• 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 nomis
 
Mod Note: With the announcement of Siemens to manufacture 83 Intercity Trainsets (ICTS) for Amtrak, there has been quite a bit of chatter about keeping some of the Single Level fleet for surge or mechanical reserves.
  by west point
 
Matt Johnson wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 8:55 pm Safe to say the already purchased Siemens cars are effectively replacing some of the Amfleets as well as the Horizons, correct?
That term replacing is misleading ; a more acceptable term would be displacing the Horizons and Amfleets. No indication that they would be replaced to a dead line. Hopefully we will see some results of displacing by July1 ?
EDIT: A thought: maybe Amtrak has a service clause that has kept Amfleets on Midwest routes until certain calendar date?
  by electricron
 
west point wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:12 pm That term replacing is misleading ; a more acceptable term would be displacing the Horizons and Amfleets. No indication that they would be replaced to a dead line. Hopefully we will see some results of displacing by July1 ?
Why buy new fleet of rolling stock if your aim is not replacing the old stuff? If the goal was expansion only, you would only need to buy just enough new rolling stock to meet the needs of the expansion, not an entire new fleet.
Amfleet Is will be retired as the new rolling stock enters service. Amtrak has already suggested keeping the Horizons around longer. Amfleet IIs even longer because Amtrak is not buying these to replace them - yet. Horizons and Amfleet IIs may be waiting for a follow up order later.
Here is a list of Amtrak "owned" single level roster:
Regional Fleet
Metroliners (Subtotal 16)
Cab Control Car 96XXX 15
Conference Car 19800 1
Amfleet I (Subtotal 456)
Club-Dinette 48XXX 42
Full Dinette 43XXX 46
Regional Coachclass 82XXX 329
Regional Businessclass 81XXX 39
Horizon (Subtotal 81)
Food Service (ADA) All Table 53XXX 5
Coach (ADA) 54XXX 66
Club-Dinette (ADA) 58XXX 10

Long Distance Fleet
Amfleet II (Subtotal 137)
Amcoach 25XXX 114
"Diner Lite" Conversion 28XXX 23
Viewliner I (Subtotal 50)
Sleeper 62XXX 49
Diner 84000 1
Viewliner II (Subtotal 115)
Baggage 61XXX 62
Sleeper 625XX 18
Diner 68XXX 25
Baggage-Dorm 69XXX 10

Amtrak's long distance fleet of Amfleet IIs and Viewliners are not being replaced - yet. The new Viewliner IIs "sleepers" were for service expansion because not enough were bought to replace all the existing units. None of them were displaced. All the other new Viewliner IIs replaced older equipment.
FYI: Data found at http://on-track-on-line.com/amtk-roster ... #Amfleet-I

So there is a total of 472 Metroliners and Amfleet Is being replaced, while another 81 Horizons are being displaced.
Where do you think the Horizons will continue to provide a daily service? For how long?

If you look at the ratios of Amfleet Is, 72% were coach class, 8.5% were business class, 9.5% were club-dinette, and 10% were full dinette.
I would expect similar ratios with the new Amtrak regional Venture cars.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
eolesen wrote: Sat Apr 24, 2021 9:16 am Railroads have little incentive to dispose of owned equipment. I'd expect to see some of the Horizons and Amfleets sticking around. And some may help initiate a renaissance of private car conversions...

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Use some of this stuff for a surge fleet if that is more economical than leasing equipment from commuter railroads., which it may NOT be. How often, besides Thanksgiving, does Amtrak have need of extra equipment?
  by Arborwayfan
 
Use some of this stuff for a surge fleet if that is more economical than leasing equipment from commuter railroads., which it may NOT be. How often, besides Thanksgiving, does Amtrak have need of extra equipment?
When the U of I or Eastern Illinois starts or ends a term or starts or ends spring break, there's a surge, in the sense of 100 or more pax on the Mattoon or C-U platform. Football weekends might also bring in extra passengers, people going down to stay with their friends in the college town; Amtrak might even go back to allowing football charters, which I remember seeing parked on a siding near the Illinois stadium in the late 90s. I suspect that the different one- or two-coach sized college surges, on different weekends and sometimes midweek, could keep a few Chicago-based surge coaches reasonably busy, especially in August-Sept, December-Jan, March, and May, as different colleges come and go at slightly different times. Vermont trains on 3-day weekends and CT school vacations in ski season? Downeaster around Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July?

And I suspect there are weeks and weekends that cause small local surges on corridor trains here and there that would be hard to predict on a calendar but easy to see coming on the all-reserved corridor trains. Maybe it's a certain convention, or a fair, or even just a giant family's wedding; who knows, who cares. Amtrak could just determine that whenever a train is sold out by, say, a week before departure, or a week before it usually sells out, they add another coach and open up another however many seats in the reservation system.

I don't know the exact costs of adding another coach, but I assume that some of the corridor trains normally run at such a length that they could get one more coach without needing another asst conductor or another locomotive, and so have a pretty good chance of the additional coach covering its cost from ticket sales alone.
  by west point
 
A surge fleet is very important. several posters mentioned the NEC and sports weekends. But what about the LD trains ? The Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and now summer as well often has LD trains sold out for . A quick peek of the slimed down C-19 schedule is showing many LD near sold out for the 50% C=19 spacings in coach. "IF" vaccinations really start we may have the surge on Amtrak that the airlines are experiencing on domestic flights ? I do not pretend to know what will happen for the next 2 - 3 years down the road.

Retiring any Amfleets IMO would be very short sighted. The problem of needed agents and additional OBS needs action by Amtrak. Maybe Amtrak can go to the unions to hire some part time persons. I certainly would like to be on call for part time work but would not like to work full time.
  by Greg Moore
 
The problem with a surge fleet is that every wheel not turning is not making money.
And then when you want to do it, you still need to get its inspections in time for when you need it, while not disrupting the on-going inspection queue for your normal fleet.

Not entirely sure it's worth it, as much as it would be nice.
  by gokeefe
 

Rockingham Racer wrote:Use some of this stuff for a surge fleet if that is more economical than leasing equipment from commuter railroads., which it may NOT be. How often, besides Thanksgiving, does Amtrak have need of extra equipment?
If properly rotated I think there is a high likelihood that Amtrak could maximize revenue opportunities system wide. The idea that the railroads ever had yards full of coaches just sitting around has always struck me as a myth. It's no more economical today than it was in the past. Recall that the sleeper fleets from "down south" were used extensively for the "Great Escape" from New York to Maine in the summer.



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  by Arborwayfan
 
We've sort of been talking about this over in the Siemens-Amfleet replacement thread, but I thought it would be worth a separate thread.

Questions:
1. Operating costs: When, if ever, could Amtrak add a coach or sleeper to a train and have fares pay for all the additional variable costs from adding that car? Put another way, when could an n+1 car train have a better farebox ratio than an n car train, so that Amtrak (or Amtrak and a state) could run a longer train on the same subsidy? I think the answer depends on:
a. How much does it cost to add a coach or sleeper to a particular day's train? How does this vary based on type of car, the number of cars that train usually has, and anything else?
b. How many additional passengers could Amtrak get, on average, if they added a coach or sleeper to every train that was about to sell out n weeks in advance, or that had sold out the previous year during a particular set of events along that route (college break, certain conventions, school vacations, sporting events, whatever)?
c. Whatever else occurs to you.

2. Capital costs: Are those times plentiful enough and scattered through the year at different times on different routes such that Amtrak could keep an extra ten, twenty, thirty cars in enough use to justify their maintenance, inspections, storage, and other costs of having them around? Justify could either mean "have additional fares cover increased costs of ownership" or, somewhat easier to get to, "additional ridership requires additional capital subsidy, but results in the same or reduced capital cost per passenger or per passenger mile".

I think my overall question is something like this: Could some trains carry more people for the same subsidy if they were longer some of the time? And I guess it's part of a bigger question that we sometimes talk around the edges of: Could Amtrak (or some similar national passenger train system in the US) get n times as many passenger miles without needed n times as much subsidy; would a system of longer and/or more frequent trains cost require less subsidy per passenger or passenger mile, and could it even be possible to get a lot more service with a lot more passengers without needed much more operating subsidy?

Go crazy! :-D
  by eolesen
 
If trains are selling out, it's the exception not the norm.

Raise fares by 15% on those days and you'll do better at eliminating subsidy than you carrying 15% more people.... outside Acela and Autotrain it seems yield management is nonexistent.

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  by Bob Roberts
 
Its something of a special case because they own their own gear but, pre-COVID, NCDOT changed the size of the Piedmont consists daily depending on demand. Generally consists were longer on Fridays and Sundays, the start of college holidays, Panther's home game weekends and events like the State Fair and the BBQ festival (gezzz I feel like a hick writing that).

NCDOT is working hard to build ridership so hiking fares is not a desirable option. Frequencies are not high enough that they can assume ridership will just shift to the next train. Its important, for political reasons, to ensure seats are available at midpoint cities. They have extra gear because they have prepped for additional frequencies which have been delayed. Finally, its a constrained route so they know the equipment will almost always return home to Capitol Yard in Raleigh that evening.

I can't speak to the financial part of this equation, but from a rider's perspective they do a great job with seat management. Sold out Piedmont trains are very rare thanks to equipment flexibility. (The Carolinian is a very different story)
  by electricron
 
Surge fleet of run down Amfleet Is???
Where would Amtrak park almost 500 Amfleet 1s?
At 85 feet per Amfleet car, we are discussing 42,500 feet of Amfleet Is to park.
Math, 85 x 500 = 42,500 feet of cars. It would be a string of Amfleet Is over 8 miles long.
The new Venture cars will consume almost all the available track miles existing at Amtrak’s existing coach yards.

Merseyside rail is in the process of introducing new 777 class EMUs into their fleet. After just a new trains arrive, they have to send their old 507 and 508 class trains to the scrappers because they do not have capacity in their “depots” for more trains. This scenario is true throughout the world.

Are there empty tracks in yards across America? Yes. How many of them are secure? How many under Amtrak ownership? How well would the surge fleet be maintained? Who would maintain them? Every answer to these questions will cost Amtrak a fortune - for equipment Amtrak really wants to eliminate. Good luck!
Last edited by electricron on Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:15 am, edited 1 time in total.