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

Hotline #727

The Machinists strike against CSX and the national rail lock-out are now over. Congress passed H.J.R.517 ending the strike at midnight and the President signed it very early this morning. The House vote was 248-140 and the Senate vote was 87-6. By a vote of 18-76, the Senate tabled an amendment by Sen. Paul Wellstone (D.-Minn.) to remove the arbitration sections of the bill. That simply would have pushed off the day of final reckoning to some other point in the summer. Amtrak expects to reactiv

Hotline #726-C

Late last night Congress sent a bill to the White House that President Bush will sign. It sets the railroads running again, provides for a 38-day cooling-off period, and then baseball-style arbitration that means that arbitrators mush choose one side's offer or the other rather than come down in the middle. This is to encourage parties to make reasonable offers. Yesterday afternoon, the House Energy and Commerce Transportation Subcommittee passed the bill on a 14-3 vote with "no" votes from Sik

Hotline #726-B

It seems unlikely that Amtrak will be struck tonight as a union spokesman had previously hinted. Amtrak's Night Owl will run tonight. Negotiations continue and the events on Capitol Hill make it politically unwise for labor to start a new strike tonight. Amtrak continues to run its Northeast Corridor and Chicago-Milwaukee services, the latter because Soo Line is one of the few railroads still operating. However, the Empire Builder is not running and, even though Central Vermont is running, the M

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