Empire Builder 2022 Outrageous Bedroom Fares

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neroden

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Thanks for the explanation of the yield mgmt system. Even though it seems to be here to stay for me I think the amount of unpredictable severe swings in pricing are a disservice to the passengers, especially those less fortunate. It used to be less of an issue to me because for many years you could cancel most fares for a full refund or exchange up to the last moment and rebook to a different date or cheaper fare if it came up.
The recent customer-unfriendly refund policies are unjustifiable; all they do is tick people off and create ill-will. They don't really make any money.
 

zephyr17

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Thanks, zephyr17, for the concise update on VIA. I have paid little attention to VIA in the past twenty years. I loved that ride VAN-TOR
in that drawing room in the observation car in 2000. From your description, the prestige class sounds like "luxury" type accommodations like maybe the American Orient Express type train. What obviously struck me was the enormous fare. While I did not check last night, I think the fare for the drawing room in 2000 was about $1800 (2 persons occupying the 3-person drawing room) as opposed to the $10000 ??? prestige fare today. As I posted earlier, perhaps I should give Amtrak a break from my criticism of high bedroom sleeper fares.
Prestige is a different class of service and the cars' interiors were completely rebuilt within the gutted shells. The Prestige rooms are large enough to contain a double bed. Prestige also offers "concierge" service and free premium booze. And exclusive access to the Park car during most of the day during peak season.

A Drawing Room would be in the Sleeper Plus class ( the old Silver & Blue class). VIA Sleeper Plus fares currently are about $1900 CAD per person in private rooms Vancouver-Toronto in the off peak Discount fare class to about $2800 CAD per person for full fare peak. VIA no longer follows the old rail fare plus accommodation charge model that Amtrak still uses, but charges per person with a supplement if under the occupancy limit of the room. If a single person wants to occupy a Bedroom ("Cabin for 2") they pay 1 1/2 times the roomette fare. Extrapolating from that, assuming 2 1/2 fares for 2 people to occupy a Drawing Room, all in today in a Drawing Room about $4750 CAD off peak Discount to $7,000 CAD peak full fare.

But that accommodation type is no longer on the train.
 
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dlagrua

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I don't know what's going on with the LD sleeper fares but this is the first year in the last 18 that we have not taken Amtrak on our vacation. We are passengers that are willing to spend $3,000 for a R/T coast to coast bedroom fare (far more than first class air) but definitely not $5,500-$6,000. Point is that we have money to spend and we are being turned away. A smart business would figure out how to acquire more sleepers, take our money and do more business but this doesn't seem to fit Amtrak's plans.
 

pennyk

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A smart business would figure out how to acquire more sleepers, take our money and do more business but this doesn't seem to fit Amtrak's plans.
I believe, lack of sufficient crew is also a consideration (even more so than lack of sleepers).
 

Nick Farr

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Here's a novel idea. Until the new sleepers arrive, Amtrak could lease Heritage sleepers from PV owners and place them between the baggage car and the Transition Sleeper car on LD trains. More inventory without the capital expenditure, more space to sell, lower prices(?), and the PV owners get a temporary income stream. Win-Win. Would I book a Heritage sleeper room over a Superliner sleeper room? You bet.
I think @Seaboard92 would be the best equipped to say whether or not this is feasible. I've long argued that Amtrak should create some opportunity for the private sector to come in and operate scheduled differentiated services to the general public along the LD routes.

That being said, I think a lot of the PV stock at this point is highly specialized for smaller groups and will likely have to be priced dramatically higher than even the high standard sleeper fares to make economic sense for the owners.
 

jis

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If you have to provide a consistent PV based service say on the Silver Meteor, you would require 4 (+1) PVs of roughly the same configuration, or alternatively make such service twice a week or some such. There are very good reasons why such is not generally feasible no matter how much the old timers may think it should be done. So far every attempt to do even a weekly service using a set of PVs seem to have crashed and burned in short order.
 

Ryan

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That being said, I think a lot of the PV stock at this point is highly specialized for smaller groups and will likely have to be priced dramatically higher than even the high standard sleeper fares to make economic sense for the owners.
This. If you like high Amtrak sleeper prices, you're going to LOOOOOVE PV sleeper prices.
 

Cal

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Here's a novel idea. Until the new sleepers arrive, Amtrak could lease Heritage sleepers from PV owners and place them between the baggage car and the Transition Sleeper car on LD trains. More inventory without the capital expenditure, more space to sell, lower prices(?), and the PV owners get a temporary income stream. Win-Win. Would I book a Heritage sleeper room over a Superliner sleeper room? You bet.
Interesting idea. My first thought when reading this was 'There will be people who are going to rip this idea up (politely)'.It seems I was right.

If you want to ride in a heritage sleeper, I'm sure you can, even on Amtrak routes. Just not sold by Amtrak.
 

Nick Farr

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If you have to provide a consistent PV based service say on the Silver Meteor, you would require 4 (+1) PVs of roughly the same configuration, or alternatively make such service twice a week or some such. There are very good reasons why such is not generally feasible no matter how much the old timers may think it should be done. So far every attempt to do even a weekly service using a set of PVs seem to have crashed and burned in short order.
As a stand-in for sleepers being refurbished: I agree this isn't really feasible.

That being said, there has to be some way to make regularly scheduled PV travel work. By regularly scheduled, maybe just one PV car on the CZ that goes back and forth on the same consist and allows for access to the rest of the train (and possibly even provides dining to coach passengers?)
 
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zephyr17

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As a stand-in for sleepers being refurbished: I agree this isn't really feasible.

That being said, there has to be some way to make regularly scheduled PV travel work. By regularly scheduled, maybe just one PV car on the CZ that goes back and forth on the same consist and allows for access to the rest of the train (and possibly even provides dining to coach passengers?)
Ask Ed Ellis. He tried it on the CONO. It did not end well for him.
 

Nick Farr

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Ask Ed Ellis. He tried it on the CONO. It did not end well for him.
Without Amtrak actively supporting it as an idea, I don't see how it could get off the ground. That being said, I've seen much less viable proposals get venture funding.

The last actually new rail product in the US was the Acela. Does Amtrak actually do any feasibility studies into new products, similar to the study that led to the creation of the Auto Train?

Do we feel there's any room for private industry to come in and pitch new rail travel ideas?

Wouldn't it be interesting if someone took a Superliner, made a slumbercoach out of it and priced it below sleepers but above coach?
 

Exvalley

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I say that we contract with ÖBB to provide equipment and run every sleeper on certain routes with their equipment.

I fully recognize that they don't have the equipment to spare - but one can always dream, right?

Being more serious, aren't there manufacturers in eastern Europe/Asia that have expertise in making sleeper equipment that can operate in all sorts of weather conditions? I know that we have rules about equipment being manufactured in the United States, but if the new VII sleepers are being delivered with all sorts of problems, maybe it is time to rethink this. At a minimum, we could license their designs and hire some of their talent.
 

Sidney

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I don't know what's going on with the LD sleeper fares but this is the first year in the last 18 that we have not taken Amtrak on our vacation. We are passengers that are willing to spend $3,000 for a R/T coast to coast bedroom fare (far more than first class air) but definitely not $5,500-$6,000. Point is that we have money to spend and we are being turned away. A smart business would figure out how to acquire more sleepers, take our money and do more business but this doesn't seem to fit Amtrak's plans.
Totally agree. I can't believe anybody would pay $6000 for a r/t sleeper. This is price gouging at it's worst. Sadly.it takes only one person to pay that obscene price. If nobody would pay that,the price would go down to a more reasonable level. ...
oh and don't tell me this price and demand. This price is outrageous,unless you were talking Orient Express with unlimited drinks and great chefs cooking the finest food there is
 

Exvalley

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Oddly, people attach different values to things and are willing to spend their money in different ways.
If Amtrak didn’t provide a public service that would be the end of it. But most people here want to see Amtrak provide a service to as many people as reasonably possible, myself included. If rates stay extremely high it’s time to take a serious look at increasing supply.
 

Ryan

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Amtrak would serve a similar number of people if they charge the current prices or charged $1 a head.

The difference is that the current prices make it far more likely that more equipment can be purchased to increase that supply.
 

Nick Farr

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Using that logic, I don't see how Acela is that different either.
Acela is unique in that it's the first high(er) speed rail running over legacy track.

Brightline is doing the same thing. While I applaud their efforts and give them credit for being a quasi-private entity building some new higher speed intercity rail, from the operational perspective it's not really a new concept or product. The real estate games they're playing to fund the service are analogous to the ones that have forever been a part of railroading, from selling off the air rights to Grand Central to land grants to build the transcontinental railroad.
 
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joelkfla

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Is Brightline somehow a new product? Looks kind a slightly glammed up commuter rail line.
No, it's intercity rail. They should be running to Orlando in about 18 months.

I haven't ridden many commuter lines this century, but I believe it's way beyond a commuter line, in terms of comfort, amenities, and services: spacious and comfortable leather seating, 2 + 1 seating in 1st class, power and charging outlets at each seat, reserved on-line selectable seating, spacious accessible restrooms with automatic doors, snack & drink cart service (free in 1st class), controlled-access departure lounges (with separate 1st class areas having complimentary snacks, drinks, and wine), checked baggage, available last-mile transportation to and from stations.

And it's a new product because it's the 1st privately financed and operated intercity rail line in the U.S. since the advent of Amtrak.
 
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