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

  • 01 Oct 2023 11:57 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    Recently an outrage group told the media that Amtrak employees made an average of $121,000 per year. They determined it so by "doing the math" and then went on to decry the fact that Amtrak has never made a profit.

    This "fact-finding" appeared in syndicated local media stories like this one.

    https://komonews.com/amp/news/nation-world/expert-train-is-going-in-the-wrong-direction-as-report-shows-average-amtrak-employee-makes-121000-annually-transportation-open-the-books-federal-employees-tax-payer-funded

    Trouble is, it isn't true. The figure comes by dividing Amtrak's operating budget by its number of employees. But the operating budget also includes expenses well beyond payroll, like employee benefits, overtime exacerbated by the labor shortage in the job market, and payments to retirees--and Amtrak's fuel expenses, payments to host railroads, and much more.

    Amtrak isn't profitable. Most passenger trains aren't--they are an infrastructure function. That's why the Federal government founded Amtrak in 1971, of course. And the fact that the railroad isn't profitable is hardly the fault of Amtrak's dedicated and hardworking employees. If that were a fault at all. 

    Further, the vast majority of these expenses were covered by ticket sales and other revenues generated by Amtrak, anyway.

    The organization behind this failed exercise in arithmetic is biased--and media reporting this story as fact are intellectually lazy at best.

    The outrage here is that the story is false. If this piece aired in your area, speak up to the news director of the program where it aired.

    Or better yet, thank your local Amtrak staff for their service.

    --Jackson McQuigg 


  • 09 Sep 2023 11:19 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    Good news from Amtrak, especially for the long-distance national network trains, like those serving Florida.

    From Railfan:

    https://railfan.com/in-effort-to-resolve-equipment-shortages-amtrak-to-rebuild-63-cars/

    --Jackson McQuigg

  • 03 Sep 2023 10:58 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    From MSN:

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/article/is-florida-our-most-progressive-state-when-it-comes-to-train-travel/ar-AA1g6bL8

    Rail advocates know the truth--we need a lot more passenger rail than we are getting. There isn't enough commuter rail in the state (and it's completely missing in some of our largest metro areas) and our Amtrak services in the state are anemic.

    But Brightline is a bright spot--and it's turning heads. 

    --Jackson McQuigg

  • 05 Aug 2023 7:16 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    The Jacksonville-St. Augustine Commuter rail initiative, known as First Coast Rail, is being studied seriously by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority--and has been. Now, a new feasibility study is underway.

    From First Coast News:

    https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/local/commuter-rail-for-first-coast-picks-up-steam/77-1b480293-e533-459a-8b6b-e8ffdbbd1e62

    --Jackson McQuigg 

  • 31 Jul 2023 11:15 AM | Stephen Sayles (Administrator)

    As I've mentioned before, FDOT has a habit of either piggy-backing on existing service or ideas that will never materialize. While our organization is excited about future travel between Tampa, Orlando and Miami, there is little to be said for the west coast. From Naples to Gainsville and even Tallahassee, the only way to get anywhere is the more dangerous way on 4 tires. A regional route from starting at Tampa and continue to Ocala, Gainesville and north to Tallahassee, would fill in a gap in where the students at 4 universities would be most appreciative. 

    As we all agree, all modes of transportation are needed to work together, however as the soon to be second most populated state, FDOT has done in this persons view, a poor job. Granted some of the Governor's have been anti-rail, it is still no excuse to not try and introduce plans to accommodate all its residents and visitors alike. 

    Shifting to Amtrak, as a resident who lives near Ocala, only bus connection is on the Silver Star which does not allow for connections on other trains. It seems to me they would benefit more by linking with the Meteor. 

    Please note, this is personal view from a member.

    Stephen Sayles


  • 30 Jul 2023 6:14 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    FDOT has recently established a website describing the proposed Sunshine Corridor and its potential. 

    You can access it here. 

    This would provide interconnectivity and additional capacity beyond the current passenger rail routes in Central Florida. 

    --Jackson McQuigg

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