Sleeper expansion

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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Jan 05, 2017 4:47 pm

Mr. O'Keefe, all of your immediate would have been.possible had Amtrak picked up the 70 car V-II option. But they didn't.

I have to wonder if Amtrak is going to move forth with the heavy heavy rebuilding and reconfiguring of the existing V-I fleet. Nothing has been heard of thst.in quite a while.

So even if the 75 cars were available, there could be adequate cars to return a Sleeper line to 66-67, as the V-II's come up for heavy"s. the line might have to be withdrawn. That is what happened with Silver Palm.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby gokeefe » Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:27 pm

No question I don't think "all" of the above will happen. What I think is truly curious is "how much". 25 new cars (50% increase over existing fleet) is enough to "make some trouble" but not enough to go all the way.

That being the case, yet again, 66/67 seems by far the most logical options for a service restoration. But then what? The one "big" route expansion that I think is really worth wondering about is a Silver Palm restored with the Silver Meteor running from Boston. I think at that point you would pretty much soak up the remaining new capacity. I have no idea how the trainsets used to turn in order to cover that kind of schedule. Would it really take 21-22 new sleeping cars to restore the Silver Palm and also to cover the Silver Meteor running from Boston instead of New York?

If you're feeling financially constrained at Amtrak and risk averse then what really happens is that you've now got about 22 new sleepers (3 in service on 66/67) that turn into a giant "flex-fleet" and cover demand on single level routes everywhere. That's an attractive proposition but I am not confident that given Amtrak's current train length limitations that they could actually absorb that much new rolling stock (without just leaving a bunch of them sitting in the yard all the time). I guess that's part of what drives this topic to a certain extent, unless they're going to park brand new cars (and assuming they don't have the money to spend on refurbishing old ones) or vice-versa the only answer is route/service expansion.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Greg Moore » Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:49 pm

I suspect we'll see them added to 66/67 and then.. probably just on most routes adding an additional car.

Consider if you simply add 1 extra car to the Silver Star and do 66/67, that's 1/4 of your cars right there (4+2).

So simply adding them to existing trains soaks them up right there.

That said, I think I think there's some merit to reviving the Silver Palm. (We're looking at a trip to Florida and right now, neither option is workable, a 3rd would give us one more option).
Personally I'd rather see the Silver Palm BEFORE a lengthened Silver Star/Meteor if only because I think there's a real useful multiplier with additional frequencies. People really do start thinking of the train as a viable possibility when there are more chances they can take it.

Maybe a daily Cardinal, beyond that, I just don't think 25 is enough to really think of any more expansion.

And keep in mind, with the addition of the baggage-dorms, you get an additional boost in revenue space as you free up crew space in existing sleepers. We can't forget about those.
Finally, what do you do with 25 dining cars? Do you keep the Silver Starve w/o one?
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby gokeefe » Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:13 pm

Greg Moore wrote:Finally, what do you do with 25 dining cars? Do you keep the Silver Starve w/o one?


Good question ... I think you leave it and continue the Silver Star as the "discount" sleeper option.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:44 pm

Messrs. Moore and O'Keefe, you both make interesting points.

While 98 could make a "next day" turn at BOS for 97 just as it does at SSY presently, you are first confronted with both the Fairfield and the US Navies not allowing any additional trains over the East End. To add/cut cars at say Wash is contrary to Amtrak's operations "protocols". You would also have additional costs with the Boston commissary concessionaire as they presently do not supply any train with full-service dining.

All told the only possible line addition is 66/67 which can be done with two cars using a 448-BOS-67-WAS-66-BOS-449 op-plan. If the walls at 60 Mass could talk when "yes ee can" Marketing and "no way" Operating lock horns over such a proposal. After all, corporate meetings are just a form of verbal combat. and I guess whoever has the best tsctics and gladiators will come out on top.

When additional Coach and/or Sleeper lines on any train through Holiday peaks are observed, that is simply done by a "surge". Periodics are not done through such periods and Mechanical has "fingers X'd" through such that "the duct tape holds".
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby gokeefe » Thu Jan 05, 2017 8:35 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:While 98 could make a "next day" turn at BOS for 97 just as it does at SSY presently, you are first confronted with both the Fairfield and the US Navies not allowing any additional trains over the East End. To add/cut cars at say Wash is contrary to Amtrak's operations "protocols". You would also have additional costs with the Boston commissary concessionaire as they presently do not supply any train with full-service dining.


The question of frequency over the draw bridges is duly noted. My response? Substitute it for a Northeast Regional. Point taken regarding commissary but it can't be too small as they have to supply Acela First Class. Yes it's "small potatoes" (haha) compared to a full service dining car but "Amcafe" it is not. "Can't spare" the Regional? Add a handful of Amfleet Is to the consist and seat short or corridor trip segments. The train is going to soak up some ridership going to NYP or WAS to connect to the Silver Service regardless so some of the ridership would cross over directly.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby east point » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:41 pm

Isn't the present 39 train limit over the draw bridges about to expire ? This past Thanksgiving it certainly was exceeded with as many as 46 over the route on a couple days.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Greg Moore » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:13 pm

Route 98/97 over the inland route and pick up Springfield along the way.

Avoid any bridge issues.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Jan 06, 2017 7:59 am

Greg Moore wrote:Route 98/97 over the inland route and pick up Springfield along the way.

Avoid any bridge issues.


I was thinking that, as well. But then there's the CSX to deal with. Not insurmountable, but I have a feeling they will want the double track put back in between Palmer and CP whatever, west of Worcester, and that's already in the MassDot's plans.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:45 pm

That would then require 2 engine changes, which I suspect Amtrak would be loathe to do.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:18 pm

deathtopumpkins wrote:That would then require 2 engine changes, which I suspect Amtrak would be loathe to do.


Probably; they're loathe to do a lot of things that are inconvenient to them.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby bratkinson » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:26 pm

gokeefe wrote:
Gilbert B Norman wrote:While 98 could make a "next day" turn at BOS for 97 just as it does at SSY presently, you are first confronted with both the Fairfield and the US Navies not allowing any additional trains over the East End. To add/cut cars at say Wash is contrary to Amtrak's operations "protocols". You would also have additional costs with the Boston commissary concessionaire as they presently do not supply any train with full-service dining.


The question of frequency over the draw bridges is duly noted. My response? Substitute it for a Northeast Regional. Point taken regarding commissary but it can't be too small as they have to supply Acela First Class. Yes it's "small potatoes" (haha) compared to a full service dining car but "Amcafe" it is not. "Can't spare" the Regional? Add a handful of Amfleet Is to the consist and seat short or corridor trip segments. The train is going to soak up some ridership going to NYP or WAS to connect to the Silver Service regardless so some of the ridership would cross over directly.


re: 97/98 to Boston...what does this gain? A dozen or so passengers don't have to change trains at NYP or WAS? I recall a discussion on another rail-oriented website of extending one or two of the Florida trains to Boston. The bottom line was it would require a full car set for each train any given the train may arrive NYP 4 hours down and still have to make it to BOS...perhaps losing another hour and make a very short turnaround time. Ain't gonna happen. Look at what happens when Autotrain is 5-6 hours late...it takes DAYS to get back to normal schedules. At best, identical trainsets from 2 or more schedules (add in the Crescent?) could be rotated from one train route/schedule to another each day. Oh...almost forgot...various OBS crews would have to be based in BOS as well.

As for BOS commissary abilities, I don't know as they stock the Acelas there. After the terrible breakfast I had in Acela First Class last May, I don't think I'd want them stocking dining car food!

Lastly, as noted, there's a very strict limit of numbers of trains across the various bridges enroute to/from BOS. Adding another is not an option unless the USCG and crybaby boaters (NIMBYs, essentially) are somehow made happy. Considering the schedule 'intricrasies' to fit Metro North, Shoreline East, Amtrak and an occasional freight trains as well as maintenance trains, adding even 1 more train would require likely schedule adjustments for all of the above and therefore require their approval as well. Running one or more of the trains via the inland route still has to deal with bridge issues from New Rochelle to New Haven. Perhaps if, someday, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is willing to foot the bill for reinstallation of the 2nd main East from Springfield in conjunction with added BOS-SPG trains as is being kicked around, I think CSX would be happy comply, if the price is right.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:41 am

I think we are due for a new Broadway actually, if anything beyond a new Federal sleeper and service expansion happens. It'd be a matter of a trans-dorm for the Cap, a few through Viewliners off the Pennsylvanian, ground power for the temporarily set-out sleepers, and moving coach passengers between single and bilevel cars at PGH as appropriate.

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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby trainviews » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:39 am

I couldn't agree more.

The main purpose of the new sleepers is to add capacity for existing trains. This is extra revenue for very little extra cost and much needed.

This still leaves a limited space for service expansion. In order of likelyhood:

WAS-BOS, the only one I think Amtrak has hinted is so that is likely.

NYP-CHI via the Pennsylvanian-Capitol. Is in the PIP and only a small capital investment is needed. So very possible.

Daily Cardinal. Requires some track upgrades. The ones in Virginia is on the way, but there will probably be more. However getting rid of the less than daily schedules should be an Amtrak priority, so it might happen.

From there - forget it. A Silver Palm will take up so many cars that you can't even lengthen all the current ones.

But that is not even the real obstacle. What people in here tend to forget is that having the equipment is a very minor part of starting a new train these days. Even on routes with existing trains the host railroads are likely to demand substantial capacity upgrades. CSX and probably FEC will certainly do so for an extended Palmetto. Last time someone asked for an extra frequency Harrisburg-Pittsburgh NS demanded a full extra track, and if we are talking a Broadway Limited stand alone, theres also a substantial bill getting it into Chicago, even if it gets the Pennsylvanian's current slot.

All these things are possible - but not just because you have cars (whether it's more new ones or campaigning to rob another current train). It requires a solid local and federal political pressure to get anywhere near to funding the demanded capacity enhancements and a possible operation subsidy (see NOLA-Orlando where that is exactly what is happening and might - just might - succeed). The cars are small potatoes in that game.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:56 am

Hopefully with Wick Moorman formerly of Norfolk Southern running Amtrak he'd help in Amtrak/NS negotiations. There really isn't much reason not to do the through cars off the Capitol Limited. The only potential problem I see is the passengers boarding eastbound at PGH will have to wait for the CL. But if a 2nd Pennsylvanian is started (once again Amtrak/NS), you can have one PGH-NYP connected to the CL and one PGH-NYP separate.

I know most people at this newsgroup wouldn't do it but I'd go to CSX and say if I agree to vacate the Cardinal between CIN and Charlottesville will you let us have the Gulf Coast route (or have it for less than they are demanding right now)? There are plenty of more valuable tracks Amtrak uses that CSX owns. Maybe they can get extra frequencies in Florida. I'd give up the CL between PGH and WAS if it would help somewhere else (reroute CL through PHL). The question then becomes how valuable various tracks are to CSX. If CSX gains a lot without Amtrak running on a particular track they might be more willing to negotiate with Amtrak.
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