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This Week at Amtrak 2006-12-21

December 21st, 2006 Comments off

SPECIAL NOTE: This is the 50th and final TWA for 2006, unless breaking news warrants publication between now and the first week in January, 2007. Thank you for reading and contributing to TWA in 2006. Read more…

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This Week at Amtrak 2006-12-12

December 12th, 2006 Comments off

Volume 3 Number 49

  1. Last week, here at This Week, we noted for the previous week how Amtrak Chicago boss Don Saunders and his many employees appeared to have “gotten the drop” on Old Man Winter, as he blew into the Midwest during a late fall visit.We noted that in years past, Amtrak in Chicago has struggled, often without success, against the cruelties of harsh winter weather. It has often appeared that like clockwork, Amtrak in Chicago has been caught totally unaware that winter was coming, and preparations should have be made for the convenience of passengers and personnel.It can be said with some surety Mr. Saunders and his Chicago operations employees did what they were supposed to do to be prepared for the storm. It’s too bad the folks at Amtrak’s National Operations Center in Wilmington, Delaware didn’t do as well as Mr. Saunders to keep things going for the benefit of Amtrak’s passengers and crews who were battling the elements. Mr. Saunders got the trains out of the terminals and on the road. It’s what happened then that things went far awry.
  2. With the kind permission of The State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield, Illinois, which has been a leader in Illinois covering Amtrak issues, we reprint two news reports of Friday, December 8, 2006. Read more…
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This Week at Amtrak 2006-12-05

December 5th, 2006 Comments off

Volume 3 Number 48

  1. In years past, Amtrak in Chicago has struggled, often without success, against the cruelties of harsh winter weather. It has often appeared that like clockwork, Amtrak in Chicago has been caught totally unaware that winter was coming, and preparations should have be made for the convenience of passengers and personnel.This year, Amtrak Chicago boss Don Saunders and his many employees appear to have “gotten the drop” on Old Man Winter, as he blew in with a late fall visit to the Midwest.Here is a December 1st internal Amtrak report of the preparations made in Chicago last week in preparation for the coming pre-Winter killer snow and ice storm. Read more…
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This Week at Amtrak 2006-11-28

November 28th, 2006 Comments off

Volume 3 Number 47

  1. Memo To: Alex Kummant, Amtrak President and CEO Subject: Please take a ride on your Sunset LimitedMr. Kummant, we’ve all heard how pleased you were to ride the Coast Starlight, and how there is a possibility the Starlight will regain its rightful place as one of Amtrak’s premier long distance trains. The results of the Starlight come from the hard work of many dedicated Amtrak employees, both onboard and in management and support positions, who have worked many years to make sure this train represents everything a long distance passenger train in America can represent.

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This Week at Amtrak 2006-11-17

November 17th, 2006 Comments off

Volume 3 Number 46

SPECIAL NOTE: Unless breaking news events warrant coverage, there will be no TWA next week during Thanksgiving Week. TWA will return the week of November 27th. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and a warm “thank you” to all Amtrak employees who will be working during the Thanksgiving holiday so many passengers will be able to be with their family and friends during this important holiday.


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This Week at Amtrak 2006-11-08

November 8th, 2006 Comments off

Volume 3 Number 45

  1. Amtrak, perhaps more so than most entities, is governed by politics. This week, the political winds in Washington brought a sharp change to the landscape, and many will be wondering how Amtrak will be affected. Probably, not much.For the past several years, Amtrak has become mostly a bipartisan issue, especially when it comes to funding. Amtrak has consistently had most of its budget requests met by Congress (about as well as any other program requesting money from Washington, on a percentage basis), so there is not likely to be much change on that front.Also in the past, Amtrak, during its more naughty management times, had consistently submarined Congress, which brought about much needed oversight, even to an unnecessary point of micro-managing the company’s affairs. The unnecessary micro-managing may change, but not necessarily immediately, at least until Amtrak proves it can be trusted to do the right thing in everyone’s mind.

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This Week at Amtrak 2006-11-02

November 2nd, 2006 Comments off

Volume 3 Number 44 — Any given day can bring dozens of communiques to the URPA electronic mail box. Here is a sampling of the last few days. Read more…

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This Week at Amtrak 2006-10-26

October 26th, 2006 Comments off

Volume 3 Number 43 –

  1. The new Amtrak Fall 2006/Winter 2007 timetables are out. Here is what one wag had to say: Read more…
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This Week at Amtrak 2006-10-20

October 20th, 2006 Comments off

Volume 3 Number 42

  1. As those of us living east of New Orleans are still helplessly peering down the tracks hoping to see an oncoming Sunset Limited, it seems things are not well in the Sunset’s onboard crew base in Los Angeles.Chefs and Lead Service Attendants for dining and lounge cars are deserting the Amtrak ship at a fast rate. There are dozens of LSA vacancies just in Los Angeles alone, thanks to Diner Lite, or what is otherwise known as Amtrak’s Simplified Dining Service. Since the great majority of crew members for all areas of dining cars – both the kitchen and service staff – have been laid off allegedly because they are not needed with the new menu, those remaining are working much harder than before, and are simply wearing out faster. The bottom line is that for these onboard employees, the pay and benefits are just not enough to justify the level of work that is required to keep the dining cars running without adequate staff.
  2. On October 17th, Progressive Railroading magazine reported in a daily news digest on its web site: Read more…
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This Week at Amtrak 2006-10-12

October 12th, 2006 Comments off

Volume 3 Number 41

  1. When you think of Amtrak, in what context do you think of Amtrak? To you, is Amtrak your local commuter carrier in the Northeast or in California? Is Amtrak your provider of long distance train service when you go to visit your grandchildren? Is Amtrak your substitute for an interstate highway for a short business trip?Amtrak is many things to many people. One common thread is that Amtrak often does not live up to people’s expectations.Those of us who are old (and perhaps wise, too) enough to remember private passenger rail service, depending on the era we remember, recall trains full of well-dressed travelers, Pullman dining cars with gleaming silver and china, and full meals freshly prepared.

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