• The big ax just fell. Long distance to 3x/week.

  • 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 STrRedWolf
 
jp1822 wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:06 am I think Amtrak needs to cut even more costs on the NEC - reduce even more trains in operation, and even look at closing some ticket offices at stations. Folks, the traffic is NOT there on the NEC. The East Coast has been ravaged by COVID-19, many states are barring travel between states, many workers are now working from home remotely. Would it save costs to turn the catenary OFF except between Newark, NJ and New Rochelle, NY? The new Acela II’s are coming, but to what traffic counts? Depressed traffic counts for sure. It takes a lot of money to maintain high speed infrastructure, but right now, it’s for very few passenger counts. The NEC traffic will rebound, but if Amtrak just cut LD trains to 3x per week, is it enough in balance with operations on the NEC for the near term?
Hmmm... MARC is on R-plus-extra schedule as of Nov 2nd. SEPTA is on a weird schedule which I doubt can be considered "full". NJ Transit has to be running a limited schedule as well, because the schedules are using a bare styling.

There's really two questions here:
  • Is traffic low enough that you can run regional and commuter rail all on two tracks?
  • If the above question is yes, then can we turn off the catenary power to individual tracks, keeping the interlocks charged?
I doubt you could shut it all the way down to around NYC -- too many agencies have invested in electric prime movers (MARC, SEPTA, NJ Transit, NYC MTA Metro-North/LIRR, MBTA, and... Amtrak). SEPTA's all electric, NJ Transit's Secaucus is their Manhattan Transfer, and nobody has dual-mode (diesel/caternary) prime movers.

Oh, and Washington Union Station has problems with air flow in it's terminal section.

...and nobody has any money to buy dual-modes that would need to be built, tested, qualified, and then deployed.

...and numerous vaccines are under phase 3 trials, which take a least three months, so likely six months before the world starts getting back to pre-pandemic normal... and that's too short of a time for anything to be built.

Yeah, you can't pivot that fast.
  by rcthompson04
 
If you are going to turn off the power anywhere it would be on the Keystone Line west of Thorndale and run all the Keystones as diesels.
  by STrRedWolf
 
David Benton wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 6:23 pm I would think the amount of money saved by turning off the power would be minimal if not negative.
Plus theft of cable becomes a problem if people know it is off.
Maybe, maybe not. They're more inclined to steal signal cable (as it's more accessible) than power.
  by mtuandrew
 
We’re also assuming it’s cheaper to run a few diesel-powered trains than a few electrics. For all we know, Amtrak may pay less per kilowatt-hour for electric.

This is definitely the time to sideline any “bad actor” cars and send them to Beech, Bear or Wilmington for repair or storage. I don’t think there’s an entire fleet that can be sent away; maybe NC’s Heritage cars and CA’s Comet IBs could go into storage, and maybe the Metroliner cabs too. What about the Superliner I fleet - are they in good repair with low MTBF?
  by rcthompson04
 
mtuandrew wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:12 pm We’re also assuming it’s cheaper to run a few diesel-powered trains than a few electrics. For all we know, Amtrak may pay less per kilowatt-hour for electric.

This is definitely the time to sideline any “bad actor” cars and send them to Beech, Bear or Wilmington for repair or storage. I don’t think there’s an entire fleet that can be sent away; maybe NC’s Heritage cars and CA’s Comet IBs could go into storage, and maybe the Metroliner cabs too. What about the Superliner I fleet - are they in good repair with low MTBF?
My thing is regarding equipment usage and remaining service life. We know the P40s are nearing the end of their useful lives while the ACS-64s have many years left.

Turning off the juice on the Keystone occasionally west of Thorndale would be a side benefit of not wearing out the newer equipment.
  by electricron
 
3x a week hit the Texas Eagle today
https://www.expressnews.com/business/lo ... 638126.php?
Short fair use quote follows

"The chef, a waiter and another food service worker had been furloughed recently, leaving only the cafe attendant to prepare and serve food to sleeping car passengers in the dining car. With a chef no longer on duty to cook scrambled eggs and bacon, a microwaved Jimmy Dean breakfast was the main hot breakfast choice on Sunday’s train."

Interesting that the photos in the news report was from Sunday, the last day of 7x a week. The Eagle was down to just 4 cars behind the locomotive in San Antonio, coach with lower level wheelchair seats, coach with baggage, diner acting as a cafe, and sleeper car.
The hot breakfast food item served in the diner car was a microwavable, prepackaged Jimmy Dean sausage biscuit you can buy at any 7-11 store in Texas. What a great way to start your northbound (eastbound) trip to Chicago, knowing you will have that same selection the following morning in St. Louis, long before reaching Chicago. Bon Appetit !
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Let it be noted that there is still "railfan" enough left in me to have plotted out when LD's will pass 18.71 (down the street from my home; during Winter, stand on my front yard or sidewalk and "watch the action"):

Su: NONE
Mo: 3,4,5,6
Tu: NONE
We: 5
Th: 3,4,6
Fr: NONE
Sa: 3, 4, 5,6

But alas, 380-383, Illinois Zephyr, still runs every day.
  by jp1822
 
Amazing! After all these years since 17 of the Superliner I’s were converted to a 37000 Cross Country Cafe they are finally getting use as a diner-lounge, absent a Superliner Sightseer in the consist!

These trains I would imagine are operating with the four car - coach-coach-Cross Country Cafe-sleeper. Absent is finally the Superliner Sightseer Lounge, a true amenity lost in my opinion:

Texas Eagle
City of New Orleans
Capitol Limited

So if I follow along properly, Amtrak is reducing to tri-weekly service to meet supply and demand models with passenger loads. And that’s very understandable in current climate.

The change in food service to reduce costs - that’s an age old battle that has haunted Amtrak since day 1. So has “how to get rid of the LD trains, but lets leave that aside. But with COVID-19, coupled with reduction in passengers, Amtrak’s got a good story line to cut back on food service (cost of food, and cost of serving food).

Amtrak has been operating the Cross Country Cafe in service with a Superliner Sightseer Lounge on the above trains for quite some time now. But the food service was still kept separate - CCC handled traditional dining or the flex dining, and the Sightseer Lounge had an LSA on the lower level staffing the cafe there. Now they cab combine efforts in the CCC (one food service car - at last.

NARP / RPA - whatever they are calling themselves these days - did pipe up at one time and put support behind still operating the traditional Superliner SIghtseer Lounge as part of the “experience” and an amenity to LD train travel. Makes sense, as it does add an amenity and one-up that’s better than bus service. So as much as Amtrak was looking to pull the cord on the Superliner Sightseer Lounge, they left them in tow. If all else failed, just close off the lower level of the SIghtseer Lounge if it is not staffed. That’s been done LOTS of times.

As much as Amtrak is trying to say that the LD trains will be restored to daily service when passenger traffic ticks back up - the removal of the Sightseer Lounge, which at least provided a common amenity to sleeper and coach passengers, seems to be a little more out of the way. Fits the narrative - “operate the bare minimum, and if that means removing cost neutral amenities, that’s fine as it will help with the core of driving traffic down/away LD passengers so it will be Easier to win the LD discontinuation debates/discussion.

Texas Eagle, City of New Orleans, and Capitol Limited are not necessarily the top LD trains in the system. They are definitely destined for the four car Superliner train.

Interestingly, I’ve had a chance to observe the Empire Builder since Oct 1. The Empire Builder moves to a tri-weekly schedule next week (its part of the last train groups to move over). The Empire Builder has had descent loads of passengers and carrying a regular consist:

- Baggage Car
- Superliner Trans Dorm/Sleeper
- Superliner Sleeper (Seattle) bedrooms regularly sold out, roomettes have been at a good occupancy)
- Superliner Diner (full Diner, Seattle bound)
- Superliner Coach (Seattle)
- Superliner Coach (Seattle)
- Superliner Sightseer Lounge Car (Portland)
- Superliner Coach (Portland)
- Superliner Coach (Portland)
- Superliner Sleeper (Portland) - gets booked very quickly.

With current traffic load, I don’t see how they are going to be able to remove any cars when this train goes tri-weekly, but we’ll see.

It’s just a matter of time before the LD trains go from 3x per day to 0x per day. To try and connect the system of East Coast, MidWest, and West corridors, would Amtrak consider perhaps retaining the Southwest Chief and/or Empire Builder and a Lake Shore Limited to NYP (forget Boston connection, but it would be interesting to see this train split/combine at Cleveland (to head to Washington DC or Philadelphia).

I guess the following cars can nearly go to permanent storage:

1) All but a few Superliner Trans Dorm/Sleepers
2) All but a few Baggage Cars - subbing with coach baggage cars, plus enough room to store on lower level.
3) Sightseer Lounge cars helpfully retained on Empire Builder, CA Zephyr, Sunset, Coast Starlight
4) Preference to use Superliner Cross Country Cafe Cars (17 of them) over full diners?
5) New VIewliner Sleepers
6) New Viewliner Bag/Dorms (why bother!)

Is there any revenue opportunity to offer “day rooms” on any routes?
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Murph (neighbor's Goldendoodle) and I "sort of" observed #4(11) which was the Chief's final Daily frequency. I must say "sort of" in that it was on #1 Track but a WB freight was on #2. It looked longer than the usual seven cars. Perhaps, as Mr. JP notes, they're moving excess cars somewhere for storage.

Now I must wonder, might Amtrak break out SP's playbook regarding their handling of the Sunset. SP struck a deal with the ICC that in exchange for Tri-Weekly frequency, they would reinstate an NY-LA Sleeper Line, and full-service Dining. Having ridden such NO-ELPaso during Dec '70 I think they kept their end of the bargain. So I'm wondering if Amtrak will strike same of sorts with Congress and the advocacy groups that you let us whack, say, the Chief (those 350 miles of solely Chief track is "mighty tempting target" to be rid of) in its entirety in exchange for restoring full service Dining, guides. wine tastings, to either Zephyr or Builder?

Just a thought.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by justalurker66
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:05 am Let it be noted that there is still "railfan" enough left in me to have plotted out when LD's will pass 18.71 (down the street from my home; during Winter, stand on my front yard or sidewalk and "watch the action"):
I lamented the passing of the last daily Lake Shore Limited yesterday ... 49/449 left New York and Boston for Chicago on Sunday, arrived Monday, turned and headed back to New York and Boston to arrive Tuesday. Next train will turn in Chicago on Thursday. The Capitol Limited began this pattern from DC one week ago.

Four trains a day every day now three days a week with a noticeable gap. The design is to have most trains in Chicago on Monday, Thursday and Saturday so connections can be made. The exceptions are (as far as I can tell) trains that were tri-weekly. It sure is quiet knowing the next Amtraks are two days away ... preparing to leave New York, Boston and DC on Wednesday to make their turn on Thursday and head back east.
  by ohioriverrailway
 
Still seems strange to have Lakeshore and Broadway run on same days, just a couple hours apart, when if they were on opposite days, there'd still be daily service between CLE and CHI.
  by Anthony
 
ohioriverrailway wrote: Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:31 am Still seems strange to have Lakeshore and Broadway run on same days, just a couple hours apart, when if they were on opposite days, there'd still be daily service between CLE and CHI.
Did you mean the Capitol Limited. The Broadway Limited was discontinued in 1995.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Connections at CHI to 3,5,7, 21 and 59 are what controls the frequency of 29 and 49.
  by justalurker66
 
Yep ... most trains are in Chicago on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Connections rule.
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