The current Amtrak management seems to be moving toward shrinking or eliminating the national network, despite being given increased funding.
- Amtrak has bought out the contracts of many of their senior people, thus losing much knowledge about how to successfully run a passenger railroad.
- Amtrak is using safety concerns as a cover for reducing service on the national network.
- Amtrak is proposing replacing long-distance services with shorter routes that the states would be required to pay for.
- Amtrak is reducing passenger amenities to the point that they’re driving high-end passengers away.
- Amtrak is ending discounts for students and other groups.
- Amtrak is reducing or eliminating staffing at many stations.
- Amtrak is discontinuing significant revenue sources like carrying private cars.
EDIT: Malcolm Kenton has expanded this list in his post at Trains Magazine.
Amtrak management may have been directed to make such changes by certain voices on their board, in the US Department of Transportation, and in the White House. But you and I, as voters and taxpayers, are their bosses.
So what can we do?
- Thank our US senators and congressmembers for their continued support of passenger rail.
- Ask our elected representatives to communicate directly with Amtrak that they must continue to provide the long-distance services for which they are receiving public money.
- Ask our state and local officials to communicate to Amtrak that it must continue to provide quality services that many states are paying for.
- Ask our friends and family–especially our younger friends and family–to become members of the Rail Passengers Association and local rail advocacy organizations.
- Participate in RPA’s upcoming Day on the Hill, where we can communicate our support for passenger rail directly to those who represent us.
Attempts to kill American passenger rail have happened many times before, and they have always been beaten back. We can defeat the train-killers again.
Photo courtesy walstib373. Used with permission. https://www.flickr.com/photos/walstib373/33837665434/