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End of W Palm Beach Safety Patrol Trains?


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#21 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 09:27 PM

I'm sure once they learn it's a train full of middle schoolers those people would voluntarily bump themselves to the Silver Star.

 

That's not what the paid passengers who were bumped have said in the past.  They had a confirmed ticket and they expected to use it.  Shocking, but true.  In most cases it never occurred to them that they might be casually bumped to make way for a bunch of school kids on a short notice joy ride.


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#22 west point

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 10:44 PM

What is sad is Amtrak not having enough spare equipment to run an extra train or attach extra cars to the Meteor. Locos might also be a problem ? Since CSX limits Auto Train to 50 cars cannot see why that is more than enough train length.

#23 MikefromCrete

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 11:16 PM

What is sad is Amtrak not having enough spare equipment to run an extra train or attach extra cars to the Meteor. Locos might also be a problem ? Since CSX limits Auto Train to 50 cars cannot see why that is more than enough train length.

The problem in not equipment or locomotives -- those could be rounded up for a once a year event. The problem is that CSX will not allow Amtrak to operate a special train. That is why the Silver Meteor has to be replaced twice a year. 



#24 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 11:29 PM

What is sad is Amtrak not having enough spare equipment to run an extra train or attach extra cars to the Meteor. Locos might also be a problem ? Since CSX limits Auto Train to 50 cars cannot see why that is more than enough train length.

The problem in not equipment or locomotives -- those could be rounded up for a once a year event. The problem is that CSX will not allow Amtrak to operate a special train. That is why the Silver Meteor has to be replaced twice a year. 

Then why can't the extra cars simply be added to the end of the SM with no access permitted between the two sections?
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#25 CCC1007

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 11:42 PM

What is sad is Amtrak not having enough spare equipment to run an extra train or attach extra cars to the Meteor. Locos might also be a problem ? Since CSX limits Auto Train to 50 cars cannot see why that is more than enough train length.

The problem in not equipment or locomotives -- those could be rounded up for a once a year event. The problem is that CSX will not allow Amtrak to operate a special train. That is why the Silver Meteor has to be replaced twice a year. 
Then why can't the extra cars simply be added to the end of the SM with no access permitted between the two sections?
If I remember correctly, there are stations that have limited track space off the main line railroad, and the mainline is busy enough that CSX, who owns the mainline at least, will not allow longer trains than the platform tracks allow. That also means those stations don't have platforms on the main tracks, just in the sidings. IIRC, Jacksonville is one such station.

#26 Thirdrail7

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 11:43 PM

 

 Instead of wringing hands over winning the hearts and minds of little kids who may eventually return as adult passengers decades from now, perhaps you should worry about providing an honest and dignified service to revenue passengers who are trying to purchase and use your services today.

 

 

In case you haven't noticed, it is more than wringing hands and minds. It is exactly what you said...providing honest and dignified service to revenue passengers and are trying to use out service...today.

 

Those children are passengers...today. Over 500 children (which is a TON of revenue) want to travel...at once...sometime in the beginning of the year. So, Amtrak is catering to them since it is guaranteed (repeat) revenue that apparently has been around longer than Amtrak.  If they come back in the future, that's just a bonus. However, they ARE currently revenue passengers that are paying big bucks for a train.

 

Ideally, they would run the extra train.  It would be nice if the muscle behind this move used some on CSX and got them to agree to run it as a scheduled train.


Edited by Thirdrail7, 31 May 2017 - 11:50 PM.

They say laughter is the best medicine. Obviously they never posted on AU.


#27 Anderson

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 12:15 AM

 

 

 Instead of wringing hands over winning the hearts and minds of little kids who may eventually return as adult passengers decades from now, perhaps you should worry about providing an honest and dignified service to revenue passengers who are trying to purchase and use your services today.

 

 

In case you haven't noticed, it is more than wringing hands and minds. It is exactly what you said...providing honest and dignified service to revenue passengers and are trying to use out service...today.

 

Those children are passengers...today. Over 500 children (which is a TON of revenue) want to travel...at once...sometime in the beginning of the year. So, Amtrak is catering to them since it is guaranteed (repeat) revenue that apparently has been around longer than Amtrak.  If they come back in the future, that's just a bonus. However, they ARE currently revenue passengers that are paying big bucks for a train.

 

Ideally, they would run the extra train.  It would be nice if the muscle behind this move used some on CSX and got them to agree to run it as a scheduled train.

 

On the one hand, it's sort-of beyond me that CSX won't sell two round-trip slots and slap some caveats to the effect of "Look, this is a special train and OTP may be adversely affected".  Of course, I suspect that some of this goes back to a nasty fight over track access fees (IIRC Amtrak pays somewhere in the range of $1-2/train mile versus MARC paying around $20-something/train mile) that's been fouling up the daily Cardinal as well.  This might just be me being me, but I'd think that if CSX could hit Amtrak for a bit over $100k for the two round-trips it would be well enough.  That would, for the record, be roughly equivalent to getting around $25m/yr for each of the Silvers...and hitting Amtrak for that rate or some significant share of it would go a distance towards establishing precedent on them getting a lot of money for adding trains down the line.

(Of course, silly me, I'd think that at some going rate CSX would logically prefer to just dispatch a bunch of Amtrak trains and to hell with moving freight...)


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#28 Thirdrail7

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 12:40 AM

On the one hand, it's sort-of beyond me that CSX won't sell two round-trip slots and slap some caveats to the effect of "Look, this is a special train and OTP may be adversely affected".

 

 

While the new leadership at CSX may have different ideas, the previous administration wasn't easily bought or influenced. The traffic levels on the "A" line allows them to call the shots.

 

Right now, you can't even SCHEDULE additional moves between WAS-ALX on days the Cardinal operates (although they have allowed emergency moves) because they say the slots aren't available.

 

There is a  new CEO at the helm of CSX. Perhaps they will be more agreeable to running an extra train. This assumes that the bored parents still want the trip to continue.


Edited by Thirdrail7, 01 June 2017 - 01:03 AM.

They say laughter is the best medicine. Obviously they never posted on AU.


#29 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 02:21 AM

Instead of wringing hands over winning the hearts and minds of little kids who may eventually return as adult passengers decades from now, perhaps you should worry about providing an honest and dignified service to revenue passengers who are trying to purchase and use your services today.

 
In case you haven't noticed, it is more than wringing hands and minds. It is exactly what you said...providing honest and dignified service to revenue passengers and are trying to use out service...today. Those children are passengers...today. Over 500 children (which is a TON of revenue) want to travel...at once...sometime in the beginning of the year. So, Amtrak is catering to them since it is guaranteed (repeat) revenue that apparently has been around longer than Amtrak.  If they come back in the future, that's just a bonus. However, they ARE currently revenue passengers that are paying big bucks for a train. Ideally, they would run the extra train.  It would be nice if the muscle behind this move used some on CSX and got them to agree to run it as a scheduled train.


Was Amtrak chartered as a common carrier with scheduled services or as a kiddie joyride train? If you insist on running a special train over a route with an owner that refuses to allow it (in addition to your usual schedule) then you should prevent any ticketing during the potential charter window until a specific travel date has been solidified. That way nobody has to risk being refused travel with a valid ticket for arbitrary reasons. Are 500 heavily discounted group travel tickets worth more than blocking off weeks worth of scheduled services for months on end? I have no idea myself, but maybe that's the question Amtrak should be considering instead trying to eat their cake and have it too.

Edited by Devil's Advocate, 01 June 2017 - 02:25 AM.

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#30 Thirdrail7

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 10:45 AM

 


Was Amtrak chartered as a common carrier with scheduled services or as a kiddie joyride train?

 

 

That's the ultimate question and it is one that a person must answer on their own. As such, I I will quote my statement  to Neroden in the Train Jam thread:

 

 

Why does PhillyAmtrakFan have to subsidize riders in West Virginia? Why does Tennessee Traveler have to subsidize the costs of upgrading catenary in NJ that he'll likely not use? Why do I have to subsidize snowbirds moving their vehicles up and down the east coast to avoid the cold of winters in the NE and the heat of summer in the SE? Why is SarahZ subsidizing the Autumn Express?

 

This goes back to what is Amtrak? What can it do for people? What role does it serve for people? Is it essential travel or a joyride for gamers? it depends on your perspective but the gamers pay for the subsidy as well. So, if they decided to cash in once a year, I don't begrudge them. Who knows how much of that will become spill revenue? How many will ride again? How many will ride other routes, with their families? How much exposure is Amtrak getting from their twitter feed?

 

The parents of these children subsidize Amtrak too! So, if they decide to seek a return on their investment twice a year, I don't begrudge them.

 

 

 

 If you insist on running a special train over a route with an owner that refuses to allow it (in addition to your usual schedule) then you should prevent any ticketing during the potential charter window until a specific travel date has been solidified. That way nobody has to risk being refused travel with a valid ticket for arbitrary reasons.

 

I will note that as unfortunate as it is,  passengers are routinely displaced all year. A perfect example is what is occurring right now. CSX is performing track work that resulted in the cancellation of numerous trains to RVR, the Palmetto is completely cancelled between WAS-SAV and the Colonial runs an hour and thirty minutes earlier.  All remaining trains through the area are subject to major delays. Although  CSX made mention of the track work, there wasn't a date set until two weeks ago.

 

I can venture to say that CSX  will perform work on the Peninsula Subdivision at some point between June and August. They pretty much do it every year necessitating bus operation and/or termination on the route. Same goes for NS and their track work between ATL-BHM. However, it is not confirmed UNTIL the hosts confirm it, which may not come until week before the date. Sometimes, it comes days before the date Yet, I can currently make reservations on various dates to NPN and from WAS-NOL during those periods. 

 

These are examples of short notice.  Should Amtrak block out the whole month until they know for certain the track work will occur and when to spare passengers the indignity of having their plans altered? Probably not.  You may argue that the track work is outside of Amtrak's control and necessary while this trip is just a joyride. However, the special is something that will at least generate revenue whereas these track projects are a complete loss of ridership and revenue.  As the mandate for Amtrak to decrease subsidies increases, there is something to be said for protecting a constant source of revenue. As I understand it, Amtrak may only run these specials if they cover their costs...or some state legislature demands it. ^_^

 

 

 Are 500 heavily discounted group travel tickets worth more than blocking off weeks worth of scheduled services for months on end? I have no idea myself, but maybe that's the question Amtrak should be considering instead trying to eat their cake and have it too.

 

This trip has been running as a stand alone train for quite a few years so for all you know, Amtrak has done just that in the past and decided that with ridership dwindling, blowing out two trains instead of blocking out multiple spots is the best policy. I'm not sure what you mean by heavily discounted and I'm not going to ask you to prove your work but this train generates a great deal of revenue.

 

 At the end of the day, you're entitled to your opinion and I agree with large aspects of it. What I DO find quite entertaining is the righteous indignation of some of the posters that rally against this train....yet line up to buy tickets for the Autumn Express trains, which usually doesn't even occur on a scheduled Amtrak route and interferes with as DA put it "revenue passengers who are trying to purchase and use your services today." 

 

 

 

 

I think that a special a few times a year will not make or break the argument regarding Amtrak being a land cruise or an essential service. I could make the same argument for the Autumn Express excursions. Since the beginning, I haven't been a fan, and to say that people aren't inconvenienced when they (and the associated other specials) run is not true. Those cars could be used for scheduled trains. This year, ABE and NRK passengers had the rug pulled out from them on multiple weekends when they had to use the ACELA to compensate for the loss of Amfleets. Additional trains couldn't add equipment to combat sold out conditions all so a bunch of people can joyride through the bushes, looking at leaves surrounding some obscure track!

 

However, the goodwill and enthusiasm generated by the trains makes it worthwhile, particularly if they generate revenue and spill revenue. I beam when I read your posts and trip reports on the excursions.

 

We should do the same for these students.

 

If the train ceases to exist, so be it. However, if the students continue show up, and another train is not forthcoming,  I think you should work with one of your repeat passengers.


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#31 railiner

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 12:12 PM

I have enjoyed all of the Autumn Expresses...
That said, if running that train displaces anyone from any train, that is already holding a confirmed reservation,
then I say, they should not run the excursion...key being someone who has already booked it, ...not preventing a new booking...
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#32 west point

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 01:27 PM

If CSX causes train cancellations why isn't there a quid pro quo for an extra trip(s) in winter ? And it is noted the WASH Richmond segment is the restricting segment.

Edited by west point, 01 June 2017 - 01:32 PM.


#33 MattW

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 03:53 PM

I've seen a lot about how much Amtrak gets from the train, but how much do they lose? What's that old saying? It takes 7 "attaboys" to make up for one "oh crap?" The only news stories I hear about this train are the ones talking about bumping paying passengers. How many people will hear those and think "I'll never book Amtrak, they may bump me and screw up my plans!" nevermind that it's once a year, in their minds, they could do it any time for any reason. So how much revenue is Amtrak losing from people who won't ride because of this?


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#34 Ryan

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 05:08 PM

Don't conflate "news stories" with "complaining forum posts from people not impacted".
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#35 MattW

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 08:52 PM

There have been news stories. But even that aside, people can, and do post through social media what happens and that does get spread around.


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#36 Seaboard92

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 09:48 PM

It should also be noted in here the Silver Meteor shares its entire route with other routes so it's not like bumped passengers have no options.

Personally I agree with Third Rail on every one of his points.

And the real culprit is CSX for not allowing extra moves

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#37 the_traveler

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 10:42 PM

Maybe so, but here's my problem.

I want to go from my home in upstate NY to ORL. I want to go on the SM. I can leave from my home station a few miles away @ 9 am to connect to the SM with a few hours layover @ NYP. On the return, I am booked on the SM and can connect from the arrival @11:15 to the EA departing @ 3:15 to my home station.

But wait! Amtrak just cancelled the reservation that I booked 8 months ago for something called "Safety Patrol". I can instead take the SS to ORL. But I can't leave from my home station @ 9 am. In order to connect to the SS, I must get to ALB for a 6 am train. (For your information, ALB is 55 miles away plus I don't drive and can not get a ride that early!)

On the return, the SS arrives in NYP to late to make any connection to upstate NY! Or I could take the SS to WAS and have a 12+ hour layover and need to depart @ 3:15 AM to connect @ NYP to my home station.

Thus, I am unable to go on my vacation using Amtrak! If I had known a few months beforehand, I may have gotten a reasonable airfare. But now, the only thing available is a full fare ticket!

So is it still worth displacing passengers who had reserved months in advance?:huh:
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Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

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#38 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:13 AM

What is somebody who doesn't drive doing living 55 miles west of Albany? That HAS to be a really weird exception to the standard.
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#39 jis

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 09:43 AM

Given a long enough notice of cancellation of a service on a particular day, I don't see what the issue is. Amtrak is not alone in doing such. I can't think of any airline or bus line that has not done something like that and offered alternatives, sometimes not even in the same day, or a full refund. Basically they have to balance goodwill vs. operational or business imperatives.

 

If the change is last minute and is not cause by a force majeure then there should be some penalty involved for the carrier. Such is enforced in the airline industry. Similar rules should exist for rail and at present they don't. But AFAIK none of the Palm Beach Patrol trips caused a last minute cancellation. There was always ample time to make alternative arrangements - annoying yes, but end of the world? No.



#40 the_traveler

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 02:15 PM

I live 55 NORTH of ALB, and my home station of FED is served daily by the Ethan Allen and the Adirondack.
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!




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