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About amtrakpass

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    Lead Service Attendant
  1. Still not available to coach passengers at all?
  2. I hope the service gets preserved. I do think actually the easiest thing to do is to improve the speed outside of Chicago to regular 79mph track most of the way to Indy. I understand why people like to concentrate on the first few miles out of the station and that is an issue but the fact that it is all 60mph or less on CSX if I understand it would be easier to fix and give you a good time savings. An hour or so later departure from Indy would also still have all the connections and give a more passenger friendly time to would be a simple improvement. Also as far as the route out of Chicago, from Union Station through NS and Metra is the regular Metra Southwest service route and is fine currently for passenger speed and the short section on the BRC is no issue in my experience. After that is the issue. The part on the UP past a railyard is slower than it should be. I also have never heard of crossing different railroads and needing different bulletins to be much of an issue except in railfan circles. But yes It would be cool if it came into town on a faster route like the CN. Of course the best solution would be to improve the long stretch in Indiana on CSX to 80mph and also the route into Chicago too and then increase frequencies. But in the meantime I hope they just preserve what is there
  3. While we have to agree to disagree on our perspectives then. If you are saying it is was a good move to cut the diner off the silver Star because they could cut an engine, and to go for boxed lunches was a good move to reduce crew size. It would be one thing if they were adding multiple Boston-Albany trips per day. But they are not. And I have not seen any serious proposals to add service from Amtrak with the current regime. They are just cutting services to make it less appealing and will eventually find there is nothing left to cut except the whole train.
  4. Where exactly are these excess baggage cars going to be assigned to add service too then? Or are they just going into axel count service or storage? My view if you are going to call a crew and run a train anyway shortening a consist by one car is is not a real savings and it is a reduction in quality of service which has greater long term implications than just adding or subtracting a car.
  5. Are there any other initial terminals of long distance trains with no checked baggage service? Are they going to shut down Boston baggage department completely? I can't see almost any savings when they already have the cars. And no checked baggage service really makes it harder for elderly or folks with mobility challenges to make a trip in my opinion. Even if people are technically available at a station, it is also lot easier to just check bags than ask for help for many people. To me checked baggage is a pretty low cost service to offer and with all the cars available they should just offer it as many places as possible.
  6. amtrakpass

    New Inspector General report

    Lots of fancy words there but too me the big elephant in the room that no one will talk about for ridership decline or staganation is way too high of prices. It is just too expensive for lots of people to even consider a sleeper. Even coach is getting too expensive in some markets. Also safety is one of those things that is kind of catch all for getting what you want or making your argument that can't be disagreed with. Sort of like "but the children" for school funding. Not that safety is a bad thing, of course it is what everyone wants. However on this Earth you need to think about productivity and efficiency and cost effectiveness too in a well run company. To pretend that only one of them whether it be safety,or productivity or cost effectiveness is all encompassing is a mistaken notion in my view
  7. One additional thought. Close to where I work in Chicago is a meat packer who also has a wholesale store which sells pork, chicken, beef etc at good discounts. For instance, this Tuesday, t-bone steaks were $3.99 a piece. How do they make money? By volume! That place is super busy all the time pretty much every weekend. You should see it on the holidays. For me Amtrak has a captive market, if you staffed the dining car with enough people to run it quickly with good service and then actually tried to get the coach passengers through with good prices, discounts and plenty of promotions it would be a better business model than trying to charge High prices to cover costs. Would it still lose money? Yes it would, I think but for the amount of money spent I would rather serve the most people some good food at a loss than what goes on now where coach passengers are treated like they don't need to eat too
  8. As a Union member myself in a different craft, I am not opposed to trying different things to have better service, provide more options or be more efficient even if it results in the loss of some positions. One thing I am diametrically opposed to and always will be is the idea that somehow lowering wages and paying people the absolute minimum with no off days is the golden key to business success. If people are working they should be paid enough so they can take care of themselves. In this context it is not like the Amtrak onboard staff are getting rich. That is a misnomer from people who have not fully grasped the increases in cost of living the last 20 years,especially in major metropolitan areas.
  9. So Amtrak basically proposes to eliminate the national network on Dec 31 and there are still people making apologies for the leadership and claiming to be passenger train supporters? If Amtrak announced they were closing the doors tommorow, would people still claim it would be more efficient and we just don't see the big picture?
  10. amtrakpass

    Empire Builder Timekeeping Struggles

    Thanks West point and Montana Mike for your educated responses. I learned a lot of good information from your posts. I do not doubt there are significant challenges and not a lot of easy answers in the short term. I do hope that they will do some better planning in the future to avoid the recurrence of these serious delays. My long term concern is that since most intermodal and freight is not time sensitive to the hour except for the few hot trains, the delays become accepted as normal and passenger train travel is not reliable to the general public and therefore loses support. And Amtrak is not innocent for sure. My main use of this route is between the Twin Cities and Chicago on the CP and I feel if Amtrak really cared, they would be running a substitute stub train to cover that on time, even if it was just a couple coaches. At the very least if that is not possible, they could ask for funding specifically in the next budget for additional equipment to cover such contingencies on this and other lines. As far as getting enough people to hire, which I recognize is a challenge, it may be necessary to offer bonuses and payment of lodging and moving expenses for enough people to work. You are going to get people from other parts of the country to work if the money is good enough like when people went up to Alaska years ago to work on the pipeline. And not just train crews. The amount of time saved and productivity increased by having enough car inspectors, enginehouse people, local track gangs etc...is a lot. There is reason the railroads used to employ a lot of people. Because it still takes a lot of labor to move trains efficiently, especially when you are trying to climb mountains. Some of the issue nowadays with corporate America in my opinion is trying to do too much with too few laborers
  11. amtrakpass

    Empire Builder Timekeeping Struggles

    Hi guys, I totally understand everyone is trying to do there best as far as the workers go within the means they have been given. I don't blame any of the workers, dispatchers, track workers etc... However a passenger train being delayed upwards of of 5 to 10 hours everyday is harmful to real human beings, not just freight company profits. Are you saying it is impossible for the BNSF to plan ahead sufficiently to have enough capacity to run the Hi-line efficiently and still maintain profitably? Would this have been tolerated year in and year out when the GN ran the Empire Builder or the NP ran their trains? If is tolerated now, perhaps the lack of competition from all the mergers is the real issue. Don't let your interest and respect for the railroad and it's workers make you unable to think critically of a major corporation's upper management decisions. Is the yard in Whitefish plugged? Are they adding yard tracks or building a new yard then? Are they letting the yard crews work and promoting a culture of efficient and quick railroading or do they mess with the crews? Do they have enough van drivers so no one has to wait for a ride? Do they have all the crews paperwork and bulletin's ready when they come on duty so there are no delays waiting for something simple? Have they hired enough people so the extra boards are full? The public should be better served than this.
  12. amtrakpass

    Empire Builder Timekeeping Struggles

    My feeling is the real reason for delays is not trackwork. It seems the railroads know that people buy that explanation so they throw that out there every summer. Of course your going to have work areas on the railroad for trackwork. Does that usually cause much for speed restrictions or delays? Somewhat but usually for short distances and that is very rarely the cause of hours long delays on a main line railroad. The real reason is probably the BNSF trying to get by with not hiring enough train crews and then attempting to run more trains than the line can handle. So then you have trains dying and needing to wait for rested crews. They must be calculating that it is more profitable to suffer long delays than to build enough track and hire enough people to have a fluid line. Why the Hi-line has any sections of single track besides a bridge or tunnel here and there is beyond me. With the amount of money Berkshire Hathaway has, the BNSF could hire an army of track workers to lay a new track from Chicago to Seattle in one summer and still have money left over if they really wanted to. Just my opinion of course. But I feel like the BNSF has been claiming "trackwork" for way too many years now to be justified in delaying the Empire Builder so much that it can not be depended upon for any regular rider.
  13. There are no high level platforms in Michigan except for the above mentioned one at Ann Arbor that I am aware of. The Dearborn and Detroit stations are low level. The only full high level ones in the Midwest I can think of are on the Metra Electric District and South Shore Lines. I also sure hope the existing horizons and amfleets will be refurbished and used to expand service once the new cars get here rather than be scrapped
  14. amtrakpass

    Another airline pulls out of MSP-ORD

    From taking the Empire Builder between St.paul and Chicago quite a bit I have noticed the real running time from St. Paul Union Depot to Chicago Union Station is about 7hrs 20 minutes with no delays.The rest is padding. So even without any speed improvements, with the population in the twin cities I think you would get pretty decent ridership. But I think it is important to have the trains also stop in downtown Minneapolis even with the short change of direction necessary. At the very least the corridor trains would probably start at St. Cloud or hopefully Duluth and stop at one of the Northstar commuter stops to add ridership. St Paul Union Depot is cool but it is pretty far east to a lot of the population in the Twin city area
  15. amtrakpass

    Fire Richard Anderson Campaign?

    "It also depends on what is the definition of "improve", "" Well my definition of improve is on time, faster and more frequent Amtrak trains on the current routes plus expanded service to new routes and places with new equipment and good customer service. I think most passengers would agree with that definition.