Tag Archives: Amtrak

Amtrak’s Plan to Connect the U.S. – Railway Age

Written by Kevin Smith, Editor-in-Chief, International Railway Journal
September 14, 2021

From article…

Biden has been a vocal supporter of the federally owned passenger operator for almost the entirety of its existence: from his days as a U.S senator when he would regularly ride the train from Wilmington, Del., to Washington D.C.; to his time as the U.S. Vice President, when he presented the Obama Administration’s plans for several short-lived high-speed passenger projects as part of a 2009 economic stimulus package.

Now as the 46th President, Biden has made rebuilding and reviving the country’s infrastructure, including its passenger rail operator, the signature policy of his first term. The American Jobs Plan was announced by Biden on March 31 and has since moved to Congress for debate and negotiation.

From article…

The Administration hopes the legislation that emerges will satisfy Biden’s objectives so he can sign it into law this autumn. Inevitably, given the variety of views on the scale and ambition of the proposal on both sides of the political spectrum, there have been several compromises.

From a $2.3 trillion plan when Biden presented it, the Senate scaled it back to a $1 trillion initiative, including $550 billion of new spending.

However, the legislation took a significant step forward on Aug.10 when 19 Republican senators joined with their 50 Democratic colleagues to pass a bi-partisan Infrastructure bill, a move praised by Biden.

As it stands, the bill includes $66 billion for intercity passenger rail, with $22 billion of this figure set to go directly to Amtrak. This includes $6 billion for the Northeast Corridor, and $16 billion for the national network, including state-supported services.

Source: Amtrak’s Plan to Connect the U.S. – Railway Age

Train Travel in the U.S. Is Getting More Luxurious | Condé Nast Traveler

Upscale sight-seeing tours, new products from Amtrak, and planned high-speed routes are making U.S. train travel more comfortable and convenient.

By Barbara Peterson, September 7, 2021

Getty

Rail is on a roll, thanks to a new emphasis in Washington on infrastructure and the environment.

These efforts are boosting not just Amtrak’s fortunes, but those of private sector high-speed rail projects across the U.S. But will American travelers reap the benefits—as in, better and more reliable trains?

Train journeys have long been viewed as more sophisticated than traveling by either road or air, but train travel in the U.S. has long lagged behind Europe and Asia, where intercity trains are both high speed and high quality experiences.

In contrast, Amtrak has been plagued by aging rolling stock (some of its rail cars date back almost to its inception 50 years ago) and sagging on-time performance. That’s because the quasi-public company has spent much of its history battling congressional critics who’ve periodically voted to slash the line’s federal funding, arguing it’s a waste of taxpayer money.

Source: Train Travel in the U.S. Is Getting More Luxurious | Condé Nast Traveler

Billions of dollars aren’t enough to fix America’s train problem | SLATE

By Henry Grabar, Aug 09, 202111:34 AM

Amtrak celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2021. Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

As part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is edging ever closer to passage, Congress is set to give Amtrak $30 billion for the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, part of a $66 billion grant for the network nationwide.

To some, this may seem like a good step toward realizing a future of American train travel that’s more in line with the high-speed, low(er)-cost systems in countries like Japan and France. Alon Levy, a mathematician who works on the Transit Costs Project at New York University, estimates that somewhere between $15 billion and $20 billion would be needed to implement a high-speed, fairly affordable, and frequently running train system between Boston and Washington.

But Amtrak seems to have less ambitious plans for the “greatest investment in Amtrak’s 50-year history.” Rather than using the funds to build an efficient, high-speed rail in the Northeast, Amtrak has allotted $30 billion for one single project: Gateway. Gateway would restore the aging tracks that bring commuters from New Jersey to New York City, rebuild an existing tunnel, construct a second tunnel, and expand Penn Station.

Source: Billions of dollars aren’t enough to fix America’s train problem.

Tips for Taking a Long-Distance Train on Amtrak | insider

By Frank Olito, Aug 3, 2021, 1:32 PM

Long-haul train rides aren’t for everyone.
Shutterstock

Taking a long-haul train isn’t easy, so there are some things to know before making the trek.

The Amtrak room.
Frank Olito/ Insider

When I took a 19-hour Amtrak ride from New York to Chicago, I learned you should travel alone and bring earplugs.

Pricing can vary, but it’s probably more expensive than you think.

Source: Tips for Taking a Long-Distance Train on Amtrak

Amtrak funding in the infrastructure bill: A plan to fix up America’s passenger rail

What the beleaguered operator should do with $66 billion from Congress.

By Henry Grabar, July 30, 202112:31 PM

What would Amtrak Joséph do with $66 billion? Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Amtrak Joe delivers.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill that seems likely to pass the Senate contains $66 billion for intercity rail, which is pretty damn close to the $80 billion President Joe Biden asked for in April. The White House calls it “the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago.”

The deal includes $22 billion in “grants” for Amtrak, another $24 billion specifically for the Northeast Corridor, and another $20 billion for intercity service, safety grants, and grade crossing improvements. (What’s the difference between the first chunk of grants and the last? The White House hasn’t detailed that yet.)

That will mean better Amtrak service on existing high-traffic routes (relatively speaking) like Portland–Seattle, Richmond–D.C., and Chicago–Milwaukee. It might mean new service in fast-growing regions, like between Charlotte and Atlanta or Atlanta and Nashville.

Source: Amtrak funding in the infrastructure bill: A plan to fix up America’s passenger rail

Review: Amtrak reinvents ‘traditional’ dining car meals | trains

Ride with ‘Southwest Chief’ kitchen staff reveals upgraded quality and presentation

By Bob Johnston | July 26, 2021

First of two parts

Chef Frank Villasenor grills a flatiron steak. He has observed improving food quality and freshness with the new menu selections. (Bob Johnston)

ABOARD THE SOUTHWEST CHIEF — A month after Amtrak revamped dining-car menus on the five long-distance trains that serve the West Coast — replacing pre-packaged meals in a bowl with freshly-prepared breakfasts, lunches, and dinners — it’s clear the company is aiming for a higher standard than what it previously offered.

“I was really surprised,” observes Chef Frank Villasenor, who, with Food Specialist Brian Garrigues, is manning the Southwest Chief’s kitchen, on the lower level of the Superliner dining car, out of Chicago on July 22.

“This is a step above where I thought we would go, especially with the direction we were going.”

Source: Review: Amtrak reinvents ‘traditional’ dining car meals – Trains