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Dan Monaghan Passenger Rail Advocate
Mr. Dan Monaghan rail advocate joins our Save Amtrak team. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience on the subject of trains. I asked Dan to Tell it like it is! Hold nothing back! Be honest and truthful! The viewpoints on this page are the view points of Mr.Dan Monaghan. Mr Monaghan is very well respected in the rail community and I respect his integrity and honesty to present the facts as he see's it.
Let's all get down to business to Save Amtrak and our long distance trains. It's important!
About Mr.Dan Monaghan
Full name: Marvin Daniel Monaghan -- go by "Dan"
Age: 76 mileposts.
Discovered America: Wichita Falls, TX in 1926 Lived there until 1942 then moved to Amarillo. Later Sulphur Springs, TX,for two years, with a final move to Garland, TX (suburban Dallas) in 1952.
Pedigree: Came from a railroad family. Father started
as a lowly file clerk in 1918 in Childress, TX, with the Fort Worth &
Denver Ry,the Texas subsidiary of the Burlington Railroad (CB&Q).
Moved to Wichita Falls as a clerk in the superintendent's office
about 1921. With the start of WW II more officials were needed so
he was sent to Amarillo as trainmaster. From there he rose
thru asst. superintendent and superintendent until 1957 at which time he
was sent to the general office in Fort Worth as general manager of all
the Burlington's Texas Lines. He retired in 1963 and passed away
Education: Grade school, Jr. High and High School in Wichita
Falls.College at Amarillo Jr. College and UT-Austin with degree in physics.
Optometry school in Chicago when the passenger trains were in full
bloom. Graduated 1950.
Avocational activities: About everything involving railroads and transit.Served on the NARP Board for 6 years in the 1970's and early 1980's. No longer a member. Served on the Dallas City-County Amtrak Committee which helped bring Amtrak to Dallas in 1974. Served on a city rail freight committee in the early 1990's when the Union Pacific made it clear that they intended to abandon all former MKT service in the northeast Dallas/Garland area. Succeeded in bringing in the RailTex shortline, Dallas Garland & Northeastern to continue service to industries. Appointed by the Garland City Council to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors in 1990, served until 1993, returned in 2000 and still serving.
Other hobbies include model railroading in O and HO scale and antique tinplate collecting, amateur radio, and antique automobiles Am co-manager of a 15 piece big band (The Millennium Music Makers) made up of seniors playing the great swing music of the 1930's and 1940's. Play mostly for dances at the senior centers.Instruments are alto sax and clarinet. Tinkering with computers and a few other things.
The best solution for Amtrak is to hold fast to their threat to shut down the system until they receive their $200 million interim loan.
Then they should systematically
begin to reduce Amtrak's role in rail operation by setting up a division
which would, as rapidly as possible, begin to contract out all commuter
operations including the Northeast Corridor to outside contractors such
as Herzog who is well respected in the industry, or their counterparts,
and cease competing with these private sector contractors by bidding for
commuter contracts themselves. This will address the concerns of
those who are convinced that privatization should
A second division of the agency would be an operating division which would concentrate on the maintenance and operation of the long-distance interstate system which would never lend itself to privatization due to complexities of maintaining and furnishing rolling stock and infrastructure over a far-flung national system in a uniform manner. States should not be involved as it long ago proved impractical and futile to achieve cooperation among states involving interstate routes.
Such an approach addresses several diverse opinions regarding the future of Amtrak, with distributed benefits, and with an opportunity to monitor more closely revenues and expenses along with any necessary subsidies.
M.D. Monaghan, member
A clear picture of what each mode can contribute to a good mix of public and private transportation.
While increasing numbers of public officials are coming around to the
support of rail it is evident that some do not have a clear picture of
what each mode can contribute to a good mix of public and private
transportation. Perhaps the following discussion based on actual
experience during the past five years operation of light and commuter rail
at DART in Dallas will be enlightening:
The reality is, as has been
proven with DART in Dallas, that buses are good at serving several stops
very close together but are slow and do not appeal to the middle class
who do not wish to stand on street corners where routes are not clearly
defined. One of the best uses of buses is feeding rail stations.
Light rail is very efficient in serving several stops spaced one to three
miles apart, traveling at speeds up to 65 mph in between, in addition to
accessing central business district destinations. Commuter rail serves
the same purpose with stations wider apart. Cars and car pools serve
best where there is no opportunity to build rail or traffic volume is not
adequate. The reality is that rail creates a multiplicity of origins
and destinations with a frequency that does not compromise fast schedules;
it does not serve merely a single destination. In many cases the
speed of rail can erase job imbalances in cities where the jobs are in
one area and the working class lives in another too remote to access with
slow buses. This is happening in Dallas where many entry level workers
live in the southern sector but with the job opportunities being in the
Anyone needing proof of this can visit Dallas and ride any of the light rail lines which speed thru neighborhood after neighborhood after neighborhood with a smooth, gliding ride, swift acceleration, and at high speed on a dedicated clearly identifiable right-of-way accessed from stations equipped for park & ride and with trains operating on dependable schedules. Labor is efficient with one operator handling several hundred riders as opposed to fifty on a bus and maintenance of electrical equipment on rail cars is inexpensive compared to a diesel engine in every bus. Ride quality of buses is poor in comparison to rail.
Bus transportation serves
mainly the transit dependent in most cities except for single destination
point to point express buses which the middle class will accept.
When rail is added to the mix it gives the more discretionary middle class
an option they will accept enthusiastically and a return on the sales tax
they pay to support the transit system. They simply want to drive
their cars to a secure park & ride station and step aboard a train
on a fast dependable schedule, not wait on a street corner
The proof lies in Dallas. On the buses you see overalls and blue jeans. On the trains you see business suits and skirts with brief cases AND overalls and blue jeans in a mix of riders that represents the full spectrum of citizens who pay the taxes and fares to support the system.
Dan Monaghan, member
Station and baggage handling reductions March 7,2002
The predatory nature of Amtrak's decision to reduce station hours, baggage handling facilities, and station personnel should reaffirm the fact that their objective has been to discontinue the long-haul trains from the very begining in 1971 when Amtrak was created, as ex-Amtrak president Tom Downs testified in the Senate Surface Transportation subcommittee hearing on
March 13, 1997.
Warrington has given Congress a ransom note for millions of dollars stating that most of it will be needed to further gold-plate the Northeast Corridor--but it is not the Northeast Corridor he is holding for ransom--which should be the logical hostage since it is clearly the culprit in Amtrak's financial difficulties as revealed by the Amtrak Reform Council. It is the long-distance trains in the national system that could earn modest profits if properly operated that are being plundered and cut back. These cutbacks will further discourage ridership, reduce revenue, and lead to further accusations by Amtrak that they lose money.
He knows how unlikely it is that Congress will fork over the amount demanded so he will be another step forward in his long-haul slash and burn policy that started with the decimation of the long-haul car fleet, beginning with the divestment of the Heritage cars and the refusal to repair damaged Superliners that have been stacking up in Beech Grove.
He knows he has found the perfect formula for sacking the national system where previous tactics of attempting to discontinue trains failed due to reprisals on the part of members of Congress. They are too disorganized to know how to cope with these unscrupulous tactics.
It is unfortunate that so many rail supporters have misinterpreted the report of the Reform Council, the leadership of which has known this all along. This is exactly why they insisted that the NEC infrastructure, with its huge costs, be severed from the agency proper. As long as Congress makes undesignated appropriations to Amtrak they will be seized and diverted to the NEC, and the status quo will prevail.
All corridor operations which serve circumscribed areas with primarily
commuter type services must be transferred to regional ownership and operation,
funded primarily by local taxes of choice, the same as light rail systems
around over the country. Federal support can still be available but
as discretionary funds awarded on a competitive basis with overmatch incentives
to encourage local support. Only interstate trains should receive
direct federal appropriations. For too long people in Idaho
Too many rail advocates have been mesmerized by Amtrak's Lorelei
whine for more and more money with no commitment as to what it will be
used for. The answer is to break up the agency along with its corruption
ensuring that the destination for the money will be prescribed when it
comes from Congress. This does not necessarily mean privatization
as profits will not
|Thoughts regarding the nation's rail network: Feb 10, 2002
A resource that must be kept intact for its inherent ability to move freight and passengers affordably, efficiently, and at reasonable speeds. It once served both purposes well for the day and time but never fully promoted passenger service because the revenue derived was always inferior to freight and the investment in freight equipment paid a greater return. They provided it nevertheless because they felt that they had to provide the necessary transportation for their freight shippers. When the shippers completed their move to the air as the jets came on line about 1958, the railroads lost interest and wanted out. One important reason was that they wanted to eliminate timetable operation, which was necessary before radio and CTC, in order to achieve more flexible on-the-spot dispatching and get rid of cabooses and labor.
Amtrak was legislated in
1970 and implemented in 1971as a joint effort of people in Congress and
in the population, who felt that abandoning passenger trains was a mistake,
and by a conspiracy who saw it as a positive step toward a desired elimination
of the trains due to extreme right wing principles, railroads that wanted
rid of them, interests who subscribed to the gospel promoted by the railroads
that people would not ride trains except in the heavily populated cities
of the East, and highway and other vested interests such as the Northeast
political establishment who were afraid tax money would be diverted from
their domains. The conspirators expected the national system to be
shut down within two to three years as Tom Downs testified in the Senate
Surface Transportation Subcommittee Amtrak hearing on March 13 of 1997
chaired by Senator Kay
I had the privilege of being
a close friend of Dallas resident Charles Luna, founder of the UTU, who
served on the Amtrak Board for 22 years from the beginning to his death
in 1992. During that time I had access to all the board minutes and
agendas and it was apparent that the board had no intention of making any
long term investment in the national system. During a portion of his tenure
he had the good fortune of having support of two other board members, Joseph
MacDonald and Ed Ullman, a situation not enjoyed since. Their diligent
efforts and the energy crisis thwarted the efforts of the conspirators
and led to a new lease on life including the Superliner orders and the
ascension of Graham Claytor to the presidency, who did not agree with the
conspirators. Following the death of Luna in 1992 and the retirement
and death shortly after of Claytor, Tom Downs began
Warrington, however, devised
a clever way to resume the assault, The politicians regularly rose
up to defend train discontinuances, but they did not know how to deal with
Warrington's strategy of allowing the rolling stock and service to deteriorate
and not repair or replace it and not dealing aggressively with the railroads
for better performance. At the
If rail passenger service
is to survive it is clear that the imbalance in distribution of resources
that exists around over the nation and the dissension that has resulted
has to be resolved with equity governing the appropriations and uses of
the available funding. People basically should get the facilities
they are willing to pay for with supplements available that represent the
inter uses of the facilities. This principle already applies to rail
transit systems. Local tax funds provide the basic resources and
the providers of these funds will be the principal users. Supplemental
funds from Congressional appropriations should be available
I am not convinced of the future of corridor routes unless paid for according to the above as they will prove expensive without substantial freight revenue which will be constrained to provide fast, frequent passenger service. This will lead to attempts to expropriate funds rightfully belonging to other areas of the nation and there will be a repeat performance of the acrimony that surrounds the excesses of the NEC. Small jets will increasingly penetrate this market as they become availale.
All of this depends upon
adequate funding and it will never be possible for the rail advocates to
go to Congress with a uniform, dedicated front as long as one or a few
areas are trying to steal the shirts off the other's backs. An area
with a tri-weekly train can't be expected to march in lock step with an
area that has a train every 30 minutes. This is greed pure
If this principle of equity is adopted and adhered to there should be no need to wind down the national system and have to deal with labor issues. There will be more labor opportunities than ever before. If it is not, strife and dissension will continue to stall progress. The present Amtrak management and board must go. They have not demonstrated competence having led the agency into the present tar pit.
The Reform Council has come close to the answer in several respects. Above all the NEC infrastructure must be carved out of the remainder of the system so that the huge cost identified by the ARC can be made transparent, and the fact established that the long-haul trains are not the losers that the conspiracy has represented. Once that is done things can move forward.
I have noted with interest
a report posted on our Mobility Dallas website authored by experienced
rate and tariff statistician, Dave Randall of Alton, IL, who stated that
a Superliner train made up of four coaches, three sleepers, a diner and
lounge operating at 75% capacity can pay its operating costs and generate
a modest profit to apply to system overhead.
For those of us who are not
particularly religious, the above can be justified with logic and an understanding
of human nature. For those of us that are religious, there is a rule
that can be found in the book that preceded the railroad rulebooks by thousands
of years known as the "Golden Rule." Either route will lead us to
a junction point marked by success in preserving and improving our rail
passenger system. Take your choice. The alternatives lead to