Why Such High Prices for The Silvers in February 2022?

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HammerJack

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Thoughts on lie-flat seats for rail travel? Sorta like what you’d find on international flights in business/first. They aren’t rooms, but the seats can recline 90 degrees to make a pseudo-bed. It’s a level between coach and sleeper rooms.
 

MARC Rider

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Thoughts on lie-flat seats for rail travel? Sorta like what you’d find on international flights in business/first. They aren’t rooms, but the seats can recline 90 degrees to make a pseudo-bed. It’s a level between coach and sleeper rooms.
This has been discussed here in the past. In order to be able to market the lie-flat seats at a price point lower than coach, you'd have to be able to fit more of them into a rail car than you can fit sleeping berths in a sleeping car. A viewliner sleeper has 12 roomettes, 2 bedrooms, and a Handicapped room, for a total of about 30 berths. The Amfleet 2 long-distance coaches hold about 60 passengers. Thus, you need to price sleepers at twice the coach fare minimum in order to yield the same revenue. Plus, you'd like to price it higher to yield the gravy from the premium level service that cross-subsidizes the operation of the whole train. The design problem is whether it's possible to fit 40 lie-flat berths in a standard rail car. (Come to think of it, in the days of the classic streamliners, there were coaches that had 40-odd seats.) We've had some discussions on this, but we're posting in an internet forum, not having a serious discussion among railcar design engineers. If it can work, it's certainly a good idea.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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People who are willing to pay more than coach for overnight travel generally don’t want a seat out in the open. The fact of the matter is Amtrak needs more sleepers ASAP. Let’s not forgot Amtrak’s consists are tiny compared to anytime in their past.

Being content running 1-3 sleepers with such high demand is insane. More sleepers and longer consists (or twice daily service) will allow both revenue to go up and prices to go down. That in turn would give Amtrak a bigger footprint in America‘s transportation system and better serve all Americans not just the wealthy or people who don’t manage money well. Amtrak shouldn’t be like a once in a lifetime family trip to DisneyWorld that families save for. While I agree there is a place for a lay flat seat on trains like the Palmatto they are not a replacement for what we have come to know as the roommette.

This is the first time in Amtrak’s 50 year history expansion is a real possibility. Unfortunately I don’t see management wanting to take advantage of the situation. Maybe after getting the middle finger from AL on the Mobile corridor and seeing State funded corridors not being as easy as they thought they will concentrate on the network trains where they will get no pushback. A little effort on the network trains will go a long way. Amtrak is after all America’s railroad.
 
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Exvalley

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A viewliner sleeper has 12 roomettes, 2 bedrooms, and a Handicapped room, for a total of about 30 berths. The Amfleet 2 long-distance coaches hold about 60 passengers. Thus, you need to price sleepers at twice the coach fare minimum in order to yield the same revenue.
Yes and no. It is much easier to sell all of the lie-flat seats in a car than it is to sell all of the berths in a sleeper. However, since the sleeper fare is fixed regardless of the number of passengers in the room, we are really just talking about the rail fare.

People who are willing to pay more than coach for overnight travel generally don’t want a seat out in the open. The fact of the matter is Amtrak needs more sleepers ASAP. Let’s not forgot Amtrak’s consists are tiny compared to anytime in their past.
The theory is that there is a segment of the population that does not want to ride in coach, but cannot afford the high sleeper prices. Their budget is somewhere in between.

A possible solution is something like this: This Double-decker Airplane Seat Could One Day Allow Everyone to Have Lie-flat Seats — Even in Economy.
 

jis

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Amtrak has to first decide that it wants to grow the overnight journey business. There is very lttlle evidence so far that it has arrived at that point. They have so far moved from "we are working on destroying it" to "OK, since you insist, I guess we will maintain it as is for now."

Once the bridge from "status quo" to "we will actively invest in growing the business" is reached, then the rest becomes pretty easy. The reason it is not easy at present is neither the lack of equipment producers, and apparently nor funding anymore. It is the managerial and political will and lack of consensus.
 
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Tlcooper93

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Amtrak has to first decide that it wants to grow the overnight journey business. There is very lttlle evidence so far that it has arrived at that point. They have so far moved from "we are working on destroying it" to "OK, since you insist, I guess we will maintain it as is for now."

Once the bridge from "status quo" to "we will actively invest in growing the business" is reached, then the rest becomes pretty easy. The reason it is not easy at present is neither the lack of equipment producers, and apparently nor funding anymore. It is the managerial and political will and lack of consensus.
Exactly.
Look how long it took to bring back sleepers to a train that already runs (and often deadheaded sleepers anyways). 65-67 was hard fought victory.
The next step is probably addressing aging Superliners.
 
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dlagrua

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When Amtrak sleeper prices coincide with first class air then its time to travel again. Unfortunately for this years PHL to FLG trip its not possible or is it worth it for us to pay over $6,300 for a R/T fare that is far from a first class accommodation. I have no idea why the bedroom fares are so high but we will need to pass until such time as they are affordable again. I can only guess Amtrak doesn't need our business. If thats the way the game needs to be played we'll just fly. No need to renew our RPA membership as well.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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It was even more insane for us trying to book the family room on the SWC from GBB to LAX the two times I tried to book this year (summer and Christmas) it was closer $8000 RT. I did find a fare closer to $5000 for mid May but ended up booking the 3 of us on United for $571RT total for that trip.
Again for comparison I paid $1350 RT booking 8 months in advance from GBB to Lax 12/23-12/31 2018. That’s how much it’s changed!

When Amtrak sleeper prices coincide with first class air then its time to travel again. Unfortunately for this years PHL to FLG trip its not possible or is it worth it for us to pay over $6,300 for a R/T fare that is far from a first class accommodation. I have no idea why the bedroom fares are so high but we will need to pass until such time as they are affordable again. I can only guess Amtrak doesn't need our business. If thats the way the game needs to be played we'll just fly. No need to renew our RPA membership as well.
When Amtrak sleeper prices coincide with first class air then its time to travel again. Unfortunately for this years PHL to FLG trip its not possible or is it worth it for us to pay over $6,300 for a R/T fare that is far from a first class accommodation. I have no idea why the bedroom fares are so high but we will need to pass until such time as they are affordable again. I can only guess Amtrak doesn't need our business. If thats the way the game needs to be played we'll just fly. No need to renew our RPA membership as well.
 
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Sidney

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$6300 r/t..is that bedrooms all the way? I ask because if you are leaving out of Phl,are you on the Pennsylvanian to Pittsburgh and then the CL? Obviously,the Pennsylvanian is Coach only.

Still at $3150 each way you would expect your own private car,unlimited drinks and first class chefs serving the finest in culinary offerings. The pricing is ridiculous. Is Amtrak deliberately trying to eliminate sleepers?
.
 
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niemi24s

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It was even more insane for us trying to book the family room on the SWC from GBB to LAX the two times I tried to book this year (summer and Christmas) it was closer $8000 RT. I did find a fare closer to $5000 for mid May but ended up booking the 3 of us on United for $571RT total for that trip.
Again for comparison I paid $1350 RT booking 8 months in advance from GBB to Lax 12/23-12/31 2018. That’s how much it’s changed!
Something seems amiss with your first dollar figure. At the present high bucket Family Bedroom rate for three adults from GBB to LAX, the round trip fare should have been 2(1827 + 460) = $4574. To get closer to the $8,000 you mentioned would require booking two Family bedrooms for those three adults, or 2[(1827 + 230) + 1827] = $7768.

To get the closest possible to $8,000 round trip from GBB to LAX in one high bucket Family Bedroom would require booking a total of ten adults - and I don't that's allowed.

But it's also possible you were quoted that about-$8000 fare on a day when Arrow was in one of its monthly moods. :) Or maybe Arrow churned up a multi-train on the EB (or CZ) and the CS?
 
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Amtrakfflyer

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I get the bucket thing. Trust me I used to used Amsnag all the time. Something is definitely amiss with holiday peak bookings. Fares that don’t compute and are off the charts. I posted screen shots of quotes here about two months ago. The 4000 dollar fares/ 227,000 AGR points. I’ll see if I still have the trip in question saved.
 

niemi24s

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As a guess, Arrow was just in one of its moods when barfing out that $8,000 fare. Just checked the 12 -31 Dec 2021 period and no one adult Family Bedroom fare on the SWC from GBB to LAX exceeded the current high bucket value of $1,827. And that leads to a round trip fare of $4574 for three adults.

<edit> Note that previous figures given for three adults in a Family Bedroom were based on Arrow searches for one adult with two adult rail fares ( of 2 X $230) added on. Arrow, however, won't show a FB being available if three adults or two adults and one youth are entered in the search. Arrow (in its supreme wisdom) must assume a 13 to 15 year old youth is too big to sleep in one of the shorter bunks. I guess if you have a 13 to 15 year old kid who's short enough to fit in one of the shorter bunks...
Superliner Family Bedroom.jpg
...you'd have to call and plead your case.

FYI, these are the five buckets for a Family Bedroom on the SWC for one adult between GBB and LAX: $855, 1124, 1348, 1587 and 1827. And if the third person in your group qualifies for the 50% discounted child's fare, your high bucket round trip would amount to 2(1827 + 230 + 115) = $4344 and low bucket would be 2(885 + 230 + 115) = $2460.
 
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niemi24s

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Weeks ago, back in Post #5, I posted a list of the low bucket Roomette cost (in ¢/mile) for all the LD routes in order from most to least expensive. Got curious about their cost per unit of time, so it's added as the second column, in orange below.

CL = 41¢/mile....LSL = $19.47 ± 0.55/hour
LSL = 41..................SM = 18.14
SM = 35....................AT = 17.43
CONO = 34.....CONO = 16.28
CARD = 34.........CRES = 15.92
SS = 33......................SS = 15.89
CS = 31.................SWC = 14.49
SL = 25......................CS = 12.52
EB = 24......................EB = 11.62 ± 0.09
CZ = 23......................SL = 10.95
SWC = 23.................CZ = 10.84
TE = 19.......................TE = 9.76

Travel times used were the average for each direction on the route and also of the different end points for the LSL and EB (with variation shown by the ± amount). So the very priciest route is the LSL to or from NYP at $19.47 + 0.55 = $20.02/hour. I'll leave subjective stuff (such as if an hour on the LSL is worth twice as much as an hour on the TE) up to others.
 
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jebr

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No need to renew our RPA membership as well.
Not sure what that has to do with high sleeper prices, unless you're annoyed that RPA isn't doing enough to try and convince Amtrak to lower bedroom prices in lieu of other advocacy efforts and so you think they aren't worth supporting based on that.

Of course, part of why I re-joined is because they seem to be a bit better focused now on advocating for better passenger rail service, and less on the niceties that I'm not as worried about. Frankly, I'll eat cafe car food if that means that I can take a train from here to Duluth and have multiple frequencies to Chicago (along with other frequency and route improvements.) That shouldn't be a choice, but in a world of limited money and resources the focus has to be somewhere, and I'd rather have the focus be on more routes and more frequencies.
 

Qapla

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I would still like to see the actual cost of operating a particular train from end-to-end - then compare that to actual revenue the train could bring in if it were full to see if the route can actually make money or not.
 
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Cal

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I would still like to see the actual cost of operating a particular train from end-to-end - then compare that to actual revenue the train could bring in if it were full to see if the route can actually make money or not.
Me. Too.
 

Mailliw

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Personally I prefer a semi-private berth or couchette, but for a premium coach experience Amtrak do 2:1 seating with enhanced (but not full lie flat) recline and seat selection. Then at least solo travelers could book a seat without having to sleep next to a stranger. ADA requirements would be easier than in any budget sleeper set up.
 

jis

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I would still like to see the actual cost of operating a particular train from end-to-end - then compare that to actual revenue the train could bring in if it were full to see if the route can actually make money or not.
Computing cost of operation involves quite a large chunk of allocated cost for shared services, which depends on how the costs are allocated, and is a matter of great deal of dispute. So while it would be nice to have a crisp number apparently it is easier asked for than provided. ;)
 
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Qapla

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There are methods of determining the "allocated costs" that would not include the cloak-and-dagger, smoke signals and mere guesswork presently employed.
 

Anderson

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This has been discussed here in the past. In order to be able to market the lie-flat seats at a price point lower than coach, you'd have to be able to fit more of them into a rail car than you can fit sleeping berths in a sleeping car. A viewliner sleeper has 12 roomettes, 2 bedrooms, and a Handicapped room, for a total of about 30 berths. The Amfleet 2 long-distance coaches hold about 60 passengers. Thus, you need to price sleepers at twice the coach fare minimum in order to yield the same revenue. Plus, you'd like to price it higher to yield the gravy from the premium level service that cross-subsidizes the operation of the whole train. The design problem is whether it's possible to fit 40 lie-flat berths in a standard rail car. (Come to think of it, in the days of the classic streamliners, there were coaches that had 40-odd seats.) We've had some discussions on this, but we're posting in an internet forum, not having a serious discussion among railcar design engineers. If it can work, it's certainly a good idea.
They have a model for this in Queensland, Australia. It's a 2-1 configuration (on the "2" side, the aisle bed is a little shorter than the window bed). It's got some first-generation teething problems, but I think it shows promise. If you could get a design that takes up about seven feet per row, that probably gets you somewhere in the ballpark of 30-35 seats (you might lose one for wheelchair access somewhere or something similar) depending on bathroom needs and the like. While that's only "on par with" a standard Viewliner, there's also a lot of "wasted" capacity from singles in roomettes (e.g. if half of your roomette pax are solo pax, then your effective capacity is 24 on a Viewliner I and 22.5 on a Viewliner II). So a car that had, say, 31 lie-flat beds (9 rows of 3, two rows of 2 due to some mix aisle configuration/ADA window seats or 10 rows of 3 and one of 1 opposite luggage racks/facilities due to configuration) would arguably be adding about 8-9 "spaces" (or about 35-40% more capacity) vs the reality of the Viewliner.
 

Oreius

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I just checked on Rooms for 2/28/22 as a sample. A Bedroom on the Meteor is down to about 32K points, whereas in The Star it is over 50K points. Roomettes on both trains are similar in price—17K points..
 

Oreius

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I’m wondering if I should check when I’m going down and back to see if prices on either train have dropped. If they’re about what I paid for in September, I might scarf a Bedroom!
 
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