Your weekly source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the RPA Blog.

Hotline #743

Due to the large number of bills enacted in the final days before Congress adjourned, the Amtrak reauthorization bill has not yet arrived at the White House to be signed into law by President Bush. It should arrive in the next 7-10 days. Transportation Secretary Andrew Card announced yesterday the designation of a multi-state Midwest high-speed rail network, which hubs in Chicago and radiates out to Detroit, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. The Midwest network, whose funding totals $2.8 million, is th

Hotline #742

The staff conference discussions on H.R.4250, the Amtrak reauthorization bill, were completed October 3, with House approval on October 4 and Senate approval on October 7. It then went to the President for signature. H.R.4250 is valid for two years, instead of three as the Senate had wanted. It requires several studies, including for the market impact of Boston electrification, the trials of high-speed rail equipment across the country, and the takeover of the old post office across Eighth Aven

Hotline #741

The new fiscal year began yesterday. All programs for which there is no enacted appropriations bill are covered by a continuing resolution that extends their 1992-level funding through the end of October 5. Last night, the House and Senate both approved H.R.5518, the 1993 DOT appropriations bill, and it is being sent to the President for signature. He is expected to sign it. We are pleased to confirm that the Amtrak figures in H.R.5518 that were reported tentatively last week. Thanks to Sen. Fr

Hotline #740

The conference committee on 1993 DOT appropriations finished up most of its work yesterday. Exact figures cannot be confirmed until September 28, but we are hearing that the committee approved all the Senate numbers for Amtrak funding in 1993. That is very good news, if it is true -- we should know for sure on September 28. If the Senate figures stand, look for a Viewliner order this year and the start of electrification construction on the Boston line next summer. It looks like Sen. Frank Laute

Hotline #739

Wit staff work well underway, a formal conference on 1993 DOT appropriations is likely next week. Both the House and Senate bills had higher totals than the President's DOT request and the administration has identified this and six other appropriations bills as veto targets. House and Senate Democratic leaders reportedly decided on September 16 to scale these bills back -- presumably on an across-the-board basis -- rather than risk a veto. However, Congress Daily (September 11) reported that so

Hotline #738

Conferees have been named for the DOT appropriations bill. Basically, for both houses, they are the transportation subcommittee members, plus the chairman and ranking member of the full appropriations committees. Therefore, House conferees are Whitten, McDade, Lehman (Fla.), Carr, Durbin, Sabo, Price, Coleman (Tex.), Coughlin, Wolf, and DeLay. In the Senate, they are Byrd, Hatfield, Lautenberg, Harkin, Sasser, Mikulski, D'Amato, Kasten, and Domenici. No word yet on when they will meet, but it co

Hotline #737

Amtrak's FRA-related preventive maintenance cycle for food service cars has permanently reduced car availability. Therefore, the Cardinal and Desert Wind will lose their dining cars on September 21. Desert Wind sleeping-car passengers will get innovative catered box dinners, to be eaten in their rooms or in the lower level of the lounge, which will be dressed up as a diner at mealtime. Public smoking will be allowed only in the lower level of one coach. For now, coach passengers will have to liv

Hotline #736

Hurricane Andrew has had a serious effect on Amtrak service this week. Beginning the evening of August 23, all Silver Meteor and Silver Star service was confined to north of Tampa. The Miami Amtrak station had some water damage. The CSX line between Miami and West Palm Beach had little serious damage and is now open. Amtrak began partial service today and connecting buses have run from Orlando the past two days. The Tri-Rail commuter service moved all its rolling stock to Orlando before the sto

Hotline #735-A

Hurricane Andrew, or at least the anticipation of it, is having a serious effect on Amtrak service this week. Since the evening of August 23, all Silver Meteor and Silver Star service has been confined to north of Tampa. The Miami Amtrak station had some water damage but was open to employees today. The CSX line between Miami and West Palm Beach had some fallen trees, but they have already been cleared and the track has been inspected and judged sound. CSX is waiting for local utilities to resto

Hotline #735

A transportation appropriations conference is expected shortly after Congress returns September 9. Hill staff are expected to work on the two Amtrak reauthorization bills before then. An energy bill conference is expected in September; both bills contain the employer transit subsidy language that we like. A bill authorizing FRA safety programs has gone to the White House. All NARP members should be quizzing their Congressional candidates on rail, especially on H.R.4414, the Amtrak trust fund bil