Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

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

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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby justalurker66 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 4:56 pm

So ... would having another hour to get past Andrews before check in time help or would aiming for a 3:30 cutoff instead of a 2:30 cutoff create more of a problem?
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby electricron » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:15 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:We are talking about moving everything one hour later southbound - 3:30 for a 5:00PM departure to allow longer drive times on the north end to reach a larger market.

Move departure from Lorton one hour later would probably mean moving the departure from Sanford as well, and the same would also hold true for the arrival times.
The problem with a 5pm depatute is it would be dark in the winter season at 5 pm, especially during the Holidays. Unloading the autos will probably occur during twilight, it could be dark by the time the last few cars are loading, and that could be a safety concern for the crews. Yes, I realize the yard area is lighted, never-the-less sunlight is always better than floodlights 100-150 feet above the yard.

Another issue arising out of a later departure is an extra hour waiting in the depot, especially in Sanford. Hotels and motels usually use noon as the limit for charging at extra night for a room. Tourists leaving their hotel just before noon will have 2 hours to get to Sanford to check their autos, are probably waiting in the depot several hours as is. Adding an extra hour wait may discourage more passengers taking the train. There are reasons why a 4 pm departure time has been the preferred time for all these years - it works best at BOTH stations.

How much good will be accomplished setting the train's departure one hour later to make it easier for more customers to get to Lorton, if at the same time you discourage and reduce customers at Sanford due to an over long wait?
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:08 pm

justalurker66 wrote:So ... would having another hour to get past Andrews before check in time help or would aiming for a 3:30 cutoff instead of a 2:30 cutoff create more of a problem?

If you bumped last call to 3:30, eh... depending on the day, you might get a full hour of extra travel time, or you might only get 15 extra minutes. Hard to say, because the B-W Parkway, the Beltway, and I-95 are predictably unpredictable.

It's up to Amtrak whether this would be practical in regards to loading & unloading and crew changes, and to CSXT if it would work with their existing traffic flow. Something tells me that the first few months of EHH at the wheel is a bad time for a tenant to demand a new schedule.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby Backshophoss » Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:42 pm

Still trying to get CSX(and EHH) to "play nice" with the return of the "Gulf Coaster"(aka Sunset Ltd east),not a good idea to tweak the
Auto Train schedule right now!
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby mmi16 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:37 pm

VRE & Amtrak Schedules Southbound from Alexanderia


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Autotrain consist

Postby R&DB » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:36 pm

What is the current Autotrain consist? Superliners, Viewliners, Sleepers, Coaches, Diners? I know about the car racks. Thanks
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby John_Perkowski » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:55 pm

All Superliner.

Coaches, Sleepers, Diners. Someone else will have to discuss lounges if any.
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Re: Autotrain consist

Postby electricron » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:52 pm

R&DB wrote:What is the current Autotrain consist? Superliners, Viewliners, Sleepers, Coaches, Diners? I know about the car racks. Thanks

Check out a recent YouTube video for a quick answer.
A hint to identify various Superliner cars visually.
Sleepers will have windows on one end, and a single window on the other end of the train on the lower level.
Coaches will have windows on just one end of the car on the lower level.
Baggage-Coach will will not have windows on the lower level, but will have a large baggage door on one end.
Diners will have just a regular door on the lower level.
Lounge cars will have windows in the middle of the car on the lower level, and large wrap around windows on the upper level.
Visually, it's going to be very difficult to identify the difference between deluxe sleepers and regular sleepers,
Transistion Sleepers can be identified by a small window on one end of the upper level.
The While it is easy to identify the difference between a Baggage-Coach and a regular coach, it is harder but not impossible to identify a cafe coach from a regular coach - look for a covered-up window on the lower level as those are usually cafe-coaches.

A typical Auto Train consist follows:
2 Locomotives, aligned tail to tail.
Diner
Lounge (ex-Sleeper)
4-5 Coaches
2 Sleepers
Deluxe Sleeper
Diner
Deluxe Sleeper
3 Sleepers
Transition Sleeper
28 Auto Racks
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Re: Autotrain consist

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:04 pm

Always seemed weird to me. So why would they not do something like this:

2-3 Coaches
Diner (coach pass)
Lounge (which is a Superliner Lounge)
2 Coaches
2 Sleepers
1 Deluxe sleeper
Diner (sleeper pass)
1 Deluxe Sleeper
3 Sleepers
Transition/Crew Car
Auto Racks

That way there isn't the long walk from some coaches to the Diner and Lounge and certainly cuts the very long walk from the Sleepers to the only lounge now available. I have to note that most of the passengers on my last trip were elderly. Some with serious mobility problems. A long walk on a rocking train can be very scary for these frail people. The stairs don't help either.

BTW - My observation on my last trip was that the beautiful Superliner Lounge was sadly mostly empty. Not that the Florida scenery requires such a car anyway and the socializing evening with a movie is now eliminated. But the bar is downstairs and there is no signage so many people just walked through not knowing where to buy drinks. The attendant had to come up a few times to drum up business. Note that the half of the lounge adjacent to the diner is used for dining at meals times. I had my breakfast in the Sightseer Lounge and it was very nice.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby electricron » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:48 pm

I've seen that question asked before, and the answer I seem to always read is to get the coach passengers as far away from the locomotives as possible. Coach passengers will be trying to get to sleep in their seats, and I guess engine noises may make it even harder to get to sleep. Especially when the 110 db horn is sounded four times (long, long, short, long) at every road crossing. On other overnight, long distance Superliner trains, there should be Baggage and Transition Sleeper cars between passengers attempting to get to sleep and the locomotives. The Auto Train doesn't get a Baggage Car because passengers are supposed to use their own cars in the Auto Racks to store their extra bags. That the explanation I see every time, they are using the Diner and Lounge cars as a noise buffer. :)
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:55 am

This past February on Voyage 23 (52 (6)), there was a staffed Lounge for Sleeper passengers. As near as I can tell, its only purpose is overflow Dining seating (I guess it can't lose its roots as the 3310X cars were converted from 380XX Diners). The Happy Hour and the movies are gone (I really don't miss either - especially the latter).

Ron's report that the two Coach Diners and Lounge are "on the head" NB makes sense for reason he noted. While I have no reason to be up that way (hey I'm paying for a Bedroom and I intend to use it for my peace and solitude), I'd guess that Lounge does a bit more business.

As part of the '14 "Micascope downgrade", the Sleeper Lounge was to have been whacked, but evidently that was either short lived or stillborn. As an aside, that would have allowed release of the one Sightseer assigned to the AT pool - something I have long contended is wasteful and useless.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:20 am

electricron wrote:I've seen that question asked before, and the answer I seem to always read is to get the coach passengers as far away from the locomotives as possible. Coach passengers will be trying to get to sleep in their seats, and I guess engine noises may make it even harder to get to sleep. Especially when the 110 db horn is sounded four times (long, long, short, long) at every road crossing. On other overnight, long distance Superliner trains, there should be Baggage and Transition Sleeper cars between passengers attempting to get to sleep and the locomotives. The Auto Train doesn't get a Baggage Car because passengers are supposed to use their own cars in the Auto Racks to store their extra bags. That the explanation I see every time, they are using the Diner and Lounge cars as a noise buffer. :)


Well there is a crew transition car at the end but the train isn't turned of course so that only helps in one direction. Maybe that could be moved with the engines to always be behind the engines?

Just thinking of how elderly this market is. Now I know why getting a downstairs seat is so important to some of these passengers. That's where the restrooms are and eliminates navigating the stairs as much as possible.
Last edited by bostontrainguy on Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:04 am

Auto Train used to never have sightseers because they are obviously wasted on some of the worst scenery on the system.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:57 am

Mr. Chaser, always remember; "if you've seen.one.Pine Tree, you've seen 'em all". Why any road serving the Florida market ever spent a dime on sightseeing cars escapes me. ACL & FEC had it right.

The engines on AT are placed back to back as they are not turned at Lorton. I don't think I have ever been assigned space on the first Sleeper traveling SB, but I need a bit more cushion than one car to avoid "listening to the music".
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:28 pm

What am I missing here? The Star and Meteor MAY have a baggage car up front as a buffer, but the last few times I took them the baggage car was on the rear possibly to smooth the ride for the last cars I am told. Most Amtrak trains have only one baggage car to separate the cars from the engines or none if the baggage is on the rear.

And of course, some actually like the music :)
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