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If you had to cut an Amtrak route, which one would you cut?

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How are you defining a route? For example, would a route such as the Palmetto count even though it's entire route is covered by the Silver Meteor? If you were to cut the Carl Sandburg/Illinois Zephyr would both trains be lost or just one? Also, is this from a purely selfish perspective or should we consider Amtrak's point of view as well?

Edited by brianpmcdonnell17

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A strange question to ask, but in light of the funding situation, it unfortunately may become a relevant one....

The obvious answer is which route cut would yield the best return to Amtrak's 'bottom line'....both now, in and the future.

However, the societal effect would also have to be taken into consideration.

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Personally, I would not cut a single train. The shorter trains have state funding so would not be likely to be cut unless state funding were lost. The long distance routes in both the East and the West have their own support groups so would be difficult to single one out. Many people say the Sunset Ltd., but in reality, many think the daily TE extended to LA would be well traveled compared to the Sunset Limited. Bottom Line, I can not target one LD train as needing to be cut. To me the Amtrak map needs to be grown in both route miles and passengers. The more paying passengers, the more profit potential there is.

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How are you defining a route? For example, would a route such as the Palmetto count even though it's entire route is covered by the Silver Meteor? If you were to cut the Carl Sandburg/Illinois Zephyr would both trains be lost or just one? Also, is this from a purely selfish perspective or should we consider Amtrak's point of view as well?

Named route. Car Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr count as separate routes.

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There is Guam to consider too :D And then there is Wyoming and South Dakota too, coming back to continental locations. ;)

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I don't know what the intentions of the OP (who BTW wasn't me) but certainly you'd rather cut a frequency than the one route of a given train.

 

Most of the state supported routes come out of state budgets so if you only consider LD routes the one "extra" one would be the Palmetto. To me, that's a Florida route without Florida. That's like if you took the LSL and terminated it in Albany or the California Zephyr and terminated it in Reno. You may point out the financials of the train but most of that is NEC traffic, when the train did not allow passengers between NYP-WAS it was a totally different story. Replace that train with another NER and you'd get half the R&R and less than half the cost.

 

Other than that, obviously the Cardinal (Byrd Crap). I'd love to be able to keep Cincinnati if I could but they have the lowest ridership of the major cities I would potentially be losing if I had to cut any other route. If you cut the Sunset Limited, you lose Houston and they are much bigger. My hope always is retain CHI-CIN and cut the rest (well CVS-NYP would obviously still be covered anyway). Maybe if you cut the SL you could extend the Crescent to San Antonio to make up for Houston. If you extend Hiawatha Service to Minneapolis, you can get rid of the rest of the Empire Builder (maybe Washington state can pick up Seattle to Spokane). Maybe the 750 mile rule can be dropped. Tell the federal government would you rather pay for 400 miles between CHI-MSP or 2000 miles between CHI-SEA when the CHI-MSP has probably 1/3 of the ridership and revenue of the entire route and 1/5 of the cost? You shouldn't have to run a train 2000 miles just to serve Minneapolis.

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I don't know what the intentions of the OP (who BTW wasn't me) but certainly you'd rather cut a frequency than the one route of a given train.

 

Most of the state supported routes come out of state budgets so if you only consider LD routes the one "extra" one would be the Palmetto. To me, that's a Florida route without Florida. That's like if you took the LSL and terminated it in Albany or the California Zephyr and terminated it in Reno. You may point out the financials of the train but most of that is NEC traffic, when the train did not allow passengers between NYP-WAS it was a totally different story. Replace that train with another NER and you'd get half the R&R and less than half the cost.

 

Other than that, obviously the Cardinal (Byrd Crap). I'd love to be able to keep Cincinnati if I could but they have the lowest ridership of the major cities I would potentially be losing if I had to cut any other route. If you cut the Sunset Limited, you lose Houston and they are much bigger. My hope always is retain CHI-CIN and cut the rest (well CVS-NYP would obviously still be covered anyway). Maybe if you cut the SL you could extend the Crescent to San Antonio to make up for Houston. If you extend Hiawatha Service to Minneapolis, you can get rid of the rest of the Empire Builder (maybe Washington state can pick up Seattle to Spokane). Maybe the 750 mile rule can be dropped. Tell the federal government would you rather pay for 400 miles between CHI-MSP or 2000 miles between CHI-SEA when the CHI-MSP has probably 1/3 of the ridership and revenue of the entire route and 1/5 of the cost? You shouldn't have to run a train 2000 miles just to serve Minneapolis.

Get rid of most of the Empire Builder? Whitefish, Montana has more riders than Indianapolis.

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"..There you go again..!"

 

Let's just eliminate all the stops @ 30th St Station and go back to stopping @ the Magnificent North Philly Station!

 

It'll save tons of money for Amtrak!🤔

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I don't know what the intentions of the OP (who BTW wasn't me) but certainly you'd rather cut a frequency than the one route of a given train.

 

Most of the state supported routes come out of state budgets so if you only consider LD routes the one "extra" one would be the Palmetto. To me, that's a Florida route without Florida. That's like if you took the LSL and terminated it in Albany or the California Zephyr and terminated it in Reno. You may point out the financials of the train but most of that is NEC traffic, when the train did not allow passengers between NYP-WAS it was a totally different story. Replace that train with another NER and you'd get half the R&R and less than half the cost.

 

Other than that, obviously the Cardinal (Byrd Crap). I'd love to be able to keep Cincinnati if I could but they have the lowest ridership of the major cities I would potentially be losing if I had to cut any other route. If you cut the Sunset Limited, you lose Houston and they are much bigger. My hope always is retain CHI-CIN and cut the rest (well CVS-NYP would obviously still be covered anyway). Maybe if you cut the SL you could extend the Crescent to San Antonio to make up for Houston. If you extend Hiawatha Service to Minneapolis, you can get rid of the rest of the Empire Builder (maybe Washington state can pick up Seattle to Spokane). Maybe the 750 mile rule can be dropped. Tell the federal government would you rather pay for 400 miles between CHI-MSP or 2000 miles between CHI-SEA when the CHI-MSP has probably 1/3 of the ridership and revenue of the entire route and 1/5 of the cost? You shouldn't have to run a train 2000 miles just to serve Minneapolis.

I'm trying to understand why the Cardinal should get the axe, considering it has low operating costs (one locomotive, diner-lite manned by one person, runs three days a week, etc.) and is the only train providing any service to 15 STATIONS. Last year a total of more than 71,000 passengers went through those stations, meaning ditching the Card would deny train service to 71,000 people (yes, I know some people rode more than once).

 

And the Builder has zero redundancy and is very profitable, as well as offering spectacular scenery. Chopping it to MSP would deny train service to hundreds of thousands of people. The EB does not exist for corridor service. It is to offer LD service between Seattle/Portland and Chicago, via that specific route. With it cut to Minneapolis, Seattle passengers now have to take the CS down to Sacramento, and then take the Zephyr across. That's a total travel time of 75 hours 5 minutes, and requires you a five hour early morning layover. Does that sound like something you'd want to do. And then you have the the majority of the other stations, which have no service at all.

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cpotisch, if you HAD to cut something and if it had to be an LD route, no matter what you choose someone is going to be screwed and you can make an argument for every LD route. When past LD routes were cut there was hardship too and other people had to make adjustments or simply lost service as well. Is there any other route that you think would cause less damage?

Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan

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I don't know what the intentions of the OP (who BTW wasn't me) but certainly you'd rather cut a frequency than the one route of a given train.

 

Most of the state supported routes come out of state budgets so if you only consider LD routes the one "extra" one would be the Palmetto. To me, that's a Florida route without Florida. That's like if you took the LSL and terminated it in Albany or the California Zephyr and terminated it in Reno. You may point out the financials of the train but most of that is NEC traffic, when the train did not allow passengers between NYP-WAS it was a totally different story. Replace that train with another NER and you'd get half the R&R and less than half the cost.

 

Other than that, obviously the Cardinal (Byrd Crap). I'd love to be able to keep Cincinnati if I could but they have the lowest ridership of the major cities I would potentially be losing if I had to cut any other route. If you cut the Sunset Limited, you lose Houston and they are much bigger. My hope always is retain CHI-CIN and cut the rest (well CVS-NYP would obviously still be covered anyway). Maybe if you cut the SL you could extend the Crescent to San Antonio to make up for Houston. If you extend Hiawatha Service to Minneapolis, you can get rid of the rest of the Empire Builder (maybe Washington state can pick up Seattle to Spokane). Maybe the 750 mile rule can be dropped. Tell the federal government would you rather pay for 400 miles between CHI-MSP or 2000 miles between CHI-SEA when the CHI-MSP has probably 1/3 of the ridership and revenue of the entire route and 1/5 of the cost? You shouldn't have to run a train 2000 miles just to serve Minneapolis.

I'm trying to understand why the Cardinal should get the axe, considering it has low operating costs (one locomotive, diner-lite manned by one person, runs three days a week, etc.) and is the only train providing any service to 15 STATIONS. Last year a total of more than 71,000 passengers went through those stations, meaning ditching the Card would deny train service to 71,000 people (yes, I know some people rode more than once).

 

And the Builder has zero redundancy and is very profitable, as well as offering spectacular scenery. Chopping it to MSP would deny train service to hundreds of thousands of people. The EB does not exist for corridor service. It is to offer LD service between Seattle/Portland and Chicago, via that specific route. With it cut to Minneapolis, Seattle passengers now have to take the CS down to Sacramento, and then take the Zephyr across. That's a total travel time of 75 hours 5 minutes, and requires you a five hour early morning layover. Does that sound like something you'd want to do. And then you have the the majority of the other stations, which have no service at all.

 

Philly has been told 1000000 times that the Empire Builder is very profitable and still does not get it. Would he care to explain?

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Here's some facts about the Empire Builder Philly might be interested in:post-892-0-96323200-1521583358_thumb.png

 

Note that 6 of the top 9 city pairs on the EB in terms of ridership involve cities west of St. Paul and 8 of the top 9, including the top two, in revenue include cities west of St. Paul. So, yeah, let's cut all that dead weight west of St. Paul. See how well that works for ya.

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Since it is under 750 miles, devolve the NEC costs (including capital and overhead) onto the states served.

 

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. My state taxes are required to support the Cascades, and my federal taxes go to support the Builder and the Starlight. Why should NY, PA, etc be any different?

Edited by zephyr17

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Since it is under 750 miles, devolve the NEC costs (including capital and overhead) onto the states served.

 

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. My state taxes are required to support the Cascades, and my federal taxes go to support the Builder and the Starlight. Why should NY, PA, etc be any different?

New York contributes a tremendous amount to rail infrastructure and a lot to Empire Corridor and NEC equipment. PA, that's another story...

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Thanks for the EB fact sheet, for some reason or other I found it very interesting. I was surprised how low Milwaukee ridership was, but of course, it's part of corridor service so there are plenty of options between Chicago and Milwaukee. But it definitely looks like both ends of the route are crying out for another train or two, and probably corridor service.

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^^^ what he said

I agree, but my post did say if you had to cut one.

 

Related thread: If you had to cut off one of your fingers, which one would you cut off?

 

Answer: That would be dumb. Don't cut your fingers off.

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I don't know what the intentions of the OP (who BTW wasn't me) but certainly you'd rather cut a frequency than the one route of a given train.

 

Most of the state supported routes come out of state budgets so if you only consider LD routes the one "extra" one would be the Palmetto. To me, that's a Florida route without Florida. That's like if you took the LSL and terminated it in Albany or the California Zephyr and terminated it in Reno. You may point out the financials of the train but most of that is NEC traffic, when the train did not allow passengers between NYP-WAS it was a totally different story. Replace that train with another NER and you'd get half the R&R and less than half the cost.

 

Other than that, obviously the Cardinal (Byrd Crap). I'd love to be able to keep Cincinnati if I could but they have the lowest ridership of the major cities I would potentially be losing if I had to cut any other route. If you cut the Sunset Limited, you lose Houston and they are much bigger. My hope always is retain CHI-CIN and cut the rest (well CVS-NYP would obviously still be covered anyway). Maybe if you cut the SL you could extend the Crescent to San Antonio to make up for Houston. If you extend Hiawatha Service to Minneapolis, you can get rid of the rest of the Empire Builder (maybe Washington state can pick up Seattle to Spokane). Maybe the 750 mile rule can be dropped. Tell the federal government would you rather pay for 400 miles between CHI-MSP or 2000 miles between CHI-SEA when the CHI-MSP has probably 1/3 of the ridership and revenue of the entire route and 1/5 of the cost? You shouldn't have to run a train 2000 miles just to serve Minneapolis.

I'm trying to understand why the Cardinal should get the axe, considering it has low operating costs (one locomotive, diner-lite manned by one person, runs three days a week, etc.) and is the only train providing any service to 15 STATIONS. Last year a total of more than 71,000 passengers went through those stations, meaning ditching the Card would deny train service to 71,000 people (yes, I know some people rode more than once).

 

And the Builder has zero redundancy and is very profitable, as well as offering spectacular scenery. Chopping it to MSP would deny train service to hundreds of thousands of people. The EB does not exist for corridor service. It is to offer LD service between Seattle/Portland and Chicago, via that specific route. With it cut to Minneapolis, Seattle passengers now have to take the CS down to Sacramento, and then take the Zephyr across. That's a total travel time of 75 hours 5 minutes, and requires you a five hour early morning layover. Does that sound like something you'd want to do. And then you have the the majority of the other stations, which have no service at all.

 

Philly has been told 1000000 times that the Empire Builder is very profitable and still does not get it. Would he care to explain?

 

 

 

Define profit, because, generally speaking, long-distance trains run deficits every year (even the best performing ones).

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I don't know what the intentions of the OP (who BTW wasn't me) but certainly you'd rather cut a frequency than the one route of a given train.

 

Most of the state supported routes come out of state budgets so if you only consider LD routes the one "extra" one would be the Palmetto. To me, that's a Florida route without Florida. That's like if you took the LSL and terminated it in Albany or the California Zephyr and terminated it in Reno. You may point out the financials of the train but most of that is NEC traffic, when the train did not allow passengers between NYP-WAS it was a totally different story. Replace that train with another NER and you'd get half the R&R and less than half the cost.

 

Other than that, obviously the Cardinal (Byrd Crap). I'd love to be able to keep Cincinnati if I could but they have the lowest ridership of the major cities I would potentially be losing if I had to cut any other route. If you cut the Sunset Limited, you lose Houston and they are much bigger. My hope always is retain CHI-CIN and cut the rest (well CVS-NYP would obviously still be covered anyway). Maybe if you cut the SL you could extend the Crescent to San Antonio to make up for Houston. If you extend Hiawatha Service to Minneapolis, you can get rid of the rest of the Empire Builder (maybe Washington state can pick up Seattle to Spokane). Maybe the 750 mile rule can be dropped. Tell the federal government would you rather pay for 400 miles between CHI-MSP or 2000 miles between CHI-SEA when the CHI-MSP has probably 1/3 of the ridership and revenue of the entire route and 1/5 of the cost? You shouldn't have to run a train 2000 miles just to serve Minneapolis.

I'm trying to understand why the Cardinal should get the axe, considering it has low operating costs (one locomotive, diner-lite manned by one person, runs three days a week, etc.) and is the only train providing any service to 15 STATIONS. Last year a total of more than 71,000 passengers went through those stations, meaning ditching the Card would deny train service to 71,000 people (yes, I know some people rode more than once).

 

And the Builder has zero redundancy and is very profitable, as well as offering spectacular scenery. Chopping it to MSP would deny train service to hundreds of thousands of people. The EB does not exist for corridor service. It is to offer LD service between Seattle/Portland and Chicago, via that specific route. With it cut to Minneapolis, Seattle passengers now have to take the CS down to Sacramento, and then take the Zephyr across. That's a total travel time of 75 hours 5 minutes, and requires you a five hour early morning layover. Does that sound like something you'd want to do. And then you have the the majority of the other stations, which have no service at all.

Philly has been told 1000000 times that the Empire Builder is very profitable and still does not get it. Would he care to explain?

 

Define profit, because, generally speaking, long-distance trains run deficits every year (even the best performing ones).

Aren’t most east coast LDs profitable?

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cpotisch, if you HAD to cut something and if it had to be an LD route, no matter what you choose someone is going to be screwed and you can make an argument for every LD route. When past LD routes were cut there was hardship too and other people had to make adjustments or simply lost service as well. Is there any other route that you think would cause less damage?

The Palmetto does seem like a good choice, as it is 100% redundant (in terms of stops). I want to emphasize that the Builder and Cardinal are the only trains providing service to most of their respective stations.

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