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About neroden

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  1. neroden

    $Billion VIA Order to Siemens?

    So, an order for 32 trainsets, with an option for 16 additional trainsets. Does anyone know how many trainsets are *currently* running on "The Corridor"? I suppose I could figure out by piecing together the *eleven* different timetables, but GROAN...
  2. neroden

    $Billion VIA Order to Siemens?

    Yeah, 2.5M/car -> 3.M/car is roughly CPI inflation over the last 10 years. Looks good. Amtrak would probably get economies of scale from a larger order, yes.
  3. VA used to own a large fraction of the RF&P, and under idiotic Republican mismanagement, sold their interest to CSX. This was wrong. They should have bought CSX's interest. I said so at the time. But you can't get Republican politicians to do sane things. In the short run, I think the priority is wresting control of a pair of passenger tracks from DC as far as the junction with the Manasass Line. In the long run, they should buy out the entire route, and if that' s not possible, build a four-track configuration, let CSX have two tracks and buy the other two.
  4. Colorado will probably want to maintain the line west to... some point or other... but does anyone know whether Utah's state government would care at all? I'm not sure how far Colorado would maintain the line to. Definitely Winter Park (Fraser would close for sure). Probably Glenwood Springs. Maybe Grand Junction. Almost certainly not Green River, IMO. And there's the catch: Provo to Grand Junction is nearly the same distance (252 mi) as Denver to Glenwood Springs (273 mi), and does not benefit Colorado at all. And I don't see Utah caring. I have personally proposed, several times, the following arrangement: (1) A "Extended Ski Train" run by Colorado which goes all the way from Denver to Grand Junction. (Though Glenwood Springs is arguably more likely. If they could extend from Glenwood springs to Aspen that would be better, and might be politically viable.) (2) The California Zephyr going from Denver to Salt Lake City via Wyoming, which is actually faster than the current route. (3) ... going via BNSF from Denver to Laramie, with stops in Boulder, Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins, and Cheyenne. Slower than the UP route via Greeley, but sooo much more online population, and they're all hungry for train service, too.
  5. The new baggage cars have a pretty efficient layout, but you'd need a full baggage car for the Thanksgiving load on the LSL, period. Also for the mid-june load. Syracuse baggage alone occupies about 1/8 of a baggage car on a peak day. By contrast, on a non-peak day in January, you probably wouldn't even fill a half-bag. I think there's something non-obvious happening. Off-peak-season travellers take substantially less baggage than peak-season travellers. So the baggage load is even more peaky than the passenger load. This raises an interesting commercial possibility: "checked baggage for the holidays". That didn't make sense with dedicated baggage employees (who would be doing nothing most of the year), but with trainside baggage handing done by conductors, it actually might make sense. During the peaks, with the carry-on space crammed full, add a baggage car and offer what airlines used to call "checked carry-ons" or "gate-checked" bags.
  6. I'll emphasize that coal traffic is going away; it's not going to be part of the future financial case for maintaining any line whatsoever. Just for your consideration.
  7. On the LSL, it would make sense to run the dining car as a second cafe and serve both legs (Alb-Bos and Alb-Nyp) as well as having one or the other open during all of 24 hours.
  8. Downs was certainly the most incompetent Amtrak CEO ever, and probably caused more damage than any other Amtrak CEO. Frankly, Downs turned everything he touched to trash. Before Amtrak, he mismanaged the Washington Union Station restoration project causing massive cost overruns and requiring a bailout and a redesign. Before that, he mismanaged New Jersey Transit. After Amtrak, he got on the board of Washington Metro and proceeded to help sleepwalk it into signal failures and financial disaster. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/mutual-disdain-split-metro-board-youve-got-your-head-in-the-sand/2016/01/28/3ce852fa-bfcd-11e5-9443-7074c3645405_story.html?utm_term=.bf1f5845915b At Amtrak, he first concealed losses until Amtrak needed an emergency infusion of cash from the DOT (which was delivered by one of the lower-down executives), infuriating DOT and Congress because he hadn't talked to them earlier. Then he eliminated the Heritage cars but didn't order enough Viewliners to replace them. He then implemented the idiotic Mercer consulting "three a week everywhere" plan at Amtrak, apparently actually believing that it made sense. This blew the biggest hole ever in Amtrak's budget. Amtrak ran out of cash a second time and needed another emergency infusion from the government, includingh the Penn Station mortgage. Remember, this was during the early 1990s, which were a booming time for rail ridership. The fundamentals were good; riders were banging on their door. Downs managed to screw up everything, and I mean everything. He's frighteningly incompetent. You could argue that Roger Lewis's very early testimony to Congress where he said he didn't know what they'd do with a billion dollars and didn't want it was the biggest single damaging move Amtrak ever made. But the rest of his term was much better than Downs. Some other people's ratings, with politically incorrect nicknames: https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,4110939 ---- The jury is still out on Mr. Anderson. Lunatic, idiotic proposals like replacing the SW Chief with a bus fall in the "Thomas Downs" level of stupidity. On the other hand, the upgrade to the cafe car menu + removal of dining cars is far more sensible than anything Downs ever did. He's probably going to be a bad Amtrak President, but you have to try really hard to be as bad as Mr. Downs was.
  9. I'm guessing Jim Squires has a bad attitude.
  10. Depends on time of year. Jan-Feb, yes. Thanksgiving or mid-June, no. We did an analysis of seasonality of train routes a while back. Amtrak really should be adjusting consists by season.
  11. It's been documented that most of the class I railroad managements are hardened professional criminals; they've been trained in a criminal culture of criminality to order their dispatchers to delay Amtrak trains, despite the fact that this has been illegal since day one. When dealing with a host with a culture of criminality, there's only one thing which can get them to behave: take the tracks away from them. Buy them. There have been delays on state-owned or commuter-rail-owned tracks, but you don't see the same culture of criminality. They're *trying*. Similarly, BNSF's culture was reformed by Matt Rose, and CP's culture was, mysteriously, reformed recently. UP is a mixed bag; I would guess the criminal culture is only in some departments. The culture at NS was getting better but since Moorman left it has gotten worse. The culture at CSX and CN has been blatantly and consistently criminal for a long time. Both also have a criminal culture of undermaintenance. We can blame a lot of that on Hunter Harrison, whose timely death may help things somewhat; but it was bad before that. They think they're above the law, but rather than waste time fighting them in court, the solution is to buy the tracks off them. Because they're run by short-termers looking only at the next quarterly report, they WILL sell the tracks, and CSX did sell tracks to Massachusetts and "lease" them to NY, and CN sold tons of tracks to Ontario. NS also sold tracks to Michigan. If they demand too much money, Congress members can threaten them until they charge a more reasonable price, which is what Massachusetts did. I have no idea what's wrong with Virginia or Illinois, which are persistently not buying the tracks when they ought to, and as a result getting held up for ridiculous ransoms every couple of years over every little upgrade. Virginia got looted for "Acca Yard Bypass tracks" three times, if I count correctly, all of which ended up being stolen by CSX for freight parking; CSX relies on the short memories of legislators. I certainly don't trust NYS government with track ownership given its history of trying to dismantle operating railroad lines, but it's better than CSX.
  12. Amtrak's mistake was contracting with a non-union company in Florida. If Amtrak were really just consolidating to Philly, this campaign would peter out. But using that non-union company in Florida smells like illegal union-busting, and on top of that, *there's no Congressional support for Amtrak employment in Florida*. So this is an attempt to move jobs from a district where the Congresspeople want them, to a district where Congresspeople don't want them. That's just politically tone-deaf. I mean, hell, if the non-union call center had been in Chicago or NY or even Atlanta or New Orleans they probably would have had Congresspeople standing up to support moving the jobs there, but not in Florida.
  13. Yes, I've done all three of these, and they all require a phone call to a *competent* agent. I'll also add that ticket modifications require a phone call, and that is *very much not an edge case*. It happens every time Amtrak has a serious delay which ****s up connections.
  14. So, if Amtrak were *managed properly*, there would be an immediate plan to assign additional Viewliner sleepers to the Meteor on these two "sold out" days. Using the sleeper cars which were supposed to be delivered from CAF.
  15. I sleep very well in the 448/449 sleeper, but then train horns put me to sleep almost instantly. So, I went SYR-BOS recently. The boiled eggs in the cafe car make a huge difference -- I can live without the dining car. It would be *nice* to have the dining car, but I *don't have to bring my own food*. I bought four packets of boiled eggs on one trip. The cafe car menu is, in general, a very substantial improvement over what they had a year ago. There's also a salad I can eat. Again, neither eggs nor salad were available a year ago. Another advantage: I have ingredients lists for everything in the cafe car. I honestly think the way forward in the short term for food is to continue to improve the cafe car menu. The cafe car was doing brisk business. Food needs to be supplied between Albany and NY, however. If Amtrak ever gets its accounting straightened out, they should try reinstating fresh-cooked food on the LSL (which was the most profitable of the dining cars on the eastern system, with over half its business from coach and lots of NY and Chicago passengers willing to buy lots of wine). I'm not sure what bicycle demand is like on the LSL route, but it may be significant enough to justify running a bag-dorm rather than a sleeper. The Boston section of the sleeper is rarely full east of Albany... bicyclists are not interested in having their bicycle arrive later than they do to their destination, so diverting bikes via NY isn't an option. But where the heck are the bag-dorms?!?