• Illinois Amtrak Service

  • 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 Tadman
 
I’m not sure where Ron got the idea this was to be a regular or profitable service. This is the “dont s*** the bed” option when the Eagle is super late and there are people in Saint Louis and Springfield that want to get to Chicago before dinner. It’s not a regular operation.

I’m also not sure why Ron thinks there is just one car available for use in this option. With the impending arrival of the Siemens corridor cars, there will be a surplus of horizon cars. Staging 2-3 of them in Saint Louis is not a bad option.
  by electricron
 
Tadman wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:36 am I’m not sure where Ron got the idea this was to be a regular or profitable service. This is the “dont s*** the bed” option when the Eagle is super late and there are people in Saint Louis and Springfield that want to get to Chicago before dinner. It’s not a regular operation.

I’m also not sure why Ron thinks there is just one car available for use in this option. With the impending arrival of the Siemens corridor cars, there will be a surplus of horizon cars. Staging 2-3 of them in Saint Louis is not a bad option.
Why is it okay for every other Eagle passengers to be super late when it runs super late, but that St. Louis and other Illinois cities will just get a new train so they will not be super late?
Are Illinois passengers more worthy than Arkansans and Texans?
Other long distance routes have lay over facilities as well. Should Amtrak keep extra cars around in St. Paul for when the eastbound Empire Builder is running super late? And twice as many extra cars around in Spokane for when the westbound Empire Builder is running super late? Yes, twice as many because you would need to sprout two trains from nowhere, one heading for Seattle and another heading for Portland.

The simpliest solution to your problem that addresses all my concerns about equipment being there to use is to run that Horizon or new Siemens train daily vs adding an extra car onto the Texas Eagle. That would require having an entire train in St. Louis in the morning, with a new crew, and an additional entire train the previous night from Chicago with its crew as well. Which will probably cost Illinois taxpayers more funds to subsidize two more trains every day.

But at least there will be an additional schedule train and crew to use and not relying upon spare rolling stock that's been sitting idle taking up space and being in the way in St. Louis for an undetermined amount of time. And there will be a crew schedule to work that day on that train instead of stealing a crew scheduled to work another train.
  by skibum77
 
The thing with St. Louis versus the other cities you mentioned is that Illinois is running a corridor service and after the Eagle runs through, I want to say there's a 7-8 hour gap until the next local train to Chicago. I will say that the one time I took the train to Chicago where there was a late afternoon function I HAD (it was the sole reason for the trip) to be at, I avoided the Eagle and took the 6 AM train north just to make sure I wasn't late. I would've much rather been able to sleep for the extra hour as the Eagle would've gotten me there in plenty of time so long as it was just close to schedule. Plus, STL is the eastern terminus of the River Runner, so there's 6 state sponsored trains leaving town each day. I would say that's getting close to the point where having an extra trainset lying around would start to come in handy.
  by Tadman
 
skibum77 wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:25 am The thing with St. Louis versus the other cities you mentioned is that Illinois is running a corridor service and after the Eagle runs through, I want to say there's a 7-8 hour gap until the next local train to Chicago. I will say that the one time I took the train to Chicago where there was a late afternoon function I HAD (it was the sole reason for the trip) to be at, I avoided the Eagle and took the 6 AM train north just to make sure I wasn't late. I would've much rather been able to sleep for the extra hour as the Eagle would've gotten me there in plenty of time so long as it was just close to schedule. Plus, STL is the eastern terminus of the River Runner, so there's 6 state sponsored trains leaving town each day. I would say that's getting close to the point where having an extra trainset lying around would start to come in handy.
100% this. It's a stupid problem with an easy answer and nobody is willing to apply some common sense, so I fly.

Seriously, a state-sponsored service in a state known for friendliness to the cause and the political climate to match for 50 years, and I can't get a train to Chicago worth a darn?

No thanks. I'd consider that 6am train but I usually have a good dinner and some fun after with friends so I'm not going to shag a** in the dark when I can go to Lambert at noon and beat the train home for $150.
  by eee123
 
The Lincoln Service Sunday night (Sept. 8) from CHI-STL had a refurbished Amfleet car (with an advertisement inside to ride the duck boats in Portland, Maine). The seats were very comfortable.

The Horizon cars, on the other hand, are just awful. There's barely any padding left between my posterior and the frame of the seat, hence my moving from my Horizon seat to a refurbished Amfleet seat once the train emptied at Bloomington.

What's the timeline on getting the new Siemens cars, or more refurbished Amfleets (and was that car's inclusion in last night's consist just a one-off)?

I've avoided Amtrak from STL-CHI quite a few times in recent years, partly b/c the trains are dumpy, and partly b/c of the garbage schedules, where they manage to run four corridor trains in each direction that are only slightly more useful than two due to the similar schedules they keep.
  by mtuandrew
 
electricron wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:34 amWhy is it okay for every other Eagle passengers to be super late when it runs super late, but that St. Louis and other Illinois cities will just get a new train so they will not be super late?
Are Illinois passengers more worthy than Arkansans and Texans?
Not necessarily, but St Louis is a big market
electricron wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:34 amOther long distance routes have lay over facilities as well. Should Amtrak keep extra cars around in St. Paul for when the eastbound Empire Builder is running super late?
Yes, 3 cars that would (should) otherwise run as 807/808. Would need a locomotive though
electricron wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:34 amAnd twice as many extra cars around in Spokane for when the westbound Empire Builder is running super late? Yes, twice as many because you would need to sprout two trains from nowhere, one heading for Seattle and another heading for Portland.
No, a bus or two each should work, since Amtrak doesn’t keep cars there
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:02 pm
electricron wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:34 amWhy is it okay for every other Eagle passengers to be super late when it runs super late, but that St. Louis and other Illinois cities will just get a new train so they will not be super late?
Are Illinois passengers more worthy than Arkansans and Texans?
Not necessarily, but St Louis is a big market
electricron wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:34 amOther long distance routes have lay over facilities as well. Should Amtrak keep extra cars around in St. Paul for when the eastbound Empire Builder is running super late?
Yes, 3 cars that would (should) otherwise run as 807/808. Would need a locomotive though
electricron wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:34 amAnd twice as many extra cars around in Spokane for when the westbound Empire Builder is running super late? Yes, twice as many because you would need to sprout two trains from nowhere, one heading for Seattle and another heading for Portland.
No, a bus or two each should work, since Amtrak doesn’t keep cars there
The idea of keeping a small spare set in MSP is pretty good. The idea to keep them in Spokane, not so much. Spokane is neither a corridor destination nor a very big city.

I have in the past also advocated to permanently truncate the Starlight in Portland and give it's Seattle track slot to a Cascades. The passengers and BN would both like that - it makes the service more predictable and useful for both parties. Every time I come back from Europe, I see the flaw in one-seat rides. They're just not all that, and most developed countries don't care.
  by mtuandrew
 
Drifting off topic, I know, but a spare set could be as simple as two coaches and a HEP-equipped NPCU. The F40s will hopefully soon be made obsolete by cab cars, so put them to use elsewhere. And, if Amtrak doesn’t have a locomotive nearby, they can rent power-by-the-hour from the nearby Class 1.

Related to the topic: put a set of two cars and an NPCU at St. Louis. Plan for the cars to usually become part of the Texas Eagle as 821/822, being picked up and dropped off at STL; the NPCU would be parked and not usually on a train. If the Eagle is more than two hours late, roll 822 northbound with the NPCU leader providing HEP, two Superliners, and a rented UP unit pushing. Pay for the locomotive rental and extra track slot by selling photos to railfans :P
  by eolesen
 
electricron wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:34 am Are Illinois passengers more worthy than Arkansans and Texans?
Other long distance routes have lay over facilities as well. Should Amtrak keep extra cars around in St. Paul for when the eastbound Empire Builder is running super late? And twice as many extra cars around in Spokane for when the westbound Empire Builder is running super late? Yes, twice as many because you would need to sprout two trains from nowhere, one heading for Seattle and another heading for Portland.
I'd say look at the local traffic. If local STL-CHI and MSP-CHI customers make up more than 30% of the total customers onboard, there's a good argument to "stub originate" an early segment from STL and MSP to carry the locals to Chicago.

200-400 mile customers are the ones Amtrak needs to attract and keep coming back.
  by electricron
 
Take a closer look at the Lincoln and Missouri River Runner schedules.
https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... 091317.pdf
Both morning trains leaving St. Louis do so before the Texas Eagle arrives, even when it is on time. While very early in the morning for a St. Louis departure, these trains are not subsidized by Missouri or St. Louis. They are subsidized by Illinois, and their arrival time into Chicago is early enough sp passengers transferring to other trains can make them. Simply stating, Illinois is subsiding trains at times it prefers, dang those from St. Louis who must wake up early to catch an early train. The eastbound morning Missouri River Runner does not reach St. Louis until after noon, but it continues onwards to Chicago. There's a later evening train from St. Louis to Chicago.

My point, is that there is not a locomotive or crew available in St Louis for whatever spare cars are in St. Louis to head for Chicago for an unscheduled train in lieu of the Texas Eagle. The locomotive available is for the westbound Missouri River Runner heading to Kansas City. So, if you steal this locomotive and rolling stock to head for Chicago, there is nothing left to head to Kansas City. It's this train that also returns to St. Louis that evening from Kansas City, so that train is also missing equipment because it is now in Chicago.

Meanwhile when the late northbound Texas Eagle arrives in St. louis after 7:55 sm, there will not be a crew available until 4:00 pm for the next northbound Lincoln service train, 8 hours later. Stealing it's scheduled crew for an unscheduled train could make it up to another 8 hours later into Chicago, eliminating any opportunity for its transferring passengers to make them.

I do not schedule the Lincoln service trains, and I can see why you would like to see one morning departure from St. Louis after the Texas Eagle. But obviously, that is not what Illinois wants.

Here's my solution for avoiding a very late Texas Eagle and getting to Chicago before dinner, take the evening train to Chicago the night before. Book a room at a hotel, and you will be in Chicago when you wake up the next morning. :)

Instead of complaining about the train schedules, change yours.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
If you aren’t a morning person, especially an evening one, then yes, take the last evening train of the night heading north to Chicago and book a hotel-I’m serious. You will have a full day in Chicago to explore the wonderful attractions in the city.

If you are a morning person, and can deal with getting up very early, then take either 302 or 22. Even if 22 is three or four hours late, you will still be at the loop at or before dinnertime.
  by WhartonAndNorthern
 
electricron wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:34 am Why is it okay for every other Eagle passengers to be super late when it runs super late, but that St. Louis and other Illinois cities will just get a new train so they will not be super late?
Because corridor service needs to be more timely. If you want folks to leave their car or skip the flight and take the train to the big city, they have to get to town on time for that important meeting. I realize that airlines aren't exempt from delays: none of my recent United flights in or out of Newark have been on time. You're more likely to have issues on the far end longer route as earlier issues compound beyond the ability for padding to compensate.


mtuandrew wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:10 pm [snipped] Plan for the cars to usually become part of the Texas Eagle as 821/822, being picked up and dropped off at STL; the NPCU would be parked and not usually on a train. If the Eagle is more than two hours late, roll 822 northbound with the NPCU leader providing HEP, two Superliners, and a rented UP unit pushing.
Better pick a new number set. Those are the Heartland Flyer's numbers. I imagine that's not a coincidence since the Flyer's timed to connect with the Eagle. So you have 21, 321 (extra coach), 421 (Sunset connection) as well as 821 (connecting service).
  by Tadman
 
electricron wrote: Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:07 am
Instead of complaining about the train schedules, change yours.
Absolutely not.

I'm writing the check and travelling when I want and need to. I have a job and the CEO doesn't want to hear Amtrak's bulls*** and neither do my customers.

I've said this before - I actually try to make Amtrak a viable option for my work travel, and it only works 1 out of 5 times, maybe. The average Joe is not going to play timetable roulette dealing with the Texas Eagle.
  by gokeefe
 
mtuandrew wrote: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:10 pmThe F40s will hopefully soon be made obsolete by cab cars, so put them to use elsewhere.
Amtrak wants to eliminate equipment types. Getting rid of the F40 NPCUs would be a significant step in that direction.
  by mtuandrew
 
W&N: okay, then roll 322 northbound!

Mr. O’Keefe: true, Amtrak is trying to shed unnecessary equipment, and almost none of the F40s are equipped with HEP. I’m open to suggestions then - short of DMU equipment, stationing a passenger diesel at these non-base intermediate locations “just in case”, bustitution, or telling passengers to rest their buns for ten hours, there aren’t good options to make up the time on a short-haul section.
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