Old 11-09-2005, 04:31 PM   #1
Pat Lorenz
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Default Amtrak Gunn Fired!

Looks like Amtrak has taken another blow, i guess we all know why he took Amtrak through Tehachipi because he wanted a 'last hoora'!

Heres the story.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...110900643.html
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Old 11-09-2005, 05:27 PM   #2
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"...A leader with vision and experience..."

That's who Gunn is. Can't believe they got rid of him.
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Old 11-09-2005, 07:21 PM   #3
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It will be interesting to see if the next Amtrak president will be able to be a better leader, and maybe even make Amtrak profitable.
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Old 11-09-2005, 09:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by bnsf sammy
It will be interesting to see if the next Amtrak president will be able to be a better leader, and maybe even make Amtrak profitable.
Amtrak will never make money. Just as the airlines can't make any money (Though the government bails them out anyway).
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Old 11-09-2005, 10:50 PM   #5
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Just like public transit. With the local bus line, less than half the revenue is earned through fares. The whole state (and some federal money) provides bus transport (and now light rail) in the Twin Cities.

I am guessing that if Amtrak charged what it really cost to run, the airlines would look like a great business model.
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Old 11-09-2005, 11:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by busyEMT
Amtrak charged what it really cost to run
If they did, no one would ride Amtrak because it would cost too much. There has to be some sort of ratio between how much Amtrak can charge a passenger, and how many passengers will actually buy that ticket at that price.
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Old 11-10-2005, 01:34 AM   #7
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I think its a shame. I think he was doing as well as one could at the helm. Once again, politics seem to carry the day.
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Old 11-10-2005, 01:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bnsf sammy
If they did, no one would ride Amtrak because it would cost too much.
Exactly! This leads to the conclusion that Amtrak (and rail travel in general) is more of a novelty than a necessity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bnsf sammy
There has to be some sort of ratio between how much Amtrak can charge a passenger, and how many passengers will actually buy that ticket at that price.
The free market (customers) determine this. But politicians, buying votes, get involved. Public subsidies fill the void and cover up the blight.

Much like how the feds continue to bail out large airlines. The Northwests and Deltas continually declare bankruptcy then dump thier pensions on the taxpayer, and for what? Service that is similar to Sun Countries or Jet Blues - only with more expensive fares, lay-overs or connecting flights.

Trains had their heyday when airplanes were poorly pressurized, offered few seats and expensive. Not too mention were closer to the majority of folks than an airport. The train is today's horse-and-buggy. Sure, many take the train for the experience itself, a moving vacation. But really, if you are in Seattle and are going on a cruise leaving in Miami: plane or train? Or you live in South Dakota and need to get to a family in the hospital in the Twin Cities - drive to Minneapolis or drive to Fargo and spend nearly the same time on a train?

We have to be able to let things go. Although, if some entrepreneur wants to start a rail-based passenger service, great!
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Old 11-10-2005, 12:41 PM   #9
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The Amtrak Board or "Amtrak Reform Board" is made up entirely of Bush appointments. They have made no secret of their desire to dismantle Amtrak and make states responsible for its operation. Their recent vote to split off the Northeast Corridor is consistent with that goal. They derisively described Gunn as something like a "capable administrator who was unable to go to the next level." They should have said he was unwilling to to assst them in their goal of breaking up the operation. In the past couple of years Gunn has derected significant repairs the Northeast Corridor (new rail, ties, undercuttng ballast, new interlockings), re-opened the superliner repair line at Beech Grove, rebuilt many electric locomotives, etc. etc.

A rail safety hearing next week in the House of Representatives has been cancelled and instead the members will hold a hearing on Amtrak. With the funding deficits associated with the war and Katrina relief, things don't look too good for Amtrak.

However, Gunn will be testifying next week at the same hearing as the Board. That should make for some intersting conversation!

Last edited by J; 11-10-2005 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 11-11-2005, 04:45 AM   #10
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Gunn was the man that Amtrak needed. Why did they get rid of him, OH WAIT, he spoke against Bush and his master plan to kill Amtrak. The article says hes been clashing with Bush and his plans for Amtrak. Senator Schumer's quote is pretty much right on. It is a tragic blow in Amtraks dismal history.

I dread who Bush will appoint. Probably another oil buddy who has no experience.

And I agree with J, that'll be an interesting conversation.
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Old 11-11-2005, 01:12 PM   #11
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Default Senate Hearing Tuesday November 15

Below is information about the hearing. I believe that copies of testimony will be posted on the website listed below.

Railroading is an interesting industry to follow. However, you might consider becoming more than just an observer. Click on "railroad subcommittee" and write a letter / e-mail to one or more of the members with your views. To get noticed, have a factual / respectful tone rather than something you might post for amusement on a website forum.




EVENT: HOUSE TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: Railroads Subcommittee hearing on "Current Governance Issues at Amtrak."
LOCATION: 2325 Rayburn House Office Building -- November 15, 2005
PARTICIPANTS: TBA
CONTACT: 202-225-9446
http://www.house.gov/transportation


If you don't think Amtrak is threatened, take a look at the following proposed legislation. The suggestion that Amtrak's on-board food service is excessively wasteful is an example the simplistic nonsense that is being passed around. How can food on a diner "cost" the same as that in a restaurant. Your local diner doesn't have to unload and restock its pantry at the end of a trip! Food is an "expense" just like seats on an airliner. Just as airplane passengers probaby prefer to sit down, many people on a 2-day rail trip probably "prefer" to have meal rather than haul a huge picnic hamper or dash off the train at a station to raid a vending machine.



11/10/2005 Capitol Hill
Latest Amtrak reform bill would eliminate routes, on-board services
Last week, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) introduced the Reforming Amtrak’s Inefficient Lines or RAIL Act (H.R. 4212).
The bill would cut Amtrak’s operating costs by eliminating five money-losing routes — as identified in the national passenger railroad’s October 2004 monthly performance report — and several services.
H.R. 4212 would require Amtrak to discontinue service on the Southwest Chief, California Zephyr, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight and Silver Star routes. In addition, Amtrak would be required to discontinue food and beverage service unless revenue exceeds the service’s cost (including labor), and eliminate sleeper and dining cars, lounge seating, checked baggage service and onboard entertainment.

Last edited by J; 11-11-2005 at 02:56 PM. Reason: Additional Information
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Old 11-11-2005, 02:37 PM   #12
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Personally, I don't give a donkey about Amtrak. I have never/will never have to travel by train, so it's loss means nothing to me personally...
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Old 11-11-2005, 03:26 PM   #13
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Hey J,
If this bill does get passed, how long after will Amtrak discountinue those services? Right away, or like in a month or 2? I have always wanted to take the Coast Starlight, but just never have been able to get around to it..
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Old 11-11-2005, 04:34 PM   #14
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The short answer is, "I don't know." You can see how things currently look very serious (not the first time) but we might get an indication at the hearing and an even clearer glimpse after a new Amtrak President is installed. Congress generally waits for crisis and then comes through with temporary support. The crisis is here. You might consider booking because even if the service remains, the amenities may be cut back.
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Old 11-11-2005, 05:09 PM   #15
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Well, there goes Amtrak . . .
In my opinion, he was doing a pretty good job of getting Amtrak back on its feet. I guess we can kiss that good bye.
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Old 11-11-2005, 05:32 PM   #16
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After this, I won't keep piling on more posts for this thread, but the following editorial seems to capture the issues pretty well. Wilmington, of course is home to a major Amtrak shop.

= = =
WILMINGTON (Del.) NEWS JOURNAL Editorial November 11, 2005
Amtrak executive’s competence might have been his downfall

The Bush administration just pulled a reverse FEMA. It fired David Gunn, the un-crony president of Amtrak. The administration previously removed Michael Brown as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency only after a mutiny erupted over his miserable handling of Hurricane Katrina. David Gunn was removed despite revitalizing the railroad agency, improving service and saving money.

Mr. Brown had no qualifications for his job. Mr. Gunn has a track record of saving transit systems. However, the Bush administration seems intent in killing off Amtrak. It considers subsidies for services like the Northeast rail corridor as a waste of taxpayer money. It sees nothing wrong with subsidizing airports and highways -- unlike rail transportation that could save energy. The dismissal should be challenged. The Amtrak chairman acted without a full board. Three of the seven positions are open. Two of the current members have no rail experience and were recess appointments who will be gone soon.

Mr. Gunn is a fully qualified executive. Unfortunately, he lacked what Michael Brown had. He wasn’t a George W. Bush crony.
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Old 11-11-2005, 05:56 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Personally, I don't give a donkey about Amtrak. I have never/will never have to travel by train, so it's loss means nothing to me personally...
Amtrak is a great service for those who use it. I use it in the Northwest Corridor, even though its not on the chopping block and wont ever be because its owned and ran by Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. But places in Montana and rural towns served by Amtrak will be hurt. If its a 5 hour drive to the nearest commerical airport, people will have some real trouble getting around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J
Mr. Gunn is a fully qualified executive. Unfortunately, he lacked what Michael Brown had. He wasn’t a George W. Bush crony.
So true. That editoral does sum it up.

I hope this turns into Congress pulling the classic "senator X gets Amtrak service, I want it too!" If youre going to be effected by the Amtrak cuts, WRITE to your Congressman! Believe it or not, they do listen if enough people speak up.
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Old 11-11-2005, 08:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J
It considers subsidies for services like the Northeast rail corridor as a waste of taxpayer money.
Oh and funding for the Iraq war isn't?
Remember on 9-11, train was the only way to travel for a week because all the airports were shut down.

Oh and I thank you J for posting all these news clipings, it really means a lot to me.
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Old 11-11-2005, 09:07 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SD70MACMAN
Amtrak is a great service for those who use it. I use it in the Northwest Corridor, even though its not on the chopping block and wont ever be because its owned and ran by Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.
What would be an acceptably low ridership to cut service? The population in MT is 902,000; Senator Burns was quoted in an AP story that Montanan Amtrak ridership was 140,000 in 2005. That is slightly over 15%. But like poor journalism, the figure of 15% isn't broken down. I can only assume the large majority of the 140K is round-trip riders. What about vacationers heading to Glacier Park or the Izaak Walton Inn? The federal government isn't responsible to subsidise vacation travel.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SD70MACMAN
But places in Montana and rural towns served by Amtrak will be hurt. If its a 5 hour drive to the nearest commerical airport, people will have some real trouble getting around.
The bulk of MT's populace doesn't even live near the High Line (where Amtrak serves). It would be nearly 5 hours to White Fish, Havre or Wolf Point anyhow. It would be more worthwhile to complain about class 1 railroads abandonment of rural populations. Family farms now have to ship grain, produce and other products further to shipping centers. While this effects more people than passenger service, I am not advocating the government running class 1 railroads.

I found a USAToday article regarding New York's Amtrak service, from Feb 05. Regarding the Adirondack and Empire lines, according to Cliff Black, Amtrak spokesman, "Status quo is our plan." Even after the article explains that a section of line north of Albany (NY), as "slower than a car stuck in 3rd gear." The Empire line generates $45.1M while it costs $75.5M to operate. The two lines soak NY and American taxpayers $34.7M every year. In short, this is directed away from road/interstate repair or construction - affecting more citizens than any railroad.
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Old 11-11-2005, 09:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bnsf sammy
Oh and funding for the Iraq war isn't?
The military is one thing constitutionally funded. And is for the common good. Providing daily commuter service for stock brokers and lawyers is nice, but not worth federal tax money.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bnsf sammy
Remember on 9-11, train was the only way to travel for a week because all the airports were shut down.
Well, there was bus service. Busses go more places in the rural landscape and often times, run more frequently. Why doesn't the government just consolidate all the interstate bus service and form ConBus? We can put all of our eggs in one basket. Then we can take care of everyone and no one will suffer any hardships any more.

I lived in Missoula, MT when Amtrak moved out. My mom loves rail travel and being in a railroad family, she made the effort a few times to take the train. We would drive several hours to White Fish to take the train. The world did not end.
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Old 11-11-2005, 09:57 PM   #21
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Quote:
The military is one thing constitutionally funded. And is for the common good. Providing daily commuter service for stock brokers and lawyers is nice, but not worth federal tax money.
Well put...
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Old 11-11-2005, 10:31 PM   #22
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Amtrak has never made a single red cent of profit. It's a big hole with no bottom, and no end in sight.

What other company operates like that and is allowed to survive?
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Old 11-12-2005, 03:29 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bustEMT
The military is one thing constitutionally funded. And is for the common good. Providing daily commuter service for stock brokers and lawyers is nice, but not worth federal tax money.
Amtrak is technically Constitutionally funded too. Article 1, Sec 8, Clause 1 allows Congress to collect money and fund things for the "general Welfare of the United States". I guess it just depends on your def. of general welfare. Some think Amtrak and transportation is good, while others war... And keep in mind, these lawyers and stock brokers are some of the many people that use Amtrak that make the gears of the American economy turn and pay taxes to FUND the military and the trains they ride.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bnsf sammy
Oh and funding for the Iraq war isn't?
I agree. Sure Saddam was a prick, but he never did anything to us. My question is wheres Osama, the man who attacked America? But imagine if we spent some of that $100+ billion from the Iraq War and rebuilt New Orleans' levees before Katrina. Then we wouldnt have $300+ billion [$200+bil NO rebuild, $100+bil Iraq] of problems on our hands. Since the levees would have cost about $12 billion, we'd be left with $288+ billion, maybe some of that could have gone towards education, free college for me and my fellow Americans, and the best dang transit system money can buy. Or give it back to the rich...
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Old 11-12-2005, 05:10 AM   #24
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Quote:
Some think Amtrak and transportation is good, while others war...
Nobody thinks war is good, even those of us who get paid to wage it. Trust me, I would like nothing better than to not have to spend a huge chunk of my life over here and away from my family , but it's pretty clear to me that what we're doing over here helps alot of people back home sleep a little easier at night knowing the battlefield is thousands of miles away and not in their backyard. Losing Amtrak or having a national transportation system ala Europe doesn't.

I don't want to get into a huge geopolitical debate on this forum, but it's pretty interesting how nobody that I've seen has mentioned anything about this week's bombings in Jordan and how it was done there and not in the United States. Because the battlefield is here, Grand Hyatts, Radissons, and Days Inn have been bomb-free in the U.S. Is that worth the price of admission for the war, that those who wish to do us harm have a broken infrastructure and can't oraganize an attack on our soil like they were able to do in the recent past? It doesn't take a long stretch of the imagination for me to think if we weren't in this war, we could have used all that money to strengthen the levees in New Orleans or a handful of other 'defensive' measures only to have some bastards fly some airliners into them or plant a few bombs around them and achieve the same results as a natural disaster.

Quote:
be left with $288+ billion, maybe some of that could have gone towards education, free college for me and my fellow Americans, and the best dang transit system money can buy.
You know what you call a society that provides housing, transportation, education, public transportation, jobs, food, health care, and a redistribution of wealth for its people? Socialist. I don't know about you, but I think I'd rather live they way the U.S. was founded and leave the socialist stuff for the Soviet Unions, Cubas, and Chinas of the world...
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Old 11-12-2005, 01:48 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SD70MACMAN
maybe some of that could have gone towards education, free college for me and my fellow Americans,
The G.I. Bill.

Even the government of Belgium understands. From A BBC aritcle, "Belgian Strike Freezes Rail Network"
Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC Monday, 30 June, 2003, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK Link
The company [NMBS-SNCB railway] says it needs to cut jobs and privatise its freight division to stay afloat or face estimated losses of around 10 billion euros ($11bn) by 2010.
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