The news in small bits:
- A bill introduced by Congressman John Mica (R-FL) and Bill Shuster (R-PA) would open Amtrak's Northeast Corridor to private competition. Initially the NEC would be turned over from Amtrak to the US Dept. of Transportation.
- Amtrak was affected this Spring and Summer by high water and wildfires. The fires were in New Mexico forcing the Southwest Chief to the BNSF transcontinental freight route through Texas. The high water affected the California Zephyr, and more seriously the Empire Builder -- including Devil's Lake and the Souris River in Minot.
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott approved SunRail, a commuter rail project that will serve towns along the current CSX (served by Amtrak) right-of-way north and south of Orlando.
- The proposed Chicago-Quad Cities-Iowa City train is handing by a thread, as funding has not been secured for construction.
- Charlotte's LYNX light rail will be extended northeast to University of North Carolina, thanks to revfisions to North Carolina's 2012 budget. The state needs federal approval to accept funding for intercity passenger trains.
- New England Central will upgrade their tracks for Amtrak's Vermonter over this summer; $34 million came from the Vermont state government for this purpose. Vermont also seeks federal money to be able to extend the Ethan Allen Express from Rutland to Burlington.
- NARP is being received well as its display in the Amtrak 40th Anniversary exhibit train is viewed around the country.
- More trains for western Pennsylvania are a possibility, as a study was commissioned to increase service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
In this edition's Travelers' Advisory:
- The Vermonter will have substitute buses between Springfield, MA and St. Albans, VT over selected dates throughout the summer as the above major overhaul continues.
- Norfolk Southern RR restricted speeds to 30 mph between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, which will delay Wolverine trains at least 75 minutes and the Blue Water half an hour.
- As mentioned earlier, Empire Builder is unable to run its full route due to flooding. Two stub trains are running Chicago-St. Paul (coach and lounge only) and Havre-Seattle (full service). No alternate transportation between St. Paul and Havre. The Portland section is covered by buses.