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

Hotline #726-A

Early this morning, the Machinists Union struck CSX. Within a few hours, the other big freight railroads, except Guilford and Soo Line, shut down in solidarity, clearly fearing the unions otherwise would resort to rolling strikes against different railroads. As a result, the only Amtrak services running today are the Northeast Corridor -- but not the Montrealer -- and Chicago-Milwaukee -- but not the Empire Builder. Atlantic City trains are running unreserved. The Brotherhood of Maintenance of

Hotline #726

In anticipation of a June 24 rail strike, Amtrak is not taking reservations for trains originating June 24 or 25, and plans to curtail some overnight trains before June 24. Generally, anything that would be moving at 12:01 am on June 24 will not leave its point of origin, or will operate only part-way. For example, the westbound Empire Builder of June 23 will be a Chicago-St. Paul coach train. However, Amtrak plans to run the following trains that originate on June 22 through to their final dest

Hotline #725

The House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee had its mark-up on the 1993 transportation budget yesterday. For Amtrak, they have proposed $331 million for operations, $74 million for capital, $146 million for the mandatory retirement payments, and nothing for NECIP. That puts us about where we want to be for operations and mandatory payments. The drop in capital is a problem, but not a surprise in a year that will be tough for all domestic discretionary programs. As for the Northeast Corr

Hotline #724

The House Appropriations Committee made its allocations between the various subcommittees on June 3. Transportation gets $12.8 billion in 1993, which is down 7% from this year. That is bad news, meaning that some or all transportation programs will have to take a funding cut this year, including Amtrak and transit. Amtrak has announced the postponement of the extension of the Sunset Limited to Miami. The new target date is April 4, 1993. The initial payment to CSX for track work has only just g

Hotline #723

House Budget Chairman Leon Panetta (D.-Cal.) has released a staff study showing three ways to balance the budget in five years. Options One and Two have big transit cuts and eliminate Amtrak funding. Unfortunately, Panetta favors Option Two -- but his whole effort may help Amtrak by reducing support for any balanced-budget constitutional amendment. Panetta opposes letting legislators "cast the easy, politically popular vote" for the amendment now and dumping the tough votes it would force on "so

Hotline #722

Governor Clinton, campaigning at a shipyard in San Diego on May 18, mentioned our favorite issue in public, apparently for the first time. He said defense program cuts should be dedicated to public works investments, including high-speed rail. His campaign staff told the Wall Street Journal that Clinton favors spending up to $1.5 billion in the next five years on five high-speed corridors. The House and Senate yesterday approved the final 1993 budget resolution, the House by a narrow 209-207. N

Hotline #721

A milestone in NARP's history is approaching. Twenty-five years ago, on May 18, 1967, in Chicago, NARP was founded and incorporated by Anthony Haswell. To consider what good NARP may have done in that quarter-century, perhaps one ought to consider what passenger transportation in this country would look like had NARP not been founded. How many trains would be left? Would people be as aware of the damage a car-and-plane-only transportation system has caused? NARP looks forward to another 25 years

Hotline #720

As mentioned last week, Amtrak will make service cuts on the Northeast Corridor beginning May 18. On Saturdays, seven afternoon and evening round trips will be cut and on Sundays, train 155 will not operate. New York-Albany loses five round-trips per week; the eastbound Lake Shore Limited will handle all local travel, including a new Rhinecliff stop; the westbound Mohawk runs unreserved through October 25 all the way to Syracuse. Because the changes are too complicated to list here, it is surpri

Hotline #719

Train 94, the northbound Colonial, struck a loaded dump truck at a grade crossing and derailed the morning of April 29 shortly after departing Newport News, Va., killing the truck's driver. Of the 92 passengers on board, 53 were injured and six were kept in the hospital overnight. The locomotive slid down a steep embankment on its side. The first two coaches, which were empty, jackknifed but remained upright. The rear three coaches were on their sides. The line was reopened today. The President

Hotline #718

The Senate version of the Amtrak reauthorization bill, S.2608, was introduced April 8 and has the following co-sponsors -- Exon (Neb.), Hollings (S.C.), Kasten (Wis.), Burns (Mont.), Lott (Miss.), Adams (Wash.), Simon (Ill.), and Bradley (N.J.). One novel feature of the bill is its call for a consumer representative on the Amtrak board, who would have to be a NARP member and travel at least 5,000 miles a year on regular trains. Congress returns from Easter break on April 27. One of the first ta