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Passenger Trains > Yet another request for answers


Date: 01/08/19 16:26
Yet another request for answers
Author: PRSL-recall

This time around it is Andrew Selden's turn seemingly inviting Amtrak's serious response, though that could be considered an oxymoron. His January 4 submission appears in RAILWAY AGE. The continued failure to supply answers after a growing number of requests is, in itself causing us to become even more educated as to the type of management at Amtrak's helm. I fear, at the bottom of it all that the reason direct and clear answers are not forthcoming is that what they want presented cannot be backed up with fact. Anything presented of that nature would likely open even greater floodgates. 

Over the last year, given what has been happening and / or not happening, I have been personally mulling over what if any efforts should be pursued to lobby Congress for additional Amtrak funding. I'm far more inclined to ask Congress for greater oversight and insistence on real accounting practices. With Amtrak's Southwest Chief obstinence seemingly about to erupt again we hope that Congressional members from the Chief's route will be very outspoken and much more aggressive resulting in a much-needed shakeup.



Date: 01/08/19 16:47
Re: Yet another request for answers
Author: NYC4096

Well stated and thanks for the heads up.  Here's the link:
URPA responds to Stephen Gardner  Written by Andrew Selden
January 4, 2019 
https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/urpa-responds-to-stephen-gardner/

 



Date: 01/08/19 17:25
Re: Yet another request for answers
Author: sums007

Good luck with this.  Amtrak's leadership doesn't know the meaning of transparency, and in my opinion, is the epitome of disinenguousness--if that's even a word............



Date: 01/08/19 20:06
Re: Yet another request for answers
Author: GenePoon

Note that last year, Amtrak unilaterally changed its payment terms to its creditors, from 30 days to 60 days. 

 



Date: 01/08/19 20:30
Re: Yet another request for answers
Author: Cumbresfan

From the RA article: 

In FY 2018, Amtrak lost more than $868 million on $3.2 billion in revenue. And even that dismal outcome would have been far worse had Amtrak not massaged its results by 
deferring maintenance and purchasing—the oldest game in railroading—by $679 million, up a quarter of a billion dollars from the previous year.If Amtrak honestly accounted for all the costs of generating its revenues, and included the vast infrastructure costs of the NEC, its losses and “cost recovery” would have been far worse than Gardner’s assertion.

Gardner's arguements are analogous to the tenant-caused breaking of a kitchen pipe in a rental home where the tenant (Amtrak) tells the landlord (the public and Congress) it just affected the area around the sink ignoring completely that the basement was flooded. Frankly they are afraid that if the entire truth be told, they will be be evicted, or in Amtrak's case, the cost to fix a failed organization will be so high that the entire operation will be eliminated. Certainly there is that risk, but it is countered by the Congress giving support for continuing a national rail passenger network.

Given that support, the question must be asked as to why Amtrak senior management continues to downgrade (apparently deliberately) the one area that is capable of generating growth and revenue -- long distance trains? One answer, and maybe the most obvious one, is that that management considers the current bad financial news and getting worse, an opportunity to eliminate national passenger trains entirely, maybe at the direction of some fiscal hawks in Congress or managers in the Trump administration.

 



Date: 01/09/19 10:45
Re: Yet another request for answers
Author: ATSF3751

Cumbresfan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> From the RA article: 
>
> In FY 2018, Amtrak lost more than $868 million on
> $3.2 billion in revenue. And even that dismal
> outcome would have been far worse had Amtrak not
> massaged its results by deferring
> maintenance and purchasing—the oldest game in
> railroading—by $679 million, up a quarter of a
> billion dollars from the previous year.If Amtrak
> honestly accounted for all the costs of generating
> its revenues, and included the vast infrastructure
> costs of the NEC, its losses and “cost
> recovery” would have been far worse than
> Gardner’s assertion.
>
> Gardner's arguements are analogous to the
> tenant-caused breaking of a kitchen pipe in a
> rental home where the tenant (Amtrak) tells the
> landlord (the public and Congress) it just
> affected the area around the sink ignoring
> completely that the basement was flooded. Frankly
> they are afraid that if the entire truth be told,
> they will be be evicted, or in Amtrak's case, the
> cost to fix a failed organization will be so high
> that the entire operation will be eliminated.
> Certainly there is that risk, but it is countered
> by the Congress giving support for continuing a
> national rail passenger network.
>
> Given that support, the question must be asked as
> to why Amtrak senior management continues to
> downgrade (apparently deliberately) the one area
> that is capable of generating growth and revenue
> -- long distance trains? One answer, and maybe the
> most obvious one, is that that management
> considers the current bad financial news and
> getting worse, an opportunity to eliminate
> national passenger trains entirely, maybe at the
> direction of some fiscal hawks in Congress or
> managers in the Trump administration.

Look, something every hyper-supporter of the LD network fails to realize. If the LD network was truly a profit center, why would Amtrak want to eliminate it? They may indeed want to eliminate the LD network, but not for what reasons you assume. It's the here-we-go-again recycling of the conspiracy theroy about all those anti-LD train types at Amtrak who sit around everyday just looking for a reason to dismantle the national network.
Amtrak is a business. If there was a solid financial reason, based on facts, for expanding the LD network, then why would Amtrak not follow that path? The basic problem is that the LD trains, and to be fair, a number of regional services, probably fail to meet revenue and ridership expectations necessary for even a modest break-even position. This was a problem going back many decades and existed well before Amtrak. Now, somehow as many LD advocates imply or insist, the magic of full dining service and delux accomodations, multiple schedules, and marketing, will put all the King's horses and all the King's men back together again. It ain't so. Been there.....done that. 

So, my opinion is that Amtrak should decide if the LD network serves a public need that cannot be met by alternate transportation services that are less costly to operate. If such is the case, then providing such services should first be calculated on that basis regardless of those trains ability to make a profit or even break even. Leave out the "those other guys are subsidized" argument which could actually work against any pro-LD position. Let's get to the facts please and make intellegent decisions. 

>
>  



Date: 01/09/19 17:03
Re: Yet another request for answers
Author: PRSL-recall

ATSF3751 Wrote:
> Look, something every hyper-supporter of the LD
> network fails to realize. If the LD network was
> truly a profit center, why would Amtrak want to
> eliminate it? They may indeed want to eliminate
> the LD network, but not for what reasons you
> assume. It's the here-we-go-again recycling of the
> conspiracy theroy about all those anti-LD train
> types at Amtrak who sit around everyday just
> looking for a reason to dismantle the national
> network.
> Amtrak is a business. If there was a solid
> financial reason, based on facts, for expanding
> the LD network, then why would Amtrak not follow
> that path? The basic problem is that the LD
> trains, and to be fair, a number of regional
> services, probably fail to meet revenue and
> ridership expectations necessary for even a modest
> break-even position. This was a problem going back
> many decades and existed well before Amtrak. Now,
> somehow as many LD advocates imply or insist, the
> magic of full dining service and delux
> accomodations, multiple schedules, and marketing,
> will put all the King's horses and all the King's
> men back together again. It ain't so. Been
> there.....done that. 
>
> So, my opinion is that Amtrak should decide if the
> LD network serves a public need that cannot be
> met by alternate transportation services that are
> less costly to operate. If such is the case, then
> providing such services should first be calculated
> on that basis regardless of those trains ability
> to make a profit or even break even. Leave out the
> "those other guys are subsidized" argument which
> could actually work against any pro-LD position.
> Let's get to the facts please and make intellegent
> decisions. 
>
It certainly isn’t that many of us can’t or don’t follow this reasoning. As far as it goes it makes sense. There are reasons though why we aren’t all on the same page, and I dare say it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. There really isn’t much point in rail advocates beating each other over this issue because nothing is accomplished; how many have changed their minds after reading many threads, submissions, articles etc.? So my point here is not to be argumentive, only to state WHY those of us who support long-distance (LD) service do not change our minds, hopefully employing as few words as possible to do so.
One is, we are convinced that most “not in favor” simply do not like riding trains long distance anyway, they prefer air and probably think everyone else should. Second, the premise that LD trains are the money-losers while short/medium distance trains are raking it in is simply not proven and Amtrak, by their accounting methods are not solving the problem. Writers who highlight this, such as Mr. Selden, may and have been ignored or criticized. Where though, is the writer who can conclusively take up the issues and refute them, answering each point of concern? These are major issues but Amtrak’s refusal to do it so far only increases suspicion. Really, why should it be so hard for them to give solid honest answers? Therefore it appears to many of us that they have a definite reason to act as they do. Transparent management would be very eager to erase all cloudiness and misconception. This is essential to arriving at the facts that we as LD users and supporters want to have spelled out in plain understandable language.

 



Date: 01/10/19 10:24
Re: Yet another request for answers
Author: ATSF3751

PRSL-recall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ATSF3751 Wrote:
> > Look, something every hyper-supporter of the LD
> > network fails to realize. If the LD network was
> > truly a profit center, why would Amtrak want to
> > eliminate it? They may indeed want to eliminate
> > the LD network, but not for what reasons you
> > assume. It's the here-we-go-again recycling of
> the
> > conspiracy theroy about all those anti-LD train
> > types at Amtrak who sit around everyday just
> > looking for a reason to dismantle the national
> > network.
> > Amtrak is a business. If there was a solid
> > financial reason, based on facts, for expanding
> > the LD network, then why would Amtrak not
> follow
> > that path? The basic problem is that the LD
> > trains, and to be fair, a number of regional
> > services, probably fail to meet revenue and
> > ridership expectations necessary for even a
> modest
> > break-even position. This was a problem going
> back
> > many decades and existed well before Amtrak.
> Now,
> > somehow as many LD advocates imply or insist,
> the
> > magic of full dining service and delux
> > accomodations, multiple schedules, and
> marketing,
> > will put all the King's horses and all the
> King's
> > men back together again. It ain't so. Been
> > there.....done that. 
> >
> > So, my opinion is that Amtrak should decide if
> the
> > LD network serves a public need that cannot be
> > met by alternate transportation services that
> are
> > less costly to operate. If such is the case,
> then
> > providing such services should first be
> calculated
> > on that basis regardless of those trains
> ability
> > to make a profit or even break even. Leave out
> the
> > "those other guys are subsidized" argument
> which
> > could actually work against any pro-LD
> position.
> > Let's get to the facts please and make
> intellegent
> > decisions. 
> >
> It certainly isn’t that many of us can’t or
> don’t follow this reasoning. As far as it goes
> it makes sense. There are reasons though why we
> aren’t all on the same page, and I dare say
> it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. There
> really isn’t much point in rail advocates
> beating each other over this issue because nothing
> is accomplished; how many have changed their minds
> after reading many threads, submissions, articles
> etc.? So my point here is not to be argumentive,
> only to state WHY those of us who support
> long-distance (LD) service do not change our
> minds, hopefully employing as few words as
> possible to do so.
> One is, we are convinced that most “not in
> favor” simply do not like riding trains long
> distance anyway, they prefer air and probably
> think everyone else should. Second, the premise
> that LD trains are the money-losers while
> short/medium distance trains are raking it in is
> simply not proven and Amtrak, by their accounting
> methods are not solving the problem. Writers who
> highlight this, such as Mr. Selden, may and have
> been ignored or criticized. Where though, is the
> writer who can conclusively take up the issues and
> refute them, answering each point of concern?
> These are major issues but Amtrak’s refusal to
> do it so far only increases suspicion. Really, why
> should it be so hard for them to give solid honest
> answers? Therefore it appears to many of us that
> they have a definite reason to act as they do.
> Transparent management would be very eager to
> erase all cloudiness and misconception. This is
> essential to arriving at the facts that we as LD
> users and supporters want to have spelled out in
> plain understandable language.

True. Still, if LD trains were profitable or even close to break-even, why would Amtrak be so interested in getting rid of them?
>  



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