• Amtrak New Gulf Coast Service - New Orleans to Mobile AL

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by gokeefe
 
Kilgore Trout wrote:I am not a lawyer, but isn't the phrase "Amtrak has a right to use these railroads’ tracks" just referring to the pre-existing agreements? Re-asserting a previous arrangement does not sound the same to me as "[using] their tracks however they please". I imagine Amtrak is trying this strategy because they think they might win due to the unique suspended status.
Congratulations (and with all due respect and some good humor) ... You're all wrong Image ...

49 USC $24308: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/49/24308 is what applies ... I believe this will be the first time since the mid 1990s (Downeaster) that Amtrak will be using the STB pathway to compel access.

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  by STrRedWolf
 
Article in Trains caught my eye: https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews ... tb-filing/
WASHINGTON —The latest salvo in Amtrak’s attempt to launch two daily round trips between New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., has landed at the Surface Transportation Board in the passenger railroad’s 80-page “Response in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss.”

Responding to a 284-page filing by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern on April 5, the passenger railroad characterizes the railroads’ objections as effectively forcing Amtrak to jump “through various hoops of CSX’s and NS’s own invention that the statute nowhere requires.” It points out CSX refused to participate in a 2017 feasibility study undertaken jointly with the Federal Railroad Administration and the Congress-empowered Gulf Coast Working Group, which included the sponsoring Southern Rail Commission and Amtrak.
...
It is clear Amtrak’s decision to take its case to the STB was triggered by the realization that only a regulatory body’s investigation could force the railroads to be transparent. Even so, Amtrak, CSX, and Norfolk Southern together on April 5 filed a “Revised Joint Motion for Protective Order” which requests that certain information obtained by the STB in the upcoming discovery process be labeled “confidential” or “highly confidential,” because the parties deem it to be proprietary. So it remains to be seen how much everyone will learn as the process advances.
  by gokeefe
 
The STB is not going to be impressed with a refusal by CSX to participate in a feasibility study for returning passenger rail to a route which previously had it until 2005. I think Amtrak is going to be successful on this one.

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  by eolesen
 
Regardless, the outcome will certainly set a precedent for any passenger rail expansion when a host railroad insists it alone is entitled to determine how much publicly funded investment in its infrastructure and capacity it is willing to accept.
How much of the line was rebuilt post-Katrina with public funds? If it was all host-road funded, that will make for an interesting case indeed to see if STB can essentially compel a taking of private property.

It was one thing for the Amtrak signatories to have to participate on routes that never lost service as well as their successors, but this route has gone over 15 years without service and I don't know if it's reasonable to compel them to allow access without also forcing Amtrak to pay for such accommodation. At a minimum, funding PTC and passing sidings/approach tracks seems to be a reasonable cost of entry to introduce higher speed trains into the mix.
  by kitchin
 
From Amtrak's 5 year plan released Thursday. https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... Y21-26.pdf
Congress intended to give the Surface Transportation Board limited authority to enforce Amtrak’s preference rights when it enacted the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, but the STB’s enforcement powers were stymied by a decade-long legal challenge by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) that sought to prevent the STB from exercising its authority. While that challenge was ultimately unsuccessful, we expect the freight railroads to mount challenges when Amtrak seeks to enforce its preference rights under metrics and standards recently issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

Moreover, even if there are blatant preference violations, the STB has no power to investigate them unless a route’s OTP is poor for a period of at least six months. As a result, freight railroads suffer no significant consequences for the delays suffered by Amtrak passengers. Amtrak’s reauthorization requests that DOJ’s authority be supplemented by authorizing Amtrak to bring a civil action in federal district court to enforce its right to preference, which would greatly improve OTP.
  by STrRedWolf
 
photobug56 wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 11:31 pm Doesn't Federal law compel some cooperation with Amtrak?
Yes, but enforcement is the issue.
  by Ken W2KB
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 9:56 am
photobug56 wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 11:31 pm Doesn't Federal law compel some cooperation with Amtrak?
Yes, but enforcement is the issue.
Enforcement, and this language of the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution: "No person shall be . . .deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." All costs, direct and indirect, including lost opportunity costs, resultant to a freight railroad by virtue of Amtrak operations must be reimbursed to the railroad. That can be a very substantial sum.
  by ExCon90
 
I think the issue of unconstitutional taking was raised awhile back but can't remember which parties were involved or in what jurisdiction. Has this reached a court yet? I'd imagine that the first task would be to get a court to understand that track capacity is property, and so is time.
  by David Benton
 
I think the constitutions are more to protect the rights of people , vs the rights of multinational, multi billion corporations. Having said that , governments are careful to be seen to fairly compensate businesses for "takings", they don't want to be seen to be bad for business , internationally.
Ownig a piece of land , or in this case a railroad track does not give you the right to do whatever you like with it . I'm sure CSX would be very happy to have the only rail access to the port of Mobile . But of course the authorities would not allow it , and force them to provide access to other freight railroads. Same difference.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
ExCon90 wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:05 pm I think the issue of unconstitutional taking was raised awhile back but can't remember which parties were involved or in what jurisdiction. Has this reached a court yet? I'd imagine that the first task would be to get a court to understand that track capacity is property, and so is time.
Probably me, Mr. Ex Con.

I have held consistently through the twenty two years I've been around here that, absent just compensation, Amtrak imposing upon the industry to operate their trains represents a Fifth Amendment Taking. The existing contractual taking, which is not subject to public disclosure in that it's part of a bilateral contract, is reportedly hardly representative of the opportunity cost to a road not being able to handle an additional high value container or auto rack train. This cost will only rise as m0re roads come disciples of "The Gospel According to Saint Elwood" (PSR).

Those at some other sites who refer to Class I CEO's as criminals because they do not plan their roads' operations around Amtrak needs; well, they're the petty criminals for even suggesting such.
  by eolesen
 

David Benton wrote:I think the constitutions are more to protect the rights of people , vs the rights of multinational, multi billion corporations.
Constitutions exist to limit government's overreach. That includes people and businesses.

Within some of our lifetimes, the day will come where Amtrak has existed longer than long distance rail operated by freight railroads did. At some point decades ago, the obligation to cooperate that freight roads agreed to in 1971 was met... it will go to court eventually and be adjudicated by a body other than the STB.

Amtrak: Fifty Years of Burning Your Money...

Image

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  by kitchin
 
Well there is the history of railroads getting free land. And then the government relieving them of passenger service in 1971. Admittedly states that pay now do better than Alabama, which apparently does not even want the service! Not that Alabama should control a service that benefits other states.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Kitchin, to my knowledge, none of the several Land Grant Acts required a road to offer passenger train service. If so, "I'm all ears".

When those Grants were awarded it was simply in the railroad's interest to have passenger trains. How else were people to settle the land and provide the revenue from predominately agricultural products.

Waterways, how many of those short of playing Huck Finn and Lewis & Clark were navigable by much of anything? Besides only the Columbia and Missouri flow East-West.

"Relieving the railroad's obligation". Here the industry was confronted with a hidebound regulatory agency more interested in political breezes than ensuring non-discrimination in rates and service. No wonder the ICC "Sunsetted" during 1980.

Had the railroads largely in desperation not signed up for "the Faustian pact with the Devil" called Amtrak, there would not be an intercity passenger train operating over investor owned rails today - anywhere.
  by Arborwayfan
 
My impression is that essentially all original railroad charters required railroads to provide passenger service. I might be taking something that was true in Britain (think Parliamentary trains = trains every certain time interval charging no more than x pence per mile) and imagining that it applied in the US, but a quick google books search finds what appears to be a charter requirement that one of the parent roads of the B&M have passenger stations in certain specified towns. Eastern railroads often got state eminent domain (under which the state sets aside one person's property rights to help another person who the state thinks will help the community with the way they use that property; it's compensated, but people who don't want to sell at the official value of their property are still required to sell.) to help them put together their ROW, just as turnpike companies had before. The Boston and Lowell got a 30-year monopoly between those two cities. Even the right to operate a dangerous fast-moving vehicle on an unfenced ROW and not be responsible for the ensuing deaths of livestock and people is something created by law, not something found in constitutional or common or divine law. Being a railroad has always been a special kind of business, in which the law gave certain privileges in exchange for certain obligations that a mine or a factory or a publisher doesn't have.
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