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

Hotline #682

The conversion of this Hotline service to a 900 number is being postponed by another week, until Hotline #684 of August 30, to give callers a chance to call next week's message to hear what the new phone number will be. A tri-weekly extension of the Sunset Limited from New Orleans to Miami may happen in 1993, after recent negotiations between Amtrak and the states along that route. Using the Federal Railroad Administration study as a base, Amtrak has offered to pick up the $1 million annual ope

Hotline #681

An important message about this service will appear at the end of this message. The National Transportation Safety Board made no additional comment this week on the cause of the July 31 Silver Star wreck at Lugoff, S.C., which killed seven* passengers. A week ago, inspectors said there did not seem to be a problem with the Amtrak rolling stock and that they were concentrating on a switch that the Star split while passing over it, causing the rear section of the train to derail. [*Note -- An ei

Hotline #680

An important message about this service will appear at the end of this message. Amtrak's northbound Silver Star derailed at Lugoff, S.C., on CSX's former Seaboard Air Line, at 5:00 am on July 31. Of the total 392 passengers and crew on board, seven* passengers were killed and 76 were injured, with 18 of those needed hospitalization. Most of the train passed over a switch leading to an industrial siding, but the last six cars did not and derailed, sideswiping a row of freight cars on the siding.

Hotline #679-A

At 5:00 am Eastern Time today, Amtrak's northbound Silver Star, train 82/92, derailed at Lugoff, S.C., near Camden. The number of reported passenger fatalities has varied, with Amtrak reporting at least seven and Associated Press 13. Passengers were bussed from the scene and the southbound Star will run via Charleston. Amtrak has a toll-free number for family inquiries -- 800/424-7960.

Hotline #679-B

At 5:00 am today at Lugoff, S.C., Amtrak's northbound Silver Star, train 82/92, derailed. At a 5:00 pm press briefing at Washington Union Station, Amtrak President Graham Claytor said the best current estimate of fatalities is seven,* all passengers. Eighteen people remain hospitalized in the Columbia area; five of them are critically injured. Fifty-eight others were treated and released. A total of 426 passengers and crew were on board. Claytor called it a "terrible tragedy" and said he felt "v

Hotline #679

The House surface transportation bill, H.R.2950, was marked up by the Surface Transportation Subcommittee on July 23 and by the full Public Works committee yesterday. President Bush has now come out more firmly against the bill, saying he would veto anything with a gas-tax increase. H.R.2950 relies heavily on a nickel increase to pay for all the pork highway projects, which in turn were crafted to get as many Representatives to vote for the bill as possible. In any event, the gas-tax increase it

Hotline #678

The House surface transportation bill, H.R.2950, will be marked up in the Public Works Transportation Subcommittee on July 23 and in the full Committee on July 25. Public Works leadership still hope to get it to the House floor the week of July 29. As of now, it appears that intercity rail is not covered in H.R.2950, nor is maglev. It calls for another five-cent gas-tax increase that would go toward building pork-barrel highway projects, thinly veiled "demonstration projects" such as the infamou

Hotline #677

It now appears that the mark-up of the surface transportation bill by the Surface Transportation Subcommittee of the House Public Works Committee will be July 23. The full committee mark-up will be July 25, though those dates may change. NARP has written to members of the committee supporting inclusion of intercity passenger rail in the bill's definition of flexibility. The letter also supported requiring a rail link in the Boston Central Artery project, inclusion of the Boehlert-Borski truck-we

Hotline #676

All eyes now are on the House Public Works Committee in hopes the highway/transit bill they are now drafting will be as favorable for rail interests as S.1204 is. The Surface Transportation Subcommittee mark-up is now set for July 16, with full committee mark-up on July 18, but all important decisions are likely to have been made before the first mark-up. Public Works has yet to decide whether to follow S.1204's good example of making intercity passenger rail eligible for highway trust funds. Th

Hotline #675

The House Public Works surface transportation bill is still being drafted within the Surface Transportation Subcommittee. Mark-up is expected no earlier than July 9, with Committee mark-up possibly the following week and House floor action the week after that. No one expects a House-Senate conference before the August recess. However, good things have been learned about the draft bill. The House bill will have the anti-big-truck language of the Senate bill. Also, it will have the Senate's level