• Economics and Thoughts on an Single Level Surge / Reserve Fleet

  • 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 electricron
west point wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 11:32 pm TNW has three storage location in Texas that could store the whole Amtrak fleet and not even hick up!
Yes they do, but they do not provide that service free, they do charge fees.
https://32d122f9-e0a7-4094-bc6f-e2b974f ... 0b48b4.pdf
1. Storage Charges on Private Cars, except as provided for in 2 below, will be computed for date held/stored until date car is released from storage.
2. Storage Charges of Cars for Storage Only Customers will be computed from date of receipt of car until date car is released from storage.
Charges apply per car, per day, or fraction of a day, until released from storage. (No Free Days will be allowed for storage)
A. Empty Cars: Charge
1. Non - Hazardous……………........….. $15.00
(Per Car)
Storage Only Customers:
Into Storage……….…….. $250.00
Released from Storage… $250.00

500 Amfleet Is x $15/day = $7,500 per day, $225,000 per month, $2,737,500 per year.
Then considering the additional $250 per car switching charges, 500 cars x $250 = $125,000
Plus, every time a car is moved for service or inspections, the appropriate charges applies.

I suppose Amtrak could find the cash to pay these fees easily, they probably would not need to store 500 cars, nor remove from storage into service all of them each year. TNW also does not guarantee any security, and accepts no responsibility for any damages.

After all, TNW needs to earn revenues to pay for all the costs to provide that storage and earn a profit. ;)
  by Arlington
This thread is basically the “but can’t we keep the Acela 1?”thread with the fleet names changed. To me it expresses the psychology of hoarding, not the economics of railroading

Amtrak wants a common, modern fleet, and a robust maintenance supply chain and has laid out the cash to get one.

It’s time for most Amfleets to go to the scrapper, some to museums, and some to PV. Maybe NCDOT would like a sub fleet, but to Amtrak the cars represent an expensive parts and maintenance expense that they just don’t need or want
  by Arborwayfan
I'd like to separate three questions:

1. Should Amtrak have 100, 200, 300 coaches beyond its normal needs (counting normal as enough to protect all the trains and allow for periodic maintenance and whatnot) so as to be able to lengthen all the trains at Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas?
A few people seem to think yes, but others have made the (really almost obvious) argument that it's a waste of money to hang onto even a dozen cars, let alone a couple of hundred, just to use them on two or five or ten days a year. I think we're probably done with this question. (Not that I'm playing moderator or trying to make be stop; I love this stuff. :-D )

2. Should Amtrak have 10, 20, 30 coaches beyond its normal needs (counting normal as enough to protect all the trains and allow for periodic maintenance and whatnot) so as to be able to lengthen particular trains when they need it?
I think the key question here is whether there are enough local surges that happen on different routes at different times of year to keep a smallish number of coaches in pretty frequent use adding capacity to different trains in different weeks or even different days if the trains have the same hub (eg one day the extra coach goes down to Carbondale and back for all the Illinis, Saluki, and Eastern Illinois spring breakers, and a couple days later it goes to Pontiac for some event over there, and so on.) Of course all those cars would get used at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but are there enough little surges to keep them in use 25 days of the year (not worth it) or 275 (probably worth it) or somewhere in between?

2. If so, should they get them by hanging on to some Amfleets or by buying n extra cars?
I kind of get the idea that having a small fleet of 50-y-o cars would be a maintenance headache. I also know that new cars cost a lot more to buy than the old ones cost to keep.
  by west point
This whole discussion may be premature. What happens in the 2 years from now when many new cars are delivered is anyone's guess.
Does demand go down compared to 2019.?.
Does demand stay the same as 2019 ?
Does demand increase as Amtrak anticipates ?
Does demand on present routes increase to where Amtrak has to use every car it has even the planned retirements of AM-1s ?
Will there be few or no new services ?
Will there be plans for many new services in 2 -4 years ?
Will Amtrak try to run more special trains ? Such as football, safety patrol, Etc. ?

So until the country has a grasp on what ridership system wide I find any retirements except for severely damaged cars to be problematic.
  by electricron
west point wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 9:50 pm This whole discussion may be premature. So until the country has a grasp on what ridership system wide I find any retirements except for severely damaged cars to be problematic.
Amtrak plans to order Siemens Venture 83 trainsets for the NEC. Wisconsin plans to order 9 cars. Without knowing the exact details of the Amtrak order, it is difficult to list how many cars. The Midwest had ordered 88 new cars, California had ordered 49 cars, for a total of 137 previously. So adding at least 9 to those previously subtotals 146.
Assuming 7 cars per trainset as California, 83 x 7 = 581 cars.
Assuming 6 cars per trainset, 83 x 6 - 498 cars
Assuming 5 cars per trainset as Via, 83 x 5 = 415 cars
I do not foresee Amtrak running shorter trains than Via. That would be embarassing!
So using the assumed numbers added to the 146 previously ordered, the totals would now be
581 + 146 = 727 cars
498 + 146 = 644 cars
415 + 146 + 561 cars
Amtrak has 456 Amfleet Is and 81 Horizon cars in its' fleet.
Lets add them together for a what if, a total of 537 cars being retired or displaced.

Considering what the assumption above earlier was, Amtrak would have a surplus of cars soon.
727 - 537 = 190 cars
633 - 537 = 96 cars
561 - 537 = 24 cars
And that is assuming all the Horizon cars will be retired too. Which Amtrak suggests is not the case.
Potentially, Amtrak already has a surplus of new rolling stock being ordered.
Why keep the retiring Amfleet Is around any longer than necessary?
  by eolesen
I don't see a need for a surge fleet that gets hauled out on busy days. Raise the prices or make the trains reserved space on holiday weeks. Problem solved. Those who planned ahead win. Those who waited, oh well. No room at the inn.

Where I do see a need is a reserve fleet for schedule protection in case something happens that sidelines the Venture trainsets. It's a temporary need, not long term.

I'd say keep a 10% reserve around to cover for bad-orders during the service entry and delivery timeframe, and make a decision after 3-5 years when you have some fleet reliability stats to confirm how many reserves are actually needed, and place orders above the existing fleet to meet that requirement.
  by STrRedWolf
Two-fold argument here.

First, Lets add time to build and deliver to this. It'll be a replacement of the various fleets and a unification of all the parts needed. Economy of scale. It'll take, what, 5-10 years to go through, build them all, and deliver them to where they'll run?

They'll carry over enough old stock and slowly scrap parts of it until the equipment is proven. The Horizons have maybe another 20 years.

That said, lets get back to surge fleets. Think about this: You open bookings early and you sell out early for the holidays. Yes, you raised rates, but you sold out months in advance. You're leaving money on the table in those months. Add the surge fleet and even borrowed cars, and you make that money. Say "nope, sorry" when it's September/October? When you see the trends going to "we're going to need a bigger fleet"? Makes no ******* sense!

If you open bookings early and it sells out like a day or two before the run? No, you can't get the equipment fast enough and it'll run roughly empty. It's too late to do it and make a profit.

You don't know until you get close and you see the trends. You can predict this easily enough when you get data flowing.

Now having a surge fleet on hand? All that means is that you have trainsets on hand and you don't need to pay leasing fees to NJ Transit and MARC.
  by Arborwayfan
Questions for you, eolsen: Are you just opposed to changing the length of trains to vary capacity to match demand?
If so, why, and how do you think Amtrak should decide the "right" capacity? ​How often would demand have to exceed capacity for you to think that it was worth running longer trains? Or do you think that the higher demand times are always going to be on the same few days everywhere, so that having enough cars to cover the higher demand would be wasteful?
  by eolesen
With 50 years of actual booking data, I would think the Amtrak could easily find a couple data scientists and revenue management experts who can create a model that can forecast demand by day of week and season. Every hotel chain does it, every airline does it. Even Uber and Lyft have forecasts to trigger peak pricing and alerting drivers to be available for the windfall...

And yet all Amtrak does is sell out ahead of time, instead of holding back a couple rooms for that high dollar consumer who will book at double the regular rate within a week of travel......

Frankly, by not using revenue management, Amtrak leaves more money on the table than they'd lose by having an occasional sleeper compartment go unsold (unlikely because you can upsell day of departure very easily).

And no, I don't buy into the argument of tacking on extra cars. I buy into the idea of running extra sections.

Usually during holiday crushes, it seems the Class 1's don't run as many trains in the days leading in and out of a national/paid holiday. Too many businesses are closed for deliveries, and senior employees take those weeks as vacation.

That should open up room for extra sections, and I'd bet there's a way to resource extras using existing equipment since Amtrak seems to have relatively poor utilization.

Had people not been so opposed to Anderson, perhaps that would have been a natural outcome with all the talent he brought with from Delta... instead all the "not invented here" buffoons alienated some rather smart folks and most either left or quit trying.

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  by west point
Just where is Amtrak going to get the engineers and conductus to run extra sections ? How often have we heard of delays and out right cancellations due to lack of crew on routes with just 1 and sometimes 2 round trips a day.? Even some years Amtrak was unable to run all the extra sections needed on the NEC. That was during the Thanksgiving rush.
  by eolesen
Oh, I don't know. The extra board, just like every other Class 1 does?

Every argument you throw up against what I've proposed just goes to show how inefficient Amtrak is...

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