Atlantic Coast Service - General Discussion

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Eric S

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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.

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So it looks like October 2021 ridership for the two Silver trains was about 40,000 (source: Monthly Performance reports at the bottom of this page).

Am I comparing like to like here? October 1984 at about 43,000 and October 2021 at 40,000 (ignoring the Palmetto)?
 
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Good suggestion by Seaboard to route the Palmetto via Columbia and let the Meteor be the primary train with the Tampa detour. Leaving NYP earlier SB and arrival later NB to account for the extra time wouldn’t be a bad thing and make the southbound time at Charleston better (since it would lose the Palmetto).

Something needs to be done! If you try to make a reservation from Florida to the Midwest, including Chicago, you get the message: ‘no same day connection available’. How much revenue are they losing as a result?

To answer Seaboard’s question, the Florida Special was still all Pullman (with observation and twin unit diner) when I rode it in 1968.
 

Willbridge

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So it looks like October 2021 ridership for the two Silver trains was about 40,000 (source: Monthly Performance reports at the bottom of this page).

Am I comparing like to like here? October 1984 at about 43,000 and October 2021 at 40,000 (ignoring the Palmetto)?
I think these would be like to like, but I'm not an expert on the many minor changes made through the years on the Atlantic Coast.
 
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The NYC to Florida service on Amtrak was one of most popular in the system when Amtrak started in 1971. The original schedules also allowed better intrastate timings in Florida which included the Chicago to Florida trains. I have traveled the Northeast to Florida since before Amtrak and the Chicago to Florida service until 1979. I have watched as Amtrak cut back trains and amenities through the years as they attempted to discourage ridership until now with 1 train in each direction. I don't see the service ever returning to prior pandemic frequency. One of the best long distance routes will soon be a distant memory.
 

Amtrak709

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I believe the splits were at different places too. One split at Jacksonville and the other at Auberndale AFAIR.
The NYC to Florida service on Amtrak was one of most popular in the system when Amtrak started in 1971. The original schedules also allowed better intrastate timings in Florida which included the Chicago to Florida trains. I have traveled the Northeast to Florida since before Amtrak and the Chicago to Florida service until 1979. I have watched as Amtrak cut back trains and amenities through the years as they attempted to discourage ridership until now with 1 train in each direction. I don't see the service ever returning to prior pandemic frequency. One of the best long distance routes will soon be a distant memory.
jphjaxfl I applaud your remarks. Although I have loved the passenger trains all my 74 years of life, that love was solidified during the 1960's when I started riding from Williamsburg VA and Richmond VA on the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star to Florida (lots to Jacksonville FL); and you will remember the Silver Comet to Atlanta. I have watched service deteriorate and become inconsistent over the past 50+ years. I have always tried to adopt the theory that "Amtrak is what we have now; all we got" in order to reinforce my love of the passenger trains. And I realize that COVID has created issues in all sectors of ones life that were unexpected. My latest experiences on the Crescent have made that railfan in me difficult to maintain.
 

Joe from PA

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Well, at least for now, both trains will be running on March 30. Hopefully I'll be on the Meteor. The only trip I took on the Star had us 45 minutes late before the Tampa 2-hour run. That ended up putting us 1 hour and a half late in total.
 
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I don't see the service ever returning to prior pandemic frequency. One of the best long distance routes will soon be a distant memory.
Counting your chickens before they hatch isn't wise, but neither is counting all your eggs as dead before they've had a chance to hatch. :rolleyes:

Amtrak finally got funding worthy of the name in the middle of a pandemic, and I don't think it's as clear as it is in some people's minds how much of the present situation is covid-related shortages (including knock-on supply chain issues) and how much is lingering cost-cutting attitudes. IMHO, the tendency to attribute all of Amtrak's present woes to the latter is not productive and more than a little wearying. The woes themselves are wearying -- nobody's happy about five-day service even if they think it's a necessary evil at the moment, and the recent parade of weather cancellations is disheartening even though the storms really are that bad -- but reading them all as signs of malice or incompetence is more so.

I know Amtrak has made decisions that people don't like, from flex meals to thrice-weakly service and more. The attitude among many rail supporters seems to be "Show me. You've got money now, prove to us that you can make different decisions when Congress isn't on your back and you're not constantly sweating the bottom line." But it's a confounding factor that right now is not the time in any industry to be expanding or spinning up.

I would note that the same Amtrak that agreed to the new Crescent schedule is fighting railroad opposition to get Gulf Coast service going. I would also note that, other than canceling one of the Silver trains, the only service still not running at all since Covid is the Adirondack, and I doubt anyone thinks New York State is trying to discourage passengers.

There will be plenty of time to complain if the covid situation improves and labor and supply chain issues get sorted but Amtrak is still running long-distance trains five-times weekly or hasn't restored traditional dining to all long-distance trains (as they did on most of the Western trains despite, as I recall, considerable pessimism among some that they never would).
 

west point

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Yes, there are some who believe Amtrak will not be the same a pre-C-19. That might be true but since Amtrak has never been able to meet pent up demand how can anyone say that. Until Amtrak has all the operable rolling stock in service including the new Siemens and V-2s only then will we be able to judge ow Amtrak will fare. Maybe even noy then. If more C-19 variants maybe that will extend the time that Amtrak will be able to meet demand. Too many variables with C-19.
 

Seaboard92

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Yes, there are some who believe Amtrak will not be the same a pre-C-19. That might be true but since Amtrak has never been able to meet pent up demand how can anyone say that. Until Amtrak has all the operable rolling stock in service including the new Siemens and V-2s only then will we be able to judge ow Amtrak will fare. Maybe even noy then. If more C-19 variants maybe that will extend the time that Amtrak will be able to meet demand. Too many variables with C-19.

I think the issue of equipment shortages might be an artificial induced problem. When you look at Amtrak's equipment history they have a tendency to order less than what they are replacing. Look at single level sleepers they had 110 of various types of sleepers and they replaced them with fifty cars in the original Viewliner batch. Then they eventually added another 25 but we are no where close to being at that 110 number. And coaches are also interesting they ran heritage coaches up until the early 2000s on the east coast mixed with Amfleet II's. When the heritage cars were retired they weren't replaced meaning you had much higher capacity in the 90s than you do now. So it is interesting that ridership has gone up while total seats have gone down fleet wide meaning there is better utilization. Now I wonder if you had the same number of cars pre retirement if utilization improved what ridership would be like.
 

jis

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Amtrak always planned to replace cars i kind in their plans, but Congress would have none of it. They carefully prevented Amtrak from getting enough rolling stock by assiduously refusing to fund conversion of any of the options for the Amfleet II and the Viewliner orders.
 

Willbridge

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Amtrak always planned to replace cars i kind in their plans, but Congress would have none of it. They carefully prevented Amtrak from getting enough rolling stock by assiduously refusing to fund conversion of any of the options for the Amfleet II and the Viewliner orders.
As I've observed this at Amtrak and VIA over the past five decades it seems as though it's a form of vaccination. New cars are a political event and useful for marketing but with strangled orders preventing widespread contagion on the rail (freight) network.
 

west point

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Seaboard: For single level service. If Amtrak keeps all the older cars and adds in the Siemens cars including the West coast and Mid USA would that get close to the figures you cite?
 

Seaboard92

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Seaboard: For single level service. If Amtrak keeps all the older cars and adds in the Siemens cars including the West coast and Mid USA would that get close to the figures you cite?

Let me work on that. Right now I'm tracking down what remains of the heritage cars. And then I'll figure out what the old equipment needs were and what could be done with that amount now.
 
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