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Anderson Speaks on Long Distance Trains


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#21 jis

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:52 AM

Railway Age believes Mr. Anderson wants to END long distance passenger trains. Amtrak would be better off if Wick Moorman would have stayed for a few more years.


https://www.railwaya...od-take-amtrak/


Please read this article and share it.

I am afraid even for Vantuono that is an extreme piece of meandering unstructured flow of consciousness article.  :wacko:  Railway Age could really do with a better Chief Editor. ^_^



#22 JoeBas

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 10:04 AM

Seriously... as fed up as I am with this direction, that article left for New York and arrived at Chicago.  

 

Author would have been better served calming down a little and producing something more coherent. 


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#23 keelhauled

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 10:08 AM

Par for the course for Railway Age. There are few good industry publications. The only one which can be relied upon not to go meandering into editorial or reprint press releases is Railway Gazette, which being European comparatively infrequently covers US stories.

Edited by keelhauled, 20 April 2018 - 10:12 AM.

We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.


#24 saxman

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 01:24 PM

The data that NARP(RPA) provides for long distance passengers is really telling. Somehow, someway I wish we could get away from calling the LD trains, "long distance trains." Rather they are corridor trains that overlap dozens and dozens of city pairs. The longer routes, coach seats turn over several times in its journey which means that one seat brings in a decent amount of revenue. Back when I had access to Arrow, I would look at passenger boardings for one Empire Builder trip from Chicago to Seattle and Portland. In the summer months it would be over 1500 boardings for a single run from end to end. Obviously the EB consist doesn't have 1500 seats or sleeping car berths, but it shows how much turn over of seats there is on train like the Empire Builder. Now compare that to the corridor trains. I doubt many seats get sold more than once on corridors like the Lincoln Service. Maybe the WAS to BOS trains sell their seats twice as one run makes its way up the corridor but it isn't much more than that. This doesn't even cover connections that can be made at endpoints. A huge amount of passengers make connections in Chicago for other types of services.  Hopefully Anderson realizes the importance of building a network as any airline guy should.

 

Changes are indeed needed at Amtrak, as status quo and "thats the way we've always done it" is deeply ingrained in Amtrak culture. Efficiencies need to made. But I sure hope it doesn't come at the expense of losing service. Amtrak got a nice boost of money from Congress this year. Never thought I'd see that from a Republican controlled Congress, yet at the same time threats to Amtrak's map may lie within.  :( Hope I'm wrong.


Amtrak Miles: 209,015 (as of 7/23/18)


#25 Chey

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 12:20 PM

Can someone explain to me why end-to-end ridership should be a focus?  I wouldn't expect a high percentage of end-to-end ridership on any train, be that a city's mass transit system or an LD train that goes halfway across the country.

...
 
Just curious, do your numbers include people who ride straight through, or does it also include those who do stopovers, like spend a day or two in Denver on their way from Chicago to California?


I'm having trouble understanding that too. Why is end-to-end the only criteria he uses for LD travel? If I get on the 22 in FTW instead of SAS and ride it to CHI, then get on the CL and ride it to WAS, I consider it LD. Am I misunderstanding him?

Edited by Chey, 21 April 2018 - 12:21 PM.

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#26 jis

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 12:41 PM

The current issue that we facing is not because there is a focus on end to end ridership, but because there is a recognition that most people do not ride end to end, but there are a series of overlapping shorter corridors that are more relevant. Using that as a basis, some are arguing that the LD trains could be chopped up into multiple short to medium distance trains. Of course the impracticality and added cost of doing that seems to elude them, even not considering the fact that you would inconvenience a lot of middle distance passengers too whose journey would span the arbitrary chopping points.

 

As for whether the current consideration includes "stopovers", it implicitly does, since a trip with stopover simply appears as two shorter trips in the data that they are using.


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#27 Amtrak706

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 01:09 AM

http://railpac.org/2...r-of-corridors/

 

Yikes. Are we sure that Railway Age article is so far off?



#28 neroden

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 01:33 AM

Let's hope Anderson isn't as much of a dumbass as he currently appears to be.


--Nathanael--

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#29 Amtrak706

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 04:13 AM

Let's hope Anderson isn't as much of a dumbass as he currently appears to be.

I think it is officially time to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt. Over the past few days he has explicitly categorized the LD trains as "experiential" in nature and has been substantially hostile to any questions about their future, going as far as saying that simple corridor trains run by fixed DMU consists are Amtrak's future. Too many red flags. I fear that too many of us, perhaps with the best of intentions in our skepticism and withholding of judgement, fail to see the writing on the wall and will continue to do so until it is too late.


Edited by Amtrak706, 22 April 2018 - 04:14 AM.


#30 dlagrua

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 06:47 AM

I view Anderson as a ruthless big corporate guy. IMO, he doesn't seem to care about customer service or even the people employed on the LD trains. He speaks of those in the food service area as expendable. .Like many corporate executives, his motivation is solely about profit. On his quest to profitability, he wants to lay off those who he believes are not needed with no concern about jobs that people need to feed their family; just put them out on the street and don't worry about it. These comments might be a bit harsh but that's the impression that I have about this individual.  We need to get a petition going to express how rail passengers feel about the direction that Amtrak is taking?  


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#31 mlanoue

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 08:03 AM

I think people do need to speak up, but our focus should be on Congress. Anderson's not going to get rich working at Amtrak, whether it's corridor or LD trains. It's up to Congress to stress the importance of the national network to him.
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#32 CAMISSY55

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 12:52 PM

I view Anderson as a ruthless big corporate guy. IMO, he doesn't seem to care about customer service or even the people employed on the LD trains. He speaks of those in the food service area as expendable. .Like many corporate executives, his motivation is solely about profit. On his quest to profitability, he wants to lay off those who he believes are not needed with no concern about jobs that people need to feed their family; just put them out on the street and don't worry about it. These comments might be a bit harsh but that's the impression that I have about this individual.  We need to get a petition going to express how rail passengers feel about the direction that Amtrak is taking?  




From information on the "Fresh Choice..." thread about the coming changes to F&B operations on the CL and LSL, it appears Anderson has statutory limitations on his ability to blanketly lay off employees to cut costs. Granted this applys to F&B employees, but maybe (hopefully) protections exists for other Amtrak positions.

In response to a question about the 2015 statute that is governing the F&B reforms the following excerpt was posted. In particular see item "C".

"...the statute is Title 49 USC Ch. 243, section 24321:

Quote

§24321. Food and beverage reform

(a) Plan.Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, Amtrak shall develop and begin implementing a plan to eliminate, within 5 years of such date of enactment, the operating loss associated with providing food and beverage service on board Amtrak trains.

(b) Considerations.In developing and implementing the plan, Amtrak shall consider a combination of cost management and revenue generation initiatives, including

(1) scheduling optimization;

(2) on-board logistics;

(3) product development and supply chain efficiency;

(4) training, awards, and accountability;

(5) technology enhancements and process improvements; and

(6) ticket revenue allocation.

© Savings Clause.Amtrak shall ensure that no Amtrak employee holding a position as of the date of enactment of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 is involuntarily separated because of

(1) the development and implementation of the plan required under subsection (a); or

(2) any other action taken by Amtrak to implement this section.

(d) No Federal Funding for Operating Losses.Beginning on the date that is 5 years after the date of enactment of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, no Federal funds may be used to cover any operating loss associated with providing food and beverage service on a route operated by Amtrak or a rail carrier that operates a route in lieu of Amtrak pursuant to section 24711."
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#33 bretton88

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 01:45 PM

I view Anderson as a ruthless big corporate guy. IMO, he doesn't seem to care about customer service or even the people employed on the LD trains. He speaks of those in the food service area as expendable. .Like many corporate executives, his motivation is solely about profit. On his quest to profitability, he wants to lay off those who he believes are not needed with no concern about jobs that people need to feed their family; just put them out on the street and don't worry about it. These comments might be a bit harsh but that's the impression that I have about this individual.  We need to get a petition going to express how rail passengers feel about the direction that Amtrak is taking?  

Congress required Amtrak to be run like a business, so Anderson is running it like a business now. I don't think it's anything personal from Anderson. Unfortunately the modern definition of "run like a business" is try to profit above all else. The flip side is if he can get Amtrak to show some form of profitability, maybe we won't have to deal as much with these mandates from congress.


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If I won the lottery, I'd probably build a passenger from nowhere to nowhere.


#34 jis

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 03:28 PM

Here is what RailPAC has to say based on a meeting at which Anderson spoke in California:

 

http://railpac.org/2...r-of-corridors/

 

Note that these are notes of an observer in a meeting in California where Anderson spoke.... He did not explicitly say what the title claims, but one could reach such a conclusion from the reported notes if the observer's notes are unbiased.

 

Thirdrail, maybe we have a strong hint of an answer to your question. What have you been hearing internally that you can share?



#35 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 06:29 PM

Wait.... I thought corridor trains under a certain amount of miles had to be state sponsored? Did that rule change?

The guy is half right... We DO need more frequent, corridor type service between city pairs where Long Distance trains run. But not instead of, in addition to. They feed each other and share resources.
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#36 Thirdrail7

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 06:46 PM

Here is what RailPAC has to say based on a meeting at which Anderson spoke in California:

 

http://railpac.org/2...r-of-corridors/

 

Note that these are notes of an observer in a meeting in California where Anderson spoke.... He did not explicitly say what the title claims, but one could reach such a conclusion from the reported notes if the observer's notes are unbiased.

 

Thirdrail, maybe we have a strong hint of an answer to your question. What have you been hearing internally that you can share?

 

I've heard worse in greater detail. However, I've noticed that how he articulates something doesn't necessarily mean it how it will turn out. A perfect example is the brouhaha that ensued with the private car message.  What he said and how it came out is not how it was explained. That is why I'm anxiously awaiting some sort of vision on the LD. front.  He believes corridors are the future and he believes that operations should concentrate on the heavily used stations.  Does that mean the death of the LD trains or does that mean the elimination of many, low usage stations in an effort to reduce the running times along the route?

 

If Congress steps in, does it mean a puny,  perfunctory train with  minimum services along the route or a showdown, with him waving PRIIA? The fact they gave additional money to the operation of the LD network probably doesn't make things cut and dry.

 

We'll see.

 

 

Wait.... I thought corridor trains under a certain amount of miles had to be state sponsored? Did that rule change?

The guy is half right... We DO need more frequent, corridor type service between city pairs where Long Distance trains run. But not instead of, in addition to. They feed each other and share resources.

 

The rule did not change, which also makes things difficult. The only thing is PRIIA also mentions working with the states. He may tell the states to put their money where their mouths are.


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


#37 me_little_me

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 09:05 PM

I for one don't care about end-to-end long distance travel as the only one I have taken of my many long distance (i.e. ones with overnight travel) rides has been the Capitol Limited. However, Atlanta to/from WAS and NYP; Greenville, SC to/from NYP, PHL, WIL;  NOL to/from El Paso, CHI to ABQ, Portland, OR to/from L.A.; various NC cities to/from various FLA ones; Reno to/from DEN; Prince,WV to/from CHI and more all involved overnight travel but not one was end to end so don't fit Mr. A's numbers. Many day trips involved using sleepers because of the privacy and restfulness involved. Were not something more than coach available on shorter trips and more than BC on long-day ones, I'd reduce the number of trips and fly the remainder first class.

Unless Amtrak makes a dramatic improvement to provide clean coach class restrooms and real meals and not at my seat on long day trips, it isn't worth it for me to use them. An all-day trip such as ATL to WAS would be okay in BC with a real diner like the Crescent has but then staying overnight and taking another all-day trip to, say, Portland, ME would be just too much sitting with no enjoyment. Similarly, dividing up what is now an overnight into two long days with a hotel stop is, to me, worthless. I could do that by car easier. Sleepers allow me to travel in daytime comfort and sleep at night while the engineer does the driving.

Most importantly, Amtrak needs to provide FAR FASTER AVERAGE speeds on their long distance network. That would be step one. There's where the money could be saved: increased ridership; lower crew costs; fewer meal times; etc, etc. Then I could travel from ATL to WAS in 6 hours with a 100mph average speed (instead of the present 14 hours and 45mph), have time to enjoy an overnight hotel stay and be refreshed enough to travel further without a sleeper.

 

Mr. Anderson is right. We can pretty much get rid of sleepers. Triple average train speed; provide a LOT BETTER coach service; provide real business/first class with separate lounge; keep the diners to provide real meals for breakfast and lunch; make all city pairs leave/arrive at reasonable daylight hours with more service times. Not a chance in hell of having that.


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#38 cpotisch

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 01:23 AM

An all-day trip such as ATL to WAS would be okay in BC with a real diner like the Crescent

But don't forget that they're taking Business Class off the Crescent next month...

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#39 Lonestar648

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 03:15 AM

It it comes to cutting low volume stops, Anderson will have to politic with the Senators and Congress members affected.  So if Amtrak drops a number of stops to speed up service, where is the cost savings to offset the lost revenue.  If you eliminate the LD routes for corridor service how do you offset the revenue lost for the long distance passengers, from those passengers that need two different hub city corridor services. Say you live in Little Rock and want to go to Detroit.  Corridor service to St. Louis, get a hotel room, then corridor service to CHI, change, with late arrival into Detroit.  Some how I do not see very many people who ride Amtrak today to accept this type of travel.  Corridor service on the West and East Coasts will survive, but other areas with very limited or no State support will default to car or air transportation.  If the anti-Amtrak Congressmen and Anderson convince everyone in Congress that the state supported corridor service is the future, our grandchildren will show their children a video of the old style transportation that Grandpa and Grandma used to travel on decades ago.


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#40 Larry H.

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 06:16 AM

It would be interesting to know what it cost per auto trip on a federal highway?  For some reason Amtrak has always been judged by a much different standard than other forms of transportation.  And should I have to drive from central Illinois all the way to Chicago to be considered a successful trip?  Or like most people we get off and on the highway at many different starting and ending points.  Until we go back to running passenger service as an alternative to other modes and excepting what makes a successful experience for a plane is not the same as the cars necessary for a trip lasting up to three days. 






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