best amtrak myth

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yarrow

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over the years, i have heard some wonderful amtrak myths. i remember a few years ago on this board the myth was circulated by a few that as of a certain date there would be massive route cuts. a while back, i read somewhere that the ppcs were going to be transferred to the eb. i had a lsa on the cs tell me once that the reason for the chronic lateness of the train was not the u.p. but stops for smoke breaks. what are your favorite amtrak myths from over the years?
 

transit54

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An assistant conductor once told me that next year the Vermonter's route would be upgraded to 79 MPH. Given that most the route is still using jointed track and the train operates on track warrants (versus signaling) north of White River Jct (and perhaps even before that), that's laughably unlikely...

There is an application for federal HSR funds to do that now, but who knows that chance of it getting funded, let along a timeline for completion...
 

George Harris

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An assistant conductor once told me that next year the Vermonter's route would be upgraded to 79 MPH. Given that most the route is still using jointed track and the train operates on track warrants (versus signaling) north of White River Jct (and perhaps even before that), that's laughably unlikely...
There is an application for federal HSR funds to do that now, but who knows that chance of it getting funded, let along a timeline for completion...
It is the lack of signalling rather thna the jointed rail that makes 79 mph unlikely north of WRJ. The nature of t he curves on the line make going much faster in the limited locations where they can not really worth while. (Much of the route of the Southwest Chief across Kansas and Colorado is still in jointed rail and has a 79 mph speed limit.. When the AT&SF had a 100 mph speed limit for much of this distance it was all on jointed rail.)

The Boston to Montreal high speed scheme is at least old enough to vote, and still nothing but a few reports. No real work at all anywhere.
 

the_traveler

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Another good one is speeding up the Adirondack's route. The only way that would be possible is either build the track on, over or under Lake Champlain, or tunnel under the Adirondack Mountains for the full length - in order to get straight track! The route follows the shoreline, so there are no other choices!
 

Bob Dylan

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over the years, i have heard some wonderful amtrak myths. i remember a few years ago on this board the myth was circulated by a few that as of a certain date there would be massive route cuts. a while back, i read somewhere that the ppcs were going to be transferred to the eb. i had a lsa on the cs tell me once that the reason for the chronic lateness of the train was not the u.p. but stops for smoke breaks. what are your favorite amtrak myths from over the years?
Hot off the press: The Sunset Ltd. will start running again east of New Orleans when the next schedule takes effect in ________!!!(fill in the blanks with month and year!! :lol: )

The Eagle will become a daily train from CHI-LAX when the next schedule takes effect in ______________!!!(ditto! :lol: )

Diners will be on the CL and LSL and Cardinal soon as Beech Grove gets 'em ready!!(this one will eventually be true in the case of the LSL and CL but probably not the Card! :lol: )

And as with every route, various and sundry rumours, hot tips, gossip etc. from OBS/conductors/agents and best of all Amtrak Unlimiteds members and guests! :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

darien-l

OBS Chief
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Jul 20, 2007
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"Oh, is there Amtrak? What is that?"
That is usually the reaction I get from Pittsburghers when I tell them that I arrived in their fair city via Amtrak. :blink: :blink:
That reminds me of trying to find the train station in Houston! My cab driver had no idea where it was. We stopped to ask for directions a bunch of times, and no one knew either. The response I got most often was "train station? I didn't know we had a train station!" Eventually the cabbie had to call dispatch, have them look it up, and give him turn-by-turn directions.
 

darien-l

OBS Chief
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Jul 20, 2007
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So I'd say that the best, or at least most common myth about Amtrak is "there is no Amtrak in my town." This is closely followed by either "Amtrak is ghetto / for poor people" or "Amtrak is too expensive."
 

darien-l

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Another thing I hear often is "won't I be forced to share my sleeper compartment with strangers?"
 

MattW

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I once had someone tell me trains couldn't go over 100mph after I mentioned the NEC once.

I think I've had people believe that the Northeast is the only place there's passenger service.

I've also seen/head all sorts of "this line will be electrified" rumors.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
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That NOBODY ever rides Amtrak! :rolleyes:

Over Thanksgiving Weekend, the news reported how many people drove or flew. I think they even mentioned buses. But I did not hear trains mentioned at all!

I happened to be at WLY on Saturday afternoon between 1:10 and 1:25. During those 15 minutes, I saw 2 southbound trains AND 4 northbound trains - for a total of 6 trains in 15 minutes! :D But nobody rides trains! :rolleyes:
 

George Harris

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At the very start of Amtrak, with its multiple train-offs, there appeared in the Memphis newspaper the possibility that the Chicago to Florida train would be in essence the City of Miami, but routed through Memphis and then to Birmingham on the Frisco. This actually made more sense than what actually happened, which was the completely snake-bit Floridian following the South Wind route and then multiple permutations between Chicago and Nashville as the Penn Central fell apart.

Have no idea if the Chicago-Memphis-Birmingham route was ever considered or iif it was just a dream for those in Memphis that were interested in passenger trains. The schedule would have been about 3 hours longer than the all ICRR route through Jackson TN.

How about starting one using part of this idea? This one could start at any time:

Chicago to Memphis as part of the City of New Orleans

Memphis to Birmingham on its own (BNSF ex Frisco)

Make conections with the Crescent at Birmingham

Birmingham to Tallahassee to Jacksonville on CSX, then Jacksonville to Orlando or Miami on the line currently used by Amtrak.
 

savoirfaire

Train Attendant
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Jan 30, 2009
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Hot off the press: The Sunset Ltd. will start running again east of New Orleans when the next schedule takes effect in ________!!!(fill in the blanks with month and year!! :lol: )The Eagle will become a daily train from CHI-LAX when the next schedule takes effect in ______________!!!(ditto! :lol: )
Jim,

These are the equivalent of Amtrak MadLibs!

-Sav :lol:
 

saxman

Conductor
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May 17, 2004
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One I overheard recently:

The reason the Capitol Limited uses the nicer Superliner equipment and not single level cars is because the politicians in Washington require Amtrak to use the nicer equipment to their city, and give everyone else out east the crappy stuff.

Another similar note is that NYP-PHL commuters often complain that the fare is higher between NYP and PHL than NYP and WAS. They say the politicians set the Amtrak fares for themselves to make they, the politicians, have a cheaper ride from WAS.

And a few of my favorites:

-The government should just buy everyone a first class plane ticket for all of Amtrak's riders.

-Amtrak is subsidized for poor people.

-It takes 3 days to get from Chicago to Washington DC.

-A video off youtube has a guy counting 6 heads from where he is standing outside the train as it moves by. So he assumes only 6 people were on the train at the time.
 

wayman

Conductor
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Sep 5, 2007
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Another similar note is that NYP-PHL commuters often complain that the fare is higher between NYP and PHL than NYP and WAS.
Is there a typo here...? Surely you meant PHL-NYP vs PHL-WAS?

In which case they're complaining about ... $1? ($45 vs $44 for low-bucket)
 

saxman

Conductor
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Another similar note is that NYP-PHL commuters often complain that the fare is higher between NYP and PHL than NYP and WAS.
Is there a typo here...? Surely you meant PHL-NYP vs PHL-WAS?

In which case they're complaining about ... $1? ($45 vs $44 for low-bucket)
Nope, wasn't a typo. I meant they were complaining that NYP to PHL was more than NYP to WAS. Some said they would buy a cheaper ticket to WAS and just get off in PHL. It's on several videos on YouTube if you want to search.
 

Bill Haithcoat

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"Oh, is there Amtrak? What is that?"
That is usually the reaction I get from Pittsburghers when I tell them that I arrived in their fair city via Amtrak. :blink: :blink:
That reminds me of trying to find the train station in Houston! My cab driver had no idea where it was. We stopped to ask for directions a bunch of times, and no one knew either. The response I got most often was "train station? I didn't know we had a train station!" Eventually the cabbie had to call dispatch, have them look it up, and give him turn-by-turn directions.
This reminds me of the morning when I was trackside at the MARTA Arts Center Station in Atlanta. Waiting for my subway to work in downtown Atlanta. Up walks up a man wanting to know which of these trains goes to New Orleans.

He had told the cabbie he wanted the "train station". We often refer to MARTA rail as "the train" here so I guess that was the misunderstanding. I took him upstairs myself and pointed him to the number 23 bus and told him he had time to get the "real" train.
 

GG-1

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"Oh, is there Amtrak? What is that?"
That is usually the reaction I get from Pittsburghers when I tell them that I arrived in their fair city via Amtrak. :blink: :blink:
Aloha

That's close to what was said to me by the Fountainbleu Hotel when I requested a taxi to the Miami train Station, that was after They Asked, "Are there trains in Miami?"
 

AlanB

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Another good one is speeding up the Adirondack's route. The only way that would be possible is either build the track on, over or under Lake Champlain, or tunnel under the Adirondack Mountains for the full length - in order to get straight track! The route follows the shoreline, so there are no other choices!
Actually there are places that the Adirondack's route can be sped up, like the border crossing at something like 5 MPH because of the poor track conditions. More passing sidings in NY State to allow for better meets, perhaps even rolling meets. And there are places where the train could run faster if the track conditions were better.

No, it will never be a high speed route, for the very reasons that you mentioned. But they could shave at least a half an hour if not possibly an hour off run time with improvements.

And if they reroute to Lucien-L'Allier station instead of Gare Centrale, that could take out the customs stop, which would also cut out the allowance for customs in the schedule, making the train run seem shorter to people. No one ever adds in the customs times to airplanes, yet Amtrak must do so right now with the Adirondack and the Leaf. They don't have to do that with the Cascades, since customs occurs in Vancouver station after the train arrives.
 

AlanB

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Actually the biggest myth about Amtrak was the one sold to Congress and President Nixon back when Amtrak was created. That myth of course was that Amtrak would somehow be profitable. And it's a myth that has haunted Amtrak for all of its years.

How anyone ever expected to take a bunch of money loosing passenger RR's, roll them into one big company, and somehow suddenly and miraculously turn it into a profitable business is beyond me. I could see with the right management and circumstances (like not having to beg each year for money), how Amtrak might be able to one day reach a point where it covers its operating expenses. But it will always need help with capital expenses, especially for as long as it continues to own track.
 

George Harris

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Actually the biggest myth about Amtrak was the one sold to Congress and President Nixon back when Amtrak was created. That myth of course was that Amtrak would somehow be profitable. And it's a myth that has haunted Amtrak for all of its years.
It was a lie and almost everyone involved knew it was a lie. Probably the only people that did not were the politiicians, who alwasy seem to be operating under the halluciatnion that the government can do things more efficiently than the private businesses that had been doing them.

Getting rid of about half the passenger trains running on A-day minus one did help carry the hallucination forward, becuase suddenly it was costing less nationally to run trains than it had been. No one in congress seemed to be alble to grasp that there were a lot less trains running.
 

Shanghai

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Feb 4, 2008
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Actually the biggest myth about Amtrak was the one sold to Congress and President Nixon back when Amtrak was created. That myth of course was that Amtrak would somehow be profitable. And it's a myth that has haunted Amtrak for all of its years.
It was a lie and almost everyone involved knew it was a lie. Probably the only people that did not were the politiicians, who alwasy seem to be operating under the halluciatnion that the government can do things more efficiently than the private businesses that had been doing them.

Getting rid of about half the passenger trains running on A-day minus one did help carry the hallucination forward, becuase suddenly it was costing less nationally to run trains than it had been. No one in congress seemed to be alble to grasp that there were a lot less trains running.
And our Congress hasn't changed much over all the years. Now they think we can add 30 million uninsured people to our healthcare system and reduce

the cost of care for all of us!!
 
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