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Amendment to CR blocking furloughs and thrice weekly long distance trains

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bms

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Flynn has submitted a letter stating the end of the CR as a dead line for stimulus to avoid further cuts - they formalized a request for just south of $5 billion in operating subsidies and funding to help states keep corridors going as well as $5 billion in capital project stimulus. They are going to adjust capital spending to keep the lights on between now and December 11 but Flynn basically said something must be done during the lame duck to avoid permanent long standing damage to the company.
Fingers crossed. I highly doubt there are 51 votes in the Senate to kill off Amtrak, but it could be mortally wounded this way without a vote.
 

Dakota 400

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I highly doubt there are 51 votes in the Senate to kill off Amtrak,
Assuming both Senators of a State supported Amtrak, there would be at least 84 votes in favor of whatever might need to be done to assist Amtrak. (I realize that my assumption is quite optimistic.)
 

bms

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Assuming both Senators of a State supported Amtrak, there would be at least 84 votes in favor of whatever might need to be done to assist Amtrak. (I realize that my assumption is quite optimistic.)
I think a stand-alone bill would easily pass, maybe with 84 votes. Unfortunately legislation is not made in any rational way anymore. It seems that to be assured of funding for anything, one party must be willing to shut down the government over the issue.
 

Dakota 400

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I think a stand-alone bill would easily pass,
I think it would have a very good chance. Don't know about our Congress, but in Ohio there is a Constitutional requirement that Bills passed by our General Assembly deal with only one topic at a time. That is totally ignored and I don't understand why there hasn't been a court challenge as to why the General Assembly is allowed to get away with this.
 

west point

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My concern is that if the present president looses that there will be a major retaliation of all states that voted against him until Jan 20th. Amtrak will be just one victim.
 

fredmcain

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So, group, what is the latest news on this three times a week service? I was trying to scan through the posts on our forum and nothing jumped out at me.

Realistically, what are the chances that daily service WILL return? Slim to none? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

I tried to book a reservation from Elkhart, Indiana to Ottumwa, Iowa on October 22nd and found out that the westbound Capital Limited is only connecting to the Westbound California Zephyr ONE DAY a week at Chicago. That's right ! That makes it pretty darn hard for potential passengers to bend their travel plans around a schedule like that.

Needless to say, I will be traveling on the highway this time.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain,
Topeka, IN
 

Maglev

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Here is the discussion:


MODERATOR NOTE: the 2 threads were merged
 
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neroden

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The studies that argue that thrice-weekly service costs money are based on pre-Covid market demand and are not relevant to the current situation.
They're entirely relevant now.

Three-a-week saves maybe 1/3 of costs -- if you're lucky -- and loses roughly *80%* of revenue. (If I have a trip where I can't change the dates, I have a 3/7 chance of being able to use Amtrak outbound and a 3/7 chance of being able to use it on the return == 18% chance of being able to use Amtrak. And that is if it's on a single train, like Syracuse to Chicago.) You do the math. Even at Covid demand levels, it's idiocy.

I will be blunt: total suspension of service, followed by resumption of service later, would have been a financially sane thing to do. That's what several states did with their state-supported services, including Vermont (still suspended), Pennsylvania, and New York. I have *no* complaints about that, because *it actually makes sense*.

Three-a-week is either idiocy or sabotage, and I use those terms correctly and not as hyperbole. I analyze business finances for my living. Three a week is *stupid*. Just like the Southwest Chief bus bridge idiocy was *stupid*.

If you're going to try to save money, you have to suspend an entire train service, not chop it into pieces which cost the same to run as the whole train or run it on an unusuable schedule.

Vermont is saving cash by suspending the Vermonter and Ethan Allen. Fine, I understand that. Go Vermont! Good work!

Amtrak management is choosing to bleed more cash and run out of cash *faster* with the three-a-week idiocy. That is sabotage.

I don't know how other advocates would have reacted, but if Amtrak had said "We're suspending the Sunset Limited, Cardinal, Capitol Limited, and Silver Meteor until the week before Thanksgiving, to save money; the Silver Star and Lake Shore Limited will be lengthened to help some of the riders reschedule their trips" I would have said that made business sense. This is not what they did.
 
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neroden

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We have seen the 3x week schedule and limited dining reverse course before. But it certainly isn’t a good sign.
Basically, every time Amtrak management had a halfway-competent boss who wanted Amtrak to be usable or to cost Congress as little as possible, the halfway-competent boss demanded daily service and dining which was attractive to customers. It's just good business sense. (It's possible to do pre-packaged dining in an attractive way with high quality food. This is not it.)
 
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crescent-zephyr

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It's possible to do pre-packaged dining in an attractive way with high quality food. This is not it.)
Agreed. I am confident that anyone with experience in the food / hospitality industry could take the same budget, and same limitations and create a product that was attractive.
 

Anderson

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They're entirely relevant now.

Three-a-week saves maybe 1/3 of costs -- if you're lucky -- and loses roughly *80%* of revenue. (If I have a trip where I can't change the dates, I have a 3/7 chance of being able to use Amtrak outbound and a 3/7 chance of being able to use it on the return == 18% chance of being able to use Amtrak. And that is if it's on a single train, like Syracuse to Chicago.) You do the math. Even at Covid demand levels, it's idiocy.

I will be blunt: total suspension of service, followed by resumption of service later, would have been a financially sane thing to do. That's what several states did with their state-supported services, including Vermont (still suspended), Pennsylvania, and New York. I have *no* complaints about that, because *it actually makes sense*.

Three-a-week is either idiocy or sabotage, and I use those terms correctly and not as hyperbole. I analyze business finances for my living. Three a week is *stupid*. Just like the Southwest Chief bus bridge idiocy was *stupid*.

If you're going to try to save money, you have to suspend an entire train service, not chop it into pieces which cost the same to run as the whole train or run it on an unusuable schedule.

Vermont is saving cash by suspending the Vermonter and Ethan Allen. Fine, I understand that. Go Vermont! Good work!

Amtrak management is choosing to bleed more cash and run out of cash *faster* with the three-a-week idiocy. That is sabotage.

I don't know how other advocates would have reacted, but if Amtrak had said "We're suspending the Sunset Limited, Cardinal, Capitol Limited, and Silver Meteor until the week before Thanksgiving, to save money; the Silver Star and Lake Shore Limited will be lengthened to help some of the riders reschedule their trips" I would have said that made business sense. This is not what they did.
Total suspension would probably have been a non-starter (at least politically). There's a good chance it would have either wound up in court or otherwise gotten blocked.
 

Lonestar648

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Question? Are the Host railroads under any obligation to give Amtrak back the slots they gave up going to 3x week if daily service is restarted. Back many months, I read that one host said what ever slots Amtrak might give up would never be returned without a major use charge increase. Has Amtrak, by reducing frequency to 3x from 7x, sealed their LD fate?
 

Willbridge

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Question? Are the Host railroads under any obligation to give Amtrak back the slots they gave up going to 3x week if daily service is restarted. Back many months, I read that one host said what ever slots Amtrak might give up would never be returned without a major use charge increase. Has Amtrak, by reducing frequency to 3x from 7x, sealed their LD fate?
Whether or not there is a legal angle that the Class 1's can use there is a phenomenon that John Kneiling commented on called "lazy man railroading." It's a tendency for operating procedures to expand to fill capacity. In the late 1940's there were five passenger trains each way scheduled through the Moffat Tunnel, some of them with steam engines. Omaha would choke on their steaks if that was requested by Amtrak now.
 

fredmcain

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Question? Are the Host railroads under any obligation to give Amtrak back the slots they gave up going to 3x week if daily service is restarted. Back many months, I read that one host said what ever slots Amtrak might give up would never be returned without a major use charge increase. Has Amtrak, by reducing frequency to 3x from 7x, sealed their LD fate?
Lonestar,

I too have wondered about the host railroads dragging their feet on any restored daily service. Remember that a few years ago Amtrak "studied" converting trains 1 & 2 The Sunset Limited to daily service. Union Pacific made such high demands that Amtrak quickly and quietly scuttled the whole idea.

Also, VIA Rail reduced the frequency of the Canadian from daily to either three or four days a week a few years ago (I can't remember for sure now) then later they cut it again to two days a week and, guess what? The Canadian has now stopped running altogether. I will be greatly surprised if it ever returns. I think the Canadian is now permanently gone.

Come to think of it, this might just be the beginning of the end of Amtrak's LD trains and therefore Amtrak as well. As NARP had stated for years, the rest of the country simply will not support an Amtrak whose region of service is limited to the Northeast. Ain't happnin'


Regards,
Fred M. Cain
 
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fredmcain

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They're entirely relevant now.

Three-a-week saves maybe 1/3 of costs -- if you're lucky -- and loses roughly *80%* of revenue. (If I have a trip where I can't change the dates, I have a 3/7 chance of being able to use Amtrak outbound and a 3/7 chance of being able to use it on the return == 18% chance of being able to use Amtrak. And that is if it's on a single train, like Syracuse to Chicago.) You do the math. Even at Covid demand levels, it's idiocy.

I will be blunt: total suspension of service, followed by resumption of service later, would have been a financially sane thing to do. That's what several states did with their state-supported services, including Vermont (still suspended), Pennsylvania, and New York. I have *no* complaints about that, because *it actually makes sense*.

Three-a-week is either idiocy or sabotage, and I use those terms correctly and not as hyperbole. I analyze business finances for my living. Three a week is *stupid*. Just like the Southwest Chief bus bridge idiocy was *stupid*.

(SNIP)
Neroden,

As I stated in an earlier post, for ANYONE living along the Capital Limited Route and wanting to go west over any portion of the California Zephyr route, those two trains only connect ONE DAY a week at Chicago. This is beyond stupid.

It' also incredible that they'd do this on the eve of the end-of-year holiday rush that starts next month. Like you say, it must either be total idiocy or sabotage.

If it's sabotage, I wonder if the former presidents of the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, D.J. Russell and Ben Biaggini aren't smiling in their graves! What a GREAT idea! Total genius!

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Neroden,

As I stated in an earlier post, for ANYONE living along the Capital Limited Route and wanting to go west over any portion of the California Zephyr route, those two trains only connect ONE DAY a week at Chicago. This is beyond stupid.

It' also incredible that they'd do this on the eve of the end-of-year holiday rush that starts next month. Like you say, it must either be total idiocy or sabotage.

If it's sabotage, I wonder if the former presidents of the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, D.J. Russell and Ben Biaggini aren't smiling in their graves! What a GREAT idea! Total genius!

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
Where did you hear that the CL and CZ only connect once per week? According to the website and the schedules I have the connection is possible on both Monday and Saturday.

As to the host railroads trying to stop service restoration, why would they be able to do so for LDs but not corridor trains? I had the same concern at first, but Amtrak does not seem to have had any issue restoring service on routes like the Pennsylvanian, Pere Marquette, or Pacific Surfliner. The case of the Sunset Limited is also different from current cuts in that all service on that line was cut and the service cut has lasted far longer than necessary for the event that triggered it, resulting in the deterioration of stations and the need to bring the line up to modern standards for restoration to occur.
 

fredmcain

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Where did you hear that the CL and CZ only connect once per week? According to the website and the schedules I have the connection is possible on both Monday and Saturday.

<SNIP>
Brian,

What happened was, I tried to make a reservation for late October going west from Elkhart, IN to Ottumwa, IA and was told by the girl on reservation desk that the WB CL departs Elkhart on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays and the WB CZ departs Chicago on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

But! Even if she was wrong or if I misunderstood and you are correct then that means the two trains only connect TWO days a week at Chicago which isn't a whole heck of a lot better!

I don't know about the connection between the Lake Shore and the CZ. I didn't ask about that but I was under the impression that Amtrak had stopped guaranteeing that connection sometime ago. You can do it but proceed at your own risk!

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
 

Sidney

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You can only get from NY/DC to Chicago the same three days of the week. You can get to Buffalo and Pittsburgh from NY daily. The fact that Cleveland and Chicago are only connected three days a week is beyond stupid.Same for Chicago to St Paul. Unbelievable.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Brian,

What happened was, I tried to make a reservation for late October going west from Elkhart, IN to Ottumwa, IA and was told by the girl on reservation desk that the WB CL departs Elkhart on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays and the WB CZ departs Chicago on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

But! Even if she was wrong or if I misunderstood and you are correct then that means the two trains only connect TWO days a week at Chicago which isn't a whole heck of a lot better!

I don't know about the connection between the Lake Shore and the CZ. I didn't ask about that but I was under the impression that Amtrak had stopped guaranteeing that connection sometime ago. You can do it but proceed at your own risk!

Regards,
Fred M. Cain
Yeah, it's not a whole let better as you said but the connection should be available on Monday in addition to Saturday. The LSL is also a guaranteed connection, but it runs on the exact same days as the CL so that connection is also only available twice weekly. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if the agent was just wrong; Amtrak has not made it easy to find out the days which the trains are running.
 

fredmcain

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Yeah, it's not a whole let better as you said but the connection should be available on Monday in addition to Saturday. The LSL is also a guaranteed connection, but it runs on the exact same days as the CL so that connection is also only available twice weekly. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if the agent was just wrong; Amtrak has not made it easy to find out the days which the trains are running.
Brian,

Just for Kicks and Cheerios, here is a run down of the telephone conversation I had with the girl at Amtrak that I had previously posted on another group:

I called Amtrak on Saturday (Oct 10th) and told them that I wanted to go from Elkhart, IN to Ottumwa, IA leaving Elkhart on Oct 22nd. The female voice on the other endd told me "Wait a minute". Then I was put on hold for about five minutes and when she came back she told me that, "It looks like the first train out is on Oct 24th".

I was confused 'cause a traveling companion had called Amtrak and was told that he could do this. But the female voice at the other end kept insisting "First train out, Oct 24th". Finally she told me that the Westbound Capital Ltd only departs Elkhart now on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

HUH!? I told here that October 22nd
IS on a Thursday! Her response? "First train out is October 24th". I argued some more with her (and even contemplated hanging up and calling back to see if I'd get someone else).

"First train out, October 24th".

Finally, finally FINALLY, I got it out of her that the Zephyr will only be departing Chicago westbound on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. SO ! ! ! these triweekly cuts are even WORSE than they appear at first glance! What this means is that the eastern LD trains will now only be connecting to the Western LD trains ONE DAY a week at Chicago! What a GREAT way to discourage passengers!

I'm sure that D. J. Russell and Ben Biaggini must be smiling in their graves.

When I went to hang up I told the girl, "Miss, thanks for your help but this is simply not gonna work".

Her response? "Well, O.K. that's fine but if you change your mind, please give us a call". Change my mind? How?

Potential passengers simply cannot bend all their plans around a screwed up schedule. I will STILL be going to Iowa on the 22nd. I just won't be taking the train, that's all.


Regards,
Fred M. Cain
 
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MilwaukeeRoadLover

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Lonestar,

I too have wondered about the host railroads dragging their feet on any restored daily service. Remember that a few years ago Amtrak "studied" converting trains 1 & 2 The Sunset Limited to daily service. Union Pacific made such high demands that Amtrak quickly and quietly scuttled the whole idea.

Also, VIA Rail reduced the frequency of the Canadian from daily to either three or four days a week a few years ago (I can't remember for sure now) then later they cut it again to two days a week and, guess what? The Canadian has now stopped running altogether. I will be greatly surprised if it ever returns. I think the Canadian is now permanently gone.

Come to think of it, this might just be the beginning of the end of Amtrak's LD trains and therefore Amtrak as well. As NARP had stated for years, the rest of the country simply will not support an Amtrak whose region of service is limited to the Northeast. Ain't happnin'


Regards,
Fred M. Cain
Also, it seems the notion of a "national railroad" only on the eastern seaboard is a bit of a dicotomy.
 

neroden

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So, group, what is the latest news on this three times a week service? I was trying to scan through the posts on our forum and nothing jumped out at me.

Realistically, what are the chances that daily service WILL return? Slim to none?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Essentially, daily service will return, in January or February, if Joe Biden is elected and Democrats take the Senate. If Republicans keep the Senate, daily service will not return.

We know Biden supports improved "coast to coast" rail -- it's in his campaign platform.

There's already a daily-service bill which passed the House.

That bill is currently being blocked not by Trump (who doesn't care), but by McConnell, who has the rest of the Republican Senators goose-stepping behind him like cult members, regardless of their personal views. If Republicans lose the Senate, they'll probably turn on McConnell and throw him out of leadership, so even the Republicans won't be backing him after that. So if Democrats win the Senate I expect we'll have *Republicans* signing on to the daily-service bill. But if Republican win the Senate they will give credit to McConnell and will keep slavishly following him like cult members, and McConnell opposes daily service (indeed, he seems to oppose any public services at all).

That's my analysis, and I analyze politics very intensively.
 
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