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tv   Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on Amtrak  CSPAN  June 27, 2019 5:10pm-6:54pm EDT

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this weekend, american history tv will mark the 50th anniversary of the cuyahoga river fire, an event that shed light on water pollution and helped to create the clean water act on sunday at 9:00 a.m. eastern. historian and co-author of where the liver burned david straddling joins us live from along the river in cleveland to take calls and talk about the fire, myths associated with it and the campaign by then cleveland mayor carl stokes to find slukss. watch our program on the 50th anniversary of the cuyahoga river fire, live sunday at 9:00 a.m. eastern, on minor history tv on cspan3. the senate commerce and transportation committee held a hearing yesterday with the president and ceo of amtrak. the president of the association of american railroads, and a member of the national transportation safety board also testified.
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>> good morning. today the committee gathers for a hearing to examine amtrak, next steps for passenger rail. i'm grad to convene the hearing with my friend and krieg. member can'twell. i thank you our witnesses today we heard from richard derds president and ceo of am fireman ian jeffreys. president and ceo of the american association of railroads. jim souby commissioner of the southwest chief and front range passenger rail commission. and jennifer homendy. member of the national transportation safety board. i candidate to be a strong supporter of our rail industry, freight and passenger. rail service is safe and efficient and also reduces congestion on highways and spurs economic growth. in mississippi for example we have 26 freight railroads. 2,400 miles of track, 5 of the seven class ones. two long distancing amtrak routes pb ten stations and more
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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 katerina. with funding support from dot amtrak ands states i'm pleased to report that mississippi, louisiana and alabama are likely again to have this amtrak route and that will give mississippi a third amtrak route. restoration of the service would support growing populations centers connect tourist destinations. bring new jobs and improve the regions quality of life. this will make a positive difference for the communities and the people of the mississippi gulf coast. this hearing provides opportunity to examine the state of passenger rail pan consider how to support existing routes like the southwest chief and restore gulf port -- gulf coast service. in sue i introduced along with
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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 or fastest act it authorized funding levels for amtrak created new rail grant programs made improvements to existing rail financing programs and change amtrak oversight and planning activities. the fast act and those rail provisions expire at the end of fy 2020. it's 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 and the fast act and how congress can support it in the next authorization bill. the fast act led to the creation of the consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvements grants program known as chrissy.
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this program provides grants to improve the rail network strengthing inner is he capital royal and boosts products and initiatives opinion among the safety initiatives for rail is the diplomate of positive train rl control. ptc designed to prevent tragic accident such as in washington. timely implementation of ptc is also important that the committee will be holding a pull committee hearing on this in the near future. in addition, earlier this week the ntsb issued its report on that particular accident. so i hope our witness also 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 available to run
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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 witness also provide suggestions to improve amtrak's on time performance while maintaining the overall fluidity of our nation's rail network. i look forward to a robust discussion of passenger and freight rail service. and again thank our witnesses for testifying this morning. and i now recognize my friend and ranking member senator cantwell. >> thank you, mr. kmarm 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
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amtrak sunset limited service to the gulf coast is reestablished. i know how important in is to the state of washington and 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 a era when we a increasing pace of global commerce. 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 playing 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 in is pine roads
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in spokane valley. 56 trains pass through there creating three hours of rail related closures daily. meaning the challenge of moving people and 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 day when emergency vehicles are blocked from getting where they need to go. and this is a problem only getting more challenging as our trade economy continues to grow. in 2014, 121 million tons of refrain were shipped by "wealthtrack" rushs by 2035 that number is expected to double. so at intersections like pine roads and train traffic will increase. right now 56 trains pass through pine roads every day. but by 2035 that will grow to 114. this issue of making sure that we have strong federal support
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for amtrak and also funding for freight rail infrastructure which is instrumental in making sure that passenger and freight run very safely, more efficiently and reliable a big priority. we need to build on the proven federal rail initiatives like chrissy which just provided a grant to kprof the pine street intersection butted we need to make sure in the next surface transportation act we consider other ways in which we 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 dew point in the staupont washington. i'm concerned we need to make sure that we are having situational awareness and the challenges that come from 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 safety
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passion. we need to make it safety a type property. obviously positive train control which we know is being implemented is a key component. as we consider the number of freight trains coming through and the impacts on the daily lives we need to make sure that we learn 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 states. i know where we are in the state of washington, which is getting that job done. but we need to make sure we are doing this on a national basis as well. so thank you, mr. chairman for this important hearing. >> thank you, senator cantwell. i will now recognize senator gardner who would like to say a few special words about a constituent of his. >> thank you mr. chairman i'm parade to welcome this morning jim souby of denver, colorado. a gnat of long month colorado. serving as the cht of the colorado rail passenger
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association. or cole raid pl he is a member of the front range rail commission. previously jim served as president of the park city police -- policy center based in utah before realizing there is better snow in colorado as well as executive director of the western governor's association a steadfast advocate of the southwest chief and colorado in our nation's passenger rail service jim thank you for being here. it's an honor to have colorado's voice represented on the panel process. thank you mr. chairman for allowing me the opportunity. >> thank you, senator gardner. we'll begin our testimony this morning with five minute statements by each of our witnesses we'll begin down at this end of the table with mr. anderson. >> you are recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you rankle member. it's a privilege to be here today representing all the people at amtrak and all of our customers. we're probably in the best shape we've been in in our history. so if we look at where we are in safety and i agree with senator cantwell, the most important thing is safety we have implemented ptc on the ac tram
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railroad. we're at 99%. we have a mile left in chicago. we clyde 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 problem, a safety management system program. it's modelled after the aviation programs that i was responsible for implementing it at northwest and delta airlines when i was ceo. and actually have the chief safety officer from both of those airlines is now the chief safety officer at amtrak. and so we're well down the road on those two points. number two, on the customer surveys, our customer surveys on our -- on a scale of one to ten, we have high customer satisfaction at really record levels now. we've cleaned our trains. we are running our trains on time in the corridor.
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we put good technology in place. so our customer attributes are in the high 80s in terms of a top 7 box in the customer surveys. financially we are at zero net debt. so we have conserved our capital paid down our debt. in order to position the railroad to be able to pay for the asella and new national network lock o motivator we will reach break even in the next is it months. probably most people thought that amtrak couldn't get on operating base. but on operating cash base we will get to break even. and our grant from you will be used to invest in new cars and infrastructure and work on problems like the southwest chief. so all in all we feel good about where we are. and how the company is moving forward. if we think about
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reauthorization, first principle, safety. we believe we have to have ptc or ptc equivalent on all our trips. and there is still 1,400 miles of main line track exclusions. we need to close that gap. that's mostly in rural areas. but the first priority ought to be safety. second, we need to clarify what our role is in the national transportation system. if you look out over the next 40 years, population of in country is growing by 100 pl. that 100 million is moving to dense corridors. phoenix, tucson, houston, austin, dallas. the -- the mississippi corridor from new orleans to mobil, florida, the upper midwest, and that's where all the population is moving in in country. and the highway system is not going to be able to support short haul transportation. you're not going to be able to add enough lanes. and you're going to have more of what we have on the east coast
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with i-95. we think we can play a really important role in a very efficient way in providing an alternative to what we have done so far as a country. because millennials don't want to own cars. they want to take ride sharing. they want to live in inner city areas. and they want to be able to use mass transit to get to their jobs. we have good ideas about what to do. third, we need to solve our amtrak host railroad challenges that the chairman mentioned in his remarks. we cannot sustain a long distance system with 47% on time. not in a system where the average speed is 45 miles an hour. if you are going to run at 45 miranne charge more than airlines charge, you got to run on time. if you don't run on time, we're going to continue to see a degradation in ride areship on long distance. four, we need access to federal transportation programs and
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fundings 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 the most good, the cascades, the state partnerships, we are now the way to get from san diego to l.a. we are the way to get from milwaukee to chicago. and 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.
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jeffreys. >> thank you. chairman wicker ranking member cantwell members of the committee thank you for the opportunity to be here 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 account for the overwhelming majority of our nation's freight railroad activity. while amtrak and aar's commuter railroad members account for more than 80% of annual u.s. passenger railroad trips. aar's membership grow nas an america can and should have both safe fechkt passenger railroading and a safe productive freight rail system. mutual success for both passenger and freight railroads requires collaborate era lab collaboration and recognition of challenges must in met to immediate our country as need to move people and goods safely and efficiently. well into the 20th century railroadsy were the primary
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means to transport people and freight in the united states. but that did not last. following years of financial challenges due to the falling passenger rail demand. congress passed the rail service passenger service act of 1970 the act leading to the creation of am crack was zand to introduce a basic level of passenger rail service while relieving private railroads of obligation to provide passenger service. freight railroads initially capitalized amtrak in cash equipment and services and were prierd required to provide preference to many a track trains. today freight railroads provide the infrastructure for passenger rail. approximately 97% of amtrak's 22,000 miles system consist of tracks owned and mained by freight railroads. the when looking at the project level, each project involving passenger and freight railroads should be evaluated case by case basis. but the projects are more likely to succeed if certain overarching principles are followed.
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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 mind and properly addressed. today freight railroads carry twice the volume as they did when amtrak was formed. while passenger rail ridership increases as welcome. to improve capacity and safety of the network, freight railroads spend on average 25 billion in private capital each year on maintenance and kpabl improvements. when kissing 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 reliable operate. this leads to the third principle, proper funding for amtrak is critical. especially as it looks to change and expand service offerings. policy makers should provide amtrak the level of funding necessary to address its capital needs and pay for expanded
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capacity when required. it is not reasonable to expect amtrak to effectively plan, build and maintain al qaeda infrastructure and service when there is excessive uncertainty regarding capital allocation from one year to the next. fourg, all parties must recognize that preference of amtrak trains over freight trains does no not mean there will never be delays to amtrak trains. any number of factors credibility to rail delays including bad weather, hef volume. network maintenance and other factors. while amtrak may be given preference, preference cannot mean a guarantee of zero delay. ever since amtrak was created amtrak and the freight railroads have worked together to establish and implement rules and procedures governing interactions. keeping both amtrak and freight rains running on time is a tremendously complex issue. last week fra administration before this committee laid out his framework for next steps on standards and metrics for on time aar's members passenger and freight stand ready to
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constructively participate throughout this process. having both safe effective passenger rails -- railroads excuse me ---en a a safe productive freight rail system should be a common goal of all of us because it is in america's best interests. achieving this goal requires successful navigation and management of several complex challenges. but i'm confident that together freight railroads and amtrak and other passenger rail as well can find kevon ground that benefits all parties. thank you for your time. >> thank you very much. mr. souby. you are welcome. >> thank you, mr. chairman. chairman wick are and thank you ranking member cantwell i'm good night delighted to be here and provide testimony on this extraordinarily important topic. first of all let me thank the committee for all you have done for amtrak to date through pria and all other efforts you've given the railroad. it's our passenger kaerpg line. and as was already mentioned it provides that service to over 80% of the railroad passengers
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that we -- the nation sees. you asked me mr. chairman to kind of relate the colorado experience with amtrak particularly with respect to the southwest chief. and i can tell you starting in 2011 and all the way through 2017 we had a tremendously positive relationship with the railroad. the ceo came out twice to our state. they sent the exhibit train out twice to test new routes within colorado. that was a train that amtrak ran up until just a couple of years ago. together with amtrak, our local communities and kansas, new mexico and con a the bnsf railway we raised $75 million to help improve the route of the southwest chief and three tiger grants that was the most successful program and still remains the most successful tiger grant program ever initiated under that program. unfortunately, in 2017 and then again starting in 2018 we ran
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into a big change of heart at amtrak. the match that they had provide for our tiger 9 grant, which was prompted by colfax county, new mexico, which would have repaired another 50 miles of track for the southwest chief, amtrak pledge a $3 million match to that grant. and then with little notice, in fact to the commission with no notice they withheld the $3 million grant which caused that project to be delayed. now thanks to senators gardner, bennett, senator udall and senator heinrich and i'm thinking of -- oh moran, senator moran and senator roberts, that decision was reversed process appear so amtrak did come in with the $3 million but at a tremendous cost and that cost was we missed the build grant cycle. our partnership which had prepared a proposal for that grant was unable to submit it
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bus we couldn't get the tiger grant 9 underway. we fell a year and a half behind. the next issue that arose was the bus substitution proposal from amtrak. once again our commission in colorado was not notified of the proposal, told about it after it had been announced. and we of course had to respond that it was a poor idea. it would have essentially ended the southwest chief as a viable rail line through our three states and on -- from chicago on to l.a. so that change the whole tenor of our relationship with amtrak. and i'm pleased to say that because of the senators that i mentioned and because of this committee am turkey hamtrak has turned around their position on those items. but we're not positive yet that amtrak will sustain the long distance system once the appropriation bill that was passed and put provisions in to maintain a national routes and
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protect the routes once that expires we are concerned about what might happen at amtrak. one of our main recommendations to you on reauthorization is to take the language, language in the appropriations act that said we are going to maintain a national network and the foundation for that network is going to be the very valuable long distance trains that exist, we want to see that language put into the reauthorization. so we have a five-carrier window a five year window to dress address conditions on the trains. i share amtrak's position on on time performance. they need an enforceable stad to make sure the trains run on time it's a problem for the long distance trains. it's not the only problem. i share amtrak's position they need extensive funding to requip the long distance trains. but that has to be done within the policy framework where a national system is maintained and the underlying routes are
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going to be sustained. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> 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 testified to pops rail is one of the safest modes of transportation. however when an accident occurs, the consequences can be devastating. particularly for those who have lost loved ones who or 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. in accident is one of several amtrak accidents that we have investigated over the past few years, including accidents in philadelphia, pennsylvania, chester, pennsylvania, bowiey
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maryland and kasey, south carolina. on behalf of the ntsb i'd like to take a moment to extend our deepeth sympathies to the families and friends of those who died in these accidents and wish the fullest recovery to those injured. there were multiple factors cribbing to the dupont accident but the tragic fact is the deaths and injuries were preventible. frustratingly this was another crash that could have been prevented about o with positive train control. ptc is on the ntsb's most wanted list. in august we will remember those who lost their lives 50 years ago in a collision of two penn central trains in dairy anne connecticut leading to the first recommending on ptc. since then we have investigated more than 150 accidents that caused over 300 fatalities and 6,700 injuries. while the railroads are making
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progress toward implementing ptc much work remains. full implementation must not be delayed. and exemptions should be eliminated, including exemptions on the 1,400 miles of freight owned track that amtrak will be operating on without ptc. additionally, the ntsb has recommended that the fra prohibit the operation of passenger trains on new, refurbished or updated territories unless ptc is complemented. while ptc will greatly enhance safety on our nation's railroads, a well-trained crew is vital to safe operations. our investigation of the dupont accident found that there was inabdominal training provided to the engineer. the amtrak qualification program did not effectively train and test crew members on the physical characteristics of the new territory and did not provide sufficient training on the new locomotive. the training devzs were evident on the recordings examined by
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the ntsb. the investigation reinforced the safety benefit of inward and outward facing cameras. the fast act required that 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 camera that is provide both audio and image capabilities. finally i want to stress the importance of requiring all railroads including amtrak to implement as are comprehensive safety management system. modelled after the programs developed and implemented by commercial airlines. had amtrak established an sms program, this accident and many others likely would never have occurred. the ntsb has long recommended the implementation 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 has made
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tremendous progress in implementing sms. while the program is in its infancy. many a track is much further ahead of the other railroads. congress has also recognized the importance of sms. the rail safety improvement act of 2008 required the secretary of transportation to issue a regulation requiring all railroads to implement a risk reduction program. more than a decade later, fra still hasn't implemented this mandate. a final rule was published in august 2016. but the fra delayed its implementation six times. earlier this month the fra issued a mprm seeking a final stay of the rule that would delay it for an unknown period of time. the absence of a sense of urgency by fra to implement our safety recommendation and the willingness to continue to jeopardize the safety of train crews and their passengers is unacceptable. thank you again for the opportunity to testify today. and i'm happy to answer any questions. >> well, thank all four of you
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for excellent testimony. and we'll 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 it would like to move away from long distance routes and promote more frequent service between pairs of cities. does that accurately describe amtrak's vision for the national network? how will amtrak support and improve long distance and state supported routes over the next five to ten years? and do you plan to shrink any of the long distance routes to state supported >> i don't think the "wall street journal" -- it had part of it right, part of it not right. on the state. >> i'm astounded. >> are you shocked by that? >> on the state supported network, under 209 of pria that's the strongest part of amtrak. and that piece of amtrak is really where the future lies for
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passenger -- inner city passenger rail in short haul markets where freeways are jammed and you can't add more capacity. so i'd say under section 209 of pri our state supported piece really separate from the long distance is performing very well. and we have great partnerships with over 20 states in the united states. that piece -- that's half of amtrak's business and its growth. here is the challenge on the long distance. trips since -- since fa 13 to fa fy '18 our trips over 600 milestone. passengers buying a ticket over 600 miles is down 30%. the train goes 45 miles an hour. and the ticket is more than a lo cost discount airline ticket in the same market. so we are working hard to try to get ridership up.
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but it's just clear that trips over 600 miles are not where consumers want to use amtrak. in 85% of the long distance trips are short haul trip where people get on in chicago and get off in 100 or 200 miles. the challenge in long distance is the on time performance is a threat to the viability of that business. and number two, it needs billions of dollars of investment. so we -- 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, the zefer, the coast starlight. but because we spread our resource like peanut butter, we don't have the kind of
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investment you should have in making those a really special product experience. so we believe there is always a role for long distance. but on the margin we should be looking at breaking up some of the long distance trains and figuring out how we serve the american consumer to provide high kault quality service in short haul markets where they're using that service today. >> okay, well let's look forward to having that dialogue. >> yeah. >> between your team and our professional staffs. let me quickly move to one other topic. and that's on time performance. otp, there was a recent supreme court decision. i assume you agree that that moved -- moved the issue along and that amtrak and fra must reformula and issue new otp metrics once they do the surface transportation board will be able to investigate situations
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where otp falls below 80%. at last week's senate commerce testimony, ron batorre, the fra administrator testified about the administration's work to reissue on time performance metrics and standards. what do you envision as the time line and process for reissuing the metrics? >> we don't have a time line. 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 the host railroads was undertaken. when the supreme court denied cerst of case is put the validity of the stat on firm ground we ought to get it down in 90 days. . this is there is already a template np 1987 the department of transportation consumer affairs passed the same kinds of rules for airlines.
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and you all live under those rules today. >> will you do this? we're going to have to close the record at some point but will you get back to the senator cantwell and me and other members of the committee in about 90 days. >> i'll -- >> and give us an update how that's going. >> yes, sir. >> because that's a very optimistic prediction and good news as far 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 miss homendy i think i think i want to start with you process this discuss this missouri pujt sound and certainly the dooucht accident is 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 the exempted freight tracks as you were ms. henning that still aren't coming into standard.
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so what the do you think we need to do to make sure that 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. the law actually allowed in addition to main line track for the secretary to go beyond the requirements for passenger rail and for toxic by inhalation lineses, main lines. that was done in the rule. the exceptions we have 1,400 miles of exceptions granted for ptc for amtrak. and some of those, i believe it's about 20 curves where there is a 20 miles an hour difference. so something similar to what occurred in dupont. and so there has to be -- without ptc, a risk mitigation.
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the amtrak and freight railroads have to look at what can be put in place if there is not going to be ptc. we're on record as saying ptc should be everywhere. there shouldn't be exceptions. and we continue to believe that. we have had 153 accidents that were preventible. >> well, i certainly believe it needs to be complemented. i'm sure if i asked mr. anderson he is going to tell me it is implemented in washington. but that doesn't give all our riders that ride outside the state of washington the security that the learning from the dupont accident that we need to implement this. and i think underlying this, mr. jeffreys, is this increase in volume of freight traffic. and this is what is -- it's causing -- so if we're doubling -- i mentioned over in spokane valley, if you are going to have a doubling in the next 15, you know, years -- if you are going at 56 freight trains a
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day and it's going to go to 114, it's just- congestion is the number one problem. so then looking at these other freight quarter are corridors which is what happened here in dupont. people said we have so much congestion how do we get around it? and then we didn't put in the place the system managements and risk reduction plans that go with that. we need to stop the next dupont from happening. so mr. jeffreyis, mr. anderson could you comment how we do that. i'm i'm assuming you are for fra -- for positive train control to be implemented across the country, and that the exemption not be allowed by fra. >> thank you for that. right now railroads nationwide got 89% of our required ptc miles fully operational. we're working through that last -- that last bit on the lines that host amtrak trains.
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i think the number is 85% right now. we're working towards interprablt between the various railroads making sure everyone's systems talk together seamlessly. the fra regulations are very clear about where ptc is required on the existing passenger trains. and then any new passenger service that might be stood up certainly, you know, we support the regulations we abide by the regulations. and we'll continue to do so, you know, if there is an interest in reengaging on that personal seal we'll be at the table. >> mr. anderson. >> i agree with everything he 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 -- could use help from you is we think
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that there are ptc solutions that don't require as much trackside implementation that involve putting pads and cabs of in locomotives where we use geofencesing and other technologies that you are used and, we are up against the wall on fra, about having a tablet available in the cabin of the locomotive. so, we think that there might be some ptc equivalent capabilities by using gps and geo- fencing, to at least get speeds under control. >> but you're not against miss hannity's recommendation that there are cameras inside and out? >> absolutely. unique cameras inside and out. our goal and our sms program, which is what we did when i was ceo at delta, every flight, every day, the data recorders downloaded into a database, and you find all the parameters where the operation was outside. we need to have the data on every single one of our
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operations in a flexible database, so we can monitor what is going on, and quickly react to any out of tolerance operation. >> thank you mr. cantwell. mr. blunt. >> thank you chairman. thank you for all of you for being here. last week in front of this committee, the fra administrator stated that the agency was beginning the process of putting the new on time rule in place. at the risk of losing all my four minutes and 40 seconds here with this question, the mr. jeffries and mr. anderson, remember, i want the other one to respond to, what would you like to see included in that rule? in both cases. and also, some discussion of the right to preference , richard, when it comes to you? miss jeffries, do you want to start? >> sure. thank you senator
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bowen. i think the important thing for the aar, and knowing that we have amtrak commuter railroads as numbers class ones and other health host railroads as members, we were encouraged by the comments mr. -- made last week. laying out a process that is seeking input from all involved parties. in order to achieve a fully sustainable solution that is going to work into the future. we think it's important to take the input from an incorporated input from all stakeholders involved. i understand, you know, as my colleague mr. anderson, you know, said that, the law says that fra and amtrak shall develop , you know, in my opinion, that doesn't come at the expense of seeking input and stakeholder involvement from some 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 everyone was on time right to preference, wouldn't matter. but assuming, everybody won't be on time all the
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time, do you have anything to say about the impact of and amtrak train being given the preference over other track users? >> so, in my opening statement, i made the point that, you know, given the train preference does not guarantee no delays in all instances. but, i think the important thing is, that fra move forward. and it, it's development of metrics and standards that can then be used to measure preference, and that the stb is the appropriate authority to evaluate and investigate the situations once the metrics and standards are in place. it is the expert that can take a national view and look at the impacts of what is going on in the network. so, i think mr. tori laid out the first few steps in the right direction. the devil will be in the details. but, i think there is a path forward that i can be workable. >> mr. anderson, what would you like to see in that
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role? >> that it would be gauged around the customer. sucker the 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 and intercity travel. so, if you look at the d.o.t. rules on airlines, you know, the goal was to have arrivals and 14 statistics that minute, mimicked what passengers wanted to be able to see is consumers. number 2 on the question of preference, preference was given in the statute in 1970, 71. and, then reinforced again when priya was passed in 09. we litigated for 10 years over it. we won the litigation. now, it is time to get on with putting a program in place that accommodates what en talks about, which is, we are going to have bridges washout. we are going to have hurricanes. we are going to have
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acts of god that are going to cause us to terminate service. we understand that. but, the day-to-day operations from the eyes of the customers is what's key. >> you know, every member of congress thinks they are an expert in air travel. as i have talked to about you have, when you're in your other job. politics and her travel are the two things that every member of congress thinks they know everything about. 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, freight line that you use. and most of the line you use as you pointed out earlier, not lines you own, the lines you use that you don't own. >> the best way to answer that is the way i did it at an airline, which we ran the best airline in the united states by far. the weather was good , you better run it
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95. because, there is going to be some days when weather is bad. so, the bottom line is, when you use an average of customer on-time performance, that average of customer on-time performance has got to include a lot of days where you run on time, taking into account there will be sometimes when you have bridge washouts and the like. so, we were able to sort of consistently run in the mid-80s, and on a good day, we were running in the mid- 90s. today, amtrak runs the northeast corridor up in the high 80s on-time performance. so, it is something that can be done. >> thank you, chairman. >> thank you senator -- senator udall, i understand that you have said you are used to being skipped over. and that you are willing to go last today. is that correct? >> that is not correct. >> okay. >> did the chair recognize -- udall for a 5.5 minute -- >> thank you very much.
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as many of you are aware, the, it's been great to have you here. good testimony today. many of you are aware, the southwest chief is vitally important to many of the senators on this dais and to the communities we represent. i am grateful for the work of my friends on this committee. senators moran and gardner, as well as the worker senators heinrich, robertson, bennett. this bipartisan coalition of senators proves that we can work together on issues 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 over changing course for now. an action that would
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, that is on discontinuing the southwest chief. an action that would be a disservice to amtrak customers, and heard all communities on the line between dodge city, kansas, and albuquerque, new mexico. and i was very discouraged to hear you say that you are looking at breaking up long distance routes. that was not in your written testimony like that strongly. but, i want to take a big 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 bring congress and others for budgetary woes when it's convenient. yet when and tasked with engaging the stakeholders, you are slow to do so. last year, when amtrak wasted resources proposing to disband the southwest chief, i repeatedly requested amtrak engage directly with our active stakeholders. but, we don't seem to be there yet. according to mr. sue b's testimony,
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amtrak is not even responded to a written request for stakeholder 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 is deeply disappointing. amtrak must develop a visionary and bold plan to preserve and improve long- distance rail for the american public. mr. sue b, first, thank you for your efforts to save southwest chief. our present success, staving off discontinuance, discontinuation of service what happened, would not 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 stakeholders? >> i hate to be
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speaking for amtrak , senator, but my opinions on this are, they should, they have a great example of this. that is, we went to amtrak four, five years ago and asked them to help us restore ski train service in colorado. and we presented a business plan, and the railroad responded. they sent executives out to colorado. they met with the winter park resort executives. they met with our advocacy group. they met with the union pacific railroad. and in fact, that ski train service a great support for this committee at our colorado senators, as well as our governor. that ski train service is restored. just had its most successful year ever this past year. and hopefully, amtrak can renegotiate a new contract with the union pacific and continue the service. so, my example of how amtrak ought to behave is exactly that particular effort.
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i will say one other thing about this issue that i think is extremely important, and it has not been touched on yet by mr. anderson. want to make sure the committee hears this. and that is the way amtrak evaluates long-distance service, or any of its services, is purely based on metrics related to passenger trips. and the greatest value of long- distance trains are the economic and social benefits they bring to the communities they serve. and no doubt, rural communities and i can have as many passengers boarding the system as you do in a heavy metropolitan area. but, the interesting fact is, and the three states, kansas, colorado, new mexico, that the southwest chief run- through, the economic and social benefits total $180 million per year. and amtrak asserts that it costs $60 million per year to run that train overall eight states. so, there is something wrong with that equation
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when they're not taking into account the value that it brings. it is a public transportation system. there are public transportation services returns about 50% on the farebox recovery. but they are necessary because of the people get to work. so, we provide support for them. public support. and that argument never appears in any of amtrak's statements about the services. i will also note that when mr. anderson replied to the earlier question about long- distance trains, he did not mention the southwest chief. that was disturbing, but, you know. i accept that as a minor item, compared to this value argument. has to be a part of this equation. i know you understand it, and i know all of our mayors, county commissioners, city managers, all along the route understand it. it is intrinsically understood. we just finished research on this we actually have documented those values. and that is where one of those $80 million amount comes from. we have looked at the empire builder. it returns over $530 million per year. and i think it is
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subsidized or supported by federal funds to the extent about 50 or $60 million per year, just like the southwest chief. so, we are talking about a huge public return on that federal investment. needs to be a part of that equation. if you just go on passenger boardings , well, yeah. we are going to small communities. la junta, colorado. amar, trinidad that have 15,000-20,000 residents. your noggin have the ridership. but when you think about the value, the economic and social value of the train to that community, it is immense. that is why we support it. that's why most elected officials and others sense that. they get that. we finally documented it to the pastors associated working with the trent lodging institute. we have documented how you can discover those economic benefits. we have published a report to that effect and i shared it with i think the committee stepper kind of shadier with -- >> thank you. >> mr. chairman, could i just thank him for that very
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powerful statement? i hope president anderson, you were listening to that. i also want to say that senator tester, he asked me to not ask too many questions that were in his arena. and i have only asked one. so, senator tester. there you go. >> i am sure he appreciates that as he appreciates you on every occasion. senator gardner. >> thank you mr. gardner. i want to add that comment. my appreciation for senator udall. thank you so much for your leadership on the senator brown, heidrick and bennett. this just to be, thank you very much for your leadership in colorado. thank you for being here today. just for the record, the ski train has been an incredible success. you cannot fly into denver international airport, you can hop on the train to union station, hop on the train from there up to winter park and you can ski off the train down the slope. you don't even have to go up the slope because you're already on it. so, it is still snowing in colorado. so, you can still come out and enjoy
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it. anyway, thank you very much for the opportunity to hear from all of you. and, you talked about the lessons learned in terms of amtrak, colorado and how we can work together to succeed in the future passenger rail interstate. could you talk about once again, the importance of, just quickly, maintaining a national transportation network so it's not just the northeast corridor amtrak? >> it's terribly important to the -- three states the southwest chief run- through. but also the city states the empire builder wednesday. of course -- to colorado as well. this uncertainty of whether or not this train is going to be continued has definitely impacted our efforts in colorado. we were working with amtrak vacations, company called yankee holidays to develop excursions off the southwest chief. it is a tremendous destination, or not destination, but a tremendous european vacation venue. and europeans come through the junta, go to -- they are thinking about the santa fe trail. so, we propose
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these excursions to yankee holidays. they said, this looks great. but it will take us 2-3 years to develop the marketing outreach and make these vacations happen. then we estimate they will be very profitable and they will increase the ridership, of course, the train. not referring to mr. anderson when i say this. it was before his immediate time. but that's all this uncertainty arose over whether or not the train needed to be relocated down to the bnsf transcontinental line back in the early 2000. so, what happened was, yankee holidays us, we cannot engage. we cannot get involved in developing these vacation packages because they are expensive. we have to market them internationally. we just can't do this unless we have certainty 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 train services has a tremendous economic and social effect on our community center citizens. >> -- as we look at ways to increase ridership as we look at ways to help encourage people to join the
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southwest chief that uncertainty is the same uncertainty that prevents were people from enjoying it because a company like you just mentioned, cannot market to its customers to go on the southwest chief because as the planning year or more in advance on a big trip like that, it may not be in existence if that is the concern that they have. think that's a really good point. so, we need to have a 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 disagree on some things. i appreciate your willingness to come and meet with us and talk to the senators about some of these issues and challenges. hope we can continue to work on that. we just asked for a couple of things. the certainty front, a letter that several of us had sent on april 5 2019, amtrak responded on may 17, i believe it was. and this is what the letter said. amtrak is not planning to truncate or substantially alter any long-distance routes, as we have been given clear direction by congress to maintain the status quo in 2019. we believe congress generally endorse continue operation of our current
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route network for the five-year period from fy 15 - fy 20. as a paragraph basically ends by saying, we plan on operating all of her long-distance routes from the trains for the remainder of the period while seeking to drive improved -- do you maintain that commitment? >> sure. signed the letter. i actually wrote that line. >> very good. thank you for that. thank you. i look forward to working with you on this and beyond. and, mr. anderson, if i could get your commitment to work with mr. sufi in colorado and kansas and new mexico interest as well. to resolve these issues and make this work for the southwest chief and the states involved. >> that would be great. i am glad to hear that it is worth $180 million to the states. said that 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. sufi. >> that goes into the general economy of our rural communities. but that does raise an interesting point. and it is positive train control, which we all support. but as was mentioned earlier,
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other risk mitigation might be necessary because not every single mile of the 1400 miles of non-ptc track that amtrak runs on, should we pay to have ptc on, in my opinion pick at least not yet, until traffic increases. and i specifically want to mention the new mexico line, were amtrak is the only user of the line and runs one train one way and one train the other in 24 hours. that is about 230 miles. if, in fact, if in fact, it is $500,000 or so per mile to install positive train control, we are talking about $100 million. for that 200 some on my line. that is an extremely -- investment. >> am sorry. anyway, that is an extremely costly investment for two trains. >> thank you. my time has
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expired. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you very much mr. --. mr. chester, since senator udall asked one of your questions for you, will three minutes be all right? >> that's fine. i'm willing to work with you. mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. >> thank you mr. cantwell. i want to thank you all for your testimony. mr. anderson, i've got to tell you, -- incredible as it may, i was in northwestern fire before i was a delta flyer and you made the transition incredibly well. and you have a personality that, quite frankly, is hard to get mean with. and we have had some differences on decisions that were made. in your testimony about breaking even in the next 12 months, about the fact that we have a highway system that is overloaded in certain areas and you can be a solution to that. and play an increasing role in transportation, i think it is really, really good.
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and, something i don't think anybody in this committee would disagree with. my concern is, in montana and you know montana pretty well from your previous job, is that whether we are talking about amtrak transportation or whether we are talking about broad band and enclosing a digital -- when we are talking about making sure the postal service can deliver to rural america and never changing the postal delivery standards, whether we're talking about air travel, it is always a challenge. it is always a challenge. and, if we go off the numbers as mr. survey said, and strictly go off the numbers, and i get it, man. i want amtrak to be able to run itself without any dollars from the federal government. but the truth is, i do think it is bigger than that. and, i know you're bored has given you a charge, probably to make this thing run with zero doll mac input from the taxpayer.
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but i will tell you, as i talk to folks and i have never rode a train in europe. talks with mac talk this. he talked about the high screed, high- speed train being built in china. everybody that has been in europe tells me those trains are absolutely incredible, and something that people gravitate to. for the transportation needs. i just really hope that moving forward, that we really try to make amtrak all it can be moving forward. and you talked about the population areas, and i agree with you. truthfully, you gotta go where the money is, right? but, we can forget about the rural areas either. 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
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don't have broadband. 25% of the places in montana don't have broadband. so you can buy tickets online. except for the fact that there is no kiosk in these places, that there is a person there, but they can sell tickets. and the question becomes for me, if we are not going to leave rural america out like the postal service, like the postal service guy, postmaster general tried to do a few years ago, like what happened with broadband. how do we make it so these folks in rural areas, quite frankly, would use the train, and have said, if they don't have train service, they are not going to use it. talk too much which really ticks me off. the truth is, how do we make this work for all areas? i know your hearts in the right spot. but the truth is, that, mr. survey is correct. there are economic and social benefits to this that we also need to include, include in the equation. could you respond to that?
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>> i agree with your policy statement. i think that intercity passenger rail can play a really important role in connecting rural america to urban america. there is 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 better job serving these communities. i have to say, that, you know, i have a secretary of transportation and administration that wants to basically cut our funding to a point where we would have massive layoffs. and i disagree with the secretary and i disagree with the omb. so, >> i would just say this. i don't know how we can get to the 21st century on railroads, but we
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are not there. where not there. and it is not your fault. quite frankly, it is congress's fault. and if we don't make the investment, we're never going to get the dividend. so, i would just encourage you to keep pushing very, very hard to make sure that not only do we have good passenger service in the places a high population areas you talked about. i have written the northeastern line. it is handy. don't take offense to this in your former topic it is actually easier to ride the rails and it is the finer point. >> i think it's far better than flying in a fine. >> that's affected by. and you should in your position. but the bottom line is, we need your advocacy, because you know this issue better than any others. to be able to push forward so we can make smart investments that work well for the american public. thank you very much. >> said thank you senator tester. senator moran. >> mr. chairman, thank you. thank you to our panel for being here. you have the joy of having three
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senators who care strongly about the southwest chief on this committee. so, people a focus. i'm sorry the other two witnesses seemed to be on two other folks. let me start with mr. so he. you mentioned an equation that doesn't take into account benefits to communities that are served by long- distance passenger rail service. what is that equation come from? is that something that amtrak is developing on its own volition? or is that statutory? >> no, no, no. the rails passengers association, which is a national group. served on the board until recently. on the national representative now, did research. they went to the trent lott institute because we worked on that for the gulf coast possible resumption of service. we went back to them because they do a very good job on this analysis. but they went out and looked. i recall, they looked at 11 or some odd. >> make sure you understand my question is, you tell me amtrak is using this
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particular equation. >> does not. i am recommending that they should. be to correct. but whether they get the authority? where do they make the decision to use that equation that the use? >> in the evaluation, particularly of a long-distance line. in other words, 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 are going to maintain a national system. we are going to maintain this underlying set of highly valued, long- distance train service. we are going to grow the expansion of our national rail network, based on that existing network. and, and when decisions are made about how to establish additional service, then we should take into account, not just passenger demand, but also, the benefits to communities - >> i understand fully your point and agree with that. let me turn to mr. anderson so i can turn my fire to somebody that i disagree with less than i thought they used to but still disagree with. mr. anderson. you set the stage
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for my skepticism about your view towards the southwest chief and long-distance passenger service. when we had a conversation with you and my colleagues, and you indicated in the planning stages, or at least thought process of amtrak, a replacement of long-distance or passenger service on the southwest chief from dodge city, kansas, to albuquerque using bus service. my reaction, i never intended when i met with you, i was annoyed by amtrak's failure to pay the $3 million that i believe they committed to a grant process for the southwest chief. that's what originated my outreach to you. but it was the bus comment that caught my attention and it stayed with me. and the idea that amtrak would think about replacing passenger service with the service for 400 miles, and believe that we would still have a long-distance passenger train for service, is something i can't get over because it tells me your attitude toward that line, or maybe toward long-distance nonprofitable passenger service. so, i will say a
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few more things before the chairman determines my time has gone. but i am anxious for you to assure me that my perception about your belief in regard to this is erroneous. and in that regard, what i would add to my question or comment is, can you reassure me that you will follow the law? can you assure me that if you follow the law, that long-distance are profitable passenger train service would continue, and in the letter that senator gardner read you, that you claim credit for 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 or things that give you greater flexibility than i think you are conveying by what you are saying today? >> first of all, we brought the issue, you're my boss. okay? so, congress decides what our funding is. you decide the policy. i keep a laminated copy of the policy with me at all
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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 straightforward in terms of what our mission is. >> so, what the lobby, allows you to do, what do i need to be worried about that you might do in regards to the reduction in service on the southwest chief? >> look. you have been clear on the southwest chief. and we are headstrong, in terms of using the $50 million. we have leveraged the $50 million. think i told you when we met, to $90 million. but it still has three big problems. and we shouldn't run from his problems. it needs to have ptc. i fundamentally disagree with him. and i don't think anybody should tell rural america that they have a lower level of safety than urban america, and that their trains are not going to have the kind of technology that the northeast corridor has. that happened at aviation. we had a whole series of accidents, congress
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changed the law. so, i disagree with that. that the ntsb disagree with that. that's number 1. you have got to bond what has to be funded to operate that railroad safely. and it needs $100 million of investment. we don't have that $100 million. i have an omb and the secretary of transportation that has a different view of my budget than i do. i agree with all of you that we need to invest in a national railroad network. but, we have got to have the funding. we have got to fix on-time performance, because you cannot hope to sustain the service if the southwest chief with the continual deterioration of on- time performance. >> i think that you want to increase and improve the service but there are no hedge words in the paragraph. thank you. >> thank you senator moran. senator blumenthal. >> thank you mr. chairman. and, welcome to all the participants. this morning.
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mr. anderson, last month, i sent you a letter, expressing my deep disappointment that amtrak has failed so far to reinstate its discount program for veterans and their immediate family members. until march 2018, as you know, amtrak provided a 15% savings to veterans on tickets for nationwide travel, and for the -- 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, inexplicably, amtrak eliminated this program. i would like to -- as i did in the letter, when this discount program will be reinstated for veterans? >> first of all, we have always had a
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good discount program for active duty military. so, that program has continued unabated. and, we are in the process of implementing the 10% discount for retired military personnel. >> i had my staff get back to you on when it will be fully implemented. we are allotted computer programming that has to be done since most of our tickets are sold over the internet. >> can you give me an approximate timeline? >> we should be pretty quick here. >> days? >> i don't know. >> days? >> end of this fiscal year? >> end of september? is it all programming? is that it? >> why does it take that long? >> you got to reprogram era. >> i -- back in - >> you want us to go faster. >> well, >> actually, the veterans of america want you to go faster. >> i got it. >> i'm glad you got
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it, i hope - >> i got it. >> all due respect, that you will address the request you. >> on it. >> thank you. >> this holiday i thank you for your commitment to positive train control a reminder that it was 50 years ago in gary on that a crash occurred that prompted the focus on positive train control, ptc, and it was actually included on the first of the most wanted lists of you saying your testimony back in 1990 - we are 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, aggregated? >> it should not be. >> the rest of the panel members agree? >> they are nodding.
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what should be done if they fail to meet that deadline? >> what do you recommend? >> you know, i know there has 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 are cash- strapped. about charging them with civil penalties that , in the end, they could use that funding for implementation of ptc instead of putting that money in the treasury. but, i think the pressure needs to remain on. not just for implementation of ptc by 2020, and i would urge swift implementation. you don't have to wait till 2020 to get that done. you do it immediately. but also, eliminating the exemptions to ptc. we just talked about an exemption on the southwest line. i just want to make sure that senators are aware, i am very supportive of our national passenger rail system and i spent
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many years defending the southwest chief and all the other long- distance routes. but when it comes to talking about numbers, the ntsb has investigated 153 ptc preventable accidents since 1969. over 300 fatalities, over 6700 injuries. and that amount of time, we put a man on the moon. we could have a permit to ptc, but thankfully, congress required it back in 2008. and if we are going to talk about measures, where there are exemptions to ptc, and there should be no exemptions, those exemptions should be eliminated. they were not authorized in the law. an ipad in the locomotive cab will not stop a train if an engineer runs through a red signal. if there is an overspeed derailment, if there is a switch in the wrong position, or a roadway worker is on the track. so probably have to implement ptc and these exemptions need to go away. >> i am one more quick question mr. anderson. you called the
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gateway project "the most urgent infrastructure project in the nation. and then you said, we need to get this done and stop the unnecessary redtape. period. i could not agree more. what can we do to cut through that redtape? >> the fra needs to approve, give the environmental approval for the hudson tunnel project. number 2, we need to kick off all the funding is in place for new york and new jersey for the matches to go forward on the construction 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 railroads. it is an essential part of the economy of the northeast corridor. and, the idea that
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we don't brace up and go make the kinds of investments that other countries around the world make all the time, is candidly discouraging. >> as a practical matter, commerce, transportation, rail transportation specifically, would be absolutely crippled and it's cratered. >> you would crater , it would crater the north and, northeastern economy. we have that many people that rely upon the railroad to get to and from work every day, and to get in and out of manhattan, it would cripple the economy. >> we're talking about tunnels that have decayed, and are literally potential dangers to health. >> hurricanes eddie. first of all, we have a lot of really good amtrak people >> in those tunnels. >> the bottom line is, they were ruined by hurricane sandy. and, we got our money's worth. they were built in 1908. >> thank you. >> senator blumenthal. >> senator duckworth.
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>> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for holding today's hearing. on the implementation -- program. and, mr. anderson, mr. jeffries, i would like to start with you. last week, i extended an invitation to the head of fra and fm csa, to meet with me to discuss their ideas and priorities for service presentation realization. i think it would also be helpful to discuss industry and quasigovernmental perspective. would you come to my office in the coming weeks to discuss your specific priorities for the -- authorization? >> absolutely. i would love to. >> thank you. >> -- mr. jeffries, implementation a ppc continues to be my primary focus as it is so many of my colleagues for the rail industry. the december 2020, that line is right around the corner and while significant progress has been made, i'm still concerned about the interoperability components, specifically, and
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dynamic areas like northeastern illinois. mr. jeffries, are you still confident that the interoperability issues will be fully addressed before december 31, 2020? >> i am. as you know, we briefed your office on a few occasions, and as issues come up, we have been able to work those through those. chicago is the epicenter of interoperability and we have got interoperability working group amongst us industry including all stakeholders. we are working through it and have full confidence. >> mr. anderson, are you equally optimistic? >> yes. we have great relationships with the freight railroads. our last mile of ptc implementation for amtrak owned tracks is a model, going into chicago union station. and, we are on schedule to have that completed on time. if i could, just not for the committee, the real challenge for ptc limitation by the deadline is going to be commuter railroads. particularly in the northeast corridor. and bond vettori has actually done a very good job marshaling
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everybody. there is a big summit meeting in july at the fra to get the heads of all those railroads and amtrak together to make sure they are going to hit the deadline. >> thank you. mr. jeffries, i assume aar supports raising funding levels for both the freight formula program, the infra grant program and eliminating non- highway spending on both pogroms. is a correct statement? >> ar absolutely supports the federal grant funding programs multi metal programs. have been enormously helpful to programs like create and or members have been active contributors of those projects. yes. >> thank you. >> mr. anderson, last week -- for whom i have the highest respect, highlighted that amtrak nationwide on-time performance a 77.9%. and on par with u.s. airlines. sounds pretty good. but as you have testified many times today, that is really not the true story. we need to scratch beneath the surface. can you give some figures - the -- to
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san francisco simper line is actually 48%, 48.8% on-time. southwest chief, 47%. empire builder, 46.2%. new orleans, 45.1%. capital limited, 41%. texas eagle, 39%. and dead last, the salute the line from chicago down to southern illinois , 35% on-time performance. i, myself, have been stuck on that train pick oftentimes for hours at a time. parked on the side track ergo reliability is the entire game, as you have mentioned for passenger and commuter rail. it doesn't matter if there is one train per day or 10 trains per day, if your customers cannot rely on that train to arrive on time. is scheduled. as you have said, you might as well book a flight. it is that simple. last week, i pressed administrative -- to be more engaged on the short shunting issue in particular, on the salute the line. and i am confident that he will keep
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that commitment. i am curious if amtrak is experiencing the signal activation issue in other areas of the country? and another realize? has amtrak experienced short shunting issues outweighing the nation? >> real place we have experienced short shunting issues is on the line you have described. we did have some of the trouble, i think on the hoosier line. about the state of indiana has discontinued the hoosier service. suck i think it has been principally there. ron but tori has been really good about pressing the host railroad to come up with solutions. >> so, did you ever find a solution for the hoosier line? are you never did? >> we have not found a solution. the solution that they told us is to put more cars on the train i just haul more empty cars. in the hope of closing the circuit. which seems goofy. but, it's what we are doing. >> okay. >> i am deeply concerned, i hope we can really - it's been years. we have said that he will commit to --
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>> he has been good about it. he has been. >> but you really haven't seen this anywhere else? >> no. i don't know. >> stephens is in the jury on the union pacific a little bit. but >> perhaps you can supplement the record and check with staff on the. >> yes. >> thank you very much. thank you senator type i. >> yes. senator marquis. >> thank you mr. chairman very much. in march 2017, a public works official was killed when his snowplow was struck by an amtrak train at a rail crossing in longmeadow, massachusetts. this tragic event marks the seventh collision in -- death in the locations is 9075. making the longmeadow crossing the deadliest in massachusetts. regrettably, 33% of rail -related fatalities occur at similar grade crossings nationwide. the area where the railway line intersects with the road apparently is
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a significant danger zone and we need to do more to prevent these kinds of tragedies. mr. anderson, what is amtrak doing to prevent fatal accidents at these crossings, we would like to hear that, because, in longmeadow, we are proud to help amtrak and the massachusetts state government to come together on the state funding agreement for safety apartment at this particular crossing, including the installation of warning lights and gates. but, i also understand that we are currently waiting for work to be in in longmeadow. so, mr. anderson, can you provide me with any information on amtrak's expected timeline for the longmeadow project? >> i don't have the details on the longmeadow project. i did get your correspondence on the correspondence of the other officials. i remember writing on the topic of we need to go fix this. >> okay, so i got that piccolo, crossings are, it
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is really incredible in this country, as wealthy up this country is, that we still have about 1800 people per year diet crossings. that's a really big number. and, the fra has a good program. the grant program. and, it seems to me that you would just move radically take longmeadow in 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 happening. and, we know what that technology is. it is just a matter of forcibly implementing a nationwide strategy to stop it from happening. >> we need, obviously, more work to be done. but, i need you to also commit to giving us the information of longmeadow as soon as possible. >> got it. >> briefing for the community, so that they know that this whole thing has
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been brought to a conclusion. so, - >> got it. >> 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 with drew a proposed rule that would mandated trains, both passenger and freight, to have at least a two-person crew. the fra also went a step further and created a regulatory blackhole by saying it would not allow individual states to control the size of a train crew. no matter their unique needs. i believe the fra's decision represents an application of responsibility. it is another example of the trump administration's anti-safety regulatory rollbacks. the fra's goal, prior to the trumpet ministration, was to make sure that there was always at least 2 certified crew members. conductor and an engineer on board, and ready to protect the train as well as people living beside the track. in response to the fra's patrol of the two-person crew rule, introducing the safe freight act, the legislation will mandate two-person crew safety standards on trains
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nationwide. mr. jeffries, i know that your organization disagrees with me about the need for a national crew size rule and applauded the fra's recent rollback. however, can you please explain whether you also believe that individual states should have zero power to protect the safety of local cargo passengers and citizens near railways. shouldn't the state have the ability to guarantee a minimum crew size if it believes such a rule would be necessary for the unique circumstances in their states. >> thank you for that senator marquis. the fra was pretty clear in its reasoning and data or lack thereof. justifying any federal crew size rule. we agreed with that. 17 review of accident showing there is no data showing that having two individuals in
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the cab reduces risk of accidents. everyday, we have single person crews operating throughout the country. you are right. 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 is where it should stay. the fra laid out its legal justification regarding its views on its action and the preemptive effects, at a higher level, i would say, -- is the epitome of interstate commerce. and, we feel strongly that we need operate under a uniform code of, rules and regulations. and the federal rail safety act lays that out as well. and it does state when the feds act, that it does have a preemptive effect. so, for our purposes, uniformity is certainly desirable. >> from my perspective, the obama fra reached a different conclusion. and, that is why recent legislation to proceed towards resolving the
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issue. okay i just think it is imperative. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you senator marquis. this on monday, i am told ptc really is not designed to help with grade crossings. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> is there the possibility that ptc could be upgraded for that purpose? >> i know that in the rail passenger safety improvement act of 2008, that congress required a study of technologies that and advancements that could be used after ptc is implemented for grade crossings. but 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 is no ticket officer, and there is no ticket agent,
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and no kiosk. can you discuss amtrak's crew plan for updating his reservation ticket payment systems to improve the customer ticket experience? increase efficiency, and reduce operating costs? i assume these little towns trade stops in the passenger can get on and buy a ticket on the train. >> right. >> could you discuss that? >> first of all, if you look across amtrak's system, i think we have 517 places we stop. in the vast majority of those have no one there. it is like the old days where you pull up at the train station, the conductor puts the little stool down. people get on and off, load the bags, and had on. about 90, 93% of our tickets are sold electronically now. and, in those two particular cities, i went back and looked. and, since
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we removed station agents which have an all in cost of about $150,000, minimum per year, we are still selling the same amount of tickets for people to get on and off trains in those two towns in montana. so, it has been something we have been doing overtime. and, as we deploy more technology, we want to be able to give our 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? >> depending upon the day, but, we carried 186 million passengers per year . >> and how does that compare to amtrak? >> well, amtrak carries about, amtrak carries about 32 million. but, if you look at the number of
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passengers we carry on the railroad we operate, the northeast corridor, it is 250 million probably. so, if you take our 30 million, but then we are the operator of the railroad, up and down the northeast corridor for all the commuter agencies. that number is, exceeds what delta did a year and passenger employments. >> so, f amtrak were an airline, where would it rank? >> 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 - >> would you explain the distinction? >> want to make sure - >> so, we own the northeast corridor. amtrak owns and operates the northeast corridor and all the stations up and down the northeast corridor. and that is union station in dc, all
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the way up to springfield and 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 railroad. and there is 2200 trips per day, 2100 trips per day on the northeast corridor. amtrak itself has about, this year, we are going to grow at record numbers. we are going to add 900,000 riders. we have about 32 million writers on amtrak metal. and, we probably have about 200 and 50 million that operate somewhere, or we operate railroads for other operators. we operate the commuter railroad in la. 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 is probably $250 million of our. >> thank you.
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that's i think, very instructive but a testimony. mr. jeffries, in the fall of 2018, early 19, union pacific norfolk southern, kansas city southern, announced they would be in many precision scheduled railroading. psr. this is an operating plan previously implemented at cfx, cn, cp, intended to create greater operational efficiencies. concerns have been raised about the impact of psr. on the business and rail service. in 2019, the surface transportation board held a hearing on changes to class ones -- accessorial charges in the context of psr implementation. had easy class ones
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implementation a precision scheduled railroading affecting passenger service? let's say in the next six months, this year? and how is implementation, precision scheduling, affecting shippers, and what our class ones doing to minimize the negative impacts? in the crew service? >> thank you for that question mr. chairman. you are absolutely correct that several of the railroads the latter half of last fall announced operational changes or changes to the operational plans. i would say, each railroad is certainly unique in its network, and its operation. i wouldn't want to cast the blanket statement about what all of them are doing. but, i think some of the principles or tenants that you have seen discussed, and that is certainly not limited just to the folks that you listed, but is increased asset utilization increased in
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efficiency, increasing visibility, and to orders and shipments, and to customer knowledge of product delivery, i think first of all, that any successful company is will be always evaluating how it does its job and how it operates on looking for a better way to improve its products, do it service. and i think that is exactly what these railroads are doing. all of them. but, i think, you know, when you look at some of the goals , again, increasing efficiency, creating additional capacity, creating better visibility, more predictable schedules, and to delivery of product, i think that, you know, i would expect that would extend into the passenger product as well. the passenger customers as well. richard, can certainly comment on amtrak's points of view. but i think overall, if the goal is a more timely, predictable schedule on delivery of goods and services, including passenger, i think you would expect
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that to see a positive improvement. >> let me just ask one more question to you mr. jeffries. perhaps we can stop. on page 4 of your testimony, you mentioned correctly, that to approve capacity and safety of the rail network, primarily owned freight railroads spend, on average, $25 billion each year on maintenance and capital improvements. and you point out that this ultimately benefits amtrak. surrounding communities in the nation. you go on to say, existing or potential future freight traffic levels are so high, that there is no spare capacity, new infrastructure might be needed. before passenger trains can be added to operate over a line. does your association, or do you personally have a recommendation in
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that regard? as to how to supplement - telus for the record, how the freight railroads, where this extra $25 billion each year comes from? >> so, the $25 billion private investment of year comes from the resident, owned by the freight railways. >> is at encouragement --. >> i was eight is encouraged by the economic paradigm that we operate under. it is not encouraged by the class ones don't benefit from any specific tax credit. no. they had benefit from a balanced economic regulatory scheme. they benefit from a competitive economy. they benefit from customers who want to ship goods. and in turn, they turned that, plow them back into the networks. and i think the point of benefiting the passenger customer is that because of all this investment, the
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freight rail and network is in the healthiest shape it has been in the history of the network. alcohol users, whether it is freight, or passenger, benefit from the health of that network? >> the point i am trying to get you, is you are in of being able to speak for passengers and freight. the have a recommendation. is there a need for more capacity. than the average additional $25 million each year. if so, do you have a recommendation? >> depending on the particular project, we talked about obviously both sides. they work together to identify. let's see where things are going to be today. what are the potential constraints. if there are constraints, that absolutely there is a federal role to play there.
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whether it is through the grant program. those programs that our partners and do all finding. to bring a match for a contribution to creating the necessary capacity. to ensure long-term success. they are usually beneficial. >> thank you all. i guess we will close it down at this point. you have been very helpful. very informative. the record will remain open for two back weeks. senses asked to submit any questions for the record. the witnesses are requested to submit the written answers to the committee as soon as possible. no later than wednesday july 24.
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thank you very much. we appreciate that the dissipation of all members. this hearing is now adjourned.
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