Pacific Parlour Car Permanently Retired February 2018

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crescent-zephyr

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If current management wanted the service, I think the cars had another year or 2 in them. I also think the announcement would be that the cars were being retired but the service would continue with SSL or CCC cars.
 

pennyk

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This was posted on FaceBook:

 

George K

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Saw that...

I guess you can say that the "ongoing work to modernize its fleet of equipment" can include removal of heritage equipment.

Hopefully, they will find a suitable substitute (though I doubt it).
 

chakk

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Having watched The Minneapolis Miracle live on a restaurant TV, I immediately purchased a sleeper ticket on the last CS-with-PPC as soon as I read the “rumor”. And got a low-bucket roomette for my initiative.

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aviva_dawn

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Thank you for the advance warning. I might have to take one last trip before they're gone.
Me too! Me too!

I'll do LAX to SBA on the CS and then back to LAX on the Surfliner one last time

and....that's a wash. I'm not off from work on the days when it leaves from LAX.

I have some very precious memories of the PPC over the years, and boy will it be missed.
 
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calwatch

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They'll definitely need another CCC during peak season, the diner is just way too crowded.
 

Anderson

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The PPCs are special for me and I suspect many others for several reasons...maybe a route or two like the Starlight or Zephyr might be really well to consider a Prestiege option.
Clipped for saving pixels.

Interesting comments. And good points throughout.

I understand, and agree, with all your points. But...I have to ask the question: Is Amtrak a transportation company, or a cruise company? If the answer is the former, there's really no need for the PPC (as much as I enjoyed it a few years ago). If the answer is the latter, then...well, there you go.

I have no idea if eliminating the PPC will cost ridership, but I'd guess it won't (see "transportation company"), and, in a few years, most riders won't know the difference.

I'm not agreeing with the decision, at all. Just trying to understand the financial decisions behind it. Face it, it's always about the Benjamins, isn't it? As much as I'd like to have a "premium experience" for my hard-earned bucks, that's not Amtrak's vision. After all, riders on the EB, CZ, CS don't complain about the lack of a similar "premium experience,"
Ok, I disagree that there's no utility for a premium-cabin amenity car, at least on the more heavily-trafficked LD trains. I would first point out the mess when such a space was cut on the Auto Train a few years ago (and ridership duly took a nosedive after about a year; correlation may not be causation, but in this case the timing was amost perfect for it). Second, I would point out that Amtrak's own PIPs indicated issues with overwhelmed dining cars on the Builder. IIRC the Starlight has more sleeper pax than the Builder and the PPC has provided a certain amount of "relief" space.

I also think the two purposes ("cruise" trains and "transportation" trains) are not mutually exclusive and it is possible to market to both sorts of audience. If anything, arranging to do so allows them to split overhead and at the end of the day the "cruise" pax will likely end up sort-of subsidizing the "transportation" pax. Witness VIA's Prestige Class on the Canadian as a handy example...my understanding is that said product has knocked several million dollars per year off of the losses of the Canadian.
 

Larry H.

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In his statement the CEO, Anderson says what I always thought Amtrak believed. The cars that used to be hauled to attract passengers to the train are now considered as not worth running. Well I can tell him that often my decision as to wether to use the train depends on the dinner and lounge. (So now I hardly every ride). The worst part is the idea that the very busy New York/ Chicago Lakeshore has or had, a awful lounge consisting of an old Amfleet dinner with little to no upgrade to make it seem the least appealing. Don't they know that almost all movies from the days of rail take place in cozy well designed lounge cars where people enjoyed the trip with other passengers? To think we should be happy to spend thousands of dollars for a room and then be stuck in it 24/7 is pretty shallow. Those cars ran for a reason, and the reason was to entice passengers.
 

George K

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Those cars ran for a reason, and the reason was to entice passengers.
Yes, but "those cars to attract passengers" numbered only five (four?). They existed on exactly one route. People who don't ride the CS (and I've only ridden it once) don't know, or care. They, presumably, enjoy what they *do* have, and it's good enough - for them. It will be interesting so see if ridership takes a hit after removal of the car.
 

Larry H.

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Those cars ran for a reason, and the reason was to entice passengers.
Yes, but "those cars to attract passengers" numbered only five (four?). They existed on exactly one route. People who don't ride the CS (and I've only ridden it once) don't know, or care. They, presumably, enjoy what they *do* have, and it's good enough - for them. It will be interesting so see if ridership takes a hit after removal of the car.
Perhaps, but if you recall when an actual attempt at upgrading the Empire Builder to provide more enticements to rail travel the trains were sold out for long periods often. I didn't mean that one train represented what I am taking about. I meant that in the past, which some say is the past, all long distance trains that were worth riding had first class lounges, some first class diners, observation fan tail lounges on the rear often, card rooms, book cases of reading material, desk for writing company postcards showing your trip and features of the train. One response here will be "well that was then and this is now". I mentioned in another comment that watching some of the worlds best still running long distance trains all have exactly those kinds of features, they don't seem to think they are unnecessary. The Canadian being one example for sure, but then its using the original vintage cars which are fine, but when you check out some of the latter Japanese and other trains you will see wonderful modern adaptions that put us to shame.
 

FrensicPic

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I haven't spent a lot of my travel time in the PPC...typically it may be while waiting to be called for lunch or dinner or perhaps to purchase and enjoy a beer.

I also have received the phone call the day before the trip apologizing for the lack of PPC (at that time, Amtrak didn't even provide a substitute car.

While i have enjoyed my times in the PPC, the existence of them on the Coast Starlight (or first class "lounge" on any other train for that matter) has not been a deal/no deal for me.

I'll still be riding the Coast Starlight sans PPC just as I will, and have traveled, on other LD trains that don't have such an amenity.

I do like the idea of a separate lounge car for sleeper passengers and the PPC certainly served nicely. For me, a Cross Country Cafe would be a suitable substitute.

I won't be rushing to take "one last ride" in the PPC nor will I stop using Amtrak just because it will no longer exist.

A part of me does ride the train for the sake of riding the train but, trains are how my wife and I plan and take our vacations...the train is part of the vacation.
 

crescent-zephyr

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For me, the Parlour car definitely sold me on taking the Starlight and Empire Builder vs. the Chief (although the semaphores on the chief, also slowly going away, are also quite neat).

Generally speaking, as long as I have a comfortable accomodation and a way to enjoy the scenery, that's all that I need to ride the train. Even the diner is not a make it or break it for me. The sightseer lounge is on some routes.
 
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Skyline

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I do not see anything approaching the Canadian's Prestige Service, or the Park cars, ever on an Amtrak train going forward. However, I do see privately operated rail cruises continuing in some manner to serve that market and so long as it's still operating there's still The Canadian. Both the Prestige Service and private rail cruises are generally not within means for most folks (financially), so Amtrak realizing this has not catered to the 1% for quite awhile. Sad but true.

I've looked into doing a private rail cruise but not for at least 10 years, so I assume what I looked at back then might be defunct or changed. This may need to be a bucket list thing that will blow a $$$ hole in my other retirement plans. Do any of you have any decent (domestic) recommendations for a 4-7 day private rail cruise?
 

PVD

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Point to ponder: If the revenue loss due to any decrease in passengers due to this move is considerably less than the cost of operating and maintaining these cars going forward, regardless of our sentimental attachment, wouldn't it be a sound business decision?
 

Devil's Advocate

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Point to ponder: If the revenue loss due to any decrease in passengers due to this move is considerably less than the cost of operating and maintaining these cars going forward, regardless of our sentimental attachment, wouldn't it be a sound business decision?
I don't think anyone truly believes this specific decision isn't a prudent move from a financial perspective. But if prudence is all we're after then retiring the entire Superliner fleet and laying off most of the staff West of Chicago would probably save a lot more money. It just depends on how far you want to push this line of reasoning before you end up with a few busy commuter corridors and not much else.
 

PVD

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It can't be the be all and end all, operating a system with a wide benefit to large parts of the country is different than catering to a niche audience, the system will never be profitable, nor should anyone expect it to be. But here you are removing a service where that removal may be a benefit to the overall system we wish to preserve.
 

cpotisch

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If they have sufficient SSLs, why not literally take the interiors out of the current PPCs, and put it into an SSL. Amtrak wouldn't need to buy any sofas, booths, tables, etc. There's the cost of (re)moving the Hi-Level interiors and of ditching the current SSL interior, but that would be about it. Granted, it would be a newer and less historic car, but the 'PPC II' would actually offer better views than before (bigger windows), be much cheaper to maintain, and in theory have a near-identical interior. I think that's the best way to move forward.
 
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Tennessee Traveler

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For what it is worth, I have already booked three trips(February, April, June) using portions or all of the Coast Starlight route in 2018 in roomette on each trip. No consideration was given to whether the PPC would be available. I did use it for meals last June on a trip LAX to Portland but literally froze and wore a light weight coat while eating in the PPC. I would not repeat that experience even if offered. The Coast Starlight is only third in my favorite LD routes. California Zephyr is number one and Empire Builder is number two. I always find adequate space available when passing through the sightseer lounge on those two trains but admit I don't travel in peak seasons.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I do not see anything approaching the Canadian's Prestige Service, or the Park cars, ever on an Amtrak train going forward.
For me, the Parlour Cars offered more, and better service than the Park Cars. When I rode the Canadian, my Park Car Attendants weren't anything better or worse than the Parlour Car attendants I had. The swivel chairs were more comfortable than the chairs in the Park Car, and they offered a second, private meal option. I do enjoy meeting people in the diner... but there was something very special about enjoying a private table in the Parlour Car.

The Canadian's Prestige is a special animal that really doesn't have anything to do in comparison with the Parlour Cars so I won't ramble on about my thoughts.
 

Anderson

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I do not see anything approaching the Canadian's Prestige Service, or the Park cars, ever on an Amtrak train going forward. However, I do see privately operated rail cruises continuing in some manner to serve that market and so long as it's still operating there's still The Canadian. Both the Prestige Service and private rail cruises are generally not within means for most folks (financially), so Amtrak realizing this has not catered to the 1% for quite awhile. Sad but true.

I've looked into doing a private rail cruise but not for at least 10 years, so I assume what I looked at back then might be defunct or changed. This may need to be a bucket list thing that will blow a $$$ hole in my other retirement plans. Do any of you have any decent (domestic) recommendations for a 4-7 day private rail cruise?
(1) Amtrak could (and I would argue should) work with third-party operators to try and encourage such a business (and the associated haulage fees, which really do add up pretty quickly). From what I've heard, as often as not Amtrak has been a honey badger about this on many occasions (bordering on hostile on occasion). Granted, some of this has been from Ed Ellis, but what he's said has the ring of truth in many cases. A handy example is Amtrak not being *ahem* terribly open to having PV/charter pax board and disembark at any intermediate stations on their run (e.g. Iowa Pacific couldn't, as far as I can tell, sell tickets on their Chicago-New Orleans run to/from Memphis or Jackson).

(2) With that being said, there was an attempt to do something like this under the Warrington plans, so it isn't utterly implausible. We can argue about the market size (I think there's generally been enough of a market to back it up on at least a modest scale...maybe the "premium service" runs once or twice a week as part of the scheduled consist) but the market is there.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Does an amenity like the Parlour Car help sell higher priced sleeper tickets? I would think the cost of the Parlour Car should have been built into the cost of the sleeper tickets. For example each superliner sleeper has 20 revenue rooms... add $50 per room and thats $1,000 per sold out sleeper IF the room only gets sold once. With Amtrak sleeper prices that $50 isn't going to turn anyone away from booking. I would think $2-4,000 per trip would cover the cost of the car.

The better service you offer, the more repeat service you will get. I think that's just a given in any type of business.

I'm arguing more for the Parlour Car Service, and less for the physical Santa-Fe hi-levels. The railfan in me got a kick out them.. but that's it. The Amtrak transit passenger in me greatly appreciated the SERVICE the Parlour Car provided, regardless of it being a SSL or PPC (I never rode with a CCC car used so I can't really speak on it.)
 

Triley

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Were someone in management to take in interest, it probably wouldn't be that hard to figure out.

We get it, you're deeply hurt by Amtrak taking your toys away, but telling an employee to "get a life" when they express a concern about fellow employees should be beneath you.
Right. Wouldn't surprise me for Amtrak to find a way. Many years ago, working at a corporate owned bowling center, with about a hundred other locations in North America, I posted a couple of videos of the pinsetters and the machine that oils the lanes for people who were curious. Nothing other than how many lanes the center had would give away what location it could possibly be, even though many other centers had the same amount of lanes.
Within a few weeks somehow corporate saw them, figured out it was me, and I was being talked to by my GM.

When there's a will, there's a way...

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sechs

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I don't think people would be as worked up about it if it wasn't so sudden, and there was some kind of plan moving forward.

If Amtrak had simply announced that the regular schedule would not resume as previously planned in March because the cars were no longer reasonable to maintain, people would have time to come to terms with the end of the service and, for those who can, take one last ride. Putting it to bed properly, as it were.

Also, if there was any kind of follow-up plan, folks would know what was happening next. They've simply pulled the rug out from under passengers. Particularly during high-ridership periods, the additional meal and lounge space will be missed.
 

Green Maned Lion

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I'm not sure some people get the concept of trying to maintain a 62-year-old antique in revenue service like this, especially as things break and super-special customized parts have to be fabricated every time something does. Rail cars being operated in regular service the way these were do NOT last for ever. I doubt an extra $50 per passenger revenue would come close to making the car have a positive return on investment. Heck, $50 a day is about the revenue sleeper passengers would bring in at menu prices for a dining car, and those still don't make a profit.

The way this happened suddenly, after Anderson (CEO) made comments about no intention for amenity cuts for sleeping passengers, I'm going to guess that the budget for keeping these cars on the road for another year came across his desk and he had a cow.
 
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