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Friends of Amtrak Archives 1996

Friends of Amtrak

Archived News 1996


FRIENDS OF AMTRAK HOME PAGE--For the latest and most recent news on Amtrak and legislation affecting Amtrak please go to the Friends of Amtrak home page. CLICK HERE

Portland,ME to Boston Update--December 27, 1996. The Portland Press Herald/ Maine Sunday Telegram is reporting that the resumption of passenger train service from Portland, ME to Boston may get clearance by June, 1997. Liability and track maintenance issues expect to be formally resolved by a board of federal arbiters within 3 to 6 months. The dispute will be heard by the arbitration panel in January. The federal Surface Transportation Board will be asked to decide the issues. The proposed rail route has been in the planning stages since 1993 but has been held up by Guilford Transportation Industries which owns the 78 miles of track. Guilford refuses to pay any of the costs of upgrading the tracks and is demanding full indemnification from Amtrak. The track is meant to handle slower freight equipment so $38 million in track improvements would be needed for passenger rail traffic. Amtrak would make four round trips daily between Portland, Maine, and Boston's North Station. The trip would take about two hours and 20 minutes each way.

Amtrak's 1997 Wall Calendar
To order Amtrak's 1997 wall calendar with illustrations by Ted Rose, mail check or money order to: Amtrak Calendar; P.O. Box 7717; Itasca, IL 60143. Allow two weeks for delivery.


Quantity:       Price:
1               $5
2               $9
3               $12
4               $14
5               $15

NARP Warns--Time Running Out For Amtrak--December 3, 1996.-- The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) cautioned today that recent reductions proposed for Amtrak's already-skeletal long-distance passenger train network could lead to eventual elimination of that network. Intercity rail passenger service would survive only in the Northeast and perhaps a handful of other short-distance corridors.

NARP noted that, as work on the federal fiscal year 1998 budget begins, Amtrak's survival is at stake. Amtrak must be provided sufficient operating support to continue running its entire, existing network. Without a truly national system, neither Amtrak nor any other form of vital, national, intercity rail passenger services will survive. That would make the United States the only advanced, industrialized country without meaningful national rail passenger service.

For the full text of the NARP press release Click here.

Amtrak has updated its web site at One new feature is the "unveiling of the high speed rail" plan which is linked to the homepage. Amtrak promises the following enhancements to its web site:

In the near future Amtrak will be adding:

On-line Reservations,

On-line Bookings and

Train Status

Two Transportation Battles Shaping Up--November 30, 1996-- The November 26th issue of National Journal's Congress Daily reports that the 105th Congress is likely to face two major battles over transportation funding.

The first is the reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) which expires on October 1, 1997. Two fights are shaping up over this legislation for federal funding of highway and mass transit programs. The first is the formula for distributing the funds, with states lining up against one another over how states should get their "fair share" of federal tax dollars. There are the "donor" states, primarily southern and border states, which pay more into the system than they get back and the "donee" states which receive more back than what they pay in.

The second ISTEA fight is over a proposal to take the transportation trust funds off budget, freeing the money from the general budget to be used solely for transportation needs. This proposal, sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bud Shuster and Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member James Oberstar, D-Minn., passed the House last year overwhelmingly. But it never came to a vote in the Senate where there is widespread opposition -- including from Senate Budget Chairman Domenici and Environment and Public Works Chairman Chafee.

The second major battle over transportation funding is the 4.3 cents of the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax that goes toward deficit reduction instead of transportation. Many legislators, backed by states, highway and transit interests, want the 4.3 cents in a transportation trust fund. Amtrak wants a half-penny of the dedicated funds for sorely needed capital expenditures. According to the article House transportation aides "anticipate the 4.3 cents will go back into the trust fund and a deal could be struck under which Amtrak would get the money collected on a half-cent of the gas tax while highways also would get some higher level of funding. Sources said House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Shuster indicated last week at a meeting with industry officials he would be willing to go along with putting the 4.3 cents into the trust funds, giving Amtrak the half-cent, and reserving the rest for highways and transit as currently allocated: 80 percent to highways and 20 percent to transit."

Illinois May Seek Competitive Bidding For Amtrak Routes-- December 2, 1996. United Press International is reporting this afternoon that Illinois may end state subsidies to Amtrak and open Amtrak routes in the state to competitive bidding. The Chicago Sun-Times quoted a Metra spokesman who indicated the commuter railroad's possible interest in running the passenger rail service between Chicago and St. Louis, Carbondale and Macomb-Quincy. The three routes carry approximately 300,000 passengers a year. According to the UPI, Amtrak has responded saying that it is working out a long term plan with Illinois to operate 40 trains a day at a fixed price.

Albany, Hudson, Rhinecliff, NYC Passes Now Available-- November 30, 1996-- Starting with the month of December 1996, Amtrak will begin selling monthly passes for travel from Albany, Hudson, and Rhinecliff to New York City. The monthly pass entitles the passenger to ride any train (unreserved and reserved) any number of times (weekdays and weekends and holidays) for the calendar month. These passes will be sold after the 15th of the prior month. The passenger does not need a reservation on reserved trains, but just shows the pass and boards the train. Pass is only valid for travel between those two stations. The cost is:

Albany to New York City: $676
Hudson to New York City: $552
Rhinecliff to New York City: $362


Status of Amtrak Authorization Bill--S.1318

The Senate did not take up S.1318, the Amtrak authorization bill during the last session (1995-96). The bill would not only authorize Amtrak, but also contained a clause which would give states the flexibility to use funds from the massive National Highway System trust fund into Intercity rail projects.

Update on Amtrak Legislation, November 30, 1996--The Ampenny half-cent legislation (House version and Senate version), while gaining significant support in the 104th Congress, were not be taken up in this session. Same for the reauthorization bill in the Senate (S.1318).

AMTRAK AND GREYHOUND ANNOUNCE NEW ROUTES AND NEW PARTNERSHIPS --November 14, 1996. WASHINGTON and DALLAS -- Improved connections between intercity trains and intercity motor coaches -- and a new spirit of cooperation -- are being announced by Amtrak and Greyhound Lines, Inc.

The two transportation companies, while in some instances serving similar markets, have determined they can provide improved services and increased connectivity for customers by joining efforts. The advantages of the cooperative agreement between Amtrak and Greyhound are that customers can get fare, schedule and ticketing information from one location and make seamless connections between bus and train.

Some of the schedules announced by Amtrak and Greyhound put cities on the Amtrak route map that have been without direct rail service for many years, places such as Louisville, Ky., and Macon, Ga. Other schedules provide service along routes where Amtrak trains run less than daily, such as between Chicago, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

For the full Amtrak press release on this story click here.

Texas Eagle--Sold Out Seating--Nov. 8, 1996--A summary of Texas Eagle advance reservations for the month of November has been posted on the Arkansas Rail web site (see on-line publications section).

Hiawatha Service Saved--Nov. 8, 1996--The "Chicago Sun Times" and the "Chicago Tribune" are both reporting that a deal has been worked out to save the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha train service. The line carries 30,000 passengers a month with six round trip trains Mon-Sat. and five on Sundays. According to both newspapers Wisconsin would pay $2.2 million and Illinois an additional $500,000 to operate the line. The arrangement is pending approval of the Illinois legislature. The Hiawatha line has been threatened by disputes between Amtrak and the states over how to pay for it. Continuing cuts in Amtrak funding only imperiled the existing service. The funding plan is good through June 30, 1997.

New Amtrak Station Opens in CA--Nov. 8, 1996-- Amtrak's newest station will enter service on Sunday, November 10th at Grover Beach, CA (2 miles south of Pismo Beach, CA, railroad milepost 264.2 on former SP Coast route). The station was dedicated on Saturday, 11/2/96 in ceremonies featuring local, state and Amtrak oficials. The station is one of three new stations between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, and are intended for use by the Central Coast San Diegan (#776-779) that have served San Luis Obispo since 1995.

San Diegan News Applauds Friends of Amtrak--Nov. 8, 1996-- The October issue of Amtrak's "San Diegan News" features a short column on Friends of Amtrak. Many thanks to the folks at Amtrak West!!!

New Ethan Allen Train -- November 6, 1996. The state of Vermont, along with Amtrak, will begin funding the new Ethan Allen train from NY to Rutland, VT as part of the existing NY-Albany Empire service. The train is scheduled to run daily starting in December. It will begin northbound on Dec. 2, and southbound on Dec. 3. Station stops are Rutland, Fort Edward, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Albany-Rensselaer, Hudson, Rhinecliff, Poughkeepsie, Croton-Harmon, Yonkers, and New York.

The Amfleet II equipped train will be numbered 290/291 and 292/293. Here is the timetable schedule from ARROW for the "Ethan Allen:"

Read Down

Read Up




Ethan Allan













< New York City >








< Rutland >






  • A tip of the hat to All Aboard-USA for table-coding assistance

March 3, 1997.

The following bus now connects Burlington with the Ethan Allen, in
Rutland.  Note, this is a separate bus from the Killington bus.
               Sun-Fri  Sat  
lv Burlington   11am    5:05am
ar Rutland      1:05pm  6:45am

    Northbound   Mon-Sat  Sun
lv Rutland       9:15pm   11pm
ar Burlington    11pm     12:45am

  The cost is $11 each way, rail to Rutland required.  Advance
reservations required.  Note that the bus leaves Burlington at the same
time on Sunday (as Mon-Fri), even though the Ethan Allen runs later on
Sundays from Rutland.  Passengers reserving this must emphasize that
they want the connecting bus to Rutland from Burlington.

Night Owl Alive And Well -- Friday, October 24, 1996. Contrary to previous reports it appears that the Night Owl, Amtrak trains 66/67, is alive and well. The newly released Amtrak 1996-1997 Northeast Timetable lists both trains. There have been persistent reports that trains 66/67 would be cut some time before the end of the year. The reports come from train crews who have reportedly been told by Boston/New Haven management that the trains would be cut. Amtrak denies these reports.

"Popular Mechanics" Touts the American Flyer -- Friday, Oct. 18, 1996. In their current issue, "Popular Mechanics" did a great article on the "American Flyer" Boston-D.C. project. It included a great 2 page shot of the trainset,a map of this and other likely high speed routes, and an explanation of tilt technology..and the improved amenities for the business traveler it will have.

"Passenger Train Journal" To Cease Publication -- Fri., Oct. 18, 1996. Pentrex has announced that its magazine, "Passenger Train Journal," will cease publication with issue #228, December, 1996. Subscribers will have their subscription converted to "RailNews," another publication by Pentrex. I would like to thank the good people at Pentrex for their extensive coverage of passenger rail news. In particular, I extend my personal thanks to David Warner and Leo King, two of PTJ's writers, who have contributed so much to this Friends of Amtrak effort.

MOST Card Ticket Purchases Internet, Inc., owner and operator of the MOST electronic banking network, announced that Amtrak is now accepting the MOST card for ticket purchases through the MOST Point of Sale (POS) program.

"Participating in MOST POS gives our passengers a fast, reliable, and convenient payment option," said Edward L. Barnette, project manager for the debit card program at Amtrak. "Amtrak is the first transportation company to offer a nationwide point of sale network to its passengers. When the system is complete, there will be a debit card terminal at every Amtrak ticket window."

MOST POS was first introduced to Amtrak passengers in July at historic Union Station in Washington, D.C., and has since expanded to five other Washington-area stations. Over the coming months, all 257 staffed Amtrak stations across the United States will be added to the program, with full implementation planned to be completed by mid-December 1996.

Sunset Limited Derailment Update -- Oct. 18, 1996. The investigation into the sabotage derailment of Amtrak's Sunset Limited on Oct. 9, 1995 continues. The FBI has declared no suspects, but says the investigation's focus has narrowed.

High Speed Rail Grant For Michigan On Oct. 11th U.S. Transportation Secretary Federico Pena announced a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) grant of $3 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation for a high-speed positive train control system that will allow trains to reach speeds exceeding 100 mph over a 77-mile stretch of Amtrak-owned track in southwestern Michigan.

The system was unveiled during a high speed test run on the 20 miles between Kalamazoo and Niles. It is the first demonstration of a system developed under FRA's Next Generation Positive Train Control System program which will bring safe, high-speed passenger trains to corridors around the country.

An electronic version of the full document can be obtained via the World Wide Web by clicking here.

For the full Amtrak press release on this story click here.

"Vermont Life" Features Amtrak--September 27, 1996. In its fall issue "Vermont Life" magazine has an article called "Bikes Aboard The Vermonter." The article, complete with color photos, features Amtrak's Vermonter train that travels daily from Washington, D.C. to St. Albans, VT.


Connecticut Gives Okay to Electrification

August 12, 1996. From Transportation Journalist Leo King -- Amtrak finally got a piece of good news it has been waiting for--the state of Connecticut has tentatively agreed to approve plans to electrify the railroad through the Nutmeg State. Massachusetts and Rhode Island had given their approval several months ago.

The $1.7 billion project will energize 157 miles of catenary from Boston to New Haven, allowing electric trains to operate from the Hub to Washington D.C. without having the change from diesel to electric engines in New Haven. It is also in preparation for "The American Flyer" European high-speed trainsets now under construction. The work should lop 90 minutes off a trip from Boston to New York, cutting it to three hours.

Southwest Chief--As of August 1st the Southwest Chief is traveling from Chicago to Cameron via the BN part of the BNSF instead of the original Santa Fe route. This means no passenger service at Joliet, Streator, and Chillicothe. Joliet is still being served by the trains Ann Rutledge (#303/304), The Loop, The State House, and The Texas Eagle.

The 'new' Southwest Chief stops at Naperville, Princeton, and Galesburg (all the same stops as the California Zephyr). Amtrak is also considering adding baggage handling services at Galesburg for the #5/6 and #3/4.

Letter to Friends of Amtrak, September 4, 1996

Dear Friends of Amtrak:

Congress is back in session and the Conference Committee (usually the transportation appropriations subcommittees from both chambers) is expected to meet soon. Staffers for the committee are already working to draft the final numbers. The NARP (National Association of Railroad Passengers), meanwhile, is reporting that early indications from the staff are not good as they prepare to "split the difference" between House and Senate allocations. Should this happen Amtrak will be left with inadequate capital funding for the year ahead.

In a letter to its members the NARP states, "This week is a crucial time to reinforce the message to your Senators that Senate conferees must preserve the Senate's Amtrak numbers in the DOT funding bill. They must not agree to split the difference, or to do even worse! Remember--today's capital funding reduces the costs of tomorrow's operations. That means anything less than the Senate figures is very likely to trigger another painful round of service cuts a year from now."

I urge you to call or write your Senators NOW!

You can reach your Senator through the Congressional switchboard at the following toll free number: 1-800-962-3524.

For Senate e-mail addresses check the following website: Senate E-Mail Addresses. Please give your full name and constituent address when writing.

Important Letter To Friends of Amtrak - August 28, 1996

Dear Friends of Amtrak:

Congress remains in recess until shortly after the upcoming Labor Day weekend. When it reconvenes it will take up important legislation that will have a major impact on Amtrak.

A House/Senate Conference Committee must take up the matter of the transportation bill for fiscal year 1997 (HR 3675) and resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions. You will recall that the House had drastically slashed Amtrak funding by 28% while the Senate version calls for over $300 million more in funding than the House. If the House version becomes enacted it could spell the demise of Amtrak. It is, therefore, imperative that the Senate numbers be adopted by the Conference Committee.

There is also legislation (HR-2789) submitted in the House by Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-CT) that would establish a dedicated source of capital funding for Amtrak through the allocation of one-half cent of existing gas tax. In the words of House Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) who presided over the 28% cut, "...if there is not one-half cent, Amtrak is going to go under."

So once again I call upon the Friends of Amtrak to write to their Congressional representatives urging passage of the Senate version of the transportation bill AND legislation that would create a dedicated source of capital funding for Amtrak from one-half cent of the existing gas tax. This is a critical moment for Amtrak and I cannot underscore enough the importance of writing at this time!

Please check the Friends of Amtrak website at for information on how to contact your representatives in Congress.

Frank Barry, legislative director of the Empire State Passengers Association, went through the tedious exercise of calculating Amtrak's route miles before and after the proposed cuts that will take effect on November 10th. What he found is truly astonishing. The cuts, if implemented, will reduce Amtrak route miles by 16% since the elections in 1994, to a level substantially below the very thin skeleton with which Amtrak began in 1971!

Frank has released his findings in a letter to the New York Congressional delegation. I've taken the liberty of reprinting Frank's letter in part below. You may find it instructive and you are free to use the letter as "talking points" in drafting your own.

Thanks again for your continuing support.


Craig O'Connell
Friends of Amtrak

Frank Barry's letter follows:

To: New York Congressional Representatives
From: Frank Barry, Director, Legislative Affairs
Topic: Effect of Amtrak Funding Cuts

We urgently need your help to avert a crisis in o !¯ portation system. The persistent attempts to cut back Amtrak funding since the 1994 election are having a devastating effect. The cutbacks recently announced by Amtrak will reduce intercity rail passenger routes to a substantially lower level than the very skeletal system initiated by Amtrak when it began in 1971!

The proposed cuts go far beyond getting rid of lightly used or inefficient services. This past week I rode the Lake Shore train to Boston, which will be discontinued in November. It was sold out in both directions--and I was told this is a normal occurrence! Over 180 people were on board, about 40% of them traveling to or from points in upstate New York.

The fact is that these trains are being discontinued because Congress has reduced Amtrak's appropriation precipitously without reforming laws that prevent it from operating efficiently or providing a trust fund for investment like those available for other modes. Meantime there have been no significant cuts in total appropriations for either highways or aviation since 1994--Amtrak has been singled out for most of the deficit reduction in transportation although it constitutes a tiny part of the transportation budget. The House appropriation for 1996 would cut Amtrak by a further 28% to a figure which both Amtrak and Appropriations Sub-Committee Chairman Frank Wolf say is inconsistent with a national system.

We are frankly angry. We have seen no poll or any other indication that the American public wants our national rail passenger system eliminated. There was no indication that this was part of the "Contract with America". On the contrary the National Association of Railroad Passengers commissioned a national poll which indicated 2:1 support for earmarking 1/2¢ of the gasoline tax to a trust fund for Amtrak. More and more frequently I am having to answer questions from people who have been to Europe or Japan and seen what a balanced transportation system looks like. They ask "What is wrong with our government?"

The highway accident rate for people over 75 is comparable to that for people under 25, and the rate for those over 80 is comparable to that for teenagers. The recent increase in speed limits will only increase the danger for older people as their reflexes grow slower. Having lost an elderly uncle, and seen a colleague experience the loss of both her parents in highway accidents, I am quite sensitive to this--especially since my own parents are over 85 and are today setting out on a long trip by car that would be much safer if it could be made by train.

In the next week or so work will begin to reconcile the Senate and House versions of HR-3675, the 1977 Transportation Appropriation. The Senate version contains $872 million for Amtrak--a restoration of some of the cuts made last year. But the $542 million House figure will devastate Amtrak. Both versions allow only $200 million for operations, when $392 million was appropriated just two years ago. This is a major reason for the cutbacks recently announced.

We are writing to ask that you immediately do three things:

1. Strongly urge Transportation Appropriations Chairman Frank Wolf and other House members on the Conference Committee to accept in full the Senate figure for Amtrak. This would provide critically needed funds for modernization.

2. Strongly urge Chairman Wolf to find a way to allow a higher figure for operations in order to prevent some of the recently announced cuts.

3. Strongly urge Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer to approve HR-2789 to establish a trust fund for Amtrak from the federal gasoline tax. Our national rail passenger system is the only mode of transportation without such a funding source, and its inability to modernize is a major reason for Amtrak's present dilemma.

Amtrak's Vermonter Collides With A Truck--August 27, 1996. Amtrak is reporting that its southbound Vermonter struck an empty logging truck at a grade crossing in Roxbury, Vt. today, resulting in minor injuries to three passengers and one crew member.

The accident occurred at 7:51 a.m. at Thurston's Road in Roxbury when the truck failed to yield at the crossing for the oncoming train which had sounded its horn. The truck, which was a tandem trailer, was struck in the middle of the two trailers. It was not carrying any timber.

The three passengers and Amtrak conductor were treated and released for minor injuries at Central Vermont Hospital in Berlin, Vt.

The train, which consisted of an engine and six cars, came off of the tracks but remained upright. The passengers were safely evacuated and transferred to buses to continue south to Springfield, Mass. In Springfield, the passengers will reboard a train to continue south.

The Vermonter operates roundtrip each day between St. Albans, Vt. and Washington, D.C. via New York.

The train carried a total of 66 passengers and five crew members. The train was traveling 54 mph, below the 59 mph speed limit for the area. The track is owned by the New England Central Railroad. The crossing was protected by "crossbucks'' warning signs, but had no automatic gates or lights.

Rerailing the train and repairing the tracks is expected to continue through Wednesday, Aug. 28. Amtrak plans to operate the Vermonter between Springfield, Mass. and Washington, D.C. for today's northbound trip and for both southbound and northbound trips tomorrow. Amtrak will provide bus connections, both northbound and southbound, for the Springfield to St. Albans leg of the trip.

Source: Amtrak

TENERA signs $2.9 million Contract with Amtrak--August 8, 1996. TENERA Inc. announced the award of a significant contract, valued at approximately $2.9 million, with AMTRAK "to supply a fully integrated work management system for its rolling stock." The work management system will include installation over the next 20 months of TENERA's MCP(tm) software package, implementation support, program management and training services.

Senate Passes Amtrak Funding Bill

July, 31, 1996--The U.S. Senate approved a bill that would give Amtrak significantly more capital funding for fiscal year 1997 than the House version which had recently slashed Amtrak's overall budget by 28%.

The Senate voted to approve the following funding levels:

  • $250 million for nationwide capital compared to the House version of only $120 million.
  • NECIP (infrastructure) $200 million.
  • High-speed trainset grant at $80 million which is the same as the House bill and $20 million below Amtrak's request.
  • $142 million for Mandatory Railroad Retirement Payments.
  • Operations is $200 million which is also the same as the House version.

The Senate overwhelmingly defeated an amendment that would have cut Amtrak funding by 28%, the same as the House. The amendment, offered by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), was defeated by a vote of 82-17. Those voting for the amendment and thus against Amtrak were: Ashcroft (R-MO), Brown (R-CO), Coverdell (R-GA), Faircloth (R-NC), Gramm (R-TX), Grams (R-MN), Gregg (R-NH), Helms (R-NC), Inhofe (R-OK), Kyl (R-AZ), Mack (R-FL), McCain (R-AZ), Nickles (R-OK), Shelby (R-AL), Smith (R-NH), Thompson (R-TN), Thurmond (R-SC). Not voting was Frahm (R-KS).

An amendment to allow Amtrak to buy electricity wholesale and thus save $20 million annually was proposed by Senator Murkowski (R) of Alaska. He later withdrew the amendment after Senator Johnston (D) of Louisiana vowed to fight it.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers also deserves a word of thanks for their superlative efforts in tracking this legislation and keeping us all informed.

19 Governors Support Amtrak Funding --The NARP (National Association of Railroad Passengers) is reporting the following as a measure of some good news--19 governors signed a letter to Senators Hatfield (R-OR) and Lautenberg (D-NJ) urging them "to support, at an absolute minimum, last year's level of capital funding for Amtrak." Governors of DE/PA/WV/WA/VT/NJ/NY/NV/NE/MO/MA/IN/ GA/FL/CT/AR/CO/ME/MD all signed.

The support from the 19 Governors is very encouraging and enjoys a broad spectrum of bipartisan support for Amtrak.

Amtrak Proposes New Route Changes/Service Cutbacks

August 8, 1996. Amtrak announced a series of cutbacks and route changes today pending approval by its board in September. (see stories below on New Transcontinental and Boston Lake Shore). The following changes, if approved, will become effective November 10:

  • Silver Palm New Service New York/Miami
  • Empire Builder Daily Service Seattle/Portland/Chicago
  • California Zephyr Daily Service Chicago/Oakland
  • City of New Orleans Daily Service Chicago/New Orleans
  • Crescent Daily Service New York/New Orleans
  • Broadway Limited Restored to Daily Service New York/Chicago
  • Pioneer Eliminated Denver/Seattle
  • Desert Wind Eliminated Salt Lake City/L.A.
  • Texas Eagle Eliminated St. Louis/San Antonio
  • Lake Shore Limited Eliminated Albany/Boston (motor coach service only)
  • Sunset Limited L.A./Sanford, Fla; will no longer go to Miami Remains thrice weekly

Amtrak is also considering the Improved Utilization of equipment which would be Run-Through equipment (i.e. Southwest Chief becomes The Capitol Limited, The Empire Builder becomes City of New Orleans, etc.). This economizes by standardizing the number and types of passenger cars on as many trains as possible. The plan establishes new service or increased frequency at 131 stations nationwide while discontinuing all service at 42 stations, including Dallas, Little Rock and Los Vegas.

Legislation approved by Congress, not yet signed into law, provided no more than $200 million to Amtrak in fiscal year 1997 beginning in October, $50 million less than Amtrak requested. The restructuring will will save about $44 million but will still fall $60 million short of Amtrak's budget needs. The changes will spell the loss of 400 jobs and 3,000 miles of passenger routes in the west. Many eliminated cities had spent local funds to restore train stations. Boise bought its station for restoration just three weeks ago. Amtrak CEO Tom Downs said that many Mayors and Governors are upset by the news but that Amtrak has no choice given the huge Congessional cuts. Note that the above proposed cuts were suspended when Congress came up with last minute funding in late September, 1996.

Cities and Towns That Would Have Lost Service:


Arkansas: Arkadelphia, Little Rock, Malvern, Texarkana, Walnut Ridge.

Colorado: Greeley.

Idaho: Boise, Nampa, Pocatello, Shoshone.

Massachusetts: Framingham, Pittsfield, Worcester.

Missouri: Poplar Bluff.

Nevada: Caliente, Las Vegas.

Oregon: Baker City, The Dalles, Hinkle-Hermiston, Hood River, La Grande, Ontario, Pendleton.

Texas: Austin, Cleburne, Dallas, Fort Worth, Longview, McGregor, Marshall, Mineola, San Marcos, Taylor, Temple.

Utah: Milford, Ogden.

Wyoming: Evanston, Green River, Laramie, Rawlins, Rock Springs, West Cheyenne-Borie.

Cities and Towns Gaining New Service:


Indiana: Garrett, Nappanee.

Ohio: Akron, Fostoria, Youngstown.

Boston Lake Shore Out/New Broadway In

July 21, 1996. While this report has not been officially verified by Amtrak I have received reliable information from three separate independent sources that Amtrak has firm plans to eliminate the Boston to Albany leg of the Lake Shore Ltd., trains 448 and 449. The effective termination date for this route would be in October when the time changes from daylight to standard time. This leg of the Lake Shore will be replaced by a new Broadway Ltd./Three Rivers that will run from Boston to Chicago through New Haven and New York. The reason for the change seems to be attributed to the problems and headaches Amtrak has been having with the mail since discontinuation of the Broadway back in September, 1995. This change will add travel time for Boston to Chicago passengers but should benefit passengers on the current Three Rivers train.

I have word that this change has already been approved by Amtrak management, but again I have no official confirmation. I'm also told that the new train will be designated # 46 and # 47 which is the current Three Rivers train. I've also received info today that the unions for the train and engine crews in Waterloo, IN have been asked to make up couplets for the new train. A source from Amtrak Mail Operations has confirmed that trains 448/449 will not be in the new fall schedule.

The route of this train would then be from Boston to New York via New Haven. In New York the train would pick up the mail and head on to Pittsburgh and Chicago via the former Broadway Ltd. route along CSX track. At this time I do not know what the consist of the train will look like.

Amtrak Ranks First in Improved Customer Service--July 3, 1996. A new report just released names Amtrak as having the most improved customer service among transportation service companies. The survey by Knowledge Exchange interviewed over 100 senior managers of U.S. companies and ranked them according to consumer sensitivity. The list identified Amtrak as having shown the greatest improvement in customer service by adapting to competition and change.

For more info on this CLICK HERE.

The California Department of Transportation has a new home page for its Rail Program. It is called Amtrak California, and is located at: .

Clinton Amtraking to the DNC--The White House has indicated that the president hopes to take Amtrak from Washington to Chicago for the Democratic convention in August.

Capitol Ltd./MARC Crash--The Amtrak engineer on the Capitol Ltd., whose train was hit by a MARC commuter train last February, said today that he did not hit the brakes before the head-on crash because he was vainly trying to get his locomotive to a crossing and onto another track.

Testifying before a National Transportation Safety Board hearing, Don Noble, the engineer, said his train was headed for a crossover point to change tracks when he saw the commuter train round a bend on his track, heading straight for him. He said he thought there would be a full head-on collision if he tried to stop. But if he could get at least his locomotive past the intersection the oncoming train would strike one of the baggage cars behind the locomotive instead.

Cape Codder Service--Amtrak inaugurated it's seasonal CAPE CODDER service to Hyannis on Friday June 28th.. Passengers traveling from Washington, Philadelphia, and New York aboard Northeast Direct Train 94 make a cross-platform change at Providence on Fridays (July 3rd also). Then on Sundays, the situation is reversed making the platform-change at Providence to board Train 179 to Washington. Passengers should understand there is no food service on the Providence- Hyannis leg of the trip on Friday (and Hyannis- Providence on Sunday) and need to bring their own food & beverages with them. It is hoped that advance announcements will be made advising passengers before boarding THE CAPE CODDER.

Flexliner in Service on the San Diegans--July 17, 1996; From the "San Diegan News."

Amtrak brings you the Flexliner, a Danish-built, high-tech passenger train that has been operating in European rail service since 1990. Ride the Flexliner July 21 - Aug. 1 aboard Amtrak San Diegan trains 570, 577, 578 and 585 (except July 26).

Experience the Flexliner version of Custom Class with "Service at Your Seat." The Flexliner is on a two-year tour of North America and is designed to serve a variety of local and regional travel markets providing a combination of comfort, efficiency and speed. It is self-propelled, operating without a locomotive, and is capable of coupling and uncloupling within minutes.

The Flexliner embodies today's concept of modern, safe and highly effecient 21st century passenger rail service. As the name suggests, its flexibility make the Flexliner perfect for short-to-medium distance, regional and intercity service operating over existing, conventional rail lines.

The Flexliner was clearly designed for passenger comfort. It features luxurious coach and first-class seating for approximately 140 passengers, with panoramic windows, entertainment and refreshment amenities, power outlets for laptops, fax machines and telephones. The train's compartments are large and airy, with air conditioning, ergonomically-designed seats and areas for wheelchairs, bicycles and strollers.

The Flexliner is an advanced, self-propelled, bi-directional passenger train. Its unique automatic coupling system allows individual trains to be joined and separated within minutes allowing a number of trainsets to begin as a single train with one operator, then quickly uncouple into smaller units with different destinations.

And for the ultimate in flexibility, Flexliner's proven computer technology allows diesel and electric equipment to run as a single train with either diesel or electric motors providing the tractive power.

The design of the train has carefully-considered environmental factors, giving top priority to decreased fuel consumption and reduced noise and air-pollution levels. In fact, the Flexliner's low-emission engine runs without smoke or the smell of diesel fuel.

The train was designed by ABB Daimler-Benz Transportation (Adtranz) and is a 50/50 joint venture combining the worldwide transportation businesses of ABB Asea Brown Boveri and Daimler-Benz. Adtranz is a complete global provider of transportation products, systems and services, including passenger rail systems, automated guideway transit systems and automatic train control systems.

The flexliner schedule can be found on the Amtrak California web page.

More information on the Flexliner can be found at the Amtrak West Flexliner page.

House Slashes Amtrak Funding 28% / Budget Battle Moves to the Senate

July 11, 1996. The battle over Amtrak funding now moves to the Senate where the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation is expected to take up the measure the week of July 15.


Amtrak's Response of Friday June 7, 1996

What follows is an unedited copy of Amtrak's "Employee Advisory," published by the railroad's Employee Communications Department.

The Transportation Appropriations Committee of the U. S.House of Representatives dealt a strong blow to Amtrak yesterday [June 7] when it approved drastically reduced funding levels for FY (fiscal year) 1997, which begins Oct. 1, 1996. The House Committee vote was the first in a long series of actions in both the House and the Senate leading to a final appropriations for FY 97. The action was particularly disturbing because it made significant cuts in Amtrak's capital funding. Capital funds are the key to Amtrak's future survival as Congress phases out operating funds by 2002.

"This action is a strong reminder of the difficult Congressional environment facing Amtrak. It makes our fight for the half-cent dedicated capital trust fund all the more important," said Tom Downs, Amtrak president and CEO.

Members of Amtrak's Management Committee have been asked to assess the potential impacts and actions that would be required to try and live with these cuts if months from now they turn out to be final. The Management Committee has been told that everything must be considered, so there will be talk of route and service actions, maintenance or construction changes, etc. The talk does mean that actions are being discussed, but not that decisions have been made. Final decisions are made by the board of directors based on the final Congressional outcomes.

Meanwhile, Tom Downs and Amtrak's government affairs staff are working hard on Capitol Hill to make the case for our capital funding in the Senate appropriations and in both houses with respect to getting the half-cent dedicated capital trust fund enacted. "Amtrak and its supporters must make it known that these kinds of cuts in capital funding jeopardize our future," Downs said.

Amtrak News Update--July 10, 1996.

NARP's Response of Friday, June 28, 1996

The House of Representatives early this morning approved a 1997 transportation appropriations bill slashing Amtrak funding 28%, to $542 million. In contrast, other transportation was held almost level (transit $4 billion, no change; aviation $8 billion, down 0.7%; highways $19 billion, down 2.6%). The bill is for spending in the fiscal year which begins October 1, 1996.

The 28% funding cut comes on top of the 25% hit Amtrak took this year, and even though Amtrak will borrow to finish the current fiscal year.

"The American people want a good train system. They oppose the House's fly-and-drive-only approach to transportation," said Ross B. Capon, executive director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. "A nationwide poll we commissioned last year found 63% favoring earmarking a full penny of the federal gasoline tax for 'long-term Amtrak improvements.'"

It is not clear whether Amtrak could survive if the House figure stands. Amtrak has been engaged in an intense review of options for service eliminations and additions just to live within Amtrak's own operating-grant request ($250 million). The House approved only $200 million for operations--30% below this year's level and 49% below the 1995 level of $392 million.

The service changes Amtrak is studying would come on top of last year's major service cuts, which included a 17% reduction in train-miles. One change the Amtrak Board rejected last year probably is under consideration again: elimination of the Pioneer which links Seattle, Portland, Eastern Oregon, Boise and other Idaho points and Wyoming with Denver, Omaha and Chicago (the latter two cities served by through cars carried in the California Zephyr/Desert Wind). Also, Amtrak says that the House bill would halt work both on extension of electrification to Boston and on projects needed to maintain existing Northeast Corridor service.

It long has been clear that Amtrak needs adequate funding and reforms in its authorization law to have any chance of reaching operating "self-sufficiency." Thus far, the reforms are stalled, with no sign of the Senate even passing a reauthorization bill. Meanwhile, funding levels are dropping faster than contemplated earlier. The House's $542 million (total Amtrak funding) compares with the current level of $750 million and a 23% increase (to $919 million) requested by President Clinton. Also, last year's budget resolution envisioned $922 million for Amtrak in 1997; this year's budget resolution foresaw a freeze ($750 million) for 1997.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) said during floor debate that Amtrak "is dead" if Congress fails to provide a dedicated funding source. In a May 23 test vote, the Senate voted 57-43 in favor of earmarking one half cent of the federal gasoline tax for Amtrak, but the ultimate fate of that proposal remains unclear.

NARP is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan membership group dedicated to educating the public about the benefits of rail travel. It was founded in 1967 and has 12,000 members.

Update on October's Sunset Limited Derailment--July 8, 1996. According to wire service reports, the FBI is investigating whether the Arizona militia members arrested in an alleged bomb plot last week were responsible for the derailment of Amtrak's Sunset Limited last October.

Support The Half Penny Dedicated Tax For Amtrak

With the House voting to slash Amtrak funding by 28% it is now more important than ever to lobby for passage of the Amtrak Trust Fund. This fund would allocate one-half cent of the existing federal gas tax for Amtrak capital expenditures. Please write or call your representatives in both the House and Senate urging passage of the the half-penny for Amtrak. Remember this is not an additional tax but a reallocation of the existing tax. See below: "Half Penny Resolution Passes Senate."

House Passes HR 3675--Cuts Amtrak Funding by 28% June 28, 1996--The full House of Representatives voted early this morning to pass HR 3675 and thus cut Amtrak funding by 28% for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1997. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation Chairman Wolf (R-VA) has warned that Amtrak will begin to disappear in the next few years because federal funds are going to dry up. Indeed the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) has indicated that these severe cuts may represent a "shut down budget" for Amtrak. HR 3675 takes a huge bite out of Amtrak while essentially freezing funding levels for aviation, highways and transit. The House budget must still be approved by the Senate.

It is important to emphasize that:

Amtrak was singled out for destructive cuts.

Funding is 28% below the current funding level, and thus 28% below what the House-passed budget resolution envisioned (i.e., a freeze). The House bill's actual 1997 Amtrak total is $542 million, or a reduction of 28% from 1996. It is also 41% below the $922 million envisioned for 1997 in last year's House budget resolution.

The subcommittee fully funded Clinton's $200 million operating request (but not the $250 million requested by Amtrak). This may not be enough to run the existing system.

Wolf virtually eliminated capital, supporting the view that enactment of the half-cent (which he supports but some House leaders do not) is a life-or-death.

Kids Ride Free on Amtrak California--June, 1996--Amtrak is making it easier for families to enjoy short-distance, short-stay trips aboard the Capitol, San Diegan and San Joaquin trains. From June 17 through Aug. 29, each full fare paying adult can travel with up to two children, age 15 and under, for free. Kids under two travel free year round. Amtrak's Capitols connect the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. The trains run four times a day and kids ride free with an adult daily during the promotion.

Auto Train Upgrades--Amtrak recently added Superliner II bi-level coaches to the Auto Train, providing more comfortable reclining seats with leg and foot rests, a drinking water station, convenient changing rooms where travelers can freshen up and more restroom facilities than the single level cars they replaced.

Amtrak and Washington state-- Amtrak announced jointly with the Washington State Department of Transportation their intent to negotiate for the purchase of three custom-built European-style trains from Renfe Talgo of America Inc.

Washington State expects to order two trains and Amtrak plans to order one train for delivery in early 1998. The trains would serve passengers in Amtrak's Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor, connecting Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

In monthly surveys measuring customer satisfaction on Amtrak's trains nationally, Pacific Northwest trains consistently rank in the top five.

Amtrak News Update--May 23, 1996

Amtrak's Board of Directors has approved the expenditure of nearly $235 million for the purchase of 98 new 4,250 horsepower P-42 diesel locomotives from General Electric Transportation Systems (GETS). They will be assigned to Amtrak's intercity business unit based out of Chicago and will replace 112 F-40 locomotives. "This investment illustrates the Amtrak Board's investment in the intercity rail passenger business," said Thomas M. Downs, Amtrak Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "It is another partnership between the public and private sectors to ensure rail passenger service success well into the next century." The P-42 locomotive has 40 percent more horsepower than the F-40s currently used by Amtrak. This translates into fewer locomotives for longer trains and thus lower operating costs. The P-42 is also 15% more fuel efficient. Receipt of the new fleet is expected by July, 1997.

In regards to the new April timetable changes there will be a new Capitol Corridor train running between Sacramento and Oakland. There are now four trains running between Sacramento and Oakland. There are also discussions that indicate that the San Francisco Bay Area Transit District (BART) will eventual manage this service rather than the current administrator Caltrans (the State of California).

The Coast Starlight is now back to a daily schedule between Seattle and Los Angeles. This Superliner equipped train has the latest equipment including new baggage cars (created from old Heritage Coaches), and new Superliner Coaches. With the new management realignment and the creation of "Amtrak West" the West Coast Operations have been allowed to be more creative in their operations. "Garnishes" on the Coast Starlight include a separate (former Santa Fe El-Capitan) lounge car facility for the first class passengers with special wines and snacks and a roving entertainer (i.e., magicians, singers) to entertain coach passengers along the way.

Amtrak has announced effective June 1, 1996, Trains 1/21 and 2/22 will be rerouted over Southern Pacific's Gila Subdivision - the main freight line - between Tucson and Yuma, Arizona, and will no longer directly serve Coolidge, Tempe, or Phoenix, which are located on a secondary line. Phoenix will remain staffed, and will be served by dedicated thruway buses to and from Tuscon. Other stops are not yet determined. The last train to serve Phoenix directly will originate in Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami on Tuesday, May 28, 1996. This change is being brought about because Southern Pacific is abandoning its secondary line between Phoenix and Yuma.

Vote On Sense of Senate Resolution Supporting Ampenny

Here is the vote on the Sense of the Senate Resolution supporting a half-cent allocation of existing gas tax to be used for Amtrak capital. The vote was taken on May 23, 1996 and passed by a 57-43 margin. p>In favor of an Amtrak half-cent:

Akaka (D-HI), Baucus (D-MT), Bennett (R-UT), Biden (D-DE), Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Bradley (D-NJ), Breaux (D-LA), Bryan (D-NV), Bumpers (D-AR), Burns (R-MT), Byrd (D-WV), Chafee (R-RI), Cohen (R-ME), D'Amato (R-NY), Daschle (D-SD), DeWine (R-OH), Dodd (D-CT), Dorgan (D-ND), Exon (D-NE), Feingold (D-WI), Feinstein (D-CA), Ford (D-KY), Harkin (D-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Hollings (D-SC), Inouye (D-HI), Jeffords (R-VT), Johnston (D-LA), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerrey (D-NE), Kerry (D-MA), Kohl (D-WI), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Lieberman (D-CT), Lott (R-MS), Mikulski (D-MD), Moseley-Braun (D-IL), Moynihan (D-NY), Murkowski (R-AK), Murray (D-WA), Nickles (R-OK), Pell (D-RI), Pressler (R-SD), Pryor (D-AR), Reid (D-NV), Robb (D-VA), Rockefeller (D-WV), Roth (R-DE), Sarbanes (D-MD), Simon (D-IL), Snowe (R-ME), Specter (R-PA), Wellstone (D-MN), Wyden (D-OR).

Against an Amtrak half-cent:

Abraham (R-MI), Ashcroft (R-MO), Bond (R-MO), Brown (R-CO), Campbell (R-CO), Coats (R-IN), Cochran (R-MS), Conrad (D-ND), Coverdell (R-GA), Craig (R-ID), Dole (R-KS), Domenici (R-MN), Faircloth (R-NC), Frist (R-TN), Glenn (D-OH), Gorton (R-WA), Graham (D-FL), Gramm (R-TX), Grams (R-MN), Grassley (R-IA), Gregg (R-NH), Hatfield (R-OR), Heflin (D-AL), Helms (R-NC), Hutchinson (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Kassebaum (R-KS), Kempthorne (R-ID), Kyl (R-AZ), Lugar (R-IN), Mack (R-FL), McCain (R-AZ), McConnell (R-KY), Nunn (D-GA), Santorum (R-PA), Shelby (R-AL), Simpson (R-WY), Smith (R-NH), Stevens (R-AK), Thomas (R-WY), Thompson (R-TN), Thurmond (R-SC), Warner (R-VA).

Amtrak News Update April 24, 1996

The Senate Amtrak reauthorization bill (S.1318) is on the calendar for the week of May 6. It is important to let your Senators know of your support. Please write or call now.

To find out how your Senators have voted on legislation important to Amtrak check out the National Association of Railroad Passengers' web site at: Senate Amtrak Votes

Amtrak has now received 19 of the 50 new Viewliner sleepers it has ordered. All 19 are now in operation on the Lake Shore Ltd. (New York/Boston to Chicago) and on the Crescent (New York to Atlanta/New Orleans). The new state-of-the-art sleeping cars are replacing equipment inherited by Amtrak when it was created back in 1971. They are the first single-level sleepers to be built in America in more than four decades.

Each Viewliner sleeper can accommodate 30 revenue passengers, 8 more than the older Heritage fleet that they will be replace. They consist of 12 compartments, 2 deluxe bedrooms and one bedroom for the mobility impaired. Every room has its own climate controls, video monitor and stereo sound entertainment system. The Viewliners promise a more comfortable ride with better lighting and larger windows for viewing.

Amtrak estimates that retiring the older Heritage equipment will save the company $4 million in maintenance costs alone. The Viewliners are manufactured by Amerail with plants in Chicago and Hornell, New York.

A new web site devoted to help passengers plan out their next Amtrak trip is now available at: Trakrouter This site has been developed by Matt Fels, a fellow Friend of Amtrak. Matt is not associated with Amtrak and this is not an official Amtrak site.

Amtrak West now has a new site that offers information about train schedules, station stops and more for the San Diego to San Luis Obispo route. Also available at this site are picturesque photos, a shopping page and "The San Diegan News," a fine newsletter published by Amtrak's San Diegan employees and edited by another Friend of Amtrak, Jim Hatton. This site is well worth visiting at: Amtrak West

For those who haven't seen it yet, Amtrak has published its new train schedules effective April 14. The schedule includes new Metroliner departures from Washington, D.C. and New York City, additional stops on the Keystone (Pennsylvania) service and a new departure time for the Adirondack for an earlier arrival into Montreal. In addition, the daily Vermonter service will continue for another year, thanks in part to funding from the state of Vermont. A sixth weekly round trip, available on Wednesdays, has been added to the City of New Orleans from Chicago to New Orleans. Schedules have also been changed on the Empire Builder and Pioneer while a new station stop at Mineola, TX has been added to the Texas Eagle. Arrival and departure times on the Chicago-Michigan trains and the International to Canada will change slightly to better meet customer satisfaction. There are a host of other changes too numerous to mention. You can pick up your copies of the new timetables at most Amtrak stations or by calling Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL.

And finally, a report from the YP&B/Yankelovich Partners National Leisure Travel Monitor shows that 3 out of 10 adults took at least one vacation with children last year, indicating a surging new interest in family travel in the U.S. Commenting on the new research, Stephen W. Scott, Amtrak's V.P. for marketing and revenue developed noted, "The findings on the increased desire to get away with children reinforce what we see in the marketplace. It's good news for Amtrak and it supports our decision to pursue the family market."

Amtrak News Briefs 15 March 1996

Amtrak has awarded the Northeast Corridor high speed trainset contract to the Bombardier/GEC Alsthom consortium. The company will build 18 trainsets for high speed service from Boston to Washington, D.C. that is expected to begin in late 1999 and spread to other parts of the country. The $611 million contract calls for the design and construction of 150 mph equipment that combines the technology of the French TGV trainsets with new tilt technology. The contract, announced today, also includes the construction of of three maintenance facilities for the rolling stock in Washington, D.C., New York and Boston. The new service would cut 25 percent off the travel time between Boston and Washington. High speed trains on the Northeast Corridor could cut the running time between New York and Washington to two hours and 15 minutes at 150 m.p.h.


If you missed the Spanish-built Talgo train while it was (briefly) running around Southern California last month, here's your second chance. The high-speed tilting train will be in San Diegan service on southbound Trains 570 and 578, and northbound Trains 577 and 585 from Mar.18 until Mar. 21. On Friday, Mar. 22, the train set will operate on Trains 570 and 577 only.

For those of you who like to touch things, the Talgo will be on static display at Los Angeles Union Station on Saturday, Mar. 16 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. There'll be an employee-only display between 2 and 4 p.m.

Amtrak has announced its new Explore America Fare as the "convenient, exciting and cost-conscious way to Go Where You Wanna Go, Do What You Wanna Do." The fare enables passengers to travel for up to 30 days with unlimited stopovers. The Explore America Fare is offered for coach travel but upgrades are sold on a space-available basis for sleeping car compartments. The spring fare per person is $158 for one region, $198 for two regions and $278 for the entire Amtrak system. Peak summer rates are $50 higher. Up to two children traveling with an adult can go for half-fare. Passengers 62 and older and students holding a "Student Advantage" card are eligible for a 15% discount. All travel must be booked by May 15th.
Anyone interested should contact Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL.

Support for the "Half Penny" 12 January 1996

Writing in the Winter, 1995 issue of "Private Varnish," Clark E. Johnson, Director At-Large of the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners, Inc. (AAPRCO), makes the case for a permanent funding plan for Amtrak. Johnson asserts that it is both "unfair and unreasonable to expect passenger trains to be self-supporting." He points out that "support for both the air and highway systems comes from dozens of public sources, whereas Amtrak's is only Federal government." This makes it easy for detractors to focus solely on Amtrak's funding, which they label as a "subsidy" (a pejorative term) while using the word "support" for airline and highway expenditures.

Johnson makes short shrift of the notion that highways and airways are self-supporting. He quotes "a recent study" showing "that an increase in the gasoline tax of nearly a dollar would be required to fully wean the highway system from support from general tax funds." In fact, Johnson suggests a $1 gasoline tax and notes that Congress is currently "considering a half penny diversion from the highway fund to support Amtrak's capital equipment requirements." He goes on to urge readers to contact their Congressional delegation in support of a more "permanent funding plan" that would provide Amtrak with a "steady source of capital."

Along these same lines, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) has notified it's members that "the half-cent bill has been delayed, mostly because of the budget crisis and snow storms." NARP spokesman, Scott Leonard, indicates that this "may change next week--keep telling your legislators that the half-cent is vital to Amtrak's survival!"

Craig O'Connell

Amtrak Corporate Profile -- 9 January 1996 The following Corporate Profile is available for inclusion in your files. News releases for this client are distributed by Business Wire and also become part of the leading databases and information services.

These include Dow Jones News/Retrieval, Bloomberg Financial Markets, Reuter Company Newsyear, Reuter Business Briefing, DataTimes, Nexis, Dialog, NewsNet, America OnLine, CompuServe, Delphi, Individual's HeadsUp and First!, Desktop Data's NewsEdge, UMI Data Courier, NewsBank, Information Access Company and many others.

Published date:   Jan. 5, 1996

Company name:     Amtrak
Address:          60 Massachusetts Ave. NE
                  Washington, DC

Telephone No.:    202/906-3860

Chief Executive Officer:  Tom Downs

Chief Financial Officer:  Betsy Reveal

Investor Relations
 Contact:         Cliff Black
 Business number: 202/906-3860

Public Relations  
 Contact:  Mary Anne Reynolds or Rob Borella
 Business number: 202/906-3860

Industry: Transportation

Company description: Amtrak Fast Facts

                  System facts -- 1995

o  530 stations

o  45 states served (Exceptions: Hawaii, Alaska, Oklahoma, South 
   Dakota, and Maine)

o  23,800 route miles

o  23,600 employees

o  21 million passengers carried six billion revenue passenger miles 
   annually (An additional 33 million passengers annually are 
   carried on commuter service which Amtrak operates under contract  
   for Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, MARC, Virginia Railway   
   Express, Coasters, Metrolink, Peninsula Commuter Service and 
   Shoreline East)

o  216 trains per day
   126 Northeast Corridor trains (34 Metroliners, 56 Northeast 
   Direct, 18 Empire Service, 10 Keystone Service, 8 Clocker Service)
   90 Intercity and West Business Unit trains

o  16 long-distance trains

Equipment -- Owned or leased

o  Operating locomotive fleet 
   248 diesel
   65 electric

o  Operating passenger car fleet
   1690 total cars
   260 Heritage cars
o  Average age of locomotive fleet
   13.4 years

o  Average age of passenger fleet
   22.4 years (15.1 years if Heritage cars excluded)

o  FY 1994

   Revenues $1.4 billion
   Expenses $2.4 billion

o         FY1995                        FY 1996
   Federal funds appropriated    Federal funds to be appropriated

   $392 million operating        $185 million operating
   $230 million capital          $235 million capital
   $200 million NECIP            $115 million NECIP

o  The U.S. Department of Transportation's appropriation averages    
   about $30 billion annually
o  Amtrak receives about $1 billion annually from the Federal Railroad
o  Amtrak appropriation from Congress each year accounts for only    
   three percent of the USDOT's budget and only 7/100 of one percent 
   of the total U.S. budget

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