RailPAC writes Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman re Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, and City of New Orleans routes. New: Boardman Replies

I have your letter of the 13th. I understand your interest, mine too frankly but we are not ready to pull the trigger on the changes that you want right now. Equipment has become a very complex issue and we are making progress. We rolled out the first stimulus Amfleet rebuild this week. We will roll out the first of 21 Superliner vehicles from Beech Grove August 6th. We are not dilly dallying. Things are getting done. Joe B.
Original letter:

13th July, 2009
Dear Mr. Boardman
Mr. Bill Crosbie was kind enough to find time for a meeting with me last Thursday (8th July, 2009). A key topic of our conversation was the presentation by Mr. Rosenwald at our May 2 meeting regarding the Sunset route and connections. Mr. Crosbie was very concerned at the lack of operating funds and that any change would produce a negative outcome.

RailPAC’s view of these proposals and of the status of this route is clear.

We do not believe, for political reasons, that it will be possible to abandon the Sunset Route at the west end.

All parties seem to agree that three days a week service is a losing proposition and a poor use of scarce resources.

Even if the service still loses money, it seems highly likely that the overall operating loss will be reduced by changing to a daily service.

Changing the service between Los Angeles and San Antonio to daily will, we believe, receive plaudits from all quarters as representing both a bold entrepreneurial step on the part of Amtrak and an earnest attempt to save taxpayers money by reducing the operating deficit.

RailPAC is willing to support whichever of the many alternatives your staff promulgates assuming this is done with an eye to expanding and improving service to the public. This also goes for what we hope will be a temporary expedient of a “shuttle” between San Antonio and New Orleans, and the much discussed extension of the City of New Orleans to Florida.

Advocacy groups such as ours, and I imagine your staff also, are tired of apologizing for the performance of the Sunset, whether the criticism is justified or not. Now is the time to take on the critics and prove that Amtrak is a forward thinking organization that is willing to take some business risk in the reasonable expectation of a positive outcome for all parties.

We look forward to an early announcement from you regarding this route.

Yours faithfully,
Paul J. Dyson
cc RailPAC Board
George Chilson, Chairman, NARP
Ross capon, President, NARP
NARP Directors, SW Division.

Mr. Joseph H. Boardman
President and Chief Executive Officer
60 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington DC 20002

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