Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby bubbytrains » Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:04 pm

From Facebook and railfan chatter, it looks like the Great Dome is well on its way to Maine, in fact it may already be here by now.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Tue Aug 15, 2017 6:27 pm

The Dome arrived just after 3pm today at the Portland Transportation Center. It moved alone on an Amtrak Extra with one P42 for power.

It is reported to be in far better condition than last year when NNEPRA and Amtrak had to move heaven and earth to get it clean prior to service.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Dick H » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:10 pm

Cabbages. cabbages, where art thou?

Interesting #683 trainset today (Friday)
P42 #19 on the west (Boston) end, café, 4 coaches, dome, NPCU #406 on the east (Portland) end.
#406 is a one of a kind NPCU, as it has a HEP generator mounted in the former prime mover compartment.
Passenger count out of Boston for #683 was 180. #685 is sold out, as it has been nearly every weekday
in August. 180 on #683 is an excellent count for a mid-day train.
Here's a 2014 file video about the #406. 2:39
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68S8ECiimcI

#686 had a P42 on each end. I did not see the third train set.

Initially, the DE was assigned three cabbages, 90213, 90214 and 90220.
A fourth cabbage, 90224 was assigned 3-4 years ago. Cabbages do seem
to have a high rate of mechanical issues, considering they have no prime
mover, electrical generator or traction motors.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby mr. mick » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:49 pm

Thinking of taking 682/683 next Thursday to ride the Dome Car with a couple of friends -; anyone have a feel for how crowded that train might be? IN the past, there has always been plenty of room ( no Celtics/Bruins or Sox game in Boston that day).
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby jcpatten » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:09 pm

I rode 682/683 yesterday (Thursday). The trip down (682) had a fairly full train, which led to the dome being pretty full. I traveled in the dome from Brunswick to Saco, then left to give others a turn. I went back up before we got to Haverhill, but the tables were all full and other seats had cool air blowing down my back, so I left. 683 had much fewer people, so I went up to the dome north of Boston and stayed there to OOB. I could have stayed to Brunswick, because at no time was the dome over half full on that trip.

The dome (especially southbound) beats the Amfleets for views all over, of course. The southbound trip I thought was best because you are at the back of the train and see the curves and signals changing. NB you are right behind the NPCU, which is about halfway up the front window, so you can't see much over it.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:12 pm

mr. mick wrote:Thinking of taking 682/683 next Thursday to ride the Dome Car with a couple of friends -; anyone have a feel for how crowded that train might be? IN the past, there has always been plenty of room ( no Celtics/Bruins or Sox game in Boston that day).


Having just done it last week 682/683 makes for a great trip. There were no problems at all with room. The vast majority of passengers really do use the Downeaster as a means to get from Point A to Point B and are happily ensconced in their seats.

The views of the right of way are quite frankly astounding. Another thing you realize is just how heavily signaled the line is. Including distant signals the train is passing a set of lights about every three miles or so.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby jonnhrr » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:10 pm

I have been wondering about the Downeaster and checked baggage. I notice that the schedule says nothing about checked baggage one way or the other except to note that bicycles can be carried. I assume the lack of a suitcase symbol indicates "no checked baggage". It probably should be explicitly stated somewhere on the schedule.

It is ironic that the Downeaster uses NPCU's which appear to have an (unused) baggage compartment. Are they used for the bicycles or are they just stuffed into the coaches somewhere?

How hard would it be for the DE to add baggage service at least at Portland and Boston? I realize this would not be practical for many of the other stations due to staffing. One factor that makes the DE less competitive than the bus is the fact that buses allow you to check multiple bags.

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby swist » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:02 pm

Problem with the cabbage car is that unless the station has a full length platform (or mostly) you can't board passengers and deal with luggage at the same time.

I've been on runs where they moved the train after passsengers were discharged/boarded to allow them to access bikes in the NCPU without climbing a ladder. Needless to say the schedule does not allow for this double-stop.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Dick H » Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:26 pm

As I noted above, two of the three Downeaster sets currently have no NPCU
available for bikes. This has been a continuing problem over the years and
seems to have gotten worse lately and the fallen leaves season is still weeks
away, when cabbages braking on leave residue on the rails increase the
instances of flat spots on the wheels and downtime in the shop for repairs.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby MEC407 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:56 am

The Downeaster's carry-on policy is pretty generous, in my opinion:

Each passenger may bring 2 personal items, 25 lbs. and 14 x 11 x 7 inches each, and 2 carry-on items, 50 lbs. and 28 x 22 x 14 inches each, onboard.


For comparison, Concord Coach's baggage policy is slightly less generous:

Baggage limits: two (2) bags [50 lbs. or less] and one (1) carry-on for a full fare ticket, and one (1) bag and one (1) carry-on for a half-fare ticket.


Greyhound's policy is less generous than Concord's:

One carry-on bag up to 25 lbs.; one checked bag up to 50 lbs.; additional checked bag costs $15.


Based on the above policies, I would have to disagree with the statement that the Downeaster is less competitive than the bus when it comes to baggage.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:38 pm

jonnhrr wrote:I have been wondering about the Downeaster and checked baggage. I notice that the schedule says nothing about checked baggage one way or the other except to note that bicycles can be carried. I assume the lack of a suitcase symbol indicates "no checked baggage". It probably should be explicitly stated somewhere on the schedule.

It is ironic that the Downeaster uses NPCU's which appear to have an (unused) baggage compartment. Are they used for the bicycles or are they just stuffed into the coaches somewhere?

How hard would it be for the DE to add baggage service at least at Portland and Boston? I realize this would not be practical for many of the other stations due to staffing. One factor that makes the DE less competitive than the bus is the fact that buses allow you to check multiple bags.

Jon


The NPCUs are used for bicycles and are currently being circulated through overhauls that are significantly increasing bike carrying capacity. In regards to the schedules the Downeaster has never had checked baggage service. I would encourage writing the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority at info@nnepra.com and kindly requesting them to include a reminder of "no checked baggage service" in their next schedule update.

The answer to the final question is simply a matter of money. The cost-benefit analysis has always been that the additional associated costs are not worth the value added. Having been on the train quite a bit lately I have to agree with that conclusion. Although there are many people who travel aboard the Downeaster with luggage in tow the level boarding at the mini-high platforms eliminates the worst of the inconvenience.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Rockingham Racer » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:51 pm

Where is the overhaul being done?
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:11 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:Where is the overhaul being done?


Amtrak Beech Grove Shops
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby MEC407 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:52 pm

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:58 am

Thanks. And IMO, that's the only picturesque few miles of running on the B&M Western Route.
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