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Bad news about Texas Eagle


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#1 Superliner Diner

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 10:14 PM

California travel agent Gene Poon, a very reputable source of Amtrak information, has made several posts to rail-oriented discussion groups today, telling us that a few changes may be in the works for the Texas Eagle. Following is the texts of his first post:

A report this morning from an identified source known to most passenger rail advocates, but one whom I cannot name, says that an Amtrak manager based in Chicago is seriously considering terminating the through Coach and Sleeping Car operated as Trains 421/422 between Chicago and Los Angeles on the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited.

The report says that this manager feels the two through cars are an impediment to run-through operation of the Texas Eagle to one of the other Superliner trains.

If this is true, and it is by no means a done deal because it has to get past some more layers of management, it again shows that there are some managers out there who put their own operational convenience above the needs and desires of Amtrak passengers. The Sunset/Eagle through cars provide a substantial amount of ridership and revenue to Amtrak; they tried dropping them a few years ago, and that proved to be a disaster. But it seems somebody doesn't remember history, and is thus doomed to repeat it.

-Gene Poon


And a second post by Gene follows:

A Union Pacific inspection car went over the DeSoto Sub over the past 48 hours. As a result, many new 10 mph orders are in effect. Expected delay to the Texas Eagle is roughly estimated as being an hour or more, beyond the delays that it incurs already, account existing slow orders. Further, one of the two main tracks on the ex-MoPac from Bald Knob, about two hours north of Little Rock, to a point just south of Little Rock itself, is now limited to 40mph, and numerous 40mph slow orders already have existed from Texarkana to Marshall. The 40mph restrictions are being referred to as "PERMANENT" and are in the orders and clearances issued to crews, instead of being displayed on slow order boards at the site.

And now...despite the continuing and longstanding inability to get the Sunset across the UP system...Amtrak operations people in Chicago want to shorten the layover time in San Antonio between the arrival of Train 2 (Sunset from Los Angeles) and the departure of Train 22 (Eagle to Chicago). This is part of a plan to get Train 22 into Chicago sooner, apparently for the operating convenience of the Chicago Terminal operation. This plan appears at the same time as the idea to axe the through Sunset/Eagle cars because they interfere with plans to run-through the trainset, and it might NOT be a coincidence.


End of Gene Poon's posting --------

My thoughts: Through-running of Superliner equipment, made necessary by the recent shortages, may be the only good news to come out of this. As Mr. Poon says, operations are being put above the needs of passengers if this does come to fruition. The slow orders, some of which are deemed as permanent, certainly won't help this train, given its long trip and the other delays it encounters so frequently. I am not sure why somebody at Amtrak thinks that the Eagle/Sunset through cars are an impedement to run-through operations in Chicago. Just as they are added or removed in San Antonio, they can also be added or removed in Chicago if needed. Or, they can provide more capacity on the train that is partnered with the Texas Eagle sharing its equipment through Chicago.

#2 tubaallen

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 12:36 AM

I don't seem to see a MAJOR problem with this, only because even if the run-through cars were let go, they would still allow connections via transfers, right? Now, I realize that that is a little less easy for the passengers, but it doesn't seem like a HUGE hinderance. I don't know...comments?

#3 AlanB

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 08:35 AM

I don't seem to see a MAJOR problem with this, only because even if the run-through cars were let go, they would still allow connections via transfers, right? Now, I realize that that is a little less easy for the passengers, but it doesn't seem like a HUGE hinderance. I don't know...comments?

Tubaallen,

Well I don't know about you, but personally I'd probably want to shoot my sleeping car attendant if he awoke me at 4:56 in the morning telling me to get off the Sunset Limited and switch to the Texas Eagle. Plus its not just a quick switch, the Eagle won't leave until 9:00 AM.

So after being woken out of my sleep, I'm now forced to stand around the train station until 8:45 AM or so, before I can once again settle into my bedroom.

NOT

The above reflects the eastbound time, however the westbound isn't much better. The Eagle arrives in San Antonio at 11:45 PM, then I get to cool my heals on the bench until the Sunset arrives at 3:00 AM or so. Plus that depends on the Sunset's timely arrival.

While these time would be bad enough even for a coach passenger, this is no way to treat someone whose shelled out big bucks for a sleeper that they can't sleep in.

Just my 2 cents. :) :lol:
Alan,

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#4 Viewliner

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 09:07 AM

I hope they don't cut the through service, especially since, It could have bad results, and we don't need more cuts. I hope Gunn will put a stop to any such plan.
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#5 Bill Haithcoat

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 10:18 AM

Yes, this is depressing news.......hope it doesn't go through. ALan describes the inconvenience of it all very, very eloquently.

#6 tubaallen

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 12:08 PM

Tubaallen,

Well I don't know about you, but personally I'd probably want to shoot my sleeping car attendant if he awoke me at 4:56 in the morning telling me to get off the Sunset Limited and switch to the Texas Eagle. Plus its not just a quick switch, the Eagle won't leave until 9:00 AM.

So after being woken out of my sleep, I'm now forced to stand around the train station until 8:45 AM or so, before I can once again settle into my bedroom.

Ah yes, I had forgotten about the scheduling. That puts it in a much different light, you're right.

#7 battalion51

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 01:15 PM

Well this is keeping in mind that the Sunnyset is even going to keep running out that way. Several guys presented Gunn with the idea of the Gulf Coast Ltd, a daily train from NOL-MIA via ORL, because the vast majority of the Sunset's passengers go over to the City of New Orleans. After looking over a few mainfests for the Sunset with on board counts in the fifties and sixties I could understand why the NOL-LAX is looking at Termination notices.

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#8 Amfleet

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 08:35 PM

I rather see an extra sleeper added to the Southwest Chief since that is the "fastest" way to go from CHI to LAX. However, terminating the Sunset west of NOL in my opinion would not be the best move. That leaves all the Texans without through service to LAX.
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#9 AlanB

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 08:43 PM

I rather see an extra sleeper added to the Southwest Chief since that is the "fastest" way to go from CHI to LAX. However, terminating the Sunset west of NOL in my opinion would not be the best move. That leaves all the Texans without through service to LAX.

Hmm, you must be confused. ;) A true railfan, wants more time on the train, not less.
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#10 Amfleet

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 08:47 PM

Well I'm not saying terminating any trains, I just don't see the big deal about dropping the Eagle/Sunset connection. Why go from Chicago to LA via Texas when you could take the SW Cheif. Then again it does give more convinient service to those in northern Texas who want to go to LA.
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#11 AlanB

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 08:53 PM

Why go from Chicago to LA via Texas when you could take the SW Cheif.

Because it gives a railfan more time on the train. :D :D :D :)


Plus, while you're right about Chicago to La being faster on the Chief, once you are south of Little Rock it is faster to go on the Eagle/Sunset connection.
Alan,

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#12 battalion51

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 09:31 PM

Well don't fprget that some people may want to go to El Paso or Palm Springs or another destionation.

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#13 Viewliner

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 09:34 PM

Well don't fprget that some people may want to go to El Paso or Palm Springs or another destionation.

Yep, I completely forgot about that. If you eliminate the through car then that puts the Eagle closer to the blade of the axe. Lets face it, the Eagle is nowhere near recieving the best treatment of the LD routes. And its sad really.
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#14 Amfleet

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 07:54 AM

Well you've proved your point, now only if we could tell that "manager" all the reasons to keep the through Sleeper to LA. :unsure:
Jon
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#15 Bill Haithcoat

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 08:47 AM

The point has been well made that the use of the through Chicago-LA sleepers is more for intermediate travelers than straight through....it would mostly be just us railfans who would want to go the long way from CHI-to LA. OR long distance travelers who want to go one way via the SW Chief and the other via Eagle/Sunset, for variation.

But as I said that point has been made...

What I would point out is we have no way of knowing how many hundreds of people have been forever alientated from Amtrak by the dismal on time performance of these two trains.

These trains never needed re-thinking or revamping or re-routing or anything else....all they ever needed was to be operated on time..

Now, at least, that seems to be happening....hopefully ridership will kind of grow back now that they can be trusted a little better.

Am ashamed to admit this, but my sister lives in Austin, TX, on the Texas Eagle's route and I have discouraged her from riding it because neither she(or even more her husband) would have any tolerance for eight hour delays.

#16 tubaallen

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 01:07 PM

Yes, you're right. I know that the Eagle is the worst system-wide, statistically. Also, living two blocks from the train station here in Bloomington-Normal, I see and hear it coming through at all kinds of hours that it shouldn't be. It gets a bit ridiculous! Hopefully it continues to improve. I wonder if the plan to get rid of the express will help on-time performance system-wide, as the freights may not feel so intruded upon anymore.

#17 AlanB

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 01:14 PM

I wonder if the plan to get rid of the express will help on-time performance system-wide, as the freights may not feel so intruded upon anymore.

We can certainly hope that it will make the freight RR's less antagonistic towards Amtrak. :)
Alan,

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#18 Bill Haithcoat

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 01:28 PM

Tuballen, am I just kidding myself or are not the Eagle/Sunset doing better lately about being on time? I have made random checks with Julie lately and it seems better---am I just trying to talk myself into believing that?

#19 AlanB

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 02:44 PM

Tuballen, am I just kidding myself or are not the Eagle/Sunset doing better lately about being on time? I have made random checks with Julie lately and it seems better---am I just trying to talk myself into believing that?

Bill,

I can't speak about the Eagle, but I do know that the Sunset is doing much better than it was over the summer. :)

Tubaallen may know better about the Eagle, since I haven't been paying attention to that one.
Alan,

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#20 Amtrak Watcher

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 03:05 PM

I was on a through-sleeper from DAL to LAX on the Texas Eagle last Friday. We had to change sleepers in SAS at 03:15, because a moron tried to flush a %$@#!! down one of the toilets. I'm going back to DAL from LAX today on 422, and everything has been flawless. I'm on this forum via cellular phone.

I don't understand the purpose of the change. Train 22 seldom waits for a late #2 in SAS, but #21 always gets to SAS before #1. I worry when reasons to travel are deleted.



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