• Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

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

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by ThirdRail7
 
phillyrube wrote: Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:25 am I'm not versed on the different rail owners or divisions? What towns did the auto train go through when the detour was in place? Day 10 of house arrest, want to track it using Google earth.
It followed much of the inland route of the previous Silver Star to Tampa. After Jacksonville, it went down the Wildwood Subdivision through Waldo(WDO), Ocala )OCA),Wildwood (WWD), Dade City(DDE) until it hit the lakeland Sub (the route of the current Star) and followed it back to A line to SFA.
  by bostontrainguy
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:55 pm Bob Johnston has a review of the "new" Auto-Train appearing in May TRAINS based on a Northbound trip taken during February.

It seems as if he walked away with the same impression as did I from my January sojourn; "nothing to be excited about, nothing to go out of your way for".
Yes, but I think you are missing the point here.

No it's not a scenic ride but it's not supposed to be. It's probably a waste of a Sightseer Lounge Car in my opinion although it's a very pleasant car to ride in.

It is a land ferry to bring you, your car and your stuff to/from the sunny warm theme-park infused state of Florida. If you are a snowbird it's a godsend especially if you are elderly and that is a strong repeat demographic. It's unique. It's passenger transportation, auto shipper, hotel and moving van* all in one.

Driving that route used to be fun but it is no longer. It's a nightmare unfortunately especially north of Lorton. It's been discussed over and over and I know the facts, but if they ever did bring it, or a second one, to New Jersey (CSX is planning to clear the line), it would be a no-brainer for the entire Northeast and parts of Canada.

*Although you have to read the fine print, they do allow you to have a rooftop carrier if you are lower than 88" (I think. Can't pull up schedules at this time) in total height and sign a waiver. I have used a temporary vinyl car top carrier twice with no problem.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
bostontrainguy wrote: Sun Apr 05, 2020 8:13 am
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:55 pm "nothing to be excited about, nothing to go out of your way for".
Yes, but I think you are missing the point here.
Mr. Trainguy, we really ARE on the same page.

I noted "nothing to go out of your way for". I reside in the Chicago area, and the driving mileage saved is 395. Time; absolutely none.

You, on the other hand, apparently reside in the Boston area. You get the full benefit of the 815 miles of driving saved - and I think you may even save some time.

Regarding the Sightseer Lounge in the AT pool; what a waste. The two Lounges assigned to each set; also a waste. I presume the Sleeper one is needed for overflow Dining (if you can call Amchow that), but Coach now (wisely) has a 370XX Diner Lounge from which they sell F&B items. So why is a second Lounge needed?

Finally, maybe for those more sociable in this life than I, where my Times and Journal, a Bottle, and the Bedroom make me quite content, a Lounge is an attraction. Seems as if my space is always of late in the "40 Car" placed immediately next to the Diner. What times, I've seen the Lounge, it is MTY.
  by zuluwarrior
 
Add to this as well that for most of I95 from mid Virginia to the Georgia border is 2 lanes, and the Florida stretch of 95 is the most dangerous stretch of 95. So while Lorton to Boston is pretty heavily trafficked, Sanford to Lorton is the most stressful driving.
  by BandA
 
I would imagine the Auto Train would be the train most likely to quickly recover it's ridership in the time After Coronovirus. While all the other trains will be hurtin' for certain.
  by lordsigma12345
 
I would tend to agree. To clarify my earlier comment I think it’s a great service - and I’d recommend it to anyone in the northeast as a great option to get to and from Florida. But if I was trying to recommend an experiential train trip to someone, the auto train is not the trip I would recommend - I’d point them to one of the western trains or other services that have more to see out the window. I see it as more of a utility, which I do enjoy, and I do enjoy the social aspect of meeting people in the diner. In many ways it almost belongs in its own class among Amtrak trains as it is really a standalone service not connected to the network.
  by JimBoylan
 
Until 2020, the Coach Lounge was needed as a Table Car for overflow from the Coach Diner, even though the plan was to replace it with another sleeping car, and let everyone use the former 1st Class Lounge and movie screens.
  by bostontrainguy
 
zuluwarrior wrote: Sun Apr 05, 2020 12:13 pm Add to this as well that for most of I95 from mid Virginia to the Georgia border is 2 lanes, and the Florida stretch of 95 is the most dangerous stretch of 95. So while Lorton to Boston is pretty heavily trafficked, Sanford to Lorton is the most stressful driving.
In all due respect, I have to disagree. I have done the run non-stop 24 hours Boston - Florida and trips to/from the Auto Train. North of Lorton is horrendous. Traffic, construction, traffic, high tolls, crappy food, speed traps, expensive gas. Oh did I mention the traffic? Hate that part of the drive.

Lorton south may be statistically more dangerous maybe because of the intense truck traffic, but it is less stressful although boring as hell.

Also the 2:30 cutoff of the Auto Train is also extremely stressful because your allowed travel time never seems to be enough. I have suggested on several sites that they alter the Auto Train schedule a bit. There is no reason that the schedule has to be symmetrical. At the very least the southbound trip could be moved later an hour. That would allow more time to get there on the north end and still arrive in Florida in plenty of time to get anywhere in the state.
  by JimBoylan
 
bostontrainguy wrote: Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:16 amThere is no reason that the schedule has to be symmetrical. At the very least the southbound trip could be moved later an hour.
That's to allow equal time at both terminals for recovery from lateness and to turn and restock the train. This also allows for a simultaneous 8 hour work day for most of the terminal employees, minimizing overtime. Increase the dwell time at one end and something in the payroll has to suffer.
  by bostontrainguy
 
JimBoylan wrote: Mon Apr 06, 2020 10:42 am
bostontrainguy wrote: Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:16 amThere is no reason that the schedule has to be symmetrical. At the very least the southbound trip could be moved later an hour.
That's to allow equal time at both terminals for recovery from lateness and to turn and restock the train. This also allows for a simultaneous 8 hour work day for most of the terminal employees, minimizing overtime. Increase the dwell time at one end and something in the payroll has to suffer.
I am a little confused by your statement. I don't think they need exactly equal time at both ends and an hour one way or the other is probably not going to make much difference in the turnaround services. Also by shifting everyone one hour later at Lorton will not in any way change the total employee payroll hours or overtime. It's the same just moved one hour later.

I could be wrong but I don't think it will affect anything.

P.S. Everytime I have ridden the Auto Train it has left a little early and arrived a little early.
  by zuluwarrior
 
I agree about the asymmetry for New England.

We do Fairfield County to Tampa. Southbound driving, we would leave at 5:30am so as to be through the New York area before rush hour, and end up 850 miles later around 7:30 pm in Savannah. Then the next morning it is another six hour drive arriving Tampa maybe 2 PM. For the train, we might leave two hours later, and end up in Tampa around noon. For Boston I'd guess you have to leave by 4:30am

Northbound, we would still leave at 5:30am and end up in Richmond, and the next day get into Fairfield County around 2 pm. On the train, we can leave Tampa around 11 and get into Fairfield County around 2pm.

So a few hours shorter, either way, with the 350 miles of driving broken into two segments.

I always assumed for the respective staffs things were also fairly asymmetrical in season, with one side having many fewer car carriers to empty or fill, and fewer cabins to set right. Either way, they arrive at 8 for the inbound train, and leave at 4 with the outbound train. Also, I think the Florence midpoint switch is staggered, with the southbound one around 11 and the northbound one around 1
  by ThirdRail7
 
I'm not sure if any of the last two pages of posts belong in this actual thread but to answer Tadman's question, that maximum length of the Auto train is 56 cars. This is an increase from 50 cars. I'm not sure it ever hits that length though and I suspect it won't in the foreseeable future.
  by electricron
 
bostontrainguy wrote: Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:29 am
JimBoylan wrote: Mon Apr 06, 2020 10:42 am
bostontrainguy wrote: Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:16 amThere is no reason that the schedule has to be symmetrical. At the very least the southbound trip could be moved later an hour.
That's to allow equal time at both terminals for recovery from lateness and to turn and restock the train. This also allows for a simultaneous 8 hour work day for most of the terminal employees, minimizing overtime. Increase the dwell time at one end and something in the payroll has to suffer.
I am a little confused by your statement. I don't think they need exactly equal time at both ends and an hour one way or the other is probably not going to make much difference in the turnaround services. Also by shifting everyone one hour later at Lorton will not in any way change the total employee payroll hours or overtime. It's the same just moved one hour later.

I could be wrong but I don't think it will affect anything.

P.S. Everytime I have ridden the Auto Train it has left a little early and arrived a little early.
You are wrong!
The reason the departure times are the same from both ends is to maintain consistency. As soon as they are not the same, someone -there is always someone- will state they were an hour late because that time was okay on the other end. And they will miss their train and will complain and seek unwarranted financial compensation.
The Auto Train has been in operation for decades, and the existing schedule has been tweaked for just as long. Why are you proposing fixing something that is not broken?
  by bostontrainguy
 
electricron wrote: Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:41 pm You are wrong!
The reason the departure times are the same from both ends is to maintain consistency. As soon as they are not the same, someone -there is always someone- will state they were an hour late because that time was okay on the other end. And they will miss their train and will complain and seek unwarranted financial compensation.
The Auto Train has been in operation for decades, and the existing schedule has been tweaked for just as long. Why are you proposing fixing something that is not broken?
Because over the years the traffic on the north end has become increasingly worse. You do know that the Auto Train cutoff is 2:30 PM today, right? Are you aware that the Auto Train cutoff was 3:00 PM 10 years ago? Are you also aware that 20 years ago the cutoff time was 3:30 PM? It has become increasingly difficult to get there over the years and making the cutoff earlier and earlier isn't helping.

Oh and by the way, your other argument makes no sense. You can't be one hour late if the train departure time and cutoff is moved 1 hour later. If people are used to 2:30, 3:30 will be no problem for them.
  by electricron
 
bostontrainguy wrote: Mon Apr 06, 2020 1:57 pm
electricron wrote: Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:41 pm You are wrong!
The reason the departure times are the same from both ends is to maintain consistency. As soon as they are not the same, someone -there is always someone- will state they were an hour late because that time was okay on the other end. And they will miss their train and will complain and seek unwarranted financial compensation.
The Auto Train has been in operation for decades, and the existing schedule has been tweaked for just as long. Why are you proposing fixing something that is not broken?
Because over the years the traffic on the north end has become increasingly worse. You do know that the Auto Train cutoff is 2:30 PM today, right? Are you aware that the Auto Train cutoff was 3:00 PM 10 years ago? Are you also aware that 20 years ago the cutoff time was 3:30 PM? It has become increasingly difficult to get there over the years and making the cutoff earlier and earlier isn't helping.

Oh and by the way, your other argument makes no sense. You can't be one hour late if the train departure time and cutoff is moved 1 hour later. If people are used to 2:30, 3:30 will be no problem for them.
You missed my point about consistency of departure times at both ends entirely!
And if what you state is correct about the departure times being moved earlier over time, have you ever thought why that is so? There has to be a reason that you have entirely overlooked. Maybe that reason is the train taking longer because of freight traffic delays, maybe not. But I guarantee that there is a valid reason.
I really do not care it the train departs both stations at 3 pm, 4 pm, 5 pm, or 6 pm - just as long as it is the same at both stations. Because the very instance that is no longer true, someone - probably you - will arrive one hour late at the station where the train departs one hour earlier.
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