Possible Schedule Change to SB Silver Meteor - train 97

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Anderson

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Dinner would no longer be needed on the first day, although if it isn't already served it would need to be added to the second day.
Except that a 1900 departure is within the meal period, so I believe you would probably still be served dinner out of NYP, NWK and TRE; PHL would be "on the bubble" depending on the exact departure/arrival times...right now the LD trains have a longer blocking from NYP-PHL than the Regionals do, but I believe that was at least partly a byproduct of the Heritage equipment). However, this is more of an issue at NYP (departure 1900, preboarding usually 15 minutes before for sleeper pax) and NWK than it would be at PHL (departure 2030-2045).
 

JP1822

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I think Amtrak could likely get away without having to serve dinner southbound on Train 97 if it departed at 7 pm or 7:01 pm etc. This is all new territory for the trains operating "East of the Mississippi." It would avoid people getting the same menu for three out of four meal periods if travelling end point to end point though!

As for whether dinner is served currently on the "second day" prior to arrival into Miami, good question. Frankly I am not sure about this. If the train is operating one to two hours late, as is not uncommon, that's a long time for some passengers between lunch and no dinner till de-boarding in Miami! I am sure that last dinner period on the second day is lightly patronized and it would likely continue. Leaving NYP at 3:05 pm southbound, the Silver Meteor operated a VERY busy diner the first night.
 

pennyk

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As for whether dinner is served currently on the "second day" prior to arrival into Miami, good question. Frankly I am not sure about this. If the train is operating one to two hours late, as is not uncommon, that's a long time for some passengers between lunch and no dinner till de-boarding in Miami! I am sure that last dinner period on the second day is lightly patronized and it would likely continue. Leaving NYP at 3:05 pm southbound, the Silver Meteor operated a VERY busy diner the first night.
In my experience, under traditional dining, in recent years, dinner was rarely served the second day on 97, even when late. About a year or so ago, we were 3 hours late into Miami and we not served dinner. Since the train was late arriving in Orlando, I missed lunch also. :(
 

cocojacoby

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May 13, 2014
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It was (and will be effective 5/1) the same case northbound on the Star heading into New York. Our past experience was that they offered a limited diner approaching NYP (scheduled arrival 6:50). I recall there was a baked chicken entree and something else that escapes me. We were told to come to the diner after leaving Baltimore.

I however can not remember if the same was offered approaching MIA on our southbound trips.
 

railiner

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Mar 20, 2009
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To me, it seems a shame to run a diner and staff it, and then not use it for meals. I think that it would be better to try to serve three meals a day, to maximize revenues.
That would mean, going back to traditional diner service, and open to all passengers on the train, not just sleeper's.
That's why I think they should run a diner on the Palmetto...it's a long enougn trip for three meals each day.
 

west point

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"If" the various LD trains had 13 -14 revenue cars then Amtrak would not have any excuse. Amtrak could have a diner on the train open 24 hours a day and get diner serviced at intermediate stations to re provision the diner.
 

Thirdrail7

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For years Amtrak ran the Silver Meteor out of NYP at a post-5 pm time (typically 7 pm). This is not something brand new. It was a schedule that was in place for quite a few years and did make sense from equipment utilization. I do applaud Amtrak for looking to go back to a "same day turn" at NYC. As has been mentioned, the main advantage:

1) Increased connections from the North (particularly New England, Upstate NY, Lake Shore Limited, etc.). It had a very good following off of the Vermonter, and that was when the Vermonter did have the bus connection from Montreal. It was a tight and close connection in NYP between southbound Vermonter and southbound Silver Meteor, but it was done!
The Vermonter wouldn't be a guaranteed connection at NYP but it might be a guaranteed connection in WAS. It will indeed allow for additional connections from upstate NYP and New England. That is definitely a pro.

2) It saved an equipment set and allowed for a same day turn, thus reducing train sets required from four to three for the Silver Meteor
It also decreases the reliability of the service, particularly if there is a disruption. It eliminates the winter run through operation between the Chicago trains and the southern trains. The viewliners are still susceptible to freezing and running through to Florida increased their reliability and helped reduce the ITD of the LSL. Additionally, when this occurred in the past, 98 arrived earlier. Thus far, there is no indication that 98 will change arrival times.

3) The southbound Meteor had a great market following for people leaving from the Northeast to Richmond (it was the last train out for the evening, affording a full day of work in the Northeast - leave NYP at 7 pm arrive Richmond at midnight)
If this happens, arrival time at RVR would likely occur after 1am. I'm not sure these times are friendly enough for the RVR market.

4) It provided passenger friendly arrival times to major station stops at Charleston and Savannah particular.
While I agree it provides for a friendly arrival time from points north, passengers departing these stations heading to points in Florida may have unfriendly arrival times, particularly if the train runs late.

5) The southbound Meteor and Star were less on the rear markers of each other south of Savannah. Provided more travel time options, course it used to be NYP and MIA departures in early morning, mid-day, and evening - be it the Silver Meteor, Silver Star, or Silver Palm.
While having better travel options can stimulate ridership, if it impacts OTP, the advantage is lost. As such, the schedule was made at the behest of the host in exchange for better otp. If you look carefully, you'll see a lot of the trains are grouped around each other. Typically, even the Auto Train isn't too far behind the Silver. A great deal of the railroad between Petersburg, and Jacksonville, FL is single track territory with sections of double track. Running them close, particularly with freight trains operating longer trains that don't fit in sidings, allows them to move together instead of dodging from siding to siding.

This is a major factor in this assessment. Will still be able to operate it without major delays?

6) I hope they consider putting the three Silvers back in place.
I'm not positive they want to run the two the currently exist, let alone a third.o_O

7) The fourth train set could allow an additional sleeper to be put on the Silver Meteor. Silver Meteor regularly had three sleepers on it when departing at 7 pm out of NYP.
The Meteor has run with three sleepers for years. During Thanksgiving, it runs with 4.

8) Amtrak could get away from serving dinner in the Diner leaving southbound. Thus, it you just have breakfast, lunch and dinner to provide for. Reduces the F&B costs while retaining revenue, and growing it if additional sleeper is added.
Not really. This train has flexible dining. Therefore, it is basically open from 6a to 11pm. As such, you'd still be on the hook for dinner out of NYP on day one and all meal service on day 2.

9) The main downfall was arrival into Miami - it was typically at a late hour, this is why Amtrak should really consider a trio of train service between NYP to Miami. Go back and look at the old time table schedule that was posted. It was a very popular schedule back then.
I just don't see it happening. Not until you get a change in mentality and more equipment.

10) Amtrak advertised the "day room" service for the Viewliner Sleeping cars for travel south from Savannah and through Florida.
it may not be necessary. As you know, I'm a believer in the late departure, early arrival. Perhaps a later departure will increase through ridership and provide higher sleeping car revenue and coach revenue.

Amtrak only expanded the Silver Meteor to four train sets after the Three Rivers was bumped off (the sleepers from the Three Rivers went to create the fourth trainset for the Silver Meteor and eventually the coach cars were re-allocated too. If the northbound Silver Meteor was late, often times Amtrak would turn the Crescent and send it out as the southbound Meteor. They did some "rob Peter to pay Paul" back then. I think Amtrak could avoid that now though.....
This is still my concern. If something happens to 98, you can not turn the Crescent since it operates with fewer coaches, fewer sleepers and has a horrible OTP record. The average delay for the last year is an hour and forty minutes. You're not getting your hands on that set until close to 4 and unless you have extra viewliners sitting around (Which defeats the purpose), you'll still have to wait for 98 to arrive.

It is risky.
 

Palmland

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I just noticed the online schedules are posted for May 1. No significant changes on Silver Service trains. In spite of all the talk, Amtrak (or CSX) has decided not to make any changes, at least for now.
 

cocojacoby

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I believe that schedule change was simply to reinstate the diner on the Star.
 
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Regards reinstating the diner on Silver Star May 1st, don't get excited just yet. I rode 92-91 from Tampa to Rocky Mount and back on business the week of March 2nd and talked with the crew about that. They have been told that the "flexible food service" will be served from the Amfleet II lounge and that no Viewliner II diner is being added to the consist.

One end of the car will be made sleeper only, and they are giving the LSA a server to help him/her deal with the additional duties. There was a debate about which end of the car they were going to serve it in. At present the lounges are running vestibule forward facing the coaches which is the end with fewer tables. One crew commented that confining the coach passengers to that short end would be a disaster with heavy loads. The other crew thought they were going to turn the cars so the short end would be for the sleeper passengers; of course that way the coach passengers still lose out as one or two tables in the long end are reserved for the train crew (the conductors room of course being where they store their bags and grip). Also, since the cars shift between the Lake Shore, Meteor and Crescent, they would need to turn all of them.

Trip was OK, got snake bit by a PTC delay northbound of Savannah when moving from the A line to the S line (and changing sub-divisions) so was late to Rocky Mount. Southbound was more or less on time to Tampa. The Angus Cheeseburger for dinner is fine when washed down with a half bottle of cabernet. Went to try the tossed salad southbound but it was frozen (I guess "extra crispy", did get a refund on that). By 8 AM on the southbound trip they were out of breakfast bowls and breakfast sandwiches, so settled for a hot dog. Had some onboard entertainment on the northbound trip when a fight broke out in the coach ahead of the lounge between Southern Pines and Cary. Nobody was arrested. Did enjoy having car attendants I had seen before each way. I make 1-3 trips per year in the east, usually one on Auto Train and 97/98; had not been on 91/92 for a while, and was last on 97/98 last September, so have not "enjoyed" the new "flexible food" yet.

As for changing the schedule of 97/98, that would make sense, especially if they could go back to using 3 sets of cars instead of 4. SAL/SCL and early Amtrak did that for some 40 years. That would reduce car capital and repair cost by 25%, and it is a major chunk of the per-departure cost of running a train (I worked for a Class 1 freight railway, and know a lot about train costs). Earlier north bound departure and a later southbound departure like they had in the early 2000's would work. As for a late arrival in Miami, well, I wonder how many "go all the way" anyway. Plus, those extra cars could generate more revenue when added to another train, like a third set of cars to allow the Cardinal to go daily. Oh, I forgot, that would increase revenue (not in their plan), add cost to run daily (again, spending money to make money not in their plan either), and put more pressure on Sunnyside to turn cars quickly (perhaps costing more, at least on someone's budget).
 

Thirdrail7

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This has been off the table for a few weeks now. We'll see what the new leader says.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Wonder who killed it? Crews seem to like the same day turn around. One thinks the mechanic people were not happy with a quick turn. Operation should love one set of equipment getting available.
 
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