Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

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Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

Postby John_Perkowski » Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:05 pm

Before I open this topic, understand...keep it civil and on topic. PLEASE.

So, at lapse of appropriations +35 days, NYC airports had to throttle departures and arrivals.

So the first question: what is the reserve capacity of Amtrak to operate in the US? Does anyone have an estimate of how many cars are available in private hands, that owners would be willing to lease to Amtrak?

Second, and more importantly, does Amtrak have its FY 19 DOT grant funding already? If not, or if it comes in quarterly increments, when do the Feddybux dry up? What is the operational impact?

Third, Amtrak just released a couple RFPs. Have those gone on hold pending appropriations?
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Re: Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:16 pm

Point of comparison: Amtrak post-9/11.
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Re: Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

Postby MACTRAXX » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:04 pm

Everyone: 1/25 3:00 PM EST

This past hour there has been reports that the U.S. Government is going to re-open at least
temporarily (until February 15th) ending the current 35 day shutdown.

The tipping point may well have been the reported air traffic problems today with a noted shortage
of air traffic controllers working without pay.

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Re: Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

Postby ChesterValley » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:27 pm

From what I found according to the DOT for the FRA on page 16:
Summary of Suspended Activies:

• All activities assigned to the Office of Railroad Policy and Development (RPD) would be suspended. RPD is the primary grantor of Federal funding to Amtrak, supporting Amtrak’s operating, capital, and debt service requirements. Administration of grant, financial and technical assistance activities for Amtrak and all other grantees and funding partners associated with FRA’s portfolio of competitive grant funds would be suspended (grant reimbursements to states would be made with the exception of final vouchers). Department of Transportation

• FRA support to the Build America Bureau regarding the transition of administration for the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program would be suspended.

•FRA would not continue any of its unfunded core agency functions. No cooperative agreements, contracts, purchase orders, travel authorizations, or other documents obligating funds would be executed.

•FRA would not obligate funds for research and development (R&D) projects from appropriated activities. However, outlays may occur for prior year obligations if they do not require FRA staff oversight

Given the FTA's wording, I do not think that Amtrak could deal with this even if they wanted to. Of course I'm just another idiot looking stuff up on the internet, I have no real idea how Amtrak could pull off a funding slight of hand
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Re: Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

Postby Jeff Smith » Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:49 pm

Interesting comparison of airlines vs. Amtrak:

Amtrak points out one big strength trains have as the government shutdown wreaks havoc on airports

Amtrak is chartered as a private corporation— albeit one that gets federal funding.

That means America's passenger train line, even as it's typically ignored by lawmakers and the general public, has been functioning as usual amid the government shutdown.

And from Amtrak’s Twitter: ... 4276802560

Some good comments...
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Re: Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

Postby STrRedWolf » Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:36 pm

Question now is...

What would happen if Amtrak's funding from the Feds got turned off?
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Re: Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

Postby benboston » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:42 am

I think two things:

1. NEC would become the only line that is fully funded by Amtrak

2. States would have to pay even more to fund State Supported Routes.
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Re: Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

Postby Alex M » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:47 am

Some other possible sources of money Amtrak could pursue:
1. A one dollar maintenance surcharge added to the price of every ticket, Amtrak or commuter, that would be devoted only to infrastructure of the NEC.
2. A full court press on real estate development that would yield another stream of income. Amtrak is doing this already. It needs to be more aggressive with it.
3. Where there are places that the NEC tracks cross over busy streets and highways, Amtrak could lease the space on the bridge to billboard firms.
I always feel that the less you can depend on federal funding, the better.
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Re: Lapse of appropriations and Amtrak

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:06 pm

From Marriott Biscayne Bay Miami--

Bloomberg has a good summary article by a reporter invited to ride the Corridor apparently in "American View".

No new ground is broken, but at least the infrastructure issues are being put forth to the business comminity in a readable manner.
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