From the November 2018 issue of Railway Age: Were Amtrak a business school case study, it would be advertised as “The Failure of Public Enterprise”—users receiving services for which they don’t pay the full cost; taxpayers subsidizing the difference; a failure to follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), as if Bernie Madoff were Amtrak’s chief accountant, and conflict of interest collaboration with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to impede entry by more efficient private-sector competitors.
Watching Washington, November 2018: When a 1978 labor dispute hobbled Northwest Airlines, North Dakota Gov. Arthur A. Link ventured to Minneapolis with a request of Chief Executive Donald Nyrop. Would Northwest—the lone east-west airline serving the state in the pre-deregulation era—withdraw an objection to competitor North Central temporarily providing the service?
Oregon after years of study has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for proposed passenger service upgrades between Eugene and Portland.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo toured one of the two North (Hudson) River rail tunnels on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor linking New Jersey and New York to view corrosion and damage, and called on President Trump to support funding for repairs.
An 85-year-old traction power facility at Metuchen, N.J., on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor—originally installed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1933 during a major Depression-era electrification program—was recently upgraded with state-of-the art technology from Siemens Mobility Division.
An Amtrak official told a Senate hearing the agency would continue to operate passenger service through the Southwest on routes exempted from Positive Train Control.
Railway Age editor William C. Vantuono wondered recently what exactly Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson is trying to accomplish by truncating long-distance routes, replacing fresh dining-car meals with MREs*, and replacing station agents with nobody.
Always a big railroad moment, three California passenger rail agencies unveiled the next-generation motive power for Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner trains.
Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General has released its biannual “management challenges”* report, “highlighting eight areas in which the company may face [problems] in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.”
Watching Washington, October 2018: From operating plans to marketing to pricing, change is relentless in railroading. Where railroaders once every five years looked with suspicion at all aspects of their system, and made substantial changes after 10, scientific advances, new processes and innovative applications propelled by unremitting competition have put the transformation process on steroids.