Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

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

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bostontrainguy
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by bostontrainguy » Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:09 pm

gokeefe wrote:And that is exactly why the train continues to be so successful. It is a practical means of transportation for people from "point A to point B".
So could it also be a practical means of transportation from point A around Chicago and point B around Albuquerque? That would be two trains on the Southwest Chief route which might justify keeping the route open. We've been talking about it for years but this would be a good time to give it a try.

electricron
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by electricron » Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:32 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:
gokeefe wrote:And that is exactly why the train continues to be so successful. It is a practical means of transportation for people from "point A to point B".
So could it also be a practical means of transportation from point A around Chicago and point B around Albuquerque? That would be two trains on the Southwest Chief route which might justify keeping the route open. We've been talking about it for years but this would be a good time to give it a try.
Thje Auto Train doesn't run on tracks by itself, there's plenty of other trains using them too.
That's the problem with the Chief, there's no other trains using over 200 to 300 miles of its tracks. Even in England where there are many more passenger trains and willing passengers, they shutdown railroad corridors with little to no activity.

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BandA
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by BandA » Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:55 am

So Bostontrainguy is suggesting strapping some car carriers onto the chief & see what happens I believe.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:27 am

Again, allow me to reiterate that if Amtrak is looking for other markets in which to consider "Auto Train Service", i.e. carriers added to existing trains; passengers in line space, here are my picks:

Galesburg-La Junta
Galesburg-Denver/Irondale
Albuquerque-San Bernardino

Lest we forget, Auto-Train passengers are not there "for the ride" because they love the train riding experience. If not at destination by Noon, "arewethereyetitis" becomes quite endemic.

bostontrainguy
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by bostontrainguy » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:49 am

Well if I remember correctly, the original Auto-Train did their research correctly and found that the second most popular driving lane was the Midwest to Florida. Operational problems on that route proved very difficult however.

The Midwest to Southwest is often mentioned as another popular driving lane. Retiree "snowbirds" are a huge and growing market all over the country.

I am just wondering if a second successful Auto Train service over the Southwest Chief route would be enough to keep the route open.

A separate train would be the goal, but added a few auto carriers to the SWC would certainly be worth trying to test the market. It might just change everything if "Amtrak has plans for that route". Once that's gone, forget it.

george matthews
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by george matthews » Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:59 pm

electricron wrote:
bostontrainguy wrote:
gokeefe wrote:And that is exactly why the train continues to be so successful. It is a practical means of transportation for people from "point A to point B".
So could it also be a practical means of transportation from point A around Chicago and point B around Albuquerque? That would be two trains on the Southwest Chief route which might justify keeping the route open. We've been talking about it for years but this would be a good time to give it a try.
Thje Auto Train doesn't run on tracks by itself, there's plenty of other trains using them too.
That's the problem with the Chief, there's no other trains using over 200 to 300 miles of its tracks. Even in England where there are many more passenger trains and willing passengers, they shutdown railroad corridors with little to no activity.
There have been no 'shut-downs' for decades. Instead, numerous reopenings.

hazmatmess
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by hazmatmess » Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:58 am

ThirdRail7 wrote:You're currently +31" departing FLO. It is a weekend so you won't have to worry about VRE interference. If things hold, you'll have a nice, early arrival....which I probably just jinxed. :wink: Have an uneventful trip.
No jinx!! We got into Lorton at 8am. It was great! Hung out until the station crew completed their briefings. Car was off loaded at 855 and I was on 95 at 9am. Still got home at 1pm due to traffic on 95 BUT we beat the rain home and I was able to clean the car out before it started raining.

gokeefe wrote:
hazmatmess wrote:The kids are really enjoying the ride. And my wife is too. She’s surprised that it’s so nice. Time to get some rest.
Memories for a lifetime. Hope it's the start of a great family tradition.

Thanks for reminding all of us about what matters most in train travel.
It was a great start. We are planning to go back in two years and my wife said its the train. So many people who were on the train knew the conductors and attendants on a first name basis. I was amazed at that.

R&DB wrote:
hazmatmess » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:16 pm
Hope everyone enjoyed the trip! We've ridden it three times round-trip. We liked it better in the '80s and '90s, but it is still Amtrak's best.
It really was a great ride. Made what could have been a sad ending (Which kid wants to go home after Disney) of a great trip a happy one.
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Kids are ready for bed. My daughter did not to be too adventurous and slept on the bottom bunk.
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Hanging out in the observation car before we depart Sanford.
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Kids are surprised as we pull up to the station in Sanford.
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mmi16
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by mmi16 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:34 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:Well if I remember correctly, the original Auto-Train did their research correctly and found that the second most popular driving lane was the Midwest to Florida. Operational problems on that route proved very difficult however.

The Midwest to Southwest is often mentioned as another popular driving lane. Retiree "snowbirds" are a huge and growing market all over the country.

I am just wondering if a second successful Auto Train service over the Southwest Chief route would be enough to keep the route open.

A separate train would be the goal, but added a few auto carriers to the SWC would certainly be worth trying to test the market. It might just change everything if "Amtrak has plans for that route". Once that's gone, forget it.
Adding autoracks to the SWC is not a big deal by itself - creating facilities for customers at the O-D - for people handling, automobile handling and railcar handling - that is considerable investment 'betting on the come'.
Never too old to have a happy childhood!

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:26 am

No "Voyage 25" - at least this year.

Last year, I was questioning the value of an $814 #52(24 FEB) Northward "passage" comprising me in a Bedroom and auto on the rack. Using AT saves me a net of 455 miles of driving - something that is "not a white knuckle fright fest" (as it seems to be for many participants at the several railroad related discussion sites) for me. Just drive rested, sober and in a mechanically sound vehicle and "it ain't the end of the world"

But "fast forward" to this year; same passage on #52(26 FEB) is $1138. Sorry Amtrak, I don't need you THAT bad.

Now for the record, I'm "comfortable +" in retirement - able to do "what I want to do when I want to do it", but I have my limits - and Amtrak has pushed my "limit buzzer".

Oh well, I'll have more flexibility to visit with my en route friends. I allow two nights en route each way (one night was "age-40's stuff"; straight through? "college stuff").

gokeefe
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by gokeefe » Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:52 pm

Very unfortunate to hear Mr. Norman.

I'm mildly surprised that fares at that level have not had an impact on ridership.

I'm assuming your travel dates were roughly the same year over year and that they did not coincide with major school vacation periods.
gokeefe

justalurker66
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by justalurker66 » Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:01 pm

The Tuesday before and the Tuesday after the targeted Tuesday are about $160 cheaper (at the moment). The magic of Amtrak pricing.
(Last year the 24th was a Saturday ... Saturday the 23rd is showing the same price as the 26th.)

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jan 21, 2019 1:26 pm

Interesting Mr. Lurker, I understand there is a third party site at which you can compare Amtrak fares for an array of dates - just like any airline offers at their own site. Whether that site is a travel agent at which the ticket can be booked, I know not (and really care not as I do not use any third party site for travel arrangements).

But I'm starting to lock things in for the existing itinerary, such as a Dinner with Atlanta friends and a hotel "down below".

Much as I would like to see the Chicago Symphony perform at Kravis Feb 26, the concert is completely sold, and I cannot be a "stage door Johnny", as I need to be back in the barn Feb 28. Hence I must be heading Northward Feb 26.

So the moral is, even if retired, there are still constraints when you do things duch as trips.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:19 am

Well, maybe "Voyage 25" might be "back on" after all.

$1138 is now $979; last year $814.

Once again; 52(26) me in a Bedroom; "Black Beauty" (my new Lex) on the rack.

I'd be inclined to think Amtrak doesn't deserve a dime more than they got out of me last year; with the "One Mass" sentiment towards any LD, I doubt if the experience will be anything to write home about.

But as I noted earlier my net saving of miles driven is 450; i.e excess Sanford to home via Lorton 95-70-76-80 over 75-24-65 direct route is $168, i.e 450mi x (.135mi gas + .24mi mtce). Overnight stop $120 hotel; $65 restaurant & Grape Juice = $185, or a total of $353.

$979 v. $353. Elapsed journey time - "same, same, GI".

Arborwayfan
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by Arborwayfan » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:46 am

I'm curious about how the railroads handle the Auto Train, and whether they find it less of a dispatching problem than other passenger trains. I am thinking that because it has no intermediate stops, it never needs to wait at a station until it's scheduled to leave. So the railroad could essentially allow it to "make up time" early in the trip to cover for expected delays later in the trip. No one on board has a reason to care if it passes town A "late" or leaves town B "early". So I wonder (1) does Amtrak schedule it just as optimistically as it's other trains, basically assuming it will get up to the speed limit just outside of Lorton and stay there until Sanford except for crew changes, or does Amtrak schedule it with a little bit of padding that gives the dispatchers some flexibility in how to handle it without delaying it too much and (2) do the dispatchers handle it differently from a passenger train with lots of stops?

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:23 pm

Much padding, Mr. Arborway.

If a train dispatcher "sees a slot" ahead of a freightbin the zame direction, it becomes a "go baby go, and c as n often arrive at the terminal one hour early.

Now if things go the other way, well let's not get into how late it coukd be.

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