Hotline #1,101

Rail Passengers Chairman Dispels Myths of Association; Deal Reached to Bring Metro-North to the Bronx; Amtrak Showcases Metropolitan Lounge; Committee Looks to Keep Rail Runner Going; More Than A Third of Transit Agencies Feel Government Shutdown; Philly’s 30th Street Station Flipboard to Come Down

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In a Railway Age opinion piece published last week, Rail Passengers Association Chairman Peter LeCody took time last week to share with RPA members and passenger rail supporters how the Association works hard to advocate for the needs of Amtrak passengers. Sometimes this is in support of Amtrak’s efforts, and other times it is not.

LeCody wrote that “recent opinion pieces and news stories, such as in Railway Age, have indicated the Rail Passengers Association ‘goes along to get along’ with Amtrak executives and does not express any objections to what the passenger railroad has done or will do when it comes to serving the riding public. This is clearly not the case.”

LeCody pointed to several examples in which the Association has called out Amtrak or opposed the railroad’s efforts. Three examples include:

  • RPA released a White Paper last fall that blasted Amtrak’s “Faulty Route Accounting” (Railway Age, Aug. 28, 2018).
  • RPA took action when cold food service started on two long-distance trains, the Capitol Limited and the Lakeshore Limited. We worked with Amtrak to have at least one hot meal restored—and more have been announced. (Railway Age, Jan. 17, 2019; Hotline #1063.)
  • RPA’s vigorous campaign to advocate against Amtrak’s misguided “bus bridge” proposal that would have created a fracture in the National Network by replacing train service with busses on part of the Southwest Chief route.

To read LeCody’s Op-Ed in its entirety, please visit Railway Age online.


Going Shopping For Shiny New Coaches

by Jim Mathews, President and CEO of Rail Passengers

Late last Friday, Amtrak let the world know that it’s ready to get industry bids on supplying "up to 75 trainsets" worth of equipment to replace elderly Amfleet Is. It's great to see Amtrak step up to the plate and start making good on long-overdue promises to get cracking on upgrading coaches for the modern passenger.

Sure, it's a baby step...but it's the second step in as many months (following on the heels of the locomotive order) and it can't come soon enough.

Just before Amtrak announced the diesel locomotive order, your Board member Dave Randall noted the scale of the challenge Amtrak faces in replacing its tired fleet.

To read more of our take on Amtrak’s strategy for upgrading its fleet, please visit our blog online.


Folks in the Bronx will get more access to rail following a new deal between Amtrak, Empire State Development Corp., and New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The agreement includes developing four new MTA Metro-North Railroad stations that will be built along a rail line in the east Bronx. The line will also connect to New York’s Penn Station.

"With a reconstructed Moynihan Station currently underway, these four stations not only will connect the east Bronx to Manhattan's West Side, but also build upon our ongoing efforts to fully transform our state's transportation infrastructure,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press release.

Under the deal Empire State Development will work with the MTA on project planning and expedition, while Amtrak and the MTA will jointly study the feasibility of Amtrak running several trains daily from Long Island to Penn Station, and continuing either to Boston or Washington, D.C.

Through the Penn Station access project, Metro-North trains will travel to Queens, then merge with the Long Island Rail Road's (LIRR) route and proceed through the East River Tunnels into Manhattan and west to the station.

Locations for the four new stations are:

  • Hunts Point,
  • Parkchester/Van Nest,
  • Morris Park and
  • Co-op City.

Of the new deal, Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Vice-President of Operations, said in an interview with Albany Times Union that trains from Albany could also serve Long Island. Becker said that at one time Amtrak ran New York Mets baseball specials from Albany directly to Shea Stadium in Queens.

There has been talk of bringing some Metro-North Hudson line trains, that share tracks with Amtrak's Empire service between Poughkeepsie and Spuyten Duyvil, into Penn Station, but Becker said that's "still in the global discussion process."

In addition to the four new stations, the project will include new tracks and switches; power, signal and communications work; and various infrastructure upgrades. The MTA Board's Metro-North Committee approved the $35-million contract with HNTB New York Engineering and Architecture for preliminary engineering and design of the project. The MTA's 2015-2019 Capital Program contains the initial investment of $695 million towards the project, including $250 million in State resources will be provided through ESD. The MTA is seeking additional funding for the project in the 2020-2024 Capital Program to complete the project.


Rail Passengers Track Update: Where are we and what’re we working on? This new section will give you updates on what Rail Passengers HQ is up to.

Jim Mathews, Rail Passengers President and CEO, spent much of this week on internal matters involving banking and administration, as well as kicking off 2019 plans with our marketing partners to secure corporate partnerships and support. It turns out, though, that there’s an “internal matter” that RailPassengers members can help with: one of the overlooked passages in the big tax-change bill that passed in 2017 makes nonprofits and charities -- like Rail Passengers Association -- pay taxes on staff transit benefits. Jim spent time this week working with a coalition of nonprofits is working to get this unfair tax on transportation benefits repealed, since we’re part of that coalition. The team just did a study showing that the average nonprofit will have to divert $12,000 away from spending on its mission to pay these taxes. Read the study here. And speaking of studies, Jim did take some time from internal matters to give an interview to an NPR affiliate in Colorado about the research study RailPassengers did on the economic impact of bustitution on the Southwest Chief. He also wrote his regular column for Passenger Trains Journal magazine...which should be published next month!

Sean Jeans-Gail, Rail Passengers Vice President of Government Affairs, met with Congressional appropriators to discuss funding for passenger rail and transit in Fiscal Year 2020. Sean also met with transportation staffers from Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), the Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Rail, to discuss the House agenda for infrastructure and the surface transportation reauthorization.

Rail Passengers Northeast Field Coordinator, Joseph Aiello, spent Tuesday night at TransitMatter’s “Beer & Transit” (this is where we borrowed the idea) networking event. The guest speaker was former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Fred Salvucci - having served under Joe’s mentor, Governor Michael Dukakis (read more about that here). The main topic of the event was connecting the MBTA’s Red and Blue lines via extending the Blue Line to Charles/MGH, giving more mobility to communities along the lines and allowing for better access to Logan Airport. The MBTA fiscal board will hear public comment on this topic on February 4th (which Joe will unfortunately have to miss).

Joe also had lunch with Former State Representative John Businger on Wednesday to discuss to possibility of a federal EIR/EIS sponsor for the North-South Rail Link project and how Amtrak could be involved.

Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs for Rail Passengers, sent out the RPA Travel Review to Board members for their testing and feedback. Several suggestions and thoughts have been shared and Carolyn has been in the process of sorting through and implementing those suggestions that move the Travel Review forward. Next step will be to send to Council members giving them an opportunity to test the flow and soundness of the Travel Review. Once finalized, the Travel Review will be posted on the website for members and non-members to partake.

Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Vice-President of Operations, was interviewed by the Albany (NY) Times-Union on Tuesday regarding the announcement that a deal had been reached between New York’s MTA and Amtrak for new Metro North commuter service and stations along Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line. Also this week, Bruce coordinated initiatives focused on enhancing the security of the Association’s online information collection systems, which will shortly include a new user-friendly authentication process.


Since the Federal Transit Administration is unable to provide grants, cooperative agreements or contracts during the federal government shutdown, more than a third of public transit agencies’ operations or capital programs are being substantially affected. The results come from a new study conducted by American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which were also shared by the association in a letter to President Donald Trump and members of Congress. The study was completed between January 9-15 and 36 percent of respondents said that the government shutdown was substantially affecting their organizations

“This record government shutdown is having critical impacts on public transit systems across the country that are compounding daily,” APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas and Chair David Stackrow Sr. said in the letter. "Agencies report cutting back service, delaying hiring, transferring capital funds to operations, using reserve funds, and other direct impacts. With each passing day, these impacts become worse.”

In the letter, APTA urges the president and Congress to end the shutdown and reopen the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) so transit agencies can receive critical federal support.

For the full letter from APTA, please visit APTA online.


February Newsletter is Now Available

Our February 2019 Newsletter is now available for important updates from Rail Passengers staff and news in the passenger rail industry.

Please visit us online to read the February Newsletter.


Several transit agencies in Texas are concerned about the implications of an extended government shutdown. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) spokesman Morgan Lyons told reporters that it's “important for the federal government to get back to work” because the agency is facing several financial challenges, including delays to new projects extending light-rail station platforms and receiving grants for preventative maintenance.

Other agencies, such as the Texas Department of Transportation, the Trinity Metro in Fort Worth and the Denton County Transportation Authority have all said services are running as normal, but they are unsure of the long-term effect on rails, roads and other infrastructure in the state.

To determine the actual financial challenges, the North Central Texas Council of Governments which is the area’s metropolitan planning organization, is conducting a financial stress test to figure out when the group will "potentially run out of cash" since no federal funding is coming through.


YOU CAN USE YOUR MEMBER DISCOUNTS FOR EXCLUSIVE SAVINGS

Rail Passengers’ new partnership with MemberDeals will give members access to exclusive savings on movie tickets, theme parks, hotels, rental cars, tours, Broadway and Vegas shows and more through the members only area of the Rail Passengers website. Be sure to check back often as new products and discounts are constantly being added!

Whether you are from Bakersfield, Bismarck or Boston, Rail Passengers and MemberDeals have you covered! Our MemberDeals partnership covers venues, services and attractions throughout the country...take a look to see where there might be savings on fun outings near you!

Remember, if you want to use these great internet-only discounts, you must be a member in good standing AND be logged in to the Rail Passengers website. If you need help accessing these discounts email us at [email protected], or call the office at 202-408-8362.


Amtrak’s flipboard in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station may no longer be available for passenger use as soon as this weekend. U.S. Representative Brendan Boyle, who has been in negotiations with Amtrak to keep the board, said that the iconic item will likely be replaced with a digital model over the weekend. Boyle said he was told that the digital screen could be temporary, and that he has talked with Amtrak about replacing the old sign with a modern split-flap board that could provide real-time train information.

The flipboard, also known as a Solari Board, is the last of its kind used by Amtrak and dates back to the 1970s when it was first installed at 30th Street Station. Amtrak has said that the old board does not meet Americans With Disabilities Act requirements since Solari boards do not provide detailed real-time information about train delays.

Amtrak says that the old board will most likely go to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, where it would be put on display as part of the museum's collection.

In Texas, the Jefferson County Commissioners Court joined the growing list of supporters for daily service on the Sunset Limited, a campaign led by your Association and spearheaded by longtime advocate Bruce Ashton. The commissioners voted unanimously in favor of expanding service in Southeast Texas. Other cities to recently express support include San Antonio, Houston and Tucson.

“I think if they want to make an appeal for more transportation-related opportunities for citizens along the Amtrak route, I’m certainly not going to stand in the way of that progress,” Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said.

A major factor in the proposed increase in service is due to the recent increase in population in the states served by the Sunset Limited - California, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Texas, which have experienced a 22 percent increase in population between 2000 and 2016.

Although the proposal is gaining support, expansion of service could still be a ways off. According to a rail plan update from the Texas Department of Transportation, Union Pacific told Amtrak that daily operation of the route would require $750 million in track upgrades and other capital improvements.


Two more states take aim at passenger rail funding

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

By Abe Zumwalt, Rail Passengers Director of Policy Research

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 vulnerable across the country.

This very organization boosted a local campaign to save Indiana’s Hoosier State when it was on the chopping block back in 2013. So it is again today, after having not made the cut into the Governor’s budget for the year. The argument for the train is clear enough for this threat to be beaten back: it’s odd four-day-per-week schedule compliments the Cardinal’s three-day-per-week shuffle along the same route; it offers Amtrak a handy pipeline for its equipment between Chicago and its shops at Beech Grove with a substantial employment base for the state; and as so many passenger trains are, it has proven to be an ‘investment rather than a subsidy’ with demonstrated local support.

To read Abe’s blog in its entirety, please visit us online.


This week, KRCC-FM (91.5), an NPR affiliate in Colorado, spoke with Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews on the Association’s recent study on the economic benefits of maintaining the Southwest Chief. This includes contributing $180 million annually to three states - Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas. Despite Amtrak’s proposal for a bus bridge on the route between Albuquerque, NM and Dodge City, KS being dropped, Mathews said that it is important to highlight how much the Southwest Chief contributes to the local economies so the idea is never brought up again.

“These communities are benefitting tremendously from the fact that there is a Southwest Chief service, and they would be harmed tremendously if that service was to go away,” Mathews said.

Research for the report, Bustituted: The Socioeconomic Impacts of Replacing Southwest Chief Service Over Raton Pass, was conducted by Rail Passengers and researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Trent Lott National Center to determine how life might change for the people who live, work, visit or study in affected towns.

Rail Passengers and USM also built a model to account for factors ranging from direct spending to construction, labor, local tax payments and visitation and tourist spending. The model builds on work done by USM and Transportation for America (T4A), and funded by the Southern Rail Commission (SRC), to quantify the economic benefits of rail service for Gulf Coast communities.


NEW PHOTO CONTEST: #ViewsOnATrain

We are now asking you to submit photos of #ViewsOnATrain. This could be of you preparing for your train journey; of your children admiring the view from a moving train; of the crowd waiting on a platform; or of you standing under the departures board at Grand Central.

Photos can be submitted via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter depicting your experience as “The Rail Passenger.” Rail Passengers Association executives will be judging the photos, and the winners’ images will be used as part of our new visual identity on our website, in our monthly newsletter, on social media, and more!

Grand prize winners will receive of 10,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards® points.

Runner-Up photos will also be awarded, including Rail Passengers gear.

When submitting your photos on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #ViewsOnATrain and tag @RailPassengers.

We can’t wait to see your submissions!


In Virginia, Hampton Roads residents will have another option for Amtrak service when the railroad adds a second train on March 4. The area currently has a train with a daily departure of 6:10am, and the second train will add a 9am departure on weekdays from Norfolk. The second train will also provide additional economic support for the region.

“Rail plays a critical role in our multi-modal transportation system, with an economic impact of $73 billion of output across the commonwealth,” Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said in a press release. “The additional passenger rail service announced (last week) will expand access, improve mobility, and create greater economic opportunity.”

City and state officials also expect that the additional service will encourage people to ditch their cars for the train, and help reduce traffic congestion on highways.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is inviting community members to review and share their input on the Artesia-to-downtown LA light-rail project through a series of meetings. Meetings to discuss the project, also known as the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor that would run 19 miles to connect downtown LA to southeast LA County, will take place on January 30, February 2 and February 7.

The focus on the meetings will be a series of project refinements that the agency’s board approved in December. These include an aerial structure over Interstate 10 and the addition of five aerial grade separations along the corridor.

Time and dates of the meetings are:

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES

  • Wednesday, January 30, 2019, 5-7pm
  • Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple
  • 815 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

SOUTH GATE

  • Saturday, February 2, 2019, 10am-12pm
  • South Gate Girls Club House
  • 4940 Southern Av, South Gate, CA 90280

ARTESIA

  • Thursday, February 7, 2019 | 6-8pm
  • Albert O. Little Community Center
  • 18750 Clarkdale Av, Artesia, CA 90701

Vision

By Joe Aiello, Rail Passengers Northeast Field Coordinator

“It’s just easier to drive!”

“We don’t need another ‘Big Dig’!”

“Tommy Brady is the greatest eva, kehd!”

I hear statements like this nearly everyday (one of them I hear WAY too much). It’s part of the mentality that we advocates need to break when talking to the general public about transportation needs. The “Big Dig”comment comes my way nearly daily when trying to discuss the North-South Rail Link - the project that would connect North & South Stations in Boston, allowing for uninterrupted service between Virginia and Maine (Jim Mathews wrote a great blog on this topic in December). Was the “Big Dig” an over-promised and over-budget boondoggle at the time?

Yes.

But would anyone go back to the way things were before the Central Artery was put underground?

Not a chance.

To read more of Joe’s blog, please visit us online.


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) may soon be required to alert Congressional members when an intercity or commuter-rail agency in their district conducts a safety audit. U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) has proposed the legislation that would require that the FRA provide notification to a district's senators, representative and relevant congressional committees within 10 days of initiating a safety review. Once the audit is complete, the FRA would then have 90 days to report the findings and recommendations.

"Members of Congress and senators must know when and why these safety assessments are underway so that we may inform our constituents and work on ways to provide assistance," Sires in a press release.

Sires pointed to a recent example in which New Jersey members of Congress were not alerted to a safety review by the FRA of NJ Transit’s safety procedures after a train accident in Hoboken resulted in a death in 2016.

Due to decreased ridership on New Mexico’s Rail Runner Express, analysts for the Legislative Finance Committee have made several recommendations on how to keep the service going without losing money. Ridership totaled 787,000 trips in fiscal year 2018 for the Rail Runner, this represents a 37 percent decrease from its peak of about 1.2 million trips in 2010.

The recommendations provided by the analysts to the state include:

  • Closing or limiting service at downtown Bernalillo station since it is the least used;
  • Avoid opening new stations at the Balloon Fiesta Park or the Albuquerque International Sunport;
  • Focus on core needs such as upgrading rail track to allow for higher train speeds in rural areas; and
  • Encourage dense, mixed-use development around transit stations, if market conditions will support it.

The analysts did not recommend shutting down the rail line, but state lawmakers are concerned about finding ways to increase ridership.

Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants said, “I’m not sure anything is going to increase ridership unless we have an increase in population.”

New York City Transit President Andy Byford said that the transit agency has halted deliveries of new Bombardier train cars until ongoing problems are fixed. The transit agency has reported numerous performance problems and delivery delays for its newest rail cars. Several of Bombardier’s R179 subway cars were pulled from service recently, partly because of air compressor software defects.

“The most recent thing we’ve done is stopped delivery,” Byford said. “And we’re not yet turning that delivery mechanism back on until they get their act together.”

Despite Bombardier and New York City Transit having a long history together, Byford also said that the agency may look elsewhere for future rail car purchases.

Bombardier said it is working with NYC Transit to approve a “technical solution” that would return the trains to service, and that the solution is expected to happen shortly.


The RailPassengers Spring Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC, is for ALL Rail Passengers Members...including YOU!

The dates are set for Rail Passengers’ RailNation: Washington 2019 Washington Advocacy Summit, Day on The Hill And Congressional Reception - Sunday, March 31st through Wednesday, April 3rd - and we hope to see YOU there! This year’s theme is: ‘Blueprint 2020: Be The Architect’

Rail Passengers meetings aren’t just for Council and Board Members...they’re for anybody who wants our country to invest in More Trains, Better Trains and a Commitment to Infrastructure. Whether you’ve been a member for decades or you’re brand-new to Rail Passengers...or even if you aren’t a member at all...you should come to Washington in March to make sure YOUR congressional representatives hear directly from YOU about rail and transportation!

We’re building informative sessions and hands-on workshops to make you a better advocate in your hometown. You won’t want to miss it.

The event agenda includes:

  • Sunday, March 31 - Afternoon Board Meeting
  • Monday, April 1 - Advocacy Summit Speakers, Presentations & Day on The Hill Prep
  • Tuesday, April 2 - Day on The Hill Visiting Congressional Offices & The Rail Passengers Annual Congressional Reception
  • Wednesday, April 3 - Rail Passengers Council Annual Business Meeting & Elections (Concluding By Noon)

There’s also a new Host Hotel for 2019...the Westin City Center at Thomas Circle (3 1/2 blocks from the Metro). Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations Are Now Available! Room supply is limited! Don’t miss out; make your reservation today!

Event Registration is NOW OPEN! Please visit the Event Page for complete information!

Other Upcoming Regional Rail Passenger & State Association Member Meetings and Other Events:

Please contact Bruce Becker to have a state or regional event or meeting added to the Rail Passengers calendar of upcoming events!


Residents and city officials of Chandler, AZ are looking at the possibility of connecting the city to Valley Metro’s light-rail system. The idea was proposed in 2015, but never developed. The city however wants to provide residents with an alternative to driving, such as light-rail or other high-capacity options.

"I do believe we need to connect Chandler in ways other than by automobiles. We are a job-plus community and we need to find ways for people to commute to and from work, and light rail is just one possibility," Mayor Kevin Hartke said.

The city and Valley Metro are currently looking at options through the Arizona Avenue Alternatives Analysis will look at ways to best meet the region's growing transportation needs. Transit options could include:

  • Light rail.
  • Bus Rapid Transit, a bus system in which buses operate in a designated lane.
  • Modern streetcar.
  • Expanding existing local bus service.

If the city does decide to move forward with a proposed service, the city would need to voters to approve a transportation tax to help fund the project.

Amtrak passengers who travel through Moynihan Train Hall in New York got their first look at the new Metropolitan Lounge (formerly known as the ClubAcela). Amtrak released several images of the lounge, which it says will “enhance the customer experience.”

A list of the new features in the lounge include:

  • more spacious boarding conditions,
  • dedicated customer waiting areas with private restrooms,
  • complimentary Wi-Fi in all customer spaces,
  • dedicated lactation lounge for nursing mothers,
  • combined ticketing and baggage area,
  • priority boarding,
  • dedicated customer service agents,
  • comfortable seating and tables with access to electrical outlets and USB ports,
  • a dedicated family seating area,
  • expanded food and beverage offerings, and
  • a 20 foot tall balcony overlooking the Train Hall.

“Our customers are going to love the new, modern amenities in the Moynihan Train Hall, and we expect these renderings to continue to build their excitement for the Train Hall’s opening in 2021,” Amtrak EVP and Chief Commercial Officer Stephen Gardner said in a press release.

The new train hall is expected to open in 2021, and renderings can be found online at the Amtrak Media Center.

Florida’s Brightline, which will soon be rebranded to Virgin Trains USA, plans to develop a station that will be dedicated to tourists traveling to theme parks in Orlando. The station will be located on the future route between Tampa and Orlando, and Brightline officials expect it to provide a great resource to passengers.

Bob O'Malley, Brightline’s vice president of governmental affairs said, “On our way to Tampa we will likely have a station somewhere around theme parks in Orlando and we think that’s going to be a great thing for our partnership with the Tampa airport.”

O’Malley did not say specifically where the station would be located, but in Brightline's bid to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), it had suggested Brightline may have a connection to Central Florida's commuter rail SunRail as well as a potential stop in Lakeland. Another document had also indicated Brightline’s interest in a stop at Disney World, but this was not included in the FDOT proposal.

Brightline expects to being passenger rail service to Tampa in 2021.


Passenger Rail Service Notices

Current and upcoming service notifications that could affect upcoming train travel include:

Track Work Affects Carl Sandburg Trains 381 and 382

  • Due to track work being performed by BNSF on January 29, Carl Sandburg service will be affected as outlined below:
    • Train 381, which normally operates between Chicago and Quincy, will terminate at Galesburg. Alternate transportation will be provided for all missed stops at Macomb and Quincy via Bus 3381.
    • Train 382, which normally operates between Quincy and Chicago, will originate at Galesburg. Alternate transportation will be provided for all missed stops at Quincy and Macomb via Bus 3382.
  • Eastbound Bus 3382 will depart Quincy at 4:30 pm and operate 60 minutes earlier than the train schedule.

Pacific Surfliner Weekend Service Changes

  • Through February 10, 2019 track work being performed by North County Transit District will affect Pacific Surfliner service:
    • Friday, February 8
      • Train 590 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.
      • Bus service will be provided from Los Angeles to San Diego, making stops at Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and San Diego Downtown. No alternate transportation will be provided to Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano.
    • Saturday and Sunday, February 9 - 10
      • Trains 562, 583, 1565, 1566, 1569, 1572, 1573 and 1590 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.
      • Southbound Train 782 will terminate at Los Angeles. No alternate transportation will be provided between Los Angeles and San Diego. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.
      • Southbound Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles and bus service will be provided for all missed stops.
      • Southbound Trains 580, 768, 774, 792, 1564 and 1584 will operate normally to Irvine, where bus service will be provided from Irvine to San Diego. Express buses will run from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and downtown San Diego only.
      • Northbound Trains 591, 595, 763, 777, 785, 1579, 1761 and 1767 will originate in Irvine. Bus service will be provided from San Diego to Irvine to connect with the trains listed above, with the exception of Train 1761. Buses will depart downtown San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano earlier than the train schedule to allow time to connect with trains in Irvine.
        • Buses will not pick up at Old Town San Diego. Passengers can take the trolley to downtown San Diego to board buses to Irvine.
        • Bus service will not be provided to connect with Train 1761.
        • Metrolink will honor Amtrak tickets between Irvine and Los Angeles.

Track Work Affects Service for Carolinian and Palmetto Trains

  • Through March 7, 2019, CSX Transportation will perform track work on the railroad, causing approximately 30-minute delays and schedule changes along the route.
    • Monday - Thursday, January 21 - 24 and February 4 - 7
      • Palmetto Service: Trains 89 and 90 will operate between New York and Washington, DC, only. Trains are cancelled between Washington, DC and Savannah with no alternate transportation provided.
  • Other Delays
    • Monday through Thursday between January 15 and March 7, Trains 52, 52, 89, 90, 97 and 98 can expect approximately 30 minutes of delays between Rocky Mount and Fayetteville.

Track Work Affects Saluki Trains 390 and 391

  • As of January 22, 2019, track improvements being performed by Canadian National Railway and CSX, Trains 390 and 391 will be impacted as follows:
    • Train 390 which normally operates between Carbondale and Chicago, will originate at Champaign. Train 390 will depart at 10:45 am, 31 minutes later than the normal schedule and will operate on this later schedule at all stations from Champaign to Chicago. Alternate service will be provided as described below.
    • Train 391 which normally operates between Chicago and Carbondale, will terminate at Champaign. Alternate service will be provided as described below.
Alternate Transportation to 3390 (22) 3391 (22) Read Up
Carbondale (CDL) 5:20 AM 3:45 PM
Du Quoin (DQN) 5:50 AM 3:10 PM
Centralia (CEN) 6:45 AM 2:15 PM
Effingham 8:00 AM 12:45 PM
Mattoon (MAT) 8:40 AM 12:00 PM
Champaign-Urbana (CHM) Ar/Dp 9:50/10:45 AM 10:25/10:45 AM

Bus Service between Atlanta and New Orleans on Crescent Route (Trains 19/20)

  • Track work being performed by Norfolk Southern Railway will affect Trains 19 and 20 between New Orleans and Atlanta, on the following dates:
    • Monday through Thursday:
      • January 28 through January 31
      • February 4 through February 7
      • February 11 through February 14

Southbound Train 19: New York to Atlanta Only

  • On the dates shown above, Train 19 will terminate in Atlanta. Passengers will be provided bus service from Atlanta to Anniston, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Meridian, Laurel, Hattiesburg, Picayune, Slidell and New Orleans.

Northbound Train 20: Atlanta to New York Only

  • On the dates shown above, Train 20 will originate in Atlanta. Passengers will be provided bus service from New Orleans to Slidell, Picayune, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Meridian, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anniston and Atlanta.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday Service Operates Normally

  • On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during this period, Trains 19 and 20 will operate between New Orleans and Atlanta, but may encounter delays along the route due to speed restrictions and freight train interference.

Track Work Affects Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle Trains

  • Due to track work being performed by Union Pacific Railroad between San Antonio and El Paso through March 9, service for Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle Trains 1, 2, 421 and 422 will be adjusted as outlined below:
    • Train 1/421
      • Normal schedule from New Orleans to San Antonio and Chicago to San Antonio
      • Depart San Antonio at 2:15 am, 30 minutes earlier than scheduled
      • Depart Del Rio at 7:19 am, 90 minutes later than scheduled
      • Depart El Paso at 4:47 pm, 3 hours later than scheduled
      • Arrive in Los Angeles at 8:40 am, 3 hours and 5 minutes later than scheduled
    • Train 2/422
      • Depart Los Angeles at 7:26 pm, 2 hours and 34 minutes earlier than scheduled
      • Departs El Paso at 12:51 pm, 2 hours and 44 minutes earlier than scheduled
      • Departs San Antonio at 6:25 am, then runs normal schedule from San Antonio to New Orleans and San Antonio to Chicago
    • Trains Cancelled January 17 through February 17
      • Train 1 departing New Orleans January 21 and 28, February 4 and 11.
      • Train 421 departing Chicago January 20 and 27, February 3, 10 and 17.
      • Train 2/422 departing Los Angeles January 20 and 27, February 3, 10 and 17.
      • No alternate transportation will be provided on these dates.
    • Trains Canceled February 17 through March 9
      • Train 1 departing New Orleans February 18, 25 and March 4.
      • Train 421 departing Chicago February 24 and March 3.
      • Train 2/422 departing Los Angeles February 24 and March 3.
      • No alternate transportation will be provided on these dates.

The New Jersey Assembly transportation committee is calling on Congress to review the operations of Amtrak of New York Penn Station, accusing the railroad of chronic mismanagement that has resulted in issues for NJ Transit passengers. The committee approved Assembly Resolution 57 this week and it urges Congress to audit Amtrak’s management plan, the railroad’s investment in the station, and Amtrak’s plans for the station ahead of track closures and repairs this summer.

“It is bad enough that commuters are forced to contend with NJ Transit’s daily delays and cancellations, but those aggravations are compounded by Amtrak’s chronic mismanagement of Penn Station,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, R-21st District, who is a sponsor of the resolution. “Amtrak has delayed doing anything for years if not decades and will soon close several tracks for weeks causing even more delays for commuters.”

The resolution also asks Congress to consider mandating that Amtrak to include NJ Transit officials in decision-making for Penn Station, which Amtrak owns. Other sponsors of the resolution include Assemblyman Rob Clifton, R-12th District and Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-26th District.

Amtrak is giving away a free train ride across the country as part of its social media residency program, #AmtrakTakeMeThere. Amtrak is accepting applications through January 31 from people who are good with a camera and like using social media to share new experiences. Amtrak said that is interested in applications from “real people” and they don’t have to have a huge number of social media followers. Amtrak even said that it would like to see “creatives, introverts, families, survivors and retirees” apply for the position, which includes a free long-distance train trip and $1,000 in spending money.

Details on how to apply to #AmtrakTakeMeThere can be found online at: www.amtrak.com/about-amtrak/residency.html.

The Coalition for Affordable Housing and Transit is calling on GoTriangle officials overseeing the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project to ensure that at least 15 percent of housing at the light-rail stops will be affordable. The coalition supports the $2.47 billion light-rail project that will eventually link Durham and Chapel Hill with 19 stops, but wants to prioritize affordable living in the areas surrounding those stations.

The group’s main focus will be on downtown Durham for those making 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) or less. A two-person household in Durham at 60 percent of the AMI has an annual income of $32,400. The median household income in Durham is $54,093.

The coalition said that if affordable housing is not provided, then the areas will become gentrified and push out those who can’t afford to live in the area. The Durham Housing Authority plans to redevelop public housing sites as mixed-use, mixed-income developments, and said there will still be at least the same number of units for those making 30 percent or less of the area median income.

In addition, GoTriangle will hold an open house from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. The meeting will be for officials to share information and answer questions about proposed changes that affect downtown Durham. The open house will be held at 201 E. Main St. in downtown Durham, Admin II Building, Rooms 126 A and B.


Rail Passengers Association Board Director Elections

Nominations are now being sought from qualified Rail Passengers Association members interested in being elected to one of two available Board Director positions at the upcoming Council of Representatives Annual Business Meeting being held on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.

These Board Director positions are for three-year terms, ending in April 2022.

For more information on how you could make a difference as a Rail Passengers Association Board Director, please review the position’s required qualifications, description, duties and responsibilities.

If you are interested in seeking a Board Director position, you must complete and submit a Candidate Information Statement by the March 31, 2019 deadline. Questions may be directed to either Board Chair Peter LeCody at [email protected] or Vice-President of Operations Bruce Becker at [email protected]

Openings Available For Rail Passengers State Council Representatives

The following vacancies now exist for state representatives on the Rail Passengers Council of Representatives: Alabama (1 opening); California (6 openings); Idaho (1 opening); Illinois (1 opening); Louisiana (1 opening); Massachusetts (1 opening); Minnesota (1 opening); North Dakota (1 opening); Ohio (2 openings); Pennsylvania (1 opening); Texas (1 opening); Washington State (1 opening); Wyoming (1 opening)

If you are interested in becoming more involved in passenger rail advocacy and serving in a Rail Passengers leadership role, this is your opportunity to be considered for an appointment by the Board of Directors to an open state representative seat. There is no deadline to apply and submissions will be considered on a rolling basis as they are received.

Please review the position responsibilities & required qualifications and complete & submit a Candidate Information Statement if you would like to seek a position.

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