Amtrak Expansion Plan

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby east point » Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:12 am

Point well made abot freight RRs. They will fight tooth and nail to prevent more short distant trains. It is going to take a major revamp of the Amtrak act. Get the RRs back to common carrier basis. They kill Amtrak as well as their smaller freight customers by lousy service.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Tadman » Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:42 am

Greg Moore wrote:
So, rail against LD trains all you want, call it an artificial construct, but there's no indication that artificial construct is going away any time soon. So might as well leverage it.


Other than the official policy about to be unveiled? The news from multiple outlets about a focus on regional trains? The rumors for months now that Anderson is pushing regional and corridor trains over long distance? Ignoring the above is sticking heads in sands.

Greg Moore wrote:And you can wish all you want about funding the wall or militay bases (despite us actually net closing them) but that's not the reality. One might as well say, "and then magic happens."


I guess magic happened. The most recent spending bill included both $1.3b of wall funding and $1.9b of Amtrak funding.

You may not like the concept of everything by fiscal yardstick, but it is a reality. That doesn't mean certain things aren't expensive, but even the most signature projects of mankind have been subject to budget cuts. NASA's Apollo program saw three canceled flights for budget reasons, California's HSR was just canceled by a democrat for cost reasons, and Tex Thornton's "whiz kids" were brought in to straighten out supply lines in WWII (IE reduce inventory costs).

There. Is. Finite. Money. And. Resources.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Tadman » Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:53 am

mtuandrew wrote:Man, if I didn’t know better, I’d say most of you don’t like the LD trains.


I absolutely love travelling by LD trains. I plan business trips around LD rides (usually losing my weekend in the process). I seek out the longest trains in Europe and South America. I'm trying to figure out how to ride the VALE long distance trains in Brazil and the Hong Kong-Shanghai sleeper some day. It is very hard to do this, even though I'm willing to make the sacrifices of time and money required to make LD travel work.

That said, it is also very easy to ride the regional and HSR networks when I travel to Europe for business. ICE, SJ, TGV, and Eurostar have all been just fantastic with their frequent service and downtown-to-downtown service. I attempted to ride the OBB night trains last fall on some business trips, but its the same problem I have here - erratic hours, hard to book, etc...
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:20 pm

east point wrote:Point well made abot freight RRs. They will fight tooth and nail to prevent more short distant trains. It is going to take a major revamp of the Amtrak act. Get the RRs back to common carrier basis. They kill Amtrak as well as their smaller freight customers by lousy service.


I think the leadership at Amtrak knows this, too. The whole plan is pretty disingenuous. And I agree with some others on here. The expansion does not have to be either/or. It should be both/and.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby John_Perkowski » Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:32 pm

Just remember the political calculus

218+51+1

You need enough votes in the house, enough in the Senate, and the signature of a President. Amtrak, while not being budget dust, is easy horse trading material.

Amtrak has a solid house caucus now, of states it serves. It no longer needs NM, MT, or ND.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby east point » Fri Feb 22, 2019 5:12 pm

Wonder how Senators in cancelled states will react. Do not know if the reaction to making SWC partial bus is any indication? And they were "R" for the most part?
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:05 pm

If Amtrak does move to cut western and southern service with the promise of more corridors, those same horse-trading senators will want to see the corridor in service (or under construction) before the Adios drumheads come out for the Chief and Sunset.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby John_Perkowski » Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:20 pm

Kansas’ two senators did play n the last round of 3-4 cutbacks. Part of that is Pat Roberts hails from deep SW Kansas. Part of it is Pat Roberts is very senior and has a LOT of political markers to call in.

He’s retiring in 2020...
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby jp1822 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:51 pm

Is this really an "expansion plan?"

I think it is more of a smoke screen so Amtrak doesn't have to submit a proposal to replace the LD Superliner fleet, and get rid of the LD trains once and for all.

We all have our agreements and disagreements about LD trains, but I think a system that had LD trains with corridor trains is perhaps a stronger system and one that hopefully preserves the existing footprint. Once a LD train comes off the map, the likelihood of it returning is slim - as recent history has predicted.

But in terms of establishing corridors, what's different from what was "announced" and how corridors come about now? For example, all routes under 750 miles have to be funded by the States.

- Did the States come in to a pile of money that we don't know about?
- Are host RR's just going to roll over and let Amtrak operate more trains with greater frequency on various routes without $$$ investment? And where's the $$$ investment coming from? Typically if comes from the States. The Keystone electrification project - funded largely by Penn DOT. Cascade Corridor improvements to add passing siding and increase speeds - Oregon and Washington State funds. NC increase in Piedmont frequencies. Sure there may be grants involved, but it's the States that had to make the most investment - financial or non-financial - in wanting the increased frequency and corridor.
- Ohio gave money back for rail corridor improvements when it was last offered - so did Florida. What's different this time?

Did we not learn anything from the M&E initiative - it required money and negotiation with host railroads. Ultimately, the lack of the later and poor overall planning led to M&E imploding. Do we wave the magic wand again to get corridor service.

The states begin their state corridor trains since THEY are the ones footing the bill. Amtrak just tries to "help" - with the word "help" being loosely defined. I find this "announcement" by Anderson and Cossia via the WSJ article - a non-announcement. If the STATES wanted additional corridor growth they would have already pursued it. They could begin such service without Anderson and Cossia rendering any "announcement." There's nothing that prevents the States from taking the lead now; most States begin the discussion with Amtrak about corridor development as it is.

So Amtrak's announcement for corridor growth, IMO, just really means that Amtrak 1) does not want to invest in LD equipment (so don't look for said blueprints of new cars in that sector) and 2) will give "support" (with the definition of support to be defined and determined) to state corridor trains and not LD trains. Amtrak hasn't promised the states any financial assistance to develop track infrastructure, more aggressive negotiations with host railroads to allow for additional trains on corridors, nor do they have equipment on hand (aside from LD Superliner equipment which would have to be re-purposed) to offer up to corridor growth/states.

Is Anderson planning to just "pull the LD distance trains" in the hopes of replacing "what they can" with corridor trains? Beware - once that LD train turns its last wheel without replacement train following behind it, the host RR will re-negotiate any and all terms and it's likely NOT to be favor of the States or Amtrak. It might make more sense to keep the LD trains running and overlay with corridor trains (on existing routes), before pulling out. Then prove out the corridor trains and expand from there. If the corridor trains then take off, perhaps Amtrak will then look to "restructure" the LD trains" - new schedules, alternate route or station stops etc.

Seems like we've been down this road before, just a slightly different storyline........
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:19 pm

As for Superliner replacement, there’s always Plan C where C stands for the can they’ll kick down the road. By that, I mean once the Regional coaches start rolling in, One Mass can direct Beech to lightly refresh the Amfleet Is for long-distance use. Convert the Capitol Limited and the City of New Orleans to single level (which means foregoing a daily Cardinal and a corridor Night Owl) and you begin to free up S-Is and S-IIs for when their counterparts go bad. Chop the Sunset Limited into a NOL-SAS single-level day train and combined with the Texas Eagle SAS-LAX, and you free up a few more. Keep picking away by reintroducing corridor trains CHI-KCY, CHI-MKE-MSP, CHI-OMA(-DEN), CHI-MEM, and SEA-SPK and fare-shift local passengers away from LDs to eliminate a few unnecessary cars. Not a pretty way to keep the fleet rolling, but it would be one way to move toward a corridor future while keeping the LDs where needed.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby electricron » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:28 pm

mtuandrew wrote:As for Superliner replacement, there’s always Plan C where C stands for the can they’ll kick down the road. By that, I mean once the Regional coaches start rolling in, One Mass can direct Beech to lightly refresh the Amfleet Is for long-distance use.
Not a pretty way to keep the fleet rolling, but it would be one way to move toward a corridor future while keeping the LDs where needed.

Amfleet Is are older than Superliner Is. It's the Horizons that are being displaced by the new "state" purchased subsidized train services for California and the Midwest. Amtrak has not purchased any new cars for the "regional" NEC train services yet, which would free up most of the Amfleet Is.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby SouthernRailway » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:39 pm

Greg Moore wrote:I also think you underestimate the value that people put on actually USING at least some of the LD network for business and non-leisure. I can assure you many of the folks I meet on the Crescent, at least to the ATL segment are not for the land cruise fun of it (not much to see at night in the winter let me tell you) and they absolutely DO want the diner. (Quite a few number of coach passengers at the 8:00 PM and later seating this time around.)


I agree with you 100%. I'd say most passengers on the Crescent either travel between the Northeast and Atlanta-ish, which is ideal for an overnight trip. There is no scenery. And I always meet people who are traveling for business on the Crescent. I've done that.

I also took a look at Southern Railway schedules from 1964, when there was frequent corridor service along the Crescent's route. Guess what? Almost all of the numerous trains on the route had sleeping and dining cars, plus coaches. NY-Atlanta (which is the route that needs more trains) is simply too long to be served with a day-only train-- a material part of the trip will be at night.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby CarterB » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:43 pm

One of the main reasons (other than speed) that the DB and SNCF LD systems work so well, is the excellent "feeder" services timed to connect with LD trains at major hubs. If states decide to fund such and schedule accordingly, then at least some of Amtraks LD routes may be more long term viable. The Ohio and other models stated in above posts being a good example. I would think same thing in Texas, in around to from Atlanta, etc.
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Arlington » Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:29 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:Southern Railway schedules from 1964, when there was frequent corridor service along the Crescent's route.

The past is a different country. The South at the dawn of universal air conditioning even moreso. A glance into my time machine shows I-85 won't be complete in South Carolina until 1967, or completed between Charlotte & Durham until 1970. UPS relocates to Atlanta from Connecticut in 1991. In 1964 we'd just reached "peak ocean liner" with the Italian Line's SS Raffaello launched in 1963, but it came too late: the jets had surpassed the liner's market share in 1958. Would a 1964 Cunard timetable tell me anything about what today's market could support?

55 years means that 99.99% who traveled the Crescent on business then are either dead or retired and replaced in the corridor something like 4 very different people living and/or in the workforce. Same goes even for the Crescent's A-day: 1979 is 40 years ago. 1979's 25 year old just retired at 65, and has been replaced by 3 very different people in the workforce along the corridor. Living in very different suburbs, with very different reasons for travel, and having access to two to three as many cars per capita, and unlimited video chat.

OAG time machine (http://timemachine.oag.com) only goes back to 1982, but perusing Eastern and Delta's old timetables shows EA+DL = 14 ATL-WAS in 1964
WAS = DCA+IAD+BAL, where Dulles opened in 1962, but BAL was still Friendship.

1982 ATL-WAS 28 flights on 3 airlines
2015 ATL-WAS 57 flights on 4 airlines

A different country.
Last edited by Arlington on Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby dgvrengineer » Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:54 pm

Agreed it's a different country and different time, but a lot of those flights exist because there is only one train between Washington & Atlanta. Because the government has chosen to subsidize highway and air travel at the expense of rail travel. If the government would put the kind of money into rebuilding rail infrastructure and equipment as it has put into the other modes over the last 50 years, I think you would see a big difference in the number of people choosing the train. There is really no choice now. A chronically late overnight train is not much of an option.
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