Perhaps former Congressman John Mica had a point, after all, to claim that Amtrak operates like a relic of the Soviet Kremlin? That, and knowing we have the best politicians money can buy, tells a clear story: Beyond the history of outrageous corporate failures due to illegal manipulation of their financial data, like Enron, is their any other example of a company operating in such an egregious manner as Amtrak that defies Congress, lies to states, and spits in the face of the public interest, all the while scooping up even more taxpayer funding?
Underlying the ancient aphorism “be careful what you wish for … because you might get it” is the law of unintended consequences.
Testifying on Sept. 13 at a House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials hearing on Positive Train Control, Amtrak Chief Operating Officer Scot Naparstek said—in contrast to what President and CEO Richard Anderson has stated in previous hearings—that the railroad will not discontinue long-distance train operations on freight railroad routes that lack fully functioning PTC by Jan, 1, 2019, and will apply to the Federal Railroad Administration for an alternative schedule with a Dec. 31, 2020 deadline.
The first replacement trainset for Amtrak’s high-speed service is just a shell of itself – and that’s good news.
I don’t need to write much about how the Transport Worker’s Union looks upon Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson’s purported quest to eliminate dining car service and dismantle the long-distance train national network. The poster below says it all. It’s funny, to be sure, but for thousands of Amtrak customers, the meaning behind it is sad and dehumanizing.
Amtrak on Sept. 6 announced the recipients of its President’s Service and Safety Awards (PSSA), described as “the highest recognition given to Amtrak employees.” The awards were recently distributed to more than 50 employees during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
If the new Amtrak management team is sincerely trying to improve safety, we ought to all support what they are doing. But if Amtrak is only using safety as a stalking horse to pursue another agenda (such as discontinuing L-D trains, as is believed in many circles), it should be called out on it.
Watching Washington, September 2018: If two congressional directives are not aptly labeled “Cheech and Chong Provisions,” why is their sum “420” and their consequence a seeming hallucinatory decade-long cavort through the federal court system whose clashing opinions have pinged and ponged as if a Super Mario arcade game?
I’ll keep my remarks brief—which is unusual for me—and let the photos do most of the talking.
A white paper issued by the Rail Passengers Association, “Amtrak’s Route Accounting: Fatally Flawed, Misleading & Wrong,” contends that Amtrak’s fully allocated cost methodology “grossly exaggerates the cost of operating the national passenger train system. This, in turn, has lead to the conclusion adopted by many elected leaders and other affected stakeholders that abandonment of key long-distance trains will save Amtrak significant sums and lead to a more financially secure national passenger operation.”