In agreement with everything said… I would also add…How much does adding a car to the consist reduce the mileage of the engine puling the load? How much does adding another sleeper car add to the cost of operating the train?
One way to make a train more profitable would be to carry more passengers per trip - especially on longer distances.
One way to do this might be by adding additional sleeper cars to the LD trains, thus allowing each train to carry more people. However, in order for this to work, the prices for riding in a sleeper need to b adjusted to a more affordable level.
Since many of the people who ride coach do so, not because they are riding a short distance, but because the price of coach is much less money. Therefore, while lowering the cost of sleepers would move some of the current coach passengers into sleepers, it would not displace that many. Even if it did, the overall number of passengers on the train would not drop by that much.
Currently, the difference in ticket cost from coach to sleeper is about 4 times the price. Reducing this difference to a more affordable level, perhaps 2 to 2.5 the price of coach, would allow some who now ride coach to sleepers.
At current price levels, even if the entire passenger load of a coach moved to sleepers the train would still take in about the same amount of money.
By adding sleeper cars and reducing the price of the sleeper fare it would seem like it would increase overall ridership on LD trains since not all coach passengers would move to sleepers even if the cost were more affordable.
Another thing that might help would be to quit categorizing trains into only to categories. I have noticed that all trains that are more than 500 miles seems to be called "long distance". Why is there no category for "medium distance"? While trains over 500 miles may require more than a single "work day (8 hours)" to run, even an overnight trains does not compare to a two or three day/night trip.
There is quite a difference in a train that travels from Florida to NY than one that travels from California to NY.
I would consider the trains from Florida to NY or perhaps from Chi to NOL to be "medium distance" trains. I know on the Silvers, many of those on the trains go from Fl all the way to NY - I do not know how many ride from NY all the way to LAX or EMY or even from CHI to EMY.
By adding additional sleepers and reducing their fares would encourage more ridership on these MD trains allowing for more coach seats to be available for those who are using these trains for short distances.
FOOD SERVICE IS EXPENSIVE FOR AMTRAK TO MAINTAIN: is an economic drag simply because of personnel expenses … chefs, servers, dining car maintenance, and so on. Even when there were full service meals recently, the consistent menu on all trains and at all times became monotonous. Amtrak administrators have been saying food service costs must be cut. The newest ‘contemporary dining’ was counter productive because many do not like the quantities and quality of food served… yet even this requires personnel and service accessories.
SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS NEED TO BE MORE COST EFFECTIVE: The 50 year old old rolling stock is literally falling apart and needs constant maintenance which adds to costs. Newer materials and construction techniques can make such stock more efficient to operate. Double decker design on the super liners have been problematic for accessibility and efficiencies. We might want to take a cue from the more economically designed slumber coaches of the past.
LONG DISTANCE CAN BE VIABLE IF CONNECTING BETWEEN HIGH SPEED HUBS: Kind-a like the hub and spoke system for the airlines… if rapid transit is developed in urban areas an overnight alternative to flying could be viable. Already existing in Europe, South America, and the Orient… overnight busses and trains that provide sleeping accommodation so the passenger arrives in city center fresh and ready to go. In the light of rapidly expanding urbanization, highway congestion, and global warming concerns, all this becomes morally and financially justifiable. It is now a matter of governmental priority.
HIGH SPEED HUBS ARE COMING:
NORTHEAST megalopolis - HS being modernized and expanded routes under consideration
CHI - STL - HS rail already under construction
CHI - DTW - HS being planned
FLA CITIES - HS already exists and is being expanded
TEXAS - HS being planned
SFO - LAX - LAS VEGAS - HS under construction and more being planned
VANCOUVER - SEATTLE - PORTLAND megalopolis - already a bottleneck with HS under consideration
[I'm sure there's more being planned in the Americas]