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A more passenger-friendly 'Coast Starlight' timetable


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#21 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 02:36 PM

 

What do others think (I'm only a foreigner, but one who has travelled extensively by rail worldwide)?  As Amtrak's most popular LD train (average patronage each way of about 620 passengers, though not all aboard at once), it deserves the best possible timetable.

 

Perhaps a main reason why it's Amtrak's most popular long distance train has a lot to do with its current schedule. Why mess with success?

 

I would suggest looking at Amtrak's least popular LD train and seeing what could be done instead.

 

 

Couldn't agree more.

 

 

Make the two least popular LD trains daily from three times a week before gratuitously fiddling with their schedules, would be my take. :)

 

I know armchair schedule fiddling is a major hobby around here, and this might be an unpopular position. ;)

 

If the schedule still sucks, being daily vs. non daily doesn't seem like a big deal to me. I'd rather have a train 3 days a week at 2:45pm than a train 7 days a week at 2:45am.

 

I don't know whether or not it is a coincidence but IMO the two non daily trains have the worst schedules in not serving their largest cities at convenient times and I have proposed schedule changes for each of them. 


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)!
 
 


#22 jis

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 02:56 PM

If the schedule still sucks, being daily vs. non daily doesn't seem like a big deal to me. I'd rather have a train 3 days a week at 2:45pm than a train 7 days a week at 2:45am.
 
I don't know whether or not it is a coincidence but IMO the two non daily trains have the worst schedules in not serving their largest cities at convenient times and I have proposed schedule changes for each of them.

That may seem so to you but it is not logical. A train that runs for 7 days instead of three will carry at least about 7/3 number of passengers, and possibly more due to better predictablity and regularity of service, when compared to its 3 day schedule, irrespective of what the schedule is.

Improving the schedule will of course improve that further. but the claim that increasing the number of days on which runs has no effect on ridership is just plain nonsense and you know it. There is absolutely no reason to hold up improving frequency just because it is difficult to negotiate a new schedule. OTOH if a new schedule is required to make it daily, so be it. But the consideration there primarily is first making it daily and then next figuring out "better" schedule according to someone's opinion of "better".


Edited by jis, 19 September 2016 - 03:44 PM.


#23 Bob Dylan

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 03:00 PM

I'm with the faction that says that you're wrong in thinking that a 3 times a week LD Train with a Good Calling time will outperform a Daily LD Train with a "bad" calling time.

As we've discussed here many times, history shows that this is not true, and the adage that the More Trains the More Riders has proven to be true!

Edited by Bob Dylan, 19 September 2016 - 03:01 PM.

 
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 
".. I ride on a Mail Train Baby, can't buy a thrill.."--I said that!
 
"..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#24 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 03:27 PM

When I said 3 good is better than 7 bad, I was referring to a particular city. Of course the daily train that serves one city during the graveyard shift will serve a different city at a good time and overall the daily train will be better. I'm just saying how much will San Antonio care if the train to LA is made daily if it still leaves at 2:45am? 


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)!
 
 


#25 railiner

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 03:31 PM


...history shows that this is not true, and the adage that the More Trains the More Riders has proven to be true!



The same thing with roads...build a brand new highway, and when it opens, it will soon be overcrowded and obsolete
metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#26 Bob Dylan

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 03:36 PM

When I said 3 good is better than 7 bad, I was referring to a particular city. Of course the daily train that serves one city during the graveyard shift will serve a different city at a good time and overall the daily train will be better. I'm just saying how much will San Antonio care if the train to LA is made daily if it still leaves at 2:45am? 

Yep, guaranteed that a Daily Sunset/Eagle between SAS and LAX would increase ridership even with a 245am Departure time!

Your pet train, the Cardinal, would show similar results! Book it!⚠⚠⚠
 
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 
".. I ride on a Mail Train Baby, can't buy a thrill.."--I said that!
 
"..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#27 fairviewroad

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 06:09 PM

Make the two least popular LD trains daily from three times a week before gratuitously fiddling with their schedules, would be my take. :)

 

I know armchair schedule fiddling is a major hobby around here, and this might be an unpopular position. ;)

 

Going from 3x a week to daily is a form of schedule fiddling, of course. :P

 

Anyhow, I suggested "seeing what could be done" with the least popular trains. That doesn't necessarily mean changing departure times, as you noted. 



#28 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 10:55 PM

Seems like the end points don't dictate the Coast Starlight's schedule: Sacramento does. It is the begin or end point for a huge number of trips. And the current times at the capital city are excellent.

 

Agreed that the higher priority is to make the Sunset Ltd daily, that change just might entail a schedule change as well. The potential effect on the Starlight is imponderable now. The current arrival, btw, seems terribly early, looking at clocks set on Pacific Time. But the Time Zone change means that passengers' bodies feel like they got an hour more sleep than the clock says, and that's good.

 

Meanwhile, in a 10- to 20-year time frame, the route will change underneath the Starlight.

 

More minutes will be shaved off the run Seattle-Portland when, not if, but when, the Cascades route is further upgraded. Still more minutes will disappear when Oregon upgrades its Cascades routing Portland-Eugene.

 

California could do more, and get it done sooner. The northern segment of the Pacific Surfliner route, L.A.-San Luis Obispo, will shed minutes as curves are straightened etc over a multi-year upgrading. Another chunk of time will drop out with the revival of the Coast Daylight or whatever the second thru train L.A.-Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo-San Jose train will be called. (Those tracks north of S.L.O. up to San Jose have a lot of potential for improvement. LOL.) And also on the to-do list is upgrading the Sacramento-Redding corridor, making those 150 miles or so go a little faster for the Starlight as well as the corridor trains coming there.

 

So I'm not going to try to change the current schedule. I'll lay back and watch infrastructure investments change it, and change it very much for the better. In that 10- to 20-year time frame, the Coast Starlight should grow and thrive. It will be another example that the cure for what ails Amtrak is more Amtrak.


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 19 September 2016 - 10:57 PM.


#29 neroden

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 05:05 PM

When I said 3 good is better than 7 bad, I was referring to a particular city. Of course the daily train that serves one city during the graveyard shift will serve a different city at a good time and overall the daily train will be better. I'm just saying how much will San Antonio care if the train to LA is made daily if it still leaves at 2:45am?


A lot, actually.

Cleveland: Terrible calling hours, terrible station location (can't reach it by public transportation normally), but it's got both the Capitol Limited and the Lake Shore Limited daily -- even though they run at almost the same time. Ridership: 46,096 in 2015.
(And being a 2015 number, that's still suffering from the aftereffects of NS's "Autorouter meltdown".)

Houston: Bigger city, centrally located train station, daytime calling hours. But it's three-a-week. Ridership: 19,857 in 2015.

Three-a-week is junk, a guaranteed ridership killer. You're just mistaken about this one; accept it and move on.

Edited by neroden, 27 September 2016 - 05:06 PM.

--Nathanael--

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#30 neroden

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 05:10 PM

Meanwhile, in a 10- to 20-year time frame, the route will change underneath the Starlight.

Indeed, in a 20-year time frame, CAHSR will probably open from SF to LA.

The Coast Daylight, if it ever opens, will siphon off daytime demand for the stations along the coast and make it more sensible to run the Coast Starlight at night along that route. CAHSR will remove the LA-SF demand, and probably the LA-Sacramento demand.

That is the point at which it makes sense to run the Coast Starlight through Far Northern California and the Oregon Mountains in daylight.

Right now, the LA-California Coast-Bay Area-Sacramento market is too good to run it at night. Once other trains are serving that market, the calculation changes.
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#31 saxman

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 03:19 PM

The only thing an earlier CS might help is the northbound connection to the Empire Builder at PDX. It's a popular connection giving only 1:13 hours between trains. But then again you mess with the connection with the Southwest Chief, which is also important. Then again, the Southwest Chief only connects with the Coast Starlight going northbound, but California has lots of connections via the Central Valley  still making a connection to #4 possible. Otherwise the CS should remain as is. 


Amtrak Miles: 203,395 (as of 9/21/16)

#32 maxbuskirk

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 01:49 PM

I know that there are many schedule change proposals around here, but what's the best way to actually change it? Contact my congressman? Contact Amtrak? Join NARP?


I have ridden Cascades #516 (SEA-STW), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-SLO), Southwest Chief #4 (LAX-CHI), Cardinal #50 (CHI-NYP), Northeast Regional #85 (NYP-WAS), Capitol Limited #30 (HFY-WAS), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-PDX), and many Pacific Surfliners with Amtrak. I have seen, including the previous, California Zephyr #5 at SAC (with luck), what I guess to be Crescent #19 (at WAS) and Silver Meteor #97 (at WAS), and Empire Builder #28 at PDX. I have also ridden the Hokutosei in Japan, Ueno - Sapporo (now discontinued).


#33 Lonestar648

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 08:31 AM

Three days a week is very hard to schedule a trip around. I expect there are many trips that are not scheduled on Amtrak because the SL isn't daily.  Many of these unscheduled trips involve a connection with the CS both ways.  The push seems to make the daily TE daily to LAX. That makes three major connections San Diego, SWC, TE that need a smooth connect to the CS both directions.  The southbound CS doesn't connect well with SL with only an hour and not at all with the SWC, so those who are going towards CHI have issues on their return.  There is no help from the CZ.  The only other option is the EB through Portland.  Scheduling to promote increased ridership in a certain market seems to also have a negative effect in an existing market.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                Southwest Chief        Coast Starlight                                    Empire Service
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 197,000


#34 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 08:40 AM

More discussion about the CS (and other) schedules: http://discuss.amtra...host-railroads/

 

Passenger friendly schedules? Good luck getting the host railroads to sign up for that.


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)!
 
 





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