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

  • 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

  • 18 Jun 2020 7:51 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    While much has been in the news about Amtrak's plans to cut its long distance trains to operating only 3 days per week on October 1, the news for Florida is even worse.

    Service changes on the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor are taking place on July 6. Cities like Tampa, Okeechobee, Lakeland, and others around the state have been reduced to tri-weekly service with this change.

    Amtrak has stated that the trains are running empty. This is not true. Reports from the field indicate that our Silver trains are carrying more than any of the other trains in the national system. 

    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. 

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

    Do not accept Amtrak's "trojan horse" explanation that these cuts are temporary and that daily service will return after COVID-19 is eradicated. 

    Amtrak's senior managers, largely former airline executives these days, have been outwardly hostile to all but corridor trains in recent years.

    Some have even gone out of their ways to insult those of us who use the national network trains by referring to them in press interviews as, "not serious transportation", or "experiential trains", and their principal passengers as, "hobbyists".

    Let's show them just how wrong they are.

    --Steve Sayles and Jackson McQuigg


    From Amtrak:

    Beginning on July 6, 2020, the Silver Meteor and Silver Star will operate on alternating days—offering one daily train between New York and Miami

    For the Silver Meteor:
    Southbound Train #97 will depart New York on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
    Northbound Train #98 will depart Miami on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

    For the Silver Star:
    Southbound Train #91 will depart New York on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
    Northbound Train #92 will depart Miami on Thursday, Friday and Saturday

    Both trains will offer expanded capacity for each departure:

    Five fully-refreshed Amfleet II Coach cars—offering new seating cushions, carpets, curtains, LED reading lights and ample space for physical distancing

    Three Viewliner Sleeping Cars—offering customers the option to book a private Bedroom or Roomette for their trip

    One Amfleet Café Car—offering meals, snacks and beverages for sale

    One Viewliner II Sleeper Lounge—an exclusive space for customers in private rooms, offering complimentary flexible dining service

    Daily service to Tampa will be offered via the Silver Star or the Amtrak Thruway bus connection to the Silver Meteor at Orlando

    Additional daily service will be offered between New York and Savanah, GA (and intermediate points) on the Palmetto, between New York and Raleigh, NC (and intermediate points) on the Carolinian and between the Washington, DC and Orlando areas on the Auto Train.

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

    Big cuts to Silver Star and Silver Meteor. Please contact Congress!

    From Texas Rail Advocates:

    http://texasrailadvocates.org/2020/06/15/amtrak-to-cut-national-trains-to-3-day-a-week-service/

    —Jackson McQuigg

  • 26 May 2020 7:10 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    From Business Insider:

    Of particular note is the letter to Congress from Amtrak's new President and CEO, William Flynn:

    https://www.businessinsider.com/us-passenger-railroad-amtrak-says-it-needs-new-15-billion-bailout-2020-5

    If the proposal stands, Amtrak would cut its long distance routes to tri-weekly train service and combine its Florida service trains.

    Also see this analysis from Trains magazine:

    https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2020/05/26-amtrak-asks-congress-for-more-money-plans-workforce-reductions-cuts-to-long-distance-service

    FCRP encourages you to speak up to your Member of Congress and Florida's two Senators to ensure that temporary service cuts do not become permanent. 

    It's always a good time to remind elected officials that Amtrak service is important to you and your community.

    --Jackson McQuigg

  • 15 May 2020 6:28 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    From Trains Magazine:

    Due to track work, the Silver Star is cut to a weekend train (Thursday-Sunday) only, depending on the direction. No connecting bus service to Tampa, either. The Meteor will run during the week, albeit its schedule has been impacted, as well.

    And forget about eating in the dining car for now, thanks to the coronavirus.

    From Trains Magazine:

    https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2020/05/14-amtrak-adds-to-anti-virus-measures-alters-rail-schedules-in-southeast

    —Jackson McQuigg

  • 04 May 2020 7:20 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    Florida, unfortunately, isn’t included:

    https://www.wicker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=DCD6C9C9-F7AB-46C1-A9EE-FFD8102EB185

    Contact your elected representatives today if you would like to see the resumption of full New Orleans-Florida service.

    —Jackson McQuigg


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