News & Reviews News Wire Amtrak again argues Gulf Coast service will cause ‘no unreasonable impairment’ to freight traffic

Amtrak again argues Gulf Coast service will cause ‘no unreasonable impairment’ to freight traffic

By | July 29, 2022

Filing in response to STB request says host railroads have ‘failed’ to make impairment case

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Blue and yellow locomotive waiting on siding, as seen from train on main line
A CSX local waits on an industry lead at Harbin, Miss., on Feb. 18, 2016, as Amtrak’s Gulf Coast Inspection train passes. A new filing with the Surface Transportation Board updates Amtrak’s contention that Gulf Coast service will cause “no unreasonable impairment“ to freight operations.(Bob Johnston)

WASHINGTON — Amtrak says its additional analysis shows its proposed Gulf Coast passenger service will cause “no unreasonable impairment” on the proposed route between New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., and argues that the case for such impairment by host railroads CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern “has failed.”

Those contentions are included in the passenger railroad’s latest filing to the Surface Transportation Board in its ongoing effort for a board ruling allowing it to begin Gulf Coast operations. The supplemental brief is responding to a May 12, 2022, request by the board for additional evidence [see “Oberman: Gulf Coast litigants still need to fill in the blanks,” Trains News Wire, May 13, 2022].

The 139-page public version of Amtrak’s filing redacts many of the specific statistics involved in the analyses performed for the passenger operator. The document argues that “it is clear that Gulf Coast service can be restored without the extraordinary capital investments that CSX, NS, and the Port [of Mobile] have demanded, and that any impacts from Amtrak service can be mitigated with routine operational changes and cooperative service planning.”

Table comparing impacts of traffic on Gulf Coast passenger route with or without Amtrak service

In arguing that the railroads have failed to make their case for unreasonable impairment, Amtrak cites results of their Rail Traffic Controller modeling, saying they show nearly equal or worse impairment developing as freight traffic increases, given that NS and CSX say no infrastructure improvements are needed for freight traffic. Amtrak summarizes what it says the model shows in this table.

Amtrak says in its filing that its position “remains that the evidentiary burden is on the host railroads to demonstrate unreasonable impairment” and that because the railroads have not met that burden, “Amtrak is entitled to an order in its favor” regardless of the material in its latest filing.

— Updated at 5:10 p.m. CDT to add link to Amtrak filing.

8 thoughts on “Amtrak again argues Gulf Coast service will cause ‘no unreasonable impairment’ to freight traffic

  1. Here is another potential market for Brightline to pacify CSX and Norfolk Southern by upgrading shared infrastructure.

  2. Anyone that has ridden this route along the Gulf coast or driven alongside most of the route, know that CSX is totally being dishonest. They could operate 5 or 6 passenger trains along this line and their dispatcher would have to click a mouse a few more times a day. CSX is full of it and needs to take responsibility for their lack of foresight when they implemented PSR. It truly is laughable for even submitting that “study” as evidence of problems that disrupts their regular dispatching. Does anyone have a true count of actual freight traffic CSX runs per day along this route?

  3. It appears that NS and especially CSX just want somebody else (Amtrak) to pay for extra and extended sidings that they need for their current level of freight traffic and certainly for a freight traffic increase.

  4. Chris: In what way do RR receive billions of federal dollars? Not to say they don”t, just wonder what is the route they get the money from. There was a program, I think called Tiger Grants. Is there another “program” they get money from? endmrw0729222201

    1. For one specific instance. CSX received federal money to help rebuild the line between Mobile and New Orleans after Katerina.

  5. In this specific case (Amtrak) paid for a preferred siding for themselves (at CSX behest) to use to not impede yard traffic. CSX is now using that siding to you guessed it, yard its traffic when Amtrak suspended service.

    From CSX perspective, losing access to the Amtrak originated siding would impair “them”.

    I don’t have my head in the sand and the taxpayer (Amtrak) has to cover their share where its appropriate, CSX and NS just haven’t proven what is appropriate.

  6. I know, it’s your tracks, and you pay for the repairs, but we want to run it the way we see fit….do I have this right? Pa-lease!!

    1. Railroads receive billions of dollars in federal tax dollars every year so there’s that. And Amtrak has the law on its side if that matters to anyone anymore.

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