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No more charters & special moves: 3/28 Memo fr Anderson

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A source just shared with me that Mr. Anderson sent down a memo to employees this morning advising Amtrak will no longer do special charters or moves anymore EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. The information is very vague, but does mention them essentially being a distraction to regular Amtrak operations. No specifics are mentioned --- but this is leaving many wondering what this means --- PV moves? Ski train? New River train? Steam moves that require Amtrak power? Leavenworth Snow Train? Reno Fun Train? Amtrak Fall Colors trip?

 

This is just breaking now.

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This going to be fun. People in the know are now claiming it is a fake, while Trains Mag is running hard with it in its Newswire. So someone somewhere will have to eat some crow and swallow ones pride or some such, no matter which way this turns out at the end. :D

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The Trains Newswire piece is here.

 

Trains Newswire

 

Note that the Trains Newswire article says this was a "notice of policy change" circulated to employees. It does not name Mr. Anderson as the source.

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The text that Trains quotes though, is verbatim from the little ditty that some of us did get to see, a document signed by Mr. Anderson supposedly.

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The one I saw on FB before it was taken down appeared to be fake and several people pointed that out. The memo had shading under/over the text and there was even a cursor showing after one of the paragraphs - indicating it was a screenshot from a computer.

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So the question boils down to whether the thing that was displayed on the screen was a facsimile of a real document or one just cooked up by someone. There would be no way to tell.

 

My impression now is that there is definitely some policy change in the works regarding PVs and special moves, the details of which are slowly trickling out from PV owners that I know.

 

One example I heard is that PVs can bee added or removed only at origin and destination points of a train or at an intermediate stop with a scheduled stop of 30 mins or more. This will of course create unmitigated headaches for PV owners, but will be better for normal passengers as far as timekeeping goes. If I could get ten bucks for each time my train got delayed due to fiddling around with PVs, I could get a few free Amtrak rides out of that fund.

 

Also apparently the haulage charges are being bumped up significantly for anything that will be hauled conformant to the new add/drop rules.

 

Looks like they are trying to eliminate the negative balance in the haulage account. Of course that balance is partly determined by how costs are allocated and whether that bears any resemblance to the actual costs incurred. For example if costs of the Amtrak Reservation System are also allocated to that BU this action won't change any of the underlying costs. Just allocations to every other account will go up.

Edited by jis

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I wonder if the recent charter of the CZ by the gaming geeks is included? Considering that all food service was paid for in advance by the groups commercial vendors and sponsors not sure the charter was a money looser for Amtrak. There were extra cars that probably deadheaded back to Chicago.

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Well good thing I've been trying to get out of charters because looks like if I stay much longer I'll be unemployed. I'll run this up the flag pole past some of my sources from the Susie q trip and get back with you with what I'm allowed to say.

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I am sure there is an appropriate "weasel phrase" like "some exceptions" or such :D

 

If you are a paid up member of Trainroders you can take a look at the memo in question at https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/attachments/fullsize/1278000/29683654_226967588046568_3563729829223220805_n.jpg

Edited by jis

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It's confirmed guys. Just got off the phone with two sources.

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And it was pointed out on FB and I think another website that this is FAKE NEWS!

 

AND what is your source it's fake news?

 

Facebook? Mwahahahahahahaha.

 

Then someone must have hacked Anderson's e-mail, as thousands of Amtrak employees just received it in their inbox this morning... and is on Trains Magazine website.

 

I guess someone hacked the Collis P Huntington's inbox too and advised them no more train moves come April 1st.

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It's confirmed guys. Just got off the phone with two sources.

 

Yep. I usually confirm things with 4-5 sources before posting here. Can't say I have never been wrong and had to "eat crow" (news about the dome in particular one time!) --- but I would say my info has been right 97-99% of the time when confirmed with 4-5 independent sources who would know the information.

 

Now the question is WHAT does the memo apply to?

 

A) New River Train

 

B) All PV moves

 

C) Amtrak Ski Train

 

D) Leavenworth Snow Train

 

E) Reno Fun Train

 

F) Amtrak Autumn Express

 

G) Steam trips that would require an Amtrak engine normally

 

H) Groups that charter one car of a regularly scheduled train (like the 20th Century RR Club)

 

or... gosh forbid all of the above

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And it was pointed out on FB and I think another website that this is FAKE NEWS!

AND what is your source it's fake news?

 

Facebook? Mwahahahahahahaha.

 

Then someone must have hacked Anderson's e-mail, as thousands of Amtrak employees just received it in their inbox this morning... and is on Trains Magazine website.

 

I guess someone hacked the Collis P Huntington's inbox too and advised them no more train moves come April 1st.

 

She already told you what her source was, so please stop giving her a hard time unnecessarily.

 

The sequence of events as visible to me, as it unfolded (from my vantage point) was:

 

1. A message was posted on FB with the memo that I have since posted a pointer to in TO.

 

2. Soon after that it was removed saying that it is fake.

 

3. Trains Mag came out with their Newswire quoting from that memo, but not providing any pointer to it , somewhat naturally since it was an internal memo.

 

4. The Memo was posted in TO at a relatively innocuous place but an list that would be of much relevance - Steam Excursions

 

5. Borden Black (owner of "Dearing") posted a plea on FB Amtrak group explaining what they have been told and asking folks to start communication with Amtrak powers that be regarding the matter.

 

6. Most recently Seabord92 got verifying calls from friends in the know.

 

The current theory is that it applies to everything that Amtrak choose not to make an exceptional case of, which probably means pretty much everything in the current mood.

 

Although I suspect it probably does not cover the case where some party reserves a whole bunch of seats on a regular service and Amtrak chooses to add a car to accommodate them without killing space for normal customers.

Edited by jis

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It's confirmed guys. Just got off the phone with two sources.

Yep. I usually confirm things with 4-5 sources before posting here. Can't say I have never been wrong and had to "eat crow" (news about the dome in particular one time!) --- but I would say my info has been right 97-99% of the time when confirmed with 4-5 independent sources who would know the information.

 

Now the question is WHAT does the memo apply to?

 

A) New River Train

 

B) All PV moves

 

C) Amtrak Ski Train

 

D) Leavenworth Snow Train

 

E) Reno Fun Train

 

F) Amtrak Autumn Express

 

G) Steam trips that would require an Amtrak engine normally

 

H) Groups that charter one car of a regularly scheduled train (like the 20th Century RR Club)

 

or... gosh forbid all of the above

A. Has been cancelled for this year unless they are able to make headway. They are meeting with their congressmen sometime tomorrow.

 

B. I will ask some more around I was looking more towards my projects and contracts more so then that. Will update if I learn.

 

C. Not sure that's not something I would be privy too. Nor is it something I work on.

 

D. Last year was supposedly the last one period.

 

E. Did that even run last year or this year. I don't recall it?

 

F. Again not privy to it. But I'm not hopeful.

 

G. I hope not as I have one planned for next year. I'll reach out to them and if need be modify my plan for a commuter railroad nearby. But I would assume cancelled.

 

H. I'm not sure yet as I didn't check on single car moves.

 

I. Political charters. Probably still operating because you have to suck up to politicians.

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Which I have to ask why?

 

Recall a old IG report that stated Amtrak was make money off these special movement, and PV hauls.

 

Really how many people does it take to pull off a special movement?

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Also before we lament completely the loss of private cars, steam excursions, and the like. Please remember people like me and my colleagues because special ops contribute the largest part of our yearly income.

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I suspect it has something to do with allocated cost accounting as opposed to incremental cost/revenue accounting. Something that is really spectacularly profitable can show up as a significant loss maker if you are able to allocate sufficient costs onto it to make other businesses look better in allocated cost accounting, which Amtrak is required to do by FRA.

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Also before we lament completely the loss of private cars, steam excursions, and the like. Please remember people like me and my colleagues because special ops contribute the largest part of our yearly income.

There has to be an alternative to Amtrak hauling the PVs, etc. After the shock wears off, I think the owners will start figuring out how to keep going without Amtrak.

 

My personal feeling is that Anderson is following in the footsteps of the first Amtrak CEO, another airline person whose "job" was to try to destroy Amtrak before it even got started. I don't understand his boneheaded moves, otherwise. If I give him the benefit of the doubt, it may simply be that, with the airline culture that he comes from, he truly doesn't see any of his changes as being destructive.

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Well... that's not good news. If the #261 trip is still on for the summer (it was already approved so it should be?) we should make sure to ride it while we can. After that it's gonna be Union Pacific Steam only on the mainlines until someone wants to try to raise an absurd amount of money to cover the cost of insurance for rail excursions that usually barely break even with majority volunteer help.

 

It seems like a very strange business decision to turn down ALL charters... since chartering a train is not a cheap thing to do. Any delays that Private cars may have added to amtrak trains (and really... amtrak is blaming the private cars for delays? that's a bit of a joke. While I have been on amtrak trains delayed by adding private cars... that happens so rarely and it's usually a 10-20 min. delay at the most. I'm sure the private car rental more than makes up for that 10 minutes.)

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Also before we lament completely the loss of private cars, steam excursions, and the like. Please remember people like me and my colleagues because special ops contribute the largest part of our yearly income.

There has to be an alternative to Amtrak hauling the PVs, etc. After the shock wears off, I think the owners will start figuring out how to keep going without Amtrak.

 

My personal feeling is that Anderson is following in the footsteps of the first Amtrak CEO, another airline person whose "job" was to try to destroy Amtrak before it even got started. I don't understand his boneheaded moves, otherwise. If I give him the benefit of the doubt, it may simply be that, with the airline culture that he comes from, he truly doesn't see any of his changes as being destructive.

 

Anderson did this same thing at Delta/Northwest when it was a complete operational mess, he killed off charters until they got their house in order. Eventually the charters came back, but only after the mess was cleaned up. The goal is to try to turn Amtrak into reliable transportation, so I suspect Anderson has a similar mindset with Amtrak. To note, VIA rail has basically become impossible to do any charters/PV haulage on.

Edited by bretton88

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I can see where changes need to be made in this area. I've been on the CS when it was seriously delayed adding or dropping PV's from the consist. When you're running late, an extra hour delay is never appreciated. Hopefully somebody ends up realizing that we need changes made with a surgeon's scalpel rather than a meat cleaver.

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Most of the time we don't delay the train adding or dropping cars because they already allow so few places in the network to us. And generally there is already a switch crew in place to cut us in or out. The issue in that case is likely mechanical.

 

Or could be a track space issue if you are referring to the Bay Area. Honestly a lot of delays are attributed to us that aren't our direct fault. When we switch in at HUN on 50/51 we can generally switch in rapidly. Less then five minutes. We cut in last year twenty odd cars, and two engines. Lost ten minutes total.

 

I'm DC again it's a fairly easy move as long as there is track space to accommodate it and a switch crew on duty. We bring four million a year to amtraks bottom line, and cost them no money. Every service we get we pay a pretty penny for.

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