Jump to content




Photo

Iowa Pacific - Can It Be Duplicated Elsewhere?


  • Please log in to reply
31 replies to this topic

#1 Philly Amtrak Fan

Philly Amtrak Fan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,452 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Philadelphia Area

Posted 28 March 2016 - 05:11 PM

Admin note: this topic was split from this topic in Travelogues.
 

Iowa Pacific is trying a great many things to increase service and awareness of the train. One of these is dollar fares like what Mega Bus offers, specifically the first two fares are sold at 1$. Being a bit of planner, liking to ride trains, and always loving a good deal I looked out into Amtrak's calendar and found two tickets on a Sunday for 1$. I booked them for myself, and my 5 year old daughter. I was able to get dollar tickets going both directions, when combined with the kids discount that meant round trip cost of 3$.
 
After boarding and getting situated we headed to breakfast in the bottom of the dome car. The seating area itself was very cold. The staff wasn't particularly forthcoming with information but there was definitely some sort of heating issue (given it was 7 degrees out maybe some thing froze up who knows). Still we just chalked up to "these things happen". The food came out delicious, my daughter had the french toast, I had eggs. The food really was great, and cheaper than Amtrak's. I do feel bad to compare as I know IP and Amtrak operate under different models but it's kind of hard not to compare. Additionally it was great to even have the option for food as the old Hoosier State was just two coaches, really made the trip easier and the train a more desirable option.
 
Overall I'd give the new Hoosier State an 8/10 they seem to still be figuring things out but it is large improvement over the old Hoosier State (again kind of an unfair comparison since Indiana wasn't paying for the old one) and I look forward to riding it again.
 
Oh, and the few conversations I overhead were all very positive so hopefully this will be reflected in ridership.

 
It sounds like the IP model should be duplicated elsewhere in Amtrak. Why not have IP work with more trains and/or find similar partners?


Edited by jebr, 28 March 2016 - 06:09 PM.

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)!
 
 


#2 MikefromCrete

MikefromCrete

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,076 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Crete, IL

Posted 28 March 2016 - 06:54 PM

Iowa Pacific isn't exactly a "partner" with Amtrak. It is hired by the state of Indiana to provide equipment and on-board service. Amtrak provides the operating crew. Any state that contracts with Amtrak could do the same, or they could even have somebody like Iowa Pacific or Keolis to provide both operating and OBS crews and equipment and contract directly with the host railroad to run the service. Whether Iowa Pacific will be successful with the Hoosier State is yet to be seen.

#3 trainviews

trainviews

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 240 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Interests:Transportation, trains and American politics - so I had to end up here...

Posted 29 March 2016 - 03:06 PM

So far it has definately been a mixed bag. Ridership has cratered since IP took over. At least in the beginning there were many cancellations, and that might be why, as the Cardinal doesn't seem to have suffered the same losses. 

 

On the other hands the trip reports are really positive. But to ordinary travellers, not just travelling to enjoy the trip, it's probably more important that the train is reliably running. 



#4 cirdan

cirdan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,872 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 30 March 2016 - 09:42 AM

So far it has definately been a mixed bag. Ridership has cratered since IP took over. 

 

Is that so? Have you seen any statistics? Or is it just perception?

 

If Iowa Pacific messes up on this, there will probably be no similar partnerships or ventures for a long time.



#5 keelhauled

keelhauled

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 476 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:VT

Posted 30 March 2016 - 10:07 AM


So far it has definately been a mixed bag. Ridership has cratered since IP took over. 

 
Is that so? Have you seen any statistics? Or is it just perception?
 
If Iowa Pacific messes up on this, there will probably be no similar partnerships or ventures for a long time.

It's in every monthly report. Down 12% in February, 10% in January, 7% in December, 14% in November, 17% in October, 12% in September. Year over year.

Go on, raise the flag, I got stars in my eyes...I'm in love with her and I won't apologize.


#6 Philly Amtrak Fan

Philly Amtrak Fan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,452 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Philadelphia Area

Posted 30 March 2016 - 04:11 PM

I think the Hoosier State is just handcuffed by the schedule. Obviously the slow speed of the trip is a factor but if the schedule between CHI-IND was more ideal (even if it took the same time) ridership would go up.


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)!
 
 


#7 Eric S

Eric S

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,229 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Milwaukee

Posted 30 March 2016 - 10:24 PM

But it's not as if the schedule changed in the last year. I think the ridership declines are probably related to something else - perhaps lower gas prices and all the talk last year of the train being discontinued.



#8 ruck

ruck

    Train Attendant

  • Training
  • Pip
  • 35 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 31 March 2016 - 08:05 AM

But it's not as if the schedule changed in the last year. I think the ridership declines are probably related to something else - perhaps lower gas prices and all the talk last year of the train being discontinued.

 

I think that is a big part of it. According to Google Maps it's 124 miles between Lafayette and Chicago Union Station. Basically 250 miles round trip, assuming 20 mpg, that's 12.5 gallons of fuel, at 2$ a gallon that's 25$. That number is roughly half a single round trip ticket, the car has the added benefit of being an hour quicker, more flexible, and it stays constant for additional passengers whereas the train it's another ticket.

 

The additional cost is a bit easier to justify with higher fuel prices. There's obviously benefits to the train, occupants of the vehicle don't scream when I look out the window for an extended time, no parking costs. But in a dollars and cents analysis the train doesn't perform well.



#9 MikefromCrete

MikefromCrete

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,076 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Crete, IL

Posted 31 March 2016 - 11:54 AM

The Hoosier State's big problem is that it takes too long to get from Chicago to Indianapolis. A more efficient entrance to Chicago is needed and the Indiana portion of the route needs to be speeded up. Until that happens, don't expect to HS to attract more people than it does now.

#10 Mystic River Dragon

Mystic River Dragon

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,089 posts
  • Gender:Female

Posted 31 March 2016 - 01:24 PM

The All Aboard Indiana Newsletter (link on the Amtrak Future subforum page, not too far down, and with the same title) has a well-organized and thoughtful article that combines many of the points above, with a "Next Steps" section. I think it's worth a read for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.



#11 Metra Electric Rider

Metra Electric Rider

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 426 posts

Posted 31 March 2016 - 01:39 PM

The Hoosier State has potentially huge ridership - Indianapolis is a large and growing city, there's a big college town midway between, a congested interstate and Chicago area traffic, however, the single train, poor times and slow service really hurt it. One of my best friends is from the Indy area, goes back frequently and hates driving, however, the train is a non-starter due to that (it's quicker to drive or take Megabus).

 

It really should be akin to the Hiawatha service, which itself could have a huge increase in riders with more frequent trains (including commuter hours, there are a lot of people who commute between Chicago and Milwaukee, though a lot of the frequency could be handled with Metra extension - at least an hourly service [Gov. Walker is on record as being for improvements to the *existing* Hiawatha service, but I'm too lazy to find the citation]).


SJ - Norra Stambanan, Nordvästra stambanan, Södra stambanan, Dalabanan

NSB- Bergensbanen, Kongsvingerbanen, Rørosbanen, Dovrebanen, Flåmsbana, Roa–Hønefossbanen

Amtrak - Floridian, San Francisco Zephyr, Southwest Limited, Illini, State House


#12 Seaboard92

Seaboard92

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,306 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:South Carolina
  • Interests:-Amtrak
    -New York Central
    -Seaboard Airline
    -Scriptwriting

Posted 01 April 2016 - 08:19 AM

As much as IP is bleeding money I'll say flat out no chance

View my pictures at http://trainboy1.rrpicturearchives.net

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)

Steam Engines I've worked behind

Norfolk & Western No. 611

Nickel Plate Road No. 765

Southern Pacific No. 4449

 


#13 A Voice

A Voice

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 593 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 April 2016 - 10:29 AM

As much as IP is bleeding money I'll say flat out no chance

 

This is confirmed - Iowa Pacific is losing money?  The company as a whole or just on the Hoosier State contract?  



#14 CCC1007

CCC1007

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,449 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 April 2016 - 10:32 AM

As much as IP is bleeding money I'll say flat out no chance

 
This is confirmed - Iowa Pacific is losing money?  The company as a whole or just on the Hoosier State contract?  
Considering that they own short lines that are supposed to be profitable enough to support their passenger operations. I have a feeling that the downturn in class one traffic could be leading their short line partners to loose money overall.

#15 jis

jis

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 19,164 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
  • Interests:Trains, Planes and Travel

Posted 01 April 2016 - 11:15 AM

Dunno about Hoosier State since it is a complex multi-party contract, but on the Saratoga and North Creek, by their own admission the passenger service is subsidized out of freight revenues on that line.



#16 looshi

looshi

    Train Attendant

  • Training
  • Pip
  • 41 posts

Posted 01 April 2016 - 12:58 PM

You can pull the contract with Indiana and see how much IP is getting for use of their equipment. And then you can roughly guess how much has been spent on repairs and refurbishment to keep their coaches and locomotives operating. I am comfortable saying they are losing money. I love riding that train, but they are clearly using it as a demonstration for an eventual bid on the Heartland Flyer and possibly the Illinois food-service contract.

#17 seat38a

seat38a

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,344 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orange County California
  • Interests:Trains, Planes, And Web App Development

Posted 08 April 2016 - 04:38 AM

Admin note: this topic was split from this topic in Travelogues.
 

Iowa Pacific is trying a great many things to increase service and awareness of the train. One of these is dollar fares like what Mega Bus offers, specifically the first two fares are sold at 1$. Being a bit of planner, liking to ride trains, and always loving a good deal I looked out into Amtrak's calendar and found two tickets on a Sunday for 1$. I booked them for myself, and my 5 year old daughter. I was able to get dollar tickets going both directions, when combined with the kids discount that meant round trip cost of 3$.
 
After boarding and getting situated we headed to breakfast in the bottom of the dome car. The seating area itself was very cold. The staff wasn't particularly forthcoming with information but there was definitely some sort of heating issue (given it was 7 degrees out maybe some thing froze up who knows). Still we just chalked up to "these things happen". The food came out delicious, my daughter had the french toast, I had eggs. The food really was great, and cheaper than Amtrak's. I do feel bad to compare as I know IP and Amtrak operate under different models but it's kind of hard not to compare. Additionally it was great to even have the option for food as the old Hoosier State was just two coaches, really made the trip easier and the train a more desirable option.
 
Overall I'd give the new Hoosier State an 8/10 they seem to still be figuring things out but it is large improvement over the old Hoosier State (again kind of an unfair comparison since Indiana wasn't paying for the old one) and I look forward to riding it again.
 
Oh, and the few conversations I overhead were all very positive so hopefully this will be reflected in ridership.

 
It sounds like the IP model should be duplicated elsewhere in Amtrak. Why not have IP work with more trains and/or find similar partners?

Generally, other States, buy their own equipment and then have Amtrak run the system. No need to lease vintage equipment from IP.

CA, WA, OR, IL, NC and any other States that I'm missing either own or have new equipment on order.



#18 jis

jis

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 19,164 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
  • Interests:Trains, Planes and Travel

Posted 08 April 2016 - 10:03 AM

I suspect IP may be open to be hired as the OBS provider without any rolling stock lease involvement too. They are most likely also quite capable of providing T&E should such be needed. Consequently they could be an alternative to a Keolis or Veolia sort of deal for middle distance regional service that involves more elaborate OBS than is provided on Commuter lines. There is nothing written in stone that says Amtrak must be contracted with to run the service in the long run, though the grandfathered track access rights from the 1971 act that created Amtrak makes things easier if Amtrak is the operating entity, to get track access at present.. One of the consequence of all this is that in the so called home of capitalism there is exactly zero competition in passenger rail transport, and almost zero competition even for providing OBS, while in the alleged home of socialism there is a rapidly developing competitive landscape for passenger rail. Heck even in India which is committed to maintaining Indian Railways as is for core operations, on board food service is contracted out to quite an extent.



#19 jis

jis

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 19,164 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
  • Interests:Trains, Planes and Travel

Posted 17 January 2017 - 09:07 AM

According to somewhat reliable reports on Trainorders, Iowa Pacific failed to meet payroll for some at the end of December, laid off a whole bunch of people, and is teetering on the bring of bankruptcy.

 

There are also some less than ideal financial behavior discussed in a few posts. I don;t know the veracity of those. But they are mentioned by those that have had financial dealings with IP.



#20 Manny T

Manny T

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 299 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Chicago IL

Posted 17 January 2017 - 11:24 AM

I wonder why Chi-Indy (180 miles) can't be modeled more on Chi-Milwaukee (90 miles) which has 6 Amtrak trains a day, evenly spaced out. The MKE trip takes about 1 hr 20 minutes and has no food service. Ridership is just short of 1 million a year. It helps that there is an airport stop. 

 

The Chi-Indy schedule is not a good one. Not everyone likes a 6 AM departure (from Indy) nor a midnite arrival into Indy. Yet these are the only options today.

 

If there were say 4 trains a day in each direction, prices were reasonable, and food and beverages were available, I think it would catch on.






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users