Volunteer Your Support for Passenger Rail in 2019!

TARP NEWS
  Winter 2019
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.
We need you in DC!

We are looking for a few more Tennesseans to join us in DC for RPA's RailNation DC - Day on the Hill event.
 
The entire rail summit takes place March 30th through April 3rd, but the most important component (and the area where we need the most help!) is on Tuesday, April 2nd, for Day on the Hill.
 
Day on the Hill is when we visit with Tennessee's congressional delegation to discuss passenger rail and to encourage their support for the national rail passenger system.
 
We need as many Tennesseans as we can get so we can work for broader support among our elected officials!  Even if you can't stay for the entire event and can only be present for Day on the Hill, all of your fellow rail advicates will be grateful! 
 
We understand that a trip to DC for this event requires a fair amount of personal time and expense.  To make it worth your while, the event is educational and enjoyable.  Plus, if you ride the train to DC, you get the joy of train travel to boot!
 
Updates from Bristol

The push to extend Virginia-sponsored Amtrak rail service from Richmond to the Tennessee State Line at Bristol will undoubtedly continue in 2019.
 
A group of local residents and city officials, known as the Bristol TN/VA Rail Coalition, cited a recent study showing that the anticipated rail service would yield a positive economic impact on the City of Bristol itself.  The group hopes to offer an expanded study to show the related impact on other cities in East Tennessee, including Johnson City and Kingsport.
 
 
The Mayor of Bristol opined that the ultimate goal of the city is not to get service to Bristol, but "through Bristol, hoping to see service extended further south into Knoxville and Chattanooga.   
 
 
TARP supports this proposal for a number of reasons.  The Northeast Corridor (Washington, DC - New York - Boston) is not only the nation's economic powerhouse, but a global economic powerhouse as well.  A rail connection that puts Tennessee within reach of this vital region will be helpful to this part of Tennessee.   
 
Another reason that we support the idea is because rail services sponsored by the Commonwealth of Virginia have proven to be financially viable.   
 
A third reason for our support is that service to the state line will prompt other East Tennessee cities to get on board with rail service in the Volunteer State.
 
TARP's board of directors plans to be more involved and more informed on this important rail service proposal.  We will keep everyone posted through our e-mail and Facebook channels.  As always, we are looking to recruit additional members from Upper East Tennessee to help increase our voice in the region.   
What's the hold-up?
 
TARP has one notable disappointment to report from the Year 2018.

One of our best goals from 2018 was to motivate Amtrak and Greyhound to develop a Nashville Thruway Bus service that would connect the Nashville Greyhound station with Amtrak's Crescent service at Birmingham's all-new $33-million dollar intermodal station.

Both companies supported the proposal.  In fact, the two companies have an agreement in place.  So what's the hold-up?

On the Amtrak side, there's a serious timekeeping problem with the Crescent.  Due to serious freight interference, the train arrives late at Birmingham almost every day.

On the Greyhound side, there's a serious shortage of drivers.  Buses are frequently delayed when drivers run out of legal driving time and have to take mandatory rest.  In many cases, relief drivers are not available, which causes late operations and missed connections.

Under these conditions, a rail-bus connection cannot be implemented until and unless conditions improve with both companies. 

TARP's Board will continue to follow the issue and try to propose a meaningful resolution.  We will report any new information that we receive.

Nashville Traffic Prompts Revised Train Schedule

Nashville's notorious traffic problem is so intense that RTA/MTA had to make a slight change to the schedule of the Music City Star.
 
To allow a more reliable connection from the #93 connecting bus, the evening outbound trains were given slightly later by 5-minutes and 10-minutes.  Evidently the growing downtown traffic jam resulted in delayed train departures.
 
As Nashville's population continues to grow and long-term transit solutions are nowhere in sight, we expect problems such as this to only worsen with time.
 
While adjusting the schedule for the later outbound trains, the Friday night evening train to and from downtown was eliminated from the schedule.  The new federal requirement to install Positive Train Control prompted RTA/MTA officials to reduce the number of scheduled trains in order to avoid the PTC requirement.   
 
Installing PTC on the Music City Star route would require a $20-million dollar capital investment, which is simply not practical given the market, ridership, and funding requirements of the train.
 
In a stream of good news, the Star reported another fiscal year of ridership growth in 2018 going from 283,000 trips the year before the 295,000 in the most recent count.  Steve Bland, CEO of RTA, was quoted in the Nashville Business Journal saying, "we've pretty much seen ridership growth throughout all the Star stations."
 
Speaking of stations, the new stop at Hamilton Springs came on line in August, 2018.  Hamilton Springs is a transit and pedestrian-friendly mixed-use planned community in Wilson County, the first of its kind in all of Tennessee.  
Other ways to support passenger rail in 2019

As always, we welcome your membership in the Tennessee Association of Railroad Passengers.  However, there are other great ways to support the cause of passenger rail.
 
Here are a few:
 
1)  Join RPA - our national organization!  The Rail Passengers Association, also known as NARP, maintains a full-time staff and operations center in Washington DC.  Your $40 annual membership dues not only provide you with a helpful newsletter and helpful tools, but also qualify you for an Amtrak discount and other privileges.  Click here for more information.
 
2)  Write letters, e-mail or call your elected officials!  Let them know that you support passenger rail service and a balanced transportation policy at all levels of government.  Click here to read RPA's Advocacy Guide.
 
3)  Consider purchasing a subscription to Passenger Train Journal!  This quarterly publication is filled with helpful and interesting information about passenger rail service and the passenger rail industry.  Click here for information on how to subscribe.
 
4)   Go for a ride on the rails!  Best of all, plan a trip on the train in 2019.  Plan a trip on Amtrak, Via Rail Canada, the Music City Star, Memphis Trolley, the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, or any other rail passenger carrier.  Then, if you don't mind, e-mail us at TARP and tell us about your trip!  Need help planning a trip or need suggestions?  E-mail TARP on that as well.  Our e-mail address is tarprail@gmail.com. 
  TARP| PO Box 585 | Cowan, TN 37318 | tarprail@gmail.com | www.tarprail.org
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