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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Amtrak, Norfolk Southern spar over Twitter comments NEWSWIRE

Amtrak, Norfolk Southern spar over Twitter comments NEWSWIRE

By | March 18, 2019

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WASHINGTON — Twitter wars are common enough between people of opposing political views, some celebrities, or various social-media influencers.

But between Amtrak and one of its host railroads?

A Wall Street Journal report (behind a paywall) notes that Amtrak and Norfolk Southern have been trading letters about an Amtrak tweet last month in which the passenger railroad blamed delays on the northbound Crescent on “Norfolk Southern freight train interference.”

That led to a letter to Amtrak from an NS lawyer saying the tweet on the @AmtrakAlerts feed was advancing “a misleading narrative that operates at the expense of Norfolk Southern’s reputation” and that further tweets would mean NS “will be forced to consider further action.”

NS said the delay was actually because a sleeping and dining car decoupled after the train left New Orleans.

Amtrak responded with a letter noting that after the initial mechanical issue, the train sustained more than three hours of additional delays because of freight trains — and cited 11 instances in of delays it said it had suffered because of Norfolk Southern.

The Journal story notes the underlying and ongoing issue in Amtrak’s relationship with its freight railroad hosts: a lack of performance metrics to show how host railroads perform and the accompanying lack of enforcement of the law giving Amtrak trains preference over freight trains. The most recent ruling in the lengthy legal battle over those performance metrics would allow them to be developed by Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration. [See “Court ruling opens door for FRA, Amtrak to establish on-time performance metrics,” Trains News Wire, July 20, 2018.]

The letter to NS from William Herrmann, Amtrak vice president, senior managing deputy general counsel and assistant corporate secretary, suggested that Norfolk Southern’s “further action” should be “taking immediate action to improve the on-time performance of Amtrak trains on your railroad.”

22 thoughts on “Amtrak, Norfolk Southern spar over Twitter comments NEWSWIRE

  1. Ok NS and other Class 1’s sue the Federal Govt, and Amtrak. For them to tweet about service delays shows lack of business critique. Amtrak keeps forgetting it’s the tenant on the landlords property…. Brightline/Virgin trains USA I hope you continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Show Amtrak how privatized passenger service needs to return to this Nation…

  2. The railroads don’t want the LD’s.

    Amtrak’s CEO doesn’t want the LDs.

    USDOT’s FY 2020 budget request would (if adopted by Congress) would cut the LDs.

    Most of all, the freight rail system has changed since 1971 while Amtrak has not. In the 1970’s, NARP members like me had big hopes for Amtrak. That was forty years ago or more. Amtrak is like a man who was in his prime years in the 1970’s but no woman would marry him for whatever reason. Now the man is in his seventies and still can’t find a wife. Well, he won’t.

  3. Braden, you’re forgetting one thing…the law that created Amtrak is still existing, and that says passenger trains are supposed to have preference…however, without metrics and criteria to measure on-time performance this can’t and hasn’t been enforced.

  4. Gerald – The original Amtrak legislation has been rewritten several times. The first Amtrak legislation in 1970 was an amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act (1878 or something like that). That legal construct allowed the government to compel track space for Amtrak and required that tracks be maintained to the existing standard. Whether those requirements still exist or are legally enforceable (against the 5th Amendment to the Constitution) is very much open to question.

  5. Jerry – Run (or skateboard) for Congress from El Paso. Ask a cow to wax your (deleted) and scrub your (deleted).

  6. The WSJ article also states that Amtrak has given NS a rating of “F”, two grades below the average for all carriers. Not stated in the grade NS gives Amtrak.

    Graham Claytor died long ago. His train will be the first to be discontinued when Amtrak starts cutting the LD’s. Atlanta, the hub of and biggest city in the Southeast, has one train? What is even the point.

    In better news it’s almost Spring here in the Midwest. Train watching beckons and is already scheduled.

  7. What would Graham Claytor and Wick Moorman have done at Norfolk Southern? This confrontation would not have occurred.

  8. On-going, Kerfuffle! Until AMTRAK gets some more legislative ‘teeth’ in their rule inventory, re: delays of their passenger trains. It would seem that this ‘Twitter War’ is just a high or low(?)-spot in an outbreak of”My lawyer can whip your lawyer”.
    Handling Amtrak’s trains is nowhere near the high point that engendered pride by the railroads of handling their ‘named’ passenger, flagship trains and their fast schedules . AMTRAK is not much more than the clown living in govt subsidized housing in the neighborhood for the freight railroads to have to put up with..

  9. Ms. Vinson – The only thing that is offputting about your post is that I keep remembering that Wick Moorman left the active stage by bringing us Richard Anderson.

  10. Trains Staff:

    Jerry Conway needs to be banned from the Forum. Cursing and other low language does not belong on any forum. We can disagree on how Amtrak and NS run their railroad—keep it civil.

    Ed Burns
    Retired Class 1 and a railfan. Yes, I do use my Amtrak privilege from time to time.

  11. We plan to ban Mr. Conaway as quickly as possible. It is, unfortunately, a slightly more involved process here than on the forums. — David Lassen, associate editor

  12. It is down right disgusting to see how much Freedom of Speech is misused in the United States of America today. As long as the POTUS continues to curse “Fellow Americans” and get away with it I’m afraid it won’t go away.

    A terrible mistake was made by the Founding Fathers when they failed to add the clause to the Constitution that any government employee who curses can be immediately removed from office and banned to ever enter politics for the rest of his un-natural life!

    As of this writing I take note that Mr. Conaways message has been posted for 16 hours.

    Al Kalmbach, Wallace W. Abbey, David P. Morgan, Lovely! Rosemary Entringer, Lynn Westcott, and the many other dedicated gentlemen and ladies alike who have sadly passed on that worked above and beyond the call of duty to insure that Kalmbach publications went to print so they could meet the deadline and be in the hands of subscribers, on hobbyshop magazine racks, as well as selected newsstands all across the U.S. on their release date, are turning over in their graves as they look down and see just how much Kalmbach Publishing Company has declined in recent years.

    What happened to the high standards and ethics set by these wonderful human beings listed above anyway? When customer service was shut down in Waukesha and outsourced to some unknown multimedia agency I’ve been placed on hold when attempting to place a call to the point I’ve found myself hanging up and making a mad dash (not unlike the onetime comic figure Dashing Dan the Long Island Rail Road commuter did in the 1960s) to the medicine cabinet in order to grab the bottle of blood pressure pills and down several of them to prevent exploding with anger!

    Item: First, customer service was outsourced to Tampa Florida, now it’s in Big Sandy Texas; My lands, will it be somewhere in India next week? Gads, what a thought…

    Then there’s the Total Non-Professional approach to Trains Newswire video broadcast week after week, with the same old boring beginning……”until midnifght…”, as well as a lack of photographs to enhance the stories being presented. To add insult to injury, Garden Railways Founder and Editor, Marc Horowitz, has been relieved of this position at Kalmbach. Marc’s professionalism was the ONLY reason I recently subscribed to GR again. If it doesn’t live up to the high standards set by Marc I will cancel my subscription in a heartbeat! It has been reduced from a bi-monthly to a quarterly publicaton as t is. In the event it doesn’t contain a minimum of 100 pages,

  13. Upps, hit the wrong key…

    …cont’d: if Garden Railways doesn’t contain a minumum of 100 pages per issue now that it’s a quarterly publication I will submit my cancellation anyway!

    Thank you,


  14. Sounds like the President’s influence is reaching down into Amtrak. Ill advised and fact-challenged tweets.

  15. Joseph – A couple of years ago we ran into two key Trains-Mag staffers (neither one still employed there) in a restaurant in the City of Brookfield (we live and Trains is headquartered, in the nearby Town of Brookfield). I told them how much I appreciated the great job they were doing. But I did say the publication has changed over the decades, less text, more pictures. They didn’t deny it.

  16. Mr. Lassen: You have restored my faith in Kalmbach! Thank you!

    Item: We still need Trains Illustrated to be returned to the family of Kalmbach railroad publications in order to provide a place for new generation photographers to show their skills not to mention compete with White River Production’s Railroads Illustrated Annual. Their 2018 issue has been extended to 116 pages and carries a cover price of $24.95.

    Kalmbach can do better than that if it will only return Trains Illustrated to the scene with a 128 page annual. Rest assured, I’ll sign up to insure I receive one of the first copes when it comes off the press even if the cost is $29.95…or more!


  17. You need to kick this foul mouth ass Jerry Conway off. Don’t you uphold any dregree of standards here or does that require work on Kalmbach’s part?

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