So how could baggage service be automated so little or no labor is involved? All I can think of is some sort of bin that passengers set their bags into and the baggage car grabs and lifts into the car, maybe setting an empty out first? Still takes time and has too many opportunities for errors. Until someone can invent a way to do baggage service without adding labor and costs, plus minimize the opportunities for Miss labeled bags, I see baggage service decreasing year by year.
As I previously indicated, there are existing stations that would likely benefit from baggage lite. The existing A/C that normally assists the station baggage personnel would merely hand the luggage off to the passengers. Does that mean a system wide implementation of baggage lite(as others have suggested) is in the works? Most likely not. However, most of the stations in the system never had baggage or ticket agents and passengers managed to bring what they could carry.
A friend of mine had stopped by the Greenville station two days before they closed up shop as he needed to pick up his tickets for upcoming trip using pass. The agent told him Spartanburg had baggage removed, his station would be gone in two days and Amtrak intended to pretty much get rid of all stations having baggage service on the Crescent but do it one at a time to avoid getting it noticed in the media. Guess they'll use the new baggage cars in lieu of buying the new sleepers or canceling the remainder of the diners and serving hot dogs out of the baggage cars.
I can't remember the last time SPB had a staff. If you exclude the corridor stops, only 10 of the 25 stops have any type of services and that includes ALX. Again, a lot of these cuts may be driven by things that are tracked, such as express and bike services. As an example, I'd have a hard time imagining them closing ATL, which receives internal shipments and express.
However, if MEI (which is a crew change) has an agent that sells an average of 2 tickets and rarely sees any parcel or express services, I can see them saying "why are we paying someone X amount of dollars when we can have a volunteer open and close the doors and a contractor clean up?"