Blog

Your daily source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the weekly NARP Hotline.

An Unlikely Amtrak Champion

If you’ve been tracking Amtrak’s fortunes in Washington, D.C. for any amount of time, you were probably surprised at the speed with which the new passenger rail bill passed through the Senate this summer. After years of talking around the issue, the bill appeared to be a non-starter as late as this spring, not even meriting a draft. Many in the rail community were even viewing this as something of a blessing, given a lackluster proposal that passed out of the House in March which only serv

NARP Chairman: Firsthand Report on Silver Star Sans Diner

The Silver Star in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo courtesy of Patrick Rasenberg/Flickr. The Silver Star is testing selling sleeping car accommodations on the line between New York and Miami at a lower price by not including dining car meals-- however, more than just an unbundling of services, Amtrak has eliminated the dining car entirely. Amtrak will run this test through January 31, 2016, to evaluate the operational cost savings and customer satisfaction of operating an overnight train at a lowe

Senate Supporters Restore 80-20 Funding Split in Transportation Bill

Public transit champions in the Senate have prevailed in their campaign to restore an 80-20 split between highways and transit in the Senate’s hotly negotiated surface transportation bill. Democratic staffers on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee were reporting that the initial draft of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act was based on a 94-6 split in capital funding for new projects, translating to roughly $3.2 billion for the highw

NARP To Hold Council Meeting on Rail Reform Bill

NARP will hold a town hall-style conference call with Council Members on Wednesday July 22 at 9:00 p.m. EDT, to discuss efforts to get a better version of S.1626, the passenger rail reauthorization bill. The staff have created summary documents on S. 1626 that members should read before the conference call. The phone number is 302-202-1104; the passcode is: 665159. In order to keep the call to one hour, NARP is asking Council Members to email their questions in advance to Communications Directo

NARP Thanks Senate Commerce Committee Leaders for Including Rail Reform in Transportation Bill

Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) The National Association of Railroad Passengers sent a letter today to U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ranking Member Ben Nelson (D-Neb) thanking them for including the Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act (S.1626) as part of the committee’s portion of the surface transportation bill, the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015 (S.1732). A

NARP's July Newsletter Is Out!

July 7, 2015 The July issue of the NARP Newsletter is now available. This month's issue includes legislative updates in the House of Representatives and the Senate on appropriations and rail safety. ColoRail President James Souby is this month's member profile, while NARP Silver Rail and Heritage Circle member Cathy Johnson is the donor profile. We laud Council Member Charlie Hamilton for receiving the Jack Martin Award for his efforts in upgrading the NARP website. Finally, we cover the hiri

NARP To Raffle New England Train Tour

July 6, 2015 America by Rail, the leader in rail tours and train vacations, has generously donated a New England Fall Foliage tour for NARP to raffle off as a fundraiser. Members have asking questions about how this effort will work. The trip, valued at $5690, is an eight-day tour of top spots in New England, including visits to the Trapp Family Lodge and the Billings Farm in Vermont and a ride on three scenic railroads in New Hampshire. Raffle tickets are $150 and will benefit NARP’s legi

It’s The Funding, Stupid

By Abe Zumwalt It’s unfortunate that, given the blunt title of Matthew Yglesias’ recent piece “The Real Reason American Passenger Trains Are So Bad”, never once is the real problem—funding disparity—explicitly stated. Instead, the author dusts off a whole host of old arguments to explain why we don’t actually need further investment in passenger trains at all. Many of these seem to be honest misconceptions: that a whole new high-speed system must be built at enormous cost for pa

Ask Senators to Support Two Important Transportation Bills

The Senate moved two critical transportation bills today, and we need America’s passengers to rally support for Congressional leaders who are working to strengthen investment in Amtrak. The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously passed an exciting passenger rail authorization bill—the multiyear framework that provides the structure for Amtrak's existence and intercity rail investment. You can read about what this bill would mean for a strong national network on the NARP Blog. Meanwhile, the

Senate Appropriators Reject House’s Cuts to Trains

June 23, 2015 The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies approved a fiscal year 2016 funding bill that extends current levels of funding for Amtrak at $1.4 billion, rejecting cuts made in the House version of the T-HUD bill. That version of the bill slashed Amtrak funding by $262 million, transit funding by $161 million, and funding for the intermodal TIGER grant program by $400 million. Fortunately, the Senate measure provid