• Federal, Night Owl, Twilight Shoreliner (Trains 65, 66, 67)

  • 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

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  by Backshophoss
 
Itwill be awhile before there're spare Sleepers,figure on the View I's getting rebuild and new interior modules at Bear just after the last View II
leaves CAF factory!
The most worn out/beat up View I's being the first to get in ine.
  by Arborwayfan
 
No argument with you there, JP1822. :-) But if Amtrak improved car utilization and added two sleepers to the train and they always sold out at high fares, and then they tried a third and still sold out at high prices, and they got the maximum # of trips out of the sleeper fleet, THEN it might make sense to take sleepers from some other train and add a fourth and so on and see how many they could fill at good fares.

If I had to choose between Amtrak carrying a couple hundred people a night in sleepers at high fares on the NEC on the one hand, and still having sleepers on the Cardinal or having the current number of sleepers on the Lakeshore rather than a couple fewer, I'd take the first situation.

I'd give that one night train a name again and promote it as a special service, not just the last Acela Regional. Imagine if they could rent time just in the early mornings on a billboard by the airport: Next time you go to DC, sleep until 7 in our cars. A poster at 128 Station would be cheap and would reach park-and-ride commuters from that area of the suburbs who might really like not having to trek in to Logan. I assume there are similarly good advertising spots around DC.

Some people, esp with families, will still prefer to fly so they don't lose two evenings at home. But just one regional jet holds what, three sleepers worth of people? And there are many flights.

The overnight train does not need to be really fast -- even ten hours from end to end would still allow it to leave at nine and get in at seven, and give time for a night's sleep even btwn PVD and Baltimore. Market research shows a lot of potential pax live near Forest Hills, or Canton Jct., or Attleboro, or some suburban MARC station(s)? Stop there to receive pax with reservations so they can have dinner and early evening at home and then a short drive to catch the train. Might not even need to make the same stops in the other direction to discharge pax, because in the morning people could easily transfer to commuter trains -- esp if Amtrak offered through ticketing or even just told people where to change to get to x popular suburban meeting destination.
  by bostontrainguy
 
There are other options for the "Night Owl" that would make the sleeper fleet more efficient and expand services with a little investment.

A couple of ideas:

1 - Combine the Night Owl and Palmetto and run it through to Florida. It would become an attractive alternative schedule to the present Silver Service arriving in Florida in the morning and leaving in the evening which is really much better for the huge Theme Park/Cruise market.

2 - Combine the Night Owl and the Cardinal. Run the Cardinal daily and schedule it to run a few hours later eastbound so that it becomes the "cleanup" train out of Chicago. Then you can schedule the Lake Shore Limited with an earlier eastbound schedule which has been Amtrak's plan all along although the original idea was to make the Capital Limited/Pennsylvanian the "cleanup" train once track work was completed. However that was never done.

The more efficient use of the equipment the better.
  by jp1822
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:21 am No argument with you there, JP1822. :-) But if Amtrak improved car utilization and added two sleepers to the train and they always sold out at high fares, and then they tried a third and still sold out at high prices, and they got the maximum # of trips out of the sleeper fleet, THEN it might make sense to take sleepers from some other train and add a fourth and so on and see how many they could fill at good fares.

If I had to choose between Amtrak carrying a couple hundred people a night in sleepers at high fares on the NEC on the one hand, and still having sleepers on the Cardinal or having the current number of sleepers on the Lakeshore rather than a couple fewer, I'd take the first situation.

I'd give that one night train a name again and promote it as a special service, not just the last Acela Regional. Imagine if they could rent time just in the early mornings on a billboard by the airport: Next time you go to DC, sleep until 7 in our cars. A poster at 128 Station would be cheap and would reach park-and-ride commuters from that area of the suburbs who might really like not having to trek in to Logan. I assume there are similarly good advertising spots around DC.

Some people, esp with families, will still prefer to fly so they don't lose two evenings at home. But just one regional jet holds what, three sleepers worth of people? And there are many flights.

The overnight train does not need to be really fast -- even ten hours from end to end would still allow it to leave at nine and get in at seven, and give time for a night's sleep even btwn PVD and Baltimore. Market research shows a lot of potential pax live near Forest Hills, or Canton Jct., or Attleboro, or some suburban MARC station(s)? Stop there to receive pax with reservations so they can have dinner and early evening at home and then a short drive to catch the train. Might not even need to make the same stops in the other direction to discharge pax, because in the morning people could easily transfer to commuter trains -- esp if Amtrak offered through ticketing or even just told people where to change to get to x popular suburban meeting destination.

Absolutely! Spot on!

This is reminiscent - to a degree - as to how VIA went from offering just five sleepers on the Canadian to 10+ in peak periods or other periods of time as demand warrants. Consists were a little more predictable and fixed when VIA moved the Canadian to the northern CN Super Continental's routing in the early 1990s. But there were originally no sleepers to spare for the Canadian. To expand the sleeper pool, VIA leased 10-6 sleeper cars from Amtrak to fill out the Hudson Bay train sets and moved the former ex-CP Budd stainless steel sleepers to the Canadian. The Skeena eventually got re-marketed as two day "day train," so its spare sleepers went to the Canadian. The big break came though with the arrival of the Renaissance Fleet (and sleepers). VIA was able to move the former ex-CP Budd stainless steel sleepers to the Canadian from the Ocean. On the Canadian, these sleeper could get top dollar!

There are billboards on I-95 promoting the Amtrak Auto Train Service! I have no doubt they are effective and so to would advertising for an overnight train from Washington to Boston. It's the "Acela Express First Class Option" for overnight passengers. A "flexible dining breakfast" would fit the bill and perhaps an evening night cap..... Takes the strain off of F&B service!
  by jp1822
 
bostontrainguy wrote: Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:11 am There are other options for the "Night Owl" that would make the sleeper fleet more efficient and expand services with a little investment.

A couple of ideas:

1 - Combine the Night Owl and Palmetto and run it through to Florida. It would become an attractive alternative schedule to the present Silver Service arriving in Florida in the morning and leaving in the evening which is really much better for the huge Theme Park/Cruise market.

2 - Combine the Night Owl and the Cardinal. Run the Cardinal daily and schedule it to run a few hours later eastbound so that it becomes the "cleanup" train out of Chicago. Then you can schedule the Lake Shore Limited with an earlier eastbound schedule which has been Amtrak's plan all along although the original idea was to make the Capital Limited/Pennsylvanian the "cleanup" train once track work was completed. However that was never done.

The more efficient use of the equipment the better.
Option 2 has always been an interesting one.....but it would have to be via a daily Cardinal. It would bolster this train's ridership but only on the premise that passengers are looking to get to the East Coast, a connection via the NEC, or trains bound for the south (e.g. Crescent and Silver Meteor). Connection for the Crescent could be made directly at Charlottesville, while those looking to connect to the Silver Meteor would have to be bused to Richmond (currently a bus connection does exist between Charlottesville and Richmond).

Option 1 would put the Palmetto in line with "what was" when the Silver Palm was running and re-instate a morning, mid-day, and late afternoon train to/from Florida and NYC. Compared to Palmetto's current schedule, it would likely be more of a Washington/Boston-Tampa/Miami train......
  by mtuandrew
 
Honestly, the Cardinal could be severed into two (daily) day trains CHI-CIN and NYP-CIN (or even NYP-CHW with a bus bridge) and its sleepers reallocated. I don’t prefer that option with so many new sleepers coming, but it was the norm before Amtrak and it would allow those new sleepers to be assigned elsewhere - beyond a revived Night Owl, which folks here have made reasoned arguments for reinstating, we all know that Philly AF is salivating for a through Broadway Limited and that would also be a good investment for Amtrak to consider.
  by bratkinson
 
All of the previous discussion of improving equipment utilization or adding a sleeper back to 66/67 ignores one major fact: Anderson has proven he really wants to get rid of all overnight trains.

How? Let me count the ways:

1. 'Breaking' the Southwest Chief into 2 day trains plus a bus - proves his intent, pure and simple. He clearly was 'testing the waters'. Fortunately, it failed.

2. Contemporary dining. On the surface, to comply with John Mica-esq laws enacted by Congress to eliminate F&B loses. Under the surface, drive away anyone that wants a 'real meal' rather than something from Swanson or Birdseye in a 'sterile' environment where they don't even clean up the tables after they've been used! My personal observation on recent trips on the Silver Meteor and Crescent show most of the dining car passengers are over 50 and like myself (I'm 71) will likely have a 'never again' experience after 'dining' on contemporary dining food. Diabetics and those with high blood pressure still have problems with the food, even that latest 'improvements'.

3. Outright reduction in number of coaches and sleepers on a given train, even during the summer months. Off-season reductions in car counts makes sense as there are fewer travelers. But limiting the Crescent to 2 sleepers is insanity when it is sold out both ways north of Atlanta. Amtrak used to drop a coach or two and a sleeper or two at Atlanta southbound and pick them up northbound. That ended 15-20 years ago citing the high costs associated with the switching moves. So they simply run 'short consist' all year thus preventing any ridership growth. Look at all the LD trains...you'll see fewer coaches and sleepers than 10 years ago at the same time of year. Unrepaired wreck damage may account for some of the reductions, but on almost every LD train?

4. It's clear that car and locomotive maintenance has been reduced in recent years. When's the last time anyone saw a freshly painted diesel on an Amtrak train? How often are we reading of on the road locomotive failures compared to David Gunns' state of good repair days? Save a couple bucks in regular and preventative maintenance, a resulting road failure guarantees more 'never agains'.

5. It appears that the Amfleet I fleet have received an exterior shine & polish job here in the Northeast likely as part of the 'refresh' that has been completed and extended to the AM2 long distance fleet. At least it's more pleasant to ride on. And many of the windows show dates of 2017 or later. So we know much of the Lexan has been replaced as well. But think about it... Let's assume $10K per car to 'refresh' it. It's definitely 'worth it'. But what of actually REPLACING the now 40 year old Amfleet I equipment? Not a peep! And replacing 35+ year old Superliners? Maybe the plan is to take forever to order new cars and then give it over to CAF for completion.

From my point of view, Anderson will simply create more 'never agains' on long distance trains thereby reducing ridership to justify more equipment reductions and ultimately claim 'insufficient ridership' to continue the train. I'm guessing that by 2025, all but 3 or 4 of the LD trains will be 'justifiably' gone.
  by mtuandrew
 
1) he’s at NRPC to cut costs and increase revenue. If he can only do that by running zero sleepers, he will find a way to cut sleepers east of Chicago and New Orleans. If he can do that by running sleepers nationwide, he will instead do that and save the political capital.

2) while I think the contemporary dining program isn’t currently the quality it could be, and I can’t comment on the food firsthand so am relying on reviews, he’s right in that Amtrak can’t afford the diner as it stands. Now it’s up to him to improve the food quality, add offerings (a full coffee and alcohol bar) and reopen the diner to all passengers.

3 and 4) I can’t speak to these points.

5) the Amfleets received a pretty substantial refresh, from carpet to ceilings. As for replacement, here is the press release seeking A-I replacements, and here is a Trains article about the Siemens contract for 75 new LD locomotives. Also keep in mind that when all complete, there will be 130 new Viewliner IIs on the property. Nothing yet on A-II or Superliner replacements.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Bratkinson, half of what we say on this board is just barely within the laws of physics, let alone what current Amtrak management wants to do. :wink:

Anyway, I'm not sure Anderson has shown he wants to get rid of sleepers:

1 and 3: He' wants more short-haul corridor service that can compete with planes and cars; he seems to think that short consists that can run cheaply enough to offer several trips a day are better than longer consists. He doesn't want one-a-day LD trains with expensive non-revenue cars (diners, lounges, probably even baggage cars), cranky host railroads, awful OTP, and a lot of "experiential" passengers. He doesn't think they are serious transportation. But he might go for reassigning sleepers to an NEC night train where Amtrak dispatches the whole route and can ensure excellent OTP especially for a night train with few other trains to interfere, a train that could compete with really early planes or evening flight + hotel, a train parallel to a really awful set of options for driving, with endpoint cities where you're better off with no car, and a dozen complementary day trains.

2: Anderson wants to save money with contemporary dining:? Try saving even more with no dining at all. The target passengers have never been in a sleeper and have no idea that a sleeper could come with free sit-down meals, because their only train experience is Acela or maybe a regional, MARC, or the T, or maybe a long-ago Night Owl, which didn't carry diners; plus, the train leaves after dinner and arrives before breakfast.

4 and 5: Amtrak has never had enough money for maintenance. Anderson may not be interested in maintaining 40 year old cars to make good LD experiences. That doesn't necessarily mean he isn't interested in maintaining 20 year old Viewliners if he can use them to run a competitive short-haul sleeper.

In fact, if my utterly sensible and totally unlikely idea ever happens, I have a name for it: The Anderson Sleeper.
  by Tadman
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:59 am Bratkinson, half of what we say on this board is just barely within the laws of physics, let alone what current Amtrak management wants to do.
Totally agree.

I know a lot of my ideas are totally railfan-unfriendly but physics are what I'm trying to get at often. Physics, and it's cousin statistics, dictates that the more complex a network is, the potential for failure raises exponentially. Ergo my suggestion to drop same-day connections in Chicago or drop crazy ideas like extending CNO to ____ and handing off from CN to another unfriendly carrier like UP.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Timing... I must be on a roll here. Pulling the 2018 schedule up...

65/67 are 9:30P to 6:30a/7a. 9 hours.

66 is 10:10 P to 7:58a. Just under 10 hours.

Please tell me it's the new Viewliner II sleepers.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Doesn't appear the website knows it yet. I just loaded in a BOS to WAS query for April 15. No Sleeper space offered.

Not saying it won't happen; just saying no one has told the website.

Who knows, on the only run Amtrak has that emulates the European Night Train model, which, maybe in part owing to some 17yo kid shaming people off the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet, and has seen some kind of revival,
Amtrak has decided to give it a shot. However, they may have simply succumbed to those political pressures that forced reinstatement of the 448-449 BOS-CHI Sleeper line. Only one additional car would be required, as the assignment would be 448(A)-67(B)-66(C)-449(D), with A signifying first day of an assignment. Of course, if the car had to be Bad Ordered at BOS or WAS, they'd have to get a SSY protect up or down there on the pronto.
  by Greg Moore
 
I could see myself using this from time to time. I'm happy.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Gilbert: the price, which is very high, is listed next to the last departure of the day between Boston and Washington.

Greg: the price I got was over $300 for a room. Too high for me to consider.
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