Thanks to RailwayAge for this news.

Amid a laundry list of capital equipment needs, Amtrak has identified roughly $1.42 billion in “near-term equipment needs” submitted as part of its fiscal year 2010 budget request to grow national intercity rail service.

7 Replies to “Amtrak outlines “near-term” equipment needs”

  1. Hmm, seems like Amtrak is putting the majority toward the NEC. It would be kind of nice if they maybe fixed up some of the cars for other routes sitting in the yard or even ordered new superliner gear.

  2. Unless and until the Congress requires Mass, RI, Ct, NY, NJ, Pa, Del, and Md to contribute to the cost of intercity passenger rail service in those states the way WA, OR, CA, IL, NC and other states do, this is what we can expect. The Congress will have to direct the Amtrak board and executives to initiate the kind of change which would lead to a more equitable distribution of funds, a scenario that is extremely unlikely. The states in the NE Corridor have had an Amtrak free lunch on Uncle Sam for 30+ years now.

  3. I suspect this is why the Amtrak funds in the stimulus package limited the amount that could be spent on the NEC to 40%. Because Amtrak left to it’s own devices would have blown the lions share on the NEC.

    At some point Amtrak convinced itself that the NEC was its crown jewel, the corridor trains (Cascades, &c) second, and the long distance intercity routes third. The NEC gets most of Amtrak’s capital budget, the corridor services get what the states are willing to give Amtrak, and the long distance trains get the scraps. Any sane allocation of capital would direct a lot more capital both toward the long-distance trains and the corridor services (again Cascades, Surfliner, &c).

    Amtrak seems to be trying its best to drive passengers away from the long-distance trains by cutting on-board service, maintenance, and the like in the hopes they can make the experience as miserable as flying or taking Greyhound.

      1. Oops, I had the number wrong. But still I suspect if Amtrak wasn’t limited to 60% for the NEC they would have spent more.

    1. I don’t think that’s quite true. And I think a number of the cuts you mention, especially to intercity service, are due to external pressure rather than internal thinking at Amtrak. Maybe they wouldn’t have cut food service if various congresscritters hadn’t complained about it. And besides, just look at the list of equipment. Only the 60 locomotives are for the NEC, the rest is either long-distance or corridor rolling stock. I’m guessing they intend to replace the Amfleet and Horizon cars in the midwest with new bilevels, and increase sleeper service on the east coast. The diesel fleet is already more than adequate for the service that they run, and the locomotives are all relatively new, whereas most of the electrics are from the 70s, with half of them having never been refurbished.

    2. Comes back to some of the same arguments going on with Metro, though – the NEC is where the vast majority of the ridership is, and their market share of all trips is relatively high. Sports fans would compare it to East Coast media bias too, I suppose – the people who care the most about Amtrak in Congress tend to be from NEC states (though not exclusively), much like the people who care the most about corn come from the Midwest.

      And as Anonymouse says, if you dig deeper there is a lot of equipment being purchased for use outside the NEC.

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