The $13 billion Hudson River tunnel project, aimed at building two new rail tunnels between New York and New Jersey, is again facing funding problems after federal authorities announced a rating that means the project remains “ineligible for critical grant funding.”
First, a salute to Railway Age Capitol Hill Contributing Editor Frank Wilner for finally obtaining an interview with a senior officer at Amtrak, Executive Vice President Stephen Gardner. From my perspective, this article offers interesting revelations; yet, it’s still like pulling a thread from a sweater to slowly unwind the backstory as to why Amtrak conducts itself in such a secluded, secretive style, operating in a bubble seemingly oblivious to expressed concerns.
WATCHING WASHINGTON, MARCH 2019 – Amtrak seemingly operates in the shadow of a Bat Signal over Gotham—that specially modified searchlight displaying the emblem of a bat, and intended, when lighted, to summon superhero Batman. Rather than Batman, the Amtrak sentinel, with a passenger train emblem, summons self-appointed management surrogates—hopefully helpful railfans; well-intentioned but cash-strapped lawmakers from federal, state and local government; and, surely, the snoopy press corps.
We are not usually concerned with buses at Railway Age, but what would happen if Greyhound buses suddenly disappeared from American roads, and Amtrak became the only provider of passenger transportation with a nationwide reach? That speculation is not as far-fetched as it would appear at first blush, as a similar scenario is being played out at this writing in much of Canada.
Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General on Feb. 8 said it has “found longstanding management weaknesses in the company’s transport program for privately owned railcars, including inadequate controls for cost and revenue management, a lack of standard operating procedures, and limited safety and parking guidelines.”
Amtrak’s board of directors has approved an agreement with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that will pave the way for introduction of Metro-North commuter rail services to Penn Station New York and extension of Amtrak intercity services to Long Island.
If you’re passionate about on-time performance of Amtrak passenger trains traversing freight railroad tracks, you’d best pray for the health of RBG—the increasingly frail 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority will build four new stations in the East Bronx for Metro-North commuter rail service on the Northeast Corridor, after Governor Andrew Cuomo brokered a deal between the agency and Amtrak. But the deal hinges on a plan to postpone a bridge replacement that was called “beyond a state-of-good-repair” nearly a decade ago.
Amtrak on Jan. 18 released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new fleet of single-level passenger cars to replace its dependable but decades-old, 470-unit stable of Amfleet I and ex-Metroliner cars, which were converted from electric-multiple-units years ago. The Amfleet I cars date to 1975, while the ex-Metroliner equipment entered service in January 1969 for Amtrak predecessor Penn Central (PC predecessor Pennsylvania Railroad ordered this equipment in 1966).
After months of having to endure mostly cold boxed food—what some critics dubbed “Unhappy Meals”—on two Amtrak long-distance route, the New York-Chicago Lake Shore Limited (Trains 48/448 and 49/449) and the Washington D.C.-Chicago Capitol Limited (Trains 29 and 30), sleeping car passengers on those trains now have can choose from several hot food choices on the menu.