Gilbert B Norman wrote: ↑Mon Jun 08, 2020 2:07 pm
While I'm at a loss to locate the document, the Incorporators did provide analysis regarding why they picked "this route over that route" for the Basic System.
While they, or their consultants "The Boozers", recognized there were larger on line communities along the NP, they noted greater "end point" business over the GN. Hey, it was all "flyover" to them.
It is likely that this was the argument that the North Coast Hi became the second "political train" after "Harley's Hornet" (Wash-Parkersburg). Also interesting how after its "patron saint", Sen. Mike Mansfield, retired, it was a quick casualty of the Carter Cuts.
Like he has numerous occasions previously, Mr. Norman continues to state the "endpoint" reason that Amtrak chose the Chicago-Seattle train. Not the case.
The first reason is that "end point" by its very definition means going from the origin station of the train to the destination station of the train. Of all the long-distance routes chosen by Amtrak to go in effect May 1, 1971, only one - New York-to-Florida - had multiple frequencies and more than one route. Therefore, it is a fact that on all the other routes - including the Empire Builder - that the sole remaining train would attract "endpoint" patronage because because there was no other possibility (other than using multiple other Amtrak routes, which would be exceptionally unlikely).
The second reason is that - with regard to the Empire Builder specifically - if the "endpoint" mentality had any merit, then all the routes selected would logically use the most-direct, lowest-cost route. But that's not what happened. Instead of operating the Empire Builder via the shorter New Rockford route in North Dakota, Amtrak chose the longer Grand Forks route instead. In Washington State, it chose the ex-North Coast Limited route between Spokane and Seattle via Yakima even though the direct route via Wenatchee was 67 miles and 90 minutes faster. The reality is that each segment of the Empire Builder route chosen on May 1 corresponded to the route with the highest ridership. As Craig Sanders reported in his book "Amtrak in the Heartland," 60% of the patronage of the Chicago-Seattle route was between Minneapolis and Spokane, and on this segment, the ex-GN (Empire Builder) route carried 15% more patrons than the ex-NP (North Coast Limited) route.
Another example is the California Zephyr between Chicago and Oakland. The train didn't operate via Grand Junction, Colorado on May 1 because the D&RGW opted out of Amtrak at the last minute, but that was the plan. Had the goal really been to only focus on endpoint patronage, then that would not have been an issue, as the route chosen would have been UP's shorter and faster route through Southern Wyoming.
And Mike Mansfield was hardly retired when the North Coast Hiawatha was discontinued. Mansfield left the Senate (as majority leader no less) in late 1976, but within months was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Japan, a post he held until 1988.