January 19, 2014 |
Top Amtrak officials collect salaries of $200,000 or more, according to records made public in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by The Inquirer. Amtrak, the taxpayer-subsidized national railroad, routinely refuses to divulge officials' salaries when it announces their hiring. Amtrak received about $1.3 billion in public money last year, including about $400 million for operating costs. These are the salaries of some officials hired in recent months, Amtrak disclosed in response to the newspaper's freedom-of-information requests: Gerald Sokol Jr., chief financial officer, $300,000.
January 8, 2014 |
Amtrak service between Philadelphia and Washington was disrupted Monday evening because of power-line problems in Wilmington that started around 6:15 p.m. and were continuing. Also, Amtrak announced it will reduce its Tuesday schedule between Washington and Boston because of the extreme cold moving into the region. Service finally resumed between Philadelphia and Washington around 11:30 p.m., though residual delays were expected, Amtrak announced via Twitter. The stoppage originally was between Philadelphia and Baltimore, but was extended to Washington because of the service backup.
December 9, 2013 |
Has Amtrak abandoned its vision of 220-mile-per-hour bullet trains speeding up and down the Northeast Corridor? The railroad recently issued draft specifications for new trains to replace its existing Acelas that call for 160 m.p.h. trains, not the 220 m.p.h. versions Amtrak said in January that it was seeking. Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority in January announced they were jointly seeking proposals for trains that could run at 220 miles an hour on the West Coast and the East Coast.
November 29, 2013 |
Last of two articles. High-speed rail in the United States is closest to reality in California, but the nation's busiest rail route - the Northeast Corridor - is struggling just to keep the trains running as Amtrak pleads for money to eventually bring bullet trains to the Northeast. The 457-mile-long corridor between Washington and Boston carries 750,000 riders and 2,000 trains a day on an antiquated system prone to frequent failures and delays. And while California can largely start from scratch to build a high-speed line planned to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco by 2029 - though it must overcome legal and funding challenges, including a ruling this week stopping a bond sale - the corridor faces a daunting retrofit.
November 15, 2013 |
THERE ARE 96 acres of prime real estate hiding in plain sight in the middle of our resurgent city. We scuttle past them every day by car or train. In a land-rich city like Philadelphia, it is often hard to see the treasures lying just beneath our feet. I'm talking about the rail yards at 30th Street. Bounded by the Schuylkill on the east, JFK Boulevard on the south, 32nd Street to the west and Spring Garden Street to the north, the rail yards are the most significant piece of real estate in the city.
October 16, 2013 |
Amtrak reported its highest-ever train ridership Monday: 31.6 million travelers took to the rails in the last 12 months, the 10th increase in 11 years. The previous record was 31.2 million riders in fiscal 2012. Ticket revenue rose to a record $2.1 billion from $2 billion the previous year. Ridership on Amtrak's busiest route, the Northeast Corridor - Washington to Boston through Philadelphia - was 11.4 million passengers, the second-best year ever, Amtrak said. Northeast Corridor traffic was strong in spite of serious service interruptions, including the flooding of tracks and tunnels caused by Sandy last October.
October 9, 2013 |
Amtrak is seeking redevelopment plans for 30th Street Station and the surrounding area, including the potentially lucrative air rights above the rail yards adjacent to the station. After several years of preparation, Amtrak announced Monday that it wants proposals for a master development plan delivered by Nov. 18. Amtrak is working with Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust to redevelop the 80-year-old station and its University City neighborhood. A coordinating committee of significant players, such as the University of Pennsylvania, SEPTA, and the city, also will be involved, Amtrak said.
October 5, 2013
Amtrak, which loses about $80 million a year on its food services, will aim to break even in five years, Amtrak president Joe Boardman said Thursday. Congress has long called for Amtrak to end the losses. Currently, Amtrak charges about $2 for a soft drink that costs it $3.40 to serve and charges $9.50 for a hamburger that costs it $16. Boardman said most of the losses occur on long-distance dining cars, and he said new consolidated food management and automated ordering systems will reduce losses and theft.
September 16, 2013 |
It seems so American. Take the train? Fine. I'll take the train. But only if I can take my car with me. And that's exactly what we did this summer on a family reunion trip to Disney World. We had taken the Auto Train a couple of times in the '70s, before Amtrak acquired it, and we decided to celebrate my father's 80th birthday with a nostalgic run. He, of course, flew. What we learned in the '70s is that you need to get rooms. The scheduled trip is 17 hours and 29 minutes; it will take longer (see "Amtrak acquired it")
August 17, 2013 |
Just as construction barriers are about to come down on the west side of 30th Street Station, workers are getting ready to erect scaffolding around most of the landmark rail station. New 10-foot-high canopies will be in place for years to protect pedestrians during a planned restoration of the limestone facade of the 80-year-old neo-classical building. Amtrak will put up the scaffolding now, but the $60 million restoration won't start until Amtrak gets the money from Congress, and there is no indication when that might happen.