TARP News Fall 2019
Newsletter of the Tennessee Association of Railroad Passengers
September 30th: Sustainable Transportation Forum and Expo at UT Knoxville
TARP is honored to participate in the Sustainable Transportation Forum and Expo at the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research.

The event will take place on Monday, September 30th, 2019 at the UT Conference Center in Knoxville from 1 to 5 p.m.

The purpose of the gathering is to pull together various players and stakeholders in passenger rail-oriented projects and proposals.

TARP and NARP members in East Tennessee are encouraged to to attend! If you are interested and available, please send a post to tarprail@gmail.com .

We are more than happy to help civic leaders and elected representatives in East Tennessee taking a closer look at passenger rail!
City of New Orleans restored to full route
Amtrak's City of New Orleans (train #'s 58 & 59) operated on a truncated route beginning in early May.

High water levels in Louisiana required a number of spillways to be opened. Although the spillways help control flooding, the resulting water flow can increasing the risk of wash-out conditions on parts of the railroad.

As a result, trains have been truncating and originating in Memphis with substitute bus service to and from stations on the southern portion of the route.

Fortunately, the flood conditions subsided and Amtrak regained access to the full route on August 20th.

TARP is grateful to Amtrak for keeping the route in service as far south as Memphis and for keeping a connection in place to cities in Mississippi and Louisiana.

It's worth noting that in the May-June-July operating quarter, ridership on the City of New Orleans increased by 3.1% compared to last year. That's impressive considering the hardship on operations this season!
We made the front cover of PTJ!
Tennesseans should be proud! Our one and only commuter train made the cover of Passenger Train Journal!

This is the 3rd quarter 2019 edition.

You can buy PTJ at Barnes & Noble bookstores or online at www.passengertrainjournal.com .

The old-timers in TARP will especially remember the commuter rail experiment using equipment from the Broadway Dinner Train to prove that the demand was there! We played a large part in those successful trial runs!

The article also mentions the two transit-oriented developments along the route and the expansion of parking at Mt. Juliet to meet growing demand.

We salute our fellow Tennessean Ralcon Wagner for his good work on this article!

STAR will get rebranded under WeGo Transit

The article in PTJ also mentions the ongoing work to rebrand the Music City Star under RTA's new brand name: WeGo Transit.

The goal of the rebranding is to create a more marketable name for the region's public transportation system. Under the new brand, the name of the train will be simplified and the cars, locomotives, and other identifiers will have a new color scheme.

We haven't found any enthusiasm among the Star riders regarding this plan. Sure, everybody wants a more marketable transit system. However, the Star has more serious issues that need be addressed, such as schedule frequency.

We truly hope that the rebranding is part of a more successful train service for Davidson and Wilson County. At the very least, we are proud to say that Tennessee has the only commuter train in the entire mid-South!
Improvements along the City of New Orleans route
We look forward to a series of projects that will benefit passengers on the City of New Orleans route that serves West Tennessee.

The State of Illinois passed a transportation packed that will bring a number of critical track improvements between Chicago and Carbondale, IL.

The goal of these improvements is to reduce delays and increase reliability. Safety levels will increase as a result, and passengers may notice a smoother ride in different sections of the route.

Meanwhile, a remodel and accessibility project is in the works at the popular Carbondale, Illinois Amtrak station.

A much larger accessibility project is also under way on the platforms at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal.
Amfleet II refresh happening now
Those of us who travel on Amtrak's eastern long distance routes will enjoy a long-overdue change!

The Amfleet II coach cars are undergoing a refresh with new seat covers, new lighting, and new restroom surface materials!

Amtrak is also taking delivery of new baggage/dorm/sleeper cars in the Viewliner II series. These cars will help increase sleeper capacity on eastern routes. The Cardinal service, which connects New York and Chicago via Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and West Virginia, will likely be the first beneficiary.

In not-so-good news , we are not pleased to hear that Amtrak is eliminating traditional dining car service on the eastern routes effective October 1st.

Our position is that planned simplified food service model will lessen the appeal of these trains and will not make productive use of the new and rather expensive Viewliner II dining cars.

We encourage you to read RPA's response to the proposal at the following link:

Chef Madi came to Memphis!
The Summer by Rail program came to Memphis in July and gave our train some good publicity!

Chef Madi, this year's intern, arrived in Memphis on Amtrak's City of New Orleans and got a Tennessee welcome.

Madi then enjoyed two fun-filled days coordinated by the Memphis Tourism Board.

Her visit drew some much-needed attention to the fact that West Tennessee is served directly by Amtrak, and the service feeds a vital tourism industry!

For more information on the Summer by Rail initiative, log on to www.summerbyrail.com.
It's been 40 years folks!
By L. Jarod Pearson, TARP President & RPA National Council Member

October 9th, 1979 was easily the saddest day in passenger rail history for people in Tennessee.

Amtrak's Chicago-Florida route - The Floridian - called for the last time at Nashville's beautiful Union Station on Broadway.

The timing could not have been worse. The fledgling route had finally enjoyed a more reliable schedule and ridership grew substantially as a result.

A change in transportation priorities originating with the Carter administration also eliminated the Floridian and four other Amtrak routes. The national system has had too many gaps since then!

The Tennessee Association of Railroad Passengers (TARP) was borne out of this terrible situation. Despite our best efforts, the promise of getting a long-distance passenger train to serve our fast-growing capital city is yet to materialize.

Our state needs a practical and unified approach to passenger rail, and so does our federal government. Passenger rail needs a funding mechanism rather than an annual fight for appropriations.

We continue to put our best foot forward as Tennessee rail advocates. Although our hope was dashed for a new Floridian , we made progress on other fronts in Tennessee:

  • The Music City Star is in its 13th year of operation
  • The Memphis Trolley is back in service
  • We have new Thruway Bus connections to other Amtrak routes
  • Bristol and other parts of East Tennessee are looking at real proposals with real possibilities
  • The City of New Orleans is a popular route with measurable benefits for West Tennessee
  • Memphis Central Station will soon take form as a rail station with a boutique hotel

Needless to say, we want more rail service in the Volunteer State. And so, our work goes on!

If you haven't already, consider paying $25 annual membership dues to TARP. If you would be so kind, consider a special $40 gift for our 40th anniversary.

The support, encouragement and hard work is what keeps us going!


L. Jarod Pearson
TARP President / RPA National Council Member
Support TARP in our 40th Year!

  • We depend on you, our paying members, to keep TARP in motion! 
  • Your annual $25 dues help us provide a website and cover basic operating expenses. 
  • We are a voice for passenger rail and balanced transportation going on 40 years! Help us keep up the hard work!
  • Join TARP in 2019 with your $25 dues. 
  • Or, make a special gift of $40 to commemorate our 40th Anniversary!

You can pay annual dues of $25, click here to use our  our secure PayPal service . Or,  click here to make a special gift of $40  for our 40th Year.  
Or, you can send a $25 or $40 check/money order to TARP, PO Box 585, Cowan, Tenn. 37318.