Why trains instead of planes for long distance?

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Bluejet

Train Attendant
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Oct 14, 2019
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35
1. Regarding contribution to climate change:
Air "puddlejumpers" are shockingly, horrifically inefficient. Far better to fill a train from Utica, Syracuse, and Buffalo to Chicago than to run puddlejumpers from any of those locations to Chicago. I'm sure you can do the math, Bluejet. When you talk about LA-NY jumbo jets, you're doing apples to oranges. Compare apples to apples or I'll consider you to be arguing in bad faith.

2. Airlines are monumentally, massively subsidized.

This is mostly done through airport subsidies. I don't think you can deny that almost all airports in the US have been heavily subsidized for almost their entire existence. Hell, most of them were former Army Air Force bases which were *given for free* for use as civilian airports, so they started right off with free land and facilities. But coming to the modern era, they repeatedly get gigantic subsidies out of state and local tax dollars. (It's ***ing happening again to my local airport, for the third or fourth time, my state tax dollars being wasted on unnecessary airport expansion.) If you don't know this about airport funding, you're ignorant. Airports are DEFINITELY NOT funded just by landing fees, there's huge amounts of state & local tax money going into them.

And then there's "Essential Air Service" -- the annual funding for that is about 1/4 of Amtrak's annual funding by ITSELF! While EAS is justifiable in Alaska, most of the rest of it is subsidies to places which already have passenger train service which is cheaper. And it's subidies to those polluting puddlejumpers, too!c

3. I'm OK with subsidies for transportation, because it benefits the economy. But it's unfair and ridiculous to subsidize airlines by a huge amount, subsidize roads by far, far, far, far more, and then say that we won't subsidize trains.

4. Bluejet, if you don't realize who Amtrak is serving, I suggest you shut up and listen.

A. There's the 10% of Americans who don't fly at all. Most of them drive. Amtrak is far more efficient than driving and saves the governments of the US a lot of money on highway spending. (Let's be clear -- nearly everyone going between the biggest of cities on Amtrak is in this group. We absolutely should support these people, it's 10% of the population, it's more expensive for taxpayers if they're all driving.)
B. There's people going from third-tier cities to big cities. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of them. Again, most of them drive. Amtrak is far more efficient than driving, again, and saves the government money. But also, Amtrak is massively more efficient on these routes than flying polluting, low-capacity puddlejumpers multiple times per day. That's not even commercially viable in a lot of places, hence "Essential Air Service"... and cities which don't have an air option at *all*.

Amtrak isn't really competing with flying, it's competing with driving. But on the other hand, flying is totally uncompetitive in most of the "puddlejumper" markets, and the puddlejumpers only exist to feed passengers into the big-airplane routes. Trains can do this just as well or better, which is why the airlines (who mostly want to get out of the puddlejumper business) have started supporting train service.

5. To help break you of your misguided airline-based point-to-point thinking, I suggest you think about Amtrak's longer-distance routes as being like the Interstate Highways. How many people take the Interstate route all the way from New York to Chicago -- let alone NY to LA? Very few. Most of the people using the interstates are taking much shorter trips. However, it is efficient to have one connected-up network so that it is *possible* to drive from NY to Chicago, even though most people will be driving from NY to Poughkeepsie, Syracuse to Buffalo, or South Bend to Chicago. This is exactly what Amtrak long-distance routes do.

If you want to have a conversation then let’s have a conversation, the whole “shut up and listen” but gets old.

Amtrak vs “puddle jumpers”. I don’t know how many times I have to agree with people that Amtrak is far more efficient on short sub 400 miles journeys, so in case you haven’t heard... Amtrak is more efficient on short journeys. I take Amtrak almost weekly, on a short journey getting me to my aircraft.

EAS- a complete and utter waste for the most part of tax payer money.

Aiports- are usually bonded and landing fees, fuel taxes, etc pay for expansion and facilities. Even the 10 billion dollar expansion of JFK will be paid back via leasing fees and landing fees. Yes the original land was given and original airports were built to create a network, just like the original freight railroads were gifted their original right of ways. Today there is little if any subsidies being doled out, much like the freight railroads. You are correct that the original infrastructure was government built, but today little subsidy remains.

Highway modeling. That’s fine, again I’ve said that for some rural costumers long distance rail makes sense. No where, and I mean no where, have I advocated shutting down your long distance network. I’ve just stated it’s not competitive over long distances versus the airlines and that it is a niche travel product.

An a321 is not a “jumbo jet”. I’m arguing about long distance railroads vs flying. Short range I there’s a reason Acela and the railroads make so much sense and own so much market share.... they can compete in every way. Corridor services are very necessary, and very competitive. It’s long range rail in this country that is a niche public transportation product. You talk about arguing in bad faith, I’m having a discussion, one only necessarily because of the multitude of bad information that’s being put up on this thread. “Airplanes burn 10x as much gas as the train! A transcontinental jet burns 20000 gallons of gas to cross the country!” All hogwash, so there are the numbers. Regional jets can’t compete on short range flying against jets. Agreed. Short range trains make a lot of sense. Agreed. Long range trains are more fuel efficient then jets. Disagree.
 
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jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,354
Also, Amtrak passenger cars are too heavy. This is the result of archaic 1940s FRA regulations which have *finally* been repealed but only a couple of years ago.
I am seeing both sides of the larger "argument" here, but this is a point, originally made by Bluejet, that deserves more attention. ("A super liner car weighs 150-180k pounds...... MGTOW of an A321 is 206,000lbs. Passengers cars, especially super liners are very very heavy, likely way too heavy, hence I said a fuel problem is the weight of the carriages, not just the age of the diesels.") If planes were built to the same standards as railroad passenger cars they would cost a lot more to fly - if they could fly at all. To compare the two goes far beyond apples and oranges. In those countries where railroad travel is held up as a model, passenger cars can be built to a lower and lighter standard for many reasons that contrast with the realities in North America, which include everything from greater sharing with heavy freight, more level crossings, more single track over longer distances, etc.
 

Qapla

Conductor
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Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,010
A few things come to mind with this discussion.

At present, air travel is what it is and Amtrak travel is what it is. How to proceed going forth with regards to "long distance" travel seems to be the theme of this thread - but may have been a bit sidetracked or left sitting on the taxiway.

If you go back to when trains were the major way to travel across the country and cars were a new idea and the airline industry had not yet come in to existence what was the thinking?

Back at that time, as cars started to make an impact, an almost bottomless pit of money was made available to build a roadway system for this new means of travel. During this time, as the use of planes started to catch on - there were many who thought that, since planes were a niche market, they would never last and funding them was a mistake. There were many lawmakers who thought plane travel would die off - just like some thought when Amtrak was created.

Now, if those attitudes, funding major road construction and airport and air service (like air traffic control), had continued, there would not be Interstates and major air travel today.

However, now that the shoe is on the other foot, there are many who still think passenger trains should go away ... that they don't make sense. Actually, they make just as much sense as the Interstate Highway system did in the 1950's ... even though there were not enough cars on the road to warrant the planned expenditure of such a system - but, it was funded, built and is now part of the congestion problem because it is so extensively used.

Passenger rail was "thrown under the bus" and was not given the same funding then, or now, as the highway and air systems have gotten. If they had, it would not require the massive amounts of money needed to fix them. Again, if the reasoning is used that the cost is just too high ... think of where roads and air travel would be if that thinking had continued with respects to those industries. Perhaps one of the reasons that passenger rail has such a low % of the long distance travel market is because it hasn't been funded, supported and encouraged as much as roads and air. If the same funding had been made available to passenger rail as was given to road construction and airport expansion - Amtrak would probably be carrying a far larger percentage of the LD traffic than it currently does.

Yes, it will cost money to fix the problems ... but that is an investment in the future the same as the Interstate spending was in the 1950's.

It really doesn't matter if trains can compete "head-to-head" with planes for long distance travel ... both methods are needed and should be funded and retained. It should NOT be an either/or type of thing.



BTW - I live near I-10 and I 75 in Florida ... I have never traveled either of these roads from end-to-end even though I have used them quite extensively. That does not mean that I think they should just be "corridor" service with nothing being available in the wide-open areas where these Interstates go on for miles without any access to them (no local interchange).
 
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Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
433
When I fly, I almost always have to first fly to some hub before getting to my final destination. Most of the hubs are way out of the way and some in the opposite direction of my final destination. It has been this way my entire life (my first flight was in the early '70s). Do you know what proportion of the flying population goes through these wasted trips and/or the impact of this situation on CO2 production?

If you want to have a conversation then let’s have a conversation, the whole “shut up and listen” but gets old.

Amtrak vs “puddle jumpers”. I don’t know how many times I have to agree with people that Amtrak is far more efficient on short sub 400 miles journeys, so in case you haven’t heard... Amtrak is more efficient on short journeys. I take Amtrak almost weekly, on a short journey getting me to my aircraft.

EAS- a complete and utter waste for the most part of tax payer money.

Aiports- are usually bonded and landing fees, fuel taxes, etc pay for expansion and facilities. Even the 10 billion dollar expansion of JFK will be paid back via leasing fees and landing fees. Yes the original land was given and original airports were built to create a network, just like the original freight railroads were gifted their original right of ways. Today there is little if any subsidies being doled out, much like the freight railroads. You are correct that the original infrastructure was government built, but today little subsidy remains.

Highway modeling. That’s fine, again I’ve said that for some rural costumers long distance rail makes sense. No where, and I mean no where, have I advocated shutting down your long distance network. I’ve just stated it’s not competitive over long distances versus the airlines and that it is a niche travel product.

An a321 is not a “jumbo jet”. I’m arguing about long distance railroads vs flying. Short range I there’s a reason Acela and the railroads make so much sense and own so much market share.... they can compete in every way. Corridor services are very necessary, and very competitive. It’s long range rail in this country that is a niche public transportation product. You talk about arguing in bad faith, I’m having a discussion, one only necessarily because of the multitude of bad information that’s being put up on this thread. “Airplanes burn 10x as much gas as the train! A transcontinental jet burns 20000 gallons of gas to cross the country!” All hogwash, so there are the numbers. Regional jets can’t compete on short range flying against jets. Agreed. Short range trains make a lot of sense. Agreed. Long range trains are more fuel efficient then jets. Disagree.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,571
It’s long range rail in this country that is a niche public transportation product.
At least you changed boutique to niche. If we are talking cross country, I agree the number of people who would rather take multiple trains for multiple days vs. the people who would prefer to fly are a smaller niche. It's a niche that does exist for a variety of reasons but I agree. But nobody is suggesting we should run a sealed non-stop train from New York to LA for those few niche people. It just so happens that even a moderately connected long distance system serves that niche market.
 

Bluejet

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 14, 2019
Messages
35
At least you changed boutique to niche. If we are talking cross country, I agree the number of people who would rather take multiple trains for multiple days vs. the people who would prefer to fly are a smaller niche. It's a niche that does exist for a variety of reasons but I agree. But nobody is suggesting we should run a sealed non-stop train from New York to LA for those few niche people. It just so happens that even a moderately connected long distance system serves that niche market.
Boutique was a poor choice of words, niche I think conveys better what I meant.
 

Bluejet

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 14, 2019
Messages
35
When I fly, I almost always have to first fly to some hub before getting to my final destination. Most of the hubs are way out of the way and some in the opposite direction of my final destination. It has been this way my entire life (my first flight was in the early '70s). Do you know what proportion of the flying population goes through these wasted trips and/or the impact of this situation on CO2 production?

I think it depends on where you live and where you fly to or take the rail road to. Yes hubs exist to transit passengers, they exist all over and are generally not that far out of the way. If you live on a rural stop on say the California Zephyr where you only transit between that stop and San Fran or Chicago, or any of the other large cities then maybe you save on emissions. But are you transiting to another city anywhere else? Then it seems you are talking apples and apples, a transit via an Amtrak “hub”. Chicago btw is the most convenient East west transit point for any mode of transit. A great tool is the great circle mapper, it can show you fairly quickly how out of sorts your transit options are.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
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I got moderated for being snippy, so let us try again.

The so-called long distance trains are really corridor trains. They are more efficient than airlines for their core travel markets, such as Toledo to Chicago and Cleveland to Buffalo. They have all the virtues of any other corridor train. It just happens that by connecting them up, running the train NY Poughkeepsie Albany Utica Syracuse Rochester Buffalo Cleveland Toledo Elkhart South Bend Chicago, you also serve the 10% of Americans who do not fly. This is a bonus, not the core market. The train's primary market is from those intermediate cities, Utica, Poughkeepsie, Toledo, South Bend. Cities whose air service is small, inefficient, half-full planes.

The airline mentality may be blinding Bluejet, because airplane routes practically always run point to point, maybe with one intermediate stop. Trains are different. Serving the Charlottesville to Chicago traffic and the Cincinnati to DC traffic is most efficiently done on one train. Optimal train routes are far, far longer than the city pairs they are primarily serving -- economies of scale apply. But you should not consider the Cardinal to be a Chicago to NY train -- that is simply incorrect in terms of its primary markets. It is a Charlottesville VA and Cincinnati train, taking passengers from those places to larger cities.

(In fact, the 10% of Americans who do not fly would never take the Cardinal from NY to Chicago or from DC to Chicago for transportation... we would take the LSL or Capitol Limited. Nevertheless it makes operational sense to run the Cardinal from NY to Chicago to serve the NY to Charlottesville, Cincinnati to DC, and Charlottesville to Chicago markets simultaneously, rather than trying to serve them with separate trains.)

I get very frustrated at this extremely common analytical error.

Long distance trains ARE corridor trains. Period. You need to understand that. Their primary market is from third tier cities to big cities. The ridership and revenue statistics prove it. It is simply more economically efficient to join a corridor leading to Chicago with a corridor leading to New York, so that there is an anchor on both ends, than to run a bunch of shorter corridor trains which misconnect. This can be demonstrated mathematically; you get higher load factors on an LA-SF train than on an LA-SLO train plus an SF-SLO train, because you serve a bunch of extra city pairs "for free".

This does not justify running a train through the void between San Antonio and El Paso, but then I never supported that. I support the corridor trains which are misleadingly referred to as "long distance".

The Interstate analogy applies. Hardly anyone takes I-90 from the east coast to Chicago; it exists because of all the intermediate exits. The few people who do drive NY to Chicago get served incidentally, but the main traffic is to and between intermediate points.
 
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neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,778
When I fly, I almost always have to first fly to some hub before getting to my final destination. Most of the hubs are way out of the way and some in the opposite direction of my final destination. It has been this way my entire life (my first flight was in the early '70s). Do you know what proportion of the flying population goes through these wasted trips and/or the impact of this situation on CO2 production?
This is normal. All the flights out of Ithaca go in the wrong direction, detouring wrong-way to Detroit for all but a couple of destinations; Elmira is worse; Rochester and Buffalo are getting pretty bad too. (Syracuse is still OK but for how long?). When I have found direct flights from third-tier cities to desirable first tier citirs, as with Bismarck ND to Chicago, they are usually in puddlejumpers.

Amtrak is not competing with NY-LA flights; they are an irrelevance. Amtrak is competing with Syracuse to Springfield, MA flights (which involve three legs, two hubs, and massively out of the way travel). Amtrak can provide direct service cost effectively because a train can stop at lots of intermediate stops cheaply.
 

seat38a

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I got moderated for being snippy, so let us try again.

The so-called long distance trains are really corridor trains. They are more efficient than airlines for their core travel markets, such as Toledo to Chicago and Cleveland to Buffalo. They have all the virtues of any other corridor train. It just happens that by connecting them up, running the train NY Poughkeepsie Albany Utica Syracuse Rochester Buffalo Cleveland Toledo Elkhart South Bend Chicago, you also serve the 10% of Americans who do not fly. This is a bonus, not the core market. The train's primary market is from those intermediate cities, Utica, Poughkeepsie, Toledo, South Bend. Cities whose air service is small, inefficient, half-full planes.

The airline mentality may be blinding Bluejet, because airlines practically always run point to point, maybe with one intermediate stop. Trains are different. Serving the Charlottesville to Chicago traffic and the Cincinnati to DC traffic is most efficiently done on one train. Optimal train routes are far, far longer than the city pairs they are primarily serving -- economies of scale apply. But you should not consider the Cardinal to be a Chicago to NY train -- that is simply incorrect in terms of its primary markets. It is a Charlottesville VA and Cincinnati train, taking passengers from those places to larger cities.

I get very frustrated at this extremely common analytical error.

Long distance trains ARE corridor trains. Period. You need to understand that. Their primary market is from third tier cities to big cities. The ridership and revenue statistics prove it. It is simply more economically efficient to join a corridor leading to Chicago with a corridor leading to New York, so that there is an anchor on both ends, than to run a bunch of shorter corridor trains which misconnect. This can be demonstrated mathematically; you get higher load factors on an LA-SF train than on an LA-SLO train plus an SF-SLO train, because you serve a bunch of extra city pairs "for free".

This does not justify running a train through the void between San Antonio and El Paso, but then I never supported that. I support the corridor trains which are misleadingly referred to as "long distance".

The Interstate analogy applies. Hardly anyone takes I-90 from the east coast to Chicago; it exists because of all the intermediate exits.
Well I think it works better for all LD trains if there were more reliable real corridor frequency to overlap the the LD train. For example, the the Coast Starlight overlaps with 3 separate high frequency corridor service along its route and the CS gets sold as one of the frequency when inside 3 corridors. From PDX -> SEA, the CS fills what I would consider an important time slot at 3:56 going northbound. Even southbound it fits nicely in at 9:45 am departure for Portland. Same with the less frequent North of LA Surfliner. Train 14 also fits in nicely as the last train going north from San Jose to compliment the Capitol Corridor at 8:23 PM, which is little over an hour after the last Capitol Corridor train at 7:15PM.

Even the CZ Eastbound at 9:10 AM slots into a nice hourly slot for Bay Area to Sacramento but seems to overlap on the Westbound.
 
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neroden

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7,778
Well I think it works better for all trains if there were more reliable real corridor frequency to overlap the the LD train. For example, the the Coast Starlight overlaps with 3 separate high frequency corridor service along its route and the CS gets sold as one of the frequency when inside 3 corridors.
Certainly. (Also, on time performance is critically important,)

The LSL joins up with the Maple Leaf from Toronto, plus two additional frequencies from Niagara Falls, to cross NY State. Then it meets up with the Adirondack and Ethan Allen at Albany and they all head for NYC, being joined by more trains from Albany and by Metro North at Poughkeepsie. The Boston section of the LSL is joined by MBTA commuter rail at Worcester.

I have advocated for an LSL reroute from Toledo through Dearborn to join the Michigan Service.

In fact, nearly every so-called long-distance train is the extension of a higher frequency corridor, or several. I will go through them all...

LSL: see above
CL: MARC service DC to West Virginia
Cardinal: NEC, Roanake service (also Crescent)
Crescent: NEC, Roanake service, plus part of the Carolinian & Piedmont
Silver Star & Meteor & Palmetto: NEC, VRE, Virginia Regional, Carolinian, + SunRail & TriRail
CONO: Illini/Saluki
TE: Lincoln Service
SWC: Quincy trains, Metra
CZ: Quincy trains, Metra, Capitol Corridor at the other end
EB: Hiawathas
Coast Starlight: Cascades, part of the Capitol Corridor, Surfliners

(Yes, the poor old Sunset Limited has got nothing. It is atypical.)
 
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ehbowen

Conductor
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Mar 22, 2011
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2,323
Yes hubs exist to transit passengers, they exist all over and are generally not that far out of the way.
My last flight was from Kalispell (Whitefish), Montana back to Houston. I had to connect via Seattle...no more direct option. Are you stating that's atypical?
 

ehbowen

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Mar 22, 2011
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(Yes, the poor old Sunset Limited has got nothing. It is atypical.)
I'm not in favor of discontinuing the Sunset Limited, by any means, but just as a blue-sky proposal what would you say to resurrecting the California Special as a NOL-HOS-TPL-Lubbock-ABQ train with connections at Temple to/from the Texas Eagle and operating it as a diverging section of the Southwest Chief, with or without the reroute via Amarillo?

Edit To Add: Especially if it was made a daily train?
 

neroden

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I'm not in favor of discontinuing the Sunset Limited, by any means, but just as a blue-sky proposal what would you say to resurrecting the California Special as a NOL-HOS-TPL-Lubbock-ABQ train with connections at Temple to/from the Texas Eagle and operating it as a diverging section of the Southwest Chief, with or without the reroute via Amarillo?

Edit To Add: Especially if it was made a daily train?
ABQ-Lubbock-(near Abilene)-Temple-Houston-NOL makes plenty of sense. And everything should be at least daily.

Though consider Denver-Pueblo-Amarillo-Lubbock-Temple-Houston-NOL. Especially if the SWC were rerouted via Amarillo, which could be an interchange.

None of this will happen, because Texas. Unless the demographic trends in Texas change the politics faster than I expect. I expect that by the time the politics change, Texas Central will be running.

If Texas Central opens, the network should be restructured around it. Similarly, Amtrak should seriously plan on restructuring Florida service around Brightline.
 

seat38a

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Certainly. (Also, on time performance is critically important,)

The LSL joins up with the Maple Leaf from Toronto, plus two additional frequencies from Niagara Falls, to cross NY State. Then it meets up with the Adirondack and Ethan Allen at Albany and they all head for NYC, being joined by more trains from Albany and by Metro North at Poughkeepsie. The Boston section of the LSL is joined by MBTA commuter rail at Worcester.

I have advocated for an LSL reroute from Toledo through Dearborn to join the Michigan Service.

In fact, nearly every so-called long-distance train is the extension of a higher frequency corridor, or several. I will go through them all...

LSL: see above
CL: MARC service DC to West Virginia
Cardinal: NEC, Roanake service (also Crescent)
Crescent: NEC, Roanake service, plus part of the Carolinian & Piedmont
Silver Star & Meteor & Palmetto: NEC, VRE, Virginia Regional, Carolinian, + SunRail & TriRail
CONO: Illini/Saluki
TE: Lincoln Service
SWC: Quincy trains, Metra
CZ: Quincy trains, Metra, Capitol Corridor at the other end
EB: Hiawathas
Coast Starlight: Cascades, part of the Capitol Corridor, Surfliners

(Yes, the poor old Sunset Limited has got nothing. It is atypical.)
I'm not sure if those Non Amtrak commuter / corridor services help Amtrak's LD trains or not since you can't buy tickets for both trains as one can for Amtrak run LD and corridors. Only Amtrak / Commuter that are complimentary that I know of is Metrolink, Coaster and the Surfliner which does offer recipricol benefits for monthly pass holders. Also, schedule patterns for the West Coast does seem to point to better schedule coordination. LOSSAN has been working to prevent schedule conflicts between Amtrak and Metrolink to prevent delays on both. You can probably better chime in on the other lines than I can.
 

Bluejet

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Oct 14, 2019
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My last flight was from Kalispell (Whitefish), Montana back to Houston. I had to connect via Seattle...no more direct option. Are you stating that's atypical?
That’s not typical. A transit via SLC wouldn’t have been too far out of the way and is available.
 

Bluejet

Train Attendant
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Oct 14, 2019
Messages
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I got moderated for being snippy, so let us try again.

The so-called long distance trains are really corridor trains. They are more efficient than airlines for their core travel markets, such as Toledo to Chicago and Cleveland to Buffalo. They have all the virtues of any other corridor train. It just happens that by connecting them up, running the train NY Poughkeepsie Albany Utica Syracuse Rochester Buffalo Cleveland Toledo Elkhart South Bend Chicago, you also serve the 10% of Americans who do not fly. This is a bonus, not the core market. The train's primary market is from those intermediate cities, Utica, Poughkeepsie, Toledo, South Bend. Cities whose air service is small, inefficient, half-full planes.

The airline mentality may be blinding Bluejet, because airplane routes practically always run point to point, maybe with one intermediate stop. Trains are different. Serving the Charlottesville to Chicago traffic and the Cincinnati to DC traffic is most efficiently done on one train. Optimal train routes are far, far longer than the city pairs they are primarily serving -- economies of scale apply. But you should not consider the Cardinal to be a Chicago to NY train -- that is simply incorrect in terms of its primary markets. It is a Charlottesville VA and Cincinnati train, taking passengers from those places to larger cities.

(In fact, the 10% of Americans who do not fly would never take the Cardinal from NY to Chicago or from DC to Chicago for transportation... we would take the LSL or Capitol Limited. Nevertheless it makes operational sense to run the Cardinal from NY to Chicago to serve the NY to Charlottesville, Cincinnati to DC, and Charlottesville to Chicago markets simultaneously, rather than trying to serve them with separate trains.)

I get very frustrated at this extremely common analytical error.

Long distance trains ARE corridor trains. Period. You need to understand that. Their primary market is from third tier cities to big cities. The ridership and revenue statistics prove it. It is simply more economically efficient to join a corridor leading to Chicago with a corridor leading to New York, so that there is an anchor on both ends, than to run a bunch of shorter corridor trains which misconnect. This can be demonstrated mathematically; you get higher load factors on an LA-SF train than on an LA-SLO train plus an SF-SLO train, because you serve a bunch of extra city pairs "for free".

This does not justify running a train through the void between San Antonio and El Paso, but then I never supported that. I support the corridor trains which are misleadingly referred to as "long distance".

The Interstate analogy applies. Hardly anyone takes I-90 from the east coast to Chicago; it exists because of all the intermediate exits. The few people who do drive NY to Chicago get served incidentally, but the main traffic is to and between intermediate points.

That makes sense. The thread though is why trains over planes over long distances. We agree trains make sense over short distances, And I’ll agree that those trains serve corridors. They exist and are a transportation option.
 

seat38a

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That’s not typical. A transit via SLC wouldn’t have been too far out of the way and is available.
Sounds like flying on Alaska.(Unless I missed a post or 2). Sometimes smaller airlines don't exactly have the most efficient routing like the big 3 with their multiple hubs.
 

ehbowen

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Mar 22, 2011
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ABQ-Lubbock-(near Abilene)-Temple-Houston-NOL makes plenty of sense. And everything should be at least daily.

Though consider Denver-Pueblo-Amarillo-Lubbock-Temple-Houston-NOL. Especially if the SWC were rerouted via Amarillo, which could be an interchange.
I like both of those thoughts, and I wish that we lived in a world where "both/and" was a viable option. I'd hate to lose through service to San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson and the Phoenix metro area especially at a time when all are booming, but I think that daily service over the old California Special route might be a wiser use of Amtrak's limited equipment than the currently struggling triweekly Sunset.
 

Qapla

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The original post for this thread was actually a very simple question ...

It was not about why trains or planes "make sense" for LD travel ... it was why some "prefer" to take the train.
Just curious as to why folks prefer the trains for long distance as opposed to planes"
Why someone may "prefer" one type of travel than another has nothing to do with some of the arguments presented in the 300+ posts in this thread. In fact, a simple "I just like to ride the trains" is a valid response to the OP question ...
 

Bluejet

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The original post for this thread was actually a very simple question ...

It was not about why trains or planes "make sense" for LD travel ... it was why some "prefer" to take the train.


Why someone may "prefer" one type of travel than another has nothing to do with some of the arguments presented in the 300+ posts in this thread. In fact, a simple "I just like to ride the trains" is a valid response to the OP question ...

Absolutely. A very valid response. Another.... I hate to fly, another valid response. I'm afraid of heights. Valid. I love to see the country. Valid. My entire point of entering this thread was the non valid responses that were down right mis-information. I ride trains because planes burn 10 times as much gas. Not Valid. Transcontinental flights burn 20000+ gallons fuel to cross the country. Nope. I ride trains long distances to save the environment. Debatable. I ride trains because i'm giving up a whole day so why not give up another day and a half. (I still dont understand that one) I ride trains because the TSA takes so long and coach class on the airlines is like cattle, so I'm going to pay 5x as much for a roomette. ( have you perhaps tried a more premium airline product)
 

jis

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I'm not sure if those Non Amtrak commuter / corridor services help Amtrak's LD trains or not since you can't buy tickets for both trains as one can for Amtrak run LD and corridors.
At least when I lived in NJ, the existence of NJT service definitely helped Amtrak, and sometimes even helped the airlines too, since I often took NJT from either Short Hills (on M&E off the NEC) or Metropark (on NEC) to either Trenton or Newark to catch LD trains, and incidentally to Newark Airport too, to catch flights. Metropark parking lot was much cheaper than Newark Airport lots even taking into consideration the RT fare on NJT between MET and EWR. Buying tickets pretty much became a non issue since I could buy them at my leisure on my Smartphone.
 
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