Quantcast

Onboard the Cardinal 51(4)

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,033
Location
OTN
They hook the cars up to every Cardinal for the IND-CHI passengers. On non-Cardinal days they run those cars standalone and call them "Hoosier State".

The HS essentially runs every day, it just gets hooked to the Cardinal on trips that it's passing through and doesn't get a name those days.
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,033
Location
OTN
Yep. Credit William for noticing this the other day:

It appears that, unless this is a booking system error, the Cardinal (50) is running with two Viewliner sleepers at least until Friday:

I can't upload the photo, but if you look up a trip for Friday, July 4th (I used CIN-ALX), it shows two Viewliner accessible bedrooms being available.
Well there we go haha. I looked at dates past Friday and they all seemed to have the normal number of available rooms (none). I wonder why they're running a second one just for this week.
Looks like they're getting as much capacity out there as possible for the busy holiday weekend. By scheduling maintenance around the holiday, it's possible to surge extra equipment (Thanksgiving being the best example of this). It's a pretty clear sign that Amtrak sees the utility in getting a second Viewliner onto the Cardinal ASAP.

I'm confused by people asking if this is a Viewliner II. Since there's only been one car delivered so far, and that's a baggage car that isn't in revenue service, it would be pretty much impossible for a VL2 sleeper to be in revenue service.
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
8,209
Location
NJ
Well, you see Ryan, Amtraks Black Ops division went in with a super secret rocket powered helicopter and air lifted a bunch of untested V2s to Chicago and Sunnyside to use on the Cardinal.
 

dlagrua

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,168
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
On our June 8th trip from PHL to CHI, the consist was the usual 6 cars. The coach traffic was medium and all of the 8 available sleepers were full. ( Café Car Manager, FSA, café counter attendant and SCA occupy the other 4). Upon boarding at 8:20 AM; we were immediately invited to have breakfast . That was a pleasant surprise. Although the train is one of Amtrak's smallest LD routes ( and it runs with limited resources) both Tom, our SCA and Craig, the FSA everything guy were super great hosts. The rain arrived in CHI only 15 minutes late and that still allowed us enough time in CHI to walk the 4 blocks to Greektown to enjoy a casual lunch at the Greek Islands and stop at Mangiannos market to get some delicious Italian Cookies to take with us on the EB trip to SEA.

Amtrak is undoubtedly losing revenue on this route. The train absolutely needs another sleeper car but until they get a full dining car, I don't see how a one man server/cook would be able to take orders, prepare the food and serve everyone efficiently.
 

printman2000

Conductor
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
3,753
Location
Amarillo, Texas
You are so right. The server in the "dining car" could not keep up. Way to many people for once person to serve AND "cook" for.

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum
 

William W.

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 22, 2014
Messages
476
Location
Arlington, VA
Yep. Credit William for noticing this the other day:

It appears that, unless this is a booking system error, the Cardinal (50) is running with two Viewliner sleepers at least until Friday:

I can't upload the photo, but if you look up a trip for Friday, July 4th (I used CIN-ALX), it shows two Viewliner accessible bedrooms being available.
Well there we go haha. I looked at dates past Friday and they all seemed to have the normal number of available rooms (none). I wonder why they're running a second one just for this week.
Looks like they're getting as much capacity out there as possible for the busy holiday weekend. By scheduling maintenance around the holiday, it's possible to surge extra equipment (Thanksgiving being the best example of this). It's a pretty clear sign that Amtrak sees the utility in getting a second Viewliner onto the Cardinal ASAP.

I'm confused by people asking if this is a Viewliner II. Since there's only been one car delivered so far, and that's a baggage car that isn't in revenue service, it would be pretty much impossible for a VL2 sleeper to be in revenue service.
Thanks for the mention!

Do we know which trains the extra Viewliners came from? I'm pretty sure that they don't have any extras, so did another train run light, or do they actually keep a couple in case one fails somewhere?

I can picture, based on what is par for the course with Amtrak, someone walking through a shop somewhere and randomly discovering two unused Viewliners that Amtrak just "forgot" about. :giggle:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,033
Location
OTN
There are a certain number of cars that are always out of service for scheduled maintenance and stationed various places to cover for a bad ordered car.

If you get lucky and have no cars shopped for corrective maintenance, and work the schedule so there is no scheduled maintenance for a period of known high demand, you can end up having a spare car or two that can get tossed into revenue service.

That's essentially what they do for Thanksgiving every year - work the schedules so that everything up up to date on preventative maintenance/inspections the week before the holiday, fix everything that you can that's broken and throw everything with wheels on it into revenue service.
 

William W.

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 22, 2014
Messages
476
Location
Arlington, VA
There are a certain number of cars that are always out of service for scheduled maintenance and stationed various places to cover for a bad ordered car.

If you get lucky and have no cars shopped for corrective maintenance, and work the schedule so there is no scheduled maintenance for a period of known high demand, you can end up having a spare car or two that can get tossed into revenue service.

That's essentially what they do for Thanksgiving every year - work the schedules so that everything up up to date on preventative maintenance/inspections the week before the holiday, fix everything that you can that's broken and throw everything with wheels on it into revenue service.
Wow, Amtrak has impressed me haha. I'm glad that they are trying to use the resources they have smartly (the rest of the government could learn a thing or two).

I'm glad they decided to help the Cardinal out for once. Hopefully this will go a long way to prove to doubters that the Cardinal is a worthy route, and that given the proper attention, one that can be very successful.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,957
Location
Ithaca, NY
The question is whether 2 Viewliner sleepers on the Cardinal is a permanent change until the Vw IIs show up or something they are doing for a few weeks or the summer because they can supply 2 sleepers for a while until they need to yank them for overhauls & inspections?
This was clearly the latter; get some extra cash on peak days, like they do at Thanksgiving.
However, the Viewliner IIs will start showing up in the autumn, so capacity will probably expand permanently then.

Permit me to go off on a tangent...

Looking at the demand which was shown for the extra Cardinal sleeper, I'm thinking Amtrak really needs to order *yet more* Viewliner sleepers, by exercising at least part of the option.

I worked out possible allocations of added sleepers on a spreadsheet. If one goes to #66/67, the Pennsy/Cap through cars get one, every existing LD train gets one extra (with the Boston section of the LSL still only having one), the Cardinal goes daily, and the shop count is increased to Amtrak's preferred level, there aren't enough.

The bag-dorm roughly doubles the available rooms on the Cardinal, but apparently even more than that can be sold at high prices! It's quite possible that the Pennsy/Cap through service will justify two sleeping cars, as well.

Amtrak really could use at least 10 more sleeping cars in its order just for these possibilities. (Also, roughly 1 more bag-dorm to allow for desired shop time.) This is without considering any new frequencies other than the daily Cardinal. I'm not as sure how many more baggage cars would be useful (I don't have a spreadsheet for it), but counting them up I think 10 more would be useful immediately.

I don't know what the option pricing is on the Viewliner II option; if you divide naively, you get a price per car of $2.3 million, but a lot of the cost has to be initial production line setup, and the different types of cars probably cost different amounts, so it's probably significantly less than that.

Each Viewliner sleeper raises roughly $800K to $1 million dollars in revenue per year; although Amtrak accounting makes it impossible to really identify the incremental cost of running them behind existing trains, a really high estimate would be $500K per year. (It is worth noting that the Superliner sleepers generate more variable levels of revenue per sleeper, but even higher, up to roughly $2 million a year. However, there aren't very many Superliner routes where demand for sleepers is through the roof the way it is on nearly all the single-level routes.)

Even with worst-case estimates involving a lot of interest payments on financing, extra Viewliner sleepers will pay for themselves well before their commercial life is over. With cash, they should pay for themselves in 10 years with pessimistic estimates, and 5 years with optimistic estimates. Even if the cost on the options is $2.3 million per car (and it's probably significantly less), it would be $25 million well spent to get 10 more sleepers and an extra bag-dorm.

The financial case for 10 more baggage cars is a bit harder to make but I think they'd be worth it just for allowing more trains to carry bicycles, which should increase demand noticeably.

If I were optimistic enough to believe that Amtrak would be able to negotiate additional slots on the freight railroads for NY-Chicago and NY-Florida, I could make good arguments for 9 more bag-dorms, 9 more dining cars, and even more sleepers. But even without any additional frequencies, Amtrak really needs to exercise part of the option.
 
T

The Whistler

Guest
It is unlikely that the Cardinal will be going daily anytime soon. The Buckingham Branch Railroad section is already way overloaded with CSX and Buckingham trains. They would probaby not be able to accommodate a daily Cardinal.
 

William W.

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 22, 2014
Messages
476
Location
Arlington, VA
It is unlikely that the Cardinal will be going daily anytime soon. The Buckingham Branch Railroad section is already way overloaded with CSX and Buckingham trains. They would probaby not be able to accommodate a daily Cardinal.
That was true a few years ago, but Virginia has spent millions improving the BBR's track, and adding sidings. I don't know exactly where they are with the improvements, but they should be pretty far along by now. I would think that they could probably handle a daily Cardinal now.
 

Rule G

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 4, 2013
Messages
41
It is unlikely that the Cardinal will be going daily anytime soon. The Buckingham Branch Railroad section is already way overloaded with CSX and Buckingham trains. They would probaby not be able to accommodate a daily Cardinal.
Also, more crews would be needed.

It takes almost 2 years for an engineer to become qualified between Charlottesville Va. and Huntington WV.
 

William W.

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 22, 2014
Messages
476
Location
Arlington, VA
I wonder if they are working on training the engineering crews required. I remember when I was on the Cardinal a few months back, it had two engineers. Maybe one was in training? Or does Amtrak regularly run with two engineers on overnight trains?
 

afigg

Conductor
Joined
Jun 8, 2009
Messages
5,896
Location
Virginia
It is unlikely that the Cardinal will be going daily anytime soon. The Buckingham Branch Railroad section is already way overloaded with CSX and Buckingham trains. They would probaby not be able to accommodate a daily Cardinal.
That was true a few years ago, but Virginia has spent millions improving the BBR's track, and adding sidings. I don't know exactly where they are with the improvements, but they should be pretty far along by now. I would think that they could probably handle a daily Cardinal now.
Virginia has been providing funds for maintenance, track replacement, signal upgrades to the BBRR through its Shortline Railway Preservation program; providing about $3 to $5 million a year. There is a $7 million North Mountain Siding Project in the current Six Year Improvement Plan, but the second half of the funding has been postponed to FY16. There have been reports of track work to the Buckingham Branch RR, but they appear to be getting done in stages and the new long siding may not get built for another year or two - or later. The state funds may have been provided, but that does not mean BBRR and CSX will start or complete the projects right away.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
2,458
I wonder if they are working on training the engineering crews required. I remember when I was on the Cardinal a few months back, it had two engineers. Maybe one was in training? Or does Amtrak regularly run with two engineers on overnight trains?
I witnessed an engineer change for the Capitol Limited in Cumberland, Maryland in late May, 2014. One gentleman disembarked the engine; one embarked; I saw no one else in the engine.

I was surprised. Does Amtrak operate all of their trains with only one person in the engine?
 

Rule G

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 4, 2013
Messages
41
Depends on how long of a run.

The Cardinal uses 1 engineer between Washington and Charlottesville and 2 are required between Charlottesville and Huntington.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,957
Location
Ithaca, NY
It takes almost 2 years for an engineer to become qualified between Charlottesville Va. and Huntington WV.
That's ridiculous. For someone qualified generally on the equipment and as an engineer, it should not take 2 years to qualify on any specific piece of territory. That just doesn't make sense. (One year, I could possibly see, deal with the territory through all the seasons.) Is this bogus regulations again?
If BBRR still can't handle a daily Cardinal, even 6-a-week would still be a major improvement, which would give a day of recovery time. Hell, I'd accept directional running through Buchanan and Waynesboro if that would help; there's only one station on the skipped part (Staunton).

Three a week *must end*.
 

Rule G

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 4, 2013
Messages
41
Because of the schedule,an engineer qualifying on the Cardinal can only make 3 one-way trips per week.

There is a lot of mileage to cover and in winter months, a good portion of the westward trip is in darkness.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,957
Location
Ithaca, NY
Amtrak can pay to have the engineer trainees ride freight trains, surely, if they need extra experience on the territory. The schedule doesn't seem like an insuperable cause of delay in training.
 

printman2000

Conductor
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
3,753
Location
Amarillo, Texas
A gentleman came to my room and introduced himself as the engineer. He said he was just completing training of someone else. I guess that was the explanation of being in the sleeper instead of the locomotive. he also said he was retiring soon. He gave me his card. His name is Timothy Hensley. He works between Huntington (where he lives) and Charlottesville.
 
T

Thirdrail7

Guest
The second sleeper on the Cardinal has been running since the end of June and if all goes according to plan (and shop count allows) will likely last through August. They are on the head end of the train to assist with adding the local coaches to the rear at IND.
 

printman2000

Conductor
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
3,753
Location
Amarillo, Texas
The second sleeper on the Cardinal has been running since the end of June and if all goes according to plan (and shop count allows) will likely last through August. They are on the head end of the train to assist with adding the local coaches to the rear at IND.
That does not explain why they have the third coach between the sleepers and the dining/cafe car. That is just baffling to me.
 

William W.

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 22, 2014
Messages
476
Location
Arlington, VA
The second sleeper on the Cardinal has been running since the end of June and if all goes according to plan (and shop count allows) will likely last through August. They are on the head end of the train to assist with adding the local coaches to the rear at IND.
Just looking at various dates in the booking system, you seem to be correct. Even into September, the train appears to have a much larger number of available rooms than is normal. For the route I typically take (CIN-ALX), the price of a roomette is $189 for many of the dates. I've never seen a roomette that cheap on the Cardinal, so that can only mean that they've adjusted the bucket to account for the additional car.

My question is this: where did they suddenly get two additional cars to be able to do this? I get that they can schedule maintenance so that they have extra cars during holidays, but the additional sleepers appears to be much longer term than just a single holiday week.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Top