A Modest Proposal

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Philly Amtrak Fan

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If they couldn't run the train to Florida, they should've just canceled the train altogether. What's the point in running it down to Savannah? It's like running the Lake Shore Limited eastbound only to Albany, you've taken away the biggest selling point.

Of course to me there's never an "equipment shortage" as long as Byrd Crap is still running.
 

TWA904

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Actually it was not cut back to JAX in 2004. It was cut back all the way to SAV in late 2004. Before that it had lost its Sleeper and Diner while it still continued to run to MIA via TPA under the Palmetto moniker starting sometime in 2002. Palmetto ran to JAX starting 1988 before it was extended through Florida first as Palmetto (1994) with full Sleeper and Diner to TPA and then after complete discontinuance for a year or so as part of the Clinton cutbacks in 1995, it was restored as Silver Palm (1996) to MIA via TPA, essentially a renamed TPA section of the Silver Star.

One of the reasons for the cutback starting 2002 as I seem to recall was equipment shortage with withdrawal of most of the Heritage fleet except Diners and Baggage cars.

Would you be able to provide a credible citation to the source of the $45 million and $15 million numbers? I am just curious where you got that from. Did they actually have the equipment available at that point to try to capture that revenue without losing even larger pile of revenue somewhere else?
Of course you are right on Savannah instead of JAX. Guess my sometimers is kicking in. As far as the source of the numbers, I know some people think there numbers are suspect, but I believe it was from an issue of a newsletter called This week At Amtrak published by United Rail Passenger Association. As far a date I don't know that. I regret letting all that info get thrown away when I had to move.
 
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velotrain

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Here's an idea for some long term changes at Amtrak. Let's bounce them around and see what happens.
The next step in increasing demand would be to make the trains faster. The Sunset runs from LA to San Antonio in a theoretical 30 hours. If the trains ran at a reliable 110mph it should be possible to bring the time below 20 hours, making the trip practical as transportation instead of a destination in itself.?
Personally, I like the train as a destination in itself.

I recently took VIA between Montreal and Toronto - in an uncomfortable seat in (the middle of) a bumpy car at a much higher speed than I enjoy. I suppose the only saving grace was that there didn't appear to be much to look at anyway. I gather the Canadian is a very nice train, but I'll use my money to ride at least twice the mileage on this side of the border instead - as a destination.
 

MARC Rider

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If they couldn't run the train to Florida, they should've just canceled the train altogether. What's the point in running it down to Savannah? It's like running the Lake Shore Limited eastbound only to Albany, you've taken away the biggest selling point.

Of course to me there's never an "equipment shortage" as long as Byrd Crap is still running.
Ever ridden the Palmetto? I have, and it generally runs pretty full. It provides daylight service along the A line in the Carolinas and Virginia. It's a nice alternative to I 95, which, to my surprise given the lack of large cities along its route, can get pretty jammed up.

If they extended the Palmetto to Jacksonville, it would get in really late. And then have leave really early the next morning to get to NYP at any kind of reasonable hour. If it was late, there might not be enough time to turn the train properly. Thus you'd need an extra trainset, requiring three sets for a train that does perfectly well now with two.
 

sttom

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If they couldn't run the train to Florida, they should've just canceled the train altogether. What's the point in running it down to Savannah? It's like running the Lake Shore Limited eastbound only to Albany, you've taken away the biggest selling point.
Because not everything is about Florida. I could also ask what the point of the San Joaquin is since it doesn't run to Southern California or what the point of the Surfliner is since it doesn't run to Northern California or what the point of the Capitol Corridor is if it doesn't run between Monterey Bay and Reno is. From what I understand the Palmetto does well for itself. Most people that ride any form of transportation don't ride from end to end but are making mid route journeys.
 
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jis

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Ever ridden the Palmetto? I have, and it generally runs pretty full. It provides daylight service along the A line in the Carolinas and Virginia. It's a nice alternative to I 95, which, to my surprise given the lack of large cities along its route, can get pretty jammed up.

If they extended the Palmetto to Jacksonville, it would get in really late. And then have leave really early the next morning to get to NYP at any kind of reasonable hour. If it was late, there might not be enough time to turn the train properly. Thus you'd need an extra trainset, requiring three sets for a train that does perfectly well now with two.
Exactly.

Consider this. In order to extend it to JAX and run it reliably we will require one more consist, two more sets of T&E crew and possibly one more set of OBS crew. Will the additional revenue garnered by this extension be able to cover all that added cost?

Also what you get is horrible equipment utilization. If you are going to extend to JAX you might as well extend to Orlando, and then comes the cacophony about overnight train without Sleeper and on and on....
 

jiml

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Is the Palmetto not the truncated former Silver Palm, which used to run to Florida with sleepers, etc.? If it was cut back to save money, how have the economics changed in 2019? If it's not broke...
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

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If it's not broke...
There's no direct train from Philly to Chicago via Pittsburgh, there's no direct train from Florida to Chicago, there's no direct train between Florida and Texas/New Orleans, there's no Amtrak service to Las Vegas, Nashville, Columbus Ohio. I would hardly say "it's not broke".
 

jis

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Is the Palmetto not the truncated former Silver Palm, which used to run to Florida with sleepers, etc.? If it was cut back to save money, how have the economics changed in 2019? If it's not broke...
And the Silver Palm really was an extended Palmetto which lasted a few years. Palmetto overall has existed much much longer than the Silver Palm did. Silver Palm went bye bye partly because there were not enough Sleepers left to equip it anymore, and Viewliner IIs situation got pretty tight too. As usual the question boiled down to - do we equip two trains to Florida well or three trains to Florida, each equipped inadequately.
 

jiml

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There's no direct train from Philly to Chicago via Pittsburgh, there's no direct train from Florida to Chicago, there's no direct train between Florida and Texas/New Orleans, there's no Amtrak service to Las Vegas, Nashville, Columbus Ohio. I would hardly say "it's not broke".
I was simply referring to the Palmetto - not the system as a whole.
 

Anderson

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If they couldn't run the train to Florida, they should've just canceled the train altogether. What's the point in running it down to Savannah? It's like running the Lake Shore Limited eastbound only to Albany, you've taken away the biggest selling point."

Of course to me there's never an "equipment shortage" as long as Byrd Crap is still running.
The "Byrd crap", as you so eloquently describe it, most of the time takes two sleepers, two cafes, six or so coaches, and two baggage cars across two consists. On the LD front, you could plausibly add a coach somewhere and...well, that's about it. The only single-level train you could add a sleeper to would be 66/67 (which only needed two cars). All of the others require three or more sleepers.

The better equivalent would be running a train on the Water Level Route to Cleveland: You have a significant number of substantial cities along the route (WAS, RVR, and CHS for the Palmetto; ALB, ROC, SYR, BUF for the other train idea) and significant corridor coverage on a good chunk of the route (as far as RVR/PTB/RMT, depending on how you count it for the Palmetto, and as far as BUF on the other train idea).

Is the Palmetto not the truncated former Silver Palm, which used to run to Florida with sleepers, etc.? If it was cut back to save money, how have the economics changed in 2019? If it's not broke...
As noted, there were equipment shortage issues at play. If you could shake eight sleepers loose for the Silver Palm (two sleepers, four sets), it would arguably have still made sense. You might have only needed four or six sleepers, depending on the scheduling (if you can manage equipment turns properly) but the point is that, regardless, you would have had more equipment than Amtrak could "shake out", at least on the sleeper side (coach space in Amfleet IIs being able to be supplemented with a stray Amfleet I coach for shorter-haul pax).
 

Palmland

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Exactly.

Consider this. In order to extend it to JAX and run it reliably we will require one more consist, two more sets of T&E crew and possibly one more set of OBS crew. Will the additional revenue garnered by this extension be able to cover all that added cost?

Also what you get is horrible equipment utilization. If you are going to extend to JAX you might as well extend to Orlando, and then comes the cacophony about overnight train without Sleeper and on and on....
I lived in Jax when the Palmetto originated and terminated there. It arrived around midnight and left about 6am. It seemed to work well and while not crowded upon departure it had a decent crowd getting on. The inbound train train turned and departed in the morning. Currently one train crew works between Florence and Savannah on a same day turn. So I would guess only one additional crew needed. Perhaps to save costs the cafe LSA would work only to Savannah as they do now. Jax certainly has the servicing facilities.
 

Anthony V

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I lived in Jax when the Palmetto originated and terminated there. It arrived around midnight and left about 6am. It seemed to work well and while not crowded upon departure it had a decent crowd getting on. The inbound train train turned and departed in the morning. Currently one train crew works between Florence and Savannah on a same day turn. So I would guess only one additional crew needed. Perhaps to save costs the cafe LSA would work only to Savannah as they do now. Jax certainly has the servicing facilities.
If Gulf Coast service to Florida is restored, that would only make it make even more sense to extend the Palmetto to Jacksonville to open up connections to a third train to the northeast. This would primarily be for those making connections to go to cities in North and South Carolina while being able to arrive in those places during daylight hours. To avoid the need for a third train set to run this service. The northern terminus of the Palmetto would be truncated to Washington DC with another NE Regional taking the Palmetto's slot north of Washington DC.
 
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jis

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One bizarre intriguing idea is to extend the Palmetto to JAX and thence to New Orleans. It opens up some really interesting combinations of city pairs. Roughly speaking:

etc. SAV 8:30pm - JAX 11:00pm - Pensacola 6:00am - NOL 12:45pm
NOL 3pm - Pensacola 8:40pm - JAX 5:30am - SAV 8am etc.

Horrible equipment utilization, unless perhaps the equipment is used for a quick turn to Baton Rouge or Mobile or some such.
 

AmtrakWPK

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As I recall, the Silver Palm ran down the interior of North and North-Central Florida on the CSX "S" Line, past Gainesville, through Ocala, Wildwood, and Lakeland, to Tampa, then back through Lakeland, Then it joined the rest of the route that 91/92/97 98 covered down through Winter Haven and on down to Miami. The Silver Star and Silver Meteor did not service those stations. The Palm had a contract to carry U.S. Mail to those interior cities, and when Amtrak elected not to renew the contract to handle that mail, I think that's when they truncated the Silver Palm.
That created a problem. They apparently didn't realize the magnitude of the ire generated by the loss of rail service to the Tampa area. They bustituted the rest of the "S-Line" stations without too much of a problem, apparently, or that business just went away. But the Tampa station generates a LOT of revenue. Every time I've been there it's been REALLY busy.
So what to do? Re-route 91/92, adding a dog-leg between Kissimmee and Winter Haven through Lakeland to Tampa, then back through Lakeland again! And that seems to work. An interesting but strange result to this (and I do NOT understand the reasoning behind it) is that you CANNOT book travel on Amtrak between the Lakeland and Tampa stations on 91/92. Maybe they couldn't figure out how to keep track of which time each train was going through the station, since both 91 and 92 stop at Lakeland TWICE each day. But it still seems rather silly to have a blanket prohibition on that revenue just because they don't want to try to keep track of it. Go figure.
One nice thing from my personal standpoint is that it gives Orlando residents a really nice day trip by Amtrak to Tampa - 91 gets us into Tampa before 1 PM (depending on how late it is) and then 92 departs Tampa heading back towards Orlando at 5:27 PM. That gives more than enough time for a leisurely stroll several blocks to get on the TECO Trolley (more rail!!) over to Ybor City, another 5 or 6 block walk to the historic Columbia restaurant for a really nice and affordable lunch, take the Trolley back to the Tampa River Walk, or the Florida Aquarium (etc...), then back to Tampa Union Station and back to Orlando.
 

jis

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I have done that day trip from Kissimmee (which is the station closest to me) to Tampa for a day trip several times.

Incidentally, when the Silver Palm ran via Ocala it joined the route to Tampa at Plant City, so did not hit Lakeland on the way to Tampa from the North. It made Lakeland on its way from Tampa to Miami.

Unfortunately, the Ocala routing of anything anymore is pretty difficult, if not impossible since all passenger rights on that route were given up in exchange for SunRail (CFRC) acquiring the segment between Deland and Poinciana through Orlando.
 
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Palmland

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Amtrak should try some innovative ideas (not their strong suit) with the Silver Service routes. Where else do you have three LD trains in the mix, active state participation with regional service in NC and VA, and the huge demand for travel from the northeast to the southeast. Add that to Anderson's belief that they should try to offer better daylight service and additional equipment will soon be available. Of course I'm slightly biased as 'my train' (91/92) serves SC in the middle of the night - that I have no intention of using (our friends laugh when tell them about our train service). So we drive over an hour to Florence to catch a train.

Thinking about the idea mentioned above of a train to Jax extending to Pensacola and NOL has merit, but it would probably be more likely to occur if the train went only to Tallahassee, the state captol. That portion of the route is signaled, although I doubt if CSX put in PTC before selling to the shortline. From there it's only a little over two hours by highway (Thruway bus) to Panama City and then on to the other gulf coast beaches such as Destin as well as southern Alabama cities - a prosperous and attractive area with cities like Thomasville and Dothan.
 

AmtrakWPK

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"when the Silver Palm ran via Ocala it joined the route to Tampa at Plant City, so did not hit Lakeland on the way to Tampa from the North." [***** Interesting point. I recall seeing those intersections, though. Thanks.*****]

"Unfortunately, the Ocala routing of anything anymore is pretty difficult, if not impossible since all passenger rights on that route were given up in exchange for SunRail (CFRC) acquiring the segment between Deland and Poinciana through Orlando." [*****Not surprising, I guess. I know CSX agreed to move basically almost all freight except local deliveries (and that is all probably at night) off of the "A" Line over to the "S" Line to get it away from SunRail Commuter operations, so it would make sense that they would want that in exchange. I read through all of the available State of Florida SunRail documentation on the Internet, which was pretty voluminous, or at least I read through it to the point where I started getting cross-eyed and didn't notice that bit, but what I was reading really only concerned all the A-Line property and operations proposals and contracts. But thanks for those two info points .****]
 

AmtrakWPK

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Back when Amtrak had the Florida Resident Annual Railpass we used to ride all over Florida a lot. Of course, back then it included the Sunset Limited, too, and we used the Railpass to Pensacola and then tickets to NOL and back. :(
 

railiner

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I lived in Jax when the Palmetto originated and terminated there. It arrived around midnight and left about 6am. It seemed to work well and while not crowded upon departure it had a decent crowd getting on. The inbound train train turned and departed in the morning. Currently one train crew works between Florence and Savannah on a same day turn. So I would guess only one additional crew needed. Perhaps to save costs the cafe LSA would work only to Savannah as they do now. Jax certainly has the servicing facilities.
I think extending the Palmetto to Jacksonville, would work very well, traffic wise. The schedule would be about the same time and distance, as this famous train used to operate on....and it was very popular end to end with all coach configuration...
http://www.streamlinerschedules.com/concourse/track1/cityneworl194706.html
 
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