• 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

  • 462 posts
  • 1
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 31
  by electricron
 
eolesen wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:04 am 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.
There are only 70 V2 baggage cars. They are not going to reduce the 900+ single level car total much.
Please do not suggest LD trains do not in part run on the NEC providing services to passengers along the NEC. The following LD trains run over NEC tracks longer than just a few miles.
Crescent, Cardinal, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Twilight reprisal (66&67), and Palmetto.
Various State Supported trains do as well, Carolinian, Virginia extensions, Keystones, and Vermonter. Lots of single level equipment, long distance, state supported, and Amtrak supported regionals run over significant parts of the NEC daily.
  by eolesen
 
Yeah, you're still missing the point, Ron. No matter how you try to justify the V1/V2 bag/diner/sleeper fleet, it would be there if it weren't for the long distance network. The fact that it -can- run on the NEC for part of its run is really not relevant here.

LD produces ~20% of Amtrak's total receipts. State sponsored generates about 25%. The rest is from the NEC.

We've known for years that Long Distance is what stops Amtrak from breaking even. The math doesn't lie -- the assets required to support the LD fleet are about double its revenue contribution.

Maybe that's the biggest fear for Amtrak supporters... a self-sufficient network that wouldn't require huge government subsidy....
  by lordsigma12345
 
eolesen wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:09 pm Yeah, you're still missing the point, Ron. No matter how you try to justify the V1/V2 bag/diner/sleeper fleet, it would be there if it weren't for the long distance network. The fact that it -can- run on the NEC for part of its run is really not relevant here.

LD produces ~20% of Amtrak's total receipts. State sponsored generates about 25%. The rest is from the NEC.

We've known for years that Long Distance is what stops Amtrak from breaking even. The math doesn't lie -- the assets required to support the LD fleet are about double its revenue contribution.

Maybe that's the biggest fear for Amtrak supporters... a self-sufficient network that wouldn't require huge government subsidy....
I think when accessing the value of government funded things like passenger rail service one should also consider indirect economic activity created from such programs and should be accessed when you are looking at whether a program is worth it. Running long distance trains costs money but like other government programs it creates economic activity along its route. For example I took a two week trip to the west coast where I spent a lot of money that I wouldn’t otherwise have taken because I do not fly. I guess we can have a debate on whether my ticket price and accommodation fares and my economic output on the trip justified the taxpayer subsidy portion of my trip - I don’t have all the data on that. But one should consider such things. Sure if one looks at Amtrak from a purely free market standpoint it’s a waste of money - across the board long distance, corridors, and yes even the northeast corridor. As Mr. O’Toole often says one could replace all of Amtrak including the NEC with more highway lanes and bus service. But government often does things that, may not be more efficient, but because they feel that they provide economic benefit to their districts - such as pentagon projects primarily designed to create jobs in certain cities. When I see a lot of what the Pentagon does I don’t really feel guilty about the moneys spent on Amtrak.
  by lordsigma12345
 
Having said that about long distance I will say I have concerns about Amtrak as a whole being sustainable going forward. Business travel will never return to where it was prior to Covid - nowhere is this going to hurt Amtrak more than the NEC. Given the trajectory - Amtrak should stop and think about the Amfleet 1 replacement order. Do they really need as much equipment as originally planned? While it was Amtrak’s most powerful product pre pandemic the pre pandemic Acela product is no longer sustainable nowhere is the reduction in business travel and surge in WFH going to hurt Amtrak more than the Acela - the Acela needs to be rethought. It may make sense to rebrand the Acela and merge it into the regional product as a faster express service with lower fares than the pre pandemic Acela to attract more non business riders. It may not make sense to buy as many Northeast regional train sets because going forward it may not make sense to run as many trains on the NEC unless and until business travel returns and with all those Acela Avelia Liberty trainsets they may not need as much Siemens equipment. Amtrak is no doubt considering such things and probably consuming the bulk of managements time. And if they can’t get the NEC back to good financial performance the entire thing could unravel.
  by eolesen
 
I suspect Amtrak management isn't focused on future demand whatsoever. If they were, they wouldn't have agreed to the stipulations to return to their full pre-COVID schedules in return for bailout money....
  by rcthompson04
 
eolesen wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 1:28 pm I suspect Amtrak management isn't focused on future demand whatsoever. If they were, they wouldn't have agreed to the stipulations to return to their full pre-COVID schedules in return for bailout money....
Correct. Amtrak took the money regardless of the terms attached. Whether demand comes back remains to be seen. I am far more bullish on things returning to closer to pre-pandemic normal. Some people will be dragged back kicking and screaming, but there are enough who want it to push the dynamic. I have coworkers who are aggressively traveling again.
  by rcthompson04
 
lordsigma12345 wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 4:05 pm I believe the stipulations in the bill applied only to long distance service - not NEC service - the NEC still is not running anything near normal frequencies.
The state supported corridors were excluded as well. Keystones running more than 7 a day aren’t coming back until early fall for example.
  by lordsigma12345
 
I think the process of rethinking Acela has begun somewhat. Fares appear lower than they were and they’ve made OBS changes aboard presumably to lower costs - flexible dining meals are now served in Acela first class. The question is will there be enough ridership demand to bring the schedule back to where it was pre pandemic.
  by John_Perkowski
 
The traveling businessperson of today wants the same things his forbear did a century ago…

He wants to get from A—>B quickly and on time.

She wants the ability to communicate enroute. Then it meant station telegrams. Now it means quality bandwidth.

He wants a comfortable seat. Then it meant parlor cars. Today it still means one person per seat.

She wants good food and drink, if she’ll be aboard at mealtime or after the workday. Business travelers go a couple or more notches up from Waffle House and Red Robin. This is a glaring Amtrak weakness

He may want privacy for a small group meeting. There’s a reason Pullman had drawing rooms in parlor cars.

She wants minimum time in transit, from her home or office to the destination office. The current slowing of air schedules and the lengthening of TSA queues works in Amtrak’s favor.

Finally, long story short, the traveler wants value for the transportation dollar spent. That is the standard Amtrak must hold itself to if it wants the business travel market.
  by electricron
 
John_Perkowski wrote: Mon Jul 05, 2021 10:04 pm The traveling businessperson of today wants the same things his forbear did a century ago…
Finally, long story short, the traveler wants value for the transportation dollar spent. That is the standard Amtrak must hold itself to if it wants the business travel market.
It will also needs to go to as many cities where the businessman will do business as possible.
Amtrak fails. A youtuber with lots of experiences with planes, trains, and buses.....
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_Nqso ... 90ZZDdqSaA
Watch more than just one video. He often suggests improvements he wants everyone to do to improve services.
  by photobug56
 
As I've noted, my dad used to do business trips from Scranton PA out to Detroit by train. Sleep and eat on the train, arrive in downtown not far from the meeting site, no hotel, no getting to and from airports. Point being that LD rail travel was an effective way to travel. Obviously a lot less so today - in the US. Europe is a different story. They are shifting from flying to trains where possible.
  by electricron
 
photobug56 wrote: Tue Jul 06, 2021 12:13 am As I've noted, my dad used to do business trips from Scranton PA out to Detroit by train. Sleep and eat on the train, arrive in downtown not far from the meeting site, no hotel, no getting to and from airports. Point being that LD rail travel was an effective way to travel. Obviously a lot less so today - in the US. Europe is a different story. They are shifting from flying to trains where possible.
Where possible? How do you define that?
Is it a physical limitation of do passenger trains visit that city, or is it a mental limitation over how long passenger trains takes to get there?

I think we get so wrapped up discussing public modes of transportation choices we forget about private modes of transportation. Top businessmen fly, many in private charters if not in their own planes if they can afford it. They avoid the trip delaying obstacles of security, parking fees, and crowds at airport terminals altogether.

Much like families prefer driving in their own private vehicles, motorcycles, motor cars, and motor homes. Drive your own mobile home and you can save tons of money not having to hire a room overnight once you get there. You can even hire them for a while, you do not have to actually purchase the vehicle. Try riding an Amtrak train to Yellowstone National Park, yet you can drive or fly there quicker and cheaper in a private vehicle.
  by photobug56
 
My father's trips were way beyond driving distance. Alternative was to fly, get cabs to / from airports, hours wasted on security, etc. Plus hotel. And most businessman can't do private charters - that's limited to the already badly overpaid top bosses of major companies. And incredibly wasteful of fuel, lots of pollution. As to Yellowstone, unless you are in the region, flying to the nearest airport may make sense. Whether trains work depends on the situation. But our loss of LD trains has reduced choices. More LD trains, better and more reliable service can help.
  by eolesen
 
photobug56 wrote: Tue Jul 06, 2021 10:37 pm My father's trips were way beyond driving distance. Alternative was to fly, get cabs to / from airports, hours wasted on security, etc. Plus hotel.
Yeah, no. I traveled on business weekly up until 2019, and the the average "hours wasted on security, etc." argument is absolute hogwash. I'd show up 75 minutes prior to departure (90 if checking a bag), and never once missed a flight due to being late to the gate.

When I was in consulting, one night's hotel was less than an hour of my billable rate, and an airline ticket was usually less than four hours. Being able to spend a full 8 hours onsite with a client was how we made money. Taking the train would have either given me less time at home with my family, or fewer billable hours with my clients.

I suspect most people who prefer the train don't fully take into consideration the value of their time.
photobug56 wrote: Tue Jul 06, 2021 10:37 pm And most businessman can't do private charters - that's limited to the already badly overpaid top bosses of major companies.
Not exactly true. It all comes down to how you or your employer value your time and what you do.

If you've got a factory shut down and costing tens of thousands of dollars in downtime, spending $5000 an hour on a chartered King Air 350i to get a team of up to ten specialized mechanics to the site is a no-brainer.

There are three or four companies who sell space on private jets. I've heard rates as low as $300 on a positioning flight.
photobug56 wrote: Tue Jul 06, 2021 10:37 pm But our loss of LD trains has reduced choices. More LD trains, better and more reliable service can help.
And yet, since the loss of LD trains in the 70's, we've seen airline deregulation take place, and the addition of thousands of city pair options...
  • 1
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 31