• Can we get the freight railroads to operate passenger trains again?

  • 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 mtuandrew
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:23 pm BNSF?

They operate the Metra BNSF Line and Sounder commuter rail and they own Northstar (or at least the infrastructure). They are even planning on owning the Northern Lights Express and hosting the Arrow commuter service.
BNSF is about the only Class I freight road interested in operating passenger lines, and I think it’s because they charge a mint and a half for new starts. (Mn/DOT got a lot of criticism for how much they pay for Northstar.) BNSF doesn’t own the equipment, just assign crews and do some heavy maintenance.
  by Tadman
 
And perhaps because they're no longer public. Mr. Buffet owns them now. Funny, BNSF answers to a man in Omaha now.
  by wigwagfan
 
mtuandrew wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:24 pm And that’s one reason you don’t see Genesee & Western operating (or thinking about bidding on) passenger service.
Um, WHAT? I beg to differ as I am literally 3000 feet away from a Genesee & Wyoming operated passenger service that operates 32 trains a day (pre-COVID-19) five days a week, 52 weeks a year.

And the Engineer and Conductor proudly wear G&W shoulder patches (well, P&W) on their uniforms.

That said, my understanding is while G&W is guaranteed a profit, they have no longer expressed any interest in expanding the service (previous managers have suggested expanding the system west and south.)
  by David Benton
 
wigwagfan wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:10 pm
mtuandrew wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:24 pm And that’s one reason you don’t see Genesee & Western operating (or thinking about bidding on) passenger service.
Um, WHAT? I beg to differ as I am literally 3000 feet away from a Genesee & Wyoming operated passenger service that operates 32 trains a day (pre-COVID-19) five days a week, 52 weeks a year.

And the Engineer and Conductor proudly wear G&W shoulder patches (well, P&W) on their uniforms.
Just curious what operation that is ?

That said, my understanding is while G&W is guaranteed a profit, they have no longer expressed any interest in expanding the service (previous managers have suggested expanding the system west and south.)
  by west point
 
So G&W makes a profit. That translates to the bottom line. The Wall street guys have not caught on that G&W might be raising their OR. Instead tG&W might just add a penny to its toatal earning pprofit.
  by eolesen
 
There's a distinct difference between operating and marketing. If Amtrak handles the sales/marketing/equipment procurement, there's no reason not to go back to the 1971 model and having the host railroad provide the operating crew (and that does not necessarily include the passenger facing crew) of an engineer and a conductor. As far as the railroad is concerned, it's just another job on the same board for that subdivision.
  by mtuandrew
 
You know, I honestly had no idea that G&W ran that Portland service, wigwag. Thought it was Keolis or something. I suppose they would probably run PVD-WOR too (on the other P&W) if Boston Surface ever figures out its head from its caboose.
  by wigwagfan
 
mtuandrew wrote:You know, I honestly had no idea that G&W ran that Portland service, wigwag
Sorry, I thought I had posted it earlier in this same thread. Yup, GWI through Portland & Western is the contract operator for WES.

TriMet is responsible for vehicle maintenance (the claim is that the vehicles are more like a bus than a locomotive, so TriMet's own bus mechanics were suitable for the job). GWI provides the crews, track maintenance and dispatching.
  by wigwagfan
 
eolesen wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:15 am There's a distinct difference between operating and marketing. If Amtrak handles the sales/marketing/equipment procurement, there's no reason not to go back to the 1971 model
I've said it before, I'll say it again.

"Amtrak" as a government owned corporation should exist solely to own the fleet of coach cars and provide subsidy payments for hauling around those three coaches on whatever schedule. Some sort of organization would exist to provide national marketing, reservations and ticket sales for the coach cars.

The host railroads provide the power and Engineer, and will be paid a nominal fee by "Amtrak" to cover their costs.

The Pullman cars and Fred Harvey cars are separate entities. The Pullman car operators will be responsible for their own marketing, reservations, ticket sales, and staff. The Fred Harvey cars will also be responsible for their own crewing, marketing and sales. If the host railroad says the number of Pullman and Harvey cars needs another locomotive, then they will be responsible for that cost (not "Amtrak").

Stations can be owned and operated by the local community, and whether they want to hire someone to be a ticket agent is up to them. Charge a PFC for customers embarking or disembarking like an airport if they want.
  by Tadman
 
wigwagfan wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:40 pm
eolesen wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:15 am There's a distinct difference between operating and marketing. If Amtrak handles the sales/marketing/equipment procurement, there's no reason not to go back to the 1971 model
I've said it before, I'll say it again.

"Amtrak" as a government owned corporation should exist solely to own the fleet of coach cars and provide subsidy payments for hauling around those three coaches on whatever schedule.
100% this. Basically the British model.
  by Tadman
 
David Benton wrote: Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:38 am Sounds like your just adding layers for the sake of it . I can't see it been more efficient .
That's because you are looking at it solely from a theoretical or textbook viewpoint. In theory, at a very elementary level, a government agency should be more efficient at operating a passenger train than a government agency giving money (including profit margin) to a private company to operate the passenger service.

In practice, the government agency is awful at innovating and very inefficient. There's a reason why over half of the commuter operations in NA are operated by private companies. The government is not good at running a business. There's also a reason why USPS hires private trucks to move mail, and a reason why the Army switched from making munitions to buying munitions. We literally saw an entire world war won by private industry.

It should tell you something that in hyper-left Portland, they have Wall Street driving their commuter trains.

Also, I very consciously chose "elementary level" because the empirical evidence is in, and the theory of government being more efficient at operating a railroad or other operations-intensive outfit is very 101-level academia. Anybody that cares to really look at the evidence would notice that the government is not and has not been good at operating a people-heavy business.
  by markhb
 
If Amtrak is doing the marketing (esp. if they're still using their own name) and providing the passenger staff, what's the incentive for the roads to innovate or even provide preferential dispatch? The big difference between Britain and here is that the UK maintained a culture of using rail for intercity transport, and the USA didn't (esp. for non-business travel).
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