Amtrak FY2021 grant request

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Anthony V

Service Attendant
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Mar 10, 2016
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189
On page 29 of the document, I found out that Amtrak wants to change the law to allow a federal-state funding commitment for operating costs of new corridor routes for up to five years before the service becomes fully state-supported. This would allow states to see how well corridors will do before they become fully state-supported. Is this a good idea?
 

Qapla

OBS Chief
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Jul 15, 2019
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772
Did you notice this wording on page 11?
We believe that a restructuring of the National Network, with the right level of dedicated and enhanced federal funding, could improve the services we deliver while improving our ability to sustainably maintain the operation of appropriate long distance routes. We look forward to working with the Administration, Congress, our state partners, and other stakeholders to consider these proposals in more depth.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
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Sep 15, 2017
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They have used that language of “appropriate long distance routes” before. Expect to see more.
 

JP1822

Train Attendant
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Mar 8, 2019
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We all must know by now that Anderson & Co. has something in the works to at least bring the number of LD trains down to at least 10.
 

lordsigma

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We all must know by now that Anderson & Co. has something in the works to at least bring the number of LD trains down to at least 10.
Some other hints in the five year plans where they state that some long distance corridors may be better served by day trains that can use corridor equipment. The big million dollar question we still don’t know is are they going propose abandoning rail service in any segments (like the rejected Chief proposal) or are they rather just going to change how service is provided on certain routes (day trains instead of overnighters) but still provide at least one train to every current station. I think the answer to that last question will largely determine whether any of their ideas will at least be entertained by Congress or not. As an example a question like: do we really need two overnight trains to Florida or does it make more sense instead to have one overnighter and one day train (for example instead of the current setup, running just the meteor overnight and have the palmetto during the day extended to Jacksonville and replace the Star with connecting corridor service in the Carolinas and Florida.) I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a proposal like that for Florida.
 
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Amtrakfflyer

Lead Service Attendant
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Feb 2, 2005
Messages
438
It doesn’t matter what the proposals are unless the trains run on time and are marketed with meaningful amenities that show value for people’s hard earned money they won’t be any better than today. Marketing and viable amenities need to come back ASAP.

The more I think about the “experimental” moniker the more I see it as a problem. Anderson doesn’t get Amtrak needs to be a viable transportation option for all Americans not a 1-3 day a week land cruise for some as I envision his “experimental” train. Sure we can add a few luxury bedrooms per train and a free bottle of wine and strawberries to anyone wanting to pay an extra $1000 as Via does, but that can be done on the scenic existing routes now or soon and it needs to profit the bottom line.

The network as a whole is so skeletal it needs to remain and be built upon. The food situation needs to be fixed once and for all. Acela first meals with free glass of wine and most passengers would be content. We’ve all said this stuff before over the last 2 years why doesn’t Amtrak get it???
 

railiner

Conductor
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Mar 20, 2009
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7,567
The more I think about the “experimental” moniker the more I see it as a problem.
I think you mean "experiential"...there is a difference. Experiential to me is riding for the fun of it, basically a "land cruise".
Experimental means a trial of an all new route...like Congress dictated to Amtrak in its very early years...

As for breaking down overnight trains into day trains, in cases of long routes, you would then require several breaks. It would take a week to go cross-country. Not a good idea.
The Rocky Mountaineer is not a good model for 'transportation'...just for 'cruising'.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
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I think you mean "experiential"...there is a difference. Experiential to me is riding for the fun of it, basically a "land cruise".
Experimental means a trial of an all new route...like Congress dictated to Amtrak in its very early years...

As for breaking down overnight trains into day trains, in cases of long routes, you would then require several breaks. It would take a week to go cross-country. Not a good idea.
The Rocky Mountaineer is not a good model for 'transportation'...just for 'cruising'.
I don’t think they’d break up routes like the Zephyr or Builder they’d probably have at least one traditional cross country trip available. However I’d expect to see something different proposed for the Sunset Limited
 

Qapla

OBS Chief
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Jul 15, 2019
Messages
772
do we really need two overnight trains to Florida
The short answer is "yes" ... unless they add add enough cars (sleeper and coach) to a single train to cover for the number of people that fill both these trains every night. The Florida-NY "corridor" is well traveled (even though people don't want to view it as a corridor and would rather label it LD)

Now, I could see the benefit of running one of them "overnight" and one of them "during the day" - but, rather than make people have to change trains to go from Florida to places north (Florida is a rather long state) having two trains that allow people to stay on the same train from Miami or Tampa to DC and beyond should no be discontinued.
 

Anderson

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The short answer is "yes" ... unless they add add enough cars (sleeper and coach) to a single train to cover for the number of people that fill both these trains every night. The Florida-NY "corridor" is well traveled (even though people don't want to view it as a corridor and would rather label it LD)

Now, I could see the benefit of running one of them "overnight" and one of them "during the day" - but, rather than make people have to change trains to go from Florida to places north (Florida is a rather long state) having two trains that allow people to stay on the same train from Miami or Tampa to DC and beyond should no be discontinued.
Also, don't forget that the trains cover different ground in the Carolinas. It isn't as extreme, but this is kinda like asking if we need the Cardinal since we've got the Lake Shore Limited.
 

Qapla

OBS Chief
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Messages
772
This is true ... The Star goes to Columbia and Raleigh while the Meteor does not - as well as the Star going to Tampa and the Meteor does not
 

Thirdrail7

Conductor
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Jul 9, 2014
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The big million dollar question we still don’t know is are they going propose abandoning rail service in any segments (like the rejected Chief proposal)
Count on it. I can see them easily breaking up the Star into multiple corridor trains, especially if they team up with VA and NC for "S" line operation. I can see them tinkering with the Palmetto as well.

I can see the Crescent becoming a day train to ATL and I can definitely see the Cardinal becoming multiple trains.

I can picture them adjusting the times and gutting the Texas Eagle by eliminating the section between LRK and DAL, which would leave you with two corridor type trains.

We've already seen what they wanted to do with Chief.

I suppose it would be possible to adjust the times on the CONO and cut out the section between CDL and MEM or run it to JXN, while providing more service between JXN and NOL.

The ultimate question is whether the states would go for it. Somehow, I doubt they will. Otherwise, they could have put out feelers for the service already.
 
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lordsigma

OBS Chief
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Sep 15, 2017
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The short answer is "yes" ..
I actually tend to agree with you and hope they keep both trains and am not advocating for what I said, but I predict that or something similar could be proposed under that argument.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
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The ultimate question is whether the states would go for it. Somehow, I doubt they will. Otherwise, they could have put out feelers for the service already.
And that’s the big elephant in the room with this plan. Many of these are southern states where it’s certainly iffy if any are going to support subsidizing any Amtrak service instead of highway expansion.

The idea pitched in the grant request for corridor development is interesting and maybe could convince some tentative states (where Amtrak would cover the first two years and possibly capital costs and state support would be gradually phased in over five years with the route transitioning to the current PRIIA rules after five years.) But once again this means convincing Congress into pitching in more cash to Amtrak for the new grant that would allow them to do this program.
 

west point

Conductor
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Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,039
We have no idea how many passengers will travel thru the "low bookings " city pairs sections of LD trains? Almost every train even thru this "slow season " has no sleeper positions open and coach seats are at medium or high buckets. Amtrak can certainly fill the Meteor and Star during high seasons by pushing the use of revenue cars that cannot be sustained during off peak times. Look at Auto train now almost all trains are sold out southbound now,

Until there is enough equipment to support the lower demand times year around I cannot see eliminating any trains. The latest loss figures have Cardinal and Sunset both at highest level of losses. Is that because they are only three days a week ? It is time to experiment with daily service on those routes once enough equipment is available year around.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,746
The latest loss figures have Cardinal and Sunset both at highest level of losses. Is that because they are only three days a week ?
Yes, it is. There are a lot of costs which are the same whether you run three days a week or seven, or which don't scale down (for instance, if it costs 3/4 as much to run three days a week as to run seven days a week). Meanwhile, running three days a week loses you more than half your ridership.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,039
The request for Amfleet-1 replacements only has $3M allocated for long distance. That is for one year which would not even equal 1 car !
 

Amtrakfflyer

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
438
3 million for a study of Amfleet 1 replacements? Anderson is the wrong person at the wrong time.

Hopefully this whole
reauthorization can be dragged out until new management is in place.
 
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