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Way to cut down losses on long distance trains

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Seaboard92

Conductor
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Dec 31, 2014
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Wow...you've done an admirable job doing the research to put all that data together...thanks for that!

But the bottom line...what is the likelihood of the Amtrak National Limited ever using all that to revive the service comparable to what it once offered...and at what cost?
I love doing research. Like I told a friend earlier today who was looking to lease F40PH locomotives. He is the better operator between us, I'm the better researcher. I can find anything within about an hours probe in my databases that I maintain.

I would say the likelihood of that ever happening is incredibly slim because of the Cincinnati detour. If you want a New York-St. Louis train now the best option would be to restart the Southwestern Limited (which was the Big Four's equivalent to the 20th Century Limited) on this routing.

New York-Cleveland: On the former New York Central route now used by the Lake Shore Limited.

Cleveland-Galion, OH: On the former New York Central Big Four route that ran from Cleveland to Cincinnati. At Galion one could split off a section to Cincinnati and Columbus.

Galion, OH-Indianapolis, IN: On the former New York Central Big Four route via Belefontaine, OH and Muncie, IN.

Indianapolis, IN-St. Louis, MO: Was outlined on a former post. But to recap it the EX NYC to Terre Haute, IN, then the ex Pennsylvania on into St. Louis, MO.

Any other routes people would like researched?
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,524
Location
Toronto area
Any other routes people would like researched?
What you've done is shift focus to east of the Mississippi where there were once so many passenger trains and now abandoned routes. A lot more information seems to be available for the storied western trains and routes with the complexity of the eastern network somewhat lost to history.
 

Nick Farr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
263
Location
Michigan
I think someone suggested this before, but instead of Flex Dining, why not partner with local food providers along each route for completely fresh cooked-to-order meals? They don't have to replace everything on the Flex Dining menu, but why not start offering a locally-sourced fresh option and put folks along the routes back to work?
 

railiner

Conductor
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Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,150
Location
South Florida
I think someone suggested this before, but instead of Flex Dining, why not partner with local food providers along each route for completely fresh cooked-to-order meals? They don't have to replace everything on the Flex Dining menu, but why not start offering a locally-sourced fresh option and put folks along the routes back to work?
This may sound like an attractive addition, but it would take a lot more effort than meets the eye....things like quality control assurance, including FDA monitoring, procurement administration, delivery and handling away from commissaries and crew bases, etc...
 

TheCrescent

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
28
As a regular rider in sleeping cars on the Crescent, (1) advertising, (2) improvements in the on-board experience and (3) a "discount" class of sleeping-car travel would help.

The Crescent is actually a pretty viable way to travel between Atlanta/SC and Virginia/Washington, DC because you board late at night and arrive early morning, so there's no time lost during the day.

The Crescent seems to fill its sleeping cars pretty well, even with no advertising and a pretty *#)(py on-board experience (aging rooms and terrible Flexible Dining breakfasts).

Plus the sleeping car space is really expensive- often more expensive than flying. A "budget" service level, like a Slumbercoach, would fill a gap and attract people who don't want to pay sky-high prices.

If Amtrak simply advertised that the train exists and its times (in the markets above) and improved the on-board experience and added another level of mid-range service, it could probably have a much higher ridership--maybe even 4 or 5 sleeping cars instead of 2.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
636
Overnight city pairs are a huge market overseas. Here, not so much. One of my favorites is Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Simply a phenomenal trip and now that they have the new sleeper cars it may be even better. I have to try them and see!
Kunming to Beijing is another great overnight trip with a wide variety of sleeping cars. Hard sleeper is cheap and fun. Plus it has a samovar in most sleeper cars for tea and ramen. Luxury!

As a regular rider in sleeping cars on the Crescent, (1) advertising, (2) improvements in the on-board experience and (3) a "discount" class of sleeping-car travel would help.

The Crescent is actually a pretty viable way to travel between Atlanta/SC and Virginia/Washington, DC because you board late at night and arrive early morning, so there's no time lost during the day.
....
If Amtrak simply advertised that the train exists and its times (in the markets above) and improved the on-board experience and added another level of mid-range service, it could probably have a much higher ridership--maybe even 4 or 5 sleeping cars instead of 2.
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
461
Location
Denver
I love doing research. Like I told a friend earlier today who was looking to lease F40PH locomotives. He is the better operator between us, I'm the better researcher. I can find anything within about an hours probe in my databases that I maintain.

I would say the likelihood of that ever happening is incredibly slim because of the Cincinnati detour. If you want a New York-St. Louis train now the best option would be to restart the Southwestern Limited (which was the Big Four's equivalent to the 20th Century Limited) on this routing.

New York-Cleveland: On the former New York Central route now used by the Lake Shore Limited.

Cleveland-Galion, OH: On the former New York Central Big Four route that ran from Cleveland to Cincinnati. At Galion one could split off a section to Cincinnati and Columbus.

Galion, OH-Indianapolis, IN: On the former New York Central Big Four route via Belefontaine, OH and Muncie, IN.

Indianapolis, IN-St. Louis, MO: Was outlined on a former post. But to recap it the EX NYC to Terre Haute, IN, then the ex Pennsylvania on into St. Louis, MO.

Any other routes people would like researched?
The last Big Four Indianapolis <> Cleveland train came by my barrack at Fort Ben Harrison each day during my stay there in 1969. So when I received orders to Fort Dix, my Dad said -- and he reminds me to this day -- that I should figure a way to ride the Erie-Lackawanna, because "when the government takes over the railroads, the first thing they'll do is get rid of the E-L." So, I discovered that eastbound only, the Big Four remnant of the Southwestern Limited connected to the E-L Lake Cities at Marion, Ohio Union Station. It was a wonderful trip, including lunch in the same Marion beanery that George Hilton wrote in praise of later on in Trains magazine. The E-L train was the nicest Eastern Region train that I rode in '69, as described later on in Runte's Allies of the Earth.

What is most relevant to this thread, though, is that as a customer unfamiliar with the region I had to figure part of this out myself. The ticket office in Indianapolis was, as the clerk assertively told me, "a Penn Central ticket office." He did confess that they shared the station in Marion, but I could not check baggage through. In Marion I paid for the E-L part of the trip, ate lunch and then watched hundreds of hopper cars passing through on what must now be N&W and CSX.

Trains like the Indianapolis - Cleveland service could be good network contributors, which is why the 750-mile rule is harmful to long-distance trains, as well as to their potential corridors. In keeping with the "it must be over 750-mile rule," what if the Boston section of the LSL went to St. Louis via the Big Four route?
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,637
Location
South Carolina
Sure...if you insist😊
How about the B&O National Limited route portion from Washington to St. Louis? How much of that line remains west of Cumberland?
Here we go.

Washington, DC-Cumberland, MD: This is the route of Amtrak's Capitol Limited, and CSX's mainline from the Port of Baltimore to Chicago. MARC Commuter trains also run as far as Martinsburg, WV.

Cumberland, MD-Clarksburg, WV: This is home to 17 Mile Grade which is one of the steepest mainline grades in the eastern United States. This line is still active for rivers of Black Gold coming from West Virginia coal country.

Clarksburg, WV-Parkersburg, WV: This line was abandoned in 1985 and the rails were lifted in 1989. The right of way is intact as a trail however.

Parkersburg, WV-Zaleski, OH: This line was abandoned in the 1980s. The bridge over the Ohio River at Parkersburg, WV and a mile or two into Ohio is active as the Belpre Industrial Parkersburg Railroad.

Zaleski, OH-Richmond Dale, OH: This is now the Ohio South Central Railroad. I believe this line is owned by the county and leased to different operators at times.

Richmond Dale, OH-Greenfield, OH: This line was abandoned in the 1980s along with the rest of the line. It has not been preserved by a trail however the ROW looks to be pretty much vacant, and bridges still stand.

Greenfield, OH-Cincinnati, OH: This line is active as the G&W Shortline Indiana & Ohio. With a relatively low track speed.

Cincinnati, OH-St. Louis, MO: This line is an active CSX Mainline between the two points. Decent track speed and fairly straight.

Honestly if people wanted to restart the National Limited (Amtrak Edition) which was a glorified Spirit of St. Louis I would route it NYP-PHL-PGH-Columbus as I outlined in a previous post-CIN-STL and route the CIN-STL on the former B&O main. However you miss the Indianapolis market.

Any other routes? I am really enjoying this.
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
461
Location
Denver
Here we go.

Washington, DC-Cumberland, MD: This is the route of Amtrak's Capitol Limited, and CSX's mainline from the Port of Baltimore to Chicago. MARC Commuter trains also run as far as Martinsburg, WV.

Cumberland, MD-Clarksburg, WV: This is home to 17 Mile Grade which is one of the steepest mainline grades in the eastern United States. This line is still active for rivers of Black Gold coming from West Virginia coal country.

Clarksburg, WV-Parkersburg, WV: This line was abandoned in 1985 and the rails were lifted in 1989. The right of way is intact as a trail however.

Parkersburg, WV-Zaleski, OH: This line was abandoned in the 1980s. The bridge over the Ohio River at Parkersburg, WV and a mile or two into Ohio is active as the Belpre Industrial Parkersburg Railroad.

Zaleski, OH-Richmond Dale, OH: This is now the Ohio South Central Railroad. I believe this line is owned by the county and leased to different operators at times.

Richmond Dale, OH-Greenfield, OH: This line was abandoned in the 1980s along with the rest of the line. It has not been preserved by a trail however the ROW looks to be pretty much vacant, and bridges still stand.

Greenfield, OH-Cincinnati, OH: This line is active as the G&W Shortline Indiana & Ohio. With a relatively low track speed.

Cincinnati, OH-St. Louis, MO: This line is an active CSX Mainline between the two points. Decent track speed and fairly straight.

Honestly if people wanted to restart the National Limited (Amtrak Edition) which was a glorified Spirit of St. Louis I would route it NYP-PHL-PGH-Columbus as I outlined in a previous post-CIN-STL and route the CIN-STL on the former B&O main. However you miss the Indianapolis market.

Any other routes? I am really enjoying this.
When I was at Fort Ben we had a formation with a cannon salute for Eisenhower's funeral train. I had to explain to some other students why we didn't actually get to see the train in Indianapolis! Thanks to the B&O's last marketing efforts, I had learned that the way to honor a president and general was NOT to have his final trip on the Penn Central. Later, I learned that Milton Eisenhower was on the B&O board. I'm glad to read that CIN-STL is still operable.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,637
Location
South Carolina
Trains like the Indianapolis - Cleveland service could be good network contributors, which is why the 750-mile rule is harmful to long-distance trains, as well as to their potential corridors. In keeping with the "it must be over 750-mile rule," what if the Boston section of the LSL went to St. Louis via the Big Four route?

I think the midwest is full of amazing short routes that would really be good contributors. I'll outline all of the low hanging fruit on this post.

1. Cleveland, OH-Cincinnati, OH
Track Owners
-CSX: Cleveland, OH-Columbus, OH
-Norfolk Southern: Columbus, OH-Cincinnati, OH

Potential Stations: Wellington, OH, Greenwich, OH (Willard, OH), Shelby, OH, Galion, OH, Delaware, OH (New York Central), Columbus, OH, Springfield, OH, Dayton, OH, and Hamilton, OH (Would have to leave for the CSX EX B&O at Dayton for Hamilton).

This is a route I think that could easily become the midwest version of the Piedmont. You could even potentially extend one train all the way to New York, NY via Buffalo, NY, and make that an overnight train across the Empire Corridor. Filling a demand for a Buffalo-New York overnight trip, and could take up the Mid Morning departure from Cleveland.

2. Cincinnati, OH-Detroit, MI via Toledo, OH
Track Owners
-CSX: Cincinnati, OH-Toledo, OH EX B&O
-CSX: Cincinnati, OH-Detroit, MI EX NYC

Potential Stations: Hamilton, OH, Dayton, OH, Troy, OH, Piqua, OH, Sidney, OH, Lima, OH, Deshler, OH, Weston, OH (Bowling Green, OH), Toledo, OH, and Monroe, MI.

Another route that I think could be a very strong corridor. Connecting three major cities to each other that now to travel by rail between one must go to Chicago first. It's a fast all mainline route that should be doable in under 6 hours. Back in 1952 there were two routes one via the New York Central, and one via the Baltimore & Ohio. The B&O operated 3 Pairs a day, the New York Central operated two pairs daily.

3. Cincinnati, OH-Detroit, MI via Columbus, OH and Toledo, OH.
Track Owners
-Norfolk Southern: Cincinnati, OH-Columbus, OH EX NYC (EX Pennsylvania Railroad Panhandle London-Columbus)
-CSX: Columbus, OH-Toledo, OH EX C&O
-CSX: Toledo, OH-Detroit, MI EX NYC

Potential Stations: Hamilton, OH, Dayton, OH, Springfield, OH, Columbus, OH, Delaware, OH (C&O), Marion, OH, Upper Sandusky, OH, Fostoria, OH, Toledo, OH, and Monroe, MI.

This route while not as fast as the direct route on the EX B&O adds two major cities (Springfield, OH, and Columbus, OH), and can provide overlapping service between Columbus-Cincinnati that can provide more often service between those two cities.

4. Cincinnati, OH-Chicago, IL via Indianapolis, IN
Track Owners
-CSX Cincinnati, OH-Chicago, IL following the Cardinal route.

Potential Stations: Hamilton, OH, Connelsville, IN, Indianapolis, IN, Crawfordsville, IN, Lafayette, IN, Rensselaer, IN, Dyer, IN

This route is a major low hanging fruit. It already sees passenger service tri-weekly. Low freight traffic volumes on all but the Hamilton-Cincinnati, and Chicago portions of the route. Back in 1952 the route was served by the New York Central, and Pennsylvania Railroads. New York Central fielded 5 trains a day each way. The Pennsylvania Railroad fielded 3 trains a day each way.

Neither of the historical routes exist anymore the New York Central is abandoned between Greensburg, IN and Shelbyville, IN and Zionsville, IN and Lafayette, IN. The Pennsylvania Railroad is abandoned between New Castle, IN and Kokomo, IN and Logansport, IN and Chicago, IL. So while the hodgepodge of EX B&O, PRR, and MON may not be the best route historically it's the only route now.

5. Columbus, OH-Chicago, IL
Track Owners
-CSX Columbus, OH-Dunkirk, OH
-Chicago, Fort Wayne, & Eastern: Dunkirk, OH-Gary, IN
-Norfolk Southern: Gary, IN-Chicago, IL

Potential Stations: Marysville, OH, Kenton, OH, Lima, OH, Fort Wayne, IN, Warsaw, IN, Plymouth, IN, and Valparaiso, IN.
New Infrastructure: Connection leg at Dunkirk, OH, and Gary, IN

This is a no brainer route Ohio's capitol city to the hub of the midwest. In fact the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1952 fielded three trains on this route by a route that is now mostly abandoned. But rerouting this up to the former Pennsylvania Railroad main line gives Fort Wayne service.

6. Cleveland, OH-St. Louis, MO via Indianapolis
Track Owners
-CSX Cleveland-St. Louis

Potential Stations: Wellington, OH, Greenwich, OH (Willard), Shelby, OH, Gallion, OH, Bellafontaine, OH, Sidney, OH, Union City, IN/OH, Muncie, IN, Anderson, IN, Indianapolis, IN, Greencastle, IN, Terre Haute, IN, Marshall, IL, Effingham, IL, Vandallia, IL, Greenville, IL,

Another strong route with three major cities along it, as well as quite a few minor cities along it as well. It would be a longer route than the others listed but I think it would tie in well.

7. Detroit, MI-St. Louis, MO via Toledo, OH and Fort Wayne, IN
Track Owners
-Norfolk Southern Detroit, MI-St. Louis, MO EX New York Central (Detroit-Butler), EX Wabash (Butler-St. Louis)

Potential Stations: Monroe, MI, Toledo, OH, Bryan, OH, Fort Wayne, IN, Huntington, IN, Logansport, IN, Lafayette, IN, Danville, IL, Tolano, IL, Decatur, IL, Taylorville, IL, and Litchfield, IL.

Another route that lasted up until the day Amtrak took over. Connecting three of the midwest's largest cities without going into the mess that is Chicago. An added bonus is with the other Cincinnati-Detroit routes Toledo-Detroit would host very frequent rail service. And it is shorter than driving the interstate between Detroit and St. Louis.

8. Detroit, MI-Indianapolis via Toledo
Track Owners
-CSX Detroit, MI-Toledo, OH
-Norfolk Southern Toledo, OH-Muncie, IN
-CSX Muncie, IN-Indianapolis, IN

Potential Stations: Monroe, MI, Toledo, OH, Bryan, OH, Fort Wayne, IN, Blufton, IN, Montpelier, IN, Hartford City, IN, Muncie, IN, Anderson, IN

Another simple route between three of the midwest's largest cities, and one that is never really mentioned. It would further boost the Detroit-Toledo corridor, it would boost route No. 7 as far as Fort Wayne. And it would boost the Cleveland-St. Louis train from Muncie to Indy.

9. Detroit, MI-Chicago, IL via Grand Rapids
Track Owners
-CSX Detroit, MI-Porter, IN
-Norfolk Southern Porter, IN-Chicago, IL

Potential Stations: Plymouth, MI, Howell, MI, Lansing, MI, Grand Rapids, MI, Holland, MI, Bangor, MI, and Saint Joseph, MI.

Another simple route that links three of Michigan's major cities, and would give the Pere Marquette the additional frequency it needs.


And that's just some of what I think about east of Chicago. Wait till you hear about west of Chicago.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
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Location
South Carolina
Me too...since you're doing all the "work"😄

How about the PRR South Wind?:)
This is the most fun work I've had in a long time. Here we go.

Pennsylvania Railroad
Chicago-Van, IN (Logansport) (The Southwind did not use the Logansport downtown station opting for the suburban Van Station) is abandoned. I can't find record of when the abandonment happened however.

Van, IN (Logansport)-Floha, IN this line is now the US Rail Corp shortline. They ripped the track out due to a condemned bridge in the south of Flohra.

Floha, IN-Frankfurt, IN has been abandoned by the US Rail Corp Shortline due to a condemned bridge in the 1980s or 1990s and torn out. The right of way appears to be pretty well intact however.

Frankfurt, IN-Indianapolis, IN is currently owned and operated by CSX as a branch line. The track appears to be in great condition from looking at google street view. Amtrak's Cardinal uses a few miles of this line to access the New York Central Peoria line that was abandoned from Union Station to the cross over with the Pennsylvania line.

Indianapolis, IN-Louisville, KY is currently owned by the Louisville & Indiana Railroad and is a highly successful shortline partly owned by CSX if I remember correctly. Correct me if I'm wrong on that. CSX also has trackage rights on the line from Seymour, IN to Louisville, KY and CSX funded track improvements to bring track speed up from 30 MPH to 40 MPH.

Louisville & Nashville
Louisville, KY-Nashville, TN is currently a mainline for CSX. An incredibly active line which serves as part of the Midwest-Florida corridor. High track speed for freight and heavy traffic.

Nashville, TN-Montgomery, AL is currently a very active mainline for CSX. Multiple intermodal stack trains run per day, as well as others running between the Midwest and the south. Birmingham is a traffic bottleneck but that is to be expected with four class ones (KCS on trackage rights, NS, CSX, and BNSF) all entering the city.

Atlantic Coastline
Montgomery, AL-Waycross, GA is currently a very active mainline for CSX. It is one of the two lines used for the Midwest-Florida market, the other one runs via Cordelle, GA. A very active and busy railroad.

Waycross, GA-Jacksonville, FL is the mainline from the midwest to Florida for CSX. 90 percent of the trains that exit Florida use a portion of this line. It joins the Amtrak network at Folkston, GA.

Jacksonville, FL-Auburndale, FL the line the Southwind used after the Florida East Coast strike forced the reroute. This is the current Amtrak route from Jacksonville, FL to Miami. It has some freight on it in Orlando but most freight is routed via the former Seaboard Airline especially after SunRail Started up in Orlando.

Seaboard Airline
Auburndale, FL-Miami, FL the current CSX line that hosts the Silver Star and Silver Meteor into Miami. Also hosts tri rail and limited freight.

Florida East Coast
Jacksonville, FL-Miami, FL is a very active stretch of railroad that runs on a precise schedule for freight service. CSX has all but ceded South Florida freight traffic to the FEC, and NS also interchanges multiple trains with the FEC for South Florida Destination. Home to Brightline as well.

The Southwind for the most part still exists once you get south of Indianapolis, IN.

I'm having a lot of fun which train will I be challenged with next. Let's see if anyone can stump me.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,186
Location
Gator Country Florida
How about when the Silvers used to go through Waldo, Fl - what route did they take sine it would have precluded Palatka

Before Amtrak there used to be passenger trains in Gainesville, Fl - no longer possible since the tracks leading into Gainesville have been taken up.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
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Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,135
Location
Baltimore. MD
I think someone suggested this before, but instead of Flex Dining, why not partner with local food providers along each route for completely fresh cooked-to-order meals? They don't have to replace everything on the Flex Dining menu, but why not start offering a locally-sourced fresh option and put folks along the routes back to work?
1) I'm not sure that such ventures would be consistently profitable. That sort of food service over a long route with Amtrak's notoriously poor timekeeping would add all sorts of complexities and costs that a small local vendor might not be able to handle. Amtrak has put out an RFP for privatized dining, and, as far as I can see, there has been no interest on the private sector side.
2) (Not responding to just this post, but all the posts that bring this up.) What's with the obsession for "fresh cooked-to-order" meals? Even the best first class service on airlines doesn't offer an on-board chef. Yeah, the quality and variety of the food offered by flex dining needs to be improved, but with better food, flex dining service would be perfectly fine for even a 2-night trip.
 

AmtrakFlyer

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
53
That fried chicken thing on the EB always seemed to get good reviews. It can be done. As far as time keeping, every station has restaurants close by. Take chicken for example. How much lead time does KFC, Popeyes or even chick fil a need to prepare 40-50 meals? I would assume an hour or so. They could monitor train status and have it track side relatively fresh. It’s possible with a little planning, a little out of the box thinking, and a motivated fast food franchisee.
Hyvee, Kroger and most groceries stores cater and have delivery trucks also.
This is a testament to how bad Amtrak’s food has gotten that we’re even talking about fast food. The depressing thing is how many people just want to say something isn’t possible. We’re Americans we used to have American ingenuity. Now more often than not I see and hear, “it’s not possible, it won’t happen”.

Regardles we are just banging our heads against the wall until Amtrak’s management wants the company to succeed. Right now they don’t. So to make things possible we need to find a way to get rid of said management:)
 
Last edited:

TheCrescent

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
28
Flexible Dining dinner is fine. I haven't had Flexible Dining lunch (since there is no lunch northbound on the Crescent on the day it arrives in NYC).

My gripes are with Flexible Dining breakfast:

(1) inconsistent service (it's unclear if you can or may not pick up breakfast yourself in the cafe car, and what the ordering procedures are),

(2) low-quality food (microwaved things in plastic, and oatmeal with water, are two entrees), and

(3) lack of quantity (on the Crescent, you have around 7 hours of daylight travel time on the last day of the trip as you head to NYC, but the only meal included is breakfast).

Why can't Amtrak load some healthy, fresh choices for breakfast AND BRUNCH and have them served on plates- even fake china?
 

Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
479
The reason I didn't take the train for multiple decades between childhood and age 57 is that I didn't know anything about it until a friend took the SWC from Chicago to Albuquerque. As part of advertising Amtrak, perhaps they could partner up with some of those travel websites that look up airfare and find flights for people. I just looked at Travelocity which had been the one I used for a few years and I see they have tabs for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cars (rentals, I presume), cruises, and "things to do". How about a tab for trains? Well, I guess there is not a tab for buses either.

Or perhaps some ads, popup or otherwise, when people are searching for air flights online.

Now may not be the time to embark on a marketing campaign, but I do wonder why I have not seen such things in the past. There are so many advantages to taking a train, depending on the potential passenger's situation.
 

sttom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
497
I think someone suggested this before, but instead of Flex Dining, why not partner with local food providers along each route for completely fresh cooked-to-order meals? They don't have to replace everything on the Flex Dining menu, but why not start offering a locally-sourced fresh option and put folks along the routes back to work?
I doubt the unions would allow Amtrak to contract out like that on a more regular basis. Which would make sense because contracting out would likely mean people getting fired or at least the kitchen staff getting a pay cut.

One thing I am surprised they don't do is just pre make the food in house in the locations where they service the trains. This would also make it possible to have better food in the cafe cars. But I don't think the food could hold up for two day runs. Since airline food has to be prepared and flash frozen and kept that way until reheated on the plane. Dining cars would have to be retrofitted to have more freezer space to accommodate the food. I also don't think passengers would like airline style food in dining cars either. Even though most people don't ride trains, there is still some romanticized expectation that the food in the dining car should be freshly prepared. And frankly, as someone who does want to ride a train in a sleeping car someday, I don't want to pay an unknown amount of money for an airline meal only worth $6 a pop.
 
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tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
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Mar 3, 2020
Messages
126
1) I'm not sure that such ventures would be consistently profitable. That sort of food service over a long route with Amtrak's notoriously poor timekeeping would add all sorts of complexities and costs that a small local vendor might not be able to handle. Amtrak has put out an RFP for privatized dining, and, as far as I can see, there has been no interest on the private sector side.
2) (Not responding to just this post, but all the posts that bring this up.) What's with the obsession for "fresh cooked-to-order" meals? Even the best first class service on airlines doesn't offer an on-board chef. Yeah, the quality and variety of the food offered by flex dining needs to be improved, but with better food, flex dining service would be perfectly fine for even a 2-night trip.
Food trucks do a good business in many communities. How about food trucks at track side during a stop?
 

Mailliw

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
52
Location
Northeast PA
There's no reason why Amtrak shouldn't be able to meals at least equivalent to long haul Business class. Via appears tpdoes this on the Ocean.
 

Amtrakfflyer

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
466
Re Food Trucks

That would work on a few longer stops like ABQ on the SWC or DEN on the CZ. One concern would be making sure everyone knew what time the train left and the cut off times required to be back on board. Just like people got left behind playing slots inside the hotel during the Desert Wind days. I could see people getting left behind waiting for their order. Maybe allow the trucks to literally park trackside so conductor could give a 2 min warning.

“There's no reason why Amtrak shouldn't be able to meals at least equivalent to long haul Business class. Via does this on the Ocean.”

Agreed, but this management doesn’t want the system to work however. Hence why after three years they still refused to offer Acela first class meals or equivalent. They can they just don’t want to.
 

TheCrescent

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
28
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?
 
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