Improving Rail Passenger Service, One Step At A Time


By Noel T. Braymer

With the creation of Amtrak we saw a low point in rail passenger service in this Country. With Amtrak came the greatest loss of rail passenger service in a single day in American history. Amtrak was created in part to save the most critical services which had the best chance of surviving. To help the freight railroads many passenger routes lost service as part of the deal to get the cooperation of the railroads to allow Amtrak on their tracks. Since 1971 when Amtrak was formed it has often seemed there have been more setbacks than progress. But there have been successes, and the best ones start small. California is the model for this. There are now 12 round trips between San Diego and Los Angeles with 5 of those trains also going to Santa Barbara and 2 of those trains going to San Luis Obispo.

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BY M.E. Singer

Following closely behind the high-spirited reaction of ambulance-chasing personal injury attorneys, we can always depend upon CATO to spew its Potomac-financed nescient mentality after a tragic Amtrak wreck. As if pulling out the same anticipated, undesired free toy from a box of Cracker Jacks, we heard as if it was a laundry detergent. CATO’s new and improved mantra by Randall O’Toole, “Questions to Ask About Amtrak 501” (20 Dec questions-ask-about-amtrak-501 ).  For rail advocacy, our mantra must be “¡No Pasarán!” (“They Shall Not Pass”– a slogan from the Spanish Civil War).

In approximately eight elementary questions and their simplistic, biased answers pulled from CATO’s dusty library that would fail college admission if on an entrance exam, CATO’s O’Toole took another shot at the viability, credibility, and market need for passenger rail in America:

1. CATO makes hay out of the initial deadline of 2015 for PTC by Congress…

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Crony Appointed to Amtrak’s Board of Directors Despite Voting in Congress Against Funding for Amtrak

By M.E. Singer

Cronyism continues to thrive in “the Swamp.” As egregious how the carried interest tax loophole has survived the new tax legislation as a special treatment against the middle class, so too “below the radar” do we witness how “cronyism rides the rails” against the middle class.

How does the media remain silent, Congress disinterested, and the traveling public oblivious towards the deliberate travesty of stewardship expected of Amtrak’s Board of Directors? What can possibly be the logic of this current Amtrak Board to tolerate the Administration’s nomination in October, 2017, of Leon Westmoreland to Amtrak’s Board? In respect to his record as a Congressman from Georgia (2004-2016), Westmoreland voted twice against funding Amtrak–in 2009 and again, in 2015. Given such an overt, anti-Amtrak record, his nomination fulfills the proverbial concern of “putting…

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More On The Future Of Metrolink


By Noel T. Braymer

I have been going over and rereading Metrolink’s ten year strategic plan published in 2015 covering its planning up to 2025. I’ve written about some of this on this blog last week. This plan is a 171 page document which takes some time and rereading to cover a lot of its material. Basically there is a lot in this plan which is very welcomed and long overdue. Much of what is in this says much of what I have been calling for years and is also supported by RailPAC. At the heart of this plan is the realization that the original Metrolink plan to mostly operate rush hour service into downtown Los Angeles in the morning and out by night ignores many other important travel markets. This new plan assumes more frequent service, more reverse commute services, better connections to markets without rail service as well…

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The Challenges Richard Anderson Has Running Amtrak


By Noel T. Braymer

Amtrak now has just one Chief Executive Officer in Mr. Anderson. While he has years of experience as a business executive, running a railroad, one with many problems will no doubt be a challenge. One thing Mr. Anderson has been doing is shaking up management at Amtrak by offering early retirement to Amtrak managers. At the same time new managers were hired outside of Amtrak to replace some of the now retired managers. Many of these replacement managers came from the airline industry which is where Mr. Anderson has spent much of his career. Under Anderson, Amtrak is seeing improvements in marketing and passenger amenities. Overhauling the Amfleet equipment from the 1970’s was long overdue and should increase ridership. But Amtrak’s biggest problem is dealing with the problems of the costs and repair of the Northeast Corridor, problems of which long predate the creation of Amtrak…

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