• Amtrak Expansion Plan

  • 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 gokeefe
 
I would guess that the initiative to cut LD's was the price of admission for Anderson. I would imagine the rest of the C-Suite did their best to support the boss and ensure he lived to fight another day.
  by rcthompson04
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:14 pm I think the future of the LD's are simply transportation, and as certain politicos leave the scene, one route or the other will find itself quite vulnerable. There will be no further LD specific equipment orders other than locomotives, and no expansion of the network.
I think there are certain routes that will always have supporters regardless if the exact official changes. The Empire Builder for example retains aggressive support despite having a pretty drastic turnover along the route over the last 10 years. There is a lot of political capital available there.

In terms of new LD equipment, I think what you will see is the "Eastern" LD equipment be gradually moved westward or new LD equipment being easily convertible to corridor service.
  by gokeefe
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:46 pmIn terms of new LD equipment, I think what you will see is the "Eastern" LD equipment be gradually moved westward or new LD equipment being easily convertible to corridor service.
The former is highly unlikely. Amtrak wants to dispose of its older equipment not maintain it forever while operating in their most unforgiving environments on a demanding service schedule.

The latter is already the case in the West and Midwest where Superliner cars operate almost interchangeably on a variety of routes.

Anderson's move right now appears to be to focus investment in corridor equipment and the national motive power fleet. The Superliner fleet can be readily maintained for another 5-10 years.
  by Philly Amtrak Fan
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:46 pm
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:14 pm I think the future of the LD's are simply transportation, and as certain politicos leave the scene, one route or the other will find itself quite vulnerable. There will be no further LD specific equipment orders other than locomotives, and no expansion of the network.
I think there are certain routes that will always have supporters regardless if the exact official changes. The Empire Builder for example retains aggressive support despite having a pretty drastic turnover along the route over the last 10 years. There is a lot of political capital available there.
That's the problem with Amtrak. They'll cut routes in more populous areas and save routes where no one lives just because of "nepotism". It's Byrd Crap all over again, just a different Byrd. What kind of national rail system will it be if the Empire Builder is saved and the Southwest Chief gets cut and someone in Chicago or East of Chicago can't get to Los Angeles but can get to Seattle and Portland? At least Byrd Crap won't make it this time ... we hope.
  by rcthompson04
 
Philly Amtrak Fan wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:47 am
rcthompson04 wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:46 pm
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:14 pm I think the future of the LD's are simply transportation, and as certain politicos leave the scene, one route or the other will find itself quite vulnerable. There will be no further LD specific equipment orders other than locomotives, and no expansion of the network.
I think there are certain routes that will always have supporters regardless if the exact official changes. The Empire Builder for example retains aggressive support despite having a pretty drastic turnover along the route over the last 10 years. There is a lot of political capital available there.
That's the problem with Amtrak. They'll cut routes in more populous areas and save routes where no one lives just because of "nepotism". It's Byrd Crap all over again, just a different Byrd. What kind of national rail system will it be if the Empire Builder is saved and the Southwest Chief gets cut and someone in Chicago or East of Chicago can't get to Los Angeles but can get to Seattle and Portland? At least Byrd Crap won't make it this time ... we hope.
The Empire Builder has three things going for it the Southwest Chief does not... (1) the Empire Builder does not have the right of way issue the Chief has, (2) the Empire Builder has stronger congressional support, and (3) you can serve Chicago to Los Angeles via two other routes (bringing back the Desert Wind as a section of the California Zephyr or the Texas Eagle connecting to the Sunset Limited).
  by Suburban Station
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:18 am The Empire Builder has three things going for it the Southwest Chief does not... (1) the Empire Builder does not have the right of way issue the Chief has, (2) the Empire Builder has stronger congressional support, and (3) you can serve Chicago to Los Angeles via two other routes (bringing back the Desert Wind as a section of the California Zephyr or the Texas Eagle connecting to the Sunset Limited).
back when the empire builder ran on time it was by far the busiest long distance route and had the most turnover (people using it for intermediate trips). Back in the day the Zephyr ran triweekly west of Denver, daily service was an Amtrak "innovation."
Last edited by Suburban Station on Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Suburban Station
 
gokeefe wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:47 pm I would guess that the initiative to cut LD's was the price of admission for Anderson. I would imagine the rest of the C-Suite did their best to support the boss and ensure he lived to fight another day.
I don't think Anderson cares one way of the other. I believe he was brought in to bring organizational competence and eliminate Amtrak's operating loss.
  by rcthompson04
 
Suburban Station wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:54 am
gokeefe wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:47 pm I would guess that the initiative to cut LD's was the price of admission for Anderson. I would imagine the rest of the C-Suite did their best to support the boss and ensure he lived to fight another day.
I don't think Anderson cares one way of the other. I believe he was brought in to bring organizational competence and eliminate Amtrak's operating loss.
If Anderson could make them profitable he would. Again airlines don't abandon routes unless they cannot make money on them.
  by mtuandrew
 
In this case, I’m assuming that to Anderson profitable means less loss, enough to be covered by a reasonable appropriation and other operating profits. The Empire Builder could definitely meet a higher standard - let’s say 60 cents return on dollar, or even 50¢ per $1 - that the Cardinal and Sunset Limited could never meet.

Thinking on it again, I feel like these are the LD trains on Anderson’s “keep” list:
-Builder
-Chief
-Zephyr
-Starlight
-Auto Train
-anywhere between zero and two Silvers
  by gokeefe
 
Suburban Station wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:54 amI don't think Anderson cares one way of the other.
In the linked article he seemed to make it quite clear that he does. Even after losing the battle he still has an opinion about it that he's sharing publicly.
  by rcthompson04
 
gokeefe wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:26 am
Suburban Station wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:54 amI don't think Anderson cares one way of the other.
In the linked article he seemed to make it quite clear that he does. Even after losing the battle he still has an opinion about it that he's sharing publicly.
He cares as much as it hurts the bottom line.
  by Suburban Station
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:31 am He cares as much as it hurts the bottom line.
I think that is absolutely correct. I believe that he is willing to entertain ideas to reduce the net cost of the long distance service which does include running less of them but may also include other ideas. something that is largely outside of Amtrak's control but has a huge impact is the condition of the routes/track capacity. If congress wants to keep the routes as they are, appropriate money to, say, knock three hours out of the Silver Service schedule and make it more reliable would go a long way to reducing the net impact to the bottom line.
Last edited by Suburban Station on Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by Ridgefielder
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:46 pm
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:14 pm I think the future of the LD's are simply transportation, and as certain politicos leave the scene, one route or the other will find itself quite vulnerable. There will be no further LD specific equipment orders other than locomotives, and no expansion of the network.
I think there are certain routes that will always have supporters regardless if the exact official changes. The Empire Builder for example retains aggressive support despite having a pretty drastic turnover along the route over the last 10 years. There is a lot of political capital available there...
One reason for the continued support is the fact the Builder operates through the area with probably the harshest climate in the Lower 48. If you're in a place like Havre, MT or Williston, ND there are times in winter when the train is the only safe way in or out. Driving into the teeth of a Dakota blizzard is a good way to die. (Note: mom and dad were both born and raised on the Minnesota prairie, relatives are farmers out there-- I know of which I speak.)
  by rcthompson04
 
Ridgefielder wrote: Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:38 am
rcthompson04 wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:46 pm
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:14 pm I think the future of the LD's are simply transportation, and as certain politicos leave the scene, one route or the other will find itself quite vulnerable. There will be no further LD specific equipment orders other than locomotives, and no expansion of the network.
I think there are certain routes that will always have supporters regardless if the exact official changes. The Empire Builder for example retains aggressive support despite having a pretty drastic turnover along the route over the last 10 years. There is a lot of political capital available there...
One reason for the continued support is the fact the Builder operates through the area with probably the harshest climate in the Lower 48. If you're in a place like Havre, MT or Williston, ND there are times in winter when the train is the only safe way in or out. Driving into the teeth of a Dakota blizzard is a good way to die. (Note: mom and dad were both born and raised on the Minnesota prairie, relatives are farmers out there-- I know of which I speak.)
I suspect the Empire Builder serves a greater number of people not close to Interstates and airports than some of the other routes.
  by mtuandrew
 
Maybe the reason that Anderson is willing to keep some LDs is that they are in fact the most efficient way to serve western communities. CHI-MSP is undeniably ripe for corridor service, as is CHI-KCY direct, but CHI-OMA is really only viable as part of a CHI-DEN service for instance.

EDIT TO ADD: and while Amtrak has been willing to push for route reform, notice that none of the routes he seems to have on his hit list would leave a state without service of some sort. Even canceling the Sunset Limited outright would still allow CA, AZ, NM, TX, and LA to keep at least nominal daily service, and it seems more likely that Amtrak would attempt to add duly regional service LAX-Maricopa (ideally Phoenix) and FTW-SAN-El Paso. The only single LD route cut that isn’t “safe” on his list that would result in entirely lost states would be the Crescent with Alabama losing service entirely.
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