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CSX / NS v. Amtrak ?

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CSX / NS v. Amtrak ?
Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 1:06 AM

It appears that Amtrak has lost patience. Going to the STB may cause all the freight RRs to realize that continuing delay tactics  will no longer be in their  best interests. Certainly the other RRs know now that but for the grace of god that Amtrak not yet ready to add trains to their routes may be comming to an end.

Just speculation. Do the RRs just want to reduce the number of dispatchers and that  Amtrak service may slow or stop consolidating dispatch districts? 

No matter how the STB rules all three parties may end up finally going to SCOTUS for a final delay.

Amtrak Playing Hardball With CSX, NS on Gulf Coast Service - Railway Age

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 7:50 AM

I don't know what CSX's current policy is with the operation of Amtrak.

When I was working CSX was paid a 'bonus' for trains making various checkpoints in their route 'On Time' (ie. within 15 minutes of the advertised).  On Time was also adjusted for 'Amtrak delays'. (ie. 30" late from Washington Union Station was Amtrak would be added to the checkpoint time for bonus calculation).  On Time would also be adjusted for delays in getting trains from other carriers.

As I recall, the Bonus conpensation ranged from approximately $1500 to as muxh as $11500 (for AutoTrain).  As I recall, Bonus amounts were only payable if the train involved exceeded 85% On Time.  At the time, not earning the Bonus was viewed as throwing 'free money' away.

Over the years Amtrak has tried different 'incentive' plans for the operation of their trains - some more successful than others.

I have no idea how PSR is affecting the operation of Amtrak on CSX today.

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Posted by n012944 on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 2:07 PM

blue streak 1

Just speculation. Do the RRs just want to reduce the number of dispatchers and that  Amtrak service may slow or stop consolidating dispatch districts? 

 

 

No.

An "expensive model collector"

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Posted by n012944 on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 2:12 PM

BaltACD

I don't know what CSX's current policy is with the operation of Amtrak.

When I was working CSX was paid a 'bonus' for trains making various checkpoints in their route 'On Time' (ie. within 15 minutes of the advertised).  On Time was also adjusted for 'Amtrak delays'. (ie. 30" late from Washington Union Station was Amtrak would be added to the checkpoint time for bonus calculation).  On Time would also be adjusted for delays in getting trains from other carriers.

As I recall, the Bonus conpensation ranged from approximately $1500 to as muxh as $11500 (for AutoTrain).  As I recall, Bonus amounts were only payable if the train involved exceeded 85% On Time.  At the time, not earning the Bonus was viewed as throwing 'free money' away.

Over the years Amtrak has tried different 'incentive' plans for the operation of their trains - some more successful than others.

I have no idea how PSR is affecting the operation of Amtrak on CSX today.

 

 

Nothing really has changed.  They paraded around an oversized Publishers Clearing House style check last year of the Amtrak bonus.  It was displayed in the Passenger Office all year.  

An "expensive model collector"

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 2:23 PM

BaltACD
As I recall, the Bonus conpensation ranged from approximately $1500 to as muxh as $11500 (for AutoTrain).  As I recall, Bonus amounts were only payable if the train involved exceeded 85% On Time.  At the time, not earning the Bonus was viewed as throwing 'free money' away.

LMAO, OMG, that is it for the much heralded in the press Amtrak bonus for on time handling?    Seriously?

I thought it was closer to between $500k to 1 million per long distance train.   Geez, no wonder some railroads ignore it.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 2:27 PM

blue streak 1
It appears that Amtrak has lost patience. Going to the STB may cause all the freight RRs to realize that continuing delay tactics  will no longer be in their  best interests. Certainly the other RRs know now that but for the grace of god that Amtrak not yet ready to add trains to their routes may be comming to an end. Just speculation. Do the RRs just want to reduce the number of dispatchers and that  Amtrak service may slow or stop consolidating dispatch districts?  No matter how the STB rules all three parties may end up finally going to SCOTUS for a final delay. Amtrak Playing Hardball With CSX, NS on Gulf Coast Service - Railway Age

Some hope there but not entirely good news.....

Unfortunately for Amtrak, the Chicago machine also made it's move in ensuring METRA folks were appointed to STB.    Guess what that probably means for control of Union Station in Chicago.....long-term.    Though it might assist with this on-time operation of passenger trains issue.

BTW, anyone notice on FOX News reporting on HR1.   $1.5 Billion to Amtrak to compensate for loss of passengers is singled out as a "waste" item but $30 Billion for Airlines in same bill for same purpose is not even mentioned.   Noticed it was a talking point of one particular party as well and FOX was generally echoing it without any research.    I watch FOX regularly and spot stuff like this, thats why I get a good chuckle when someone attempts to use it as an example of non-partisan reporting.......it really has the same issues the other cable news channels have on reporting domestic news.    You just have to listen carefully at times.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 8:13 PM

CMStPnP
 
BaltACD
As I recall, the Bonus conpensation ranged from approximately $1500 to as muxh as $11500 (for AutoTrain).  As I recall, Bonus amounts were only payable if the train involved exceeded 85% On Time.  At the time, not earning the Bonus was viewed as throwing 'free money' away. 

LMAO, OMG, that is it for the much heralded in the press Amtrak bonus for on time handling?    Seriously?

I thought it was closer to between $500k to 1 million per long distance train.   Geez, no wonder some railroads ignore it.

Those bonus numbers are for each checkpoint, each day.  AutoTrain only had a single checkpoint.  The other trains, for the most part, had 4 to 6 checkpoints in their route.  When adding up the checkpoints per train the total approached $10K per train per day.

Start adding the checkpoint values over 365 days and it turns into a sizable yearly sum.

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Posted by JPS1 on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 10:07 PM

BaltACD
 Start adding the checkpoint values over 365 days and it turns into a sizable yearly sum. 

As per Page 41 of Amtrak’s Consolidated Financial Statements for the Years Ended September 30, 2020 and 2019, the company has agreements with the freight railroads to pay them for hoisting its trains.  Payments are based on usage and performance.  In FY20 the payments were $176.7 million, up from $173.7 million in FY19.  The report does not setout the amount for on time performance. 
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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, March 18, 2021 2:34 AM

JPS1
 
BaltACD
 Start adding the checkpoint values over 365 days and it turns into a sizable yearly sum.  
As per Page 41 of Amtrak’s Consolidated Financial Statements for the Years Ended September 30, 2020 and 2019, the company has agreements with the freight railroads to pay them for hoisting its trains.  Payments are based on usage and performance.  In FY20 the payments were $176.7 million, up from $173.7 million in FY19.  The report does not setout the amount for on time performance. 

If bonus payments are keyed to 85% OT (they were when I was working) and the performance is less then 85% there are no bonus payments.

I retired in December 2016.  I have no knowledge of what agreements currently are between Amtrak and the freight railroads.  

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, March 18, 2021 5:45 PM

BaltACD
Those bonus numbers are for each checkpoint, each day.  AutoTrain only had a single checkpoint.  The other trains, for the most part, had 4 to 6 checkpoints in their route.  When adding up the checkpoints per train the total approached $10K per train per day. Start adding the checkpoint values over 365 days and it turns into a sizable yearly sum.

OK, my bad I thought they were annualized numbers for the whole route.

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Posted by JPS1 on Friday, March 19, 2021 8:43 PM
How Does Amtrak Calculate Route Financial Performance? and How do Long-Distance Trains Perform Financially? can be found here:
 
 
 
A complete reading of both documents indicates that Amtrak’s accounting policies, procedures, and practices are proper. 
 
It appears that the embedded and oversight controls governing the APT system are adequate.  The criticisms leveled at APT by largely unknowing critics are not supported.
 
As noted in the studies, five long-distance trains that run on the NEC are allocated a proportional amount of the NEC expenses, which is proper cost accounting. 
 
As per the footnote on the bottom of Page 4 of How Does Amtrak Calculate Route Financial Performance? the author(s) challenge Bob Johnston’s cost allocation examples in a Trains Magazine article.  My take is a little blunter:  Johnston does not understand accounting and probably does not understand that he does not understand it.
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Posted by Overmod on Friday, March 19, 2021 9:11 PM

JPS1
As per the footnote on the bottom of Page 4 of How Does Amtrak Calculate Route Financial Performance? the author(s) challenge Bob Johnston’s cost allocation examples in a Trains Magazine article.  My take is a little blunter:  Johnston does not understand accounting and probably does not understand that he does not understand it.

Yes, but... <holds up hand> I have to wonder if the author(s) fully understand switching passenger trains at Sunnyside.  One of d'Amato's stated claims was that APT allocated ten times the amount of cost to switch one of the Florida trains than the other one.  It is difficult for me even using New York prices and labor characteristics to figure out how the difference could with integrity be an order of magnitude -- I'm certainly open to seeing the difference described in analytical terms, but to dismiss it implicitly is not permissible.

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Posted by JPS1 on Friday, March 19, 2021 10:10 PM

Overmod
 One of d'Amato's stated claims was that APT allocated ten times the amount of cost to switch one of the Florida trains than the other one.  

 Where is the independently verifiable primary support documentation for d'Amato's claim.  For an independent auditor, it would be in the company's books.  Specifically, it would be the APT report for the latest accounting period.  

 
Of all the people that claim Amtrak’s cost accounting is flawed, as far as I can determine not a single one of them has had access to the company’s books.  And without that access they are simply blowing in the wind.   
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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, March 19, 2021 10:16 PM

JPS1
 
Overmod
 One of d'Amato's stated claims was that APT allocated ten times the amount of cost to switch one of the Florida trains than the other one.   

 Where is the independently verifiable primary support documentation for d'Amato's claim.  For an independent auditor, it would be in the company's books. 

Of all the people that claim Amtrak’s cost accounting is flawed, as far as I can determine not a single one of them has had access to the company’s books.  And without that access they are simply blowing in the wind.   

The accounting of costs done by a organization is the most closely held of any of the company's intellectual property.  No company worth a dollar or more will ever let such information fall into the hands of anyone not properly authorized - especially no one outside the company.

Anything published outside the company will rise to the level of accounting fiction.

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Posted by JPS1 on Saturday, March 20, 2021 8:40 AM

BaltACD
 The accounting of costs done by a organization is the most closely held of any of the company's intellectual property.  No company worth a dollar or more will ever let such information fall into the hands of anyone not properly authorized - especially no one outside the company.

Anything published outside the company will rise to the level of accounting fiction.

Spot on!

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, March 20, 2021 8:49 AM

Very true!   In any sort of logical,  rational and/or scientific venue,  publishing wild statements suggesting possible fraudulent error without a scintilla of hard evidence are looked upon as trash. 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, March 20, 2021 11:50 AM

charlie hebdo
In any sort of logical,  rational and/or scientific venue,  publishing wild statements suggesting possible fraudulent error without a scintilla of hard evidence are looked upon as trash. 

Except in circumstances where the assertations are made by 'proof of contradiction' in published material supposedly derived from proprietary information.  Which appeared to me, at least, to be what d'Amato thought he was doing -- he couldn't possibly have known anything about what the costs of turning the two trains were unless he had numbers to flesh that out, and he couldn't have gotten those anywhere but in published data.  Unless he's talking out of his butt, which is entirely possible, and I confess I'm not enough 'concerned as a private citizen' to do the Woodworth and Bernstein fact-checking and delving to confirm or disprove any conspiracy.

As Einstein liked to point out, effectively disproving a theory is considerably less difficult than either forming one or debating it on its merits.  And that process can start from disparity in reported results, whether or not referenced to some invisible methodology.

That of course does not imply a given 'disproof' is valid... only that it can't be dismissed out of hand without equally dismissing validity of the apparent contradiction of reported results.  Which in this particular case would involve interesting results both with regard to d'Amato and Johnston.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, March 20, 2021 12:26 PM

Except in circumstances where the assertations are made by 'proof of contradiction' in published material supposedly derived from proprietary information. 


Merely passing along published material SUPPOSEDLY derived from [unseen] proprietary information is not good enough.  That's not much better than "anonymous sources said" in terms of corroborated validity. How do we know that the intermediary source got it right? 

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, March 20, 2021 1:08 PM

Remember - if and when a organization publishes 'cost data' they are doing so for the benefit of the STORY they are trying to tell.  Also remember they will only disclose the data that benefits that STORY.  No data will be made available that could put the STORY in a bad light.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, March 20, 2021 6:51 PM

charlie hebdo
Merely passing along published material SUPPOSEDLY derived from [unseen] proprietary information is not good enough.  That's not much better than "anonymous sources said" in terms of corroborated validity. How do we know that the intermediary source got it right?

To split a hair, I'm not talking about using 'supposedly proprietary information', I'm talking about my supposition that real proprietary information was used.  The former case makes it the source's supposition (and hence as you note little better than any other source's supposition); the latter would be no better than 'hearsay' if subsequently asserted as fact but could still be reasonably used subject to subsequent falsification or contradiction.

In the present case, d'Amato did cite particular sources, but I wasn't interested enough to review them.  If someone cares enough to find where his source for the assertation about different turn prices on the New York-Florida trains was, and goes back to check the original material, this will become less hypothetical, at least with respect to oral-rectal inversion.  

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, March 20, 2021 6:54 PM

BaltACD
Remember - if and when a organization publishes 'cost data' they are doing so for the benefit of the STORY they are trying to tell.  Also remember they will only disclose the data that benefits that STORY.  No data will be made available that could put the STORY in a bad light.

Keep in mind we are talking about a very specific subset of details in that STORY: ones that contradict each other on their face, like the Biblical details of what Judas did with the silver.  No additional specific knowledge, or special information, is needed either to observe or appraise this, and it's for the proponents to explain (or explain away) the overt contradiction, or to explain how it's a misapprehension or mistake to perceive it so.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, March 20, 2021 9:22 PM

Overmod
 
BaltACD
Remember - if and when a organization publishes 'cost data' they are doing so for the benefit of the STORY they are trying to tell.  Also remember they will only disclose the data that benefits that STORY.  No data will be made available that could put the STORY in a bad light. 

Keep in mind we are talking about a very specific subset of details in that STORY: ones that contradict each other on their face, like the Biblical details of what Judas did with the silver.  No additional specific knowledge, or special information, is needed either to observe or appraise this, and it's for the proponents to explain (or explain away) the overt contradiction, or to explain how it's a misapprehension or mistake to perceive it so.

Ah!  The Book of Mormon.

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Posted by JPS1 on Saturday, March 20, 2021 9:54 PM
It just dawned on me that my post How Does Amtrak Calculate Route Financial Performance? and How do Long-Distance Trains Perform Financially? was misplaced.  I meant to post it under “Amtrak Allocations for Trains Getting More Disputes”.  My apologies.
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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, March 21, 2021 6:29 AM

BaltACD
Ah!  The Book of Mormon.

Smith had better show the plates.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, March 21, 2021 7:36 AM

Overmod
 
BaltACD
Ah!  The Book of Mormon. 

Smith had better show the plates.

Isn't 'faith' the basis of all forms of religion?

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, March 21, 2021 5:20 PM

BaltACD
Isn't 'faith' the basis of all forms of religion?

Yes, but... extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

As this argument has evolved: d'Amato must have gotten his New York switching costs from some published source or sources.  He can't have inside knowledge, and if someone 'leaked' or passed them, we have in addition to hearsay the impossibility of proving or disproving the whistleblowing... and no ombudsman office to get that for us.  The presumption is that a published account has been satisfactorily 'vetted' by the organization and approved for release... so any contradictions it contains can be said honestly to derive from the source material until definitively redacted by the ones who published the source.

Absent d'Amato 'showing the plates' this collapses into the typical argument about how no one not skilled in the art and privileged with firsthand access to the actual books used can say anything meaningful about cost allocation.  Anyone can call spirits from the vasty deep -- all we care about is whether there were corresponding responses. 

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Posted by n012944 on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 11:15 AM

The state of Alabama has stated they will not provide funding for the new passenger service without Amtrak doing the studies that CSX and NS has asked for.

 

https://www.progressiverailroading.com/amtrak/news/Gov-Ivey-Alabama-wont-fund-Gulf-Coast-service-without-an-Amtrak-study--63136

An "expensive model collector"

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 11:40 AM

Be sure to read the cited report before commenting on this:

https://railroads.dot.gov/sites/fra.dot.gov/files/fra_net/17156/2017-07-17_Gulf%20Coast%20Working%20Group%20Report%20to%20Congress%20%28Main%20Section%29-%20Final.pdf

I happen to be on Ivey's side here.  Whether or not Amtrak has the Federal authority to 'interfere with' freight traffic to further its purposes, they have to document what the prospective impact will be before expecting support from a state that understands it gets far more tangible benefit from that freight traffic.  That is distinctly different from Amtrak being able to get the service re-established, which I think is more of what any action concerning the STB as indicated in the article would likely concern.

 

 

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