Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

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Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby benboston » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:45 am

I was thinking what would it take for a private corporation to run trains on the NEC between BOS and WAS? Is it even allowed? I'm thinking if say Brightline chose to do open a route on the NEC this would push Amtrak to improve amenities and push down pricing. Also, this could work on other corridors, for example, I think Cascades would be a good candidate.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby bdawe » Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:53 pm

My understanding is that Amtrak owns the intercity service rights on any road that joined Amtrak, which excludes the FEC. Amtrak isn't going allow competition against itself unless it is made to do so by a higher power
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby ExCon90 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 2:06 pm

benboston wrote:I was thinking what would it take for a private corporation to run trains on the NEC between BOS and WAS? Is it even allowed? I'm thinking if say Brightline chose to do open a route on the NEC this would push Amtrak to improve amenities and push down pricing. Also, this could work on other corridors, for example, I think Cascades would be a good candidate.

Since Amtrak owns the NEC except for New Haven-New Rochelle, it would seem that Brightline's chances with Amtrak would be about the same as Amtrak's with CSX.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby benboston » Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:26 pm

In Germany, Flix Train competes with Deutsche Bahn on DB tracks. Right? How is this different?
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby SouthernRailway » Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:53 pm

benboston wrote:In Germany, Flix Train competes with Deutsche Bahn on DB tracks. Right? How is this different?


It’s a different country and a different railroad. The EU requires that state railroads give track access to private competitors. No such rule exists in the US generally.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby DutchRailnut » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:41 pm

in Europe the railroads are owned by state , in US the railroad is owned by railroad.
to change that would equal over throwing democracy ...


Amtrak has right of passage due to Government buying out money loosing passenger rail.
any private railroad has no such right and is subject to track owner allowing access and at a far different price.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby Ken W2KB » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:13 pm

bdawe wrote:My understanding is that Amtrak owns the intercity service rights on any road that joined Amtrak, which excludes the FEC. Amtrak isn't going allow competition against itself unless it is made to do so by a higher power


I’ll reread, when I have the opportunity, the federal statutes under which Amtrak was formed and operates, but offhand I do not recall any statutory language granting exclusive operating authority to Amtrak over any of the predecessor railroads. So if a competitor made a viable offer to a freight railroad, it is possible that Amtrak plus the new passenger company would operate trains over the same route.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby DutchRailnut » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:19 pm

again there is no exclusive rights, but the terms Amtrak operates under, are not valid for a private railroad operator.
And a private carrier sure would not get same trackage rights or price for operated over a freight railroad.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby Ken W2KB » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:32 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:again there is no exclusive rights, but the terms Amtrak operates under, are not valid for a private railroad operator.
And a private carrier sure would not get same trackage rights or price for operated over a freight railroad.


Agreed! Which is what I meant by a “viable offer” - would have to substantially more than what Amtrak pays, and not in any way adversely affect the freight business which accounts for virtually all the railroad’s earnings.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby bgl » Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:02 am

DutchRailnut wrote:in Europe the railroads are owned by state , in US the railroad is owned by railroad.
to change that would equal over throwing democracy ...


Amtrak has right of passage due to Government buying out money loosing passenger rail.
any private railroad has no such right and is subject to track owner allowing access and at a far different price.


I thought the majority of the NEC/track was owned by Amtrak or the state it was going through? I realize most other lines are not like this, though.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby ziggyzack1234 » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:19 am

The NEC Boston to Washington DC has multiple owners, but all are public entities in one form or another.

In Massachusetts it is owned by the state. Amtrak does however operate and maintain the line, meaning they have final say.

In Rhode Island it is owned by Amtrak.

In Connecticut, east of New Haven it is owned by Amtrak, with Shore Line East providing local service. West of New Haven it is owned by ConnDOT, and Metro-North operates the line.

In New York, the line east of New Rochelle is owned by the state through the Metro-North Railroad, which operates that section of the line. West of New Rochelle it it owned and operated by Amtrak.

New York to Washington DC is owned and operated by Amtrak.

Here is a list of commuter railroads that use the NEC in some shape or form:

MBTA (MA,RI)
Shore Line East (CT)
CTRail (New Haven CT)
Metro-North Railroad (CT, NY)
Long Island Railroad (New York City NY)
NJ Transit (NY, NJ)
SEPTA (NJ, PA, DE)
MARC (MD, Washington DC)


*For you non-Americans, owned by the state means that specific state, not the United States.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby benboston » Mon Nov 19, 2018 4:49 am

I'm curious if Amtrak would negotiate to say a ten-year contract with a private company, say Brightline/Virgin Trains USA, and agreed to share the cost of maintenance and track capacity upgrades then Amtrak would be willing to share the right of way that it has control of.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby rr503 » Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:40 am

DutchRailnut wrote:in Europe the railroads are owned by state , in US the railroad is owned by railroad.
to change that would equal over throwing democracy ...


Explain how public ownership of rail infrastructure = overthrowing democracy when we have publicly owned roads and airports? What we have today is an incoherent surface transport policy, not some democratic paragon.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby jonnhrr » Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:17 pm

rr503 wrote:
DutchRailnut wrote:in Europe the railroads are owned by state , in US the railroad is owned by railroad.
to change that would equal over throwing democracy ...


Explain how public ownership of rail infrastructure = overthrowing democracy when we have publicly owned roads and airports? What we have today is an incoherent surface transport policy, not some democratic paragon.


Roads and airports were generally public from the get-go, not private entities taken over by government.
About the only comparable situation I can think of is when the government in several urban areas took over subway systems built by private companies. (Boston, New York, Chicago). I believe in all cases they had to buy out the stockholders which probably wasn't too difficult as they were losing money on the service by that time.

Only way the freight RRs infrastructure could be taken over would be a very expensive buyout paid for by you and me.

Anyway we are talking about the NEC here which is already government owned. There would have to be legislation to set up something like the situation in Europe where private companies could run their own train services. Probably have to split off NEC infrastructure to a separate entity a la Network Rail in the UK.
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Re: Private Competition with Amtrak on the NEC and Beyond

Postby bgl » Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:44 pm

benboston wrote:I'm curious if Amtrak would negotiate to say a ten-year contract with a private company, say Brightline/Virgin Trains USA, and agreed to share the cost of maintenance and track capacity upgrades then Amtrak would be willing to share the right of way that it has control of.


Other question really is - would there be room on the NEC for another provider? From my understanding it is already near or at capacity, so I would wonder where a second provider would get slots from.
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