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

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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

 

 

 

I hate to point this out, but you've been wrong quite a few times. Additionally, if you REALLY knew what you were talking about, you wouldn't have to post these questions because you'd know the intent and application of the memo.

 

Upon further thought, I actually don't hate pointing it out! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

 

Curious...you didn't blurt out the rest of the memo.

Edited by Thirdrail7

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You know, some of this is making me wonder if Richard Anderson somehow has not managed to tell the difference between cost accounting and incremental costs...

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OK, here's the whole memo:

 

 

special employee advisory

March 28, 2018 • Page 1 of 1
Policy Changes
To all Amtrak employees:
Amtrak must operate a safe and reliable schedule for our customers. Our mission from Congress is clear: safely and efficiently operate our trains on schedule while minimizing federal subsidies. Therefore, we have implemented two significant changes in our business lines that are consistent with these two principles.
Charters and Special Trains
Generally. Amtrak will no longer operate charter services or special trains. These operations caused significant operational distraction, failed to capture fully allocated profitable margins and sometimes delayed our paying customers on our scheduled trains.
There may be a few narrow exceptions to this policy in order to support specific strategic initiatives, for example trial service in support of growing new scheduled service. Otherwise, one-time trips and charters are immediately discontinued. We must narrow our focus to running a great core railroad: safe, on time, clean cars, friendly service and great customer-facing technology.
Automatic Discounts
Amtrak has eliminated distribution agreements with private company membership clubs which obtain significant discounts for free from Amtrak and then charge fees to their members for use of the Amtrak discount rates. Instead, we will use our revenue management system to sell targeted discounts to our customers throughout the year. This week we are running a big Spring Sale to drive ridership through Amtrak.com. Please note that we continue our statutory discount programs for the disabled and seniors; we also have a generous discount program for active duty military members and their families.
Thank you, and please be safe.
Richard Anderson

 

He seems to be doing what a lot of successful turn-around CEOs have done: define the core business – "safe, on time, clean cars, friendly service and great customer-facing technology" – then ruthlessly pursue it. He's running a 21st century transportation business, not a 19th century museum piece.

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I find it interesting he refers to passengers as customers. Which they are but definitely an interesting choice of words because a customer in my opinion has a higher stature then a passenger. Just like a guest has a better connotation then a customer.

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So what is the intent and application?

 

I get the Trolling part, but lets add clarification to this situation. What is the purpose and how does it impact?

 

 

Ahh. Now that Tbike has posted the memo that was put out (which may not be the ones other people have seen), read it carefully. How it was explained (prior to the memo) was nothing as draconian as the sky is falling post the Rtbern made.

 

For an example, is the Ski train a "one time operation or a collaboration with a state partner?" Are the Philadelphia Orchestra and sport charters a "one time" operation or do they have a long standing operational agreement?

 

The bottom line is something I've mentioned in the past. He is for profit. Do these operations cover their costs? The ones that have a solid business case and do not hinder the operations will continue. If the Autumn Express still continues to perform, that is within the scope of the Congressional mandate to seek new/additional sources of revenue. The ones that do not, will vanish. If the Autumn Express drains impacts riders from other trains (Which I have always maintained it does) and doesn't perform, it will vanish. The trains and services are being evaluated on a case by case basis. Will adding the private car en route cause a significant delay and necessitate costly personnel or can this private car travel end to end without impacting OTP.

 

After all, Amtrak (after a few years of wrangling) JUST changed train schedules on the NEC to accommodate end to end PV car operation.

 

Why not wait and see how this plays out since it will vary?

Edited by Thirdrail7

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I'll come out and say this the New River Train is not running this next year and I have that straight from the source. It's impact on trains is very small just a crew, and three engines. The rest of it is made of private cars. But I'm waiting and seeing before I do anything because like I said I'm leaving the charter industry.

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I barely post but people complaining about the loss of amenities and how things used to be whan Amtrak was bleeding money just frustrate me. Amtrak has record ridership and revenue and almost matches their operational expenses this year. Back then was the reason Congress hated Amtrak. It appears Amtrak knows what it's doing to stay alive and not the people that wish for the shoe-shines of the past that lost money

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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.

I boarded a 3.5+ hour late #11 at EMY last July. The train had three locomotives. We lost more than another half hour depositing the extra locomotive in the Oakland Amtrak Yard. No PV's involved.

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Thanks to Thirdrail! A person in the know, and as was said, let's wait and see how it actually plays out, there's lots of wiggle room in the memo!

 

Chicken Little can take a rest, the Sky isn't falling on Amtrak!

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Thanks to Thirdrail! A person in the know, and as was said, let's wait and see how it actually plays out, there's lots of wiggle room in the memo!

 

Chicken Little can take a rest, the Sky isn't falling on Amtrak!

 

Well, at least there are fewer Chicken Littles on AU than elsewhere on the internets...

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BTW, not to drive this too far off topic but since Tbike posted, what do you think of the reasoning for ending AAA discounts, etc?

My take on the AAA is that it makes sense to get rid of it. After all, AAA is the American AUTOMOBILE Association, not the American TRAIN Association. What does AAA have to do with Amtrak, except to promote driving instead of taking the train.

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BTW, not to drive this too far off topic but since Tbike posted, what do you think of the reasoning for ending AAA discounts, etc?

My take on the AAA is that it makes sense to get rid of it. After all, AAA is the American AUTOMOBILE Association, not the American TRAIN Association. What does AAA have to do with Amtrak, except to promote driving instead of taking the train.

 

 

AAA promotes travel. That's why hotels, theme parks, tourist attractions etc. give a AAA discount. It was advertising... AAA members get a list of discounts. I'm not saying it makes sense to continue that arrangement...but I'm saying the arrangement made perfect sense.

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Does this have any effect on those tour groups on the western trains? We all think they get a big discount and take over everything.

Big discount? That questionable, but even if they do lose there discount, it would not stop them for traveling.

 

Dont see anything in this memo that effect group sales.

 

As for take over the train, that a interesting statement. A full train of passengers have needs even if its a full of single passenger or a single group of passengers.

 

.

Edited by Just-Thinking-51

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(1) The discount decision is at least nominally defensible, even if I'm worried that he's inviting an inverse of the JC Penney screwup (I think this is a serious risk, but I obviously also lack the sort of back-end data to back it up).

(2) The language on the PV move front strikes me as utterly blinkered to the point that it undermines my confidence in his management skills (at least, given my understanding of Amtrak's accounting issues...something that I don't think he's considering). Now, I can see the "distraction" issue (though I think it to be overblown, especially given how much of Amtrak's OTP issues come down to Class I misbehavior)...but I also feel as though that was very much an animal of Amtrak's making given that Amtrak would often not commit to a move until a few days out (thus meaning that in all likelihood any move was a "surprise").

Edited by Anderson

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Amtrak's timing to announce this policy could not have been better, even if there are points that need be clarified. Hey, the $1.9B whopper of funding is now enacted, and by the time the FY 19 appropriation is in Committee and the Omnibus pulls up to its stop on the floor, all will be forgotten.

 

But it is hard to believe that Amtrak will not handle any further special moves such as Major League sports teams, the NJ legislators, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and others over the Corridor using Amtrak equipment.

 

Unfortunately for AAPRCO, Friends of 261, the Fall Excursion, and similar, the Adios drumhead could be out. Lest we forget, does Delta operate "nostalgia flights" with DC-3's?

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It's a hard pill to swallow, and I see bigger reprocussions:

 

It's a move which in essence makes Amtrak more vulerable outside of it's major "hubs". For instance, I can't see Amtrak maintaining the 807/808 ("Twin Cities Builder") coach for the holidays as an excuse. Same goes for ANY special operation. Anderson's having a panic attack I think and is now realizing he's in over his head. You cannot run a railroad like you run an airline. Roger Lewis tried and look what happened: he made decisions that paralyzed Amtrak in the long-term.

 

Outside of major end points, Amtrak is on it's own. More of a reason to have increased train service nationally.

 

Everyone's concerns and comments are pretty valid. Personally, I think the backlash will grow to the point where some kind of compromise will be hashed out, Amtrak state that the move is temporary (a la Anderson with Delta charters post merger, but with Amtrak, a temporary suspension is NEVER temporary), or Amtrak will give into pressure.

 

There are three areas where backlash might prove to undo this ban:

 

-Congress: if Amtrak's ban applies to the Congressional specials, this ban will be over before the end of April

-Borden Black: As a former AAPRCO president, she still holds a bit of sway. She's fighting this, and all of us at AU should pitch in.

-AAPRCO themselves: Not counting the train wreck called Pullman Rail Journeys *cough* I mean Iowa Pacific *cough*, AAPRCO is one of Amtrak's best customers. That's $10 million Amtrak is throwing away.

-Charles W. Moorman: Wick's influence on rail can be felt in numerous places. He revived NS's steam program and is the owner of former NYC observation car Sandy Creek (RPCX 800321). I would imagine that Wick can't be happy about this.

 

Sent from my Moto Z2 Play using Amtrak Forum mobile app

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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.

 

Baloney! Twice in the past month 50 was delayed out of Huntington for 25 and 30 minutes respectively for coupling up CPH's private varnish. Last year I missed a connection in Chicago due to a two hour delay on the CZ in Denver hooking up PV. PV connections can and DO cause delays.

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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.

 

Baloney! Twice in the past month 50 was delayed out of Huntington for 25 and 30 minutes respectively for coupling up CPH's private varnish. Last year I missed a connection in Chicago due to a two hour delay on the CZ in Denver hooking up PV. PV connections can and DO cause delays.

 

Affirmative.

 

This last September, our trip on the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to New York suffered multiple delays and mechanical troubles due to 12 antique PV's bringing up the markers. Late leaving CHI, plus HEP issues meaning the elimination of lights/HVAC/toilets (and the eventual need to completely cut electrical power to the PV's,) and even more delays due to servicing and yard moves in ALB. Granted, this was a huge AAPRCO event, but it almost should have been its own move due to the size.

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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.

Baloney! Twice in the past month 50 was delayed out of Huntington for 25 and 30 minutes respectively for coupling up CPH's private varnish. Last year I missed a connection in Chicago due to a two hour delay on the CZ in Denver hooking up PV. PV connections can and DO cause delays.

Affirmative.

 

This last September, our trip on the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to New York suffered multiple delays and mechanical troubles due to 12 antique PV's bringing up the markers. Late leaving CHI, plus HEP issues meaning the elimination of lights/HVAC/toilets (and the eventual need to completely cut electrical power to the PV's,) and even more delays due to servicing and yard moves in ALB. Granted, this was a huge AAPRCO event, but it almost should have been its own move due to the size.

If it was the AAPRCO special then yes, that should have been a special move. Too much stress on the HEP, and if you ask me, the P42's are getting long in the tooth.

 

Sent from my Moto Z2 Play using Amtrak Forum mobile app

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Affirmative.

 

This last September, our trip on the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to New York suffered multiple delays and mechanical troubles due to 12 antique PV's bringing up the markers. Late leaving CHI, plus HEP issues meaning the elimination of lights/HVAC/toilets (and the eventual need to completely cut electrical power to the PV's,) and even more delays due to servicing and yard moves in ALB. Granted, this was a huge AAPRCO event, but it almost should have been its own move due to the size.

That is quite true. I have been delayed more than a few times due to fiddling around with PVs.

 

I know revenue numbers between $4 million and $10 million have been mentioned. Does anyone know what the corresponding cost numbers are, as in say passengers that had to be taken care of due to missed connections caused by PVs etc.? Without such full accounting we would never know for sure what the real numbers are. And I am not talking about "Allocation Accounting" after the fact, but actual "Incremental Revenue/Cost Accounting". Should the cost of Amtrak self-insuring its operations also be proportionately allocated? I don't know the answer, but those are issues to consider. Revenue is not the only thing in the equation.

 

Meanwhile, I have no doubt that things that have been running every year will probably continue to run, as well as things for which the real cost is fully paid. And things like the Ski Train or the Congressional Specials will continue to run for perhaps an increased Charter price. If they don't, that will be something that will indeed break the camel's back. But we don't know for sure how the evaluation of individual cases will be carried out.

Edited by jis

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