Amtrak recently announced the progress on its new high-speed Acela trainsets that it says “will redefine the customer experience on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor when they enter service in 2021.”
Philip Morris Capital Corp. and HNB Investment Corp. have sued Amtrak in New York federal court in an attempt to recover $92.9 million for what they claim is a breach of contract for long-retired electric locomotives used on the Northeast Corridor.
A change to the so-called “Arbitration Clause” buried deep within Amtrak’s “Terms and Conditions” for ticket sales that stipulates mandatory arbitration—effectively, preventing passengers from filing lawsuits against Amtrak “including, but not limited to, claims for negligence, gross negligence, physical impairment, disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, wrongful death, survival actions, loss of consortium and/or services, medical and hospital expenses, expenses of transportation for medical treatment, expenses of drugs and medical appliances, emotional distress, exemplary or punitive damages arising out of or related to any personal injury,” has captured the attention of legislators and passenger rail advocates.
According to Amtrak’s preliminary Fiscal Year 2019 (Oct. 1, 2018-Sept. 30, 2019) report, the railroad set ridership, revenue and financial performance records toward its FY 2020 goal of “achieving operational break-even.”
Steve Predmore, a 30-year aviation and bus safety professional, has been appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Safety Officer at Amtrak, effective Nov. 4, 2019. Predmore will succeed Ken Hylander, who will return to retirement on Nov. 15, 2019.
Amtrak Inspector General Kevin H. Winters recently issued a report about the economic impact of sub-standard On-Time Performance (OTP) of Amtrak trains caused by the freight railroads that host and dispatch its services.
Amtrak is no longer offering traditional dining car service on its trains east of Chicago and New Orleans. This is a sad development in the downward slide of Amtrak’s long-distance trains, especially under CEO Richard Anderson’s leadership. There have been a number of “obituaries” for Amtrak dining service, but they are misplaced in time. They have either come too soon, or they should have been written about 15 years ago.
The dilemma: It’s now clear that Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and its new management under former Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson and Executive Vice President Stephen Gardner, regards its principal responsibility as making the Northeast Corridor America’s first true high-speed rail route. That’s a worthy goal and no easy task. Running from Boston south through seven states and the District of Columbia, the Northeast Corridor is the central transportation axis for southern New England and the Middle Atlantic states. The dilemma is that Amtrak’s mandate is not limited to the Northeastern states.
Amtrak recently announced new amenities to its Acela Nonstop trains, as well as upgrades to its long-distance trains.
Amtrak’s Acela Express, which replaced the iconic Metroliner service that helped define the Northeast Corridor for the better part of 30 years, is now approaching age 20 (kind of old for a train). The equipment, popular with customers but sort-of affectionately called “The Fast Pig” in railroading circles, will soon be replaced with new, lighter, sleeker and faster trainsets from Alstom.