What should Amtrak change?

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dlerach

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I think the Metroliners as EMUs also theoretically helped acceleration and deceleration around some of the NEC's restrictive curves, the time penalty at curves like Elizabeth and Frankford Junction are reduced when you can get back up to speed more quickly.
 

GDRRiley

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I understand that, I was hoping you would quantify how much of a difference it actually makes.
we should get a good example when caltrans moves from diesel pulled stock to EMUs, but we won't have a accurate timetable for a year
 

GDRRiley

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But moving from diesel locos to EMU's is not a valid metric for moving from electric locos to EMU's. I would think the amount of change would be smaller in the latter case.
issue is we don't have a modern example in NA of moving from electric loco to EMUs
 

GDRRiley

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We will on NJT when they start getting delivery of the MPVs to form three car units (Power, Trailer, Trailer) to string together into trains of 12 cars.
NJT will be running like 1 power can to 3 traillers and they are going to be underpowered for that task.
 

Trogdor

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we should get a good example when caltrans moves from diesel pulled stock to EMUs, but we won't have a accurate timetable for a year

We will on NJT when they start getting delivery of the MPVs to form three car units (Power, Trailer, Trailer) to string together into trains of 12 cars.

It will also somewhat depend on how accurate/honest the schedules are, both today and when the new equipment goes into service. There are a number of commuter rail schedules out there that virtually never run on time, particularly at midpoints (they may magically make up 10-15 minutes at the end station). With that level of slop in the schedule, it can become difficult to really see how much of a change is related to equipment and how much is related to different scheduling parameters.

With the detailed performance parameters, combined with an operating timetable, one could theoretically come up with the time difference and be pretty close to reality (subject to the operational variabilities from one crew to the next and one engineer to the next).
 

jis

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NJT will be running like 1 power can to 3 traillers and they are going to be underpowered for that task.
One power car to two trailers. That is also typical of almost all EMUs in India. It of course depends a lot on how much power the power car has and how heavy the trailers are. NJT will not be the ideal situation, but it will be much better than the current push-pull situation.
 

GDRRiley

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It will also somewhat depend on how accurate/honest the schedules are, both today and when the new equipment goes into service. There are a number of commuter rail schedules out there that virtually never run on time, particularly at midpoints (they may magically make up 10-15 minutes at the end station). With that level of slop in the schedule, it can become difficult to really see how much of a change is related to equipment and how much is related to different scheduling parameters.
Yes the amount of slack can change but some share how much. 10% is pretty typically, I think LOSSAN and metrolink were trying to get that down to 5% on PAX controlled lines 7% on freight while cutting dwell times to 1 min.
 

west point

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The EMU - Loco debate is a complicated one.
1. First we have to compare the amount of HP / traction effort that any powered axel can provide to its truck. It is the low speeds that all available traction motor HP cannot be applied to the track. That number is a direct function of weight on each axel. For example a 6 axel freight loco cannot apply the usual 4400 HP until reaching a speed of 11 - 15 MPH.
2. Traction control preventing wheel slip is best with individual AC traction motor control. The ACS-64s can apply short term 2000 HP per axel once above a certain speed (20 MPH?) speeding up reaching MAX speed.
3. EMUs? normal HP / axel is betwee 250 - 500 HP some less. so a 4 car EMU could provide 4000 HP to 8000 HP
4. I have no idea what max speeds for present EMUs. Once had a drag race with a NJT 12 car EMU and on a 6 car regional. EMU beat us at start but we soon caught and passed the NJT.

AS you see it is complicated. Then try to compare a P-42 against an EMU
 
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It would be ideal if Amtrak were to use DMU's like these units used by Irish Rail, made by Hyundai Rotem:
heuston2.jpg


They use them for most of their services, except Dublin - Belfast and Dublin - Cork which are still locomotive hauled. They are very comfortable for a 2 to 4 hour trip as most intercity runs in Ireland are.

I clocked one trip at speeds up to 97 mph so they certainly can handle the speed needed for most Amtrak Diesel powered runs.
Of course they would have to meet FRA standards so I don't know how feasible that is.
 

toddinde

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The first thing Amtrak must do is take the money available and put the system in a state of good repair. That means shopping all current equipment and tackling the huge deadlines. It means making the stations ADA compliant. It means making the current tri-weekly services daily. It means a serious program of working with the freight railroads on capacity issues to ensure on-time performance. This wouldn’t be an open ended program; this would need to be accomplished quickly. Whatever Beech Grove and Bear can’t handle needs to be contracted. Once enough equipment was ready and operating and onboard crews were trained, Amtrak needs to market the daylights out of the system. Lower fares to fill every train. Announce the “Summer of Amtrak”. Once this has been accomplished, then Amtrak can make common sense additions to the system. We all have a list. It starts with the basics.
 

GDRRiley

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I'll just use flirts given their low floor nature they seem like a good exampe outside of the east coast
The EMU - Loco debate is a complicated one.
yes it is
2. Traction control preventing wheel slip is best with individual AC traction motor control. The ACS-64s can apply short term 2000 HP per axel once above a certain speed (20 MPH?) speeding up reaching MAX speed.
so can most EMUs, a flirt can push a bogie from 1300hp to 1750hp
4. I have no idea what max speeds for present EMUs. Once had a drag race with a NJT 12 car EMU and on a 6 car regional. EMU beat us at start but we soon caught and passed the NJT.
some HSR trains are EMUs, but you'll normally see mainline sets geared for 100-125mph.
The first thing Amtrak must do is take the money available and put the system in a state of good repair. That means shopping all current equipment and tackling the huge deadlines. It means making the stations ADA compliant. It means making the current tri-weekly services daily.
does ADA compliance making every platform the correct height for the rail cars or what? because trying to get 22in platforms every where is going be a fight with the class 1
My last count is 74 superliners out of service with 20 more out of their control. (12 leased by california and at least 8 sold on) even with money to rebuild cars they still are going to be very tight on LD if they tried to go all routes all days. and not all their agreements allow that, UP wants money to pay for double tracking the sunset limited.
It means a serious program of working with the freight railroads on capacity issues to ensure on-time performance. This wouldn’t be an open ended program; this would need to be accomplished quickly.
Freight RR want nothing to do with that other than drain amtrak of money with little befit to the pax trains. Its always works out way better for the fright RR
 

NEPATrainTraveler

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I feel like everybody already mentioned the things I would like to see changed, namely better frequency, more routes, and marketing the train better. A cheaper sleeper option would be nice too. Beyond that, I would start getting into fantasy territory like wishing Wilkes-Barre had passenger train service again or a northeast to Chicago train that made a stop in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
 

Qapla

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I feel like everybody already mentioned the things I would like to see changed ... Beyond that, I would start getting into fantasy territory

Yes, there have been many, many "suggestions" - many of them beyond "Amtrak"

Things like more frequency, more trains, on-time and other aspects that are largely controlled by the host railroad are not really things "Amtrak" can change
 

TheCrescent

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Was private railroads’ sleeping car staffing structured similar to how Amtrak staffs trains:

* one attendant per sleeping car
* no general supervisor of onboard services onboard a train

It seems like Amtrak is very labor-intensive onboard its trains. I haven’t ridden a European night train in years but I don’t recall there being a sleeping car attendant just for my sleeping car.

Amtrak ought to either (1) have an onboard supervisor overseeing its onboard customer-facing crew, to help ensure good customer service, or (2) reduce the size of its onboard staff.

The current Amtrak onboard structure- lots of staff members but no supervision- is the worst of all possible worlds: high costs and bad service.

European railroads seem to have minimal customer-facing crews, at least to reduce costs. That seems like one better way to do it, and I’m curious as to how pre-Amtrak railroads did it.
 

railiner

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Was private railroads’ sleeping car staffing structured similar to how Amtrak staffs trains:

* one attendant per sleeping car
* no general supervisor of onboard services onboard a train
Back in The Pullman Company era, there was one Porter (attendant) per sleeping car. On principal trains with several Pullman cars, there was a Pullman Conductor in charge of all Pullman employees working that train. Some trains also included Pullman operated Parlor and bar-lounge cars. Those would have a bar tender and a waiter.
Railroads usually operated their own dining cars, but those were staffed with several cooks, and waiters, and were in charge of a Steward.
Some trains had a Passenger Service Representative, who was in charge of chair car attendants, and sometimes a nurse, barber, stenographer, valet, hostess, etc.

All were under the charge of the Train Conductor.

So private railroads were much more labor-intensive than what we have today…
 

zephyr17

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Most trains with Pullmans had a Pullman Conductor who was in charge of Pullman employees. If it was too short to rate a Pullman Conductor, there was a Porter-In-Charge.

Dining car crews reported to the Steward. I think other non-Pullman OBS crew might have, too, as non-Pullman lounge cars were run by the dining car department.

On passenger friendly carriers, most conductors took their customer service responsibilities seriously and could and were willing to enforce standards for other OBS crew members. The railroads took reports of poor service by crew to conductors seriously. Santa Fe held them to high standards to the end, Penn Central, not so much.
 

Siegmund

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It seems like Amtrak is very labor-intensive onboard its trains....Amtrak ought to either (1) have an onboard supervisor overseeing its onboard customer-facing crew, to help ensure good customer service, or (2) reduce the size of its onboard staff.

Amtrak would say that it did reduce the size of its onboard staff, roughly in half, and eliminated the Chief on Onboard Services when it did so.
In the 1980s, there was a dedicated attendant for every coach, who often slept in his seat in the middle of the car, not in the dorm, as well as for every sleeper. Plus more kitchen and waitstaff in the diner, sufficient staff to have the the Superliner lower level lounge open ~16 hours a day and the upper level serving station a few hours a day, someone to walk through the train handing out dinner reservations...

You can color me surprised Amtrak has been allowed to reduce staffing as much as it has already. An airline, by contrast, is mandated to carry at least one flight attendant per 50 passengers. I think it's strange there isn't a similar safety requirement to have a crew member in every occupied car.
 

west point

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had grandfather who was Pullman conductor. Usually ran Bristol Va - Harrisburg Pa. Had 4 - 5 pullmans from Bristol. At Roanoke stayeed with 1 car and picked up others. The others inbounds went on with another conductor to various cities. His car proceeded somewhere ( maybe Buffalo ) by another onductor with other cars.
He supervised the porters. He hardly ever got the same porter as the porter stayed with the car. At both Buffalo and Bristol his inbound pullman car rotated to other cities such as ATL ( major overhaul facility ) , New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Depending on configuration. Not sure but maybe the section brdroom. Often Pullman would run extra cars.

The point is thr Amtrak service manager should rotate with different assignments than the OBS so there is not any manager getting cozy with all crew members. rx. OBS goes to point A every 7 days and manager goes every 6. Then rotates to other train routes.
 

zephyr17

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had grandfather who was Pullman conductor. Usually ran Bristol Va - Harrisburg Pa. Had 4 - 5 pullmans from Bristol. At Roanoke stayeed with 1 car and picked up others. The others inbounds went on with another conductor to various cities. His car proceeded somewhere ( maybe Buffalo ) by another onductor with other cars.
He supervised the porters. He hardly ever got the same porter as the porter stayed with the car. At both Buffalo and Bristol his inbound pullman car rotated to other cities such as ATL ( major overhaul facility ) , New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Depending on configuration. Not sure but maybe the section brdroom. Often Pullman would run extra cars.

The point is thr Amtrak service manager should rotate with different assignments than the OBS so there is not any manager getting cozy with all crew members. rx. OBS goes to point A every 7 days and manager goes every 6. Then rotates to other train routes.
Well, the Service Managers on VIA seem to be on the same rotations as the crews they supervise, and it seems to work well. Unlike Amtrak's old Chief OBS position, I think VIA's SM and ASM positions are officially managerial positions, not union craft ones. Not sure your of your point. Off the rails would it be of benefit to rotate the manager of a work unit every week or so, otherwise they'd get too chummy with their direct reports? Since Amtrak OBS is roughly analogous to restaurant and hotel workers, I wonder how many restaurants have a policy of rotating managers?
 
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