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Western LD Trains Poor OTP

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Bob Dylan

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Today's Amtrak Status Maps( 7/26) showing Red for most of the Western LD Trains with the Texas Eagle and Sunset Ltd entering recent SW Chief Lateness Territory!

Today's #2 isn't even to San Antonio yet ( 11am) and #22 Left SAS 3+ Hours Late heading for CHI.

With the Major 70 Car Freight Derailment South of St Louis causing reroutes of the Eagles on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, the OTPs will become even worse due to already heavy Freight Traffic having to be rerouted also.:(
 
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Amtrakfflyer

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You have to wonder if there isn’t outright collusion with Anderson and the freights, at the minimum they know of Anderson’s disdain of the LD network.

The freights want the LD network gone as well and know Anderson won’t push back save for some lip service regarding poor OTP.

Granted Amtrak has equipment issues but I think there’s a grain of truth in there. They know there’s no repercussions under Anderson’s watch.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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Amtrak schedule keeping has really deteriorated where I live and travel.

AmtrakOTP.PNG
Wasn't improving on-time performance supposed to be one of Anderson's core goals and specialties?
 

Steve4031

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The California Zephyr has been hit hard by flooding. It is gradually getting better. I think the chiefs were impacted by flooding too. There a videos of 6 rolling through a flooded Burlington, Iowa station where the tracks were covered with water. It’s hard to blame anyone for those delays.
 
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I read thru a lot of AMTRAK service alerts recently - https://twitter.com/AmtrakAlerts?lang=en
- and noticed a high frequency of "engine problems, mechanical problems, service issues (whatever that means?" Sure, pulling over for freight trains, including freight train breakdowns ahead, rank high along with switch and signal issues, but it sounds like the AMTRAK engines are certainly having LOTS of problems.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I am not quite sure what Anderson can do at least short term if UP as a whole is screwed up in a particular area. Medium to long term he can trigger the STB to do something about it, but YMMV.
I do not dispute that Anderson's hands may indeed be tied, but one of the benefits several members believed Anderson would bring to Amtrak was a renewed focus on dependable service. In exchange for box lunches at full fare prices, a big push for route-weakening bus bridges, and the repeated antagonization of erstwhile supporters, at least we could all be thankful that remaining services would be run in a timely and efficient manner. So far that does not appear to be the case, at least in my experience.
 
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fillyjonk

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Mar 10, 2011
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Based on my recent experience on the Eagles (I get on/off at Mineola), it seems like maybe they need to build like an hour of slack-time between Dallas and Ft. Worth. Or something. Often they will be on time to shortly before Dallas, and then just wind up in a hole where they keep getting later and later.

Dallas to either Texarkana or Little Rock seems to be a bad stretch. Also, for 21, I don't know why between Dwight and Bloomington-Normal it always seems to lose time, but it does.
 

chrsjrcj

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I read thru a lot of AMTRAK service alerts recently - https://twitter.com/AmtrakAlerts?lang=en
- and noticed a high frequency of "engine problems, mechanical problems, service issues (whatever that means?" Sure, pulling over for freight trains, including freight train breakdowns ahead, rank high along with switch and signal issues, but it sounds like the AMTRAK engines are certainly having LOTS of problems.
I have noticed as well that most delays seem to be equipment related.
 

jis

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I do not dispute that Anderson's hands may indeed be tied, but one of the benefits several members believed Anderson would bring to Amtrak was a renewed focus on dependable service. In exchange for box lunches at full fare prices, a big push for route-weakening bus bridges, and the repeated antagonization of erstwhile supporters, at least we could all be thankful that remaining services would be run in a timely and efficient manner. So far that does not appear to be the case, at least in my experience.
Yeah, I don't think that it is within realistic powers of any Amtrak CEO to achieve that in a year or two, on infrastructure over which he has no dispatching control. Contrary to public propaganda, actually the across the board under investment in rail infrastructure by everyone involved (private and public) is starting to come back to roost. The myth that CTC will allow downgrading of track infrastructure to the level that was unrealistically promised is now getting exposed. Hunter Harrison who had drunk that Koolaid lock, stock and barrel, fortunately made a horizontal exit before he could cause further damage. The quality of management, disconnected from deep knowledge of what they are managing does not bode well for improvements as we move bravely forward into the future either.

It is simply not possible to run as reliable a railroad, passenger or freight as one would like given where collectively we find our rail infrastructure and quality of management as it is, given the demands now placed on it. Yeah, a more sympathetic towards passenger service, freight railroad could squeeze a few passenger trains through a bit better if they so desired, but the relative revenue situation leads to less desirable situation, not withstanding the law etc.

This is not to excuse Anderson's several transgressions against the wishes of the railfan and advocacy community, some of which make sense and some doesn't, at least to me. But I cannot tell for sure how much of it is tweaking the tails of an industry that is substantially stuck somewhere between 1900 and 1950, and how much is actually towards dismantling passenger service, though I suspect quite a bit of it is towards dismantling significant parts of passenger service as we have known it and replacing it with something else. I am not sure that I necessarily like the visions of the "something else", but I can see how passenger service as we have known it, is not necessarily sustainable, unless Congress is willing to stand up and state unequivocally that sustaining it through adequate government support is part of their long term vision.

As far as I can see Anderson's main positive contributions are in the area of safety and maintenance of ramshackle equipment, and more consistent planning for fleet replacement, such as it is. His dogged pursuit of operational self sufficiency, which still is the underlying Mantra that Congress has doggedly refused to change, notwithstanding Jim Matthew's intriguing parsing of Congressional sophistry to try to make an argument that they have actually changed, will lead to a less than desirable system overall (I think). But as Walter Cronkite used to say at the end of each of his newscast - "And that is the way it is on this day" or something to that effect.
 

ehbowen

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But I cannot tell for sure how much of it is tweaking the tails of an industry that is substantially stuck somewhere between 1900 and 1950...
How I wish that the industry was stuck somewhere between 1900 and 1950! In those years the United States rail network was universally recognized as the finest in the world!
 

jis

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How I wish that the industry was stuck somewhere between 1900 and 1950! In those years the United States rail network was universally recognized as the finest in the world!
Technically, they have regressed from then. In terms of passenger service the situation is completely hopeless. But I was talking mostly of not keeping up with advancements in the area of safety and operations as it relates to passenger service, and even freight service. The trend has been to under-invest, tear apart existing infrastructure beyond justifiable retrenching to accommodate reduced traffic, and then trying to ram through volumes of traffic on ever decreasing capacity while pretending that capacity is actually increasing due to haphazard deployment of fancy new technology. The results are as expected.

I listened through the entire NTSB hearing on the Cayce collision the other day, and what I heard was truly alarming. I got a better understanding of the whole SMS hoo-haa. I had not realized that the freight railroad operating procedures and lack of safety training had deteriorated to the point that it has, and the fact that Amtrak till now had just accepted the freight railroad procedures without any review as it pertains to the needs of passenger operations, as is now being done with SMS.
 

ehbowen

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Technically, they have regressed from then. In terms of passenger service the situation is completely hopeless. But I was talking mostly of not keeping up with advancements in the area of safety and operations as it relates to passenger service, and even freight service. The trend has been to under-invest, tear apart existing infrastructure beyond justifiable retrenching to accommodate reduced traffic, and then trying to ram through volumes of traffic on ever decreasing capacity while pretending that capacity is actually increasing due to haphazard deployment of fancy new technology. The results are as expected.

I listened through the entire NTSB hearing on the Cayce collision the other day, and what I heard was truly alarming. I got a better understanding of the whole SMS hoo-haa. I had not realized that the freight railroad operating procedures and lack of safety training had deteriorated to the point that it has, and the fact that Amtrak till now had just accepted the freight railroad procedures without any review as it pertains to the needs of passenger operations, as is now being done with SMS.
Oh, believe me, I get what you're saying. Right now we "enjoy" the worst of both worlds. :(
 

bretton88

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Fred Frailey from Trains Magazine actually thinks that the freight railroads are just not able to run a timetabled operation anymore. The infrastructure and experience is just no longer there for the class 1s. His view is that in light of that, anything over 60% otp on the LD trains is viewed as a success anymore by management of the freight companies.
 

Devil's Advocate

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So far as I am aware Amtrak still does not enjoy meaningful priority in dispatching and there has never been a substantial regulatory punishment for any railroad that delayed Amtrak or suspended passenger operations under unilateral rules based on arbitrary reasoning. Amtrak also has little if any regulatory protection from excessive operating fees or absurdly disproportionate indemnity agreements. Fixing these types of issues would not require much money, but it would need some spine and determination. Has Anderson brought up any of these issues to congresspeople and regulators?

AmtrakTexasNorthMap.PNG
 
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