• The big ax just fell. Long distance to 3x/week.

  • 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 lordsigma12345
 
We shall see. I am taking my first cross country run June of this year (Zephyr out to EMY and Chief back from LAX) so interested in what will come. I went with chief because I figured it’s the most likely train to get axed in the next few years - probably more likely to be able to catch the builder on a future trip.
  by justalurker66
 
"(c) LONG-DISTANCE SERVICE RESTORATION AND EMPLOYEE RECALLS. — Not less than $165,926,000 of the aggregate amounts made available under subsections (a) and (b) shall be for use by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation to—
(1) restore, not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the frequency of rail service on long-distance routes (as defined in section 102 of title 49, United States Code) that the National Railroad Passenger Corporation reduced the frequency of on or after July 1, 2020, and continue to operate such service at such frequency; and
(2) recall and manage employees furloughed on or after October 1, 2020, as a result of efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus."

No references to this section being controversial or removed.
  by eolesen
 
Unfortunately that $165M doesn't go very far towards covering actual costs of restoring services for FY2021....
Last edited by eolesen on Sun Mar 07, 2021 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by lordsigma12345
 
There are other funding stipulations that were placed on Amtrak's extra money in addition to the service frequencies - certain money was instructed to be used for relief of states and commuter rail tenant operators of capital payments to Amtrak as well as for relief from state supported service payments. Obviously though as Mr. Norman has indicated as this is a budget appropriations bill and not a policy bill, Amtrak is not required to actually carry out any of these instructions - these are merely restrictions on how the money can be used - if they chose not to act on it they'd forfeit that "not less than" amount. However management has also indicated they will always carry out Congress's clear intent so I don't believe they would ignore the instruction. I'm sure the costs though are more than the salaries of furloughed employees - some money will probably have to go into shop work to get sidelined equipment back on the road - and the Class 1s also may, understandably, want some extra (and perhaps more fair market-based) payments to give Amtrak back their timeslots. As Mr. Norman points out passenger service does impede on Class I business - if we are going to run the passenger trains Class Is should receive a market based compensation for the use of their facilities - and if they received a fair payment Amtrak may also find Class Is more willing to be cooperative on the OTP front as well.
  by justalurker66
 
lordsigma12345 wrote: Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:55 am Amtrak is not required to actually carry out any of these instructions - these are merely restrictions on how the money can be used - if they chose not to act on it they'd forfeit that "not less than" amount.
Forfeiting money doesn't help when going to the well for the next round of funding. "You didn't spend the money we gave you last time" is a fair argument. Amtrak needs to spend what they were given within the constraints given to help ensure that they will be given more in the future.
lordsigma12345 wrote: Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:55 am ... the Class 1s also may, understandably, want some extra (and perhaps more fair market-based) payments to give Amtrak back their timeslots.
I hope not. Those slots were not abandoned and have only been unused for a few months.
  by bdawe
 
justalurker66 wrote: Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:21 am
lordsigma12345 wrote: Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:55 am ... the Class 1s also may, understandably, want some extra (and perhaps more fair market-based) payments to give Amtrak back their timeslots.
I hope not. Those slots were not abandoned and have only been unused for a few months.
For example, the Talgo funeral train was technically a non-revenue Coast Starlight
  by eolesen
 
justalurker66 wrote: Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:21 am Forfeiting money doesn't help when going to the well for the next round of funding. "You didn't spend the money we gave you last time" is a fair argument. Amtrak needs to spend what they were given within the constraints given to help ensure that they will be given more in the future.
Yeah, I'm not so sure that's true. Politicians understand that targeted funds (earmarks) routinely don't get used, and this bill will be no different.
  by TurningOfTheWheel
 
This isn't the Pentagon launching trucks into the sea as a rather expensive way of testing their new aircraft carrier launching system to find a way to spend earmarked funds. Amtrak doesn't have the same political mandate for stable/increasing funding as other government agencies--least of all DoD. At this point the political and fiscal mandate for Amtrak is to increase service frequencies, which it hasn't been in quite a while if ever. If they're going to get more chances to do so in the future, it's not unreasonable to think that Amtrak had best start here by bringing the LDs back to daily frequency.
  by lordsigma12345
 
I think they'll definitely resume daily service if the funding remains. Management has stated multiple times that they will follow Congress's intent.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
OK; it certainly is knowledge that the train frequency provisions passed as part of the House Bill. The Senate site does not seem to provide copies of their passed legislation, so I must ask if anyone has knowledge of whether or not the frequency provision was included in the Senate's passed Bill?

If it were, then it's "in like Flynn", as the Conference Committee, where the two Bills are now, cannot strike a provision that both chambers have passed. So if the provision is in one, but not the other, it's a "who knows"?

Will Col. Perkowski, holder of a Masters in this kind of stuff, step forward and resolve?

But all told, Joe gets one Bill to sign. Various presidents have tried to seek "line item veto", but without success. Others have attempted to "impound" appropriated funds for programs they didn't like (Amtrak has been on the wrong end of that stunt in the past), but I think it took The Supremes to say "no no, Mr. President" to that.
  by eolesen
 
If the goal is for FY2021's financials to be worse than FY2020's, then by all means restore all the frequencies... Even at 3x a week, boardings are scarce. All that restoration will do is cut that already abysmal load factor in half...
  by lordsigma12345
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Mar 08, 2021 7:04 am OK; it certainly is knowledge that the train frequency provisions passed as part of the House Bill. The Senate site does not seem to provide copies of their passed legislation, so I must ask if anyone has knowledge of whether or not the frequency provision was included in the Senate's passed Bill?

If it were, then it's "in like Flynn", as the Conference Committee, where the two Bills are now, cannot strike a provision that both chambers have passed. So if the provision is in one, but not the other, it's a "who knows"?

Will Col. Perkowski, holder of a Masters in this kind of stuff, step forward and resolve?

But all told, Joe gets one Bill to sign. Various presidents have tried to seek "line item veto", but without success. Others have attempted to "impound" appropriated funds for programs they didn't like (Amtrak has been on the wrong end of that stunt in the past), but I think it took The Supremes to say "no no, Mr. President" to that.
Mr. Norman: This is the language in the Senate version (Amendment 891.) There aren't two separate bills where you'd need a conference committee I don't believe this is a house bill amended by the senate (Which is the way I think it must be done under reconciliation) - the senate passed the house bill but because it made amendments it must go back to the House floor to be passed again with the changes - in order for it to get to Joe's desk the full House must pass it on the floor as amended by the Senate without making any more changes. Below is the Amtrak language in the Senate Amendment 891. If you want to see it on the website go to the page for the bill https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-con ... 7D&s=3&r=2 - click amendments and you can find the amendment text by following the links to the Congressional Record:

SEC. 7101. GRANTS TO THE NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER
CORPORATION.

(a) Northeast Corridor Appropriation.--In addition to
amounts otherwise available, there is appropriated for fiscal
year 2021, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise
appropriated, $970,388,160, to remain available until
September 30, 2024, for grants as authorized under section
11101(a) of the FAST Act (Public Law 114-94) to prevent,
prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
(b) National Network Appropriation.--In addition to amounts
otherwise available, there is appropriated for fiscal year
2021, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise
appropriated, $729,611,840, to remain available until
September 30, 2024, for grants as authorized under section
11101(b) of the FAST Act (Public Law 114-94) to prevent,
prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
(c) Long-distance Service Restoration and Employee
Recalls.--Not less than $165,926,000 of the aggregate amounts
made available under subsections (a) and (b) shall be for use
by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation to--
(1) restore, not later than 90 days after the date of
enactment of this Act, the frequency of rail service on long-
distance routes (as defined in section 24102 of title 49,
United States Code) that the National Railroad Passenger
Corporation reduced the frequency of on or after July 1,
2020, and continue to operate such service at such frequency;
and
(2) recall and manage employees furloughed on or after
October 1, 2020, as a result of efforts to prevent, prepare
for, and respond to coronavirus.
(d) Use of Funds in Lieu of Capital Payments.--Not less
than $109,805,000 of the aggregate amounts made available
under subsections (a) and (b)--
(1) shall be for use by the National Railroad Passenger
Corporation in lieu of capital payments from States and
commuter rail passenger transportation providers that are
subject to the cost allocation policy under section 24905(c)
of title 49, United States Code; and
(2) notwithstanding sections 24319(g) and 24905(c)(1)(A)(i)
of title 49, United States Code, such amounts do not
constitute cross-subsidization of commuter rail passenger
transportation.
(e) Use of Funds for State Payments for State-supported
Routes.--
(1) In general.--Of the amounts made available under
subsection (b), $174,850,000 shall be for use by the National
Railroad Passenger Corporation to offset amounts required to
be paid by States for covered State-supported routes.
(2) Funding share.--The share of funding provided under
paragraph (1) with respect to a covered State-supported route
shall be distributed as follows:
(A) Each covered State-supported route shall receive 7
percent of the costs allocated to the route in fiscal year
2019 under the cost allocation methodology adopted pursuant
to section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and
Improvement Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-432).
(B) Any remaining amounts after the distribution described
in subparagraph (A) shall be apportioned to each covered
State-supported route in proportion to the passenger revenue
of such route and other revenue allocated to such route in
fiscal year 2019 divided by the total passenger revenue and
other revenue allocated to all covered State-supported routes
in fiscal year 2019.
(3) Covered state-supported route defined.--In this
subsection, the term ``covered State-supported route'' means
a State-supported route, as such term is defined in section
24102 of title 49, United States Code, but does not include a
State-supported route for which service was terminated on or
before February 1, 2020.
(f) Use of Funds for Debt Repayment or Prepayment.--Not
more than $100,885,000 of the aggregate amounts made
available under subsections (a) and (b) shall be--
(1) for the repayment or prepayment of debt incurred by the
National Railroad Passenger Corporation under financing
arrangements entered into prior to the date of enactment of
this Act; and
(2) to pay required reserves, costs, and fees related to
such debt, including for loans from the Department of
Transportation and loans that would otherwise have been paid
from National Railroad Passenger Corporation revenues.
(g) Project Management Oversight.--Not more than $2,000,000
of the aggregate amounts made available under subsections (a)
and (b) shall be for activities authorized under section
11101(c) of the FAST Act (Public Law 114-94).

It's identical to the house version except that the Senate gave them an extra $150 million for the corridor and an extra $50 million for the network (the $200 million the news articles have been referring to.)
  by lordsigma12345
 
To further note - a few amendments were proposed in writing that targeted Amtrak - but none specifically targeted the service restorations. Two amendments would have axed the Amtrak relief entirely (which Amtrak would have been in trouble with nothing and had to make further state supported and NEC frequency cuts as it's current funding was meant to get them thru the end of this month.) Another lowered the amounts for both the NEC and Network, another cut $700 million from the NEC and redirected it to airline/airport funding, and the last one cut the NEC funding entirely and redirected it to the coast guard - both of the last two retained the National network funding and LD service restorations and only attacked the NEC funding. The only Amtrak amendment that was actually taken up on the floor was the last one proposed by Scott of Florida - which axed the NEC funding and redirected it to the coast guard and it failed. It appeared that the thing most offensive to the Senate republicans in the Amtrak portion of the bill was the more than $1 billion extra for the corridor which is supposed to make a profit and the fact that it benefits mostly blue states. There are a few red state senators that are pro long distance trains because they have them in their states and probably would have voted against going after the national network portion - and one of the pro Empire Builder guys did break with the Repubs and voted against the NEC attacking one - so that's probably why only the NEC attacking one made it to the floor. Senators proposed nearly 200 amendments for show votes against the bill and Mitch picked which ones to bring to the floor for the vote-a-rama.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Good find, Mr. Lord; the Frequency provision made it.

"Uh, don't think" Joe is about to veto the Bill over that or any other reason.

Bet lots of folk over at AU, where I presume someone has reported it, will be "happy, happy".
  by markhb
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Mar 08, 2021 7:04 am OK; it certainly is knowledge that the train frequency provisions passed as part of the House Bill. The Senate site does not seem to provide copies of their passed legislation, so I must ask if anyone has knowledge of whether or not the frequency provision was included in the Senate's passed Bill?
I haven't looked at the details, but the House's copy of the Senate amendment to the bill (which really replaces the entire text of the bill) is here (PDF). I believe that would be the final Senate rendition and my assumption is that the House will Speechify, Recede and Concur tomorrow (Wednesday).
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