in the beginning : AMTRAK

This whole post is great. When I was younger, I barely remember what the freight diesels looked like. I can't remember even seeing Amtrak. There's a station right in Niagara Falls where I grew up, yet we never went down that way that I remember. It's a whole segment that I have had to study from scratch.

 The pictures in this post help me to see the history that I missed.

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

mlaughlinnyc posted:
clem k posted:

Guess this means I can use anything just put "Amtrak" on it.

Only those railroads that joined Amtrak.  I recall there were about 25 of them.  Would you like to see a list.  I have it in the June 1971 Official Guide.

Of the railroads that still had passenger service at the time of Amtrak, only the Rio Grande and the Southern opted out, as I recall.

Rusty

Rusty Traque posted:
mlaughlinnyc posted:
clem k posted:

Guess this means I can use anything just put "Amtrak" on it.

Only those railroads that joined Amtrak.  I recall there were about 25 of them.  Would you like to see a list.  I have it in the June 1971 Official Guide.

Of the railroads that still had passenger service at the time of Amtrak, only the Rio Grande and the Southern opted out, as I recall.

Rusty

Rock Island also opted out.

bigtruckpete posted:

So what happened if a railroad opted out? Did that mean they continued their own service? Or did they just abandon passenger service all together? Or something else?

The railroads that opted out the national system were required to continue their own service.  However Amtrak made the decision which routes it wanted to drop so not all railroads were required to provide passenger services.  26 roads were deemed eligible to exchange passenger services to Amtrak in return for equipment and the right to run on their tracks.  20 roads took that option.  As has been mentioned, Rio Grande, Southern, D&H, Rock Island, South Shore, The Georgia Railroad (and later Seaboard System) was permitted to run a mixed train, and finally the Reading ran it's own Philadelphia to Newark train that went to Conrail and finally NJT, but was dropped in 1982.

Prior to this, the federal government mandated passenger routes.  When they inherited a broken system with beat up equipment the attitude changed and so did the regulations.  Much like Conrail and the Staggers Act.  Lots of passenger trains went away when Amtrak started as they should have.  

 

Jonathan Peiffer

 

 

GG1 4877 posted:
bigtruckpete posted:

So what happened if a railroad opted out? Did that mean they continued their own service? Or did they just abandon passenger service all together? Or something else?

The railroads that opted out the national system were required to continue their own service.  However Amtrak made the decision which routes it wanted to drop so not all railroads were required to provide passenger services.  26 roads were deemed eligible to exchange passenger services to Amtrak in return for equipment and the right to run on their tracks.  20 roads took that option.  As has been mentioned, Rio Grande, Southern, D&H, Rock Island, South Shore, The Georgia Railroad (and later Seaboard System) was permitted to run a mixed train, and finally the Reading ran it's own Philadelphia to Newark train that went to Conrail and finally NJT, but was dropped in 1982.

Prior to this, the federal government mandated passenger routes.  When they inherited a broken system with beat up equipment the attitude changed and so did the regulations.  Much like Conrail and the Staggers Act.  Lots of passenger trains went away when Amtrak started as they should have.  

 

I can be more specific about exactly what the legislation said.  I was involved in the process at that time and I have a copy of the National Rail Passenger Act of 1970.   Here's a summary of the priovisions.

1. The act established the National Rail Passenger Corporation (NRPC) to run intercity rail passenger services.

1. The act applied only to intercity passenger service and excluded trains that were in the nature of commuter services.  If I recall correctly, intercity was defined as more than 100 miles.  I'll check the wording of the act on that.

2.  There was nothing about exchanging passenger services to Amtrak in exchange for equipment and running trains.  The railroads offered most, but not all,  of their cars and passenger locomotives for sale to NRPC.   Those sales were a normal commercial transaction.  NRPC bought roughly a third of the cars, including nearly all of the cars made by Budd.

BTW, there is no company named Amtrak.  It's a brand name.

4. A railroad could buy its way out of providing intercity passenger service by making a payment to NRPC equal to the last three years of its passenger deficit.  That payment became part of NRPC's initial capitalization.  Those that did not join NRPC were required to keep the same level of service for some years(5 yrs ?)

5. NRPC had the right to run passenger trains as it chose to on routes of the participating railroads.  The railroads were to be reimbursed for all costs of running thsoe trains - leading ot much later controversey about calculating the costs.  Under a contract with FRA at that time, I was the principal consultant for cost analysis in an FRA study of potential high speed services.

6. The railroads that did not buy into the NRPC and continued to maintain intercity passenger services were Southern, Rock Island, Rio Grande and Georgia.  The GA was owned by SCL but maintianed as a separate corporation for legal reasons.  They pretty much eliminted their passenger deficit by adding thier TOFC traffic to the passenger train so it was a lone coach followed by a full TOFC train.  Rock Island and DRGW had reduced their passenger service enough in those three years to make it not worth the payment to get rid of the minimal remaining service.  For Southern it was a corporate pride thing.

The Reading and South Shore trains nothing to do with Amtrak,  as they were essentially commuter service.

There was no need for permission to run a "mixed" train as there was no regulation prohibiting inclusion of freight cars in a passenger train.

The federal government did not ever mandate passenger routes.  They were all established by the railroads as a result of commercial decisions (Somewhat misguided in retrospect).  Services that existed could not be abandoned without the permission of the Interstate Commerce commission.

 

 

 

mlaughlinnyc posted:

 

2.  There was nothing about exchanging passenger services to Amtrak in exchange for equipment and running trains.  The railroads offered most, but not all,  of their cars and passenger locomotives for sale to NRPC.   Those sales were a normal commercial transaction.  NRPC bought roughly a third of the cars, including nearly all of the cars made by Budd.

I recall reading an article somewhere about how before Amtrak start up, Santa Fe and SCL management (maybe others?) often thought about staying out of Amtrak, so they were difficult to deal with when it came to purchasing equipment. Do you recall Santa Fe, IC, and maybe others being difficult to deal with? Both roads had diesels that were only leased by Amtrak.

4. A railroad could buy its way out of providing intercity passenger service by making a payment to NRPC equal to the last three years of its passenger deficit.  That payment became part of NRPC's initial capitalization.  Those that did not join NRPC were required to keep the same level of service for some years(5 yrs ?)

6. The railroads that did not buy into the NRPC and continued to maintain intercity passenger services were Southern, Rock Island, Rio Grande and Georgia. 

Wasnt Rock Island so broke that they couldn’t afford to join, and the state of Illinois was somehow paying Rock Island to run the passenger trains anyway? I’ve always wondered if that were true, or just railfan folklore. 

Thank you also for your post. That is some fascinating information. 

Sam's comments got me thinking about the Rock Island.  I've done a bit of research on that this evening.

As I see it now, the Rock's decision looks like a straight forward return on investment decision.  The cash savings would not have provided a reasonable return on the cash required to buy in to Amtrak.  Tjat's not directly related to the financial situation. -in 1970 we did not yet look at RI as one of the financially hopeless railroads.

An important clue to the situation is in the April 1971 Official Guide, last issue before the NRPC took over.  The Rock Island had only two remaining intercity passenger trains, round trips to Chicago from Peoria and Rock Island.  They had been successful in discontinuing many passenger trains in the last three years.  The three year deficit buy-in price for Amtrak would have been huge compared with the actual cash cost of the those two train pairs.

The deficit number calculated for Amtrak buy -in was on the basis of the ICC fully distributed cost formula including overhead, depreciation and return on capital invested.  Railroads had to pay that in cash or value of equipment transferred.  The actual cash cost of running those two trains was mainly crew, ticketing, fuel and maintenance expense, and there was a prospect of state subsidy.  So it made no financial sense for the Rock to participate.

 

 

 

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