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David Laney
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BNSF_1088
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David Laney
 
« on: Feb 7th, 2006, 10:42am »
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David Laney  
Chairman
Amtrak
 
 
 
 
(DFW Airport, Texas) - The national passenger rail service, Amtrak, "is in better shape and has a brighter future than in years past" but faces many daunting challenges, according to Amtrak Chairman of the Board David Laney. He spoke before the 2nd annual South Central High Speed Rail Corridor Conference, held at DFW International Airport on Friday, January 27, hosted by Texas Rail Advocates.
 
While running through a list of challenges that the National Railroad Passenger Corporation faces, Laney addressed critics that oppose a national rail network and would like to dismember the current system. "The answer is clear - there is a place for intercity trains", he said. Truncating a passenger rail system into isolated corridors is not the answer, according to Laney. The chairman did address the need for expansion of passenger rail services in areas not now served. He indicated he would like to see one or two new corridors opened where there is sufficient traffic to make the services viable with other forms of transportation.  
 
While Amtrak is under pressure to reduce costs from a somewhat skeptical Congress, Laney spelled out areas where the company can and will do a better job in the future, under direction from the board. Laney said that Amtrak management has been given the task of reducing operating expenses by $200 million dollars in the coming years. He indicated that Amtrak is in the process of "renovating our house" and "can not be lost in yesteryear." Labor is one key area where unions will need to come to the table and release their "suicidal death grip" on work rules so that Amtrak can be a viable entity. One example Laney pointed out was that nationwide "Amtrak trains have a total of 5,000 toilets, but when one needs to be repaired it takes three different craft union members to fix it". Labor is currently at 82 percent of revenue and the board chairman said that no business can operate with that high a cost.
 
In the future, individual states should be prepared to assume some of the costs of passenger rail service through matching federal/state funding proposals, according to Laney. He indicated that there also needs to be more competition on Intercity passenger rail routes besides the current Amtrak services.
 
Laney pointed out several core areas that need to be achieved. Besides getting needed concessions from the 13 labor unions that Amtrak must operate under, Congressional reauthorization of Amtrak's right to operate must occur. It is now three years overdue, according to Laney, but he is hopeful that Congress can complete the reauthorization by May. Another area of concern is addressing the shrinking capacity on host freight railroads where Amtrak must run trains in most of the country. A dramatic increase in freight train traffic from a booming economy has made dispatching and running trains over many routes a major problem. Laney said that freight train interference in delaying passenger trains is a major concern that must be addressed by the freight railroads and government entities
 


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Re: David Laney
 
« Reply #1 on: Feb 7th, 2006, 2:52pm »
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Quote:
Labor is currently at 82 percent of revenue
I don't believe this for a second.  More like outstanding debt and high management salaries (isn't political patronage grand?), as well as creative accounting with a certain bias (not to mention extra expenditure due to deferred maintenance), are eating up the revenue.
 
I see that on the Amtrak "management" end, they reflect the utter falsity of the Bush administration's "concern" about the USA being "addicted to oil".  If that were the case, then loads of pork spending on airports would be pulled away and redirected towards electrified intercity rail travel.  You know how much fuel is consumed by US airlines alone?  18.5 billion gallons in a year (this was 2004 by itself).


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ClydeDET
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Re: David Laney
 
« Reply #2 on: Feb 8th, 2006, 10:45am »
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I don't quite understand this "need for competition" bit - just who does he think would be interested in running competing service (at least without subsidy)? Teh freight railroads? soem "private entity" that would have to try and rent track space from the freight roads that are already (according to Mr. Laney) having capacity problems (on some routes, that's probably true)? Sounds like a lot of fertilizer of intact male bovine origin to me.

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