I'm not sure if there was a change since the last time I took a sleeper on the SWC back in 2019, but at that time the sleepers were not right behind the locomotives. Although I wasn't paying strict attention when I boarded, I think they were near the back because at the station I use (ABQ), the sleeping car passengers were told to wait at the south side of the station in Albuquerque and the coach people were on the north side. The east-bound train which I was taking, first heads north before veering east somewhere around Lamy. Also, any time I have been in sleepers on the SWC, I have not heard train horns or smelled fuel fumes (I sure have smelled other things, if you know what I mean), so I would say if it's true that the sleepers are now at the front, then perhaps the consists are inconsistent. (Pun intended)There are many good points made for and against the authors conclusions ... one thing that stands out though, it does not take any additional rolling stock or trained employees to assemble the consist in a more rational, pleasing arrangement. Placing the sleepers directly behind the engine does seem to be self-defeating and would not cost any additional money to correct.
While management may treat congress as their customer, it is NOT true that Congress IS their customer.Let's never forget that Amtrak's primary customer on the LD trains is congress.
Amtrak has exceptional individuals working for it, but as an organization, the LD passengers are treated somewhere between an inconvenience and and an afterthought.
Item #1: If they furloughed nobody, then the running cars shoul have been given lots of additional maintenance since there were so few of them being used or those sitting should have been maintained and upgraded.To the best of my knowledge, no one in mechanical was furloughed. Amtrak parked the "excess" cars, literally let them bake in the sun with no preventative maintenance for months while all the mechanical folks spread the remaining work around. Not surprisingly, the stuff still running didn't get any additional attention or care.
When new cars are delivered to Hialeah, they aren't immediately ready for service. Acceptance testing, additional field modifications, WiFi installation, etc. needed to be completed before going into service. This has been mentioned here before.
Amtrak sure did explain the change. It's because millennials asked for crap food.
I think this is a case of IT mis-management. There is supposed to be some new, fantastic schedule/route tool on Amtrak.com that generates PDFs on the fly with the latest and greatest schedule information. It's probably a combination of killing the old schedules too early and the new tool getting delayed.
Is this deliberate and intentional? I don't think so. Is it incredibly short-sighted mis-management combined with media relations/marketing spin? Yup.
So by that logic, Congress (via federal subsidies) pays for the travel on most LD lines. How much is debatable depending on the accounting, but they're clearly the single biggest and most important customer.The people that pay for travel are customers.
I think these are all passengers except that NEC riders may not be included on the Savannah run. When I get time I'll look up some more recent years. The year that I picked included the transition from steam to electric heat, although it's hard to find a year that was 'normal'.Are they each total ridership numbers, or is one counting every passenger between city pairs ignoring any intermediate stops.
Indeed.I think like all things, it depends on the route/person.
On my CZ trip, I didn’t enter the SSL the entire first day/night. After Denver however, I spent a considerable amount of time there.
Subsequently though, I found the dining car (which was often empty due to COVID) to be a nice alternative to the overcrowded SSL. I could see out both sides easily, get some work done at a spacious table, and enjoy the scenery just as much.
On a non-scenic route, i really don’t have too much interest in a SSL.
NEW YORK - FLORIDA -- November 1986 = 59,688 // December 1986 = 69,728"From out of the pages of yesteryear!" (Rail Travel News) Riders
NEW YORK - FLORIDA -- November 1981 = 42,410 // December 1981 = 55,642
NEW YORK - SAVANNAH --November 1981 = 10,466 // December 1981 = 14,496
In February '82 the typical consist of the Silver Meteor southbound from Washington, DC was 16 cars to 18 cars, including three sleepers and a Slumbercoach..
NEW YORK - FLORIDA -- November 1996 = 57,587 // December 1996 = missingNEW YORK - FLORIDA -- November 1986 = 59,688 // December 1986 = 69,728
NEW YORK - SAVANNAH --November 1986 = 11,164 // December 1986 = 13,094
A footnote mentions low gas prices then in effect. (Denver and Calgary had lots of vacant office space at that time.)
A consist for the Silver Meteor at Orlando on Feb. 15, 1987 shows four sleepers and a Slumbercoach. A consist for the Silver Star at Jacksonville on Feb. 8th shows three sleepers in service.
Many of the other LD services are also self-sustaining (specifically: every reputable outside analysis says the Lake Shore Limited, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Palmetto and Coast Starlight are), but this is obscured by Amtrak's deliberately fraudulent "allocations" accounting system (which was instituted decades back for various political reasons which are no longer relevant, but is still staggering on like a zombie).There's a reason that the Auto Train was mostly untouched as a product during COVID and that's because it's mostly self-sustaining. All the other LD services suffered.
Here's February 2001:NEW YORK - FLORIDA -- November 1996 = 57,587 // December 1996 = missing
The Royal Palm began service on Nov. 10th. Between Amtrak's erratic release of ridership stats and RTN's erratic publication dates and the news hole required to cover the major service cuts about to occur, I haven't found Dec '96.
Can you cite at least one reputable outside analysis that backs this up? The only analyses people cite are articles that do a worse job of error-prone cherry-picking to suit their point than what's presented in Amtrak's "materially good enough" Audited Financial Statements. Just because Amtrak lies doesn't somehow make these services self-sustaining.Many of the other LD services are also self-sustaining (specifically: every reputable outside analysis says the Lake Shore Limited, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Palmetto and Coast Starlight are),
Has RPA made any headway with a more receptive Congress on recognizing this as a flawed metric? I am guessing Amtrak management has no desire to change their thinking but this might have to be anotehr case of Amtrak forcing them to rethink.Many of the other LD services are also self-sustaining (specifically: every reputable outside analysis says the Lake Shore Limited, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Palmetto and Coast Starlight are), but this is obscured by Amtrak's deliberately fraudulent "allocations" accounting system (which was instituted decades back for various political reasons which are no longer relevant, but is still staggering on like a zombie).
The incompetence is quite serious: people near the top of Amtrak management, and in Congress, believe the fake numbers unless there's pushback against them, and make business decisions based on the fake numbers. Managing based on fake numbers is how the Rock Island Railroad abandoned the profitable part of their system and kept the unprofitable part -- it really is a bad thing to manage based on false numbers.
Smiling Joe Boardman once upon a time had a PowerPoint presentation that show profitable for some of this routes in question.
As for why Amtrak is the only operator might due with operations authorization, equipment, and liability protection.
I would think that all LD trains have the potential to make a profit. I mean the Sunset hits six population centers and can be relatively fast if it loses it's padding.My candidates are Silvers, Crescent ATL - NEC (requires dropping cars at ATL ) LSL, Empire Builder, Cal Z.
Sure, check anything which doesn't include "allocated costs". They're marginal-cost profitable and even Amtrak has admitted this when pressed on it.Can you cite at least one reputable outside analysis that backs this up?
Absolute ignorant nonsense.If they were >100% farebox recovery services, then they wouldn't need a subsidy, wouldn't have been cut and would likely be run by private entities.
Can you provide an actual link to a document that provides actual numbers?Sure, check anything which doesn't include "allocated costs".
Please cite anything that says this. And by cite I mean provide a link to a document, page, testimony, financials, anything.They're marginal-cost profitable and even Amtrak has admitted this when pressed on it.
Actually, the AT is a great example of a train that has been profitable running completely independently. It has its own resources for everything. It was a perfectly designed business.NO SINGLE TRAIN, including the Auto Train, can cover the overhead of running a passenger rail system by itself.
Amtrak is not Walmart. It's not a business selling discounted widgets with low margins that makes up for it in bulk.The only way to cover overhead is to have a *large system* so that you can have economies of scale. (This is also part of why all the freight railroads are trending towards giant monopolies.)
I know this is confusing to people who don't understand accounting, but gross profit (before fixed expenses) is not the same as net profit (after fixed expenses) and it really doesn't matter if you can't cover your fixed expenses.I know this is confusing to people who don't actually understand business, but you can have each individual product be profitable and have the business as a whole not be profitable due to not having enough economies of scale.
The fact is Amtrak collects billions of dollars in subsidies and still loses money.The fact is that each individual train is profitable and covers its own marginal costs (with a few exceptions, notably the Sunset Limited) but the overall business is not profitable.
The point of running the LD trains is not to make a profit and never has been. Amtrak was brought into existence by the US government to relieve railroads of their obligations to run these money-losing services.I would think that all LD trains have the potential to make a profit.