FROM THE CAB - September 2022

By Martin Wheeler, President

AMTRAK HAS 4,000 AVAILABLE JOBS -- Loved ones, friends, and neighbors of Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains (CAPT) members are encouraged to apply for one of 4,000 positions available at the National Passenger Rail Association (Amtrak).

Career and job openings are available in many disciplines, including project management, finance, technology, onboard services, electrical, and customer service. “As we connect communities, economies and families, Amtrak employees have a significant opportunity to engage in truly meaningful project work,” said Qiana Spain, Executive Vice President, and Chief Human Resource Officer at Amtrak.

Amtrak will host two virtual job fairs in September. They are:

  • Walk-In Wednesday Career Fair: Second Wednesday of every month, 1 to 3 p.m. ET
  • Next stop Amtrak – Latinx/Hispanic Individuals: September 29, 1 to 3 p.m. ET

According to an Amtrak news release, “the starting pay rate for all onboard service crafts is $21.00 per hour. On the mechanical side, journeyman electricians start at $34.07 per hour and Amtrak offers hiring bonuses and relocation packages to fill critical positions.

“In addition to actively hiring for 4,000 regular, full-time positions, the company also has programs for paid internships and co-ops for both undergrad and graduate students as well as Apprenticeship Programs for those looking for entry level, skilled labor learning opportunities.

“Offering competitive wages, Amtrak aims to convert 50% of all eligible interns to full- time roles. This includes early career rotational programs in finance, human resources, IT, marketing, safety, and engineering.

“Along with offering well-paying, rewarding work that has already led to more than 2,800 new employees this year, Amtrak provides a competitive benefits program that supports employees. This includes rail pass travel privileges where employees and their eligible dependents are entitled to free and reduced-rate rail transportation; a generous amount of paid time away from work each year; educational assistance; comprehensive health and wellness benefits; and much more.

“As Amtrak expands its workforce, the company remains committed to fostering an environment where diverse ideas, backgrounds and perspectives thrive. Whether starting a career, looking for new opportunities or an experienced career professional, Amtrak’s goal is to connect talented people to career opportunities, including rebuilding and expanding passenger rail.

“Entering a new era of growth and modernization in markets across America, historic levels of funding received from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress and enacted by the Biden Administration changed what is possible, including comprehensive modernization for aged assets, infrastructure improvements, and advancing the Amtrak Connects US vision.

To stay up to date on career opportunities and upcoming hiring events, please visit the Amtrak career site at

GRADE SEPARATION PROJECTS -- David Robinson, CAPT VP-North Carolina, attended a meeting in Wake Forest which educated the engineering and construction industries on upcoming projects related to a planned high-speed rail line. Information related to current and future preliminary engineering, construction, and implementation schedules was of special interest.

The first four grade separation projects in Wake County, North Carolina, are already scheduled in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), Robinson said. They are at New Hope Church Rd, Millbrook Rd and Durant Rd in Raleigh, and Rogers Rd in Wake Forest.

Of particular interest is the NCDOT’s acquisition of the corridor from CSX by the end of 2023; the acquisition of additional right of way (for grade separations, etc.) by the end of 2027; and construction completion by the end of 2030, at which time operations between Raleigh and Petersburg can start, he continued.

VDOT’s construction of the Petersburg to Richmond’s Main Street Station section begins in 2034 and ends in 2040.

Jason Orthner, NCDOT’s Rail Division Manager, confirmed that the Carolinian will stay on its current (A-Line) route, but that all new services will operate along the new corridor. CAPT needs to watch this carefully since any change would impact Eastern NC, urged Robinson.

GRANDFATHER INFLUENCED RAIL INTEREST -- Ralph Messera has been a member of CAPT for 20+years and the CAPT treasurer for 2 years now. “My railroad interest goes back to childhood with my grandfather and the Long Island Railroad. I learned later in life that my mother’s grandfather had been a railroader on the Caven and Leitrim Railroad in Ireland,” he continued.

Amtrak was only 2 weeks old (1971) when I took my first Amtrak trip on the old Texas Chief from Ft. Worth to Houston, then the Sunset from Houston to New Orleans. The only evidence of Amtrak’s existence was buttons the conductors wore – “The Tracks are Back”, said the CAPT treasurer.

After many more trips I have seen Amtrak grow, but in the last few years it has steadily declined. My goal as a member of both CAPT and RPA is to reverse that decline and work to elevate Amtrak to what it can be, Messera concluded.

SEE YOU IN MYRTLE BEACH -- The Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains (CAPT) will be holding a board meeting on September 17th beginning at 12:30 pm in Myrtle Beach, SC. The meeting will be held at the Chapin Memorial Library on the corner of 14th Avenue North and Kings Highway (US Hwy. 17 Business). The library’s address is 400 14th Avenue North, and the phone number is (843) 918-1275. The library’s doors will remain unlocked until 3:00 pm so don’t worry if you are running late as you can still join the meeting even after it has begun.

All members of CAPT and any persons interested in passenger rail in North and South Carolina are cordially invited to attend. The meeting will be held in the 1st floor meeting room of the library and should conclude no later than 3:00 pm. Library staff will be able to direct you to the meeting room. Parking is available around the library, and it is believed that parking is free on Saturday. Chapin Memorial Library has Wi-Fi capability so CAPT will be setting up a Zoom feed for those who would rather attend via Zoom. Information for Zoom attendance will be sent out closer to the date of the meeting to those desiring it.

A representative from the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation has been invited to join our meeting. It is hoped that a staff member can attend to share their perspectives on how a possible passenger rail link to the Grand Strand area can benefit the region economically as well as how it could mitigate some of the traffic problems associated with the thousands of visitors using US 501 and the proposed I-73 coming into Myrtle Beach

For those wishing to get lunch before the meeting, CAPT can recommend the Pier 14, an “over the ocean” seafood restaurant. It is only a two and a half block walk from the library at 1306 North Ocean Boulevard. Their phone number is (843) 448-4314. The restaurant begins serving lunch at 11:00 am. Their website is: There are any number of other eateries in the immediate area but arriving early for lunch is advised to allow time to arrive at the library by 12:30 pm.

AN IDEA FOR US -- The Rail Passengers Association (RPA) gives high marks for the recently concluded Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Summit. Says RPA President Jim Mathews: “Bipartisan, bicameral, multi-state, all stakeholders at the tables, working through the practicalities of bringing meaningful rail service back to the giant empty spot on the map in the Northwest corner of the country.”

Just as the passenger rail needs for the people of Montana, Idaho, and Washington are benefitting from this summit, and just like passenger rail needs for North Carolinians benefitted from the joint meeting in July of the Western North Carolina Rail Committee and CAPT, do Southeastern states including North and South Carolina need to find ways to better work together to bring more trains to our part of the country?

$1.4 BILLION AVAILABLE FOR RAIL -- There’s $1.4 billion available in grant funding for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements from the U.S. Department of Transportation, reminds the High-Speed Rail Alliance.

“Funding will go towards projects that mitigate passenger and freight rail congestion; enhance multi-modal connections; and improve and establish new intercity passenger rail corridors,” the Chicago-based passenger rail advocacy group says.