Short Consists of Long Distance Trains

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me_little_me

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We can debate and bash each other endlessly on here. The fact of the matter is Amtrak management sucks. Whether it’s for incompetence, nefarious motives, or just not being savvy enough to deal with the hand they've been given, they need to be replaced. The time for benefit of the doubt has long since passed.
What I've been saying for years.
 

frequentflyer

OBS Chief
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946
So why are Amfleet II coaches on midwest local trains and not on the LDs trains in the East? What happened to the Horizon cars? Finally gave out?
 

Just-Thinking-51

Very bored and cranky pundit
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Horizon are on the Talgo routes after Washington State had a bad accident, and refused to use the Amtrak own equipment. Amtrak pledge to deploy them there.

The delays in equipment from suppliers are causing intriguing deployments. Or go with the conspiracy theory on this one.
 

Larry H.

Conductor
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The discussion about how the old railroads tried to discourage passengers and also make the trains look like losers is something I ran into several times. The most interesting scheme was I think the Great Northern running the Empire Builder and claiming loses and low demand. We had taken a trip to Canada, and then the Canadian National to Vancouver. Instead of returning the same route we decided to drop down to the states and take the Empire Builder. When the agent in Canada called down for a reservation of a sleeping space he was told it sold out. He tired for a couple hours to get us a room and finally said, take the train from here to Washington State and you can get off at a stop it comes too after leaving Seatle ( I forget the name). He told us to tell the conductor we wanted a room and he was pretty sure they would have one. We waited and when the train pulled in it had five pullman cars.. As we were told the Conductor sold us a room.. When we boarded we discovered that almost no one was in the sleepers. We met a woman in the lounge and we were saying how we were told the train was sold out. She turned out to be the wife of the Treasure for the Great Northern. She told us how they were playing games with the ridership. She said they called a couple months out to be sure to get a room. They were told however you couldn't book a reservation until 30 days out. When the 30 days came she called back for a room and was told it was now sold out! So they were running nearly empty passenger cars although there was a demand but simply wanted out of the passenger business. On that trip the signs were put up in the cars notifying the public that in 30 days the train would be no longer run by them, but by the United States Government.
 

Larry H.

Conductor
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Dec 22, 2006
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1,028
The Superliners toilet issue has been going on for a very long time, yet evidently its not be fixed? When we returned home from California, Los Angels, the Southwest Chief toilet in our car quit flushing. Once in a while the Conductor would go downstairs and make some adjustment that let them work a time or two a day. My moms Bedroom never had a working toilet after the first day out. We were told by the attendant that in order to save money when they upgraded the cars they went from two vacuum's to one that made the toilets work. They were especially prone to stopping in higher altitudes. We wrote and complained about it when we got home and they gave us a voucher for 1,000 toward another trip. By now that trip would have been probably 8 years of so back.. Funny that knowing what the issue is they have not bothered to fix it?
 

Railspike

Train Attendant
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Nov 29, 2020
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Location
Houston
Noticed the SWC (#3) has a Transition Sleeper behind the engine today but the baggage car was still on the rear. ???? Go figure.
 

The Commissioner

Train Attendant
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May 4, 2010
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Mr. Selden wrote:

The marshalling order of the train reflects a subtle but calculated effort to run off the highest-revenue passengers. The Chief carries its sleepers at the front of the train, coupled directly to the locomotives, and trails a new CAF-built baggage car at the rear. This arrangement guarantees that sleeping car passengers will get to hear the engine’s horn all night at very close range, and that diesel exhaust fumes will enter the lead sleeper. That is a “never again” experience for many customers.

His conclusion that listening to the locomotive horn all night for sleeping car passengers is a "never again experience" tracks (no pun intended) with my avoidance of shelling out big bucks for another overnight trip on Amtrak when the sleepers are coupled to the head end. My last round trip was on the CONO in the car next to the locomotive. Even with ear plugs the noise was unbearable. The fact that Amtrak puts the highest priced accommodations in the noisiest place on the train is beyond explanation. I am not sure that Amtrak is trying to "sabotage' their long distance service but when they make the high paying customers miserable then they are definitely sabotaging their value proposition.
 

Oreius

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 5, 2012
Messages
564
Horizon are on the Talgo routes after Washington State had a bad accident, and refused to use the Amtrak own equipment. Amtrak pledge to deploy them there.
When I was scouting Seattle Station today, I saw a Cascades train with Horizon cars. It had a Cascades F40PH hauling it. I thought it was weird, since the Cascades operate as Talgo train sets..
 

zephyr17

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Washington State
When I was scouting Seattle Station today, I saw a Cascades train with Horizon cars. It had a Cascades F40PH hauling it. I thought it was weird, since the Cascades operate as Talgo train sets..
Not any more.

The Talgo 6s that Washington and Amtrak owned were retired a couple of years ago. That was in response to the NTSB recommendations after the Nisqually wreck since the 6s were operating a under an FRA waiver because they were not FRA compliant.

The Talgo 6s were sold for scrap and were scrapped some time ago.

The only remaining Talgos are the two FRA compliant Talgo 8 sets bought by Oregon, which are not enough to cover the service. Horizons are the normal, regularly assigned equipment on the Cascades now and have been for awhile until the Siemens Venture cars arrive that Washington ordered for Cascades service.

Do not expect to see another Talgo order for the Cascades. Aside from the economics of scale achieved in using the new standard Amtrak corridor cars there is very bad blood between WashDOT and Talgo. WashDOT won't have anything to do with them anymore.
 
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Cal

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The fact that Amtrak puts the highest priced accommodations in the noisiest place on the train is beyond explanation
Beyond explanation? There's a fairly simply explanation. They usually run the baggage car in front, and when they do it makes sense to put the transdorm right behind it so they can access it while moving. And it gives staff the spot closest to the engine so they, who are probably used to the noise, can deal with it. Now when they are running without transdorms and baggage cars, they didn't just want to switch the consist on half their trains (although probably wouldn't be the worst idea) and so they stuck with it.
 

Cal

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Not any more.

The Talgo 6s that Washington and Amtrak owned were retired a couple of years ago. That was in response to the NTSB recommendations after the Nisqually wreck since the 6s were operating a under an FRA waiver because they were not FRA compliant.

The Talgo 6s were sold for scrap and were scrapped some time ago.

The only remaining Talgos are the two FRA compliant Talgo 8 sets bought by Oregon, which are not enough to cover the service. Horizons are the normal, regularly assigned equipment on the Cascades now and have been for awhile until the Siemens Venture cars arrive that Washington ordered for Cascades service.

Do not expect to see another Talgo order for the Cascades. Aside from the economics of scale achieved in using the new standard Amtrak corridor cars there is very bad blood between WashDOT and Talgo. WashDOT won't have anything to do with them anymore.
Why did that wreck push them to retire the 6s? And what happened between WashDOT and Talgo?
 

zephyr17

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Washington State
Why did that wreck push them to retire the 6s? And what happened between WashDOT and Talgo?
The 6s did not meet FRA requirements on wheelset retention. They were operating under an FRA waiver and the waiver required use of nylon strapping to improve retention. The concern was that the wheelsets would come loose during a "high energy event" (translation: bad crash).

And some did break free in the Nisqually wreck. One of them nailed a car on I 5, IIRC.

NTSB investigation showed that the straps had never been inspected or replaced after initial installation. Testing showed they were only at 50% strength.

As part of their final report recommendations, the NTSB recommended immediate retirement of the Talgo 6s, due to that. It was found that the wheelsets coming loose directly contributed to the injuries and loss of life from the accident.

Washington DOT stated that they intended to follow the recommendations as quickly as they could. The service cutback caused by the pandemic allowed them to follow through on it.

As far as the bad blood goes, that was largely around the maintainence contracts that Talgo required. It boosted costs and Talgo was adamant about them. The wreck and the NTSB report did not help anything, but the issues between them were already there. Their immobility on the maintenance issue pretty much wound up costing them their North American market entirely.
 
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Cal

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Socal
The 6s did not meet FRA requirements on wheelset retention. They were operating under an FRA waiver and the waiver required use of nylon strapping to improve retention. The concern was that the wheelsets would come loose during a "high energy event" (translation: bad crash).

And some did break free in the Nisqually wreck. One of them nailed a car on I 5, IIRC.

NTSB investigation showed that the straps had never been inspected or replaced after initial installation. Testing showed they were only at 50% strength.

As part of their final report recommendations, the NTSB recommended immediate retirement Talgo 6s, due to that. It was found that the wheelsets coming loose directly contributed to the injuries and loss of life from the accident.

Washington DOT stated that they intended to follow the recommendations as quickly as they could. The service cutback caused by the pandemic allowed them to follow through on it.

As far as the bad blood goes, that was largely around the maintainence contracts that Talgo required. It boosted costs and Talgo was adamant about them. The wreck and the NTSB report did not help anything, but the issues between them were already there. Their immobility on the maintenance issue wound up pretty much costing them their North American market entirely.
Thanks, quick and easy explanation.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
5,367
Location
Washington State
The discussion about how the old railroads tried to discourage passengers and also make the trains look like losers is something I ran into several times. The most interesting scheme was I think the Great Northern running the Empire Builder and claiming loses and low demand. We had taken a trip to Canada, and then the Canadian National to Vancouver. Instead of returning the same route we decided to drop down to the states and take the Empire Builder. When the agent in Canada called down for a reservation of a sleeping space he was told it sold out. He tired for a couple hours to get us a room and finally said, take the train from here to Washington State and you can get off at a stop it comes too after leaving Seatle ( I forget the name). He told us to tell the conductor we wanted a room and he was pretty sure they would have one. We waited and when the train pulled in it had five pullman cars.. As we were told the Conductor sold us a room.. When we boarded we discovered that almost no one was in the sleepers. We met a woman in the lounge and we were saying how we were told the train was sold out. She turned out to be the wife of the Treasure for the Great Northern. She told us how they were playing games with the ridership. She said they called a couple months out to be sure to get a room. They were told however you couldn't book a reservation until 30 days out. When the 30 days came she called back for a room and was told it was now sold out! So they were running nearly empty passenger cars although there was a demand but simply wanted out of the passenger business. On that trip the signs were put up in the cars notifying the public that in 30 days the train would be no longer run by them, but by the United States Government.
That sounds like an Espee move. I know Espee pulled crap like that, I thought GN had more class.

Santa Fe and UP never pulled those stunts.

BTW, if there was a notice that the "US government" was going to run the trains, that sounds like it is a dim memory of a notice for the start of Amtrak on 5/1/71. If that is the case, it was a Burlington Northern operation by 1971, not GN.
 
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me_little_me

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Beyond explanation? There's a fairly simply explanation. They usually run the baggage car in front, and when they do it makes sense to put the transdorm right behind it so they can access it while moving. And it gives staff the spot closest to the engine so they, who are probably used to the noise, can deal with it. Now when they are running without transdorms and baggage cars, they didn't just want to switch the consist on half their trains (although probably wouldn't be the worst idea) and so they stuck with it.
So the real explanation is much simpler:

"We at Amtrak care so little about our customers that we will avoid doing something different for the benefit of our best ones, much less the rest of them"
 

ShiningTimeStL

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2019
Messages
63
Or not, I thought the CL went from four to give cars, seems it had five this whole time.

I read through this whole thing and it sounds like the equipment situation across the entire system is practically a disaster, and yet, Amtrak decides to take the time to refurbish the entire superliner fleet. My guess is that they're doing necessary maintenance simultaneously with the interior refresh. Who knows, maybe all of this will have been worth it when we receive refreshed cars with regularly working plumbing and electricity. If there's a conspiracy against LD service, why bring back traditional dining and why go through all the effort for the interior refresh? And not just on the CZ and EB, but on the whole fleet!

I'm gonna go with what others here have suggested that we could see traditional dining return to the Eagle soon, and more cars added to consists by next spring and summer. I was thinking that too.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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That sounds like an Espee move. I know Espee pulled crap like that, I thought GN had more class.

Santa Fe and UP never pulled those stunts.

BTW, if there was a notice that the "US government" was going to run the trains, that sounds like it is a dim memory of a notice for the start of Amtrak on 5/1/71. If that is the case, it was a Burlington Northern operation by 1971, not GN.
From the information provided in the original post, the BN merger had already taken place and Louis Menk -- a known passenger opponent -- was in charge of the merged company. If he had more time prior to the introduction of Amtrak he might have been able to do more damage, To the end, GN provided good service.

In Portland from the mid-1960's we could see the whole panorama:

SP = loathed passengers, customers were made aware of it.
UP = didn't innovate, scaled back advertising, provided good service to those who found them. Didn't permit excursions on branch lines.
NP = welcomed passengers, did some innovations. No problem booking excursions.
GN = welcomed passengers, did some innovations.
SP&S = welcomed passengers, no problem booking excursions. Joined with NP in promotions.

The interesting thing is that in this era the Northern lines were able to discontinue trains more easily than the UP or SP. And they paid dividends.

---_0276.jpg
 
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desertflyer

Lead Service Attendant
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San Francisco
If anyone wanted proof, yesterdays 14 confirms it. No transdorm
The CS hasn't been running a transdorm or baggage since 9/10, apparently not coming back until sometime in November. Who knows why. It doesn't stop them from charging $20 to check a bike that is going to fall all over the place in the coach baggage, which lacks any sort of bike rack/straps.

20210910_153812.jpg
Here was train 11 in SLO on 9/10. At least they put the cover on the door to reduce diesel fumes (engine 23 is very smoky).
 
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