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Sat Mar 6, 2021, 12:27 PM

Amtrak Wants to Expand Across the Nation. Local Politics Might Intervene.

Source: New York Times

Amtrak Wants to Expand Across the Nation. Local Politics Might Intervene.

Extending nationwide service has been an elusive goal for Amtrak. Since 1971 — when the publicly funded, privately operated rail agency was created — routes have largely remained unchanged.

By Pranshu Verma
March 6, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Over the past few years, Amtrak’s plans for expansion have stirred the politics of some communities across the South, and complicated the rail agency’s attempt to bolster passenger service in the region.

The former chief port executive of Mobile, Ala., Jimmy Lyons, said he was “scared to death” that Amtrak might take jobs away from the port, as the national rail system seeks to expand a stretch of track from the city to New Orleans for passenger travel. A city councilman, Joel Daves, said any city money spent toward expanding rail service in the Gulf Coast corridor was simply funding a “joy ride for the affluent.”

Despite the opposition, the city’s plans to greenlight the expansion are underway, and congressional lawmakers, including Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, have backed the development. But Amtrak officials and rail experts said there were lessons to be learned from the tensions in Mobile, which may replay across the country as Amtrak tries to significantly expand passenger train service nationwide by 2035.

“I think it’s always a challenge,” Stephen Gardner, the president of Amtrak, said in an interview. “We do have to have a robust engagement. We’ve got to be able to tell the story of how services like these work, and point to places where we’ve had big success.”

-snip-

In the fall, Amtrak officials released details on its nationwide expansion efforts, which would cost $25 billion and take 15 years to complete. The vision was centered on creating corridors — similar to the highly trafficked segment between Boston and Washington — all across the country.

The goal, officials said, is to create rail offerings in areas where there are dense clusters of population and passengers looking for an alternative to airplanes for trips under 400 miles. Achieving this, they added, would help Amtrak achieve profitability and adapt its network to where the American population is growing.

-snip-

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/06/us/amtrak-route-expansion.html

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Reply Amtrak Wants to Expand Across the Nation. Local Politics Might Intervene. (Original post)
Eugene Mar 2021 OP
Runningdawg Mar 2021 #1
PoindexterOglethorpe Mar 2021 #2

Response to Eugene (Original post)

Sat Mar 6, 2021, 01:00 PM

1. Tulsa makes a try for service once a decade and then seem to forget all about it.

In order to catch the train I would have to drive 110 miles to OKC or 175 miles to Wichita. I love taking the train, when I went to school at NYU (78-83) we had a closer station, just across the border in KS. It took 36 hours to get there but it was less than 1/2 the price of flying.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Sat Mar 6, 2021, 02:36 PM

2. There need to be vastly more routes.

I'm in New Mexico, and my nearest Amtrak station is in Lamy, about ten miles south of me. It's easy to get there. One train passes through, now only three days a week, I believe. It goes west to Los Angeles, and east eventually to Chicago, passing through southern Colorado and across Kansas along the way. If I want to take Amtrak to Denver, I have to either go to Los Angeles or Chicago first. Truly stupid.

I love the train. In recent years I've taken it several times and would take it a lot more if it were even a bit easier and could get me more places.

What Amtrak wants to do is a good start. I hope it happens.

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