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No more charters & special moves: 3/28 Memo fr Anderson


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#61 Palmetto

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 03:27 PM

Dearing is also advertising all its trips into August/Sept, and its owner is one of the very visible agitators on the issue of PVs.

 

I suspect everybody in the know may know something that we outsiders don't.

It might also be that the PV owners are going to fight this tooth and nail, and are leaving their trips posted in the hopes they'll be successful.



#62 jis

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 03:31 PM

As I got more and more puzzled about all the numbers of the incredible largess that PVs and Charters bring to Amtrak that Amtrak could collapse without, I decided to dig a little deeper to get a feel for at least the orders of magnitude involved. What I discovered based on the 2017 Audited Financials of Amtrak are as follows:
 
Passenger Related Revenue was $2.54 billion, which includes $363 billion in F&B and State contribution. After taking those out ticket revenue is $2.19 billion.
 
Other revenue was $762 million, which includes among other things special move and charter revenues, etc. The item covering those is called "Transportation" in the statement and it accounts for $181.6 million in all. So that is pretty much an upper bound of the PV and Charters related revenues.
 
Now, since there is no way to figure out the cost of providing services for that revenue stream, all that we can say is that if all Charter and PV operations were stopped cold turkey, that would constitute possible loss of $0.18 billion of revenue out of a total revenue of $2.54 billion, noticeable amount but not a deal breaker by any means.
 
So absent that business in its entirety, Amtrak's revenues would be $2.36 billion instead of $2.54 billion.
 
Since we do not know the cost associated with that "Transportation" revenue stream, the net amount of P/L is probably substantially less than that, But still, it may very well be a number at least in double digit millions possibly. The number $4 million to $10 million net positive has been mentioned by various parties in this regard. This obliquely suggest that the cost of providing that service is somewhere between $171 million to $177 million, i.e. the net impact on Amtrak's bottom line would be that $4 million to $ 10 million in the net revenue of $2.54 billion.
 
Anyway, that's all I could dig out and thought others might find useful.
 
This should not be seen as an argument for or against running PVs and Charters. It is just to get a better grounded argument. One thing that this does not take into consideration at all are the non-monitized intangibles, which naturally cannot be included in this analysis for the very fact that they are hard to quantify - which also might mean that no one has a clue what their real impact is.

Edited by jis, 30 March 2018 - 11:23 PM.


#63 rrdude

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 03:42 PM

It may well have been, or turn into, a means to charge the PVs even more than they do, AND, to limit where they will allow the pick-up/discharge of a PV. (As mentioned by most, terminal points only, or, locations with a dwell time in excess of XYZ minutes)

 

The special moves and charters, (i.e., "excursions")  I don't really get that, as they also could be priced higher, and by default, there would be fewer.

 

I do agree with another poster that "getting your basic transportation in order", in other words, "run your damn trains on time" is a base line goal. Perhaps, as the other poster mentioned, Amtrak will review this, AFTER they have succeeded in doing that. I for one tho, wouldn't hold my breath.



#64 Northbound98

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 05:09 PM

Politics aside, does anyone know what alternatives exist for private car operators? Do all of the class 1's have HEP generator cars? Do they have policies that allow PV operators to actually move cars at anything close to a reasonable cost?



#65 jis

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 05:23 PM

Most PVs have self generating capabilities, but can operate in HEP consists. At least having HEP pass through is an Amtrak requirement.

 

Any Class 1 or Class 2 will happily tow a car as long as it is not carrying any people. To carry people they require the Amtrak level insurance, which Amtrak provides when they are in Amtrak consists but Class 1/2s don't carry such insurance. So they have to be independently arranged, and these insurances are hard to come by, unless underwritten by a large outfit like Amtrak.

 

As things stand it looks like Amtrak will not stop towing PVs as long as they are running from origin to destination of an Amtrak train or to an intermediate stop where the schedule Amtrak halt is 30 mins or more. This potentially increases the cost of someone that wants to run a PV excursion, say from Hinton WV to Cincinnati OH, just to pick a random example, to an impossible level.

 

Before these rules go into effect they could just hitch the car onto Cardinal at Hinton and have it dropped off at Cincy.

 

With the new rules they will have to get CSX to move the car (unstaffed) to Washington DC so that it can be hitched onto the Cardinal there. The they can board it wherever en route and get off wherever en route, but the car has to go all the way to Chicago. You can see the complication that this creates.

 

So bottom line is many of the currently run trips will become close to impossible, while many other will be operable with some extra cost for car positioning.

 

Finally, it is a fluid situation as the details of what the new policy are not fully clear yet.

 

Hope that clarifies more than confuses.


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#66 jebr

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 05:38 PM

The situation that will be most curious to me to see how it plays out is how they will handle St. Paul. Back when the station move was made from the Midway station to Union Depot, Amtrak shortened the station stop from 40+ minutes to under 20 minutes, but didn't adjust the overall runtime of the train or (as far as I remember) the calling times of the neighboring station stops. My understanding was that they kept the time in to allow for switching activities near the old Midway station (both private cars and potentially a cutoff coach MSP - CHI. I don't think I've ever seen the cutoff coach used in revenue service since the move to MSP, so I wonder if they'll just keep the padding but not allow any switching movements at MSP, if they'll reduce padding and not allow switching movements at MSP, or if they'll allow switching movements at MSP despite not having 30 minutes of dwell in the timetable.



#67 Seaboard92

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 07:15 PM

Just to correct Jis a bit Hinton and Cincinnati were never allowable cuts on the Cardinal. Cincy was till I think 2008 when CSX started denying switching there and all of the Cincy cars moved to Chicago.

The only places one could add or subtract to my knowledge were New York, Washington, Huntington, Indianapolis, and Chicago. This new policy strands the Dearing, JP Henderson, Braddock Inn, NYC 38, Wisconsin, and Berlin. And will likely cost the CP Huntington chapter upwards of 6k a month to store their cars somewhere.

Not factoring in that CP Huntington does brisk business year round with elementary, middle, and high school charters from WV to Washington. And their own PV trips to DC and New York.
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#68 jis

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 11:19 PM

Thanks. I was just picking random examples illustrate a point. Substitute two existing cut points that won’t be any more.


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#69 seat38a

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 05:15 AM

larail.com has a notice up on their site. Also looks like the online purchase feature for public trips has been removed. In my experience, riding Amtrak trains which involved private railcars, has involved delaying the train I was on due to failing equipment on the private car, or all services aboard the train pretty much coming to a complete halt because of having to kill power to the train to attach the car. Last December on the CS, we had to stop because something from the private car attached in Oakland was dragging on the tracks. On the SWC in ABQ, adding the Tioga Pass had us on the train without power for about 45 minutes in July. This compounded the already delayed service in the dining car and added to passengers frustration aboard the train since we had no AC.

 

I was thinking of trying one of the trips run by larail.com this year but I guess thats a no go now.



#70 dlagrua

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 05:53 AM

Most PVs have self generating capabilities, but can operate in HEP consists. At least having HEP pass through is an Amtrak requirement.
 
Any Class 1 or Class 2 will happily tow a car as long as it is not carrying any people. To carry people they require the Amtrak level insurance, which Amtrak provides when they are in Amtrak consists but Class 1/2s don't carry such insurance. So they have to be independently arranged, and these insurances are hard to come by, unless underwritten by a large outfit like Amtrak.
 
As things stand it looks like Amtrak will not stop towing PVs as long as they are running from origin to destination of an Amtrak train or to an intermediate stop where the schedule Amtrak halt is 30 mins or more. This potentially increases the cost of someone that wants to run a PV excursion, say from Hinton WV to Cincinnati OH, just to pick a random example, to an impossible level.
 
Before these rules go into effect they could just hitch the car onto Cardinal at Hinton and have it dropped off at Cincy.
 
With the new rules they will have to get CSX to move the car (unstaffed) to Washington DC so that it can be hitched onto the Cardinal there. The they can board it wherever en route and get off wherever en route, but the car has to go all the way to Chicago. You can see the complication that this creates.
 
So bottom line is many of the currently run trips will become close to impossible, while many other will be operable with some extra cost for car positioning.
 
Finally, it is a fluid situation as the details of what the new policy are not fully clear yet.
 
Hope that clarifies more than confuses.


The private RR's have and do pull passenger cars. Barnum and Baily, Straits Shows are/were two examples. There is also Bennett Levin (located outside PHL) that runs his personal private train locos and all.

Edited by dlagrua, 31 March 2018 - 06:12 AM.


#71 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 07:33 AM

 

Most PVs have self generating capabilities, but can operate in HEP consists. At least having HEP pass through is an Amtrak requirement.
 
Any Class 1 or Class 2 will happily tow a car as long as it is not carrying any people. To carry people they require the Amtrak level insurance, which Amtrak provides when they are in Amtrak consists but Class 1/2s don't carry such insurance. So they have to be independently arranged, and these insurances are hard to come by, unless underwritten by a large outfit like Amtrak.
 
As things stand it looks like Amtrak will not stop towing PVs as long as they are running from origin to destination of an Amtrak train or to an intermediate stop where the schedule Amtrak halt is 30 mins or more. This potentially increases the cost of someone that wants to run a PV excursion, say from Hinton WV to Cincinnati OH, just to pick a random example, to an impossible level.
 
Before these rules go into effect they could just hitch the car onto Cardinal at Hinton and have it dropped off at Cincy.
 
With the new rules they will have to get CSX to move the car (unstaffed) to Washington DC so that it can be hitched onto the Cardinal there. The they can board it wherever en route and get off wherever en route, but the car has to go all the way to Chicago. You can see the complication that this creates.
 
So bottom line is many of the currently run trips will become close to impossible, while many other will be operable with some extra cost for car positioning.
 
Finally, it is a fluid situation as the details of what the new policy are not fully clear yet.
 
Hope that clarifies more than confuses.


The private RR's have and do pull passenger cars. Barnum and Baily, Straits Shows are/were two examples. There is also Bennett Levin (located outside PHL) that runs his personal private train locos and all.

 

I suspect Barnum & Bailey and Straits show had their own insurance that met the RR's requirements.  Perhaps Bennett Levin does too.  



#72 jis

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 07:40 AM

I have heard that Bennett Levin is not planning to equip his engines with PTC. If that is true then their operational days on US main lines are numbered.


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#73 Palmland

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 07:40 AM

One solution for the Huntington stop on the Cardinal: lengthen it’s 10 min stop to 30min. The train could use some schedule tweaking to better serve WV and Ohio cities and it is so slow now, another 20 min would make little difference. At least on the WB train the schedule padding at Indianapolis could be reduced slightly to account for the change.
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#74 Seaboard92

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 09:10 AM

A note about Mr. Levin. His moves actually come under Amtrak and run as Amtrak specials generally. There have been a handful of exceptions to the rule when he has run without Amtrak. But those times are very rare.

The only time I can think of recently is for Streamliners at Spencer. And that was a Norfolk Southern train with his two E8s, and three cars. And that was NS 955 from Philly to Spencer. The actual Streamliners Special from Charlotte to Spencer was actually an Amtrak move with Amtrak pilots, conductor, and road foreman.

And yes it's true he is not installing PTC on his locomotives so this year will be the last time to see them.
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#75 FrensicPic

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 09:58 AM

larail.com has a notice up on their site. Also looks like the online purchase feature for public trips has been removed. In my experience, riding Amtrak trains which involved private railcars, has involved delaying the train I was on due to failing equipment on the private car, or all services aboard the train pretty much coming to a complete halt because of having to kill power to the train to attach the car. Last December on the CS, we had to stop because something from the private car attached in Oakland was dragging on the tracks. On the SWC in ABQ, adding the Tioga Pass had us on the train without power for about 45 minutes in July. This compounded the already delayed service in the dining car and added to passengers frustration aboard the train since we had no AC.

 

I was thinking of trying one of the trips run by larail.com this year but I guess thats a no go now.

Actually, if you scroll down, the public trips schedule is still there. That said, it doesn't look good based on a FB post I saw by Bill Hatrick (Overland Trail) and an email received from John Caestecker (Silver Splendor). The San Diego to San Luis Obispo corridor (LOSSAN/Pacific Surfliner) has stopped PV moves. On perhaps a last trip, two LA Rail cars (Silver Splendor and Pacific Sands) departed LA on the Sunset Limited last night (3/30). Don't know the details of that move.


Edited by FrensicPic, 31 March 2018 - 10:07 AM.

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#76 acelafan

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 10:19 AM

I know this is a hot topic, but how much money does Amtrak lose, as well as annoy or alienate customers when a PV move delays the train?  Then a late train only gets later and later.  I've been on several trips where a private car has cost us only 30-60 minutes but also one where we left 2+ hours late from the origin that was never made up.  If Amtrak could run their service with fewer delays (that they can control) it seems *that* would be better for the bottom line instead of pulling special cars around to get a few more dollars.  Chronically late trains are bad for PR.  

 

If I had the money, I'd love a private car and to pay Amtrak to tow me around, so I can see why many people are upset.  It just needs to be done where Amtrak's primary customers are not inconvenienced.  I take OTP very seriously.   :)


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#77 Anderson

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 11:28 AM

The issue is, and always has been, that the Class Is are more than capable of stabbing a train for 2+ hours on their own, so it isn't clear to me how this is actually going to help OTP.  I still have to wonder why Amtrak isn't able to go into their data and kick out PV moves from their calculations (especially since "Amtrak delays" include not only this but time lost to slow passenger boarding/offloading (this shows up more often than you'd think, since a lot of stops are timetabled with "simultaneous" arrival and departure, which means that if the train arrives on time it often leaves late, especially if there's even a small crowd), engine issues, and the occasional "conductor had to call the cops" stop).  So, even taking OTP seriously I am hard-pressed to see this having any material impact on the overall OTP situation.


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Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#78 Trogdor

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 11:36 AM

a lot of stops are timetabled with "simultaneous" arrival and departure, which means that if the train arrives on time it often leaves late

 

 

This is not true.  Virtuall all stops have separate scheduled arrival and departure times, with most small stops given at least 2-3 minutes of scheduled dwell time.  What Amtrak doesn't do is publish the arrival time, so when you look at the schedule (often even in Arrow), you are only seeing the departure time (or you only see the arrival time in cases of discharge-only stops).  But internally when the schedule is built, there are separate arrival and departure times for essentially all stops.

 

If a train leaves a station on time and encounters no enroute delay, it will typically arrive at least 1-2 minutes "early" at the next station.  This is its real scheduled arrival time, even though it isn't published anywhere.


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#79 jis

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 11:47 AM

I thought that stations that show only a time of departure..... Ah I see Trogdor already made the point that I was about to make... Thanks.

 

What he describes is the general practice all over the world, not just in the US, as far as stations for which only a departure time is shown in the public time table.

 

Indian Railways actually shares arrival and departure times for all stations where the train stops, and passing time for all stations where it does not. IR online time tables are hence a gold mine for railfans.

 

They also share full information about diversion routes when a train is diverted off its regular route with similar details, which frankly amazes me. Wonders of across the board computerization of upto date train dispatch planning data.

 

It is another matter that still there are trains that run many hours late. But even that is accurately reflected not only for a specific run but also in average delay for that service at each stop, which could help a customer plan based on something more realistic than what the timetable says!! This of coruse also leads to IR being dinged by the public for lying about delays too :D since the lie is also carefully recorded for everyone to see compared to actual arrival and departure times. I guess it is hard to get over habits formed in less transparent times. ;)


Edited by jis, 31 March 2018 - 11:50 AM.


#80 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 11:52 AM

"The issue is, and always has been, that the Class Is are more than capable of stabbing a train for 2+ hours on their own"

Other than the empire builder a few years ago (a unique situation) I don't know of any class i's regularly delaying Amtrak long distance trains.

My last long distance Amtrak trip earlier this year was on the silver star... We were on time into Tampa, 20 minutes late leaving because of adding a private car. We were further delayed with track work near Kissimmee (sun rail construction). CSX kep us moving very well. and that's CSX... Ha.

I was in the cafe car (im a lounge lizard after all!) in Tampa and personally saw multiple passengers enter the cafe car and ask the cafe attendant why there was a delay and the answer was "we are adding a private car."

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