Return to daily service, Feb 15 decision time

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F900ElCapitan

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Since it is approaching in less than a month, I thought it might be a good time to start a discussion.

When Amtrak initially went to tri-weekly service, they established Feb 15 as the day in which they would start to evaluate June bookings (with a % formula form previous years) to re-establish daily service. Do you think they will be able to? Anybody with information that will point one way or the other? I am looking at booking a trip in September and even though tri-weekly service will work, I think the added inventory could lower prices from LB2 or LB3.
 

Devil's Advocate

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What has changed appreciably since they announced the service reductions? I don't need Amtrak to reestablish daily service on February 15th so much as promise us that the moment it's safe for most Americans to travel daily service will return. This predictive formula distraction just creates a chicken-and-egg dilemma that may never be resolved. I'd also love for them to spend this time fixing the broken SL plumbing, improve the ducting, and add HEPA filters.
 
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F900ElCapitan

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What has changed appreciably since they announced the service reductions? I don't need Amtrak to reestablish daily service on February 15th so much as promise us that the moment it's safe for most Americans to travel daily service will return. This predictive formula distraction just creates a chicken-and-egg dilemma that may never be resolved. I'd also love for them to spend this time fixing the broken SL plumbing, improve the ducting, and add HEPA filters.
I agree, and maybe I didn’t articulate it very well, but as I remember Feb 15 was only a date at which Amtrak would start to evaluate the June situation and not be the date for restoration. That date would presumably be sometime in the future.
And yes...the SL’s need some serious love.
 

flitcraft

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The problem is that, as long as the three day a week schedule is in effect, you will never get a true measure of the market for LD trains--it will be depressed by the inconvenience of the inability to leave when you want to and to assure yourself that a snafu mid-trip won't mean spending days in Chicago twiddling your thumbs, probably at your own expense. Even if COVID magically disappeared, you couldn't predict future demand based on bookings made in the three-day-a-week world.
 

west point

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The unfortunate arrival of the Covid-19-B117 variant being more transmissible may cause any decision to be moved several months. Vaccine distribution and to a lesser extent enough vaccines may be an unknown factor now but may change within a month or so. There are too many hiccups that can cause infections and vaccinations to not follow the present expected distribution curves.

If we can both get our Pfizer injections then after a month maybe we will consider an important trip that has been delayed for over a year already.
 
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For the short-term, here is what they need to focus on.
  • Change the current reduced LD schedule to something that makes some sense. The current reduced schedule is just stupid. Fix it.
  • Catch up on maintenance with your rolling stock, since so much of it is back in Beech Grove or could be. Get your “most tired” equipment out of service. If you don’t have the money - figure it out - you have a friendly administration.
  • Have your order ready for Amfleet & Superliner replacements. Be ready to time your appropriation for the best possible moment.
  • Move heaven and earth to get the CHI-DET and CHI-STL corridors up to their currently attainable running speeds and the new Midwest HSR equipment qualified and ready for service as they arrive. Those train sets will be your showcase for what practical new corridors can look like. Again, timing will be everything.
  • Hone your presentation to a razor’s edge on the economic development benefits of rail. That is all Republicans care about - and that is who you must convince to go along. Environmental benefits are a Democratic talking point, but they are already in your corner. Don’t just preach to the choir.
I could go on and on, but this should be a good start.
 

jis

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On a positive note, alot of the states that have been on total lockdown are starting to talk about re opening plans now that joebiden is securely in place
Resrtictions should be lifted based on the science of it, based on the observed sustained reduction in infection rates, and not because a different person occupies the office of the President alone.
 

jis

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Hey, tell them. Not me. I just posted a speculation. imo
I am not telling you anything. I am just posting my opinion on the board in response to a state of affairs in your opinion (apparently) posted by you. So please don't take it so personally. 🤷‍♂️
 
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Resrtictions should be lifted based on the science of it, based on the observed sustained reduction in infection rates, and not because a different person occupies the office of the President alone.
Talking about it more likely refers to having a positive outlook on where the country is headed when it comes to the future of the virus and vaccines to overcome it as well as federal policy to promote and enforce safety (e.g. mask wearing) rather than "we have anew president so let's start easing off". It helps when the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train driven by a maniac with no concern for your safety. Plans were made last summer that were quickly dashed by unhelpful federal policy along with scientific misunderstanding of the situation and how to stop it. Butwe have a vaccine slowly coming, the understanding is a lot better and now we have the beginnings of a federal policy both of which, along with other factors are a good reason to start planning ahead for opening up the country. It's a lot better than the sudden changes of plans by some governors and mayors in the past based on people whining and short term changes in the rates of infections.
 
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What has changed appreciably since they announced the service reductions? I don't need Amtrak to reestablish daily service on February 15th so much as promise us that the moment it's safe for most Americans to travel daily service will return. This predictive formula distraction just creates a chicken-and-egg dilemma that may never be resolved. I'd also love for them to spend this time fixing the broken SL plumbing, improve the ducting, and add HEPA filters.

Agreed! But not exactly chicken and egg decision... it should be made clear that daily service will resume when travel is safe and the pandemic has subsided. But I was under the impression that reduced service would be reinstated when safe and appropriate.

Several issues have surfaced... reduced service... if not restored... could lead to the end of LD all together due to the difficulties for travelers to make do-able personal schedules... mis connects, etc.

In fact, I would like to see added routes and overall upgraded service... the food has become a real problem. We absolutely need to see updated rolling stock... and more than once daily frequency. According to a very recent white paper by Amtrak:

"When will the service be restored?
Our goal is that all Long Distance service will be restored by June 30, 2021 so long as our nation and our company are healthy, consistent with restoration metrics, and sufficient funding assistance is provided by Congress."


In general, the more the government is willing to put into LD, the more passengers will appear in growing numbers. Bottom line is that we must not let this important national travel asset be compromised! 🚄🚆

 
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Agreed! But not exactly chicken and egg decision... it should be made clear that daily service will resume when travel is safe and the pandemic has subsided. But I was under the impression that reduced service would be reinstated when safe and appropriate.

Several issues have surfaced... reduced service... if not restored... could lead to the end of LD all together due to the difficulties for travelers to make do-able personal schedules... mis connects, etc.

In fact, I would like to see added routes and overall upgraded service... the food has become a real problem. We absolutely need to see updated rolling stock... and more than once daily frequency. According to a very recent white paper by Amtrak:

"When will the service be restored?
Our goal is that all Long Distance service will be restored by June 30, 2021 so long as our nation and our company are healthy, consistent with restoration metrics, and sufficient funding assistance is provided by Congress."


In general, the more the government is willing to put into LD, the more passengers will appear in growing numbers. Bottom line is that we must not let this important national travel asset be compromised! 🚄🚆


Here is the full contents of the White Paper described above... its a 5 page PDF.

1611520395197.png
 

Bob Dylan

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On a positive note, alot of the states that have been on total lockdown are starting to talk about re opening plans now that joebiden is securely in place
This would be a mistake, 100,000+ more will die, and the Vaccine program is a Mess ,and lots of Morons are still resisting wearing Masks ,Refusing Vaccines and not Social Distancing!😣

As President Biden Truthfully ( isnt that refreshing!🥰)said, " ..Its gonna get much worse before it starts to get better..:
 

jis

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The first thing to do is to try to convince Biden to include a billion dollars in his COVID emergency bill for Amtrak. For some odd (unknown) reason there is no money in it to support Amtrak through the crisis.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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The first thing to do is to try to convince Biden to include a billion dollars in his COVID emergency bill for Amtrak. For some odd (unknown) reason there is no money in it to support Amtrak through the crisis.
I agree the best way to get service restored is via the relief bill. It is kind of odd that it was left out. Considering that the bill is intended to be immediate aid and there is supposed to be follow up aid for recovery, maybe he intentionally wants to limit intercity travel options until things improve? Airlines were also left out of the bill, although local transit is included, which would make sense if that's his logic since transit is necessary for essential workers and daily needs.
 
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I agree the best way to get service restored is via the relief bill. It is kind of odd that it was left out. Considering that the bill is intended to be immediate aid and there is supposed to be follow up aid for recovery, maybe he intentionally wants to limit intercity travel options until things improve? Airlines were also left out of the bill, although local transit is included, which would make sense if that's his logic since transit is necessary for essential workers and daily needs.
The emergency bill is called such because saving lives, getting food to hungry stomachs, and saving the economy from stumbling into a serious depression are priorities. But I'm sure rail transit is right up there with saving the environment, which is pretty much what we gotta do!
 

Thogo

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I'm all for having as many passenger trains as possible. But... It might be worth a thought to keep the LD trains (except the Palmetto which really should be daily) on a tri-weekly schedule, and instead add daily daytime trips on certain corridors, like SEA-SPK, OKJ-LAX, CHI-MSP, CHI-DEN, DEN-SLC, CHI-KCY, CHI-CIN, CHI-CLE-NFL, BOS-NFL, DAL-SAS, NOL-SAS, NYP-ATL, etc., departing in the morning at each end (some of these corridors might even warrant two daily round-trips). Those can be added one-by-one, whenever post-covid demand warrants it and rolling stock is made available. Stations with lighter traffic could then be skipped by the LD trains and have only the daily daytime train stopping which might accelerate the LD trains a little, too.
 

Ziv

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I am usually too optimistic about tough issues, but the 7 day rolling average of newly diagnosed cases of Covid 19 has been dropping for a little over 2 weeks. It is now down from 265k to 174k, which is 65.6% of its peak level. Worldometer stats.
Also, the 7 day average of vaccinations is up to 1.16Mn per day and rising. This is going to be tested when the pig in the python hits, i.e. the people that got their vaccination in the last two weeks return for their second shot. Then we will find out if the bottleneck was supply of the drugs or the number of personnel needed to administer the jabs. But the amount of shots given per day has been steadily rising, and hopefully the trend in jabs administered per day will continue to rise. So 22.4MN Americans have gotten the jab, which is 6.65% of the US.
Finally, 7.7% of the US population has tested positive for the bug or its antibodies. Since a very large number of people get the bug and are either asymptomatic or get a very mild case, there is a huge number of people with the antibodies (who are generally immune from re-infection) that haven't been tested. So that 7.7% is really 15% or maybe 20% having already had the bug and functionally immune.
6.65% + 15% is 21.65% and 6.65% + 20% is 26.65% so we are looking at 21% to 27% of the population immune to the bug. Plus we are vaccinating 0.3% of the pop every day, or nearly 10% per month. Some form of herd immunity will probably kick in at around 60%, to what extent no-one knows but the simple reduction in people able to get the disease in the coming months means that the disease will probably start to burn out by late Spring, though it won't go away entirely.
My gut is that by mid-April we are going to be feeling a lot better about this. It won't be gone, but it will be something we can deal with. Old folks and those with co-morbidities will have gotten the shot by then and the only people who won't have gotten it will be the anti-vaxxers and the young, and the latter will be able to get it soon. But the weeks to come are going to see a LOT of deaths, here in the US we are barely down 7% from the peak 7 day rolling average of 3418 deaths per day, with todays 7 day rolling average at 3170 deaths per day.
Had to finish with the bad news.
 

jis

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A few minor nits:

1. The number of doses dispensed is not the number of people who have received it. The number of people that have received any shots in the US is 5.25% of the population as of 1/24/21 (source: World In Data website which reports both number of doses and number of people)

2. The set of people who have been infected and the set of people receiving vaccination are not disjoint sets. I have not seen a specific report on the overlap set or its size, but there are significant number of people who have been counted in both sets, including some that tested positive after they received a vaccine shot. The CDC recommends vaccination for all irrespective of whether they have been infected or not because the vaccine is believed to provide a more robust immune response than a mild infection. And it is almost certain that asymptomatic people are receiving vaccines since they are not known to have tested positive anyway.

3. No one is quite sure what the length of effective immunity is. It is believed to be at least 4-6 months.

4. The efficacy of the vaccines being used in the US after receiving both the shots is 94-95% as estimated from Phase III trials. So there is still that 5-6%. So the effective immunity from vaccination is in less than 5% of the population. Afterall, the immunity efficacy after a single shot is believed to be somewhere in the 70-80% ballpark at best, if not lower.
 
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Ziv

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Your points are well taken.
1. I thought that the number of people who had gotten the second jab was going to be small so I ignored it. In fact 3.3Mn people have already gotten the second shot, so 19.1Mn people have had one or both of the jabs, not my earlier number of 22.4. My error.
2. Good points. Again, I dismissed the number as being small enough to not matter but that is not the case.
3. I am hoping the post vaccine immunity will be at least as long as the post infection immunity, which looks to generally be over 10 months, but I haven't seen any really hard data on that. Crossing my fingers that it is longer rather than shorter.
4. More good points.

So this means my wish list for how many vaccines need to be administered per month will have to increase by 10% at least. Here is hoping that we can see a 7 day rolling average of over 2.0Mn shots given daily relatively soon! Getting to 1.5Mn looks to be doable, getting to 2.0Mn will be much more difficult.

A few minor nits:

1. The number of doses dispensed is not the number of people who have received it. The number of people that have received any shots in the US is 5.25% of the population as of 1/24/21 (source: World In Data website which reports both number of doses and number of people)

2. The set of people who have been infected and the set of people receiving vaccination are not a disjoint set. I have not seen a specific report on the overlap set or its size, but there are significant number of people who have been counted in both sets, including some that tested positive after they received a vaccine shot. The CDC recommends vaccination for all irrespective of whether they have been infected or not because the vaccine is believed to provide a more robust immune response than a mild infection. And it is almost certain that asymptomatic people are receiving vaccines since they are not known to have tested positive anyway.

3. No one is quite sure what the length of effective immunity is. It is believed to be at least 4-6 months.

4. The efficacy of the vaccines being used in the US after receiving both the shots is 94-95% as estimated from Phase III trials. So there is still that 5-6%. So the effective immunity from vaccination is in less than 5% of the population. Afterall, the immunity efficacy after a single shot is believed to be somewhere in the 70-80% ballpark at best, if not lower.
 
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