• Anderson possible changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

  • 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 4behind2
 
This has been Anderson's stated goal for quite some time, along with fixed consists. Amtrak forgot the original French and Rhor Turboliner fiasco of the 1970's. But Anderson is playing the fixed cost game to operate a train.Add a coach or two, and the fixed costs go up.

Expect to see a trial balloon for tri-weekly services on the Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, and SF Zephyr, then elimination of them all, if he can persuade Congress and the Senate to do so.

Perhaps less lamenting and more action is required by the pundits here. Many US Senate seats are up for reelection this year that stand losing long distance service in their States. Amtrak is not a private entity as CEO Anderson believes, but rather a Governmental entity and is accountable to us, the people.
  by Mackensen
 
blockline4180 wrote:I'm very surprised this was not posted here as a new topic.
AMTRAK CEO: PHASING OUT LONG DISTANCE TRAINS IN FAVOR OF “CORRIDORS”.
Report – Richard Anderson, Amtrak CEO – Remarks to California Rail Summit and Questions and Answers
http://railpac.org/
The linked source doesn't support that claim. It did say this:
Amtrak’s market opportunity is in corridors of 100 to 400 miles (he wavered a couple of times on that and said 300 miles) and would be operated by DMUs. DMUs are lighter weight, more environmentally friendly. His concept is something like an Acela with diesel power. This would need investment by the States and cooperation by the freight railroads. I noted that he did not specifically say that the long-distance trains would go, only that corridors are the future.
Emphasis added. That's not news to anyone, and the DMU concept has been discussed here. There's a vast distance between this summary and the end of the long-distance network.
  by blockline4180
 
Matt Johnson wrote:All I can suggest is vote the GOP out of Congress in 2018 and hope there's something left to salvage.
Perhaps, but I'm not holding my breath on the new Incoming DEMS doing much for Amtrak in the red states regardless... My only hope is that someone unlike Anderson with some vision of a better LDT network comes in after he is ousted or resigns.... I think its more of an internal mgmt problem at Amtrak now rather then Congress... After all they did get almost 2 billion, in which most should have gone towards the LDT network.. Sadly, at this point its probably a lose lose situation at Amtrak until a Claytor type comes around.
  by bretton88
 
That 2 billion is clearly divided up into where it needs to go. Not all into LD trains. 1.24 billion is allocated for the national network, which is an increase of about 80 million. The rest is specifically marked for the NEC. So no, Amtrak can't magically plow all the new funding into the LD network. However, I do think they should at least provide hot meal options to sleepers.
  by blockline4180
 
Still you would think 1.24 billion can keep all the new diners on all the long distance trains in the east.. Who knows.
  by CHTT1
 
Anderson is just following congressional mandates to make food and beverage service profitable. If you don't like it, vote out the senatorial and congressional people responsible for those mandates. Mica is already gone. Just get rid of the rest.
  by ryanov
 
Fortunately or unfortunately, I live somewhere where there’s no one to vote out. I’ve already contacted all of y representatives, however. But they already support Amtrak. How they voted on the relevant legislation, I’ll have to check. “Food and beverage service must make a profit” sounds OK on paper if you don’t know any better.
  by David Benton
 
Have to wonder if these "rumors coming out of 60 mass"(don't they know amtrak HQ has moved ?), have any substance. Going to 3 days a week has been shown to increase costs per train , not save much overall. I find it hard to believe an airline guy would contemplate this move.
  by Tadman
 
I think there's a better question to ask - what is a three day/week train? What we're not considering are the two different models.

In the US, a 3x/week train is the Cardinal or Sunset. It's the same length as a regular train, or shorter in Cardinal's case. Essentially, the potential revenue of a weekly train is cut in half and you have the financial model of a 3x/week train.

In other places, the big train only operates a few times/week but it's much longer and better equipped. Trains like the Canadian are 24 cars long, priced at 2x Amtrak prices, and represent both a financial windfall compared to the Cardinal or Sunset and make the host railroad happier as well.

If a train like the Builder goes 3x or less, it's my hope they can double consist sizes and/or manage them according to demand, while shifting emphasis to 3x/day on the more populated ends of the route like MSP-MKE-Chicago.
  by mtuandrew
 
Tad: it’s my hope that when Anderson says DMUs and generally lighter-weight equipment, he means in addition to the current heavier-weight LD equipment. For instance, a diesel-powered Avelia Liberty running 10x(?) daily CHI-MKE including 2x daily CHI-MSP, along with the Empire Builder running conventional equipment 1x daily/direction. He doesn’t sound like he wants to outright retire the Geneses or the Superliners, just build corridors to reduce fixed costs per train.

But maybe everyone here is reading him correctly that he does want 3x/week LDs. Only Amtrak management knows that.
  by frequentflyer
 
IMO-

1. State Supported Corridors is Amtrak's future. Which include DMU and EMUs.

2. Most of the present LD trains will stick around to connect said corridors and keeping a "national" network.

3. Not all LD trains will survive though. SL, and Cardinal be gone, replaced with "corridors" somewhere along their routing.

4. For those of us that grew up riding on Amfleets and Superliners and now have families of our own riding on the same cars its a big change for us. Sometimes change is necessary.


In the end there will be less LD trains, but Amtrak's pax and revenues will increase and require less subsidies. LD trains are not going anywhere, but sadly there will be less of the
  by YamaOfParadise
 
There's also greater political considerations that impact each line independently, which are actually small-scale politics; LD Senators and Representatives tend to be very defensive of the routes that go through their constituencies, because said constituencies actually make noise. That's a better example of how our political system does work as a representative democracy. That doesn't necessarily work well with keeping Amtrak working within its fixed constraints and maximizing the use out of its revenue+allotted funds, but it's a factor nonetheless. A factor that's been historically quite influential in keeping what LDs we have left going.

(Hence, why cutting budgets rarely goes over well and therefore doesn't happen much, and then why deficits go ballooning upwards, but that's a discussion for elsewhere. I am trying to keep this focused on Amtrak, not broader political musings! :P )

I do think that how these "corridors" are implemented could potentially lessen the local backlash to ending certain LDs. If service still remains, but is limited by either temporal or geographical extent, the level of yelling coming from constituents is likely going to be less than an absolute end of service. It could be a winning strategy, but it really does depend an awful lot on the details of each individual change.
  by adamj023
 
I believe the rails should be privatized and dismantled and sold off. I am not against long haul connectivity with connecting trains however as long as the focus is not on long haul transportation and instead is on providing a real system that works.

In the old days national rail connectivity was a huge deal. Today commuter rail is the more widely used part of train transportation and high speed rail going through very populous areas, Train just doesn’t compete well on long distance routes. We have the roads for that which can take over along with airplanes. Only on heavily congested road corridors with a higher speed train does rail make sense. Much of Amtrak’s national network is going through very low utilized roadways and it just doesn’t make sense.
  by blockline4180
 
frequentflyer wrote:IMO-

1. State Supported Corridors is Amtrak's future. Which include DMU and EMUs.



2. Most of the present LD trains will stick around to connect said corridors and keeping a "national" network.



3. Not all LD trains will survive though. SL, and Cardinal be gone, replaced with "corridors" somewhere along their routing.



4. For those of us that grew up riding on Amfleets and Superliners and now have families of our own riding on the same cars its a big change for us. Sometimes change is necessary.



In the end there will be less LD trains, but Amtrak's pax and revenues will increase and require less subsidies. LD trains are not going anywhere, but sadly there will be less of the
Exactly, can not disagree anymore with that...
Some people seem to believe all LDT trains as safe, and some think all will be gone.. I tend to believe half will probably continue, but probably not at the 5 days a week current ops.. We now know by the tone of Anderson that trains like Cardinal and Sunset probably won't make it.. I do hope others like the Meteor and Crescent arent on the chopping block either, but who knows what he is thinking or if they will be since there is no "diner lite" cold food proposal there ..
  by AC4619
 
The dismantling of LDTs are not near. If they are, Anderson's dismantling is also near. Amtrak is a political organization as much as anything else. I fully believe Anderson is considering these moves, but, it'd be a mistake. Part of how Amtrak got 2 billion in funding this year, is by getting support from congress-roaches who can say "I have a train running through my state's small towns". If you get rid of that, you lose congressional support, and with it, your money. Anderson may WANT to cut LDs. Because, yeah, on paper they DO lose money. But as others have articulated...food service on trains also loses money. That's looking at it from a pure profit/loss perspective. It discounts the value the passengers placed on that amenity being part of the train. Same with LDs. All of Amtrak's most prolific and successful leaders have advocated for the LDs, even expanding them. They lose money, but they are what makes Amtrak a NATIONAL corporation. Anderson needs to get it through his head that he is not running a profitable private airline. He's running a public--owned by taxpayers. So, he may well try to cut a bunch of LDs to 3x a week. And we can then all look forward to the myriad news stories, and congresspeople making a big show of it. I mean, some even went after Amtrak for the private car ban (tourism rev)--imagine what they'd do if service stopped entirely! This is a don't bite the hand that feeds you situation. If you cut off the "losing" things (LDs), you'll find your funding for your cash cow (NEC/corridor services), also dries up. Now, if the NEC was truly self sufficient (it is not, it only makes an operational profit), Anderson would have stronger legs to stand on. Also *cough* gateway, *cough*. Gosh I need to see someone about this cough.

The above being said, Anderson is not running Amtrak well (putting it mildly), in my view, and based on this forum...everyone else's view as well. I wanted to give him a chance; I think many people wanted to give him a chance, because he really DID do a GOOD job at Delta (primarily by motivating employees to provide good service from top to bottom through profit sharing and other "good place to work" tactics). Most of these decisions though, do not make much sense for Amtrak. Fixed consists...yeah, fixed cost, but, you lose the flexibility of spacing by demand--which is a BIG advantage of trains, over buses & planes. You can't magically make a plane bigger if demand increases, you need to buy a whole separate NEW plane that's bigger. Same with buses. You have to run a whole second bus with a second driver and double the gas. Managed consists do make things more challenging, but, done right, can be more profitable. Your biggest cost is the powerhead (looking microscopically at the train). Once you have one, adding cars full of people adds more profit than cost. Conversely, running an excessively long train with low demand results in over-use of already old equipment and more than necessary power draw, which is both expensive and bad for the environment (just saying). The longer Amtrak can make these Amfleets last until a new single-level order is placed (let alone replacing the superliners in the next century...), the better. Running empty cars doesn't help that goal. In the past, perhaps Amtrak managed consists too much, instead of focusing on accurately forecasting demand and creating price buckets accordingly. But, none is too far in the opposite direction. And, I'm frankly worried at this point about what he'll do next. All of these decisions are Penny wise, pound foolish. Some of my thoughts for "coming soon!": Start charging for bags? Create "economy plus" and "economy minus" type seating in coaches? Eliminate the Acela and replace it with "Acela Airlines"-- with convenient hourly departures from DCA, LGA, and BOS!... (jk). But, seriously, he's as bad for Amtrak as Pruitt is for the EPA. Get it together, man.

AC
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