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

Hotline #746

Of the three presidential candidates, President-elect Clinton said the most about high-speed rail. He alone rode Amtrak and transit during the campaign year. NARP will give input as the transportation policy of the new administration develops. The next Congress will have new faces in key transportation positions. Rep. Bob Carr (D.-Mich.), who was narrowly re-elected, will be the new House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee chairman. He is most interested in aviation and is not known to

Hotline #745

The Amtrak board met October 28. No equipment orders were approved, but the following items were -- $7 million for improvements to Sunnyside Yard train servicing facilities; $9.6 million for retrofitting some Amfleet II, Horizon, and Superliner cars with retention toilets and for waste-handling trucks; a $9.4-million, five-year lease on luggage-rack movie screens for Silver Meteorand Silver Star coaches -- which Amtrak expects to more than recover; $35 million for heavy overhauls on certain cars

Hotline #744

The X2000 train set Amtrak imported from Sweden arrived in Dundalk, Md., earlier than previously expected, on October 20. Yesterday, the train was brought to Washington and will begin testing in November. Public rides may begin in January, but for now, when the train is not being tested, it will be kept on track 16 at Union Station. The X2000 is capable of providing electric train service at 150 mph on existing rights-of-way using active tilt mechanisms. Thus, it has an advantage over TGV in not

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