Reserve Equipment

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Reserve Equipment

Postby johndmuller » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:10 am

Regarding the wouldn't it be nice if there were a politically acceptable source of rolling stock for use in special situations thoughts a few posts (and maybe a year) ago, the current swath of hurricane evacuations might have benefited from some such supply of extra coaches. Putting a thousand or two people on each of a dozen or so trains, could take a lot of people off the highway and ease the traffic and gas shortages in the affected areas. Assuming these trains could make several trips in the pre-storm window, a lot of people could be moved.

A case could even be made for the federal government to ante up for this stockpile; some of the costs could be covered by renting them out to Amtrak for holiday crush use and/or eventually selling them off to low budget or expanding commuter roads after they aged enough to warrant replacement.
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby electricron » Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:53 am

johndmuller wrote:Regarding the wouldn't it be nice if there were a politically acceptable source of rolling stock for use in special situations thoughts a few posts (and maybe a year) ago, the current swath of hurricane evacuations might have benefited from some such supply of extra coaches. Putting a thousand or two people on each of a dozen or so trains, could take a lot of people off the highway and ease the traffic and gas shortages in the affected areas. Assuming these trains could make several trips in the pre-storm window, a lot of people could be moved.

A case could even be made for the federal government to ante up for this stockpile; some of the costs could be covered by renting them out to Amtrak for holiday crush use and/or eventually selling them off to low budget or expanding commuter roads after they aged enough to warrant replacement.

Let's assume you find some old, used rolling stock, and you find somebody to buy them. Where would you store them? Where and who will maintain them? Who will be paying to maintain them?
There's many real reasons why most old rolling stock being retired ends up in scrap yards.

The US Military maintain lots of equipment in bone yards and reserve fleets. Very little of this equipment is ever restored and returned to service. Those that are eventually returned to service, either in America or elsewhere in the world, take months of work restoring them. They aren't immediately available.

Neither will the rail rolling stock from your idealistic spare rail yard or depot.
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby ExCon90 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:10 pm

Regarding availability of spare equipment, it should be noted that the existence of reserve equipment in the postwar years resulted from the fact that in acquiring whole fleets (something like 300 streamlined coaches by the NYC alone?) the railroads didn't scrap existing equipment on a one-for-one basis, resulting in a surplus--after all, the existing equipment had been in regular service right up until then and was fully depreciated to boot. Maybe someday after a next-generation equipment fleet has been acquired by Amtrak and has replaced all existing Amfleet, some of those can be retained--but as pointed out above, they won't stay healthy without care and attention.
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:26 pm

The problem with a reserve fleet is every wheel that doesn't roll is costing you money.
This is one reason why SWA is successful. Airlines only make money when their planes are flying and SWA planes spend as little time on the ground as possible.

I'd be a bit bothered if Amtrak ever had a large "reserve" fleet. If they had say 100 cars sitting around, they dang well should be doing something with them.

That said, having the ability to move trains around due to demand, seasonal or otherwise does make sense. And Amtrak already does this a bit with some of their long distance cars.
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:31 pm

Re: a reserve fleet, earlier this year we discussed it here.
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby johndmuller » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:25 pm

I'm imagining this as the government maintaining a stockpile of trains. This does not have to be heresy - the government maintains stockpiles of all sorts of things, including stuff like nuclear weapons which we hope not to ever use.

Some of this stuff, like produce, is perishable and may or may not get used or sold before it goes bad; some of it, like military materiel or weaponry, is held on a contingency basis and likewise may or may not get used or sold and just wear out and get replaced.

The military stuff even comes with its own (huge) staff (the Army, Navy, Air Force, etc.) to maintain and practice with the inventory in order to be ready to use it; again this is supposed to be a contingency.

Compared to the amount of money we spend on the military contingency, the let's-have-a-supply-of-trains-on-reserve contingency would be cost next to nothing. We could easily afford to throw in a supply of train crew reserves and trainees (just like with the guns) and still be lost in the rounding. Think of running some trains around the holiday season as a military exercise.
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby Greg Moore » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:38 pm

Show me how USING a nuke is profitable.

While I don't believe Amtrak should be expected to turn a profit, I also can't see spending money on maintaining trains for 2-3 days a year. The money spent on maintenance and storage can be better spent on actual service.
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby electricron » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:34 pm

johndmuller wrote:I'm imagining this as the government maintaining a stockpile of trains. This does not have to be heresy - the government maintains stockpiles of all sorts of things, including stuff like nuclear weapons which we hope not to ever use.
.....................................................
We could easily afford to throw in a supply of train crew reserves and trainees (just like with the guns) and still be lost in the rounding. Think of running some trains around the holiday season as a military exercise.


But the military has places to store the items out in the deserts of California and Arizona. It takes months to get the equipment into usable shape. Where will Amtrak store the extra railcars, who will maintain them, and how quickly will they be able to make them usable?

Months is too long as an emergency contingency. Take the very recent examples of Amtrak stealing bogies off stored P40s to repair P42s. Now they can't be returned into service until Amtrak replaces those bogies. They're basically sources for spare parts now, scrapped, taking up space and in the way.
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby johndmuller » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:21 am

Greg Moore says "
Show me how USING a nuke is profitable."

Exactly.
We don't expect the military to be profitable, it is there for the contingency that we need to fight someone. Mostly, it is a deterrent viz a viz someone who might want to fight us if we didn't have it. Otherwise, we use it for parades and to exercise the various equipment we bought for the military so as to keep that stuff in good shape - i.e. tanks, ships, planes - and to keep up the expertise to use that stuff. Clearly, we didn't collect this stuff to make a profit (although there have been countries that have tried that model - i.e. conquering, pillaging, etc.)

electricron says,
"But the military has places to store the items..."

Quite so.
Their places are our places; why not use some space on the military reservations for some railroad yards with trains in them? Many bases have rail connections and most of them have plenty of space. They are scattered all over the country too.

electricron says,
"Months is too long as an emergency contingency...."

Even so.
The trains can be maintained (and occasionally used) on and around the bases from time to time to keep them in shape and to keep up operating expertise. The whole program could even be integrated into the military, who could have their own uses for this kind of stuff too. Trains are probably more economical for domestic moves of troops and equipment than aircraft, and at least competitive economically to highway transport, so some of the inventory might even be in regular use. Obviously, trains have been used for this before.
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby electricron » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:45 am

johndmuller wrote:The trains can be maintained (and occasionally used) on and around the bases from time to time to keep them in shape and to keep up operating expertise. The whole program could even be integrated into the military, who could have their own uses for this kind of stuff too. Trains are probably more economical for domestic moves of troops and equipment than aircraft, and at least competitive economically to highway transport, so some of the inventory might even be in regular use. Obviously, trains have been used for this before.

And during WW2 the General in Charge of the European Theatre was so disappointed with train performance that when he became President he made it is number one job to create the Interstate Highway System - because highways could be far less limited than the rail network.

Are Amtrak spare P40 locomotives maintained? Can they be placed into service immediately?
Are they being stored 2,000 miles away in a desert somewhere from where Amtrak has maintenance or repair facilities. Does the Army want spare Amtrak trains clogging up the few rail depots they have? The answer to all these questions is NO!
And you stilll haven't answered where the money is going to come from? Which other program withn the Transportation Department budget do you wish to cut?
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Re: Was the Penn Central better than Amtrak at all?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:32 am

It appears that this topic is where most of the discussion using rail transport as an evacuation resource is moving forth.

Likely not the best of times to put this thought on the table (especially here where "worst case Irma effect" will be "scattered showers" come about Wednesday), but I have to wonder, could the Florida passenger carrying railroads "done more" to evacuate.

Nothing has been reported to suggest that Amtrak did more than operate normal consists on 92(9) and 98(9) and then say "that's all folks". Tri and Sun Rails just ran normal service and both AAF and Auto Train simply secured their equipment.

You'd think that 92 and 98 could have been augmented with maybe three additional coaches by cleaning out the back shops. Auto Train passenger equipment could have been deadheaded to Miami and load up.

While likely AAF equipment would have needed help from FEC power (the SC-44 just generating HEP), it still represented seats.

Any of these thoughts would have simply been "going to war with the Army you have".

With Irma gone, the MMQB-ing begins. Just some thoughts along those lines.
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