Could Amtrak service between LA and Las Vegas be profitable?

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JermyZP

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Amtrak has proposed a LA to Las Vegas route on the amtrak corridor expansion plan. I think that having slow services during the day competing with brightline west is not possible unless there are premium amenities. The amtrak train to Las Vegas would have to have a lounge and dining car with both coach and business classes. Unless they change there plans to be a over night train then I think it could be profitable?
 

George Harris

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finally! Back in Mississippi
1. It will be years before Brightline is running, so competition with Brightline is not a factor in anything starting sooner than 10+ years in the future.
2. Profitability of night trains? Nope, not since shortly after WW2.
 

JermyZP

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Amtrak connect US plan would take up to 15 years to complete. So I think brightline west would be in service when the corridor opens. If brightline west doesn't work out then that would be a 7 hour ride, base on desert wind time table, with no dinning car and lounge, just a cafe car. I'm predicting that Amtrak is not going to spare there lounge and dining car for a non-long distance train and use Amfleets.
 

sttom

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It could be, but if the funding needs Nevada's cooperation, I'm dubious it will happen. Nevada's rail plan doesn't include publicly funded trains to Vegas. They're eggs are all in the Brightline basket. They do want added trains to Reno though, which isn't on the 2035 map and the CCJPA has decided to cancel.
 

joelkfla

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Remember Brightline depends upon CAHSR to get out of LA. At the rate CAHSR is going, the probability is more on the order of not in our lifetime.
They're planning to connect with Metrolink to Rancho Cucamonga. That's about an 80-minute ride from LA.

 

WWW

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The airline flight from LAX to LAS is just over an hour with added 1.5 hour check-in and the TSA crap
So you are on the strip in about just over 3.xx hours - - -
Now about the train - it is going to have to be competitive - real competitive perhaps a tie in with the B-I-G name hotels
Speed and features will be of essence - none of this freight rail delaying stuff - - - - -
 

Eric S

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"A Los Angeles – Las Vegas route run by Amtrak nearly entered service in 2000. A Talgo VII trainset was bought for the service in 1999; when it was not implemented, the trainset was later used on the Amtrak Cascades service.[8]"

I knew they made some headway, but how close is "nearly"?
I want to say that there was an agreement with UP on what infrastructure improvements (additional or lengthened sidings, I think) were needed but those improvements got held up due to environmental concerns. I don't remember if funding for those improvements was fully lined up, though. Of course, it could be that I'm not exactly remembering things correctly, either.
 
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I want to say that there was an agreement with UP on what infrastructure improvements (additional or lengthened sidings, I think) were needed but those improvements got held up due to environmental concerns. I don't remember if funding for those improvements was fully lined up, though. Of course, it could be that I'm not exactly remembering things correctly, either.
That tallies with my vague recollection. I thought they had a deal with the hosts (mostly UP), but the project fell apart for either environmental or NIMBY concerns. Other than a couple of stale threads on Trainorders there's not a lot of history on this proposal.
 

west point

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Jermy.: Your question is a slippery slope.
1. Direct operating costs= Fuel, track charges, car & loco miles, engineers, conductors, OBS, may be close to profitable. That depends on Amtrak marketing the service properly and adding enough total capacity to spread the above costs. That means no Toonerville trolley but a full size train of 12 - 15 cars to cover the 2 or 3 non revenue cars.
2. Then you add in allocated costs which I'll break down into two categories. The first would be spreading costs of LAX agents, baggage mem, and LAX maintenance onto the train . As well a route manager and staff and space for offices. That probably would put into non profit.
3. Fully allocated costs then rear their ugly head. Amtrak Headquarters , reservations , Legal, OIG, IT, training personnel ., ETC. Spreading those to any train always seems to put that train in the red. But to counter that those costs to another train reduces the allocated costs to all other trains.

A real slippery slope. IMO congress should set up Amtrak so that the back office expenses are separated out from operating costs. The advantages for more service then become more apparent.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Jermy.: Your question is a slippery slope.
1. Direct operating costs= Fuel, track charges, car & loco miles, engineers, conductors, OBS, may be close to profitable. That depends on Amtrak marketing the service properly and adding enough total capacity to spread the above costs. That means no Toonerville trolley but a full size train of 12 - 15 cars to cover the 2 or 3 non revenue cars.
2. Then you add in allocated costs which I'll break down into two categories. The first would be spreading costs of LAX agents, baggage mem, and LAX maintenance onto the train . As well a route manager and staff and space for offices. That probably would put into non profit.
3. Fully allocated costs then rear their ugly head. Amtrak Headquarters , reservations , Legal, OIG, IT, training personnel ., ETC. Spreading those to any train always seems to put that train in the red. But to counter that those costs to another train reduces the allocated costs to all other trains.

A real slippery slope. IMO congress should set up Amtrak so that the back office expenses are separated out from operating costs. The advantages for more service then become more apparent.
Rolling fixed overhead costs into simple per mile or per hour operating costs has been a long-running evil in the public transit field, justified by the tedious calculations in pen and ink ledger books. In both Edmonton and Denver we got better results in expansions or contractions with spreadsheets by allocating an annual fixed cost per peak bus (based on observation of what happened to system budgets during booms and busts). That was added to hourly costs and mileage costs.

There are people who like the simpler and misleading way of rolling everything together on rails or roads. When there are rapid changes their budget will be blown.
 

Northwestern

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Amtrak connect US plan would take up to 15 years to complete. So I think brightline west would be in service when the corridor opens. If brightline west doesn't work out then that would be a 7 hour ride, base on desert wind time table, with no dinning car and lounge, just a cafe car. I'm predicting that Amtrak is not going to spare there lounge and dining car for a non-long distance train and use Amfleets.
**********************
Brightline was slated to break ground this year, but now it looks like it will be 2023 before they get started. I know it won't happen, but I would like to see a route from LA to Las Vegas to Salt Lake City. A passenger train might be able to get into SLC at a decent hour.
 

tgstubbs1

OBS Chief
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Mar 3, 2020
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My '86 TT shows the Desert Wind Departs LAX 1:20p arr 8:10 p Las Vegas; arr 5:45a SLC.

Some more from the timetable... 341 miles LA to Vegas, another 449 miles to SLC.
 
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Until CAHSR is built and Brightline negotiates an agreement with CAHSR to run their trains over CAHSR tracks, A journey by Brightline is going to be a 2-seat ride from Los Angeles. As far as speed goes, I'm skeptical of anything greater than a 70-80 mph point to point average on the Brightline tracks between Las Vegas and Victorville. And beyond there, are they going to be able to build a line over Cajon Pass into Rancho Cucamonga that will allow speeds of 125 mph? Again, I'm skeptical. And then from Rancho Cucamonga, it's another hour and a half to Union Station, though I guess the local service allows direct access to a lot of suburban stops. According to the wiki article, they're planning on running trains every 20 minutes, a frequency that exceeds the NEC, and that on a route that passes through empty desert with not intermediate stops and which does not really serve one of the major endpoints of the route. (Los Angeles) Frankly, I'm not sure how they're planning to make money on this truncated service, especially since they have to invest in all of the infrastructure out of their own pocket, and it isn't like there's a lot of potential valuable trackside real estate that can be developed near the stations.

On the other hand, Amtrak can use existing rail lines, paying a fraction of the cost of building the new right of way, even if they have to pay for some improvements in the existing infrastructure. I suspect that if they wanted to, they could get a 2 or 3 times a day corridor service up and running faster than Brightline will probably be able to do. They might even be able to pay for enough improvements to get the existing track suitable for a 60 mph point-to-point average speed, which, at 431 miles LA to Las Vegas would be 7 hours. Sure that's slower than what Brightline is promising, but Brightline hasn't delivered anything yet.
 

joelkfla

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As far as speed goes, I'm skeptical of anything greater than a 70-80 mph point to point average on the Brightline tracks between Las Vegas and Victorville.
Why so low, when they're planning 180 mph capability with no intermediate stops?

French TGV's with a top speed of 200 mph travel between Avignon & Paris with an average speed of 143 mph.
 
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Please in the name of all things worshiped... Make it happen.
I've taken the bus from LA to Vegas. Never, ever again.
Trains? Any trains! Do not need luxury on this route, just a straight up coach day service!
The drive is no fun either. Even a minor traffic accident can cause a miles-long backup on I-15 with no alternative route. (Yeah I know, freight train interference. At least I'm not behind the wheel for that.)
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Just for information, here are samples of the Los Angeles <> Las Vegas line-up when the UP was trying.

30 Apr 61 - all trains carried sleepers.
Lv. LA @ 1245, 1445, 2214.
Lv. LV @ 0305, 0515, 1925.

Las Vegas was probably one of the few places in the world where there may have been a good turn-out to go home at 3:05 a.m.

1 Jan 62 - includes the City of Las Vegas, all coach seats reserved. All other trains carried coaches and sleepers.
Lv. LA @ 0900, 1345, 1545, 2215.
Lv. LV @ 0305, 0515, 1700, 1925.

30 Oct 66 - includes the Las Vegas Holiday Special, all coach seats reserved. Special package rate included buffet meal service and coach seat charge. All other trains carried coaches and sleepers.
Lv. LA @ 0900, 1330, 2215.
Lv. LV @ 0450, 1630, 1925.

The Las Vegas Holiday Special made the 1966 trip in each direction in 6' 45". It was turned in Las Vegas in 45 minutes. It made intermediate stops at San Bernardino, Riverside, Pomona, and East Los Angeles (free parking). It did not carry California intrastate passengers. The overnight train carried a sleeper between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

A platform was retained in Las Vegas for special trains.
P1040754.JPG
 

WWW

No real RR Job
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That is not a passenger train set - - -
But it is a very special train - - -
Looks to like a Maintenance Train "LORAM" - the outfit that polishes all the kinks and smoothes the tracks - - -

LORAM:

Loram Maintenance of Way - Wikipedia

Located right in my back yard (well close to it)
Interesting equipment putting life back into the rail bed - rails ties ballast and drainage
 
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