Sold out rooms/ Insane high fare buckets

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dlagrua

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I get the whole idea of supply and demand with Amtrak Should it be that way with public transportation? I think not, but thats a debate for a different day. It should be noted that the formula of supply and demand doesn't always hold true. An investigative reporter did an inquiry as to why lumber prices were going through the roof. What he found was that the prices of raw lumber, the lumberjacks, the saw mills and the trucking companies were making/charging no more money than they were 5 years ago BUT the profit of the large lumber corporations like Weyerhauser went up over 250% over the same period last year. Strong supply, no shortage just higher prices. Lets hope that Amtrak won't buy into that philosophy.
 

Exvalley

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I suppose airlines do adjust their schedules from time to time, but I think it's fairly limited. As far as I know, most airlines fly approximately the same total number of planes summer and winter. Like Amtrak, airlines are much more likely to adjust supply to demand by raising or lowering fares accordingly. It's not smart business practice to maintain large numbers of planes (or railcars) for use only during peak periods.
Airlines use their equipment to the maximum extent possible. They don't want planes sitting on the tarmac for any longer than is necessary.

But what you are missing is that, within that context, airlines are MUCH more nimble in how they allocate their planes. Planes that fly business routes on Monday fly leisure routes on Saturday. And if the Superbowl is in town, some planes are going to be pulled off of their regular schedule to meet demand in the Superbowl city. Lots more planes fly to southern destinations in the winter than in the summer.

Or look at the cruise lines. They move ships seasonally to go where the demand is. Far fewer ships sail the Caribbean in the summer. They move those ships to Europe and Alaska, among other places.

Does Amtrak add any significant capacity to Florida in the winter? Nope. Do they add it to the western routes in peak summer? Nope. To be fair, their ability to do so is hampered by the lack of fleet consistency - but that choice is another example of a choice that a true for-profit corporation probably wouldn't have made.

True for-profit corporations are MUCH more nimble than Amtrak. So if you want to talk about how Amtrak is run like a for-profit corporation, your first question should be, "Why isn't Amtrak actually run like a for-profit corporation?" It seems like the only time Amtrak actually wants to run like a for-profit corporation is when they are cutting things that make the customer experience better. They leave a whole lot of money on the table in other ways.
 
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AmtrakBlue

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I get the whole idea of supply and demand with Amtrak Should it be that way with public transportation? I think not, but thats a debate for a different day. It should be noted that the formula of supply and demand doesn't always hold true. An investigative reporter did an inquiry as to why lumber prices were going through the roof. What he found was that the prices of raw lumber, the lumberjacks, the saw mills and the trucking companies were making/charging no more money than they were 5 years ago BUT the profit of the large lumber corporations like Weyerhauser went up over 250% over the same period last year. Strong supply, no shortage just higher prices. Lets hope that Amtrak won't buy into that philosophy.
 

saxman

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I've only seen this mentioned a couple of times. A big reason why sleepers are expensive is that Amtrak hasn't returned many of the TransDorms back to service! I know the Texas Eagle and Sunset Ltd aren't using one taking up valuable roomette space for crew. I'm pretty sure the CONO, Cap, and maybe the SWC aren't running one either. The Starlight just got theirs back too. I'll admit I haven't checked on consists lately, so I could be wrong. I'll have to check youtube. Amtrak in their infinite wisdom parked many Dorm cars and now they have to be inspected at certain terminals to be put back in service. Apparently this is a big process. This is the same problem for the Sightseer Lounge cars.
 

OBS

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I've only seen this mentioned a couple of times. A big reason why sleepers are expensive is that Amtrak hasn't returned many of the TransDorms back to service! I know the Texas Eagle and Sunset Ltd aren't using one taking up valuable roomette space for crew. I'm pretty sure the CONO, Cap, and maybe the SWC aren't running one either. The Starlight just got theirs back too. I'll admit I haven't checked on consists lately, so I could be wrong. I'll have to check youtube. Amtrak in their infinite wisdom parked many Dorm cars and now they have to be inspected at certain terminals to be put back in service. Apparently this is a big process. This is the same problem for the Sightseer Lounge cars.
Except, unless these cars are due for their 4 yr air brake inspection, it is not a big deal to get them inspected and back in service...
 

jis

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Apparently not much regular maintenance was carried out on equipment sidelined during the COVID crisis in order to preserve cash to stay afloat until Congress came through. Now it is a maintenance catchup game.
Except, unless these cars are due for their 4 yr air brake inspection, it is not a big deal to get them inspected and back in service...
Indeed. It should really not take that long once they get going and upto speed on normal maintenance. Of course, I have no idea how many had their 4 year cycle postponed through the COVID year either.
 

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How many airlines need special approval from another airline to add an extra flight for a special event? How many airlines suffer routine hull loss by commercial trucks and construction equipment fouling taxiways? How many airlines are saddled with domestic manufacturing requirements or have to wait ten years for an order to materialize? An airline can lease extra aircraft in a pinch and borrow against future earnings to increase the fleet size which Amtrak cannot.
 

jis

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How many airlines need special approval from another airline to add an extra flight for a special event? How many airlines suffer routine hull loss by commercial trucks and construction equipment fouling taxiways? How many airlines are saddled with domestic manufacturing requirements or have to wait ten years for an order to materialize? An airline can lease extra aircraft in a pinch and borrow against future earnings to increase the fleet size which Amtrak cannot.
Yes. I agree that some of the criticism leveled against Amtrak regarding quick redeployment of equipment is borne out of ignorance of the issues involved, and flailing against stuff that seems not to ones immediate liking.
 

Exvalley

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How many airlines need special approval from another airline to add an extra flight for a special event? How many airlines suffer routine hull loss by commercial trucks and construction equipment fouling taxiways? How many airlines are saddled with domestic manufacturing requirements or have to wait ten years for an order to materialize? An airline can lease extra aircraft in a pinch and borrow against future earnings to increase the fleet size which Amtrak cannot.
You missed what I was saying. Let me make it clearer. I wasn't attributing fault. My point was that Amtrak, due to a variety of circumstances, is NOT run like most for-profit companies - even if the law says that they should be. You have given some of the reasons why Amtrak leaves money on the table. (Although plenty of aircraft are hit by equipment on the ground.) That said, as a result of these challenges, in many ways the Amtrak corporate culture has probably atrophied compared to a genuine for-profit corporation. I am going to go out on a limb and say that you don't go work for Amtrak's corporate office because you value a nimble and dynamic company.
 
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Tlcooper93

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You missed what I was saying. Let me make it clearer for you. I wasn't attributing fault. My point was that Amtrak, due to a variety of circumstances, is NOT run like most for-profit companies - even if the law says that they should be. You have given some of the reasons why Amtrak leaves money on the table. (Although plenty of aircraft are hit by equipment on the ground.) That said, as a result of these challenges, in many ways the Amtrak corporate culture has probably atrophied compared to a genuine for-profit corporation.
I really never the saw the point of constantly comparing Amtrak and legacy airlines.

Does Amtrak add any significant capacity to Florida in the winter? Nope. Do they add it to the western routes in peak summer? Nope. To be fair, their ability to do so is hampered by the lack of fleet consistency - but that choice is another example of a choice that a true for-profit corporation probably wouldn't have made.
The problem warrents a bigger admission of legitimacy than, "being fair" and acknowledging fleet inconsistency.
The only way I can see more (than usual) rolling stock being deployed seasonally is with Autotrain/western routes.
There's that pesky problem of Amfleet vs. Superliners vs. Viewliners (not to mention platform heights), which I guess is an inherited issue in some ways.

Redeploying aircraft is not very difficult to do, and really the only problems to consider are fuel, pilot hours, and weekly hours fitting in with/leading up to scheduled A/B/C checks.

I suppose Amtrak could deadhead more cars than they do, but we talk about these things as if someone isn't already thinking about it.

One elephant in the room is the issue that being run as a true for-profit company will NOT fix is the fact that people in this country, for any number of reasons, don't take the train. I was talking to my dad the other night about a trip he took on the bus from Boston to Springfield. I mentioned there being one train a day, and he simply replied, "it never occured to me to take the train."

Trains are not really a part of American culture, and it's hard to run a for-profit company where there is no desire to purchase the product.
 
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jimdex

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Does Amtrak add any significant capacity to Florida in the winter? Nope. Do they add it to the western routes in peak summer? Nope. To be fair, their ability to do so is hampered by the lack of fleet consistency - but that choice is another example of a choice that a true for-profit corporation probably wouldn't have made.
I believe some western trains DO get extra cars in the summer. And Amtrak DOES find ways to add cars to some regional trains during the Thanksgiving rush. You suggest that standardizing the fleet would make it possible to shift cars back-and-forth between the Florida trains and the western trains, but there may not be as strong a business case for standardization as you think. It would require standardizing with single-level cars that can operate in the east, and if they stopped using double-deck cars on the western trains, that would presumably mean giving up a lot of capacity. What I might suggest is reviving the wintertime-only Florida Special, and having it operate only between Florida and Washington so it could use Superliners from the western trains.
 

jis

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In the past Amtrak has added extra Coaches to Florida trains during high season. This year is an oddity. We'll see how it unforlds. Right now they don't even have the usual three Coaches on the Silvers. I don;t know what gives.

Sleepers used to be a different story since there were very few surpluses floating around. With the V-IIs deployed they should have more flexibility after they catch up on deferred mainetance from the COVID year. So we'll have to wait and see.
 

Exvalley

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One elephant in the room is the issue that being run as a true for-profit company will NOT fix is the fact that people in this country, for any number of reasons, don't take the train.
Generally speaking, I agree with you. But corridors can definitely be an exception to that rule. If there was a genuine Boston to Albany corridor with several trains per day that ran in a timely manner, I bet that your father would have considered taking the train to Springfield. But instead we have one train per day between Boston and Albany that takes twice as long as driving.

It's a chicken and egg dilemma. Demand is not there, so the infrastructure is not built. But demand is not there because the infrastructure doesn't exist. Yet another reason why Amtrak should not be run as a for-profit company.
 

Exvalley

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It's almost as if, with their newfound focus on corridors, Amtrak is doing the exact thing that you're claiming they can't.
My point was that Amtrak is not as nimble and innovative as a true for-profit company needs to be if a for-profit company is to survive.

It’s taken Amtrak a half of a century to become serious about building out corridors. And as of now it’s a thought and nothing more.

If you think that’s evidence that Amtrak is generally as nimble and innovative as a typical for-profit company, we will have to respectfully disagree.
 

lstone19

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I suppose airlines do adjust their schedules from time to time, but I think it's fairly limited. As far as I know, most airlines fly approximately the same total number of planes summer and winter. Like Amtrak, airlines are much more likely to adjust supply to demand by raising or lowering fares accordingly. It's not smart business practice to maintain large numbers of planes (or railcars) for use only during peak periods.
As someone who worked in airline scheduling (now retired), your first sentence is about 180 degrees from the truth. Airline schedules are developed in periods of one to two months (sometimes shorter such as the holiday schedule which might run from only around 12/20 to 1/4). While there might be a certain sameness to the basic structure, fleeting (assigning the airplane subfleet that will fly a flight) is done with every schedule and specific times are tweaked every schedule based on history and expected congestion and other issues). And despite a consistent fleet size, frequency can and will be added or removed from a market in response to customer demand and competitive issue.

And as the last sentence above says, while no airline keeps surplus fleet for peak periods, available fleet can be increased at peak times by not scheduling major maintenance (maintenance that requires the plane to be out of service for multiple days) during those periods. And that also keeps the maintenance division employees happy as more vacation time (which they bid for based on seniority) can be allocated to those peak periods.
 

Ryan

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My point was that Amtrak is not as nimble and innovative as a true for-profit company needs to be if a for-profit company is to survive.
It looks like this was your point:

Is Amtrak required to be run like a for-profit company? Sure. But the people who point out that law and say nothing else are ignoring the reality.
What reality are the people that point out that law ignoring? When pointing out the law, it's a response to "they're a public service and therefore prices should be cheaper". Is anyone saying that Amtrak is as nimble or innovative as other for-profit companies such as airlines? Obviously not. They're hampered by things like this:
How many airlines need special approval from another airline to add an extra flight for a special event? How many airlines suffer routine hull loss by commercial trucks and construction equipment fouling taxiways? How many airlines are saddled with domestic manufacturing requirements or have to wait ten years for an order to materialize? An airline can lease extra aircraft in a pinch and borrow against future earnings to increase the fleet size which Amtrak cannot.
So, back to your original point, what reality is being ignored, and who is doing the ignoring?
 

jimdex

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As someone who worked in airline scheduling (now retired), your first sentence is about 180 degrees from the truth. Airline schedules are developed in periods of one to two months (sometimes shorter such as the holiday schedule which might run from only around 12/20 to 1/4).
I stand corrected then.
 

Tlcooper93

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So then I guess a question worth answering is:
To extent could Amtrak alter their scheduling/route saturation to respond to demand? Is Amtrak already doing all they can with their slot/fleet/track limitations?
 

Exvalley

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So then I guess a question worth answering is:
To extent could Amtrak alter their scheduling/route saturation to respond to demand? Is Amtrak already doing all they can with their slot/fleet/track limitations?
There isn't a whole lot they can do immediately. They had 50 years to work on the problem, but they can certainly start now. It will take an omnibus plan that will include lobbying for preferable legislation, equipment funding, etc.
 

jis

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As of today the Meteor has been restored to its normal complement of 4 Coaches and 3 Sleepers. Allegedly the Star will be restored too in the near future.

Apparently they took all the Coaches that were in circulation and redistributed them to make all the trains daily while they worked on taking cars parked at JAX and Lorton to brush them up and bring them on line. As they come back on line capacity is being restored.
 
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AMTRAK709

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I have a question about sleeping cars sales and pricing to anyone who may know. These days, does the conductor on the train have any flexibility in pricing a sleeper upgrade if available?? My reason for asking is this: ATN-NYP on the Crescent tomorrow I have a roomette but really wanted a bedroom. Now, today, this minute: the 2 accessible bedrooms are still available but at a price tag of $940 + rail fare. $1128.10 fare one way Anniston to New York is just a little outrageous. I guess!!?? As a side note: the Crescent left NOL today with at least one empty bedroom but the fare is still the $1128.10 today if I were to get on in ATN today. My roomette price was only $208. I am just speculating for tomorrow's trip.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I have a question about sleeping cars sales and pricing to anyone who may know. These days, does the conductor on the train have any flexibility in pricing a sleeper upgrade if available?? My reason for asking is this: ATN-NYP on the Crescent tomorrow I have a roomette but really wanted a bedroom. Now, today, this minute: the 2 accessible bedrooms are still available but at a price tag of $940 + rail fare. $1128.10 fare one way Anniston to New York is just a little outrageous. I guess!!?? As a side note: the Crescent left NOL today with at least one empty bedroom but the fare is still the $1128.10 today if I were to get on in ATN today. My roomette price was only $208. I am just speculating for tomorrow's trip.
The conductor no longer sells rooms. You would be told to call, or use the app, to upgrade. And you would be paying that higher cost. That room may disappear if someone made a bid that Amtrak accepted.
 
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