April 25, 2015

Update on Amtrak negotiations

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UTU Amtrak conductors and yardmasters are currently in mediation with regard to an amended wage, benefits and working conditions agreement. The UTU and Amtrak are far apart on a few difficult issues. At this time, the parties are exploring alternative methods of interest-based resolution. This may or may not work. The UTU and Amtrak have [...]

Amtrak Chair Carper gains boost from Senate leader

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Amtrak Board Chairman Tom Carper has won endorsement from Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for renomination by President Obama. That nomination would require Senate confirmation. Carper, a former mayor of McComb, Ill., has served on the Amtrak board since March 2008 and has been its chairman since January 2009. Said Durbin in his letter [...]

Amtrak’s future crucial to Rail Retirement financing

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Stem “Every Amtrak employee should be placed in a productive position that supports the needs of customer service and managed growth of operations,” UTU National Legislative Director James Stem told Congress Nov. 28. “Amtrak operating crews are among the most productive workers in that system and our members are ready and eager to work,” he [...]

Republicans, Romney & Ryan agree: Kill Amtrak

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The Republican National Convention has made it official and in writing – the Republican Party, its presidential candidate Mitt Romney and its vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan are in agreement to end all federal funding for Amtrak and high-speed rail. Romney previously signed on in support of a Ryan budget proposal Ryan introduced in Congress [...]

Update on congressional funding for Amtrak

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Here is an update on federal funding to keep Amtrak operating. The House of Representatives in June approved a transportation funding bill — for the 12-month fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 — that includes $1.8 billion for Amtrak (H.R. 5972). This is an almost $400 million increase over fiscal-year 2012 funding that ends Sept. [...]

High-speed rail in Calif., Northeast moving forward

High-speed rail has been given an energy-boosting vitamin B-12 shot by the California legislature and Amtrak for separate projects on the West and East Coasts. In California, the legislature agreed to spend $6 billion to build the first 130-mile leg of a 520-mile high-speed line – with an estimated cost of some $68 billion — that eventually [...]

New surface transport law a mixed bag

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It’s not all we wanted, but, maybe more important, it’s not as bad as it could have been. Given the polarization of this Congress, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – MAP-21 – is as good a new transportation authorization bill as we could have hoped for. Passed by bipartisan majorities in [...]

Passenger rail essential as population grows

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By Joe Szabo – Federal Railroad Administrator It seems like just yesterday, as UTU Illinois state legislative director and mayor of Riverdale, Ill., that I joined other mayors to successfully advocate for more frequent rail service from Chicago to downstate Illinois communities.  At the time, even that modest goal seemed daunting, as conventional wisdom said Americans [...]

Metrolink leading way installing PTC

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Positive train control (PTC) is modern technology to reduce train accidents, save lives and limbs, improve on-time performance and produce revenue-enhancing business benefits for railroads. PTC utilizes the satellite global positioning system (GPS), wireless communications and central control centers to monitor trains and prevent collisions by automatically applying the brakes on trains exceeding authorized speeds, [...]

Caltrain pact protects UTU members in changeover

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 In preparation for a new operator of Caltrain commuter service in Northern California, the UTU has moved to protect its members who choose to transfer from Amtrak to the new operator. Caltrain operates south from San Francisco to San Jose and Gilroy. TransitAmerica Services, Inc. (TASI), a subsidiary of Herzog Transit Services, will replace Amtrak [...]