• New Superliners

  • 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 RRspatch
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:58 am Mr. Spatch, from what I gather you "did this stuff for a living" much longer than did I. My career was eleven years with the MILW holding various non-Agreement positions. I "pulled the pin" to go into private practice as a CPA. The thought of relocating to Minneapolis, and being shuffled into some desk on the floor in an Accounting Bureau when the SOO bought the property from the Estate was "shivering".

"It was fun" when I hired on; long ceased to be that when I left Dec '81.
I spent 40 years in the industry (1977-2017) nineteen of them with Amtrak on the NEC (tower operator/train dispatcher) and twenty one years with BNSF as a train dispatcher. I therefore had the unique opportunity to see the industry from both the passenger side as well as the freight side. While BNSF hasn't gone full on stUPid with PSR they are to a limited extent doing what I call PSR lite.

Gilbert B Norman wrote: Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:58 am What I am at a complete loss to understand is why you are so interested in having Amtrak LD trains continue to interfere with the operations of your road (ATSF/BNSF I think) when they contribute essentially nothing to paying salaries and bills. Yet the advocacy community holds that the roads should plan their operations around the movement of the Amtrak trains. Your handle certainly suggests you have been a Train Dispatcher, and possibly you saw such first hand.
Interesting that you mentioned paying salaries and bills. I remember a BNSF "town hall" meeting at the NOC here in Fort Worth with Matthew Rose (I'm sure you know who he is). At that meeting (attendance required) he stated that Amtrak trains were HOT and not to be delayed (among other topics). He went on to say that BNSF was out to get every penny of OT performance compensation that it could. I seem to think BNSF was one of the few (only?) railroads that went into this agreement with Amtrak. Now this town meeting was sometime in the mid 00's the "Amtrak trains are HOT" rule continued until I retired on June 4th, 2017. As far as I know it's still in effect. Strangely enough BNSF, which doesn't follow the worst parts of Pretty StUPid Railroading, doesn't seem to have a problem with Amtrak and has/had one of the best Amtrak OTP of the big four railroads. Most of the problems I see in the industry today are what I call "self inflected wounds" which are slowly killing the industry. The fact that there are calls for Congress to look into the effects of PSR are telling. These calls are NOT coming from Amtrak, it's supporters, railfans or readers of railroad.net but from the shippers, you know, the one's who pay the bills. I've seen several 10K, 12K and 16K trains tied down (parked) on the Clovis subdivision because the terminals were unable to handle them that quickly. Would you be upset if your container was sitting on a parked monster train as opposed to sailing through on an 8K train? But hey, those reduced crew starts look really nice, right?
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:58 am Now if suddenly Amtrak was prepared to pay the full opportunity cost, i.e. what a road would make in profit, from the high priority Container train (I think that is a "Z" on the BNSF) that cannot be handled account Amtrak requirements of service, that would be a whole new ball game. But I give that "a Chinaman's Chance....".
On BNSF "Z" trains (HOT intermodal trains laden with UPS, FEDEX and now Amazon containers) are allowed 70 MPH in most places and are generally powered up to between 3.0 and 4.0 HPT. It was not unusual to see either A3 or A4 "parting the waters" with several HOT Z trains chasing it. The biggest delay on the railroad to Z trains wasn't Amtrak but huge 16K trains plugging up terminals (PSR lite). We (dispatchers) said this wouldn't work and guess what, it doesn't. "Long Pools" combining two crew districts into one VERY long district is another PSR lite idea they came up with. It doesn't work either as "dogcatch" crews have ballooned. But hay, 16K trains and Long Pools look really good on paper. I have a friend of mine (another former Amtrak dispatcher) who works in Jacksonville. He tells me the same thing, PSR isn't working and is on some days bringing the railroad to it's knees. Stop believing the WSJ. It's NOT Amtrak that's causing problems.
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:58 am disclaimer: author long UNP; previously long BNI, CSX, KSU, NSC. Sold account sector and equity overweight or tender offer.
disclaimer: author long on RRB checks.

Now happily retired looking in from the outside. Most of my former co-workers now say "It just isn't fun anymore".
  by RRspatch
 
David Benton wrote: Wed Jun 23, 2021 2:18 am I don't believe JBR gets a govt subsidy as such .
[...snip...]

I was referring to any Covid-19 relief money that JBR might have gotten from Canberra as their services were shut down due to state boarder closings as well as overseas visitors being banned. I do know that JBR gets no direct subsidy other than for the Overland via the state of Victoria. I was following several of the Covid-19 threads at PRA as to the effect on railways but after a while my eyes just glazed over.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Spatch, allow me a posting to share how sincerely I respect your forty years of "thoughts from the trenches" compared with my eleven from the "Seventh Floor of CUS".

Let us both hope that if Precision Railroading proves to be some kind of "theoretical dream" that some ambitious operating officer used to get ahead and get a book deal, the roads' managers will see the light and move away from "the Gospel". They only have the future viability of their industry at stake.

Now so far as share performance goes, my UNP position this year to date has been an "S&P underperform". But over the eleven years I've held it, it has been an "outperform" - and it pays a nice dividend while we're at it!!!
  by electricron
 
How does PSR affect new Superliners in any way? Is there not a specific thread for PSR already?
I'm really not that interested reading about how long any of you have worked for the railroad, whichever railroad that is. Would you like reading about my work experience as an electrician at a power plant or in the navy?

I did not think so.

And that old excuse suggesting I do not read this thread if I am not interested does not fly far on this topic that is supposed to be about new superliners.
  by lordsigma12345
 
According to Amtrak the jury is still out on the superliners. They are currently being “refreshed” - and rebuild/life extension IS being considered as an option along with replacement - they seem to feel the cars could have a lot more life in them with a rebuild - the question is what is more cost effective. I would not be surprised to see a rebuild occur coupled with asking Siemens to produce a sleeper variant compatible with the Viewliners - and then convert trains like the CONO and Capitol to single level and dedicate the rebuilt Superliners for the Auto Train and super long haul western trains .
  by jp1822
 
lordsigma12345 wrote: Tue Jun 29, 2021 10:13 pm According to Amtrak the jury is still out on the superliners. They are currently being “refreshed” - and rebuild/life extension IS being considered as an option along with replacement - they seem to feel the cars could have a lot more life in them with a rebuild - the question is what is more cost effective. I would not be surprised to see a rebuild occur coupled with asking Siemens to produce a sleeper variant compatible with the Viewliners - and then convert trains like the CONO and Capitol to single level and dedicate the rebuilt Superliners for the Auto Train and super long haul western trains .
I can't imagine Amtrak ordering new LD equipment. The love/hate relationship here persists. They came to close to sealing the fate of the LD trains with COVID, but now a rebound seems to have occurred. For how many more innings - who knows, but even traditional dining is returning to the six main western long hauls. I'd say that they continue to be candidates for "refreshed" Superliners, while, as you mention, that the City of New Orleans, Capitol Limited, and even Texas Eagle return to a single level consist. I am a bit surprised Amtrak hasn't already done this with the Capitol Limited with the arrival of additional Viewliner II sleepers and the Viewliner Diner. They are a little short on Amfleet II cars, but there's ways around that. A little of the rob Peter to pay Paul on the long distance day trains and also perhaps converting a some Amfleet I's back to low density coaches - wouldn't be the first time! Shifts all Superliners West of Chicago once again. Will Amtrak really assign out all 75 of its Viewliner sleepers (less some reserve number)? The original distribution of the Viewliner II order doesn't seem to be going anywhere, so convert the Capitol at least. Additional single level sleepers of some sort, a Viewliner Diner/Cafe car, and a new low density single level coach and it's more of reality than a possibility.
  by David Benton
 
Can the transdorm be used to create a single level / superliner train? Even if in the event of the coach passengers not been able to use the dining car , only the OBS have access between the 2 parts of the train?
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
electricron wrote: Thu Jun 24, 2021 12:16 pm How does PSR affect new Superliners in any way? Is there not a specific thread for PSR already?
Ron, I've stated here what a "heads up guy" I hold you to be and nothing has occurred to make me withdraw that thought. But I really have to disagree how Precision Railroading or any other Class I requirement of service has no effect on whether Amtrak orders new bi-level cars permanently configured for Long Distance service.

Agree with it or not, the LD's and their advocates, seem to be enjoying some kind of a "Post-Pandemic Renaissance", but for those of us around here who have followed Amtrak affairs since A-Day know these things come in waves. There WILL be a "son of Mica" that will "get out the scope" and start the rants "under the Dome"; and then, these ostensible "enhancements" will be "Adios". Further, within Amtrak, there is this cadre' of Managers who will tout "look at how we enhanced our LD product". Now time for the purge, and the new gang will tout " look at how we have slashed this waste".

Hello, Flex-Meals.

Now to the Class I's; even if their "bread and butter" coal traffic will sooner or later be extinct, look at all the other sources that are developing. There are simply not enough truck drivers around to handle the increases in Intermodal that will occur. "We feed the world" will still be a motto, so agriculture is not going anywhere off the rails. The railroads have started to establish there will be "no more Megantics" by building a track record of safely handling crude; pipelines seem to be politically out of favor. Chemicals? no reasonable other means to handle them. The USA will continue to be an exporter of raw materials and an importer of finished goods. I'm optimistic for the rails' future traffic sources; and PSR will continue their attractiveness to Wall Street.

Oh, and increased business will mean an increase in employment.

I guess what does surprise me is that these "enhancements" are occurring under the Flynn regime. Such was supposed to be a continuation of the Anderson philosophy that "we're here to transport people safely and efficiently - period", but, given the pandemic cuts, he was in a perfect position to continue what Mr. Anderson started.

All told to close on Superliners, I hold that even if there is to be a phase out of LD trains that will be orderly (don't cut the Lake Shore before the Builder), such will take time, and there will still be LD's after the Superliner's service life has expired. The "new LD" equipment should be of design readily convertible to short distance trains. That means single level, and Food Service from a Café arrangement. "Private Room" cars, if any, with modules readily removable and replaced with Coach seats. As I've previously noted, the "phase out LD" would look much like the existing State operated Australian LD's operating between Brisbane (Sydney) and Melbourne. Plenty of videos of those on YouTube.
  by Alphaboi
 
Roomettes could easily be marketed as a First Class daytime travel option (as long as they ditch the in-room toilets.)

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk

  by bostontrainguy
 
Alphaboi wrote: Thu Jul 01, 2021 3:25 pm Roomettes could easily be marketed as a First Class daytime travel option (as long as they ditch the in-room toilets.)

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
You know they don't have those on Superliners, right?
  by R&DB
 
Alphaboi wrote: Thu Jul 01, 2021 3:25 pm Roomettes could easily be marketed as a First Class daytime travel option (as long as they ditch the in-room toilets.)

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
Only VIEWliner roomettes have the room toilet.
  by J.D. Lang
 
Doesn't look like they are doing much more than new seat covers & carpeting. They should at minimum put in new electrical systems with LED lighting and more outlets especially in the roomettes. HVAC systems should also be updated for more reliability. I'm sure there are many other appliances that could use updating.
  by electricron
 
J.D. Lang wrote: Wed Jul 07, 2021 1:02 pm Doesn't look like they are doing much more than new seat covers & carpeting. They should at minimum put in new electrical systems with LED lighting and more outlets especially in the roomettes. HVAC systems should also be updated for more reliability. I'm sure there are many other appliances that could use updating.
Hardware upgrades you are proposing require a complete teardown and equipment rebuilds, or a prolonged heavy maintenance overhaul, however you wish to look at it. Soft goods upgrades, like reupholstering, can be done trackside in any coach yard fairly quickly. Time is money.

What's disappointing is that within a few years, however long it takes, all Amtrak owned rolling stock will be brand spanking new except long distance rolling stock, Amfleet IIs, Viewliner Is and all Superliners.

$7.3 Billion for 83 new single level trainsets was announced today, zero for new long distance trains.

The recent Amtrak press event for expanding the Heartland Flyer north to Newton and restarting a Dallas to Houston regional train got zero politicians from Texas to attend. No senators, no congressmen, no mayors, no county judges, no state senators, no legislators, and no governor - Democrat or Republican.
If the 13 Democrat congressmen from Texas, we already know how the 22 Republicans feel, got angry with Amtrak's poor service and decided to vote against continued revenues for Amtrak, Amtrak would die.

Amtrak needs to do something even Democrats in Texas can get excited about, sooner rather than later.
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