American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners, Inc.
Robert G. Donnelley, President
190 Via Palma, Palm Beach, Florida 33480
November 30, 2016
The Honorable Donald Trump
President-Elect of the United States
c/o The Trump Organization
725 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Dear President-elect Trump:
Congratulations on your election! Thank you for your many references to the importance of investing in transportation infrastructure.
I am writing to you as President of the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners (AAPRCO). Our Organization includes many who supported and voted for you. About 75 of our 600 members own a total of 200 private railroad passenger cars qualified to operate on Amtrak trains. Our cars operate on almost all segments of the Amtrak map, including all of the long-distance trains, most of the shorter, state-supported corridors, and the overnight Boston-New York-Washington train. As a result, we are vitally interested in the Amtrak system.
Running our cars on Amtrak is an example of the best of a public private partnership. Our cars provide a highly profitable source of income to Amtrak since the revenues generated require no capital costs to the Amtrak system. Our cars also utilize Amtrak tracks for storage and Amtrak maintenance facilities. The income benefit is especially important for the support of long distance trains, which provide critical transportation to states where many of your supporters are located.
Because of our mutual interests, we have a strong interest in the continuation, improvement and expansion of Amtrak’s network. In addition to providing profitable income, AAPRCO has also directly supported the continuation, improvement, and expansion of Amtrak’s network. To that end, we have pledged support for the continuing upgrade of the line from Newton, Kansas, west across Kansas and on to La Junta, Colorado, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. This segment is a key part of Amtrak’s fastest Chicago-West Coast service; it was threatened because this track is no longer a major freight route. Two federal grants to date have leveraged major contributions from BNSF Railway, Amtrak, and the three states, and from counties and cities in the three states affected.
We also support the bipartisan effort to restore Amtrak service between New Orleans and Florida. This service was suspended just before Hurricane Katrina and never restored, even though the CSX track in question reopened within months.
Broadly speaking, we believe intercity passenger rail service is important because the public wants this travel option; a vibrant passenger train network helps strengthen our national economy. It is also relevant to national security, perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that on 9/11 Amtrak was the only way to get into Manhattan.
The American people are already voting for more trains, with their wallets. Public use of trains is growing far faster than air or road travel or even the population itself. In Fiscal 2016, Amtrak carried about 31.2 million passengers, up 1.3% from 2015, and up 28.4% from Fiscal 2006. The passenger system is particularly important to large constituencies of the population. An increasing number of young people don’t own automobiles, either as a personal choice or because they are unaffordable. Many older citizens are unable or unwilling to drive their personal automobiles for more than a few miles, and this population will grow dramatically over the next decade. Finally, as a member of the Vietnam War era, I am most sympathetic to those who have been wounded or otherwise handicapped, who depend upon the train for their travel needs.
If you would like to ride one of our historical cars into Washington for your inauguration, or to travel anywhere else before or after this landmark event, I, or perhaps one of our other members, would be honored to accommodate you. (The particular cars in which I have an ownership share are vista domes. Because of the tunnels, they are not able to go into New York City.) We looked into stationing some of our cars at Cleveland during the Republican Convention, but were unable to work out the logistics. Our cars, and those of our members have also been used by previous presidents.
Please be assured of our support. If we can ever provide information or assist you in other ways in evaluating transportation policy, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Robert G. Donnelley,