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About Siegmund

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    Train Attendant

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    northwestern Montana
  1. Siegmund

    How Many Miles in Amtrak Network?

    There was a time when the exact number to the nearest mile, for the most recent five years, was in the annual reports. Presumably at a time when there was increased service to brag about. (It fluctuated around 24-25k miles for most of the 80s and 90s.) The "more than 21,300" number appears in the 2015 annual report. Presumably the change to 21,400 is the addition of Lynchburg to Roanoke. I don't have an exact number handy - and I assume that even if the route-miles number correctly reports distance between junctions, it doesn't take into account the few hundred miles where eastbound and westbound trains run on different track.
  2. I have no recent experience on the Crescent, but can confirm very early closing times on the Empire Builder. Last call for the diner is when they pass through the Cascade Tunnel, about 6:30AM if they are on time, giving them a solid 3 hours after the last customer is gone before arriving into Seattle. Last call for the lounge is the Bingen-White Salmon station stop, 2 hours before Portland, and the lounge attendant commented how "they were less uptight on the Portland section" about closing early. A mystery to me, since land-based restaurants seem to manage just fine with having the place cleaned and locked up ~1 hour after the last customer is served. It does seem like awful customer service. I'd say "and it costs them a thousand dollars a day in diner sales" -- but I suppose what it actually does is saves them several hundred dollars of free meals they'd give away to sleeper customers if they were still serving after people were awake in the morning.
  3. The Portland section *has* to have both a coach (handicapped seating) and a coach-baggage (checked baggage.) The Seattle section has a baggage car and a transdorm, so can run with only one coach and one sleeper (and one unit pulling it), and often does during the offseason. I also have never seen half of a Builder leave Spokane. Moderately rare that it suffers a delay in WA but a few times a year it is late enough to see Sandpoint to Libby in daylight. I wish I knew in advance when that was going to happen! Serious contender for most beautiful part of the trip. Half the reason I get a roomette on the Builder is so I can close my curtains, turn out the lights, and watch that stretch along the Kootenai River by moonlight westbound. *Turning* the train at Spokane, if it's 12 hours late, and bussing passengers across Washington, that has happened a time or two. If they knew in advance that 28 was stranded in Portland and couldn't get to Spokane, I almost wonder if they would shift the equipment from Portland to Seattle on one of the Cascades and leave Seattle with a full consist a couple hours late, rather than run half a train, or use the one or two spare Superliners that always seem to be sitting in Seattle. Never heard of it happening. Just idle speculation.
  4. I think OP is on to the start of a good idea here. In the context of reimagining a whole national network... I have pictured DFW and Atlanta as the south-central hubs, not New Orleans. There has been talk before of bringing back the Texas Chief/Lone Star, of a Dallas section of the Crescent, of a bunch of other things. Rather than extending the Crescent westward, I would run Chicago-Kansas City-Ft. Worth-Houston-New Orleans-Chicago as a loop using the same equipment. Meanwhile the Texas Eagle would either remain on its current route or go directly from Ft. Worth to El Paso. The DFW-San Antonio-Houston triangle needs frequent regional service which is a separate issue from what to do with the long distance trains. For a Sunset Limited replacement, I would either look at creating a connection in Dallas between the Texas Eagle and the Crescent, or I'd run a transcontinental Sunset Limited Dallas-Shreveport-Birmingham-Atlanta-Florida. I see a lot more potential in developing east-west traffic on that route than I do on trying to recreate essentially non-existent connections between the 3 trains serving New Orleans now.
  5. Siegmund

    Government shutdown impacts

    If there are any improvements for which FRA permission is needed, those have presumably been put on hold. Don't know if, for instance, any deadlines for positive train control have gone past during the shutdown. In the aviation world, those are the type of things which have been delayed --- new airline service to Everett, WA, for instance, has been postponed by two months, because the federal inspectors who could approve the necessary security plans etc were furloughed. Sadly we don't seem to have any examples of Amtrak trying to add an exciting new route this month that got delayed.
  6. And then some of us thought Acela was the stupidest name ever, conveying only a sense of... um... well... pointless rebranding. I would go back to calling the trains Metroliners too if I had my way.
  7. Siegmund

    Stretch/Smoke Stop List

    I move to strike Wishram from 27/28's list of smoking stops. Pasco, yes, if you're awake in the middle of the night... but if you are on time, Wishram is a 30 second pause.
  8. Siegmund

    Chicago Union Station

    At least in Portland you're allowed into the Metropolitan Lounge with a sleeper ticket, whether leaving or arriving. As far as I know that's a system-wide rule and you'd be good to go on your return.
  9. Siegmund

    Amtrak Crew Base Question

    Makes some sense in that its endpoints are different than all the other trains... otherwise youd have people 2 hours the wrong side of DC trying to get to Lorton, if it were one base. Perhaps the Auto Train extra board is not so bad as a Chicago/DC/NY extra board, in that you know exactly what time the only train in town is going to leave each day? Almost like not being on call at all, if you just have to be available a certain time each afternoon, rather than be on 2 hours notice all day long.
  10. Siegmund

    SWC Route vs. Santa Fe CHI-LAX

    Any chance you happen to recall when it was rerouted east of Galesburg? It stayed on ATSF through Joliet and Streator for Amtrak's first 20 years... I was fascinated by the puzzle of tracks with two Amtrak routes and another freight route crossing, when I first rode through Galesburg on the CZ as a kid.
  11. If I were going to have two basic flavors of diesels rather than one, I'd go in the opposite direction, making the new design lower-powered, perhaps in the 2500 neighborhood. The idea would be that the runs with 3-car trains would benefit a little bit from lower acquisition and operating costs, and the runs that are right on the cusp of managing with one high-horsepower unit might have 2 lower-HP units assigned (instead of the current 2 high-HP.) Though, to be honest, I think the Colorado Railcar DMU proposal of several years ago was the more realistic solution for almost all the short-distance trains. Was sorta surprised it fizzled. Re the 6000 HP idea, remember too that if you are limited by grades, you need weight on drivers, not just horsepower, and you can't make the current 4000HP engines 50% heavier without breaking a lot of rails. Super-high horsepower per axle only works for high speed on level ground.
  12. Siegmund

    What would you add?

    I've been intrigued by the idea of some reauthorization act requiring the national network to serve all 48 states, or perhaps even to increase service to all 48 states. (Though I confess I'm not sure what the best way to include South Dakota is.) I see many others here are onboard with the general theme of aiming for twice-daily service between as many city pairs as possible. Once upon a time I sketched out a list for the whole country to do that... about three computers ago now.
  13. Baggage-dorms, or some other sort of half-baggage-half-revenue-space car, make a great deal of sense, on almost every route except the few with heaviest baggage usage. Combines were used 150 years ago on light-load trips, and Amtrak made good use of Coach-Baggage cars when Superliner I came out. I am a little surprised that full baggage cars and transition sleepers are still a thing out west, actually... if I had been king, those would have been baggage-sleepers. Re Inland Route service... yes, there was through Boston-Springfield-Washington service "forever". I would have guessed 3 trips a day, but the Museum's 1990 timetable revealed only two. Along with a multitude of trains splitting in New Haven with through cars to Springfield. I had sort of hoped that, if the desire was to eliminate the New Haven switching, they'd do something like extend additional trains northward, perhaps alternating Boston-Springfield-New York and Boston-Providence-New York hourly. (Yes, I know that possibility mostly died with electrification of the shoreline route.)
  14. Siegmund

    Amtrak at its pinnacle

    I believe summer 1979 is correct for peak Amtrak route miles. Gaining the Crescent helped more than losing Detroit-Buffalo part of the Niagara Rainbow hurt. 1977 will substantially beat 1976, because of the Pioneer starting. If you are counting total number of route miles whether Amtrak-operated or not, I think summer 1977 is the post-1971 peak. 1978 and early 1979 slip a little vs 1977, because of little things like losing the Norfolk-Petersburg segment of the Mountaineer. Are there any "tiebreaker" route changes between February and September 1979 that will narrow it down further?
  15. Spokane switching westbound is the easiest thing in the world: Combined train stops alongside the platform. Lead unit pulls ahead and out of the way. Uncouple just ahead of the lounge car. The former 2nd unit remains in place, becomes the Seattle section's engine, and departs. The original lead unit backs onto the lounge car and departs for Portland ~20 minutes later. HEP is off for 10ish minutes in the Portland section. Eastbound I have been asleep. Portland section still arrives first, and the end result is still the Portland engine being on the point after departure. But it must require at least one extra move-- I don't know if that extra move is the Seattle section going past the parked Portland section and backing into the platform ahead of it, or something else. Nor do I know if the Portland engine "hides" east or west of the station while waiting for the Seattle section to pass it. I doubt that the combined Builder has ever *needed* 3 units. It routinely ran with 2 F40s in the 80s and early 90s, and routinely runs with 2 P42s now, summer and winter. In seven trips and several dozen sightings, the only time I've ever seen a 3rd unit, it was a BNSF freight unit leading a 4-hours-late westbound, presumably after a failure somewhere west of Spokane. There was a gap of several years when I neither saw nor rode it -- approximately 2005-2013. Were there times when the Seattle section was heavy enough to need 2 units? Do not know. If it had 2 seattle sleepers and 3 seattle coaches, perhaps it would. I don't recall ever seeing 3 seattle coaches, either - it would be a rarity to need them, since there are always 2 portland coaches which tend to have lots of extra capacity, and anyone not actually going past Spokane on the Seattle section is likely to get placed in them.