Matthew Mitchell wrote:Nobody said anything about Silverliners on the Harrisburg service (except Ed Tennyson, who actually had the Silverliner IIIs designed with rest rooms and left-hand operation for just that purpose).
Contracting for operations does not mean contracting for equipment. Equipment can be leased or purchased from Amtrak or other suppliers in the short run, until an add-on order can be placed with the Silverliner VI contract (or someone else's equipment acquisition[*]) for cars to be dedicated to the Keystone.
And as for the funding situation, we're talking about a contract operation just like SEPTA runs for the state of Delaware (or NJT runs for Metro-North west of the Hudson), where the contracting party covers the projected operating deficit, not an unfunded mandate. Done right, it has the potential to save SEPTA some costs, such as by spreading fixed costs over a larger operation, and gaining some (small) scheduling efficiencies.
*--to tie this in with another thread, that's part of why SEPTA got a particularly good deal on the Bombardier cars: it was an incremental order when the production line was already running for NJT and Metro-North
Silverliners for the Harrisburg line? Seems like a pretty terrible idea. I'd guess that you are interested in a 75-80 minute trip time to Harrisburg. . Anyway, there are a number of problems with DVARP's suggestion. a) PennDot is the recipient of rather large sums of through revenue to NYP which would be lost by making it a commuter service. Second, there are scheduling efficiencies to be had out of Amtrak. the schedule is set by PennDOT, it's on them that the sets sit around so much...and worse, that the train runs every 90 minutes at rush hour and every hour in the middle of the day. Third, the Keystone may be Amtrak's best performer, with something like 98$ on time performance...people like it. It has bathrooms, wifi, and guest rewards that earn you points for trips to nyp to boston. SEPTA's wilmington service is SLOW. 50 minutes and some 17 stops is very slow, SEPTA doesn't even service west of malvern on sundays. this amounts to a serious downgrade in service. It takes as long to get from thorndale as it does from lancaster on the keystone. In the long run I think DVARP needs to do a little actual work and find a more complex but workable solution. why do buses along the Keystone route not meet trains? why is there no fare cooperation between Amtrak and SEPTA? For instance, why can't I buy a ticket from Lancaster to Jenkintown on one site?
Why not consolidate powelton and penn coach yards? More to the point, if I were going to contract out a service, perhaps contracting out the Pennsylvanian is the way to go instead, to an entity like talgo that claims it could do the run nearly two hours less?
as for getting rid of it, that's a bad idea. it's very difficult to get back. the state should just come up with a plan to improve it. in fact, the intial Keystone plan was $300 million for Keystone east (only half was completed) and $140 million to add three trains and eliminate the 34 minutes of pad west of harrisburg.