VRAN Act Now

VRAN to Amtrak: Don’t Derail our National Network

Vermont Amtrak

In late April, Amtrak suddenly announced that it will be replacing diner car service with cold boxed lunches for sleeper car customers on the overnight Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited trains, starting June 1. The national Rail Passengers Association opposes this move, which it said will degrade the passenger experience and could be just the first step in undermining service for Amtrak’s other long-distance trains.

“At a time when Congress has just appropriated a record sum for Amtrak, we can’t understand why Amtrak is cutting service in ways that degrade the customer experience, threatening the steady growth taking place on long distance trains,” said Jim Mathews, President of the (national) Rail Passengers Association.   This move comes on top of recent comments by Amtrak executives that they are considering discontinuing service for all its trains operating on tracks without Positive Train Control (which includes most of VT).

Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William Vantuono  commented that this move by Amtrak would be worse than airline food, considering the fact that most airline food for long flights is served hot. This change, among others -- like removing student discounts, and terminating profitable private rail charters -- could be “a veiled attempt to drive passengers away” in support of rumored “internal plans within Amtrak to discontinue long-distance trains” and focus on short- and medium-distance services in the Northeast Corridor (DC to Boston), Midwest (Chicago) and California. If true, state-supported trains (such as the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express) are also at risk.

VRAN is working to preserve Amtrak’s national network in both Washington and Vermont.  You can help  by supporting our ‘Don’t Derail the National Network’ campaign.  Make your donation today to help ensure that we can play an active role in the national campaign to keep Amtrak’s network intact, as Congress intended when it created Amtrak.  You deserve a vibrant, affordable and comfortable option for long-distance travel by train.

Here's what you can do now:

Send a letter or email to Amtrak Board Chair Anthony Coscia.   Here’s some suggested talking points:

  • Vermonters depend on our 2 Amtrak routes, which we (taxpayers) support at a cost of $8 million+ a year.
  • State-supported trains like the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express do NOT operate in a vacuum. Many train riders depend upon connections to other Amtrak routes in Albany, NYC and points south.  If those long-distance trains are cut, or don’t offer a good customer experience, many riders will simply choose to fly or take a bus, instead of the train.
  • Curtailing or eliminating discounts for students and seniors discourages travel for two of Amtrak’s largest rider demographics. It is illogical, bad public relations and will ultimately hurt ridership.
  • Amtrak must focus on providing good customer service, including providing decent food options on board and updated equipment, to attract more riders and grow its business. This is not the time to retrench.

 Mailing address:  Amtrak, 1 Mass. Ave. NW – 6th Fl., Washington DC 20001 

email: c/o Bill Hollister, Amtrak Govt. Affairs Senior Manager, HollisW@amtrak.com

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VRAN relies upon support from rail advocates like you.  Please consider making a donation to ensure we can continue to provide timely opportunities for action like this. 

Make your secure donation today via the Donate button, above.  Thanks!


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Preserve Amtrak’s National Network

Goal: Preserve Amtrak’s National Network trains from elimination in the 2019 federal budget, as proposed by the Trump administration in February 2018.

Why: The White House has released a disappointing package of infrastructure initiatives and transportation budget cuts, including once again proposing to gut Amtrak’s long-distance services by cutting $757 million from federal Amtrak support. (A similar proposal floated last spring was defeated in Congress, thanks to our advocacy.)

Trump's latest transportation budget proposal calls for the virtual elimination of Amtrak's National Network trains, slashing the railroad’s budget roughly in half, from $1.4 billion to $738 million. It also proposes ending the popular and effective federal grant program known as TIGER, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, which so far has injected a little more than $5 billion into transportation investments nationwide. (TIGER grants fund many rail bridge and crossing replacements & track upgrades to improve VT's railroads.)

What you can do today:

The national Rail Passengers Association (RPA) is asking its members to take action now to stave off these draconian cuts to Amtrak’s vital National Network services. RPA has set up an online tool to permit riders and members alike to let the White House know directly that they disagree with these proposed cuts. Visit www.railpassengers.org/whitehousebudget to take action.

You can also contact members of Vermont’s Congressional delegation directly to thank them for supporting full funding for Amtrak in the past & urge them to keep up their support now. Their contact info can be found on our website here.

Then contact us to let us know how they responded.


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