Amtrak service cuts on Texas Eagle

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DSS&A

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This article includes information about Amtrak's resucrion of services on the Texas Eagle. One advantage of long diatnce train travel is that one can walk around and that you are not "stuck in your seat" like riding in a plane. However apparently
Amtrak appears to be forcing the train riding experience of a long distance train to be the same as a plane ride, but slower. Amtrak should remember that good customer service brings back returning riders and new riders from "word of mouth good & positive recommendations" and BAD service reduces ridership from riders who don't return and bad performance comments to others verbally and on social media. Here is the article with the information.

 

fillyjonk

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Yeah, I was on the Texas Eagle this past weekend (Friday into Saturday) from BNL to MIN. One food-car staff person so he had to both run the cafe and serve sleeping car passengers. No SSL, of course. I heard someone ask the sleeping car attendant and he was very pessimistic as to whether the SSL and proper dining car would ever return :(

The TE is "my" train (the only one I can easily get to), so it makes me sad to see it transformed into something like Greyhound on Rails. At least in the sleeping car - expensive now given the meals aren't great - you do get privacy and I don't run the risk of an unpleasant or inappropriately-friendly (have experienced that) seatmate.

I would be really interested to see the average SES of riders on various LD lines, I have a suspicion about why the TE is the "red-headed stepchild" train right now, but I could be wrong
 
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My guess on the Eagle is hard red states but more importantly extreme politicians that care more about Twitter and wouldn’t blink an eye if Amtrak disappeared tomorrow. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton to name a few. Gardner learned where to pick fights or in this case avoid fights from Andersons attack on the SWC.

That being said I’m worried about a stealth attack that is taking place on the SWC as we speak. The SWC has potential to be one of Amtrak's strongest trains. Whether its CoVid repercussions or not the train seems like it’s being held back from its full potential just like the Eagle.
 
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jis

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My guess on the Eagle is hard red states but more importantly extreme politicians that care more about Twitter and wouldn’t blink an eye if Amtrak disappeared tomorrow. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton to name a few. Gardner learned where to pick fights or in this case avoid fights from Andersons attack on the SWC.

That being said I’m worried a more stealth attack is taking place on the SWC as we speak. The SWC has potential to be one of Amtrak's strongest trains. Whether its CoVid repercussions or not the train seems like it’s being held back from its full potential just like the Eagle.
I would also point out that the Texas Eagle has been a poor performer in general for decades. Before Kay Bailey Hutchinson made it become daily, it was a three times a week anemic service, and it has never performed anywhere like the typical "Western" Superliner trains. Many actually argued that when the Lone Star was discontinued the wrong train was discontinued. So to blame it all on Gardner maybe ignoring history a bit IMHO. To me, it seems like he is behaving like many a CEO that has come before him, with maybe a few exceptions.

Oddly enough, the SWC being in jeopardy has also happened a couple of times well before Anderson. I remember a plan to discontinue it and replace it with a Desert Wind off of the CZ, and the letter writing campaign that I participated in to save it. And then there is the endless periodic thing about moving it to the Southern route. So none of this is all that new. I guess I may be more jaded than some others about these things.

All that is not to say that today's shenanigans are justified any more than the previous ones were, but just pointing out there is very little that is really new in the way of shenanigans. Today's CEOs are merely dusting off the books written by previous CEOs as they see fit.
 
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zephyr17

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I think the main difference with days past, at least as far as the western trains go, is there weren't "junk" trains with fewer/poorer services Yes, the Desert Wind and Pioneer never ran with Sightseers (except the Wind had one in the last days during the Mercer Cuts, when the Pioneer/Desert Wind ran 3 days a week and the CZ 4 days a week). But they had good dining service and were decent little trains. Yes, the SW Chief had been endangered a couple times, but the trains that ran were decent trains.

Also, equipment planning was consistent and if you booked a sleeper you could be certain of actually getting it.

The difference now is there are definitely 2 tiers of trains, plus Amtrak cannot seem to be able to match physical consists with the inventory they sold.
 

jis

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Also the car inventory has progressively depleted over the years as cars have been consumed by wrecks and lack of maintenance due to underfunding or understaffing or both at times. All that it does is explain the situation not excuse it. Perhaps Amtrak should have chosen to more aggressively discontinue some trains in order to provide top quality service in the remaining ones. But it did not have that freedom either. So given the constraints under which it operated and the relative undesirability of the CEO position as a career move for the CEO types, at least I am not surprised how things have turned out.

But coming back to the Texas Eagle, it unfortunately has never soared. It has just desperately flapped along in its entire existence.
 
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That being said I’m worried a more stealth attack is taking place on the SWC as we speak. The SWC has potential to be one of Amtrak's strongest trains. Whether its CoVid repercussions or not the train seems like it’s being held back from its full potential just like the Eagle.
Well it's sort of a mixed bag for the Chief. While switching the sleeper to a transition sleeper has gotten a lot of attention the train actually did get a third coach which it did not get last year and it also got the baggage back. So at least they are taking care of the scouts which contribute a lot to the ridership of the train. Not quite getting the beating the Eagle is getting. They may have just known they were short on sleepers and something had to give and they made the choices they made.
 

jis

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Well it's sort of a mixed bag for the Chief. While switching the sleeper to a transition sleeper has gotten a lot of attention the train actually did get a third coach which it did not get last year and it also got the baggage back. So at least they are taking care of the scouts which contribute a lot to the ridership of the train. Not quite getting the beating the Eagle is getting. They may have just known they were short on sleepers and something had to give and they made the choices they made.
My suspicion is that at least some of the Sleepers removed from the SWC posibly augmented by one or two from reserve, went to the Coast Starlight to give it a third Sleeper for the summer and the Capitol Limited to give it the second Sleeper for the summer.

I suspect the Transdorm came from the CONO, which also had a net loss of Sleeper space but gained a Coach for the summer.

Texas Eagle lost a Coach which probably went to SWC with one or two coming from reserve.
 
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Many actually argued that when the Lone Star was discontinued the wrong train was discontinued.
I agree with that. The BNSF racetrack from Chicago to KC is one Amtrak route that is competitive with driving with a 7 hour 10 min. time for the SWC. A good route to have twice daily service. Google says driving (station to station) takes 8 hours 15 minutes.

And then a Lone Star route solves the connection problem with the Heartland Flyer so states could maintain the Hearland as a second train or direct their funds for it elsewhere.

A trip to Fort Worth on the Eagle is 23 hours 40 min. The Lone Star took 21.
 
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My suspicion is that at least some of the Sleepers removed from the SWC posibly augmented by one or two from reserve, went to the Coast Starlight to give it a third Sleeper for the summer and the Capitol Limited to give it the second Sleeper for the summer.

I suspect the Transdorm came from the CONO, which also had a net loss of Sleeper space but gained a Coach for the summer.

Texas Eagle lost a Coach which probably went to SWC with one or two coming from reserve.
I’m sure they pulled the ones from the CONO along with maybe a couple other extra they had lying around. From what I heard at least one of the chief’s trans dorms is fresh and shiny out of Beech Grove so that unit could be an exit from mothballs.
 

CCC1007

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Do you know if they needed any extra equipment just to go from 5 to 7 days - did that jump involve an extra consist for any of the routes?
Not that I am aware of…

The way they did the 5X was not designed to save any sets…
 

crescent-zephyr

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I think the main difference with days past, at least as far as the western trains go, is there weren't "junk" trains with fewer/poorer services
I remember the Texas Eagle running with a “Diner Lounge” - I was really young but I still remember my dad being very disappointed that there wasn’t a traditional dining car on the train. And of course back then there wasn’t a SSL on the Eagle.
 

Amtrak25

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I think firing the TEMPO revenue management group by Anderson hurt the train, and it was deliberate. They were very good at rationing Lincoln Corridor seats from long distance seats. It is very easy to allott too many seats to the corridor portion, encounter fully booked conditions for a ride from Springfield, IL to Texas, yet encounter a half empty train south of St Louis.

If the Eagle gets the axe, the Sunset and the Oklahoma train would collapse soon thereafter.
 

jis

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I think firing the TEMPO revenue management group by Anderson hurt the train, and it was deliberate. They were very good at rationing Lincoln Corridor seats from long distance seats. It is very easy to allott too many seats to the corridor portion, encounter fully booked conditions for a ride from Springfield, IL to Texas, yet encounter a half empty train south of St Louis.

If the Eagle gets the axe, the Sunset and the Oklahoma train would collapse soon thereafter.
I don't think the Eagle will get the axe. So we don't need to cross that river yet.
 
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zephyr17

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It's Gardner who should get the axe. Amtrak is even more of a clown show now than it was under Anderson.
Yeah, Anderson was overtly hostile to the LDs, did not understand them, did not want to, and did not care. But he did seem to be able to do basic management blocking and tackling, even if his agenda was screwed up and he lacked PR skills.

Gardner just seems flat out incompetent.
 

frequentflyer

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I would also point out that the Texas Eagle has been a poor performer in general for decades. Before Kay Bailey Hutchinson made it become daily, it was a three times a week anemic service, and it has never performed anywhere like the typical "Western" Superliner trains. Many actually argued that when the Lone Star was discontinued the wrong train was discontinued. So to blame it all on Gardner maybe ignoring history a bit IMHO. To me, it seems like he is behaving like many a CEO that has come before him, with maybe a few exceptions.

Oddly enough, the SWC being in jeopardy has also happened a couple of times well before Anderson. I remember a plan to discontinue it and replace it with a Desert Wind off of the CZ, and the letter writing campaign that I participated in to save it. And then there is the endless periodic thing about moving it to the Southern route. So none of this is all that new. I guess I may be more jaded than some others about these things.

All that is not to say that today's shenanigans are justified any more than the previous ones were, but just pointing out there is very little that is really new in the way of shenanigans. Today's CEOs are merely dusting off the books written by previous CEOs as they see fit.

The wrong train being cancelled has been argued for years. I have always thought rerouting to the old Lone Star route would yield lower costs as it could be combined with the SWC at Newton. I am sure Texarkana, Longview and Marshall would not agree. Unless the Lone Star Crescent was implemented.
 

Bob Dylan

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Don't forget Little Rock, Poplar Bluff and even St. Louis (for those in St. Lous who would like to get to Texas.)
You could have a Daily Eagle from CHI-LAX on the present Route, and The Lone Star returned via its previous route through Oklahoma to Ft Worth.

Of course there's no Equipment available and none of us would be alive if it was ordered soon when it is delivered in 2050 or so!
 

Amtrak25

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There was political criteria for regional balance and to minimizing percentage of duplicate train miles. They also did not want the Lincoln Corridor to become just a branch line to St Louis not knowing MIssouri would save the western end of the National Limited. Oklahoma also chose not to politic like Arkansas did. The criteria was designed to save the Eagle (Inter-American) over the Lone Star and the Pioneer over the North Coast Hiawatha even though the loser trains had superior avoidable cost per passenger mile and passenger miles per train mile. The Lone Star also had a poor load factor south of the DFW area to Houston, which brought its overall numbers down.

The Desert Wind was drawn on a DOT map in order to kill the Southwest Chief. The Chief managed to stay on and the Desert Wind remained on the map. I used to hear rumors that the reservation system was rigged to favor end point travel on the Desert Wind in order to fill it.
 
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I remember the Texas Eagle running with a “Diner Lounge” - I was really young but I still remember my dad being very disappointed that there wasn’t a traditional dining car on the train. And of course back then there wasn’t a SSL on the Eagle.
At one point they had the old Parlour cars prior to them being refurbished. The hi level lounges were branded ”see level“ at the time. I used to think what a piece of junk compared to the SSL, but I was a kid and couldn’t appreciate it as I should have.
 

marcoloco

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Yeah, I was on the Texas Eagle this past weekend (Friday into Saturday) from BNL to MIN. One food-car staff person so he had to both run the cafe and serve sleeping car passengers. No SSL, of course. I heard someone ask the sleeping car attendant and he was very pessimistic as to whether the SSL and proper dining car would ever return :(

The TE is "my" train (the only one I can easily get to), so it makes me sad to see it transformed into something like Greyhound on Rails. At least in the sleeping car - expensive now given the meals aren't great - you do get privacy and I don't run the risk of an unpleasant or inappropriately-friendly (have experienced that) seatmate.

I would be really interested to see the average SES of riders on various LD lines, I have a suspicion about why the TE is the "red-headed stepchild" train right now, but I could be wrong
You're right about the Lone Star (Houston to chicago on the Santa Fe route. I used to ride that train. I've got 900,000 miles in on Amtrak and have seen both parties do their fair share of damage and fair share of "good things". Not that there's been very many good things at all. Right now, the worst problem on the Texas Eagle and the Sunset Limited in sleeping car reservations. They took off one of the sleepers and the Sunset Limited (the crew dorm car). Crew members take up 5 of the rooms in the ONE sleeper we have coming out of New Orleans. Oh yes, we pick up the Texas Eagle (train 422) sleeper at San Antonio. But if you are traveling west (train #1) and boarding at any station east of San Antonio, there's just the one sleeping and sometimes it's impossible to get reservations. The Texas Eagle has the same problem. They took off our 2nd sleeper during COVID and won't put it back on. Amtrak is a bureaucracy and under poor management right now, so, for now, we just have to wait it out.
 
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