Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

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Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby CarterB » Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:35 am

What's the success status of the NE Regional train/s to from Lynchburg vis a vis the Crescent?

Seems to me schedules so close in times that the Crescent would be a better option for services on board??
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Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby jp1822 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:41 am

I posed this question and risk as well either on this board or another board - that the Crescent and new Northeast Regional Lynchburg, VA trains practically follow the "markers" of each other with not a lot of space between. However, response has been that the Northeast Regional train is more reliable and having two trains allows for passengers to choose between two trains, hoping that it would open up sleeping car space or coach space for the Crescent south of Lynchburg. The Crescent is often booked up through Virginia so the hope is that the Northeast Regional train will help to take some of the load off the Crescent for more of the long distance travel it makes to New Orleans. Course it still may "lose" traffic overall. I would like to see a comparison of the Crescent + Northeast Regional to Lynchburg's ridership compared to the Crescent year over year, or some variation thereof. What I would hate to see is the Crescent negatively impacted, as a long distance train.
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby CarterB » Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:48 am

Dunno...were it me, I'd go for the Crescent both ways, because of the diner and lounge.
I wonder if folks are 'bailing' at LYH to/from the South, to get better pricing ...i.e....NE Reg to/from LYH then book the sleeper to/from the south?
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby MattW » Fri Jun 11, 2010 2:50 pm

Hasn't Amtrak set the prices of the Crescent vs. the Regional so it's cheaper to use the Regional for travel up the NEC where the routes parallel?
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby jstolberg » Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:57 pm

The Lynchburg regional has been doing great. The Crescent's performance has been most unspectacular.

I had not expected the Crescent's ridership to improve. But I had expected a big improvement in revenues. What should have happened is that the regional should have taken short haul riders off of the Crescent and freed up seats for higher-paying passengers to Charlotte and points south, especially on Fridays and Sundays when the train was typically sold out.

Unfortunately, the statistics so far don't show any real improvement in average trip length or average revenue per passenger. But those stats have been suppressed by NS trackwork that caused the Crescent to terminate in Atlanta during the weekends in January and February and by snowstorms that shut the line down in Virginia.

In fact, the results raise an interesting question. Typically, you would expect that a short corridor train running on the peak leg of a long distance route would result in a better load factor for each train (passenger miles/seat miles). But if a long distance train is sold out for even just a few miles into one endpoint, does that raise fares on all the seats to an extent that if more than compensates for the reduced load factor?
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby jp1822 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:29 pm

Quite interesting to say the least. The Crescent typically keeps good OTP so it just baffles me that they have these trains riding on the markers of each other rather than having say an afternoon train leave and arrive from Lynchburg, however, Amtrak is trying to use existing equipment from Boston or Springfield. The only wan an afternoon type schedule would work is if the train perhaps terminated in NYC - which there are still a few Northeast Regioanal trains that do this.
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby afiggatt » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:36 pm

MattW wrote:Hasn't Amtrak set the prices of the Crescent vs. the Regional so it's cheaper to use the Regional for travel up the NEC where the routes parallel?

Yes, you can find that out spending a couple of minutes on the Amtrak reservation webpage. The fares for the Crescent from the NEC stops to the Manassas, Culpepper, Charlottesvile, Lynchburg are much higher than for the Lynchburg NE regional. The Crescent fare drop a lot if you try to book to Danville, VA. Amtrak is obviously pushing the Charlottesville and Lynchburg riders to the NE Regional to free up the seats on the Crescent for the longer haul riders. As a marketing strategy, hard to argue with the results. In April, the WAS to Lynchburg regional had 11,973 riders, WAY above the 4,133 originally projected. For the first 7 months of operation, it had 66,998 riders and pulled in $4.6 million of revenue, more than the $3.1 million of official operating cost. It is actually running at a profit.

The Crescent ridership numbers have stable; ridership for April was up 4.3% over 2009 and was up 1.6% for the seven month October-April period compared to FY09. On the low end of the ridership increases for the LD trains, but still an increase. One can burrow further down into the revenue numbers if one wants to read the Amtrak monthly reports in detail as jstolberg has done.

One benefit of the success of the Lynchburg NE Regional is that it highlights how access to the NEC can contribute to successful corridor service for lines that branch off of it. The NE Regionals that run to Richmond and Hampton Roads and the Carolinian give Virginia and South Carolina a stake in improvement to the NEC and provides support for funding the SE HSR corridor. If they can improve the DC to Richmond times by 30 to 45 minutes and cut the travel times from Richmond to Raleigh by 2 hours, that will help not only the Regionals and expand Carolinian type service, but also speed up the LD trains to GA & FL and may eventually pull SC and GA into actually supporting intercity rail service. (although SC may be a tough sell, given the wacky politics in the state).
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby CHTT1 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:34 pm

Well, let' see. We've got a brand new train that is doing extremely well with ridership. And we've got a long distance train that had a 4 percent ridership increase during an economic downtown. That sounds like a win-win situation to me.
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby Matt Johnson » Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:39 pm

Lynchburg seems like an odd endpoint to me. It's not exactly a major city! Roanoke would make more sense (and would also make the train useful to me personally!).
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby strench707 » Sun Jun 13, 2010 6:23 am

In that big NEC Masterplan, Roanoke was one of the places they wanted to add corridor service to. Which would be awesome because its a big town and would add some new mileage to their system!

Maybe they chose Lynchburg as a terminus for now because just going to Charlottesville wouldn't be quite far enough and would leave out some towns south of there. Roanoke was obviously too far for the initial startup (and would require operating over different track, etc.) and Lynchburg was kind of in the middle and had a station that was easily converted to handle an extra train.

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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby CHTT1 » Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:39 am

I think Lynchburg is just an interim measure, with the train eventually being extended to Roanoke. I'm sure there's some track, yard and station issues to work out before that service can begin.
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby CarterB » Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:31 am

What, if any, negotiations have gone on with NS about using their line from Lynchburg over to Roanoke? Is the Transdominion Express { http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transdominion_Express } or { http://www.tdxinfo.org/ } still in the works, for real, or still a pipe dream? And would they use the old N&W station (now a convention center and O. Winston Link museum) ? Where in Roanoke would the trainset be turned, serviced, and stored? There sure seems ample yard space there to do it.
Last edited by CarterB on Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby Jersey_Mike » Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:40 am

I recently performed a transfer from the northbound Crescent to the LYH Regional and I was amazed about how many people were waiting to board the Regional. It was certainly over 100 people and the best part is that those seats can now be sold to LD customers on the Crescent. By the time the Regional reached DC it was mostly full (with just one car closed).
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby Arlington » Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:36 pm

Matt Johnson wrote:Lynchburg seems like an odd endpoint to me. It's not exactly a major city! Roanoke would make more sense (and would also make the train useful to me personally!).


You could probably argue this the other way...that ROA, given the longer travel time to the NEC, and an existing competitive air market is a *worse* opportunity than Lynchburg. Here's why:

In US 2009 Estimates, the Lynchburg MSA population is ~247,000, while Roanoke is ~300,000. So ROA is only 20% bigger than LYH.

But ROA, with just 20% more people,has 3x more more air service (50 flights/day) compared to LYH's (14 flights/day), to 4x more destinations (9 vs Lynchburg's 3), and (here's the clincher) ...ROA has service to the big 3 Northeast Corridor destinations, while LYH has absolutely ZERO nonstops that go North! A captive market for rail!

ROA's has nonstop air service to (Washington (IAD), Philadelphia (PHL) and New York (LGA)) (as well as Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and Charlotte), while LYH has air service only to the south! (ATL and CLT) ...as rail market opportunities go, that's pretty sweet: a monopoly on nonstop service from LYH to all points northeast...which can't be said for ROA.
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Re: Lynchburg, VA NE Regional

Postby MattW » Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:37 pm

Except for the fact that the lowest price I could find for an airline direct ROA-WAS was $XXX round trip while it was only $XXX LYH-WAS (even if it doubled to ROA, that's still way cheaper) and the lowest price for ROA-NYP was $XXX vs. Amtrak's $XXX. Yea, it's longer, sure there (slightly) cheaper 1-transfer airline fares, but price wise, looks like Amtrak wins for a Roanoke train.

Edit by Moderator: No fare reporting. Check the forum rules, please. Dave Becker
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