Atlantic Coast Service - General Discussion

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

frequentflyer

Conductor
Joined
Jun 10, 2008
Messages
1,014
MODERATOR NOTE: This new thread was created for facilitating general discussion of Atlantic Coast Service and posts were moved from a couple of threads to this new one (1/27/22).


I was looking at the rail cam in Plant City (You can view it on the rail cam at 16:43 EST). I could not see the car numbers.

Todays consist for 92(in order)

2 Engines
Baggage Car
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Cafe
Diner
Sleeper
Sleeper
Sleeper
Sleeper
Sleeper
Baggage Car

There was a time not too long ago when both Silver trains were 18 cars maxed during peak travel seasons. And now they are a shell of their former selves, and Amtrak states they are growing?
 

Eric S

Engineer
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
2,627
Location
Milwaukee
Anyone have ridership numbers for these trains in the 18-car era? Was ridership significantly greater than now (or the late 2010s)?

How long were Silver trains in off-peak travel seasons?
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,734
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Anyone have ridership numbers for these trains in the 18-car era? Was ridership significantly greater than now (or the late 2010s)?

How long were Silver trains in off-peak travel seasons?
I would be amazed if anyone outside Amtrak has any reliable data. Ask in a month or two and maybe more will be known.
 

Eric S

Engineer
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
2,627
Location
Milwaukee
I would be amazed if anyone outside Amtrak has any reliable data. Ask in a month or two and maybe more will be known.
What will change in a month or two?

EDIT: Wait, are you saying we'll have data for the currently-combined train in a month or two?

I so, I was probably not clear in what I was asking. I was wondering how ridership in the years/decades-past 18-car era compared to ridership in recent (probably pre-pandemic normal) times.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,734
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
What will change in a month or two?

EDIT: Wait, are you saying we'll have data for the currently-combined train in a month or two?

I so, I was probably not clear in what I was asking. I was wondering how ridership in the years/decades-past 18-car era compared to ridership in recent (probably pre-pandemic normal) times.
I was saying the former.

I am sure anyone with enough time on their hand can relatively easily dig up the latter. Just got to find those old issue of the Passenger Trains Journal :)
 
Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
2,064
Location
Long Island, NY
What will change in a month or two?

EDIT: Wait, are you saying we'll have data for the currently-combined train in a month or two?

I so, I was probably not clear in what I was asking. I was wondering how ridership in the years/decades-past 18-car era compared to ridership in recent (probably pre-pandemic normal) times.
Just based on memory, back in the 18 car days, you had both Star and Meteor that operated with 3-4 coaches and 2-3 sleepers for each section (Miami and Tampa) as well as a Lounge car for each and a shared diner (which for many years was buffet service operated out of two cars). So you literally have 50% of the capacity (or less) now on each train, the way they are set up. This gives you a general idea of ridership comparisons. It was also in the days before Southwest airlines and any other discount carrier which started the general decrease in traffic to Florida.
 

Qapla

Engineer
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
2,360
Location
Gator Country Florida
Was that also in the times when the Meteor and the Star took different routes out of Florida ... the Meteor used to go through Ocala and Waldo - I'm not sure the Star did
 
Joined
May 14, 2011
Messages
6
Was that also in the times when the Meteor and the Star took different routes out of Florida ... the Meteor used to go through Ocala and Waldo - I'm not sure the Star did
Yes, Ocala was served by both the Meteor and the Star. It was a great way to visit Savannah frequently (for social reasons), as well as for overnight trips to Washington, Philadelphia, and New York for meetings.
 

Qapla

Engineer
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
2,360
Location
Gator Country Florida
I know my Aunt used to visit us from Miami traveling by train - we used to pick her up in Waldo. Being able to meet the train in Waldo was very convenient.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,852
Location
Denver
I dug into some 1985-86 issues of Rail Travel News. In the off-peak they showed 16 cars on both the Meteor and the Star, not counting private varnish. In 1985 RTN 325 ran an article titled "Florida Service Booms -- More Needed."

In October 1984, NY-FL trains boarded 38,106 passengers. Add 5,286 on Miami-Tampa. For comparison, the Coast Starlight boarded 36,013.

In October 1985, NY-FL trains boarded 50,530 passengers. For comparison, the Coast Starlight boarded 39,687.

In November 1985, NY-FL trains boarded 57,060 passengers. For comparison, the Coast Starlight boarded 47,720.
 

Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,665
Location
South Carolina
Just based on memory, back in the 18 car days, you had both Star and Meteor that operated with 3-4 coaches and 2-3 sleepers for each section (Miami and Tampa) as well as a Lounge car for each and a shared diner (which for many years was buffet service operated out of two cars). So you literally have 50% of the capacity (or less) now on each train, the way they are set up. This gives you a general idea of ridership comparisons. It was also in the days before Southwest airlines and any other discount carrier which started the general decrease in traffic to Florida.

The real culprit to that is more so I would think Spirit, and Allegiant. Spirit has a very large presence at all of Florida's major airports. And it seams to me like every time I hit a Florida airport I see a ton of Allegiant's aircraft.

Back then the Silver Star was a serious train. The real problem on that is we got rid of the heritage fleet. Back when the Star was an 18 car train in the videos I've seen it was 2 sleepers in each section, a slumbercoach, and that large amount of coaches. The problem I see is there were 76 10/6 type sleepers mostly former Burlington, Union Pacific, and Santa Fe cars with a handful of others sprinkled in here and there. 9 11 Double Bedroom sleepers of which a few of these were part of the few Pullman-Standard cars to make it into the heritage era as most were left out of the heritage program. Then you had 25 Slumbercoaches but two configuration the majority were the normal ones, but there were 7 EX New York Central sleepercoaches made from the Harbor series cars.

Amtrak only ordered 50 Viewliner I sleepers so you ended up losing between all three types of sleepers (110) 60 sleeping lines. While the number of sleeper services hasn't decreased. The Meteor and Star are both four set trains, the Crescent is 4, the Cardinal is 2, the Night Owl is 2 sets of one car, and the Lake Shore Limited is 3 sets. So of that 50 cars the Meteor and Star suck up 5 cars for one day meaning 20 cars are sitting on that, the Crescent takes 8, the Lake Shore takes 9 cars, the Cardinal takes 2, and the Night Owl takes 2. So we have 41 Viewliner I's on the road at one time. Things are slightly better now with 25 Viewliner II's. But we're still down 35 sleeping cars.

The other thing to note in the 90s both the Capitol Limited, Auto Train, and the City of New Orleans were single level trains. The Capitol Limited looked to have drawn 2 sleepers on each set, and the City of New Orleans looked to only have 1 but occasionally a second one showed up. Now the Auto Train in the few videos I could reliably find from the 80s 90s looked to have 7 sleepers, including all of those all double bedroom cars. And you also had the Montrealer/Washingtonian running with a few sleepers as well as the Night Owl/New York Executive. But you still end up with a lot more spares.

Was that also in the times when the Meteor and the Star took different routes out of Florida ... the Meteor used to go through Ocala and Waldo - I'm not sure the Star did

Well technically the Silver Meteor and Silver Star ran down the SAL mainline via Ocala till Amtrak. After Amtrak in the 1972 timetable it shows the Silver Meteor taking the cutoff around Jacksonville and heading non stop to Winter Haven from Savannah. But there were two additional Florida trains the Vacationer (EX Atlantic Coastline name) yet they routed it via the SAL main the whole way, and the Champion (EX Atlantic Coastline Name) that kept to its original route but lost it's Miami section.

I've really enjoyed typing up this post. I think tomorrow I might start researching the disposition of all of the Heritage cars Amtrak ever rostered. And if I get really bored sitting hot tomorrow you never know I might start looking at the steam heat cars.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,852
Location
Denver
if I get really bored sitting hot tomorrow you never know I might start looking at the steam heat cars.

Well, with steam heat you would have been literally sitting hot or too cold!

The 1985/86 16-car consists that I found in RTN are as follows. This was the era of Graham Claytor vs. the Office of Management and Budget. $600 million vs. $0.

SILVER METEOR - Train 88 @ Palatka on 7 Nov 85 = Engines 377,260,376; 1262, 1627, 25043, 25074, 25019, 28008, 8073, 8553, 2437 "Pacific Ocean", 2095 "Silver Repose", 2458 "Pine Leaf", 3121 "Henry Knox", 25033, 25035, 25031, 25096, and PVTC101.

Similar 16-car consists on Dec. 13th and 16th.

SILVER STAR - Train 91 @ Ocala on 22 Mar 86 = Engine 386; 1186, 1623, 25083, 25032, 25074, 25003, 28016, 8712, 8558, 2432 "Pacific Waves". 2490 "Pacific View".

SILVER STAR - Train 81 @ Orlando on 30 Mar 86 = Engine 265; 2430 "Pacific Falls", 3127 "Anthony Wayne", 25024, 25050, 26064.

Were those cars named for patriots from the Pennsy, New York Central, or?

###
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,852
Location
Denver
I dug into some 1985-86 issues of Rail Travel News. In the off-peak they showed 16 cars on both the Meteor and the Star, not counting private varnish. In 1985 RTN 325 ran an article titled "Florida Service Booms -- More Needed."

In my previous post of ridership, I omitted the NYP<>Savannah service. The table below includes them and December 1985.

In October 1984, NY-FL trains boarded 38,106 passengers. Add 5,286 on Miami-Tampa. Add 8,533 on Palmetto. For comparison, the Coast Starlight boarded 36,013.

In October 1985, NY-FL trains boarded 50,530 passengers. Add 9,362 on Palmetto. For comparison, the Coast Starlight boarded 39,687.

In November 1985, NY-FL trains boarded 57,060 passengers. Add 11,503 on Palmetto. For comparison, the Coast Starlight boarded 47,720.

In December 1985, NY-FL trains boarded 69,213 passengers. Add 14,660 on Palmetto. For comparison, the Coast Starlight boarded 55, 217.

###
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,852
Location
Denver
Here's a train of over 16 Amtrak cars reported in RTN 329.

SILVER METEOR -- Train 88 @ Sanford on 22 Dec 85 = 273, 385; 1163, 1627, 25013. 25007, 25073, 25026, 25074, 28019, 8716, 8553, 2462, 2917, 2090 "Loch Tarbet", 2447, 3121 "Henry Knox", 25035, 26065, 25033, 2460 "Pine Island".

The rear two cars were deadheading from Tampa to Sanford.
 

VentureForth

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
Messages
6,206
Location
West Melbourne, FL
Sorry - just found this thread and before I bother reading through 60+ posts, why on Earth would they cancel the "premium" Meteor and keep the arguably "secondary" Star?

Ok - going through the posts...

I guess Tampa, Columbia and Raleigh are more important than the few SC stations that the Meteor serves. Which then begs to question why is the Meteor generally better funded and ridden than the Star?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
843
Sorry - just found this thread and before I bother reading through 60+ posts, why on Earth would they cancel the "premium" Meteor and keep the arguably "secondary" Star?

Ok - going through the posts...

I guess Tampa, Columbia and Raleigh are more important than the few SC stations that the Meteor serves. Which then begs to question why is the Meteor generally better funded and ridden than the Star?
Also wonder why they didn't revert back to the schedule they had last year during the height of the pandemic..The Meteor Mon-Thu and the Star Fri-Sun. Then again they probably didn't want to miss serving Tampa four days of the week.
 

VentureForth

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
Messages
6,206
Location
West Melbourne, FL
Also wonder why they didn't revert back to the schedule they had last year during the height of the pandemic. The Meteor Mon-Thu and the Star Fri-Sun. Then again they probably didn't want to miss serving Tampa four days of the week.
Rats. You caught my post before I realized it was pretty dumb. lol

I HATED that pandemic schedule. If anything, it should have alternated daily. Four days in a row for one and three for the other just made no sense whatsoever. I agree with this current setup, except it adds nearly 6 hours to the total time from Miami to NYC over the Meteor which is an inconvenience to any end-to-end travelers. Of course, if time was an issue, they'd fly.

My biggest question really has nothing to do with this truncated service. I can't help but wonder why - other than the longer travel time - the Star was always less popular than the Meteor and had lower ridership considering it served an extra large Florida city along with the capitol of SC and NC. Really, the only major city the Star misses is Charleston.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
4,249
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
I can't help but wonder why - other than the longer travel time - the Star was always less popular than the Meteor and had lower ridership considering it served an extra large Florida city along with the capitol of SC and NC. Really, the only major city the Star misses is Charleston.
Thinking back I'm pretty sure the Meteor had the best connections, not just to/from the NEC but with the two trains from Chicago - the Capitol and Broadway at the time. There were periods of through Florida sleepers exchanged with those two trains and even the Montrealer for awhile.
 

Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,665
Location
South Carolina
Well, with steam heat you would have been literally sitting hot or too cold!

The 1985/86 16-car consists that I found in RTN are as follows. This was the era of Graham Claytor vs. the Office of Management and Budget. $600 million vs. $0.

SILVER METEOR - Train 88 @ Palatka on 7 Nov 85 = Engines 377,260,376; 1262, 1627, 25043, 25074, 25019, 28008, 8073, 8553, 2437 "Pacific Ocean", 2095 "Silver Repose", 2458 "Pine Leaf", 3121 "Henry Knox", 25033, 25035, 25031, 25096, and PVTC101.

Similar 16-car consists on Dec. 13th and 16th.

SILVER STAR - Train 91 @ Ocala on 22 Mar 86 = Engine 386; 1186, 1623, 25083, 25032, 25074, 25003, 28016, 8712, 8558, 2432 "Pacific Waves". 2490 "Pacific View".

SILVER STAR - Train 81 @ Orlando on 30 Mar 86 = Engine 265; 2430 "Pacific Falls", 3127 "Anthony Wayne", 25024, 25050, 26064.

Were those cars named for patriots from the Pennsy, New York Central, or?

###

The cars with Patriot names come from the Pennsylvania congressionals. And I want to say those were all originally parlor cars as well. I've actually worked quite a few of those cars as a lot of those survived long enough to become private cars. Of those "Patriot" series cars 19 are still surviving and of those 15 of those are still operating somewhere. The only two not operating are the Nathan Hale, John Adams, and the George Washington. The George Washington is actually a parlor/observation car similar to the Alexander Hamilton.

You probably won't be surprised but I know where each and every one of those cars ended up. I have large spreadsheets of surviving cars of the major builders.
 

Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,665
Location
South Carolina
Thinking back I'm pretty sure the Meteor had the best connections, not just to/from the NEC but with the two trains from Chicago - the Capitol and Broadway at the time. There were periods of through Florida sleepers exchanged with those two trains and even the Montrealer for awhile.

Well historically the Silver Meteor has always been the fleet leader just like on the Seaboard Airline it was the main train. The Silver Star was actually built using hand me down cars from the original 1939 Silver Meteor and using heavyweight sleepers that were painted to look like they had fluting. Eventually it was equipped with streamlined sleepers but it was always the secondary train. Which made trains like the Palmland, Sunland, and a few other ones the real third tier trains.

On the route of the Amtrak Silver Meteor runs on that was the land of the Champion, Florida Special, and the Vacationer. The Florida Special was a seasonal train but it was the top tier train, running all Pullman into the 50s and maybe the 60s, and unique soft products like a fashion show and other events. The Champion was the train equivalent to the Silver Meteor. The other thing you would see on the Florida trains in the winter was a mixture of paint schemes as the railroads went to the Pullman pool and got whatever had good wheels on to add capacity to their trains. So it wasn't uncommon to see New York Central, Pennsylvania Railroad, Union Pacific, Northern Pacific, or Great Northern cars wintering on the Florida trains.
 

Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,665
Location
South Carolina
What I think Amtrak should have done actually is leave the Silver Meteor in place and add Tampa into it's schedule which will slow it down a bit but then you don't lose that. Then for the duration of this service cut send the Palmetto over to Columbia, and Raleigh on it's day schedule. That would be an interesting experiment to see if the ridership would go up with Columbia in daylight. And then with Raleigh going northbound there is a decent spread between it and the Carolinian. Southbound though the spread is not good at all. Be an interesting experiment
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,734
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
What I think Amtrak should have done actually is leave the Silver Meteor in place and add Tampa into it's schedule which will slow it down a bit but then you don't lose that. Then for the duration of this service cut send the Palmetto over to Columbia, and Raleigh on it's day schedule. That would be an interesting experiment to see if the ridership would go up with Columbia in daylight. And then with Raleigh going northbound there is a decent spread between it and the Carolinian. Southbound though the spread is not good at all. Be an interesting experiment

Interesting! So the route of the Silver Star today follows the route of the pre-Amtrak Silver Meteor more closely north of Florida then. So if we can get past the names of trains, the Silver Star of today that has been retained for the temporary period follows the route of the pre-Amtrak Silver Meteor (and Silver Star of course.). That may be a revelation to many.

I think your suggestion does make sense, at least to me.
 
Last edited:

VentureForth

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
Messages
6,206
Location
West Melbourne, FL
What I think Amtrak should have done actually is leave the Silver Meteor in place and add Tampa into it's schedule which will slow it down a bit but then you don't lose that. Then for the duration of this service cut send the Palmetto over to Columbia, and Raleigh on it's day schedule. That would be an interesting experiment to see if the ridership would go up with Columbia in daylight. And then with Raleigh going northbound there is a decent spread between it and the Carolinian. Southbound though the spread is not good at all. Be an interesting experiment
I think that's a great idea - but where would you absorb the 3-4 hours jaunt to Tampa? SB, I can see coming into Miami later than the Meteor timetable, but I can't see leaving Miami very early to "catch up" with the Meteor schedule in Orlando. The Palmetto on the Star route out of Savannah would be very interesting.
 
Top