In a stunning blow to operators and fans of historic locomotives and passenger equipment nationwide, Amtrak issued a memo to employees on March 28 stating its intent to immediately stop hosting charter excursions, private cars and special trains.
Multiple sources have verified the authenticity of the memo, which begins with a paragraph which speaks of the need to run trains safely, efficiently and on-time, while minimizing the need for subsidies, then states two policy changes “consistent with these two principles.”
“Generally, Amtrak will no longer operate charter services or special trains. These operations caused significant operational distraction, failed to capture fully allocated profitable margins and sometimes delayed our paying customers on our scheduled trains. There may be a few narrow exceptions to this policy in order to support specific strategic initiatives, for example trial service in support of growing new scheduled service. Otherwise, one-time trips and charters are immediately discontinued.”
The memo was signed by new Amtrak President Richard Anderson, a former Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines executive who took over the nation’s intercity rail passenger service last July.
—Eric Berger, Railfan & Railroad