Sleeper expansion

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Sleeper expansion

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:02 am

Mr. Weaver's most recent posts on the Federal/Night Owl thread got me thinking about sleeper expansion and it reinforced two thoughts I've had.

One: I think with enough equipment, Amtrak could easily remake the Palmetto into the Silver Palm and keep 3 sleeper runs to Florida busy (or even more, but I think it's a limited market compared to Southwest).

Two: and this is the one that I think the LSL almost does well, and the Crescent from WAS-ATL does well is: overnight business.

Unlike the western LD trains which, let's face it, serve in part the tourist market, I think there's room for a viable east coast (and perhaps around Chicago) market for overnight trains that can deliver individuals from city center to city center in overnight hours.

Such trains might depart between 7-10PM and arrive between 3:00 AM and 7:00 AM. They might have a cafe car for snacks and coffee, but no diner.
They don't need to be on high speed routes and in fact their schedules may vary to allow track work and the like. When they arrive at their destination, they might be set out or sit until morning (so there's no need for them to arrive at 7 AM, they can arrive at say 3:00 AM and wait until folks wake up).

Thoughts?
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby jp1822 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:42 am

The overnight market on the NEC is ideal. Leave Washington/Boston at 9:30 pm and arrive by 7:30 am. The café for those in sleeper can be given a continental breakfast. It can even be prepared and picked up in New Haven for the Northbound train and New York City for the Southbound train. Extra continental breakfasts can be sold to regular passengers or reserved for the following day, if it can be stored for a day.

So Northeast Regional #65/66/67 would carry a Viewliner sleeper on the rear with a regular Northeat Regioanl café in front of it (this is where breakfast for business class and Viewliner sleepers would be served and where the night before, snacks and alcoholic beverages could be sold. The Sleeping Car Attendant could staff this (Baltimore to Wilmington and Providence to Boston) with business class in front of that and then the normal train of coaches and the regular café.

Continue the train with sleeper and such down to Newport News. Having the extra café car for the passengers of the Viewliner Sleeper and Business Class Folks would be a nice touch and something that used to be done.

The Viweliners operating in this service would have to be inter-changed with the Lake Shore Limited Viewliners in Boston like they used to be. Or Amtrak could dead-head two Viewliners from NYP Sunnyside Yard. The other Viewliner could be interchanged at Richmond or run out to Newport News via NE Regional 96 after the Meteor or Star brings a Viewliner up from Hialeah and vice versa.

But there are tons of routes out there like this. NY to Pittsburgh via Philadelphia. Washington DC (or Boston) to Springfield to St Albans/Montreal (The Vermonter). Niagara Falls/Buffalo to NYP. Montreal to NYP. This could be made into a circle route between the ala overnight Vermonter and ala overnight Adirondack.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Jan 01, 2017 2:11 am

I love the idea of an "overnight" circle route using the Connecticut and Hudson River valleys to Montreal.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby east point » Sun Jan 01, 2017 4:55 am

It "MAY" be that 25 additional sleepers will not scratch the surface for sleeper demand. Most knowledgeable persons think so But ? ?
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:53 am

Greg Moore wrote:<SNIP>
Such trains might depart between 7-10PM and arrive between 3:00 AM and 7:00 AM. They might have a cafe car for snacks and coffee, but no diner.
They don't need to be on high speed routes and in fact their schedules may vary to allow track work and the like. When they arrive at their destination, they might be set out or sit until morning (so there's no need for them to arrive at 7 AM, they can arrive at say 3:00 AM and wait until folks wake up).

Thoughts?


Who'd want to arrive at your destination at 3am? You want to spend 3-4 hours in Penn Station or Union Station Chicago? I don't. And if you go outside, it's dark and probably unsafe and pointless to check into a hotel and pay a night's lodging to use for half the night.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:16 am

From "the one and only" Dunkin Donuts I could find open Downers Grove IL----

Well everyone, may I congratulate Mr. Moore for being the "New Year's Baby" around here (well in the CT zone) :P

Overseas, it looks like the Austrian OBB is launching the Night Jet sleeper service. But to me, it looks like "lipstick on the pig".

Here is a link to a download of a 23 page brochure on the service. It's in German, but I think "if there's a will, there's a way" and it could be a base of discussion:

https://www.oebb.at/en/angebote-ermaessigungen/nightjet
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:53 am

Amtrak would need to have code-sharing and a shared loyalty program with an airline to make overnight sleeping cars truly competitive for business travelers.

If someone takes a sleeping car overnight between Washington and Atlanta, it's unlikely that the person will need to take it in both directions (which would mean a long day in the destination city), and being limited to one train per day in each direction doesn't work.

If someone could do the sleeping car as needed in order to arrive for an early morning meeting or late dinner, the person probably can do the trip in the other direction at a normal time during the day, so the person will want to fly the other way. Plus if the person has elite status in an airline, which so many business travelers do, the person won't want to lose elite-qualifying miles by taking the train.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:10 am

Philly Amtrak Fan wrote:Who'd want to arrive at your destination at 3am? You want to spend 3-4 hours in Penn Station or Union Station Chicago? I don't. And if you go outside, it's dark and probably unsafe and pointless to check into a hotel and pay a night's lodging to use for half the night.


It's not that anyone would WANT to, it's you can, and you remain in the sleeper until 7:00 AM. That's the entire point. You have your hotel room, it's just taking you to your destination and if it gets there early, what do you care, You keep sleeping until you want to get up.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:54 pm

Of all the possibilities I think the best one is Boston and Washington on 67 and 66. By not running the sleeper south of Washington it can be done with two cars, maybe they can find them somewhere.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Nasadowsk » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:21 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Overseas, it looks like the Austrian OBB is launching the Night Jet sleeper service. But to me, it looks like "lipstick on the pig".


My understanding is that they're taking over a lot of DB's stuff, among some others. SNCF just cut a lot of overnight routes, DB has too. OBB figures maybe there's a market, but I suspect this won't last long. Discount airline competition is fierce over there, and even the majors are getting into it - I went Munich to Amsterdam on KLM for not much. And the flight wasn't very long either, and even featured a drink and snack (Which was good. The landing, on the other hand....).

Washington to Atlanta? You can do a round trip by plane for the less than the one way Amtrak cost. 2 hour flight Vs 13 hours on the train. Fly down in the morning, do your deal, fly back in the afternoon, sleep in your own bed that night.

Not a hard choice.
Last edited by Nasadowsk on Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Nasadowsk » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:23 pm

Greg Moore wrote:It's not that anyone would WANT to, it's you can, and you remain in the sleeper until 7:00 AM. That's the entire point. You have your hotel room, it's just taking you to your destination and if it gets there early, what do you care, You keep sleeping until you want to get up.


Where do you stuff a train in NYC for 4 hours? Not in Penn, they spend too long there now as it is. Sunnyside? No platforms, crap mass transit access.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sun Jan 01, 2017 2:05 pm

Greg Moore wrote:It's not that anyone would WANT to, it's you can, and you remain in the sleeper until 7:00 AM. That's the entire point. You have your hotel room, it's just taking you to your destination and if it gets there early, what do you care, You keep sleeping until you want to get up.


So the train is going to arrive in NYP at 3am and Amtrak is going to let the sleeper passengers sleep in the sleeper cars until 7am? That's four hours where the train serves as a hotel and can't be serviced. I highly doubt Amtrak would allow it. It would make more sense for them to arrive into NYP at 7am then. The Night Owl gets into NYP around 3am but continues. I'm guessing most people don't get on/off it. I believe they once let sleepers stay in the train until 6am on the Sunset arrival into LAX but I don't see that as an option currently in the timetable.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Jan 01, 2017 2:25 pm

Mr. Moore, when the WAS-NYP Executive Sleeper ran (and Mr. Resor once rode it; I rode PRR "Edison" during 1965), there was not the "pressure" on Penn that there is today; platforms simply must be cleared "post haste".

Mr. Nas, on the Continent, why OBB is promoting Sleeper services when every other European system is dropping them escapes me. I somehow think that the Sleeper trains I remember from 1960 (my first trip over) where there were cars stretching out of sight in the UK (and a steam engine up front), will not return. Likewise, I can recall a 1971 "marathon" after A-Day where again Wagon-Lits on the Paris/Nord-Nice "Blue Train" stretched out of sight. By 1990, a Madrid-Sevilla journey found me in a 4 man Couchette (First Class) when my Wagon-Lit reservation simply "wasn't". It was bare bone; and I doubt if the CIWL&GEE offered any more in the way of amenities. A Paris/Est-Frankfurt found one Wagon Lit on that train.

So what the OBB is up to, I know not. Simply because I've "gone over" to Salzburg the past three years and looks like I will again this Summer ($1750 United voucher "burning a hole in my pocket"), does not mean a Night Jet joyride is high on my list. After all, on a six night trip (one to "recover", two day trips (last year Vienna and St. Anton), and three concerts (Cleveland Orch, Vienna Phil, and the Mozarteum last year), kind of has my "dance card" filled.

While the fares for Night Jet seem on the cheap (check out the download PDF I noted earlier - don't need to know German to read the fares; €=$ are almost par nowadays) , I think it is just another restless night of "trying to sleep"
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Nasadowsk » Sun Jan 01, 2017 2:42 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Mr. Nas, on the Continent, why OBB is promoting Sleeper services when every other European system is dropping them escapes me.


They got a pretty good deal on the equipment from DB - 57 cars for €40 million...

I think this will be a short-lived experiment. OBB isn't going to toss money into a rabbithole forever. Sleepers have been on life support over there for a while now, and everyone can see the writing on the wall...
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Jan 01, 2017 4:44 pm

Amtrak could already make some extra cash and introduce sleeping cars to business travelers by selling Viewliner space for trips between NYP and WAS. My Crescent trip yesterday had mostly empty sleeping cars until after WAS, heading southbound. I recall that this has been discussed before but surely selling the space only on the day of travel wouldn't result in short-distance trips using up space that could be sold to longer-distance travelers.
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