News & Commentary

Amtrak Cascades Service Could End On A Single Popular Vote

How a corruption fraud case could disembowel transit service in Washington State

By Abe Zumwalt Washington State primarily funds its transit operations from vehicle licensing fees. For a diverse and robust transit network--one which boasts the largest ferry system in the continental United States, extensive rural regional bus service, explosively popular light rail service, and a healthy intercity passenger rail program--this unvarying source of funding has proven in the past to be a dangerous Achilles heel. Voters face a choice on the November 2019 ballot to cap this fee a

High Speed Rail Came To America 50 Years Ago This Week!

Or Did It?

By Bruce Becker - Vice-President of Operations January 1969 witnessed a number of historical events... Led Zeppelin released their first album in the U.S. on January 12th Richard Nixon was sworn in as the Nation’s 37th President on January 20th And on January 16th, the Penn Central Railroad inaugurated the original Metroliner train into revenue service. Just as Russia’s 1950’s space program led to Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon later in 1969, Japan’s launch of th

Time To Rip Off The Band-Aid

To Create Modern Transportation Systems, We All Must Make Some Hard Choices

by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator New York had the “Summer of Hell” in 2017 when Amtrak needed to make necessary repairs to Penn Station tracks and signals. Commuter rail and subway cancellations, reroutes, and delays were in order and public transportation in and out of Manhattan suffered for months. We made it through. 2018 brought us “Summer of Hell II” when the Amtrak continued their work at Penn Station. This time, it was the Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Adirond

The Stories That Make a Difference

Grassroots Rail Advocacy

By Carolyn Cokley Advocacy is defined as an activity by an individual or group which aims to influence decisions within political, economic and social systems and institutions. Advocacy can include many activities that a person or organization undertakes including media campaigns, public speaking, publishing research, conducting exit polls or the filing of an amicus brief. But, what happens when, you withdraw from and are not a part of that public voice, or you feel that you are not equipped t

Disruption on the Sunset

by Jim Mathews There’s a truism in official Washington: always release bad news late on Friday. And that’s just what happened last Friday, when Trains News Wire reported that Union Pacific track work would suddenly disrupt Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle schedules -- including eliminating one weekly Sunset round trip. Rail Passengers members and ticketed passengers alike were pretty steamed over the weekend, as well they should be. Work will get started on the tracks between San Antonio and

North Carolina Sees a Future Built on Rail

by Sean Jeans-Gail While it is commonly asserted that passenger rail only makes sense in the Northeast, there are dozens of thriving and soon-to-be rail systems around the U.S. that prove otherwise. Durham, North Carolina is just one such example, boasting what will be a heavily utilized GoTriangle light rail service for thousands of local residents. In 2020, Durham and Orange County will be starting construction on an 18-mile electric rail line. It will serve three of the ten largest employer

Amtrak Orders National Network Locomotives

75 new Siemens diesel locomotives to replace its aging long distance locomotive fleet.

In response to record ridership levels, Amtrak announced December 21, 2018 that it will acquire 75 new diesel locomotives from Siemens Mobility to replace its aging National Network locomotive fleet. The initial order of locomotives will be used principally to replace the P40 and P42 locomotives on Amtrak’s Long Distance train service. The contract includes the option to purchase more for use on State Supported routes and for future growth. “These new locomotives will offer increased reliab

The Little Train That Did

A Record Breaking Year for the Downeaster

by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator “Well I'm on the Downeaster Alexa” - Billy Joel Wrong type of transportation, Piano Man. Okay. I promise this won’t be the pop culture romp that last week’s blog was. Last Friday, council member Wayne Davis and TrainRiders/Northeast held their 30th Annual Meeting in Portland, Maine to celebrate the 17th Birthday of the famed Downeaster service. I joined Bruce Becker, Vice Chair Tom Girsch, council members Steve Musen, Andy Cabal &


by Carolyn Cokley, Director Customer Programs Synergy is defined as the benefit that results when two or more agents work together to achieve something neither one could have achieved on its own. It's the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. In the spirit of the year end, RPA staff took some well-deserved time this week to share a meal together and enjoy each other’s company outside of the office. The conversation started with the events of the day and general Washin

Contemporary Dining

Does Amtrak Deliver What It Advertises?

By Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Association The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘contemporary’ as: ‘marked by characteristics of the present period’. So how does Amtrak’s use of the words ‘contemporary’ and ‘dining’ stand up to this definition? This past weekend I rode the Lake Shore Limited from Boston to Buffalo in a roomette and had the opportunity to see for myself. Lunch was served to the sleeping car passengers about 45 minutes after leaving Boston, with the availa