Happening Now

Hotline #782

July 16, 1993

H.R.2490, the 1994 DOT appropriations bill, is expected on the House floor on July 21. In a major blow to Amtrak, it now appears that Subcommittee Chairman Bob Carr (D.-Mich.) will not oppose the amendment by Tauzin (La.) to give the Coast Guard $20 million from Amtrak operations and more from the air traffic control system (supported by Studds (Mass.)). Rep. Lucien Blackwell (D.-Pa.) may distribute a "Dear Colleague" letter to all House Members to oppose any floor amendment to cut Amtrak funding. Please encourage pro-Amtrak Representatives to sign onto the Blackwell letter and to oppose any floor amendment to cut Amtrak funding. Also ask them to vote for a possible amendment to kill the anti-Thruway bus language in H.R.2490.

Floods continue to disrupt Amtrak service. The California Zephyr is serving Chicago again over the Chicago & North Western, but is subject to delay. The Southwest Chief briefly ran to Kansas City this week, but is again cut back to Albuquerque. Bridge damage is expected to keep the Santa Fe closed between Kansas City and Galesburg for two weeks. The Union Pacific is closed again in Missouri, ending all Kansas City-St. Louis service. The Illinois Zephyr is still running only to Quincy. All other trains are running normally, though with much heavier freight traffic on those lines due to detours. The Empire Builder, which so far has escaped flooding problems, may be affected by new flooding developing in North Dakota.

House conferees on the budget bill were selected this week. We favor exempting Amtrak from any energy or fuel tax, particularly if aviation also is exempt, and exempting the freight railroads -- especially from the Senate language putting new railroad fuel taxes into the Highway Trust Fund. The Senate transportation fuel tax exempts mass transit and aviation; the House Btu tax exempts only international aviation.

The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Jolene Molitoris as Federal Railroad Administrator, on July 13. She was introduced by freshman Rep. Sherrod Brown (D.-Ohio), who called her "a visionary and a pragmatist." She told the panel that "both [long-distance and high-speed] service can be successful for Amtrak," but that "no operation can be successful without maintaining its capital plant." Molitoris also expressed her commitment to rail safety, including grade crossings. She is expected to be confirmed with ease.

The X2000 was to arrive at Chicago tomorrow, but is blocked by flooding. Appearances in New Mexico and at Beech Grove, Ind., were cancelled. The X2000 left Los Angeles yesterday on the Southern Pacific. It is due at San Antonio tonight at 10:00 pm, Houston tomorrow at 4:30 am, and New Orleans 5:00 pm. Then it goes up the Illinois Central, arriving Grenada 12:30 am on July 18, Carbondale 8:15 am, and Effingham 10:30 am. It will not pass through downtown Memphis. Then, via Conrail, it stops at Indianapolis from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm and arrives Cincinnati at 12:00 midnight.

On July 19, the X2000 leaves Cincinnati as planned at 9:00 am, stopping at Dayton at 10:50 am, Springfield at 11:50 am, Columbus from 1:15 pm to 3:00 pm at Marconi Rd., Galion at 4:25 pm, and Cleveland at 6:00 pm. On July 20, it is on public display at Cleveland from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, leaving at 12:30 pm. It stops at Elyria at 1:10 pm and Toledo at 3:15 pm, with public display from 3:45 pm to 6:45 pm. On July 21, it leaves Toledo at 9:30 am, stops at Fostoria at 10:50 am, Akron from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm, Youngstown from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and arrives Pittsburgh at 7:30 pm. On July 22, it leaves Pittsburgh at 9:00 am and arrives at Washington at 4:30 pm, concluding the X2000's U.S. tour. However, it departs again for Canada on July 26.

After returning from Canada, the X2000 will re-enter revenue service on the Northeast Corridor, running as trains 106 and 117 from August 5 to September 4, and as 206 and 221 on three Saturdays -- August 14, August 28, September 11.