June 7, 2019
Good Rail Numbers In FY 2020 House Appropriations Budget Proposal; Illinois Legislature Approves $33B Transportation Capital Plan; Lawsuit Against California High Speed Rail Dropped; Amtrak Announces NEC Track Improvements & Staff Appointments; New Jersey Advances Gateway Development Commission Proposal; High-Speed Rail To Las Vegas Likely Delayed (Again); PTC Implementation Advances; Sleeping Car Sale Is On
Hotline #: 1,120 - June 7, 2019
Tell Us What’s Happening Where You Live’! When you see rail-related news stories, op-eds, editorials, or letters to the editor in your communities, send them along to us! We include them in our social media efforts, along with the weekly Hotline. Send your news items to Joe Aiello at jaiello[at]narprail.org, and we will share it with members. Are you holding a rally, a community meeting, or another kind of rail-advocacy event? We can help spread the word if you send them to us. We can put them on the website, here. Please follow Rail Passengers on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things passenger rail.
The June 2019 edition of the ‘Passengers Voice’ is now available. Check out the stories on Amtrak’s plans for new long distance equipment; Amtrak’s continued focus on on-time performance; the end of Indiana’s Hoosier State service; Summer By Rail 2019 and much more.
The House Appropriations Committee approved a transportation budget for FY 2020 on Wednesday, June 5 by 29-21 vote, sending the bill to floor of the House for consideration. The news is good for passengers, where our advocacy continues to produce concrete funding and policy gains.
The bill includes a $146 million increase for passenger rail and a $60 million increase for transit compared to last year’s funding levels. Amtrak’s National Network received $1.29 billion, with the Northeast Corridor receiving $700 million. This is another step in the right direction, and billions more than the transportation budget proposed by the Trump Administration.
House Democrats were able to successfully block an amendment filed by Republicans that would’ve allowed the U.S. Department of Transportation move forward on its plan to claw back $1 billion from the California high-speed rail project.
You can read Rail Passengers in-depth of the specific funding levels and policy riders our blog:
· House Appropriators: It's National Or Nothing (Policy riders)
Supreme Court declines to hear AAR’s appeal of passenger’s DC Circuit victory
June 3, 2019
The Supreme Court today rejected the Association of American Railroads' petition to hear an appeal of a crucial victory for passenger rail last summer in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, clearing the way for Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration to again work together to set metrics and standards for on-time performance and to defend your right to be on time.
This is terrific news for everyone who relies on trains to get to work, to school, and to visit friends and family. It's even more important for our disabled folks, seniors and veterans for whom trains are a lifeline and late trains are a threat.
The Illinois State Legislature approved a six-year, $33 billion transportation capital program last week, which includes a significant increase in investment for Amtrak service and public transit.
The plan is funded in large part by an increase to the gasoline tax from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents per gallon, which will finally be indexed to inflation. The policy change is long overdue: the state’s gas tax has been 19 cents per gallon since 1990, and its purchasing power has been substantially eroded by inflation over the intervening 29 year.
Lawmakers identified several specific rail projects for improvements:
$500 million to launch two new Amtrak services from Chicago to the Quad Cities and to Rockford (and eventually Dubuque).
$100 million for upgrades to CN-owned track between Chicago and Carbondale, improving speeds and reducing delays to passenger services on the line, which serves the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
$400 million for the CREATE, including funding for the 75th Street project which will help decongest a number of Amtrak and Metra lines on Chicago’s South Side.
Thanks to the Midwest High Speed Rail Association for their work and reporting on this important piece of legislation.
House Appropriators: It’s National Or Nothing
Lawmakers on Monday offer strong language backing long-distance trains. station agents and private cars
June 3, 2019
By Jim Mathews - President/CEO
House Appropriators used report language accompanying their planned Tuesday markup of the Fiscal 2020 Transportation-HUD money bill to chastise Amtrak for ignoring congressional intent on customer-facing issues like station agents and long-distance trains, and strongly supported maintaining a truly national long-distance network that improves transportation options for rural areas and serves stations staffed with station agents. Lawmakers also faulted the Dept. of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration for foot-dragging on grants, for adding conditions contrary to congressional direction, and for setting up new Amtrak grant conditions that would give FRA outsize influence in Amtrak’s capital decisions.
Reinforcing support for a truly national system, appropriators wrote that "the Committee strongly reminds Amtrak that section 24701 of title 49, United States Code, requires Amtrak to operate a national passenger rail system. Further, the Committee directs Amtrak to seek any potential changes to the National Network through the reauthorization of the FAST Act, and urges Amtrak to ensure any such proposals also increase ridership in rural areas and improve service for long-distance customers.”
A California county that has led opposition to the high-speed rail project is dropping its lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) in exchange for $11 million, according to published reports.
“It is not going to be high-speed anymore,” said Doug Verboon, a Kings County Supervisor who is also on the board of the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. “In reality, it is going to be a slow-speed train.”
That was apparently enough to get Kings County to relent -- despite pledges by the Authority and Gov. Gavin Newsom that the high-speed rail project will continue apace.
The Joint Powers Authority is reportedly in talks with CHSRA over potentially reworking some of the construction through the valley to accommodate conventional rail. In addition, published reports say they’re buying eight new diesel-powered trainsets so that they can operate Amtrak service along that route.
Meanwhile, high-speed rail opponents gleefully noted that the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) had to suspend its top consultant because he is suspected of having signed a $51 million change order contract for Spanish supplier Dragados at the same time that the consultant held some $100,000 in stock in the firm. The consultant, working for WSP, was removed on Monday pending the outcome of a review by a California state ethics panel.
Earlier this week, Amtrak released an update on the current work being done to upgrade infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor. Tracks between Washington Union and Baltimore Penn Stations, 31 miles in total, are being worked on to allow for higher speeds and more reliable travel. Over 18 million trips were taken by passengers on the NEC in Fiscal Year 2018, so improving the quality and track capacity are critical for the growing demand for service between Boston and our nation’s capital.
Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers’ VP of Operations, stated that the upgrades to track #1 between New Carrollton and Baltimore will allow for top speeds of 125mph (up from the current 90mph maxiumum) and will match the current top speeds on tracks #2 & #3. This will improve flexibility and performance for all Amtrak & MARC trains through this portion of the Corridor.
You can read the full news release from Amtrak here.
Rail Passengers Track Update: Where are we and what are we working on? This section will give you updates on what Rail Passengers HQ is up to.
Jim Mathews, President & CEO, sat down this week with senior Amtrak executives to explain Rail Passengers’ economic-benefits model for passenger rail. Rail Passengers has spent time and money since last summer developing a model to quantify the ways trains produce economic benefits for the communities they serve and has used the model to illustrate the $180 million economic cost of bustitution on the Southwest Chief, the $327 million annual benefit to states served by the Empire Builder, and the potential $57 million benefit to Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota from launching a second frequency between Chicago and the Twin Cities. Jim also responded to the great news this week from House Appropriators (who supported passenger rail with solid budget plans) and from the Supreme Court, which declined to intervene further in the “metrics-and-standards” case for developing on-time performance standards.
Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, met with House Transportation & Infrastructure staffers to discuss policy elements of the upcoming passenger rail reauthorization and FY2020 appropriations cycle, and worked with Chef Madi to brief Amtrak on the upcoming Summer by Rail 2019 trip around the U.S.
Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs has worked this week on developing a logo for RailNation:California. In addition Carolyn has reached out to Mississippi Main Street and they have responded positively regarding the Station Volunteer Program.
Joseph Aiello, Rail Passengers Northeast Field Coordinator, spent time this week with the rest of the staff in DC to discuss the upcoming Summer by Rail trip that will be kicking off in Portland, ME at the end of the month. Joe also had to deal with his beloved White Sox being swept by the Washington Nationals in a two-game series, which Jim Mathews was quite pleased with.
Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Vice-President of Operations, worked with Jonsie this week on the release of the Call for Speakers for RailNation:California and on the opening of nominations for the 2019 Ross Capon Citizen’s Advocates Award to be presented at RailNation:California
Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, submitted a grant for capacity funding, finalized RailNation:California sponsorship opportunities, and worked with Samantha Brown on upcoming membership mailings.
There has been no additional movement on the service disruptions affecting Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, stemming from Canadian National’s (CN) decision to require passengers on the City to transfer to a chartered bus at Jackson, Mississippi.
As we reported last week, CN is blaming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway just west of New Orleans, despite the fact that the railroad continues to run full freight trains across the bridge daily.
Rail Passengers reached out to Amtrak for comment, and the company says they’re continuing to press CN on a resolution, saying they find the unnecessary disruption to their passengers unacceptable.
“While Amtrak appreciates the railroad's decision to allow us to perform maintenance for Trains 58 and 59 in New Orleans, our customers have endured weeks of inconvenience by the railroad's refusal to allow our trains to stop to accept and receive customers at stops between Hammond, La., and Jackson, Miss,” communicated Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari. “Our customers face long bus rides and often see the train CN refuses to allow them to ride, as the chartered buses serve the stations CN refuses to let us use in Hammond and in Mississippi at McComb, Brookhaven and Hazelhurst.”
Has your trip been affected by CN’s rerouting of Amtrak’s passenger? Please let us know in the comments!
The New Jersey State Senate introduced legislation yesterday to establish a Gateway Development Commission, charged with overseeing planning, funding and construction of new rail tunnels under the Hudson River. The Gateway Projects will double trans-Hudson rail capacity, improve service reliability for Amtrak and NJ Transit, and provide one-seat rides to Manhattan on all NJT lines.
The bipartisan bill, led by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Transportation Committee Chair Patrick Diegnan and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, mirrors legislation introduced in the New York State Assembly by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (moved forward by a committee vote of 19-6).
“Our introduction of this bill today is an important step as we work cooperatively with Assemblywoman Paulin, our two governors, Amtrak and other interested parties to pass legislation in both states by the end of the month,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “While negotiations on potential amendments are continuing, we are confident we will reach a resolution that meets the needs of our region and our nation, just as we did with the bistate working group on the Port Authority Bus Terminal expansion that New York Congressman Jerry Nadler and I co-chaired. I congratulate and thank Assemblywoman Paulin and her team for their achievement in committee today.”
If approved, the bistate legislation would create a nine-member commission to oversee the Gateway project, require each state to pay 50 percent of the combined New Jersey-New York share of the project while providing for legislative oversight. It also grants gubernatorial veto powers over commission actions to the governors of New York and New Jersey.
The MBTA is pulling the plug on a limited program that had originally extended bus service on certain routes until 3am thanks to a vote by the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday. The Control Board did vote to make two other pilots permanent that will allow for service until 1am - but this means that the city of Boston will not have late night public transportation available. MBTA General Manager Steven Pottak said that this decision came down to ridership and that the service did not reach their projected goals. TransitMatters COO Jarred Johnson, the advocacy group who led the charge for the late night bus pilot programs, hoped that the city would still find a way to have around-the-clock service in the future.
This is not the first time that the MBTA has discontinued late night service after limited pilot programs. A 2001 “night owl” bus service that ran along subway routes on the weekends was cut after four years and a program in 2013 to extend service until 2:30am on Fridays & Saturdays was pulled in just two years. The current late night pilot was rolled out in the spring of 2018.
Out of the top 15 transit agencies in the country, Boston joins only Atlanta and Houston as the cities without some type of late night service in place while so many others have around-the-clock public transportation options.
Thanks to a resolution that was introduced by City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, the Boston City Council will hold a hearing on the long-discussed North-South Rail Link project. Councilor Essaibi-George said in a social media post that she filed the order in response to the “growing highway congestion in our City & needed improvements to our existing transportation infrastructure.''
Rail Passengers’ Northeast Field Coordinator Joe Aiello, who is also a member of the North-South Rail Link Working Group, said that he is looking forward to continuing the conversation on the project with the City Council. “I know that the recent MassDOT study left a bad taste in the mouths of many for different reasons,” said Aiello “but you cannot have a full discussion on regional rail without first talking about what the actual benefits of the Rail Link will be - something that the study never covered.”
No date has been set for the hearing.
The Amtrak Board of Director's has announced that Tracie Winbigler has been appointed to the to the position of Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer. Tracie comes to Amtrak from her position as CFO at Recreational Equipment, Inc (REI). Prior to this, Tracie was at National Geographic Society for just over 3 years. She joined the company as CFO and later earned a promotion to Chief Operating Officer, responsible for corporate strategy and all aspects of financial operations. Tracie started her career at General Electric, beginning with the Finance Management program and Corporate Audit staff. During her 25-year tenure at GE, Tracie held a series of divisional CFO roles, including businesses such as GE Nuclear, GE Transportation and GE Asset Management.
Amtrak also announced that the Board has promoted Stephen Gardner to the position of Chief Operating and Commercial Officer. Stephen will drive the delivery of Amtrak’s Annual Operating Plan and help strengthen the coordination and integration of various functions across the company. Stephen will continue to be a direct report to the CEO.
The current Amtrak senior executive reporting structure is now as follows:
Chief Executive Officer
As CEO, Richard Anderson remains the senior officer of the Corporation, reporting to the Board.
Richard is ultimately responsible for all aspects of Amtrak, including the lines of business, financial matters, operations and the strategic direction of the company under the oversight of the Amtrak Board.
Richard will have three Executive Leadership Team members reporting to him: Stephen Gardner, Senior EVP, Chief Operating and Commercial Officer; Eldie Acheson, EVP, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary; and Tracie Winbigler, EVP, Chief Financial Officer.
Chief Operating and Commercial Officer
As Chief Operating and Commercial Officer, Stephen Gardner will provide day-to-day operational leadership for Amtrak.
Stephen will have the following direct reports: Scot Naparstek, EVP, Chief Operations Officer; DJ Stadtler, EVP, Chief Administration Officer; Ken Hylander, EVP, Chief Safety Officer; Roger Harris, EVP, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer; Dennis Newman, EVP, Strategy and Planning; Christian Zacariassen, EVP, Chief Information Officer; Peter Wilander, VP, Product Development and Customer Experience; and Bruno Maestri, VP, Government Affairs and Corporate Communications.
The start of high-speed rail construction by Virgin Trains USA between Los Angeles and Las Vegas has likely been delayed for 2 years, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week. Virgin Trains USA, formerly known as Brightline, was ready to break ground on the $4 billion high-speed rail project as early as next year, but those plans were docked after it failed to secure tax abatements from the Nevada legislature during this year’s session.
Bob O’Malley, Virgin Trains’ vice president of government affairs, said Thursday that after being in Carson City for over a month, the abatements the company was seeking didn’t come to fruition. Not getting those abatements will likely push the start of planned construction back at least two years, he added. “If we had been able to do something this session, we were ready to start construction in 2020,” O’Malley said. Without the abatements, he said, “we’ll have to go back and reevaluate the timeline. Abatements are a critical component of the financing package so without it I don’t think so.” Representatives for Virgin Trains, formerly known as Brightline, plan to attend the next state legislative session in 2021, to again seek the tax exemptions, O’Malley said.
Virgin Trains was seeking partial abatement of sales and property taxes. The company still would pay the portion of those taxes tied to schools, similar to what it received in Florida for its Orlando to Miami high-speed line, O’Malley said. O’Malley reiterated that Virgin Trains was not seeking tax credits or state grants for the planned 185-mile dual-track project, which would run along the Interstate 15 corridor, as it would be financed entirely by private investment.
“There’s no public funding,” he said. “We’re taking the responsibility to build this infrastructure off the public, still providing that public service. Again, $4 billion is a big lift and just like in Florida, having policies in place that encourage that investment are critical to making to happen.”
O’Malley said the project would spur $1.98 billion in economic impact, create over 1,000 construction jobs, transport 5.5 million visitors to Las Vegas annually, remove 4.5 million cars from I-15 annually and create $14 million in environmental benefits per year.
The Federal Railroad Administration on May 29th released the first quarter 2019 PTC status update reflecting railroads’ self-reported progress toward fully implementing positive train control systems as required by Congress. Based upon the reports submitted by the railroads by the April 30th deadline, those operators required to implement PTC continue to make significant progress toward its full implementation on the required main lines. As of March 31, 2019, PTC systems were in operation on almost 48,050 of the nearly 58,000 route miles subject to the statutory mandate— a 3% increase from last quarter. Also, railroads are conducting advanced field testing, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD), on an additional 341 route miles.
A follow-up article in Progressive Railroading noted that the nation’s commuter rail operators have made great strides during 2018 towards full PTC implementation, three lines; New York’s PATH, LA’s Metrolink and San Diego’s North County Transit District (Coaster Service) having fully completed the process before the end of 2018.
The other three dozen freight and commuter railroads impacted by the federal mandate met six criteria to obtain a two-year extension to 2020’s end, such as by equipping all required route miles with PTC.
Other commuter railroads continue to chip away at their PTC projects this year and next, including MTA Metro-North Railroad (MNR) and MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in the New York City region; Virginia Railway Express (VRE) in the Washington, D.C., vicinity; Metra in the Chicago metroplex; and the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) in the greater Dallas area.
The quarterly reported indicated that Amtrak has equipped 100% of it’s locomotives; installed the necessary hardware on 100% on it’s track segments and had trained 100% of it’s applicable employees for PTC operation. 85% of Amtrak’s controlled routes were operating with PTC as of March 31st and two of the railroad’s three PTC systems have been conditionally approved by the FRA as part of it’s PTC Safety Plan. Amtrak continues to make progress on the immensely challenging task of PTC interoperability with it’s many host railroads, which as of March 31st stood at 19% completion.
Amtrak launched a new sleeping car promotion this week, with a ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ rail fare special valid in both roomettes and bedrooms. Available for purchase through June 10th, the offer is good for travel between August 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020 on all overnight trains except the Auto Train. There are NO blackout dates, so this promotion is applicable over the 2018 Thanksgiving and December Holiday periods. Various terms and conditions do apply.
Our Best Fall Meeting Yet! Make Plans Now For RailNation:California in Sacramento, Friday, October 18 - Monday, October 21.
Planning has been in high gear for the past few months, and we think this is truly going to be our best meeting yet! Over the four-day gathering, passenger rail advocates from across the country will take in area tours and trips, in addition to participating in Saturday’s all-day Advocacy Symposium. Great speakers will talk about both history and the future, and real hands-on workshops will give you the tools you need to go back home and fight for passenger rail! The Association’s Council of Representatives will hold its fall business meeting on Sunday morning.
Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations at the host hotel, the historic Sheraton Grand Downtown, are also available. Supply is limited...reserve your room today!
Be sure to check out the RailNation:California event page more information and further details.
With the planning for Saturday’s Advocacy Symposium program now underway, a Call for Speakers was released this week. RailNation:California could be your opportunity to present directly to activist passengers and commuters who rely on rail and fight for sustainable rail transportation in the U.S. We’ve designed three conference tracks - Inclusion & Equity, Making Change Happen and What Passengers Want - to look at rail travel’s challenges and opportunities today…and tomorrow. See the linked information for details on these tracks and for a perspective on the types of topics Rail Passengers Association would like to see covered, but we also warmly welcome session proposals that may stretch the essence of the three topics. We want to hear from you!
Also this week, nominations opened for the 2019 Ross Capon Citizen’s Advocates Award to be presented during RailNation:California.
We need your help! Volunteers are being sought for RailNation:California! Remember...Many hands make light work
Upcoming Regional Rail Passenger & State Association Member Meetings and Other Events:
Saturday, June 22 - Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers Meeting - Sanford, MI
Saturday, August 10 - Empire State Passengers Association Meeting & Lunch - Utica, NY
Please contact Bruce Becker to have a state or regional event or meeting added to the Rail Passengers calendar of upcoming events!
PASSENGER SERVICE NOTICES
Newark International Airport Station Temporarily Closed
Effective June 22 through 23, 2019
Attention Amtrak Passengers:
Due to annual substation maintenance, Newark Liberty International Airport station will be closed, and trains will not be stopping there between 9:30 pm on June 22 through 12:00 pm on June 23.
Passengers traveling to Newark Liberty Airport will need to access shuttle buses at Raymond Plaza West, in the front of Newark Penn Station.
Newark Penn Station waiting room will be open during this time, but no seating will be available.
Buses will “load and go” and will not follow train schedules. New Jersey Transit personnel will check New Jersey Transit and Amtrak tickets as passengers board the bus
Carolinian Train 80 Extra Service between Washington, D.C. and New York
Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays June 6 through Aug. 29, 2019
Attention Amtrak Passengers: Amtrak is providing extra service on the Carolinian Train 80, between Washington, D.C. and New York on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, June 6 through Aug. 29. See detailed schedule below.
I-95 Construction Near Stamford, CT Station
Weekends, May 31-June 3 and June 7-10, 2019
Attention Amtrak Customers: On the weekends of May 31 through June 3 and June 7 through 10, traffic will be detoured off I-95 in Stamford and Exit 9 will be closed. Major delays are expected.
At 6:00 pm on Friday, May 31 and June 7, both on ramps will be closed at Exit 9. Detours will begin on Route 1 at 9:00 pm and I-95 at 11:00 pm on Friday, May 31 and June 7. Detours will end at 5:00 am on Monday, June 3 and June 10.
Motorists will use Exit 11 to enter and exit I-95 and follow the local detour route during the closure.
Allow yourself additional time to travel to the station during this construction. For more details on the project visit www.i95exit9.com.
Lake Shore Limited Trains 448 and 449
Track Work Affects Service Sunday through Thursday
May 19 through August 1, 2019
Attention Amtrak Passengers:
Track work being performed by CSX will affect Trains 448 and 449 between Albany and Boston, as follows:
Train 448 Albany – Boston Service: May 19-23, 27-30; June 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30; July 1- 3, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25, 28 - August 1. Bus service will operate from Albany to Boston on the above dates.
Customers who are traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston (South Station) will get off the train at Albany on the dates above. At Albany, bus service will be provided to and from all stations listed above. No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stop of Framingham. Passengers traveling to Back Bay will be bussed to Boston and then may take an MBTA or Amtrak commuter train between Boston and Back Bay.
Independence Day Train 448 will operate normally to Boston on July 4
Train 449 Boston – Albany Service: May 20-23, 28-30; June 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27; July 1-3, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 29 - August 1
Train 449 will not operate between Boston (South Station) and Albany on the dates above. Passengers boarding at Boston (South Station), Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield will be provided bus service to Albany. No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stops at Back Bay and Framingham. Passengers traveling from Back Bay will have the option of boarding at Boston or traveling on alternate dates.
Boston (South Station) and Worcester
Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.
Passengers at Worcester will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the Bus Terminal.
Please Note: There will be no Business Class or sleeping car to/from Boston during this period
Travelers’ Tip For The Week
The Amtrak Toolbox
If you have traveled via Amtrak more than a couple of times, you have more than likely run into a loose part that will not remain fastened, or a dirty surface that was not properly cleaned. Amtrak’s aging equipment necessitates that you carry along an “Amtrak Toolbox”. This toolbox should contain items that can be used to solve several equipment issues that you may encounter when traveling onboard. Here are the items that I have in my Amtrak Toolbox.
Duct Tape that can be used to fasten a loose part or cover a vent in the sleeping to prevent a cold air blast.
Electronic charging hub is extremely useful when you have access to only one plug and more than one devise to keep charged.
A small flashlight is invaluable can be very helpful to find a missing item that has rolled under your seat. Remember that you also have a flashlight app on your smartphone if something goes missing.
A small package of Clorox/Lysol or organic wipes to clean and disinfect just about any surface, also useful to wipe down your hotel room.
One or two short lengths of 16 or 18 gauge wire may come in handy (e.g., to wire shut a broken sleeping compartment door lock at night).
A few large rubber bands and assorted safety pins which come in handy for all sorts of things
An 8” x 10” piece of cardboard can be folded and used as a wedge to stop a rattling piece of equipment in your sleeping car.
A small first-aid kit with Band-Aids and Neosporin can come in very handy especially if you are traveling with children.
On some Superliner coaches the original leg rest supports have been replaced with a simple support that swings down underneath. Some find that this does not raise high enough at night. Carry something to put under the support to prop it up. A couple of thick paperbacks can help and also provides reading material.
Have a ‘Travelers Tip’ you would like to share or have a question/topic you would like us to address, please drop us a message at [email protected] - Attention ‘Travelers Tips’.
Your Feedback is Important to Improving American Passenger Trains
As you travel, please help us promote the Travel Review with other rail passengers. As you encounter passengers who want to make their positive and negative opinions known, please direct them to www.railpassengers.org/Travel Review. All participants will remain anonymous. If you encounter any problems with the Travel Review, or have any questions, please send an email to [email protected]
Do You Need More TravelReview Feedback Cards?
Please help us to spread the word. We need your help in engaging other passengers when you travel and let them know that their feedback is welcomed by RailPax. To facilitate this sharing of information the TravelReview Feedback Card is now available for you to download and print for regular usage. The card can be given to fellow passengers to introduce the work that RailPax is doing as well as our desire to have their feedback. The cards can also be left behind in stations as you pass through.
The template is in a .pdf format and will open in Adobe document cloud. First download the file and save it to your desktop for easy access. Then print as needed. The original template is formatted for Avery 5871 or 5371 cardstock which are both 2” x 3½” business card formats. Any brand cardstock should function as long as the dimensions match.
If you experience any problem in accessing the file, please send an email to [email protected]
Planning a summer vacation including trains (and who wouldn’t be?), then you need a copy of Lonely Planet’s ‘Amazing Train Journeys’ guidebook! And with every purchase Lonely Planet will donate 15% of the proceeds to your Association, to help us keep working for More Trains, Better Trains and a commitment to better infrastructure.
Through this beautiful book, you’ll experience 60 of the world’s greatest and most unforgettable train journeys, from classic long-distance trips like Western Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer and Darwin to Adelaide’s The Ghan, to little-known gems on regular commuting lines. It’s the culmination of asking more than 200 travel writers for their absolute favorites.
Some are epic international adventures, others are short suburban routes along stunning coastline. There are incredible feats of engineering, trains that snake their way through mountain peaks, and even those which have achieved Unesco World Heritage status.
More than just a collection, each profile will give you the practical information you need to experience one or more of these epic journeys yourself -- including ticket options, timetables and stops, plus inspiring photos and illustrated maps. It’s all here!
Amazing Train Journeys is available as a book, e-Book or in both formats at a low combination price. And your purchase helps supports your Association’s mission too! Remember, Lonely Planet is contributing 15% of all Amazing Train Journeys sales to Rail Passengers! You can order copies by clicking here!
ADVENTURE AWAITS! GET ACCESS TO HUGE SAVINGS ON TICKETS TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT.
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Remember, if you want to use these great internet-only discounts, you must be a member in good standing AND be logged in to the Rail Passengers website. If you need help accessing these discounts email us at [email protected], or call the office at 202-408-8362.
Openings Available For Rail Passengers State Council Representatives
The following vacancies now exist for state representatives on the Rail Passengers Council of Representatives: Alabama (1 opening); California (6 openings); Idaho (1 opening); Illinois (1 opening); Louisiana (1 opening); Minnesota (1 opening); North Dakota (1 opening); Ohio (2 openings); Pennsylvania (1 opening); Utah (1 opening); Washington State (1 opening); Wyoming (1 opening)
If you are interested in becoming more involved in passenger rail advocacy and serving in a Rail Passengers leadership role, this is your opportunity to be considered for an appointment by the Board of Directors to an open state representative seat. There is no deadline to apply and submissions will be considered on a rolling basis as they are received.
Please review the position responsibilities & required qualifications and complete & submit a Candidate Information Statement if you would like to seek a position.
"On behalf of Amtrak’s onboard service staff, I want to thank the Rail Passengers Association for honoring their hard work with this award. The past couple years have indeed been difficult for Amtrak onboard service staff – coping with furloughs and job insecurity, adapting to changing protocols and services, not to mention the unfortunate events such as a tragic derailment and a fatal shooting. Nevertheless, our dedicated members at Amtrak have handled these hurdles with the care, attention and diligence for which they’re known. We thank Rail Passengers for their acknowledgement of our members’ hard work and, as always, look forward to seeing you on the rails."
Arthur Maratea, TCU/IAM National President
December 21, 2021, on the Association awarding its 2021 Golden Spike Award to the Frontline Amtrak Employees.