Frank N. Wilner

Frank N. Wilner

Frank N. Wilner is author of six books, including, Amtrak: Past, Present, Future; Understanding the Railway Labor Act; and, Railroad Mergers: History, Analysis, Insight. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics and labor relations from Virginia Tech. He has been assistant vice president, policy, for the Association of American Railroads; a White House appointed chief of staff at the Surface Transportation Board; and director of public relations for the United Transportation Union. He is a past president of the Association of Transportation Law Professionals.

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Monday, 18 August 2014 12:50

BLET in catbird seat over crew consist

News item: Vouchsafed to work jointly in gaining legislation or regulation mandating two crew members on every freight train are the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union (SMART) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).

Monday, 07 July 2014 09:57

STB's newest: Status quo beware

Moving homogeneous electrons through wires, or freight in trucks over publicly financed highways, is hardly akin to moving cargo over privately owned and maintained railroads.

Thursday, 27 March 2014 08:01

Shipper hypocrisy mocks regulatory history

A recurring and intractable thread tying together railroad history is that when the choice has been between economic liberty and government intrusion, selecting the latter has repetitively discouraged capital investment, diminished service quality, adversely affected safety, and sooner than later caused hand-wringing among those most dependent on rail transportation.

Monday, 17 March 2014 08:04

Highway homicide affects railroads, too

This is about a highway homicide — and we know who dunnit. The perp long ago was identified by state and federal authorities. Yet Congress refuses to order the collar, closing its eyes to a mayhem playing out at every hour, on every federal-aid roadway and adversely affecting every taxpayer and every motorist in the wallet, while simultaneously turning on its head the concept of economic efficiency.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 09:49

Where does the buck stop on HSR and Amtrak?

That President Obama mentioned not a word on high speed rail or Amtrak in his State of the Union speech reflects on the rather dreadful manner in which his administration has pursued the presidential vision in support of expanded rail passenger service.

Friday, 17 January 2014 15:25

Blame aplenty for high speed rail woes

Don’t assume, based on headlines, an obituary for high speed rail just yet. A more accurate analogy is an induced coma brought on by poor planning and implementation amidst an increased necessity to pare federal deficits.

News item: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) ordered MTA Metro-North Railroad to have two qualified crewmembers in the lead cab until Metro-North’s signal system is updated to ensure automatic train control (ATC) slows trains automatically if the engineer fails to adhere to a speed reduction requirement greater than 20 mph below maximum allowable speed.
Monday, 14 October 2013 11:21

Amtrak update: Fire burn, cauldron bubble

What a fascinating October this has been for Amtrak.
Thursday, 26 September 2013 08:07

STB nominee Miller: A fresh perspective

Any notion that Debra (Deb) Miller, President Obama's nominee to succeed Frank Mulvey at the Surface Transportation Board, is a gullible "Dorothy from Kansas" should be ditched chop-chop.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 07:13

Imagine a multimodal Northeast Corridor

Creative vision in Washington, D.C., is not quite an oxymoron, but seemingly only extraordinary external events cause it to materialize.

Economists call it "creative destruction," the emergence of newer, faster, cheaper and better ideas, products and processes that replace and destroy the less efficient.

Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:21

Crew-consist debate heating up once again

Trick question: How many persons are needed to operate a freight train?
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 07:30

Could the worm be turning for Amtrak?

Legendary Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver etched his illustrious baseball career and winning record with the three-run homer. Were Amtrak a Major League Baseball team, its success would be measured, instead, by infield hits. But Amtrak may have hit one long ball this week when new House Rail Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) conceded that Amtrak passenger service on the Northeast Corridor and on state-supported corridors is profitable and efficient.

Let's get real about President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 and beyond budget recommendations to Congress. They’re street theater, and one might just as well be entertained viewing Gucci-clad Washington lobbyists intermingling with Capitol Hill tourists outfitted in spandex and plaid-pattern polyester.

Conservative columnist and American Enterprise scholar Michael Barone, with degrees from Harvard and Yale, is a smart fellow. But a recent column about Amtrak suggests his research consisted of wandering into the posh Capitol Grill in Washington, D.C., and sitting at Amtrak baiter-in-chief Rep. John Mica's luncheon table, absorbing Mica's jihad against publicly funded intercity rail passenger service.

One clause in a single sentence in President Obama's second inaugural speech has potential for meaningful consequences: "Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce."

Wednesday, 16 January 2013 10:47

Engineer rides American Dream to a short line

It is unlikely Scott DeVries soon will be sitting aside Norfolk Southern Chairman Wick Moorman at an Association of American Railroads board meeting, or sharing small talk over lunch with Union Pacific Chairman Jim Young. And whether DeVries someday becomes Railway Age's Railroader of the Year is unknown. But read on.
Perhaps no individual so significantly affected the payment of income protection to rail workers as did President Nixon's labor secretary, James D. Hodgson, who died Nov. 28 at age 96.

Friday, 07 December 2012 12:20

DeMint departure resets reregulation game

The late British Prime Minister Harold Wilson observed, "A week is a long time in politics." And what a week it was on Capitol Hill.

Even The New York Times, the nation’s newspaper of record, missed, in its lengthy obituary, the absorbing connection between railroads and former Republican Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, who died Nov. 19 at age 82.

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