What should Amtrak change?

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jis

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But I know and like Paul better than Peter!

So, if there are only two sets on the Capital Ltd that would only free up 4 coaches and 2 sleepers. Not enough to regularly add equipment to even a single western train.

Might be a modest benefit by increasing the pool of standby equipment to protect the existing shortened consists, but that's about it I guess.

File this idea this under the heading "Not worth it." Under the circumstances I will waive my usual consulting fee. 😉
Cap uses three sets, not two.

The whole idea of converting the Cap to a single level train at present is a non starter because there simply is not enough single level equipment available to do so. Well it could possibly converted to an all Coach train using the stored Horizon fleet, with no Diner and an Amfleet I or Horizon Cafe, but who wants that? Even with all stored equipment back in service there really aren't enough Diners and Lounges to operate anything more than fully equipped current single level service reliably.
 

rs9

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Amtrak prices sleepers well above first class airfare, inflates short distance sleeper fares, and runs out of compartments regularly. Because the demand far exceeds supply and because sleeper pricing favors longer distances this conclusion sounds presumptive and premature.


How does bringing back sleeper rooms that were lost to crossing impacts and deferred maintenance harm coach travelers?


There are thousands of sleeper travelers who want the same trains you ride to get longer, faster, and more dependable with increased frequencies and improved amenities for everyone. I don't know a single sleeper passenger who wants to take anything away from coach passengers or make them pay more. Maybe if you stopped thinking in terms "flyover resident" you would see that we're actually on the same team and turning us away hurts your goals as much as ours.
With all due respect, the conclusion about how non-terminus passengers use Amtrak's western routes is spelled out in the data. Most people are traveling shorter segments in coach - see the top ten routes for each line, along with how passengers in those route distances are traveling.

Sure, it could be possible that people would book sleepers if they were more available and more affordable - which I wrote. But in lieu of any data to suggest that, it's simply guesswork. Likewise, it's not likely Amtrak is offering low-price sleepers anytime soon. We can all hope for it, I would love it, but we can also be realistic. Even before pandemic-era price increases, sleepers were priced like a first class airline service. I would be hard-pressed to describe that as "affordable."

The document that was posted (What should Amtrak change?) makes the claims: "These Amtrak trains serve 'fly-over' country; Transportation options are limited and costly."

And: "Although more stable, it is clear Superliner sleeping car capacity is being redeployed to the Auto Train. Western trains are being denied capacity despite their essential role serving 'flyover' country."

As a non-sleeper passenger, this type of report/argument/document does not make me feel like I'm "on the same team."
 

Devil's Advocate

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I looked through your post but I did not see anything that was obviously responding to this part...
How does bringing back sleeper rooms that were lost to crossing impacts and deferred maintenance harm coach travelers?
An alternative wording might be "How would reducing sleeper services help coach travelers?"

As a non-sleeper passenger, this type of report/argument/document does not make me feel like I'm "on the same team."
I find it rather telling that in your view there are only sleeper passengers and non-sleeper passengers as if we exist in distinct isolated groups. For most of my life trips on Amtrak were either coach or nothing. Rides in sleeper compartments only became common later in life and I do not think I'm alone in that. If Amtrak had more frequencies and better calling times (where I live) I'd still be riding coach where it was practical. Unfortunately there is no traction for that.
 

west point

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Amtrak has put it self into a chicken and egg situation. Either accidently or on purpose. The short trains and limited number of passengers cause the Amtrak allocting the non revenue cars to a much reduced cost basis.

Now if we look at Auto trains and the super stars it is different.
A diner and even two on auto train with a sightseer cars on them has the costs spread over a much larger passenger basis. + Auto Train does not need a baggage car.The last figure posted by Amtrak had the costs of running a car at $4.00+ per mile. That figure if true would mean about 8 - 10 more revenue passengeers that would not fit into a shorter train's present cars.

What is puzzling is the dinner service. IMHO the diner should be open at least 21 hours a day with 3 hours if necessary for cleaning. Two chefs 13 - 14 hours a day can keep pre meals going and invenory for restockings intermediate locations. The other side of that is that some intermediate catering and more Amtrak commissaries. Every sleeper passenger can specify each of their meals until about 24 hours before a cattering location. Coach passengers can order as well but if trip missed refund fare minus meal cost unless delay of Amtrak connection.

Intermediate catering locations? Very difficult. WASH of course for all trains. That gives NYP <> WAS passengers a good chance to buy a meal when making reservations. However at least southbound trains should not open for local traffic reservations until about 1800 day before trip. Maybe Meteor 0900 day of trip?

Other maybe possible locations Florence, TGH, CLT (unless Crescent scheldue changed ), Memphis, HUN, TOL, MSP, HVR, DEN, ABQ, LRK, FTW, SAS, Tucson. Any or all of these locations willl need increasing stock of lines tableware etc to maybe three times as much to enable decent sized cleaning,
 

rs9

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I looked through your post but I did not see anything that was obviously responding to this part...

An alternative wording might be "How would reducing sleeper services help coach travelers?"


I find it rather telling that in your view there are only sleeper passengers and non-sleeper passengers as if we exist in distinct isolated groups. For most of my life trips on Amtrak were either coach or nothing. Rides in sleeper compartments only became common later in life and I do not think I'm alone in that. If Amtrak had more frequencies and better calling times (where I live) I'd still be riding coach where it was practical. Unfortunately there is no traction for that.
I don't feel the need to respond to claims I haven't made. I haven't said increasing or decreasing sleeper services is good or bad. Simply, I haven't said anything on the subject.

I am simply objecting to the concept of sleeper services and traditional dining as essential transportation for people in western states. I do not see any evidence to support such a conclusion. I believe I've made this point a few times and will end it here to not fill up this thread.
 

zephyr17

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Amtrak has put it self into a chicken and egg situation. Either accidently or on purpose. The short trains and limited number of passengers cause the Amtrak allocting the non revenue cars to a much reduced cost basis.

Now if we look at Auto trains and the super stars it is different.
A diner and even two on auto train with a sightseer cars on them has the costs spread over a much larger passenger basis. + Auto Train does not need a baggage car.The last figure posted by Amtrak had the costs of running a car at $4.00+ per mile. That figure if true would mean about 8 - 10 more revenue passengeers that would not fit into a shorter train's present cars.

What is puzzling is the dinner service. IMHO the diner should be open at least 21 hours a day with 3 hours if necessary for cleaning. Two chefs 13 - 14 hours a day can keep pre meals going and invenory for restockings intermediate locations. The other side of that is that some intermediate catering and more Amtrak commissaries. Every sleeper passenger can specify each of their meals until about 24 hours before a cattering location. Coach passengers can order as well but if trip missed refund fare minus meal cost unless delay of Amtrak connection.

Intermediate catering locations? Very difficult. WASH of course for all trains. That gives NYP <> WAS passengers a good chance to buy a meal when making reservations. However at least southbound trains should not open for local traffic reservations until about 1800 day before trip. Maybe Meteor 0900 day of trip?

Other maybe possible locations Florence, TGH, CLT (unless Crescent scheldue changed ), Memphis, HUN, TOL, MSP, HVR, DEN, ABQ, LRK, FTW, SAS, Tucson. Any or all of these locations willl need increasing stock of lines tableware etc to maybe three times as much to enable decent sized cleaning,
Since Amtrak contracts with Aramark for commissary services, and Aramark is huge and nationwide, I am sure Amtrak could contract with Aramark for commissary services wherever Aramark has a presence.

At a price.
 

zephyr17

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When things get back to "normal" with the Silvers, we will have two trains running north-south here in Florida - what we need is for Amtrak to resume the east-west train running from Jacksonville to New Orleans.
New Orleans-Mobile is likely to happen if Amtrak gets a favorable STB ruling against NS and CSX. Jacksonville is not in the cards in anything like the foreseeable future.
 

Qapla

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I am definitely not holding my breath waiting for Amtrak to resume NOL to JAX - just saying it would be nice ... like @Northwestern said about n/s where he lives.

Just because something most likely won't happen, we can hope and express it in a thread about things we'd like to see Amtrak change
 

GDRRiley

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Amtrak needs to stop being so hesitant to get multiple units. corridor routes should run with 3-6 section DMU or HMUs not loco hauled consists.
NER should be EMUs not these weird bi mode coaching stock.

the 2035 vision plan doesn't feel like much of a vision, while its important routes coming back the planed frequencies are painful. 4-5RT a day as a base for lines who don't have LD service along them while those with could reduce to 3-4RT especially if LD runs 2x a day on all routes.
 

GDRRiley

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Why? What's wrong with locos?
loco hauled consists especially on short trains are quite expensive while also not having as good performance, 10M for the loco at 2.5-3m each for a coach. that means a 4 car train costs 20-22m
a 4 car DMU/HMU comes in lower at ~15-18m.
if we talking electric units its far better to have the motors spread thought a train (EMU) than building power cars. for example FLIRTS and KISS accelerate at upto 2.7mph/s. for context an ACS-64 pulling 8 amfleets hits 1.5mph/s
 
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There is some talk of the order happening soon with a late 20s or early 30s delivery date. Congress gave them money for new LD rolling stock.
Caltrans and the 3 state JPAs were in talks with amtrak about a new bi level that would fulfill both their needs

I don't know why anyone would order from CAF at this point. They are late or cracking or both.

The biggest thing that will affect how amtrak orders is if in the next few years congress gives funding for more LD trips (a week for all and maybe some get 2RT (please all 2RT)) and if they start routes previously served or all new ones.
That will change the math how how many cars they need wildly, bringing back old routes will means ~600 cars needed while doing something highly unlikely like 2RT on all routes means ~1200. California could easily get 250-350 cars especially if they commit to a sleeper and coast daylight.

Great points. Hopefully whatever is planned comes with sufficient options for extra cars.
 

TheCrescent

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loco hauled consists especially on short trains are quite expensive while also not having as good performance, 10M for the loco at 2.5-3m each for a coach. that means a 4 car train costs 20-22m
a 4 car DMU/HMU comes in lower at ~15-18m.
if we talking electric units its far better to have the motors spread thought a train (EMU) than building power cars. for example FLIRTS and KISS accelerate at upto 2.7mph/s. for context an ACS-64 pulling 8 amfleets hits 1.5mph/s
Agreed. A big portion of train expenses is from locomotive fuel and maintenance, and running 2 locomotives on a short train adds to the cost.

2 locomotives on a Piedmont or 7-car Crescent is a lot. I understand why it’s done, but it’s inefficient.
 
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Please review what is attached.

The most serious problem Amtrak faces is the failure to reinvest in the national long-distance passenger car fleet.
All of us must communicate with DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg, FRA Administrator Amit Bose and our Congressional Representatives to ask that they insist, in no uncertain terms, that Amtrak immediately initiate a life extension program at Beech Grove for the Superliner fleet and concurrently initiate acquisition of replacement cars using IIJA funds granted to FRA & Amtrak nearly one year ago.

I am not impressed with this publication for a number of reasons especially if it is meant for consumption by policy makers. For one its far too detailed for non rail enthusiast audiences. Material meant for consumption by lawmakers and other policy makers needs to be translated and simplified for general non railfan audiences. Most lawmakers aren’t going to know the difference between car types and some of the level of detail you don’t want to put your audience to sleep. Oversight and accountability is important but lawmakers aren’t interested in micromanaging Amtrak to this degree.

Secondly one should also stick to the verifiable facts, this report seems to make conclusions about what beech grove is or isn’t doing without any clear evidence the authors actually have access to any information on what beech grove is or is not doing or what it plans to do.

I also am not sure I share the priorities of this organization. They do not seem to be a passenger rail advocacy group they seem to be an advocate for a specific product that they think Amtrak should focus exclusively on - the product they care about most which seems to be sleeping and dining cars - basically that Amtrak should be a land cruise company. I 100% support the national network and long distance service and love the train experience but I totally disagree with the effort this document does to pit their preferred product against other aspects of Amtrak’s business such as the Auto Train and the Northeast Corridor and at the end of the day Amtraks mission is to provide transportation not just to satisfy rail enthusiasts. Passenger rail advocates should be advocating for all the business lines not attacking others for the benefit of their preferred product. The arguments of taking cars away from the Auto Train and redirecting them out west or redirecting the Amfleet 1 replacement to overnight services and essentially prioritizing the overnight product over all else makes it difficult to take this seriously. Amtrak’s northeast services seem to be recovering well and they have adjusted schedules to try to fit the current demand and they remain important. It’s unfortunate because advocating for more attention and care of the long distance service is a worthy goal - but it shouldn’t be done in this manner attacking the rest of the business.
 

fdaley

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Agreed. A big portion of train expenses is from locomotive fuel and maintenance, and running 2 locomotives on a short train adds to the cost.

2 locomotives on a Piedmont or 7-car Crescent is a lot. I understand why it’s done, but it’s inefficient.
In an ideal world, I'd solve this problem by running a 15- or 17-car Crescent, which would allow it to serve lots more riders, particularly at busy times. The inefficiency is a function of the down-sizing of consists after the heritage cars were retired in the early '90s and a too-small pool of equipment that replaced them.
 

pennyk

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MODERATOR NOTE: Many posts regarding names of current/past/prospective trains were moved to a new thread. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in trying to keep AU threads on topic. (some posts were removed as off topic)

 

railiner

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While it would add some cost to new locomotives, I would like to see passenger diesel-electrics have two cabs. It sure would improve operational flexibility for things like reversing direction, as well as redundancy for any mishaps .
Might even save time eliminating need to wye or loop trains, and might save by not needing a second locomotive or a cab car…
 
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GDRRiley

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While it would add some cost to new locomotives, I would like to see passenger diesel-electrics have two cabs. It sure would improve operational flexibility for things like reversing direction, as well as redundancy for any mishaps .
Might even save time eliminating need to wye or loop trains, and might save by not needing a second locomotive or a cab car…
it wouldn't be to hard to increase the charger length to near 80ft and add a 2nd cab on. That would help on some services but really we just need to order more cab cars
 

jis

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Does this actually make a difference in the real world?
Using distributed power does make a big difference when a run involves a lot of deceleration and acceleration. Indian Railways expects to cut a couple of hours on the Delhi - Kolkata schedule by just changing out from loco hauled consists to distributed power articulated sets without changing any speed limits
 

MARC Rider

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Using distributed power does make a big difference when a run involves a lot of deceleration and acceleration. Indian Railways expects to cut a couple of hours on the Delhi - Kolkata schedule by just changing out from loco hauled consists to distributed power articulated sets without changing any speed limits
Wasn't that part of the reason that the original 1969 Metroliners were EMUs? It would definitely makes sense for the Northeast Regionals to be EMUs, given that they make a lot of stops relatively close to each other.
 
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