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Is Private Rail the Future for Regional Routes?


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#41 Ryan

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 06:45 PM

Look back at the last 10 years and all of the rolling stock lost to accidents. Point is that there will come a point in the next few years when insufficient equipment to meet demand comes to fruition.

 
In September 2007, 180 Superliner II cars were in service.  Today, February 2017, 185 Superliner Ii cars are serviceable.
 
In September 2007 there were 239 Superliner I cars available.  Today there are 242.  
 
The number of available singe-level long-distance cars is also expanding slightly with Viewliner II deliveries.  
 
This doesn't exactly support your contention that the car supply is shrinking and will soon be inadequate to meet demand.


Don't confuse Dennis' carefully constructed opinions with actual facts. He's impervious to them.
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#42 cirdan

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 06:22 AM

 

 

 


 

Certainly competition can drive innovation and a quest for excellence.  However, for a service which is provided on a subsidized basis is the cost structure really going to be significantly different than it is under a public-run entity such as Amtrak?  As Iowa Pacific has demonstrated the hard way, an improved and upgraded service will attract more passengers but implementing such innovations is hardly "cost neutral".  It requires more money, and thus a greater subsidy.  Assuming the status quo, the cost for private industry to provide the same level of service as Amtrak is also likely to be similar - but the private company expects a profit margin on top of the expenses.  

 

 

I understand your point and agree that a private operator needsto make a profit and this will come at the cost of increased ovrall subsidies.

 

So if your primary objective is to reduce susbidies, government ownership and operation is the way to go.

 

However, in my view susbidies are not the only factor at stake. trains do not exist in a vacuum but only really make sense if they are well used and appreciated.

 

We have recently seen lots of stories about people like Mica micro-meddling with Amtrak's catering. For the managers and staff having to actually run the whole thing that must be extremely annoying, and must be diverting their energies from more directly pressing issues. If you are at the mercy of somebody who doesn't like trains and the whole thing might well be shut down in 6 months time, that's not a good basis on which to build confidence or growth.

 

A private company would sign a contract with the government. the contract would lay down the level of subsidy but also the level of service, catering, etc etc. If the company fails to meet those criteria they would pay fines or be punished in some other way. But at least people like Mica can't come and micro manage anything because there is a legal contract for the duration and you can't come in and change a contract without both sides agreeing. So if operating contracts could be awarded for a period of say 8 tzo 12 years as in the UK, you have greater stability and are assured of a flow of future subsidies taking much of the risk out of what you're doing.

 

So yes, it costs more, but it may be worth it.



#43 cirdan

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 06:25 AM

 

 

Look back at the last 10 years and all of the rolling stock lost to accidents. Point is that there will come a point in the next few years when insufficient equipment to meet demand comes to fruition.

 
In September 2007, 180 Superliner II cars were in service.  Today, February 2017, 185 Superliner Ii cars are serviceable.
 
In September 2007 there were 239 Superliner I cars available.  Today there are 242.  
 
The number of available singe-level long-distance cars is also expanding slightly with Viewliner II deliveries.  
 
This doesn't exactly support your contention that the car supply is shrinking and will soon be inadequate to meet demand.

 


Don't confuse Dennis' carefully constructed opinions with actual facts. He's impervious to them.

 

 

According to my math, that's up 8 Superlines since 2007.

 

That may be a comfortable cushion but it's not really a massive improvement. All it would take would be one ot two serious crashes to wipe the fleet back to 2007 levels.



#44 neroden

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 02:02 AM

I'm not as familiar with European rail construction or Latin America, but certainly in the US the initial railway boom wasn't exactly what would be considered a totally un-subsidized process with land grants, franchises and such.


Continential European railroad development was largely government-driven as well. Same in Latin America. Also most of the rest of the world (Turkey, China, Iran, Australia, India, etc.)

The UK was the exception, with mostly private funding for their railroads, but they were enjoying an investment bubble; most of the investors lost money. They were still government-backed, with special bills in Parliament giving them compulsory land purchase abilities. (This is essential to build ANY road or railroad.) In addition, the situation of the roads in the UK at the time was awful *and* they were mostly not government subsidized.

The UK quite sensibly nationalized the railroads under the Atlee government after WWII.

The US... sigh. It's not just passenger traffic which is hurt by private ownership of the tracks; freight traffic is hurt too.

Edited by neroden, 11 February 2017 - 02:03 AM.

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#45 jis

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 08:03 AM

All early railroad development in India was government backed private companies. So yeah, government instigated, but in general, not government funded. Government funding came later.

#46 neroden

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 11:31 AM

They would have called most of them "public private partnerships" if they happened today.  There was a very different monetary environment (gold-backed and silver-backed currency), there was a substantially different legal structure from today; after looking at the way a bunch of these things were run, the "government backed private companies" of the 19th century are often best thought of as quasi-governmental agencies issuing quasi-governmental bonds, like Fannie Mae.


Edited by neroden, 12 February 2017 - 11:32 AM.

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#47 west point

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 11:37 AM

If private passenger service is so good please explain the Iowa Pacific failures especially the Hoosier ?

#48 jis

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 12:37 PM

That is sort of like the difference between weather and climate. One single event like that doesn't really explain anything, so I suppose the question at least has rhetorical value and not much beyond that.

Edited by jis, 12 February 2017 - 04:36 PM.


#49 bretton88

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 01:01 PM

Regional rail in Germany (The REs) are not profitable. The states subsidize those trains, mostly by paying the national operator (DB) to run them (some of the rural lines are run by private companies) Yet they have really nice new equipment. Only the intercity trains are profitable.

If I won the lottery, I'd probably build a passenger from nowhere to nowhere.


#50 dlagrua

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 07:33 PM

 

Amtrak was involved in a high number of accidents last year.


How many? How many cars are still sidelined as a result?

How does that compare to 2015? 2014?

 

Can't give you an exact number without doing a tally, but just add up what has occurred in the last 10 years and you will find a number of Amtrak cars that have been completely destroyed. Except for the recent Viewliner II order for sleepers, dining cars and baggage cars I cannot recall any new rolling stock equipment being purchased. From memory I recall an accident out West where a sand truck T-boned an Amtrak train and IIRC two Superliners were destroyed.,in the Philadelphia NEC accident three coaches were lost, and further back the Sunset crash lost cars that were not replaced. Give me some time and I will come up with a list of lost equipment that were never replaced.  .



#51 Ryan

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 07:44 PM

Usually people do research, learn facts and then draw conclusions.

Not so sure about this ready, fire, aim method of posting.
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#52 jebr

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 10:09 PM

I'm more wondering how contracting out operations to a private company suddenly results in a significant increase in equipment. I'm not aware of any company in the US that has a significant amount of passenger rail equipment sitting around that can run frequently as Amtrak's equipment does.

#53 dlagrua

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 11:32 AM

 

 

Look back at the last 10 years and all of the rolling stock lost to accidents. Point is that there will come a point in the next few years when insufficient equipment to meet demand comes to fruition.

 
In September 2007, 180 Superliner II cars were in service.  Today, February 2017, 185 Superliner Ii cars are serviceable.
 
In September 2007 there were 239 Superliner I cars available.  Today there are 242.  
 
The number of available singe-level long-distance cars is also expanding slightly with Viewliner II deliveries.  
 
This doesn't exactly support your contention that the car supply is shrinking and will soon be inadequate to meet demand.

 


Don't confuse Dennis' carefully constructed opinions with actual facts. He's impervious to them.

 

I will continue to choose to speak solely about Amtrak and not forum members. The numbers posted show that the available equipment has gone down. Not to argue the point but a fact is that Amtrak equipment is also aging. Yes rolling stock can be rebuilt but eventually that becomes prohibitively expensive. East of the Mississippi more Viewliner coaches may be needed and who can determine what the end of the lifespan, is for the older Superliners.

The Trump administration has called for improvements to the transportation infrastructure including the passenger rail network. Three weeks into a new administration its difficult to say what that approach will be but until now our president has done all his work in the private sector. Wick Mooreman has also worked solely in the private sector.  I do not take a strong position on the public vs private argument. Its hard to tell which would serve the American people better. I just comment on the future of passenger rail as I envision it .

IMO, during the next four years, we will see a public/private partnership running a portion of the nations passenger rail system.  I hope to still be riding the rails in this period so if you accept a wager for lunch on this prediction just let me know.



#54 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 12:35 PM

Am I reading things wrong? It looks to me that the # of cars increased over the last 10 years.

#55 Ryan

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 12:56 PM

No, you're absolutely correct. There are more cars in service now, due to all of the wreck repairs completed over the last 8 years.

The entire premise this thread is based on is nothing more than yet another "alternative fact".
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#56 cirdan

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 04:53 AM

 


 

I will continue to choose to speak solely about Amtrak and not forum members. The numbers posted show that the available equipment has gone down. Not to argue the point but a fact is that Amtrak equipment is also aging. Yes rolling stock can be rebuilt but eventually that becomes prohibitively expensive. East of the Mississippi more Viewliner coaches may be needed and who can determine what the end of the lifespan, is for the older Superliners.

The Trump administration has called for improvements to the transportation infrastructure including the passenger rail network. Three weeks into a new administration its difficult to say what that approach will be but until now our president has done all his work in the private sector. Wick Mooreman has also worked solely in the private sector.  I do not take a strong position on the public vs private argument. Its hard to tell which would serve the American people better. I just comment on the future of passenger rail as I envision it .

IMO, during the next four years, we will see a public/private partnership running a portion of the nations passenger rail system.  I hope to still be riding the rails in this period so if you accept a wager for lunch on this prediction just let me know.

 

 

At the end of the day what matters to me is that there is still a significant rail system in operation, and I hope and want it to continue that way. I don't only say this as a railfan but I also say it because I strongly believe the positive effects of passenger railroads (and railroads as a whole) on society, the environment, the economy etc is largely understimated and misunderstood.

 

At the end of the day, whether that railroad system is operated directly by the government or by some private enterprise with government support is a detail. 


Edited by cirdan, 14 February 2017 - 04:54 AM.


#57 A Voice

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 10:46 AM

 

 

 

Look back at the last 10 years and all of the rolling stock lost to accidents. Point is that there will come a point in the next few years when insufficient equipment to meet demand comes to fruition.

 
In September 2007, 180 Superliner II cars were in service.  Today, February 2017, 185 Superliner Ii cars are serviceable.
 
In September 2007 there were 239 Superliner I cars available.  Today there are 242.  
 
The number of available singe-level long-distance cars is also expanding slightly with Viewliner II deliveries.  
 
This doesn't exactly support your contention that the car supply is shrinking and will soon be inadequate to meet demand.

 


Don't confuse Dennis' carefully constructed opinions with actual facts. He's impervious to them.

 

I will continue to choose to speak solely about Amtrak and not forum members. The numbers posted show that the available equipment has gone down. Not to argue the point but a fact is that Amtrak equipment is also aging. Yes rolling stock can be rebuilt but eventually that becomes prohibitively expensive. East of the Mississippi more Viewliner coaches may be needed and who can determine what the end of the lifespan, is for the older Superliners.

The Trump administration has called for improvements to the transportation infrastructure including the passenger rail network. Three weeks into a new administration its difficult to say what that approach will be but until now our president has done all his work in the private sector. Wick Mooreman has also worked solely in the private sector.  I do not take a strong position on the public vs private argument. Its hard to tell which would serve the American people better. I just comment on the future of passenger rail as I envision it .

IMO, during the next four years, we will see a public/private partnership running a portion of the nations passenger rail system.  I hope to still be riding the rails in this period so if you accept a wager for lunch on this prediction just let me know.

 

 

What are these "posted numbers" to which you refer?  The numbers I posted - the same numbers you quoted above - plainly show a slight increase in the number of cars in service.  

 

I'm more wondering how contracting out operations to a private company suddenly results in a significant increase in equipment. I'm not aware of any company in the US that has a significant amount of passenger rail equipment sitting around that can run frequently as Amtrak's equipment does.

 

I assume the theory is based on these private companies ordering new rail passenger equipment, but that takes time, more than an arbitrary four years.  Also, just who are these private companies who want to invest funds in a money-losing passenger rail operation?  How are they supposed to get new cars delivered any faster than a government operated entity?  



#58 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 06:22 PM

Am I reading things wrong? It looks to me that the # of cars increased over the last 10 years.


The heavy shop is pushing out more wreck cars. However the number of cars that have been total and scrap is a ever growing number. Is this going to cause a collapse of the Western Train. Not today, but given time it will have negative impact. It simple math. You need to look at the long picture, not the last 8-10 years the Superliner 1 enter service in 1979.

#59 jis

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 06:32 PM

First, we are responding to a statement about what has happened to the number of serviceable cars in the last ten years.

 

Second, even if all cars disappear it is hard to imagine why any private party would step in and order cars, as hypothesized by the OP. That is distinct from, what in effect amount to public - private partnership which has happened a couple of times with purchase, sell, lease-back so that a private party with a positive tax bill can take advantage of taking depreciation deductions while Amtrak which has no tax liability can take advantage of somewhat lower expense of gaining access to the cars for service.

 

As I said, the whole line of reasoning is bogus. But that is of course just IMHO.



#60 dlagrua

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 09:45 AM

In keeping with the open exchange of ideas and opinions;  I would like to clarify my point before many of the posters here suffer from high blood pressure. What I really believe will happen is a public/private partnership on some LD Amtrak routes. Amtrak has something like 30 million passengers that travel every year and the government is always looking to save money, especially when the name Amtrak comes up. . Now consider the perpetual lack of sufficient funding for the service, the thinking of current leadership in the house, senate, oval office and the position to rebuild Americas transportation infrastructure. It is reasonable to believe that Amtrak will continue on but why should we rule out a public/private partnership? Its just an opinion and a prediction but is this really so far out of the question? if so explain why this will not happen.






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