Sleeper expansion

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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby CHTT1 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:10 pm

Once again, Philly, trading one route for another is not the way to go. The Gulf Coast service will be restored without having to sacrifice any other route. And some day your beloved Broadway will return, without having to cancel the Lake Shore or the Ethan Allen or some mixed train in Manitoba. Each service can stand on its own, without horsetrading. Besides, CSX isn't going to lower its price for the Gulf Coast by abandoning the Cardinal. They'll just say, fine, cancel the Cardinal, we still want a zillion dollars to restore the Gulf Coast route.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby CComMack » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:50 am

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. 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.


What ÖBB is up to seems plain enough to me. DB and SNCF's core sleeper routes are now no longer 8-9 hour conventional routes, but 3-5 hour HSR routes, and the business case and, more importantly, the political case for sleepers on those routes has collapsed. The strongest ex-DB CityNightLine routes remaining are those that barely serve Germany at all, and mostly go clear across the country serving UK/Benelux-Switzerland/Austria, and it's not really a stretch to see why ÖBB might see an opportunity to pay a little bit of money to the piper to call the tunes. (Picking up 2005-2006 vintage rolling stock from DB for a song might go down as the greatest train robbery since the Great one.) And the future of the services on the ÖBB balance sheet is probably pretty good. http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/fi ... rawal.html

DB cited losses of €31m annually when announcing the withdrawal. However, leaked figures from DB's confidential monthly "Night Train Monitor" dated December 2 showed that by the end of September, profitability for the year had improved by €5.9m above forecast and losses were much lower at €13.5m on turnover of €69m (losses representing 19% of turnover).


Not the profitability you see on TGV or ICE, but ÖBB doesn't run true HSR, and has a better political case for subsidizing passengers to/from Vienna and Salzburg than DB did.

(Eventually Europe will come to the same realization that China has, specifically that its continental-scale HSR network has popular travel markets in the 9+ hour range, and will invest in dedicated HSR sleepers, but it hasn't happened yet, and probably won't anytime soon.)

The parallel to this is why the NYP-WAS or NYP-BOS Executive Sleeper is just not coming back. Upgrades to the NEC over the decades mean that there's no reason to reinstate sleeper service in preference to just extending the service day on Acela.

To return to the topic of expanding Amtrak sleeper service, I'm also in favor of starting to utilize additional sleepers by extending existing trains on the schedule, especially the Silver Meteor and Lake Shore Limited. As someone who lives in Philadelphia and travels to Boston regularly, and knowing many who make that journey in either direction, I'm also very impatient to get sleepers back on 65/66/67. The inconvenience of getting to or from Boston from points beyond NYP has been extensively litigated in other threads, and I've taken 66 in coach before as an alternative to more poorly-timed options. I'm getting a little old for that these days.

If we really need to look for a new sleeper route beyond 65/66/67, we can do that. If we start at Amtrak's best single-city market (New York), and specifically look for destinations in the 8-11 rail hour range. I can count no fewer than five that can work, all of which have existing daylight service that an overnight would complement nicely. For the curious, those are: Portland/Brunswick, Montreal/Burlington (Essex Jct.), Buffalo/Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh. The last three can extended to further destinations (Chicago, Chicago, Charlotte or Florida, respectively) with a third trainset, as desired. There's plenty of station capacity at NYP for late-evening (~22:30) departures and arrivals scheduled before 07:00 (with the possibility of up to an hour's delay, but schedule pad in addition wouldn't be a bad thing). London manages to tie up two tracks at Euston for the Caledonian Sleeper every morning, with the "everyone off" deadline at 08:00. Euston is not a quiet station in the rush hour! It helps that the Sleepers are 16-car trains, having been joined up in either Edinburgh or Carlisle. Also, Network Rail delivers the Sleeper with high punctuality, especially by American standards. The Lowland Sleeper is also clearly sandbagging its time; Edinburgh Waverley-London King's Cross in only a shade over four hours.

If Amtrak had exercised the option for additional sleepers, or somehow reactivates that at a future date (it's not as though CAF can yet claim that it's too late to source long lead time materials, given how slowly the base order is coming out), there are actually good reasons to run *all five* of the routes I identified in the previous paragraph, running a bank of departures in a small window from NYP, and using these trains to help fill connecting trains on the NEC and Empire Corridor, arriving at NYP 21:00-21:30. Leverage the hub-spoke nature of the network at New York...

I would further argue that extending a 22:30 NYP departure to Raleigh down to Florida, is a superior third sleeper train to extending the Palmetto as the Silver Palm, since it allows for a 21:30 arrival in Orlando (instead of calling in the 03:00 hour), and even a midnight arrival in Tampa, with the tradeoff of arriving at Miami Intermodal Center in the small hours and needing to sit until dawn. Intra-Florida travelers are taking the existing Silver Service trains and will hopefully take Brightline, but likely not either of these new trains.

The downside of NYP-centric timing on a train south is, of course, bad timings at PHL and worse timings at WAS, but speaking as a Philadelphian, we can deal. WAS actually enjoys much better timings on existing trains than NYP, and I don't see any third Florida train drawing much ridership from WAS. (True story: the last sleeper train to depart NYP every day is 49, at 15:40. That's only a half-day at work...)
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Arlington » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:48 am

"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby gokeefe » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:13 am

This is genius stuff. It also goes to show (yet again) how daytime traffic congestion is altering travel patterns.

Has this ever been done before in the U.S.?
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:52 am

Assuming we had the equipment and the host railroad blessing (good luck with that), the two routes I would love overnight service on would be

NYP/PHL-PGH - I can travel to PGH and back without spending all day on a train.

LAX-SJC/OAK (kind of like the Sleep Bus discussed) - A couple years ago I took the Thruway Bus from SJC to Santa Barbara and then the Surfliner to IRV. I would love to have had a train down the CS route at night rather than spending the whole day on the CS. To me, the sleepers aren't a requirement. I traveled from Philly to LAX and back on coach seating. Coach seating is a huge upgrade to a bus and with a train there's a lounge car available.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby electricron » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:11 am

The 4 largest states, population wise, should be connected by sleeper trains. These states are:
(1) California 39 million, (2) Texas 27 million, (3) Florida 20 million, and (4) New York 19 million.
FYI, Illinois latest population data was 12 million - yet Amtrak continues to treat it as #3 with the amount of services it gets.
There is no doubt in my mind that NY to TX deserves a long distance train with sleeping accommodations connecting them. Whether it's an extension of the Crescent to Houston or a section of the Crescent heading to Dallas - or both - that's debatable. Or Amtrak could just implement an entirely new train, possibly through Tennessee, why send the Cardinal to Chicago, it could be sent towards Texas?
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:22 am

At this site there is a link to a 228 page (in English) report of a recent study regarding European Night Trains:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank ... 7&dateEnd=

Here is a shorter "to the point" article:

http://www.railway-technology.com/featu ... s-5885394/

There is discussion over at Mr. Benton's Worldwide Forum on the Night Trains, so other than to say next week I'll be over where "the hills are alive with the Sound of Music", and I doubt if an OBB Night Jet is on my "to do" list. Why when "others rush out, we rush in" escapes me.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:03 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Mackensen » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:29 am

CComMack wrote:
If we really need to look for a new sleeper route beyond 65/66/67, we can do that. If we start at Amtrak's best single-city market (New York), and specifically look for destinations in the 8-11 rail hour range. I can count no fewer than five that can work, all of which have existing daylight service that an overnight would complement nicely. For the curious, those are: Portland/Brunswick, Montreal/Burlington (Essex Jct.), Buffalo/Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh. The last three can extended to further destinations (Chicago, Chicago, Charlotte or Florida, respectively) with a third trainset, as desired. There's plenty of station capacity at NYP for late-evening (~22:30) departures and arrivals scheduled before 07:00 (with the possibility of up to an hour's delay, but schedule pad in addition wouldn't be a bad thing). London manages to tie up two tracks at Euston for the Caledonian Sleeper every morning, with the "everyone off" deadline at 08:00. Euston is not a quiet station in the rush hour! It helps that the Sleepers are 16-car trains, having been joined up in either Edinburgh or Carlisle. Also, Network Rail delivers the Sleeper with high punctuality, especially by American standards. The Lowland Sleeper is also clearly sandbagging its time; Edinburgh Waverley-London King's Cross in only a shade over four hours.


A fourth New York-Buffalo (Exchange)/Niagara Falls frequency, timed to leave New York around 9-10 PM, is very attractive. A 6:30 AM arrival in Buffalo (or New York) is perfect for a business trip. You wouldn't need a dining car on such a trip either; the old 66/67 consist (cafe, coaches, 1 Viewliner) would be more than enough. You'd tie up two more consists, barring a switching operation in Buffalo/Niagara Falls to cut off the Viewliner.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby SwingMan » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:37 am

Ya'll have to remember that any new location will require a lot more than building off what already exists. While some look at it as a way to create new jobs in new places, it also requires way more investment from these states to actually get those opportunities off the ground.


If anything, they need to start my establishing better equipment rotations within their existing network of trains. For example, you could have a sleeper or a pair of sleepers on a routing like this:

448 - CHI-BOS
65 - BOS-WAS
19 - WAS-NOL

There are two scenerios for the Crescent:

The Crescent would start in NYP with its normal consist minus the sleeper that would come down on 65 in the morning, be cleaned and cycled in Ivy City, and added in Washington. The Crescent has the ability to be used as a Regional train from NYP, the coaches would just have to be drilled out in Washington. The big issue is it adds a lot of logistics at a busy time of day in Washington.

A more realistic scenario would include making the Crescent a permanent WAS-NOL train. The sleeper or sleepers off of 65/20 would have about 8-10 hours to be cleaned up, inspected, and drilled. Another option might be to create a stub train from WAS-NPN and have 65-66 share EQ with 19/20.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby electricron » Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:06 pm

SouthernRailway wrote: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.

There's a reason why more expensive sleeping accommodations aren't sold until after D.C. - the reason being there are so many cheaper coach, business, and first class seats to choose from. It's not until after D.C. when the supply of cheaper seats become rarer.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby east point » Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:05 pm

Read somewhere that VIA ocean had 5 coaches and 8 or 9 sleepers. Cannot believe there would be that much demand for sleepers in US BUT ???

The Crescent while still SOU RR and before Amtrak took it over often would have extra sections during high travel periods. Most cars on 1st section and all cars both coach and sleepers on additional sections would terminate / originate at WASH. Once the Crescent can justify at least 4 cut off cars at ATL then Amtrak would have a better price / cost ratio justifying the cut off cars. That way ATL <> NOL could have the correct number of cars equipment.

For Crescent sleeper & BC passengers BOS <> BAL they could board the additional Acela-2s to WASH and then board Crescent
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:05 pm

The whole reason I take the Crescent instead of flying (as my regular commute is between two cities served by the Crescent, but also with extensive air service) is because the Crescent, with its sleeping cars, offers a large block of completely uninterrupted and peaceful time. If I have to travel in a seat between NYP and WAS and then have a layover and then change to the Crescent, I'll just fly, since my large, uninterrupted and peaceful block of time is broken up.

How has the Crescent's ridership been lately, since it's been originating in WAS? Its southbound timekeeping seems to be pretty poor these days, while it was very punctual before the change to originating in WAS.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby east point » Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:25 pm

Crescent is very close to selling out sleepers every evening from WASH. Coach appears to 3/4 full ? As far as on time it is the problems on NS south of ATL that is causing all the problems. # 19 lost 3:15 ATL - Anniston today. North bound #20 looses 2 - 4 hours south of ATL. Often it makes up :30 from Gastonia to Lynchburg but late arrivals at WASH is causing late departures of 19 often from WASH.
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Re: Sleeper expansion

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:37 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:The whole reason I take the Crescent instead of flying (as my regular commute is between two cities served by the Crescent, but also with extensive air service) is because the Crescent, with its sleeping cars, offers a large block of completely uninterrupted and peaceful time. If I have to travel in a seat between NYP and WAS and then have a layover and then change to the Crescent, I'll just fly, since my large, uninterrupted and peaceful block of time is broken up.

How has the Crescent's ridership been lately, since it's been originating in WAS? Its southbound timekeeping seems to be pretty poor these days, while it was very punctual before the change to originating in WAS.


I would agree, because in part I already have to depart from ALB and wait for a transfer.

That said, down the road, with more sleepers available, adding a sleeper (and perhaps removing it at ATL) would make sense.
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