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Revisiting Amtrak's Network Growth Strategy, 1999


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#1 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 07:19 AM

I have pointed out that since Amtrak was formed historically service, especially among LD routes, has been cut more than it has been grown. I certainly am not opposed to growth in general and discussed my own wish list: http://discuss.amtra...ice-expansions/. Then again, that wish list was under the assumption that money was not an issue and we all know it is. 

 

On the other hand, after the cuts in the late 90's (Desert Wind, Pioneer, among others), Amtrak had proposed a "Network Growth Strategy" (http://www.gao.gov/n...tems/d02398.pdf) to grow service rather than cut it. The strategy was consistent to the philosophy of growing Amtrak rather than cutting it would improve financial performance, a commonly agreed upon strategy at AU. Elements of the strategy included several of the proposals for increased service since I came to AU including the Crescent Star. Amtrak was only able to implement three of its proposed route and service actions and two of them were canceled. The only one that still exists today was the increase of the Texas Eagle to daily service (between Chicago and San Antonio that is). In addition to the Crescent Star, others included the extension of the Silver Meteor to Boston, a New York-Chicago train via Canada, extension of Michigan service to Toledo, adding service between Jacksonville and Miami via the FEC, and a reroute of the Sunset Limited to bypass San Antonio and go from El Paso to Ft. Worth via Abilene (not sure of the exact reroute, comments welcomed). In fact, the report suggested a Skyline (Manhattan Limited) service in the days the Three Rivers was still running:) The Skyline Connection with schedule made it into the May 2000 national timetable:http://www.timetables.org/browse/?group=20000521n&item=0030. Amtrak had also advertised Boston/Springfield through service would begin in Summer 2000: http://www.timetables.org/full.php?group=20000521n&item=0034. I would say that these routes (with the assumption that the Three Rivers doesn't exist today) are two of my biggest if not the two biggest priorities on my wish list (I would say Michigan-NEC would be up there with the Boston/Florida service for second and Crescent Star right behind).

 

The 2002 report from the GAO (General Accounting Office) sounded critical of the NGS. A response from NARP follows defending it. The author of the GAO report cited the main reasons that Amtrak failed to implement most of the routes were an overestimation of mail revenue and the inability to negotiate with host railroads (what else is new?)

 

The goal of AU/NARP/other rail advocacy groups/Amtrak itself should be to come up with a more successful "Network Growth Strategy" even though the chances of it succeeding seem less certain, especially if the feared budget cuts come to pass. Underestimating mail revenue is a non factor today but the host railroad negotiation still is. If mail revenue was a big factor in the decision to implement the NGS, that is another factor working against it today. Also, I don't remember if Amtrak had the equipment back in 1999 that it clearly doesn't have now.


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#2 A Voice

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 07:34 AM

The Network Growth Strategy was based primarily on revenue from mail and express traffic, and that - not passenger service - was the driving force behind it.  An expansion plan based on passengers would look very different.  

 

I would argue, however, that Amtrak should explore a modest and limited reintroduction to the carriage of express traffic, this time with proper planning, better execution, and appropriate equipment - all of which were very real issues previously.  The plan didn't fail because the basic concept wasn't sound; Lack of suitable equipment (Express boxcars and Roadrailers) alone largely doomed profitable mail carriage.  The freight railroads weren't happy with Amtrak's express business (especially Union Pacific), but despite their best efforts, were unable to block it.  


Edited by A Voice, 01 May 2017 - 07:35 AM.


#3 Thirdrail7

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 08:08 AM

Phillyfan,

 

The strategy listed above was largely based on revenue opportunities from Mail,Express and Delivery (Roadrailer) service. The reason for that basis is just as relevant today as it was in 1999. This is because Congress wants Amtrak to cover its losses and doesn't want to fund anymore "money losing" trains. Any new service will have to come out of Amtrak's existing appropriation.

 

That means more host fees and costs without a significant source of revenue outside of the passengers. In general. passenger trains do not cover their  costs through fare box recovery and the feds aren't paying. The states may pay, but that is corridor service. However, some states don't want to buy off the hosts, who are willing to piggyback off passenger services. Host fees are a bigger issue today than in 1999 as railroads are scaling back, truncating lines and downgrading entire subdivisions. The freights are willing to go slower to cut expenses. Are the passenger trains? Also missing in 1999 is the expenses associated with PTC. Amtrak or the states would have to eat that expense, driving up costs that the freight providers are planning to pass to passengers operators.

 

Additionally, you have fleet constraints that didn't necessarily exist then. There were still some heritage cars were still floating around, the Turboliners were down, but not officially out. While the Acela service and the transferring of the Clocker slots to NJT loosened up Amfleets, they were quickly absorbed by additional Keystones that started running through to NYP (along with a bunch of AEM-7s), the Downeaster (which didn't operate in 1999), the SPG shuttles, the Lynchburger. Another example is the introduction of the Heartland Flyer. These services didn't exist when this plan was hatched. So, it isn't just a matter of not being able to cover the finances. The question is still a matter of finding equipment.  Service to Roanoke will soon eat another train set. Even though it will be an extension of an existing train, that still knocks a set that was previously turned in WAS and turned again in NYP.  You lose access to it since it is off corridor for the rest of the day.

 

Therefore, revisiting the strategy is just another example of a  "fantasy thread."


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#4 jis

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 10:02 AM

I agree with Thirdrail. The most that one can expect to do in the immediate future is make improvements at the periphery which require relatively little in the way of additional resources, - basically things that can be done be reshuffling the existing deckchairs while keeping Titanic afloat. mind you the Titanic has not really been hit by an Iceberg yet, so the situation is not as dire as it could be, and many of us are minimally trying to keep it that way.

 

For this reason you will find me pointing out how little additional resource is needed for a few proposals that exist and are borderline feasible. Of course there are those that refuse to consider making any improvements or extensions until they have acquired another 100 Sleepers and 500 Coaches. ;) Things like Gulf Coast will have to happen pretty much from what we've got, or it won;t happen at all. There are possibilities of shuffling some existing Regional/Commuter equipment in some innovative ways. that is about it. If Nippon Sharyo ever manages to build those cars that they were low bidders for, that would help a lot, and hopefully they have learned a lesson.

 

Anyhow, if anything happens at all in the near future, it would be things like the Gulf Coast Service, perhaps the Crescent Star, and the Pueblo Chief. If the rail advocates in Pennsylvania and Ohio can get out of their torpor and actually mobilize their politicians, maybe the through cars from the Pennsylvanian to the Cap. I am hearing that there still is some desire to reroute the LSL via Dearborn, but I am not sure where that is going.

 

Everything else is mental gymnastics. Nothing wrong with that. it is like a video game that keeps ones reflexes sharp. But that is about the beginning and the end of it.



#5 west point

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:10 PM

Growth of the number of available revenue cars might have enabled the LD rail to at least meet above rail costs ?

#6 neroden

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 02:28 PM

The Network Growth Strategy was based primarily on revenue from mail and express traffic, and that - not passenger service - was the driving force behind it.  An expansion plan based on passengers would look very different.

Agreed -- GAO mentions this specifically.
 

The only one that still exists today was the increase of the Texas Eagle to daily service (between Chicago and San Antonio that is). In addition to the Crescent Star, others included the extension of the Silver Meteor to Boston, a New York-Chicago train via Canada, extension of Michigan service to Toledo, adding service between Jacksonville and Miami via the FEC, and a reroute of the Sunset Limited to bypass San Antonio and go from El Paso to Ft. Worth via Abilene (not sure of the exact reroute, comments welcomed). In fact, the report suggested a Skyline (Manhattan Limited) service in the days the Three Rivers was still running:)


The NY-Chicago train via Canada made sense until September 11, 2001, but the completely insane behavior at the borders after that made it impossible.
Silver Meteor to Boston required extra equipment and servicing abilities at Boston, and you *can* just change trains.

Sunset Limited via Midland/Odessa/Abilene is probably still a good idea, but has been displaced by other ideas (like sending the Texas Eagle all the way west) probably due to equipment shortages. If the route is sufficiently double-tracked (does anyone know), if funding for stations could be acquired, and if equipment could be acquired (three big ifs), then this is the route a revived daily Sunset Limited should run on. Alpine, Sanderson, and Del Rio are simply too depopulated to be worth serving when Odessa, Midland, and Abilene are available.   (Meanwhile, the Texas Eagle should go to Laredo.)

Extension of Michigan service to Toledo is still very important and should be done ASAP.

Jacksonville-Miami via the FEC should still be done. Not that it will matter in 20 years when Miami sinks under the waves.

 

The goal of AU/NARP/other rail advocacy groups/Amtrak itself should be to come up with a more successful "Network Growth Strategy"

Well, yeah.  NARP has given its own version several times (remember "Grid and Gateway"?)

 

However, I think there's a mistake being made.  There needs to be much more emphasis on higher frequency, higher speed service, *leveraging economies of scale*, and less emphasis on actual expansion of routes.  Expansion of routes is good, but higher frequencies and speeds on existing routes has a much quicker payback and makes it easier to make the case for expansion of routes.  So: two-a-day on the Water Level Route; two-a-day on the Broadway Limited route; build South of the Lake; connect the Michigan services to Toledo; rebuild all the stations involved with passenger sidings and high-level platforms (like Rochester NY is being built now); and then, as the train services bring in more and more cash, start looking at further expansions.  Likewise, make the Sunset Limited and Cardinal daily ASAP.


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#7 neroden

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 02:32 PM

It's a pity that Amtrak is ignoring the PIPs.  They should really be doing new iterations of these every few years for every route -- continuous analysis of improvement opportunities.  I think a strong business case can be made for buying a bunch more single-level cars and making the necessary capital improvements to beef up the Chicago-East Coast service network.  With the NEC and branches, California, and the Chicago Hub as the three main growth areas for service in the last few decades, linking up improved Chicago-East Coast services to this could create a juggernaut.


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#8 jis

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 03:04 PM

It's a pity that Amtrak is ignoring the PIPs.  They should really be doing new iterations of these every few years for every route -- continuous analysis of improvement opportunities.  I think a strong business case can be made for buying a bunch more single-level cars and making the necessary capital improvements to beef up the Chicago-East Coast service network.  With the NEC and branches, California, and the Chicago Hub as the three main growth areas for service in the last few decades, linking up improved Chicago-East Coast services to this could create a juggernaut.

Neroden, I asked a direct question of the Amtrak spokesperson after her presentation of Amtrak future plans at the NARP Plenary, in which she didn't say much beyond NEC and Gulf Coast, about the PIPs and specifically the through cars through PGH. She blandly said she was not in a position to comment on operational issues. So I will leave you to interpret how big Amtrak's interest is on the PIPs and why I characterized what Boardman did as I did in the other thread. Nothing else explains what happened to the PIPs and the staff people associated with it. Nothing. I believe the only reason that Amtrak is talking about Gulf Coast at all is because they are feeling a bit of political heat. Which suggests to me that they will do nothing unless they are raked over political coal. Just IMO based on observed behavior. Of course the flip side also is that only similar political heat will also produce the funding necessary, so the blame is not entirely of Amtrak. As I said, they are just being good bureaucrats. If you have not seen the British TV Series named "Yes minister!" I would highly recommend it, in order to understand Amtrak among others. :)



#9 neroden

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Posted 02 May 2017 - 03:15 PM

I believe the only reason that Amtrak is talking about Gulf Coast at all is because they are feeling a bit of political heat. Which suggests to me that they will do nothing unless they are raked over political coal.


Let's do it. Because these moves would be profitable, it should make an even easier pitch to the Congressmen et al. when we get them to harass Amtrak.
I've been terribly sick but I'm completely disgusted by Amtrak leaving money and ridership on the table. So whatever I can do to help organize a campaign to get political heat on Amtrak *hard* over their refusal to do the bloody obvious and profitable -- and I'm happy to be as nasty as need be -- I'd be happy to do.

I'm even up for threatening Amtrak with specific legislation requiring them to operate through cars from Philadelphia to Chicago on a daily basis as a condition of receiving their federal funding. It's that much of a no-brainer. I wonder if we could get any of the existing organizations to back this.

Edited by neroden, 02 May 2017 - 03:16 PM.

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#10 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 07:06 AM

If the rail advocates in Pennsylvania and Ohio can get out of their torpor and actually mobilize their politicians, maybe the through cars from the Pennsylvanian to the Cap. I am hearing that there still is some desire to reroute the LSL via Dearborn, but I am not sure where that is going.

 

 

Did you or any other AU members have contact with anyone from AAO? They certainly are interested in the Detroit-Pittsburgh corridor (http://allaboardohio...rridor-campaign), and have presented their ideas to WPPR (Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail)

 

In reality the through cars don't change the situation in Ohio at all since it's the same two trains (they'd have one seat rides from TOL/CLE to PHL/Harrisburg/Lancaster/New Jersey if that matters to them). I think you made the point on the Crescent Star thread that Pennsylvania/Pittsburgh is more interested in a second Pennsylvanian than more service to Chicago and that makes all the sense in the world. However, if they did have a CHI-PGH-PHL-NYP that would be their second Pennsylvanian like the Broadway/Three Rivers was back then). In fact, if they did this then Pennsylvania would get the second Pennsylvanian and have it billed to the federal budget and not the state budget. If there was any Congress representation in Lancaster. PA I'm sure they would love direct access to CHI! I believe I saw Amish on a West Coast train and how else would they get there from Lancaster?

 

From Ohio's standpoint, they would want off-transfer service from CLE/TOL and or CIN to CHI for better hours and certainly any service to Columbus. This is where the 750 mile rule screws them (that and Kasich of course). In their Detroit-Pittsburgh campaign their proposals (http://allaboardohio...rine_linkup.pdf) include 42 and 45 NYP-PHL-PGH-Michigan-CHI and 43 and 44 NYP-PHL-PGH only. 43 makes it to CLE before midnight and 44 arrives in CLE after 7am although TOL would still be in the graveyard shift (sorry TylerP42).

 

Hopefully Wick can work things out with his buddies:)  He'd be a stronger advocate than any of us! I'm guessing he would have an easier time working with NS and people he is familiar with than CSX, UP, etc.


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Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
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#11 jis

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 08:01 AM

As far as I can tell AAO' interest in PGH ends at writing and publishing stuff on the web. They were there at Silver Spring and were markedly uninterested in anything to the east. They seem to be focused on Chicago.

#12 Carolina Special

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 09:07 AM

Instead of threatening Amtrak with the stick of legal action/legislation, how about a carrot? A GoFundMe campaign to buy them a new sleeper or coach. That'll shame them into it.

While it would require company cooperation, how about an option to convert your AGR points into cash for new passenger cars? They already have the CO2 conversion option: why not something that really matters?

OK, this is the fantasy thread. :)

#13 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 09:20 AM

I believe NARP had a campaign after the SS lost its diner to donate money to buy a whole bunch of bags to send to Congress. Talk about a big waste of money. That money could've gone towards funding the items mentioned by Carolina Special. What did the bags accomplish?


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Shore 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)
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#14 Thirdrail7

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 09:23 AM

 

It's a pity that Amtrak is ignoring the PIPs.  They should really be doing new iterations of these every few years for every route -- continuous analysis of improvement opportunities.  I think a strong business case can be made for buying a bunch more single-level cars and making the necessary capital improvements to beef up the Chicago-East Coast service network.  With the NEC and branches, California, and the Chicago Hub as the three main growth areas for service in the last few decades, linking up improved Chicago-East Coast services to this could create a juggernaut.

Neroden, I asked a direct question of the Amtrak spokesperson after her presentation of Amtrak future plans at the NARP Plenary, in which she didn't say much beyond NEC and Gulf Coast, about the PIPs and specifically the through cars through PGH. She blandly said she was not in a position to comment on operational issues. So I will leave you to interpret how big Amtrak's interest is on the PIPs and why I characterized what Boardman did as I did in the other thread. Nothing else explains what happened to the PIPs and the staff people associated with it. Nothing. I believe the only reason that Amtrak is talking about Gulf Coast at all is because they are feeling a bit of political heat. Which suggests to me that they will do nothing unless they are raked over political coal. Just IMO based on observed behavior. Of course the flip side also is that only similar political heat will also produce the funding necessary, so the blame is not entirely of Amtrak. As I said, they are just being good bureaucrats. If you have not seen the British TV Series named "Yes minister!" I would highly recommend it, in order to understand Amtrak among others. :)

 

 

 

 

I believe the only reason that Amtrak is talking about Gulf Coast at all is because they are feeling a bit of political heat. Which suggests to me that they will do nothing unless they are raked over political coal.


Let's do it. Because these moves would be profitable, it should make an even easier pitch to the Congressmen et al. when we get them to harass Amtrak.
I've been terribly sick but I'm completely disgusted by Amtrak leaving money and ridership on the table. So whatever I can do to help organize a campaign to get political heat on Amtrak *hard* over their refusal to do the bloody obvious and profitable -- and I'm happy to be as nasty as need be -- I'd be happy to do.

I'm even up for threatening Amtrak with specific legislation requiring them to operate through cars from Philadelphia to Chicago on a daily basis as a condition of receiving their federal funding. It's that much of a no-brainer. I wonder if we could get any of the existing organizations to back this.

 

 

 

I'll take this on.  To do so, I will have to channel my inner (with all due respect) "PhillyAmtrakFan."  It isn't just a matter of ignoring the PIPs. Indeed, there are ongoing operational evaluations. How do you think you ended up with a combined 89/181?  However, implementing the PIPs or other plans requires capital and cooperation. Most of the plans usually involve additional equipment or funds. I haven't really seen any of that appear. As such, if you implement something that sounds like a "no-brainer," you're basically taking from something or someone else. In the Adding a Coach to the Palmetto thread, Neroden accurately pointed out that adding a car to the Palmetto will ultimately mean that someone else will not have a car. Who gets cut? Is it worth it? Is the equipment better used elsewhere?  Should we sacrifice an AMII coach from FLA service to help "improve" an existing service profile? Should we cut a car from the Adirondack so people don't have to transfer? The Cardinal used to have 5 coaches 20 years ago. It typically has three. Should we further reduce it and make it two cars?

 

Don't answer that PhillyAmtrakFan!!! ^_^

 

The bottom line is equipment is not forthcoming.. The Bi-Level order did not come to fruition, the CAF cars are so far behind schedule, it is almost time to start considering VIIIs!! Indeed, Indeed,the equipment that we have is aging and dying.

 

Additional service means additional expenses. Amtrak may receive more funds for improvements but I'll bet a lot of that will be diverted to other projects that will keep things operational. Should the capital expenses associated with through car service at PGH become more important or have a higher priority than the expenses associated with establishing PTC and maintaining existing service to NPN? Should restoration of the Gulf East service becoming a higher priority than protecting the existing route and schedule of the Auto Train?

 

I like political heat because it usually comes with a balance. I KNOW that alarms went off about the NYT district. No one did anything except complain and stall for YEARS. Now, the politicians are grandstanding and want action.  Amtrak put their hand out and said "money where your mouth is." In this case, the currency is operating slots.  NJT and LIRR will no longer be able so avoid cutting the trains. The Sunset Limited was a lightening rod and a whipping post for those who wanted to avoid funding Amtrak. Now, the politicians that want it back can fight their own peers and secure funding for the operation. That means support and hopefully, it will (as PhillyAmtrakFan  loves to point out) not come at the expense of another train.


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#15 CHamilton

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 11:22 AM

Some good news. Now, let's make it better. http://ow.ly/4V2x30boUCy 


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#16 jis

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 11:27 AM

Last week, a certain legislative assistant of a certain otherwise amtrak sympathetic Republican who holds a very powerful committee chair pointed out that unless you have very firm ongoing funding support behind each proposal, just patching in some extra money one year effectively just has the net effect of putting an undefended larger target on the back of Amtrak. An interesting, and possibly realistic way of thinking about things. Came up in the context of discussing whether full FAST appropriation is within the realm of possibilities, come September.

#17 A Voice

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 09:46 PM

Last week, a certain legislative assistant of a certain otherwise amtrak sympathetic Republican who holds a very powerful committee chair pointed out that unless you have very firm ongoing funding support behind each proposal, just patching in some extra money one year effectively just has the net effect of putting an undefended larger target on the back of Amtrak. An interesting, and possibly realistic way of thinking about things. Came up in the context of discussing whether full FAST appropriation is within the realm of possibilities, come September.

 

I think he has a good point.  You really need ongoing funding support anyway because a marginal budget increase for just one year doesn't necessarily accomplish all that much (though Amtrak could use the money, certainly), and there would doubtless be accusations of wasted taxpayer dollars unless there is a specific purpose for the appropriation.  However, absent increased financial support for passenger rail at the federal level all we can do is maintain the status quo.  If we don't get behind Amtrak with increased funding - even if it makes Amtrak a bigger, more tempting target next fiscal year - nothing will ever change; That means no expansion, new equipment, greater services, or a state-of-good-repair Northeast Corridor.  Potentially, that bigger target is also more defensible when you have something to show for the investment.

 

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#18 neroden

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 12:26 AM

I'll take this on.  To do so, I will have to channel my inner (with all due respect) "PhillyAmtrakFan."  It isn't just a matter of ignoring the PIPs. Indeed, there are ongoing operational evaluations. How do you think you ended up with a combined 89/181?  However, implementing the PIPs or other plans requires capital and cooperation. Most of the plans usually involve additional equipment or funds. I haven't really seen any of that appear. As such, if you implement something that sounds like a "no-brainer," you're basically taking from something or someone else. In the Adding a Coach to the Palmetto thread, Neroden accurately pointed out that adding a car to the Palmetto will ultimately mean that someone else will not have a car. Who gets cut? Is it worth it? Is the equipment better used elsewhere?  Should we sacrifice an AMII coach from FLA service to help "improve" an existing service profile? Should we cut a car from the Adirondack so people don't have to transfer? The Cardinal used to have 5 coaches 20 years ago. It typically has three. Should we further reduce it and make it two cars?
 
Don't answer that PhillyAmtrakFan!!! ^_^
 
The bottom line is equipment is not forthcoming.. The Bi-Level order did not come to fruition, the CAF cars are so far behind schedule, it is almost time to start considering VIIIs!! Indeed, Indeed,the equipment that we have is aging and dying.
 
Additional service means additional expenses. Amtrak may receive more funds for improvements but I'll bet a lot of that will be diverted to other projects that will keep things operational. Should the capital expenses associated with through car service at PGH become more important or have a higher priority than the expenses associated with establishing PTC and maintaining existing service to NPN?

NPN service is actually doing quite poorly compared to Norfolk. While Virginia is paying for it the resources can't really be shifted away from Virginia, but shifting resources from it to Norfolk service would be very wise.
 

Should restoration of the Gulf East service becoming a higher priority than protecting the existing route and schedule of the Auto Train?

Auto Train is more profitable than Gulf East. And requires fewer stations. There's a way to determine this stuff...
 

I like political heat because it usually comes with a balance. I KNOW that alarms went off about the NYT district. No one did anything except complain and stall for YEARS. Now, the politicians are grandstanding and want action.  Amtrak put their hand out and said "money where your mouth is." In this case, the currency is operating slots.  NJT and LIRR will no longer be able so avoid cutting the trains. The Sunset Limited was a lightening rod and a whipping post for those who wanted to avoid funding Amtrak. Now, the politicians that want it back can fight their own peers and secure funding for the operation. That means support and hopefully, it will (as PhillyAmtrakFan  loves to point out) not come at the expense of another train.


We need some more political heat for the East Coast - Chicago services, which are the area with the greatest opportunity for profitable expansion of Amtrak. I'm terribly antisocial and bad at political organizing, so I don't know how to get the right coalition together for this.

There's been too much focus on geographical expansion among railway advocates, particularly in the so-called "long distance" arena. Train services thrive on volume. We need a focus on and advocacy for *more reliablity*, *higher speed*, and *greater frequency*, because if you've got enough riders, two-a-day trains normally are significantly more profitable / less loss-making than one-a-day trains.

The Pittsburgh situation is simply a screw-up, financially speaking. An error. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't (a) a middle-of-the-night transfer, with (b) a miserable station.

Edited by neroden, 07 May 2017 - 12:32 AM.

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#19 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 08:30 AM

The first big step is more equipment (and that's not even getting to host railroad negotiation). The equipment is the reason for my desire to shuffle the deck or cannibalize as you've described it.

 

Neroden described the Pittsburgh situation perfectly. As much as I describe the BL/TR as a CHI-PHL (and CHI-Harrisburg and CHI-Lancaster) it served as a 2nd PGH-PHL-NYP which had existed for most of the Amtrak era (small gap I believe between the end of the National Limited and start of the Pennsylvanian). Think about how much different PGH would be with a 2nd train. The PA Congressional delegation can push for a 2nd Pennsylvanian but the operation cost will entirely fall on Pennsylvania. So I think they should be campaigning more with Harrisburg than Washington. On the other hand if Congress gave funds to PA to upgrade HAR-PGH the same way they did for CHI-STL it would certainly help. PA used money from the stimulus to better HAR-PHL. HAR-PGH is a different beast because they don't own the track (then again CHI-STL isn't owned by Amtrak either).

 

If you have to depend on Congress the rural areas will always push Amtrak's agenda because they have fewer transportation options and be more passionate about Amtrak in their area. I highly doubt anyone in Congress really cares about "Amtrak", they care if their area has a train and this results in an Amtrak that serves fewer people.

 

I know a few of you want to see a "2nd LSL". I would say that if scheduled properly it would help me too. The westbound LSL schedule works well for me but the eastbound is tough as it gets back to NYP after 6pm (assuming it is on time) and that would mean getting back to TRE/PHL around 8-9pm which even during the summer is night time and I still have to get home. If there was an eastbound LSL that got back to NYP earlier before the rush hour it would be a much bigger asset to me. I really don't want to go via WAS after my last debacle with the CL route. NYP works better for me because you have unreserved NJT service to TRE while WAS-PHL/TRE you're at the mercy of Amtrak and the long line at WAS Union Station.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Shore 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/


#20 neroden

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 11:00 AM

I know a few of you want to see a "2nd LSL". I would say that if scheduled properly it would help me too. The westbound LSL schedule works well for me but the eastbound is tough as it gets back to NYP after 6pm (assuming it is on time) and that would mean getting back to TRE/PHL around 8-9pm which even during the summer is night time and I still have to get home. If there was an eastbound LSL that got back to NYP earlier before the rush hour it would be a much bigger asset to me. I really don't want to go via WAS after my last debacle with the CL route. NYP works better for me because you have unreserved NJT service to TRE while WAS-PHL/TRE you're at the mercy of Amtrak and the long line at WAS Union Station.


*mentally adds this to the pitch for a second LSL*

OK, I'm beginning to see where I should focus my advocacy. ;)   Apparently I had a really good idea which would even help PhillyAmtrakFan.  Unfortunately I'm sick and can't travel much and find social activity exhausting, and it's a lot of shoe leather and conversation to pitch an idea to lots of people.

 

I ought to be able to get support in NYC, upstate NY, Ohio, and Chicago.  Not sure who to start with.  Probably ESPA, I guess; it's a damn pain in the neck to go to Schenectady so I hope some of them have email addresses.


Edited by neroden, 07 May 2017 - 11:03 AM.

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