• Amtrak New Gulf Coast Service - New Orleans to Mobile AL

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by Ken W2KB
 
Jadebenn wrote: Mon Jul 26, 2021 2:08 pm As gokeefe points out, railroads are still common carriers.
This begs these questions: Both FedEx and UPS are common carriers. Does that result in a legal obligation for those companies to provide passenger service? Do railroads as common carriers have the legal obligation to permit the operation of any other railroad's trains over their system?
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
An excellent point made by Mr. Ken Brown that should be taken to heart by the various advocacy interests. There is no obligation under any "Land Grants", or regulatory agency's dictum, requiring a road to operate Amtrak trains. That, as Mr. Brown notes, railroads are common carriers does not require them to handle any commodities proffered to them. It means that if they offer to handle one to such shipper, they must offer to all; i.e. non-discrimination. They can set "incentive rates" (you ship so much on me I give you this rate) which a shipper does not meet those terms and a higher rate is charged, that is still non-discrimination.

So Amtrak's legal authority to approach a road is vested under RPSA70 that promulgated a Basic System that is mostly in tact today along with one or two additions and reroutes. That still controlling Act requires roads to "negotiate in good faith" with Amtrak both at first for the Basic System as well as for subsequent additions such as this instant Gulf Coast matter. A arbitration remedy has always been in place; first the now-abolished National Arbitration Panel, thence to the Surf Board. Obviously, in this matter, Amtrak holds that Chessie has "dug in her claws" and is taking her to arbitration.

So what holds the Class I's to operate Amtrak trains? it is simply the bilateral Agreements between each and Amtrak (obviously with "force majeure" povisions).

Naturally, if suddenly Amtrak announced "we're folding up", no tears would be shed at 500 Water et al (I'll bet the few Class II's holding contracts might think otherwise).
  by Ridgefielder
 
Any actual new developments here related to running a passenger train between New Orleans and Mobile?

Not to distract from the discussion of the philosophical underpinnings of common carrier obligations and the 5th Amendment but this is Railroad.net not Commonlaw.net.
  by west point
 
Eventually what will happens will depend on what SCOTUS decides . Then what congress does in legislation if the SCOTUS decision is based on constitution or federal law.
  by eolesen
 
Yeah, not really. I really can't see SCOTUS granting certiorari on a case this narrow.

There isn't a single case in the appellate courts even remotely associated with Amtrak. It would take rulings and appeals at the Circuit level before SCOTUS would even be petitioned, let alone decide to get involved.

If statistics are any indicator, whatever happens at the circuit court level would likely be the precedent unless you had two circuit courts with contradictory rulings.
  by gokeefe
 
Ken W2KB wrote:
gokeefe wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 11:23 pm
Public utility status does not result in an exclusion from Constitutional protections. Indeed, federal and state courts often have reversed federal and state regulatory agency decisions based upon this standard of review: "allowed rates must be fair, just and reasonable including the recovery of costs that are prudently incurred, and the right to earn a reasonable return on investment". To the extent that Amtrak's payments to a railroad over which Amtrak operates does not meet this legal requirement Amtrak must increase its compensation paid to a fair, just and reasonable amount or cease to operate over that line.
In my opinion the costs incurred and right to a reasonable return on investment are specific to the railroads freight business.

In short Amtrak's impact on profits and the bottom line to operate over the carrier cannot destroy the profitability of their lines or the reasonable return on investment.

If the railroads can make a reasonable argument that Amtrak operations will deprive them of their reasonable return on investment then I think we have a real discussion. However, to date the entire consensus seems to be that what Amtrak wants is absolutely minimal in terms of impact to the carriers.

I could be very wrong on this point but that seems to be the consensus thus far. No one is arguing CSX or NS segments will become unprofitable or that the reasonable return on investment will be lost but that CSX and NS have an absolute "right" protected by the 5th Amendment against *any* loss of profitability.

What was done on 1971 in addition to relieving the railroads of the passenger device burden was also to make the government the sole customer to the railroads for common carriage of passengers. In short Amtrak has become an aggregator of railroad passengers that ironically enough is much more efficient at this task than the interline agreements and terminal divisions ever were.

The reason why Amtrak is able to compel access without paying for every last dime of lost profits is because the government has given them the authority to do so within the broad license of the interstate commerce clause.

This authority is considered to be sufficiently equitable because Amtrak does in fact make payments to host railroads, along with agreements for certain capital improvements.

The real question right now seems to be whether or not CSX and NS are making a request to preserve a "reasonable" return on investment. The standard as I recall is around 6% for STB methodology purposes. If Amtrak goes to the Board I have a feeling CSX and NS are going to have trouble proving their case.

I could be wrong but this entire situation has felt like a "No" from CSX all along simply for their own convenience and not due to true compelling financial concerns.

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  by eolesen
 
To be fair, CSX is trapped between two government rules that severely impact their ability to get a reasonable return: marine traffic having priority over rail, and Amtrak having priority over freight.

I know many here don't consider either rule a taking, but in combination, that might be a different story altogether.

If this line didn't have so many bridges over navigable waters to contend with, I don't think there'd be nearly as much resistance.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Olesen, the problem with Takings, which I think from my material around here it is evident that we are both in the same corner, God put those waterways in place, giving Him the eminent domain over all others. No Judiciary can overturn that. Could there ever be a case "God v. wherever" (as in Kelo v. New London)? :-D
  by eolesen
 
Arguably, God has already enforced eminent domain once when the bridges were originally destroyed by a hurricane...

I wonder if the USCG would entertain the notion of Amtrak having priority over freight to include maritime traffic....

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  by west point
 
eolesen wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 10:00 am I wonder if the USCG would entertain the notion of Amtrak having priority over freight to include maritime traffic....
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Well the USCG has made Amtrak a priority over maritime traffic over the present Portal drawbridge bridge.
  by west point
 
IMO CSX has backed themselves into a corner. CSX operates the route with many draw spans PSR has shown the need for 12k - 15k sidings on at least one side of all draw spans and probably both sides. Maybe it does not have enough sidings of that length ? As well it needs more robust proper miter rails on the draw spans to handle large axel counts of up to 1000+. As well PTC might have shown dispatching problems that were not apparent before. So CSX is trying to get Amtrak to pay for the necessary improvements that it will have to do anyway.
  by David Benton
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 8:26 am Could there ever be a case "God v. wherever" (as in Kelo v. New London)? :-D
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268437/, you might or might not enjoy this Australian comedy.
  by eolesen
 
Is CSX actually running 10K+ trains on that subdivision or is this just more anti-PSR rhetoric infecting yet another discussion?

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  by Ken W2KB
 
west point wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 9:26 pm
eolesen wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 10:00 am I wonder if the USCG would entertain the notion of Amtrak having priority over freight to include maritime traffic....
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Well the USCG has made Amtrak a priority over maritime traffic over the present Portal drawbridge bridge.
Limited priority as a compromise: "The final rule provides the draw need not open for the passage of vessel traffic from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Additional bridge openings shall be provided for tide restricted commercial vessels between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., if at least a two-hour advance notice is given by calling the number posted at the bridge. At all other times the bridge shall open on signal if at least two-hour advance notice is given. It is the Coast Guard's opinion that this rule meets the reasonable needs of marine and rail traffic." https://www.federalregister.gov/documen ... ke-hill-nj
  by eolesen
 
Interesting. Apply that same logic at the gulf ports during times Amtrak is scheduled and I think you have a decent compromise to discuss.

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