Way to cut down losses on long distance trains

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20th Century Rider

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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.
In agreement with everything said… I would also add…

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]
 

20th Century Rider

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Found a good HS forecast map offered by the US HS Rail Assn. The US has lagged behind other countries in modern rail development but in time one could speculate on a pretty impressive system.

810_US_HSR_Phasing_Map.gif
 

me_little_me

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The military angle was just the hook that the highway lobby used to pry money from Congress and the state legislators for a national system of paved highways. In the early days, paved roads were desired by either cyclists or the few rich hobbyists who owned cars. Maybe also some farmers who might find it easier to get their crops to market. None of these roads needed to be a national system for those uses, and the paved roads and other roads suitable for motor vehicles in the US before world war 1 were kind of scattered about the country.

By 1919, there was a nascent highway lobby, and also the Army had a ton of trucks left over from the war with nothing to do with them, so someone got the bright idea of running a transcontinental truck convoy as a joint project between the Army and the highway lobby. The Army could show a "proof on concept" of using trucks to transport stuff long distances, while the highway lobby got some useful publicity. The Army also used the caravan as a recruiting draw, though I'm not sure why the Army needed to be recruiting in 1919, I thought they were shedding soldiers as fast as they could. The convoy took over 2 months to drive from DC to San Francisco. Even back then, you could ride or ship something the same distance by train in 4 days, so advances were clearly needed both in highway construction and vehicle design. I think they spent a lot of time stuck in mud and fixing broken down bridges and trucks (with spare parts rushed to the breakdown sites by trains.)

One of the Army officers participating in this event was a guy named Dwight Eisenhower. This is what started his interest in highways, I guess. At the time the highway lobby was happy enough to get a national system of 2-lane paved highways. A couple of decades later, Eisenhower, now a big shot general in command of all of the Allied forces invading Germany from the west, discovered that the Germans had obligingly built for the invaders a nice system of 4-lane freeways, which some of his commander made good use of. A few years later Eisenhower became President of the United States, and from his military experience with roads, advocated a similar national system of freeways in the United States. (There was already the Pennsylvania Turnpike and New Jersey Turnpike and a few parkways around New York.) While Eisenhower was, of course, inspired by his military experience, I do think that the real impetus for this came from civilian sources. In fact, Eisenhower's experience might cause one to think that freeways might not be the best thing for national defense, as the German ones were very helpful for the American invaders. But, with the longstanding American cultural/political reluctance to spend tax dollars on "internal improvements," marketing this as a "defense" project might have been helpful in bringing a few senators and representatives aboard.
That's one spin on it. The Germns built those highways for transportation of their own trrops and used them for that purpose. They didn't envision that they would be used by their enemies because they became the superpower of early 1940s Europe. It's a great idea when you use them to move or supply your own troops on the front but a bad idea if you have an army depleted by war and stupidity and bombed into oblivion as enemy troops overrun yours.
Eisenhower did indeed realize the advantages for the U.S. to have such ease of transportation as the U.S. was the superpower of the world from the '50s on.
Then again, who would have back then envisioned super-sized transport jets and 200 car freight trains as alternatives for military transport.
 

MARC Rider

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Then again, who would have back then envisioned super-sized transport jets and 200 car freight trains as alternatives for military transport.
That's interesting. In today's world, let's say we were invaded. How would the military transport troops and supplies to meet the invaders? I guess we could shoot missiles at them, which would arrive faster than any other form of transport. The missiles in world war 2 weren't that accurate, and the explosive payloads weren't that impressive. Today, I suppose a well-aimed barrage of modern guided missiles and drones (plus squadrons of A-10s) could stop most blitzkrieg-style attacks.

Of course, wars seem to be conducted differently these days. I don't think any of our adversaries/rivals really have any interest in actually invading us when they could neutralize us in other less spectacular ways, just as we were able to neutralize the Soviet Union without having to actually invade them.

This leaves the "defense" functions of the Interstate Highway System mainly as a way to allow National Guard convoys to get to wherever they go for their monthly or annual field training. At least that's what I see when I drive the highways. Maybe also some tanks being shipped on flatbed trailers from the factory to wherever the Army tests and accepts them, but it would seem to me that it would be more efficient to ship those sort of things by rail.
 

jis

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We are in the process of getting neutralized in the modernest of modern warfare ways as we speak :D Highways and railways have absolutely no role to play in that act. ;)
 

Willbridge

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The Union Pacific helped with funding for the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, which became part of US30. Also helping on that pre-gas tax project was the progressive State of Oregon's use of prison labor. Soon the local trains were being replaced by Union Pacific Stages, which became Overland Greyhound, etc.

Stephen Goddard's excellent account of that era in his book "Getting There" (1994) explains something else that is smoothed over in popular histories: hatred toward the railroads for real or imagined sins. The highway boom started in the same timeframe as Wilson's takeover of the railroads in WWI.

I used to preach to new service planners that they should always expect influence peddlers, political bosses and intense public meetings, because there was only one time in American history when service planners were told to just focus on efficiency and that was from 1917 to 1920. We beat the Kaiser, but lost a lot of public support when low productivity routes got the axe. That was especially true of duplicative services, because to small towns they often were the only service, and to medium-size towns the efficiency drive resulted in a loss of weak-sister competitive services. Touring car "bus" services sprang up and then wealthier individuals bought cars. Time payments were introduced and by 1922 my grandparents drove Portland <> San Francisco on the new Pacific Highway for their honeymoon.

As the attached 1920 ad indicates, highway finance flim-flam was in full force by then. Note the headline at the bottom of the clipping. Political groups were fighting to keep the nickel streetcar fare, even though wages and the cost of living were higher than before the war.

1920 05 19 - Good Roads.jpg
 

Willbridge

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That's interesting. In today's world, let's say we were invaded. How would the military transport troops and supplies to meet the invaders? I guess we could shoot missiles at them, which would arrive faster than any other form of transport. The missiles in world war 2 weren't that accurate, and the explosive payloads weren't that impressive. Today, I suppose a well-aimed barrage of modern guided missiles and drones (plus squadrons of A-10s) could stop most blitzkrieg-style attacks.

Of course, wars seem to be conducted differently these days. I don't think any of our adversaries/rivals really have any interest in actually invading us when they could neutralize us in other less spectacular ways, just as we were able to neutralize the Soviet Union without having to actually invade them.

This leaves the "defense" functions of the Interstate Highway System mainly as a way to allow National Guard convoys to get to wherever they go for their monthly or annual field training. At least that's what I see when I drive the highways. Maybe also some tanks being shipped on flatbed trailers from the factory to wherever the Army tests and accepts them, but it would seem to me that it would be more efficient to ship those sort of things by rail.
Armor still moves by rail. They do use highway movements, but either for short hauls or for show. There's nothing like a convoy on the freeway to attract attention. (Nixon did that in Germany to send a message to Syria to get out of Jordan in 1970. Americans barely noticed it, but German autobahn users sure did. Soviet Military Liaison officers trailed the convoy, snapping photos like crazy. Presumably they provided 8x10's to the Syrians. Normally that movement would have been efficiently handled by the Deutsche Bundesbahn.)

If one looks quick, there is a switch on the Southwest Chief route between La Junta and Trinidad that leads to loading/unloading platforms at the huge dryland training area. Little-reported fact is that the track repairs done for Amtrak on the former Santa Fe line east of Las Animas benefited Fort Carson by retaining an efficient route east without going over the congested Palmer Divide and through downtown Denver.
 

Willbridge

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That's one spin on it. The Germans built those highways for transportation of their own trrops and used them for that purpose. They didn't envision that they would be used by their enemies because they became the superpower of early 1940s Europe. It's a great idea when you use them to move or supply your own troops on the front but a bad idea if you have an army depleted by war and stupidity and bombed into oblivion as enemy troops overrun yours.
Eisenhower did indeed realize the advantages for the U.S. to have such ease of transportation as the U.S. was the superpower of the world from the '50s on.
Then again, who would have back then envisioned super-sized transport jets and 200 car freight trains as alternatives for military transport.
The irony of the pre-WWII Autobahns is that they were built by the Deutsche Reichsbahn. The military side effect was that work on weight-restricted secondary lines was postponed or skimped on as talent and labor were diverted. That hampered the subsequent war effort. The Reichsbahn even set up express bus services on some Autobahns which continued into the war until fuel oil was scarce.
 

20th Century Rider

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The irony of the pre-WWII Autobahns is that they were built by the Deutsche Reichsbahn. The military side effect was that work on weight-restricted secondary lines was postponed or skimped on as talent and labor were diverted. That hampered the subsequent war effort. The Reichsbahn even set up express bus services on some Autobahns which continued into the war until fuel oil was scarce.
Speaking of German trains... unbelievable and amazing... you can set your watch by actual arrivals and departures... riding smooth at 200mph. The Berlin Hauptbahnhof is where three main lines intersect one on top of another... jaw dropping!
d25f3780-c7f5-4fe3-9d5c-00d770a38a50.jpg
 

Willbridge

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Good photo. I've enjoyed using it on reunion and research trips. When I first visited that location in 1970-71, it looked like this...

BlnLehrter2.jpg

This is where they found Martin Bormann's body a year or so later. I like today's version better.
 

railiner

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If one looks quick, there is a switch on the Southwest Chief route between La Junta and Trinidad that leads to loading/unloading platforms at the huge dryland training area. Little-reported fact is that the track repairs done for Amtrak on the former Santa Fe line east of Las Animas benefited Fort Carson by retaining an efficient route east without going over the congested Palmer Divide and through downtown Denver.
What about UP's former MoP line east of Pueblo (Avondale)....does it still exist?
 

toddinde

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What about UP's former MoP line east of Pueblo (Avondale)....does it still exist?
It’s pretty sad. The rails are still in, but the signals are stripped of wire, and it’s not operable. At least that was the condition a couple years ago.
 

railiner

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It’s pretty sad. The rails are still in, but the signals are stripped of wire, and it’s not operable. At least that was the condition a couple years ago.
Sad... The route of the Colorado Eagle is defunct.
But then so are the routes of the Rocky Mountain Rocket from Limon to Colorado Springs, and not to mention, the City of Denver line from Union to LaSalle...:confused:
 

Qapla

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It's also sad that there are no longer any passenger usable tracks that run from Gainesville to Tallahassee in Florida to connect the two major state owned universities as well as the fact that the state capital does not have any passenger service.

It would be nice if they could restore service between Jacksonville to New Orleans
 

railiner

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It would be nice if they could restore service between Jacksonville to New Orleans
Yes...that is a very big vacuum in the national route map...restoring service between Jacksonville and New Orleans should be a priority...
 
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MARC Rider

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One of the really big holes in the national route map is that there's no service of any kind in what I would call the "interior south" -- Nashville, Louisville, etc. I'm not sure if the highest priority would be to connect them to the northeast, the southeast, the midwest, or New Orleans, but these are some pretty large and growing cities whose transportation connectivity would benefit from some intercity rail.
 

MARC Rider

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Speaking of German trains... unbelievable and amazing... you can set your watch by actual arrivals and departures... riding smooth at 200mph. The Berlin Hauptbahnhof is where three main lines intersect one on top of another... jaw dropping!
View attachment 17497
Years ago, I read a memoir of an escaping British POW who transferred trains here in 1943 or 1944. He didn't describe the station too much, except that most of it was pretty bombed out. The transformation shown here look pretty amazing. And the Germans were early adopters of the high-speed train concept with something called "The Flying Hamburger." I believe it was designed and built by the Weimar Government, but didn't go into service until after Hitler took power, so, of course, he claimed the credit for it.
 

IndyLions

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Speaking of German trains... unbelievable and amazing... you can set your watch by actual arrivals and departures... riding smooth at 200mph. The Berlin Hauptbahnhof is where three main lines intersect one on top of another... jaw dropping!
View attachment 17497
Berlin Hauptbahnhof is quite a place. I got to experience it the weekend before Thanksgiving last year.
 

jiml

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Berlin Hauptbahnhof is quite a place. I got to experience it the weekend before Thanksgiving last year.
Most German train stations are pretty impressive. We couldn't believe that the one in the small city of Mainz had so many platforms, multiple restaurants and a supermarket on-site. The bigger the city, the better the station seemed to be the rule.
 

Willbridge

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Most German train stations are pretty impressive. We couldn't believe that the one in the small city of Mainz had so many platforms, multiple restaurants and a supermarket on-site. The bigger the city, the better the station seemed to be the rule.
One of the reasons for the shopping is that Blue Laws permitted the bahnhof shops to remain open when other stores are closed. That's been undergoing change recently.
 

jiml

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One of the reasons for the shopping is that Blue Laws permitted the bahnhof shops to remain open when other stores are closed. That's been undergoing change recently.
We benefited from that in Mainz, being there on a Sunday when even our hotel's dining facilities were closed.
 

Willbridge

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Years ago, I read a memoir of an escaping British POW who transferred trains here in 1943 or 1944. He didn't describe the station too much, except that most of it was pretty bombed out. The transformation shown here look pretty amazing. And the Germans were early adopters of the high-speed train concept with something called "The Flying Hamburger." I believe it was designed and built by the Weimar Government, but didn't go into service until after Hitler took power, so, of course, he claimed the credit for it.
The first train-set departed Lehrter Bhf (today the all-new Berlin Hbf) at 8:02 a.m. on May 15, 1933. Development of the concept began in 1924 with some engineers who had lost their jobs in the aircraft industry. At first they worked on the very high-speed "rail Zeppelin" concept, but insurance companies and the railroad discouraged them. 100 mp/h (160 km/h) was determined to be a commercially acceptable top design speed. Construction of it began in 1931 when the Reichsbahn was a public corporation like Amtrak. And you're right, as with other politicians, the new gang was pleased to take credit for their predecessors' successes when operation commenced. With its counterparts, the Burlington Zephyr and the UP CIty streamliners, it set all sorts of records, but the most interesting is how long those pioneer unit trains stayed in revenue service.

Berlin<>Hamburg has a lot of business travel, so it was a logical choice for showcasing the Diesel-electric technology. Its commercial success led to more and bigger train-sets for more routes and by the time WWII began there were 35 of them, running 18,000 km daily. The line was downgraded during the Cold War for several reasons, but once again is a high-speed route.
 

Willbridge

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Sad... The route of the Colorado Eagle is defunct.
But then so are the routes of the Rocky Mountain Rocket from Limon to Colorado Springs, and not to mention, the City of Denver line from Union to LaSalle...:confused:
The UP cut-off from Union to LaSalle does have an alternative, in that they have the right to operate over the BNSF through Fort Morgan. The track layout was relevant in 1991 when Amtrak studied adding a second DEN<>CHI train via the UP east of FMG and it came up again in the 2008/9 "study" of restoring the Pioneer.
 

railiner

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The UP cut-off from Union to LaSalle does have an alternative, in that they have the right to operate over the BNSF through Fort Morgan. The track layout was relevant in 1991 when Amtrak studied adding a second DEN<>CHI train via the UP east of FMG and it came up again in the 2008/9 "study" of restoring the Pioneer.
Seems only fair, considering the BNSF is utilizing trackage rights over the UP between Union and Sterling, on its freight route to Sidney and beyond...🙂

Back in the 80’s, I rode an Amtrak test train with then VP Jim Larson, over that route, diverging from the Zephyr route at Brush. At Sidney, we ran over the “Overland Route”, all the way to Chicago.
Never did find out why we just didn’t stay on the UP from Sterling to Julesburg.
 
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Willbridge

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Seems only fair, considering the BNSF is utilizing trackage rights over the UP between Union and Sterling, on its freight route to Sidney and beyond...🙂

Back in the 80’s, I rode an Amtrak test train with then VP Jim Larsen, over that route, diverging from the Zephyr route at Brush. At Sidney, we ran over the “Overland Route”, all the way to Chicago.
Never did find out why we just didn’t stay on the UP from Sterling to Julesburg.
It might have been concerns about the track or signals. I know that when they added coal traffic to the KP line (Denver-Salina) they had to do a lot of work to get it up to consistent speed limits and to re-signalize it.
 
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