Amtrak Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), jogging memory

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jis

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Recently there have been several mentions of the Amtrak PIPs in discussion. Many who were not around or were not into Amtrak back then may find it helpful to get a perspective on what we are talking about. So here goes...

In the PRIIA 2008 Bill which Authorized Amtrak for the following 5 or so years, Section 210 required Amtrak to put together Performance Improvement Plans for all the LD trains and publish them on their website. Unfortunately one of the terrible acts of Amtrak's most incompetent CEO ever, Mr. Anderson, was to remove them from the Amtrak website.

Copies may be available in the cloud, but pending people finding the time and desire to locate them, there is a very good article in an issue of Trains Magazine which has a very good summary of what were there in the three document published by Amtrak back then and then unceremoniously withdrawn. Here is a reference to that Trains article:

https://cs.trains.com/trn/b/observa...mtrak-39-s-performance-improvement-plans.aspx

Hope those that had never heard of the PIP are helped by this to come upto speed on these documents, the best one can do at present publicly.
 
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I have a hardcopy of my favorite: the Capitol Ltd's and scanned it to a pdf, sitting on my C drive.
I have a few of the original PDFs somewhere in my Cloud. I was just reading the Capitol Ltd. one yesterday, which is the one that has the Capitol/Pennsylvanian Combo discussed in it.
 
So we cannot provide access to the actual documents, of which there are copies floating around in private possession without breaking Copyright rules, lacking permission from Amtrak. Maybe someone can do an FOIA application to shake them loose from Amtrak.
Its a public report, just because its been removed from the internet doesn't mean you can't share it. Amtrak can't say anything it was on their website for years
and being made by the government there is no copyright.
 
Its a public report, just because its been removed from the internet doesn't mean you can't share it. Amtrak can't say anything it was on their website for years
and being made by the government there is no copyright.
You make a good point Though Amtrak is not government according to some interpretations, so that last comment may not apply. But your first observation holds and anyone who wishes to post the documents can do so.
 
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I was able to look at them by taking the link from the Trains article and sticking it into archive.org's Wayback Machine. Picking a snapshot from 20 December 2014 (around when the article was published) brought up the page with links to the PDFs.
You beat me to it. I've had surprising luck with pulling old docs from Amtrak that way.

Having said that, I remember most of the main recommendations from the PIPs:
-Daily Cardinal (would likely reduce losses).
-Daily Through Sunset-Eagle, with a stub train San Antonio-New Orleans (this got muffed up when Amtrak got over-eager during negotiations).
-Through sleeper on the Pennsylvanian from the Capitol Limited (this got fouled up by the extreme delays in delivering the Viewliner IIs).
-Reshuffle the schedules of the eastbound Cap and LSL (LSL would be earlier than the Cap, aiming to get to NYP ahead of rush hour).

They actually did consider running the Cap/Star through as one another and then extending the Palmetto to Miami, but declined to suggest it. Also, they considered the possibility of adding the Desert Wind back to the Zephyr as a split (this was expected to increase losses by like $10-15m); the Pioneer was analyzed separately (as it, the Sunset East, and the North Coast Hiawatha were all mandated studies).

There were also capacity augments suggested (e.g. a seasonal fifth coach on the Meteor - note the bitter irony of that train now running with three coaches), some station renovations, a I think a few other timetable tweaks, but those were the big ones.
 
-Through sleeper on the Pennsylvanian from the Capitol Limited (this got fouled up by the extreme delays in delivering the Viewliner IIs).
The cars that were proposed to be transferred from the Pennsylvanian to the Cap were not just a Sleeper but a Sleeper, two Coaches and a Food Service Car.
 
I submitted an FOIA request this morning. Never read the docs before but hoping this makes it public.
Amtrak got back to me:
The reports were only produced once, in 2010-2012, as PRIIA required. Therefore we have no records to produce.
Thank you,
FOIA Officer
I was under the impression they made more internally afterwards. Seems like the Wayback technique River Cities shared is the way to go. I have the relevant links below for convenience.

FY10 PIP: Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle
FY10 PIP: Cardinal
FY10 PIP: Capitol Limited
FY10 PIP: California Zephyr

FY11 PIP: Crescent, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Service

FY12 PIP: Auto Train, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief

Really wish Amtrak had the resources and desire to be more transparent with their details and plans. So many fans are interested and could maybe help drum up more riders.
 
Amtrak got back to me:

I was under the impression they made more internally afterwards. Seems like the Wayback technique River Cities shared is the way to go. I have the relevant links below for convenience.

FY10 PIP: Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle
FY10 PIP: Cardinal
FY10 PIP: Capitol Limited
FY10 PIP: California Zephyr

FY11 PIP: Crescent, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Service

FY12 PIP: Auto Train, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief

Really wish Amtrak had the resources and desire to be more transparent with their details and plans. So many fans are interested and could maybe help drum up more riders.
Thanks you very much!
 
Might as well also attach them here.
 

Attachments

  • FY12 PIP AT CONO CS EB SWC.pdf
    4.6 MB · Views: 0
  • FY11 PIP Crescent LSL Silvers.pdf
    5.7 MB · Views: 0
  • FY10 PIP CZ.pdf
    3.2 MB · Views: 0
  • FY10 PIP CL.pdf
    1.7 MB · Views: 0
  • FY10 PIP Cardinal.pdf
    1.4 MB · Views: 0
  • FY10 PIP SL TE.pdf
    1.8 MB · Views: 0
The cars that were proposed to be transferred from the Pennsylvanian to the Cap were not just a Sleeper but a Sleeper, two Coaches and a Food Service Car.

Which means the Chicago-bound Pennsylvanian cars would have required just 2 more Amfleet-2 coaches + 1 Dinette car of some sort to work. Add the switch at the west end of the Pittsburgh depot, and it could have been done. Talking to the western PA advocates at the time, they didn't want it, only a 2nd Pennsylvanian. They wanted on-time departures from Pittsburgh, never mind the Capitol Ltd was and is a wobbly table with 3 legs.

In addition, they probably could have abolished the 3rd Superliner coach line on the Capitol Ltd altogether. That car was mostly empty east of Pittsburgh anyway, lacking Pennsylvanian refugees. With a Viewliner sleeper from NY, they probably could have abolished the 2nd Superliner sleeper as well. Those cars could have been been made into Denver cut cars for the California Zephyr.

With that last piece, this whole scheme would have been budget positive with no train miles added. No wonder Anderson killed it. It was contrary to National Network 2.0 , in which case there would have been no Capitol Ltd among others. Today, PRIAA-210 is the farthest thing from Gardner's and Harris's minds.
 
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After rereading the Crescent PRIIA have come to a troubling conclusion. The report noted that ridership ATL & north was much heavier than south of ATL.

FY11 PIP: Crescent, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Service Here is quote from the report.

"Amtrak proposes to reinstate the switching of cars in Atlanta to reduce costs and increase revenues. The current Crescent consist of four coaches north of Atlanta is insufficient to meet demand, while demand south of Atlanta generally requires only two coaches (three during seasonal peak periods). Under the plan, a fifth coach would be added to the Crescent (train 19) between New York and Atlanta. At Atlanta, a locomotive and the last block of cars -- a lounge and two to three coaches -- would be cut from the train. The remaining train, consisting of one locomotive, a baggage car, two sleeping cars, the diner, and two or three coaches (depending on seasonal demand) would continue its trip to New Orleans. The equipment cut at Atlanta would turn the same day and be added to the northbound train 20 to New York. South of Atlanta, the dining car will serve as the food service car for the train, providing both diner and lounge service and reducing the on-board service staffing requirement. The third peak period running coach south of Atlanta is projected to operate four months of the year. Amtrak intends to operate it whenever there is sufficient ridership demand south Atlanta to cover the costs of its operation. During special events such as Mardi Gras, Amtrak will lengthen the train south of Atlanta if equipment is available."

So what does Amtrak do? It changes the schedule until train #20 leave ATL at a god-awful time. That way demand is artificially reduced north of ATL so the Crescent is now only carrying 3 coaches. I will not call this a conspiracy but if not gross incompetence to reduce LD travel? The reduction of capacity north of ATL does nothing to save 1036 miles a day for 4 cars that would be removed at ATL instead of going to / from NOL saving ~ $ 4144 day just in car mileage charges?
 
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In the PRIIA 2008 Bill which Authorized Amtrak for the following 5 or so years, Section 210 required Amtrak to put together Performance Improvement Plans for all the LD trains and publish them on their website. Unfortunately one of the terrible acts of Amtrak's most incompetent CEO ever, Mr. Anderson, was to remove them from the Amtrak website.
Here is a reference to that Trains article:
https://cs.trains.com/trn/b/observa...mtrak-39-s-performance-improvement-plans.aspx
I noticed that about the only improvements implemented were in 2013. So there was some attempt to improve but not much resulted. Was someone there responsible for these improvements? Was there a change in the management at that time, or after that time?
 
There was simply no follow-thru or budget to implement anything.
  • Atlanta would need more space, and maybe even a switcher engine and crew, than just the existing siding to do anything. They can terminate an entire train there and wye it, but not fiddle with the consist.
  • Amtrak does not like to cut and add cars, even where very do-able, like Denver, or the under-engineered and deficient St Paul SPUD.
  • NS forced their hand to reschedule 19/20 due to PSR crap like CN did to VIA Rail, and their inability dispatch efficiently in Alabama,
  • Congress never followed thru to force some compliance with PRIAA-210 (the PIPs), or PRIAA-216 (chartered trains and PV haulage) to enhance revenue, which was pure Amtrakian defiance, put on steroids by Anderson. Then Flynn and Gardner killed Amtrak Express, lying that its was "temporary", was actually more Congressional defiance, never letting a (Covid) crisis go to waste.
  • NRP/RPA never did a thing except go on a silly Daily Cardinal Campaign. They obvously didn't bother reading or interpreting the PIPs and its data, relying on "economic impacts" and academic studies, which mean nothing to Amtrak's operating budget and appropriations. So of course, it got no traction.
  • The Captiol Ltd's PIP was the most do-able and practical of the 15 since it was nearly operating-budget neutral, but the western PA advocates didn't want it. The Cardinal's assumed discontinuance of the Hoosier State, saving $3 or $4 million. But PRIAA-209 came along and enabled Amtrak to sweep the Hoosier State off budget (to the state and local government) so the additional federal operating subsidy of a daily Cardinal grew significantly.
 
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I noticed that about the only improvements implemented were in 2013. So there was some attempt to improve but not much resulted. Was someone there responsible for these improvements? Was there a change in the management at that time, or after that time?
Rumor has it that around 2012 a relevant segment of Congressional leadership managed to install a gentleman who was opposed to any expansion of Amtrak as the CFO under Joseph Boardman, who then proceeded to engineer all sorts of malarkey finally including the removal of Dining Car service from the Silver Star, and then of course came Anderson. Of course certain events like the delay in delivery of the Viewliner IIs played a significant part enabling such, but the fact that no attempt was made to mitigate such was a direct result of Amtrak middle management action. The PIPs fell victim to this general overall trend, and Congress exacerbated matters by not doing any follow through supporting appropriations.

This is from my vague recollection, and subject to correction by anyone who demonstrably remembers better.
 
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