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Amtrak Privatization Scenario


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#1 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:10 AM

It seems to me most people on this forum do not favour the privatization of Amtrak. However, I think it would be interesting to look at it from the position of how it could be positive. Amtrak’s greatest strength is the integrity of its network- that is, you can ride from New York to LA or Seattle or New Orleans, or anywhere else Amtrak serves on one single network. This has had numerous advantages, such as guarenteed connections.

Britain’s privatization plan was, for all intents and purposes, a disaster. So I am not going to advocate that Amtrak go that way. But I think privatization is possible, and I have a fairly distinct plan in my mind, which I will post later.

So lets assume that the Government decides Amtrak should be privatized. But in an unsual move for the US government, they decide to do this in an intelligent, logical, and reasonable way that is clearly aimed at success. They lay out a distinct plan for Amtrak to follow on its route to privatization.

Their first order of business is to elect you as President and CEO of Amtrak. They offer up a legislated plan consisting of the following:

Budget: Amtrak will recieve, in a lump sum, $30 billion for capital spending.

Funding: Amtrak will also recieive federal funds covering all losses in operations for 5 years.

Funding Options: You have the option of increasing that time, at the cost of $2 billion per year from that capital spending budget. So, for instance, if you want it for 10 years, you only get $20 billion.

Governance: Amtrak can operate as any business would. They can sell whatever they want of their assets, they can close any part of their business, they can expand any part of their business. They no longer have to adhere to the 180-day rule, instead they must carry out all booked fares for 90 days (so if no fares are booked, they don’t have to run the train) and offer refunds beyond that. The government can reccomend whatever options they want, but can not require their implementation.

Operational Limitations: None. Amtrak can start Amtrak Airlines in competition with the airline industry, they can start Amtrak Trailways to directly compete with Greyhound, they can start Amtrak Departments to compete with Macy’s. They can even start Amtrak Freight to compete with the freight roads, but there are some limitations on that that I’ll outline later. Amtrak can, for instance, sell the Northeast Corridor if they choose to do so.

Regulatory Aid: Amtrak is still intended primarily as the operator of rail passenger transport. As a result, several aides to them will be implemented, as outlined below.
That more or less sums up the plan the government offers you.

Firstly, that aid. Amtrak will continue to have the right to operate over any freight road they wish to. Amtrak will pay them half of the going rate for moving private freight cars (as opposed to passenger) per car. For example, take BNSF. They charge 1.10 per mile to move a private car, with a minimum charge fo $390. If Amtrak was going to move the California Zephyr with a consist of a baggage, TransSleeper, 2 Sleepers, Diner, Lounge, 3 Coaches then they would be moving 9 cars for a total of $4.95 per mile, a total of $11,622 each way. Thats an average of $2,324 per revenue car, or $36.55 per passenger, assuming capacity (48 people per sleeper, 74 per coach).

Amtrak can decide to use any route on the US rail system. The freight company must agree to a route within 90 days of Amtrak giving notice, or risk a federally-enforced fine of $300,000, payable to Amtrak.

Amtrak also must be given priority over freight traffic, or risk a federally enforced fine of $500 a minute for every minute over 10 minutes each route that a freight road holds up an Amtrak train due to improper track maintnence, prioritizing other trains, equipment failure, or dead-on-the-law trains. (So if Amtrak is 2 hours late at the fault of Union Pacific, then they have delayed them 1 hour, 50 minutes, or 110 minutes, more than legally acceptable and must pay Amtrak $55,000 in reparations.)

In addition, the freight road would be responsible for all of Amtrak’s financial costs resulting from this delay, such as bustitution, hotel stays, putting up crew, and refunds to passengers. These rules do not apply if the cause for the delay is an act of god, or something else the frieght road is truly not responsible for (such as the mudslide for the Coast Starlight). Further, there are no acceptable excuses for not tracking a passenger train on a route the FRA deems safe for operating passenger trains.

However, there is one other thing. Amtrak can compete with the freight roads if they so choose. However, if they do so with anything other than mail or a single express car, these rules do NOT apply to the trains running freight. A freight hauling Amtrak train is subject to the railroads choice to carry that train, and is subject to the rail company’s choice of priority. It would not be fair to force the freight roads to give priority to a train in direct competition with them. Amtrak CAN, if you so choose, attempt to build its own rail network.

Privatization

At the end of the time period Amtrak elects for government funding, several things happen. First, the government turns in its stock, as do the railroads. A single class of stock is then issued in an IPO. The railroads have the option to either recieve stock based on 25% of their percentage of ownership of the original common stock, or an amount of money equal to the amount generated from selling that stock to the general public during the IPO.

Amtrak will then stop recieving public funding, although it can continue to opt to offer its services to anyone (including states) at a cost-plus basis. For example, Amtrak California will remain property of the state of California.

As with any other company, board members would now be elected by the shareholders.

Notes:

I know this is not likely to happen. I’m not looking for people’s opinion of whether we could get the US government to agree to this scenario. I’m interested in what you, as Amtrak’s President and CEO, would do given these parameters. I’ll post my own solution later.

Lastly, I’d prefer a long, detailed solution, if you are willing to give one. If not, a shorter one would be interesting. And can I suggest we not debate each other’s ideas, and that for debating them, we create a different topic?

Edited by Green Maned Lion, 06 February 2008 - 11:17 AM.

Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#2 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 02:56 PM

Amtrak Privitization: My answer.

I would not take any extra time initially, but I would put aside 10 billion to be used to purchase it in the event that I needed it. As it became more clear that I didn’t, I’d start tapping into it.

My first step would be to divide the company in several distinct financially independant divisions. All of these divisions would be responsible for the cost of maintaining the rolling stock they use, although I’d still use centralized maintnance. They would be as follows:

Northeast Corridor: This would be responsible for running Regionals, Keystone and Acela Express trains, as well as maintaining Amtrak’s track.

Short Distance: Running short-distance trains, simple as it sounds. An example would be Empire Service trains.

State Supported: These are trains that are supported, but not funded in full, by the states they run through. An example would be the Carolinian but not the Piedmont.

State Funded and Operations: These are trains that are funded almost entirely by the state (e.g. Michigan services) or involve operating someone elses trains (e.g. Amtrak California, Shore Line East or Piedmot)

Long Distance Day This would be responsible for operating trains that run long distances, primarily off the Corridor, but do not run overnight. Some examples are the Palmetto and Maple Leaf.

Overnight Trains: These are trains that operate overnight, primarily with sleeper service.

Eventually I would introduce another division:

Crack Trains These would be luxury trains that either ran during the day on a very fast schedule with only one section, or trains that operated between cities overnight, this last being all sleeper.

The reason for this is to determine what makes a profit and what doesn’t. That which is unable to make a profit will either be cut or require state or federal funding for their operation.

I would seriously consider selling the Northeast Corridor. Under the clear understanding that the Northeast Corridor trains would be shut down or heavily cut back if they couldn’t make a profit, I would attempt to sell as much of the NEC as possible to states running commuter rail.
If I couldn’t sell the NEC, I’d do a better job maintaining it. One key point of my plan is to not play with money in the sense of spending less on maintenence, because to do so will end up costing more in the long run.

I’d go through Beach Grove and order sold or scrapped any cars that were not going to realisitically be put back in service within 5 years. I’d be erring towards sale, rather than saving- an unusable hunk of metal on the rails is a wasted asset in scrap metal. I’d make sure that by the end of 5 years, Beach Grove was only working on cars it really intended to fix.

I’d reintroduce the old names on Reigonal trains, and make a few of them all business class. I’d also rebuild some Amfleet IIs into diners and offer full diners on these premium regionals.

I’d place an order for a lot of new equipment. The single-level long distance single level trains would become all Viewliner sets. I’d order an additional 35 Viewliner sleepers, and 30 all-bedroom Deluxe Sleepers. I’d also test out, and if successful, order 60 Viewliner Sectional Sleepers and 35 Viewliner Slumbercoaches.

I’d order 35 Baggage cars, 33 kitchen-dorms and 35 Diners. I’d also design and create Sightseer Lounge cars for Viewliners and implement them for all passengers, another 30 of them. I’d also create a first-class lounge observation, with a Hiawatha-esque rear, and 35 of those, as well. I’d then purchase 100 Viewliner coaches. I’d be intending to have no more than 3 coaches on any given train- I’d plan on selling many would-be coaches in sectionals and Slumbercoaches. In the event of running out of coach space, I could put some coach passengers in sectionals. I’d also purchase 2 all-dorm cars and 2 kitchen cars for a special train. A final set of cars are a baggage-dorm and a dining car with kitchen for the Cardinal.

Lastly, I’d have the P42s upgraded for higher-speed running, rebuild some into B-units shroud them so that they blended into the shape of the all-Viewliner consists. The Amfleet IIs would be distributed around as business class cars on long-distance day trains, business class-only regionals, and rebuilt into diners for premium trains.

The trains in peak would go as follows:

Lake Shore Limited: 3 trainsets, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 3 Coach, 2 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 3 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Cardinal: 1 trainset, P42M A, Baggage-Dorm, 3 Coach, Lounge, Diner, 2 Sleepers

Silver Meteor: 4 trainset, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 3 Coach, 3 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 3 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation
Silver Star: 4 trainset, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 3 Coach, 3 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 3 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Crescent: 3 trainset, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 4 Coach, 2 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 3 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

In Addition to these old Warhorses, I plan to introduce the following trains:

Windy City Flyer: This train would take the old Broadway Limited route from New York To Chicago. It would run all night between those to destinations non-stop. This train would be all sleeper.

2 trainset, P42M A, P42M B, Baggage, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 4 Sleepers, 2 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Motor City Flyer: This train would follow the Windy City Flyer until it breaks off and heads towards Detroit. It also would be non-stop and all-sleeper.

2 trainset, P42M A, P42M B, Baggage, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 4 Sleepers, 2 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Twilight Shoreliner: This would be a reinstatement of the old train of this name, simply harkening the return of its sleepers, as well as its upgrade to Viewliner equipment.

2 trainset, 2 HHP-8, Baggage, 5 Coach, 2 Sectionals, 2 Slumbercoaches, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 2 Sleepers, Lounge-Obervation

Trans-Capitol Express: This train would depart Washington DC, and follow the North East Corridor to New York City, make a stop there, and proceed on the Maple Leaf’s route non-stop to Toronto, where it would make a stop. The train would then continue on to Ottawa.

4 trainset, P42M A, 1 P42M B, Baggage, 4 Coach, 1 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 2 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Broadway Limited: A reinstatement of the Broadway Limited, but with coaches, sectionals, and slumbercoaches. It would provide the local-service alternative to the Windy City Flyer.

4 trainset, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 3 Coach, 4 Sectionals, 2 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 2 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Trans-American: As its name implies, this train runs across America. It would depart in three sections from New York City, Boston, and Washington DC. The Boston and New York sections would meet up in Albany, then meet up with the Washington section in Cleveland and continue westward to Chicago, then head for Salt Lake City. At Salt Lake City, it would once again split into three sections, heading for Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The Los Angeles section would follow the Desert Wind’s route. This train would run bi-weekly in each direction.

4 trainset, 3 P42M A, 3 P42M B, 3 Baggage, Dorm, 6 Coach, Lounge, 5 Sectionals, Lounge, 3 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Diner, Kitchen, Diner, 4 Sleepers, 2 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

I’d also purchase enough new Superliners to add some more trains:
Run a second train, the Western Star along the Empire Builder’s route.
Restart the North Coast Hiawatha
Run the Sunset Limited daily, restore east-of-New-Orleans service.
Revive the Floridian and City of Miami
Revive the Desert Wind and run an all sleeper train from Chicago to LA called the “Gambler’s Special
Revive the Pioneer

I also would create Superliner Sectional Sleepers, as well as some sort of Superliner Slumbercoach (probably a staggered tri-level design).

I’d only sell tickets if they could be sold for an overall profit, or to reduce loss due to equipment underutilization.

Lastly, with all the equipment freed up from removing the Amfleets from overnight duty, I’d add a second section of all day-time long distance trains.

By increasing frequency, locations served, and comfort offerred, I think that I could make Amtrak much more relevant to the average traveller.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
Most important: Keep it Simple, Stupid!
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#3 WICT106

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 03:08 PM

My suggestion is that all routes have at least twice per day each direction service. No more one frequency per day. Also see about connecting and acting as feeders for the long distance flights - in other words, fund Amtrak (NRPC) and track upgrades to the point where they could act as a replacement for the commuter flights.
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#4 ThayerATM

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 04:36 PM

Amtrak Privitization: My answer.

I would not take any extra time initially, but I would put aside 10 billion to be used to purchase it in the event that I needed it. As it became more clear that I didn’t, I’d start tapping into it.

My first step would be to divide the company in several distinct financially independant divisions. All of these divisions would be responsible for the cost of maintaining the rolling stock they use, although I’d still use centralized maintnance. They would be as follows:

Northeast Corridor: This would be responsible for running Regionals, Keystone and Acela Express trains, as well as maintaining Amtrak’s track.

Short Distance: Running short-distance trains, simple as it sounds. An example would be Empire Service trains.

State Supported: These are trains that are supported, but not funded in full, by the states they run through. An example would be the Carolinian but not the Piedmont.

State Funded and Operations: These are trains that are funded almost entirely by the state (e.g. Michigan services) or involve operating someone elses trains (e.g. Amtrak California, Shore Line East or Piedmot)

Long Distance Day This would be responsible for operating trains that run long distances, primarily off the Corridor, but do not run overnight. Some examples are the Palmetto and Maple Leaf.

Overnight Trains: These are trains that operate overnight, primarily with sleeper service.

Eventually I would introduce another division:

Crack Trains These would be luxury trains that either ran during the day on a very fast schedule with only one section, or trains that operated between cities overnight, this last being all sleeper.

The reason for this is to determine what makes a profit and what doesn’t. That which is unable to make a profit will either be cut or require state or federal funding for their operation.

I would seriously consider selling the Northeast Corridor. Under the clear understanding that the Northeast Corridor trains would be shut down or heavily cut back if they couldn’t make a profit, I would attempt to sell as much of the NEC as possible to states running commuter rail.
If I couldn’t sell the NEC, I’d do a better job maintaining it. One key point of my plan is to not play with money in the sense of spending less on maintenence, because to do so will end up costing more in the long run.

I’d go through Beach Grove and order sold or scrapped any cars that were not going to realisitically be put back in service within 5 years. I’d be erring towards sale, rather than saving- an unusable hunk of metal on the rails is a wasted asset in scrap metal. I’d make sure that by the end of 5 years, Beach Grove was only working on cars it really intended to fix.

I’d reintroduce the old names on Reigonal trains, and make a few of them all business class. I’d also rebuild some Amfleet IIs into diners and offer full diners on these premium regionals.

I’d place an order for a lot of new equipment. The single-level long distance single level trains would become all Viewliner sets. I’d order an additional 35 Viewliner sleepers, and 30 all-bedroom Deluxe Sleepers. I’d also test out, and if successful, order 60 Viewliner Sectional Sleepers and 35 Viewliner Slumbercoaches.

I’d order 35 Baggage cars, 33 kitchen-dorms and 35 Diners. I’d also design and create Sightseer Lounge cars for Viewliners and implement them for all passengers, another 30 of them. I’d also create a first-class lounge observation, with a Hiawatha-esque rear, and 35 of those, as well. I’d then purchase 100 Viewliner coaches. I’d be intending to have no more than 3 coaches on any given train- I’d plan on selling many would-be coaches in sectionals and Slumbercoaches. In the event of running out of coach space, I could put some coach passengers in sectionals. I’d also purchase 2 all-dorm cars and 2 kitchen cars for a special train. A final set of cars are a baggage-dorm and a dining car with kitchen for the Cardinal.

Lastly, I’d have the P42s upgraded for higher-speed running, rebuild some into B-units shroud them so that they blended into the shape of the all-Viewliner consists. The Amfleet IIs would be distributed around as business class cars on long-distance day trains, business class-only regionals, and rebuilt into diners for premium trains.

The trains in peak would go as follows:

Lake Shore Limited: 3 trainsets, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 3 Coach, 2 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 3 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Cardinal: 1 trainset, P42M A, Baggage-Dorm, 3 Coach, Lounge, Diner, 2 Sleepers

Silver Meteor: 4 trainset, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 3 Coach, 3 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 3 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation
Silver Star: 4 trainset, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 3 Coach, 3 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 3 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Crescent: 3 trainset, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 4 Coach, 2 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 3 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

In Addition to these old Warhorses, I plan to introduce the following trains:

Windy City Flyer: This train would take the old Broadway Limited route from New York To Chicago. It would run all night between those to destinations non-stop. This train would be all sleeper.

2 trainset, P42M A, P42M B, Baggage, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 4 Sleepers, 2 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Motor City Flyer: This train would follow the Windy City Flyer until it breaks off and heads towards Detroit. It also would be non-stop and all-sleeper.

2 trainset, P42M A, P42M B, Baggage, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 4 Sleepers, 2 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Twilight Shoreliner: This would be a reinstatement of the old train of this name, simply harkening the return of its sleepers, as well as its upgrade to Viewliner equipment.

2 trainset, 2 HHP-8, Baggage, 5 Coach, 2 Sectionals, 2 Slumbercoaches, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 2 Sleepers, Lounge-Obervation

Trans-Capitol Express: This train would depart Washington DC, and follow the North East Corridor to New York City, make a stop there, and proceed on the Maple Leaf’s route non-stop to Toronto, where it would make a stop. The train would then continue on to Ottawa.

4 trainset, P42M A, 1 P42M B, Baggage, 4 Coach, 1 Sectionals, 1 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 2 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Broadway Limited: A reinstatement of the Broadway Limited, but with coaches, sectionals, and slumbercoaches. It would provide the local-service alternative to the Windy City Flyer.

4 trainset, P42M A, 2 P42M B, Baggage, 3 Coach, 4 Sectionals, 2 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Kitchen-Dorm, Diner, 2 Sleepers, 1 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

Trans-American: As its name implies, this train runs across America. It would depart in three sections from New York City, Boston, and Washington DC. The Boston and New York sections would meet up in Albany, then meet up with the Washington section in Cleveland and continue westward to Chicago, then head for Salt Lake City. At Salt Lake City, it would once again split into three sections, heading for Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The Los Angeles section would follow the Desert Wind’s route. This train would run bi-weekly in each direction.

4 trainset, 3 P42M A, 3 P42M B, 3 Baggage, Dorm, 6 Coach, Lounge, 5 Sectionals, Lounge, 3 Slumbercoach, Lounge, Diner, Kitchen, Diner, 4 Sleepers, 2 Deluxe Sleeper, Lounge-Obervation

I’d also purchase enough new Superliners to add some more trains:
Run a second train, the Western Star along the Empire Builder’s route.
Restart the North Coast Hiawatha
Run the Sunset Limited daily, restore east-of-New-Orleans service.
Revive the Floridian and City of Miami
Revive the Desert Wind and run an all sleeper train from Chicago to LA called the “Gambler’s Special
Revive the Pioneer

I also would create Superliner Sectional Sleepers, as well as some sort of Superliner Slumbercoach (probably a staggered tri-level design).

I’d only sell tickets if they could be sold for an overall profit, or to reduce loss due to equipment underutilization.

Lastly, with all the equipment freed up from removing the Amfleets from overnight duty, I’d add a second section of all day-time long distance trains.

By increasing frequency, locations served, and comfort offerred, I think that I could make Amtrak much more relevant to the average traveller.


Before we get seriously into exploring forming my private 30B company, don't you think that we should look at some spreadsheets (no paper please --- computer generated only --- EXL preferred) of Amtrak's P & L over the past 10 years? Perhaps also look at the balance sheets. Perhaps examine the past profitability of each of the routes, and each of the stations, and each of the cars. That way, when I'm chosen as the new CEO of the New Amtrak, I'll be on a level playing field with the rest of you guys that obviously have given this a lot of thought.

Al

Edited by ThayerATM, 06 February 2008 - 04:39 PM.


#5 wayman

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 04:40 PM

Amtrak pays UP roughly $12,000 to run a nine-car CA Zephyr, but UP pays Amtrak a $10,000 fine if it's only half an hour late regardless of train length? While freight railroads are fined $300,000 for denying Amtrak access to any route it chooses?

The clear strategy to turn Amtrak into a cash cow is to run short three-car (two sleepers and a diner-lite/CCC) trains over freight railroad track which is poorly maintained, virtually guaranteeing every run will lose half an hour for every ten scheduled hours or so. The fines will more than cover all costs. Throw on a single baggage for both baggage and (primarily) express shipping, and profits will soar.

Yes, changing your numbers, fee structures, fine structures, etc, can close that loophole, but as it stands this model is heavily broken in Amtrak's favor.

Also, your Windy City Flyer would be very well served by making a single revenue stop in Philadelphia (westbound receive-only, eastbound detrain-only). As an added bonus, fill half an express car in NYC, run it to PHL on a mid-day regional, fill the rest of it in PHL, and tack it on the end of the WCF in PHL (reverse on return) for more revenue. You've got all morning to fill the car in NYC and all afternoon in PHL, so this shouldn't result in more than an additional ten minute delay in PHL. Passengers will accept that, and Amtrak picks up more revenue.

I would look seriously at changing many routes, and I would probably add second trains to many existing or new long- and medium-distance routes. Overnight "business hotel" trains such as the Twilight Shoreliner, a night train to Montreal, Washington-Atlanta all-sleeper express, Chicago-St.Louis, Chicago-KC, etc, become a large experiment. Start with that, order equipment as needed for the new routes. Prioritize sleepers and diners, hold off on coaches for at least five years, hold off on all "luxury goods" like the observations until things stabilize in at least five years. As new diners come in, consider rotating out the Heritage diners that are still in good working order, giving them the help they need, and repainting them in their original liveries. Advertise them as heritage cars. Run them in normal trains, but use it as a marketing campaign--"20th Century luxury on 21st Century trains" or something.

Edited by wayman, 06 February 2008 - 04:48 PM.

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#6 meatpuff

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 09:07 AM

Their first order of business is to elect you as President and CEO of Amtrak. They offer up a legislated plan consisting of the following:

Budget: Amtrak will recieve, in a lump sum, $30 billion for capital spending.


Not to be difficult, but if Amtrak could receive $30B extra this year for capital improvements, its problems would be over; privatization would be a moot point. It could just do whatever it wanted in terms of acquiring equipment, rehabbing track and signals to high speed, or sometimes just laying new track. It wouldn't even have to worry that much about getting operating funds from the feds. If Amtrak would put up the $10M's or $100M's of capital needed to rehab potential state corridors, states would line up to pay them a few million a year to operate the trains.

To look at it one way, $30 billion is approximately the total amount of funding Amtrak has received since its inception in 1971, including capital and operating costs in nominal dollars. (Source: not 100% reliable - http://replacingamtrak.blogspot.com/ )

To look at it another way, having trouble with OTP on a CSX line? Just buy 'em out! And take over ownership of their 21,000 miles of track for yourself. The market cap of CSX Corp. is only $19.4B.

#7 Galls

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 09:34 AM

Their first order of business is to elect you as President and CEO of Amtrak. They offer up a legislated plan consisting of the following:

Budget: Amtrak will recieve, in a lump sum, $30 billion for capital spending.


Not to be difficult, but if Amtrak could receive $30B extra this year for capital improvements, its problems would be over; privatization would be a moot point. It could just do whatever it wanted in terms of acquiring equipment, rehabbing track and signals to high speed, or sometimes just laying new track. It wouldn't even have to worry that much about getting operating funds from the feds. If Amtrak would put up the $10M's or $100M's of capital needed to rehab potential state corridors, states would line up to pay them a few million a year to operate the trains.

To look at it one way, $30 billion is approximately the total amount of funding Amtrak has received since its inception in 1971, including capital and operating costs in nominal dollars. (Source: not 100% reliable - http://replacingamtrak.blogspot.com/ )

To look at it another way, having trouble with OTP on a CSX line? Just buy 'em out! And take over ownership of their 21,000 miles of track for yourself. The market cap of CSX Corp. is only $19.4B.


But that huge influx of funds would still not solve the managerial problems at Amtrak, it is a very leaky boat.

#8 Sam Damon

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 09:44 AM

It's not so much a matter of "favoring the privatization of Amtrak", it's more just a matter of financial realities at work here in the USA.

We're now seeing "the chickens coming home to roost" from decisions made in the mid-1950's. The USA essentially scrapped its existing railroad system in favor of interstate highways and air cargo, and let Wall Street decide what to do with the railroads.

That plan seemed to work until Penn Central's bankruptcy took out the northeastern rail network, and government had to get involved. Conrail scrapped a bunch more railroad lines, went private, and the government let Wall Street decide what to do with the railroads.

That plan seemed to work until CSX and NS decided to get into a bidding war for Conrail. Now, a decade after the split, CSX derails hazardous cargo with spectacular results once or twice a year, and NS seems determined to cut things back as much as possible in the northeast. Meanwhile, Amtrak pumps cash into the NEC, and the rolling stock now is older than when Amtrak assumed passenger operations from the private railroads in 1971.

Your whole privatization concept hints at the real problem facing intercity passenger rail in the USA, which is how to re-capitalize the system. The bad debt has to be written off, somehow. New rolling stock has to be purchased, somehow. These are not easy questions to answer, or we would not be discussing them on this forum and elsewhere as we are!

#9 Guest_yoohoo_*

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 01:25 PM

Hey, this is off-topic but I have a question. I have been to fairs and expos where there are several airline booths that help promote air travel and I was wondering if Amtrak has anything like that and or if they would be looking for someone to do that? I would be great at that as I am very sociable and influencial to get people to rail.

#10 TVRM610

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 06:35 PM

Ok... I will put my imaginary Amtrak CEO shoes on now...

Disclaimer- I live in the East, as such most of my ideas are in the east, mostly because I do not know what is possible/ needed in the west. The Dessert Wind and the Pioneer should both be back, especially Vegas, that city needs to be served!

Step 1 - Create Hubs

ATLANTA GA
Create a Hub in Atlanta GA, this includes a day train(s) to Greensboro NC over existing Crescent ROW first. Slowly expand service north to Chattanooga and later Nashville, and East to Augusta and later Savannah.

Cleveland OH
Create a hub in Cleveland OH, this includes a day train(s) to Toledo over existing LSL/CPL trackage with possible expansion to Detroit MI if possible. Eventually create a southern train from Cleveland to Cincinnati by way of Columbus OH.

San Antonio TX
Create a hub in San Antonio TX, this includes a day train(s) from San Antonio to Houston over existing SL trackage. Eventually an additional train should run to Dallas as well to supplement Texas Eagle if ridership warrants.

First three steps, eventually look at other Hubs to create. The idea is to add day trains to major cities that are currently only served overnight by LD trains, and to add major cities to hubs in order to provide a practical connection. This will also encourage track improvements in these corridors, eventually to 90-110mph service. (Long long term goal).

Step 2- Increase on-board options for LD trains.

For LSL, Crescent and Silver Service:
Create "Business Class" cars on long distance trains which include a personal attendant, reserved seats, and complimentary snacks and non-alcaholic beverages, as well as a complimentary newspaper. 2-1 seating with wide chairs, and on board outlets at every seat. Test the market to see wether to include meals in the dining car or not.

For Capitol, EB, CZ, Chief, and Starlight:
Create a First Class Lounge/Slumber Coach Superliner. This slumbercoach would be the superliners version of "Business Class" featuring Roomettes/Economy Bedrooms on the lower level of the car. The upper level would be a Parlor car type design with complimentary snacks and non-alcaholic beverages. The lounge attendant would also attend to the rooms. This would provide a mid-range ticket, and also increase the value of current sleepers.

Step 3 - Expand LD train service.

Use the expanding hubs to create long-distance trains such as Cleveland OH to Florida by way of Nasvhille TN and the Atlanta hub.

Obviously many more routes are needed/wanted. The above is what I personally would do first.

Fun to think about!

Amtrak 
Acela Express*, Cascades (Talgo) Service*, California Zephyr*, Capitol Limited*, Cardinal, Carolinian*, City of New Orleans*, Coast Starlight*, Crescent*, Downeaster, Empire Builder*, Illinois Zephyr*, Keystone Corridor*, Lake Shore Limited, Lincoln Service*, Maple Leaf*, NE Regional, Pacific Surfliner, Pennsylvanian, River Cities, San Joaquin,  Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Saluki, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle. 
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Canadian* 
* = Ridden Complete route from end to end. 
 


#11 George Harris

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 07:10 PM

First and foremost, the trains must be RELIABLE. If you cannot get the train to be 70% plus on the REAL posted time, plus or minus nothing, 85% within 15 minutes and 95% plus within 30 minutes of it, whether the length of run is 20 miles or 2000 miles, there is no point in trying to redevelop a large passenger system tnat will appeal to most people.

Second, remember that short to medium haul trains are bottomless money pits and always have been. The California trains run well, carry the most basic of food service cars, and carry decent numbers of people, and for the most part are barely covering 50% of fully allocated costs. From the point of view of reducing fuel consumption as a nation and reducing the perceived need (it is not a real NEED anyway) for short haul air services, these are the types of trains that should be connecting all the medium and larger urban dots in this country several times a day, but their operation will require subsidy.

If you can get the type of reliability I mentioned as the first necessity, then in the northeast in particular the need for multiple medium and short haul trains could be satisfied by overlapping long distance trains. If you know the 4:30 pm train will actually be there and leaving at 4:30, then it really doesn't matter if that is the origin point or a stop 500 miles into a longer trip.

Third, in order to run more trains and run them reliably, there needs to be a lot more track out there. This will also do wonders for the freight train congestion. There needs to be megabucks spent on restroring 2nd mains where they have been removed and adding them where they have never been but the traffic now needs them. In some places, a third main should be added. From the things said about the delays on the Lake Shore Limited it sound like the old New York Central Four Track Main needs to be restored. Even though BNSF does an outstanding job of moving the Southwest Chief, they are really making the difficult look easy. Much of the line west of Albuquerque could probably use a third main because of the multiple long grades. Unfortunately $30 billion would just have you getting started good on this stuff. In order to achieve decent speeds, forget high speed, just highway competitive speed, a lot of alignment work needs to be done in the hillier parts of the country. Most of our railroad alignments still go back to 18 whenever when the copetition was a horse and wagon. Even the 1920's highways for the most part were still only 30 to 40 mph roads in the hilly parts of the country. Lots more money needed here. Again, freight would also be a big beneficiary.

Amtrak could do a lot to improve system capacity if they would re-learn how to switch cars in and out of trains. To take one example: The Crescent south of Atlanta carries only about half or less of the passenger loading it carries north of Atlanta. So, why not stop running empty coaches and sleepers? In Southen Railway days, the train always had more cars between Washington and Atlanta than the rest of the run. It is senseless to have trains where demand exceeds supply on parts of the route to avoid switching out cars that are running empty on long segments. You could probably fill an extra coach between Washington and Lynchburg, as well. There are many other examples that come to mind: City of New Orleans south of Memphis would be another.

#12 mercedeslove

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 08:22 PM

what is a slumbercoach?
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#13 TVRM610

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 08:27 PM

what is a slumbercoach?


A slumbercoach is a budget sleeping car. Amtrak used to run them on trains like the Lake Shore and the Crescent. Basically they were private rooms, but they were very very small. There was also a unique multi-level pattern to fit more rooms in the car, kinda hard to explain, I'm sure someone will be able to link you to pictures and diagrams. The slumbercoach on amtrak was not considered first class (sleeper class now) and did not include meals, nor did it allow acess into the first class lounges.

Amtrak 
Acela Express*, Cascades (Talgo) Service*, California Zephyr*, Capitol Limited*, Cardinal, Carolinian*, City of New Orleans*, Coast Starlight*, Crescent*, Downeaster, Empire Builder*, Illinois Zephyr*, Keystone Corridor*, Lake Shore Limited, Lincoln Service*, Maple Leaf*, NE Regional, Pacific Surfliner, Pennsylvanian, River Cities, San Joaquin,  Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Saluki, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle. 
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* = Ridden Complete route from end to end. 
 


#14 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 09:25 PM

what is a slumbercoach?


A slumbercoach is a budget sleeping car. Amtrak used to run them on trains like the Lake Shore and the Crescent. Basically they were private rooms, but they were very very small. There was also a unique multi-level pattern to fit more rooms in the car, kinda hard to explain, I'm sure someone will be able to link you to pictures and diagrams. The slumbercoach on amtrak was not considered first class (sleeper class now) and did not include meals, nor did it allow acess into the first class lounges.


Google is a good place to look for this stuff.
Posted Image

The Slumbercoach had a staggered level room setup. This allowed it to fit more rooms into place. Some beds were up high and some lower. They basically made the floor of the upper rooms to the left and right the ceiling of the one between them, but with a space to stand in.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
Most important: Keep it Simple, Stupid!
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#15 TVRM610

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 11:59 PM

First and foremost, the trains must be RELIABLE. If you cannot get the train to be 70% plus on the REAL posted time, plus or minus nothing, 85% within 15 minutes and 95% plus within 30 minutes of it, whether the length of run is 20 miles or 2000 miles, there is no point in trying to redevelop a large passenger system tnat will appeal to most people.

Amtrak could do a lot to improve system capacity if they would re-learn how to switch cars in and out of trains. To take one example: The Crescent south of Atlanta carries only about half or less of the passenger loading it carries north of Atlanta. So, why not stop running empty coaches and sleepers? In Southen Railway days, the train always had more cars between Washington and Atlanta than the rest of the run. It is senseless to have trains where demand exceeds supply on parts of the route to avoid switching out cars that are running empty on long segments. You could probably fill an extra coach between Washington and Lynchburg, as well. There are many other examples that come to mind: City of New Orleans south of Memphis would be another.


Two points two argue...

1. Can you show me significant proof that on-time performance greatly affects ridership on current amtrak trains? The City of New Orleans OTP is way above 70% I'm sure, so why is it not the most heavily used ld amtrak train? While of course the closer to on-time trains run the better, I don't think that they have to run at a certain percentage to be used by most people.

2. Amtrak used to add cars in Atlanta as well (as recently as 8 years ago for sure). Why did they stop? Probably because a: they found out they could use the extra space after all, or b: they found it was no more costly, and saved time to run the car empty for half the trip. I don't think some amtrak official said "Hey, let's stop saving money here and spend more!"

Amtrak 
Acela Express*, Cascades (Talgo) Service*, California Zephyr*, Capitol Limited*, Cardinal, Carolinian*, City of New Orleans*, Coast Starlight*, Crescent*, Downeaster, Empire Builder*, Illinois Zephyr*, Keystone Corridor*, Lake Shore Limited, Lincoln Service*, Maple Leaf*, NE Regional, Pacific Surfliner, Pennsylvanian, River Cities, San Joaquin,  Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Saluki, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle. 
VIA 
Canadian* 
* = Ridden Complete route from end to end. 
 


#16 jphjaxfl

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 07:04 AM

[First and foremost, the trains must be RELIABLE. If you cannot get the train to be 70% plus on the REAL posted time, plus or minus nothing, 85% within 15 minutes and 95% plus within 30 minutes of it, whether the length of run is 20 miles or 2000 miles, there is no point in trying to redevelop a large passenger system tnat will appeal to most people.

Second, remember that short to medium haul trains are bottomless money pits and always have been. The California trains run well, carry the most basic of food service cars, and carry decent numbers of people, and for the most part are barely covering 50% of fully allocated costs. From the point of view of reducing fuel consumption as a nation and reducing the perceived need (it is not a real NEED anyway) for short haul air services, these are the types of trains that should be connecting all the medium and larger urban dots in this country several times a day, but their operation will require subsidy.

If you can get the type of reliability I mentioned as the first necessity, then in the northeast in particular the need for multiple medium and short haul trains could be satisfied by overlapping long distance trains. If you know the 4:30 pm train will actually be there and leaving at 4:30, then it really doesn't matter if that is the origin point or a stop 500 miles into a longer trip.

Third, in order to run more trains and run them reliably, there needs to be a lot more track out there. This will also do wonders for the freight train congestion. There needs to be megabucks spent on restroring 2nd mains where they have been removed and adding them where they have never been but the traffic now needs them. In some places, a third main should be added. From the things said about the delays on the Lake Shore Limited it sound like the old New York Central Four Track Main needs to be restored. Even though BNSF does an outstanding job of moving the Southwest Chief, they are really making the difficult look easy. Much of the line west of Albuquerque could probably use a third main because of the multiple long grades. Unfortunately $30 billion would just have you getting started good on this stuff. In order to achieve decent speeds, forget high speed, just highway competitive speed, a lot of alignment work needs to be done in the hillier parts of the country. Most of our railroad alignments still go back to 18 whenever when the copetition was a horse and wagon. Even the 1920's highways for the most part were still only 30 to 40 mph roads in the hilly parts of the country. Lots more money needed here. Again, freight would also be a big beneficiary.

Amtrak could do a lot to improve system capacity if they would re-learn how to switch cars in and out of trains. To take one example: The Crescent south of Atlanta carries only about half or less of the passenger loading it carries north of Atlanta. So, why not stop running empty coaches and sleepers? In Southen Railway days, the train always had more cars between Washington and Atlanta than the rest of the run. It is senseless to have trains where demand exceeds supply on parts of the route to avoid switching out cars that are running empty on long segments. You could probably fill an extra coach between Washington and Lynchburg, as well. There are many other examples that come to mind: City of New Orleans south of Memphis would be another.]

As usual, your post is very well thought out and realistic. Its has taken 50 years or more for the Rail infrastructure to be allowed to deteriorate (as a previous poster also mentioned). The first step would be to restore the infrastructure to close to what it was post WW II. As the infrastructure improves, you would also improve passenger service. Keep in mind that post WWII everyone knew that passengers trains existed. When I was a kid back in the 1950s, when we traveled, it was a given that we would go by train. The decision was what Railroad and then what trains would we take to best serve our needs. My Dad worked for a railroad, but both Mom and Dad had their preference for certain railroads based on experiences so they had to compromise which meant I got to ride different railroads. Today most people in US do not even know passenger train service exists so you have to re-educate the traveling public that passenger train travel is a viable alternative. To do that, you have to do the things that you stated in your post.

#17 AlanB

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 08:16 AM

First and foremost, the trains must be RELIABLE. If you cannot get the train to be 70% plus on the REAL posted time, plus or minus nothing, 85% within 15 minutes and 95% plus within 30 minutes of it, whether the length of run is 20 miles or 2000 miles, there is no point in trying to redevelop a large passenger system tnat will appeal to most people.

Amtrak could do a lot to improve system capacity if they would re-learn how to switch cars in and out of trains. To take one example: The Crescent south of Atlanta carries only about half or less of the passenger loading it carries north of Atlanta. So, why not stop running empty coaches and sleepers? In Southen Railway days, the train always had more cars between Washington and Atlanta than the rest of the run. It is senseless to have trains where demand exceeds supply on parts of the route to avoid switching out cars that are running empty on long segments. You could probably fill an extra coach between Washington and Lynchburg, as well. There are many other examples that come to mind: City of New Orleans south of Memphis would be another.


Two points two argue...

1. Can you show me significant proof that on-time performance greatly affects ridership on current amtrak trains? The City of New Orleans OTP is way above 70% I'm sure, so why is it not the most heavily used ld amtrak train? While of course the closer to on-time trains run the better, I don't think that they have to run at a certain percentage to be used by most people.


Last year the City was on time 86.2% of the time. Granted that was with Amtrak's 30 minute window.

2. Amtrak used to add cars in Atlanta as well (as recently as 8 years ago for sure). Why did they stop? Probably because a: they found out they could use the extra space after all, or b: they found it was no more costly, and saved time to run the car empty for half the trip. I don't think some amtrak official said "Hey, let's stop saving money here and spend more!"


There are a few other trains where Amtrak can and does fill the bulk of the cars throughout the trip. The Crescent however is one example where that doesn't happen. As Had8ley will tell you, south/west of Atlanta, two coaches run empty 98% of the time, the few exceptions might be during the Thanksgiving holidays and Christmas. In fact it wouldn't even surprise me if Amtrak doesn't blank out the two cars in Arrow, just to prevent putting people in those cars so as to have them empty for the crowd boarding in ATL.

And while you're probably correct that Amtrak saves money, they certainly save time, by not switching those two coaches on/off in ATL, what is missing from your equation is utilization. Short turning those two coaches would free up a couple of Amfleet II cars, and that might well allow Amtrak to add one more coach on say a sold out LSL and collect still more revenue over there. Revenue that could easily balance out the added costs of switching those two cars off in ATL.
Alan,

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#18 jphjaxfl

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 08:31 AM

When the Crescent ran only 3 days a week from Atlanta to New Orleans, Amtrak maintained a small crew in Atlanta to service the train on the days that it terminated in Atlanta. I believe Amtrak determined that running the train to New Orleans daily and eliminating the Atlanta crew that maintained the train was more cost effective.

#19 AlanB

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 08:42 AM

When the Crescent ran only 3 days a week from Atlanta to New Orleans, Amtrak maintained a small crew in Atlanta to service the train on the days that it terminated in Atlanta. I believe Amtrak determined that running the train to New Orleans daily and eliminating the Atlanta crew that maintained the train was more cost effective.


Yes, in this case it would definitely be most cost effective to just keep running the train. You eliminate the costs of a commissary, the costs of a crew base and associated staffing, and maintenance work.

Just switching two coaches off however doesn't incur all those expenses again. You'll need a switching crew, an engine on standby, a couple of car cleaners and you're pretty much done.
Alan,

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#20 Kramerica

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 12:29 PM

Step 1 - Unions

Bust the unions. I don't mind compensating employees well, but the work rules have to change, big time. Amtrak needs more flexibility in how to use the available employees.


Step 2 - Discounts

If a train isn't at 90% capacity, marketing and sales have failed. For coach, a full seat costs next to nothing, since the seat is there anyway. The coach attendant is there anyway. The bathrooms needed to be cleaned anyway. Plus, the more people on board, the more food they may buy.

Give steep discounts on light trains or during slow times of the year.


Step 3 - Frequency

Increase LD train frequency to at least 4 trains a day, spaced about 6 hours apart. That way every station will have a few sane boarding times. (e.g. Spokane won't only have 1 AM) And having three daytime arrivals/departures sure gives people a reason to choose Amtrak. (e.g. in Milwaukee on the EB, mid-afternoon is a terrible time for me. I'd either want to leave in the evening or leave right away in the morning.) This setup will also make short stops at various cities more appealing. I would not want to stay in Havre MT for 24 hours, but I'd definitely consider stopping 6 hours for a meal and to see their downtown shops. It also opens the option for people to just go coach during the day, get off in the evening and stay at a hotel, then re-board the next morning for more scenery. And vice-versa, some people may opt to sleep on the train and then spend the next day "doing something" in a different city.

As a part of this, more equipment would need to be purchased. Make it so.

Having more frequent trains would make each crew base more efficient. It would make missed connections easier to fix. (essentially no more bussing or hotel stays, with the next train leaving within 6 hours) It would increase the customer base because of flexibility and availability.


Step 4 - Track

Create a program for improving the tracks. 1000-2000 miles a year. They need to be doubled-tracked, so each direction can flow unimpeded. Also upgrade the tracks to allow 110 mph service. Start with the easy areas (the plains!) or with areas where the impact will be great. This program will make the trains more reliable and the transit times faster. Both will in turn drive up customer satisfaction and patronage.

Since this will help the freight trains too, strike a deal with the RR companies. Either do a cost-share for the upgraded tracks, or reduce the fee per car-mile for a set number of years, or make better agreements for giving passenger trains priority.


Step 5 - Add routes

Bring back some of the old routes - Desert Wind, Pioneer, Floridian, Sunset Ltd, KC to Pittsburg.
Oklahoma City to KC to Des Moines to MSP.
Bridge some small gaps - Bakersfield to Victorville.
Slight re-routes - Must go to downtown Phoenix.
Add spurs - Green Bay to MKE, CHI to Dubuque, MKE to Madison (I'm sure there are plenty like this throughout the nation)
Connect airports - Rail can and should be a direct compeitor on time and price with regional jets. Amtrak must stop at all major airports or have fast shuttles to them. Enter into agreements with airlines to have "codeshares" or combined tickets.

This will increase the reach of Amtrak to provide a bigger customer base and improve travel options for existing customers.


Step 6 - Amenities

Full service diners. Open from 6 AM to 10 PM, with reservations only when demand is high.

Lounge cafe is now a vending machine area. That will provide 24 hour service and cut out a worker.

Walk-up grill so you can get burgers, pizza, chicken strips, fries, etc. I'm not sure where this could go. Perhaps it would be half of a diner, or perhaps it would be in lower level of the second lounge. Or maybe it'll be a new car type with a full bar. (Lounge 1: no staff, vending machines down below. Lounge 2: grill on one end, full bar on the other, with seating downstairs and in the middle)

Section sleeper - not private, no meals, no perks. Pay-per-use shower.

Slumbercoach - private, no meals, no perks. Pay-per-use shower.

Other ideas for cheap ways to sleep horizontally?

Wi-fi on board. Cell coverage too.

Small "conference" rooms that can be rented by the hour. For business travellers who need a little privacy or quiet to make some phone calls. Each room could hold two people, or two rooms open for four people. This could be a lower level of a lounge or section sleeper.

Public computers. A few computers, that can be rented for a period of time. Internet access.

Can track individual trains on Amtrak.com. Displays area map, current speed, special information, arrival times. Each lounge or business center has a screen that shows this for the train.

(Sample consist: Engines, baggage, transition, sleeper, sleeper, diner, bar/grill, lounge, section sleeper w/ business center, slumbercoach, coach, coach, coach)


Step 7 - Planning for Disaster

Things like the Oregon landslide are not uncommon. Have a plan ready on the shelf for each section of track, in case it is not useable. Either alternate tracks to use or ways to bus people.



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