eolesen wrote: ↑Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:30 amThat's a pretty big **IF** there... especially when those long-distance routes are traversing the best parts of the journey at night. If it were indeed so lucrative to invest in new experiential equipment, why haven't the Canadians done it on their transcon? Instead, they keep rehabbing fully depreciated equipment.
Remember that domes were originally introduced to try and draw people away from airplanes.... it didn't work. Amtrak could have added a business class experience long ago, and that's been limited to daytime services only on the coasts. I'd think that this would have been added on the LD's if there were really demand.
It's my opinion that experiential services would never come close to breaking even.
There's a lot to this post. The assumption of "amtrak should just invest in some private cars" for experiential travelers has been a very mixed bag for AOE and Pullman Journeys. All ended poorly. Some of that can be attributed to railfan managers, but some also can be attributed to shoe-horning tourists into necessary transportation that keeps moving at night. It's just not the same business model. If I'm paying $5k+ for a ride over the American west, and my train runs 4+ hours late, the rockies are in the dark and Nebraska cornfields are daylight. I would be seriously unhappy!
Also, as a frequent traveler, the pre/post journey experience is a big deal! Rocky has their own station in Vancouver to provide a hassle-free and pleasant amenity to the people that shell out big money, who don't want to sit with bus passengers and college kids off the Cascade at Pacific Central. If Amtrak were to run a premium service, where do you dump the passengers? The NEC "premium" lounges are gross, often with rude staff. Chicago has a good one, and LA, NOLA, and Seattle barely offer anything but a room with a coffee maker. Waiting 2+ hours for a train or plane in a dirty or crowded area sets the tone of "we just don't care about your money" for the rest of the trip.
Regarding business class, it's on most corridors, and it's a total afterthought if it's not Acela-based. First, it's like a low-rent MBA student designed it. "Find some non-rev space, put in big chairs, charge 20% more". It gives no thought to pre-boarding conditions. At Detroit, you sit in the same grimy station with the a**hole security guard, immediately setting the tone of "we just don't care". Then, while the coach passengers are enjoying their recently refurbished car, you ride business in a beat up cafe amfleet. There is no on board personnel, the cafe guy makes a brief announcement and then stands behind his bar all day. The fare is usually 20% more, and this is part of the problem. The service is often sold out, why not raise prices? It might even cover the cost of an attendant to provide true service. They also allow short-haul business class, so a guy can buy a business ticket in New Buffalo to Chicago and block the Detroit passenger (and his revenue) from riding.
In the end, if there were a midwest/pacific business class manager that had some authority, this could be a far better operation with the same equipment and same trains.