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wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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A House GOP proposal would force Amtrak to privatize operation of its cafe cars -- but the federal government would still be required to pick up part of the tab for the private provider's hot dog and Heineken offerings.

The measure introduced by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), part of the much larger and controversial surface transportation bill now under debate, takes aim at Amtrak's onboard food and beverage service, which loses some $60 million a year, according to the congresswoman.

The measure's language, however, outlines the limits of what even its proponents think privatization can accomplish. The proposed legislation states the federal government would pay out "any portion of appropriations for Amtrak necessary to cover a net loss" from the food and beverage service. So even if the private providers save Amtrak some money, the federal government would still be required to cover any losses from the private businesses' operations. Amtrak has argued that food and beverage services operate not as a money-making proposition, but somewhat as a loss-leader, an amenity to lure passengers to spring for train tickets.

Schmidt's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Ed Wytkind, president of the transportation trades department at the AFL-CIO, argued the "net loss" subsidy is a symbol of Republican hypocrisy. Nearly 1,900 unionized members provide onboard food services on Amtrak. "You can't make this stuff up," Wytkind told HuffPost. "It is the best deal you could possibly write for some food service company."

Conservatives have said private companies would operate more efficiently. But, Wytkind asked, "If they're so confident about it, why do they have to hold them harmless?"

The measure would limit the government's losses "to the extent that such net loss was anticipated in the bid selected." Amtrak's food and beverage services have long been a target of Republicans' ire. Amtrak spends $2 for every $1 it makes off food and beverages, in part as a result of high labor costs, according to a 2005 Government Accountability Office report.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Amtrak to increase western Michigan, northern Indiana speeds

Tuesday, February 07, 2012  

Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation have received federal approval to increase maximum speeds of Amtrak trains in western Michigan and northern Indiana to 110 mph following successful installation and testing of a positive train control safety system on Amtrak-owned track between Kalamazoo, Mich., and Porter, Ind.

"This is the first expansion of regional high-speed rail outside the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor," said President and CEO Joseph Boardman. "With our partners in Michigan, we will extend this 110 mph service from Kalamazoo to the state's central and eastern regions in the coming years."

"Our state put the world on wheels and continues to be a leading transportation innovator," said MDOT State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Recognizing changing demographics and a burgeoning interest in passenger rail travel, we are proud to be the first state outside the Northeast corridor to enable 110 mph service."

Amtrak began raising speeds on this corridor from 79 mph in 2001 to 90 mph in 2002 and to 95 mph in 2005. Sustained operations at 110 mph will shave 10 minutes from the 95 mph schedules and about 20 minutes from the 2001 schedules on the Amtrak-owned segment of the corridor.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

KALAMAZOO -- A day after the announcement that Amtrak trains will increase speeds to 110 mph between Kalamazoo and Porter, Ind., transportation officials said they are comfortable that the rail line can safely handle the higher speeds.

The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that the control system installed in Michigan does not include vehicle-detection technology to alert train crews about a vehicle stopped on the tracks at a crossing or four-quadrant gates to prevent vehicles from snaking around lowered crossing gates that will be installed on the Illinois high-speed corridor.

The crossings in Michigan have gates and flashing lights and meet Federal Railroad Administration regulations. The 80-mile section approved for high-speed trains had an Incremental Train Control System installed. It is up to each state to decide what safety mechanisms to install at intersections.

Tim Hoeffner, director of the Office of Rail at the Michigan Department of Transportation, said advances in technology and years of careful, coordinated planning by MDOT, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration have resulted in Michigan having the safest high-speed railways in the U.S. outside of the Northeast corridor.

"Looking at these crossings over the years, we feel pretty comfortable with where we're at today," he said Wednesday. "Safety is the most important thing to all of us. It isn't just what you put at the crossing."

The announcement that Amtrak trains will be able to run 15 mph faster than they do now from Kalamazoo west to Indiana came just one week after a train collided with a tractor semi-trailer in Jackson and raised concerns about how safe the faster trains will be.

Hoeffner said a "minor speed increase" from 95 mph to 110 mph won't require a major adjustment by motorists at intersections and that people in Southwest Michigan have already been well educated about how Amtrak trains work through community outreach programs.

"The culture of the drivers out there understand that when the gate goes down, the train gets to the crossing quick and passes the crossing quick," he said. "It's not one of those things where people see the gates and lights come down and wonder if a train is going to come through or if that train is going to be a mile long."

Marc Magliari, spokesman for Amtrak, said the state has also put up additional signs at intersections to warn motorists and pedestrians about the high-speed trains.

"The crossings actually exceed state and federal regulations because we weren't required to put those signs up," he said.

The Amtrak Wolverine Service, with three daily round-trips between Pontiac and Chicago via Detroit and Ann Arbor, and the Amtrak Blue Water, with a daily trip between Port Huron and Chicago via East Lansing, use the corridor.

Magliari said the increased speed won't necessarily result in an increased number of riders since a lot of the trains on weekends are usually full already. Once MDOT completes its purchase of a track segment between Kalamazoo and Dearborn and increases the frequency of trips, the number of riders is expected go up, he said.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

GALESBURG — Plans are steaming forward that could drastically change the face of Amtrak service to Galesburg and throughout the Midwest and beyond in the near future.

With ridership last year of more than 30 million passengers — a new record — Amtrak appears to be gaining momentum. The trend is continuing, with 2.23 million passengers in January, up 4.8 percent from last year. Ticket revenue was up 4.5 percent in January.

Legislation introduced Feb. 1 by state Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, could mean being able to catch a train in the Quad Cities, then ride to Galesburg, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana and Danville. In fact, Richard Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, said, if not for state lines, Indianapolis should also be part of the discussion.

Moffitt said Tuesday, and Harnish confirmed, the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, asked Moffitt “to introduce a bill looking at establishing a bus route between the Quad Cities, Galesburg, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal and Champaign with the idea this might be the forerunner to a new (Amtrak) line.”

House Bill 4579, now in the Rules Committee, would call for the Illinois Department of Transportation to provide money to Amtrak to enter into contracts with bus lines for intercity transportation. The first routes would be Quincy-Springfield-Decatur-Champaign-Danville, as well as the Quad Cities-Danville service.

“That means vastly upgrading the Amtrak service and the bus connections,” Harnish said. “One market that seems to be very under-served seems to be the wheels around the spokes from the Quad Cities to Danville.”

He said there are two buses a day now, which the association feels should be four or five coordinated with Chicago-Moline Amtrak service scheduled to begin in 2013. That service is scheduled to be extended to Iowa City by 2015.

“We have a vision of what a long-term rail plan should look like that we will be promoting,” Harnish said. “Eventually, yeah, we think that (Quad Cities-Danville) should be rail.”

He said the association recognizes such a plan has to be done in segments.

“One of the things we need to do as quickly as possible is to make it possible for people to make the trip they make today but leave their cars at  home,” Harnish said.

For his part, Moffitt calls the plan “exciting.”

“Think of the additional options that open up if you can connect these communities,” he said.

Moffitt is particularly excited about Amtrak linking Western Illinois University’s Quad Cities Campus, Augustana College, Knox College, Bradley University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Illinois State University and the University of Illinois, not to mention community colleges in every city on the proposed route. He has long talked of the advantages of the Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr lines linking Knox, WIU’s main campus in Macomb and Quincy University.

Moffitt said he had the chance to talk with Gov. Pat Quinn shortly after the governor delivered his State of the State address. After Moffitt invited the governor to attend the planned late September opening of the West Main Street overpass, the governor, Moffitt said, told him, “we’ve got to think outside the box.”

The state representative outlined HB 4579, as the governor took notes.

“He really liked the idea,” Moffitt said. “It was a one-on-one discussion, but that’s the way these things start.”

A look at the Illinois Department of Transportation’s map of railroads shows rail lines connecting all of the cities in Moffitt’s Quad Cities-Danville proposal. Harnish said work would be needed, however, to implement Amtrak service among the I-74 communities.

“There does need to be a new trunk that operates from north to south,” he said. “We’ve proposed a specific trunk, because of the way it creates some really cool interactions around the state.”

The question of whether the proposed route would include high-speed rail is moot at this point, with the current proposal calling for bus service.

“It’s a package that all works together,” Harnish said. “There’s something in every segment that could be pieced together.”

As noted, there already is bus service along the Quad Cities-Danville route. What Moffitt’s bill would do is establish a dedicated feeder system for Amtrak service. Such service is in place from Galesburg to Springfield for Texas Eagle Amtrak service.

According to the wording of Moffitt’s bill, the IDOT would “to the extent permitted by federal law” encourage bus lines to “coordinate schedules, routes, reservations and ticketing to provide for enhanced inter-modal surface transportation.”

The legislation explains that IDOT may provide funding to Amtrak for contracts for bus service if “service is provided only on schedules and routes that are coordinated with scheduled intercity rail services to facilitate mixed-mode feeder bus service.”

Mixed-mode feeder bus service “means bus service carrying both passengers connecting to and from a rail service and passengers only using the bus service,” according to Moffitt’s bill.

An example is bus service daily from the Galesburg Amtrak depot that leaves at 2:45 p.m. and arrives in Springfield at 5 p.m., for connection to 5:14 p.m. Texas Eagle service to San Antonio. The morning Texas Eagle arrives in Springfield at 9:55 a.m. The bus to Galesburg leaves at 12:10 p.m., arriving here at 2:25 p.m. for connections to Southwest Chief and California Zephyr service to Chicago.

Plans are steaming forward that could drastically change the face of Amtrak service to Galesburg and throughout the Midwest and beyond in the near future.

With ridership last year of more than 30 million passengers — a new record — Amtrak appears to be gaining momentum. The trend is continuing, with 2.23 million passengers in January, up 4.8 percent from last year. Ticket revenue was up 4.5 percent in January.

Legislation introduced Feb. 1 by state Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, could mean being able to catch a train in the Quad Cities, then ride to Galesburg, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana and Danville. In fact, Richard Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, said, if not for state lines, Indianapolis should also be part of the discussion.

Moffitt said Tuesday, and Harnish confirmed, the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, asked Moffitt “to introduce a bill looking at establishing a bus route between the Quad Cities, Galesburg, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal and Champaign with the idea this might be the forerunner to a new (Amtrak) line.”

House Bill 4579, now in the Rules Committee, would call for the Illinois Department of Transportation to provide money to Amtrak to enter into contracts with bus lines for intercity transportation. The first routes would be Quincy-Springfield-Decatur-Champaign-Danville, as well as the Quad Cities-Danville service.

“That means vastly upgrading the Amtrak service and the bus connections,” Harnish said. “One market that seems to be very under-served seems to be the wheels around the spokes from the Quad Cities to Danville.”

He said there are two buses a day now, which the association feels should be four or five coordinated with Chicago-Moline Amtrak service scheduled to begin in 2013. That service is scheduled to be extended to Iowa City by 2015.

“We have a vision of what a long-term rail plan should look like that we will be promoting,” Harnish said. “Eventually, yeah, we think that (Quad Cities-Danville) should be rail.”

He said the association recognizes such a plan has to be done in segments.

“One of the things we need to do as quickly as possible is to make it possible for people to make the trip they make today but leave their cars at  home,” Harnish said.

For his part, Moffitt calls the plan “exciting.”

“Think of the additional options that open up if you can connect these communities,” he said.

Moffitt is particularly excited about Amtrak linking Western Illinois University’s Quad Cities Campus, Augustana College, Knox College, Bradley University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Illinois State University and the University of Illinois, not to mention community colleges in every city on the proposed route. He has long talked of the advantages of the Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr lines linking Knox, WIU’s main campus in Macomb and Quincy University.

Moffitt said he had the chance to talk with Gov. Pat Quinn shortly after the governor delivered his State of the State address. After Moffitt invited the governor to attend the planned late September opening of the West Main Street overpass, the governor, Moffitt said, told him, “we’ve got to think outside the box.”

The state representative outlined HB 4579, as the governor took notes.

“He really liked the idea,” Moffitt said. “It was a one-on-one discussion, but that’s the way these things start.”

A look at the Illinois Department of Transportation’s map of railroads shows rail lines connecting all of the cities in Moffitt’s Quad Cities-Danville proposal. Harnish said work would be needed, however, to implement Amtrak service among the I-74 communities.

“There does need to be a new trunk that operates from north to south,” he said. “We’ve proposed a specific trunk, because of the way it creates some really cool interactions around the state.”

The question of whether the proposed route would include high-speed rail is moot at this point, with the current proposal calling for bus service.

“It’s a package that all works together,” Harnish said. “There’s something in every segment that could be pieced together.”

As noted, there already is bus service along the Quad Cities-Danville route. What Moffitt’s bill would do is establish a dedicated feeder system for Amtrak service. Such service is in place from Galesburg to Springfield for Texas Eagle Amtrak service.

According to the wording of Moffitt’s bill, the IDOT would “to the extent permitted by federal law” encourage bus lines to “coordinate schedules, routes, reservations and ticketing to provide for enhanced inter-modal surface transportation.”

The legislation explains that IDOT may provide funding to Amtrak for contracts for bus service if “service is provided only on schedules and routes that are coordinated with scheduled intercity rail services to facilitate mixed-mode feeder bus service.”

Mixed-mode feeder bus service “means bus service carrying both passengers connecting to and from a rail service and passengers only using the bus service,” according to Moffitt’s bill.

An example is bus service daily from the Galesburg Amtrak depot that leaves at 2:45 p.m. and arrives in Springfield at 5 p.m., for connection to 5:14 p.m. Texas Eagle service to San Antonio. The morning Texas Eagle arrives in Springfield at 9:55 a.m. The bus to Galesburg leaves at 12:10 p.m., arriving here at 2:25 p.m. for connections to Southwest Chief and California Zephyr service to Chicago.

The final piece of the puzzle is the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative. The 3,000 mile system would use Illinois as the hub, and link most of the major cities of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Nearly 90 percent of the region’s population, including Galesburg, would be tied together. The nine states will work together to try to obtain federal money to pay 80 percent of the $7.7 billion needed for improvements to the tracks.

“Increased train frequencies, reduced travel times and new attractive trains would be just a few of the elements of an enhanced system where trains would operate at speed up to 110 mph over new and improve tracks,” according to IDOT’s fiscal year 2011-2015 Proposed Rail Improvement Program.

Iowa transportation officials are looking at segments of a proposed Chicago-Omaha route carrying passengers at speeds of up to 110 mph. The California Zephyr route, which includes Galesburg, is one of five options being looked at for the service. The study is expected to be completed in 12 to 18 months. Moffitt said construction of a third main line here will facilitate additional Amtrak service by allowing it to avoid much of the freight congestion in the Galesburg BNSF classification yard.

The final piece of the puzzle is the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative. The 3,000 mile system would use Illinois as the hub, and link most of the major cities of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Nearly 90 percent of the region’s population, including Galesburg, would be tied together. The nine states will work together to try to obtain federal money to pay 80 percent of the $7.7 billion needed for improvements to the tracks.

“Increased train frequencies, reduced travel times and new attractive trains would be just a few of the elements of an enhanced system where trains would operate at speed up to 110 mph over new and improve tracks,” according to IDOT’s fiscal year 2011-2015 Proposed Rail Improvement Program.

Iowa transportation officials are looking at segments of a proposed Chicago-Omaha route carrying passengers at speeds of up to 110 mph. The California Zephyr route, which includes Galesburg, is one of five options being looked at for the service. The study is expected to be completed in 12 to 18 months. Moffitt said construction of a third main line here will facilitate additional Amtrak service by allowing it to avoid much of the freight congestion in the Galesburg BNSF classification yard.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

It's almost a perfect record, but one of delay and passenger despair: 99 percent of Amtrak's Chicago-to-New Orleans trains grind to a halt because of freight traffic under the control of the Canadian National Railway, according to Amtrak.

The delays, occurring along 36 miles of track between Chicago and Joliet, totaled thousands of hours of lost time for passengers in fiscal 2011, Amtrak said in a complaint it filed against CN with the federal Surface Transportation Board.

No other freight railroad comes close in the severity and regularity of freight-imposed delays, Amtrak officials said.

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http://www.FleetMatics.co.uk/FleetTrackingMore than 4,000 instances of freight train interference on Amtrak's City of New Orleans route and on Amtrak service between Chicago and Carbondale were counted on the CN-owned rail lines last year, Amtrak said in the complaint. The delays totaled the equivalent of more than 26 days, Amtrak said.

"CN's performance in dispatching Amtrak trains has been dismal," Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. "Amtrak filed the complaint with the Surface Transportation Board only after repeated attempts to remedy the problem directly with CN proved unsuccessful."

Some regular Amtrak passengers who travel through the CN corridor are well-aware of the freight problem on the short leg between Chicago and Joliet. They said south of Joliet, where the tracks are owned and operated by the Union Pacific Railroad, the trip goes much more smoothly.

"Departures have been on time, but the freight traffic outside Chicago consistently has us standing for 30 to 40 minutes each trip," said Adam Konopka, 27, of Chicago, who boarded an Amtrak train to St. Louis on Friday at Union Station. "I haven't experienced a mechanical problem aboard the train, to my knowledge. But heavy freight traffic is almost expected. Being on time would change the whole experience."

Amtrak's complaint marks the first test of a provision in a 2008 law that established on-time performance standards as part of a program designed to improve passenger rail travel. The goal is for trains to arrive at their final destinations within 15 minutes of the schedule at least 80 percent of the time. The law is being challenged in court by the Association of American Railroads, which represents the freight rail industry.

According to the complaint, other freight lines don't interfere with Amtrak's schedule on the level of Canadian National. On average, Amtrak's delays last year caused by other freight railroads were within the legal standard, but delays on the CN exceeded the limit in every quarter of fiscal 2011.

For instance, for Amtrak train run No. 392, which serves Chicago, Quincy, St. Louis and Carbondale, on-time performance was only 58 percent in the last year, Amtrak records show. The top three causes of delay were listed as freight train interference, 73 percent; track and signals, 16 percent; and passenger-related, 4.5 percent.

"Customers buy a ticket for a train on a certain schedule, and they have a right to expect good performance," Magliari said. "And so do we as a customer of CN."

Amtrak pays CN to access its tracks. In addition, the Illinois Department of Transportation is paying a $28 million subsidy in fiscal 2012 for Amtrak service in the state.

In the complaint, Amtrak cited CN's "abject failure to deliver Amtrak passenger trains on schedule," and it blamed the delays on "(CN) policy choices and an unlawful preference for freight trains over Amtrak trains."

Amtrak asked the Surface Transportation Board to investigate the causes of the delays on CN tracks and to determine whether CN is systematically violating a federal law that grants preference to passenger trains over freight trains. The board can fine CN to deter future violations.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Friday that Amtrak's Jan. 19 filing is "long overdue."

"Freight trains are supposed to give way to Amtrak. When they refuse, Amtrak passengers face unacceptable delays. I hope the Surface Transportation Board will respond quickly," Durbin said.

The process is getting off to a slow start. The board approved a CN request to extend the deadline for its response to the complaint to March 9.

"We are reviewing the Amtrak petition. We had been discussing these matters with Amtrak for much of 2011 and are disappointed Amtrak chose to file this action rather than continue those talks," CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said.

CN has also been embroiled in controversy since it purchased the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. for $300 million in 2008. Suburban Chicago residents have deluged the railroad and regulatory agencies with complaints about increased freight traffic causing delays and threatening safety at railroad crossings.

The CN dispute with Amtrak will require the patience of travelers who understand the unrealized advantages of taking the train over driving or flying.

"I've endured multiple delays, sometimes a couple on one trip, that can cause the train to arrive an hour to an hour and a half late because of the freight trains," said Diane Breslow, 63, of Chicago, before beginning her once-a-month trip to St. Louis on Friday at Union Station.

Breslow said one of every three trips she takes on Amtrak is delayed by freight trains. She emailed the Tribune about six hours into her trip Friday to say it was happening again — but this time it wasn't CN's fault, she said.

"Today's train is running well over one hour late, and NOT due to CN at all," Breslow wrote. "Computer problems on train, stalls. And needing to let other Amtrak trains pass. Pretty bad experience. One of the worst, actually."

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

TRAIN DERAILS IN CROSSING COLLISION, TEN HURT

on February 14, 2012 in Mishaps North America

On 1 February, the lead locomotive and “at least” two coaches of an Amtrak intercity express derailed after colliding with a semi-trailer rig stuck on a crossing at Leoni, 72km south of Lansing, Southern Michigan. Ten people were reported hurt out of a passenger complement of 71 and crew of five. The train originated in Ponting, north of Detroit, and was headed to Chicago. With the line blocked, bus service was provided to bypass the area.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

CHICAGO (CBS) — Amtrak has filed an official complaint against Canadian National railway for regular delays on the route from Chicago to New Orleans.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Amtrak says in a federal complaint that CN freight trains stop 99 percent of all City of New Orleans trains from Chicago to New Orleans.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Amtrak says just last year, there were more than 4,000 instances of delays on account of freight trains on the City of New Orleans route, as well as the Illini and Saluki routes that run on the same tracks from Chicago to Carbondale, the Chicago Tribune’s John Hilkevitch reported.

The complaint says in total, the delays amounted to 26 days, Hilkevitch reported.

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), a transportation specialist, says he is trying to use diplomacy to resolve the issue.

“CN owns the rail line, and so we cannot tell CN to get out of the way,” Lipinski said.

Lipinski says the answer involves both pressure and persuasion.

“I think that we can work something out,” he said. “I’m hopeful that CN will cooperate.”

Lipinski says a similar problem with CN and Metra trains seems to be improving in the Heritage Corridor, and he hopes the problem will also be settled with Amtrak.

Meanwhile, CN says it will respond to the complaint by Amtrak early next month.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Yesterday, an Amtrak train tested a recently federally approved maximum speed of 110 mph along a route from Chicago through Indiana to Kalamazoo, Mich., and back, marking the first expansion of high-speed rail outside of the Northeast Corridor.

Federal approval of higher speeds along the route was announced last week. The speed is the highest allowed by Amtrak trains west of Pennsylvania and New York, Amtrak officials said in a prepared statement.

The test “sets the stage for expansion of accelerated service from Kalamazoo to Dearborn by 2015, helping us meet the demands of the next generation of travelers,” said Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Kirk Steudle, who noted the state is in the late stages of completing the purchase of the track segment from Norfolk Southern Railway. Joining Steudle on the train were local, state, Amtrak and federal officials, including Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo.

“This is just the beginning,” Szabo said. “With projects coming to fruition this year and new ones breaking ground, 2012 promises to be the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program’s best year yet.”

GE Transportation, with assistance from Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), developed the Incremental Train Control System (ITCS) installed on the Amtrak-owned Michigan district between Kalamazoo and Porter, Ind.

The 110-mph expansion service in western Michigan was a project that GE together with Amtrak, MDOT and FRA implemented beginning in 1995, GE officials said in a prepared statement. The service successfully reached milestones of 90 mph in 2002 and 95 mph in 2005. After Wednesday’s test, Amtrak can operate eight daily passenger trains at 110 mph; three NS freight trains also can operate through the section of track under ITCS control, GE officials said.

“This improvement is one of many we are making in the Midwest and throughout our system,” said Amtrak Chairman Tom Carper. “By operating at higher speeds, our passengers can reach their designations sooner, our trains and our crews can be more productive by covering more ground in less time and we are showing how incremental improvements to Amtrak service can be achieved with new technology.”

Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation have similar plans on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, where federal regulations also require the use of train control technology. That route will become the second 110-mph “spoke” from an Amtrak Chicago hub, Amtrak officials said.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

When the Pioneer Zephyr — better known as the Silver Streak — made its historic run from Denver to Chicago in 1934, the diesel-powered passenger train now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry topped out at 112.5 miles per hour, which at the time was only slightly off the world land speed record.

What then are we to make of Wednesday’s official Amtrak kickoff for its first “high speed rail” corridor outside the Northeast — on which trains traveling between Chicago and Kalamazoo, Mich., will now reach top speeds of 110 miles per hour?

Bring back the Silver Streak?

There was definitely a Back to the Future feel aboard the special Amtrak train that departed Union Station at 7 a.m. Wednesday carrying news media and dignitaries on a mission to commemorate the return to speeds commonly achieved by America’s rail industry more than a half-century ago.

I was among those on board, curious to see if 110 mph is noticeably faster. It is, although not quite so much that you would consider it a revelation.

Still, if more of America’s railways were able to accommodate such speeds, I can promise you more of us would be riding the train, even if there is no comparison to the faster bullet trains of other nations.

With the smell of Amtrak’s version of the Egg McMuffin wafting from the dining car, we covered the 138 miles between Chicago and Kalamazoo in two hours eight minutes, which included a 10-minute stop in New Buffalo to take on more passengers.

As the train reached its top speed, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari relayed speedometer readings from the engineer in a manner reminiscent of the scene from “The Right Stuff” when Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier.

“We are now at 90 miles per hour … We’ve now reached 100 miles per hour en route to 110 …We’ve now reached our maximum speed of 110 miles per hour,” Magliari said in the smooth voice of the radio reporter he once was.

Surprising to me, though, the 110-mph speeds take only 10 minutes off the one-way trip, officials said.

That’s because trains on the route were already going as fast as 95 mph before the most recent improvements that involved installing a high-tech train control system.

Also, the top speed is permitted across only 80 of the 138-mile distance. The slowest portions are between here and Porter, Ind., where the 97-mile “high speed” corridor begins — and then almost immediately slows as it passes through Michigan City.

The longest continuous stretch of 110-mph rail goes for 42 miles through Michigan, which you can cover in 23 minutes at that speed — a good way to put an expanse of snowy Michigan farmland behind you in a hurry, I can now attest.

The ride was noisy and bumpy. Walking the aisle at the highest speeds was challenging. Using the washroom was similar to what you might experience on a turbulent flight. On the other hand, the wi-fi worked great.

After some speechifying in Kalamazoo, we made the turn and were back in Chicago by 12:30 p.m. — exactly on schedule. Amtrak officials say dependability — and frequency of trains — are bigger issues in attracting riders than achieving high speeds.

If you’re wondering why you’d want to go to Kalamazoo, the short answer is it’s halfway on Amtrak’s route to Detroit, and Michigan officials will turn their attention next to upgrading that portion of the journey. Eventually, they’d like to cut the five and a half hour trip between here and Detroit to three hours 45 minutes.

If you’re wondering why we can’t do this in Illinois, the short answer is we’re working on it — trying to establish a 110-mph route between here and St. Louis.

But the key factor on the Michigan route is that Amtrak already owned this particular stretch of tracks, minimizing the freight versus passenger train conflicts that are at the root of this country’s slower-by-comparison passenger system.

Most of the track between Joliet and Alton already has been upgraded to accommodate higher speeds, and the key now is putting in place the train control system to allow the passenger and freight traffic to coexist safely — still years from completion.

Plenty of time to spruce up the Silver Streak.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

In a bruising battle over federal transportation funds on Capitol Hill, Maine's congressional delegation is trying to cling on to monies used to operate one of the state's biggest transit success stories--the Amtrak Downeaster train service.

Sound of train whistle: That's Amtrak's Downeaster train headed from Portland to Boston. Passenger Nevin Duffey picks out a window seat. "I'm going to the Celtics game this evening," he says. "I'm meeting with my family earlier."

The University of Southern Maine student whips out a laptop to do some work. "On my way, I'm going to be studying for a couple mid-terms I have tomorrow--but I do love looking out the window, looking at the scenery."

Nice vistas, a dining car, free wi-fi are among the amenities that helped the 10-year-old Downeaster service top half-a-million passengers for the first time last year. But little do many passengers know that $5 million to $6 million in federal funds for the Downeaster are hanging in the balance.

Here's why: For years, Congress has allowed the transportation secretary to divert money from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality--or CMAC--program to a couple rail line operations, including the Downeaster, which has depended on the money since it started up in 2001.

But transportation bills before both the U.S. House and Senate are missing provisions to allow this flexibility.

"Congressman Michaud and I have submitted an amendment to continue to allow the funding of this," says Democratic Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, referring to an amendment to the five-year transportation bill before the House.

"It's ludicrous to think that we would shut down the operation of passenger rail when it's become so popular, and in Maine we've just been given a tremendous amount of money to expand our line and expand our service."

Maine's two Republican senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, have submitted a similar amendment for a Senate bill covering funding for two years.

The Obama administration last year allocated about $38 million in funds for a track expansion north to include stops in Freeport and Brunswick. Of course, this major federal investment won't necessarily stop Congress from considering cutting off the CMAC funds. But officials overseeing the Downeaster service say that it warrants all the federal funding it's been getting.

"The Downeaster really serves a regional population, so I think it's uniquely suited to have a little bit more flexibility to use federal funding programs to help support it," says Patricia Quinn, director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. She says that losing the funds from the CMAC program would be crippling.

The operating budget for the service is about $15 million. About $8 million is covered by ticket and food sales. Eighty percent of the balance is covered by the federal funds, the rest by the state.

But whatever happens on the federal level, Quinn says she's certain that the service will continue for years to come because of the committment of the state. Ted Talbot agrees.

"The Department of Transportation has committed long-term to the Downeaster rail service," says Talbot, the spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. He adds that the Legislature will have to decide just how much of the cost the state can shoulder. "It's unclear at this time without the federal help, what long-term -- what that definition really is."

Votes on the transportation bills are not expected until Congress returns from next week's recess. One possibility is that Congress ends up kicking the can down the road--or in this case the tracks--and passes short-term extensions of transportation funding levels.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Garden City commissioners approved

resolutions offering symbolic and financial support to an Amtrak

route through southwest Kansas.

The commission on Tuesday approved a resolution asking Amtrak to

maintain the Southwest Chief's route between Chicago and Los

Angeles that goes through Topeka, Newton, Hutchinson, Dodge City

and Garden City. It also approved spending up to $20,000 to help

pay for federal lobbying efforts to keep the current route.

The Garden City Telegram reports (http://bit.ly/AlgAtf) Amtrak

is considering an alternative route that would run south of Newton

through the Texas Panhandle to New Mexico. It cites the poor

condition of rail track owned by BNSF Railway, which Amtrak uses

for its service.

The $20,000 is for a coalition of Dodge City, Liberal and Garden

City officials to lobby for the current route.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

By any measure, the Lynchburg-Washington Northeast Regional train has proven to be “the little train that could.” Launched on Oct. 1, 2009, as Virginia’s first state-supported intercity passenger train, it has earned universal praise for its outstanding convenience, comfort and reliability, and for exceeding national standards for both ridership and financial performance.

Now in its third year of service, the Lynchburg train quickly became the second fastest-growing Amtrak route in the nation, with ridership increasing 28.5 percent and revenue increasing 29.8 percent in its second year. This was exceeded only by North Carolina’s Piedmont line between Charlotte and Raleigh (Amtrak FY2011 Ridership and Revenue Performance Report).

Initially predicted to lose about $3.5 million a year, the Lynchburg train instead turned in the best record of cost recovery of any state-supported train in the Amtrak system (there are over 150 of them) and now earns the state about $1.8 million in any 12-month period (Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation presentation to Transportation Subcommittee, Jan. 31).

In terms of the number of passengers boarding or alighting at Virginia stations on the Lynchburg corridor, the train was initially predicted to serve 51,000 the first year and 59,000 the second. Instead, it carried more than 126,000 Virginia passengers the first year and 162,000 the second. By the end of 2011 — just 27 months after it first began — the Lynchburg train had already carried a total of 333,317 passengers to and from Virginia stations.

The Lynchburg train’s extraordinary acceptance and use by the traveling public has set it on a trajectory that no one but the most sanguine of rail supporters could have predicted. While this is certainly a development to boast about, it cannot lead us to become complacent. While the train’s financial success has understandably led some to question why rail advocates continue to be concerned about the availability of government subsidies (“Why worry about subsidizing a train that’s making a profit?”), the financial picture for Virginia’s regional trains, including the Lynchburg train, is about to change.

To understand what’s going on, it’s important to understand the political environment in which passenger rail operates in America today. There are Amtrak’s mandated national routes, such as the Crescent and the Cardinal (which serve Charlottesville), which crisscross the continent as part of Amtrak’s long-distance system. Then there are the more recent corridor (short-distance) routes, many of which are supported by individual or multiple states. While nearly all of these trains are experiencing healthy growth in revenue and demand, most are nevertheless losing money. In Fiscal Year 2011, the worst performer lost more than 36 cents per passenger mile, while the best made a profit of almost 16 cents per passenger mile, illustrating the wide discrepancies between routes in terms of cost recovery (Amtrak’s May 2011 Year-to-Date Performance Report).

Disparities such as these prompted Congress to question the equity of using federal resources to sustain money-losing intercity passenger routes, even though state grants mitigate the operating losses. In response, Congress passed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act in 2008, part of which mandates that all existing corridor routes be fully state-supported by the end of 2013. In addition to Virginia’s two already state-supported trains (Lynchburg-Washington and Richmond-Washington), PRIIA will require Virginia to pay the costs of four existing daily Northeast regional trains serving Richmond for which the state has never before been responsible.

Among the anticipated changes for the Lynchburg train under the new contract with Amtrak will be an approximate $3 million reduction in the amount of annual revenue that is credited to the state. At the same time, costs will rise, largely due to higher Norfolk Southern access fees, the result being that DRPT expects a net operating deficit for the Lynchburg train of about $1.5 million annually by 2014 (DRPT presentation to Transportation Subcommittee, Jan. 31).

With PRIIA in full effect, and adding the future costs of extending a total of three trains to Norfolk and (hopefully) extending the Lynchburg train to Roanoke, DRPT estimates that the decade between 2011 and 2021 will require $305 million in operating and equipment needs for its regional trains. While seemingly large, this amount — barely enough for a single highway interchange — would provide access to convenient, fast, affordable and environmentally friendly transportation to Washington and the Northeast for millions of Virginians, for a decade.

Unfortunately, the money to support these needs is not yet available. The Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund, included in last year’s transportation bill and now in state law, sits like an empty bank account waiting for an initial deposit. To cover immediate needs, Gov. Bob McDonnell has provided for two years funding for IPROC in his proposed biennial budget, shifting money from Virginia’s rail infrastructure fund (established in 2005) to IPROC to sustain the existing trains and make the transition under PRIIA. Assuming this item passes the legislature, it will give DRPT, rail advocates and the General Assembly time to work together to find a sustainable, dedicated source of revenue to support Virginia's plans to maintain, improve and expand intercity passenger rail in the commonwealth.

After the biennium, however, Virginia’s fund for operating passenger trains will be back to zero. To correct this, state Sen. John Watkins (who has five regional trains serving his district) has introduced a budget amendment that would divert a portion of general fund surpluses otherwise headed for the Transportation Infrastructure Bank to IPROC. The amendment survived in committee, but its fate is unclear. New capital for IPROC would allow Virginia to fully implement its plans for extensions to Norfolk and hopefully also to make the necessary investments to extend rail service to Roanoke. It might even make it possible to add a second frequency to the Lynchburg corridor to better serve the region’s business, university and defense travelers.

A third bill moving through the General Assembly removes a safety net for IPROC by pushing rail funding to the back of the line when it comes to potential future allocations from the state transportation fund. This bill, which we oppose, reverses some of the hard-fought progress we made last year and repeats the historical pattern of putting virtually all our transportation money into roads, leaving only scraps for rail.

Virginia’s rail advocacy organizations, including Virginians for High Speed Rail, Piedmont Rail Coalition, Virginia Association of Railway Patrons and RAIL Solution, are hard at work on these funding issues. We collaborate strategically across the state to consolidate our political strength. We build public support for intercity passenger rail, but the best advertisement comes from riding one of Virginia's fast and efficient regional trains.

The Lynchburg train has been a good beginning for the U.S. 29 corridor. It has proven its worth, but we must remain vigilant and continue to push the envelope if we are to keep it going, extend its reach and give more Virginians the option of riding a train instead of driving between the cities and towns of the corridor and the population centers to the north. And for many, this can’t come fast enough.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Tallahassee, Fla., and Leon County officials, joined by representatives from cities and counties throughout North Florida, gathered at the Tallahassee Amtrak station early this week, urging federal and state transportation officials to restore Amtrak passenger rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville. The group called upon citizens to contact their state and federal elected officials and voice their support for restoring service to the region.

“Reestablishing Amtrak passenger service through North Florida will strengthen our local economies and offer new opportunities for our citizens,” said Tallahassee Mayor John Marks. “North Florida communities have waited nearly seven years for the restoration of passenger rail, and we respectfully urge Congress and the legislature to resume this service.”

There has been no Amtrak passenger rail service in North Florida since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina caused damage to part of the Sunset Limited Route from New Orleans to Jacksonville. Repairs enabled the restoration of freight train traffic; however, Amtrak has not reestablished passenger service along this portion of the Sunset Limited Route.

The federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 required Amtrak to submit a plan to restore passenger rail service between New Orleans, Louisiana and Jacksonville/Sanford, Fla., but the necessary steps detailed in this plan have yet to be implemented.

“As gasoline prices reach $4 a gallon, North Florida residents are seeking alternative modes of transportation,” said Tallahassee City Commissioner Nancy Miller. “Since Amtrak service is 30 percent more efficient than travel by car, rail transit should be an option for Tallahassee and other communities throughout North Florida.”

The State of Florida plans to spend $118 million to reestablish service from Miami to Jacksonville, yet there has been no further effort to resume passenger service for North Florida. In light of this situation, the following local governments and organizations have passed resolutions supporting the restoration of Amtrak service and the Sunset Limited Route:

City of Tallahassee; City of Madison; City of Pensacola; City of Marianna; City of Quincy; City of Perry; City of Live Oak; City of Milton; City of DeFuniak Springs; Leon County; Escambia County; Madison County; Franklin County; Wakulla County; Gadsden County; and Northwest Florida League of Cities/ Suwannee River League of Cities

The resolutions will be delivered to Governor Rick Scott and leadership within the state legislature and the U.S. Congress.

“Passenger rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville is a strategically important component of the national intercity passenger train system,” said Robert J. Stewart, chairman of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. “This route segment will serve an unmet need by connecting Florida with the southern and western United States.”

For more information about the restoration of Amtrak passenger rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville, please review Amtrak’s P.R.I.I.A. Section 226 Gulf Coast Service Plan Report.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Okaloosa County officials may not want to see the regional stretch of Amtrak’s Sunset Limited line re-established, but Walton County and DeFuniak Springs are onboard.

Walton County commissioners voted 4-0 Tuesday to support restoration of service, which was stopped after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Commissioner Larry Jones was absent.

DeFuniak Springs passed a similar resolution Feb. 13.

Before the hurricane, a stretch of the Sunset Limited line ran from Jacksonville to New Orleans, with a stop in Crestview. While the tracks have been repaired and are used for freight trains, Amtrak has not restored its passenger service.

The Okaloosa County Commission rejected a resolution supporting the restoration earlier this month, stating that it brought no economic benefit to the area.

Walton County Commissioner Sara Comander said Tuesday that if Okaloosa doesn’t want it, Walton County should try to get the trains to stop in DeFuniak Springs.

“Crestview is not looking towards having this restored, and I would like for us to try to get the stop here,” she said. “Then maybe people will come by train and go to the beach.”

DeFuniak Springs Mayor Harold Carpenter also brought up getting a stop in the city at the council’s Feb. 13 meeting.

City Manager Sara Bowers said Tuesday that the passenger trains are a big part of the city’s history.

“The city centered around the trains,” she said. “In old pictures you can see there were hordes of people getting off that train, and to go back to that time would be wonderful.”

Without a stop in DeFuniak Springs, restoration of the line likely would bring little economic impact to the county, she said.

Crestview has not taken any official action on the issue, but Mayor David Cadle has said he does not think the effort will get far. He said federal legislation has been filed to cut Amtrak funding.

“I think its’ going to be dead in the water,” he told the Daily News earlier this month.

The Northwest Florida League of Cities, of which Crestview is a member, has agreed to pursue the restoration effort.

“The historical cities and towns across North Florida would benefit from having alternative, affordable transportation options that inherently bring economic growth and activity,” the League of Cities said in a resolution in January.

In November, Tallahassee Mayor John Marks sent a letter to Okaloosa County asking officials to support the restoration. In the letter, he said Amtrak plans to spend millions of dollars to restore service from Miami to Jacksonville, and that Northwest Florida should be included in that investment

Read more: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/springs-47806-defuniak-support.html#ixzz1nsa3Oqjr

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

MARSHALL, Texas –Amtrak and the Texas Department of Transportation agreed on the scope of a feasibility study today for new Amtrak service between Shreveport-Bossier City following the Interstate 20 corridor to Dallas and Fort Worth.

Today, Bossier City Mayor Lorenz "Lo" Walker and Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments Executive Director Kent Rogers joined members of the East Texas Corridor Council, TxDOT and Amtrak officials to formally recognize the start of the study.

The report by Amtrak will estimate order-of-magnitude capital requirements and operating costs needed to provide state-sponsored passenger rail service, with trains making up to seven intermediate stops and operating up to two daily round-trips. The study will consider factors such as potential schedules, train operating costs, revenue and ridership, railcar and locomotive requirements, and capital needs for route infrastructure improvements to accommodate new passenger service.

Rail capacity modeling will be performed by Union Pacific Railroad, which owns much of the route. The rail segment between Marshall, Texas, and Fort Worth is served now by the popular Amtrak Texas Eagle, as part of its Chicago-San Antonio/Los Angeles route with one daily frequency in each direction and intermediate stops in Longview, Mineola and Dallas.

TxDOT has requested the study evaluate schedules with potential new Amtrak stops at Centre Port/DFW Airport (along the Trinity Railway Express commuter route), Mesquite, Forney, Terrell and Wills Point. The stops TxDOT selects for inclusion in the final provisional schedules will depend on a number of factors, such as estimated ridership and revenue, community demographics and railroad operating issues.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

MARSHALL — Amtrak and Texas transportation officials are studying starting passenger rail service from Dallas-Fort Worth to Shreveport-Bossier City, La.

In a joint statement, Amtrak and the Texas Department of Transportation said they've agreed on the scope of a feasibility study of adding the service.

Amtrak already runs its San Antonio-to-Chicago Texas Eagle service on the Union Pacific route from Fort Worth to Marshall with stops in Longview, Mineola and Dallas. The proposal would add Amtrak stops at the CentrePort/DFW Airport station of the Trinity Railway Express, as well as stops in Mesquite, Forney, Terrell and Wills Point.

Amtrak says that if the study shows state-funded Amtrak service should be considered, the final decisions would rest with the Texas and Louisiana legislatures

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Riding an Amtrak train cross-country: A unique view of America

By Melanie D.G. Kaplan, Saturday, March 3, 3:01 AM

There I was, in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, looking down at the Colorado River. Animal tracks in the snow made a dotted line beside the water. But where, I wondered, were the bighorn sheep? The black bears? I pressed my nose to the glass and followed the tracks carefully, expecting — any second now — to see wildlife.

I was in my 40th hour aboard Amtrak, nearly 2,000 miles into a 3,218-mile cross-country adventure. I’d packed five books, my laptop, several movies and hours of music, figuring that I’d have plenty of time to kill. But I hadn’t unpacked any of it. Instead, I was so enthralled by the landscape that I’d forgotten I was supposed to be bored. And at this moment, I was convinced that if I focused with all my might, I would spot an animal.

Just then, the cafe car attendant yelled up from down below: “Other side!” As he sprinted up the stairs, a couple of us hurled ourselves to the right side of the car. “Did you see the elk?” he asked breathlessly.

By that point, the elk were far behind us. I returned to my seat and resolved to enjoy the view, with or without giant creature sightings. But before long, the animal prints had lured my gaze back to the snow deep in the canyon, on the bank of the river.

This wasn’t my first time in the middle of the Rockies. In the previous five years, I’d crossed the country four times by car with my beagle, Darwin. But as I approached the one-year anniversary of her death, I sought a new mode of transportation and adventure.

From my house on Capitol Hill, I heard the early-morning whistles of trains approaching Union Station. My retired neighbor had told me about Amtrak’s long-distance routes. There are 15 of them, covering 18,500 miles, and most existed in some form before Amtrak was established in 1971. For generations, these long-haul trains have played an important role in transportation between rural communities.

My neighbor regularly travels all the way to Seattle on the Empire Builder. And the more I heard from her, the more I felt drawn to a journey by rail. So I booked a small room on the Capitol Limited from Washington to Chicago, and then on the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco.

Before the trip, I had moments of doubt; I worried about boredom, stiffness and insomnia. But those worries were trumped by my faith in the Amtrak brochure, which suggests that there’s still some romance to train travel: “From orderly farms in the heartland to spectacular views of the mountains — the scenes are unforgettable.” Americana aside, who can forget the train scene in “North by Northwest,” in which Cary Grant’s dining car companion says seductively, “It’s going to be a long night. And I don’t particularly like the book I’ve started. You know what I mean?”

On a Saturday afternoon at Union Station, sleeping-car passengers were ushered to the track, and I found my room in the double-decker Superliner. The freedom to explore the train was intoxicating. I walked through the sleeping cars and the dining car, downstairs to the cafe car. As we rolled through the Maryland suburbs, I sat at a table near the snack bar and was soon joined by a man with a sun-weathered face who introduced himself as Rocky.

“Where are you going?” he asked, working on his second bloody mary.

“San Francisco,” I said, nearly bouncing in my seat with excitement.

Rocky raised his eyebrows. “Goll-ee,” he said.

I made a dinner reservation, and when the time came, the maitre d’ announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, please make your way to the dining car. Keep in mind it’s community seating. You will make a friend.”

I was seated with a Colorado-bound mustached musician wearing a bowler hat and an orange bandanna around his neck. Train etiquette seemed to involve asking strangers where they were headed and why they’d chosen the train. Some people were fed up with flying, others loved the slower pace, and some were trying it for the first time — and were surprised by how many hours they could spend looking out the window. I found that buying a train ticket bought far more than a ride; it bought time to talk, listen, look and think — and time to ask questions you’d never ask otherwise.

“So what makes your mustache curl up?” I asked the musician.

“Hair glue,” he said, explaining that without it, the mustache would curl down, giving him a completely different look. “Then it’s less evil villain and more gold prospector.”

From the dining car, I peered through the window into a cozy-looking second-floor room in a house near the tracks, where a boy was jumping on the bed. “I feel like we’re watching a movie,” I said.

The musician said that his favorite part of train travel was passing through towns. “If you take away all the cars, it’s like you’ve gone back in time. Some of these places haven’t changed much.”

Back in my room, I surveyed the space: two facing chairs (which my sleeping car attendant, Art, converted to bunk beds), a fold-out table, a closet as wide as one shoe, a narrow mirror, electrical outlets, a temperature knob, towels and bottled water. There was barely room enough to pull a shirt over my head.

Sleep came easily — the train is surprisingly smooth and quiet. I woke up only when we stopped to refuel around midnight, in Pittsburgh. As we left the station, I sat up in bed, looking out my window at the glittering city lights. The route followed the Ohio River for miles, and the urban landscape turned rural. I felt as if I were seeing the world from backstage, a view reserved for those who dare to get out of their cars. I even marveled as we passed eastbound freight trains. I wondered where they were going, what they were carrying and which train was moving faster. Then I found myself reminded of those insufferable high-school math problems, with trains leaving at different times and traveling at different speeds. With that, I crawled back under the covers and fell fast asleep.

Early the next morning, Art slid the New York Times under my door. After breakfast, he told me that he’d been with Amtrak for 17 years. I asked whether he’d been on the California Zephyr.

“Pictures and postcards don’t do it no justice,” he replied. “You gotta see it for yourself.”

The Greek god Zephyrus is the god of the west wind, and the more I heard about the California Zephyr route, the more I was prepared to be blown away. I boarded train No. 5 at Chicago’s Union Station.

“I am your attendant. I go all the way to California,” announced a voice on the sleeping car loudspeaker. “My name is Will, Willy or William. Not Bill, Billy or Billiam. I will not answer to a B.”

That afternoon, we passed through Illinois and Iowa. “Good time to read,” the conductor noted.

But I spent most of that day in a swivel chair in the observation car, facing a picture window. I met a middle-aged aerospace consultant fond of memorizing almanacs. He said that he was taking a break from work to live like a retiree while he was still young enough to enjoy it. A down-on-his luck Army Reservist, home from four tours in Iraq, was heading home to California after a trucking job hadn’t panned out. And a recent master’s graduate named Yasushi was heading west before flying home to Japan. He told me, in broken English, to call him “Sushi.”

We crossed the Mississippi and Missouri rivers before stopping in Omaha, where a new conductor and engineer boarded. In the morning, we pulled into Denver well before our scheduled arrival, which gave us plenty of time for fresh air and leg-stretching on the platform. I walked with Sushi, who was wearing Hanshin Tigers baseball flip-flops, toward the front of the train to look at the back of Coors Field. “Rockies!” Sushi announced, pointing at the ballpark.

The anticipation was building. Several of us secured seats in the glass-ceilinged observation car for what promised to be the most beautiful stretch of perhaps any Amtrak route — from Denver to Glenwood Springs, Colo. There were retirees sitting quietly, skiers talking sports, young people playing cards and a couple of families with toddlers. We all had our cameras ready.

Within minutes of leaving Denver, we were winding our way into the Rocky Mountains, passing through a couple of dozen small tunnels. As we exited the 6.2-mile-long Moffat Tunnel, we hit Winter Park, whose ski slopes — and skiers — came right up alongside the track. We had climbed nearly 4,000 feet in just over 50 miles.

For the next couple of hours, heading toward Gore and Glenwood canyons, I lost track of time. There was such excitement in the car: gasping at the panorama, trying to absorb the view on both sides and searching for well-camouflaged animals.

Mostly, we saw rock formations so grand and at such proximity that one of the card players exclaimed, “It’s like Disney World!” and an older passenger was reminded of a Louis L’Amour book. At times, the tracks hugged the edge of a cliff. Below, the river snaked and chunks of ice interrupted the flow of whitewater. The views were exquisite — like nothing I’d ever seen in these mountains on foot, in a kayak or by car. At one point, Sushi looked at me, pumped his fist and cried, “Rockies!”

In the middle of the night, the conductor woke me. I was stopping for a few days in Elko, Nev., for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The conductor had called a taxi for me, so a car was waiting when I walked off the platform at 3:40 a.m. in this gold mining and ranching town. A man in a cowboy hat sat behind the wheel.

I caught the same train several days later at 3 a.m., under a full moon. This time I rode in coach for the 14-hour trip to San Francisco. The amount of space between rows on these trains makes a joke of airplane legroom; I didn’t even notice when the seat in front of me was reclined.

After breakfast, I again planted myself in the observation car. I met a San Francisco firefighter and a Berkeley, Calif., photographer, and we bonded over motorcycles, solo travel and month-long birthday celebrations.

From Reno, Nev., to Sacramento, one of the most historic stretches, volunteers from the California State Railroad Museum hopped on board and talked about the first train robbery, epic fires and snowstorms, and the building of the transcontinental railroad.

We climbed into the Sierra Nevada and followed the Truckee River. I saw snow-capped mountains reflected in Donner Lake and small communities where townsfolk shot pictures of the train. We reached an elevation of 6,939 feet before the scenery started changing. Soon we’d hit Roseville, Calif., home of one of the nation’s largest auto malls.

The train arrived nearly an hour early in Emeryville, near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The track ends here, but an Amtrak bus takes passengers into the city — a rather anticlimactic ending to the Zephyr’s journey of 2,438 miles.

Of course, Amtrak has its shortcomings. The bathrooms are cramped, the sinks are the size of melons, and water tends to spray everywhere but on your hands. Some routes use china and glass on the white tablecloths, while others stick with plastic and paper. The food, for the price, was largely disappointing (overcooked vegetables, so-so fish), especially knowing that the chef is able to pick up fresh ingredients at stations along the way. And although my trains were generally on time or early, that’s not always the case. Railroad companies such as CSX and Union Pacific own the tracks, so Amtrak — a guest on the rails — is at the mercy of the freight trains’ schedules and mishaps.

The experience seemed to be a blend of family car travel, scenic rail tour and summer camp — complete with star-gazing and walking around in PJs. The conductor reminds you to wear shoes if you get up in the middle of the night “so you don’t hurt your tootsies.” And you’re never far from a meal.

Once in a while I came across an Amtrak employee who was simply clocking in. But it was clear that most of them felt as though they had the best jobs in the world.

I visited friends and family in California, making my way to the southern part of the state. The night before I left, my grandmother asked me to speak to the women’s group in her assisted living facility. As I told them about my journey, a few faces lit up. Bea, a 96-year-old with white hair and tiny spectacles, said that she’d taken the Zephyr decades ago. “There were these great big windows,” she said, lifting her arms above her head to illustrate the view. “You really saw the country.”

The next morning, I drove out of the Mojave Desert toward Los Angeles International Airport. I passed a freight train running parallel to the freeway, and I realized that this must be Amtrak’s Sunset Limited route. My rental car sped me toward the airport, and the jet would later zip me home. But for a few moments, as I stole glances at the train, I forgot that I was on asphalt. All I could think about was being back on the rails.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Amtrak, TxDOT to study new service possibility

Friday, March 02, 2012  

Amtrak and the Texas Department of Transportation agreed on the scope of a feasibility study for new Amtrak service between the Bossier City -Shreveport area in Northwest Louisiana and along the Interstate 20 corridor to Dallas and Fort Worth. Members of the East Texas Corridor Council (ETCC) were joined by TxDOT and Amtrak officials to formally recognize the start of work to study new service by conventional trains with a maximum speed of 79 miles-per-hour.

The report by Amtrak will estimate order-of-magnitude capital requirements and operating costs needed to provide state-sponsored passenger rail service, with trains making up to seven intermediate stops and operating up to two daily round-trips. The study will consider factors such as potential schedules, train operating costs, revenue and ridership, railcar and locomotive requirements and capital needs for route infrastructure improvements to accommodate new passenger service.

Rail capacity modeling will be performed by Union Pacific, which owns much of the route. The rail segment between Marshall, Texas, and Fort Worth is served now by Amtrak Texas Eagle, as part of its Chicago-San Antonio/Los Angeles route with one daily frequency in each direction and intermediate stops in Longview, Mineola and Dallas.

TxDOT has requested the study evaluate schedules with potential new Amtrak stops at Centre Port/DFW Airport (along the Trinity Railway Express commuter route), Mesquite, Forney, Terrell and Wills Point. The stops TxDOT selects for inclusion in the final provisional schedules will depend on a number of factors, such as estimated ridership and revenue, community demographics and railroad operating issues. The costs of building new stations or improving existing facilities are not within the scope of the study, since those are considered to be local expenses.

TxDOT has received $265,000 in federal funds for the I-20 corridor study through the ETCC, which represents the communities and government agencies at the local and regional level in Texas and Louisiana.

"If the study shows evidence that state-funded Amtrak service should be considered, both state legislatures would decide if they should support an expanded service," said Michael Franke, P.E., an Amtrak assistant vice president and leader of the Chicago-based study team. "We look forward to providing a report by the end of the year to aid in that decision-making."

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW


After an especially taxing day at his corporate communications job in downtown Portland, Dan Anderson was looking forward to the evening train commute to Oregon City. 

"It gives me a chance to unwind a little before I get home," Anderson said, settling into a soft leather seat and opening his MacBook. "Free WiFi. I can order a beer. And it sure beats sitting in traffic." 

Wait. Comfy chairs? Web-surfing? Brewskis on a dining car? Is TriMet running a Hogwarts Express for Portland area commuters that pulls into a secret MAX station? 

Actually, this isn't TriMet. Anderson is part of a small but growing group of Clackamas County commuters spurning the region's transit agency in favor ofAmtrak for daily trips in and out of the city. 

Last year, daily ridership between Salem and Portland on Amtrak jumped more than 22 percent to 24,146 (annual?) boardings, making it the rail carrier's fastest growing West Coast corridor. The number of monthly passes on the line, meanwhile, increased by 14 percent. 

Every morning, they gather at Oregon City's picturesque station to wait for the 7:24 Amtrak Cascades. The non-stop, 20-minute ride to Portland's Union Station is much faster than any TriMet bus or light-rail route offered. It's also cheaper. 

Riders rave about how there's ample parking at the station, where they can leave their vehicles for the day. Becca Bishop said the train conductor in a suit and hat opening the door is a nice little touch from of a more neighborly time. "I love how they still learn everyone's name and greet you in the morning," she said. 

But nostalgia isn't the only whistle calling to commuters from Salem and Portland's southern suburbs. 

Commuting via Amtrak can be affordable and convenientFor commuting to and from downtown Portland, Amtrak can be a surprisingly effective solution for some of those who live outside the city limits. Dan Anderson, who takes the train between Oregon City and Portland, talks about what makes it a good solution for his commute.


Gas prices in the Portland area are expected to hit an average of $4.50 a gallon by Memorial Day, according to analysis site Gasbuddy.com. Also, TriMet is stuck in the mud of another budget crisis, creating anxieties about future reliability and schedule cuts. 

State transportation officials are certainly gearing up for the possibility of more passengers. 

Using $36.6 million in federal stimulus money, the Oregon Department of Transportation's Rail Division has purchased two Talgo train sets that are expected to arrive this summer. As a result, Amtrak should be able to expand service along the 466-mile Cascades route running from Eugene to Vancouver, B.C. 



A little extra marketing money to target commuters probably wouldn't hurt, either. "I don't think most people are aware that that we have two trains that stop in Oregon City each morning on their way toUnion Station," said Scott Hurd, station agent at the recently remodeled Portland stop. "On the East Coast, people automatically think of Amtrak for commuting. Not here." 

A century ago, before the rise of the automobile, scores of daily travelers took interurban rail lines such as the Red Electric and the Oregon Electric Railway, which ran several trains a day on what is now Southwest Multnomah Boulevard and Interstate 5. 

But these days, passenger rail is a ghost of those glory days. For the Cascades route, Oregon and Washington contract with Amtrak to run the trains on freight tracks. With more than 850,000 Amtrak riders in 2011, the corridor was the seventh most popular in the nation. But with just five train sets running along the corridor, Oregon is limited to two daily Cascades round-trips between Portland and Eugene. 

If you need to get from Salem to Portland, for example, northbound trains depart at 6:42 and 10:12 each morning. The vast majority of commuters catch the first one. The next southbound Cascades train doesn't roll out of Union Station until 6:15 p.m., nearly 12 hours later, followed by one at 9:10 p.m. 

"It can make for a long day," said Tom Herrett, a Salem resident who recently retired from the U.S. Geological Survey but continues to take the train north to do volunteer work in Portland. "That's the one downside." 

Still, Herrett said a little extra time in the city beats the 50-mile slog in Interstate 5 traffic that he drove for 17 years before switching to Amtrak. 

"A lot of people do that Salem-to-Portland drive," Herrett said. "I'd see the same cars every day. It's like a community going up and down I-5." 

View full sizeDan Anderson boards Amtrak in Oregon City for his commute to Portland. He said he likes the friendliness of the folks with Amtrak. He says they were calling him by name after his first couple of trips.

The state would love to get some of those Willamette Valley drivers clogging up the highway on board Amtrak. But no one is predicting a rail revival anytime soon. 

In fact, Amtrak still counts on Oregon to subsidize Cascades service with $5 million a year, funded by custom vehicle license plate fees. While growing, ridership at the Oregon City station was only 9,165 in 2011. (By comparison, some 330,000 riders boarded and alighted TriMet's 16 daily WES commuter rail trains at the Beaverton Transit Center during the same period). 

Meanwhile, passenger rail continues to be a political punching bag. President Obama has proposed spending $2.7 billion on high-speed rail in fiscal year 2013, while Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has promised that he would end all federal funding to Amtrak. 

But with addition of the new Talgo trains this year, ODOT rail planner Bob Melbo said the state is at least moving toward future expansion, including the possibility of a morning southbound train out of Portland that would return from Eugene in the early evening. Oregon, which has already been awarded $19.7 million from the federal high-speed intercity rail program, wants to eventually offer six round trips per day and boost on-time performance to 95 percent with trains going up to 110 mph. 

"We're hopefully going to do things that will make trains even more attractive for Portland-to-Salem commuters," Melbo said. 

Anderson, 33, has some serious road-warrior credentials. Unwilling to uproot his family from Mollala, he spent two years driving his SUV to and from an office job with T-Mobile in Bellevue, Wash., daily. When the Dachis Group in Portland hired him last September, he decided to re-examine his commuting ways. 

Obviously, he was sick of driving. The cost of a TriMet monthly pass is $92, a bargain compared to what he was spending on gas, but the fastest transit trip downtown –even those incorporating the MAX green Line – would take more than an hour. He was also concerned by TriMet's ongoing schedule cuts. 

Then Anderson remembered the Amtrak station signs he had seen in Oregon City. 

A book of 10 one-way Amtrak fares between Oregon City and Portland is $21; the same book of tickets for TriMet costs $24. Anderson's monthly pass is $58, still far less than what it could cost to drive and park. 

On a recent morning, Anderson's wife dropped him off at the Oregon City station on her way to her KinderCare job in Tualatin. Diesel-powered Train No. 500 pulled into the station, sound like an iron giant letting off a sigh as it braked. Inside, the train was already teeming with commuters from Salem, hunched over laptop computers and cups of coffee from the dining car. 

The ride was quiet and smooth, the scenery out the window a blur of warehouses, trees and flashing railroad crossings lights before the downtown skyline appeared. Seventeen minutes after leaving Oregon City, Anderson was off the train, walking through the marble-and-neon-sign grotto of Union Station, on his way to his downtown office on foot. 

Believe it or not, Anderson said he has yet to have an unpleasant Amtrak experience. There was one morning when the trains were cut off by a Washington landslide. But Amtrak paid to have a cab take Anderson to Union Station. "Nice customer service move," he said. 

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Amtrak and the Texas Department of Transportation have agreed to study the feasibility of rail service between Fort Worth and Shreveport/Bossier City, a popular destination for Texas gamblers.

The route would roughly follow the Interstate 20 corridor, with trains traveling up to 79 mph, mostly along tracks owned by Union Pacific Railroad. Between Fort Worth and Marshall, the train would follow the Amtrak Texas Eagle route, although the department has asked that the study also evaluate the pros and cons of tweaking that route.

The department would like to explore moving the Texas Eagle, which uses Union Pacific tracks through Arlington, onto the Trinity Railway Express tracks in Northeast Tarrant County. Under that proposal, Amtrak would stop in Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as at CentrePort-DFW Airport.

The department has received $265,000 in federal funds for the study through the East Texas Corridor Council, which promotes economic development in East Texas, northwest Louisiana and southwest Arkansas.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, attended an event announcing the study Thursday in Marshall.

The study is the result of four years of effort, said former Texas state Sen. Richard Anderson, chairman of the council.

"The study should produce a review of increasing the efficiency of passenger rail in our Ark-La-Tex region by complementing existing rail service and determining projected costs for this project," Anderson said in a statement. "The results of this study will then take us to the next level."

Amtrak passengers can already buy a ticket from Fort Worth to Shreveport, but the train goes only as far east as Longview. From there, a bus connection is needed. That connection adds time to the route and makes it less desirable for leisure travelers.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/03/01/3777333/amtrak-state-to-study-route-from.html#storylink=cpy

 
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Amtrak recently achieved Climate Registered™ status by measuring its greenhouse gas emissions according to the nonprofit registry’s best-in-class program, Amtrak officials announced yesterday.

The national intercity passenger railroad “successfully measured” its energy usage, costs and carbon emissions, had a third party verify its measurements and reported the data on the registry’s website, Amtrak officials said.

The Climate Registry sets standards for businesses and governments to calculate, verify and publicly report their greenhouse gas emissions. The program has helped Amtrak measure its carbon footprint from throughout its operation, including sources such as electricity use, facilities and station operations, and motor vehicles.

“Measuring our carbon footprint with the registry allows us to identify inefficiencies and potential for cost savings and provide meaningful data to customers about environmental performance,” said Roy Deitchman, Amtrak’s vice president of environmental, health and safety. “With the completion of the 2010 greenhouse gas inventory, we have established a baseline against which we can set future goals and prepare for future regulation.”

About 80 percent of Amtrak’s 2010 emissions came from diesel and electric locomotives, Amtrak officials said.

 
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DODGE CITY —      Dodge City will contribute up to $20,000 to a lobbying effort aimed at preserving the Southwest Chief passenger rail service, but only if other communities chip in.

The Dodge City Commission voted 2-1 Tuesday to earmark funds for the effort, which is aimed at securing federal funding to repair the railroad track along the threatened route. Commissioner Monte Broeckelman cast the only "No" vote, saying he thought the city would need the money for other projects.

    "It looks to me there's a hell of a lot of other places in town — excuse me — if we're adamant to spend the $20,000," he said.

    Commissioners Kent Smoll and Michael Weece were absent.

    The Southwest Chief travels through Kansas to Chicago and Los Angeles, with service in La Junta, Colo., Garden City, Dodge, Hutchinson and Newton. But Amtrak officials are considering an alternate route, which would head south from Newton through the Texas Panhandle to New Mexico.

    Threatened with losing rail service, several communities have formed a coalition aimed at persuading Amtrak to maintain the current route.

    City Manager Ken Strobel said Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad are arguing over who should maintain the track so it can accommodate passenger rail service. He said if the sides fail to fix the problem, Amtrak will likely reroute the Southwest Chief, and passengers along the present route will lose one of their travel options.

    But Strobel said observers believe upgrading the track will cost at least $300 million over 10 years.

    "Obviously, the cities along the line aren't going to be able to help out much, financially at least," he said. "Nor is the state of Kansas, although there may be an opportunity for them to get involved in something. So we're looking at federal funding, basically, if we're going to have any hope of retaining that service."

    The Washington, D.C.-based law firm Alston and Bird has offered to help the coalition seek federal funding for track upgrades, according to information from City Hall. The firm proposed a reduced fee of $12,000 a month, which would be divided among the communities along the current route.

    Strobel said Garden City and Hutchinson have each committed funds to the lobbying effort, and he thought other cities would kick in additional dollars.

    "We think that the Colorado communities will also step up with that same type of commitment, which would give us at least — at minimum — five communities that would be chipping in funding," he said.

    Strobel said the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Tourism Task Force have agreed to commit $10,000 apiece to the cause. But he said the city won't spend any money until officials know whether other communities will contribute.

Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or email him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.

 
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Wabtec awarded contract to provide components for Amtrak passenger cars

(Source: Wabtec press release (PDF), March 8, 2012)

WILMERDING, Pa. — Wabtec Corporation has signed a contract to provide components for 130 new passenger cars being built for Amtrak by CAF USA, Inc. (part of the CAF Group), a railcar builder with manufacturing facilities in New York state. The cars are expected to be delivered from 2013-14. Amtrak has an option to purchase an additional 70 cars from CAF.

Wabtec will be providing braking equipment, door operating systems, sanitation systems, springs, draft gears and HVAC equipment for the base order of 130 cars, and expects to provide the same components if the option for the 70 additional cars is exercised.

Albert J. Neupaver, president and chief executive officer of Wabtec, said: "These vehicles will augment and in some cases replace Amtrak's current Viewliner fleet of Sleeper, Diner, Baggage and Bag/Dorm cars, which are currently between 20 and 40 years old. We're pleased to be working with CAF on this important project to modernize Amtrak's fleet."

Wabtec Corporation is a global provider of technology-based products and services for rail and industrial markets. Through its subsidiaries, the company manufactures a range of products for locomotives, freight cars and passenger transit vehicles. The company also builds new switcher and commuter locomotives, and provides aftermarket services. The company has facilities located throughout the world.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

 
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ALPAUGH, Calif. — An Amtrak train carrying 84 passengers crashed into a truck at a rural rail crossing in northern California Wednesday, sending the engineer to a hospital and knocking the train out of commission, officials said.

The northbound train hit the trailer of a semi that was “obstructing” railroad tracks around 11 a.m. in rural Tulare County, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

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Personal Post .Magliari did not know what caused the collision, saying it was still under investigation. But Tulare County Fire Capt. Larry Stucker told Fresno’s KMPH-TV that the big rig had stopped at a stop sign, and that it appeared the truck driver thought the trailer was clear of the tracks.

The engineer was taken to a hospital for possible back injuries.

Amtrak said no one else was hurt, but Stucker said two people were treated at the scene for undisclosed injuries.

The train had been traveling 60 mph and went another 900 feet before it could stop, The Fresno Bee reported.

The big rig was carrying 45,000 pounds of non-toxic potassium chloride, Stucker said. The entire granular cargo was scattered over the road, and its cleanup prevented the road from reopening until after 2 p.m.

Magliari said just the train engine and truck were damaged. The passengers were transported by bus to another train.

The collision took place near Alpaugh, a tiny community 70 miles south of Fresno, or about 50 miles north of Bakersfield.

 
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Amtrak becomes Climate Registered

Thursday, March 08, 2012  

Amtrak recently achieved Climate Registered status by successfully measuring its carbon footprint according to The Climate Registry's best-in-class program, then having it third-party verified and reporting the data on The Registry's website. With this status, Amtrak takes a major step toward reducing its energy usage, costs and carbon emissions.

The Climate Registry is a non-profit organization founded to set standards for businesses and governments to calculate, verify and publicly report their greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Registry program has helped Amtrak calculate its complete carbon footprint from throughout its operation, including sources such as electricity use, facilities and station operations and motor vehicles.

"Measuring our carbon footprint with the registry allows us to identify inefficiencies and potential for cost savings and provide meaningful data to customers about environmental performance," said Roy Deitchman, vice president of environmental, health, and safety at Amtrak. "With the completion of the 2010 Greenhouse Gas Inventory, we have established a baseline against which we can set future goals and prepare for future regulation."

Approximately 80 percent of Amtrak's 2010 emissions resulted from the operation of rolling stock, which includes diesel and electric locomotives. Through partnerships with organizations like The Climate Registry, Amtrak continues to look for ways to contribute to the nation's environmental health by attracting automobile and airline travelers, while simultaneously exploring options or improving efficiency and reducing fossil fuel consumption.

"Climate Registered organizations understand that there are both environmental and economic benefits to understanding and managing your carbon footprint," said David Rosenheim, executive director of The Climate Registry. "Amtrak has become part of a powerful community of Climate Registered organizations, with substantive data guiding and supporting its sustainable activities."

 

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