Amtrak suspends Express Shipping

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cocojacoby

Lead Service Attendant
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May 13, 2014
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374
Effective October 1, 2020, Express shipping service on Amtrak’s regularly scheduled passenger trains will be suspended until further notice. The last date for accepting these shipments will be September 15, 2020, which will ensure all shipments will reach their final destinations before October 1st.
 

railiner

Conductor
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I wonder what the reason for this is? In most cases, the revenue derived from express shipments was pure gravy...they did not have to add additional personnel to stations having checked baggage service in most cases, so unless they are going to eliminate checked baggage, why discontinue the service?
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
316
I wonder what the reason for this is? In most cases, the revenue derived from express shipments was pure gravy...they did not have to add additional personnel to stations having checked baggage service in most cases, so unless they are going to eliminate checked baggage, why discontinue the service?
Could be a drop in volume causing the closure. Can’t ship anything if you don’t have customers.
 

Maglev

OBS Chief
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Sep 4, 2016
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so unless they are going to eliminate checked baggage, why discontinue the service?
Well, I don't think they'll eliminate checked baggage, but they seem to be doing well at eliminating baggage cars even before COVID-19 I don't see how a coach-baggage can be big enough for express shipments.
 

railiner

Conductor
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Mar 20, 2009
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Well, I don't think they'll eliminate checked baggage, but they seem to be doing well at eliminating baggage cars even before COVID-19 I don't see how a coach-baggage can be big enough for express shipments.
Good point....although they don't ship very much, there are times when shipments get pretty heavy....for example, cut flowers just before Mother's Day, and household goods, just before colleges open and close for the summer...
 

allanorn

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Jul 30, 2018
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I wonder what the reason for this is? In most cases, the revenue derived from express shipments was pure gravy...they did not have to add additional personnel to stations having checked baggage service in most cases, so unless they are going to eliminate checked baggage, why discontinue the service?
If you’re not running trains every day, can you reasonably offer an express shipment service?
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
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Good point....although they don't ship very much, there are times when shipments get pretty heavy....for example, cut flowers just before Mother's Day, and household goods, just before colleges open and close for the summer...
And caskets
 

Bob Dylan

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May 31, 2009
Messages
20,031
Effective October 1, 2020, Express shipping service on Amtrak’s regularly scheduled passenger trains will be suspended until further notice. The last date for accepting these shipments will be September 15, 2020, which will ensure all shipments will reach their final destinations before October 1st.
My Station here in Austin stopped this last year when the Bag Car was taken off the Texas Eagles.

The Agents said that it was a lucrative business for Amtrak, and didnt understand why this was done by the Suits in DC!
 
Joined
Apr 23, 2019
Messages
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Every time I log on I only see more bad news, and more indication that what we're seeing is nothing less than full-blown internal industrial sabotage. Sure, I agree, it doesn't make sense to run express when you're on a tri-weekly schedule and you don't even run bag cars on most routes... but it never made any sense to cut the contracts with the postal service in 2005 anyway. You know what would be great, would be to take the old Acela trainsets and convert them into a high-speed express mail train for the NEC after the Avelia Liberty trainsets take over. But that would take so much business away from the heckin truckerinos and air freighterinos! Oh noes!
 

railiner

Conductor
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Mar 20, 2009
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If you’re not running trains every day, can you reasonably offer an express shipment service?
Another good point...certainly would hamper time sensitive shipments like cut flowers or auto parts...but shipper's may adapt to whatever services are available, for less time sensitive items, and for household goods (people moving), where it wouldn't really matter much. In many cases, Amtrak filled a niche for a low cost alternative that the UPS and FedEx didn't serve...
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
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Who was shipping dead bodies and live flowers in a baggage car with no air conditioning? 🤔

Human Remains
Amtrak Express offers station-to-station shipment of remains to many Express cities. At most stations, funeral directors must provide staff to load and unload the remains onto and off the train. The level of assistance required must be confirmed with the local Amtrak station agent at the origin and destination points.
 

BoulderCO

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2015
Messages
130
Excuse my possible paranoia, but could this announcement be tied to the recently announced cutback in the US Post Office services? The powers that presently be don't want any government or government subsidized service to look good. They prefer sending the business to UPS, Fed-Ex, etc.
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
401
The flowers were packed in large boxes with dry ice, by wholesale florists to smaller towns...some of the boxes weighed about 90 pounds....I know, because I loaded them at Denver....;)
I recall seeing the Denver Post bundles, too. Were they still doing that when you were working there? I think they were for McCook or Hastings. (Note to Easterners: the "Rocky Mountain Empire" - the region that Denver dailies were circulated in - reaches to Lincoln, NE.)

People think that the internet killed country circulation of big city dailies, but before that the decline of rail passenger service and intercity bus service had made deliveries to many small towns impractical. One of the SP's steps in killing passenger trains was to replace baggage cars with next-day delivery by their trucking subsidiary. Luckily at that time there were still multiple trips a day scheduled on GL and TW bus lines and they were handed the business.
 

railiner

Conductor
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I recall seeing the Denver Post bundles, too. Were they still doing that when you were working there? I think they were for McCook or Hastings. (Note to Easterners: the "Rocky Mountain Empire" - the region that Denver dailies were circulated in - reaches to Lincoln, NE.)

People think that the internet killed country circulation of big city dailies, but before that the decline of rail passenger service and intercity bus service had made deliveries to many small towns impractical. One of the SP's steps in killing passenger trains was to replace baggage cars with next-day delivery by their trucking subsidiary. Luckily at that time there were still multiple trips a day scheduled on GL and TW bus lines and they were handed the business.
Pretty sure you are correct about that...I worked at DUT from 1979 to 1989.
 

TC_NYC

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Messages
58
To have Fedex ship a 20 lb large package from Boston to New York on Next Day Overnight it's $89.64, probably more than the average NER fare on the route. Why Amtrak isn't in this business is beyond me, as it's free money. Fedex is operating it's own fleet of Planes and trucks and it's profitable for them.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,005
Yes, and FedEx and UPS will pick up those packages at your door/business ... you don't have to take them to a train depot that is inconveniently located
 

Qapla

Conductor
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Jul 15, 2019
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Adding yet another step in the shipping/receiving routine .... not the best when FedEx and UPS are a single call for pickup and delivery for businesses
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,181
Adding yet another step in the shipping/receiving routine .... not the best when FedEx and UPS are a single call for pickup and delivery for businesses
That doesn't mean it can't be a single call. I don't know about you but I get small packages shipped by Fedex and UPS and delivered by the Post Office.
It's who you deal with and who you contact if there is an issue, not who picks it up or delivers it.
Would be nice if Amtrak and USPS could do a deal but, not a chance!
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
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It does seem odd that Amtrak and USPS don't have a better working relationship when they both have the same owner.

Can you picture Coke hiring Frito-Lay to ship Powerade somewhere 😱 I don't think so!
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
899
Seems like this could be a fairly cheap service in some circumstances and could be useful if the shipping parties were both convenient to a station. But not surprising to see it suspended with the planned reduction to thrice weekly long distance service which further removes any utility it had. Well see if there’s ever a chance for a comeback upon a return to daily train service on the key routes.
 
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