MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby Amtrak67 of America » Thu Aug 25, 2016 1:43 pm

Regardless of what's been said in that article. I know otherwise. Gee, how you ask? I'm an amtrak engineer and have the insider info and since that article is from a year ago, obviously minds were changed at MTA. The discussion of Marc and it's electrification have nothing to do with the lawsuit pertaining to amtrak and MBTA. Let's get back on track or thread will be locked for now.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:53 am

Amtrak67 of America wrote:
Gilbert B Norman wrote:Reviewing this topic, it is no surprise to me that MARC wants "out" of buying electric power from Amtrak and the MBTA very simply never did.

Oh well, the "Beagles" at 60 Mass must justify their existence as well as ensure their "outside counsel" colleagues are properly fed at the trough.

Where has it ever been stated that Marc no longer wants electric service ? I believe that has always been rail fan rumors circulated on pages such as this. As a matter of fact, there is an HHP8 torn apart in the Martin's facility to have it evaluated for a rebuild. Supposedly Siemens said it can be done so wait and see is the best thing but if they want out of electrics, why even do this?


Yeah. Until their Chargers are actually built, there's still wiggle room for negotiation that turns those Chargers into Sprinters if Amtrak wants to make it worth their while on greasing skids for service & support. Both production lines are going to be ready as long as SEPTA is still waiting for its back-loaded order of Sprinters. Obviously as time goes on it's more likely that MARC's going to stick to the diesel plan, but in no way is that frozen in stone as long as somebody still has time to blink in the staring contest.


MBTA has absolutely nothing to do with it. That's all off-grid power like everything Hell Gate and north. They aren't paying Safe Harbor electric rates controlled by Amtrak like NJT, SEPTA, and MARC do. The T and RIDOT only have to do what CDOT is doing for Shore Line East: pay to expand the substation capacity that currently is only set up for just enough transmission to meet Amtrak's needs. The Sharon, MA perimeter fence covers twice the area of the equipment it hosted specifically so that big empty berth can be filled by MBTA-paid transmission expansion for running whatever the hell they want under those wires. They'd pay the on-grid electric company just like Amtrak does, and the only fees Amtrak would collect are for maint of the actual cat assembly. One would hope that rate is fair and reasonable, but it's certainly not comparable to or as much under Amtrak's thumb as what the Safe Harbor-sourced power in 25 Hz territory is. The T isn't doing electrics because it's all sorts of preoccupied with other necessities and hasn't wrapped brain yet around where electrics fit in their long-range plan. Simple as that. It can change as soon as they want it to change.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby TomNelligan » Fri Aug 26, 2016 2:00 pm

A new Boston Globe summary of this adventure:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/08/26/amtrak-threatens-cut-boston-rail-service/fMPVGdu10xpIPDZ0uX5cKP/story.html

MBTA officials say the claim is likely an empty threat from Amtrak, which counts Boston as a crucial link along the hugely popular Northeast Corridor. Boston’s South Station was Amtrak’s sixth busiest station in 2015, with 1.5 million boardings, according to Amtrak statistics.


My thought exactly. Killing the north end of the NEC would in the end cost Amtrak a lot more than the disputed funds, but it sounds good as a threat.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby CHTT1 » Fri Aug 26, 2016 2:57 pm

It's an empty threat. Amtrak would be cutting off its nose to spite its face if it stopped the north end of the NEC at Providence. The Amtrak guy negotiating this must be the same guy who negotiated with UP over a daily Sunset. We have seen how that blew up in Amtrak's face. Wick Moorman's first job as president should be to remove the present Amtrak negotiating team and replace them with people who know what they are doing.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby BandA » Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:41 pm

First, I'm not a lawyer & have no specialized legal knowledge.

The MBTA owes Amtrak at least $175,106.27 in unpaid, past-due invoices, plus interest, Amtrak officials said in the filing.
I think the filing said "more than $175K including interest"

Amtrak is aksing for $29M/year and it's the $175K over 5 years that is jeopardizing Amtrak's financial stability. lol.

If the T owes Amtrak $175K (plus lawyer's fees) they should pay right away to avoid undermining their own lawsuit. This is the same T that forgot to bill Rhode Island for years and can't manage their cash room. Amtrak says their invoices are not in dispute, that the T just refuses to pay them or state anything in writing.

Amtrak argues they are owed the $175K under the Attleboro Agreement, and not paying it is a breech. Therefore the Attleboro Agreement is still in effect and if the T pays the money they cure the breech.

Attleboro Agreement is from 2003. This Commision stuff is from 2008 & 2015. The commision thing requires them to negotiate new agreements. T wont agree, so Amtrak is unilateraly imposing new fees retroactively. T seems to have a great case - Amtrak needs to give them one years notice to cancel the Attleboro Agreement before they can impose new rules. I read nothing in the new law filing that allows them to unilaterally void the existing agreement without notice or change the jurisdiction of the existing agreement from Federal District Court to the STB. The Attleboro Agreement should be treated as a normal commercial agreement.

If the Attleboro Agreement is terminated, with 1 years notice, the T should give the maintenance and dispatching to Keolis. Amtrak would have to pay 100% of maintenance costs for track classes above 79MPH (I think that is as fast as T equipment is rated for). T can give dispatch preference to the trains with the most passengers. Since track slots are few at South Station, Amtrak might have less time for boarding than they do now.

There seems to be a problem with the switching "tower" and Amtrak's maintenance, which has failed twice this year. This 30 year old Programmable Logic Controller system seems to be quite brittle and probably will be ripped out and replaced when BOS is expanded (when?). Compared to ~90 years of reliability of the previous electro-mechanical system. So the "T" wants financial penalties in any future agreement. Maybe the T should replace the system now (with capacity for expansion) then take over maintenance.

T can charge Amtrak rent for their catenary.

[OT] electrification: electric rates in MA are very high. Costs of electric locomotives seem to be higher than diesel-electric locos, despite electric locomotives being simpler. So the economics for switching to electricity are poor, especially when Amtrak wants to charge a lot to use their catenary.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby YamaOfParadise » Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:31 pm

While we don't have the same play-by-play sort of analysis with the court case, the transparency of STB filings does afford us a sight into the related case between Amtrak and MBTA have there! At least as play-by-play as the steady legal/bureaucratic pace moves can allow.
There's certainly some venom present in the MBTA's most recent reply published today; or at least the legal equivalent of venom, what I'll call "strongly worded". (I suggest reading it yourselves, it isn't particularly dense in legalese, and only a couple pages long of (rather large) text.)

  • ...The District Court’s resolution of MBTA’s constitutional challenge therefore does not depend on how the Board applies the Policy in the context of this adjudicatory proceeding.
    In any event, Amtrak’s argument that the Board need not adhere to the Commission’s Policy, for its part, is simply not credible, for it contradicts what Amtrak asked the Board to do in its Petition for Relief. The Petition for Relief asks the Board to “determine the appropriate compensation between MBTA and Amtrak based on the Uniform Policy developed by the Commission.” It states that doing so “should be a simple process” because the Board need only use the Policy developed by the Commission, incorporate MBTA-specific data, “and enforce its finding on the parties.” It further maintains that the Board should not “consider any alternative” formula or “rework the terms of the Uniform Policy in ways” that were not considered, or that were rejected, by the Commission. Even putting aside that inconsistency, § 24905 provides that the Board must decide this proceeding consistent with the (unconstitutional) Policy, referencing no other substantive standards for the Board to apply. The Board’s ultimate application of the Policy in this proceeding, accordingly, is not necessary before the District Court can resolve the constitutional issues before it.
  • Amtrak suggests that if the Board does not move forward and decide this proceeding, then “Amtrak or someone else” – which can only be a reference to other state commuter rail agencies – “will be forced to bear the MBTA’s share of costs." This argument fails for several reasons. First, the majority of Amtrak’s $28.8 million demand from MBTA is for operating expenses (principally maintenance costs) on the Attleboro Line. The Policy provides no basis for shifting operating costs with respect to a particular line segment onto state commuter rail authorities that do not use that segment. Second, Amtrak is providing most of its maintenance and operational services on the MBTA-owned Attleboro Line by virtue of the Attleboro Line Agreement, which Amtrak willingly entered in 2003 and which will be terminated as of February 2017. After that date (absent a new bilateral agreement between MBTA and Amtrak), MBTA, as owner of the Attleboro Line, will be responsible for maintaining its own tracks or hiring someone to do so; the costs will not be incurred by Amtrak or the other state authorities. Third, as for capital expenditures, Amtrak again cites no basis in law or the Policy under which other state authorities would be asked to pay more to Amtrak to account for capital expenditures along the Attleboro Line, nor does it show that there are capital needs along the Attleboro Line that would go unaddressed if MBTA does not make payments to Amtrak. Finally, even if the Board moves forward, it is not certain that the Board would order MBTA to make payments to Amtrak while the District Court Litigation challenging the basis for any payments remains pending (and the Board should not).
  • Finally, Amtrak repeatedly suggests that MBTA’s constitutional claims should have been asserted years ago and that the “delay” is evidence that MBTA must not believe in its own claims. E.g., Amtrak Reply 1, 11. The latter suggestion is absurd. As noted above, the strength of MBTA’s constitutional claims is confirmed by the D.C. Circuit’s decision in AAR, which Amtrak – tellingly – never addresses substantively.


There's another filing that's justifying them replying to a reply, but I don't think there's anything meaningful (to us) that the reply-to-a-reply didn't itself say.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby Trinnau » Sat Aug 27, 2016 10:00 pm

BandA wrote:If the Attleboro Agreement is terminated, with 1 years notice, the T should give the maintenance and dispatching to Keolis. Amtrak would have to pay 100% of maintenance costs for track classes above 79MPH (I think that is as fast as T equipment is rated for). T can give dispatch preference to the trains with the most passengers. Since track slots are few at South Station, Amtrak might have less time for boarding than they do now.


YamaOfParadise wrote:
Second, Amtrak is providing most of its maintenance and operational services on the MBTA-owned Attleboro Line by virtue of the Attleboro Line Agreement, which Amtrak willingly entered in 2003 and which will be terminated as of February 2017. After that date (absent a new bilateral agreement between MBTA and Amtrak), MBTA, as owner of the Attleboro Line, will be responsible for maintaining its own tracks or hiring someone to do so; the costs will not be incurred by Amtrak or the other state authorities.


So if I read this right, the Attleboro Line agreement has already been given notice of termination by one of the parties - likely this past February, and it ends in 6 months. MBTA filed with the STB pretty much what BandA suggested. So this is going to continue to heat up over the next 6 months.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby BandA » Sun Aug 28, 2016 12:56 am

There has been no press about the agreement being terminated until now. Apparently there is no replacement agreement, so presumably they will transfer all MOW and dispatching to Keolis and continue to run while the STB figures out what rate Amtrak needs to pay. By then hopefully the court rules on the constitutional issues. February is the worst time of the year to make major changes. Will Amtrak employees be willing to transfer to Keolis?
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Aug 28, 2016 1:16 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabuki_dance

This is not these parties' first dance at theatrical political posturing for show. The outcome is pre-determined to result in a settlement. They're just going through their animal kingdom ritual of displaying their battle plumage to jockey for supremacy over the herd. There won't be actual bloodshed, just some mildly interesting Discovery Channel documentary film footage of the alpha-males of the 'transpo Serengheti' doing what eons of instinct compels them to do. :wink:
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:11 pm

Lest we forget, Mr. F-Line, "government litigating government" is simply a case of "lawyers win, taxpayers loose".

Sorry barristers around here, Messrs. Brown, Dunville, et al, just my CPA take on such charades.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby BandA » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:03 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabuki_dance

This is not these parties' first dance at theatrical political posturing for show. The outcome is pre-determined to result in a settlement. They're just going through their animal kingdom ritual of displaying their battle plumage to jockey for supremacy over the herd. There won't be actual bloodshed, just some mildly interesting Discovery Channel documentary film footage of the alpha-males of the 'transpo Serengheti' doing what eons of instinct compels them to do. :wink:
No, I think the MBTA has some really interesting constitutional points that need to be adjudicated. Does Amtrak really want to turn over MOW and dispatch to MA and become a tenant like they are on MNRR? Paying rent for their catenary? Because that's where it's headed. I'm sure they wouldn't mind losing the maintenance on the '80s "tower" that controls BOS approach. I've read on this board that the "T" uses part of Amtrak's yard for CR train storage. That could be another area needing negotiation.

As for the fair price for trackage rights, yeah maybe that needs to be settled after the courts determine whether the Commission is constitutional.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby eubnesby » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:27 am

I presume that the MBTA has no interest in selling the line to Amtrak, and that Amtrak has no interest in buying? I tend to trust Amtrak more than I trust the MBTA when it comes to infrastructure.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby danib62 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:17 pm

Clearly you've forgotten the complete Tower 1 meltdown of February 2016...
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby Suburban Station » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:40 pm

in the end it's all about the Benjamins...specifically if Massachusett's takes it back from Amtrak they will still have to pay someone to improve the track. right now they claim Amtrak should be responsible for the maintenance of the line for the T as well as their own usage. it seems to me the right solution is for Amtrak to agree to lease the line from the MBTA for a fee that gets credited towards the maintenance bill to the T. in the end though I believe Massachusetts will end up paying more than they do today regardless of who physically maintains it.
one of the good things about 212 is that it should mean there is enough money for repairs on the nec rather than relying on Amtrak to use its federal grant to support the entire thing.
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Re: MBTA v. Amtrak - NEC Fee Lawsuit

Postby dbperry » Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:42 am

Settled.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/ ... story.html

Under an agreement announced Friday, the MBTA will pay Amtrak about $20 million per year, starting in February and continuing until September, 2022, to provide daily maintenance on the Attleboro line, according to a press release issued by the T.

The MBTA will also assume control of capital program for the line, and provisions will be made to enhance services for customers. The MBTA and Amtrak will both contribute to capital projects, the release stated.


Wow. $20 million for ~38 route miles? And MBTA should only be paying maintenance costs for up to Class 5. Incremental costs for HSR and catenary should be on Amtrak. Is this a good deal for MBTA?
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