn Station. $515 million more would go toward security upgrades throughout the Amtrak system - increasing its 325-person police force, tripling the number of bomb-sniffing dogs, and adding surveillance equipment. $254 million would go to improve emergency exits at Penn Station; replace two aging rail bridges in Connecticut, over the Thames and Niantic Rivers, that are considered susceptible to sabotage; and implement a sophisticated speed-control system in the Northeast Corridor, where Amtrak's high-speed Acela Express operates.

Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings (D-SC) said he intended to hold a hearing as early as next week on more wide-ranging issues facing Amtrak, including his proposal to drop the federal requirement that Amtrak wean itself from government operating subsidies by 2003. And Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R- TX) reiterated her determination to distribute funding throughout the national system.

SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE APPROVES $1.8 BILLION FOR AMTRAK - October 17, 2001. Today the Senate Commerce Committee approved a compromise measure that appropriates close to $1.8 billion for Amtrak. A key provision of the legislation would provide $515 million for Amtrak to boost security systemwide. Another $998 million would go for tunnel safety projects in New York, Baltimore, and Washington. An additional $254 million would pay for safety and security improvement projects, including accessibility of New York's Penn Station and two bridges in Connecticut. Committee Chairman Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) said he intends to hold a hearing as early as next week on more wide-ranging issues facing Amtrak, including his proposal to drop the current federal requirement that Amtrak wean itself from government operating subsidies by 2003. The bill falls far short of the $3.2 billion Amtrak requested and contains no provisions for airport security like measures. Senator John Breaux (D-LA) said that is a problem.

NARP MESSAGE - October 17, 2001. To NARP Members--October 17, 2001: This morning the Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill with $1.8 billion for Amtrak, consistent with the Biden/McCain agreement announced on the senate floor October 11.

Chairman Hollings(D-SC) and ranking member McCain(R-AZ) resisted several amendments, some of which are likely to be offered on the floor. Sen. Hutchison(R-TX) clearly was angry that the package did not do more for points outside the Northeast Corridor. She got into a heated exchange with McCain about this. Below is a suggested message for your senators and representatives(use your own words where possible) See the NARP website <> for ways to contact your legislators. Telephone, fax, or regular mail is better than e-mail.

--Ross B. Capon, NARP Executive Director



Capacity enhancement--including new equipment, not just repairing damaged cars--must be part of any response to September 11 and the continuing increased demand for train service. The $1.8 billion package approved on October 17 by the Senate Commerce Committee mostly does NEC tunnel safety work and nationwide security improvements. This is good but not enough.

We still need the High Speed Rail Investment Act this year, to make the federal government a serious partner with states seeking to improve designated corridors. This should be part of any "stimulus" package. The need for this legislation was obvious to many even before September 11.

Thank you for your continuing efforts for bringing genuine balance to our nations transportation system, which will help strengthen that system and our economy in general.


BIDEN / McCAIN AGREE ON AMTRAK PROPOSAL -- October 12, 2001.. NARP is reporting tonight that Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and John McCain (R-AZ) "have agreed on a deal that gives Amtrak $1.8 billion of the $3.2 billion package Amtrak developed in response to the 16 senators' request. See the latest NARP hotline for more details.

SENATE APPROVES AIRLINE SECURITY BILL / NOTHING FOR AMTRAK -- October 12, 2001. The U.S. Senate has passed an airline security bill but would not approve an amendment to include security funding for Amtrak. Meanwhile Amtrak's Acela Express has seen a 35% boost in ridership according to a report out today in the Wall Street Journal. The paper also noted that Amtrak's systemwide passenger levels are up 15 percent to 17 percent from year-earlier levels

HOLLINGS PROPOSES MORE AMTRAK FUNDING! -- October 10, 2001. In a major step forward, U.S. Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) said today that he will introduce a bill that would abandon the law that threatens the future of Amtrak and grant its request for $3.2 billion in emergency financing and authorize $35 billion in loans and loan guarantees for freight and passenger rail development. "Since Sept. 11, we have a radically changed environment,'' Andy Davis, a spokesman for Hollings, said Wednesday. "There are new demands placed on Amtrak, both in terms of short-term security and long-term capacity and stability of rail.''

AMTRAK SECURITY FUNDING COMPROMISE POSSIBLE - October 10, 2001. The latest word out of the nation's capital is that a compromise agreement is being worked out that would provide $1 billion for Amtrak security to be used to upgrade the aging tunnels in New York, Washington and Baltimore. Amtrak would be given the funds to address long standing safety hazards that exist in these tunnels. 350,000 people a day pass through the tunnels in Manhattan alone. Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC), one of the two sponsors of the airport security bill which would include the Amtrak amendment, has reportedly indicated his approval of the compromise agreement. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), a key GOP supporter said that she would also sign onto the agreement and would be in favor of an additional $500,000 for Amtrak improvements nationwide. However, it is still not clear if the amendment will have the backing of a number of northeastern Senators who want Amtrak to receive the full $3.1 billion it requested to get the job done. And Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), said, "I don't know that there is any assurance at this point" that Amtrak will get money for security."

According to a report by New York Newsday, "If Amtrak receives $1 billion for tunnel repairs, it would take two to four years to alleviate a condition that has been lambasted by the Department of Transportation inspector general and New York City Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen. Both said the four railroad tunnels under the East River and two under the Hudson River have inadequate water supplies to douse a fire. Evacuation routes are constricted by narrow, spiral stairways and crumbling walkways that permit passage of one person at a time, investigations found."

NATIONAL GUARD TO PATROL PENN STATION - October 9, 2001. New York Governor George Pataki has called out the National Guard to patrol Amtrak's Pennsylvania Station as well as Grand Central Terminal and a number of bridges and tunnels in New York City.

STILL NO HELP FOR AMTRAK - October 4, 2001. As the Senate attempts to deliver even more money for the struggling airlines in the wake of the September 11 attacks, there is still no help in sight for Amtrak. Senate leaders have been trying to work out a plan to provide for more airline security but attempts to do the same for Amtrak have thus far been frustrated. Said Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), who commutes to work each day aboard Amtrak, "My frustration here is that my colleagues in the United States Congress leap immediately to try to do something for the airlines but every time you mention Amtrak (rail service), it's like a bad word...All I am asking is that we treat the transportation system and those places that are most vulnerable,"Biden said.

Meanwhile, according to a Reuters News Service report, a United Passenger Rail Alliance (UPRA) spokesman said, and this is incredible folks, "There's no more threat to rail tunnels in New York or anywhere else now than on Sept. 10. We have to look at safety issues but it's not a national emergency." Hello!

NARP MESSAGE OF OCTOBER 4, 2001 - To NARP Members--October 4, 2001:

As often happens on Capitol Hill, movement is slower than anticipated. The Senate did not get to the airline security bill yesterday, but expects to do so today. (The Senate Democratic and Republican cloakrooms have taped messages about floor actions, updated during the day.

Democratic: 202/224-8541; Republican: 202/224-8601)

So efforts are still timely to reach senators about the Biden/Durbin etc. $3 billion Amtrak amendment to the airline security bill.

Of special interest to NARP members, the Amtrak package--based on their latest demand projections--now includes acquisition of new sleeping cars (both double-deck Superliners and single-level Viewliners) and some new single-level dining cars. This is Amtrak's first specific pitch for new long-distance equipment in recent years.

Broaden your message to something like the following (and send to your U.S. representative also):

"I view Amtrak's safety/security/capacity package AND the High Speed Rail Investment Act as 'must-pass' items. My top concern is that Congress pass these before adjourning. The exact piece of legislation is less important--airline security bill, stimulus package, or something else. But please do not again tell us to 'wait until next year.' After the public has flocked to the trains, and after countless editorials have endorsed the importance of our national rail passenger network, the 'wait-until-next-year' message simply is unacceptable."

As always, we are interested in feedback you care to pass on from any offices with which you talk. Again, all members can be reached through the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202/224-3121. If you are uncomfortable talking with a staff person, just request the FAX number and send a written message. And, even at this late hour, regular letters are still much better than nothing: The Honorable ______, U.S. Senate, Washginton, DC 20510; The Honorable _______, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515.


AVIATION SECURITY BILL WITH AMTRAK AMENDMENT BLOCKED -- October 3, 2001. Reuters News Service reported today that Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) has blocked unanimous consent to bring the airport security bill to the floor for a quick vote. Reuters hinted at partisan rumblings over amendments to the bill including one that would provide over $3 billion in safety-related repairs and additional train cars for Amtrak. According to Reuters, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) "rose in the chamber to roar his indignation that the rail money was considered a side issue. Biden said that 350,000 people a day go through rail tunnels in the New York area, tunnels that were built decades ago without proper ventilation, signaling or safety."

"And you're telling me you're not going to give me the equivalent of an air marshal to guard a tunnel that has 350,000 people a day? Where is your shame?" Biden thundered.

According to NARP, "Senators Biden (D-DE), Durbin (D-IL) and others were planning to offer a modified version of Amtrak's $3.15 billion emergency funding request as an amendment to the airline security bill this afternoon.

"Modified version" means a greater proportion of resources will go outside the Northeast Corridor (compared with the package Amtrak initially proposed). This is partly in response to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's (R-TX) statement yesterday in the Senate Commerce Committee that she cannot continue to support Amtrak as a "nearly-all-Northeast-Corridor" operation, and partly in response to recently-announced air service cutbacks.

Please call your senators and urge them to vote for the Biden/Amtrak amendment to the airline security bill. All members can be reached through the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202-224-3121.

MINETA: SECURITY CHECKS UNNECESSARY ON AMTRAK TRAINS - October 1, 2001. U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said today that the threat of an attack against Amtrak passenger trains may not be great enough to warrant subjecting rail travelers to airport-style security checks. Mineta questioned part of the Amtrak proposal that would require rail customers to pass through metal detectors before boarding Amtrak trains. "We find that, I think, train stations have much more vulnerability than they do on board the train," Mineta said after arriving in Philadelphia aboard an Amtrak Acela express train for a speech to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). "We don't think of that as being as great a threat as are tunnels, bridges, central train control systems, the whole information technology. Those are greater problems than whether or not we should put metal detectors at the train stations prior to passengers boarding trains."

NBC'S TODAY SHOW FEATURES AMTRAK'S NEC - September 26, 2001. NBC Today Show featured a segment on Amtrak as the mode of choice in the Northeast Corridor.  Ridership is up to more than 47,000 passenger/trips per day.  An NBC reporter boarded yesterday's 7:00 a.m. Acela EXPRESS departure out of Washington.  The reporter noted that every seat was sold.  Several passengers were interviewed resulting in a number of very positive comments regarding train service.  Increased security was also discussed.  Today Show host, Katey Couric mentioned that she had ridden Amtrak between DC and New York since the terriorist attack and was very pleased with the service and the feeling of safety.

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BACKS AMTRAK FUNDING - September 25, 2001. The New York Times, in today's editorial, has called upon Congress to provide Amtrak with "an immediate infusion of cash" for security and capital improvements as well as a "more sensible long term strategy" to upgrade the passenger rail system. Noting that Amtrak provided a needed service to stranded travelers when the airlines were shut down, the newspaper invoked Congress "to now focus on investing in economically viable high- speed service in heavily traveled markets, and create a dedicated rail trust fund for Amtrak like the funds that pay for highway and aviation infrastructure projects."

NARP PRESS RELEASE - September 25, 2001. In the wake of the terrible tragedy of September 11, it is important--in the words of Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta--that "we do not allow the enemy to win this war by restricting our freedom of mobility." The U.S. desperately needs a more balanced transportation system in which rail plays a much bigger role.

Amtrak took on unusual importance right after the tragedy. During September 12-18, ridership was up nationwide and the increase on the long-distance trains was 35%. However, we believe that intercity rail must play a bigger role over the long term -- particularly for discretionary trips of any length, and for shorter-length business trips. [The Washington Post September 24 editorial, "Keep the Trains Running," including an endorsement of the long-distance trains, is at


Today's New York Times editorial, "Trains Need Help, Too" is at


It has become more apparent than ever that our transportation system and economy would be far stronger and more resilient if we had a world class passenger rail system.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorialized September 21, "The horrible events of September 11 should make clear to everyone, especially members of Congress, that the solution to national transportation problems isn't simply safer planes, but better trains."

It is critical that the High Speed Rail Investment Act (S.250, H.R.2329) be enacted this year. Enactment would let states begin to invest in corridors DOT already has identified.

Finally, we support Amtrak's $3 billion short-term request to meet safety, security and capacity needs, like repairing out-of-service equipment so nationwide capacity can be enhanced quickly, and speeding up the much-criticized timetable for completing fire and life safety work on the New York tunnels.

NARP Executive Director Ross B. Capon observed, "This important emergency package is no substitute for a long term commitment to a nationwide system. We note that Amtrak has clarified that--just as most of the repaired existing cars will run outside the Northeast--the ten new train sets in this package may also serve markets outside the Northeast."

People want and need meaningful travel choices - including modern train service. On the last day Congress was in session in 2000, Senators Lott and Daschle promised action this year on the High Speed Rail Investment Act. To this end, NARP strongly urges the Congress and President Bush to act now. The issue has become too important to become the subject of another call to "wait until next year."

NARP MESSAGE - September 24, 2001. To NARP Members:

(1) The Washington Post editorially endorsed intercity passenger rail today, and specifically endorsed long-distance trains. Headlined "Keep the Trains Running," the editorial included this: "The lasting consequences of Sept. 11 include a need to maintain train service on longer, typically unprofitable routes. Such service may begin to attract more passengers and revenue...A national rail system should not be limited to profitable routes; public service still must be part of the Amtrak mandate...During the lifetime of Amtrak, the government has put nearly 70 times more money into highways and aviation than into the train system. If Congress is serious about maintaining or increasing railroad travel, lip service about the virtues of riding the rails won't do; more capital must be committed."

Full text is at: <>.

(2) The Philadelphia Inquirer also published a pro-Amtrak editorial today, "Back on track--Attacks make it clear Amtrak has a role." The editorial named corridor development possibilities around the nation and ended this way: "As they work with the airline industry to repair the damage from last week's calamity, President Bush and Congress need to find the time, the will and the money to enable Amtrak to play its proper role in the nation's transportation network."


Yesterday, The Inquirer's travel section carried a story by Tom Belden, "Deadly hijackings may turn more attention to the rails; Amtrak ridership is up out West, following Europe's lead." <>

[The Inquirer travel section also carried an Associated Press story on tourist trains, "The routes vary in length; Many trains make stops so that passengers can disembark and explore; Taking to the railroad tracks for a scenic view of W. Va.," by Jennifer Bundy <>]

(3) Pro-Amtrak news and editorial coverage has been extensive. Here are a few other examples:

* Today's Denver Post carries an op ed column--"Time to reconsider high-speed rail"--by Joseph Szyliowicz (professor of international studies and founder of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver) and Anthony Perl, "an associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary [who] writes frequently on transportation topics." (Perl is a former NARP board member.)


* Spokane Spokesman-Review, Sept. 21, "Nation needs Amtrak, by Steve Becker - For the editorial board"

* Indianapolis Star, Sept. 22, "Attacks raise interest in high-speed rail; Public's concern about air travel could prompt Congress to pump billions into new train system." by Dan McFeely

(4) Amtrak's web site now carries this "Important Information About Amtrak Guest Security: Effective immediately, Amtrak is implementing several new security measures for the benefit of our guests. Consequently, guests may be required to produce valid photo identification when purchasing tickets or checking baggage. All guests, 18 years or older, should be sure to carry a driver's license, passport or other photo identification when making a purchase. Valid ("in-force" or ""current") photo identification includes the following:

--State-issued photo driver's license
--State-issued photo ID for non-drivers, or if ID does not carry a photo, it must identify the presenter by physical characteristics
--Federal, state or county issued employee photo ID
--University, college or high school photo ID."


--Ross B. Capon

NARP Executive Director

CONGRESSMAN CALLS FOR REPEAL OF AMTRAK REFORM ACT - September 22, 2001. Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) says that Congress should repeal the law that requires Amtrak to become profitable by 2003 or face dissolution. "I would suggest strongly that investment in Amtrak and high-speed rail makes more sense now than before this horrible tragedy...It was never a good idea, and in a time of crisis like this, it's a stupid idea,'' he said. According to a report by the Associated Press, "Even some critics of Amtrak say the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks highlighted the need to develop high-speed train service." Paul Dempsey, director of the National Center for Intermodal Transportation at the University of Denver, noted "The events of September 11 show us that we cannot rely solely upon one mode of transportation." According to the AP report, Dempsey predicted that Amtrak will see "significant, long-term improvement in ridership.'' But Congressman John Mica (R-FL), a member of the Transportation Committee, said he still favors dissolving Amtrak and turning passenger rail over to private companies.

Regarding Amtrak's request for $3 billion for security and improvements, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) said he believes Congress will address the request in the next two weeks. The AP quotes Durbin saying,"`I don't think we can dismiss any threat when it comes to terrorism...We understand the focus on transportation and areas where crowds gather, so it's an important issue we should move on quickly.''

Amtrak proposes to spend half of the $3 billion on track modernization and the other half on security upgrades and safety improvements around the older tunnels in the northeast. Amtrak currently has a 325 person security force which is paid for from it's budget.

NARP MESSAGE - September 20, 2001. To: NARP Members

From: Ross B. Capon, NARP Executive Director
Date: September 20, 2001

I. What Amtrak Has Done

The Amtrak ridership figures in my message yesterday -- from published news reports -- were not correct. Amtrak says, during September 12-17:

* Nationwide ridership grew about 17%, not including all the airline tickets Amtrak honored.
* Ridership on long-distance trains grew about 35%.
* Northeast Corridor ridership grew an estimated 9% "despite the near-shutdown of businesses and schools throughout the Northeast and the Jewish holiday."

Amtrak says it added:

* 1,600 daily seats to long-distance trains;
* 300 daily seats to West Coast trains;
* 2,000 daily seats to unreserved Northeast Corridor trains.

Amtrak says that through September 18 it had transported "237 extra carloads of mail" above normal levels. "Amtrak provided transportation to New York City for families and friends of victims, firefighters, police, medical teams, military and other public officials, airline crew members, and even sports teams. In partnership with the American Red Cross, Amtrak transported thousands of emergency relief kits to New York City."

II. What Senators Have Done

Yesterday, 16 senators wrote to Secretary Mineta indicating that they have asked Amtrak "to provide us with a plan to accelerate investments in safety, security, and capacity throughout its passenger rail system. We plan to work with you, and Congressional leaders, to ensure that these emergency funds are approved and provided as expeditiously as possible." The letter praised the Department of Transportation's "swift and confident response" to the tragedy, and noted: "For the past week, Amtrak has proven what we have long believed: that it is an essential component of our national transportation system."

The lead signers were Sens. Hutchison (R-TX) and Commerce Chairman Hollings (D-SC). Both senators from five states signed: Delaware (Biden & Carper), Maryland (Mikulski and Sarbanes), Massachusetts (Kennedy and Kerry), New Jersey (Corzine and Torricelli), New York (Clinton and Schumer). Other signers: Chafee (R-RI), Environment & Public Works Chairman Jeffords (I-VT), Reid (D-NV) and Specter (R-PA). They deserve thanks!

Sen. Kerry was heard on the radio today saying that he would not support any separate bailout for the airlines without including Amtrak. He also talked about need for a balanced transportation system.

If you have not yet contacted your legislators, please emphasize the need for Amtrak action this year, i.e., before Congress adjourns for the holidays -- adjournment could come as early as mid-October. Several bills (read opportunities) are likely, of which the airline bill is just the first. For Congress to tell America two years in a row, "wait until next year," is not acceptable.

III. Possible Message to Legislators (Grab your favorite thoughts or phrases, but use your own words as much as possible)

Dear Senator ____ (or Representative ____):

Since the tragedy of September 11, Amtrak ridership has risen sharply. During September 12-17, Amtrak saw a roughly 17% increase in daily ridership, not including all the airline tickets it honored; 9% in the Northeast Corridor despite school and business shutdowns and the Jewish holiday; 35% on long-distance trains.
The tragedy underlines how much stronger and more resilient the U.S. economy and transportation system would be if we had a world-class passenger rail system to match -- and complement -- our impressive highway and aviation networks.
Before adjourning, Congress MUST provide Amtrak with additional resources to help meet the heightened demands placed on it.
We are glad that 16 senators asked Amtrak to develop a plan to speed up investments in safety, security and capacity. If Amtrak could immediately repair out-of-service equipment, capacity could increase quickly. I also favor buying new equipment for both long- and short-distance services. And there are "life safety" issues such as the New York tunnels which should be addressed more quickly than current funding allows. Please work for enactment of the funds that will let such work go forward.
It also is high time to pass the High Speed Rail Investment Act (S.250, H.R.2329). This would give states the money they need to begin work on projects that will improve service in travel corridors US DOT already has identified as high priority. The present speed limits on most of these lines are a national disgrace. Perhaps the high speed rail bill could be part of the stimulus package now under discussion.
People want and need meaningful travel choices -- including modern train service. Please provide them.

AMTRAK SEEKS FUNDING FOR SECURITY - September 20, 2001. The Associated Press is reporting tonight that "Amtrak is seeking $3 billion for security and service improvements to make rail travel a stronger alternative to the nation's suddenly troubled aviation system." The wire service noted that "of the $3 billion requested by Amtrak, about half would go toward service improvements and half to safety and security upgrades. Much of the money would be used to address long-standing safety concerns in the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, which is Amtrak's busiest. Improvements to six underwater tunnels leading to New York's Penn Station are projected to cost $1 billion."

SENATORS CALL FOR MORE AMTRAK FUNDING - September 20, 2001. As Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta appeared before Congress today to speak to the issue of airline industry concerns for federal subsidies, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) said that any financial package for the airlines should also include money for railroads, which became a popular alternative for travelers following the terrorist attacks.

Kerry and 15 other senators sent a letter to Mineta this week saying they have asked Amtrak, the nation's passenger railroad, to prepare a funding request that would cover additional security, safety and passenger capacity.

The other 15 senators were: Hutchison (R-TX), Hollings (D-SC), Biden (D-DE), Carper (D-DE), Mikulski (D-MD), Sarbanes (D-MD), Kennedy (D-MA), Clinton (D-NY), Schumer (D-NY), Chafee (R-RI), Jeffords (I-VT), Reid (D-NV), Corzine (D-NJ), Torricelli (D-NJ) and Specter (R-PA).

WASHINGTON POST - TRAVELERS SWITCH TO RAIL - September 19, 2001 According to an article in the Washington Post, many travelers destined for New York and Boston but who normally fly out of Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC are buying rail tickets instead. Meanwhile, according to the Post, "Top Bush administration officials have voiced serious reservations about reopening the airport, which is seconds away by jet from the Pentagon, White House, U.S. Capitol and other possible terrorist targets."

But lawmakers in Congress who regularly use the airport instead of rail to shuttle back and forth to their districts are calling upon the FAA to reopen Reagan National. Those mentioned in the Post article include Sen. Hollings (D-SC), Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-VA). But, according to the Post, "that view was not unanimous. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) said last week that security concerns could warrant permanent closure. Rep. John Cooksey (R-La.), a pilot and a member of the House's subcommittee on aviation, agreed.

Meanwhile, Amtrak has added 2,000 seats to its route between Washington and Boston, spokeswoman Karen Dunn said.

"A lot of our trains are being sold out, trains on the Northeast Corridor, as well as trains that travel long distance," Dunn said. Nationwide, ridership is up from 60,000 passengers a day to 80,000. "We don't want to be viewed as opportunists, but we do hope that this week will be an example that Amtrak is a viable form of transportation, whether in the Northeast Corridor or across the country," Dunn said.

AIRLINES SEEK FEDERAL SUBSIDIES - September 19, 2001. According to the Associated Press, Delta Airlines Chairman Leo Mullin, representing the industry at a hearing of the House Transportation Committee, today asked Congress for $17.5 billion to help the industry recover from the aftereffects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mullin also urged passage of legislation to limit the airlines' liability and proposed that Washington should bear much of the cost of enhanced security measures. Meanwhile Amtrak is scrambling to make up train consists with a meager budget and aging equipment in order to meet the demands for transportation nationwide.

NARP CALLS FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION - September 18, 2001. NARP is calling upon rail supporters to quickly ask your representative and senators to push for inclusion of new funding for Amtrak as part of the legislative response to last week's tragedy. Letters are best when written in your own words, but see the bullets below for some possible ideas. Senators can be reached at U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510. [Zip code for House of Representatives is 20515.]

For other ways to reach Congress (and the White House), see our web site at <> and click on "Links". Use fax or telephone if possible; Hill offices generally are overwhelmed by e-mails, which often don't get read. (Getting the fax number usually requires pursuing the link a step further to the legislator's own site; a few members do not publicize their fax.)

NARP MESSAGE - September 18, 2001. To NARP members, September 18, 2001--

(1) Federal Express says it has returned to normal, so Amtrak has reinstated its willingness to send tickets purchased at least four (rather than five) days in advance. The usual $9 service charge still applies.

(2) Effective today, Amtrak no longer routinely honors airline tickets [my messages of September 13 and 14], but has reverted to its on-going policy of honoring those tickets in hardship cases. In other words, if air service is interrupted by weather or labor action, air tickets are honored, but if you just decide you'd rather not fly, and the airline is still flying, Amtrak will not honor them. Your recourse in the latter case is to seek a refund from the airlines who issued the tickets. For now, at least, they generally are being lenient.

(3) Please quickly ask your representative and senators to push for inclusion of new funding for Amtrak as part of the legislative response to last week's tragedy. Letters are best when written in your own words, but see the bullets below for some possible ideas. Senators can be reached at U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510. [Zip code for House of Representatives is 20515.]

For other ways to reach Congress (and the White House), see our web site at <> and click on "Links". Use fax or telephone if possible; Hill offices generally are overwhelmed by e-mails, which often don't get read. (Getting the fax number usually requires pursuing the link a step further to the legislator's own site; a few members do not publicize their fax.)

* Amtrak yesterday said nationwide ridership is up from 60,000 a day to 80,000.

* Giving Americans more travel choices will reduce both the vulnerability of our transportation system and of our overall economy to serious interruptions in any one mode. Because Europe and Japan have such well developed intercity rail systems, they would be far less vulnerable to an airline shutdown. By the same token, if our passenger rail network got more investment than it has so far, our vulnerability to an airline shutdown would be reduced.

* The large number of Americans who are afraid to fly doubtless got still larger last week, and this may mean a long term increase in demand for long-distance trains as well as corridor services.

* Amtrak's carrying capacity could be increased relatively quickly by repairing existing out-of-service cars.

* The imposition of time-consuming security measures at airports means that, for shorter trips, many people may switch to rail permanently -- not just in the Northeast (where Washington's Reagan National remains closed), but nationally. Congress will be viewed more favorably if it gets ahead of this demand at last by acting on the High Speed Rail Investment Act, S.250 and H.R.2329, or some other meaningful way to provide federal funding in support of state intercity passenger rail investments. This should be part of the stimulus package now being developed.

* The importance of Amtrak's New York City tunnels, and their proximity to part of last week's tragedy, plus DOT Inspector General Kenneth Mead's comments about the need for "life safety investments" there make that another obvious area to address. (More background in today's Washington Post: article, "Travelers Switch to Rail as National Stays Closed", <> and editorial, "The Airline Bailout" <>.)

(4) We are not alone. The Consumers Union has just written to Capitol Hill cautioning that the airline bailout bill "should not be a blank check" and noting, "as it considers a bail out package, Congress should ... consider allocating funding to assist alternative travel industries, such as rail and bus ... Use of alternative transportation, such as rail and bus for shorter trips, will undoubtedly grow in the near future ..."

--Ross B. Capon,

NARP Executive Director

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP CONTINUES TO SOAR - September 7, 2001. Amtrak ridership continues to soar in the wake of the terrorist attack on our nation's capital and New York's twin towers. The railroad is now averaging 80,000 riders a day which is up from an average of 60,000. "Ridership has skyrocketed. We had standing room only on some of our trains last week," said Karina VanVeen, a spokeswoman for Amtrak. Airport delays caused by increased security, the closing of Reagan National airport in Washington, D.C. and lingering concerns about further attacks may well translate into long-term ridership gains for Amtrak, especially in shorter corridor markets where Amtrak is already somewhat competitive with the airlines. Amtrak is also supplying transportation at no charge to firefighters and certified medical personnel. The railroad has, reportedly, also seen a huge increase in US Mail being shipped. Amtrak even provided an entire Mail Car Train from Washington to New York filled with medical supplies that went to aid the victims.

As an aside this human interest vignette underscores the impact that Amtrak has had over the past week. This one comes from our friends on the Texas Eagle:

"When our assistant conductor started taking tickets some of these people who boarded our train.(The Texas Eagle has Superliner coaches) were asking him if they had accidently  gotten into "First Class" seating. His reply was "No you are in coach seating ".  These people were utterly amazed at the room they had at there seat. He also told me later that they were planning to write to Amtrak about the positive experience that these people had."

Andy Rooney made a statement last night, the essence of which said that now was the time to acknowledge that air services had been financially supported too much and trucking had also. He said this action had worked to the detriment of the reliable "steel wheel on steel rail" that this country should now turn to supporting the railroads to better serve our country toward more rail freight and passenger service. This is a paraphrase of the commentary.

Meanwhile, US Airways said it planned to cut service by about 23 percent and lay off about 11,000 employees or about 24 percent of its current workforce of 46,500, joining most major U.S. airlines in trying to staunch deepening losses.

STATEMENT FROM FRIENDS OF AMTRAK - September 17, 2001. The events of September 11th are tragic enough. They also suggest rather persuasively that this country must have a more balanced national transportation system both for our national security and for viable alternatives to our increasing dependency upon air travel.

Throughout the past several months I have attempted to make the case for passenger rail in the context of human life (40,000+ Americans are killed on our highways each year), environmental and energy concerns but the events of the past week now demand that we add national security and defense to that list.

To that end our leaders in Washington must understand that Amtrak and passenger rail service is essential to our national well being. They must fund Amtrak fully, at the very minimum at the levels they promised us when they passed the Amtrak Reform Act just a few short years ago.

In addition we must turn back the clock on our neglect of railroads overall. Since the creation of the interstate highway system, ushered in as part of a national defense strategy that would allow for the expeditious evacuation from our major cities, we have allowed our rail infrastructure to crumble. Many mainlines are now only single tracked with freight and passenger traffic in both directions sharing the same one route. We must rebuild our rail infrastructure.

The airlines are now facing mounting deficits and some observers predict the financial collapse of at least some. They will be asking for federal intervention in the form of subsidies. In addition, there are, I suspect, a great many people who will, for one reason or another, view air travel, and certainly short distance air travel, differently from how they did before the tragic attack on September 11. The demand for rail service, as an alternative form of transportation, will rise.

On September 11, and in the days following, Amtrak and commuter railroads such as Metro North, provided a vital means of evacuation. Amtrak provided a critical link to safety, attempting to meet the immediate demands of a public seeking transportation alternatives. But Amtrak is barely able to sustain itself with the meager funding it receives and the state of its existing equipment. As NARP put it in their recent update, "Amtrak's capacity to absorb the overflow is limited."

When you call or write your representatives in Congress about the crisis our nation is facing please remind them of our transportation needs. As one reader of this list wrote, "Demand from your Congressmen and Senators that the railroads become the first line of defense against further catastrophe."

To reach the Congressional switchboard call 1-202-224-3121.

STATEMENT FROM NARP - September 17, 2001. To the NARP community--September 17, 2001:

The tragic events of last Tuesday September 11th, 2001, are a milestone in our nation's history. We share the grief and sorrow of all of the victims of this tragedy and assert our patriotic support for the physical and spiritual rebuilding of our great nation.

NARP is keenly aware that these events have raised much attention about the role of passenger rail in America's future transportation plan. Our steadfast belief in the significant part that the rail mode can and should play in meeting the mobility needs of our society has been given further credibility in light of the recent events. We believe that passenger rail must get a far more in-depth examination as to what it can provide, given adequate funding and governmental support. The education of our nation's leaders about the value of passenger rail now is more important than ever.

As you may know from the media (or from riding the rails in the past week), the traveling public is helping to provide that education by turning in large numbers to Amtrak. This "marketplace effect" should strengthen--but it will by no means replace the need for--our redoubled efforts to make our case to our policy makers.

I have no illusions that our task even now will easy, but I do think the crowds Amtrak is carrying now will help some previously unreachable officials to understand the case for rail.

If we are successful in persuading the federal government to commit meaningful funds to intercity passenger rail, I expect that NARP will share a place at the table for the planning and development of the overall multimodal transportation schema for the U.S.

Thank you for your commitment and support of our cause. We are and have been working to make for an improved and stronger America. The officers and staff of the National Association of Railroad Passengers send sincere and deep-felt prayers for the healing of our nation and of the world.

Blessings to you, one and all.

Alan Yorker, President, NARP

CHICAGO - ST. LOUIS CORRDIOR NEWS - September 17, 2001. I have word from a reliable source that by the end of the September the tie work that is being done on the Union Pacific line as part of the Chicago-St. Louis high speed rail corridor will finish up and the re-routing of The Texas Eagle north bound (train 22) on the CNIC between Springfield and Chicago will end. New ties were installed between Mazonia (MP 62.6) and Ridgley North (MP 180) this past summer. Work still continues on replacing road crossings and turnouts which is less disruptive.


No one has escaped the sorrow and grief of the past week. Like all Americans, the Amtrak family of employees is enormously saddened by the horror of the tragedies in New York City and Washington, DC. But, also like all Americans, we are ready to help.

Every day, Amtrak travels through the heart of our great nation &endash; from our largest cities to our smallest towns. With the continued disruption of the nation's aviation system, we have been a critical link throughout the whole country. In response, we have added cars and trains in the Northeast, on the West Coast and on long distance trains so that people can get to their destinations in the days ahead.

We have reached out to the airlines to assist family and friends, and of course, are accepting all airline tickets. We are proudly assisting the American Red Cross by transporting emergency medical supplies to aid the victims in New York City. In short, all of us at Amtrak are resolved to do whatever we can to help heal the nation.

To the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this horrible tragedy, we send our prayers and deepest sympathies. To the rest of the nation, we send our efforts of assistance as symbols of strength, hope and solidarity.


George D. Warrington

VICTIM'S FAMILIES, RESCUERS RIDE FREE - September 14, 2001. Firefighters and other emergency workers traveling in the Northeast to help in the recovery effort are being allowed to ride free on Amtrak, without tickets, if they show their badge to train personnel. Amtrak also is providing free transportation for families of victims. Meanwhile, Amtrak trains or sold out or close to that throughout the United States.

FBI QUESTIONING TWO MEN PULLED OFF AMTRAK TRAIN - September 14, 2001. The FBI is still questioning two men who were detained in Texas while traveling on an Amtrak train seeking to find out if they have any connection to this week's East Coast hijack plane attacks.

The two men were traveling without legal identification, $5,000 in cash and box cutters, police said.

The men, aged 47 and 51, were detained late on Wednesday when Amtrak called police and put the men off the train in Fort Worth, Texas, after they got into some kind of fight while traveling from St Louis, Missouri, to San Antonio, Texas.

AMTRAK RIDERSHIP SURGES - September 14, 2001. The latest information suggests that Amtrak ridership has surged 60 percent following the attacks and the shutdown in U.S. aviation. Some think the uptick in intercity train travel could last for years. This ripple effect should suggest to our leaders that a more balanced transportation system is in our national interest. Amtrak reported taking in $1 million in walk-up business on Tuesday alone at New York's Pennsylvania Station, or double its daily walk-up business, a spokesman said.

MESSAGE FROM NARP - September 13, 2001. This message, copied below in part, was received from the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) tonight at 6:32 pm EDT.


If you need to travel, it may be helpful to learn (or be reminded) that Amtrak has a standard policy of honoring airline tickets between the same or similar city-pairs Amtrak serves. "Similar" generally means a city in the same metro area as the city named on the airline ticket. The honoring of airline tickets is subject to space availability on trains, and limited to the value of the airline ticket (or ticketless travel receipt).

[However, Amtrak does NOT honor Southwest Airlines tickets. Southwest Airlines does not belong to the Airline Reporting Corporation which handles inter-company reimbursements.]

If the Amtrak fare is lower, and you want to recover the difference, it may be simpler to buy the Amtrak ticket outright and have the airline fully refund its own ticket. However, you can exchange the airline ticket (or ticketless travel receipt) for an Amtrak ticket, and then get a partial refund from the airline by showing the airline receipts from both tickets (so the airline sees what you paid to Amtrak).

If the Amtrak fare is higher than the value shown on the airline ticket, the passenger must pay Amtrak the difference.

Be forewarned that Amtrak trains are more full than usual, and both Amtrak's telephone information and website are slower than usual. (See next item.)


The tragedy and its aftermath raise the possibility that more Americans will see the need for more modern passenger trains. We will be pointing this out. One by-product of the tragedy was a call to NARP from the president of US-Citizens Aviation Watch, an organization developing "a plan of action to protect people from aviation industry abuses...The plan is aimed at protecting the public from adverse environmental impacts that aviation and airport activities have on public health, air/water/ground/noise pollution and property issues affecting everyone on our planet." Much detailed information on this is available at their website <>. Their members are all organizations, and include several municipalities as well as the Baylor University School of Aviation Sciences and a number of grass-roots civic groups.


Amtrak Expands Service as Air System Disruptions Continue - September 13, 2001. As the disruption to the nation's aviation system enters its third day, Amtrak is continuing to operate its regular weekday schedule throughout the country and is adding capacity to handle the growing volume of passengers.

Amtrak also announced it is partnering with the American Red Cross to deliver emergency relief supplies to New York City. Amtrak is donating the use of a train to be dubbed the "Clara Barton Express," which departed Washington's Union Station at 11:00 a.m. today and was scheduled to arrive at New York's Penn Station at approximately 1:30 p.m. The train is carrying supplies including Red Cross comfort and cleanup kits, dust masks and beverages. American Red Cross President and CEO Dr. Bernadine Healy is among those traveling to New York on this train.

Meanwhile, while the air service disruption continues, Amtrak will add more than 200 seats on virtually every unreserved train operating between Washington, New York and Boston, increasing this capacity by nearly 30 percent. One additional roundtrip was added today between Boston and New York, departing Boston at 11:12 a.m. and arriving New York at 2:40 p.m. This train is scheduled to depart from New York at 4:00 p.m. and arrive back in Boston at 7:37 p.m.

Additional capacity is also being added to Amtrak services on the West Coast and on long distance trains serving other parts of the country. The company has also reached out to the airlines to assist family and friends of victims of the terrorist attacks.

Amtrak trains are seeing significant increases in ridership throughout the national system serving 45 states and over 500 communities. On Wednesday, almost all of Amtrak's long-distance trains were sold out. The railroad will continue to adjust capacity as needed.

CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR ACCIDENT IN UTAH - September 13, 2001. Amtrak's westbound California Zephyr collided with a Union Pacific freight train in a remote part of Utah early this morning. According to the Associated Press, "Officials at the scene said it appeared the collision occurred as the eastbound Union Pacific freight train was pulling onto a siding to let the Amtrak train pass." There were no serious injuries reported among the 263 passengers and 14 crew members.

AMTRAK'S PENN STATION EVACUATED - September 12, 2001. According to CNN, Amtrak's Pennsylvania Station, in the heart of New York City, was evacuated tonight after an apparent bomb threat was received. Also evacuated was the Empire State Building. A clean sweep of both facilities was conducted and the station was reopened.

SUSPECTS TAKEN FROM AMTRAK TRAIN -- September 12, 2001. Amtrak train 173 from Boston to Washington, D.C. was stopped by authorities in Providence, RI today around 2 pm as police went on board and passengers were ordered off and the station evacuated.

WJAR-TV said three people were taken off the train and were being questioned by law enforcement authorities who reportedly have declined comment.

Providence Mayor Vincent Cianci Jr. said police told him they were looking for as many as four suspects who eluded authorities in Boston. Cianci could not confirm whether the search was connected to Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Two of the hijacked planes that crashed Tuesday took off from Boston.

Cecelia Cummings, a spokeswoman for Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, confirmed that Amtrak was told to stop the train in Providence but would not say why.

Sources ultimately said that this incident was not related to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

AMTRAK TRAVEL SWELLS AS AIRPORTS REMAIN CLOSED - September 12, 2001. Amtrak travel between New York and Washington and other regions of the country continues to mount today as disruptions to airports nationwide remain in effect. Responding to the needs of travelers from coast-to-coast, Amtrak is operating regular weekday service to locations throughout the country.

In the wake of yesterday's suspected terrorists attacks and the ongoing disruption of airline service, passengers wishing to travel on Amtrak should call 1-800-USA-RAIL to make a reservation. In addition, reservations may also be made online at Additionally, guests may also book travel along the Northeast Corridor at many Amtrak stations using Quik Trak machines. Amtrak is honoring airline tickets for travel to the cities it serves during the disruption.

"Amtrak ridership to New York City and Washington D.C. has been building throughout the day," said Stan Bagley, Amtrak's Vice President of Operations. "In addition to Amtrak's regular weekday service, the railroad is prepared to add capacity to trains to meet the needs of guests as may be necessary."

Two additional trains, one northbound and one southbound, will be operating out of New York this afternoon at times to be determined shortly. The number of guests departing Washington D.C. to New York at mid-day today was more than twice that of an average weekday. A train traveling between Richmond, Va., and Boston earlier today ran with 200 more passengers than normal for weekday service. A mid-day Boston to Washington train was sold out, which is unusual for mid-day.

Other trains across the country are experiencing significant increases in ridership as well. The rail service is responding to increased demand by displaced airline passengers for long-distance trains to cities across the nation as some intercity trains are reaching capacity.

Precautions are being taken to maintain the country's rail passenger system as a safe and secure mode of public transportation.


TEXAS EAGLE COLLIDES WITH FREIGHT TRAIN -- September 12, 2001. Amtrak's eastbound Texas Eagle, Train 22, collided with a Union Pacific Freight train just outside of Hallsville, TX yesterday around 9:55 a.m. The Eagle had been diverted over to a siding to allow the UP freight to pass but it didn't stop when it came to the end of the siding. The collision derailed 17 cars: two locomotives, a baggage car and four passenger cars from the Amtrak train and 12 empty freight cars from the Union Pacific train, officials said. No one knows why the Amtrak train didn't stop. The accident is under investigation.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 - RAIL EVACUATES IN NATIONAL ATTACK -- While commercial airliners became lethal bombs and all air travel in the US was shut down, as bridges into and out of New York City were in a lock down, rail transport became a vital lifeline for the living as survivors of the attack and those trapped in urban centers considered targets, were evacuated from New York City, Washington, D.C. and even Chicago. An official at Amtrak said it was running a full schedule on its Northeast Corridor service tonight between Boston and Washington. Amtrak was shut down on the NEC earlier in the day. New York City's two main rail stations -- Grand Central and Penn Station -- re-opened in the afternoon, and most subway service in New York's five boroughs also resumed. Trains were reported to be in Standing Room Only status. The importance of rail as a vital link in our system of national transportation and national defense should be clear to all by now. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of those caught in the attack on America today by unknown terrorists.


WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 -- The following statement was issued today by U.S. Department of Transportation:

One of the most cherished of American freedoms is the freedom of movement, the ability to move freely and safely. Today that freedom has been attacked. We will restore that freedom throughout the national transportation system as soon as possible. And we will restore, the highest possible degree of safety.

These terrorist acts are designed to steal the confidence of Americans. We will restore that confidence. We have already taken some first steps. As a precaution, I have ordered the FAA to ground all commercial air traffic until at least tomorrow afternoon.

After the attacks, some of our aircraft were diverted to Canada. We owe our Canadian neighbors a debt of gratitude for helping us redirect over 120 flights and their passengers to airports in Canada.

As of 6:00 p.m., AMTRAK resumed its passenger rail service. Major railroads have taken steps to protect their assets, as well.

The United States Coast Guard is taking all necessary actions to control the movement of any vessel in any navigable water in the United States. Coast Guard helicopters have been assisting with medical and national security tasks.

We are currently looking at a wide variety of additional security measures to increase traveler security.

Travelers will see increased security measures at our airports, train stations and other key sites. There will be higher levels of surveillance, more stringent searches. Airport curbside luggage check-in will no longer be allowed. There will be more security officers, random identification checks. Travelers may experience some inconveniences. We ask for your patience. But we must do whatever it takes, with safety as our highest priority.

The Department of Transportation is working closely with the White House and appropriate federal agencies to mount a coordinated, nationwide recovery effort.

Each American must know that we will restore our national transportation system to a safe and efficient status as quickly as possible. Our system has been severely burdened by the stress of these horrendous attacks, but we will recover.

In a democracy, there is always a balance between freedom and security. Our transportation systems, reflecting the values of our society, have always operated in an open and accessible manner. And, they will again.

Please be assured that we are activating all of our resources on an emergency basis, and services will be restored as soon as possible.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Transportation

AMTRAK EXPANDS ACELA SERVICE - August 10, 2001. Amtrak has expanded its Acela Express service this week to six roundtrips between New York and Boston and eight roundtrips between New York and Washington. Two more weekday Acela Express trains will be added between Boston and New York and two Metroliners will be replaced with new Acela Express trains between New York and Washington starting August 13.

Amtrak is also continuing its summer special on weekend Acela Express trains, with a "buy one get one free" offer. The companion fare has significantly boosted weekend ridership from 275 guests in June to nearly 3,800 guests the first weekend in August. To take advantage of the buy-one-get-one-free special guests should call 1-877-GO-ACELA and refer to fare code H155. This special offer is not available on-line.

The new Acela Express service from Boston will depart at 9:12 a.m. and will replace the current Metroliner (#115) between New York and Washington.

The new service in New York will depart at 9:00 a.m., arriving in Washington at just before Noon, taking the place of another Metroliner (#107).

Washington Union Station has two new Acela Express departures at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., replacing the existing Metroliners (#120 and #124).

Southbound Weekday Acela Express Schedule




6:12 a
7:12 a


3:12 p
5:12 p
6:42 p


9:12 a


6:47 a
7:47 a


3:47 p
5:47 p
7:17 p


9:47 a
New Haven


8:18 a
9:18 a


5:18 p
7:18 p
8:48 p


11:16 a
New York ar.

New York dp.

7:30 a
9:40 a

10:00 a

10:42 a

11:00 a

3:50 p

7:00 p


9:00 p

10:12 p
9:00 a
12:42 p

1:00 p

7:42 a
10:13 a
11:13 a
4:02 p
7:13 p
9:13 p


9:13 a
1:13 p
8:35 a
11:05 a
12:08 p
4:55 p
8:08 p
10:08 p


10:06 a
2:03 p
8:55 a
11:25 a
12:28 p
5:15 p
8:28 p
10:28 p


10:28 a
2:25 p
9:35 a
12:05 p
1:08 p
6:21 p
9:08 p
11:08 p


11:08 a
3:05 p
10:09 a
12:44 p
1:44 p
6:59 p
9:44 p
11:44 p


11:44 a
3:42 p

Northbound Weekday Acela Express Schedule




5:00 a
7:00 a
7:25 a
2:00 p
3:00 p
4:00 p
6:00 p


5:30 a
7:35 a
7:55 a
2:34 p
3:34 p
4:30 p
6:34 p


6:10 a
8:16 a
8:35 a
3:15 p
4:15 p
5:10 p
7:15 p


6:32 a
8:37 a
8:56 a
3:35 p
4:35 p
5:30 p
7:34 p


7:28 a
9:32 a
9:47 a
4:31 p
5:30 p
6:29 p
8:35 p
New York ar.

New York dp.

7:03 a
7:44 a

8:03 a

9:47 a

10:03 a

10:04 a
4:45 p

5:00 p

5:45 p

6:00 p

6:42 p

7:00 p

8:51 p
New Haven
8:29 a
9:29 a
11:29 a


6:30 p
7:27 p
8:27 p


9:52 a
10:52 a
12:52 p


7:53 p
8:50 p
9:48 p


10:33 a
11:33 a
1:33 p


8:34 p
9:31 p
10:31 p


*New frequencies in bold. See timetable for complete schedule and station stops.



TEXAS EAGLE DERAILS - July 29, 2001. The southbound Texas Eagle derailed today just outside of Sabula, MO, an area hit by localized flash flooding and heavy rains. The locomotive and several passenger cars left the tracks as five persons sustained "minor injuries." Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Van Veen in Washington said the accident may have been caused by a washed-out bridge.

AMTRAK ANNOUNCES NEW WEBSITE - July 29, 2001. Dear Craig, Amtrak is proud to announce the launch of an entirely new website! We created it in response to your feedback and to make online trip planning and ticket purchasing faster and more convenient for you.


Here are some of the new features and exciting changes you will discover:

Don't miss this opportunity to see all the changes our new website offers. Visit <> or <> today. As always, we welcome your feedback. Simply use the Contact Us link located on every page.

Now arriving... Get online, instead of in line.

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS AMTRAK HEARINGS - July 26, 2001. The House Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads held hearings on Amtrak yesterday, and, as one might suspect, there was tension in the air. John L. Mica (R-FL) berated Amtrak for "half-baked" efforts, adding that the railroad was "near death" and that "we should begin restructuring and liquidating now." Nonetheless, most Subcommittee members seemed friendly to Amtrak, with Robert A. Borski (D-PA) comparing Amtrak with the French highspeed TGV train. Said Borski, "It goes fast, it is smooth, they put a lot of money into it, and we just don't."

Amtrak CEO George Warrington insisted that Amtrak was making good progress toward becoming financially self-sufficient, but noted that Congress has not provided the capital funding it promised when it passed the reform act in 1997. He testified that the Congressional mandate to make money while running unprofitable trains at the same time was "irrational, frustrating and wacky."

When a GAO representative testified that Amtrak had only closed the gap between revenues and expenses by just $83 million over the last six years and had another $280 million left to go, Warrington pointed out that Amtrak was obliged to pay out over $200 million a year in retirement benefits to employees of predecessor railroads.

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - #01-10
Contacts: Ross Capon, Scott Leonard 202/408-8362


"Given halfway decent service, people are riding in impressive numbers. With still better service, they will ride in droves." This was the message that Ross B. Capon, Executive Director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, gave today in testimony before the Subcommittee on Railroads of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The hearing, chaired by Jack Quinn (R-NY), was reviewing the status of Amtrak and High Speed Rail.

His written testimony (available at <>) noted substantial ridership growth in California, New York, North Carolina and the Pacific Northwest. He expressed concern about fares that are pricing family and leisure travel off some corridors and strong support for the long-distance train network.

He supported Amtrak President George Warrington's characterization of that network as "skeletal," noting that a number of important routes such as Chicago-Atlanta-Florida do not even exist. Responding to a question, he expressed concern about the impact of the express initiative on schedules and on-time performance and confidence that Lee Sargrad, Amtrak's new President--Mail & Express, will be able to improve the bottom-line for express.

Capon testified on a panel that also included David King of North Carolina DOT, representing States for Passenger Rail. King emphasized the importance of enacting the High Speed Rail Investment Act (HSRIA) soon because "the states are ready to go" in making rail passenger investments when the federal government is ready to partner. Capon urged that the HSRIA not be held hostage to the possibility of major changes in next year's Amtrak reauthorization, noting that if such changes did occur, necessary adjustments in the HSRIA could be made then.

Also on the same panel, Sam A. Williams, president of the Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, testified on behalf of the Southeastern Economic Alliance, which includes 13 cities that support the HSRIA because "business leadership in the Southeast emphatically believes that congestion on our roads and at our airports limits our ability to perform as a cohesive economic region."

Reflecting strong interest in the subject by committee members, the first hour of the hearing was devoted to opening comments by a large number of members. Chairman Quinn and Ranking Member Bob Clement (D-TN) concluded the hearing by noting that it had been one of the most informative they had seen.

JACKSONVILLE TO MIAMI SETBACK - July 19, 2001. "The (Florida) state Department of Transportation has denied a funding request to help launch a coastal Jacksonville-to-Miami Amtrak project, delaying the expected start of the service," according to a story in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"The original target date of fall 2002 is no longer possible after Transportation Secretary Thomas Barry declined earlier this week to fund the request."

Twice-a-day round-trip service is planned between Jacksonville and Miami. Passenger trains haven't run on the state's Atlantic coast since November 1968.

Amtrak spokesman Kevin Johnson noted, "We have to keep making our case and continue to work with the communities to make it happen."

AMTRAK REPORTEDLY ORDERING JOB CUTS/SERVICE REDUCTIONS -- July 17, 2001. According to an article in the Washington Post edition of July 16, Amtrak "has ordered a 15 percent reduction in management ranks and may cut train service and further trim the workforce to meet its congressional deadline for breaking even on operations by December 2002."

The article by Don Phillips suggests that Amtrak may also make 10-15% cuts in union jobs causing a serious restructuring of the system itself. To become operationally self-sufficient Amtrak needs to make up a short fall of $200-350 million. You don't make those kinds of cuts in jobs without a loss in service. The article did not say where those service cutbacks might occur.

Phillips went on to say, "The major reorganization decision, sources said, is to downgrade the operating responsibilities of Amtrak's three strategic business units -- the Northeast Corridor unit in Philadelphia, the Intercity unit in Chicago and the West Coast unit in Oakland, Calif. -- and give operating control to a single chief operating officer in the Washington headquarters. That officer would probably be the current head of the Northeast Corridor unit, Stan Bagley, who has a decades-long career in railroad operations."

AMTRAK'S CEO RESPONDS: Special Employee Advisory &endash; Tuesday, July 17, 2001

A message from George Warrington

"In Friday's Employee Advisory, I wrote a message to employees about the planning going into preparing a budget for the coming fiscal year. I said that our business is based on growth, and I was and continue to be proud of the four straight years of passenger and ticket revenue growth, as well as last year's record of serving 22.5 million guests.

"But I also noted that the slowdown in the service economy is having an adverse impact on all segments of the travel industry &endash; including Amtrak &endash; and despite our successes, we are not meeting the forecasts set before the downturn. That's meant we've had to redouble our efforts to reduce expenses in this fiscal year, and secondly, begin with a lower base when projecting our revenue and expenses for next year's budget.

"I continue to be hopeful about the economy's improvement, but we need to assume that the economy will continue to under-perform. The in-depth review of next year's budget &endash; which actually starts October 1 &endash; is analyzing every part of our business.

"Today, many of you have heard or seen news stories reporting that decisions have been made about management staffing levels for next year, and that other actions are being considered.

"As I said on Friday, many ideas for cost-cutting are being reviewed. Some will be adopted for next year, while others will be held as options or discarded outright. Despite today's news stories, I will tell you that no final decisions have been made at this time about the budget for next year and the actions within that budget. When decisions are made and plans are adopted that affect employees, we will make it known to everyone in this company. I said it on Friday, and will say it again here: I have always put a premium on being candid and straight on these issues.

"As we work through the budget process, your continuing full support and dedication to your work is greatly appreciated by me, and what matters most, to the guests we serve."


Washington -- The National Association of Railroad Passengers issued the following statement today: The General Accounting Office today released a report on S.250, the Senate version of the High Speed Rail Investment Act. (The House version, H.R. 2329, was introduced June 27.) This bill would provide states with a federal match for their intercity passenger rail investments, and requires a state contribution of at least 20%. The absence of a federal match is a major shortcoming in current transportation policy. The bill would let Amtrak sell $12 billion in bonds over 10 years; bondholders would get federal tax credits.

The GAO report, requested by seven long-time Amtrak critics, notes that direct appropriations would be somewhat cheaper than the approach in S.250. The report, however, fails to explain that the bond bill exists because there is no politically feasible alternative. The highway and aviation trust funds have been "firewalled," that is, made unavailable for passenger rail even in situations where passenger rail would help solve congestion highway and aviation congestion problems. Indeed, one reason those problems are so serious is the federal government's failure to develop passenger rail. The firewalls, combined with caps on total transportation spending, mean that the practical choice today is the bond bill or inaction.

The GAO report also reports an Amtrak "preliminary estimate" which "puts the capital costs for fully developed high-speed rail corridors and its Northeast Corridor at between $50 billion to $70 billion over 20 years."

The GAO fails to note two important points: first, virtually every stage of a rail investment program would have benefits even if no further steps were taken-this is not an "all or nothing" deal; second, $60 billion over 20 years sounds like a lot of money but is less than twice what the federal government alone expects to spend on highways this year ($31.4 billion). The single-year federal pricetag for aviation spending -- $12.0 billion -- is also impressive; fully 20% of the suggested 20-year total for passenger rail.

GAO's use of multi-decade spending estimates to make proposed rail amounts seem outrageously impractical should not blind policymakers to the benefits of meaningfully developing our passenger rail system-benefits with regard to quality-of-life, safety, service reliability, the environment, energy efficiency and-in many markets-speed of travel.


* User IDs and passwords are no longer required to make reservations

* Creating a member profile speeds you through the process

* Fewer clicks are required to complete a reservation

* Reservations can be viewed instantly online

* You receive an automatic e-mail confirmation

If you created a reservation using, you won't be able to access it in this new system for security reasons.

40 SUFFER MINOR INJURIES ABOARD SOUTHWEST CHIEF -- July 3, 2001. About 40 people suffered minor injuries on Amtrak's Southwest Chief Monday at the station in Lamy, New Mexico when the train stopped short, jolting passengers, after backing out of the station. Paramedics responded to 40 minor injuries at the scene. At least three people were transported to St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe for their injuries. Amtrak says it is still investigating why the train stopped so suddenly.

MINETA APPOINTED TO AMTRAK BOARD -- July 1, 2001. As expected, President Bush has indicated that he will name his Transportation Secretary, Norman Mineta, to the Amtrak governing board to replace Tommy Thompson who reluctantly resigned in May. As of late Mineta has been critical of Amtrak indicating that the railroad should rid itself of unprofitable routes to become self sufficient.

BOSTON TO PORTLAND, ME. WORK NEARS COMPLETION / STB ORDERS TESTING- July 1, 2001. The Portland Press Herald reports that the work needed to bring the Guilford Transportation Industries trackage up to par is nearly completed. The new rail service, which has presumably passed its last hurdle, is now projected to begin sometime late summer or early fall.

And in a related development, the Surface Transportation Board, an arm of the federal government, has ordered Guilford to allow testing of the rail by Amtrak. The testing will determine a safe speed for passenger rail service.

FRA APPROVES BOSTON TO MAINE AT 79 MPH -- June 22, 2001. The Federal Railroad Administration has once again ruled that the Boston-to-Portland, ME Amtrak service can run safely at speeds of up to 79 mph.

The decision supports the positions of the Maine Transportation Department and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority that the 115-pound rails between Plaistow, N.H., and Portland are safe for speeds higher than the 59 mph advocated by the track's owner, Guilford Transportation. Guilford's petition to the FRA set back Amtrak service on the route to the fall. Service had been slated to begin May 1, 2001.


SHORT ON CASH, AMTRAK SEEKS TO MORTGAGE PENN STATION - June 6, 2001. Facing the most serious cash flow in its thirty year history, Amtrak has asked the federal government for permission to mortgage New York City's Pennsylvania Station to raise money to cover immediate operating costs. See the text below...

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Amtrak President and CEO George D. Warrington, today issued the following statement: 

"I have spoken to Secretary Mineta and he will provide the Department of Transportation's authorization to proceed with Amtrak's proposed transaction regarding Penn Station. Moreover, he has communicated his assurance that the Department will work closely with Amtrak and the Congress on mapping the future for essential rail services."

"As I expressed to the Secretary, I am absolutely confident, and we at Amtrak are fundamentally committed, to reaching operational self-sufficiency by the congressionally mandated deadline in 2003. To that end, Amtrak has dramatically reduced its dependence on federal operating support in each of the last three years - from $318 million in 1998, to $59 million in 2001-and continues on its glidepath to reaching its financial goals. The Secretary and I agree that in order to sustain a financially sound operation over the long-term, we need to resolve the longstanding conflict between Amtrak's mission and its funding."

"As we set forth in our business plan earlier this year, we are dealing with the adverse impact of the manufacturers' delay in delivering Acela high-speed trainsets. The consequence of the delay is that we are making a one-time financial transaction to make up the Acela-related shortfall. This transaction is not unlike steps taken by other private sector companies to secure operating cash."

"The debt that Amtrak has on its balance sheet primarily represents the financing of equipment purchases and is, in large part, defeased debt. For an enterprise of its size, Amtrak's level of debt is modest and, therefore, it is well positioned to absorb additional debt. Our service quality and reliability, particularly in the Northeast, have improved as evidenced by Amtrak's strong ridership and revenue growth."


MINETA ON THE FUTURE OF AMTRAK - June 6, 2001. Commenting on the proposal by Amtrak to raise funds by mortgaging Penn Station, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, has made some curious statements. First, he has flatly contradicted Amtrak officials by stating publicly that Amtrak will not meet its goal to become self-sufficient by 2003. "It's obvious that by 2003 they are not going to be self-sufficient," Mineta said. Secondly, Mineta is hinting at the possibility of changing the service that Amtrak provides, saying that Amtrak should "look at selected routes rather than blanket the country with rail service that is not . . . really viable." Nevertheless spokespersons for Amtrak maintain that Amtrak is still on the road to self-sufficiency and that the current cash crisis is a result of the late delivery of the Acela trainsets which was caused by manufacturing problems.



--A message from George D. Warrington, President and CEO of Amtrak

Today, as some of you may know, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta made a number of critical comments in the media regarding Amtrak's financial condition. I spoke with Secretary Mineta earlier today about his comments, and he has communicated his assurance that the department will work closely with Amtrak and Congress on mapping the future for essential rail services.

Over the past two years, we've all worked very hard to produce record ridership and revenues. We've also done a good job of keeping down the growth in our expenses. Doing this has enabled us to reduce federal operating support from $318 million just two years ago to a projected $59 million this year. Our target is, of course, zero - or full operational self-sufficiency - in 2003.

I told Secretary Mineta that Amtrak is deeply committed to meeting operational self-sufficiency by 2003. My assurances to the Secretary were based not only on our strong accomplishments in recent years, but also on the personal confidence I have in every one of the 25,000 hard-working men and women who are making this progress possible.

Of course, we face a short-term financial challenge resulting from the delay in the manufacturer's delivery of the Acela Express high-speed trainsets, which will cost Amtrak about $300 million over a two-and-a-half year period. To address this problem, Amtrak has proposed borrowing $300 million using a portion of Penn Station as collateral with many safeguards included, effectively spreading the impact of the Acela delay over a longer time period. This loan is comparable to steps taken routinely by private sector companies to secure operating cash and is a better approach than asking Congress for additional operating support. I also want to add that Amtrak's debt load is modest given our size, and that we are well positioned to absorb this additional debt.

I am very pleased that Secretary Mineta gave his assurance today that he supports this financing mechanism and will provide the necessary Department of Transportation authorization to make it possible.

So I am hopeful that we will weather today's criticism without any significant damage. That is due largely to the fact that we have a good story to tell, thanks in great part to your work. And, rest assured that I will continue to press policymakers in Washington to resolve the longstanding question of our mission and financing, issues that lie at the heart of our ability to run a financially sound company over the long term. 

VERMONTER SERVICE SUSPENDED -- June 1, 2001. Due to track defects in the rail owned by the New England Central Railroad, the Vermonter train service will be suspended until sometime next week. This affects trains north of Springfield, MA to St. Albans, VT where buses will be used to route the passengers. Two recent freight derailments on the northern end of the line caused Amtrak to halt the service. Six or seven areas will require rail improvements which are expected to be completed by sometime next week.

McCAIN HEARING POSTPONED -- May 22, 2001. Because of the heavy floor schedule in the Senate the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Amtrak was postponed today. No new date has been set for the hearing. The Senate is not in session next week so the earliest date for such a hearing would not be before the first week of June.

BOSTON TO PORTLAND - DELAYED AGAIN! -- May 17, 2001. According to a story by the Associated Press, the Boston to Portland, ME service has run into yet more delays. The AP quotes Jonathan Carter of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority saying that the trains won't be running for at least several more months. "He said reports that the trains would be on track by June are inaccurate. Carter said tracks are expected to be ready by June, but station platforms still must be built; the system tested; and final agreements reached with Guilford Rail Systems, which owns the track."

IT'S OFFICIAL - THOMPSON WILL RESIGN/MINETA SUPPORTS AMTRAK! -- May 14, 2001. After months of resisting executive pressures to step down, Amtrak Board Chairman Tommy Thompson has finally made it official. He will resign as a member (and Chairman) of the Amtrak board effective May 23rd, which will be his last board meeting. Thompson was appointed to the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services by the President and the law governing Amtrak (Amtrak Reform And Accountability Act of 1997) states that only one member of the Board may be a federal employee. It is customary for the Secretary of Transportation to assume that post.

Meanwhile, Norman Mineta, the new Transportation Secretary, has made it clear that he firmly supports Amtrak despite a less than glowing financial picture. He has noted publicly that some Senators have taken great pride in killing the High Speed Rail Investment Act last year and has called upon Amtrak supporters (THAT'S US, FOLKS) to let Congress know that Amtrak is important. "I know that highways are subsidized. I know rail is going to have to be subsidized. The mental attitude is not a level playing field, and attitudes have to be turned around," he said.

Mineta continued, "For whatever reason, people have been the harshest looking at rail. They don't put rail to the same standards of tests; it's more rigid than it is in terms of aviation or highways. People think, 'I don't pay for highways. I pay for gas, gasoline tax, and all that.' Its subsidies are there, but you can't convince people that that's the case, so we have a very big educational job to do..."

BUSH TO REPLACE THOMPSON ON AMTRAK BOARD -- May 10, 2001. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta said today that he expects President Bush to name him to the Amtrak board to replace the current chairman Tommy Thompson. Thompson, a former Wisconsin Governor and now Secretary of Health and Human Services, has been a highly respected and vigorous supporter of Amtrak. Mineta noted that Amtrak's numbers do not look good but that we cannot allow Amtrak to "go down."

According to a story by the Associated Press, Mineta urged high speed rail proponents, of which he is one, to lobby Congress to "keep Amtrak alive." He said some members of Congress "take great pride" in trying to derail initiatives to help the national rail service. Mineta may have been referring to Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and others who blocked passage of the high speed rail bill in the last session of Congress.

HIGHWAY CONGESTION NOW AT CRISIS LEVELS -- May 8, 2001. According to a study of 68 urban areas conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute, part of Texas A&M University, "congestion on the nation's highways has gotten so bad that the average person spends 36 hours a year sitting in traffic." The data was compiled by 11 state highway departments including Colorado, California, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Some of the features of the report are as follows:

AMTRAK REPORTS GROWTH IN REVENUES -- April 29, 2001. Amtrak announced that ridership and ticket revenue continued to increase across its national system during the first half of FY 2001, as the company prepares to increase the frequency of its new service between Washington, New York, and Boston -- Acela Express.

Results for the first six months of the fiscal year reveal that over 11 million guests rode on Amtrak between October 1 and March 31, a seven percent increase over the same period last year. Ticket revenue, $564.3 million, was also up 12.2 percent as compared to last year.

America's first high speed rail service, Acela Express, continues to perform strongly. Since launched last December, 55,000 guests have used the service, and revenue generated has exceeded expectations by four percent. Beginning April 29, Amtrak will increase its Acela Express service by offering two additional morning and two additional afternoon roundtrips each weekday between New York and Boston. New weekend service will also begin.

NEW WEEKEND SERVICE ON ACELA EXPRESS -- April 29, 2001. Amtrak will expand its successful high-speed Acela Express service between Washington, D.C. and New York on April 29, by introducing weekend service.

Amtrak will aggressively market Acela Express high-speed trains for weekend leisure travel all along the Northeast Corridor, as it continues to phase in service. In response to growing demand, Amtrak has already increased its premium Metroliner service on weekends between New York and Washington as it expects to sustain this upward trend more Acela Express trains are phased in to replace the Metroliner product line.

Weekend Acela Express service from Washington will be offered at 1:00, 5:00, and 6:00 p.m., arriving in New York at 3:50 p.m., 7:50 p.m. and 8:50 p.m. respectively. Southbound service leaves New York at 11:42 a.m. and 7:42 p.m. arriving in Washington at 2:50 p.m. and 10:50 p.m.

AMTRAK REDUCES TRAVEL TIME BETWEEN DETROIT AND CHICAGO -- April 29, 2001. Amtrak will cut 15 minutes off the travel time between Detroit and Chicago starting April 29 and expects to further reduce travel times when it raises speeds to 90 mph this summer as it works with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to introduce high-speed rail to the Midwest.

All Michigan Service trains operating on the Detroit-Chicago corridor (Lake Cities, Wolverine and Twilight Limited) will have 15 minutes removed from the schedule as Amtrak replaces older Dash 8 locomotives with new, faster accelerating P-42 locomotives. The schedule changes, which will reduce the travel time between Detroit and Chicago to 5 hours and 32 minutes, will take effect on April 29th with the release of Amtrak's spring/summer 2001 timetable.

AMTRAK ADDS BAGGAGE CAR TO TWILIGHT SHORELINER -- April 29, 2001. Starting April 29, 2001, Amtrak will add a baggage car to the Twilight Shoreliner. This will include a bike rack that can be reserved for a small fee.

AMTRAK TO ADD MORE CELL-FREE CARS -- April 2, 2001. Starting today, Amtrak will designate "Quiet Cars" on 16 more trains along the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston in response to the overwhelming positive feedback from its guests.

"In today's business world, being connected and able to work from the road is an advantage. Amtrak realizes that, and so we allow cell phone use on-board our trains," said Amtrak Northeast Corridor President Stan Bagley. "But it is clear that there is also a market for peace and quiet, and providing one car on each train where travelers can unplug is also an advantage for us."

Amtrak is now responding to market demand in New England by adding Quiet Cars to two Acela Regional trains between Boston and Washington.

Acela Regional #177 (Boston-Washington) and #190 (Washington-Boston) will have Quiet Cars added.

Eight more northbound Metroliners between Washington and New York and an additional six southbound Metroliners between New York and Washington will also have a Quiet Car.

Those trains are the 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Metroliners from Washington, and the 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Metroliner departures from Washington and from New York. While riding in the Quiet Cars, guests are asked to refrain from using cell phones, pagers and loud computer programs, or engaging in loud conversation.

"Many of our guests are telling us they use their train trip to unwind after a meeting or long day at the office, read the paper or catch up on their sleep," said Bagley. "They can't do that as well when the rest of the car is buzzing and ringing with calls home and to the office."

Amtrak managers will continue to ride the Quiet Cars while the program catches on. The company is also working on signs for the Quiet Cars and will continue to put notices on the seats to help inform guests.

Seats in the Quiet Cars do not require a special reservation -- they are available on a first come, first served basis.


SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD SPEAKS ON BOSTON TO MAINE DISPUTE -- March 31, 2001. Yesterday the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued an order to all parties in the dispute over rail service from Boston to Portland, ME. Currently the rail line, set to begin service on May 1, 2001, has been delayed once again due to a continuing disagreement over rail safety. At issue is the testing of the rail itself to determine whether the line now meets FRA standards.

Guilford has apparently raised issues concerning the particular test to be used and the timing and frequency of testing. Amtrak, meanwhile, is requesting an order from the STB that would (1) grant Amtrak access to the line for the purpose of testing its track, (2) determine a reasonable testing methodology and (3) require no further testing by Amtrak should the line meet FRA safety standards.

Guilford has already been paid to upgrade the track but contends that the line is still not safe for travel speeds of 79 mph.

In responding to the petition by Amtrak the STB made the following rulings yesterday:

1. Guilford's reply statement is due May 14, 2001.

2. Amtrak's rebuttal is due May 29, 2001.

3. The parties must serve copies of their pleadings on FRA. (4)

4. FRA is requested to participate in this proceeding. A copy of this decision will be served on that agency.

5. FRA's analysis and comment is requested by June 8, 2001.

6. This decision is effective on its service date.

3rd ANNUAL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CAMPAIGN BEGINS-- March 30, 2001. May 1st marks Amtrak's 30th birthday. For the third consecutive year, Amtrak supporters are asked to write letters to local newspapers for publication on or near May 1st.

For the last two years, many letters were published nationwide. This is an advocacy tool allowing the public to become better educated about Amtrak funding, the need for Amtrak expansion and the pleasure of traveling by train. Your participation in this second annual event would be greatly appreciated.

For more info contact: Jim Norton, Railroad Passenger Association of Alabama.


AMTRAK REFORM COUNCIL COMES OUT AGAINST AMTRAK -- March 20, 2001. No surprises here but the Amtrak Reform Council, which was set up by Congress in 1997 to oversee the intercity passenger railroad, has called for the restructuring of Amtrak. Among the recommendations are for Amtrak to separate its passenger train operations from its East Coast track maintenance by creating an assets-management company that would run the tracks and stations that Amtrak owns. Other recommendations include full or partial privatization. This brilliant recommendation is being made in spite of the fact that Britain's experiment in privatization has resulted in long delays, poor service and serious accidents.

Speaking out against the report was the AFL-CIO. "The ARC has rolled out a murky series of options and rationales for its ideological agenda, when it should have called on Congress and the president to fully fund Amtrak and give it a real chance to be viable,'' said Edward Dubroski, chairman of the Rail Labor Division of the AFL-CIO.

The ARC's web address is:

CA ZEPHYR ACCIDENT -- March 20, 2001 - National Transportation Safety Board member John Goglia said last night that track problems are now suspected as the prime cause of Saturday evenings terrible train crash in Iowa. "It is clear there was a fracture in this track," Goglia told the press. Goglia seemed to rule out human error and said that metallurgists would test sections of the track but that a final report would not be issued for at least nine months. The Washington Post, citing unidentified sources close to the investigation, reported in Tuesday's editions that the train derailed where a rail defect had been recently detected and a temporary patch installed. The faulty track is owned and maintained by the The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company.

March 18, 2001. Amtrak's westbound California Zephyr derailed late last night 70 miles southwest of Des Moines, IA. Reports from the scene vary but clearly this was a serious accident. Latest wire services releases indicate that one person was killed and at least 90 injured, 3 in serious condition. The accident took place in a remote area which hampered rescue efforts. Rails and ties were reportedly torn up but the cause of the accident is as yet undetermined. NTSB officials are now on the scene investigating. The rail route is owned and maintained by the The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company.

There are pics of the accident online at the following links:


BOSTON - PORTLAND, ME SAGA CONTINUES -- March 11, 2001. As of this writing, and this is about as mercurial as a meteorologist's forecast, Guilford Transportation Industries and Maine's Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority have tentatively come to terms on an agreement that could have passenger rail service start up after all, and in three months time.

Believe it or not!

Of course the terms are Guilford's...running trains at a maximum 59 mph, establishing a running time between Boston and Portland at 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Amtrak is still considering appealing Guilford's maximum speed to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) which has previously ruled, on this very issue, that trains may run on these tracks at 79 mph.

However, Amtrak's appeal and counter appeals by Guilford, could take months, even a year and thus delay the service even further into the future. Maine authorities are equally concerned that running the trains at the slower speeds might keep riders away.

AND...According to the "Foster's Daily Democrat" edition of Monday, March 5, Guilford Transportation Industries, the same company that has delayed the start up of Amtrak service from Boston to Portland, Maine, "is considering adding airline flights to southern Maine and New Hampshire through a subsidiary."


For more info go to:

USDOT SETS TRANSPORTATION BUDGET -- February 28, 2001.Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta today unveiled the administration's$59.6 billion federal transportation budget for FY 2002. The budget includes $521 million for Amtrak, not $571 as reported by Reuters News Service. Reuters also reported that "The White House transportation spending plan might have included less money had the Bush administration succeeded in cutting aviation and Amtrak funding. A lobbying effort by Mineta and powerful transportation advocates in Congress as well as industry groups succeeded in getting the money put back in the White House budget proposal."

NARP reports that the funds are scored for 100% meaning that 100% of the funds will be available immediately once the fiscal year begins. The $521 million is the same appropriation that Amtrak received for the current fiscal year. Meanwhile highways will receive a 2.8% increase, aviation is up 10.8% and transit increases by 6.8%.

BOSTON TO MAINE SERVICE DELAYED YET AGAIN! - updated- February 23, 2001. Just when it appeared that the long overdue service between Boston, MA and Portland, ME was to begin with May 1st as a firm start up date, we have news today that this will not be the case. After seven years of haggling, government battles and long protracted disputes involving Maine transportation authorities, Amtrak and Guilford Railroad, it was disclosed today that The Northern New England Rail Passenger Authority, which is overseeing the project, has scrapped the May 1 date with no future date being set. In fact it could be many months now before the service is provided, perhaps even another year. The latest in a long series of delays has to do with train speeds. Will trains be allowed to travel at 79 mph or will they be restricted to 59 mph? That's the question.

About two years ago the federal Surface Transportation Board ruled that the train could travel at 79 mph on existing 115 pound rail if certain track upgrades were made. But now it is reported that Guilford Transportation says that rail is not up to par to allow train speeds of 79 mph. The work on the track is nearly complete and Guilford is being paid tens of millions of federal dollars to do the work. Nonetheless, Guilford doesn't believe the crushed granite being installed under the tracks now is deep enough to meet requirements for rail rigidity or that the 115 pound rail is heavy enough. Guilford is also reportedly refusing to allow platforms to be built at stops along the way unless the state guarantees the insurance.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority would like to see the trains running at top speeds of 79 mph and is asking that Guilford allow the rails to be tested to prove that they meet industry standards. Indeed Amtrak runs at 79 mph on 115 pound rail elsewhere in the country. According to the "Portland Press Herald Writer," David Andrew Fink, the owner and President of Guilford told a public hearing that 115 pound rail is not engineered for higher speeds.

Rail advocates in the northeast were furious and the Authority will seek a ruling on the dispute from the Surface Transportation Board once again. Typically a ruling in a dispute such as this could take as many as three to six months. According to a report by the Associated Press, "Phil Harriman, a former legislator from Yarmouth who was involved in rail issues, said the upgraded track exceeds safety standards of others Amtrak uses. He said he suspects Guilford is trying to find ways to prevent passenger service from living up to the public's expectations." Critics of Guilford, meanwhile, are urging Amtrak to take over the line by eminent domain.

BOSTON TO PORTLAND, ME -- update -- February 13, 2001. The new Downeaster rail service from Boston to Portland, Me now has a website with schedules, station stops and fares. For more info go to:

CRESCENT STAR -- updated February 12, 2001. Amtrak has announced its intended route for new rail passenger service between Meridian, Mississippi, and Dallas/Fort Worth on the Crescent Star. The new train will be an extension of Amtrak's Crescent service, operating between New York and New Orleans via Meridian.

Meridian Mayor and Amtrak Board Member John Robert Smith said the Crescent Star will connect Meridian with Dallas and Fort Worth through Jackson, Miss., and Shreveport, La.

Amtrak will run a test train for the upcoming Crescent Star service between Dallas and Meridian MS on Mar. 7-9. For the schedule and consist of the test train go to the Rail Travel News site:

SKYLINE CONNECTION -- February 10, 2001. Start up time for Amtrak's new Skyline Connection has been delayed due to problems in negotiations with Norfolk Southern RR.


DOWNEASTER -- February 10, 2001. The "Downeaster", Amtrak's long awaited train from Boston to Portland, ME is reportedly on schedule for its inaugural May 1 departure. Maine's Gov. Angus King will board the train in Wells for the trip to Portland. And, according to a report by the Associated Press, "In Exeter, N.H., a committee in charge of planning for the train's first run says the train will depart at North Station in Boston and stop at each station for small 15-minute ceremonies." Service will include stops in Wells and Berwick in Maine and Dover and Durham in New Hampshire.

AMTRAK PROPOSES 20 YR. $30 BILLION RAIL PLAN -- February 2, 2001. Amtrak says it will present to Congress a 20 year $30 billion spending plan that calls for paying for as many as 221 locomotives, more than 2,000 passenger and cargo cars and track improvements to run more high-speed trains.

"This is about whether we want to have a national commitment to use the existing rail right of way as a cost-effective travel alternative," Amtrak CEO George Warrington said.

About two-thirds of the capital goal, or $973 million annually over the next five years, is needed to maintain existing service. The rest would pay for route expansions and equipment such as signals needed to run faster trains on existing lines.

Amtrak is proposing new rail service for Las Vegas, Mexican points via Laredo, Texas, and Portland, Maine, and more service on routes such as
New York and Chicago. New routes radiating from Chicago to cities such as Des Moines, Iowa and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, also are planned.

Two more Acela Express service trains will begin running in the Boston and Washington rail corridor by March 5, Warrington said. Amtrak also plans to add three services this spring in Florida, the Northeast and the South that were part of a network growth plan that was released last year.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 -- The following was released today by the High Speed Ground Transportation Association (HSGTA):

Senator Trent Lott (MS), Republican Senate leader spoke to the U. S. Conference of Mayors Rail Summit held at Washington's Union station on January 17, 2001. In his remarks Senator Lott told Mayors from across the nation that he believes Congress will pass a major new high-speed rail initiative that would provide funding for Amtrak this session. In the waning days of the last Congress a high-speed rail bill to provide $10 billion in bonding authority failed to survive last minute legislative maneuvers. Senator Lott and Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle committed to bringing the bill back early this session and to push for its passage.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors major focus for 2001 is implementing a national rail policy for the 21st century. Marc H. Morial, Mayor of New Orleans, is directing this effort for the Conference of Mayors.

Senator Lott said, "I think we need a national rail passenger system ... The Federal Government should and will do its part." Senator Lott added that the railroads will have to do their part too.

These were strong, positive statements that brought resounding applause from the nearly 300 mayors attending the Summit. "We couldn't be more delighted with Senator Lott's comments", said HSGTA President/CEO Mark R. Dysart." It means we start a new Congress with the committed support of Senate Leadership. That is a position the passenger rail industry has rarely enjoyed in the past."

HSGTA Chairman William Nevel, a Vice President of the Parsons Transportation Group, noted the, "Unbelievable and unprecedented interest in new high speed ground transportation systems. Our cities are suffering from terrible gridlock and airlock and have come to realize that the answer in many cases must be new ground transportation systems."

THOMPSON WANTS TO STAY ON AMTRAK BOARD -- January 31, 2001. Tommy Thompson is wearing more than one hat these days. The former Wisconsin Governor is the Chairman of Amtrak's Board and is now the new Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration. Thompson, one of the most vigorous and outspoken advocates for passenger rail service in this country, says he intends to remain on the Amtrak board until he is told to get off. "Until I'm ordered off, I intend to stay," Thompson told the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." However, he said, "I'm receiving more opposition than encouragement for that position."

Thompson's term does not expire until June, 2003 but it is questionable if he can hold both positions simultaneously. According to the Amtrak restructuring bill passed by Congress in 1997 the Amtrak board will consist of six of seven members who may not be employees of either Amtrak or the federal government. The seventh position was left open ostensibly for the Secretary of Transportation who is now Norman Mineta.

O. WINSTON LINK DEAD AT 86 - The internationally acclaimed rail photographer from New York City, O. Winston Link, died today, Jan. 30, from a heart attack. Link, my own personal favorite, was known for his stunning black and white photography of the late days of steam on the Norfolk and Western RR.

Link, my own personal favorite, was known for his stunning black and white photography of the late days of steam on the Norfolk and Western RR. His photos of railroading, reflecting images of Americana as well, were portraits of life in the 50s in the coal mining regions and rural towns of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia. More than your typical "roster shots", Link's photographs depicted steam railroading in a disarmingly contextual style that captured the way of life of a bygone era.

There has been recent talk of creating an O. Winston Link museum in the old Norfolk and Western passenger station in downtown Roanoke. Link died one day after the former passenger station for the Virginian Railway station burned down.

Those interested in Link's photography should look for copies of his books "Steam Steel & Stars" and "The Last Steam Railroad In America."

Rail and photography buffs alike will mourn the loss of this great man.

TEXAS EAGLE SERVICE CHANGES -- January 30, 2001. According to information I have, effective April 4, Texas Eagle trains 21/22 will operate to and from Los Angeles three days a week rather than four days a week as it presently does. The Texas Eagle service will be:

Amtrak to Resume Single Route Operations of Texas Eagle through Marshall and East Texas

Immediate Release
Mayor Audrey Kariel - Marshall, Tx
January 31, 2001

Marshall, Texas - Marshall Mayor Audrey Kariel announced today that in March, Amtrak will resume operation of its Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle on the same route in both north and southbound directions through the east Texas cities of Marshall and Longview.

The Texas Eagle began providing daily service through Marshall, Longview, and Mineola on May 21, 2000. At that time, Amtrak began operating on two separate routes over a small section of the Texas Eagle route between Texarkana and Big Sandy, Texas. This arrangement was part of the overall agreement between Amtrak and the Union Pacific Railroad, over whose tracks the train operates in east Texas, to initiate daily service between Chicago and San Antonio.

As a result, the southbound Texas Eagle currently serves two stations on its route-Marshall and Longview-via a bus connection from Gilmer, a nearby community. This practice will end when Amtrak resumes operation over a single route through Marshall and Longview.

"We are happy that these service changes are coming to Marshall and east Texas" , said Mayor Audrey Kariel. "The partnership between Amtrak, the Union Pacific and our communities enabled us to make these changes."

"These changes are consistent with Amtrak's ongoing commitment to put our guests at the center of everything we do,"said Joy Smith, General\ Manager of the Southwestern Business group responsible for the operation of the Texas Eagle. In the past year, Amtrak has introduced an unconditional Satisfaction Guarantee and the most liberal Guest Rewards program in the travel industry. These national programs year have generated new interest in rail passenger service.

Over the past three years, the Texas Eagle has consistently demonstrated ridership and revenue increase, growing faster than any other long-distance train in the Amtrak system. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2001{Oct. 1, 2,000 - Dec 31, 2000}, the Texas Eagle continued this trend, carrying nearly 38,000 passengers, an increase of 21 percent over the same three months a year ago and generating an additional 28 percent in revenue over the same period a year ago.

ROANOKE, VA STATION BURNS -- January 30, 2001. According to WDBJ, Channel 7, a Roanoke business and part of the city's railroad history went up in flames overnight (Jan. 29). The former passenger station for the Virginian Railway was heavily damaged by fire."

U.S. CONFERENCE OF MAYORS CALLS FOR MORE RAIL SUPPORT FROM WASHINGTON -- January 17, 2001. More than 300 mayors from across the country converged on Union Station today, calling for a national rail policy and urging President-Bush and the Congress to make passenger rail service a top priority and a solution to the growing crisis of traffic and air congestion -- problems that are strangling economic growth and threatening the quality of life in cities and communities from coast to coast.

In the nation's Capitol for Inauguration activities and its 69th Winter Meeting, the U.S. Conference of Mayors also released a groundbreaking, nationwide poll that showed strong public backing from residents living outside the central city for passenger rail investment, with a vast majority of respondents (82 percent) supporting funding for a rail service network as an option to driving their cars.

"The mayors said it today, and the public said it in the poll. We need expanded passenger rail service, not just in inner cities but also in the suburbs and in rural areas, protecting the viability of our metro economies and maintaining the livability of our communities," said U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Boise Mayor Brent Coles who, along with U.S. Senator Trent Lott, Amtrak CEO George Warrington and hundreds of mayors from across the country, participated in a number of activities in Washington, D.C.'s historic Union Station, including a special, roundtrip ride to Baltimore and back on the high-speed Amtrak train, Acela Express.

"We have run precipitously away from rail, as if it were a nostalgic mode of the 1900s. We want to say to President-Elect Bush -- fuel rail the same way we have fueled airline expansions and highways. It's clear we need other solutions. Ask parents how much time they spend away from their children sitting in traffic. Walk into any major airport. Passenger rail can help us reduce congestion and commuting times," said USCM Vice President and New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, who led a roundtable discussion with the 300 mayors at Union Station's East Hall.

Through a series of surveys and meetings, the U.S. Conference of Mayors polled its members over a period of several months to determine policy priorities for the new Administration and the next Congress. The resulting document, entitled Transition Priorities for the New American City, called on the Bush Administration and Congress to support and invest in a national rail policy that would:

-- Include passage of S.1900, providing authorization and funding for High Speed Rail bonds, fixed guideway projects, advanced bus technology, a transit and community revitalization program, a station revitalization program and rural access in the amount of $3 billion;

-- Fortify the nation's inter-city passenger rail network by focusing on high-speed rail corridors and expanding service on non-high speed routes;

-- Deploy more heavy rail, light rail and commuter rail in metropolitan areas to connect the economic viability of communities;

-- Enact tax incentives and other measures to stimulate increased private sector participation in improving crossings, rail stations, and rail infrastructure, acquiring rolling stock, offering commuter benefits and transit-oriented development in support of passenger rail services.

The mayors said the call for a national rail policy comes at a time of growing public support for passenger rail service, as the U.S. Conference of Mayors' poll revealed. Significantly, almost three-fourths of the poll respondents live in suburban neighborhoods or outside a central city -- residents not previously considered strong supporters of rail investments. Additionally, the poll did not survey California and the Northeast, areas of the country that generally have and support rail service.

BOSTON TO MAINE IN NEED OF STATIONS -- January 14, 2001. The new Amtrak service from Boston to Portland, ME that is expected to start up on May 1st is short of stations and platforms and has supporters wondering if the service might be derailed once again, this according to a report by the AP. Construction of seven stations stops, three in NH and four in ME are reportedly waiting on the approval of agreements between Guilford Rail Systems and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. According to the AP report, "The rail authority hopes to lease the land in the railroad's right of way on which the platforms will be built."

ACELA IS A SUCCESS! -- January 12, 2001. Despite some early difficulties, Amtrak reports that the first four weeks of the high speed rail train known as Acela has been a success. The train was on time more than 94% of the time, earned more than $1.25 million in ticket sales, carrying more than 11,000 customers, exceeding expectations by 12%. During the first week Acela was taken out of service on two occasions for unscheduled maintenance. Amtrak will phase in two more Acela round trips toward the end of February.

"The numbers are great. We had a spectacular opening," said Amtrak Board Vice-Chairman Michael Dukakis.

McCAIN BLOCKED RAIL BOND BILL -- January 12, 2001. According to a report by the highly respected rail journalist, Don Phillips, it was Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) objections that led Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) to refuse to allow the bond issue to be part of the final spending bill. The High Speed Rail Investment Act was scuttled in the final moments of the last Congressional session in December. Phillips, writing in "The Washington Post" on January 11 referred to comments by Senator McCain as saying that he "has not become an Amtrak partisan and would like to see the system turned over to private enterprise." Phillips noted that "No passenger rail system in the world makes money, however, and those that claim to do so own other assets such as retail stores."

The article by Phillips sheds light on the last minute deal that was worked out by Senator Lott and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) whereby Lott, an Amtrak supporter, promised to bring the bond issue up for a vote in the new session. In return Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) would call off his plans to filibuster the spending bill. Apparently Biden had lined up enough supporters to effectively stop the spending bill if the Amtrak bond issue was not included.

AMTRAK LAYS OFF 54 AT BEECH GROVE -- January 11, 2001. Amtrak sent layoff notices this week to 54 workers at its Beech Grove, Ind.
shops, which employ about 900 workers total. The workers were hired to handle various contract work Amtrak was performing at the facility. Those projects are now complete, said Amtrak spokesman Kevin Johnson, so the workers have been furloughed indefinitely.

CALIFORNIA'S GOVERNOR PROPOSES MAJOR NEW RAIL INVESTMENTS -- January 11, 2001. California Governor Gray Davis (D) has proposed sweeping new rail investment proposals for his state. All would benefit Amtrak.

The Governor's 2001-02 Proposed Budget includes new intercity rail funding for the following items:

$48 million for additional doubletracking on the Pacific Surfliner corridor.

$29.4 million for additional doubletracking on the San Joaquin corridor; specifically mentioned is Oakley/Pittsburg.

$20.6 million for additional doubletracking on the Capitol corridor; specifically mentioned is Sacramento/Davis.

$9.5 million in additional operating funds to run additional intercity rail services

These funds are above and beyond current commitments to rail capital and rail operations, and are subject to modification through the legislative budget process. No additional funds for rolling stock are identified beyond current commitments. The additional service would mean two more round trips on the Capitol between Emeryville and Sacramento as well as one additional round trip between Bakersfield and Sacramento. The double track improvements will help the Surfliners, San Joaquins and Capitols.

I urge California residents to thank the Governor for his bold new spending proposals.

BRITAIN'S RAIL PRIVATIZATION - A LESSON IN CHAOS AND FAILURE -- January 6, 2001. Britain's privatized rail system is a shambles by any account. A miserable, daunting failure! Despairing rail travelers have taken to their cars as rail routes in many parts of the country are run without a timetable. Rail privatization is in chaos and public finance ministers are throwing more money at it to avoid embarrassment.

According to various news reports including one in the Kansas City Star, "The rail service plunged into a flull-blown crisis beginning Oct. 17 when a high speed intercity train jumped teh tracks north of London, killing four passengers and injuring dozens."

Railtrack, the private company that maintains the 20,000 miles of track and 2,500 railway stations had declared a period of "corporate mourning" in December, cancelling all Christmas parties.

As a result of the staggering and chaotic state of rail service in Britain, road traffic into London has increased by 25 percent.

Once hailed as one of the best rail networks in the world, Britain's service went private in the 1990s. The Tories created Railtrack to manage the infrastructure and 25 companies, that's right 25, were given franchises to move passengers around the country. The result has been that commuting times have doubled, the rails, only five years old, have broken down and accidents have become more commonplace.

Let us all learn something from this failed experiment in privatization!


NARP GIVES QUALIFIED THUMBS UP TO MINETA -- January 6, 2001. The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) has given a qualified approval rating to Norman Mineta, President-Elect Bush's selection for Transportation Secretary. NARP said, "Mineta's voting record on Amtrak was good, indicating a general support of passenger rail, but it's too early to tell how that will translate in the new administration." Mineta is the only Democrat named to the Bush cabinet.

BUD SHUSTER TO RESIGN -- January 6, 2001. Congressman Bud Shuster (R-PA), the powerful Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, announced that he would resign January 31 for health reasons. Shuster was a primary architect of the Gingrich revolution that promised to eliminate federal expenditures on everything from "Amtrak to zoos." Mr. Shuster did his best and was often a thorn in the side of Amtrak in the House, earning himself the moniker of "Mr. Highways" for his support of massive highway construction in his home state. Indeed there is a highway in PA named after Mr. Shuster. In recent months Shuster was the subject of many investigations including one by CBS News 60 Minutes for unethical behaviors relating to his ties to a transportation lobbyist. In September, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct criticized Shuster for "serious official misconduct" but spared him further penalty.

MISSOURI CONSIDERS HIGH SPEED RAIL -- January 4, 2001. In addition to its committment to the MWRRI, Midwest Regional Rail Inniative, the high-speed hub and spoke network operating from Chicago to St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, etc..., the state of Missouri is considering track improvements to allow 110 mph between STL and KC.

Furthermore, a plan to widen I-70 accross the state allows a right of way provision for a high-speed rail line running through the center ofthe interstate.

Yet more intriguing is that they are studying new routes connecting St. Louis to Springfield (Branson) and Springfield to Kansas City. If you were to look at a map, this would create a rail triangle connecting the state's three largest cities.

Please get the word out and encourage the State of Missouri to pursue this.

BUSH NAMES TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY -- January 2, 2001. President Elect George W. Bush announced his selection of a new Transportation Secretary today. Bush chose former Democratic California Congressman and Clinton administration Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta. The American Highway Users Alliance, The Roadway Safety Foundation and the American Trucking Associations were quick to commend Bush on his appointment. Sonny Hall, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, said, "We are extremely pleased that someone of the stature and caliber of Norman Mineta has been nominated to serve as Secretary of Transportation."

There was no immediate word from NARP.

Mineta, 69, a transportation specialist, became an expert in airline safety. He chaired the National Civil Aviation Review Commission that warned in December 1997 of rapidly approaching gridlock in the nation's crowded skies.

Mineta hails from San Jose, California. He graduated from the University of California-Berkeley in 1953, ran an insurance business in San Jose and was then elected mayor of the city in 1971. In 1992, Mineta became the chairman of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation. Mineta represented the Silicon Valley area surrounding San Jose in the U.S. House of Representatives for 21 years until resigning to become a lobbyist for aircraft giant Lockheed Martin in 1995.

HIGH SPEED BOND ISSUE AND MAGLEV ON THE FRONT BURNER -- January 1, 2001. It is expected that the high speed rail investment bond issue, that was scuttled at the last minute in December , will be on the front burner when the new Congress convenes in January. Increasing highway and air congestion has resulted in a public demand for more accessible high speed transportation services and rail comes into play. It is speculated that the new Bush administration will also be pursuing the Maglev, or magnetic levitation, concept as an alternative transportation measure. Despite the support of 67 Senators and 171 House members the High Speed Rail Investment Act was allowed to languish in Congress. But the bond issue allows for investments in major rail infrastructure overhauls and "infrastructure" will be the buzzword if any progress is to be made to move people more efficiently by rail.

IT'S OFFICIAL - THOMPSON TO HEAD HHS -- January 1, 2001. President Elect George W. Bush has made it official. Wisconsin Governor and Amtrak Board Chairman Tommy Thompson has been named Secretary of Health and Human Services in the new administration. It is unclear whether Thompson can remain on the Amtrak board, but I would doubt that he would.

MIDWEST HI SPEED RAIL TO GO FORWARD -- January 1, 2001. Work is scheduled to start in 2002 on a 110-mph rail line that would connect Madison and Milwaukee. Service would begin by the end of 2003. The high-speed trains also would connect Chicago and the Twin Cities Midwest Regional Rail Initiative supporters were confident that the Midwest would be in line for part of the $10 billion that the federal government would borrow for Amtrak projects under the High Speed Rail Investment Act, which has not yet passed Congress.


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