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Amtrak "Five Year Service Line Plans" released

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#1 neroden



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Posted 15 July 2017 - 10:50 PM


There's not that much new in it, and it's extremely unambitious (sooo.... here's hoping advocates can get something better to happen), but the accounting is significantly clearer than normal.

Most of the costs in each business line still appear to be allocated, with the bulk being "national network assets", but "equipment" is obviously also allocated by some black magic routine.

So what I liked about this is, this finally gave me a new estimate for the overhead attributed to the long distance division (the first since 2014), even though it's from a budget projection so it's not a real number. It's gone up again, of course (inflation). I'm including "equipment" operating costs in overhead, which is the most debatable item to include in overhead, but AFAICT the equipment always gets used somewhere, it's part of big pools, and assigning its maintenance costs to any one train makes little sense.
I am still relying on assumptions about how the overhead is allocated between individual trains on the MPR. (Note that the "ridership projection" tables in the back of the report explicitly use a different method than the MPRs and one which is obviously wrong and stupid.)

Anyway, excluding overhead, I'm now pretty sure the Star, Meteor, Palmetto, Auto Train, LSL, Crescent, Empire Builder, *and* Coast Starlight generate money: in other words, cancelling them would require additional Congressional funding. The CONO is close enough it's well within the margin of error of my calculations.
Of these, the Star, Meteor, Palmetto, and Auto Train are probably covering their equipment depreciation/maintenance (though the way Amtrak's accounting works you really can't tell what the real equipment depreciation is).
The Cardinal would most likely cover its equipment depreciation if daily; it really really should be daily

The urgent need is for more single-level coaches (and sleepers, and cafes) but there is no discussion of this in the report. There are hare-brained schemes to extend the life of existing P42s and Amfleet Is, unfortunately.

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#2 Blackwolf



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Posted 15 July 2017 - 11:36 PM

I found this part of the Long Distance section interesting:



Federal Funding Policy
Federal funding for long distance services should be provided through a contract for services under which the federal government pays Amtrak a fixed price, preferably under a long term agreement, to operate long distance routes, just as it pays contractors to build military equipment and provide technology services. Instead of the current arrangement under which the federal government partially subsidizes Amtrak’s costs for these services, they should betreated like any other federally contracted services, and funds received from the governmentshould be treated as revenue from a customer – not a subsidy from a public entity.

Capitol Corridor (too many times to count!); Coast Starlight (x21); California Zephyr (x7); Empire Builder (x2); Lake Shore Limited (x4); Maple Leaf (x1); Adirondack (x2); Cascades (x1); Pacific Surfliner (x6); San Joaquin (x8); Capitol Limited (x1); Cardinal (x2); Acela (x1)
VIA Rail
Ocean (x4); Windsor Corridor (x2); The Canadian (x1)

#3 Caesar La Rock

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:00 PM

I did hear from Moorman as he spoke at the National Press Club about extending the life of equipment. That was one of the things brought up, so life extensions of the P42s and Amfleet Is is no surprise there.

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