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INPORTANT RECENT NEWS, As of 4/29/00

-Amtrak's relocation into the newly renovated union station in Worcester, MA may not occur, due to that fact that Amtrak is asking for over 500 million dollars from the worcester to buy the amtrak shack that amtrak currently uses, and along with that amtrak wants a relocation fee, and amtrak wants worcester to redesign the ticket areas, due to a security risk. Hello Amtrak, isent the fact worcester built it and payed for it enough, but maybe it isent.

-it looks as a few of Amtrak's veiwliners are reconfigured diners.

------------------------NEW NEWS ABOVE

-Amtrak broke ground on building a brand new maitenence facility in Seattle, which will provide better service for Amtrak Cascades, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, and Amtrak maintanied Sounder Commuter Rail trains. Washington state is paying just over half the price, while Amtrak is paying the remaining 21 million. (seattle -22 million)

-MBTA, amtrak operated and (maintained (might change)) commuter rail service is in an intense battle over who will maintain its trains. Bay Stae company won over a contract from Amtrak for maintaning the trains, however they won it because they would cut the work force, and lower salarys etc. Labor unions have revolted, and many claim Bay State is "labor busting" (which would save Mass 100 Million) but it might be worth the extra dough, according to some who say Bay State has no safety record, and is potentially unsafe. We shall see how it turns out, Amtrak will continue to operate trains no matter what.

-Amtrak and MBTA (MASS COMMUTER RAIL) are extending the contract to operate and maintain tracks. This is after, MBTA was going to drop Amtrak, for a cheaper alternative, but after heavy labor anger, will not do so.

-Amtrak's Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor is in jepordy, not due to funding, but instead FRA's statement regarding TALGO trains operation. When the TALGO trains were being built, latter new news were adopted, and if the FRA does not issue a statement by May, Amtrak is not allowed to operate the trains in the US. Many say this is a lobby by Bombardier, the largest rail car manufacture in the US, to kill it's new competition, TALGO, trying to corner the market.

-Amtrak and Hertz are doing an aggresive partnership, adding rental car optinon at Amtrak stations nationwide. Seeeeeee amtrak.com/news for pr's.

-Tickets are on sale forAmtrak's daily Texas Eagle service, starting to operate next month. See amtrak.com/news

-Vermont has added a 2 year extension for it's 2 Amtrak state supported trains, the Vermonter, and the Ethen Allen Express.

-Amtrak's suprising move to introduce a long distance, NY-LA 60 hour or less, 8 stop, luxuary train, could start this fall with one train per week! The train will NOT be using Amtrak rail cars, and eventually Amtrak would like to get service to 5 times per week. This train is EXTREMELY SMART by Amtrak, and is excatly what Amtrak has needed to do for some time now, all aboard....this fall.

-Amtrak's expansion plan was amazingly looked on postivley by the Amtrak Reform Board. For more see nbcnews.com and search: amtrak-NEWS BREIFS

-Amtrak operates on a potentially dangerous railroad, CSX, according to the FRA. Conditions throughout the 22,000 miler system were cited as very bad for any major railroad, CSX is the 3rd largest in the US. CSX said they are fixing or have fixeed all problems noted, and that the CEO is running and internal investigation himself. Amtrak has said, that safety is priority # 1, and they will talk with the FRA and CSX if needed. Amtrak says its good to see CSX is fixing problems. 1 Amtrak train had a minor derailment due to "wide track" conditions, on CSX track, recentley.

-Amtrak's Pres. and CEO was named for a major reward from his under grad. university, SY. See amtrak.com/news for more details.

-Amtrak's proposed second Cascades train from Seattle to Vancouver, BC, might not happen according to reports. The WDOT may not be able to fund the expense of the second train. However this train is very inportant for the buisness travaler, as it would enable a customer to be able to travel in the morning from either city, and back that same night to their original place of orgin. For more info see, www.nbcnews.com, and search: Amtrak.

-Amtrak's Southwest Cheif derailed a few days ago at 2-3 AM, outside Topeka, Kansas. The cause is suppposedly a broken rail, which broke while the train was rounding a curve at about 60 mph. 4 Passanger cars derailed injuring about 30, and only one of those in critical condidtion. However, this type of thing ruins Amtrak's image. For more info see www.slamtrak.com (bad joke)

-Amtrak's NYC train tunnels are a disaster waiting to happen, according to a GAO Hearing. The six tunnels owned/operated by Amtrak, need imidiate attention, to replace ventalation/fire exits. Amtrak is meant to cough up millions for this, millions they dont have. How can the goverment tell Amtrak to rebuild the tunnels when there is not even enough money for all other plans by Amtrak. Check AP News for Full Coverage.

-Amtrak ran a test train from San Antonio to Monterray, Mexico, Mexico's 3rd largest city with 3 million people, today to test track quality. Track quality was reported as good.

-Amtrak according to the GAO miss-used thousands of dollars on things like catered partys/lunches, movie tickets, and health club passes as employee benefits for Acela employees away from homes for an extended period of time.

-AMTRAK EXPANSION PLAN/MORE INFO: Because of all the additional trains and currently the same amount of equipment Amtrak is overhauling all damged cars, engines, at their facilities. This includes the large amount of cars not being used from past derailments. Not all long distance trains will have a dining car, but some type of food service (how can they do that). Amtrak might be looking into leasing/purchasing equipment from freight railroads. All long distance trains will have at least 1 sleeper, but the new question is, what type? One might hope that service will not get worse then it is now due to this expansion.

-AMTRAK EXPANSION PLAN: After 18 monthes of working on a revised network, based on market demand, Amtrak suprised the US by saying they will create much larger network, and thousands of route miles, along with new cities, and even countries (Mexico)to their route map. Also noted in the press and by Amtrak is that they will create there first ever luxuary train which will go from NYC to LA, in under 60 hours! All route expanions will be possible because of Mail and Express. Highlights include, 4 trains from NYC to Chicago instead of the current 1. Direct train from Boston to Miami, 10 hours cut off schedule for Sunset Limeted, due to new route through Texas. For more info and Amtrak's new idea of why cutting routes costs more then saving, go to www.amtrak.com/news , or go to a direct article at: http://www.amtrak.com/news/pr/atk0019.htm

-According to Amtrak President Warrington, all Amtrak trains are going to be upgraded to the service one would get on their flagship Coast Starlight in 12-18 months, including Service Garuntees on all long distance services. Coast Starlight General Man. Rosenwald said that CS service is not decreasing even though the train was 700,000 $'s short. Full articles with info on all this and more can be found at: http://www.ipt.com/aboard/nci/onefeb20.htm or go to the link in the bottom section.

-President Clinton released a request in his budget for the next year, for the full 984 million dollars. The funding was divided into two part, roughly 500 million of general funding, and the remaining money is for Amtrak and/or states to develop intercity rail corridors. This must be approved by congress latter this year. Rep. Bill Shuster, for one, gave negitive feedback on the President's request. Howvever, the request would strongly benefit the nations traveling public.

-Amtrak has declared they have trained there 25,000 employees for their upcoming Service Guaruntee debut latter in the year to every traveler on every train. Now they are proceding with their "Right and Ready" program to make sure trains are consitentley stocekd with the same quality amenties and service items.

-A new agreement between Amtrak and ASTA (travel agents) was made, by Amtrak encouraging use of travel agents for amtrak travell. Check out www.amtrak.com for details. Washingtonpost.com has a clip in an article that appeared in the Feb. 13 Sunday Paper with a good summary of how the discounts work, check out http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/2000-02/13/032l-021300-idx.html to get to the article directley.

-There was a power outage January 28, during rush hour at 6 pm in New York's Penn Station. Delays were experienced by commuter and Amtrak passengers of up to an hour. Amtrak said the outage only lasted a few minutes.

-The American Reform Councill released a preliminary report which expressed negativity towards Amtrak goals and acheivements. The report said that Amtrak twists the facts to make it look like they are doing better then they are. However, Amtrak responded with an angry report, saying that the way they calculate financial sucsess is the way that Congress approved, and Amtrak says both ridership and revenues is up over there goals.

-Amtrak is experiencing modest delays on its Northeast Corridor from BOS-WAS due to the huge Noreaster storm that is ripping up the coast. Delays of around 30 minutes should be expected.

-Amtrak announced the corporations 'turnaround' continues, with a very strong 1st Quarter (when one includeds the small amount of travellers over the Y2K period on every mode of transportation. For Full Press Release see Amtrak at www.amtrak.com

-Amtrak announced that the official start up of limeted high speed electric Acela Regional Service will commence Jan 31, 2000. This marks the first electric rail service to Boston ever. Tickets for the service which will cut the journey from 5 to less then 4 hours go on sale January 25th.

-Norfolk Southern RR has supposedly been doing there job and bringing Amtrak trains over there tracks to a much improved ontime rating.

-A criticall assesment of Amtrak carried out by a major firm, S&P, gave Amtrak a triple-B. This is a somewhat positive rating that gives a somewhat bright outlook towards the future of Amtrak, based on continued goverment support. However the rating can be lowered or raised at any time S&P feels required.

-When the next timetables go out, several new trains may be added. A new Chicago-NY train called 'The Manhatten' and possibly a CHI-BOS service. SOURCE: FRIENDS OF AMTRAK

-The new Amtrak renovated station in Memphis, TN just opened. The renovated facility serves Amtrak (City of New Orleans) and area commuter trains. The facility includes state of the art ticketing and baggage facilities according to reports. (whatever that means) There has been a 2 day Grand Celabration at the station, and Amtrak will end off the celabration with a VIP dinner on an Amtrak dining car at the station. For more check Amtrak.com for press releases, or seach AP articles.

-Amtrak's online reservations website now accepts Herritage Room Sleeper Service Reservations for the Three Rivers (only train Heritage Sleepers are used). Log onto http://reservations.amtrak.com to book.

-The new state sponsered Heartland Flyer in it's first 5 mothes of operation has exceeded expectations in ridership by large amounts. 38,000 passengers have been aboard. State officials said 25,000 for the year would be ok, so 38,000 shows the inportance of rail service. Source: NARP, link: www.narprail.org/hot121.htm

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-The FRA has proposed a law which may go into effect by 2001, which would require all trains to blow the standard crossing horn before each public grade crossing. Curentlly Amtrak and all other RR's do this, with exception to communities which have banned horn blowing at certain hours. The new law would stop the some 250 communities currently having horn bannings. However the FRA's law stresses that communities may have no horn periods if the communities infest in quad gates, lane seperators, or video cameras at the crossings in the town. A quad gate costs around 250,000 $ per system. This law would save many lives, even though communities want to argue against it.

-CSX and Norfolk Southern Freight RR Companys continue to delay Amtrak trains over there lines for periods of 5 hours- 10 hours in some instances. The delays were so bad, NARP sent a ltter to the operators asking them to adress the issue right way, and to honor the contract which they hold with Amtrak. (Note there is a law written saying Amtrak trains must be run as ontime as possible also). Most of the delays were caused by the Conrail splitup. The Capitol Limeted, Three Rivers, Pennsylvanian, and Lake Shore Limeted have all been victems of the tardyness. The westbound Capitol Limeted ontime performance went from 76% to 20%. Pennsylvanian (eastbound) went from 77% to 12% ontime percentage.

-Amtrak is continuing to plan a late Jan start up of limeted high speed service to BOS, despite recomendation, of the DOT. Amtrak says service with 2 rountrip Acela RE trains daily will start on the line, by late January, wich will require 3 swithches between track between BOS and NH. The whole electrification should be complete by June, 2000, when Amtrak will start Acela EX trainsets in the corridor.

-At 3:45 pm Jan. 4 Amtrak overhead electricall wires supposedly collapsed causing all NY Transit, other commuter angencies and Amtrak trains, including Metroliners to be delayed for period of around 3 hours filled with commuters. The 4:00 pm Southbound Metroliner was sold out and was supossedly was delayed 3 hours. Northbound trains were also delayed along the corridor. Amtrak has fixed the wires, and trains are now running on schedual. This brings up a seroius question, a: is the old Penn RR electric wire system still strong enought to continue working (maybe not as displayed if they really did 'collapse) and b: how will these old wire systems ever support high speed acela trains. (speeds will be restricted to 135 mph, because of the wires conditions.)

-the BOS-New Haven electrification has been energized meaning that power has been 'turned on' on at least 1 track between New Haven and Boston, making it possible for Amtrak to run test trains from Washington, DC to Boston, MA. Passenger electric trains should start sometime in January.

-Amtrak made it through 2000 ok, without and major problems. Just a few of the almost 50 trains traveling through Y2K became a 'bus trip'. Trains also suffered light delays. The only glitch reported from Amtrak's Nationall Operations Center was that Amtrak could not tell how many cars per train traveling in the NEC. The problem did not cause delays, and was fixed soon after.


Links to More News Info

Destination Freedom Feb.00 Newsletter: Info on Acela, Amtrak, and more as of Feb
DF Website : with more current info in monthy newsletter



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