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All photos by Ron Goodenow. Reproduction without Ron's permission is prohibited.

It is getting harder and hard to be a 'Friend of Amtrak' when Amtrak is finding it difficult to be a friend of itself.

Remember, "Dinner in the Diner, Nothing Could Be Finer..."? With the crew running Amtrak these days diners may be gone before you get to the last verse. We know about how the Silver Star, pictured here from a trip a very few years ago, has dropped its diner and now comes word the Lake Shore and Capitol Ltd will be losing theirs this summer. Things like the UP ad for its diners will be long gone. Rumors abound that the national network will be splintered. At the very time Congress provided more funding for it. So Pacific Parlours go, food is on its way out, and for all we know a California Zephyr trip may be broken up into several sections of day trains with the airline president now CEO of Amtrak doing what he did to Delta Airlines. You get to stay in a Trump hotel for dinner, sleep and breakfast before heading out in the morning. Increasingly cramped seating, restrictions on reservations, and as happening now, drastic reductions in youth fares, and discounts for the likes of AAA will be gone. What you'll get if you ride Amtrak in a sleeping car is a choice of one of two cold sandwiches or a salad in your room, not with friends in the diner. Oh, and it won't be long until they charge for your pillow and wi-fi time. And if you want to ride a charter or that ole fall foliage train it won't be anywhere near an Amtrak engine.

Write your Congressional rep. Watch the Amtrak web page for info on Burger Kings near your station. Get over to the Rail Passengers Association website for updates and give a shout to Amtrak that one of the world's finest rail experiences should not be destroyed. And, perhaps they could explain what they are doing to the system we help pay for.


Is there any question that the Downeaster is one of the most successful Amtrak trains when overall management, customer service, and step by step improvements are considered? Kudos to Wayne Davis, Pat Quinn and crew. Given it, and the California Caps and Zephyr are my favorite trains I couldn't resist an hour off from my Ogunquit, Maine, stay this week to drive over to South Berwick on May 31 to catch the Downeaster on the fly. Hmmmm, 'On the fly'? Interpret as you wish. It was rocking along at high speed, but now is what we can call the 'fly like' list of new Amtrak CEO, Richard Anderson, the former CEO of that wonderfully customer friendly old legacy airline, Delta. I guess Amtrak got a real deal with this freeby, who is charging nothing for his service. But what they are also getting is a lot of bird pucky which is damaging to the Downeaster, Cap Corridor and other regional and national Amtrak services. Lets be honest folks, my depiction could have included a flying bird dumping on the train. TNE chair Wayne Davis has published in his highly informative TrainRiders Northeast's web site a devastating critique what a good screwing is doing system and Downeaster wise.. See Amtrak Service Nationwide Under Assault by AMTRAK!

In addition to noting some widely commented upon Anderson decisions to dramatically reduce food services, possibly end the very successful Southwest Chief, end many discounts, including those for veterans(!) and AAA members, kill Parlour cars out west, get rid of station agents, and dump the carrying of private cars and private charter runs, Wayne's piece notes that Anderson decision will likely kill the very popular Downeaster Dome car, and, after expressions of confusion, the possibility of expanding services this summer, and who knows what else. Similar publications have come from California rail operators, whose highly successful services may suddenly be under attack, and many of the leading editorial voices in the passenger rail fold. Of course, some of this is plain old bean counting by an airline executive known for that skill and part of it comes from Congress, which is trying to cap food services and otherwise micromanage the system in ways in wouldn't dream of doing with the airlines which get huge government subsidies. Sure, Anderson is claiming he will get wi-fi working on many trains, and even let passengers reserve seats on the Acela (he's made that harder at Delta). There are some signs that criticisms are sinking in, but communication to your representatives in Congress much needed. Or get out the word processor and write something for your local newspaper or social media outlet. If you're in New England join TrainRiders NE.

I take responsibility for my depictions of bird behavior, carpentry tools and Photoshop scribbling. The photo was taken with my relatively new Sony HX-90Z point and shoot with a 30x telephoto lens that was needed to get the shot.


The freebie ex-Delta CEO of Amtrak has another great scheme. Having killed the Pacific Parlor cars, reduced or ended discounts, killed the Downeaster Dome and expansion they decided to give first class passenger on the Lake Shore and Capitol Limited cold sandwiches for dinner. Aha, but not enough. Time to kill what Amtrak president Richard Anderson calls a 'Experiential Train' (hello Orwell). Yes indeed, for reasons that make no sense, according to rail experts, bi-partisan delegations from Congress and even the rather Amtrak fawning Rail Passengers Association, Anderson has decided to unload passengers somewhere before Raton Pass (La Junta?) and put them on buses. Yes, perhaps hundreds of passengers, including the disabled and possibly sick and infirm, transferred in possibly bad weather to buses which will take them to Albuquerque to rejoin their train or another one like it. Lets be clear here. Amtrak is breaking a deal it made with states on the route, and is claiming economic and safety measures which make no sense. Just a plot from Anderson to drive a nail in the long distance system that serves so many communities and people in need. Soon we'll learn the California Zephyr crosses the Sierras and Rockies at night..

So here's one solution. A German rail car that can run on the road or tracks depending on what's available. Plan your vacation now. Bring a cooler.


What a contrast to the lunacy coming out of the Amtrak offices in Washington to destroy customer services
and popular trains! A California dream come true caught by my camera at the Novato Hamilton station on
August 15, 2018. A sizable group had joined the SMART train for its run up to Santa Rosa roughly one
year after the initiation of service. Here is a description from the SMART website: :

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) is the San Francisco Bay Area's newest transportation option for travel, offering passenger rail service in Sonoma and Marin counties. SMART's initial 43 miles of rail corridor includes 10 stations, from the Sonoma County Airport to Downtown San Rafael. Future extensions include Larkspur, which is scheduled to be completed in 2019; Windsor; Healdsburg; and Cloverdale. The full project will provide 70 miles of passenger rail service, connecting SMART passengers with jobs, education centers, retail hubs and housing along the Sonoma=Marin corridor and a bicycle-pedestrian pathway.

Camera: Sony HV-90.




Page created by: Craig O'Connell
Changes last made on: September 9, 2018.



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