Hiawatha discussion

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Joined
Jan 14, 2023
Messages
185
Location
Columbus, OH
While doing some online railfanning earlier this afternoon, I noticed that one of the Hiawatha trainsets had venture cars on them (shown below). Not all of the Hiawathas have them, but just this one trainset. I'm unsure if that these venture cars will stay on them, but it was pretty interesting to see.

1689972425093.png

I'm assuming that with some of the horizon cars going to replace the talgos, they are using venture cars as replacements?

(I did not see a consolidated Hiawatha discussion post, so please move this post if needed)
 
I'm assuming that with some of the horizon cars going to replace the talgos, they are using venture cars as replacements?
Well, they won't replace the two remaining Oregon-owned, FRA compliant Talgo 8s. Those will remain in service until at least all the new Siemens Washington DOT purchased are delivered and in service in the 2025/26 timeframe.

If we get some Horizons to expand capacity on the other, Horizon equipped Cascades we certainly could use the added capacity.
 
Unless I'm drastically mistaken (which seems to be par for the course these days) the plan is to replace all the Hiawatha sets with Venture's once the Illinois service is equipped.
I think the speculation is that the permanent deployment of Ventures on the Hiawatha will take place after the other Midwest corridors (Illinois, but also Michigan and Missouri), as Wisconsin's portion of the order was an add-on after the main/original Midwest (IL/MI/MO) portion.
 
I really thought that they'd totally stopped using the cabbages. They are, in reality, very old and, I understand, pretty unreliable, these days.
It's been quite a while since I noticed a cabbage on one of my Hiawatha trips. I don't ride ALL that often but enough that I, too, assume the caggages were no longer used on the Hiawatha.
 
The cabbages have been on and off over the past few months, having made a limited return after being gone for most of the pandemic.

I think they were supposed to be back on a “permanent” basis a couple months ago (with the wifi-enabled cafe car coming off), but then new mechanical problems surfaced which sidelined the fleet again. IIRC, there might only be two serviceable Chicago-based cabbages left (on the coasts, they still run regularly on the Downeaster, Cascades and San Joaquins), the rest having problems more expensive than it’s worth to fix. It has been a few weeks since I have seen the Hiawatha (between travel and illness, I haven’t been to the office where I get a view of the approach to CUS north) so I haven’t kept a tally on what’s been running lately, but I’ll keep an eye out next week.
 
The cabbages have been on and off over the past few months, having made a limited return after being gone for most of the pandemic.

I think they were supposed to be back on a “permanent” basis a couple months ago (with the wifi-enabled cafe car coming off), but then new mechanical problems surfaced which sidelined the fleet again. IIRC, there might only be two serviceable Chicago-based cabbages left (on the coasts, they still run regularly on the Downeaster, Cascades and San Joaquins), the rest having problems more expensive than it’s worth to fix. It has been a few weeks since I have seen the Hiawatha (between travel and illness, I haven’t been to the office where I get a view of the approach to CUS north) so I haven’t kept a tally on what’s been running lately, but I’ll keep an eye out next week.
@Trogdor - If it helps, there is a railcam here that sees movements of the Hiawatha routes during the day that overlooks the Canal St at-grade crossing. This is where the image above of 90221 came from.
 
As of today, only one of the sets has a cabbage, with the other having two engines. I’d actually be surprised if they manage to keep two cabbages running on this route. Heck, I’m half surprised they have even one.
 
I saw that one of the Hiawatha trainsets (337 is pictured below) had a Dash 8 leading on it. From what I've heard, this one specific trainset has been having the Dash 8 on it all day.

I know that we talked about the Hiawatha having the veterans cabbage car (90221) above, but it has been quite a while since I've seen the Hiawatha with a dash 8 on it, maybe about a year or so ago on a previous railcam.

1692910161089.png

Just thought I'd share.
 
As of a few days ago, one of the sets now “officially” has Ventures on it. I think (but haven’t seen to verify) the other set may be up to 5 coach cars now, as well.

At long last -- too many peak trains have been selling out with fewer coaches, and with how construction has made the Kennedy even worse than normal the train should be able to recover a whole lot of traffic if it is reliably available. The train is typically 1:29 from the loop to downtown MKE. When I checked shortly after 5pm this afternoon the driving estimate CHI-MKE Intermodal was 2:11. Forty two extra minutes crawling in traffic is enough misery to make people reconsider their choices.
 
I've been noticing recently from watch the Chicago and Northwestern cam that one of the Hiawatha trainsets is all comprised of horizons (as usual), but no amfleet cafe car. I know that the cafe car doesn't actually serve any consumables, but is used to broadcast the wifi signal. With this in mind, I'm assuming that the trainset in question doesn't have any wifi, or is the wifi also broadcasted by one of the horizon cars?

1699841627098.png

There are some other Hiawatha trainsets that run that do have the amfleet cafe car though.
 
I've been noticing recently from watch the Chicago and Northwestern cam that one of the Hiawatha trainsets is all comprised of horizons (as usual), but no amfleet cafe car. I know that the cafe car doesn't actually serve any consumables, but is used to broadcast the wifi signal. With this in mind, I'm assuming that the trainset in question doesn't have any wifi, or is the wifi also broadcasted by one of the horizon cars?

View attachment 34590

There are some other Hiawatha trainsets that run that do have the amfleet cafe car though.

I was just aboard the other week, the Venture train set southbound and the Horizon set northbound. I'm about 98% sure both had wifi. On the Venture southbound I tried connecting early while we were sitting at MKE Intermodal with no luck, but then shortly after starting the journey south I'm rather sure I had service. But if anybody knows for certain if that's impossible please jump in.
 
New fare structure for the Hiawatha has been rolled out:

https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/about-wisdot/newsroom/news-rel/11012023amtrak.aspx
First time in ages (perhaps ever) that the market has had dynamic pricing. For a time prior to the pandemic they dipped their toe into the water with a $1 weekday upcharge on a two peak trains each way but that disppeared. Beyond that it has been a flat $25 all seats / all trains / all days. Now it will be a sliding scale based on demand and advanced purchase varing between $19 and $31. Hopefully this brigns more total ridership, more revenue and evens out demand just a bit. So far fares under the new system have been $24 on most trains, but looking into the holiday week there's a lot more variation coming.
 
I guess that means unreserved is never coming back. Too bad. I enjoyed the convenience of not having to pre-select my return train on a day trip.
Yeah that crossed my mind as well. That was so handy for when business ran short or long, or if your fun excursion was getting tiresome or just getting started.

What I wonder about is that the refundable "flex" fare seems only be a dollar or two more. Say you buy the $25 flex fare instead of the $24 value fare on the 5:08pm northbound. That fare is "change permitted with no change fee". So how much of a hassle is it to try to use your ticket on the 3:15pm? Any easy switch or a frustrating several minutes on your phone app or the Amtrak counter?

That is *sort* of like the unreserved except you have to be proactive. I would guess you're in for a hassle if you re onboard the 3:15 but when they scan your ticket it is for the 5:08pm. Or even worse if you board the 8:05pm with that earlier ticket becuase by that point you were a no-show for your ticketed 5:08pm.
 
Yeah that crossed my mind as well. That was so handy for when business ran short or long, or if your fun excursion was getting tiresome or just getting started.

What I wonder about is that the refundable "flex" fare seems only be a dollar or two more. Say you buy the $25 flex fare instead of the $24 value fare on the 5:08pm northbound. That fare is "change permitted with no change fee". So how much of a hassle is it to try to use your ticket on the 3:15pm? Any easy switch or a frustrating several minutes on your phone app or the Amtrak counter?

That is *sort* of like the unreserved except you have to be proactive. I would guess you're in for a hassle if you re onboard the 3:15 but when they scan your ticket it is for the 5:08pm. Or even worse if you board the 8:05pm with that earlier ticket becuase by that point you were a no-show for your ticketed 5:08pm.

Under normal circumstances, changing the ticket in the app isn’t a big deal. Part of the issue might be, though, if the going rate of your new train is higher than your existing ticket, then you’d have to buy up to the higher fare. Last-minute changes also mean you can’t use any discounts that you could have used with a ticket booked earlier (such as RPA).

There’s also the chance that a train sells out, which I guess is more of an issue of capacity availability (pre-COVID, the Hiawatha was running seven-car trains; recently they just got back to five). In theory the new fare structure will encourage people to take the less-popular trains, but even still, it would be nice if we could get back to the old capacity. For people taking day trips (which is a significant portion of Hiawatha ridership), you have less flexibility in when you can travel vs. those who may be gone for longer (the morning southbounds from Milwaukee are far more popular than the evening southbounds, but a MKE-based traveler going to CHI for the day has no use for the evening southbound trains).

Hopefully this change leads to higher total ridership and revenue, and if it doesn't, then hopefully they're willing to just go back to the pre-COVID setup.
 
Back
Top