What Should Amtrak Change?

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AmtrakBlue

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Wait, I was on the Lakeshore Limited last October, and we had wifi in the sleepers. I even attended a Zoom meeting while riding in my room.
Was this between NYC and Albany? Just wondering if WiFi was only available while riding up the Hudson.
 
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Was this between NYC and Albany? Just wondering if WiFi was only available while riding up the Hudson.
No, the meeting was at 7:30 PM, so I was Zooming after we left Albany. No reason there shouldn't be wifi after Albany, as I'm sure that part of New York has lots of cell towers, and the wifi connects via cellular signals.
 

TheCrescent

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One think I’d like changed is wake-up call times. On my overnight train, I get a wake up call consistently 30 minutes before arrival. Well, it’s often around 4:30am when the wake-up call comes. Even though the train is very early and will be sitting in my destination station for a long time, and not leaving until 5:30. I would be fine with 15 minutes’ advance notice. So a wake-up call 15 minutes before I absolutely have to be off the train- around 5:15- would be so much better.
 

daybeers

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One think I’d like changed is wake-up call times. On my overnight train, I get a wake up call consistently 30 minutes before arrival. Well, it’s often around 4:30am when the wake-up call comes. Even though the train is very early and will be sitting in my destination station for a long time, and not leaving until 5:30. I would be fine with 15 minutes’ advance notice. So a wake-up call 15 minutes before I absolutely have to be off the train- around 5:15- would be so much better.
I agree with you, except in circumstances when the attendant needs to clean and remake the bed for new passengers boarding at that station.
 

bms

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No, the meeting was at 7:30 PM, so I was Zooming after we left Albany. No reason there shouldn't be wifi after Albany, as I'm sure that part of New York has lots of cell towers, and the wifi connects via cellular signals.

Usually the Wi-Fi works just fine from when you leave the tunnel out of New York until you finally reach a rural area between Buffalo and Erie. There are some other dead areas in Ohio west of Toledo, and in eastern Indiana. On occasion though, it is very slow or doesn't work at all for the entire trip. Hotspot access through a cell phone is a lot more reliable, but will be dead in those same areas.
 

Tom Booth

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The NEC is a sink hole, and could suck away all the money in the world if it were allowed to. But that’s neither politically realistic or sensible. Amtrak needs to be national or nothing. In point of fact, the market penetration of long distance trains exceeds the market penetration of the NEC in many places. The Sunset Limited serves more population and faster growing areas than the NEC. I live in Arizona, and I’m glad to support the NEC if my friends in the NEC support a daily Sunset and the Sun Corridor between Tucson and Phoenix, and ultimately on to LA. But if the NEC folks want to take our trains away, and take all the funding, I don’t care if another steel wheel ever turns between New York and Washington. Let me be clear; if we lose our trains, I would gladly oppose any funding for rail anywhere else.
There's no need to bash a money making and highly popular sector. The NEC is successful. I agree that Amtrak is national in scope and monies should also be spent to provide reliable, daily service to other areas but I'd hesitate to pit one region against another. I don't think infighting will ultimately help Amtrak's improvement.
 

dadonatrain

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#1: Invest some money into more PR training for all employees that have direct
contact with customers with the goal of providing a consistently pleasant
experience for the guest, whether it is on the train or on the phone or at a
station.

#2: Daily Cardinal service with a proper dining car

#3: Return to printing National Timetables
Definitely agree with #3! Luddite here just wants to sit back in my lazy boy and read the old analog style (aka paper) timetables!
 
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There's no need to bash a money making and highly popular sector. The NEC is successful. I agree that Amtrak is national in scope and monies should also be spent to provide reliable, daily service to other areas but I'd hesitate to pit one region against another. I don't think infighting will ultimately help Amtrak's improvement.
Not to mention that the NEC and its branch lines are perhaps the only intercity passenger rail services in the country that make up a major percentage of transportation mode share in its market. If it went away, it would cause a lot of disruption. This is especially true if you add in the commuter service, and a lot of the NEC funding supports that, too. The fact that the NEC serves 10 states also suggests that significant Federal funding is also appropriate. In fact, I'd like to see the NEC replicated in other parts of the country, although I don't know if there are too many other corridors in this country with multiple metro areas with populations of 1 million plus stuffed into a 400-mile route. There might be some potential in the midwest, the southeast, and maybe the Colorado-Wyoming Front Range, but out west there's just too much empty (OK, lightly populated) land in between the large cities.
 

jis

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There might be some potential in the midwest, the southeast, and maybe the Colorado-Wyoming Front Range, but out west there's just too much empty (OK, lightly populated) land in between the large cities.
Don't forget California as in LAX - San Diego. Emeryville - Sacramento would be a candidate at par with Colorado Front Range too possibly, and not to mention the Florida Corridor that Brightline is going after.
 
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Don't forget California as in LAX - San Diego. Emeryville - Sacramento would be a candidate at par with Colorado Front Range to possibly, and not to mention the Florida Corridor that Brightline is going after.
Florida is in the Southeast, which I mentioned as potential corridor material. LAX-San Diego is close to NEC frequencies, though they could do with some frequency increase to Santa Barabara. Sacramento-San Jose (which includes Emeryville) is getting there but could use some improvements to speed up trip time. They're already working on California High Speed Rail, which will eventually (but maybe not in my lifetime) link LAX with the Bay area. Brightline West to Las Vegas will be more like the Empire Service or the Keystones, a branch line that feeds into the main corridor.
 

jis

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Yeah Southeast has multiple potential corridors, even some overlapping. All parts of today's Amtrak Atlantic Coast Service could support corridor like service at various levels in addition to the currently nonexistent route between Atlanta and Orlampa. For the last one a look at the state of I-75 should convince anyone that something is needed, though practically such a route is slated through JAX in the FRA corridor study of the Southeast Region.
 

bms

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Yeah Southeast has multiple potential corridors, even some overlapping. All parts of today's Amtrak Atlantic Coast Service could support corridor like service at various levels in addition to the currently nonexistent route between Atlanta and Orlampa. For the last one a look at the state of I-75 should convince anyone that something is needed, though practically such a route is slated through JAX in the FRA corridor study of the Southeast Region.

There is so much demand in the South that you could practically rebuild the old Southern Railway passenger system, but North Carolina and Virginia appear to be the only States willing to pay for an acceptable level of service.

One of the major flaws of the National Network is that it's basically a subset of what existed in 1971. Cities in the West and Southeast have tripled in size or more since then.
 
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Yeah Southeast has multiple potential corridors, even some overlapping. All parts of today's Amtrak Atlantic Coast Service could support corridor like service at various levels in addition to the currently nonexistent route between Atlanta and Orlampa. For the last one a look at the state of I-75 should convince anyone that something is needed, though practically such a route is slated through JAX in the FRA corridor study of the Southeast Region.
The one thing that might make the NEC unique is that there are 37.4 million people within 25 miles of a NEC station. (RPA statistics) The Capitol Corridor in California has only 9.7 million people living withing 25 miles of a station, the Pacific Surfliner has 18.6 million, the Piedmont has 4.9 million, Lincoln Service has 8.9 million, Keystone Service has 23.1 million (but it overlaps with the NEC New York-Philadelphia), Empire Service 19.6 million (not sure if that includes Toronto, as the stats also include the Maple Leaf). The NEC is clearly something unique.
 

jis

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NEC is of course unique. Remember I am originally an NEC person now in Florida, so I have heard both sides of the discussion and have to correct both sides off of their parochial high horses from time to time. People who think NEC should not be funded are on their own dogmatic joyride, and that happens from time to time. In those situations it is a fools errand to try to change minds with facts. And often they have no idea of the amount of funding provided by the NEC states for the upkeep of the NEC over and above Amtrak funding, mainly because they are huge users of the NEC above and beyond Amtrak. And if anything, with the NEC Commission there are now formulae to determine what each ones fair share contribution is based on usage, and that is being enforced.

I was merely trying to identify other corridors as you had started mentioning in your original message that I was responding to.
 
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Qapla

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I think we should also talk about the things Amtrak should NOT change ... like:
  • Making the seats narrower
  • removing food service from coach
  • making the cars so modern that they are no longer comfortable or attractive
  • reducing the number or size of luggage you can bring for free
 
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I was merely trying to identify other corridors as you had started mentioning in your original message that was responding to.
Oh, I agree with you 100%. My interest is in identifying additional corridors across the country that could provide near-NEC levels (that is, 2019 NEC levels) of frequency (say 2, trains per hour during most of the day and an overnight train over the whole corridor), and maybe also add local transportation ecosystems of commuter rail and other rail transit, plus accompanying transit-oriented development. The goal is to (1) make passenger rail a significant player in a region's transportation mix, and (2) support development patterns that could cause significant reductions in the number of automobile miles driven.
 

Cal

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LAX-San Diego is close to NEC frequencies
Woah, we didn't even have hourly service pre-COVID -- although there was only like 3 gaps.

WAS-NYP on Monday, March 7: 23 options
SAN-LAX on Monday, March 7: 10 options
 

west point

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The one thing that might make the NEC unique is that there are 37.4 million people within 25 miles of a NEC station. the Piedmont has 4.9 million,

You really gave the SE short study. The SE has the most underserved 25 mile locations without any service at all. Even the piedmont is neglected with no service CLT-Columbia - Augusta - Macon - ATL. Then you have Montgomery ALA, Gainesville Fl, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Mobile (maybe not much longer) almost all of Tennessee, maybe you can include most of Kentucky. Then you have much of ATL outside of that 25-mile metric including my location.
 
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The one thing that might make the NEC unique is that there are 37.4 million people within 25 miles of a NEC station. (RPA statistics) The Capitol Corridor in California has only 9.7 million people living withing 25 miles of a station, the Pacific Surfliner has 18.6 million, the Piedmont has 4.9 million, Lincoln Service has 8.9 million, Keystone Service has 23.1 million (but it overlaps with the NEC New York-Philadelphia), Empire Service 19.6 million (not sure if that includes Toronto, as the stats also include the Maple Leaf). The NEC is clearly something unique.
Another important corridor is Chicago-Cleveland-Pittsburgh/Buffalo. RPA doesn't provide population within 25 miles of a station along the corridor, but the sums of the major metro areas along the corridor (Chicago, South Bend, Toldeo, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh), results in the following population statistics:

CHI-CLE: 14.5 million
CHI-BUF: 15.6 million
CHI-PIT: 16.9 million

Of these, 10 million people are accounted for in the Chicago metro area.

It would seem to me that this corridor should be a very high priority for some serious rail corridor development. That is, 1-2 trains per hour, at least, plus additional commuter rail (Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh already have light rail systems.) The rail distance between Chicago and both Buffalo and Pittsburgh are on the order of 400-500 miles. This is not just to improve transportation choices for people now living in the area, but to attract more development to repopulate this Rust Belt region. We really should be implementing a national policy to increase the relative population of the country from the Sun Belt to the Rust Belt, as the Rust Belt is located in a part of the country that is more resilient to the negative effects of climate change. In short, we should be downsizing Phoenix, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and maybe even LA and San Diego, and increasing population in Cleveland, Buffalo, Toledo, Detroit, etc.

This corridor would also have network benefits, as it connects at both ends to other corridors and could even support one or two additional frequencies of long-distance trains connecting Chicago with various east coast cities. There is also the potential for branch corridors, like Toldeo-Detroit-Flint-Saginaw-Bay City and Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinatti.

In fact, I think this corridor is such a high priority, it should be primarily Federally funded. If the states of Ohio and Indiana don't want to contribute their fair share, it should be entirely Federally funded, with the state share being accounted for by reducing highway funding in those states by the appropriate amount. I think this corridor important enough that the Feds should even consider buying the NS trackage to be able to better control operations. (Of course, NS would be able to continue to operate freight service over the line, and they might be able to profit from trackside development of their land located near passenger stations.)
 

TheCrescent

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Amtrak should get rid of the red, white and blue stripes at window level on its cars. I’ve never liked them. Is it trying to American Airlines or trying to broadcast that it’s the national railroad?
 

Cal

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Amtrak should get rid of the red, white and blue stripes at window level on its cars. I’ve never liked them. Is it trying to American Airlines or trying to broadcast that it’s the national railroad?
It's simply a livery, just like every airline, railroad, bus company, etc has....
 
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