• Amtrak Too Expensive!!!!

  • 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 lordsigma12345
eolesen wrote: Wed Nov 23, 2022 10:04 am It's timing vs value. People will tolerate cattle coach for a 3-5 hour flight over 1500 miles. They won't sit in coach for a 48 hour train ride for the same price and distance. They will for a 4-6 hour ride, though. And it's questionable if they'll pay 3x for the sleeper that takes 8-15x longer in transit... most won't.
The pricing is one thing if it starts resulting in more empty rooms and loss of revenue. But so far that doesn't seem to be occurring. Now I suspect your view is that most or all of the network that isn't fare box neutral or postitive should be eliminated or turned over to state funding if there are states that want to but assuming for one minute that's not going to happen - the million dollar question is - assuming they're going to run the trains should they be pricing lower to try to attract more ridership or trying to maximize revenue as much as possible if they're selling the rooms anyway? It may be true that most won't pay the current prices - but some still will and are. So again, the question is - should they be doing what they're doing or should they lower prices? Until someone tells Amtrak to stop or the price gets to the point where they can no longer get enough that "some" I suspect they're going to continue to experiment with sleeper prices to see what the market will bear. Some of the trains are down capacity but even those that aren't like the Auto Train are still pricing quite a bit more. They also seem to be pricing more aggressively at the higher peak times.
  by charlesriverbranch
eolesen wrote: Wed Nov 23, 2022 10:04 am And it's questionable if they'll pay 3x for the sleeper that takes 8-15x longer in transit... most won't.
I guess those sleeping cars must be mostly running empty, then.
  by eolesen
I'm not saying sleepers never sell out nor am I saying they're not revenue positive.

I'm saying they're not an Everyman product. They appeal to to Land Cruisers who are looking for an experience vs. people looking for end to end transportation.

I'm fine with Amtrak making money on them, however.... the Libertarian in me is screaming that it's inconsistent to be offering what's a largely experiential product with long distance sleepers when the mandate for Amtrak is supposed to be all about essential transportation.

We're getting a bit off topic here, but the cost of delivering the sleeper product isn't cheap in terms of labor and footprint occupied (i.e. revenue per square foot of cabin space).

I've stated my preference many times for how I think Amtrak should handle long distance... There's clearly a need for at least a two-tier offering of better sleeping vs. coach, but the differential between coach and the sleeper product is way out of whack with what "essential travel" should be offering.

Sleepers as we know it should go away or be greatly reduced, and be replaced/supplanted with a long distance business class product. Something like 1x2 across airline style fully-flat reclining seats or the 1x1 semi-private modules like you see on long-haul international carriers. Having a less private setting and eliminating private bathrooms seems horrible to the purists, but it works in other countries.

It requires less floor space per customer, which should make it possible to offer more seats and at a lower price point for the same end result in revenue. Eliminating the private bathrooms makes it far easier to re-sell seats enroute with only minimal effort needed to turn it around for the next customer. You could put in two or three shared bathrooms with showers in the same footprint used by two compartments.

The attendant is there for the duration of the trip, so they might have to work a little harder, but they're not paid by the number of rooms they clean, they're paid by the trip.

Amtrak has an opportunity with the fleet refresh to try something new. I doubt they will, though, which will only lead to the continued debate about sleepers being cost prohibitive for all but the upper 10% of customers.
  by Nightjet
I wouldn’t eliminate sleeping cars.

The privacy that they offer is a huge selling point, and as shown by the fares that are many times higher than coach fares (including on a square foot of car space basis), there is a market for them.

I would significantly reduce labor costs.

European railroads pay far less for infrastructure labor. I don’t know why, but US rail infrastructure costs are generally much higher than in Europe. That is a nationwide problem that needs to be addressed, since it means that much of rail infrastructure and maintenance spending is basically wasted.

Amtrak also seems to have much larger onboard staffs than European railroads do. A lot of onboard staff’s duties could be eliminated (such as enforcing inane boarding rules) or replaced with technology (such as taking dinner orders). Given how many Amtrak onboard staff members seem to find time to hang out in the cafe car, clearly there is unnecessary labor that should be reduced.

And if Amtrak can’t find staff for onboard operations, then find a way to do the work that is necessary with the staff that is available. Micro-managing passengers as they board is one example of duties that aren’t necessary and should be eliminated.
  by STrRedWolf
It sounds like everyone is leaning to a two-tier system:
  • Basic/Economy class, similar to Japan's offerings: Coach, lounge, and roomette only, tight packing, Flex Dining. Just the essentials to get you from A to B. You're expected to stay in room for the trip.
  • Tourist class, similar to what Amtrak offers now: Coach/roomette/full room/family room, full dining, lounge. The full experience.
Hmmm... gives me an idea for another passenger car...