FRA Long Distance Service Study discussion

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jis

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Study and planning for evolution of long distance service is now being led by FRA, not Amtrak as stipulated in the last FRA Authorization...

FRA just started the process of handling the future of long distance service, a task given to it by Congress.

https://fralongdistancerailstudy.org/
 
Cardinal has been tri-weekly since Reagan/Lewis/Stockman. It will always be that way, like the Sunset. If the Senate flips by so much as one vote, Manchin becomes less powerful.

I don't hear a thing about a NYP-PGH-CHI service, call it Bway Ltd or 3-Rivers. The double-ended train sets for NYP-PGH service means no thru cars onto the Captiol Ltd to do it cheaply while not adding any train miles. That was one of the few Performance Improvement Plans that if implemented would run in the Black.
 
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The map of load factors over the long distance routes also stood out to me, as it at least hints at where adding additional trains over portions of the routes might make most sense.
 
It just bugs the crap out of me when I look at one thing in this report in detail about which I have prior knowledge, and the information in the report is incorrect. Should I believe the rest of what's there?

The Empire Builder does not have daytime running from Seattle and Portland to Spokane. In the winter, the trip is almost entirely in the night.

Screen Shot 2023-02-23 at 9.50.27 AM.png
 
It just bugs the crap out of me when I look at one thing in this report in detail about which I have prior knowledge, and the information in the report is incorrect. Should I believe the rest of what's there?

The Empire Builder does not have daytime running from Seattle and Portland to Spokane. In the winter, the trip is almost entirely in the night.
I guess the last bit of Trains 8 and 28 should be shown as blue before Spokane but otherwise those trips are scheduled between 5:00am and 11:00pm, right?
 
I don’t really see the issue.They outright defined nighttime running as 11-5 which seems reasonable. They’re looking at night running hours from the perspective of ridership as opposed to actual daylight from the perspective of sight seeing. Most would consider a train that leaves at 5 am and arrives at 10:30 PM a day running train. Most would consider stops within that 11 PM to 5 AM time the late night or overnight stops. On at 5 PM and off at 10 PM would be a day rider. 5 AM to 11 PM is about right when considering segments where you’d get the strongest on and off ridership and the range for same day trips (on and off riders during the same day.) Eastbound to Spokane does go past 11 PM but 12:37 AM off is still plausible for a daytime rider who boarded at Seattle or east of there.
 
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I guess the last bit of Trains 8 and 28 should be shown as blue before Spokane but otherwise those trips are scheduled between 5:00am and 11:00pm, right?
Trains 28 and 8 arrive in Spokane at 12:17 am and 12:37 am respectively. Yes, the last bit should be blue.

This is interesting to me because I was specifically searching for point-to-point ridership figures for Seattle to Spokane, which I think are fairly high despite its being a dead-of-night trip.

When I first saw this map, my thought was, "They copied the map from Trains magazine." Obviously, somebody got paid to do a new map.

What other aspects of this report are just slightly incorrect? I just looked at ONE set of information, and it was wrong.
 
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Trains 28 and 8 arrive in Spokane at 12:17 am and 12:37 am respectively. Yes, the last bit should be blue.
I think the idea is plausible ons and offs for daytime running hours and same day trips. Seattle (which boards 4:30 PM) to Spokane arriving at 12:37 AM is still a plausible trip given it’s between decent sized metropolitan area and is kind of the logical cutoff point on that portion of the route. I think it just barely meets the standard. I would suspect all those cutoff spots are stations. I don’t think an automatic cutoff at 11 PM to scientifically show which route portions are between those hours is really the point - it’s to show plausible day time trips on the current routes. I don’t think it is at all a mistake or oversight.
 
I even question the definition of 11 pm to 5 am as "nighttime." Are we only allowed six hours of sleep now? Average night length globally is twelve hours. 11 pm is about the latest I like to be getting home; I'd really prefer my train got into the station a while before then. With the Empire Builder's 12:37 am arrival in Spokane, riders don't get home until 1 or even 2--if the train is on time. Yet some bureaucrat wants to pass this off as a daytime arrival?
 
I found the Southeast materials very interesting. I was surprised that Orlando is a major transfer point. Where are all these people transferring to? Surely there can't be that many people transferring between the SM & the Tampa bus.
An interesting daya point given to me was that it is faster to got to Tampa from anywhere North of Savannah on the Meteor route. Maybe there are enough people taking advantage of that.
 
I even question the definition of 11 pm to 5 am as "nighttime." Are we only allowed six hours of sleep now? Average night length globally is twelve hours. 11 pm is about the latest I like to be getting home; I'd really prefer my train got into the station a while before then. With the Empire Builder's 12:37 am arrival in Spokane, riders don't get home until 1 or even 2--if the train is on time. Yet some bureaucrat wants to pass this off as a daytime arrival?

The Spokane thing is a bit weird, but overall I think it's a reasonable benchmark when considering whether something would be seen as a "day" trip vs. an "overnight" trip. It's not meant to be a measure of how much sleep someone should get or whether it's light or dark out, but whether someone who's doing the trip would see it as an overnight (where someone would almost certainly sleep for part of the journey) versus a trip where they'll be sleeping in a bed off the train at the beginning and end of it.
 
Seems fairly likely to me that they are measuring from the previous station's departure time, which in the case of the eastbound Empire Builder is before 10 pm on each branch. They likely decided not to bother with trying to delineate which point on the trip is scheduled to cross the 11pm cutover if it happens to be between stations.

Of course, it does lead to some rather odd results, particularly if you look at the Auto Train on the southeast map.
 
Seems fairly likely to me that they are measuring from the previous station's departure time, which in the case of the eastbound Empire Builder is before 10 pm on each branch. They likely decided not to bother with trying to delineate which point on the trip is scheduled to cross the 11pm cutover if it happens to be between stations.

Of course, it does lead to some rather odd results, particularly if you look at the Auto Train on the southeast map.
Thank you for the rational explanation!

It appears that the Silver Meteor is lacking some night-time running, too...

I submitted the following comment:

"
The "Long-Distance Network Service and Performance Characteristics Time of Day Analysis: Daytime and Nighttime Service" (p. 58) map is inaccurate and misleading. For example, the Auto Train is shown as an all-daytime trip, and the Empire Builder's 12:37 am eastbound arrival in Spokane is shown as in the daytime. This map distorts the truth, making it look as if Amtrak trains have mostly convenient boarding times."
 
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