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Triweekly service will be overshadowed by drop in revenue

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tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
125
This on Trains magazine about the recent move to cut services

"
WASHINGTON — Any savings Amtrak management may achieve by reducing most long-distance trains to triweekly service will be overshadowed by a precipitous drop in revenue, additional unforeseen expenses, and a crippled ability to restart service.


That assessment is the consensus of former Amtrak managers contacted by Trains News Wire: former president and CEOs Thomas Downs and David Gunn; former vice president of transportation Bob Vander Clute; and two product line managers responsible for growing revenue and managing costs in the mid-1990s, when many long-distance train frequencies were reduced in a bid to cut expenses while promising to keep routes intact. "


 

jruff001

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
74
What do people here propose doing to address the 85% drop in ridership and immediate and severe cash flow problem Amtrak is facing? Just keep running mostly-empty trains around the country on their current schedules until the cash runs out and then simply shut down?
 

John Santos

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
87
What do people here propose doing to address the 85% drop in ridership and immediate and severe cash flow problem Amtrak is facing? Just keep running mostly-empty trains around the country on their current schedules until the cash runs out and then simply shut down?
What would make sense to me would be to take about half the cars out of service, reducing capacity to about 50%, and still leaving plenty of room for distancing, but keeping all the trains on the normal schedule.
The out-of-service cars could be cleaned inside and out, refurbished, updated, made almost new again (and painted!) When done, swap them in for the other 50% of the cars and repeat. When the pandemic is over, they could put all the cars back in service as a "like new" fleet. It would cost more, because they would have to pay crews and station personnel, but they probably have to pay most of them anyway and they wouldn't need as many.
 

jruff001

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
74
What would make sense to me would be to take about half the cars out of service, reducing capacity to about 50%, and still leaving plenty of room for distancing, but keeping all the trains on the normal schedule.
I think they have already cut capacity. I saw the Silver Star recently and it was down to one sleeper instead of two, and two coaches instead of four - and it still looked empty, at least based on what I could see through the windows.

And I don't think that reduces operating costs all that much. Yes you *maybe* can do with one or two less OBS crew and an Ass't Conductor but you still have to have the rest of the crew, maintenance / fuel (yes I realize fuel would be a little less with a shorter consist), pay the host railroad, station staff costs, and other infrastructure &fixed costs, etc.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,176
Location
Gator Country Florida
One thing that might help to regain ridership is to "Advertise! Advertise! Advertise!"

Bring public awareness to the fact that the trains are still running and that they can handle social distancing while still providing mass transit - even when the trip is LD.

Promote the good points of rail - make sure to put these adds in primetime during programs people watch
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
125
Ideally what they might be doing now is cutting back from 3-5 trains daily (per route).

The problem is they have cut back everything so much over the years there's hardly enough left to cut.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,257
What do people here propose doing to address the 85% drop in ridership and immediate and severe cash flow problem Amtrak is facing? Just keep running mostly-empty trains around the country on their current schedules until the cash runs out and then simply shut down?
It isn't so much they are cutting back now but their recent history shows they have no real interest in LD or in service so they aren't trusted to bring back that service and those trains when Covid ends. Moreover, I've heard nothing about any attempt to use this as an opportunity to refurbish cars and engines.

In addition, they have not used it as an opportunity to test out the use of the excess cars and engines in short distance coach trains along any routes as I suggested wherein for example, they could run between Tampa and Miami at the same time they run the Star on the days it doesn't run as they already have the rights to do so.
 

jruff001

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
74
It isn't so much they are cutting back now but their recent history shows they have no real interest in LD or in service so they aren't trusted to bring back that service and those trains when Covid ends.
Different issue and doesn't address my question. (And I disagree that "they" have no interest in LD service even though I know that is the conventional wisdom here, but that is off-topic.)

Moreover, I've heard nothing about any attempt to use this as an opportunity to refurbish cars and engines.
That costs $$$. Amtrak is basically in an emergency cash-preservation mode right now.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
7
What do people here propose doing to address the 85% drop in ridership and immediate and severe cash flow problem Amtrak is facing? Just keep running mostly-empty trains around the country on their current schedules until the cash runs out and then simply shut down?
Speaking of the CZ. We are running at the Amtrak mandated 50-55%. So of course ridership is down. But let’s ask Amtrak this. If the coaches are sold out why not do the yearly thing and add the extra coach? Or the third sleeper? They do it every year but this year. Train is running at capacity but limited by 50% constraints.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
741
Cutting back when ridership is reduced by 50% to 75% because of the pandemic is probably unavoidable. However, our train advocates -- if they cannot head off the cutbacks -- MUST insist that Congress pass legislation to force operating railroads to return time slots to Amtrak temporarily vacated by the cutbacks. And since the devil is always in the details, that same legislation must address other shenanigans those railroads might employ to endanger pax trains' future.
 

chrsjrcj

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 24, 2011
Messages
824
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
I think they have already cut capacity. I saw the Silver Star recently and it was down to one sleeper instead of two, and two coaches instead of four - and it still looked empty, at least based on what I could see through the windows.
Are you sure that was the Star? The Star and the Meteor are using the same consists: 5 coaches, 1 lounge, 1 sleeper diner, 3 sleepers, 1 baggage car
 

jruff001

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
74
Are you sure that was the Star? The Star and the Meteor are using the same consists: 5 coaches, 1 lounge, 1 sleeper diner, 3 sleepers, 1 baggage car
Absolutely, it was in the Tampa area. Though this was a couple months ago so earlier in the Covid crisis. They may have beefed up the consist since then, but the Star never runs with three sleepers (only two for the past I-don't-know-how-many years) and only has four coaches (maybe five in Florida peak season which is not now) so are you sure about your consist info?
 

chrsjrcj

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 24, 2011
Messages
824
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
Absolutely, it was in the Tampa area. Though this was a couple months ago so earlier in the Covid crisis. They may have beefed up the consist since then, but the Star never runs with three sleepers (only two for the past I-don't-know-how-many years) and only has four coaches (maybe five in Florida peak season which is not now) so are you sure about your consist info?
The expanded consist has been the case since service was reduced 3x weekly for the Star (and 4x weekly for the Meteor) on July 6th
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
701
Location
Oregon Coast
In attempting to digest the foolish floundering acts of Amtrak leadership that has clearly lost its way... overlooked is the simple and the obvious...

What would make sense to me would be to take about half the cars out of service, reducing capacity to about 50%, and still leaving plenty of room for distancing, but keeping all the trains on the normal schedule.

This is a good time to clean up and refurbish those cars... and as John [above quote] suggested... don't cut frequency, rather cut capacity on each train and get those repairs going. Then after the pandemic, reintroduce improved and polished service which will bring ridership to new and higher levels.

Bring back American pride and tradition with a qualitative iconic rail system that will enhance travel for everyone... millennials, kids, boomers... all of us.

Conversely, the annihilation of our rail system would be a regretful shame. Perhaps the Amtrak bean counters should pay a little attention to the wisdom and advice which is so freely given on this forum in an effort to support our national rail system.
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
701
Location
Oregon Coast
In attempting to digest the foolish floundering acts of Amtrak leadership that has clearly lost its way... overlooked is the simple and the obvious...
This is a good time to clean up and refurbish those cars... and as John [above quote] suggested... don't cut frequency, rather cut capacity on each train and get those repairs going. Then after the pandemic, reintroduce improved and polished service which will bring ridership to new and higher levels.

Bring back American pride and tradition with a qualitative iconic rail system that will enhance travel for everyone... millennials, kids, boomers... all of us.

Conversely, the annihilation of our rail system would be a regretful shame. Perhaps the Amtrak bean counters should pay a little attention to the wisdom and advice which is so freely given on this forum in an effort to support our national rail system.
 

McIntyre2K7

Train Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
56
What do people here propose doing to address the 85% drop in ridership and immediate and severe cash flow problem Amtrak is facing? Just keep running mostly-empty trains around the country on their current schedules until the cash runs out and then simply shut down?
Maybe they get the government to get rid of that 750 mile rule. Tampa to Orlando would be nice. Don't get me wrong we have the Silver Star but the Southbound train to Miami comes a little after 12pm and the Northbound to New York comes around 5pm. You dont have the run the train hourly. Maybe like 6 trips a day. 2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon and 2 in the evening. Heck Amtrak wont sell me a ticket from Tampa to Lakeland even though the Silver Star's first stop after leaving Tampa is Lakeland. I feel there are more than enough areas where train service SHOULD be but isn't due to that rule.

Bring back some of the lines that might work today. I think the Floridian might work today. Edit the route as when it leaves Nashville it goes to Atlanta before going to Jacksonville. The route could end in Orlando. CSX wants to sell Tilford Yard in Atlanta. Have Amtrak partner with the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia and buy it. Move the Atlanta Amtrak Station there and make it a Hub. You have routes from Atlanta that would take you to New Orleans, Nashville, Louisville, Jacksonville, Orlando. Throw in some smaller amtrak commuter trains as well Atlanta/Chattanooga/Knoxville and
Atlanta/ Macon/ Savannah
 

jruff001

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
74
Bring back some of the lines that might work today. I think the Floridian might work today. Edit the route as when it leaves Nashville it goes to Atlanta before going to Jacksonville. The route could end in Orlando. CSX wants to sell Tilford Yard in Atlanta. Have Amtrak partner with the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia and buy it. Move the Atlanta Amtrak Station there and make it a Hub. You have routes from Atlanta that would take you to New Orleans, Nashville, Louisville, Jacksonville, Orlando. Throw in some smaller amtrak commuter trains as well Atlanta/Chattanooga/Knoxville and
Atlanta/ Macon/ Savannah
So the answer to a severe cash flow problem is to make major investments (with what cash?) in even more money-losing long distance services?
 

McIntyre2K7

Train Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
56
So the answer to a severe cash flow problem is to make major investments (with what cash?) in even more money-losing long distance services?


No the answer is to request more funding. If the government is handing out money to the airlines freely then they should hand out money to Amtrak as well. I've only suggested 1 long distance route (Orlando to Chicago) and 2 short distance commuter routes (Atlanta to Savannah and Atlanta to Knoxville). On that long distance route I think you could come close to a full train during the Orlando to Atlanta (6 hours, 437 miles) and Atalanta to Nashville ( 3 hours, 248 miles) segments. That would be a perfect distance for a train. It falls within that "too short to fly, too long to drive" range. Flights into Nashville are expensive for some reason.
 

jruff001

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
74
If the government is handing out money to the airlines freely then they should hand out money to Amtrak as well.
The government is not handing out money to airlines for expansion. Airlines have shrunk dramatically in the past few months.
 
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