BC gone on the LSL after July 2?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

rs9

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
125
Location
Chicago
I don’t think it’ll be back in the half cafe. Those cars are borrowed from Corridor service and with some of the new lines coming online I’d suspect the club dinettes will see use there. At the end of the day while the quieter car with 2 and 1 seating was nice at the end of the day the business isn’t light years different from coach which also has tons of legroom, foot rests, etc. I think they’d be better off with the full lounge and just keep the second coach car year round on the Boston section to make up for loss of business.
I'll have to disagree. While the seats aren't all that different, the volume of people is. Likewise, the volume using the bathroom.

As a solo traveler who can't justify the expense of a room, it was the perfect product.

But enough about me. The larger question is what Amtrak is losing by not offering BC. By rough calculation, about 500k in revenue annually, assuming BC is sold out. There will be people like me who will consider coach vs flying. I'll do coach for my own reasons (environmental), but others may not.

Finally, with the sizable taxpayer funding package, my expectation as a customer and taxpayer is improving service, not stripped down service.

I understand the need for the full lounge. I would like to see Amtrak designate a normal coach as business class, with one person per group of two seats, or two people can say they want to sit together. An increase in BC seats, an increase in revenue, no special equipment needed.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,023
Location
Washington State
I'll have to disagree. While the seats aren't all that different, the volume of people is. Likewise, the volume using the bathroom.

As a solo traveler who can't justify the expense of a room, it was the perfect product.

But enough about me. The larger question is what Amtrak is losing by not offering BC. By rough calculation, about 500k in revenue annually, assuming BC is sold out. There will be people like me who will consider coach vs flying. I'll do coach for my own reasons (environmental), but others may not.

Finally, with the sizable taxpayer funding package, my expectation as a customer and taxpayer is improving service, not stripped down service.

I understand the need for the full lounge. I would like to see Amtrak designate a normal coach as business class, with one person per group of two seats, or two people can say they want to sit together. An increase in BC seats, an increase in revenue, no special equipment needed
That actually brings up in my mind the wild inconsistencies in the various Amtrak business class offerings.

In my mind, it ought to be a full coach with 2+1 seating and Amfleet II/Superliner/LD seat pitch pretty much everywhere.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,857
Location
Denver
Another revenue aspect is that when Coach is sold out or is at the top bucket, some customers will step up to Business Class, but rarely want to stretch their budget for a sleeper. Here's PDX>SEA for Memorial Day.

2022 05 28 Status PDX-SEA for Mem Day.jpg
 

rs9

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
125
Location
Chicago
That actually brings up in my mind the wild inconsistencies in the various Amtrak business class offerings.

In my mind, it ought to be a full coach with 2+1 seating and Amfleet II/Superliner/LD seat pitch pretty much everywhere.
That would be ideal, surely. It seems like a huge lost opportunity for essentially free revenue with existing equipment, unless there is a current shortage of Amfleet II LD coach cars.
 
Last edited:

rs9

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
125
Location
Chicago
i don't know what Amtrak management is thinking. What I do know is that LSL Business Class routinely sold out at high prices, when coach wasn't selling out. So *if they were competent*, which we know they are not, they would make it a priority to get business class back -- preferably a full business class car, in fact.
Agreed with your perspective. A few random points/questions:

1. It may be simply the foibles of the website, but the months of Jan. and Feb. '23 have business class listed as "Sold Out" for every date for trains 48/49 (instead of 448/449). Though as of March 1 '23 there is once again no listing of business class. So maybe a sign of what's to come?

2. My concern is that the Cardinal lost business class permanently when the half cafe/half BC car was replaced with a full lounge car - the same switch taking place now. That said, the LSL seems like one of the routes in Amtrak's national network with the greatest demand for premium options, and there's no doubt BC was usually full.

3. Are there any full business class cars? I've heard there are Amfleet I cars with all business class seats but have never seen one in service nor heard of them being used anytime recently. Or are you referring to another option for an all BC car?
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,766
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
I am not sure why they need to remove the BC to provide a full Dinette. They do not have to staff the food station in the BC Cafe and it could serve adequately as BC and Sleeper lounge for the Boston Section minus food of course (for that they have to trudge over to the VL Diner), and the additional Amfleet II Lounge/Dinette could serve as the food service car for the numerous Coach passengers. But who knows what Amtrak's inventory of cars in good operating order are these days?
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
9,549
Location
Ithaca, NY
This *feels* like car shortage, probably due to car maintenance staff shortage. I don't know for sure, but that's the vibe I'm getting.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,719
Location
Baltimore. MD
I am not sure why they need to remove the BC to provide a full Dinette. They do not have to staff the food station in the BC Cafe and it could serve adequately as BC and Sleeper lounge for the Boston Section minus food of course (for that they have to trudge over to the VL Diner), and the additional Amfleet II Lounge/Dinette could serve as the food service car for the numerous Coach passengers. But who knows what Amtrak's inventory of cars in good operating order are these days?
In fact when I rode the Cardinal in 2016 (business class) and 2019 (sleeper), there was a full dinette car in addition to the business class car, which was half seating and half tables with no food service in the business class car. (Though in 2016, they put out cans of soda and coffee for self-service consumption by the business class passengers.)
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
844
I'll have to disagree. While the seats aren't all that different, the volume of people is. Likewise, the volume using the bathroom.

As a solo traveler who can't justify the expense of a room, it was the perfect product.

But enough about me. The larger question is what Amtrak is losing by not offering BC. By rough calculation, about 500k in revenue annually, assuming BC is sold out. There will be people like me who will consider coach vs flying. I'll do coach for my own reasons (environmental), but others may not.

Finally, with the sizable taxpayer funding package, my expectation as a customer and taxpayer is improving service, not stripped down service.

I understand the need for the full lounge. I would like to see Amtrak designate a normal coach as business class, with one person per group of two seats, or two people can say they want to sit together. An increase in BC seats, an increase in revenue, no special equipment needed.
Never thought of that idea,but it's a good one and easily doable. One Coach car on a long distance train(overnight) where a solo traveler is guranteed both seats. Seems like a very sensible alternative for people who don't want to spring for a few hundred dollars more for a sleeper and would like some sembelence of privacy. Guarenteeing you will have both seats in one specific car for the price of business class. I would book that in a heartbeag. The Coast Starlight has BC but there is no guarantee you will have both seats but the odds are better than in Coach.
 

rs9

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
125
Location
Chicago
This *feels* like car shortage, probably due to car maintenance staff shortage. I don't know for sure, but that's the vibe I'm getting.
I hope this is the case, and there is some limited evidence to support the conclusion - the fast timeline for removal of service (40 days or so), AGR customer service reports that they still see the ability to book BC from their end of the system.

It also makes some sense presuming that the LSL BC/cafe cars are based out of Chicago, where there are numerous routes operating multiple times daily with need of the same car type.

I have yet to see a Venture BC car on any Amtrak Midwest Venture train.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,766
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
I have yet to see a Venture BC car on any Amtrak Midwest Venture train.
I understand those are due for delivery later this year. They are also in married pair for Midwest IIRC.

At present the only Venture sets with BC are the Brightline sets, a few more of which remain to be delivered this year.
 

rs9

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
125
Location
Chicago
I did a little research on how many cafe/business cars Amtrak has currently in use. According to this site, there are 42 total of these cars.

Carolinian: 2
Palmetto: 2
Lincoln Service (including extended River Runner): 6
Wolverine: 3
Blue Water: 1
Pere Marquette: 2
Sandburg/Zephyr: 2
Illini/Saluki: 1
Maple Leaf: 2
Empire Service: 2
Vermonter: 2
Pennsylvanian: 2

Lake Shore Limited being pulled from service: 3

So that's 29 cars in current use including the LSL cars thru July 2, out of a total pool of 42. Of course, 42 may not be available. Presuming a number of this car type are out of service, I can see there may be very little slack in the system, especially if cars need to be pulled for routine/mandated service.

A couple observations:

- I was somewhat shocked to see there's no business class on the Hiawatha, though I suppose the Venture cars will solve that.
- Business class prices are much higher for LD routes from NYP as compared with the Lake Shore Limited.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,766
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Quick comments. Empire service has way more than two cars since all Empire consists have an Amfleet I Club-Dinette. OTOH Pennsy/Palmetto/Carolinian generally was full Amfleet I BC and not Club-Dinette. I don't know if that has been downsized during COVID. Also aren't there a few out west in the Cascades pool? Or are those all Horizon Club-Dinettes?

At present allegedly there are 34 Amfleet I Club-Dinettes in service excluding Protect, PM/BO and Overhaul. There are something like 7 or so Horizon Club-Dinettes in service excluding contingencies and protect.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
1,012
Location
QB 101
To add to Jis' comment above...Back in April, I was on Empire Service #233 which had business class in a cafe/BC car..but no attendant. A quick check of Amtraks' offerings NYP-ALB for later this month shows 8 trains with BC to ALB plus the Ethan Allen and Lakeshore Ltd (all sold out, at present...future plans?). BC is available on 2 NYP-BUF trains plus the Maple Leaf and LSL.

So, I'm guessing they're using the split cafe/BC cars for all the Empire Service trains. Probably 4-5 are captive NYP-ALB plus 2 on the Maple Leaf. And what the plans are for BC to NYP on the LSL are remains a mystery.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
3,472
Location
SW ATL airport
Guys you are doing great tracking these cars useage. This tracking can certainly give us a bigger picure of the present car shortages. Keep up the work. Mandated service time limits certainly are possible.
 

jebr

Enthusiastic Transit Rider
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
4,759
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
- I was somewhat shocked to see there's no business class on the Hiawatha, though I suppose the Venture cars will solve that.

The Hiawatha hasn't had business class for at least the past 10 years, and while I'm not sure if BC on Hiawatha was anticipated in the order, I would be surprised if they plan on adding it, except perhaps on the frequencies that go to St. Paul in the future (as they're planning on having the second daily train be an extension of a Hiawatha service.) End to end trip times are only 89 minutes, shorter than some commuter rail lines and almost certainly short enough that not enough people would pay the extra money required to make a business class cabin break-even or profitable, nor long enough where a lack of business class turns away passengers entirely.
 

rs9

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
125
Location
Chicago
I looked at Empire Service to Niagara Falls presuming every train ran that far. That assumption was wrong lol.

I do think it is interesting the "Sold Out" business class box has moved from the the Boston section to the NYP section. Seems like a sign of things to come, but also could just be the uncontrollable randomness of Amtrak!
 

rs9

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
125
Location
Chicago
Editing the list:

Carolinian: 0 (full BC car)
Palmetto: 0 (full BC car)
Pennsylvanian: 0 (full BC car)

Lincoln Service (including extended River Runner): 6
Wolverine: 3
Blue Water: 1
Pere Marquette: 2
Sandburg/Zephyr: 2
Illini/Saluki: 1
Maple Leaf: 2
Empire Service: 7 or 8
Vermonter: 2
Ethan Allen Express: 2

Empire Service currently has 8 trains from ALB to NYP but only 7 from NYP to ALB. I'm guessing the extra inbound might turn around and become a different train, so that additional tally could be a double count.

Updated total is 28 or 29 in daily service, with 31 or 32 in daily service including the LSL cars being removed July 2.
 
Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
2,068
Location
Long Island, NY
Editing the list:

Carolinian: 0 (full BC car)
Palmetto: 0 (full BC car)
Pennsylvanian: 0 (full BC car)

Lincoln Service (including extended River Runner): 6
Wolverine: 3
Blue Water: 1
Pere Marquette: 2
Sandburg/Zephyr: 2
Illini/Saluki: 1
Maple Leaf: 2
Empire Service: 7 or 8
Vermonter: 2
Ethan Allen Express: 2

Empire Service currently has 8 trains from ALB to NYP but only 7 from NYP to ALB. I'm guessing the extra inbound might turn around and become a different train, so that additional tally could be a double count.

Updated total is 28 or 29 in daily service, with 31 or 32 in daily service including the LSL cars being removed July 2.
Is Pere Marquette single level or Superliner currently?
 

NES28

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
105
I'm sure that a major reason that is no BC on Hiawathas is that the train lengths had been maxed out for years. There have been 7 daily RTs for 30 years. Before pandemic several peak trains were totally full. It would not have been possible to give up the seats. We need a publicly-owned, predominantly passenger line so that the market can resume its growth.
 
Top