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JunktionFET

Amtrak reform proposal

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Here is an article I found that talks about the whole Amtrak funding debacle for 2006. In the speech the guy talks about how he and the president would like to save Amtrak, etc, etc. It is obviously a political pep talk designed to garner support against a plan that will gut Amtrak in less fortunate states, but nonetheless it has some interesting little bits of data, and he speaks rather highly of NC's passenger rail.

A quick crash course (pardon the pun)--NCDOT owns a train called the Piedmont which runs daily from Charlotte to Raleigh, and it has seen increasing popularity since its introduction in 1994. Similar to a few commuter rail programs in the NE corridor and the Pacific NW, NCDOT relies on Amtrak staff to operate the train--basically acting as a "transit authority" (since the DOT is not equipped to handle such duties).

In addition to this, NCDOT heavily subsidizes a train called the Carolinian, which connects Charlotte to NYC and presently offers reciprocal service for the Piedmont. I'm not sure if NCDOT owns that train, but if it does it likely leases it out to Amtrak for the route outside of the state. There are three other Amtrak routes through NC as well, and one of them (called the Silver Star) is also partially subsidized by NC.

Here is a quote from the guy, has some interesting bits of information, including the fact that the Carolinian now covers its operating costs in the state:

-----

North Carolina

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Thanks for the post as it was very interesting information. Its good to see that NC is leading the country in intercity rail transit and is being put up as an example of how things should be operated in a post Amtrak world.

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I actually rode the train to Charlotte when Mineta, the secretary of the DOT, came to Charlotte and delivered that speech. He spoke grand words of "saving Amtrak" but if you look beyond the smoke and mirrors, what he has proposed is COMPLETE ELIMINATION of federal money for Amtrak. No time allowed and no plan put forth for a transition to a state-controlled system, and no answer to the problem of what happens with states who don't support the trains - just an immediate and brutal decapitation of funding for passenger rail in the U.S. I don't see how this plan will save anything.

I did a write-up (with pictures) from that visit in a thread on another message board (which by the way has lots of interesting discussion about rail operations in North Carolina.)

In addition to this, NCDOT heavily subsidizes a train called the Carolinian, which connects Charlotte to NYC and presently offers reciprocal service for the Piedmont. I'm not sure if NCDOT owns that train, but if it does it likely leases it out to Amtrak for the route outside of the state.
North Carolina does not own the Carolinian; it's equipment is entirely drawn from Amtrak's fleet. North Carolina's role is to subsidize the route between Rocky Mount and Charlotte, and to upgrade the tracks between Raleigh and Charlotte so the train can run faster, more smoothly, and with fewer delays. Check out the "NCDOT Track Improvement Status" (pdf) link on that page for details.

Once the track improvements between Raleigh and Cary are completed this summer, trains will operate at 80mph on that segment. With that and a few other tweaks here and there, and the Charlotte-Raleigh schedule will be trimmed by another 10 minutes. I also hear that one of the next things NCDOT plans on doing is adding a second (mid-day) round trip of the Piedmont between Raleigh and Charlotte, for a grand total of three round trips including the Carolinian. As the frequnecy and speed of these trains increases, it will only get more popular. What a wonderful alternative to the horrors of I-85!

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orulz, those are some great pictures. You should post them over here. If you do not have the hosting bandwidth, mine is unlimited and I can do it for you :thumbsup:

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orulz took some awesome pictures of The Piedmont train in Charlotte during the little briefing with Norman Mineta. These pictures are posted on his thread at Railfan.net, but I think they deserve a little more publicity :thumbsup:

Norman Mineta speaking

king.jpg

Train tour

tour.jpg

Cool shots with Charlotte skyline as backdrop

scene1.jpg

I love this one!

scene2.jpg

And not entirely related but still a great picture--a trolley in South End

trolley.jpg

Thanks orulz!

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Man those are some nice photos. I wish I had known about this event as I would have definitely attended. I would really like to see NC expand its state run RR. Thanks!

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Norman Mineta speaking

king.jpg

Actually that's not Norman Mineta. That's David King, secretary of transit at NCDOT. Mineta is behind him and to the right. I didn't get any pictures of Mineta speaking because I was too busy holding up my "America needs more passenger trains!" sign.

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This is a good article about Amtrak and its fate, it is definitely worth reading. It also has a cool picture of the Silver Star at Raleigh's old Seaboard Station (which is no longer a passenger station).

Pin your hope on this and button up

And as linked at the bottom of the article, here are some images of Amtrak engines over the years

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