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Amtrak Reform Council

October 12, 2001

The Amtrak Reform Council (the Council) held its business meeting at the Atlanta Renaissance Hotel, 590 West Peachtree Street, NW, Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, October 12, 2001. The meeting started at 8:30 p.m. and adjourned at approximately 11:00 a.m.

Council Members present were: Gil Carmichael, Chair, James Coston, and Wendell Cox. Council members who participated via conference were Nancy Rutledge Connery, Christopher Gleason, S. Lee Kling, Charles Moneypenny, Mayor John Norquist, and Paul Weyrich.

Mr. Carmichael chaired the meeting and Deirdre O'Sullivan served as secretary.


Mr. Carmichael called the meeting to order, and asked for an approval of minutes. There were several Council members who said that they had not read the minutes yet so Mr. Kling introduced a motion to approve the minutes subject to changes. The motion was seconded by Mr. Norquist and the minutes were approved unanimously.


Mr. Tom Till, Executive Director then proceeded to give his Report. He discussed the various funding and other legislative proposals dealing with Amtrak that were being discussed in Congress. He also stated that the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation (OIG) would be delaying the issuance of their report on Amtrak's financial situation until mid-November. In addition, he stated that the Council staff was working on issues related to the Annual Report that is to be released early in 2002. He also stated that the Council staff had requested additional financial information from Amtrak including financial information on Northeast Corridor infrastructure and on Acela Express.

Mr. Norquist stated that he believed that Amtrak remaining as a monopoly would continue to disappoint everybody, and that states should be allowed to use federal highway and airport money to invest in rail corridors. Mr. Cox stated that the Council should focus on the task at hand and not worry about all of the legislation that is currently being discussed in Congress.


Mr. Weyrich stated that he agreed with Mr. Norquist. He added that in the absence of a Finding, no one, including Congress, was going to pay attention to the recommendations of the Council. In addition, he stated that the Congress was considering legislation that could take the Finding power away, and make the issue moot. He further stated that the only way to force Congress to start the debate on the future of rail passenger system is to make the Finding. Ms. Connery stated that she agreed with Mr. Weyrich and said that Council should issue a Finding. Mr. Cox stated that he also agreed with Mr. Weyrich. Mr. Kling stated that he had some reservations about making a Finding at this time. Mr. Moneypenny stated that he hoped the Council was not rushing into something just so somebody would listen to what the Council had to say.

Mr. Norquist reiterated his point regarding the problems of Amtrak being a monopoly and the need for competition. Mr. Moneypenny stated that during a Congressional Hearing a few months ago, the freight railroads did not express an interest in reentering the passenger business, and in the rush for competition worker's rights need to be protected.

Mr. Coston stated that he has come to the conclusion that it is unlikely that Amtrak will generate enough revenue and/or make enough cost reductions to achieve self-sufficiency by December 2002. He further stated that Amtrak is not doing a particularly effective job of running its system. Mr. Carmichael reiterated Mr. Norquist's point that Amtrak is not capable of doing what it's got to do. In addition, Mr. Carmichael stated that labor is not the problem; the problem is how Amtrak is organized. He then asked if the making of the Finding was the direction the Council wanted to go. Mr. Norquist stated that it was. Mr. Gleason and Ms. Connery agreed. Mr. Cox asked if this meant that there would be a motion or vote that day? Mr. Weyrich stated that he was prepared to make a motion to make a Finding, and Mr. Cox stated that he was prepared to second the motion.

Mr. Norquist then stated that he thought the motion for a Finding Resolution should be drafted and then sent to the Council members for approval by mail. Mr. Weyrich agreed to this procedure. Mr. Carmichael accordingly recognized that there was a motion made by Mr. Weyrich to send out a mail ballot to make a Finding for the members to approve. Mr. Cox stated that he would withdraw his second and allow Mr. Norquist to second the motion. Mr. Carmichael then called for a vote on the motion. The vote was unanimous. Mr. Norquist then stated that a Finding Resolution would be drafted and approved by Mr. Weyrich, himself and other Council members who were interested and then sent out the rest of the Council for a notation ballot.

Mr. Carmichael introduced Mary Phillips, the ARC's transportation analyst, who gave a presentation on Amtrak's financial performance. In brief, she stated that Amtrak for the purposes of self-sufficiency lost about $300 million in FY2000 and based on Amtrak's projections, Amtrak could lose over $400 million in FY2001, and that Amtrak was not on its glidepath to self-sufficiency. Following Ms. Phillips's presentation, both Mr. Till and Mr. Michael Mates, the ARC's Senior Financial Analyst, gave presentations regarding current legislation in Congress with Mr. Mates focusing on the various bond proposals.


Following a discussion by the Council members on the presentations, Mr. Carmichael then asked if there were any comments from the public. There being none, Mr. Carmichael called for a short recess before the regional hearing was to begin. (There were no objections.) The Council adjourned at approximately 11:00 a.m.


For the rest of the day, the Council held a Hearing at the Southern states were invited to discuss the issues raised in the Council's Second Annual Report, which was released in March 2001.

Last updated January 02, 2001

The ARC is an independent federal commission established under the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-134).