Amtrak’s Preference Rights Are Not New—Or Reason For Alarm

A recent opinion column [by Railway Age Contributing Editor Jim Blaze] with a Perils of Pauline title—Amtrak vs. Freight Railroads: Shippers, You Are Impacted!–urges freight rail shippers to take up arms against recently introduced federal legislation that would allow Amtrak to bring a legal action to enforce its statutory dispatching preference over freight trains. While there may be things that freight rail shippers have reason to be concerned about, Amtrak’s preference rights are not one of them.

Report: Sound Transit Top Safety Officer Out

According to a report from The Seattle Times, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff has removed Chief Executive Safety and Quality Officer Salah Al-Tamimi, as a result of the fatal Amtrak Cascades passenger train derailment on Sound Transit-owned tracks in DuPont, Pierce County, in December 2017.

Amtrak Dining Cars as Profit Centers

One of the great hurrahs of Amtrak dining cars came in the late 1990s, when the transcontinental Sunset Limited diner featured 12 entrees on its dinner menu. Traditional white linen tablecloths draped the tables, along with china plates and stainless-steel cutlery. It was not unusual to have flowers on the table and lit candles at the dinner hour.

Amtrak vs. Freight Railroads: Shippers, You Are Impacted!

A headline story says that U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has introduced a bill that would allow Amtrak to sue the freight railroads for preventing Amtrak from meeting suitable on-time performance standards. The senator alleges, “By empowering Amtrak to hold the freight railroads accountable … we can improve Amtrak’s on-time performance and save taxpayer dollars. The people of Illinois—and Amtrak riders nationwide—deserve assurance that they can arrive at their destination in a safe and timely manner.”

Amtrak Reveals Next-Gen Acela Express Prototype

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.”

HHP-8 “Cannibalization” Generates Lawsuit

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.

Amtrak’s “Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate”

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.

Amtrak Reports Record-Setting FY2019

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.”

Airline Veteran New Amtrak CSO

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: Host Railroads Responsible for OTP Issues

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.