FY 2019 Amtrak Appropriation

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FY 2019 Amtrak Appropriation

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri May 18, 2018 7:23 am

Whatever some around here hold with regards to the negative outlook for Long Distance trains, the first step of many suggests that Amtrak has become a $2B program. That is what the House Committee on Appropriations has "marked up" for FY19:

https://appropriations.house.gov/news/d ... tID=395298

When I learned of this development, all I could think of was what must go down as one of the biggest Amtrak blunders of all times.

While likely attributed to "Tenderfoots in the Eagle Scouts' clubhouse", an answer given by Roger Lewis during '72
when Amtrak was groveling for "a couple of hundred M", in response to the Committee's question "Sir, if we gave you a B (remember this is back in '72), what kind of railroad could you give the American people?"

"Sir, that would be more money than we could sensibly commit".

DUUUHHHHHH!
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Re: FY 2019 Amtrak Appropriation

Postby jp1822 » Fri May 18, 2018 1:46 pm

"The bill provides a total of $1.9 billion for Amtrak, of which $650 million is for the Northeast Corridor and $1.3 billion is to support the national network. The bill also continues to require overtime limits for Amtrak employees to reduce unnecessary costs."

So I am confused. Appropriations Committee fully funds the National Network, but Amtrak, instead of working to comply, is working to dismantle the national network.... So how does this get reconciled out? More creative accounting (with all due respect to the accounting field) to try and "move" money from the National Network to the NEC, or corridor trains in general?

The broader question - if Amtrak is given money to operate a "network" and told to operate it by your superiors, but then it is not, one would think there would be severe consequences (just as if the opposite was laid out).

This now goes beyond whether you agree Amtrak should or should not operate a national network (e.g. long distance trains). I personally see a fundamental flaw or mixed message being sent by Congress and what Amtrak is enacting. The Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited is not getting improved dining/food service, rather sleeper car passengers are receiving less service and a price increase. One would think, if you are given the money to operate an existing network (the national network) - operate it, make the best of it, and try to generate more revenue from it. Why launch a cost-cutting crusade to dismantle if it is funded. If not funded and mandates are otherwise, then different objectives take hold.
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Re: FY 2019 Amtrak Appropriation

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri May 18, 2018 2:11 pm

Mr. JP, appropriation bille in the past have had similar language; but the "fine print" allows them to use wherever needed most.
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Re: FY 2019 Amtrak Appropriation

Postby mtuandrew » Fri May 18, 2018 2:18 pm

Just because it’s a network doesn’t mean there aren’t knots between segments. I don’t expect the current leadership to discontinue any coverage, just to make some eastern LD routes into two medium-distance routes.

Not that I support that.

But, if it means fresh investment, it’s worthwhile to look into it with a little of that $1.9B.
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