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

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  • 10 Oct 2020 9:46 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    By now, all of us have heard of the draconian cuts Amtrak continues to carry out to its long distance services.

    All of them, with the exception of the Silver Meteor (which now runs just 4x per week, down from daily) and the Auto Train, (which has escaped cuts except to its food service so far), will run tri-weekly going forward. All of them.

    Amtrak has yet to announce a firm daily service restoration date for any of these trains.

    Meanwhile, Amtrak continues to run nearly empty trains in the Northeast Corridor, which Amtrak management sees as its crown jewel. And the Northeast Corridor, which no one in Amtrak's management can argue is profitable now, needs tens of billions in capital funds to replace bridges, tunnels and other items of infrastructure.

    Amtrak is asking for more funds, as noted in this article from Progressive Railroading: 

    https://www.progressiverailroading.com/amtrak/news/Amtrak-Additional-funds-needed-to-avoid-more-service-job-cuts--61792

    And Amtrak does need more funding to get through the COVID-19 crisis.

    While we encourage FCRP members and friends to reach out to Congress, it is important to mention the importance of maintaining daily long distance service from both of the Florida trains in your contacts.

    Amtrak has gutted its Florida services, as well as all of the long distance trains nationwide, even though ridership on these trains is recovering far better than the Northeast Corridor.

    By cutting long distance services, the trains will lose more money than ever--which is already evidenced by the major losses Amtrak is posting on the Silver Star and Silver Meteor, which were cut July 6.

    Make no mistake--the end game of all of this will be to restore only some of the long distance trains. The Silver Star may be particularly vulnerable because it will wrongly be seen by some as a duplication of services (even though it serves different Florida markets than the Silver Meteor). 

    Here's where to speak up:

    To Contact Senator Rick Scott: https://www.rickscott.senate.gov/contact_rick

    To Contact Senator Marco Rubio: https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

    To locate and contact your Member of Congress: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/FL

    Please be specific in your contacts with Congress about your desires to see full Amtrak service restored in Florida. The 50% cut in services to the Silver trains which we saw on July 6 is unacceptable.

    In addition to funds, Amtrak needs a new Board of Directors and executives who want to do more than operate the Northeast Corridor and state supported trains. 

    It is also worthwhile to remind our Governor and FDOT that Amtrak service in Florida is important to you.

    To contact Governor Ron DeSantis: https://www.flgov.com/contact-governor/

    To contact FDOT Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, call 850-414-4100

    Keep fighting! Please ignore the opinions expressed on social media and internet sites which regard all of our efforts at contacting politicians as futile. This is a long game which we must play to the end. Your voices are being heard!

    If you have written or called already, please do so again. One or two emails aren't effective--be loud and frequent in your contacts.

    Finally, as we go to the polls--please consider how your elected officials have voted for Amtrak and passenger rail. If their record is hostile, you know what to do.

    Thanks and stay safe! 

    --Jackson McQuigg

  • 02 Sep 2020 3:58 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    Amtrak announced this week that it plans to furlough 2,000 workers as its plans to cut its entire national long distance network to service just 3 days per week.

    From Reuters via Yahoo Finance:

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-passenger-railroad-amtrak-furlough-173203384.html

    Meanwhile, the New York Times has picked up on the story and RPA's arguments against it:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/01/us/amtrak-coronavirus-profit-public-transportation.html

    Unfortunately, the article gave Amtrak management an opportunity to incorrectly use stale statistics once again to bolster their arguments for the elimination of daily service to much of its network. 

    We are encouraging everyone, once again, to contact Congress and remind your elected officials about the importance of daily Amtrak service around the country--not just in the Northeast Corridor and a few other select routes.

    Contact Senator Marco Rubio: 

    https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

    Contact Senator Rick Scott:

    https://www.rickscott.senate.gov/contact_rick           

    Locate and contact your Member of Congress:

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/FL#representatives

    Contact Governor Ron DeSantis:           

    https://www.flgov.com/contact-governor/

    The Congress returns to work next week from its summer recess. Speaking up now about the value of the long distance trains to our country is more important than ever!

    --Steve Sayles and Jackson McQuigg

  • 15 Aug 2020 7:26 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    We've uploaded here the signed version of the Tampa City Council resolution passed recently which encourages Amtrak to resume daily train service to Tampa Union Station as soon as possible.

    This week, Amtrak reiterated its plans to cut the service levels on the majority of its trains across the USA back to 3 times per week (from daily) on October 1.

    To restore our daily service and to prevent further train service cuts, Congress must act. YOUR voice is needed.

    Contact Senator Marco Rubio: 

    https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

    Contact Senator Rick Scott:

    https://www.rickscott.senate.gov/contact_rick           

    Locate and contact your Member of Congress:

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/FL#representatives

    Contact Governor Ron DeSantis:           

    https://www.flgov.com/contact-governor/

    Iconic trains like the California Zephyr, the City of New Orleans, the Empire Builder, and the Crescent are now set for big cuts. Let's do everything we can to prevent them!

    --Steve Sayles and Jackson McQuigg


  • 13 Aug 2020 4:53 PM | Stephen Sayles (Administrator)

    All,

    Here is Amtrak coming up with another way to bury itself. Follow link below

    https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/corporate/position-papers/white-paper-amtrak-long-distance-restoration-plan.pdf

    This really shows the ignorance of Flynn, Gardner and the rest of management.

    Stephen Sayles
    President


  • 09 Aug 2020 3:10 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    This past week, the Tampa City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Amtrak to restore daily train service to Tampa Union Station.

    You may read the resolution here: Tampa Resolution.pdf

    The Council's passage of this resolution was the result of Friends of Tampa Union Station and FCRP working with Council Member Bill Carlson to introduce the legislation--which he did willingly. The Tampa City Council unanimously supported the resolution as it includes several members who use Amtrak train services from Tampa Union Station. 

    The resolution calls for the City Clerk to send a copy of the resolution to Amtrak CEO William Flynn.

    YOUR voice continues to be critical to saving Amtrak's long distance train network across the USA. The 50% reduction to Florida Amtrak service which took place on July 6 was just a warm-up act for the plans to huge train and job cuts still set for October 1.

    Please contact Florida's Congressional representatives in Washington and our Governor to protest the cuts!

    To contact Senator Marco Rubio, click here.

    To contact Senator Rick Scott, click here.

    To locate and contact your Member of Congress, click here.

    To contact Governor Ron DeSantis, click here.

    If you have already emailed, written a letter, or called, please do so again. This is critical for the survival of Amtrak service to key cities in Florida.

    Thank you!

    --Steve Sayles and Jackson McQuigg


  • 29 Jul 2020 4:29 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    If there ever was a time to speak up to your elected officials, it's right now.

    Here's why.

    Last week, Amtrak's CEO William Flynn appeared on CBS This Morning to repeat Amtrak's threat to cut the frequency of the operation of its long distance trains to 3 times per week.

    During the interview, he apparently forgot to mention that as of July 6, Amtrak already did that to cities in Florida like Tampa, Okeechobee, and Lakeland, as well as cities in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina when the Silver service trains were hacked. These are changes which were made without any notice to affected cities or stakeholder input.

    While it is now an historical fact that Amtrak has cut its Florida service by 50%, we must act now to prevent the cuts from becoming permanent and to protect the jobs of dedicated Amtrak employees.

    Amtrak is now before the Senate seeking bailout money. As we've stated before, Amtrak has been hit hard by the coronavirus and needs emergency funds. We support those efforts.

    However, the only way to ensure that any emergency funds from Congress go to help preserve the national network is to make sure that Congress provides the bailout money with "strings" attached. 

    Please ask our elected officials to support daily operation of Amtrak routes as they existed in FY 2019. This would restore the Florida service to its pre-July 6 levels.

    And be specific that you mean trains. Not Thruway bus substitutions. 

    • To contact Senator Marco Rubio, click here. 
    • To contact Senator Rick Scott, click here.
    • To locate and contact your Member of Congress, click here.

    It will also be helpful to contact your local elected officials, Chambers of Commerce, Visitors and Convention Bureaus, and Governor Ron DeSantis

    If you have already written and/or called your elected officials, please do so again. Contacting our U.S. Senators is especially important. 

    There are no doubts about it now: Amtrak has decided that it wants to focus on the Northeast Corridor and a few select other corridors. It intends to shrink its footprint in the rest of the country.

    To prevent this, we have to speak up now!

    --Steve Sayles and Jackson McQuigg

  • 14 Jul 2020 7:21 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    U.S. Congressman Darren Soto has added his voice to the growing concerns about Amtrak's 50% cuts to train service in Florida. 

    We've been encouraging politicians to speak up to Amtrak about these cuts, which left service slashed throughout the state and Tampa, Lakeland and Okeechobee without daily train service.

    Congressman Soto's excellent letter and news release is here: https://soto.house.gov/media/press-releases/soto-inquires-about-central-florida-amtrak-route-reductions

    If you live in his district--or even if you don't--please thank him for standing up for Florida train service!

    Has your Member of Congress spoken up yet? If not, please continue to encourage them to do so.

    --Steve Sayles and Jackson McQuigg

  • 11 Jul 2020 7:16 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    The Amtrak cuts to the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star are here, but we are already fighting to bring the trains back!

    Amtrak initially intended to make these cuts quietly. As soon as we found out about them, FCRP members worked diligently to spread the word so that awareness could build. 

    Who did we contact?

    • Senator Marco Rubio
    • Senator Rick Scott
    • Members of Congress throughout the State of Florida
    • Governor Ron DeSantis
    • The Mayors of Tampa, Lakeland, Sebring, Orlando. Winter Park, Miami, DeLand, Hollywood, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Palatka, Jacksonville, Okeechobee, Winter Haven, Kissimmee, Ft. Lauderdale, Pinellas Park, Jesup GA, Camden, SC, Denmark, SC, Columbia, SC, Hamlet, NC, Southern Pines, NC and Raleigh, NC. 
    • City Commissioners in Lakeland
    • City Council Members in Tampa
    • Chairman of the Hillsborough County Commission
    • Florida State Senator Janet Cruz
    • Union locals representing Amtrak employees, including the TCU and IAM, whose workers are fighting for their jobs
    • Florida Department of Transportation
    • Friends of Tampa Union Station
    • Rail Passengers Association
    • And many others!

    These efforts are bearing fruit. As this article indicates, Congressman Darren Soto is sending a letter to Amtrak questioning the cuts. And that's just one example.

    We've also been busy contacting media to help spread the word about the cuts to the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor that Amtrak wanted to keep quiet.

    Together, our efforts have resulted in stories or pieces in the following publications or radio stations:

    • WUSF Radio (Tampa Bay area NPR affiliate)
    • WOCA The Source (talk radio for Ocala and Gainesville)
    • WFLA Radio (AM Tampa Bay with Jack Harris)
    • Polk News-Sun (newspaper story quoting Steve Sayles)
    • Raleigh News & Observer (newspaper story)
    • Lake Okeechobee News (newspaper story)
    • The Pilot (Southern Pines, NC; newspaper story)
    • Tampa Bay Business Journal (newspaper story with links to FCRP website)
    • Lakeland Now (news site; story)
    • The Press Sentinel (Jesup GA; newspaper story and letter to the editor)
    • 12,500+ social media mentions on Facebook and Twitter

    The awareness we created also helped serve as the basis for stories in the New York Times and USA Today.

    What next? Let's keep fighting. Let's not let Amtrak keep the current "temporary" schedule in place after COVID-19 subsides.

    We mustn't forget that Amtrak management used the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina to curtail its New Orleans-Orlando service--which remains "temporarily suspended" to this day. 

    If you have written our Senators, your member of Congress, the Governor, and your local elected officials already--please do so again!

    Enough is enough! 

    • To contact Senator Marco Rubio, click here. 
    • To contact Senator Rick Scott, click here.
    • To locate and contact your Member of Congress, click here.

    It will also be helpful to contact your local elected officials, Chambers of Commerce, Visitors and Convention Bureaus, and Governor Ron DeSantis

    Thank you for all your efforts. Let's keep fighting until we get both the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor back to daily service. 

    --Steve Sayles and Jackson McQuigg

  • 03 Jul 2020 10:22 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    FCRP President Steve Sayles was on WOCA The Source Ocala this morning discussing Amtrak's planned service cuts to Florida, which take effect Monday, July 6.

    Click here to listen to the interview. 

    A reminder to contact your elected officials to protest these draconian cuts!

    --Jackson McQuigg

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