All News & Blogs
Rep. Davis tells the railroad she will not back additional funding until track announcements are made regularly at the Fredericksburg station.
|Visit the Photo Place|
Date published: 3/6/2004
By EDIE GROSS
The tone of Rep. Jo Ann Davis' voice during a meeting with Amtrak officials yesterday morning caught participants by surprise.
"She's usually very mild-mannered," said aide John Goolrick, who slipped out of the hour-long meeting to chat with a reporter. "Not today."
Davis, a Republican representing the 1st District, said later that she didn't realize how angry she was with Amtrak officials until she opened her mouth.
She'd been after them for months to announce incoming trains at the Fredericksburg station so passengers would know which platform to stand on.
But Amtrak had delayed. The tracks are owned by CSX, so CSX should announce the trains, Amtrak had said. It would cost too much money to install message boards at the station. And making announcements would tax Amtrak employees.
So an irritated Davis called Amtrak officials to her office on State Route 3 yesterday.
"It's just such an asinine problem. I told them I can't believe it's taken an act of Congress, if you will. I can't believe we're sitting in this room," Davis said after the meeting. "Just announce which bloody track you're coming in on."
Amtrak officials agreed to provide Davis with a timeline within the next two weeks explaining exactly how they'll fix the problem.
"The congresswoman was very fair but stern," said Joe McHugh, Amtrak's vice president for government affairs. "We want to do the right thing."
City Councilman Joe Wilson has urged Amtrak for years to communicate better with Fredericksburg passengers. Davis joined the fray in December after seeing several letters to the editor from frustrated passengers who never knew which track the train would arrive on. Some had missed their trains by waiting on the wrong side of the station.
About two weeks ago, Amtrak began announcing some trains at the Fredericksburg station using an existing public-address system. But the service has been spotty.
Yesterday, McHugh and two other Amtrak officials met with Davis, Wilson, Fredericksburg Mayor Bill Beck and Rob Shinn, vice president and executive assistant to the chairman of CSX.
After the meeting, McHugh explained that Amtrak employees in Alexandria have been using TV monitors to spot the trains coming into Fredericksburg and announce them.