I was looking at the 1979 Amtrak cuts which included routes such as the National Limited and the Floridian among others. The cuts were somewhat based on a report to Congress by Brock Adams, Secretary of Transportation under Carter (https://en.wikipedia...iki/Brock_Adams). The report had suggested more cuts than were actually made.
The recommendations were loosely based on the metric of passenger miles per train mile (PM/TM). Per the report:
"To use those criteria, the Department first determined the number of passenger-miles per train-mile each route under consideration has generated and estimated the ridership each would generate. As discussed in the Preliminary Report, the Department considers passenger-miles per train-mile to be a valid primary measure of market and population requirements. The number of passenger-miles per train-mile represents the number of passengers, on the average, aboard a train at any given moment during its journey."
I have usually pointed to R & R to measure trains but usually if trains are longer the costs increase. So the PM/TM takes that into account.
A previous report from 1978 listed PM/TM for all Amtrak routes in FY 1977 (Table 3-11):
Here are the PM/TM's for the LD trains at the time (listed by endpoints although it is easy to deduce which train was which):
Los Angeles to Seattle 225
New York to Florida 215
Chicago to Los Angeles 200
Chicago to New York/Washington 172
Los Angeles to New Orleans 172
New York to Savannah 161
Chicago to New Orleans 142
Chicago to New York/Boston 142
Chicago to San Francisco 127
Chicago to Seattle (Havre) 119
Chicago to Houston 113
Chicago to Seattle (Billings) 99
Kansas City to New York/DC 89
Seattle to Salt Lake City 87
Chicago to Florida 74
Chicago to Washington (Cincinnati) 60
Chicago to Laredo 57
The Southern Crescent was not an Amtrak train in FY 1977. The 1979 report said service would begin February 1 although it did propose discontinuing the route, saying its PM/TM was 117.
All of the routes whose PM/TM was 117 or below were recommended to be discontinued. They also proposed a route from CHI to California which would have gone through Kansas City and Denver and split in Ogden, Utah, replacing what was then known as the Southwest Limited and the San Francisco Zephyr. The Ogden to LA train eventually became the Desert Wind but that was cancelled.
They meant for the Empire Builder to be the CHI to NW train. The Pioneer between SEA and SLC stayed until 1997.
Both Chicago to Texas trains would have been cut although they essentially wound up being merged into the Texas Eagle.
They wanted to have the LSL go through Detroit and Canada. "To avoid delays caused by customs formalities the train should operate on a "closed door" basis through Canada. Then the BL would've gone through Cleveland and split in Pittsburgh to serve the old Shenandoah route "as far as Cumberland, Maryland". I don't believe the LSL ever went via Detroit. The Capitol Limited began Oct. 1, 1981. It originally shared the Ft. Wayne route with the BL but became its own train and eventually did get rerouted through CLE in 1990.
Finally the Cardinal was discontinued on Sept. 30, 1981 (the day before the CL was born) but was resurrected on Jan. 8, 1982 "by Congressional mandate".
I also found PM/TM data for the LD trains from the various PRIIA reports from 2010 to 2012.
Auto Train (FY12 Q1) 364
Coast Starlight (FY12 Q1) 220
Lake Shore Limited (FY11 Q1) 215
Silver Meteor (FY11 Q1) 208
Texas Eagle (2010 report, FY 2009 Data) 204.9
Empire Builder (FY12 Q1) 201
Southwest Chief (FY12 Q1) 197
Capitol Limited (2010 report, FY 2010 Data) 193.0
Silver Star (FY11 Q1) 185
City of New Orleans (FY12 Q1) 164
California Zephyr (2010 report, "Last 12 months"): 163.0
Crescent (FY11 Q1) 159
Palmetto (FY11 Q1) 142
Cardinal (2010 report, FY 2010 estimate): 119.2
Sunset Limited (2010 report, FY 2009 Data) 107.9
Comparing from the 1977 data,
The Silver routes and Palmetto have lower PM/TM than back then (the New York to Florida did not specify a specific train) but that might be in part due to the Auto Train which cleans up in that stat.
The Empire Builder is roughly what the 1977 EB and North Coast Hiawatha trains added up to.
The Texas Eagle is a bit higher than the combined totals of the 1977 trains to Houston and Laredo.
Back in 1977 there was a Shenandoah between WAS and CIN with a 1977 PM/TM of 33. The current Cardinal's PM/TM is higher than the old Cardinal plus Shenandoah.
The CL is slightly higher than the old 1977 BL.
The big surprise is the Sunset Limited which was way higher in 1977 (and according to an old timetables.org schedule was also three times a week back then).
The route back then served Phoenix while the current does not. Back then they ran through cars between NYP and LAX via ATL and Birmingham allowing for a transcontinental route between NYP and LAX although only 3 times per week (in addition a similar combo existed between NYP and LAX using the then National Limited and Southwest Limited.
Do these two changes account for a much lower PM/TM in 2009 than 1977 or are there other factors that led to worse performance?
Three of the recommended changes in the PRIAA:
The CL/Pennsylvanian connection was projected to increase the PM/TM from 193.0 to 226.8.
The Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle combination was projected to have a PM/TM of 132.0.
A daily Cardinal was projected to increase the PM/TM up to 125.5. if Option #7 had been chosen, the PRIAA was projected to go up to 142.
I don't know if PM/TM is any more accurate than R & R but it is the statistic primarily quoted in the Department of Transportation's reports back in 1978/1979.
Does anyone have more up to date PM/TM? How do you calculate it?
Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!