• 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 JoeG
If Mr Curtin is right, that the NEC is crossed on a bridge by the Anacostia line, the next question is, Would the auto racks fit through the Howard St Tunnel, and, if not, is there a reasonable bypass available? If there is a bypass, it seems that the train could terminate near Phila without having catenary problems.

  by Gilbert B Norman
OK: interesting Mr. Curtin that the B&O X'd the PRR on a bridge and not at grade. That means the service could extend as far North as Phila on B&O rails eithout interference from anybody's caternary.

As I recall, the interchange between B&O and RDG was simply a lineside "stick in the ground' somewhat North of the "B&O Station" in Phila which was on the East side of the Schuylkill @ Chestnut Street.

Must confess, even I, @ age 64 and having been in Pilia while the Royal Blue line was in business, never observed the station "in living color'; all I do know is that, when compared with 30th St and Broad St, one "definitely knew' the B&O was the "orphan kid' in town.

  by walt
I remember riding a B&O passenger train out of the Philadelphia Station as a Cub Scout in the 1950's.( The station itself, which was at 24th & Chestnut, next to the river, as indicated, is long gone) I grew up near both the NEC and the B&O ( now CSX) Trackage but I am not certain about the clearances along that route. One other consideration for an extended Auto Train would be how many stops between DC and the NY area would it make? I don't know how long it takes to load the cars into the train ( I'll find that out in August), but ticket instructions advise that you can have your car loaded at Lorton as early as 11:00 am. I doubt whether it would be feasible for the train to make all of even the "major" stops currently being made by DC- NY trains.
  by 2nd trick op
One thing that should be noted in this discussion is that rail and private-auto transport don't have to be mutually exclusive.

At one time, car-rental agencies actively solicited rail-passenger patronage. Get a copy of an Official Guide from the 1950's and you'll see a large number of locations marked "rail-auto service available at this point" (Can't say whether Hertz, Avis, et. al. actually maintained facilities any major rail stations, however.)

And some time around 1960, Trains ran a short article floating the Auto-Train concept a full decade before it's inception. When the idea actually caught on, no one was more suprised than this writer.

A unique combination of economic, demographic and infrastructural conditions currently unfolding might set the stage for Amtrak's re-inventing itself in such a way that an expanded Auto-Train service could play an important role, particularly if the needed equipment could be located used or modified from that currently idle. Flexibility in labor policy for non-operating personnel would also be a plus.

As this writer has pointed out in several previous postings, new and successful approaches to recurring problems sometimes require the complete collapse of their predecessors in order to take root.
  by usa4624
I've heard that all of Amtrak's recently retired Auto Racks have been sold to a scrapper in Texas; does anyone have any details as to who this scrapper is, and where they are located?

  by Gilbert B Norman
Sorry, can't help on the scrapper's location, but lest anyone think Amtrak is being hasty in their decision to "cut 'em up', I think it is a fair statement that someone got economic life from all the carriers.

For what it be worth, six autos of mine have joind me on fifteen trips "over the years'. Since Amtrak commenced the service, all autos of mine, save one on a two year lease and the present placed in service during this past March, have had one or more passages on the AT.

Well that being said, we should note that the bi-level carriers were acquired second hand by the Auto Train Corp from Canadian National where they had been placed in service by CN during 1955. The point, however, that is subject to conjecture is the source of the high speed passenger trucks fitted to them. I was of thought (source as I recall: TRAINS) those trucks were stripped from Railway Express Agency Box-Reefers that dated shortly from after WWII, but, in discussion over at another board, another Member there believes I am mistaken.

The tri-level carriers were ordered new by ATC during 1974.

All told AFAIC, economic benefit was obtained by both passenger carriers. As for the CN, they acquired them to ship new autos from assembly plants, but they were placed in service only shortly before the industry moved towards using auto racks compatible with Trailer Train TOFC equipment. Therefore, I guess for freight service, they were sort of obsolescent upon delivery.

I should note that the CN made short use of some during their 60's passenger service initiative for a service marketed as Kar-Go-Rail, however, I had best defer to others around here on that point.

  by crazy_nip
I was in sanford in May and saw the northbound auto train leave around 4PM, by the looks of it, most of those racks had not been washed in years, even some of the ones that had been painted into phase 4 paint, rediculous

not very inspiring to someone wanting to put their shiny new car into something that looked like it was going to fall apart

  by Gilbert B Norman
Nip, you expressed my sentiments as well. My AT journeys are always "in season" (in fact, save one family matter during August 1998, I have never been Florida earlier than Thanx nor later than Easter; wonder why!!!) when of course AT belongs to the Bennie Caddy Lex crowd, that are known (personal observation) to book, for a party of two, TWO Bedrooms en-suite ("neither of us want to sleep upstairs, and we each like our couch on which to stretch out; wish the Porter could get rid of those little chairs; they are just in the way').

  by crazy_nip
I was actually (GASP!) considering an auto train trip in february of next year at least one way

do they still include meals for all passengers or is it just sleeping car patrons?

the price of gas these days has made auto train a possibility

I hate to fly and rental car prices in the DC metro area are outlandish anyway

  by AmtrakFan
crazy_nip wrote:do they still include meals for all passengers or is it just sleeping car patrons?
Mr. Nip,
They still provide complimentary meals to all passengers.
  by union21
In a perfect world could Amtrak Expand AT to the West Coast; perhaps a Pacific Coast version from Washington to Cali and vise-versa?

  by natethegreat
In a perfect world, yes. but in our underfunded world, don't bet on it. This West Coast Auto Train would need new terminals, and equipment that amtrak dosent have, and cant afford.

  by Gilbert B Norman
Based upon my "veteran" status with Auto Train (15 passages), I must disagree, as I believe the market is limited to "overnight plus a little".

Auto Train's clientele are not railfans; they are not even train riding enthusiasts (nonfans; but people who simply enjoy the LD experience), They simply are looking for a way to move the Bennie Caddy Lex over an 850 mile exceptionally non scenic route which save a stop off at "South of the Border' offers no en-route attractions - and Pedro's only real attraction is that he's there and the logical place to break the trip if originating in the Northeast.

Further, the 18 wheelers on I-95 are simply law unto themselves, and there can be adverse weather, mainly fog, along that route at anytime of the year. It can be a driving environment "not exactly' suited for folks whose skills behind the wheel were never developed (I'm not kiddin'; I know perfectly competent folk residing in Manhattan who have never been licensed) or have passed their zenith en route to the nadir.

There is your AT market, or at least the market I have witnessed. Coast to Coast?, no sale!

  by crazy_nip
thats why if I do it, it will likely be a one way trip because that time of years, nortbound fares start to get steep as the snowbirds (finally) go home...

but maybe I will luck out

I did the calculations, and $2.30 a gallon does not bode well for my gas guzzling vehicle

last time I made the trip by car, gas was in the $1.20-$1.35 range

  by taoyue
Mr. Norman, I read union21's suggestion as meaning Washington state, not DC, hence West Coast, not cross-country.

Unfortunately, the demographics are wrong. I-5 is most congested in the south, while I-95 is most congested (and serves the greatest population density) in the North. And while lots of Northeasterners take vacations in Florida, I'm not so sure about Californians going up to Washington.
Last edited by taoyue on Sat Jul 23, 2005 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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