Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Post Election Amtrak

While there is at least one rail forum at which I participate and at which the owner would really prefer "no politics', I hold it is simply not possible to discuss passenger rail affairs without recognition of their political environment. So, with this site owner's acceptance and if I may, let's address the 2010 Mid Term Elections impact on Amtrak.

While not for one minute do I think the new Republican House majority will be chanting "kill Amtrak,,,kill Amtrak" (and even after the election rhetoric dies down, I doubt they will be chanting "kill Obamacare...kill Obamacare"), I think we are looking at an Amtrak that "did OK" during the 111th Congress but now it is time to be thankful "you got what you got when you got it". It appears that regarding the major equipment orders, the 70 Siemens electric locomotives are fully funded, but the 130 single level cars from the Spanish concern are not. While I have fair confidence these cars will be delivered, somewhere at 100 Penn "wind will blow' regarding the 'waste' these cars (for LD's) represent.

While the continued and growing public acceptance of both Amtrak's Corridor and LD services are certainly a plus, sometime during the 112th Congress, the call will move forth for some "pruning'. To what extent can (or will) a greatly neutered 1600 Penn come to the rescue, I know not.

One thing of which I am certain is that at such time railroad traffic returns to 2007 levels (and it will; I've placed my bets on that) and if some proposal for needless service is moving forth, i.e. some LD route, the "confiscation' position may be more than just an off hand comment a journalist reportedly heard, but rather a stated industry position promulgated through the AAR. Again, lest we forget the UP did not reportedly spend $2B for capacity expansion just so they could handle more Amtrak trains over the Sunset route - and if they did, my shares will be voted to 'throw the bums out".