Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

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andrewjw
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by andrewjw » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:10 pm

Paul1705 wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:03 pm
Just wondering - Amtrak's Auto Train needs a subsidy, does it not? Would it be possible to make it or other routes profitable? If not, what public purpose does it serve? Does it or other potential routes take a significant number of autos off the highways?
It serves the purpose of getting people from one place to another place, just like any other transportation infrastructure. I'm not interested in discussing this toxic argument against funding for rail transport further.

electricron
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by electricron » Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:45 pm

andrewjw wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:10 pm
It serves the purpose of getting people from one place to another place, just like any other transportation infrastructure. I'm not interested in discussing this toxic argument against funding for rail transport further.
You can get people from one place to another with a passenger train, why move their cars as well? Why should the taxpayers pay a subsidy to move other people's cars? It's not a toxic argument to expect Amtrak to earn a profit moving cars around. Whether or not the Auto Train earns a profit overall, subsidizing passengers is less offensive, but Amtrak better be earning a profit moving those cars.

Tadman
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by Tadman » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:59 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:26 am
ThirdRail7 wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:24 am
. I suppose it would be possible for 90mph trucks on auto carriers, assuming the actual car could handle it.
Not with MY AUTO aboard will they!

During some of my "voyages", I have been laying awake thinking "can't they slow down a little bit"?
Hey they move these cars to market somehow. Not at 90mph, but millions of autos per year get to market on an auto rack.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:58 am

Mr. Dunville, current "buggy" was routed Portland-BNSF-Elwood (hwy to Dealer), but it was not moved at any 90mph. If it were, some BNSF Engineer better be "doing some hard time"!

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Sat Dec 21, 2019 1:39 pm

Well, I've booked Voyage 25; #52(26JAN) Bedroom J Car 5240; $693 for auto and me.

That's "a mite bit more palatable" than was $814 two years ago.

It will be interesting to see what new amenities, if any, are available. It will also be interesting to see the "food truck" concept in place for the Coach trade.

"Thirty nine days and a wake-up".

SouthernRailway
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by SouthernRailway » Sat Dec 21, 2019 5:16 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:
Sat Dec 21, 2019 1:39 pm
It will also be interesting to see the "food truck" concept in place for the Coach trade.
Agreed. Please let me know if it is not as awful as it sounds.

Arlington
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by Arlington » Sat Dec 21, 2019 6:18 pm

Paul1705 wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:03 pm
Just wondering - Amtrak's Auto Train needs a subsidy, does it not? Would it be possible to make it or other routes profitable? If not, what public purpose does it serve? Does it or other potential routes take a significant number of autos off the highways?
In current financial reporting it shows the lowest loss of any overnight train, but it and the Palmetto are close enough to break even for Boardman to have cited them as "would be profitable if we made different accounting choices"

(All other LDs are unprofitable no matter how you jigger the accounting)
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mmi16
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by mmi16 » Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:16 pm

electricron wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:45 pm
andrewjw wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:10 pm
It serves the purpose of getting people from one place to another place, just like any other transportation infrastructure. I'm not interested in discussing this toxic argument against funding for rail transport further.
You can get people from one place to another with a passenger train, why move their cars as well? Why should the taxpayers pay a subsidy to move other people's cars? It's not a toxic argument to expect Amtrak to earn a profit moving cars around. Whether or not the Auto Train earns a profit overall, subsidizing passengers is less offensive, but Amtrak better be earning a profit moving those cars.
How much does a additional lane of Interstate cost. How many more miles of Interstate lanes are you going to ad with the 'savings' your get from eliminating Auto-Train. Remember you eliminate Auto-Train and you put those people and vehicles on I-95 and I-4 between Auto-Train's end points.
Construct a new 4-lane highway — $4 million to $6 million per mile in rural and suburban areas, $8 million to $10 million per mile in urban areas. Construct a new 6-lane Interstate highway – about $7 million per mile in rural areas, $11 million or more per mile in urban areas
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electricron
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by electricron » Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:10 am

mmi16 wrote:
Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:16 pm
electricron wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:45 pm
andrewjw wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:10 pm
It serves the purpose of getting people from one place to another place, just like any other transportation infrastructure. I'm not interested in discussing this toxic argument against funding for rail transport further.
You can get people from one place to another with a passenger train, why move their cars as well? Why should the taxpayers pay a subsidy to move other people's cars? It's not a toxic argument to expect Amtrak to earn a profit moving cars around. Whether or not the Auto Train earns a profit overall, subsidizing passengers is less offensive, but Amtrak better be earning a profit moving those cars.
How much does a additional lane of Interstate cost. How many more miles of Interstate lanes are you going to ad with the 'savings' your get from eliminating Auto-Train. Remember you eliminate Auto-Train and you put those people and vehicles on I-95 and I-4 between Auto-Train's end points.
I think you missed the point I was trying to make. There are other Amtrak long distance trains moving passengers to Florida that do not also carry cars. Nowhere else in the USA does Amtrak moved cars. Every long distance trains moving passengers requires a subsidy, including the Auto Train. The point I was trying to make is that Amtrak should not be subsidizing moving cars - even on the Auto Train. Do airlines move the cars of their passengers to Florida? Do cruise lines move the cars of their passengers to Florida? Do bus lines move the cars of their passengers to Florida? Are you getting my point now?
I'm not against Amtrak moving cars of the Auto Train passengers - as long as they move the cars without needing a subsidy. Whatever Amtrak charges to move those cars better pay 100% of the cost doing so. In fact, they should be charging more than their costs to move the cars so Amtrak can have more cash to subsidize more passenger fares.
The idea that Joe Blow taxpayer from Hicksville, USA has to subsidize the movement of cars is strange. Nowhere else in the USA does the USA actively subsidize the movement of cars.

andegold
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by andegold » Sun Dec 22, 2019 1:42 pm

But what if the real competition for the Florida routes isn't airplanes but drivers? How many of the Auto Train customers would choose Silver Service if Auto Train was eliminated? Many of them would choose to drive instead.

eolesen
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by eolesen » Sun Dec 22, 2019 2:15 pm

Keep things in perspective... A million people each week go see the Mouse. Most already drive or fly and either rent a car or use public/private transportation. A small percentage use rail. Take away Autotrain and there's still very little impact.

A couple hundred more cars a day (spread across 24 hours no less) on I-95 is a rounding error and won't materially add wear to existing highways; those who still believe in rail can rent cars or use Uber and public transit...

David Benton
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by David Benton » Mon Dec 23, 2019 7:07 pm

"The longest journey starts with a single step".
First and last mile just as important as the long part of the journey.
The straw that breaks the camels back . An extra few cars can change a moving freeway to a carpark .
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eolesen
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by eolesen » Tue Dec 24, 2019 2:56 am

David Benton wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 7:07 pm
An extra few cars can change a moving freeway to a carpark .
Theory is a great thing. Reality is another.

If AutoTrain ceased tomorrow, it would add a max 320 vehicles per day to the interstate (assuming 100% of the current riders shifted to driving, which is probably unrealistic). That's one car every two minutes assuming drivers would only drive between 6am and 6pm... or one every four minutes if you distribute across 24 hours...

Default freeway capacity is about 1600 vehicles per hour per lane. Given how much of I-95 is three lanes, you'd need every car displaced by Autotrain to be on I-95 at the same time and within 1 mile of each other to have any noticeable impact....

Greg Moore
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by Greg Moore » Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:20 am

Yeah eliminating the Autotrain by itself wouldn't have much of an impact on I-95.
More Autotrains... might have a very minor impact. But I'd suggest that more Silver Service trains ultimately would.

That said, wonder if Amtrak could run say 2 or 3 or even 4 Autotrains along the same route.
2 trains... one leaves at 10:00 AM the other at 10:00 PM?
3 trains 9:00 AM , 3:00 PM, 9:00 PM
4 trains - hmm thinking about it, realized now you've got trains probably trying to unload at the same time they're trying to load.

What's the average load/unload time for Autotrain?
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mtuandrew
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by mtuandrew » Tue Dec 24, 2019 12:48 pm

David Benton wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 7:07 pm
"The longest journey starts with a single step".
First and last mile just as important as the long part of the journey.
The straw that breaks the camels back . An extra few cars can change a moving freeway to a carpark .
As others have mentioned, the current Auto Train is a vanity service marketed to the wealthy (apologies to Mr. Norman.) Add three trains a day and a nationwide network, and that could change.

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