• Amtrak: Connects US // American Jobs Plan Infrastructure Legislation

  • 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

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  by electricron
 
Let's assume Amtrak gets the $66 Billion for railroads and spent it all on improving or expanding services on the Northeast Corridor to bring it up to a state of good repair. How long will it be before Amtrak asks for another $10 Billion for further expansions of services, or future repairs for the Northeast Corridor; one, five, or ten years? Do you expect the rest of the country to sit idly by with zero federal grants for their needed railroad improvements?

If Florida, Texas, and California proposed higher and high speed railroads can be built and operated without significant Federal funding grants, why can't the Northeast Corridor do so also? That's a big IF, but it is what the USDOT hopes will happen due to their lack of providing many grants at all to them. So far, CHSR has received just $3.5 Billion, Texas and Florida have receive zero $ to date. Meanwhile, the NEC gets $Billion every year on a semi regular basis.
  by lordsigma12345
 
I’m all for the NEC and I’m not going to pretend it’s not the most important and yes should get a substantial portion of that - but I do think there are other areas that could benefit from corridor development particularly around the Atlanta area and Texas and others - if of course the involved states are interested (which of course is a big if.)
  by eolesen
 
Yes, the NEC handles more passengers than everything combined and produces the lions share of revenue.

And yet the majority of rolling stock seems to be dedicated to the long distance network and weaker corridors...

Amtrak owns over 200 diesel locomotives, not including the 90 or so that are state owned (CA, NC, IL/MI and WA/OR all supply their own locomotives) or the 18 dual modes used on state sponsored routes out of NYP.

Amtrak also owns over 1200 passenger cars, most of which can't operate on the NEC. Again, that doesn't include state owned cars (CA and NC) used in corridor service.

We know a lot of those locomotives and passenger cars are at the end of their useful life and need to be replaced.

That's a lot of capital investment going towards a line of business which can't come close to covering its operating costs let alone capex.

A somewhat popular politician once quipped "we don't use as many horses and bayonets" as a way of trying to say that the needs of the military had changed over time (he was fact-checked and proven to be somewhat uninformed on the bayonets...).

Perhaps the day will come where the government that tries so hard in just about every other aspect not to be stuck in the 1950's will finally realize that rail hasn't been a sustainable form of long distance travel for over 50 years.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Yes, the NEC is certainly where the meat of the revenue comes from in the Amtrak system but there are other critical parts of the system as well. For example, much of the DC to Richmond and Raleigh to Charlotte is very important. The Amfleet Is are approaching retirement and we will know later this summer what will specifically replace the Amfleet Is and P42s and P40s on the corridor trains in the Northeast. Hopefully it will be more than enough cars and engines to cover both trains that run on the NEC as well as extension runs like the Northeast Regionals continuing onto Virginia, the Vermonter, Pennsylvanian, Carolinian, etc. The NCDOT owned heritage cars are definately way past the retirement age despite still running well. NCDOT will be looking into replacement options for their own equipment that runs on the Piedmonts. With NCDOT looking at letting Amtrak running trains to Wilmington, enough brand new equipment would need to be ordered.
  by electricron
 
eolesen wrote: Sun Jul 04, 2021 5:40 pm Yes, the NEC handles more passengers than everything combined and produces the lions share of revenue.

And yet the majority of rolling stock seems to be dedicated to the long distance network and weaker corridors...

Perhaps the day will come where the government that tries so hard in just about every other aspect not to be stuck in the 1950's will finally realize that rail hasn't been a sustainable form of long distance travel for over 50 years.
Per https://media.amtrak.com/wp-content/upl ... ership.pdf
Amtrak ridership FY2019 (pre-pandemic)
NEC 12.5 million
Long Distance 4.5 million
State Supported 15.4 million
So the NEC does not handle more passengers than the rest of the nation combined.

Amtrak equipment roster
Acelas 20 x 6 = 120
Amfleet Is = 456
Amfleet IIs = 137
Horizons = 81
Viewliners = 180
All the single level cars can provide a service on the NEC, only the Superliners and other State owned cars can not, or will not. Grand total of single level cars = 974 cars
Superliners = 413
Surfliners owned by Amtrak =39
Double level cars owned by Amtrak unusable on the NEC = 432
So twice as many railcars owned by Amtrak can run on the NEC than not.

I will agree that long distance trains are not competitive with other modes of transportation. But should the rest of the nation fund intercity passenger trains at all, even where they are competitive?
  by photobug56
 
eolesen wrote: Sun Jul 04, 2021 5:40 pm Yes, the NEC handles more passengers than everything combined and produces the lions share of revenue.

And yet the majority of rolling stock seems to be dedicated to the long distance network and weaker corridors...

Amtrak owns over 200 diesel locomotives, not including the 90 or so that are state owned (CA, NC, IL/MI and WA/OR all supply their own locomotives) or the 18 dual modes used on state sponsored routes out of NYP.

Amtrak also owns over 1200 passenger cars, most of which can't operate on the NEC. Again, that doesn't include state owned cars (CA and NC) used in corridor service.

Passenger rail, while it should be efficient, is not about making money in most countries. It's about reducing air pollution, getting cars off the road, reducing air travel, and it's about making sure that communities have decent transportation. Many countries subsidize passenger rail as a national choice. The US is way behind other countries in this and in reducing air pollution. We are even farther behind in high speed rail.

We know a lot of those locomotives and passenger cars are at the end of their useful life and need to be replaced.

That's a lot of capital investment going towards a line of business which can't come close to covering its operating costs let alone capex.

A somewhat popular politician once quipped "we don't use as many horses and bayonets" as a way of trying to say that the needs of the military had changed over time (he was fact-checked and proven to be somewhat uninformed on the bayonets...).

Perhaps the day will come where the government that tries so hard in just about every other aspect not to be stuck in the 1950's will finally realize that rail hasn't been a sustainable form of long distance travel for over 50 years.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Of interest is that Mr. Ratner's opinion piece appears in print in Sunday's edition. Sunday Times' circulation is some twice that of Daily.

It will be interesting to review the Letters regarding the piece.
  by lordsigma12345
 
I don’t think much will come if it. There will probably be some rail advocates that will send nasty responses - RPA has already drafted a stern rebuttal. This guy is by no means any kind of a transit or rail expert - he’s a Wall Street guy. I can tell when he just cited rail benefits simply in terms of revenue and whether is makes a “profit” or not. But we all know Amtrak doesn’t make a profit anywhere - its revenue positive above the rails on some routes but when you factor capital and infrastructure costs in it requires taxpayer funding. We find rail to provide a public service - obviously many of us have different views on what is reasonable and what isn’t - but I digress. The national network has bipartisan support - and the way the current reauthorization bills are looking like they are going to be written - it isn’t going anywhere. The long distance routes are basically going to be pretty to be pretty firmly protected by the language being proposed. It isn’t going to change during the period of the upcoming bill. Obviously the bottom line is the superliners and Amfleet 2s - the Amfleet 2s require replacement (and we’ll probably hear something about that soon) but the superliners probably can serve another couple decades with a rebuild and rehab - they have life left in them.
  by lordsigma12345
 
This isn’t to say I don’t think there will ever be changes. I think the sunset limited’s days are numbered for instance. But probably won’t happen during the upcoming reauth.
  by west point
 
electricron;
Counting the baggage V-2s in the list of all cars is misleading. A better list would be operational cars of all types coaches, lounges, diners, sleepers.
Now find the average revenue of each revenue car. Now compare each of the services = NEC, LD, and regional. Then if possible compare these numbers to each route and type of service. Also revenue passenger miles for each .
I support revenue passenger miles as a better measure since RPMs for LD is high especially sleepers that are not on routes other than LD with exception of Night Owl. Also revenue per mile for each of these services as LD fares are much lower per mile on LD trains.
EDIT: A thought- The more revenue filled cars on a train spreads the costs of carrying non revenue cars of baggage and partial revenue cars of diners and lounges. Short trains are making the allocation of operating costs for each passenger explode.
Last edited by west point on Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by eolesen
 

electricron wrote:
Amfleet Is = 456
Amfleet IIs = 137
Horizons = 81
Viewliners = 180
All the single level cars can provide a service on the NEC, only the Superliners and other State owned cars can not, or will not. Grand total of single level cars = 974 cars
Superliners = 413
Surfliners owned by Amtrak =39
Double level cars owned by Amtrak unusable on the NEC = 432
So twice as many railcars owned by Amtrak can run on the NEC than not.
Ok, let me rephrase.... sure, the V1 and V2 bags, diners and sleepers can run on the NEC, but why would they?

Those cars are clearly targeted at long distance and can't be easily repurposed into serving a network of corridor trains providing mostly daytime runs of 2-6 hours.

Taking any of the $66b and using it to replace the long distance fleet is a waste of money. No more sleepers. No more diners. Chair cars and café cars are all that's really justified.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by photobug56
 
west point wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:04 am electricron;
Counting the baggage V-2s in the list of all cars is misleading. A better list would be operational cars of all types coaches, lounges, diners, sleepers.
Now find the average revenue of each revenue car. Now compare each of the services = NEC, LD, and regional. Then if possible compare these numbers to each route and type of service. Also revenue passenger miles for each .
I support revenue passenger miles as a better measure since RPMs for LD is high especially sleepers that are not on routes other than LD with exception of Night Owl. Also revenue per mile for each of these services as LD fares are much lower per mile on LD trains.
EDIT: A thought- The more revenue filled cars on a train spreads the costs of carrying non revenue cars of baggage and partial revenue cars of diners and lounges. Short trains are making the allocation of operating costs for each passenger explode.
Reminder - good food on a train helps fill seats and rooms. Lousy food or no food is a deterrent. My family and I had considered (pre pandemic) going from NYP to Montreal by train. But a 10 to 12 hour ride with no decent food on top of other issues was enough for us to decide not to. That ride is not considered LD, which IMHO is something of a bad joke, so no viable food (frozen burgers, etc. don't count as decent).
  by lordsigma12345
 
eolesen wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:04 am Taking any of the $66b and using it to replace the long distance fleet is a waste of money. No more sleepers. No more diners. Chair cars and café cars are all that's really justified.
With respect That’s making an assumption that running sleeping cars are a net avoidable cost and going coach only would save money. Amtrak has never made that level of information available - they simply show you fully allocated costs for the train you’d need detailed financial information to confirm the argument you are making that is not available to us. It’s absolutely not true on the auto train - the sleeping cars and auto racks on the auto train are revenue positive.
  by Railjunkie
 
photobug56 wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:56 am
west point wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:04 am electricron;
Counting the baggage V-2s in the list of all cars is misleading. A better list would be operational cars of all types coaches, lounges, diners, sleepers.
Now find the average revenue of each revenue car. Now compare each of the services = NEC, LD, and regional. Then if possible compare these numbers to each route and type of service. Also revenue passenger miles for each .
I support revenue passenger miles as a better measure since RPMs for LD is high especially sleepers that are not on routes other than LD with exception of Night Owl. Also revenue per mile for each of these services as LD fares are much lower per mile on LD trains.
EDIT: A thought- The more revenue filled cars on a train spreads the costs of carrying non revenue cars of baggage and partial revenue cars of diners and lounges. Short trains are making the allocation of operating costs for each passenger explode.
Reminder - good food on a train helps fill seats and rooms. Lousy food or no food is a deterrent. My family and I had considered (pre pandemic) going from NYP to Montreal by train. But a 10 to 12 hour ride with no decent food on top of other issues was enough for us to decide not to. That ride is not considered LD, which IMHO is something of a bad joke, so no viable food (frozen burgers, etc. don't count as decent).
Not really with the current discussion but..

Hired out as an LSA /cafe car attendant back in 1998 and only had a year behind the counter before going into T&E. I remember the food wasn't always that great. A couple of items were OK a chicken parm sandwich in particular couldn't sell them too pricey $3.95 for there size. But if I got you to try one chances are you had no complaints.

The food has to be heat and serve and easy to store, anything that cost money, food, alcohol, drinks, coffee cups, ect is accounted for at the end of your trip. If your short it comes out of your pocket. So the ability to lock stuff up if you have a job that turns at an away from home point is key, sometimes the coolers are your only option. Once your car is loaded what you have is what you got. A busy round trip you better ration your product because there are no other spots to replenish what you have sold. Albany at one time did have a commissary and was due to finally get it back then covid hit.
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