• Amtrak Empire Service (New York State)

  • 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 mlrr
Tom Curtin wrote:What cross-street is the mouth of the Amtrak tunnel (coming from Penn Station to the West side line) at? I think I know Manhattan pretty well, and when we emerge from Penn I do not know where I am!
The tunnel emerges between 9th and 10th Avenues on the West side of Manhattan. There technically is no cross street as a building on the west end of the "pit" was built over the portal. Heading east, the US Post Office (between 8th and 9th Avenues) can be seen right above the tracks before heading under it and into the station.

I hope this answers your question.

  by timz
A NY-Albany train momentarily reaches daylight at 9th Ave, then ducks into the new connection tunnel and re-emerges just south of 36th St as I recall. Headed compass-NEward at that point.

  by mlrr
timz wrote:A NY-Albany train momentarily reaches daylight at 9th Ave, then ducks into the new connection tunnel and re-emerges just south of 36th St as I recall. Headed compass-NEward at that point.
You are right. If you are on the left side of the train heading away from Penn Station, you can see the Javits Center.
  by AmtrakFan
On ALL EMPIRE SERVICE trains between NYP-Albany food service will be cut on July 1st. It will save $1 Million Dollars the thing that ON SOME runs they have only generated under $100 in sales. 16 Emplyoees will lose their jobs.

  by drewh
So what happens to business class customers?? Are they eliminating beverage service for them too??

The train is turning more and more into a bus.

  by hsr_fan
drewh wrote:The train is turning more and more into a bus.
My sentiments exactly. I used the cafe car on every trip I've taken between New York and Albany.

I guess the cafe portion of the Turboliners won't be getting much use, if they even put them back in service! It would be nice to see New York step up to the plate and finally deliver the passenger rail improvements they've been promising for years. Instead, we get nothing but downgrades. If state supported operations like the Cascades and the Downeaster can offer improved food service, why can't New York deliver as well?

  by Jersey_Mike
I will agree that a full, traditional Cafe service may be unecessary on the ~2 hour Albany run. Not many Keystone trains have food service either. If Amtrak were smart they'd install some sort of machine or toss the assistant C/R some bux to sell sodas and candy bars out of a cooler in the back.

  by Rhinecliff
Amtrak has threatened to discontinue food service on its local trains between NYP and ALB in the past. I am not sure if Mr. Amtrakfan is basing his report on one of Amtrak's old self-abusive threats, or whether he has discovered some new activity.

If the report is true, this step will be just one more in a series of outragious service downgrades, all coming at a time when Amtrak is asking for more money than ever. With each service downgrade, Amtrak becomes less relevant, easier to criticise, and more desireable to cut.

Worse, I question whether cutting food service will save any money at all. Amtrak's fares along the Empire Corridor are some of the highest in the nation on a per mile basis. Amtrak's business class seating is quite popular. It will be interesting to see how the discontinuance of food service will cut into those indirect revenue streams.

Most cafe cars easily sell well over $100 in food and beverages. Obviously, in a corridor situation, not every frequency will be busy enough to have substantial sales. But on the workhorse frequencies, the sales can be extremely substantial.

Sales could be even better if Amtrak would run its food service cars more reliably. Too often, the cars are not open for extended periods of time following a train's departure from its station of origin -- creating inconvenient lines when the cafe does open. Too often, the cafe car closes earlier than necessary before arriving at the train's final destination. And too often, substantial portions of the menu items are simply not available. Nevertheless, despite its shortcomings, Amtrak's onboard food service is an extremely important part of its transportation product.

When all is said and done, I question whether this might just be a ploy to encourage the State to step in with some additional funding. I cannot imagine New Yorkers standing for no food service on their trains. But then again, I never dreamed that I would see the Lake Shore Limited being operated in the manner that it is. I never dreamed that Amtrak would close every train station in Vermont. I never dreamed that Amtrak would discontinue through-coach service on the SGH Branch. I never dreamed that Amtrak would discontinue the International. And I never dreamed that Amtrak would discontinue the Lake Cities connection to the Lake Shore Limited in Toledo.

  by NRGeep
Gunn is in an impossible situation here. No doubt the loss of Acella service has put a dagger through their revenue stream and he has to stop the bleeding somehow. Meanwhile important features like food service are getting cut. It's tough to be fair in this environment with the hostility coming from Pennsylavania Ave leaving Amtrak twisting in the wind.
  by dlezette
There's an article at www.timesunion.com in the local section.

A few questions: Will this be the longest short-haul route without food service?

I believe NYC/PC's Empire Service had snack cars, and Amtrak has always had them, correct? Could this be the first time going WAY back that local service has lost food service?

Doug Lezette
  by RMadisonWI
dlezette wrote:A few questions: Will this be the longest short-haul route without food service?
On non-Cardinal days, the Hoosier State (and the Kentucky Cardinal before it) has no food service.

  by TomNelligan
Once again, I'll bring up the model of the Boston-Portland "Downeaster" service, a route whose endpoint-to-endpoint ride length is in the same neighborhood as New York-Albany. A private contractor handles food service in the cafe car and does a nice job with snacks and sandwiches at prices lower than what Amtrak charges on the Northeast Corridor. Maybe farming out food service on the Empire Service to a contractor would be a viable alternative to eliminating it?

  by Railjunkie
I can see certain trains losing food service such as the late trains out of NYP, the $ 100.00 in sales figure maybe true on trains 271,273 or 277. The early morning trains the cafes are always busy but then again they get more ridership than some of the mid afternoon and late night trains. In my year and a half service as an attendant the rumor was always floating around I guess this time its true

  by Gilbert B Norman
I'm sure Mr. Gunn has an "I (heart image) New York" bumper sticker affixed to his auto at present. When compared with disputes such as that involving the Turbos, this one appears to be rather "in the minors".

Somehow, I doubt if the last word on this matter has been spoken. Lest we note, the 85 mile Chi-Milwaukee trains offer "trolley snack" service. I also note Mr. Nelligan's comment regarding the contracting out (once again, that is a long standing term used in the industry in place of the current buzz word "outsourcing:) of F&B on the Downeaster. I think much of the reason that Amtrak and the sponsoring agency "got away with it' rests with that it was a new service over a route where there had been none in over 40 years. The same reasoning I do not believe could be transferred to the Empire Corridor where there has been continuous rail service likely in the range of 175years.

I only hope the folks at 60 Mass recognize that New York has made infrastructure improvements benefitting Amtrak as well as sponsoring the Section 403(b) Adirondack.

  by Rhinecliff
I wonder whether the time has come for the State of New York to "relieve" Amtrak of its Empire Corridor services (or at least those Empire Corridor services being operated locally between NYP and ALB).

The Metro-North would be perfectly capable of picking up the service. Amtrak's Empire Corridor employees would all enjoy nice raises. And I am confident that the locally managed and controlled Metro-North would likely be in position to offer superior service.
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