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What is your predictive outlook for the future of Amtrak in the next 3 years?

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Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
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Much of what was done was fixing or replacing stuff that was broken. In a properly run railroad, that sort of stuff is considered maintenance, not investment, and is duly budgeted for.
Which is why we need multi-year authorizations and allocations.

Then there was the high speed rail plan, for which a lot of starting money was put on the table. But much of that got frittered away, and now there is little to show for it.
It wasn't frittered away so much as refused, returned and rescinded after the fact.

A daily Sunset Limited or a train between New Orleans and Florida is about as remote today, if not even remoter, than when Obama took office.
What does the Sunset's schedule have to do with the office of the President?
 
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McIntyre2K7

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Things I would like to see:

1. Trains back to daily service.
2. Arrival of new trains or an announcement of a contract where the whole fleet is being replaced. I haven't been on an Amtrak train but from the videos I've watched they look really old. Why would I want to ride something that looks really old? You can't look the sleeper cabin doors from the outside?? I mean replace the doors and add a keycard lock like they have a hotels.

3. A route that goes Orlando to Chicago via the following cities Jacksonville/Atlanta/Nashville/Louisville/Indianapolis
4. A Gulf Coast Service (Miami or Orlando to New Orleans) to replace the "suspended" part of the Sunset limited.
 

Bob Dylan

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Things I would like to see:

1. Trains back to daily service.
2. Arrival of new trains or an announcement of a contract where the whole fleet is being replaced. I haven't been on an Amtrak train but from the videos I've watched they look really old. Why would I want to ride something that looks really old? You can't look the sleeper cabin doors from the outside?? I mean replace the doors and add a keycard lock like they have a hotels.

3. A route that goes Orlando to Chicago via the following cities Jacksonville/Atlanta/Nashville/Louisville/Indianapolis
4. A Gulf Coast Service (Miami or Orlando to New Orleans) to replace the "suspended" part of the Sunset limited.
Daily Texas Eagle CHI-LAX, LA to Vegas,Return of the Cross Border Trains to Canada, Daily Cardinal
 

flitcraft

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My worry about the future is that new Corona virus variants are appearing now... If there is no worry about the current vaccines not working against the new variants, why are certain countries being banned from travelling? Hopes of getting back to "normal" in the next few quarters seem very optimistic to me?
What I have been told is that the variant viruses have not changed the nature of the protein shell of the virus--which is what the mRNA vaccines train the body to create antibodies for. What makes the UK and South Africa variants so problematic is that they are considerably more contagious than the earlier variants, most likely due to causing infected persons to shed more viral load. Since it is clear that even the most efficient vaccine rollout is not going to cover most of the population for some months, trying to keep the more transmissible variants out of circulation makes sense if you want to reduce sickness and deaths in the near term future. Hence, the attempt to keep the variants out by reducing or banning travel from affected countries. (In my non-expert opinion, though, travel bans probably will be ineffective; by the time you realize that a highly contagious mutation is circulating in Country A, travel from Country A to the rest of the globe has likely already introduced it.)

As you say, normal isn't in our immediate future, sadly. But if we squint, we can just about see how normal, or close to normal, could be achieved by late 2021. Depending on how governments and populations react, of course.
 

Nick Farr

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No one is saying it will be easy.

Ford is open to it - they’ve committed to leaving the passenger tracks in place, and the entire Main Floor / Concourse is to remain open to the public. As with anything else there is funding to solve and a lot of hurdles to clear.
Where did you see a commitment to leave the passenger tracks in place? All the renderings I'm seeing imply they're being ripped out. The other problem is that in the US, there are few passenger services in the US where passengers arrive at the platforms from below. Los Angeles Union Station is the only one I can think of with this arrangement.

I'm saying it's not a good use of resources. MCS is not central to anything of interest in Detroit except maybe Slows? Putting the train station there means you don't have pedestrian access to things of interest or local transportation to get you to where you want to go.

It makes a lot more sense to run a spur along Jefferson and have the train station become part of a dedicated intermodal facility with Amtrak, Greyhound, People Mover, services, etc. attached to COBO hall.

It is way better/safer to have passengers take the train and arrive in the "center of the action"--so their game, conference, hotel, restaurants, etc. are within walking distance. It's better for commuter development to have a station drop in the center of offices and employment. It's not good for tourists or commuters to be dumped in an ugly part of town and expect them fight for taxis.

Finally, the public spaces in the MCS don't really lend themselves to being a true train station. They're being redesigned to host big events, exhibits, etc. Any usage as a train station would be secondary and routed around the spaces designed for use as a train station.
 

Bob Dylan

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I can think of 4 other Stations where you accessed the Platforms from below,Penn Newark, Dallas Union Station via a Tunnel now Closed, Toronto Union Station and Oklahoma City.
 

jis

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I can think of 4 other Stations where you accessed the Platforms from below,Penn Newark, Dallas Union Station via a Tunnel now Closed, Toronto Union Station and Oklahoma City.
The modified Springfield MA is being designed for access from below AFAIR.

Isn't Birmingham AL from below too? How about Schenectady NY? And Oklahoma City OK? Not to mention Metropark and New Brunswick NJ.

What is wrong with accessing platforms from below anyway?
 

Bob Dylan

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The modified Springfield MA is being designed for access from below AFAIR.

Isn't Birmingham AL from below too? How about Schenectady NY? And Oklahoma City OK? Not to mention Metropark and New Brunswick NJ.

What is wrong with accessing platforms from below anyway?
Wonder if the Old Stations that dont have Elevators or Escelators have a Waiver for ADA Regs?

I remember when we rode out to Paoli during the Philadelphia Gathering and had to Climb Stairs to cross over to the Station on the other side of the Tracks for the return since there were 2 Stations there.(I understand this has been updated to Modern standards now.)
 

John Bredin

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I'm saying it's not a good use of resources. MCS is not central to anything of interest in Detroit except maybe Slows? Putting the train station there means you don't have pedestrian access to things of interest or local transportation to get you to where you want to go.
The problem is that MCS and the present Amtrak station in New Center are about as close to downtown Detroit as existing train tracks get. Were there stations any closer to downtown in decades past? If so, I presume those tracks were removed.

It makes a lot more sense to run a spur along Jefferson and have the train station become part of a dedicated intermodal facility with Amtrak, Greyhound, People Mover, services, etc. attached to COBO hall.
Which would be a dead-end requiring a back-up move for Wolverines to go on to Pontiac.

It makes a lot more sense to me to run a light rail line from downtown to MCS along Michigan Avenue, like the line that connects the present Amtrak station to downtown. Then future development would cluster along Michigan Ave., bringing downtown to the station rather than the station to downtown. :) Michigan Ave. from its intersection with the MCS driveway to when it enters downtown (which I'm counting as 3rd Ave.) is almost exactly a mile. That's a lot closer to the existing downtown than New Center is, and IMHO close enough for downtown to "flow" there if there was something to draw development ... like a light rail line and/or MCS as an active station.
 

Devil's Advocate

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It's a litmus test for the rail friendliness of an administration.
The Sunset's schedule is primarily determined by the operator's interest in changing it, the host's willingness to cooperate, the budget's ability to pay reasonable impact fees, and regulator/judicial oversight to ensure fair dealing. None of this is controlled by the executive branch so I'm not sure why this would be a rational litmus test for them.
 
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me_little_me

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The Sunset's schedule is primarily determined by the operator's interest in changing it, the host's willingness to cooperate, the budget's ability to pay reasonable impact fees, and regulator/judicial oversight to ensure fair dealing. None of this is controlled by the executive branch so I'm not sure why this would be a rational litmus test for them.
C'mon! Regulators are controlled by the executive branch. The Attorney General can sue for judicial oversight. The President has the biggest individual impact on the budget. And administration pressure on the host and operator is something that goes on all the time
 

Devil's Advocate

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C'mon! Regulators are controlled by the executive branch. The Attorney General can sue for judicial oversight. The President has the biggest individual impact on the budget. And administration pressure on the host and operator is something that goes on all the time
A properly functioning administration nominates directors and coordinates policy in general terms but it rarely micromanages regulators at such a low level. The Attorney General would need to have a very clean slate to think suing Union Pacific over a single route schedule was a wise use of time and money. A President's budget proposal is rarely given more than a passing glance and his direct influence is below that of the Senate and House Majority Leaders. A President could choose to veto a bill over a single route's schedule but why would he? Using the bully pulpit to bash a major corporate donor over a single route's schedule would be a high risk low reward proposition and other than a vague article we still haven't confirmed that Amtrak actually wanted the Sunset's schedule changed in the first place.
 
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John Santos

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Sad to look back on the rail accident mentioned above, I believe some A.U. or other train website fans were among those who lost their lives?
My worry about the future is that new Corona virus variants are appearing now... If there is no worry about the current vaccines not working against the new variants, why are certain countries being banned from travelling? Hopes of getting back to "normal" in the next few quarters seem very optimistic to me?
The current vaccines seem to work fine for the newest (UK and South Africa) variants. I think the reason for the travel bans is that there is very little vaccine penetration so far (less than 3% of the population of my state has received the first shot) and the new strains are much more contagious. Being more contagious, it takes a higher percentage of immunity (whether acquired from infection or from vaccination) to reduce the spread.
At 3% per month, it will take 30 months, or two and a half years, 12 quarters, to reach 90%! "The next few quarters" is wildly optimistic, even if the delivery rate doubles and new vaccines (i.e. the single-shot Astra-Zenica and Johnson & Johnson) get approved soon. I was really hoping for next summer .:(
 

IndyLions

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Where did you see a commitment to leave the passenger tracks in place? All the renderings I'm seeing imply they're being ripped out. The other problem is that in the US, there are few passenger services in the US where passengers arrive at the platforms from below. Los Angeles Union Station is the only one I can think of with this arrangement.
Here is the interview with the executive in charge of the project:

Here is an excerpt from that article:
"That question is a lot bigger than I am," Dubensky said in an interview (when asked if Michigan Central would ever host passenger trains again), ...one of the things I can tell you we will do for sure is that when we redo the station, we will ensure that we protect four passenger tracks. Right now, there's two freight rail lines that run behind the station, and when we redo the back of the station, we'll ensure that whatever we do, we'll have the capability to bring passenger rail through there again.
 

IndyLions

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The problem is that MCS and the present Amtrak station in New Center are about as close to downtown Detroit as existing train tracks get. Were there stations any closer to downtown in decades past? If so, I presume those tracks were removed.

Which would be a dead-end requiring a back-up move for Wolverines to go on to Pontiac.
Detroit had three train stations, two which were significant. Michigan Central was a through station, and the Fort Street Union Depot was a terminal station. Fort Street was a little bit closer to downtown, but as a stub station required a back up move for every train. Michigan Central’s location was driven by its proximity to the mouth of the Detroit River Tunnel to Canada - but it’s also located within a mile of downtown on the main thoroughfare entering the city from the west.

But this isn’t about a return to the glory days. This is about having a train station that is actually located where things are happening and where people want to be. Not just stuck out somewhere in the suburbs, or in a beaten down part of the city where land can be acquired cheaply.
 

caravanman

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The current vaccines seem to work fine for the newest (UK and South Africa) variants. I think the reason for the travel bans is that there is very little vaccine penetration so far (less than 3% of the population of my state has received the first shot) and the new strains are much more contagious. Being more contagious, it takes a higher percentage of immunity (whether acquired from infection or from vaccination) to reduce the spread.
At 3% per month, it will take 30 months, or two and a half years, 12 quarters, to reach 90%! "The next few quarters" is wildly optimistic, even if the delivery rate doubles and new vaccines (i.e. the single-shot Astra-Zenica and Johnson & Johnson) get approved soon. I was really hoping for next summer .:(
I understand the aspect that the new variants are more contagious, as also mentioned by Flitcraft, and I hope the vaccines are still effective. Maybe I am just a cynical old man who has lost faith in the pathetic official handling of this public health crisis!
 

bms

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I understand the aspect that the new variants are more contagious, as also mentioned by Flitcraft, and I hope the vaccines are still effective. Maybe I am just a cynical old man who has lost faith in the pathetic official handling of this public health crisis!
I agree with you, not even 40 and I'll believe the pandemic is over when I see it. I still think we will see a rather quick restoration of daily service on long distance routes.

Personally, I've already lost enough income hiding from the virus. I'm an Essential Worker in two different lines of work, equipped with the latest PPE and doing my work.

Beyond restoration of daily service, I doubt we'll see any new service until after the pandemic is over. I do think Senator Manchin wields enough power in a 50/50 Senate that we should see a return of daily service on the Cardinal. Senator Toomey now has a lot of power as well, and a daily Cardinal would also give Philadelphia a daily nonstop train to Chicago (something it never should have lacked).
 

Ziv

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Sorry to continue the thread jack, but the EV-1 was an excellent little 2 seater. People that leased it really liked it. But the battery pack cost a fortune and the range was just 60 miles for the first couple hundred built. They eventually got the range up to 160 miles but that pack only went into the last cars built. There were only 1100 of them built in total and the lease payments didn't even come close to paying what the cars cost to build. The problem was that the batteries needed "doesn't exist yet" at that point, or at least not at the price point needed to make the car without losing tens of thousands of dollars on each one, if GM had tried to sell them. But the engineering experience that went into the EV-1 is the reason GM was able to build the Volt and then the Bolt. Both were engineering achievements, but both were still too expensive to ever sell really well.
Tesla hit the market at the right time with the right idea. Take advantage of the rapid drop in Li-Ion cell prices (and the reduction in weight and volume didn't hurt either) to build a boutique roadster and then a luxury sedan. Eberhard and Tarpenning were brilliant guys, but Musk's arrival is what brought the company the leadership it needed to break out. Amazing achievement!
Tesla didn't exist until it came out with the electric. It is one of those that qualified as "doesn't exist yet" as opposed to the traditional car manufacturers who were just followers.
As to GM, they just dabbled in it. Per your article, the dumped the whole idea in spite of customers and because they couldn't make a profit. They didn't really make a commitment to EVs. Note that if EVs die, so does Tesla as that is their business as is true with some other startups in the business.

As to this thread, we have gone far and wide from it so I will say no more on the subject of EVs here. Others are free to keep the subject of EVs going as so many topics on this forum do the same wandering far and wide.
 

bms

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Detroit had three train stations, two which were significant. Michigan Central was a through station, and the Fort Street Union Depot was a terminal station. Fort Street was a little bit closer to downtown, but as a stub station required a back up move for every train. Michigan Central’s location was driven by its proximity to the mouth of the Detroit River Tunnel to Canada - but it’s also located within a mile of downtown on the main thoroughfare entering the city from the west.

But this isn’t about a return to the glory days. This is about having a train station that is actually located where things are happening and where people want to be. Not just stuck out somewhere in the suburbs, or in a beaten down part of the city where land can be acquired cheaply.
Well said. Currently, Dearborn and Ann Arbor get as many passengers as Detroit.
 

jis

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At 3% per month, it will take 30 months, or two and a half years, 12 quarters, to reach 90%! "The next few quarters" is wildly optimistic, even if the delivery rate doubles and new vaccines (i.e. the single-shot Astra-Zenica and Johnson & Johnson) get approved soon. I was really hoping for next summer .:(
Astra-Zeica is not a single shot vaccine. It requires two shots.

J&J is single shot but it is unlikely to complete its stage 3 trials until well into February, probably second half.

BTW, you require 70-75% for herd immunity with a good 90-95% efficacy vaccines, not 90%. As the vaccine efficacy goes down percentage required to be immunized goes up.

US has managed to get the first shot into 3.2% of the population so far, and serious vaccination, such as it is, really began in Jan. There was some earlier vaccination in December.

That is not to say that Warp Speed has been starved of Dilithium and been fed crap instead so it is not even running at Impulse speed. It needs a complete overhaul. Also the manufacturers have been having problem keeping up with their starry eyed projections too.
 

cirdan

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The modified Springfield MA is being designed for access from below AFAIR.

Isn't Birmingham AL from below too? How about Schenectady NY? And Oklahoma City OK? Not to mention Metropark and New Brunswick NJ.

What is wrong with accessing platforms from below anyway?
Jackson MS too I think.
 

cirdan

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The Sunset's schedule is primarily determined by the operator's interest in changing it, the host's willingness to cooperate, the budget's ability to pay reasonable impact fees, and regulator/judicial oversight to ensure fair dealing. None of this is controlled by the executive branch so I'm not sure why this would be a rational litmus test for them.
But this is not a new train.

The train was running right up until it was interrupted by Hurricane Katarina. So the budget was there. The equipment was there. The staff was there. The training and knowledge was there. The stations were there. The train path and schedule was there. The ridership was there. The host railroad's willingness to cooperate was (sort of) there. All it would have needed was a fist on the table saying, now quit the excuses and just do it.

Of course over time since then things have changed and it does indeed get more and more like starting a new train from scratch.
 

Bob Dylan

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But this is not a new train.

The train was running right up until it was interrupted by Hurricane Katarina. So the budget was there. The equipment was there. The staff was there. The training and knowledge was there. The stations were there. The train path and schedule was there. The ridership was there. The host railroad's willingness to cooperate was (sort of) there. All it would have needed was a fist on the table saying, now quit the excuses and just do it.

Of course over time since then things have changed and it does indeed get more and more like starting a new train from scratch.
UP wanted an obscene amount to reinstate the Sunset East and run a Daily Eagle, and the story is that an Amtrak Exec backed out @ the last minute when a deal was reached???
 
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