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STB hearing re New Orleans - Mobile Amtrak

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  • Member since
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Posted by petitnj on Thursday, April 21, 2022 3:09 PM

This has nothing to do with PSR, data or drawbridges. The railroads have realized that they can milk the government for millions to improve their privately owned right-of-way. The railroads are willing to spend millions on specious data modelling, lawers and guesses to get back 10's of millions from the government. The class 1's buy back stocks to reward their stock holders, but won't spend a penny if they can squeeze it out of the government. 

 

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 7:34 AM

The hearing/trial has been quite contentious. Monday's session included several hours of non-public confidential testimony.

The parties are far apart, and (barring an eleventh-hour settlement) it will be very interesting to see what the STB does. Whatever it is, one party (or maybe both) will be very unhappy. I have no sense of which way this will go.

Still in training.


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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 8:38 AM

Lithonia Operator

The hearing/trial has been quite contentious. Monday's session included several hours of non-public confidential testimony.

The parties are far apart, and (barring an eleventh-hour settlement) it will be very interesting to see what the STB does. Whatever it is, one party (or maybe both) will be very unhappy. I have no sense of which way this will go.

In my view, both sides are reaching too far and the STB will probably rule down the middle.    If there trully was an issue here then BNSF and CP would see it as well but they aren't and both BNSF and CP have no issues with hosting Amtrak.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 4:36 PM

Does anyone have an idea of approximately how long after the hearing ends the board will rule?

Still in training.


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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, May 12, 2022 6:06 PM

Today, which was supposed to be the last day of testimony before closing statements, ended with Chairman Oberman giving each side 30 more days to come up with better evidence. He said something akin to "If it were practical, at this point I'd declare each of you the loser."

Both sides presented a lot of detailed data, but CSX could not show why the proposed service would be an unfair hindrance to freight service; and Amtrak failed to demonstrate in practical terms how they can operationally co-exist with CSX in the corridor.

Lots and lots of "facts," but no persuasive argument from either side. Amtrak's last witness was particularly weak.

Oberman really, really wants the sides to settle so the STB does not have to step in. If the STB orders that the Amtrak service begin without significant new infrastructure, it will be interesting to see how on-time the trains run in this marriage made in hell.

Still in training.


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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Sunday, May 15, 2022 10:01 AM

I am particularly interested in this case because I grew up in Gulfport MS. Hanging around the Gulfport depot watching L&N trains go by was my favorite thing. Also, the IC went by, via a diamond right at the depot, to go to the port. A great railroad town for a kid in those days.

Still in training.


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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 4:27 PM

Goddamn Kalmbach incompetents keep 'disappearing' replies.

STB allows Amtrak analysts access to that proprietary RTC data, but warns severe penalties if there is any breach of 'highly confidential' of the kind Amtrak was planning.  And they evidently got tired of the circus and ordered 30-day mediation.

Read the details here, courtesy of Railway Age:

https://www.railwayage.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/51268.pdf

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 6:29 PM

petitnj

This has nothing to do with PSR, data or drawbridges. The railroads have realized that they can milk the government for millions to improve their privately owned right-of-way. The railroads are willing to spend millions on specious data modelling, lawers and guesses to get back 10's of millions from the government. The class 1's buy back stocks to reward their stock holders, but won't spend a penny if they can squeeze it out of the government. 

I have a slightly different viewpoint in that technology is changing so fast along with business and economoics......it is obsoleteing so much railroad infrastructure that railroad capital budgets cannot keep up.    Railroads have to prioritize their capital spending as a result.   So just looking at the CP to Amtrak relationship which is among the best.    Does CP fix a track usage situation in say Red Wing that is not currently impacting operations now to accomodate future Amtrak trains or does it use the Amtrak budget to do so?    The latter seems to be OK with Amtrak, WisDOT, etc.     So I see no harm in it.  WisDOT should be representing the Wisconsin Taxpayers and I think it does so pretty well.   CP should be representing the CP shareholders and I think it does so pretty well.

Step back from your computer and really think about this topic though.    Look at the increasingly short compression of time that the following has changed and think about that the largest railroad has maybe $3-4 Billion max to spend on Capital improvements......

1. Elimination of the caboose and replacement with FRED.

2. Improvements / Advancements in Locomotive technology allowing 2-4 mile long trains under one crew.

3. Two man crews and massive realignment of crew change points.

4. Fairly massive consolidation in RR companies from 1980-2000, just 20 years and think of all the spending on repainting, rehab, debt reduction, computer systems to make them compatible, employee transitioning, corporate HQ realignment, etc.

5. Nationwide PTC implementation.

6. The whole new PSR concept and resulting spending to change operations and procedures.

7. The 1980-2000 shortline boom and consolidation.

8. Fuel Oil by rail and it's impact.

9. Massive increase then decrease of coal by rail.

10. Intermodal increases since 1980, increase in ramps and trains both.

11. Needed replacement of major railroad bridges as they near the 100 year mark.

12. Consolidation of  and rerouting of rail traffic necessitating double track of more than one transcontinental rail route.

13. Increasing automation of track infrastructure and train dispatching including the company paid for consolidations and relocations of employees and staff.

14. Using corn to produce alchol as a fuel additive and all the resulting online plants and traffic that generated.

15. Industrial dislocation and/or downsizing elimination in Midwest, Northeast, etc and resulting shifts in traffic flow as well as related track abandonment there.

16. Then there is NAFTA and it's impact on traffic flows and distributions.

The list goes on far beyond this.    Just give an estimated tabulation of the above and add in the items I may have missed and you'll see the investments needed to keep pace of rapidly increasing technology / economics and business  probably far outstrip the ability of railroads to spend out of operating funds..........and so they have to prioritize spending over which projects return the most back to the railroad the fastest.

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