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tv   Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on Amtrak  CSPAN  July 9, 2019 8:15am-10:01am EDT

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is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. >> a hearing to examine amtrak service and operations. the senate commerce and transportation committee heard from the rail system ceo richard anderson and others about amtrak's role in connecting rural areas to urban areas. other topics include implementation of positive train control technology. this runs one hour and 40 minutes. >> good morning. today the committee gathers for hearing to examine amtrak, next deaths or realtor glad to convene this hearing with my friend in college ranking member cantwell. i welcome our panel of witnesses and thank them for appearing. today was it from richard anderson president and ceo of amtrak, ian jefferies, , presidt
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and ceo of the association of american railroads. jim cb, commissioner of the southwest chief and front range passenger rail commission, and jennifer homendy, member national transportation safety board. i continue to be a strong supporter of our real industry both freight and passenger. rail service is safe and efficient. it also reduces congestion on our highways and spurs economic growth. in mississippi, for example, we have 26 freight railroads, 2,400 miles of track, five of the seven class ones, two long-distance amtrak routes, 10 stations, and more than 100,000 annual riders. rail is vital to mississippi. i have been a tireless advocate for the restoration of the gulf coast passenger service, which was suspended in 2005 after hurricane katrina. with funding support from dot, amtrak, and the states, i am pleased to report that mississippi, louisiana, and alabama are likely once again to
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have this amtrak route and that will give mississippi a third amtrak route. restoration of this service would support growing population centers, connect tourist destinations, bring new jobs, and improve the region's quality of life. this will make a positive difference for the communities and people of the mississippi gulf coast. this hearing provides an opportunity to examine the state of passenger rail and consider how to support existing routes like the southwest chief and restore gulf coast service. in 2015, i introduced along with senator booker the railroad reform, enhancement, and efficiency act, which reauthorized amtrak. when the bill's provisions were included in the fixing america's surface transportation act, or fast act, it authorized funding levels for amtrak, created new rail grant programs, made improvements to existing rail financing programs, and changed amtrak oversight and planning activities.
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the fast act and those rail provisions expire at the end of fy 2020. it is important for us to examine what aspects of this important legislation have worked and what should be improved. this hearing is an opportunity for witnesses to discuss the impact of amtrak reauthorization in the fast act and how congress can support rail service in the next reauthorization bill. in the fast act, i also led the creation of the consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvements grant program, known as crisi. this program provides grants to improve the rail network. crisi strengthens intercity passenger rail, supports capital projects, and boosts rail safety initiatives. among the most important safety initiatives for rail is the deployment of positive train control, which is designed to prevent tragic accidents such as the amtrak derailment in the state of washington. timely implementation of ptc is
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also important that the committee will be holding a full committee hearing on this in the near future. in addition, earlier this week the ntsb issued its report on that particular accident. i hope our witnesses will discuss ways to support further capacity, enhance safety, and other improvements for passenger and freight rail service in the next amtrak reauthorization. one area that still needs improvement is on-time performance of passenger rail. for amtrak to be successful, its trains must be able to run on time. with only 43.8% of long-distance trains arriving at stations on schedule, amtrak's on-time performance lags behind comparable transit networks. i hope our witnesses will provide suggestions to improve amtrak's on-time performance while maintaining the overall fluidity of the nation's rail network. i look forward to a robust
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discussion of passenger and freight rail service and again thank our witnesses for testifying this morning. i will now recognize my friend and the ranking member, senator cantwell. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for scheduling this important hearing on amtrak, and the witnesses for being here today. i certainly consider myself a big supporter of amtrak funding and amtrak reauthorization, and also consider myself a big supporter of the chairman's initiative to make sure that that expansion, or rework, of amtrak's sunset limited service to the gulf coast is reestablished. i know how important this is to the state of washington in having amtrak services and i hope that we can continue to make amtrak a priority within this committee. i want to thank the witnesses for being here today and to talk about amtrak services in an era where we see an increasing pace of global commerce.
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more trains than ever before in my state. our trade economy relies on these methods of transportation to our ports, which the chairman is also a big supporter, and appreciate his many years of leadership on port infrastructure financing. these issues are what plague us every day in the state of washington. we have communities that have amtrak services and yet we also have freight congestion and at-grade crossings that make our challenges even more complex. one example of this is pine roads in spokane valley, 56 freight and two passenger trains pass through there, creating three hours of rail-related closures daily. that means that the challenge of moving people and moving freight in our region, as we are a gateway to the pacific, is becoming more and more challenging. three hours every day when traffic is interrupted, three hours every day when accidents between cars and trains are more likely, and three hours a day when emergency vehicles are
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blocked from getting where they need to go. and this is a problem that is only going to get more challenging as our trade economy continues to grow. in 2014, 121 million tons of freight were shipped by washington railroads. by 2035, that number is expected to double. so at intersections like pine roads, train traffic will increase. right now 56 trains pass through pine roads every day, but by 2035 that will grow to 114. so this issue of making sure that we have strong federal support for amtrak, and also funding for freight rail infrastructure, which is instrumental in making sure passenger and freight run very safely, more efficiently, and reliable, is a big priority. we need to build on the proven federal rail initiatives, like crisi, which just provide a grant to improve the pine street intersection, but we also need to make sure that in the next surface transportation act, we consider other ways in which we
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can help communities with at-grade crossings. and safety must remain a top priority. the need for safety was driven home by the 2017 amtrak crash near dupont in the state of washington. i am concerned that we need to continue to make sure that we are having situational awareness in the challenges that come with participating in a busy transportation corridor. i know that everybody is now trying to figure out how to get these people, and products and services, to places in a timely fashion, but we need to make safety a top priority. obviously positive train control, which we know is being implemented, is a key component of that, and as we consider the number of freight trains coming through and the impacts on the daily lives, we need to make sure that we've learned the lessons from the dupont accident and everything that comes with it. so i hope my colleagues will continue to push the implementation of positive train control throughout the united
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states. i know where we are in the state of washington, which is getting that job done, but we need to make sure that we're doing this on a national basis as well. so thank you, mr. chairman, for this important hearing. >> thank you, senator cantwell. i will not recognize senator gardner who would like to say a few special words about a constituent of his. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome this morning jim cb of denver, colorado, a native longbottom. jim serves as a present of colorail passenger association or call the rubric is a member of the colorado southwest chief and the front range rail commission. privacy jim served as president of the park city policy center based in utah before realizing there's better so in colorado as well as executive director of the western governors association. he's been a steadfast advocate of the southwest chief and colorado emanations passenger rail. thank you very much being here.
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thank you, mr. chairman for allowing me the opportunity. >> thank you, senator gardner. we will begin our testimony this morning with five-minute statements by each of her witnesses that will begin down this and the table with mr. anderson. you are recognize. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you ranking member cantwell. it's a privilege to be a today representing amtrak and all of our customers. we are probably in the best shape we binning in our history, so if you look at where we are in safety, and i agree with centered capital, the most important thing is safety, we've implemented ptc on the amtrak railroad. we are at 99%. we have with one my left in chicago. we complied with the statute. it's been remarkable in terms of what it's provided in terms of level of safety. second, we are the first railroad in america to implement an sms program, safety minute assistant program. it's modeled after the aviation
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programs that i was responsible for intermittent it at northwest and delta airlines when i i was ceo. and actually have chief safety officer run both of those paralyzes have chief safety officer at amtrak. and so we will down the road on those two points. number two, on our customer surveys, our customer surveys on a scale of one to ten, we have high customer satisfaction at really record levels now. we've cleaned our trains can run it are traits on time in the corridor. we put a good technology in place so our customer attributes are in the high 80s in terms of top seven box in our customer surveys. financially, we are at zero net debt. we have conserve our capital, pay down our debt in order to position the railroad to be able to pay for the assailant in the
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new national network locomotives. and replace -- will reach breakeven on an operating basis in the next 12 months, probably most people never thought amtrak could get to a breakeven on an operating basis but on operating cash basis will get to break even and our grant from you will really be used to invest in new cars in infrastructure and work on problems like the southwest chief. so all in all with good about where we are and how the company is moving forward. if we think about reauthorization, first principle safety. we believe we have to ptc or ptc equivalent of all of our trips, and they're still 1400 miles of mainline tracking solutions, and we need to close that gap and that's mostly in rural areas. the first priority ought to be safety. second, we need to clarify what
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our role is in the national transportation system. if you look out over the next 40 years, population of this country will grow by 100 million. that that 100 billion is moving to dense corridors. phoenix, tucson, houston, austin, dallas. the mississippi corridor from new orleans to mobile, florida, the upper midwest. that's all the population is moving in this country. the highway system is not going to be able to support short-haul transportation. you are not going to be able to add enough length and you have more what we have on the east coast with i-95. we think we can play a really important role in a very efficient way in providing an alternative to what we've whato far as a country. because millennials don't want to own cars. they want to take ridesharing. you want to live in inner city areas and they want to be able to use mass transit to get to their jobs.
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so we have some good ideas about what to do. third, we need to solve our amtrak posts rela challenges that the chairman mentioned in his remarks. we cannot sustain a long-distance system with 47% n time. not any system where the average speed is 45 miles an hour. you are going to run 45 miles an hour and charge more than airlines charge, you have to run on time. if you don't run on time, we're going to continue to see a degradation in ridership on long-distance. four, we need to have access to federal transportation programs and funding and should provide sufficient funding levels to address the underlying policy initiatives that you direct us over time to undertake as part of a national transportation policy. and lastly, we want to strengthen our state partnerships. that's really where amtrak does a most good, the cascades, the state partnerships spirit we are
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now the way to get from san diego to l.a. we are the way to get from milwaukee to chicago. in the northeast corridor carries 820,000 people a day to and from their jobs and their homes. so we are playing an increasingly important role, and we want to have stronger and stronger partnerships with the states who we partner with to provide short-haul service. thank you for the opportunity to serve amtrak and to serve the united states. >> thank you very, very much. mr. jefferies. >> thank you. chairman wicker, ranking member cantwell, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to beer today. the association of american railroads has a diverse membership of both large and small freight and passenger railroads. our freight railroad members including the seven large class one railroads and over 100 short line and regional railroads
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account for the overwhelming majority of our nations great railroad activity. while amtrak and our commuter railroad members account for more than 80% of annual u.s. passenger railroad trips aar's membership agrees american can't and should have both safe, effective passenger railroading and a safe, productive freight rail system. mutual success for both passenger and freight railroads requires collaboration and recognition of the challenges that must be managed to meet our country's need to move people and goods safely and efficiently. well into the 20th century railroads with the primary means to transport people and freight in the united states that that did not last. following use financial challenges due to falling passenger rail demand, congress passed the rail service passenger service act of 1970. the act which led to the creation of amtrak was designed to reserve a basic level of intercity passenger rail service while relieving private railroads of their obligation to provide passenger service.
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freight railroad initially help capitalize amtrak in cash, equipment and services, and were required to provide preference to amtrak trains. today, freight railroads provide infrastructure for most passenger rail. approximately 97% of amtrak's 22,000 miles system consist of tracks owned and maintained by freight railroads. when looking at the project level, each project involving passenger and freight railroads should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis but these projects are more likely to succeed if certain overarching principles are followed. first and foremost, we all agree safety always comes first whether freight or passenger. second, current and future capacity needs of both freight railroads and passenger railroads must be front of mine and properly addressed. today, , freight railroads carry twice the volume as they did when amtrak was formed, while passenger rail ridership
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continues to increase as well. to improve capacity and safety of the network, freight railroads spend on average $25 billion in private in private capital each year on maintenance and capital improvements. when existing or potential freight traffic levels are so high that there is no spare capacity for passenger trains, new infrastructure might be needed before passenger trains can reliably operate. this leads to the third principle, proper funding for amtrak is critical. especially as as a looks to che and expand service offerings. policymakers should provide amtrak the level of funding necessary to address its capital needs and pay for expanded capacity when required. it is not reasonable to expect amtrak to effectively plan build and maintain adequate infrastructure and service when there's uncertainty regarding its capital allocation from one year to the next. fourth, all parties must recognize that preference of amtrak trains over freight trains to 70 70 will never be delays to amtrak trains. any number of factors contribute
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to rail delays, including bad weather, heavy traffic volume, network maintenance and other factors. while amtrak may be given preference, preference cannot meet a guarantee of the zero delay. ever since amtrak was created amtrak and the freight railroads have worked together to establish and to limit rules and procedures governing their interactions. keeping both amtrak and freight trains running on time is it immensely complex issue. last week fra administrator before this committee laid out his framework for next steps on stanza metrics on-time performance. aar's members for passenger and freight stand ready to construct, participate threat this process. having both safe, effective passenger rails, railroads, excuse me, and a safe productive freight real system should be a common goal of all of us because it is in america's best interest. achieving this goal requires successful navigation and management of several complex challenges but i'm confident that together freight railroads
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and amtrak and to the passenger rail as well can find common ground the benefits parties. thank you for your time. >> thank you very much. mr. cb, you are welcomed. >> thank you, mr. chairman, chairman wicker, and thank you, ranking member cantwell. i'm delighted to be an honor to provide testimony on this excellent note important topic. first of all let me think this committee for all you've done for amtrak today through pre-and all the other efforts you have given to the railroad. it is our passenger carrying line and as already mentioned it provides that service to over 80% of the railroad passengers that the nation sees. he asked me to kind of relate the colorado experience with amtrak, particularly with respect to the southwest chief. i can tell you starting in 2011 and all the way through 2017 we had a tremendously positive relationship with the railroad. that ceo came out twice to our state. they sent the exhibit train out
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twice to test new routes within colorado. that was a trend that amtrak ramp up until just a couple of years ago. together with amtrak, our local communities in kansas, new mexico and colorado and the bnsf railway we raise $75 million to help improve the route of the southwest chief and three tiger grants the most successful program and still remains the most successful tiger grant can program that's ever been initiated. under that program. unfortunately in 2017 and then again starting in 2018 we ran into a big change of heart at amtrak. the match that they provided for our tiger nine grant which was promoted by colfax county new mexico which would have repaired another 50 miles of track for the southwest chief, amtrak pledged a $3 million match to that grant, and then with little notice, in fact, to our
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commission with no notice they withheld that $3 million grant which caused that project to be delayed. now thanks to senators gardner, then it, senator udall and senator heinrich and -- i'm thinking of -- senator moran of course in senator roberts, that decision was reversed and so amtrak did come in with the $3 million but a tremendous cost cost and that cost was we missed the entire build grant cycle cr partnership which had prepared a proposal for that grant was unable to submit it because we couldn't get the tiger grant nine under way. we felt a a year and a half behind. the next issue that arose was the bus substitution proposal from abstract. once again our commission in colorado was not notified in advance of this proposal. we were told about it after it been announced and we of course had to respond that it was a poor idea. it would've essentially ended
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the southwest chief as a viable rail line through our three states and from chicago on to l.a. so that changed the whole tenor of our relationship with amtrak, and i'm pleased to say that because of the senators i mentioned and because of this committee, amtrak has turned round at least for this fiscal year deposition on those items, but we are not positive yet that amtrak will sustain the long-distance system once the appropriation bill that was passed and put provisions into maintain a national route and to protect those routes, once that expires we are concerned about what might happen at amtrak. so one of our main recommendations to you on reauthorization is to take that language, the language that was in the appropriations act that said we we're going to maintaia national network and the foundation for the network is going to be these very valuable long-distance trains that exist, we want to see that language put
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into the reauthorization so we have a five year window with which to continue to address these issues on our long-distance trains. i share amtrak's position on on-time performance. i think they need an enforceable standard so that they can make sure the trains run on time. that is a problem for our long-distance trains. it's not the only problem. i share amtrak's position that they need extensive funding to reequip the long-distance trains. there's no doubt about it in my mind, but that has to be done within this policy framework were a national system is going to be maintained and these underlying routes are going to be sustained. thank you very much, mr. chairm. >> thank you very much. ms. homendy. >> thank you. good morning, chairman wicker, ranking member cantwell, and members of the committee. thank you for inviting the national transportation safety board to testify today. rail is one of the safest modes of transportation. however, when an accident does
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occur, the consequences can be devastating. particularly for those who have lost loved ones or who were injured. recent accidents remind us of the need to be vigilant in improving safety. the board recently held a meeting to determine the probable cause of a 2017 amtrak derailment near dupont washington which resulted in three deaths and 57 injuries. this accident is one of several amtrak accident that we've investigated over the past few years, including accidents in philadelphia, pennsylvania, chester pennsylvania maryland and casey south carolina. on behalf of the ntsb i'd like to take a moment to extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who died in these accidents in which the foes recovered to those who were injured. there were multiple factors contributing to the dupont accident, but the tragic fact is
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the deaths and injuries are preventable. frustratingly, this was another crash that could been prevented with positive train control. ptc is on the ntsb is most wanted list. this august we were remember those who lost their lives 50 years ago any collision of two penn central trains in connecticut that led to our first recommendation on ptc. since then we've investigated more than 150 accidents caused over 300 fatalities and 6700 injuries. but while the railroads are making progress towards elevating ptc, much work remains. full implementation must be further delayed and exemptions should be eliminated, including exemptions on the 1400 miles of freight amtrak amtrak will be operating on without ptc. additionally, the ntsb has recommended that the fra prohibit the operation of passenger trains on new,
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refurbished, or updated territories in less ptc is implemented. while ptc will greatly enhance safety our nations railroads, and well-trained crew is vital to save operations. our investigation of the dupont accident down there was an adequate training provided to the engineer. the amtrak qualification program did not effectively train and test crewmember on the physical characteristics of the new territory and did not provide sufficient training on the new locomotive. the training deficiencies were evident on the recordings examined by the ntsb. this investigation reinforced safety benefit as inward and outward facing cameras. the fast act requires all passenger railroads install cameras but left it up to the secretary to determine whether they should include audio. the ntsb believes all railroads should be required to install cameras that provide both audio and image capabilities. finally, i want to stress the
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ports of the quite all railroads including amtrak to implement a comprehensive safety management system. modeled after the programs developed and implemented by commercial airlines. have amtrak establish an sms program, this accident and many others likely would not have occurred. the ntsb is long recommended the application of sms in all modes of transportation, and we have recommended it before in our investigation of the 2016 amtrak collision in chester. since then with the exception of risk assessments for roadway workers, amtrak is made tremendous progress in implementing sms. while the program is still in its infancy, amtrak is much further ahead of the other railroads. congress has also recognized the importance of sms. the rail safety improvement act of 2000 a requires the secretary of transportation to issue a regulation requiring all railroads to implement a risk reduction program. more than a decade later, fra
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still hasn't been cemented this mandate. a final rule was published in august 2016 by the fra has delayed its implementation six times. earlier this month the fra issued in nprm seeking a seven state of the final double delay it again for an unknown time. the absence of a sense of urgency by fra to let our safety recommendation and the willingness to continue to jeopardize the safety of train crews and passengers is unacceptable. thank you again for the opportunity to testify today, and i'm happy to answer any question. >> thank all of you for excellent testimony, and will now move to questions by members of the committee. let me start with mr. anderson. in a "wall street journal" article from february of this year, amtrak indicated they would like to move away from long-distance routes and promote more frequent service between pairs of cities.
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does that accurately describe amtrak's vision for the national network? how will amtrak support and improve long-distance and sit supportive routes over the next five to ten years? and do you plan to shrink any of the long-distance train routes to state supported? >> i don't think the "wall street journal", ," is that parf it right, part of it not right. on the state -- >> are you shocked by that? >> on the state supported network under 209 per year, that's the, that's the strongest part of amtrak, and that piece of amtrak is really where the future lies -- pria -- where freeways are jammed and you can add more capacity. so i'd say under section 209 of pria our state supported peace which is really separate from the long-distance is performing very well and we have great partnerships with over 20 states
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in the united states. that's half of amtrak's business and its growing. here's the challenge on the long-distance. since fy '13-fy '18, our trips for miles over 600 miles, in other words, pastors buying a ticket to go over 600 miles is down 30%. the train goes for five miles an hour, and the ticket is more than a low-cost discount airline ticket in the same market. so we're working hard to try to get ridership up, but it's just clear that trips over 600 miles are not where consumers want to use amtrak. in 85% of our long-distance trips are short-haul trips were people get on in chicago and get off and when hundred or 200 miles. the challenge in long-distance is the on-time performance is a
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threat to the viability of that business. and number two, it needs billions of dollars of investment. what i want to do is have this dialogue with you and your professional staff as we go into reauthorization about how we tackle that challenge. i do think that there are historically important trains in the long-distance network that we should always operate, like the builder, like the zephyr, like the coast starlight. but because we spread our resource like peanut butter, we don't have the kind of investment you should have in making those a really special product experience. so we believe there's always a role for long-distance, but on the margin we should be looking at breaking up some of those long-distance trains and giggling at how we serve the american consumer to provide high quality service in short-haul markets where they'ry
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are using the service today. >> lets look forward to having that dialogue between your team and our professional staff to let me quickly move to one of the topic, and that's on-time performance, otb. there was a recent supreme court decision. i assume you agree that moved the issue along and that amtrak and fra must now reformulate an issue new otp metrics pick . once they do the surface transportation board will be able to investigate situations where otp falls below 80%. last weeks senate congress testimony, ron batory, the fra administrator testified about the administration were to reissue on-time performance metrics and stems. what do you envision as a
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timeline and process for reissuing these metrics? >> we don't have a timeline. i don't think the statute contemplates any sort of commission. it's supposed to be done by the fra and amtrak. the work was done a decade ago before the litigation with a host railroads was undertaken. when the supreme court denied search on that case, it put the validity of the statute on firm ground. we ought to be able to get this done in about 90 days. there's already a template, in 1987 the united states department of transportation consumer affairs passed these same kinds of rules for airlines and you all live under those rules today. >> will you do this? we will have to close the record at some point but will you get back to senator cantwell and me and other members of the committee and about 90 days and give us an update on how that's going? >> yes, sir. >> that's a very optimistic prediction and good news, as far
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as i'm concerned. >> thank you. >> very good. senator cantwell. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and again thank you to the witnesses for their testimony and ms. hammadi, i think about astrology. the discussion this morning -- ms. hohman d -- puget sound and the dupont action as exhibit number one of the challenges we face and what we have to get right, that we have more congestion than ever and that we have these exempted freight tracks as you were mentioning that still on that come into standard. so what do think we need to do to make sure that happens here in washington, d.c. to get fra to implement that? >> as far as the exemptions, the law did not allow for exemptions from ptc. a lot actually allowed, in addition to mainline tracks for
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the sector to go beyond the requirements for passenger rail and for toxic inhalation mainlines. that was done in the rule, so the exceptions, with 1400 miles, over 14 of miles of exceptions that have been granted for ptc for amtrak. and some of those, i believe it's about 20 curves where there's a 20-mile per hour difference, so something similar to what occurred in dupont, and so there has to be, without pcc -- ptc, i risk mitigation. amtrak and the freight railroad had to look at what can be put in place if there's not going to be ptc. where on record as saying ptc should be ever. there shouldn't be exceptions. and we continue to believe that. if we had 153 accidents. >> i certainly believe that needs to be committed, and i'm
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sure by mr. anderson who will tell you is implement it in washington, at the doesn't get all our writers that right outside the state of washington the security that learning from the dupont accident that we need to implement this. and i think underlying this, mre in volume of freight traffic, this is what is causing -- so were doubling. i mention of in spokane valley, if you're going to have a doubling in the next 15 years,, so if you're going at 56 freight trains a day and it's going to go to 114, congestion is our number one problem. so they looking at these other freight corridors, which is what happened here dupont, people said with some of congestion. how do we get around it? then we didn't put in the system
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management and risk reduction plans that go with that that we need to stop the next dupont from happening. so mr. jefferies, mr. anderson, could you comment on how we do that? i'm assuming that you are for fra, for positive train control be implement across the country, and that this exemption not be allowed by fra. >> thank you for that. right now railroads nationwide got 89% of our required ptc miles fully operational. we are working through that last bit on the lines that host amtrak trains. i think that number is at 85% right now. we are really working towards interoperability between the various railroads make sure everyone's systems talk together seamlessly. the fra regulations are very clear about where ptc is required on the existing passenger trains and in any new passenger service that might be stood up. certainly we support those
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regulations. we abide by those regulations and we will continue to do so if there's an interest in reengage on that, certainly will be at the table. >> esther anderson? >> i agree with everything you said. i do not think we should operate a passenger train in the united states without ptc or ptc equivalent technology to give us that layer of safety. the southwest chief is the prime example. it doesn't have ptc along that route, and it's a lower level of safety and we shouldn't tolerate a lower level of safety. and so where we would use, could use help from you is we think that there are ptc solutions that don't require as much trackside at the mentation that involve putting pads and calves of local motors where would use geo-fencing and of the that you're used to in your car, and we're up against the wall on fra about having a tablet available
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in the cab of a locomotive. so we think there might be some ptc equivalent capabilities by using gps and geo- fencing to a least get speeds under control. >> but can it just ask, you're not against the recommendation that there are cameras inside and out? >> absolutely. you need cameras inside and out. our goal at our sms program which is what we did when i ceo at delta, every flight every day the data recorders download into a database and you find all the parameters with the operation was outside. we need to have the data on every single one of our operations in a flexible database so that we can monitor what's going on and quickly react to any out of tolerance operations. but time has expired. thank you. >> thank you senator cantwell. senator blunt. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks to all of you for being here. last week in front of this committee the fra administrator stated that the agency was
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beginning the process of putting a new on-time rule in place. at the risk of losing all my four minutes and 40 seconds here with this question to mr. jefferies and then mr. anderson, and remember, i want the other one to respond, too. what would you like to see included in that role? in both cases. and also some discussion of the right to preference, richard, when it comes to you to mr. jefferies, want to start? >> thank you, senator blunt. i think the important thing for the aar and knowing we have amtrak commuter railroads as members, class ones, of the posts railroads as members, is that we were encouraged by the comments mr. batory made last week laying out a process that he that is seeking input from all involved parties, in order to achieve a fully sustainable solution that's going to work into the future. we think it's important to take
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the input from an incorporated input from all stakeholders involved. i understand as my colleague mr. anderson said, that the law says that fra and amtrak shall develop. in my opinion that doesn't come at the expense of seeking input and stakeholder involvement from other involved parties. but just having everybody at the table taking a look at the data and getting us to a truly sustainable long-term solution. >> i guess if everybody was on time right to preference wouldn't matter. but assuming everybody will not be on time all the time. do you have anything to say about the impact of an amtrak train being given the preference over other track users? >> so in my opening statement i made the point that given the train preference doesn't guarantee no delays in all instances, but i think the important thing is that fra move forward in its development of
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metrics and standards that then can be used to measure preference. and that the stb is the appropriate authority to evaluate and investigate those situations once the metrics and standards are in place. it is the expert that can take an national do and look look at the impacts of what's going on on the network. so i think mr. batory played at the first few steps in the right direction. the devil will be in the details, but i think there's a path forward that can be workable. >> mr. anderson, what would you like to see in that rule? >> that it would be gauged around the customer so customer on-time. the number needs to be about 80% customer on-time. because we compete against railroads and buses and people in their cars. so our statute says we have to be competitive with other modes of transportation in intercity travel. so if you look at the dot rules on airlines, you know, the goal was to have arrivals and 14
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statistics that mimic what passengers one to see as consumers. number two on the question of preference, preference was given in the statute in 1970-71, and then reinforced again when pria was passed. it was litigated and now it's time to get on with putting a program in place that accommodates what ian talks about, which is will have breaches washouts and we are going to have hurricanes and we are going to have asked of god that are going to cause us to terminate service. we understand that, but the day-to-day operation from the eyes of the customer is why its key. >> every member of congress thinks they are expert in air travel, as i talk to you about when you were in your other job. politics and air travel are the two things that every member of congress thinks they know everything about.
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but you know about what happens, too, when you begin to get behind someplace in the day, what happens all over the rest of the system. how do you see that impacting, particularly the freight line that you use, and most of the lines are used as you pointed out earlier, not lines you own but lines you use you don't own. .. where you run on time taking into account there are going to be times when you have bridge washouts and the like. so we were able to sort of consistently run in the mid 80's and on a good day, mid
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90's. today amtrak runs the northeast corridor up on the high 80's on time performance. so it's something that can be done. >> thank you, chairman. >> thank you, senator. senator udall, i understand that you've said you're used to being skipped over. [laughter] >> and that you're willing to go last today, is that correct? >> that's not correct. >> oh, okay. [laughter] >> well, then the chair recognizes senator udall for five and a half minutes. >> thank you. thank you very much. as many of you are aware, the-- and great to have you here, good testimony today. as many of you are aware, the southwest chief is vitally important to many of the senators on this dias and the communities that we represent. i'm grateful for the work on this committee, senator grant and heinrich, and bennett.
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this coalition of senators proves we can work together on matters of common interest to our constituents. as you may recall, nearly a year ago, the senate voted on my sense of the congress amendment 92-6 to support the importance of the national network for amtrak. and i don't think that support has diminished since. president anderson, thank you for our recent discussion and for changing course for now, and an action that would -- that's on discontinuing the southwest chief, an action that would be a disservice to amtrak customers and hurt all communities on the line between dodge city, kansas and albuquerque, new mexico. i was discouraged to saying you were looking at breaking up long distance routes. that wasn't in your written testimony quite that strongly, but i want to take a big
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disagreement with that. you know, while progress has been made, i am confident that the threat is not over. i see that amtrak continues to blame congress and others for bugetary woes when it's convenient. yet, when task was engaging with stakeholders, you're slow to do so. last year when amtrak wasted resources proposing to disband the southwest chief, i repeatedly request that amtrak directly with our stair holders. we don't seem to be there yet. according to many it, amtrak has not even responded to a written request for stake holder engagement. when congress rejects amtrak's corridor plan, it appears that amtrak will once again be left without a real vision for a national network, that's deeply disappointing. amtrak must develop a visionary and bold plan to preserve and improve long distance rail for
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the american public. first thank you for your efforts to save southwest chief. our present success, staving off discontinuation of service would have happened-- wouldn't have happened without your efforts. your testimony highlights the lack of transparency from amtrak's leadership, recognizing you continue to work with many dedicated amtrak employees. what is the evidence of the willingness of top management and amtrak to meaningfully engage with stake holders? >> i hate to be speaking for amtrak, senator, but my opinions on this are they should be-- we have a great example of this and that is we went to amtrak for five years ago and asked us to help with ski train service in colorado. and the railroad responded.
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they sent executives out to colorado and met with winter trail and advocacy group and the union pacific railroad and the ski train service with great support from this committee and our colorado senator as well as our governor, that ski train service is restored and had i.t. most successful year ever this past year and hopefully amtrak can renegotiate and continue that service. my example of how amtrak ought to behave is exactly that particular effort. i'll tell you one other thing about this issue that i think is extremely important and it hasn't been touched on yet by mr. anderson and i want to make sure the committee hears this. the way that amtrak evaluates long distance service or any of its services is purely based on metrics related to passenger trips. and the greatest value of the long distance trains are the economic and social benefits they bring to the communities they serve.
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and no doubt that rural communities aren't going to have as many passengers boarding and alighting at the system as you do in a heavy metropolitan area. but the interesting fact is that in the three states, kansas, colorado and new mexico, that the southwest chief runs through, the economic and social benefits total 180 million dollars a year. and the amtrak asserts that it costs 60 million a year to run that train over all eight states. and so, there's something wrong with that equation when they're not taking into account the value that it brings, it's a public transportation system. most public transportation systems return about 50% on their fair box recovery, but they're necessary because that's how people get to work and so we provide support for them, public support. and that argument never appears in any of amtrak's statements about these services. also a note that when mr. anderson replied to the earlier question about long distance trains, he didn't
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mention the southwest chief, which is disturbing, but i accept that as just a minor item compared to this value argument. it has to be a part of this equation. i know you understand it and i know all of our mayors, and county commissioners and along the route understand that. it's intrinsically understood. we have done research on this where we have documented those values and that's where the 180 million dollar amount comes from and we've looked at the empire builder. it returns over 500 million a year, and i think it's subsidized or supported by federal funds to the extent of about 50, 60 million a year just like the southwest chief so we're talking about a huge public return on that federal investment and it needs to be part of that equation. if you just go on passenger boardings, well, yeah, we're going through small communities, la junta,
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california, and you're not going to have the ridership, but the economic and social value of the train to the community and that's why we support it and why elected officials and others sense that, get that. we documented that at the rail, the trent lott institute, how you document those benefits and we published a report to that effect and i've shared it with the committee staff and-- >> thank you, mr. souby. >> mr. chairman, can i thank him for that powerful statement and i hope, president anderson, that you were listening to that. and i also want to say to senator tester, he asked me not to ask too many questions in his arena and i've only asked one, senator tester, there you go. >> i'm sure he appreciates that as you appreciates you on every occasion. [laughter] >> senator gardner. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i want to add to that comment my appreciation for senator udall. thank you very much for your leadership on this. and work on the southwest chief. thank you very much for your leadership in colorado and for being here today and for the record, i mean, the key train -- ski train is an international success, you can hop on the train from the airport, from the station, and you don't have to go up the schrepp because yobecause-- don't have to go up the slope because you're already on it and it's still snowing in colorado. and thank you for the opportunity to hear from all of you. you talked about the lessons learned in terms of colorado and how we can succeed the passenger rail in our state. can you talk about once again the importance of quickly maintaining a national transportation network so it's not just a northeast corridor amtrak? >> well, it's terribly important to the three states
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that the southwest chief runs through, but the states that the empire builder runs through and the zephyr runs through intas well. this uncertainty is whether or not it's going to continue, has impacted our efforts in colorado. we were working with the company called the yankee holidays off the excursions off the southwest chief. it's a tremendous destination, not a destination, but a european vacation venue. and they're thinking about the santa fe trail. so we propose these excursions to yankee holidays and looks great, but it will take us two to three years to develop the marketing outreach and make these vacations happen and we estimate they will be profitable and increase the ridership, of course, on the train. i'm not referring to mr. anderson when i say this, it was before his immediate time, but that's when this uncertainty arose and whether the train needed to be relocated down to the bff
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transcontinental line back in the early 2000's. and yankee holiday said we cannot engage. we can't get involved in developing these vacation packages. they're very expensive and we have to market them internationally and we can't do this unless we have certainly that the train is going to continue to run. so we lost that opportunity. so, this uncertainty about what the future of the long distance frein service is, has a tremendous economic and social expect on our communities. >> that's an important point. as we look at ways to increase ridership and join the southwest chief, and that prevents more people from enjoying it because a company like you just mentioned cannot market to its customers to go on the southwest chief because as they plan a year or more in advance on a big trip like that, it may not be in existence if that's the concern they have and we need to have that certainty. to the point of certainty, mr. anderson, thank you for your leadership. i know it's not an easy job so i appreciate it even if we
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disagree on things, i appreciate your willingness to come and meet with us and talk to the senators about some of these issues ap challenges and i hope we can continue to work on that. we ask for a couple of things on the certainty front. a letter that several of us sent on april 5th, 2019. amtrak responded on may 17th, i believe it was, and this is what the letter said. amtrak is not planning to truncate or differ any routes. we believe that congress generally endorsed operation of our current route network from fy 15, fy 20. we plan on operating our long distance routes for the remainder of the period. >> sure, i signed the letter and i actually wrote that line. >> very good, thank you for that. thank you. look forward to working with you on this and beyond. and mr. anderson if i could get your commitment to work with
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mr. souby and make this work for the southwest chief and states involved? >> that would be great. i'm glad to hear it's worth 180 million for the state so they can get their matches up for us to be able to do the work that needs to be done to keep this operation underway. >> mr. souby? >> yeah, that goes into the general economy of our rural communities, but that does raise an interesting point. and it's positive train control, which we all support. but as was mentioned earlier, other risk mitigation might be necessary because not every single mile of the 1400 miles of nonptc track that amtrak runs on, should we pay to have ptc on in my opinion, at least not yet until traffic increases and i specifically want to mention the new mexico line where amtrak is the only user
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of the line and runs one train one way and one the other, and if in fact it's 500,000 or so a mile and we're talking about $100 million for that 200-some odd mile line. that's an extremely-- investment -- i'm sorry, anyway that's an extremely costly investment for two trains. >> thank you, my time has expired. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator gardner. mr. tester, since senator udall asked one of your questions for you, will three minutes be all right? [laughter] >> that's fine. i'm willing to work with you, mr. chairman. >> senator tester is recognizeled. >> thank you, thank you, mr. cantwell for your testimony. mr. anderson i've got to tell
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you you've come here with a incredible resume', and i was a flyer and you have a personalty it's hard to get mean with. and we've had differences on testimony. you talked about breaking even, and the fact that there are highways and you can be a solution to that and increasing role in transportation, i think it's really, really good. and something that i don't think anybody on this committee would disagree with. my concern is, in montana and you know montana pretty well from your previous job, is that whether we're talking about amtrak transportation or whether we're talking about broadband and closing the digital divide and making that
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post service to rural america and changing posted service delivery. when we're talking about air travel it's always a challenge, always a challenge. and if we go off numbers as mr. souby said and strictly go off, i get it, i want amtrak to run itself without dollars from the federal government. but the truth is, i think it's bigger than that and i know your board has given you a charge, probably, to make this thing run with zero dollars input from the taxpayer. but i will tell you that as i talk to folks and i've never ridden the train in europe. i talked to max baucus and he's talking about the high speed rail in china. everybody tells me that those trains are absolutely incredible and something that people gravitate to for their transportation needs. i just really hope that moving forward that we really try to
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make amtrak all it can be moving forward and you talked about the population areas and i agree with you. i mean, truthfully you've got to go where the money is, right? but we can't forget about the rural areas either. and so, where i'm going with this, you probably already know, is that in too little small towns that happen to be fairly close to where i live personally, there was a ticket office that was closed. no big deal, except for the fact that in montana we don't have broadband. 25% of the places in montana don't have broadband and we can't buy tickets on-line, except for the fact there is no kiosk. there's a person there, but they can't sell tickets and the question becomes for me, if we're not going to leave rural area out like the postal service-- like the postal service guy, post master general tried to do
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a few years ago. like we're having this challenge with broadband. how do we make it so these folks in rural area quite frankly will use the train and if we don't have service, we're not going to take it. i've talked too much which truly ticks me off. and i know your heart is in the right spot, but the truth is that mr. souby is correct, there are economic and social benefits that we also need to include in the equation. could you have responded? >> i agree with your policy statement. i think that inner city passenger rail can play a really important role in connecting rural america to urban america. there's no doubt about it. we see it across the network and there is a permanent place for the long distance network. i just don't think the long distance network serves a lot of these communities very well and that we could do a lot
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better job serving these communities. i have to say that, you know, i have a secretary of transportation and an administration that wants to basically cut our funding to a point where we'd have mass i ha have-- massive layoffs and i disagree with the secretary and i disagree with o and b. >> i would just say this. i don't know how we can get to the 21st century on railroads, but we're not there. we're not there and it's not your fault, it's, quite frankly, it's congress' fault and if we don't make the investment we're never going to get the dividend. >> you're right. >> so i would just encourage you to keep pushing very, very hard to make sure that not only do we have good passenger services in the high population areas, i've ridden the
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northeastern line and don't take offense from your former job, it's easier to take the rail than flying an airplane. >> i think it's far better-- >> that's right, and it should be in your position. and we need this advocacy to be able to push forward to make smart investments that work well for the american public. thank you very much. >> thank you, senator tester. senator moran. >> mr. chairman, thank you to our panel for being here, you have the joy of having three senators who care about the southwest chief on this committee so our focus, i'm sorry to the other two witnesses, seem to be on two other folks. let me start with mr. sou. about -- souby. you take into account those with long distance passenger rail service. where dos that equation come from, amtrak developed on its own volition or standard--
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>> no, a national group. i sat on that group, they did research. they went to the trent lott institute. we went back to them because they do a good job on this analysis and they went out, as i recall, they looked at 11 or some odd-- . >> let me understand, you're telling me that amtrak is using this particular equation? >> no, no, they're not. i made the recommendation that they should. >> where did they get the equation. >> any protection of a long distance line. >> is that a legislative mandate on amtrak? >> i think it should be part of a policy framework, as i mentioned earlier, it should be that policy framework should say we're going to maintain a national system. we're going to maintain this underlying set of highly valued long distance train service and we're going to grow the
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expansion of our national rail network based on that existing network and when decisions are made about how to establish additional service we should take into account not just passenger demand, but also the benefits to community-- >> i understand fully your point and let me turn to mr. anderson to turn my fire to somebody that i'm-- that i disagree with less than i thought that i used to, but still disagree with. >> mr. anderson, you've set the stage for my skepticism about the chief and the long distance passenger service. we had a conversation with you and my colleagues and you indicated there was in the planning stages or at least thought processes at amtrak replacement of long distance passenger service on the passenger chief from dodge city to albuquerque using--
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i was annoyed by amtrak's failure to pay the $3 million i believe they committed to in the southwest chief and that's what initiated my out reach to you. and the bus service, the idea that amtrak would believe to put bus service in for train service for 400 miles that your attitude toward long distance passenger service. i would say a few things before the chairman says my time is gone. i'm anxious for you to assure me, your perception about belief in regards to this is erroneous. in that regard what i would add to my question or comment is, can you reassure me that you can follow the law? can you reassure me that the
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nonprofitable passenger train service would continue? and in the letter that senator read to you you claimed that paragraph which is pretty appealing to me, is there anything in that letter that i should be concerned about that you are using hedge words for things that give you greater flexibility than i think you're conveying by what you're saying today? >> first of all, we brought the issue. look, you're my boss, okay? so congress decides what our funding is, and you decide the policy. i keep a laminated copy of the policy with me at all times because the best thing to do, given how many of you are up here on the hill, is to just tell people that you follow the law. and the law is fairly straight forward in terms of what our mission is. >> the law allows you to do. what would i worry about you might do in regard to the reduction in service on the southwest chief? >> look, you've been clear on
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the southwest chief and will head strong in terms of using 50 million. we've leveraged the 50 million, i think i told you when we met, to 90 million, but look, it still has three big problems, and we shouldn't run from these problems. it needs to have ptc. i fundamentally disagree with him and i don't think that anyone should tell rural america that they have a lower level of safety than urban america and that happened in aviation, we had a whole series of accidents and congress over changed the law, and i disagree with that and i bet the n.t.s.b. disagrees with that. number one, you've got to fund what the railroad needs funded and it needs $100 million of investment. we don't have the investment. i have an omb and a secretary of transportation that has a different view of my budget than i do. i agree with all of you that we
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need to invest in a national railroad network, but we've got to have the funding. we've got to fix on time performance because you cannot hope to sustain this service if it's the southwest chief with the continual deterioration on time performance. i'll take it you want to increase and improve the service, but there are no hedge words in that paragraph. thank you. >> thank you, senator moran, senator blumenthal. >> that you, mr. chairman and welcome to all the participants this morning. mr. anderson, last month, i sent you a little expressing my deep disappointment that amtrak has failed so far to reinstate its discount program for veterans and their immediate family members. until march. and it provided a 15% savings to veterans on nationwide
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travel and for the acela express travel on weekends. in fact, under previous leadership, amtrak expanded this program to include same day travel and benefits to immediate family members. last year inexpicably amtrak eliminated this program. i'd like to ask you, as i did in the letter, when this discount program will be reinstated veterans. >> we first of all always had a program for active duty military. so that continued unabated and we were in the process of implementing the 10% discount for retired military personnel. i have my staff get back to you on when it will be fully implemented. we have a lot of computer programming that has to be done since most of our tickets are sold over the internet. >> will you give me an approximate timeline.
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>> we should be pretty quick here. >> days? >> i don't know. days? end of this fiscal year? >> so, into september. is it all programming? >> why did it take that long? >> welcome, you've got to reprogram arrow-- >> and this was back in-- >> you want us to go faster. >> well, okay. >> actually, actually the veterans of america want you to go-- >> i've got it, i've got it. >> i'm glad you've got it and i hope in all due respect that you will address their request to you. >> on it. >> thank you. >> miss holiday i thank you for your committee to positive train control and reminder that it was 50 years ago much that a crash occurred that prompted the focus on positive train control, ptc and it was
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actively included on the first of the most wanted list, as you say in your testimony, back in 1990. we're not talking about a novel or technologically new process. i assume you agree that that 2020 deadline should not be waived or delayed or in any respect abrogated? >> it should not be. >> do the rest of the panel agree? they are nodding. what should be done if they fail to meet that deadline? what would you recommend? >> i know there's been a lot of discussion about civil penalties. i myself have looked at the penalties and i do have some concerns about commuter railroads because they're cash strapped, about charging them with civil penalties that in
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the end they could use that funding for implementation as ptc instead of about uth -- putting that money in the treasury. and that remains on not just for implementation until 2020. i would urge swift implementation. also eliminating exemptions to t.p.c. we talked about the southwest chief and we want to make sure that senators are aware, i'm very supportive of our passenger rail system and spent many years defending the southwest chiefs and the other long distance routes. when it comes to talking about numbers, there are 153 preventible accidents since 1969. over 300 fatalities, over 6700 injuries. in that amount of time we put a man on the moon. we could have implemented ptc, but thankfully congress retired
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it back in 2008 and if we're going to talk about measures where there are exemptions to t.p.c. and there should be no exemptions, they should be implemented, they weren't implemented by the law, an ipad will not stop a train if they run through a red signal, if there's a switch in the right direction, or a worker on the track. and these need to go away. >> i have a quick question, mr. anderson, you called the gateway project, quote, the most urgent infrastructure project in the nation and then you said we need to get this done and stop the unnecessary red tape, period. i could not agree more. what can we do to cut through that red tape? >> the fra needs to approve dd give the environmental approval
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for the hudson project and number two, we need to kick off the funding in place for new york and new jersey for the matches to go forward on the congress of the portal bridge. all of this northeast corridor is owned and operated by amtrak. we serve 820,000 people a day by either our operation or hosting all the commuter railroads, the connecticut railroad. it's an essential part of the economy of the northeast corridor, and the idea that we don't brace up and make the kind of investments that other countries around the world make all the time, is that candidly discouraging. >> as a practical matter, commerce, transportation, rail transportation particularly would be absolutely crippled, that is cratered. >> it would crater the northeastern economy because when you have that many people that rely upon the railroad to
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get to and from work every day and to get in and out of manhattan, it would cripple the economy. >> and we are talking about tunnels that have decayed and are literally potential dangers to health and safety. >> hurricane sandy. first of all, we have a lot of really good amtrak people, but the bottom line is, they were ruined by hurricane sandy and we got our money's worth. they were built in 1908. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. senator duckworth. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you for holding today's hearing on the implementation of freight and passenger rail programs. mr. anderson and mr. jeffries, start with you. last week i extended invitation to the head of n.r.a. and-- their ideas for surface to rail
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transportation, and i think it would help for quasi governme government. and would you come to my office to discuss this authorization? >> absolutely, would love to. >> thank you. mr. anderson and mr. jeffries, implementation of ptc continues to be my primary focus as my colleagues. the deadline is right around the corner and while significant progress has been made, i'm still concerned about the interoperability in areas like northeast illinois. are you concerned that it will be addressed before december 31st before 2020? >> i am, as you know we've briefed your office on a few occasions and as issues come up, we address those. chicago is the center of interoperability.
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we're working through it and have full confidence. >> mr. anderson, you continue to be optimistic? >> yes, we have great relationship with freight railroads and our last mile for amtrak-owned track is a mile going into chicago union station and we are on schedule to have that completed on time. if i could just note nor -- for the committee. the commuter railroads in northeast corridor, and they've done a job marshalling everybody and to get the heads of the railroads and amtrak together to make sure they're going to hit the deadline. >> thank you. mr. jeffries, i assume ar supports raising funding levels for the freight programs, grant program and eliminating the caps on non-highway spending in both programs, is that a correct statement. the ar support.
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>> ar absolutely supports the grand funding programs. they've been enormously helpful and they've been contributors in that project, so, yes. >> thank you. mr. anderson, last week, the administrator for whom i have the highest respect, highlighted amtrak's nationwide performance is on par with u.s. airlines. sounds pretty good, but if you've testified many times today, that's really not the true story when you scratch beneath the surface. let me give you some figures. and the line is actually 48.8% on time. southwest chief, 47%, and empire builder, 46.3% on time. new orleans, 45.1. capital limited 41% and texas eagle, 39%. and dead last, the saluki line from chicago to down illinois,
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i've been stuck on that train parked on a side track hours at a time. and as you've mentioned for passenger or commuter rail it doesn't matter one train a day or ten a day if your passengers cannot rely on that on time. they might as well drive or book a fly. and on the issue on particular on the saluki line, i'm confident he'll keep that commitment. i'm curious if amtrak is experiencing this issue in other areas of the country and on other rail lines? has amtrak had short shunting issues in other places? >> where we had short shunting is the line you described.
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we did on the hoosier line, but they've discontinued the service. and ron has been good about pressing the host railroad to come up with solutions. >> so did you ever find a solution for the hoosier line or you never did? >> we never did. the solution is to put more cars on the train and just haul more empty cars in the hope of closing the circuit, which seems goofy, but that's what we're doing. >> okay. i am deeply concerned and i hope we can really-- it's been years and we need to trouble shoot this. and he has said that he will commit to-- >> he's been good about it. he has been. >> but you haven't seen this anywhere else? >> no, i don't think we have. >> missouri-- >> steven says in missouri on the union pacific a little bit. >> perhaps you can supplement the record and check with staff on that. >> yes. >> thank you very much. thank you, senator duckworth. >> thank you. >> senator markey. >> thank you, mr. chairman very
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much. in march of 2017 a public works official was killed when his snowplow was struck by an amtrak lane in long meadow, massachusetts. this tragic event marked the seventh collision and fifth death at the location since 1975 making the long meadow crossing the deadliest in massachusetts. regrettably, 33% much rail related occurrences are at similar grade nationwide, the area where the railway line intersects with a road or path, is a significant danger zone and we need to do more to prevent these tragedies. >> what is amtrak doing to prevent fatal accidents at these crossings? we would like to hear that because in long meadow, i'm proud to have helped massachusetts state government to come together on a funding agreement for safety
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improvements at this crossing in addition to warning lights and gates, but i understand understand that we're currently waiting for work to begin in long meadow. so, mr. anderson, can you provide me with any information on amtrak's expected timeline for the long meadow project? >> i don't have the details on the long meadow project. i did get your correspondence and the correspondence of the other officials. i remember riding on the top. we need to go fix this. >> okay. so i've got that. look, crossings are-- it's really incredible in this country as wealthy as this country is, that we still have about 1800 people a year die at crossings. i mean, that's a really big number and the fra has a good program, a good grant program and seemed to me that you would just methodically take long meadow and force rank the most dangerous intersections in the united states and use an fra grant program because there is a basic way to keep that from
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happening. and we what that technology is and it's a matter of forcibly implementing a nationwide strategy to stop it from happening. >> go. >> we need, obviously, more work to be done, but i need you to also commit to giving us the information on meadow as soon as possible. >> got it. >> a briefing for the community so that they know that this whole thing has been brought to a conclusion, so i ask you to make a commitment to do that and to do it in the very near future and the federal railroad administration recently withdrew a proposed rule that would have mandated trains, both passenger and freight, to have at least the two-person crew. the fra also went a step further and created a regulatory black hole by saying it would not allow individual states to control the size of train crews no matter their unique needs. i believe the fra's decision
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represents an abdication of responsibility. it's another example of the trump administration anti-safety regulatory rollback. the fra's goal prior to the trump administration was to asure there was always two certificated people on, conductor and engineer. in response to the withdrawal of the two person crew rule, introducing the safe freight act, the legislation will mandate two person crew safety standards on trains nationwide. mr. jeffries, i know that your organization disagrees with me for the need for a national crew size rule and applauded the fra's recent rollback, however, can you please explain whether you believe that individual states should have zero power to protect the safety of local cargo, passengers and citizens near
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railways. should they have a minimum of crew size if it believes that such a real would be necessary for the unique circumstances in their state. >> thank you for that, senator markey. >> the fra as pretty clear in its reason or data or lack thereof. justifying any crew size rule. we agreed with that, 17 year review of accidents show there is no data showing that having two individuals in the cab reduces risk of accidents. every day we have single person crews operating throughout the country. you're right that the aar does not agree that it makes sense to lock in a current operating practice in perpetuity. this has always been a matter of collective bargaining and we believe that's where it should stay. they laid out legal justification regarding the action and preemptivreemptyive
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and we feel we need to operate under a uniform code of rules and regulations and the federal rail safety act lays that out as well and does date when the feds act that it does have a preemptive effect and for our purposes, the uniformity is desirable. >> from my perspective, the obama or fra reached a different conclusion and that's why i'm introducing legislation to procedure towards reserving the issue. so i just think it's imperative. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator markey. i'm told ptc really is not designed to help with grade crossings, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> is there a possibility that it could be upgraded for that purpose? >> i know that in the rail passenger safety improvement act of 2008 that coping
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required a study of technologies and advancements that could be used after ptc is implemented for grade crossings. i don't know the status of that. i believe that was for fra. >> okay. let's see, mr. anderson, senator tester mentioned these two little towns where there's no ticket officer and there's no ticket agency a-- agent and no kiosk. can you discuss amtrak's ticket to increase efficiency and reduce operating costs? i assume the little towns the
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train stops and the passenger can get on and buy a ticket on the train. can you discuss that? >> first of all, if you look across amtrak's system, i think we have 517 places that we stop and the vast majority of those have no one there. it's like the old days you pull up at the train station, the conductor puts the stool down, people get on and off and load the bags and head on. about 93% of our tickets are sold electronically now and in those two particular cities, i went back and looked and once we removed station agents who have an all-in cost of about $150,000 minimum a year, we're still selling the same amount of tickets for people to get on and off trains in those two towns in montana. so it's been something that we've been doing over time, and as we deploy more technology, we want to be able to give our
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customers the capability to do 100% of all transactions on their phone with amtrak. >> okay. when you were with delta, what was your daily passenger count? >> dependent upon the day, but we carried 186 million passengers a year. >> okay. and how does that compare to amtrak? >> oh, well, amtrak carries about-- well, amtrak carries about 32 million, but if you look at the number of passengers we carry on the railroad we operate, the northeast corridor, it's 250 million probably. so if you take our 30 million, but then we're the operator of the railroad up and down the northeast corridor for all the commuter agencies, that number is -- exceeds what delta did a
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year in passenger enplanement. >> if amtrak were an airline where would it rank? >> oh, it would probably-- i don't know, it would rank pretty -- if you count all the northeast corridor, it would rank at the top. but if you count just-- would you explane that distinction to make sure that everyone-- >> yeah, so we own the northeast corridor. amtrak owns and operates the northeast corridor in all the stations up and down the northeast corridor, that's union station in d.c. all the way up to springfield in boston and there are eight commuter railroads that operate that amtrak dispatches. we take care of the stations. we take care of the track, we run the railroads and there's 2200 trips a day. 2100 trips a day on the northeast corridor. amtrak itself has about-- this year we're going to grow at record numbers. we're going to add 900,000
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riders. we have about 32 million riders on amtrak metal and we probably have about 250 million that operate somewhere or we operate railroads for other operators. we operate the commuter railroad in l.a. we do maintenance for sound transit. we operate a railroad in florida, and then we maintain the corridor. if you take all of that, it's probably a quarter of a billion or more. >> thank you. that's, i think, a very instructive bit of testimony. mr. jeffries, in the fall of 2018, in early 19, union pacific, norfolk southern, kansas city southern announced they would be implementing precision scheduled railroadi
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railroading, psr. this was previously implemented at csx and-- for efficiency. the impact of psr on their business and rail service in may, 2019, the surface transportation board held a two-day hearing on changes to class one merge and success charges in the context of psr implementation. how do you see class one precision railroading affecting passenger service, let's say in the next six months, next year and how the implementation of decision scheduling affecting shippers and what our class is doing to avoid negative impacts and improve service?
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>> thank you for that question. you're right there were changes to their operational plans. i would say each railroad is certainly unique in its network and operation so i wouldn't want to cast a blanket statement about what all of them are doing, but i think some of the principles or tenets that you've discussed is certainly not limited to the folks that you listed, but increased asset utilization, increased efficiencefficiency, increasing visibility into orders and shipments and to customer knowledge of product delivery, and i think, first of all, that any successful companies probably always evaluating how it does its job and how it operates and looking for a better way to improve its products to its service and i think that's exactly what these railroads are doing, all of
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them. but i think when you look at some of the goals, again, increasing efficiency, creating additional capacity, creating a better visibility. more predictable schedules than to delivery of product. i think that would-- that that would extend to the passenger products and customers as well. and richard can certainly comment on amtrak's points of view, but i think everall, that the goal-- overall the goal is more on the delivery of goods and services, especially passenger. i would expect to see a positive improvement. >> let me ask one more question to you, mr. jeffries, and perhaps we can stop. on page four of your testimony you mentioned correctly that to improve capacity and safety of the rail network, privately owned state railroads spend on
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average 25 billion each year on maintenance and capital improvements and you point out that this ultimately benefits amtrak, surrounding communities and the nation as a whole. you go on to say when existing or potential freight traffic levels are so high there is no spare capacity, your infrastructure may be needed before passenger trains operate the overall line. does your association or do you personally have a recommendation in that regard as to how to supplement-- will you tell us for the record how the freight railroads, where this extra $25 billion each year comes from? >> the 25 billion every year comes from the revenue by the freight railroads.
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>> is that benefit of tax --. >> i would say it's encouraged by the economic paradigm that we operate under. it's not encouraged by the class ones don't benefit from any specific tax credit. they benefit from a balanced regulatory scheme, from a competitive economy, from customers who want to ship goods. in turn, they plow that back into their networks and i think the point of, you know, benefitting the passenger customer is that because of all of this investment, the freight rail and network is in the healthiest shape it's been in the history of the network. all users, whether it's freight, whether it's passenger, benefit from the health of that network. >> your -- the point i'm trying to get to, you're in a unique position as being able to speak for passengers and also for freight. do you have a recommendation to
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us? is there a need for more capacity than the average additional $25 billion each year on maintenance and capitol improvements. if so, do you have a recommendation? >> so, you know, depending on the particular challenge i'm talking about. both sides, the host and amtrak work together to model, where are things today, where are they going to be tomorrow and what are the potential capacity constraints? if there are capacity constraints there's a federal role there whether it's through the infra grant program. whether it's through krissy, those programs that our partners, be it public partners, be it amtrak to draw funding to bring i would say a match or contribution to create in that capacity, to assure long-term success of both the passenger service and the
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freight service are hugely beneficial. >> look, thank you all and i guess we'll close it down at this point. you've been -- you've been very helpful and informative. the hearing record will remain open for two weeks. during this time. members are asked to forward any questions. and the witnesses are requested to submit their written answers as soon as possible, but no later than wednesday, july 24th, 2019. so thank you very much. we appreciate the participation of all members and we thank the witnesses and this hearing is now adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> there has been discussion about an appearance before congress, any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. it contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for
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the decisions we made. we chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. and the report is my testimony. i would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before congress. >> former special counsel robert mueller is set to appear before two committees of congress july 17th. at 9 a.m. eastern he gives testimony to the house jewi judiciary committee. and our testimony will be live on c-span three, on-line at, or listen with the free c-span radio app. >> overthree leadership surveys taken between 2000 and 2017, andrew jackson drops from 13th to 18th place. dwight eisenhower rises from
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court of appeals judge for the ninth circuit. confirmation vote is expected later today. ... the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will open the senate with prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. our father in heaven, how great you are! today, lead our lawmakers in their work. may they be messengers of unity and hope. make them productive servants


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