Quantcast

Without additional funding, how can Amtrak improve the LD trains?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,301
Location
Austin Texas
I dont remember the Specifics, but do remember that various Cars, Coaches and Sleepers, were added/ cutout @ various times ( IIIRC in San Antonio, NewOrleans and Jacksonville)during the long trip, similar to what the Sunset/Eagle does now in San Antonio and St.Louis.
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,563
Location
Toronto area
Question: Are RDC & DMU synonymous?
I guess some could make that comparison, but by definition DMU is more than one unit connected whereas RDC's in their prime ran as singles more often than not. There was also a recent thread here about the logistics of running DMU's sharing tracks with heavy freight - regulations, crash-worthiness, etc. AFAIK that was never a consideration with RDC's, with many running on freight lines that saw no other passenger service. That's still the case with one remaining route in Ontario.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,150
Location
Baltimore. MD
I'm just floored at the circumstances where running Diesels on electrified lines ends up being the better option. This is backwards in so many different ways.
Oh, and I also saw on another thread that when MARC Penn Line trainsets arrive in Washington, they are sometimes routed out to the Camden or Brunswick lines, which are not electrified.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,215
Location
Gator Country Florida
I guess, since RDC's were commercially successful and more profitable to operate, they were discontinued for use by Amtrak - no sense keeping cars around that generate a profit.
 
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
7
  • Computerize all the OBS systems. The conductors have handheld devices for scanning tickets, why not issue similar tech to the OBS staff that works with a localized mesh network on the train? From the call button on up.
  • Develop a better service culture with OBS. Hold OBS accountable using the same customer service metrics used everywhere else in the industry. Transition out bad OBS, reward good OBS.
  • Cross-train OBS staff and change operating procedures to maximize the use of OBS hours.
  • Work with local food providers to offer different dining options at crew change stops.
Great ideas, mostly, especially the computerization. That would make things much easier. As far as OBS, it's actually impossible to transition out the bad OBS. Because of the union, it's all based on seniority and seniority alone. I work my butt off to provide great service because I have a good personal work ethic. I get the same reward as the attendant who doesn't get up until 10 am, never cleans the bathroom, and spends most of the time in their sleeper room. There is NO reward other than an occasional attaboy letter from passengers. To get a bad attendant out, a passenger must complain about something egregious (whether true or not) and the person complained about seems to need to fit a particular demographic.

Not sure what you mean about maximizing OBS hours. On the long hauls, OBS often have 22+ hour days and are running on empty. The overwhelming majority are working very hard to provide the best service with what they're given, service with a smile even when exhausted and caring for those there's-one-every-trip passengers that expects to have a private butler. Passengers do need to complain loudly (and in writing) about those that are lazy. Otherwise, they'll be on there until retirement age.

Food could definitely be better. Those flex-dining meals are not too bad when they're in the oven before served, though they do need a low-sodium option. It's the microwaved ones that are not so good. That requires LSAs to take orders beforehand; not that difficult, but not required. Goes back to work ethic and reasonable expectations (expecting the LSA to also be the cook is, imho, ridiculous.)

Amenities may not be a big deal, but they should be provided to the deluxe rooms (B,C,D,E -- A is not included because it's so small!) as a perk. Because of lawyers, OBS cannot even provide their *own* mints on the pillows any more, let alone have Amtrak pay for them.

Good ideas in this thread. I hope someone from Amtrak management is actually reading.
 
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
7
>>Upgrade the technology so passengers can choose and pay for seating / rooms / online... just like the airlines. <<

Not possible. The reason is that not all cars stop at each station (IOW, the doors don't all open at each stop -- doing so would add considerable time to the route, and be an expensive proposition.) Conductors don't actually know until that morning's manifest is out which cars are stopping where. It's driven by the sleeper cars and the lower level passengers. Only half of the coach cars have lower level seating (the other half have baggage compartments), so if there's a mobility-impaired or other ADA passenger in the lower level riding to Stop A, then that car will be open for that stop, and all other passengers riding to Stop A will be loaded into that car.

For the sleeping car, the rooms get turned over. Let's say John wants Room D (the best room), but he's only traveling 400 miles. The computer, right now, will maximize use of that room so that it's empty as little as possible, even if it means turning it over several times. Passengers choosing their own rooms who aren't traveling the whole way might mean the room is empty for long stretches. Maybe, though, passengers who are making the whole trip could have the choice as a bennie. That could work.
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
461
Location
Denver
I guess some could make that comparison, but by definition DMU is more than one unit connected whereas RDC's in their prime ran as singles more often than not. There was also a recent thread here about the logistics of running DMU's sharing tracks with heavy freight - regulations, crash-worthiness, etc. AFAIK that was never a consideration with RDC's, with many running on freight lines that saw no other passenger service. That's still the case with one remaining route in Ontario.
Operations with multiple RDC's included two and three car trains in Canada and the U.S. In the early 1970's a two-car train on the CN out of Edmonton split en route into one-car trains for Drumheller and Calgary. There was at least one operation like that in the northeastern U.S.

The RDC fit well into the goal of making major routes successful where strong feeder routes can be set up. However, by the time it was introduced some railways had already gone sour on passengers and others remembered struggles with earlier motor cars. B.F. Biagini of the SP told me that their one unit, bought because Cal PUC made them try it instead of discontinuing the Oakland<>Sacramento Senator. "always seemed to sitting in the shop." Later in my transportation career I learned that has more to do with the oddball status of a small subfleet than anything to do with the Budd Corporation.

The photo shows a three-car RDC train. This ran Edmonton<>Saskatoon on the CN main line, replacing the Super Continental. The redundant RDC-4 was required to be certain to trip track circuits.

1981 035.jpg
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,150
Location
Baltimore. MD
Operations with multiple RDC's included two and three car trains in Canada and the U.S. In the early 1970's a two-car train on the CN out of Edmonton split en route into one-car trains for Drumheller and Calgary. There was at least one operation like that in the northeastern U.S.

The RDC fit well into the goal of making major routes successful where strong feeder routes can be set up. However, by the time it was introduced some railways had already gone sour on passengers and others remembered struggles with earlier motor cars. B.F. Biagini of the SP told me that their one unit, bought because Cal PUC made them try it instead of discontinuing the Oakland<>Sacramento Senator. "always seemed to sitting in the shop." Later in my transportation career I learned that has more to do with the oddball status of a small subfleet than anything to do with the Budd Corporation.

The photo shows a three-car RDC train. This ran Edmonton<>Saskatoon on the CN main line, replacing the Super Continental. The redundant RDC-4 was required to be certain to trip track circuits.

View attachment 19029
Back in the late 60's/early 70s I used the ride the RDCs on the Reading on the Pottsville - Reading - Philadelphia route. The trains were all at least 2 cars long, sometimes they were 4 cars.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,860
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
I guess, since RDC's were commercially successful and more profitable to operate, they were discontinued for use by Amtrak - no sense keeping cars around that generate a profit.
Since you are making specific claims and using it to disparage Amtrak, perhaps you can provide some credible references to support your claims? ;)
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,158
Location
South Florida
Back in the late 60's/early 70s I used the ride the RDCs on the Reading on the Pottsville - Reading - Philadelphia route. The trains were all at least 2 cars long, sometimes they were 4 cars.
One of the longer RDC runs in the East, was on the Reading...
The RDC equipped "Wall Streeter" would leave Newark Penn Station on its evening run to the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia. Upon reaching its destination, it would make a brief stop, and then (under a different train number), change direction, and run all the way to Pottsville. While not carded as a "thru train", passenger's did not have to disembark, and could stay aboard for the entire trip, which I did a couple of times...:cool:
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,860
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Sorry to have disparaged Amtrak - I will henceforth defer to your expertise and discontinue commenting in this thread ... enjoy
You don't need to stop posting. All that is being is to provide supporting documentation for a somewhat serious claim for which there is little evidence as far as I can tell. I am sure B&M would have loved it if your claim were true, since they pretty much bet their passenger service on the Budd RDCs.

One of the longer RDC runs in the East, was on the Reading...
The RDC equipped "Wall Streeter" would leave Newark Penn Station on its evening run to the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia. Upon reaching its destination, it would make a brief stop, and then (under a different train number), change direction, and run all the way to Pottsville. While not carded as a "thru train", passenger's did not have to disembark, and could stay aboard for the entire trip, which I did a couple of times...:cool:
Ahh! Post Aldene plan but before discontinuance of service to Philly via West Trenton. I envy you. That was a little before I came to this country as a poor graduate student who could barely afford an LIRR ticket to get to NYC from Stony Brook and back. :(
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,215
Location
Gator Country Florida
You don't need to stop posting.
Thanks.

I'm not sure why, when others engage in what looks to be satire they are allowed - but, for some reason, if I engage in some satire I seem to get challenged or called upon to "substantiate" whatever I say.

Be that as it may, satire or not ... as you requested:

RDCs proved much less costly to operate than regular consists and were well received by railroads throughout North America as well as some overseas lines. An RDC cost approximately 50 per cent less to operate than a conventional locomotive-hauled train.

The RDC was visually attractive, easy to maintain, lightweight, flexible and powerful. The stainless-steel exterior was almost maintenance free. Operating controls were positioned at each end of the car to eliminate costly and time-consuming trips to turn the car at stub-ended terminals. The units could be used singly or in multi-car trains. The RDCs had a high power/weight ratio providing fast pick-up. Twin compact six-cylinder diesel engines produced 550 horsepower enabling the car to accelerate to 44 mph in 60 seconds, 54 miles per hour in 90 seconds and 80 miles per hour in under four minutes. The RDC had a top speed of 83 mph on level track.

The cars were primarily adopted for passenger service in rural areas with low traffic density or in short-haul commuter service, and were less expensive to operate in this context than a traditional diesel locomotive-drawn train with coaches. The cars could be used singly or coupled together in train sets and controlled from the cab of the front unit. The RDC was one of the few DMU trains to achieve commercial success in North America.

Now, if they were "commercially successful", less costly to operate (50% seems like a nice savings) and could save time on end turns - can you substantiate a "good" reason the design was abandoned for use

In the meantime - I do not wish to start a debate or sidetrack this thread ... I may still post here but I do not wish to continue to discuss/defend any comments on the advantage/disadvantage of Amtrak's desire/use of RDC's.
 
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
7
>>Why do you believe Bedroom D is the best bedroom? <<

B,C,D,E are the same size. It depends on which end is facing forward, but more often than not, D has the bench seating facing the same way the train is going, which matters to some. E is nice, too, but it's closest to the upstairs bathroom that all the roomettes are using and occasionally you can hear/smell the proximity. B is typically closest to dining room and facing same as D. However, A is about 1/3 smaller and difficult for two people to comfortably be in so B gets to hear their dissatisfaction. D is closer than B to the service attendant in Room 1. YMMV, just my opinion.
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
546
Location
West Palm Beach, Florida
>>Why do you believe Bedroom D is the best bedroom? <<

B,C,D,E are the same size. It depends on which end is facing forward, but more often than not, D has the bench seating facing the same way the train is going, which matters to some. E is nice, too, but it's closest to the upstairs bathroom that all the roomettes are using and occasionally you can hear/smell the proximity. B is typically closest to dining room and facing same as D. However, A is about 1/3 smaller and difficult for two people to comfortably be in so B gets to hear their dissatisfaction. D is closer than B to the service attendant in Room 1. YMMV, just my opinion.
How does B get to hear their dissatisfaction?
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
638
3,066 miles? That would have been a sweet trip, though a bit long! Did it take 5 nights to get from LA to Miami? I googled it and tried Wiki but I must be looking past the time it took. Back when the dining car served good food and had very good service a 5 day trip wouldn't have been too bad. It would have had a nice variety of views you travel through, too.
I did the Trans-Mongolian twice, and at 4735 miles (5 night journey on #3) it was almost TOO long. The dining car in China was fairly decent but in Russia it was only fair. We bought smoked fish and cheese at Lake Baikal but that just made the compartment smell worse. By day 4 we were ready to get off, ASAP.

On edit: Thanks for the great link, railiner! That was a fairly quick trip. 3066 miles / 72.33 hours = 42.4 mph. I don't know why I thought it would take so long. :rolleyes:

...
Irrelevant...we are comparing longest RDC runs, not longest Amtrak runs.
But the extended Sunset ran 3,066 miles, Los Angeles to Miami....
 
Last edited:

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,158
Location
South Florida
3,066 miles? That would have been a sweet trip, though a bit long! Did it take 5 nights to get from LA to Miami? I googled it and tried Wiki but I must be looking past the time it took. Back when the dining car served good food and had very good service a 5 day trip wouldn't have been too bad. It would have had a nice variety of views you travel through, too.
 
Top