News & Commentary

Two More States Take Aim At Passenger Rail Funding

Advocacy is perpetual, but especially so in Indiana and West Virginia

Abe Zumwalt Writing about Washington State’s I-976 was gut-wrenching. Should voters in the Evergreen state push the measure forward, the region would stand to lose much of its transit system, and its connections to Oregon as well as British Columbia via Amtrak Cascades service. This will be the seventh time the state has dealt with this particular threat – but Washington certainly isn’t the only place where battles have to be fought again. Passenger rail funding at the state level is vuln

We All Have To Start Somewhere

by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator While the world is caught up in “the ten year challenge" - I’m waiting for next week’s MassDOT Rail Vision public hearing and MBTA’s Green Line Extension station design unveiling, I thought I would share a quick story of how I “got here” as I celebrate my one year anniversary on the DC (via Cambridge, MA) staff. While I was attending Northeastern University for grad school (MPA ‘13), as a number of you know, I was able to meet and learn

New Dining Options Are Here

Amtrak Is Listening To Passenger Concerns

By Carolyn Cokley, Rail Passengers Association As you all know, back on June 1, 2018, Amtrak launched contemporary, fresh dining choices for sleeping car customers on-board its Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited trains. On-board meal preparation was replaced with a small variety of fresh and ready-to-serve boxed meals. Let’s just say that the new menu has been met with very mixed reviews. As Jim revealed to you all in last month’s Hotline, he and Sean met with the senior team at Amtrak

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