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Passenger Trains > Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator


Date: 05/09/18 15:11
Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: GenePoon

This is a letter from a former Amtrak, then MARC official to
his US Senator, Christopher Van Hollen Jr. of Maryland, regarding
what has been happening at Amtrak recently under its current
CEO Richard Anderson. He has granted permission to further
distribute without attribution:
====================================================

May 8, 2018
XXXX, Maryland

Dear Senator Van Hollen:

I urge you to tell the Amtrak Board of Directors and the Secretary of
Transportation to remove or severely constrain Richard Anderson,
President of Amtrak, from taking actions which will jeopardize the
existence of the Amtrak system. I write this as a railroad
professional who served as Director of Marketing at Amtrak (20 years)
and Chief Transportation Officer of MARC (12 years). While there
are some common aspects of airlines and railroads, Mr. Anderson
cannot seem to differentiate the many differences. In short, he
seems to regard Amtrak as a train without wings. You should also
know that Mr. Anderson’s airline career was known for merging Delta
and Northwest successfully which is not representative of the
strategic problems Amtrak faces. I’m sure you are aware that the
airline industry is renowned for offering very little passenger
service and relies on its technical advantage of speed which Amtrak
does not possess.

I will briefly describe the key issues which I think are of
importance to Maryland.

Long Distance network-Mr. Anderson has made it clear that he wants to
reduce or eliminate the long-distance network. This would leave
Cumberland with no public transportation other than a couple of state
subsidized van trips to Baltimore. He refuses to recognize that
although long distance trains carry passengers from one endpoint to
another they serve hundreds of intermediate destinations without air
or bus transport. For example, Amtrak Florida trains carry
passengers from Baltimore to Rocky Mount, NC and Jessup GA. If the
long-distance network is eliminated over half the states will have no
Amtrak service and their congressional delegation will have no
incentive to vote for Amtrak appropriations for the Northeast
Corridor (NEC).

Equipment-Mr. Anderson has indicated support for replacing over 400
Amfleet cars which are over 40 years old. But with the no knowledge
of the industry he advocates buying fixed trainsets powered by diesel
locomotives. He dismisses the fact that Amtrak owns 70 almost new
state of the art electric locomotives with a life expectancy of over
30 years which cost over $450 million. He ignores that a diesel train
between Washington and New York will take 15-20 minutes more than an
electric train. Also, since 1910 all trains through the New York
tunnels have been electrically propelled to avoid and emissions. In
fact, the British will buy no more diesel train sets and are looking
to hydrogen powered trains. Finally, while Mr. Anderson is used to
fixed capacity airplanes, the advantage of rail is the ability to add
and subtract cars as demand shifts.

Private Cars and Trains-Amtrak realizes over $10 million in revenues
from private cars and private trains. As with any of Amtrak’s
numbers the amount of profit varies depending upon what number Mr.
Anderson wants., but it is clearly profitable. Because of Amtrak’s
legal status it is the only practical operator for charter trains
over freight railroads. It has always had total power of pricing
over these special operations. Unilaterally Amtrak announced that it
would implement changes which would decimate operation of private
cars and charter trains. Initially Amtrak said the changes to
private car operation was intended to improve the on-time performance
of long distance trains. While occasionally private cars may result
in delays, the overwhelming amount of delays are attributable to
operation by the 6 major freight railroads. The contraction of
infrastructure by these railroads and historically all-time levels of
freight traffic is the cause of most delays. The railroads have been
outspoken that they believe Amtrak does not pay enough for the use of
their infrastructure. Elimination of ALL private car operations (as
well as special trains) will have an insignificant impact on
long-distance on-time performance.

Positive Train Control-Most railroads are required to implement
Positive Train Control by the end of this year. Federal Railroad
regulations specifically exempted certain very lightly used freight
rail lines, all of which have been rehabilitated using state and/or
federal funds. One line is several hundred miles long with NO
freight trains at all. After several accidents Mr. Anderson
announced not withstanding FRA regulations Amtrak would not operate
over these lines. Like destroying the village to save it. Any
analysis would state that the risk of passengers being exiled to the
highway was far higher than on a railroad without PTC.

Food service on long distance trains-Amtrak has consistently
explained that food service on long distance trains is a cost of the
operation of a long-distance train. While food service on domestic
flights has disappeared (except for first class) airlines still offer
complimentary food service on trans-Atlantic flights as little as 7
hours long. It is not a profit center but a cost of operating the
flight. Amtrak overnight trains travel anywhere from 20 hours to 50
hours making food service essential. In the 1990’s Amtrak
experimented with inferior quality pre-made meals and plastic
silverware. Ridership dropped significantly. Dining cars are not
used only by sleeping car passengers but also by price sensitive
coach passengers on long trip. With improvements in food preparation
there are many options. However, Mr. Anderson has eliminated food
service on two long distance service and replaced it with barely
adequate snack service. Another blow to the long-distance network.


Since its creation Amtrak supporters have been split between those in
the NEC and those in the balance of the country. The NEC is the most
intensely used because of the population density it serves and the
infrastructure it inherited from the Pennsylvania Railroad and the
New Haven Railroad. In addition, starting with President Johnson it
has had several federal multi-billion-dollar investment programs. On
the other hand, Mr. Anderson as others forgets that it is estimated
that there is a $38 billion-dollar deficit in capital spending for
the NEC. This far exceeds any present or likely operating profit.
Remember that just three critical projects for NEC operation: the B
and P Tunnel, the Susquehanna River Bridge and the Hudson River
Tunnels require over $16 Billion in investment. Long distance trains
have a short term operating deficit but their capital requirements
are small in comparison especially since most of their facilities are
shared with state supported regional trains. Is Amtrak likely to get
political support for these and other projects in the aftermath of
the destruction of the long-distance network? Please act to stop this
misguided individual.


Yours truly...



Date: 05/09/18 15:48
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: mt-king

Well said if read. Should also send copy to newspapers and other news outlets.



Date: 05/09/18 16:03
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: TexasChief

What an outstanding letter and with solid facts.



Date: 05/09/18 16:06
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: Lurch_in_ABQ

Ira Silverman?



Date: 05/09/18 16:52
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: MEKoch

Sounds like Ira S. to me.



Date: 05/09/18 18:11
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: jfrank39

Nice, but nobody is going to read all that verbiage, including me.



Date: 05/09/18 19:10
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: TorchLake

I have no doubt as to the author, and I hope that a staffer for MY Senator, after reading his bona fides, highlights this letter for reading by Senator V. H.

Regards,

TL

Posted from iPhone



Date: 05/09/18 20:21
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: CCDeWeese

More words do not necessarily convey more information.
Unsigned letters carry little weight.



Date: 05/09/18 20:34
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: GenePoon

The original letter was signed but the name has been redacted for
this post to a public forum. That's why the original post said,
"WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/09/18 20:36 by GenePoon.



Date: 05/09/18 20:56
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: airbrakegeezer

jfrank39 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Nice, but nobody is going to read all that
> verbiage, including me.

I did. So did my son.

Not that this makes a whole lot of difference, but we did read it all, and heartily agreed with it.

Roger Lewis (airbrakegeezer)



Date: 05/09/18 21:49
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: mundo

I know the writer of the letter, and he is a real person, Among the best when at Amtrak.



Date: 05/09/18 22:39
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: ProAmtrak

Well written and dead on, someone needs to get Propeller Head out of Amtrak, or get him to understand the difference between Amtrak and a jet!

Posted from Android



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/10/18 22:58 by ProAmtrak.



Date: 05/09/18 23:22
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: Margaret_SP_fan

That is a really great letter, and I very much hope the author sends it to various media outlets. It really says it all. Yes, Anderson must be fired as Amtrak CEO NOW, ad ALL of the policies he ordered must be rescinded NOW.

Thank you, sir, for writing this. I hope it helps to get Anderson fired. And very soon.



Date: 05/10/18 06:21
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: choodude

This is a letter from a former Amtrak, then MARC official to
his US Senator, Christopher Van Hollen Jr. of Maryland, regarding
what has been happening at Amtrak recently under its current
CEO Richard Anderson. He has granted permission to further
distribute without attribution:
-------------------------------------------------------

> He dismisses the fact that Amtrak owns 70 almost new state of the art electric locomotives with a life expectancy of over 30 years which cost over $450 million. He ignores that a diesel train between Washington and New York will take 15-20 minutes more than an electric train. Also, since 1910 all trains through the New York tunnels have been electrically propelled to avoid and emissions.



There is absolutely no way that sentence is a correct interpretation of what is going on.

The electric locomotive fleet has recently been refreshed, and the next generation Acella sets are already in the pipeline. So why would you start to replace them now?

Brian



Date: 05/10/18 06:30
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: ts1457

I hate being contrarian, but it is a horrible letter which has the potential for being counter-productive.

Say, if it were to make its way to the Senator, he would likely forward it to Mr. Anderson for comment. If even one assertion is proven to be wrong, the entire letter is tainted and can be viewed as the work of a disgruntled employee.

Keep your letters to members of Congress simple. Just say you have a concern that the new management at Amtrak is de-emphasizing and reducing the long distance train network and without national support, Federal funding of the NEC will be in jeopardy.

Just my opinion.

Jack

edit: for an example of an unfounded assertion, see choodude's post above.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/10/18 06:34 by ts1457.



Date: 05/10/18 16:37
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: jfrank39

airbrakegeezer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> jfrank39 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Nice, but nobody is going to read all that
> > verbiage, including me.
>
> I did. So did my son.
>
> Not that this makes a whole lot of difference, but
> we did read it all, and heartily agreed with it.
>
> Roger Lewis (airbrakegeezer)

Well Roger, you are one of the few. Letters to Senators are not read by them, but by their staff. If they deem it important(votes or money) then they forward it to the Senator. No way they will forward that mess. I don't have time on here to teach you business letter writing. Take a course.



Date: 05/10/18 20:32
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: rbenko

> In short, he (Anderson) seems to regard Amtrak as a train without wings.

A train without wings???



Date: 05/11/18 00:29
Re: Letter from former Amtrak, MARC officer to his US Senator
Author: coach

jfrank39 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Nice, but nobody is going to read all that
> verbiage, including me.

And that's why Twitter is so big now--people don't want the facts--they just want fun, or immediate reactions.

But that isn't a better way...



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