Way to cut down losses on long distance trains

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Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
356
Overall, isn't the way to cut losses on LD trains to simply make them longer and sell a lot more seats and rooms?

The LD trains have a huge amount of overhead (stations, locomotive maintenance, depreciation, etc.). So as long as the marginal cost of adding a car is less than the revenues that Amtrak gets from it, shouldn't Amtrak just sell as many seats and rooms as possible?

Isn't this how freight RRs make money: by having long, long trains?
In the Carter administration cutback plan, the DOT was ordered by Congress to look into this. As anyone who thinks about it can guess, the incremental cost of adding coach seats was really low and sleeping berths were low. That study was buried in the appendices.

As I've posted before here, low fares and big trains with lots of coach seats is how the PDX<>SEA corridor survived. Each of the three railways in the pool kept a reserve of older coaches handy for peaks because fares remained low year round (see attached mid-1960's UP spares in the Portland yard of the Pullman Company). When Amtrak was set up in 1970/71 the DOT wanted to kill that route because the cities on it were too small, ignoring the ridership and the drag created by the connecting SP Cascade going tri-weekly. Then, as I've also posted, Amtrak was required politically to hold a rate umbrella over the bus companies.

Of course, Amtrak can't do much of this because they use their superannuated cars in regular service.

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Woodcut60

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
262
Oh heck...let's just eliminate all on board food service, and resurrect the old "Harvey House" network. Early or late, "Mr. Fred's" mantra was: "The Train Must Be Fed"....🤣:oops:
Exactly what I was thinking too. I remember seeing the Casa del Desierto in Barstow, CA.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,467
Seaboard92....
Great research...thanks!
In an earlier post, Willbridge mentioned the E-L Lake Cities. How much of that route between Hoboken and Chicago survives?
I was hoping someone would ask me about this one. It's actually one of my favorite of the NYC Area-Chicago trains.

Jersey City, NJ-Harriman, NY: This line is still an active line with multiple passenger trains a day. This part is the Port Jervis lines of the Metro North/New Jersey Transit. A very scenic and fun line to ride. I highly recommend taking the Port Jervis line out.

Harriman, NY-CP Howells (Middleburg, NY): This line was abandoned in the late 60s or the early 70s and the commuter trains were rerouted to the old freight route to the north. The right of way has not been preserved.

CP Howells (Middleburg, NY)-Binghamton, NY: This line is an active secondary mainline for Norfolk Southern. Nicknamed the Southern Tier route. I think it only sees a handful of freights a day as well as the NYSW trackage freights. NJ Transit runs as far as Port Jervis, NY.

Binghamton, NY-Elmira, NY: This line is still the active secondary for Norfolk Southern. The parallel Delaware, Lackawanna, & Western which parallels this stretch of track for it's entire length was abandoned and is now the Southern Tier Expressway.

Elmira, NY-Hornel, NY: This line is still the active secondary for Norfolk Southern. A small section in Corning, NY was abandoned and it switches to the former DL&W for the city.

Hornel, NY-Meadville, PA: This is the shortline railroad Western New York, & Pennsylvania Railroad. This railroad has a fairly large Alco fleet, and they filmed parts of the movie Unstoppable.

Meadville, PA-Youngstown, OH: This is a branch line of Norfolk Southern with a low track speed, and low train count.

Youngstown, OH-Ravena, OH: Supposedly this is a branch line of Norfolk Southern. However on the map it doesn't look active.

Ravena, OH-Rittman, OH: This is the Akron-Barberton Cluster Railroad owned by the Wheeling and Lake Erie. It's a fairly busy industrial shortline.

Rittman, OH-West Salem, OH: This line was abandoned when the west end of the railroad was abandoned by the Erie Lackawana and Conrail.

West Salem, OH-Ontario, OH: This line is the shortline Ashland Railway. Slow ten mile an hour track with limited train counts.

Ontario, OH-Marion, OH: This was abandoned when the west end of the railroad was abandoned. However the New York Central shared the routing from Gallion, OH to Marion, OH and that line is still active for CSX.

Marion, OH-Lima, OH: Another section that is abandoned from the 1970s era.

Lima, OH-Elgin, OH: RJ Corman West Ohio Lines, an active shortline.

Elgin, OH-Hammond, IN: This line was abandoned in the 1980s by the shortline Erie Western who took over the line when Conrail didn't include this line in their network plan. This line is completely decimated by now.

Hammond, IN-Chicago, IL: I couldn't tell you if the right of way still exists or not because of development, and a maze of rail routes in the area.

What's my next mission.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
7,857
Actually it ran from CHI, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, + a connection from a STL Huntington, trains.
All those cities had thru car connecting at Cincinnatti
True, but most of the train was to/from Detroit, so just wanted to make the research a bit easier for Seaboard92:)
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,467
True, but most of the train was to/from Detroit, so just wanted to make the research a bit easier for Seaboard92:)
I'm up for a real challenge because I'm going to do all of the thru cars. As someone who still goes out in the world I can't leave the room right now because one of my housemates had surgery yesterday and I don't want to bring anything back to them. So I have plenty of time.

So we're going to start with the Cleveland Section AKA the Midnight Special (Cleveland-Cincinnati) I hope it's light shines on me.

Cleveland, OH-Columbus, OH: This line is still a very active mainline for CSX across the Buckeye State. The section north of Gallion, OH is more active as that carries the St. Louis Gateway-New York Traffic.

Columbus, OH-London, OH: This line was abandoned as part of eliminating duplicate mileage by Conrail or Penn Central in favor of the nearby Pennsylvania Railroad Panhandle main line. The Pennsylvania is abandoned after London, OH.

London, OH-Cincinnati, OH: This line is an active mainline for Norfolk Southern all the way into the Cincinnati, OH.


Chicago Section

Chicago, IL (Central Station)-Kankakee, IL: This was originally and still legally is the Illinois Central mainline. It is still active and carries six Amtrak trains a day, and multiple freights.

Kankakee, IL-Lafayette, IN: Is the shortline Kankakee, Beaverville, & Southern one of the nations few private and independent shortlines.

Lafayette, IN-Zionsville, IN: This line was abandoned by Conrail in the late 1970s.

Zionville, IN-Indianapolis, IN: Is a CSX Branchline with limited service.

Indianapolis, IN-Shelbyville, IN: Is a CSX Branchline with limited freight service, and limited deadhead passenger trains to and from Beech Grove by Amtrak.

Shelbyville, IN-Greensburg, IN is out of service but the track is still in place.

Greensburg, IN-Cincinnati, OH: This line is in service as part of the G&W Central Railroad of Indiana. Low track speed. It is a shame the state of Indiana won't fund rail service as the Cincinnati-Indianapolis section of this NYC line would make a great candidate for higher speed rail. Two decent anchor cities, headed towards Chicago, limited freight, and a fairly straight alignment.



Detroit Section AKA the Ohio Special (SB), and Michigan Special (NB)

Detroit, MI-Toledo, OH: This line is still active but I'm not quite sure which railroad it is because three closely parallel each other in this corridor.

Toledo, OH-Story Ridge, OH: The line is somewhat active as a NS branch line.

Story Ridge, OH-Bellefontaine, OH: This was abandoned sometime in the 70s if I was making a guess.

Bellefontaine, OH-Springfield, OH: Ohio's Rail Map claims this is a CSX line, and I would assume it is a secondary line or a branch line. With light traffic.

Springfield, OH-Cincinnati we already discussed it's a NS Mainline.

Southern Railway

Cincinnati, OH-Knoxville, TN: This line is a very active mainline nicknamed the rathole. The line has majorly changed since the era of this train because they have put a significant amount of investment in daylighting tunnels, and reducing curves. Norfolk Southern

Knoxville, TN-Chattanooga, TN: This line is even more active than the Rathole as it's also part of the Crescent corridor. Norfolk Southern

Chattanooga, TN-Atlanta, GA: A very busy mainline between the two cities that is largely single tracked. The Crescent uses the portion from Austell, GA to Atlanta.

Atlanta, GA-Macon, GA: NS has two lines between these points one is a secondary and one is the main line and I always forget which one is which. However both the Southern and Central of Georgia routes are active.

Macon, GA-Jacksonville, FL: This Norfolk Southern line is very active, especially overnight in Cordelle from personal observation.

Florida East Coast
Jacksonville, FL-Miami, F: As we all know a very active line that runs on a tight schedule.

What is my next mission. You guys have given me some easy ones thus far.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,111
seaboard":: A correction The train did not go to Knoxville ( way out of the way ) except a few times when the route from Harriman - Citico junction was blocked. Harriman - Chattanooga was all the CNO&TP leased RR. City of Cincinnati owned. Chattanooga was quite a delay prone as it was 8 miles from Citico to terminal station, back into station and then 8 miles back to Citico then 10 miles to Ooltewah then ten miles to Georgia state line.
Note: What was good was that the Royal Palm made connections with the SOU N&W RR trains #41 & #42 the Pelican at Chattanooga which was the Washington - Bristol ,- Knoxville - Chattanooga - Birmingham - New Orleans train.

EDIT If either one of the north bounds or south bounds were late transfer passengers made connection at Ooltewah. Mother and farther did it more than once.
 
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Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,467
This is fun...lets move 'out west' for the next one...how about The Imperial between Chicago and San Diego?:)
I didn't realize that had a San Diego section. But I'l do what I can.

Rock Island Route
Chicago, IL (La Salle St)-Joliet, IL: This is the active Metra Rock Island district with fairly constant passenger trains all day long. I believe Metra owns it as far as Blue Island, then CSX takes over till it reaches Burro Junction.

Joliet, IL-Burro Junction: CSX owns the line but doesn't run much freight traffic over it, the main freight operator is Iowa Interstate.

Burro Junction, IL-Davenport, IA: This is Iowa Interstate's mainline. They have done a remarkable job rebuilding the old Rock Island.

Davenport, IA-Ainsworth, IA: This is an active secondary main for Canadian Pacific.

Ainsworth, IA-Allerton, IA: Long abandoned when the Rock Island declared bankruptcy.

Allerton, IA-Kansas City, MO: This line is still an active mainline owned by Union Pacific. It is also the route of the former Twin Star Rocket.

Kansas City, MO-Topeka, KS: I believe the Rock Island used the Union Pacific right of way between these two cities and it is still active, however I believe it has limited traffic.

Topeka, KS-Tucumkari, NM: Active mainline for Union Pacific. The Golden State corridor named after the other former Rock Island train.


Southern Pacific
Tucumkari, NM-El Paso, TX: Active line for Union Pacific as part of the Golden State Raoute.

El Paso, TX-Tuscon, AZ: It used the line that ran much further south and came close to the Mexican border which has now been abandoned.

Tuscon, AZ-Los Angeles, CA: This line is still the active Union Pacific mainline that the Sunset Limited uses.


San Diego Section

Yuma, AZ-Mexicali, MX: Abandoned and ROW not preserved.

Mexicali, MX-San Diego, CA: This line is supposedly not operating but I'm not sure which portions are active and which aren't. There are two tourist trains on the line one from the Pacific Southwest Rail Museum out of Campo, CA, and another out of Tijuana, MX. I'm not quite sure who owns the line either.

Next
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,467
Well since you mentioned it....the Twin Star Rocket....:)
Mission accepted.

St. Paul, MN to Kansas City, MO is an active mainline called the spine line owned by Union Pacific.

Kansas City, MO-Topeka, KS: This is the EX Kansas Pacific line that Union Pacific now owns and uses.

Topeka, KS-Herrington, KS: This is the former Golden State route of the Rock Island, now it is a Union Pacific mainline.

Herrington, KS-Fort Worth, TX: This line is still an active mainline for Union Pacific between Texas and the midwest.

Fort Worth, TX-Dallas, TX: This line is an active commuter railroad with the Trinity Railway Express, and Amtrak's Texas Eagle.

Dallas, TX-Houston, TX: This is an active BNSF Mainline. Historically this was a joint line with the Burlington.

When you look at the Rock Island it makes you think that if they had lasted till deregulation that they might still be among us today. Most of their main lines are still with us. And are fairly robust lines.

Next
 

Trogdor

Conductor
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
5,425
Have we stopped talking about ways to cut down Amtrak losses? I don’t even keno what this latest string of posts is even about. Host railroads or something?
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,127
Mission accepted.

St. Paul, MN to Kansas City, MO is an active mainline called the spine line owned by Union Pacific.

Kansas City, MO-Topeka, KS: This is the EX Kansas Pacific line that Union Pacific now owns and uses.

Topeka, KS-Herrington, KS: This is the former Golden State route of the Rock Island, now it is a Union Pacific mainline.

Herrington, KS-Fort Worth, TX: This line is still an active mainline for Union Pacific between Texas and the midwest.

Fort Worth, TX-Dallas, TX: This line is an active commuter railroad with the Trinity Railway Express, and Amtrak's Texas Eagle.

Dallas, TX-Houston, TX: This is an active BNSF Mainline. Historically this was a joint line with the Burlington.

When you look at the Rock Island it makes you think that if they had lasted till deregulation that they might still be among us today. Most of their main lines are still with us. And are fairly robust lines.

Next
To tie this in with the original topic of the thread, since all the components of this route are still active, what would be thoughts on this as a route for reinstatement? It would create a further-west parallel to the City Of New Orleans, serve a number of major cities and potentially connect with other Amtrak trains at several points. Seems like a missing link in the network to the untrained eye.
 
Joined
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In the future have them terminate routes at places that have high speed rail. Strike up a deal with the high speed line for discounted tickets to take the passengers to their final city. I'll use Orlando for an example. Brightline is currently building their high speed line to Orlando. Have the Silver Service terminate the line at the Orlando Brighline Station. Run a inter-city train between Tampa and that Orlando station with stops in Lakeland and Kissimmee. Once the Tampa extension of brightline is completed then you make all amtrak routes that go to Florida terminate at Orlando.

Also bring the Sunset Limited back to Florida. Also an Orlando to Chicago train would work as well with stops in Atlanta, Nashville, Louisville, Indianapolis and Chicago.
 
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Qapla

OBS Chief
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Jul 15, 2019
Messages
924
Since Virgin (Brightline) plans/hopes to also extend to Jacksonville, why not have that be the Amtrak-Virgin connection - any train running from Florida through Atlanta to Chicago would need to go through JAX
 

TheCrescent

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
23
Better yet, why not just contract Amtrak out and let Brightline run it- seriously. Brightline is light years ahead of Amtrak in all respects. Amazing customer service and a lavish experience. Brightline is fantastic!
 

Qapla

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
924
Just a point of interest:

They may be married, but it’s taking the Brightline high-speed rail line longer than advertised to fully convert its brand name to Virgin Trains USA.

The locomotives that power the company’s 239-seat trains still bear the black and yellow Brightline colors. The original gray seats and blue carpeting occupy the interiors of the passenger cars, and Brightline signs still dominate the three downtown stations in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami.

But that’ll all change to Virgin’s red branding design: The target for completion now is around the end of next year, according to CEO Patrick Goddard. “Starting next summer," Goddard said in a recent interview. “We’ll wrap it up coming into next season — the 2020-2021 [tourist] season."
 
Joined
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Since Virgin (Brightline) plans/hopes to also extend to Jacksonville, why not have that be the Amtrak-Virgin connection - any train running from Florida through Atlanta to Chicago would need to go through JAX

I'd rather have Amtrak end in Orlando as that is a major destination. Plus if they ended in Orlando there's a 100% change there would be a connection to Disney World and the other theme parks. Plus the Orlando Virgin Trains station would be at the Orlando International Airport. I believe Virgin Trains USA would use the FEC line so Jacksonville would be perfect for people trying to go to Daytona Beach or explore the space coast. Plus Orlando is like in the middle of the state. I think everyone would have an easier time getting to Orlando vs getting to Jacksonville. Florida's population is just over 20 million people and a little more than 8 million people live within 30 minutes of Interstate 4.
 

railiner

Conductor
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Mar 20, 2009
Messages
7,857
Better yet, why not just contract Amtrak out and let Brightline run it- seriously. Brightline is light years ahead of Amtrak in all respects. Amazing customer service and a lavish experience. Brightline is fantastic!
That's an interesting proposal, but I seriously doubt we would ever see Brightline wanting to do that, and neither would Amtrak. I would like to see things continue in the direction they are going, each company continuing their own operation. At least consumer's would benefit from having more than one choice in Florida intrastate rail travel...
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,111
Amtrak to Brightline Orlando ? Very bad idea!. Let us take if it happened as soon a Brightline gets to Orlando. You then have a route from about sand Lake to Orlando Airport about 15 miles. That means Amtrak has to either back in or out back to the main line. Wastes 40 minutes if there is no traffic on that single track line depending on allowed backing speed.
Terminate at Orlando.? That leaves Kissimmee ( Disney World ) and Tampa without service . Once Brightline to Tampa then no service to Winter Haven, Tampa, Sebring, Okeechobee.. Then what happens to the maintenance depot at Miami ?
What is worse is service to Winter park, Deland, and Palatka. All the eliminated stations have a total of many passengers.
You need to do more research Brightline will be a good a primary to Amtrak supplemental. Passengers are not goin to change trains at JAX at 0639 in the morning or 2300 at night.
 
Joined
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Amtrak to Brightline Orlando ? Very bad idea!. Let us take if it happened as soon a Brightline gets to Orlando. You then have a route from about sand Lake to Orlando Airport about 15 miles. That means Amtrak has to either back in or out back to the main line. Wastes 40 minutes if there is no traffic on that single track line depending on allowed backing speed.
Terminate at Orlando.? That leaves Kissimmee ( Disney World ) and Tampa without service . Once Brightline to Tampa then no service to Winter Haven, Tampa, Sebring, Okeechobee.. Then what happens to the maintenance depot at Miami ?
What is worse is service to Winter park, Deland, and Palatka. All the eliminated stations have a total of many passengers.
You need to do more research Brightline will be a good a primary to Amtrak supplemental. Passengers are not goin to change trains at JAX at 0639 in the morning or 2300 at night.
I'm confused here. The Orlando Station is SOUTH of Winter Park, Deland and Palatka so those stations would still be served. In my first response I said to have service terminate in Orlando at Brightline/VirginTrains Station. Once Brightline's Orlando to Miami service starts I don't see a reason for Amtrak to run further south in the state. I did say that Tampa would still have service as a local train would go from Tampa/Lakeland/Kissimmee/BrightlineOrlando. The current Sun Rail runs to Kissimmee as well and Sun Rail will have a spot at the new Brightline station in Orlando. Why run service to Miami that takes longer than 5 hours from Orlando when Brightline/Virgin Trains can do it in 3?? If anything Amtrak creates the South Florida Express with service from Miami to Tampa with stops at Okeechoobee/Sebring/Winter Haven before going to Lakeland and on to Tampa.


Orlando Brightline Station

Brightline to Miami
Amtrak cross country to New York City/New service to Chicago
Amtrak local routes to Tampa
Sunrail line to DeBary/Poinciana


Let's say Amtrak doesn't go south of Tampa. The maintenance facility in Miami could be sold to the city as they use the lines for Tri-Rail as well.


EDIT (7/5/20): I was able to find the passenger count for the 2019 FY (This was published Jan 2020)



Orlando: 127,186
Tampa: 110,309
Miami: 62,497
Lakeland: 32,972
Winter Park: 27,047
Winter Haven: 19,757
Sebring: 14,083
Okeechobee: 4,109
 
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Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
935
Better yet, why not just contract Amtrak out and let Brightline run it- seriously. Brightline is light years ahead of Amtrak in all respects. Amazing customer service and a lavish experience. Brightline is fantastic!
How much are the collective "we" willing to pay for such a lavish experience? And is Brightline even set up to be a contract operator?
 
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