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Ideas for Additional "Night Owl" Train Service


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#21 jphjaxfl

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 09:41 AM

 

 
Frankly, I think the problem of finding rolling stock is much more serious than the problem of getting a slot.Station tracks and platforms really are the best for any location needing high level platforms or has a large passenger turn over. those stations with just occasional ADA passengers a lift would seem best choice.
Rolling stock is a very serious problem . As of now more rolling stock seems problematic ?

 

If west point's statement is true then hopefully now you see why I suggest killing one train to resurrect another (or cannibalism as it has been called) or the fact that I claim Byrd killed the Broadway/Three Rivers. We're competing for equipment. The fact that both LD trains killed in 2005 (Silver Palm downgraded and terminated in Savannah) were both Viewliners doesn't seem coincidental to me (to this day Viewliners are still in short supply). You can now say we can't get the slots back but if we still had them we wouldn't have to get them back now.

 

The Sliver Palm was coach and business class coach when it was cut back to Savannah. It had not had a Sleeping car for several years.  I rode it in both directions from Jacksonville in the early 2000s



#22 A Voice

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 11:05 AM

 

 
Frankly, I think the problem of finding rolling stock is much more serious than the problem of getting a slot.Station tracks and platforms really are the best for any location needing high level platforms or has a large passenger turn over. those stations with just occasional ADA passengers a lift would seem best choice.
Rolling stock is a very serious problem . As of now more rolling stock seems problematic ?

 

If west point's statement is true then hopefully now you see why I suggest killing one train to resurrect another (or cannibalism as it has been called) or the fact that I claim Byrd killed the Broadway/Three Rivers. We're competing for equipment. The fact that both LD trains killed in 2005 (Silver Palm downgraded and terminated in Savannah) were both Viewliners doesn't seem coincidental to me (to this day Viewliners are still in short supply). You can now say we can't get the slots back but if we still had them we wouldn't have to get them back now.

 

 

You don't think an equipment shortage could have been solved in twelve years?  Actually, had plans went as intended, it already would have been.  Amtrak should have had the Viewliner II order by now; That includes no more coaches or lounges, but the Midwest states should have also been receiving their (apparently stillborn) bi-levels, releasing Horizon cars for other service.

 

But neither the Cardinal nor a potential Three Rivers really requires that many cars or equipment sets anyway; There is simply no reason to pit one train against another in a completely self-defeating strategy.  Who needs the John Mica's and Ernest Istook's of the political scene when rail advocates suggest similar dead end and discredited policies.  Lack of equipment is indeed a longstanding and significant problem, but its not what has stymied new service.  

 

 

 

 
Frankly, I think the problem of finding rolling stock is much more serious than the problem of getting a slot.Station tracks and platforms really are the best for any location needing high level platforms or has a large passenger turn over. those stations with just occasional ADA passengers a lift would seem best choice.
Rolling stock is a very serious problem . As of now more rolling stock seems problematic ?

 
If west point's statement is true then hopefully now you see why I suggest killing one train to resurrect another (or cannibalism as it has been called) or the fact that I claim Byrd killed the Broadway/Three Rivers. We're competing for equipment. The fact that both LD trains killed in 2005 (Silver Palm downgraded and terminated in Savannah) were both Viewliners doesn't seem coincidental to me (to this day Viewliners are still in short supply). You can now say we can't get the slots back but if we still had them we wouldn't have to get them back now.
The withdrawal of the last of the heritage sleepers is what caused the three rivers to loose its sleeper service, and the loss of mail and express traffic led to there being not enough of a need for four trains NEC to Chicago at that time. The three rivers was effectively killed off by David Gunn and the FRA requirements that a retention tank be installed on the passenger cars.

 

 

Amtrak had a waiver on the retention toilet issue, though eventually failed to renew it and the Heritage sleepers were, indeed, withdrawn (the Three Rivers switched to a Viewliner, but car supply was tight).  



#23 fairviewroad

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 11:52 AM

I know the OP offered the caveat that this is fantasy, but I still think the OP is over-estimating the demand for overnight short/medium haul services. What business traveler is going to spend the night on a train when there is a plethora of short, non-stop flights between the most of the city pairs suggested?

 

Likewise, what leisure traveler is going to travel overnight between NYP-Montreal or LAX-Bay Area (for example) when doing so means they'd miss the scenery that the route is known for? And while the scenery isn't perhaps as noted on some of the other routes, there is still something about "the view" that makes train travel appealing, and overnight trains erase that appeal. 

 

The reason the NEC "night owl" service works is due to the incredible population density along the corridor, along with the relative lack of scenery. In fact I think with some re-jiggering you could effectively run two night owl trains each way...you almost have that northbound already with the 0315 departure from WAS supplementing train 66.



#24 A Voice

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 01:45 PM

What business traveler is going to spend the night on a train when there is a plethora of short, non-stop flights between the most of the city pairs suggested?

 

Likewise, what leisure traveler is going to travel overnight between NYP-Montreal or LAX-Bay Area (for example) when doing so means they'd miss the scenery that the route is known for?

 

For business travelers needing to depart after the business day and arrive reasonably early the next morning, they generally have two alternatives:  an evening flight with late arrival at a hotel or else get up in the middle of the night from home for an early a.m. flight.  Neither option in often particularly appealing.  The idea behind "overnight" trains (particularly sleeper, with good food service) is to board of the evening and get a full nights rest at normal hours while en route to your destination.  

 

If we follow the "who is going to take the train when there are flights available" theory to its logical conclusion, then all passenger rail service nationwide - except commuter - can be discontinued tomorrow morning.  Nobody asks why Chick Fil-A builds a new restaurant when there is already a burger joint next door.  Nor does anyone question why Uber bothers to conduct business in a city which has public transportation.  But dare to suggest a new passenger train route, and sure as trains run on rails, someone will question it by stating there is already an airport and (faster) interstate between those points.   

 

Hence, even with leisure travelers, most aren't taking the train just for the scenery.  Is the only reason people fly because its faster?  Or others take the car because they all enjoy driving?  People choose a given mode of transportation for widely varied reasons.  



#25 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 02:15 PM

 

 

 

Hence, even with leisure travelers, most aren't taking the train just for the scenery.  Is the only reason people fly because its faster?  Or others take the car because they all enjoy driving?  People choose a given mode of transportation for widely varied reasons.  

 

 

I am afraid of flying and I don't want to drive more than about five hours at a time. So that's my reason to take a train. I see it as a form of transportation. I'm not saying I don't enjoy the scenery but do I want to be stuck in a train for 8-10 hours as opposed to an overnight train? I also take NJ Transit to New York most cases I want to go in because I don't want to drive/park in New York.


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)!
 

https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

 


#26 fairviewroad

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 02:47 PM

If we follow the "who is going to take the train when there are flights available" theory to its logical conclusion, then all passenger rail service nationwide - except commuter - can be discontinued tomorrow morning.


I didn't say no one would take the train between those destinations. The fact that there is already daytime rail service proves otherwise. I'm just positing that the demand for overnight rail service would be blunted by the fact that travelers have faster, more frequent options that don't require sleeping in a train overnight. Certainly there may be places where it could work.



#27 maxbuskirk

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 10:02 AM

Wait . . . but sleeping in trains is a good thing!

Yeah, let's get this overnight train to go to SFO.

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).


#28 jis

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 10:39 AM

Wait . . . but sleeping in trains is a good thing!

Yeah, let's get this overnight train to go to SFO.

Between sleeping in a bed that dose not bounce around every which way in a spacious room, vs. in a bed that bounces around in a closet? Well, I guess everyone has different ideas about what is good. :P



#29 maxbuskirk

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 10:54 AM

:P :D

Which section (SFO or SAC) should get the lounge?

Maybe get a system where the pax going to SFO order a small breakfast box online, and they stock it, while the lounge goes to SAC? Or structure it like 27, where only the sleeper pax get it to SFO, and the lounge goes to SAC? Maybe put in 2 lounges :blink:? Or nothing at all :unsure:?

Maybe bring back the platform-side vendors, shouting at pax to buy their stuff? :lol:

Edited by maxbuskirk, 14 March 2017 - 10:56 AM.

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).


#30 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 12:12 PM

 

Wait . . . but sleeping in trains is a good thing!

Yeah, let's get this overnight train to go to SFO.

Between sleeping in a bed that dose not bounce around every which way in a spacious room, vs. in a bed that bounces around in a closet? Well, I guess everyone has different ideas about what is good. :P

 

 

As I said in a previous post, the alternative is spending 8-10 hours stuck on a train during awake hours when you can be doing a lot of other things instead (like posting to this board). They still don't have wi-fi on Superliner trains, right?


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)!
 

https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

 


#31 jis

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 12:32 PM

 

 

Wait . . . but sleeping in trains is a good thing!

Yeah, let's get this overnight train to go to SFO.

Between sleeping in a bed that dose not bounce around every which way in a spacious room, vs. in a bed that bounces around in a closet? Well, I guess everyone has different ideas about what is good. :P

 

 

As I said in a previous post, the alternative is spending 8-10 hours stuck on a train during awake hours when you can be doing a lot of other things instead (like posting to this board). They still don't have wi-fi on Superliner trains, right?

 

No. The alternative is a less than two hour flight which is usually quite cheap followed by a hotel room at a price point of ones choice, for most people.

 

I routinely do these sort of trips even for attending day long meetings in the NY/NJ/Washington DC area, from Florida. SFO to LAX is actually even more attractive for doing something like that, or when the HSR starts running to use the HSR instead of the plane. That is what has essentially killed off most of the sleeper service in the EU.



#32 keelhauled

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 01:14 PM

I also think people overstate the comfort of Amtrak sleeping accommodations. The mattresses really are nowhere remotely near as comfortable as a hotel, and the ride can be too rough for many people to sleep soundly. I'm sure many travelers would find four hours in a hotel to be better sleep than eight in a sleeper.

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#33 A Voice

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 01:40 PM

No. The alternative is a less than two hour flight which is usually quite cheap followed by a hotel room at a price point of ones choice, for most people.

 

 

A great deal depends on the individual circumstances of a particular trip and one's personal preferences, obviously, but to reiterate, there are often downsides to that inexpensive two hour flight and hotel which make the rail option more attractive.  The business person with a morning meeting but who cannot leave work early faces an evening or (very) early morning flight; Head to the airport after work, and possibly not be in your chosen hotel room until midnight or 1 a.m. (maybe five hours sleep).  Or, you can go home to your own bed, up at 2 or 3 to catch your flight.  You still prefer to fly; That's fine, but you have to realize there are many - perhaps most - people who would possibly be interested in another option (but usually, there isn't one). 

 

Again this all varies from person to person and trip to trip; Sometimes the train is a better alternative, and other times you would be better off flying.  That's a big reason to have different modes of transportation and a strong argument in favor of expanded rail service.  



#34 jis

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 01:53 PM

Absent any concrete evidence to the contrary I shall cling onto my belief that the circumstances under which a rocking and rolling sleep is more desirable than a short flight and a steady sleep even of a shorter duration in most cases is found to be better by many. I am not denying that for some the case for overnight trains may be good. the question is, is the number of such large enough to justify subsidizing such service over something else. I don't know the answer for certain, to that, but as should be obvious, I suspect not. I am willing to be be disabused of that impression.

 

As you can see, i challenge you to show that "perhaps most - people who would possibly be interested in another option". There is considerable evidence in Europe that such is not the case. I doubt that it is any different in the US. It is a pipe dream of rail lovers IMHO, and of course I am entitled to one. ;)



#35 fairviewroad

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 03:55 PM

I am not denying that for some the case for overnight trains may be good. the question is, is the number of such large enough to justify subsidizing such service over something else.

 

Precisely. On the vast majority of short to medium haul routes, I'd think there should be at the very least 2x/day "daytime" service before an overnight run would merit serious consideration.



#36 A Voice

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 03:56 PM

I am not denying that for some the case for overnight trains may be good. the question is, is the number of such large enough to justify subsidizing such service over something else.

 

Between most any two business destinations, there range from several to several dozen flights to choose from, each with perhaps hundreds of seats.  Even in a railfan "pipe dream", we are generally talking about being able to sell one "overnight" train on each route (in many cases, this would double frequencies from the current one train per 24 hours!).  You don't need a megapolis such as the Northeast Corridor to fill some 236 coach seats and 15 sleeper rooms (typical eastern capacity).  Virtually everyone could stick to the airlines and you would still have a sold-out train.  You don't even need to make a significant dent in market share; You just need enough passengers to fill your 250 or so seats.  Amtrak's existing overnight long-distance trains already do this, and they are only incidentally "overnight services" between major (business) destinations.  



#37 A Voice

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 04:15 PM

As you can see, i challenge you to show that "perhaps most - people who would possibly be interested in another option". There is considerable evidence in Europe that such is not the case. I doubt that it is any different in the US. It is a pipe dream of rail lovers IMHO, and of course I am entitled to one. ;)

 

Europe is not a valid comparison, and we cannot draw meaningful conclusions about what would or would not work in the United States from such observations (that doesn't stop many persons from making the comparison, of course).  There are too many fundamental differences between American and European transportation infrastructure (lack of high speed rail, auto usage, generally poor public transportation, extent of transportation mode integration, etc.) to draw any real conclusions, let alone societal, cultural, and geographic differences (among others).   

 

On the vast majority of short to medium haul routes, I'd think there should be at the very least 2x/day "daytime" service before an overnight run would merit serious consideration.

 

I don't disagree at all.  In fact, I would assume this would ordinarily be a prerequisite for regional short/medium distance corridor operations.  When there is currently but a single train (per 24 hours), however, I would expect that a second train would attract some intermediate point passengers regardless of the time scheduled (as current overnight long-distance trains already do).  


Edited by A Voice, 14 March 2017 - 04:17 PM.


#38 jis

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 11:51 PM

Oh I agree that Europe is not the best comparison. But then in US there is zero tradition for using trains for too much of anything outside a few corridors, and those are mostly daytime. So there is nothing to compare with except for us railfans warm and fuzzy feelings based on our nostalgic experiences. ;)

#39 neroden

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 12:52 PM

Between sleeping in a bed that dose not bounce around every which way in a spacious room, vs. in a bed that bounces around in a closet? Well, I guess everyone has different ideas about what is good. :P

When a comfortable fixed-in-place room costs a minimum of $300 (I'm looking at NYC here), and you have to fly into one of the infamous NYC airports, and get a taxi to get back downtown?

I know people who *couch-surf* on stranger's apartments in order to afford to visit NYC. I think their own *Amtrak seat* overnight would probably be preferred!

If your alternative is to fly into in NYC the day before and get a hotel room, it's cheaper to take the train overnight *by sleeper* and quicker too!

Yeah, lots of people will take a sleeper from upstate NY (or Ohio) to NYC if they can arrive in NYC in the early morning (NO NYC HOTEL) and leave in the late evening (NO NYC HOTEL).

I do think NYC is special in this regard, due to the very high hotel prices. Boston also has very high hotel prices, but (for example) Chicago and LA don't. This is why doubling the LSL *in particular* on a 12-hour-reversed schedule has a stronger overnight market than other overnight suggestions.

Daytime service in Ohio, of course, has its own (strong) market.

The schedule I proposed is flexible enough to adjust to a rerouting over the Michigan Line should that be deemed appropriate.

Edited by neroden, 15 March 2017 - 12:55 PM.

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#40 jis

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 01:07 PM

Yup, the typical hotel price is a key parameter.

 

I can believe many people would take the train overnight to NY specially from many places en route which has no convenient access to air service. But given the hotel prices around airports in the NY area, I doubt that many would from places that have conveniently scheduled air service for typical high density air corridor prices.

 

Still that makes considering the provision of overnight trains desirable, specially in areas where such conditions arise. But only after daytime demand has been adequately met.

 

Also to note, we were originally talking about a San Francisco to Los Angeles night train over the Coast Line. Again, that would work well for mid point locations to either end point area. But I suspect that ridership end to end will not be as robust as one would hope. Spirit of California, while it ran, suffered from that problem too. The rich connectivity with other services including California Amtrak Thruway also enhances the usefulness of such.


Edited by jis, 15 March 2017 - 01:27 PM.





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