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Everything posted by jis

  1. The following was notified by the STB on Nov 6, 2018: This is basically the entire CSXT Florida Panhandle Line between Baldwin FL (outside Jacksonville) and Pensacola FL. This has bearing on planned Amtrak service since this is almost the entire Panhandle route for the proposed Gulf Coast Service between New Orleans and Jacksonville/Orlando. Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railroad LLC is a newly minted subsidiary of International Rail Partners, which is a holding company of numerous short lines in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and South America.
  2. I think the last time I used a value ticket was when by mistake I converted an e-Ticket to a Value Ticket for Auto Train, which was allowed just after Auto Train converted to E-Ticket, and that was most likely in circa 2014 or thereabouts. Currently I just stash away a copy of the PDF in my standard Amtrak E-Tickets folder in iCloud so that I can access it from any and all of my devices, and just leave it at that. I do the same with airline and other railway's e-tickets too. I found that Indian Railways explicitly discourages printing out e-tickets and suggests that they be presented on a device. Interestingly of late one can buy even a short distance unreserved suburban ticket electronically. I have not tried it. I guess it must come with an activation and expiry time or something like that.
  3. That is actually an E-Ticket printed on paper ticket stock. It is not a real paper ticket. If it was it would not be a “document with no value” as stated in the bottom left corner.
  4. Oh yes. They used to serve snacks in the Diner on the Albany - NY leg of the LSL on the eastbound for several years quite a while back. I have actually used such many times in the past. For someone as young as you, you seem to have incredibly certain thoughts about thing that occurred before you could speak or stand on your feet eh? Even before that for a brief period they even used to serve Dinner in the Diner too. The sliding backwards on food service started decades back.
  5. jis

    Why do they call them "motors?"

    Yeah. I just call them all engines or locomotives, never ever use the term motor. If someone cannot figure out what I am talking about they can pound sand
  6. Wellp it looks like the CSX selloff of the Gulf Coast line fell through because CSX and the buyer could not agree on terms. https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/money/2019/01/18/deal-falls-through-between-csx-railusa-panhandle-tracks/2617971002/
  7. Wellp it looks like the CSX selloff of the Gulf Coast line fell through because CSX and the buyer could not agree on terms. https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/money/2019/01/18/deal-falls-through-between-csx-railusa-panhandle-tracks/2617971002/
  8. Actually, it is the Acela IIs which will be truly articulated like the TGVs using Jacobs Trucks. I think you are quite correct in your observation that Amtrak operates on thin margins of equipment, unlike the much much larger passenger systems elsewhere. In a manner of speaking, they have a much deeper equipment bench for all sorts of equipment than Amtrak does. There are two more observations I'd make based on what I observe in Europe and India. 1. Even when articulated sets are used the drawbars connecting the individual cars within a set together are relatively easy to couple and decouple, so changing out cars within a consist often is not much harder than if they had standard couplers, and are similar in complexity to chain and screw couplers which is still not that uncommon in the rest of the world anyway. Of course, the more permanent and hence harder to separate the coupling is the more seamless is the customer experience of passing from one car to another. It is a tradeoff, and a decision to be made based on what factors are more important to the operator. 2. Typically EMU and DMU sets are three or four cars long, and trains are built stringing together two to five such sets. So even if cars cannot be replaced, all that happens is things are taken out of service in units of say, 225 seats instead of 75 seats, and that together with availability of spares in units of 225 seats instead of 75 as standard units for example, works out just fine. And the 3 or 4 car units then can have full width vestibules giving a sense of airy spaciousness to the customer, with only inter-unit vestibules being narrower. In India so far even when cars are connected by drawbars within a set, no advantage is taken to provide a more seamless experience to the customer. That is changing with the recent T-18 distributed power prototype, which supposedly will be deployed on Premier trains, both regional and overnight. The claim is doing so will allow lopping off full two hours from the current 16 hour schedule between Mumbai and New Delhi or Kolkata and New Delhi. As far as I can see, at least in India, the argument for going with EMU/DMU for regional service is the significantly superior timetable performance of the DMU/EMUs over loco hauled trains. In general they report immediate 10% to 20% overall running time reduction for services that have frequent stops. That really is a big deal if achieved without requiring major track/signal overhaul. This is the publicly stated primary reason for converting regional passenger and express trains to DMU/EMU, and it clearly shows in time tables and customer experience. I saw a living illustration of it the other day when the train I was on, an extremely capable loco hauled train of 10 cars with 5+kHP Co-Co TRAXX electric engine, was routinely beaten handily in acceleration out of a station stop by an EMU. Of course eventually we caught up with and overtook the EMU since we did not have to stop everywhere, which it did (and our APS was 30kph faster than the EMU's), but the illustration was stark. And it is not like these EMU sets are drastically overpowered. It is just that the power is distributed in 1 in 4 (16 axles in 64 in a 4 unit 16 car train) instead of 6 axles in 46 to 66 (10-15 car trains). There are no trains in India that operate with more than one electric engine (except the few mountain segments where bankers are used just for the climb), or for that matter more than one EMD dual cab ~5kHP Co-Co AC drive diesel engine. There are some that operate with twin single cab ALCO derivative 3kHP DC drive engines. But bottom line is, the operating conditions and imperatives are different in different environments. US passenger service except in the NEC is very different from the more intensive passenger ops elsewhere in the world. On the NEC 3 or 4 car sets with one power car coupled together using AAR-H couplers as proposed by NJT is likely to address the distributed power issue without compromising on replaceability of individual cars, and indeed that is what Amtrak might go for. If experience elsewhere holds true in American, which is always a big if, then this could improve timetable performance considerably without massive investment in tracks and signals. So we shall see. As far as I can see, the two features to go for primarily are: 1. Distributed power - spread the power transmission among a larger proportion of axles to get significantly better performance. 2. Operating Cabs at both ends - to eliminate the need for turning trains on Wyes or Balloon Tracks or unhooking and hooking locomotives at the end of each run. The rest is just arguing about who calls which configuration by what name.
  9. This is a standard attitude among Americans and yet in the rest of the world railways are moving towards fixed EMU/DMU/DEMU sets to quite an extent, specially in places where passenger railway with extremely frequent service, is run more as a necessity for millions rather than as almost a hobby as in many places in the US (with tongue in the cheek) [emoji57]
  10. I decided to take a day excursion from Kolkata by train, and started looking for possibilities. These days there are many excursions possible to places that are about 7 or so hours away. Some of them can be done as a day excursion as the outbound is in early morning and the return is in the afternoon. Others are oriented in the opposite direction, i.e. the outbound from Kolkata is in the afternoon and the inbound to Kolkata is in the early morning arriving in Kolkata a little after noon. Naturally the latter requires an overnight stay away from Kolkata while the former don't Before the introduction of the Shatabdi Express or equivalent scheduled faster service, all these journeys were overnight journeys. Of the many possibilities from Kolkata, I chose the Ranchi Shatabdi, which runs from Howrah Station of Kolkata to state capital of Jharkhand State - Ranchi, up on the Chhota Nagpur Plateau, which involves a scenic ride as the train climbs out of the Gangetic Planes onto the Chhota Nagpur Plateau over twisty turny seemingly single track line crossing several high bridges across rivers that are quiet now, but quite turbulent during the Monsoons. In the past this scenic section was covered by a Narrow Gauge railroad between Muri and Ranchi, but now it is Broad Gauge and electrified. Seemed overall like a good mix of higher speed (by Indian standards) and scenic slow running. Food is included in the fare, so no worries about where to eat. And the turn at the away from Kolkata end is short 30 mins, basically the time it takes to prepare the train for the return journey and be on its way. There are two classes of accommodation, both daytime,available on this train: AC Executive Class with 2x2 seating 60 seats to a car, designated by "E" in train charts and AC Chair Car with 2x3 seating with 75 seats per car, designated by "C" in train charts, It has one E class car designated "E1" and 7 C class cars designated "C1" through "C7". I had chosen to travel in E Class. Even though full food service is provided at seat, this train does not have a Pantry Car. Instead each passenger car has a fully equipped Galley for storage and preparation of food for delivery. All food is loaded mostly pre-plated in separate little casserole style Aluminum containers with cardboard cover for each item and kept piping hot in the galley until served. They are served with actual stainless steel flatware! You can find some details about this train at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howrah_Ranchi_Shatabdi_Express https://indiarailinfo.com/train/-train-howrah-ranchi-shatabdi-express-12019/1534/1/384 So bright and early in the morning of the 17th Jan I set out from home in Ballygunge Place to Howrah Station. The Uber guy came within minutes and I was on my way at 5am traveling on relatively empty streets on the traditional route to Howrah via Park Street, Eden Gardens, BBD Bagh (old Dalhousie Square), Strand Road and Howrah Bridge to Howrah station arriving there at around 5:30am. As we approached the station the driver asked me "Old or New Terminal"? My train is Eastern Railway, so it is Old terminal. All South Eastern Railway trains now use the New terminal which is tracks above 14 upto 26. Old terminal is 1 - 13. From the Old Terminal dropoff a short walk gets me into the enormous concourse which is teeming with people even at this early hour waiting for their connection or their initial train. Howrah has an interesting method for displaying trains departures and arrivals. There is one Mother of all huge Boards listing every train departure and arrival with scheduled time and normal platform (track) assignment. And then there are multiple dynamic departure and arrival boards which display only those trains for which the actual time and platform assignment for today has been finalized, and the train is about to arrive at the designated platform. The trains displayed on the dynamic board are continuously announced on the PA system, so you don;t even have to really look at the board unless you are in real hurry. A quick glance at the first board I came across showed that my train - 12019 Ranchi Shatabdi - was confirmed for Platform11, 6:05am departure today. So off I went to Platform 11. Howrah is a terminus station, though it is called Howrah Jn. So you walk onto each platform from the giant concourse which sits between the buffer stops and the taxi ranks and other road traffic. Howrah also has two "cab ways" where a road runs into the station between two Platforms, with some short term parking space for drop off and pickup. The Old Complex Cabway is between Platforms 8 and 9. On my way to Platform 11 I crossed the Old Complex Cabway which had a long line of cars waiting to enter the station. Cars have to pay a toll to use this facility. As I walked onto Platform 11 I could see the lights of the shunter, which turned out to be an Eastrern Railway Dark Blue Alco derived unit built at Varanasi Diesel Locomotive Works. It finally pulled in with the consist of 12019. I quickly found Car E1 where I had seat 49, a Window Seat. ( I will upload photos after I get back to the US. The backhaul network's capacity in India leaves much to be desired specially when it comes to uploading) As I settled down in my seat, which was indeed a window seat, though backward facing for now (the train changes direction mid-journey), it was at least on the right side, which is the railfan side in India, which is left hand running. Soon the car filled up completely, which was impressive considering this was the higher fare class and it was early morning. A lot of people were heading out to places like Durgapur (Steel City) Asansol and Dhanbad in the Coal country, and to Chandrapura (Thermal Power) and Bokaro Steel City. Only about 20 people in the 60 seat car were going all the way to the end of the line. About ten minutes before departure, I noticed that the A/C system shut down, though there was no change whatsoever in the lighting. This was followed by a gentle bump as the road power coupled on. Then a minute later A/C came back on again. I realized that we head a Head On Generating (HOG) locomotive and power source was transfered from the diesel End on Generator (EOG) to the HOG. The train departed exactly on time at 6:05am. It turns out there are three trains scheduled to depart Howrah at 6:05am, so naturally we had three trains heading out together side by side. Trains from south to north were South Eastern Railway's Dhauli Express to Bhubaneshwar on the East Coast. Eastern Railway's Ranchi Shatabdi which would head down the Howrah Bardhaman Chord Line, and some other Express, to where I forget, which would head up the Main Line. All three were already positioned on the correct, most direct track to their route as we crossed under the graceful Concrete Arch Bridge carrying the famous Grand Trunk Road above us. The three trains were all electric powered, Dhauli with a Shantragacchi Shed WAP-4 Class, our Shatabdi with a Howrah Shed White HOG WAP-7 (Bombardire TRAXX derivative), and the other Express had a bright Red Howrah WAP-4. Since both Dhauli and we had a very tight schedule, both took off like a bat out of hell as soon as the station yard was cleared. Within minutes we cleared the complex junction with many flyovers between Bally and Dankuni where the main west bank of the river junction of the leads from the two huge Kolkata stations (Howrah on the west bank which we left from and Sealdah, which is on the east bank of the river.come together. Past Dankuni we were out of town racing along the green fields and endless water bodies which Bengal is known for. The Chord Line which we were on is triple track with two directional tracks and the middle track is reversible. This being early morning, the middle track was set for the down direction towards Kolkata. The outer down track was being used by the local EMUs and a few freights, and the middle reversible was being used by inbound Mail/Express trains. We were on the outbound up track, and apparently timetable planning was working as intended since we were ot getting any caution signals in the automatic blocks. It was green all the way running at 130kph/~81mph. One of the features of fast Expresses in India is the almost constant blowing of whistle all the way. There were a couple of TSR slowdowns, but in spite of that we made it past the flying junction with the Main Line at Shaktigarh (now 4 track ROW) and non stop through Bardhaman (95km) in about an hour, After Bardhaman we soon zoomed by Khana Jn. where the line to North Bengal and Assam Sahibgunj Loop) veered off to the right at a flying junction.This was the first main line to Delhi before the shorter lines were built on more difficult geographic terrain. Our first stop Durgapur came about 5 minutes late, but the stop was precisely two minutes as in the timetable. The next stop at Ranigunj is close by and we continued to be a little late, and this was a one minute stop. Next was Asansol, the second biggest city after Kolkata in West Bengal and the stop was two minutes. About quarter of the passengers had left by now. Most seemed to be on some sort of business, but a few were on family visit and such. This was a Thursday. After Asansol, we soon blasted through Sitarampur Jn where the Main Line to Delhi veered off to the right. We were now on the so called Grand Chord Line, the shortest route to Delhi, followed by most of the fast trains to Delhi. Next landmark was crossing of the Barakar River over a high bridge, which marks the border between West Bengal and Jharkhand state, followed soon by our next 5 minute stop at Dhanbad, still running a few minutes late. The schedule is relatively tight with little slack time allowed for catching up. Next stop is Gomoh, a complex junction between now East Central and South Eastern Railway. Upon departing Asansol, we had transitioned from Eastern Railway to East Central Railway. The Eastern Railway OBS Staff runs the entire trip to and fro in a single day. The T&E staff changes at Gomoh. At Gomoh the layout of the junction is such that the train has to reverse for its onward journey. The time allowed for this operation is 20 mins. The operation involves uncoupling the engine from one and and coupling it at the other end. In order to do so first HOG is disconnected and transferred to EOG. Then the engine is uncoupled and passes by the train on a loop to the other end, and coupled on. Finally EOG is transfered to HOG, and we were ready to go on time. Here onward it is mostly single track with relatively frequent passing sidings. At each junction on the way we tended to get held up for something else that was passing ahead of us on a different route. We proceeded through Chandrapura and Bokaro to Muri progressively losing time, arriving in Muri almost 15 mins late. Turns out that there is a lot of slack time between Muri and Ranchi, since we got into Ranchi right on time at 1:15pm. This is the most scenic part of the trip. This is where the route climbs from the Gangetic Planes to the Chhota Nagpur Plateau over some very scenic twisty turny trackage. This route also crosses two of the large rivers that arise in that part of the Plateau and flow into the Bay of Bengal. From east to west, the first is the Damodar, which is crossed on a tall viaduct. It was known as the sorrow of Bengal until it was dammed and tamed by the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), modeled after the Tennessee Valley Corporation. The viaduct across the Damodar had a PSR of 30kph. The second is the Subarnarekha (A Stream of Beautiful Color) crossed over another tall viaduct. After a relatively slow jaunt through this beautiful scenery we finally arrived at Ranchi right on time. On the way we were served Morning Tea with Cookies immediately after departure from Howrah. Just past Bardhaman we were served a rather large Breakfast with Corn Flakes with Hot Milk, an Omelette with sauteed Carrots and Peas and fried Potato Strips, two slices of Bread and a soft drink. After departing Bokaro we were served an even more massive lunch, so massive that after consuming it I basically had to opt out of Dinner on the way back. It consisted of a Vegetable Curry, a Daal, cup and a half of Rice and a Chicken Curry, together with two Parnthas (fried flat bread), a cup of Yogurt, followed by a small helping of Ice Cream and an Apple. Food is included in the ticket and food service is provided by a private contractor named Meals on Wheels. The prices, menus and quantity of items is set by contract by IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation), and the actual on board service is provided by the vendor. I will upload the photos when I have access to better internet. Until the I figured at least you all can read about it. I will write up the return journey separately in Part 2 in a few days.
  11. They will be first refreshed and then replaced just like the Amfleet Is. Given the way Amtrak's accounts are laid out, finding adequate collateral for a loan for them may be a somewhat bigger challenge than for the Amfleet Is. Similar issues arise for Superliners, unless of course Congress steps upto the plate beyond just occasionally hyperventilating about it. So far they have not really funded much of any new equipment.
  12. The Brightline sets are semi-permanently coupled. My point was that did not stop them from shopping a single car. I think one thing that they will go with is sufficient number of cab cars so that they do not need to wye trains. They can then have the freedom to reverse trains at platform like they do with Acelas while continuing to use the existing Sprinters and new diesels for power. One oddity that I noticed in the passing is that the diesel engine spec has been slightly modified to allow engines to be 85' long! I wonder why. Even if the want to package it in a carbody like the rest of the cars, it can still be shorter than 85'. Maybe leaving enough room for dual modes without worrying too much about space conservation?
  13. Did you witness what happened when a car in a Brightline consist was damaged week before last. They simply switched the car out and ran the trainset one car short until the damage was fixed and car added back to the consist. Maybe it is not as big a delay as is made out by some apparently. The California setup makes this even easier since a pair of cars can be removed as a unit even more easily than a single car from a trainset.
  14. jis

    Amtrak Greenwashing

    As far as I could find there were three posts in the Comments referring to the Cardinal. The first is from Joe Versaggi talking about what should be done in the future. The second is your post stating essentially what you state in the OP, and the third is again from Joe explaining the difference between Contemporary Dining as in the LSL and CL and Diner Lite as found on the Cardinal. So none other than you really stated “box in a tote bag” is found on the Cardinal. Now that may very well be, but none other than you have stated that to be the current service on the Cardinal.
  15. Something like the California or Brightline order would be acceptable, is my reading.
  16. So the moral of the story is "work for a PV"
  17. jis

    It’s Time We Stood Up to Amtrak

    Wouldn’t that be nice if they were of the right kind [emoji51] The error got copied from Loomis’ article referred to by the OP.
  18. jis

    AGR Taxable Income Question

    Fortunately for now IRS does not have the spare resources to change their mind. [emoji57]
  19. jis

    It’s Time We Stood Up to Amtrak

    Unfortunately Congress has never agreed to that principle, let alone going so far as to direct Amtrak to that effect. They have never backed away from the “for profit” corporation language. While you and I might agree on this I am not sure that enough of the 535 agree with us to make it so yet. Maybe some day.
  20. Of course we prefer to ignore actual observation that the money saved does not proportionately increase their spending or increase the velocity of money because it does not help the preferred story line of some. [emoji57]
  21. jis

    Rocky Mountaineer New Equipment

    Actually they are way bigger than the front facing Great Dome windows [emoji6]
  22. jis

    Long anti Anderson Article

    Remember, he has explicitly been hired by the Board to put in place a change in mission and business model better aligned with what Congress has decreed. Of course I hate what he is doing, but clearly he is not a loan rogue running off on his own. The Board has repeatedly expressed their full support for him. We have a much bigger problem on our hand than just Anderson.
  23. Depends on how you define middle. My intent was more to say that it would most likely not lie in the extremes. That does not mean it would be exactly in the middle. The issue you raise occurs only if you insist that it must be exactly near the middle. I at least do not believe that was my intended message. Of course it is more likely to be predicted more accurately by someone who is not trying to find arguments in favor of a position using carefully selected observations while ignoring observations that do not fit their favorite story line. The actual truth will be found equally by everyone when it actually happens irrespective of what they predicted. [emoji57]
  24. Yup. And there is no way of knowing it for sure until it is upon us. [emoji57] Also a probability curve shape depends on what input was used to create the model.
  25. I expect my house in Florida, which is 45' above MSL will be around for a long time past the end of this century. I don't think Amtrak really needs to move much for the time being. I think Amtrak facilities will outlast Amtrak as we know it, without going under the sea. It does need to take some mitigating action in select locations, like has been done post-Sandy, but way short of moving facilities. As usual the truth lies somewhere between the extreme positions on both sides. And we have heard from both extreme tending positions in this thread already. And each can quote a plethora of "experts" to support their position.