Promoting passenger trains as a transportation alternative in Florida since 1983.  We are citizens who advocate for Amtrak, commuter rail, intercity rail and transit for Florida's future.

The Silver Rail Blog

  • 31 Mar 2018 9:21 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    This week, Amtrak announced plans to exit the charter business and to effectively eliminate the haulage of private railroad cars, without warning and effective immediately.

    How does this affect you? Many nonprofit railroad preservation groups depend on Amtrak in order to operate their preserved equipment. They have now been sidelined.

    Further, Amtrak is walking away from $10 million a year in revenue with this move. That revenue is important to Amtrak since it helps it reduce its subsidy from Congress.

    To help reverse this decision, contact your elected officials and sign this petition.

    --Jackson McQuigg

  • 23 Mar 2018 1:58 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    It isn't often that you meet someone like Andy Healy. 

    One of the founders of the Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers and its past President, Andy was a very rare man--a business leader who was not only successful but humble, and who gave his time generously back to his community and state.

    Back in 1982, when the Coalition was initially organized, the thought that trains would continue to run in Florida beyond the turn of the millennium was something which must have sounded far-fetched. President Reagan was trying to eliminate Amtrak's budget and no other service was on the horizon. But here we are in 2018: Amtrak trains still run and now we have Brightline, Sunrail and Tri-Rail besides.

    And if you think that's merely coincidental, you need to read more.

    During the 1980s and 1990s, Andy was one of the stalwarts among rail advocates in Florida, along with Barb and John Thomas, George Diller, Austin Coates, Jim Herron and Charlie Dunn. 

    Like them, Andy never sought recognition, but he was always there at the right time, advocating for better passenger rail service to elected officials, FDOT bureaucrats and to anyone else who might listen.

    In addition to his leadership in rail circles, Andy was also a leader in the business world--albeit quietly. In fact, if you asked Andy what he did for a living, he would tell you that he worked for "the family business" or some such. 

    I never thought much of it until we had an FCRP Board meeting at Andy's family business sometime in the early 2000s. You see, what you'd never know--and you'd never hear it from him--is that he actually was a founder and rose through the management ranks to become the head guy of a major international company called Senninger Irrigation, a market leader in agricultural irrigation products. 

    Even then, Senninger did tens of millions of dollars a year in sales. In agricultural irrigation, Senninger was then number 3 behind household names Rain-Bird and Nelson. And our humble train advocate friend Andy was in charge of it!

    After our Board meeting on that day so long ago, Andy gave all of us then on the FCRP Board a tour of the company's manufacturing plant. True to form, all of the employees at Senninger seemed to like Andy very much--and he was on a first-name basis with what seemed like all of them. 

    Senninger is no longer a family business. It grew to the point where it was sold by Andy and his family. It is today a division of Hunter Industries (it was sold in 2016). And Andy, as I understand it, retired quite a while back. Still, I expect that today many of its employees are saddened by Andy's passing.

    More on Andy Healy's life is here. It's a very modest obit for a very impressive man who was modest by nature. But don't be fooled. If you ride a train in Florida today or in the future, he deserves plenty of thanks. After all, like the other founders of FCRP, Andy was one of the people that "kept the faith" in passenger trains for all of us.

    I, for one, am proud to have called him a friend for 33 years. Thanks, Andy!

    --Jackson McQuigg 

  • 11 Feb 2018 12:03 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    There's been some pretty bad reporting out there on the safety concerns which have been raised about Amtrak and Brightline. Most of it can be summed up in a single word: horrible.

    Here's an editorial about Amtrak safety which is worth reading. It's not filled with glaring inaccuracies or a "abandon all else and put my region first" point of view. What's more, it's intelligently written.

    From the Seattle Times:

    --Jackson McQuigg


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