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Amtrak Service Reductions

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Palmetto

Conductor
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Miami
It's been decided by Amtrak that LD trains will operate only 3X per week, effective October 1.

There are, however, two trains that will operate 4X per week: the Silver Metoer and the Auto Train. That gives stations between Petersburg VA and Miami daily service.

Increases in service will be implemented in the future as demand for riding returns.
 
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John Bobinyec

Conductor
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Sep 18, 2009
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CYN
"To All Amtrak Employees,

We remain committed to operating a national network that serves our customers across America. However, we need to be smart about how we deliver our service in this market environment. Congress is not going to support us indefinitely to run mostly empty trains. We need to demonstrate that we are using our resources efficiently and responsibly.

Amtrak has made the decision to operate with reduced capacity through FY21. We are planning 32% fewer frequencies on the Northeast Corridor, 24% fewer for our state-supported service and plan to reduce most long-distance trains to three days per week, beginning October 1, 2020.

This is an appropriate response, given the current and near-term market conditions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our ridership has been down by as much as 95% year-over-year. It’s climbing back slowly – and it is going to take a long time to return to normal. The demand for our Long Distance service is down by 70%, even as some U.S. states begin to reopen. We expect our systemwide ridership in Fiscal Year 2021 to be only 50% of what it was in 2019.

Low ridership on long-distance trains has significantly increased our operating losses, which already exceeded $500 million annually on these services before the pandemic. We expect these long-distance frequency reductions will save as much as $150 million in FY21 vs. the losses that would have been incurred with daily service. These savings are part of our pledge to Congress to reduce costs by $500 million.

Our goal is to restore daily service on these routes as demand warrants, potentially by the summer of 2021.

We recognize these changes will impact our employees who support the Long Distance Service Line. While we have a broad plan on our FY21 service frequency, we still have work to do to determine how that will impact the employees who support this work. We are sensitive to the uncertainty that this announcement brings to our Long Distance team. We will work quickly to determine what staffing reductions or furloughs will occur, and we will communicate these changes to you as soon as possible.

A few additional points:

The Auto Train is an exception to Amtrak’s long-distance reduction plan and will continue its daily operation. The Sunset Limited and the Cardinal are currently tri-weekly and will remain tri-weekly. We expect to run the Silver Meteor four times a week so the stations that are common between it and the Silver Star have daily service.
Amtrak remains concerned about the potential for a second wave of the pandemic in the fall, which could further impact demand across the system.
Amtrak is developing specific and measurable metrics to guide our restoration of frequencies and service, and we will share those with you, Congressional staff and other stakeholders.
To ensure all stakeholders understand changes to our service, we will continue to communicate with our union leadership, our state partners, the federal government, the Rail Passengers Association, host railroads, our customers and you.

We appreciate your continued support as we work together to manage Amtrak through this difficult period.


Roger Harris
EVP, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer"
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
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There are, however, two trains that will operate 4X per week: the Silver Metoer and the Auto Train.
Auto Train remaining daily. Meteor 4X per week with Star 3X per week ( running on days Meteor isn't running.) If they run the Palmetto 3X per week on the days the Star is running that would mean daily service to additional stations (but Palmetto isn't directly referenced.)
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
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Another stimulus bill is being talked about for July time frame. I guess this would be an opportunity to nip this in the bud if RPA can successfully lobby to get language into a bill blocking this direction. We will have to see what the reaction is from congressional members along routes being cut.
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

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Philadelphia Area
Auto Train remaining daily. Meteor 4X per week with Star 3X per week ( running on days Meteor isn't running.) If they run the Palmetto 3X per week on the days the Star is running that would mean daily service to additional stations (but Palmetto isn't directly referenced.)
If they want to use that logic they should also run the Lake Shore Limited 4X a week so Chicago-Cleveland also has daily service or at least stagger them so they have service on six different days of the week and passengers who want to go from CHI-NYP or CHI-WAS can always transfer (it sucks but at least they can still go).
 

jiml

Conductor
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Toronto area
If they want to use that logic they should also run the Lake Shore Limited 4X a week so Chicago-Cleveland also has daily service or at least stagger them so they have service on six different days of the week and passengers who want to go from CHI-NYP or CHI-WAS can always transfer (it sucks but at least they can still go).
Makes perfect sense. One of the Capitol or the Lakeshore needs to be 4x to fill the gap.
 

AmtrakFlyer

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
53
Gardner is playing a key role in this situation. Unfortunately it plays right into what he has wanted to do the last 3 years. RPA and us can’t drop the ball this time. My question is will conservative members of Congress continue to see Amtrak management for the fraud they are and have been in the recent past?

The solution in my opinion would be continue to run the trains as they do now.

Reduced consist size not frequencies. Infrastructure and fixed costs aren’t going away. Labor is the big issue. As it is now some LD trains are operating with only 4 OBS employees not counting operating crew. 1 coach attendant for 2 coaches, 1 lounge attendant, LSA for boxed meals and a sleeper car attendant or two. Take it a step farther go to the unions and ask for a 10 percent pay cut to save jobs that will also go along way with some congressional members as well. So many ways to tackle this beast but as always management goes after the route that drives away ridership.

The other thing that’s wrong with this is the time frame. Entire FY2021? Ridership is already coming back, consists sizes are being increased the past 2 weeks.
If this actually goes through I hope they at least run daily service for 2 weeks over the Christmas/winter holidays but that would have to be decided now or very soon so people can book it.

As of last night all trains are still daily for a year out on the website.
 
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saxman

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
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May 17, 2004
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New Orleans
There also needs to be ironclad agreements between Amtrak and it's host railroads to allow Amtrak to run daily service once they go to less. I just fear another Sunset Limited/UP debacle. Then again, when Amtrak tried this in the 90's and then went back to daily, I don't remember hearing too much trouble from the freight railroads then.

This will be very bad for ridership and revenue as it will probably just cost more in lost productivity. Cars will sit for days, not bringing in revenue. Scheduling T&E crews will be less efficient.

What about connections? Lots of connections will be broken too. Will they have all the LD trains arrive in the Chicago the same days? What if there's a late train and now people have to wait 2-3 days for the next train? The Texas Eagle takes 3 days to run from LAX to CHI, while the other western trains take 2 days, so there goes someones connection in CHI anyways, not to mention LAX and PDX connections. Then next year, Amtrak will use the excuse that it doesn't have enough ridership to add back the frequencies or that it costs to much. I hope I'm wrong.
 

jadebenn

Train Attendant
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Jun 23, 2018
Messages
18
What about connections? Lots of connections will be broken too. Will they have all the LD trains arrive in the Chicago the same days? What if there's a late train and now people have to wait 2-3 days for the next train? The Texas Eagle takes 3 days to run from LAX to CHI, while the other western trains take 2 days, so there goes someones connection in CHI anyways, not to mention LAX and PDX connections. Then next year, Amtrak will use the excuse that it doesn't have enough ridership to add back the frequencies or that it costs to much. I hope I'm wrong.
This is what I fear. Ridership will tank and never recover, and that'll be used to try and justify continuing the cutbacks.
 

RebelRider

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America's Railroad
Supposedly, though not reflected in Arrow yet, the Star and Meteor cut-backs will be effective July 6. So the second busiest (non-Auto Train) station in Florida, Tampa, will have no train service four days a week. Tampa is also the biggest stop on the Star, period.

Raleigh is number four on the route, now going without service to/from Florida four days a week. Three of the top 10 destinations from Raleigh, by revenue, are in Florida.
 

mitako

Train Attendant
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
69
I'm assuming that the switch to the microwaved TV dinners is also extended, but see no mention of that in the announcement. I generally do two big train trips each year, which include stays in two to four cities, and usually involve more than one train route. Reduced service would make it really hard to plan my trips, and I'm not eager to pay the exorbitant rates (we always book a roomette) to eat from a tiny selection of TV dinners for several days on the train. I've already written to my congresspeople..... LOL, received a response from Kamala Harris's office thanking me for my concern over California response to the pandemic, clearly my email was NOT actually read by anyone there.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Chicago, Illinois
Supposedly, though not reflected in Arrow yet, the Star and Meteor cut-backs will be effective July 6. So the second busiest (non-Auto Train) station in Florida, Tampa, will have no train service four days a week. Tampa is also the biggest stop on the Star, period.

Raleigh is number four on the route, now going without service to/from Florida four days a week. Three of the top 10 destinations from Raleigh, by revenue, are in Florida.
If Florida service has to be reduced to once-daily, I would propose running the SS every day on a modified schedule. If it was a few hours earlier northbound and later southbound it could have much easier connections at Washington and New York while improving the schedule for Savannah and Jacksonville. The stations on the A line north of Savannah could continue to be served by the Palmetto.
 

lordsigma

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If Florida service has to be reduced to once-daily, I would propose running the SS every day on a modified schedule. If it was a few hours earlier northbound and later southbound it could have much easier connections at Washington and New York while improving the schedule for Savannah and Jacksonville. The stations on the A line north of Savannah could continue to be served by the Palmetto.
Probably not enough of a cut for them. If it ends up being Meteor 4X days and Star/Palmetto the other 3 days that would presumably cut more costs than running both the Star and Palmetto daily. On the Meteor days there would be only one train running instead of 3.
 

railiner

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Mar 20, 2009
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South Florida
If this goes thru, I hope at least that the Meteor will add a stop at my station, Okeechobee. Currently only the Star stops here, the Meteor bypasses it.
I know...at least we have some service...but adding a stop will have a tiny impact on the schedule...
 

Bob Dylan

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May 31, 2009
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Austin Texas
I'm assuming that the switch to the microwaved TV dinners is also extended, but see no mention of that in the announcement. I generally do two big train trips each year, which include stays in two to four cities, and usually involve more than one train route. Reduced service would make it really hard to plan my trips, and I'm not eager to pay the exorbitant rates (we always book a roomette) to eat from a tiny selection of TV dinners for several days on the train. I've already written to my congresspeople..... LOL, received a response from Kamala Harris's office thanking me for my concern over California response to the pandemic, clearly my email was NOT actually read by anyone there.
Typical Politician! I gave up trying to contact my 2 Senators since I'm not on their "Supporter List", so I would always receive Form Letters ( look it up Kiddies), now its Boiler Plate emails.

My Congress Critter is just as worthless, as a self avowed " Constitutionsl Conservative",he's against Everything the Congress passes!
 
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Geordie405

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 2, 2017
Messages
17
I think it will be interesting to see how ridership changes based on a reduced service frequency. I don't see it increasing, that's for sure. While people who take the train are perhaps less time-sensitive than those who fly they still probably don't have the sort of flexibility in their schedule that aligns nicely with a thrice weekly service. My train travel tends to be a vacation in itself so I am less fussed about whether I travel on a Saturday or a Tuesday for example but I can well imagine that for others it will become a bigger issue, leading them to abandon Amtrak and consider bus / car / plane as an alternative.

I have a trip on the CZ booked for September which is perhaps good timing. I do hope that the normal dining car service has been restored by then as I definitely don't fancy more TV dinner style meals.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Chicago, Illinois
Probably not enough of a cut for them. If it ends up being Meteor 4X days and Star/Palmetto the other 3 days that would presumably cut more costs than running both the Star and Palmetto daily. On the Meteor days there would be only one train running instead of 3.
They could also reroute the SM to stop in Tampa.

If they really want to minimize the number of trains, another option would be to operate the daily SS via the A-line and have it backtrack from Selma to Raleigh. It would probably take even less time than using the S-line as it currently does and would allow for daily service on the entire route. Cary-Savannah would lose service but the only significant city on that segment is Columbia.

If Amtrak is going to make such massive cuts they should at least get creative to minimize the impact as much as possible. While longer running times would obviously not be desirable, I would prioritize daily service and retaining service to as many cities as possible.

If this goes thru, I hope at least that the Meteor will add a stop at my station, Okeechobee. Currently only the Star stops here, the Meteor bypasses it.
I know...at least we have some service...but adding a stop will have a tiny impact on the schedule...
I never really understood why Amtrak has stations such as that with only one round-trip a day on a segment with multiple frequencies. Other examples are Jesup and Bryan. There are also busy stations which are bypassed by one or more LDs, reducing direct destinations, such as Wilson and Fredericksburg. As I mentioned above, I don't think creativity with the schedules should be to much to ask if the cuts come to pass, but I wouldn't be surprised if Amtrak tries to keep the schedules identical to now with simply fewer days of service.
 

FrensicPic

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Jan 15, 2012
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LAX
I'm assuming that the switch to the microwaved TV dinners is also extended, but see no mention of that in the announcement. I generally do two big train trips each year, which include stays in two to four cities, and usually involve more than one train route. Reduced service would make it really hard to plan my trips, and I'm not eager to pay the exorbitant rates (we always book a roomette) to eat from a tiny selection of TV dinners for several days on the train. I've already written to my congresspeople..... LOL, received a response from Kamala Harris's office thanking me for my concern over California response to the pandemic, clearly my email was NOT actually read by anyone there.
Same response I got from Harris!
 

MikefromCrete

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Mar 24, 2009
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Crete, IL
This seems to be a very odd move. Why did Amtrak operate all the LD trains during the height of the Covid 19 crisis, then decide to reduce service as the nation moves back to a semi-normal status? Write to your congressmen and senators, people, and put a stop to this nonsense.
 

LookingGlassTie

OBS Chief
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Messages
523
Location
Portsmouth, VA
This seems to be a very odd move. Why did Amtrak operate all the LD trains during the height of the Covid 19 crisis, then decide to reduce service as the nation moves back to a semi-normal status? Write to your congressmen and senators, people, and put a stop to this nonsense.
I'm not really sure; it seems to be an "after-effect" move to me.

Kinda like a scenario in which your house withstands a hurricane but once the storm passes you have to modify your personal lifestyle (and your community may have reduced services) during the cleanup and recuperation/restoration process.
 

AmtrakFlyer

Train Attendant
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Nov 27, 2016
Messages
53
The short answer is Amtrak management does not and has not wanted to operate these essential trains for over 3 years now. Without trying to be political this is all too common with anything government run in our country now. The people put in charge are either incompetent or put in charge to destroy the company from within. Think Betsy Devos Education, Bill Barr DOJ, the leaders of the CPFB, EPA, etc the list goes on.

I think the network will survive with the bi partisan support but it will never thrive under this “leadership” group.
 
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