Category Archives: Amtrak

Is Low-Cost Intercity Rail Possible?

Update: see corrected Shinkansen staffing numbers below The last few decades have seen the growth of airlines and bus operators that reduce operating costs using a variety of lean-production ideas, chiefly using the equipment for more hours per day to … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, High-Speed Rail, Transportation | 56 Comments

The Magic Triangle: Infrastructure-Timetable-Rolling Stock

In the last month, Amtrak decided not to purchase additional Acela cars, but instead replace the Acela fleet ahead of time, and try to buy trains that aren’t compliant with FRA regulations. More recently, Amtrak and the California HSR Authority … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, FRA, High-Speed Rail, Incompetence, Transportation | 109 Comments

Washington Union Station

Amtrak’s announcement that it needs $7 billion to improve Union Station, in a way that is tangential to train or passenger capacity, has gotten some deserved flak already on other blogs. What I want to discuss instead is a pair … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, High-Speed Rail, Incompetence, Regional Rail, Transportation | 65 Comments

Surreptitious Cost Escalations and Spurious Cost Savings

In response to my previous post regarding the extreme cost of Amtrak’s new Northeast Corridor Vision plan, people both on forums and on blogs have said that it’s actually a cost saving coming from bundling the Vision with the earlier … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, Construction Costs, High-Speed Rail, Incompetence, Transportation | 13 Comments

Northeast Corridor HSR, 90% Cheaper

Amtrak’s latest Next-Generation High-Speed Rail plan is now up to $151 billion, from a prior cost of $117 billion. This is partially a small cost escalation, but mostly including Master Plan upgrades to the legacy line. Per kilometer of route … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, High-Speed Rail, Incompetence, Transportation | 131 Comments

Why Moynihan Station Has Negative Transportation Value

Amtrak has been making noises again about the need for Moynihan Station as a replacement concourse for Penn Station for Amtrak travelers, but makes it clear it does not want to pay almost anything for it. While former Amtrak President … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, Development, Incompetence, New York, Transportation, Urbanism | 43 Comments

New York-New Rochelle Metro-North-HSR Compatibility

Let me preface this post by saying that there should not be any high-speed trains between New York and New Rochelle, except perhaps right at the northern end of the segment. However, to provide reasonable speeds from New York to … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, Good Transit, High-Speed Rail, New York, Regional Rail, Transportation | 19 Comments

Defrauding the Public on European Rail Profits

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) penned an op-ed defending his attempt to strip California high-speed rail of all funding. In the usual litany of complaints about the deficit, he referenced a 2008 study by Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General claiming that … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, High-Speed Rail, Politics and Society, Shoddy Studies, Studies, Transportation | 36 Comments

Quick Note: Amtrak’s Rolling Stock Shortage

It’s a commonplace that Amtrak can’t expand service frequency or even lengthen consists because it has a shortage of rolling stock. This is usually what is meant by “Amtrak is at capacity,” since there’s ample room to run longer trains. … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, Transportation | 44 Comments

Amtrak’s Role in Regulatory Reform

In my previous post, I focused on the FRA’s self-justifying bureaucratic approach to regulation. However, the other main institute of intercity rail in America, Amtrak, too doesn’t come out of the comments looking very well. Unlike the FRA, Amtrak is … Continue reading

Posted in Amtrak, FRA, Incompetence, Transportation | 8 Comments