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Date: 12/01/22 12:50
Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: amtrakbill

Much of the beginning of the meeting was a lot of thanking and reminding everyone how difficult the pandemic has been on the company.  

I have to say that Stephan Gardner was very articulate and knowedgable and was able to answer every question even though he avoided some of the questions head on.

He is committed to the LD network but they seem to be letting congress dictate to them what they should do.

Looks like the order for LD passengers cars could be 10 years away the way they said regarding the difficulty in finding a vendor who is in the US and one who wants such a small order that Amtrak would need compared to the orders vendors are getting around the world.  

Mr Gardner mentioned that he was not at liberty to discuss but they reached an agreement with CSX in running the Gulf services  Don't think he would have said something if the agreement wasn't in Amtraks best interest.

Blamed the delay of the Venture cars on the States who own the equipment and have to accept it and with the manufacturer (didn't say Seimens) with items that still need to be fixed in all the cars that are sitting around.

Believes they will be deliverying 3 or 4 Venture Cafe/Business class cars over the next few months

A gentlemen from Alton Ill asked them about the 173 cars sitting at Beech Grove.  Mr. Gardner gave a good account on them by saying a number were wreck damage, others were being held for investagation after wrecks, while others were being used for parts.  He went into a lot of talk about how Amtrak needs to build some of the parts needed to keep the Superliners in service as there are no manufacturers making these parts any more.  , 

They believe ridership will baloon to 60 million passengers by 2030 from 22 million today and about 30 million before the pandemic

They lost as many employees with retirement as they hired in 2022 so they are not getting ahead of the curve.  They admitted this is the most pressing problem they have and mentioned other businesses in other industries are feeling the same way.  I coming out of the private business world agree with this assessment.

They admitted the greatest single problem in providing good customer service is getting their trains on-time.  Amtrak has a challenge as they said the monetary payments they make or don't make to the freight carriers is not making a difference to them.  They will continue to work with the freight providers to fix this number one problem.  Mr. Gardner said multiple times that the freight carriers now understand its their legal obligation to work with Amtrak and provide this service.  Perhaps he is saying this after the agreement or ruling made in the CSX Gulf service case?

A pointed question was made about how the board of directors could approve the relocation and purchase of a building for the Wilmington ops center and the chairmen of the board took this question head on and explained why they made such a decision.  They basically made the decision with the information they knew at that time as they were hell-bent on getting out of the old ops center that was on a flood-plain.

There was a lot of information shared but I believe these are most of the highlights.  CDMorris I'm sorry they didn't answer your question about the reinstatement of the National Limited :)

Hope this summation answers some of your questions.

 



Date: 12/01/22 12:55
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: lordsigma

It should be noted - it is up to congress. If the FRA report results in recommendations for routes it’s up to congress to select and fund those. Any questions about long distance study would have resulted in: we will support the study - but ultimately congress will have to make decisions on implementing and funding recommendations from the FRA study.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/22 12:59 by lordsigma.



Date: 12/01/22 13:07
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: Chessie1963

I enjoyed the meeting, and found it to be very good.  Let's see how it plays out.  It is one thing to say the right thing, another to actually do it.

Maybe a larger order of LD equipment would help them along.

Also note that Gardner stated that they have not been able to repair more cars due to staffing, of course, but also supply chain issues.  I suspect that is a legitimate reason.



Date: 12/01/22 13:13
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: lordsigma

Chessie1963 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I enjoyed the meeting, and found it to be very
> good.  Let's see how it plays out.  It is one
> thing to say the right thing, another to actually
> do it.
>
> Maybe a larger order of LD equipment would help
> them along.
>
> Also note that Gardner stated that they have not
> been able to repair more cars due to staffing, of
> course, but also supply chain issues.  I suspect
> that is a legitimate reason.

When I attended the RPA thing with Chestler a couple weeks ago they mentioned that equipment for any LD expansion would be procured through options on whatever they come up with. If the study quickly produces recommendations that are implemented sufficiently before the final RFP submission then they may consider including them in the base order. But otherwise the base order is for replacing to support the existing network.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/22 13:15 by lordsigma.



Date: 12/01/22 13:27
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: CPMorris

Yes, well thank you for asking about "the reinstatement of The National Limited."
However, any information today about the "reinstatement" of pre-Anderson dining car
food service  to restore presentation and quality to the level of acceptable?



Date: 12/01/22 13:41
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: amtrakbill

Thanks for reminding me. It was mentioned that coach passengers will be allowed into dining cars as staffing issues are fixed.  A direct question about re-instating the dining car and lounge car on the Texas Eagle was not answered.



Date: 12/01/22 13:55
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: TexasChief

How many people do you think attended? Thank you. 



Date: 12/01/22 13:58
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: amtrakbill

They said there were 60 people in the audience and 250 on-line



Date: 12/01/22 14:10
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: Lackawanna484

I wonder if there's some way to accelerate the return to service of wreck damaged cars? It shouldn't take 5-10 years to document the damage and create the report.

Auto accident damage with injuries rarely takes more than a few months.

Posted from Android



Date: 12/01/22 14:12
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: ironmtn

Thank you for this very good summary of the meeting. I was online for its entirety except for a few minutes at the start due to a connection issue (not Amtrak's fault, I hasten to add). i submitted a question online, although it was not used. I thought the questions and their tone, and the responses and their tone, were all quite good, except for one fellow who once again repeated the entirely false statement (sometimes also stated here on TO - is it the same guy asking?) that Amtrak has no Marketing Department (they do). Stephen Gardner answered that one quite capably and professionally.

I don't disagree with any of the points you state in your summary. Thanks for presenting them, and in a neutral, reportorial tone. Well done.

MC



Date: 12/01/22 14:21
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: ironmtn

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I wonder if there's some way to accelerate the
> return to service of wreck damaged cars? It
> shouldn't take 5-10 years to document the damage
> and create the report.
>
> Auto accident damage with injuries rarely takes
> more than a few months.
>
> Posted from Android

There was some discussion in the meeting - don't know if you were online for it. Outsourcing was suggested by someone in the audience, who even mentioned a shop in the St. Louis area. A reasonable suggestion, particularly since I believe that they are capable of doing Amtrak-certifiable work.

Management's response centered on short staffing at Beech Grove, and the fact that parts availability for equipment built long ago by builders long out of business is a real problem. Both of those explanations seem reasonable to me.

I didn't hear a 5- to 10-year horizon to document damage, make a report, and then (presumably) complete repairs. But I may have missed that. There were a couple of brief audio dropouts for me (my ISP's issue, not Amtrak's) and that may have been stated during one of those drops.

MC



Date: 12/01/22 14:24
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: amtrakbill

It was mentioned that everyone's question submitted will be answered.  I sent 8 questions and if they are answered I'll post for everyone to see.



Date: 12/01/22 14:29
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: railcity

Amtrak could  call up Bombardier for Superliners car Parts, if amtrak wanted too. Bombardier could make these parts for Amtrak.



Date: 12/01/22 14:34
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: amtrakbill

You gotta believe Amtrak has done this since they are relegated to making some of their own parts.  Believe me when I say this.  It was really emphasized that the maintenance backlog is not acceptable but they certainly had a number of reasons why it is a challenge.



Date: 12/01/22 15:33
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: PHall

railcity Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Amtrak could  call up Bombardier for Superliners
> car Parts, if amtrak wanted too. Bombardier could
> make these parts for Amtrak.

If Bombardier wants too. Of course there are other questions like does the tooling and dies still exist?



Date: 12/01/22 15:34
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: joemvcnj

railcity Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Amtrak could  call up Bombardier for Superliners
> car Parts, if amtrak wanted too. Bombardier could
> make these parts for Amtrak.

I don't think it works that way. You don't get lifetime parts and service. Pullman-Standard built most of the Superliners anyway. Budd built Amfleet, Even if BBD got the patents, which are likely worn off anyway, they doesn't mean they have parts laying around in a warehouse in Barre, VT, Plattsburgh, or La Pocatiere, QC.



Date: 12/01/22 15:42
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: pdt

Thx for the report.....but we shall see.  Ammanagements cred is shot.   The proof is in  the pudding. 

So how come Delta Air Line (where i worked) is not have the staffing shortages that Amtrak is.  I can call up the res maniframe on my computer and see the frequency and loads on all the flights every day.   There are plenty of flights and crews flying them,

Yet I hear Gardner, et al, whining about how "all industries are having staffing problems".    Not exactly true.  Even the post office here is adequately staffed.    I'll start believing these clowns when the can stand up and admit that they made mistakes.  So far, its everyones fault but theirs.

I take no pride in being negative....but  the bullshit meter is still way up there.



Date: 12/01/22 15:58
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: amtrakbill

Mr Gardner said they only laid people off after the federal funds ran out and no maintenance people were furloughed.

He said 90% of those people came back

In my industry (telecommunications) we had the same issues as Amtrak

Posted from iPhone



Date: 12/01/22 16:16
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: ctillnc

> I don't think it works that way.

Indeed it doesn't. Making parts cost-efficiently (e.g. you don't lose your shirt fulfilling the order) requires volume, tooling, and experienced workers. The production-specific tooling was probably broken down decades ago, so now you either reconstruct the tooling (expensive) or use generic machine tools (slow and therefore expensive).  



Date: 12/01/22 16:55
Re: Another persons perspective of the Amtrak board meeting
Author: jcaestecker

I wish people would stop referring to Gardner as Mr.

-John



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