• 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

  by eolesen
 
STrRedWolf wrote:
Now, CSX and NS run the real risk of having to cut freight service under orders of the STB.
Nope.

That's how it would work in China. Here, it's still an illegal order.

Congress has made clear in 49 U.S.C. § 24308 that the Board may only order freight railroads to accept additional Amtrak trains if those new passenger trains would not “impair unreasonably freight transportation.”

I'd think cutting 20% of freight service to accommodate Amtrak would be a clear unreasonable burden in any courtroom.

In the end, STB has an obligation to avoid negatively impacting the property owner from being able to maintain status quo use of their property. In this case, STB can't lawfully allow freight service to be degraded.



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  by Pensyfan19
 
Surprised no one's mentioned this yet, but it seems to be a good sign for Amtrak.

https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews ... obile-ala/
WASHINGTON — Score one small win for Amtrak in its ongoing effort to launch service along the Gulf Coast.

The Surface Transportation Board on Monday issued a decision honoring Amtrak’s request for an order allowing it access to CSX Transportation’s Choctaw Yard in Mobile, Ala., to conduct a survey to determine a possible site for a layover track for trains on the proposed New Orleans-Mobile route.

Amtrak had asked for that order in an October filing, saying CSX was “no longer working with Amtrak” [see “Amtrak asks STB to compel cooperation …,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 20, 2021] or allowing access to its lines in preparation for the launch of the Gulf Coast trains. Amtrak had first asked for such an order in March when it initiated a case asking the STB to require CSX and Norfolk Southern to allow it to operate on the New Orleans-Mobile route [see “Amtrak asks STB to require CSX, NS to allow Gulf Coast Service,” News Wire, March 16, 2021]; at that time, the STB said the matter was moot because the railroads were cooperating.
  by eolesen
 
If allowing Amtrak to walk around the yard with a tape measure amd a camera is a good sign, you've got low expectations.

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  by west point
 
What will survey need?
1. Location of a siding long enough for any possible train set. (18 cars + 3 locos?).
2, What number switch will CSX require?
3. What will be the additional foul free space will be needed?
4. What kind derail? Maybe split switch
5. Is connection track signaled? If so what type of switch locks or even switch machines? Worse still maybe signaling on the siding to main?
6. Size of rail that 2 switch panels will connect.
7. How much track work needed to install switches? Under grade, Ballast, New cross ties. etc.
8, Maybe even worse still a bypass siding to allow loco to remain off main when or if swapping ends even though train probably will be push pull. Only CSX would push for that.
9. Estimate of time to install switch panels and siding. will that foul main?
  by John_Perkowski
 
Link from Trains Magazine: CSX, NS documents offer harsh rebuttal to Amtrak filing in Gulf Coast case

Brief, fair use quote:
“The 2021 Gulf Coast RTC Model shows that Amtrak’s proposed new service would cause significant impairment to freight transportation in the Gulf Coast region,” the filing concludes, “absent conditions requiring Amtrak to build adequate infrastructure to support its new service. [The legislation governing the case] does not permit Amtrak to force freight railroads to accept new passenger trains that will unreasonably impair freight service, and thus Amtrak’s application must be denied.”
  by Ken W2KB
 
John_Perkowski wrote: Tue Dec 28, 2021 9:14 am Link from Trains Magazine: CSX, NS documents offer harsh rebuttal to Amtrak filing in Gulf Coast case

Brief, fair use quote:
“The 2021 Gulf Coast RTC Model shows that Amtrak’s proposed new service would cause significant impairment to freight transportation in the Gulf Coast region,” the filing concludes, “absent conditions requiring Amtrak to build adequate infrastructure to support its new service. [The legislation governing the case] does not permit Amtrak to force freight railroads to accept new passenger trains that will unreasonably impair freight service, and thus Amtrak’s application must be denied.”
If legislation were to "force freight railroads to accept new passenger trains that will unreasonably impair freight service" that legislation would be unconstitutional and voided by the courts.
  by Station Aficionado
 
Strange that the courts never did that back in the days of private operation of trains that couldn't be taken off without regulatory permission.
  by Ken W2KB
 
Station Aficionado wrote: Tue Dec 28, 2021 3:38 pm Strange that the courts never did that back in the days of private operation of trains that couldn't be taken off without regulatory permission.
Not strange. Railroad service and rates were back then 100% regulated. As such, the ultimate legal tests applied by the courts were whether or not the overall structure of rates were just and reasonable, not confiscatory, not arbitrary or capricious, and were the product of reasoned decision making. If some services were subsidized by others, but overall rates and return met this standard, that is not a Constitutional issue. The same is true today, for example, in rate making for the regulated electric delivery portion of the business electric utility companies.
  by ExCon90
 
Another point is that legally, taking off a train that is already operating is different from adding a new service. Back in the days of regulation a court could forbid a discontinuance but could not order a reestablishment after a discontinuance was accomplished; that's why the Burlington famously yanked a passenger train out of service while en route through Wyoming (I think it was) after repeated court-ordered postponements had finally run out -- once the train ceased operation it couldn't be ordered back in. Something similar occurred on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin when after repeated restraining orders had run out and the company was free to shut the service down, the line ceased passenger operations about as soon as the sound of the gavel died away, and legions of commuters sought their way home on the C&NW and Burlington. In the Rock Island case, the judge specifically ordered the railroad to continue commuter operations until midnight that day because without that provision it would have been the CA&E situation all over again.

In reflecting on Mr. Norman's comments awhile back that Amtrak never touched all the bases when it discontinued the Sunset, thus leaving the train in a continued state of "suspension," perhaps it could be argued that technically the train never came off and Amtrak has every right to restore -- rather than establish -- service on any and all parts of the route. I don't know whether Amtrak and local authorities are pursuing that angle.
  by Station Aficionado
 
Ken W2KB wrote: Tue Dec 28, 2021 6:25 pm
Not strange. Railroad service and rates were back then 100% regulated. As such, the ultimate legal tests applied by the courts were whether or not the overall structure of rates were just and reasonable, not confiscatory, not arbitrary or capricious, and were the product of reasoned decision making. If some services were subsidized by others, but overall rates and return met this standard, that is not a Constitutional issue. The same is true today, for example, in rate making for the regulated electric delivery portion of the business electric utility companies.
Probably getting too lawyer to lawyer here, but are you suggesting that it was constitutional for the ICC to tell railroads via regulation and adjudication to run trains, but it would unconstitutional for Congress to do the same thing by statute? I think even the current SCOTUS wouldn't have a problem with such a statute (provided the freight roads were appropriately compensated).
  by Station Aficionado
 
One other comment before the equine I'm flogging gives up the ghost, if anyone here takes at face value the contention that a couple of corridor trains would unreasonably impair freight service, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you may be interested in. The desperate attempt by CSX to keep Amtrak from even looking around their property alone suggests a different reality. I suspect this is mostly posturing, in the hopes of getting free upgrades to their route. Query: does anyone know what SP/UP's reaction was when the Capital Corridor was first proposed? Now there's a level of passenger service that could have impaired freight service.
  by Allouette
 
CSX and NS may want to look back at the ICC and court case that ended up with the Boston & Maine losing ownership of the Conn River line (Vermonter) in 1987 over poor operation of the Montrealer. Since there was an alternative route south of the Massachusetts line, only the portion between Brattleboro and Windsor Vermont was actually awarded. Amtrak purchased and immediately resold the line to the Central Vermont. The result of the case was upheld by the Supreme Court. The southern portion of the Conn River in Massachusetts was purchased by the state of MA and rebuilt by Obama-era grants in the 2010s.
  by eolesen
 

Station Aficionado wrote: Probably getting too lawyer to lawyer here, but are you suggesting that it was constitutional for the ICC to tell railroads via regulation and adjudication to run trains, but it would unconstitutional for Congress to do the same thing by statute? I think even the current SCOTUS wouldn't have a problem with such a statute (provided the freight roads were appropriately compensated).
I don't recall the ICC's powers ever being challenged while it was active, but arguably ordering private business to continue losing money would be found unconstitutional.

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  by Ken W2KB
 
eolesen wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 10:08 am
Station Aficionado wrote: Probably getting too lawyer to lawyer here, but are you suggesting that it was constitutional for the ICC to tell railroads via regulation and adjudication to run trains, but it would unconstitutional for Congress to do the same thing by statute? I think even the current SCOTUS wouldn't have a problem with such a statute (provided the freight roads were appropriately compensated).
I don't recall the ICC's powers ever being challenged while it was active, but arguably ordering private business to continue losing money would be found unconstitutional.

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The key phrase in the comment is "provided the freight roads were appropriately compensated". Correct, Congress could legally require providing service if and only if the freight railroad was fully compensated by Amtrak for all costs, e.g., capital, fixed, O&M, variable and lost opportunity. I strongly suspect that such costs would vastly exceed the current rates typically paid by Amtrak.
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