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Silvers Over Thanksgiving


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#1 Anderson

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 01:00 AM

So last night I caught the Meteor RVR-ORL.  Nice trip, as always (dragged myself into breakfast and then crashed for a few more hours).  The train was 1:15 late out of NYP, however, and never made the time up (where there might have been some makeup along the way, it appears that passenger loads killed any chance of that).

 

The train likely ties a combined LSL for the longest Amtrak train I have ever seen:

-Baggage car

-4 sleeping cars

-Diner

-Cafe

-6 Amfleet II coaches

 

I talked with the OBS...it seems that this was accomplished by turning two of the sleepers off of the morning's inbound Meteor (and that a very modest delay on 98 (11/28) caused 97 (11/29) to lose time on departure due to trouble turning the equipment fast enough).  Also of note is that per OBS, both the Meteor and Star were running with four sleepers (again, something only feasible if you can "save a set" on the sleeper side...4 sleepers on both trains would require 32 sleepers, creating a "math problem") while it might just be possible to juggle equipment to get both trains up to 4 sleeping cars if you pretty much blow out all spares, all protects, and start praying a lot.  Doing it without the same-day turn at NYP doesn't quite work out (assuming nobody else gets extras, that requirement is 16 (Meteor), 16 (Star), 8 (Crescent), 9 (Lake Shore), and 2 (Cardinal)...which is 51 and Amtrak only has 50).  A same-day turn of two cars gives you one spare at NYP...and probably a work-product commendation from the Vatican for the number of prayers said that nothing goes wrong anywhere else.

 

Of note, on Sunday evening 97 discharged about 150 pax in RVR and then loaded about another 60.  For reference, per VA's numbers from a few years ago that's about one week's worth of "average" traffic load in a single one-way passage, and the station was a total zoo when the preceding Regional got in as well (it looked like the offload was well over 100).  Although I suspect that was the heaviest stop (the Regional was likely almost sold out or actually sold out, causing plenty of pax to default to "last train out"...resulting in spill-over from 87 into 97).  Still, there was apparently very strong turnover continuing into Florida Monday morning.

 

Could I get any operational confirmation on the Meteor and Star running with 4 sleepers each?  My initial speculation was that the Meteor got its 4th by simply not giving the Star its 3rd for the weekend (3/3 was a normal setup in previous years).  Likewise, I don't think I've ever seen the Meteor run with 6 coaches (usually it maxes out at 5).  I saw 98 (11/30) heading north as well, btw, and counted 4 sleepers...but I did not see an iteration of 92.


Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)

Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#2 Thirdrail7

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 01:24 AM


Could I get any operational confirmation on the Meteor and Star running with 4 sleepers each?  My initial speculation was that the Meteor got its 4th by simply not giving the Star its 3rd for the weekend (3/3 was a normal setup in previous years).  Likewise, I don't think I've ever seen the Meteor run with 6 coaches (usually it maxes out at 5).  I saw 98 (11/30) heading north as well, btw, and counted 4 sleepers...but I did not see an iteration of 92.

 

At no point did the Star exceed 2 sleepers or 4 coaches during the extended holiday period.


Edited by Thirdrail7, 01 December 2015 - 01:27 AM.

They say laughter is the best medicine. Obviously they never posted on AU.


#3 Anderson

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 02:00 AM

 


Could I get any operational confirmation on the Meteor and Star running with 4 sleepers each?  My initial speculation was that the Meteor got its 4th by simply not giving the Star its 3rd for the weekend (3/3 was a normal setup in previous years).  Likewise, I don't think I've ever seen the Meteor run with 6 coaches (usually it maxes out at 5).  I saw 98 (11/30) heading north as well, btw, and counted 4 sleepers...but I did not see an iteration of 92.

 

At no point did the Star exceed 2 sleepers or 4 coaches during the extended holiday period.

 

That's...what I was expecting, actually (and it makes sense in the *ahem* complex context of the diner experiment).  To be fair, there was even the rumor that the Star was going to be "regularly" cut down to a single sleeper...

 

Thanks for the info.


Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)

Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#4 OBS

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 07:50 AM

Thanks for the report. Impressive, running with 6 coaches!



#5 Seaboard92

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 10:54 AM

That's a very impressive feet. I am now wishing I would have driven somewhere to see that. That's getting back to the old standard. Where that length was common on a daily basis. And I went out to see the star several times over the Holidays over years past. In 2013 it was five coaches and three sleepers. 2014 it was the same if I remember right. And 2015 was four coaches and two sleepers. Interesting though that the second locomotive made a comeback. As it lost that a short time ago.

Edited by Seaboard92, 01 December 2015 - 10:56 AM.

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Amtrak Routes I've riden: Silver Star(NYP-ORL), Silver Meteor(KIS-NYP),Carolinian(CLT-NWK), Palmetto (FLO-NYP), Acela(WAS-NYP), NE Regional(WBG-RVR), Pacific Surfliner(SAN-OSD), Piedmont(CLT-SAL), Crescent(NYP-CLT), Cardinal (WAS-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Cascade (PDX-SEA)
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#6 KauaiJohn

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 03:54 PM

And on a lighter note, my niece -Silver- was over on Thanksgiving!

#7 Carolyn Jane

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 11:44 PM

I put my sister and niece on the Meteor at Jesup GA on Thanksgiving evening.  Train was on time, running four sleepers and five coaches.  At that point it looked pretty empty.  Sis and niece were the only passengers boarding, and they had a roomette.  Two people got off coach.  Sister said the SCA opened the empty roomette next to theirs so noone had to use the upper bunk.  She tipped him well...



#8 Anderson

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 12:21 AM

It just hit me, but I think this weekend's use of the extra equipment (and the implied relative demand factors) speak a very loud volume for the Star experiment...albeit in more complicated ways than we might expect.  In particular, I think it is fair to say that the extra sleepers were all put on the Meteor because of the risk of space on the Star selling out north of RVR (witness my previous observations on relative costs for space in a room versus on a Regional).  That would have been a waste from many perspectives and I suspect Amtrak didn't want that; the other option would have been to manually re-code sleeper pricing north of Richmond for the weekend...and I think a lot of us suspect that there would not have been demand to fill the spaces.

 

It is the coaches which are speaking to me, however, and they're screaming blue murder.  The Meteor runs with four coaches as a rule.  Occasionally a fifth gets added (usually in peak season...Christmas or a month or two in summer) but I've never seen six.  This tells me that there was no through demand materializing on the Star.  Now, some of this is going to be relatively short-haul traffic (e.g. the huge mass of folks getting off at RVR, and any others at FBG or ALX) and that's going to be affected by the Meteor being the last train south/first train north on the timecard.  Want to maximize time with family?  Take the Meteor.  Etc.  Still, it seems to me that through-traffic demand was sorely concentrated on the Meteor (and not the Star), in line with what little we have to go on from the late summer (July/August) with the experiment.

 

Going with these numbers, if the diners are not restored to the Star I would expect to see the Meteor keep growing going forward (e.g. with the new sleepers and/or any putative coach order) while the Star is likely to stagnate.  Speaking personally, the Star's timecard is better for me but the lack of OBS is a killer southbound (I can endure it northbound, but I am not interested in sitting through a dinner period with just the cafe to work with; I'll pack an MRE first).


Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)

Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#9 Thirdrail7

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 07:54 AM

I've seen six on occasion. While you're thought process may have some relevance, an easier dissection can also reveal that 97 was bolster up for coach travel simply because:

 

1) It takes coach pressure off the adjacent regional, which also has high RVR numbers. This also for more local service on the local train.

 

and

 

2) 97 is the last train that will take the additional holiday equipment back to its home base in Hialeah.

 

Since the equipment needed to go back to Florida, and 97 is the train that can short turn equipment (albeit with the potential for delay) from PD98, it makes sense to bolster up the "local" travel section of the long distance train. If done properly from a yield management perspective, it is win-win.

 

91 had also had significant RVR traffic. However, it was balanced out. This likely accounts for the traffic on the adjacent regional.


They say laughter is the best medicine. Obviously they never posted on AU.


#10 afigg

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 11:30 AM

It just hit me, but I think this weekend's use of the extra equipment (and the implied relative demand factors) speak a very loud volume for the Star experiment...albeit in more complicated ways than we might expect.  In particular, I think it is fair to say that the extra sleepers were all put on the Meteor because of the risk of space on the Star selling out north of RVR (witness my previous observations on relative costs for space in a room versus on a Regional).  That would have been a waste from many perspectives and I suspect Amtrak didn't want that; the other option would have been to manually re-code sleeper pricing north of Richmond for the weekend...and I think a lot of us suspect that there would not have been demand to fill the spaces.
 
It is the coaches which are speaking to me, however, and they're screaming blue murder.  The Meteor runs with four coaches as a rule.  Occasionally a fifth gets added (usually in peak season...Christmas or a month or two in summer) but I've never seen six.  This tells me that there was no through demand materializing on the Star.

Without detailed ridership numbers, not just for the train for the month or peak days, but typical peak load from station to station and the busier station pairs, difficult for support any conclusions we may want to reach on Meteor vs Star and the diner vs no diner car. Amtrak has the detailed data, we don't.

 

What would be neat is a bar chart showing average number of coach and sleeper passengers between each station on the route. Similar to the average delay chart for each train on Status Maps Archive Database; instead of the average delay in minutes, the average number of passengers from station to station. That would show where the peak load segments are for the Star, Meteor, or any other Amtrak train on its route. But, unfortunately ridership data that deep is not available. Maybe NARP could obtain it and add it to their statistics reports. 

 

I think what the 6 Amfleet II coach cars on the Meteor is showing is that if Amtrak had an additional 15-20 Amfleet II coach cars available, they could put them to use for the peak seasonal and holiday periods, if not most of the year.



#11 neroden

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 01:31 PM

Anderson's analysis seems almost certain to be right.  But this may be a good thing politically.

 

I already calculated that a dining car only makes sense financially if it can serve *enough passengers* -- you want it to be on a *long train*.  A long Silver Meteor with lots of coaches and lots of sleepers is a train which looks quite good financially.  The dining car on such a train probably has good financials and is *secure*.   My estimates say it's doing better financially than the Palmetto now, before "allocations", though it's still being assigned a lot more overhead. (Probably because it runs twice as far.  It's got 2.5 times the overhead, and approximately 2.1 times the profit-before-overhead.)

 

If it keeps improving -- even if it's cannibalizing passengers from the Star -- it may be possible to use the Meteor politically as a shining example of how train service with sleepers and diners ought to look, which would be useful politically for keeping and expanding such service on the other trains.


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#12 neroden

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 01:33 PM

I think what the 6 Amfleet II coach cars on the Meteor is showing is that if Amtrak had an additional 15-20 Amfleet II coach cars available, they could put them to use for the peak seasonal and holiday periods, if not most of the year.


This seems like an obvious application for the Horizons (with retrofits for the seating and lighting, naturally) once the bilevels are finally built and delivered.

Edited by neroden, 02 December 2015 - 01:33 PM.

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#13 Thirdrail7

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 10:49 PM

The Meteor repeated this feat this Thanksgiving. This time, they had the sleepers and had to wait for coaches.  It was well represented.


They say laughter is the best medicine. Obviously they never posted on AU.


#14 OlympianHiawatha

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 01:13 PM

With that many seats and berths on the Meteor, did they have issues with the Diner or Cafe running out of supplies?



#15 Skyline

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 02:37 PM

There are several takeaways from all this. Mine is that the NEC does not end at WAS southbound anymore, but continues to RVR. Something many of us already knew. Expanded service to/from RVR would make that point even more dramatically.



#16 west point

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 03:31 PM

More service to RVR will take first more coaches on present trains.  Then additional trains once VA DOT can get more slots over long bridge ?



#17 xyzzy

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 03:53 PM

When SEHSR happens in some form, there will be 4x daily in each direction as far south as Charlotte. In terms of multiple daily frequencies, you'd have a northern extension into Maine, a westward extension to Harrisburg, and a southern extension into North Carolina. The "corridor" terminology will have to be clarified. 

 

And just this week, a respected leader in the Charlotte business community made another call for Charlotte-Atlanta service... beyond the Crescent, of course.



#18 niemi24s

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 06:53 PM

Sister said the SCA opened the empty roomette next to theirs so noone had to use the upper bunk.

That's the kind of hospitality that merits written mention by name to Amtrak for inclusion in the employees records.  But it might not be wise to specifically mention opening the second roomette - it might be against company policy.  Perhaps someone knows for sure and will chime in.


Edited by niemi24s, 01 December 2017 - 07:25 PM.


#19 OBS

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 11:03 AM

 

Sister said the SCA opened the empty roomette next to theirs so noone had to use the upper bunk.

That's the kind of hospitality that merits written mention by name to Amtrak for inclusion in the employees records.  But it might not be wise to specifically mention opening the second roomette - it might be against company policy.  Perhaps someone knows for sure and will chime in.

 

It is absolutely against policy and is just as likely to get employee fired as commended. Off the record it was a great move but on the record it is "theft of revenue" or some such comvoluted charge...



#20 Thirdrail7

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 01:14 PM

 

 

Sister said the SCA opened the empty roomette next to theirs so noone had to use the upper bunk.

That's the kind of hospitality that merits written mention by name to Amtrak for inclusion in the employees records.  But it might not be wise to specifically mention opening the second roomette - it might be against company policy.  Perhaps someone knows for sure and will chime in.

 

It is absolutely against policy and is just as likely to get employee fired as commended. Off the record it was a great move but on the record it is "theft of revenue" or some such comvoluted charge...

 

 

Indeed, Niemi24s. It could be construed as dishonesty, failure to protect revenue and at the outside, theft. 


They say laughter is the best medicine. Obviously they never posted on AU.





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