Hotline

Your weekly source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the NARP Blog.

Hotline #700

Amtrak train 87, the southbound Tampa section of the Silver Meteor, derailed at Palatka, Fla., the morning of December 17. The train derailed approaching the station, on a 30-mph curve, but at a speed of 72 mph. Investigators are still examining the evidence. Amtrak said that 39 of the 173 passengers on board were sent to three area hospitals, four of them having serious injuries. Five were still in the hospital today. The locomotive derailed and tipped over; a mail car, baggage car, sleeper, l

Hotline #699-A

Amtrak train 87, the southbound Tampa section of the Silver Meteor, derailed this morning at 11:25 am Easter Time at Palatka, Fla. No cause has been determined. Amtrak reports that 39 of the 173 passengers on board were taken to three area hospitals; four of them appeared to have serious injuries. The locomotive derailed and two coaches derailed, but remained upright in a jack-knife position, and the rear two coaches did not derail at all. The locomotive struck an unoccupied house next to the tr

Hotline #699

President Bush will sign the surface transportation bill on December 18 in a ceremony at a construction site in Dallas, to highlight what he feels is important about the bill -- jobs. With the passage of the law, there will be no more UMTA. The Urban Mass Transit Administration's name will be changed to Federal Transit Administration (FTA). DOT Secretary Sam Skinner leaves his post as of December 15. There are now as many trains between Sacramento and the Bay Area as 30 years ago, thanks to the

Hotline #698

The surface transportation bill has not yet been signed, though President Bush is expected to do so next week. As we read the fine print of the bill, we find some more good news, despite the cutting of passenger rail from the flexible program. Amtrak routes with significant commuter traffic, such as Chicago-Milwaukee and New York-Albany, still qualify. There is money for three important intermodal terminals, in St. Louis, Atlanta, and Fort Worth. There were line items for an UMTA study of a Bos

Hotline #697

The surface transportation bill now awaits the President's signature. The full House passed the conference bill on November 27, 377-42, and the Senate passed it 79-8. Of course, the bad news is that the final bill does not include Senate-bill language that included intercity passenger rail as an eligible use of the $24-billion flexible account of the Highway Trust Fund -- the "Surface Transportation Program." We hear that Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.) fought hard to save it, but could not per

Hotline #696-C

The surface transportation conferees completed their work yesterday afternoon. The conference report was filed at midnight. The full House passed the conference bill early this morning, 377-42. The Senate passed it this afternoon, 79-8. Of course, the bad news is that on the evening of November 24, the conferees dropped Senate language that included intercity passenger rail and high speed rail as eligible uses of the $24 million flexible account of the highway trust fun -- the "Surface Transpor

Hotline #696-B

During a conference meeting the evening of November 24, the language in the Senate surface transportation bill that included intercity passenger rail as an eligible program in the flexible account of the Highway Trust Fund was eliminated.Reportedly, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.) made a brave defense of intercity passenger rail, but could not convince the Chairman of the House Public Works Committee, Robert Roe (D.-N.J.). Normally, intercity passenger rail -- which is Amtrak -- falls under Hous

Hotline #696

The experimental 900 number hotline will take effect one week from now, with Hotline #697 of November 29. The new number is 900/988-RAIL (900/988-7245). Please note that is slightly different from the number mistakenly announced last week. The first ten seconds are free, so you can see if you have already heard a particular message. The first minute is $2.00 and each minute after that is $1.00. Hotline messages, which now run up to six minutes, will be cut back to four. After a trial period, mem

Hotline #695

After a series of delays, the experimental 900 number hotline will take effect with Hotline #697 of November 29. The new number is 900/998-RAIL (900/998-7245) [corrected November 18 and 22]. The first ten seconds are free so you can see if you have already heard a particular message. The first minute is $2.00 and each minute after that is $1.00. Hotline messages, which now run up to six minutes, will be cut back to four. After a trial period, members and callers will be informed if the experimen

Hotline #694

The surface transportation conference has begun. The conference committee met briefly yesterday morning and are expected to begin work in earnest on November 12. Leaders are still saying work can be finished by Thanksgiving, but many insiders call that "dreaming" and say it may take until Christmas instead. Here is a partial list of conferees. Pay special attention to those from the Commerce committees, because they have particular jurisdiction over whether the Senate's pro-Amtrak language will