Short Consists of Long Distance Trains

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zephyr17

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I may be wrong but didn't BN actually canceled LD trains enroute at next stop after midnight on Amtrak day ?
No, all enroute trains proceeded to their destinations, the last arriving on May 2, 1971.

You may be confusing it with a rather famous incident a few years earlier on the Burlington (I think), when a local train was up for discontinuance and was stopped right after it got approval. What the railroad was unaware of was that they had stranded a Congressman on a fishing trip. They were quickly made aware.
 

Willbridge

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No, all enroute trains proceeded to their destinations, the last arriving on May 2, 1971.

You may be confusing it with a rather famous incident a few years earlier on the Burlington (I think), when a local train was up for discontinuance and was stopped right after it got approval. What the railroad was unaware of was that they had stranded a Congressman on a fishing trip. They were quickly made aware.
I believe the ill-fated train was the Kansas City - Alliance - Billings service, once known as the Adventureland. It was discontinued in 1969.
 

Oreius

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As I said on another post, I just recently completed a ride on the Silver Star from Philadelphia to Florida. The train was very short for a long-distance, having 2 Amfleet II coaches, 1 lounge, 1VL2 Diner (used for the sleepers) 2 sleepers, and a baggage car as the “caboose.”

I rode the Starlight in mid-September. It only had 7 cars—2 sleepers, 1 diner, 1 dedicated business class coach, SSL and 2 coaches. The last coach was a baggage coach.

I saw the Texas Eagle when I was in Dallas back in May. It only had 5 cars: 1 coach, 1 baggage-coach, 1 CCC, and 2 sleepers!!

This, I’m sure, has been discussed in previous posts. Why the stubby long-distance trains? The Silvers had 6 coaches, lounge, diner, 3 sleepers, and a baggage when I rode back in February. I know Covid-19 was more of an issue in February and so they wanted to keep people spread out. The Star and Meteor shared the same consist; one ran 4X/week, the other the remaining 3X.

My SCA, David, on 91 told me that Amtrak is facing equipment/crew shortages, but that they’re actively hiring and training new Crew. I don’t know what to think..

Are there any other routes that have shorter consists, such as The Crescent, Cardinal, and Southwest Chief?
 

zephyr17

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Every train seems to have a shorter consist.

The Empire Builder typically had 2 Seattle sleepers most of the year and always had 2 Seattle coaches. Now it is back to 1 Seattle sleeper after having a second over the summer, and never got its second Seattle coach after going back to daily. The Starlight was pretty close to a normal consist. The off season Starlight was usually a baggage, transdorm, two sleepers, diner, business class coach, Sightseer, two coaches. The peak season consists (summer and holidays) usually had a third sleeper and third coach.

There are a couple of theories that have been bandied about, but nobody really knows. Basically those theories are based either on Amtrak's management being merely incompetent or Amtrak management being hostile to long distance services, but unable to be as overt as they had been under Anderson due to the current attitude of Congress.

The OBS labor shortage I think most people acknowledge to be genuine and not entirely the fault of management, aside from letting the food service people go, because "Flex Dining" was going to be a big hit, and maintaining a crummy workplace culture that people may not have wanted to return to. People that were furloughed from Amtrak during the service cutbacks just got other jobs and aren't coming back. But the food service people weren't just furloughed back east, their positions were abolished.

Amtrak's incompetence: Equipment shortage due to not maintaining it or inspecting it during the triweekly period. Now they have a backlog of maintenance and just don't have the fleet to run full consists. The fleet was always just barely adequate to meet the schedules anyway, when routine inspections and maintenance were factored in, with little in the way of protection equipment.

Amtrak hostility to long distance services: While the maintenance backlog may well be real, Amtrak wants to depress ridership numbers so they can show justification for discontinuing long distance services when they get a more amenable Congress. The continued presence of Gardner, now COO, who has always been hostile to long distance services, is viewed as an indicator, despite Flynn's better PR skills than Anderson. Suspicion is they are executing a Ben Biaggini strategy of deliberating suppressing patronage to better support discontinuation of services they don't want to provide.

Personally, I believe it is a little of both. Amtrak's management has proven itself spectacularly incompetent in a number of areas, some not relating to railroad operations at all, such as their woeful IT operation. I do believe there remains quite a bit of hostility to long distance services in their C Suite and upper management levels, so they are not going out of their way to get the equipment back in service and get operations ramped up. Finally, there is the long standing attitude of Amtrak management generally where cost containment is the ultimate goal and they are largely blind to revenue enhancement opportunities and even blind to lost revenue as long as costs are cut. My own, very personal and not particularly well grounded, take is the current situation is maybe due to about 70% incompetence and 30% malevolence.
 
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edolan

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Currently with 2 VLIIs on the Meteor, 1 VLII on the Star, and 1 VLII on the LSL — if my math is right there should be 15 VLIIs in use at any time (Amtrak has 25). Keeping 6 of them in reserves at sunny side i think amtrak could easily put one VLII on each crescent set... maybe im wrong... thoughts???
 

jis

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Currently with 2 VLIIs on the Meteor, 1 VLII on the Star, and 1 VLII on the LSL — if my math is right there should be 15 VLIIs in use at any time (Amtrak has 25). Keeping 6 of them in reserves at sunny side i think amtrak could easily put one VLII on each crescent set... maybe im wrong... thoughts???
Yes at least in theory they could put 1 VLII on the Crescent.

Sunnyside typically may keep one or two reserve. The rest would most likely be in Hialeah for periodic service and certification and such. I doubt they will keep any reserve VLII in Chicago or such.

Actually we don;t know for sure how many serviceable VLIIs are available each day on an ongoing basis. They have been having some significant teething troubles including with Air conditioners and the toilet systems.
 

desertflyer

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The CS hasn't been running a transdorm or baggage since 9/10, apparently not coming back until sometime in November. Who knows why.
The CS has been running for at least the last week with a Viewliner baggage at the rear of the train. Still no transdorm from what I can tell. Typical Amtrak oddities. 😂
 
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Oreius

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I walked through the 2nd Coach when the “All Aboard” call was given at DC. There were about 6 people waiting in the vestibule, because it seemed no one was willing to give up their “sacred” second seat! I faced this issue when I boarded a Keystone in Philadelphia to return to Elizabethtown in 2019. I was the last person to board, and every seat in my coach (The Quiet Car) was taken but one. I had to politely ask this young lady if I could sit in that empty seat, and she gave me a nasty look and angrily moved her “junk” off the seat! Why can’t people share any more?

I am a large person, but I can fit comfortably in Amfleet seats if I must share.
 

west point

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Roger Harris of Amtrak addressed RPA September 20. He stated that short consists were due to lack of maintenance personnel to get all equipment back in service. So a check of the Amtrak job site did not show any job openings at BEECH, Wilmington, and bear. As well no maintenance positions at any of the end points of the LD trains including Chicago. The job posting go back for one month. Now there were several locations listed for OBS. Also coach cleaners at NEC locations.

Am composing a letter to sec of transportation asking what is going on.? Here are a couple links that may work which I-ll check once this is posted. Click on September 20 date and scroll down to Roger Harris section and click it..


Rail Passengers Association | Washington, DC - RailNation:DC - Virtual Fall Advocacy Conference | September 19 - 22, 2021
Rail Passengers Association | Washington, DC - Monday, September 20th
 

enviro5609

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Jun 10, 2021
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New York
Today's Texas Eagle arriving into CUS has only three cars...................Yes three Superliner cars. The fiscal numbers are going to be brutal for this train.
There was a trespasser strike last last night/early this morning that took six hours to clear. It may be related, unless more three car trains show up in the coming days.
 

NW cannonball

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Every train seems to have a shorter consist.

The Empire Builder typically had 2 Seattle sleepers most of the year and always had 2 Seattle coaches. Now it is back to 1 Seattle sleeper after having a second over the summer, and never got its second Seattle coach after going back to daily. The Starlight was pretty close to a normal consist. The off season Starlight was usually a baggage, transdorm, two sleepers, diner, business class coach, Sightseer, two coaches. The peak season consists (summer and holidays) usually had a third sleeper and third coach.

There are a couple of theories that have been bandied about, but nobody really knows. Basically those theories are based either on Amtrak's management being merely incompetent or Amtrak management being hostile to long distance services, but unable to be as overt as they had been under Anderson due to the current attitude of Congress.

The OBS labor shortage I think most people acknowledge to be genuine and not entirely the fault of management, aside from letting the food service people go, because "Flex Dining" was going to be a big hit, and maintaining a crummy workplace culture that people may not have wanted to return to. People that were furloughed from Amtrak during the service cutbacks just got other jobs and aren't coming back. But the food service people weren't just furloughed back east, their positions were abolished.

Amtrak's incompetence: Equipment shortage due to not maintaining it or inspecting it during the triweekly period. Now they have a backlog of maintenance and just don't have the fleet to run full consists. The fleet was always just barely adequate to meet the schedules anyway, when routine inspections and maintenance were factored in, with little in the way of protection equipment.

Amtrak hostility to long distance services: While the maintenance backlog may well be real, Amtrak wants to depress ridership numbers so they can show justification for discontinuing long distance services when they get a more amenable Congress. The continued presence of Gardner, now COO, who has always been hostile to long distance services, is viewed as an indicator, despite Flynn's better PR skills than Anderson. Suspicion is they are executing a Ben Biaggini strategy of deliberating suppressing patronage to better support discontinuation of services they don't want to provide.

Personally, I believe it is a little of both. Amtrak's management has proven itself spectacularly incompetent in a number of areas, some not relating to railroad operations at all, such as their woeful IT operation. I do believe there remains quite a bit of hostility to long distance services in their C Suite and upper management levels, so they are not going out of their way to get the equipment back in service and get operations ramped up. Finally, there is the long standing attitude of Amtrak management generally where cost containment is the ultimate goal and they are largely blind to revenue enhancement opportunities and even blind to lost revenue as long as costs are cut. My own, very personal and not particularly well grounded, take is the current situation is maybe due to about 70% incompetence and 30% malevolence.
One minor correction here. On the night of 2021-10-07 I thought I saw WB #7 the Empire Builder near Saint Anthony Interlocking (about 7 miles West of SPUD on the [former GN}) with a Transdorm and two sleepers, followed by the diner and one coach, and the Portland section.
I coulda been hallucinating, but I don't think so.The WB EB (strange concatenation of initialisms?) I see this train at that place 2-3 nights per week.
I'm quite sure I saw a Transition Dorm and two sleepers before the diner and the one Seattle-bound coach. Maybe I got it confused with the 10-06WB EB #7.

A second minor comment -- I didn't see, but friend who was there told me he saw at the Minneapolis GN station back in the real late 1960's the only visible GN employee in the reservation section of their visible front office behind the ticket counter, saw this person just walking around the few desks and when a phone would ring, he'd pick it up and hang it up. - Hearsay anecdote, no clue of veracity.

PS, and OT. The only time I was ever on the GN EB it was EB in the late 1960's (hope the 2-letter-codes not 2 confusing :)
My ticket was from Western Minnesota to the Capital City of Minnesota, Saint Paul. The EB EB was about 1:45 hours late out of blizzard in Montana, as happens sometimes, maybe even this year. The coach seat and the car's suspension was the most comfortable I'd ever rode on a train ( only a dozen previous rides). We were only about 20 minutes late into Saint Paul. Partly schedule padding no doubt. Partly it seemed we were going a "few miles over the limit"
 
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Amtrakfflyer

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Rumors Amtrak wants to and will shortly announce reduction back to 3x weekly service for LD using excuse of can’t hire new employees and abnormally high number of employees facing termination due to refusing vaccine mandate next month…it’s on the other board.
 
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AmtrakBlue

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Rumors Amtrak wants to and will shortly announce reduction back to 3x weekly service for LD using excuse of can’t hire new employees and abnormally number of employees facing termination due to refusing vaccine mandate next month…it’s on the other board.
You sound like you don’t believe that’s a legitimate reason.
 

jis

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Well, if the rumor proves to be correct then that would be the ultimate short consist on a few days :D

You win some, you lose some. Story of life. 🤷‍♂️ 🤷‍♂️
 

Siegmund

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One minor correction here. On the night of 2021-10-07 I thought I saw WB #7 the Empire Builder near Saint Anthony Interlocking (about 7 miles West of SPUD on the [former GN}) with a Transdorm and two sleepers, followed by the diner and one coach, and the Portland section.
I coulda been hallucinating, but I don't think so.The WB EB (strange concatenation of initialisms?) I see this train at that place 2-3 nights per week.
I'm quite sure I saw a Transition Dorm and two sleepers before the diner and the one Seattle-bound coach. Maybe I got it confused with the 10-06WB EB #7.
It is normal for the 2nd sleeper to appear and disappear from one day to the next in shoulder season. In winter it is usually absent.

The 2nd Seattle coach runs somewhat less often than the 2nd Seattle sleeper -- in a pre-covid year it ran most of the summer, but essentially never in winter or shoulder season -- but this year is the only year where I didn't see a 2nd Seattle coach all summer.

I am not 100% sure it is an equipment shortage and not just simple capacity needs...east of Spokane that still gives the Builder 3 coaches. There will just be a lot of people holding tickets reading "27" rather than "7".
 

Cal

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One minor correction here. On the night of 2021-10-07 I thought I saw WB #7 the Empire Builder near Saint Anthony Interlocking (about 7 miles West of SPUD on the [former GN}) with a Transdorm and two sleepers, followed by the diner and one coach, and the Portland section.
I coulda been hallucinating, but I don't think so.The WB EB (strange concatenation of initialisms?) I see this train at that place 2-3 nights per week.
I don't think the EB ever lost it's transdorm
 

joelkfla

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Rumors Amtrak wants to and will shortly announce reduction back to 3x weekly service for LD using excuse of can’t hire new employees and abnormally high number of employees facing termination due to refusing vaccine mandate next month…it’s on the other board.
I thought there was a law against that.
 
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