Davisville, April 30, 2018: What’s happening at Amtrak?

Viewed from the Zephyr, 103017.jpg

Looking out from the back of the California Zephyr near the Utah/Colorado border

With 372,000  passengers getting on or off at the our station last year, Davis is the sixth-busiest stop in California for Amtrak. Mixed among the Capitol Corridor trains that make up 98 percent of that traffic are two long-haul survivors of the Golden Age of train travel: the Oakland-Chicago California Zephyr, and the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight.

Amtrak, the federal entity that operates the passenger trains in Davis and most of the country, has a new chief executive (ex-Delta Air Lines) and has been curtailing aspects of its service—ending student discounts, reducing dining-car options on two long-distance trains back east, and cutting its ranks of ticket and baggage agents, to name three. More changes seem likely. But, and this is highly unusual in Amtrak’s 47-year-history, Washington just increased Amtrak’s budget by more than $1 billion.

To get a sense of what all this means, on today's show we talk with George Chilson, former chair of the Rail Passengers Association. He tells us why he thinks trains still matter, and says Amtrak's first priorities should be new equipment and more frequent trains—an approach that helped the Capitol Corridor succeed. (Photo shows the view from the end of the eastbound Zephyr in fall 2017, near the Utah/Colorado border.)


Anderson thinks like an airline CEO. Amtrak is NOT an airline, and should not be treated as on. He's Hell-bent on ruining Amtrak's credebility amongst travellers and politicians. Take the New River Train, for example. Mr Chilson needs to add some common-sense to the equasion, because under Anderson 2 + 2 does not equal 4.

Airline people should not be put in charge of Amercia's passanger train. The don't ride them, they don't understand them.  Point in case, at a recently rail travel program in Los Angeles, Amtrak chairman Anderson didn't travel by train, he flew from Washington to LA.  His removal of dining cars on the Lakeshore and Capital indicates that he doesn't understand long distance train travel. One wonders what 1st class airline passangers would think if they were served only a cold boxed meal.  Train travel is an experince not just a means of getting from point A to point B.  A classic example of success is the Rocky Mountianeer.  People ride it for the experience as well as the scenery.  At the same time as congress alots additional funds for Amtrak, Amtrak is removing the amenities that are already in place.  There are no plans for new equipment for the long distance trains in the west even though some of the equipment is over 40 years old.  An now we get another airline chief executive who wants further cuts to the minimal service we have.  Shame!

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