- Dec 31, 2014
I do remember seeing some of the marketing for that. The cars they were going to use were very similar to the failed Marlboro Train. And that rear observation was going to basically end up looking like a two story Milwaukee Road Skytop car. Personally I've never taken Colorado Railcar that serious because their products in my opinion totally stink. From the DMU in Portland that is so unreliable they had to buy a 1950s era RDC car to supplement it, to the "domes" that are more like a sightseer lounge than anything else.AOE did ok financially for a while. All of these operations (Iowa Pacific included) are complex. It's not as simple as as "that operation lose money"
Seaboard (and others...) do you remember when Colorado Rail Car had the plan for "Golden Eagle Journeys" or something like that... they had a website up at one point and they were advertising the custom bi-level cars they were going to use. The rear observation car was going to be built like a bi-level gallery car so it was a multi level lounge open to the floor with a baby grand piano. Would have been amazing if if had happened.
I honestly don't think this is a business Amtrak should get into again. Now if someone wants to do it and charter Amtrak locomotives and crews that I think Amtrak should pursue. However they should not go into the business of just luxury travel on one or two tourist oriented routes. It would set a bad precedent that Amtrak's only usefulness is as a tourist oddity much like VIA's Canadian is turning into. Now running it as a charter for someone else I don't see the issue because a group has hired them to provide transportation which is basically what Amtrak's mission is. The only difference is they are riding in privately owned rolling stock, managed, and marketed by an outside company. Amtrak is still providing their basic service of transportation, and then it isn't tainted by the bad precedent.Each of these examples should be viewed as learning opportunities should Amtrak ever decide this market has possibilities. Take what they did right, what they did wrong, and what they may have had no control over into consideration.
Amtrak has an advantage over these private corporations and investors. It should have federal dollars to draw upon in the ramp-up, and potentially a future administration and congress that could help navigate roadblocks caused by operating railroads.
It's not the right time to actually move on any expansion of service. Once Covid-19 is resolved, and the economy rebounds, it might be. For now, passenger rail advocates have a full plate just trying to maintain service at current levels. But there is no harm in discussing future projects and even giving them serious study.
In my opinion if an operator would step in and resurrect the AOE they should focus on the two best routes only. National Parks of the West (ABQ-Grand Canyon-Las Vegas-SLC-West Yellowstone-SLC, and the Great Northwest and Rockies SLC-West Yellowstone-Helena-Glacier National Park-SEA. Those seam to be the strongest markets in my opinion.
Well two of those 10-12 hour trains should be a daylight train by schedule. However CN has asked VIA to run those two trains in the middle of the night due to excessive heat. I personally think thats a bad precedent to set. It also negates the use of those two routes usefulness to the communities served. Now that being said I believe and NS Via Fan can probably prove this. I want to say up until the 80s there were both day and night trains on those two rural routes in Quebec.This is not just an Amtrak thing. VIA Rail offers a bag of chips and one bottle of water on all trains right now - including several trains with durations of 10 - 12 hours and one with two overnights. "Our complete meal and beverage service is suspended on all our routes.
Passengers with dietary restrictions are asked to plan accordingly." A recent reviewer of a 4 1/2 hour Air Canada flight received a granola bar, a bottle of water and a tiny dispenser of hand sanitizer in Business Class. Either of these alternatives makes Amtrak's current offerings look at least acceptable, with the ability to access a cafe car an added bonus.