Hotline #1,107

Hotline #1,107: Remembering Former Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman; California’s Response to the FRA’s High-Speed Rail Funding Announcement; Amtrak Kicks Off Aggressive OTP Campaign Targeting Host Railroads; Representatives Blumenauer and DeFazio Look to Introduce an Infrastructure Bill; SRC Talks About Bringing Back Gulf Coast Passenger Rail Service; Colorado DOT names Grauberger Project Director; Downtown Seattle Tunnel Moving to Rail-Only Operations; MBTA Opens New Commuter-Rail Station

We Need Your ‘Nose For News’! When you see rail-related news stories, op-eds, editorials, or letters to the editor in your communities, send them along to us! We include them in our social media efforts, along with the weekly Hotline. Send your news items to Joe Aiello at jaiello[at]narprail.org, and we will share it with members. Are you holding a rally, a community meeting, or another kind of rail-advocacy event? We can help spread the word if you send them to us. We can put them on the website, here. Please follow Rail Passengers on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things passenger rail.

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Joseph H. Boardman, Amtrak’s second-longest serving CEO, former Federal Railroad Administrator and New York State Transportation Commissioner, died this week from complications following a massive stroke. Boardman, 70, was a committed advocate of passenger rail and the need for a true National Network, and his sudden loss is a blow to the passenger-rail community.

“Joe Boardman believed in his bones that all Americans should have the ability to choose to travel by train,” Rail Passengers President and CEO Jim Mathews said, calling him both a “passionate defender” of the National Network -- even more so after his retirement -- and a “passionate believer” in Amtrak.

Boardman “was also very gracious with his time and his insights, always willing to meet with us to hear about the concerns of passengers and always willing to meet with me to talk about rail policy,” Mathews recalled. “After retirement, he traveled all the way to Miami to be with us last Fall during our RailNation: Miami national convention in a classic example of the kind of leader he was. We will all miss him very much.”

He became especially outspoken last Spring as Amtrak began to surface the idea of substituting bus service for nine stops on the Southwest Chief. He told Congress last May that “Amtrak is not really a ‘private business,’ it is a ‘State Owned Enterprise’ and it needs an open and transparent process that only Congress seems to be able to give State and National rail stakeholders.”

It’s a position Rail Passengers has steadfastly maintained in all of its letters and statements, public and private, to congressional leaders and Amtrak executives. Amtrak has a mission beyond simple profit-and-loss on any given route. As this debate over Amtrak’s mission continues into the 2020 surface-transportation reauthorization, rail advocates will miss Boardman’s voice.

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California High-Speed Rail Authority President and CEO Brian Kelly issued an official response to the Federal Railroad Administration’s announcement that it would withhold $929 million in federal grants, stating that the termination of the agreement would be “unwarranted, unprecedented, and legally indefensible, and it would gravely harm a historic project on which the FRA and the CHSRA have collaborated productively for nearly a decade.”

[Californians: don't let President Trump kill your train to settle political scores! President Trump is breaking campaign promises in an attempt to kill high-speed rail. Take action today!]

“The threat to de-obligate these funds ignores the steady progress made on the project that now has 24 active or completed construction sites, employs some 2,600 workers in the Central Valley, and includes the participation of some 488 small businesses, including 15 from outside California,” said Kelly in a statement accompanying the letter. “I informed Administrator Batory that the Authority has met our obligations under our federal grant agreements to date and encouraged him to reject the harmful act of withdrawing federal funds from the project. Instead, I urged him to follow a more constructive path: join me in restoring a functional relationship between our agencies and engage in a structured process to share information, review project risks and resolve all issues to move forward on the project together.

Rail Passengers has worked hard to clarify that -- far from canceling the project -- Governor Gavin Newsom’s State of the State was intended to refocus efforts on a initial operating segment in the Central Valley (though it was admittedly clumsily delivered). Gov. Newsom has since clarified that he is actually proposing billions of dollars in additional state funding to expand the first wave of construction, building out a system that will connect three of the largest cities in the Central Valley--Merced, Fresno, and Bakersfield. Additionally, the project is helping fund immediate investments in rail transit systems in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Sacramento. Rail Passengers is asking Gov. Newsom to work with us on developing a low-cost path to connect the Central Valley IOS to Amtrak’s San Joaquin corridor, which will help deliver a viable rail service by 2022.

Kelly also called the attempt by the Trump Administration to claw back the $2.5 billion in federal grants that California has already spent on the project unlawful, and argued that instead of engaging in partisan political battles the Authority and the FRA should should share a mutual goal: the successful delivery of America’s first truly high-speed rail service. (It is not clear that the U.S. DOT has any viable legal avenue to rescind the funds.)

The FRA and the U.S. DOT did not respond to media inquiries requesting a statement on Kelly’s letter.

Amtrak took the gloves off today in its decades-long fight with host railroads over poor on-time performance, kicking off a social-media campaign to tell passengers that they “have the right to be on time.” There’s an easy-to-digest 90-second video explainer that boils down the very complicated back-and-forth over the federal preference clause, the state of our legal intervention on behalf of passengers, and a direct call-to-action for our members to contact their member of Congress.

Host railroads have thumbed their noses for years at the federal law outlining passenger-dispatching preference. Recall that we taxpayers rescued the railroads in 1970 when Amtrak was created to relieve the hosts of their common-carrier responsibility of having to run passenger trains. The quid pro quo was the preference clause in the law (49 U.S.C. §24308(C), which is still on the books), originally written so that host railroads had to give passenger trains preference unless they could win a DOT exemption by proving that preference would “materially lessen the quality of transportation provided to freight shippers.”

Amtrak today also issued its most recent report card on host-railroad performance, and it’s not pretty: Norfolk Southern remains at the bottom of the table with an F. Review the entire report card here.


60 Minutes Loses Forest for Trees in PTC Story (Part 1)

by Sean Jeans-Gail, Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy

In a report aired this past Sunday, 60 Minutes examined the United States’ implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) across its rail system through the lens of a 2018 collision between a CSX freight train and an Amtrak train in Cayce, South Carolina.

60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl bookends the story with an interview with Mark James, the engineer in the cab of the CSX locomotive involved in the Cayce collision. While the story hits on some important points about oversight failures in PTC implementation, it fails to present an accurate picture of the safety of the US transportation system.

To read the blog in its entirety, please click HERE.


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

Jim Mathews, Rail Passengers President and CEO, once again had a very long-distance/National Network-focused week. Mathews had two very useful meetings, one with Roger Harris, Amtrak’s new Vice President of the Long Distance Service Line, and another with the Wall Street Journal. Apart from the shape of the National Network for years to come, and on-time performance (OTP) challenges, Mathews divided his time this week across a whole range of continuing efforts, from preparing for speaking engagements to putting the finishing touches on this year’s Summer by Rail internship program and holding a conference call with California members to firm up plans for events and panels at our RailNation: Sacramento convention this Fall.

Sean Jeans-Gail, Rail Passengers Vice President of Government Affairs, met with Congressional staffers to discuss rail is a vital part of the infrastructure bill under consideration, while working with appropriators and the Rail Passengers’ Council of Representatives to ensure that FY2020 requests were submitted in a timely fashion.

Rail Passengers Director of Policy Research, Abe Zumwalt, has been busy scoping rapid expansion of the Rail Passenger Policy Note program, which kicked off last week with Impacts of a Second Train to Minnesota. He has also been coordinating speakers and content for the upcoming Rail Nation conference at the end of this month.

In her recent trip to New Orleans, Carolyn Cokley, Rail Passengers Director of Customer Programs met with Todd Stennis, Senior Government Affairs Manager to discuss the Station Volunteer Program. The discussion centered around viable locations within his region of the country that world be amenable and could benefit from the roll out of a Station Volunteer Program. This week, Carolyn was able to identify four locations in Texas for initial rollout. The three unstaffed locations are McGregor, Cleburne and Alpine. The staffed station of Dallas has also been identified. There is currently a functioning Station Volunteer Program in Dallas and Rail Passengers will be helping in adding to and growing the volunteer presence at the station. Carolyn has had conversations with Rail Passenger members in Texas and all are working on spreading the word, informing all stakeholders and planning next steps which will be a Station Kickoff sometime in April.

Training for the Niles, MI station volunteers is back on track and has a tentative date of Saturday, April 6 at the Niles, MI Station.

Rail Passengers Northeast Field Coordinator, Joseph Aiello, joined a number of fellow Rail Passengers members at a MBTA meeting on Tuesday night at the State Transportation Building. The event, the first Rail Vision “open house” hosted by the state, was a public unveiling of the seven service alternatives currently being discussed by the Advisory Committee. Joe also spent some time this week with best-selling “The Big Dig” author Dan McNichol to discuss the North-South Rail Link.

The “Save the Date” for our Beer+Transit networking event is out. You can see that HERE.

Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Vice-President of Operations, on Saturday will be representing Rail Passengers at the New York State Rail Advocates Annual Meeting & Lunch in Schenectady, NY. Over 80 supporters are expected to attend this joint Empire State Passengers Association/Rail Passengers Association event, which will include presentations by Congressman Paul Tonko (D – NY20) and Michael Wojnar, Deputy Secretary For Transportation in the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, worked on an awareness campaign to benefit The Jim Hamre Memorial Scholarship Fund. Keep an eye on your email beginning March 25th for more information on how to support the Fund.


What The WSJ Did Not Say

The Wall Street Journal Wasn't Wrong On Illinois...But They Overlooked Important Facts

by Jim Mathews, President and CEO

Sometimes what you don't say is even more important than what you do. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal offered a lukewarm -- although factually accurate -- status report on Illinois' fast-rail project linking Chicago to St. Louis, but barely concealed its disappointment that after spending $2 billion the train will "only" be an hour faster than today's trip. This is the same paper, let's remember, that has lambasted California's high-speed rail plan for overreach.

I don't really fault any of the reporting. In fact, as usual, the Journal was thorough and meticulous. I recommend that you read the piece. But after you read it, think about what was left unsaid...which is what I'll say here.

First, the obvious point: the Journal can't simultaneously criticize California for aiming too high while faulting Illinois for not going far enough. On the contrary, Illinois by some lights should get high marks for focusing on going ahead with something achievable in a short time frame with the "manna from heaven" chunk of money they got to start the project.

To read the rest of Jim’s thoughts, click HERE.


Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR)--chairs of the committees on Ways & Means and Transportation & Infrastructure, respectively--have said they are looking for floor time for an infrastructure bill within the next 100 days.

Addressing our crumbling transportation networks remains a top priority in Congress, and Rail Passengers is currently working with member offices to educate them on why passenger rail and transit needs to be a big part of any revitalization push.

However, as always, finding a way to pay for it remains elusive. Rep. DeFazio has called for an increase in the gas tax, a solution that is backed by groups as diverse as the American Truckers Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and your Rail Passengers Association. But while there is a bipartisan agreement on the need for infrastructure revitalization, there is also bipartisan unease with advancing a gas tax increase, commonly viewed as politically unpopular

“I do have concerns that simply raising the gas tax without implementing other reforms would merely get us a more expensive version of the status quo, which we know troubles most of us,” said Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) during a Wednesday House Ways and Means hearing titled “Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure and the Need for Immediate Action.”

That same hearing saw a point of conflict over transit funding. “Taking 20 percent of road user fees to pay for transit isn’t fair to drivers who can’t access transit,” said Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC). Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) immediately pushed back, saying

“that’s absurd, absurd thinking–with all due respect.”

The conservative Chamber of Commerce chimed in on the side of transit, with President & CEO Tom Donohue explaining “you need to do that to get urban votes for rural roads.”


“What Could [Should] Have Been”

A Look Back at the 1993 “Central Artery Rail Link Task Force” Report

By Joe Aiello

It is no secret that I am an unabashed supporter of the North-South Rail Link. It is, in fact, the main project that got me to where I am today. I could write an entire series of blogs on the NSRL alone - which I will probably do. This week though will be more of a visual offering, thanks to a Twitter thread by Rail Passengers & MA Sierra Club Executive Committee Member Robert Kearns.

Two of the photos that Robert dug up for this thread really struck me.

To see the photos, read the rest of Joe’s blog HERE.


The Rail Passengers Spring Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC, is for ALL Rail Passengers...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 Late Board Meeting open to all attendees

  • Monday, April 1 - Advocacy Summit Speakers, Presentations & Day on The Hill Prep

    • Confirmed programming includes sessions on:

      • ‘Investments, Not Subsidies: How American Long Distance Trains Make Money’

      • No Schedules: Regional Rail and the Future of American Passenger Trains’

      • ‘The View from the Hill: Infrastructure and the 116th Congress’

      • ‘How to Sell Trains to Your Congressman’

      • ‘What Can Passengers Do?: Advocacy Strategies That Really Work’

    • Monday’s lunch Keynote Address will be given by Kenneth Hylander, Amtrak’s Executive Vice President & Chief Safety Officer

  • On Monday Evening noted Rail Tour Operator Carl Fowler will present an engaging optional travel program entitled ‘Switzerland, Scenic Railway Paradise’. Carl’s presentation will benefit the ‘Jim Hamre Memorial Scholarship Fund’. Tickets for this special program are now available!

  • Tuesday, April 2 - Day on The Hill Visiting Congressional Offices & The Rail Passengers Annual Congressional Reception (To Be Held This Year In Room 106 Of The Dirksen Senate Office Building).

  • 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). NOTICE: Group Rate rooms at the Westin are now sold out! Regular public rate rooms are currently available online at the nearby Washington Plaza Hotel. However, there Is NO Group Rate or other special arrangement at the Washington Plaza!

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:

  • Saturday, March 9 - New York State Passenger Rail Advocates Meeting & Lunch - Schenectady, NY

    • Confirmed Speakers:

      • Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY20)

      • Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy

      • Michael Wojnar - Deputy Secretary For Transportation - Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

      • Bill Hollister - Government Affairs Senior Manager - Amtrak

      • Donald Corkery - Director of Training (Ret.) - Long Island Rail Road

      • Bruce Becker - Vice-President Operations - Rail Passengers Association

  • Saturday, March 9 - RPA Mid-Atlantic (Northern Region - DE, NJ & PA) Meeting & Lunch - Harrisburg, PA

    • Featured Speaker - PennDOT Deputy Secretary Jennie Granger

  • Saturday, March 9 - Kentucky Rail Passengers Meeting - Louisville, KT

  • Saturday, March 16 - Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains Meeting - North Charleston, SC

  • Thursday & Friday, March 14 & 15 - Passenger & Freight Railroads Unite Conference - Washington, DC

  • Saturday, March 16 - Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains Meeting - North Charleston, SC

  • Monday, March 25 - Rhode Island Association of Railroad Passengers - North Providence, RI

  • Saturday, April 13 - All Aboard Arizona Spring Passenger Rail Summit - Mesa, AZ

  • Saturday, May 18 - Rail Passengers Northwest Division Meeting - Cut Bank, MT

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


Talks of bringing passenger rail service back to the Gulf Coast resurface as Mississippi Southern Rail Commissioner Knox Ross tells NBC 15 News he feels confident Mississippi will be able to put up its $14 million portion to help restore Amtrak service between Mobile and New Orleans.

“We have found good support for it,” Ross says. “While nothing is ensured until you get things signed, I think there’s a lot of support from the people needed to make it happen.”

"What we're still trying to do is get them the information they deserve," Alabama Southern Rail Commissioner David Clark said.

Alabama's Southern Rail Commissioners say within the next two months they plan to set up a meeting with Ivey or her chief of staff to discuss ways to come up with the money Alabama needs to commit.

"Our role here as commissioners is to continue to collaborate with our city and state leadership to give them all the answers they need to make a great decision for Alabama," Clark said.

This is welcome news for advocates who have been fighting to restore service that has been lost to the region since Hurricane Katrina. It also comes only about six months removed from the news that Louisiana DOT would not apply for a grant to help fund Baton Rouge-to-New Orleans passenger rail, as well as Alabama Governor Kay Ivey rejecting a $5.3 million pledge to restore Amtrak rail service between Mobile and New Orleans.


Colorado DOT’s Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission has named Randy Grauberger as its first project director.

The commission, created in 2017, is the actor developing commuter rail service across Colorado’s Front Range, including planning, public outreach, and implementation work. It is also charged with working with Amtrak, BNSF Railway and neighboring states Kansas and New Mexico to ensure the continuation of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief service.

Grauberger comes to the role with experience as a senior transportation planning manager at engineering firm WSP, and was employed at CDOT for 28 years in various planning positions.

We look forward to working with him and Colorail in the future expansion of service across the mountains and plains!


High-speed rail can solve housing shortages like those found in California, which makes for a compelling reason not to abandon that state's project.

The United States suffers from huge disparities in productivity and significant opposition to providing enough housing in economic hubs. The cost of housing creates a barrier from people living in places like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle that has been shown to significantly reduce economic growth. High speed trains would open up new access to jobs and affordable housing. For instance, tech hub adjacent San Jose, California boasts an eye watering median home price of $631 per square foot. Meanwhile, housing in Merced is a quarter of the price – but 100 miles away – which is the kind of gap that high speed rail fills beautifully. Thanks to data pouring out of China’s rapidly developing high speed rail network, there’s a growing body of research that backs this up. Connectivity via high speed rail makes second-tier cities more productive by effectively shrinking the distance between them and larger metropolises.

The effort to build out the California high speed rail project in the central valley could eventually ease the impossible housing markets found in the northern and southern parts of the state. Plus, it would work both ways, and spread the power of California’s major employers more evenly across the state. This is something that endpoint-to-endpoint transportation options like planes can’t do as effectively.

If you live in California, it’s another reason to keep on top of your representatives and Governor Newsom to not back down on the system.


Passenger Rail Service Notices

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

Northbound Silver Star Train 92

Trackwork being performed by CSX will affect the northbound Silver Star schedule as outlined below.

On Sunday, March 10 through Tuesday, March 12 Silver Star Train 92 will depart Miami at 1:50 pm, 2 hours later than the current schedule, running on a later schedule through to New York.

On Wednesday, March 13, Silver Star Train 92 will be replaced by Train 1092 and will depart Miami at 1:50 pm, 2 hours later than the current schedule, running on a later schedule through to New York.

Passengers scheduled to connect from Silver Star Train 92 to Amtrak Piedmont service at Cary will be re-accommodated on Train 77, instead of Train 75.

Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian Trains 42 and 43

Reservations Required During the Easter Holiday Period Thursday through Tuesday, April 18 through 23, 2019

To better accommodate the increased number of passengers traveling during the Easter

holiday period, reservations will be required on all Pennsylvanian and Keystone Service

trains from Thursday, April 18 through Tuesday, April 23.

Note: Monthly and ten-ride tickets will be accepted on these dates.

Easter Holiday Travel Reminders:

  • To avoid ticket counter lines, passengers are encouraged to utilize eTicketing.

  • Allow ample time to arrive at the station and board the train.

  • Make sure your baggage is tagged with your name and address.

Station Elevator Out of Service Marshall, TX Station

Effective immediately, the elevator located inside the Marshall, TX Station is out of service until further notice.

Elevator Options

  • Passengers requiring an elevator may board at the Longview, TX Station, approximately thirty minutes west of Marshall.

Allow Extra Time–Don’t Miss Your Train

  • Customers using the stairs may need to allow extra time to get to the boarding platform.

Additional Northeast Regional Service to Norfolk, VA

Starting March 4, there will be two additional weekday trains arriving and departing Norfolk, as well as an additional train on Sundays. This will have a minor impact to other Northeast Regional train schedules as outlined below.

Northbound

  • Train 84 will now depart at 6:15 am Monday through Friday

  • Train 94 will now depart Norfolk at 9:00 am

Southbound

  • Train 71 on Saturdays will be replaced with Train 87

  • Train 87 will now continue to Norfolk on Saturday and Sunday, arriving at 11:36 pm

  • Train 93 will now operate to Norfolk, instead of Richmond, arriving at 10:31 pm

    • Train 93 will now operate Monday through Friday, replacing Train 83

  • Train 95 will now operate to Norfolk instead of Newport News, arriving at 7:04 pm

  • Train 125 will now terminate at Newport News

City of New Orleans Trains 58 and 59 Busing Between Jackson and New Orleans

Please be advised that CN railway closed the route used by Amtrak City of New Orleans due to flooding until further notice. Amtrak-chartered buses are being provided between Jackson and New Orleans as substitute transportation for Trains 58 and 59.

Normal train service will resume as soon as possible. Passengers will be provided bus service in both directions between Jackson, Hazlehurst, Brookhaven, McComb, Hammond and New Orleans. Passengers traveling north from New Orleans are asked to arrive at Union Passenger Terminal by 12:15 to board the buses.

Sebring Station Temporarily Closed

From Mar. 7 through 9, 2019 Sebring Station will be temporarily closed. Passengers planning to travel to Sebring will detrain in Winter Haven with no alternate transportation provided to Sebring.

The station will reopen on Sunday, Mar. 10 and normal service will resume.

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


Your Feedback is Important to Improving Amtrak

The Rail Passenger Travel Review is now up and live on our website. For those who have taken recent Amtrak trips and want to provide their feedback, it can be accessed directly at RailPassengers.org/TravelReview.

Through the site, the Rail Passengers Association will collect passenger feedback from all across the National Network. Results will be summarized, analyzed and reported out to Amtrak--as well as other interested rail passenger providers and transportation advocates.

In addition to launching the Travel Review, we are asking you to help us promote it with other rail passengers as you travel. As you encounter passengers who want to make their positive and negative opinions known, just direct them to www.railpassengers.org/Travel Review. All participants will remain anonymous. If you encounter any problems with the Travel Review, or have any questions, please send an email to [email protected]

Just a few things to remember when filling out the Travel Review:

  • The Travel Review takes, on average, less than 10 minutes to complete.

  • Please do not start a Travel Review unless you have already completed a trip. It is important that you be able to report back on all completed aspects of the travel experience.

  • If you travel more than one route to reach your final destination, please fill out a separate Travel Review for each segment of your trip.

  • The Travel Review must be completed in one sitting.

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DON’T SLEEP ON THIS! USE YOUR MEMBER DISCOUNTS FOR EXCLUSIVE SAVINGS!

Rail Passengers’ 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.

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The MBTA celebrated the opening of a new commuter rail station at Blue Hill Avenue on the Fairmount Line. The new station has been open to commuters since late last month but Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and MBTA GM Steve Poftak all participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony this week. Blue Hill Avenue, one of four new stations along the line since 2012, marks the end of a $130 million investment into Fairmount Line.

“The completion of Blue Hill Avenue Station will provide improved access to economic and educational opportunities for those that reside in communities along the entire Fairmount Line corridor,” Baker said in a press release. “Investments like Blue Hill Avenue Station are part of our administration’s work to improve reliability and service for riders across the system.”

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Downtown Seattle transit tunnel is moving to rail-only operations, representing a great increase in capacity. Up until now has been one of the only places in the world where you could enter a subway station and board a bus.

An epic post-modernist civic structure built to allow transit to bypass busy city streets, this change represents the maturation of the original vision of the Transit Tunnel. Since opening day for the tunnel in 1990, tracks for trains were embedded into its concrete floor anticipating a future rail system that came almost two decades later, with the completion of the first Link Light Rail segment coming from the airport in 2009. For all those years, the tunnel served as a conduit for Seattle Metro busses to breeze through the city’s congested downtown directly onto express highway lanes.

With the opening of University Link 2016, the northbound extension of the rail system, ridership experienced a huge spike alongside some atypical experiences for Link light rail ridership. While in the tunnel rail passengers would abruptly stop before entering stations, with the recorded announcement blaming “Traffic” for the delay, as Busses and trains could not share station platforms at the same time.

The move will eject some 800 bus frequencies to surface streets, while allowing for smooth operations in the tunnel as Link service actively expands to the North, South, and East. The City is preparing for this new traffic with dedicated transit lanes along 5th and 6th avenues downtown—representing an overall increase in transit capacity for a city that needs it badly.

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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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