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Fire Richard Anderson Campaign?


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#21 cpotisch

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 01:49 PM

 

Anderson is doing what's right for Amtrak and what he's mandated to do under the law. Yes, it'll piss most of us off. No one likes paying more for less. No one.

Most all of his station staffing cuts make sense.

His dining cuts make sense - but was poorly executed. I would like to have seen a new IG report to see if the waste addressed in the 2004(5?) report was fixed and what revenue was recovered. I'd like to see the 24-hour diner concept revitalized.

AGR sucks now, but it's closer to what the airlines do.

The Private Rail Car movement was also poorly executed but the right thing to do. Stop slowing down hundreds of passengers for the benefit of an elite few. Biggest problem here is that people don't all have their private varnish parked in a 30-minute dwell station.

Don't forget, many of the cuts that we're complaining about started before Anderson - the loss of flowers, linen table clothes, 2nd chef in the diner happened long ago.

 
Bingo.  Anderson was the best CEO in an industry (airlines) that was long considered the worst industry known to exist from a profitability standpoint. 

Really? I though that airlines usually make tremendous amounts of revenue?


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#22 chrsjrcj

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 02:06 PM

One of parts of PRIIA tells Amtrak to generate extra revenue from running special trains. I wonder why Anderson gets to ignore that one?
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#23 jis

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 02:06 PM

Making revenue is different from making a profit. You can make huge amounts of revenue and yet make huge losses.

 

Working in an organization that had P/L responsibilities, we were always looking for so called bad revenues to get rid of them. Bad revenues are revenues that do not cover their cost. They make sense only when they are part of a strategic move, and that too for a short period of time. Not forever. It is important to manage the granularity of projects correctly too, so for example while running passenger trains that require toilets and food service, you don not want to make toilet and food service separate profit centers, but manage the passenger operation as the profit center as a whole.

 

There were cases when we dropped pretty large customers because there was no hope of producing any good revenue from them.

 

It is all about the bottom line, not just revenue.


Edited by jis, 15 June 2018 - 02:20 PM.

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#24 Seaboard92

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 02:52 PM

What I want to see is what trains was Amtrak losing money on. It's been asked for by multiple people on my side of the industry and not answered. Of course there is a senator asking now. Maybe they can provide him a better answer this time than their last one that was "I don't know."
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#25 jis

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 03:28 PM

Neroden has done some pretty good analysis of the incremental cost and revenue. However, that does not account for the common costs that are necessary to run any trains at all.
 
The two sides of that coin are:
 
1. If you kill a train those costs do not go away. They just get redistributed to the other trains thus making all of them look less attractive.
 
2. If you completely remove that common cost then you are unable to run any train effectively, so the entire edifice collapses.
 
The trick, and a pretty hard one at that,  is to figure out how to minimize the common cost without losing the business on the one hand, and trying to get the incremental revenue minus the incremental cost of each (or at least the most number of) trains positive. On step to take is to try  to account for actual costs for each train at as fine a per cost item granularity as possible, based on real numbers traceable unequivocally to the operation of the train using a capable inventory and work resource tracking system.
 
Taking a rolled up number and then trying to distribute it based on some arbitrary formula is at the root of a lot of the evil. In some cases that is all you can do, but at present many believe that due to the weakness of inventory and resource accounting systems used, Amtrak does too much of it, much more than for example airlines do - something that Anderson may actually be able to fix. And trust me, past experience suggests that if that is done effectively many traditional railroaders will be terribly upset about it, just like many traditional airline folks were upset about it when they were hit by such. A lot of sins and favorite oxen hide in those caves. ;)
 
At least one major complications arises in this exercise when one has to take into consideration second and third order effects and cross elasticities to take into account the network effects. A number of trains together produce more than just the sum of trains, and how much more depends a lot on the quality of design of the network.
 
So even if someone can gussy up a number to satisfy some Senator’s demands, I am not sure that at the end of the day it will provide the right metric for doing anything. It really is more complicated than that, and that is the reason each time someone comes up with one of these simple minded numbers and tries to justify some action that does not quite pass the "taste test" I cringe. The greater danger in my mind is to be told "I know and this is it" while skating on thin ice, and basing decisions on such.

Edited by jis, 16 June 2018 - 07:37 AM.

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#26 AmtrakFlyer

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 03:28 PM

I wouldnt give Anderson THAT much credit at Delta. Sure he wasnt bad by any stretch but he was so so at NW post 9/11 before following the money to United Heatlhcare. At Delta he had record low fuel prices and a consolidated competitive enviroment when he left that allowed Delta to thrive not to mention realitively good labor relations. Delta was by default the industry leader when he arrived and he keep it going.
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#27 PVD

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 03:37 PM

The people who would make this type of decision are the very people who hired him. Are people so naive as to believe that they did not know what they were getting, and that he isn't doing exactly what was expected of him (and desired by the board). Many of the changes, and in some case the way in which those changes have been implemented may have upset some people, but I'm not so sure the people in charge are actually bothered by that one bit.


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#28 IndyLions

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 05:26 PM

The dining car issue is Congress’ fault not Anderson’s.

I don’t like a fair amount of what he’s doing. But I couldn’t agree with him more that the trains need to be safer, the cars need to be cleaner, the equipment needs to be better, and Amtrak needs to be relevant to the next generation, not just the previous generation.

And I’m closer in age to the previous generation than I am the next generation, by the way.
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#29 bretton88

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 06:13 PM

My view on Anderson is he needs to get a new PR team. The changes he is making at Amtrak are changes that mostly needed to be made, but boy Amtrak has been terrible at getting the message out and making the logical case for the changes.


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#30 Chey

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 08:04 PM

Few of the problems Anderson's had to address were created by him. Am I happy with all his solutions? No; he's been there how long? I'm going to give him more time.
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#31 Acela150

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 10:27 PM

Isn't the Juniata property on the right of the Amtrak ROW when one is heading towards Philly? Or am I remembering wrong?


If one is headed to NYP it’s on the right hand side.

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#32 Thirdrail7

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 10:44 PM

One of parts of PRIIA tells Amtrak to generate extra revenue from running special trains. I wonder why Anderson gets to ignore that one?

 

There are plenty of charters operating.

 

The people who would make this type of decision are the very people who hired him. Are people so naive as to believe that they did not know what they were getting, and that he isn't doing exactly what was expected of him (and desired by the board). Many of the changes, and in some case the way in which those changes have been implemented may have upset some people, but I'm not so sure the people in charge are actually bothered by that one bit.

 

I'm willing to bet board members are going to be bothered when legislators start discussing your antics and taking matters into their own hands.


Edited by Thirdrail7, 15 June 2018 - 11:00 PM.

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


#33 LookingGlassTie

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 10:58 PM

The fact that Anderson used to be the CEO of Delta is proving to be an albatross around his neck. Even if he were to return Amtrak to its glory days, people would still see that big scarlet "D" on his forehead.

Edited by LookingGlassTie, 15 June 2018 - 10:58 PM.

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#34 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 07:08 AM

What I want to see is what trains was Amtrak losing money on. It's been asked for by multiple people on my side of the industry and not answered. Of course there is a senator asking now. Maybe they can provide him a better answer this time than their last one that was "I don't know."

 

 

"A Senator". All that proves is some selfish West Virginia Senator who only cares about West Virginians. Same thing about the ticket agent. 

 

I'd like my AAA discount back but I guess no one in West Virginia has AAA so Manchin or the other Senator in WV doesn't care to fight to get it back. I'm sure the Cincinnati ticket agent and others aren't important enough for Manchin either. If I'm one of Ohio's Senators, I'm voting no on this Manchin bill unless that portion gets taken out. 

 

I have nothing against the charter industry personally but realize that this is strictly a West Virginia/New River Train issue and I highly doubt he will help your business in any way (unless you're affiliated with the New River Train).


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#35 Thirdrail7

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 07:18 AM

 

 

"A Senator". All that proves is some selfish West Virginia Senator who only cares about West Virginians. Same thing about the ticket agent. 

 

I'd like my AAA discount back but I guess no one in West Virginia has AAA so Manchin or the other Senator in WV doesn't care to fight to get it back. I'm sure the Cincinnati ticket agent and others aren't important enough for Manchin either. If I'm one of Ohio's Senators, I'm voting no on this Manchin bill unless that portion gets taken out. 

 

I have nothing against the charter industry personally but realize that this is strictly a West Virginia/New River Train issue and I highly doubt he will help your business in any way (unless you're affiliated with the New River Train).

 

 

Actually, it is more than West Virginia at this point. Texas, North Dakota and Montana have fired off letters (FWIW) and once again, you've missed the point. The Senators are looking out for the interests of their constituents.....which is exactly what they are supposed to do.  If the legislators along the route of your favorite canceled train would have gotten involved, perhaps it would still operate. This is not to be taken lightly since this has the potential to represent four votes against things like Gateway, Portal, new engines and new equipment.

 

The charter industry impacts nationwide operations and brought in additional revenue to the company. While I agree that some of them were out in left field, what will fill the gap? The canceled Coast Starlight? The second Pennsylvanian that isn't operating? The numerous diverted trains that no longer operate into NYP, your busiest station? The Acela sets that are being overhauled and can't be used? The private cars that paid premium for being hauled, stored and repaired?


Edited by Thirdrail7, 16 June 2018 - 07:24 AM.

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


#36 Seaboard92

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 09:14 AM

Well the thing too about Senator Manchin he understands how a far off charter in Seattle directly affects his state. For instance the Leavenworth train this year was supposed to have both of our cars from Thanksgiving (when they would leave) to a week past New Years. Our cars rent for 2,000 dollars a day per car. So somewhat over 160,000 dollars will not be made by a West Virginia non profit if that train doesn't run. And that's not counting the paid staff fees for the riders (my position) to go out there and live for an entire month and a week.

Then you have trains like New River which bring in cars annually from Illinois, California, North Carolina, Ohio(now based in Chicago), New Jersey, Minnesota, and another state I forget (Missouri maybe). So something like new River actually does effect the nation.

Let's say hypothetically that 261 in Minnesota which maintains an immaculate fleet of cars can no longer run their train. Why should they keep maintaining the size of a fleet they have. Which would then cut down on cars available for new River and reduce capacity.

Next example let's say New River can't get their cars out which still remains true. We would no longer have to maintain those cars to Amtrak standard, and could cut our two paid managers who oversee the cars, and do most of the mechanical when I don't pitch in. So there goes a complete business from West Virginia and two west Virginians lose their jobs.

Manchin has demonstrated when he called Gardner to save the one position at CHW that he cares for each and every job. And he is willing to fight for the job. Which is why when you read the language that New River was instrumental in getting in the T-HUD bill that it mandates any station that had an agent in FY 2018 must have at least one agent.

Not only does that save CHW, but also CIN, Montana, and quite a few others. So Manchin has demonstrated he cares about not just his state by his language but about the national network as a whole. And he's been fighting one hell of a fight to keep New River open because if things don't change South Yard will close down permanently And New River Train will cease to exist.

Manchin doesn't want to lose the money CP Huntington contributes to his state via passengers traveling far and wide to ride the train contributing millions to local economies, West Virginia businesses lose out on repairs to the cars, and servicing New River, and he loses institutional knowledge if and when South Yard closes because both individuals there will bounce back and likely won't return to West Virginia.

Now maybe if Senator Casey and Toomey understood how much money the Broadway Limited contributed they would try and bring it back. But the difference between West Virginia and Pennsylvania is stark. West Virginia doesn't have a lot so every dollar counts. Whereas in Pennsylvania a rich industrial economy it really doesn't matter a whole lot.

I can also say that if South Yard shuts down both employees will land on their feet because I already know their plans. And honestly it's far better than what they've been doing in my honest opinion. But then again they gave me a decent position in the new organization.

The thing to remember is PV passengers and charter passengers are equally as much rail passengers because they are traveling on the rails. And don't think that charter people don't care about the rest of us. We've been the ones fighting for station agents to remain. And I can speak for New River were about to put a major fight for the national network as a whole.

But what can I say we're just elitists who want to ride away from the schmucks so why should we waste our time fighting to save station agents, dining car crews, and other things. Yet we do it anyway because PV people are not necessarily Coastal Elites.

Yes some are but a lot are nice normal people like you and me. And it's a stigma we need to break. Me personally I can't wait for Manchin's next announcement. That will be fun.....
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#37 MikefromCrete

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 09:14 AM

 

What I want to see is what trains was Amtrak losing money on. It's been asked for by multiple people on my side of the industry and not answered. Of course there is a senator asking now. Maybe they can provide him a better answer this time than their last one that was "I don't know."

 

 

"A Senator". All that proves is some selfish West Virginia Senator who only cares about West Virginians. Same thing about the ticket agent. 

 

I'd like my AAA discount back but I guess no one in West Virginia has AAA so Manchin or the other Senator in WV doesn't care to fight to get it back. I'm sure the Cincinnati ticket agent and others aren't important enough for Manchin either. If I'm one of Ohio's Senators, I'm voting no on this Manchin bill unless that portion gets taken out. 

 

I have nothing against the charter industry personally but realize that this is strictly a West Virginia/New River Train issue and I highly doubt he will help your business in any way (unless you're affiliated with the New River Train).

 

If your're  one of Ohio's senators you should be making noise to get the Cincinnati agent back on the job. After all, that's the senator's job, to look after their constituents' interests. 


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#38 Seaboard92

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 09:21 AM

 

What I want to see is what trains was Amtrak losing money on. It's been asked for by multiple people on my side of the industry and not answered. Of course there is a senator asking now. Maybe they can provide him a better answer this time than their last one that was "I don't know."

 
 
"A Senator". All that proves is some selfish West Virginia Senator who only cares about West Virginians. Same thing about the ticket agent. 
 
I'd like my AAA discount back but I guess no one in West Virginia has AAA so Manchin or the other Senator in WV doesn't care to fight to get it back. I'm sure the Cincinnati ticket agent and others aren't important enough for Manchin 

either. If I'm one of Ohio's Senators, I'm voting no on this Manchin bill unless that portion gets taken out. 


 

I have nothing against the charter industry personally but realize that this is strictly a West Virginia/New River Train issue and I highly doubt he will help your business in any way (unless you're affiliated with the New River Train).


 
If your're  one of Ohio's senators you should be making noise to get the Cincinnati agent back on the job. After all, that's the senator's job, to look after their constituents' interests. 

The city of Cincinnati offered to pay for the salary of all station employees and Amtrak turned it down. The local government was and still is very involved in what's going on at Cincinnati. Even though Senator Manchin in his rider in T-HUD is going to get the CIN agent back.
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#39 dlagrua

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 09:22 AM

The dining car issue is Congress’ fault not Anderson’s.

 

That is a true statement but true railroad people understand that dining cars are put there to attract passengers into buying the highest priced accommodations. AFAIK, this point has not been made to congress. We can only hope that LD business plunges so that the message is loud and clear. We will no longer ride to CHI on a 20-28 hr trip without fresh hot food. There must be other passengers who feel the same way.  Remember if this effort is successful you can kiss goodbye to the dining service on the trains West from CHI as well..  


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#40 GBNorman

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 09:32 AM

I certainly have expressed around here that if I had occasion to go to the Coast, I'd be ringing up United Airlines. My last "transcon" was on the Chief during May 1991.

My Northward Auto-Train journeys are simply to save a net of 450 miles of driving and the possibility to see a long time friend who works at Quantico. I see friends along the Southward drive. Last two journeys I went to my Bedroom, chilled down in the sink a nice bottle of Viognier, asked for my "mystery meat" Dinner in my room, had both a Times and Journal with me, and otherwise never left my room until arrival at Lorton.

All of that speaks for how much a railfan I am nowadays; I "rode 'em all" during the '60's when they were worth riding.

All told, with maybe 2% of the population setting foot on any Amtrak train (my Sister, living in Greenwich CT, has never once set foot on such - my Nephews living in Brooklyn, have - in the Corridor and in Coach. We're they ever near the Snack Bar, who knows?), who cares away from sites like this, about on board amenities.

What the traveling public who would consider Amtrak largely reside along Corridors and all they want is a safe ride that arrives and departs "more or less" on time. While possibly the West Coast corridor trains meet that standard, the LD's and the Midwest Corridors certainly do not.

So, at such time I choose, or have it be chosen for me, to "keep the buggy in the barn" and make it to O'Hare for "a little sun", that will be the Adios for me and Auto Train.

All told, for the first time in its existence, Congress appears ready to fund Amtrak so that the matters of aging equipment and infrastructure are properly addressed. Mr. Anderson's primary task is to develop, direct and manage a team to ensure these Congressional objectives are met. Apparently they are willing to do so without maintaining and let alone expanding the LD system. Those who expect taxpayer funded Super Chief dining service (and who would be expected to dress accordingly), will be looking at a "sorry 'bout that".




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