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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  • 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

  • 27 Jun 2020 8:27 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    It isn't just Tampa, Lakeland and Okeechobee who are losing from Amtrak's planned July 6 Silver Service cuts. 

    While Tampa, Lakeland and Okeechobee will be losing daily train service, all other stations in Florida will be losing HALF of their Amtrak service as both the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor are being cut.

    Check out the list of cities which will lose 50% of their service:

    1. Jacksonville

    2. Palatka

    3. DeLand

    4. Winter Park

    5. Orlando

    6. Winter Haven

    7. Kissimmee

    8. Sebring

    9. West Palm Beach

    10. Delray Beach

    11. Deerfield Beach

    12. Ft. Lauderdale

    13. Hollywood

    14. Miami

    15. Tampa (train service cut to tri-weekly)

    16. Lakeland (train service cut to tri-weekly)

    17. Okeechobee (train service cut to tri-weekly)

    In a letter to Congress, Amtrak CEO William Flynn stated that cuts to long distance trains would begin in October. Yet, the cuts to the Silver Service trains are taking place beginning July 6--even though ridership is increasing on these trains!

    Don't let these temporary cuts become permanent!

    Enough is enough! Contact our elected officials today!

    • 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

    We all remember the "temporary" cuts to the New Orleans-Florida service, which remains "temporarily suspended" due to Hurricane Katrina. Let's not let a repeat happen with the Silver Service.

    Time to mobilize!

    --Steve Sayles and Jackson McQuigg

  • 23 Jun 2020 4:34 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    Amtrak management's short-sided decision to cut the Silver Star from daily operation to just 3 times per week leaves a surprising number of cities in the Southeast without daily train service and harpoons key markets.

    The cities left without daily train service on July 6 are: 

    1. Tampa, FL 
    2. Okeechobee, FL
    3. Lakeland, FL 
    4. Jesup, GA (served by Silver Meteor only, 4 days per week)
    5. Columbia, SC (capital of South Carolina)
    6. Denmark, SC
    7. Camden, SC
    8. Hamlet, NC
    9. Southern Pines, NC
    10. Raleigh, NC (capital of North Carolina; loses daily service to Florida)

    All of these stations are places where train service is vital, needed and well-patronized. Why are they being treated as "flyover territory" by Amtrak's management?

    If this weren't incredible enough, Amtrak is walking away from regularly serving the Silver Star's largest market: Tampa to Southeast Florida. Click here for data from the Rail Passengers Association for more.

    It's been proven time and time again that scaling back daily trains to tri-weekly train service costs Amtrak more than it saves by driving away revenue needed to cover fixed costs. That will definitely happen with the intrastate Florida market.

    Amtrak's management has stated that these cuts are "temporary". However, all of us remember that Amtrak service between New Orleans and Florida was "temporarily suspended" for Hurricane Katrina back in 2005--and has yet to return.

    And, in another surprise, earlier this year Amtrak quietly shut down Amtrak's ticket office in Pinellas County, forcing passengers from Largo, St. Petersburg and Clearwater to wait at the curb of a strip mall. There isn't even a shelter anymore.

    We strongly encourage you to contact your elected officials now to protest these moves. In addition to Florida's two U.S. Senators and your Member of Congress, please consider alerting your local Mayor, City Council, County Commission, Visitors and Convention Bureau, and Chamber of Commerce and encourage all of them to speak up for daily Amtrak service across the national network. 

    But it is not just the Southeast and the Silver Star. Amtrak's management is planning to cut all of its national network trains from daily to three times per week on October 1.

    Enough is enough! Contact our elected officials today!

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

    --Steve Sayles and Jackson McQuigg

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