IN THE NEWS: Who Should Have Priority?


Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal:  Amtrak Trains Fight to Go First

Amtrack Trains Fight to Go First

Our founder and principal understands the issues that come along with freight and passenger trains sharing the same track. He worked as an engineer for almost 40 years in passenger service (Amtrak), switch engine service, local freight service, mixed freight service, heavy freight service (coal, grain, taconite, etc.), work train, and snow plow service. Chuck says this has long been a problem. “When I first started we would have to wait sometimes three hours for an Amtrak train to show up: a very inefficient use of track time. The alternative would be for even more unreliable passenger train scheduling. Passenger and freight service do not mix well. That said, the freight railroads are well compensated for the use of their tracks. Passenger rail service needs to be high speed and it has always occurred to me that smaller, lighter trains that could travel up steep grades (like those found in the median of interstate highways) could be more efficient than conventional passenger trains that weigh, maybe, 1500 tons. The track would not need to be built to the same robust standards as a freight railroad, either.” The final decision on who has the right to go first comes at a critical time for both industries, rail cargo volume has declined over the past year and Amtrak is seeing an increase in ridership. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board, a federal agency that regulates railroads, is set to make this decision in the next few weeks. So what do you think, who should have priority?