Amtrak’s Freight Train Problem

Comments (1)
  1. M.E. SINGER says:

    As the courts have ruled that Amtrak cannot impose itself on the privately-owned railroads that spend their own capital to build and maintain infrastructure, which is taxed; and the Surface Transportation Board (STB) seeks to tweak the meaning of on-time en route and at end points for Amtrak, when do the parties realize the economics have changed since 1970?
    -Even with traffic decline, track slots are now assets with a true economic value that cannot be denied; track access and dispatching have a market cost, as evidenced by hotshot “Z” intermodals.
    -Passenger trains require higher maintenance costs for track and signaling; freights travel slower than passengers.
    -What has researched evidenced re Amtrak contributing to the costs to the Class 1s re delays, etc?
    -For example, how many Amtrak’s failed en route due to insufficient fueling, mechanical breakdown; as well, on routes where grade crossing accidents are almost daily, does Amtrak only run its trains with one diesel; thus, blocking the mainline from such an accident, i.e., CSX Richmond-Jacksonville?

    To accommodate ideal of increased passenger frequencies and new routes:
    -Infrastructure investment is required, ideally embracing P3 (Public Private Partnerships), to be encouraged by DOT.
    -Given downturn in freight traffic, almost 15% down from May, 2015, does Amtrak’s management not see this as an opportunity? Certainly, the Class 1s would prefer over the cost of furloughs and storing motive power, to negotiate favorable rates with Amtrak to use its T&E crews, possibly engines, to accommodate additional Amtrak frequencies or route expansions.

    Bottom Line: Amtrak will never resolve this issue by taking it down the legal route through courts and STB. It will be a redux of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. Resolution is predicated on the next CEO for Amtrak acknowledging the new economic market dynamics involved; and re-negotiate a market appropriate track slot and dispatching charge for access on the private railroads. This will have to occur, as without a semblance of schedule reliability predicated upon on-time performance, their will be no scheduled passenger train operation.

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