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Passenger Trains > Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman


Date: 05/12/18 22:50
Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: GenePoon

This is my first column for Railway Age. It does something I
never thought I would do -- praise Joe Boardman.

---------------- By Don Phillips

Joe Boardman was not my favorite person during most of his time
as Amtrak president. When Boardman left Amtrak, friends wisely
persuaded me to just ignore him. After he was gone, I said
nothing nasty about him. However, no one said not to praise him
if he ever did anything right. Of course, no one expected that to
happen.

Well guess what. I can now praise Boardman. I am shocked.

I'm not saying he even comes close to being one of Amtrak's
greatest presidents. But I think he now has moved up into third
from the bottom, ahead of Amtrak's first president, Roger Lewis,
and far ahead of its current president, Richard Anderson.
Boardman's charge into third place comes, in fact, because he
blew the whistle on Anderson's apparent plan to start killing
Amtrak's long-distance trains.

I'm going to print the entire Boardman statement because I think
it's important and it's well written. It is so well done that a
rumor began to spread (which I initially believed) that it was a
fake. Rather than being a fake, it may well tip the scales
against Anderson's apparent screw-the-long-distance-trains
strategy. Boardman may be shining such a bright light on Anderson
that, combined with growing protests by organized rail groups,
Anderson will fail.

"Based on the Communication I've seen being submitted to Hill
Staff, I think that Amtrak has begun to do surgical communications
in a way that does not provide a transparent discussion of what
they are doing," Boardman wrote. "Instead the plan seems to be to
keep the recommendations and briefings small and isolated from each
other, just the opposite of transparent. I think the CEO and the
Board have drawn a line in the sand at the foot of the Raton Pass,
believing that they can convince western Pols that providing
service on the SWC is ineffective and too costly, making the
Southwest Chief their first major target to cut.

"I believe that after the Washington State and Train 91 accidents
the CEO decided to make his safety mark by demanding PTC everywhere
Amtrak operates by December 31, 2018. However he will use the well
respected SMS safety program from the FAA to access "risk" on each
route (more than a dozen) where the FRA decided to exclude PTC
requirements on segments as small as "feet" and as large as over
"100 miles." In and of itself that's both good and responsible, but
the threat to declare that there must be an end to service on the
December 31, 2018 timeline is not responsible or acceptable.

"Yes, additional mitigation for those risks which might be ATS
(Automatic Train Stop) or perhaps "Solar powered Switch position
indicators" could be suggested as a part of the "risk" process but
it will take time and funding. It has not been made clear by Board
policy or CEO direction that service would be continued while those
mitigation's are funded and completed. If it is not made clear
within six months of the end of the year, then safety is being
"weaponized" as an attack on the National System and that's not
okay. Let it be known that I am strongly in support of both Safety
and of the PTC technology but like those at FRA that set up the
exclusions, both common sense and the opportunity to mitigate
safety improvements over time are critically important. PTC on the
NEC started 20 years ago.

"For me the SWC has really become the battleground for the National
System. I might be wrong, but I don't think so. City pairs could be
fine but a connected National System on the surface of the United
States is and should continue to be our national policy. And if it
is changed it should be informed by both hearings and explanations
to Congress.

"I am concerned that the Amtrak Board has begun to set their policy
based on what we might call a "Hedge Hog" as opposed to a "Hedge
Fund" approach, meaning that the Board sees an opportunity to "Hog"
all the Federal Assistance to complete the Gateway Plan; Procure
New City Pair "Train Sets" operating off the NEC to the Southern
big cities like Charlotte NC and Atlanta and others; And shortening
more routes in order to transfer more cost to the States while
abandoning the National purpose of Amtrak.

"Worse yet its being done without a "public policy" process. Amtrak
is not really a "private business." It is a "state owned
enterprise" and it needs an open and transparent process that only
Congress seems to be able to give State and National rail
stakeholders under this new "Hedgehog" strategy.

"For me its: The Raton Pass vs. The Gateway Tunnel. You can't have
one without the other."



Yes, as I said earlier, Boardman has shined a bright light into
dark places. I would suggest that all you readers make a copy of
this column and send it to your member of Congress or other
decision-makers. Spread Boardman's light everywhere.

Joe, you did a fine job. I'm proud of you.



Date: 05/13/18 01:04
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: norm1153

Excellent!



Date: 05/13/18 05:07
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: TexasChief

He did a good job when he was there too.



Date: 05/13/18 06:06
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: RFandPFan

Phillips can't even agree with Boardman without insulting him...what a tool. Glad Trains dumped this wind bag.



Date: 05/13/18 06:58
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: Jimbo

The first column in Passenger Train Journal by Don Phillips is now out, 2nd Quarter 2018, issue 275. It is different from the Railway Age one.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/13/18 06:59 by Jimbo.



Date: 05/13/18 07:38
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: zchcsse

I've really enjoyed Don Phillips' articles in Trains over the many years, but too many of his columns were becoming just like this one. Not a column, just Don "quoting" someone else for 90% of the column. No original content.

-Tom



Date: 05/13/18 10:02
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: MojaveBill

That's what writing is supposed to be - reporting on what others are saying, not just your own views.

Bill Deaver
Mojave, CA



Date: 05/13/18 10:07
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: chess

RFandPFan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Phillips can't even agree with Boardman without
> insulting him...what a tool. Glad Trains dumped
> this wind bag.

Call him whatever you want, Don Phillips, I believe is 100% correct here. Look beyond his articles and understand he's trying to help shed light on the threat to Amtrak's long distance trains. I'll take any help we can get, and so should everyone on Trainorders. A few of my passengers on NJT's Main/Bergen lines regularly take Amtrak, and I've informed them on what is going on. Some of them have already contacted their politicians(none of these people are rail buffs as far as I know). This is the first time I can recall ever feeling like there is a real possibility of losing these trains. I will do whatever is necessary to prevent that from happening!



Date: 05/13/18 10:14
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: Margaret_SP_fan

Link to Joseph A. Boardman's excellen in Railway Age, posted May 10, 2018, in their Opinion Piece section:

"Amtrak: Where is the public input? Where is the transparency?"

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/intercity/amtrak-where-is-the-public-input-where-is-the-transparency/?RAchannel=home

I urge everyone to send this excellent piece to all of your Congressional representatives and to your local media outlets. Get the word out, and keep the pressure on! Make mo mistake -- Richard Anderson, with the support of the Amtrak Board of Directors, is trying to get rid of all long-distance trains. We can and must stop this.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/13/18 10:30 by Margaret_SP_fan.



Date: 05/13/18 13:34
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: mundo

May be it is quotes, but now the word may get out to the media - public as to goings on !

Thanks Don and Joe.



Date: 05/13/18 15:16
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: ProAmtrak

All I can say is this is gonna get very interesting, the other thing which might be huge is if this coming winter's bad as 13-14 and 14-15, Propeller Head cancels trains each time it snows, he's gonna really get is image damaged worse than what's going on now!



Date: 05/14/18 08:53
Re: Don Phillips, now at Railway Age, praises Joe Boardman
Author: jp1822

chess Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> RFandPFan Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Phillips can't even agree with Boardman without
> > insulting him...what a tool. Glad Trains
> dumped
> > this wind bag.
>
> Call him whatever you want, Don Phillips, I
> believe is 100% correct here. Look beyond his
> articles and understand he's trying to help shed
> light on the threat to Amtrak's long distance
> trains. I'll take any help we can get, and so
> should everyone on Trainorders. A few of my
> passengers on NJT's Main/Bergen lines regularly
> take Amtrak, and I've informed them on what is
> going on. Some of them have already contacted
> their politicians(none of these people are rail
> buffs as far as I know). This is the first time I
> can recall ever feeling like there is a real
> possibility of losing these trains. I will do
> whatever is necessary to prevent that from
> happening!

Not since David Gunn have we seen such strong sentiments from an ex-Amtrak CEO on the topic of their former employer. As much as Joe kept the status quo and was not my favorite, he admittedly kept it together. I applaud Boardman and Phillips for their articles. Gunn's enjoying retirement in Nova Scotia. However, if he is keeping up with things, would be nice to hear from him too.



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