Following the Money in the Amtrak Tragedy

An Amtrak train derailed last week in Pennsylvania, which triggered a set of questions that are not often associated with tragedy. Questions like, “Is Amtrak underfunded?” and “Could technology have prevented the crash?” seem out of left field. But given the current state of politics in Washington, these questions seem more legitimate.

Where’s the Beef? Amtrak’s Putting It in the Engine!

OK, so the pun on “cattle car” was already taken. Amtrak has started testing a locomotive run on biodiesel made from beef tallow on trips from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City, the rail operator recently announced. The B20 fuel mixes 20 percent beef biodiesel with 80 percent regular diesel. According to earlier tests run by Amtrak, the … Continued

Amtrak Ups its Carbon Footprint-Reducing Efforts

Attention, eco-travelers: traveling by Amtrak, America’s most extensive rail system, may soon be a more viable option for green travel enthusiasts. Amtrak has recently joined the Climate Registry, a non-profit dedicated to helping businesses calculate and report their greenhouse gas emissions transparently. As part of Amtrak’s attempts to become greener, it has pledged to reduce … Continued

Wine Tastings, Crab Cakes and Great Scenery – Is This Why Amtrak Is Rising?

Amtrak, the nation’s passenger rail system, has been declared dead so many times, it must feel like the characters in Monty Python’s SPAM-A-LOT musical. Amtrak’s been an easy punching bag for politicians railing (yes, pun intended) against federal programs that don’t pay for themselves. But the last few years have seen big increases in ridership … Continued

Business Lines Up in Support of Amtrak

Train travel is the most efficient form of motorized travel around (even Amtrak critics agree). Nonetheless, it remains poorly developed in the United States. Fortunately for environmentalists and smart-thinking business people alike, there is growing sentiment to make well designed intercity train travel as much of a priority here as it is in Europe. Have … Continued

Synopsis of the Amtrak Situation

The battle over Amtrak funding is still heating up. The question – should the government subsidise passenger rail the same way it subsidises aviation and highway use?

Seeing the Silver Lining in Amtrak Funds Issue

Sixth in a series: WI Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi optimistically says “the ensuing debate [about Amtrak funding] may finally result in a national rail-development program and put an end to yearly ‘donnybrooks’ in Congress about money-losing Amtrak.” The idea being – the government may compromise and establish a grant-like program to help establish certain profitable … Continued

How Green is Amtrak Anyway?

Fifth in a series:The bottom line is that trains are the least ecologically harmful mass transportaion option (cars being the worst). The Union of Concerned Scientists has a great publication that looks into the details of why this is the case.

Bankruptcy for Amtrak? Bad Idea.

Forth in a series:Richard Schwartz of NY Daily News makes mincemeat of Mineta’s Proposal to kill Amtrak funds. He argus that while Amtrak subsidies have totaled $27Billion since inception, highways and aviation have received $1.9 Trillion. Most scathingly: Now take a look at Mineta’s request under the “Office of the Secretary.” That includes planners, computers … Continued

Mineta on Amtrak: Pull the Life Support

Third in a series: Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta backs the Presidents plan to cut Amtrak subsidies saying it is, ironically, the only way to improve passenger rail. He notes that since cuts were announced, “something interesting has happened: lawmakers, journalists and citizens are starting to talk seriously about the future of passenger trains in America.” … Continued

Amtrak Subsidy Cut: Stupid Beyond Belief

Second in a series: Kurt Cobb’s Resource Insights hits the administration hard calling the cuts ‘stupid beyond belief‘. Cobb accurately points out that passing the buck to the the states is the same as forcing an end to most Amtrak service, which is the real goal of the administration. Despite that, “It doesn’t take a … Continued

Pros and Cons of De-Funding Amtrak

As we all know by now, the current administration is dead set on killing all funding for Amtrak. Not reducing funding, but letting it go all-together. If successful, the budget cuts will change Amtrak forever. The first lines to go will undoubtedly be long distance lines which have never turned a profit, forcing Amtrak to … Continued