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

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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.

 

That's my opinion as well. On every Amtrak trip that we have taken a rental car is always part of the trip. I see no conflict here at all

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From Trainorders ...

Amtrak shutting down all PVs on LOSSAN corridor

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,4518953

 

The original poster, John Caestecker, is owner of PV "Silver Splendor" in Los Angeles.

This will possibly also have an impact on Conductor Bill Hatrick's popular "Vino Train".

Edited by FrensicPic

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All this chatter and no one has considered the proximity to April 1st??? Year after year there are some really well executed hoaxes that are perpetrated misleading many people... but all just in jest...

 

I will bet that this is one of the best hoaxes ever... not a laughing matter but probably one that will go down in the record books as being the best...

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All this chatter and no one has considered the proximity to April 1st??? Year after year there are some really well executed hoaxes that are perpetrated misleading many people... but all just in jest...

 

I will bet that this is one of the best hoaxes ever... not a laughing matter but probably one that will go down in the record books as being the best...

Actually it is not a hoax.

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I do wonder if CA (either in the form of Caltrans or in the form of LOSSAN) was part of the decision-making process on this? Since they don't seem to have been part of the "discount affair", I have to wonder...especially on the presumption that there is incremental revenue here. Were I in CA's shoes, I'd be asking lawyers if there's a way to force Amtrak to make them whole for any net lost revenue from such moves.

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It all depends on what is written in the contract regarding non-farebox revenue. I haven’t a clue.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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I looked up the Dover Harbor website, and they don't have any news about this. In fact, they are still advertising their trips for the spring. Not sure what's going on there? Maybe they weren't told yet? Anyone know?

Edited by Mystic River Dragon

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Dearing is also advertising all its trips into August/Sept, and its owner is one of the very visible agitators on the issue of PVs.

 

I suspect everybody in the know may know something that we outsiders don't.

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Dearing is also advertising all its trips into August/Sept, and its owner is one of the very visible agitators on the issue of PVs.

 

I suspect everybody in the know may know something that we outsiders don't.

It might also be that the PV owners are going to fight this tooth and nail, and are leaving their trips posted in the hopes they'll be successful.

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As I got more and more puzzled about all the numbers of the incredible largess that PVs and Charters bring to Amtrak that Amtrak could collapse without, I decided to dig a little deeper to get a feel for at least the orders of magnitude involved. What I discovered based on the 2017 Audited Financials of Amtrak are as follows:

 

Passenger Related Revenue was $2.54 billion, which includes $363 billion in F&B and State contribution. After taking those out ticket revenue is $2.19 billion.

 

Other revenue was $762 million, which includes among other things special move and charter revenues, etc. The item covering those is called "Transportation" in the statement and it accounts for $181.6 million in all. So that is pretty much an upper bound of the PV and Charters related revenues.

 

Now, since there is no way to figure out the cost of providing services for that revenue stream, all that we can say is that if all Charter and PV operations were stopped cold turkey, that would constitute possible loss of $0.18 billion of revenue out of a total revenue of $2.54 billion, noticeable amount but not a deal breaker by any means.

 

So absent that business in its entirety, Amtrak's revenues would be $2.36 billion instead of $2.54 billion.

 

Since we do not know the cost associated with that "Transportation" revenue stream, the net amount of P/L is probably substantially less than that, But still, it may very well be a number at least in double digit millions possibly. The number $4 million to $10 million net positive has been mentioned by various parties in this regard. This obliquely suggest that the cost of providing that service is somewhere between $171 million to $177 million, i.e. the net impact on Amtrak's bottom line would be that $4 million to $ 10 million in the net revenue of $2.54 billion.

 

Anyway, that's all I could dig out and thought others might find useful.

 

This should not be seen as an argument for or against running PVs and Charters. It is just to get a better grounded argument. One thing that this does not take into consideration at all are the non-monitized intangibles, which naturally cannot be included in this analysis for the very fact that they are hard to quantify - which also might mean that no one has a clue what their real impact is.

Edited by jis

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It may well have been, or turn into, a means to charge the PVs even more than they do, AND, to limit where they will allow the pick-up/discharge of a PV. (As mentioned by most, terminal points only, or, locations with a dwell time in excess of XYZ minutes)

 

The special moves and charters, (i.e., "excursions") I don't really get that, as they also could be priced higher, and by default, there would be fewer.

 

I do agree with another poster that "getting your basic transportation in order", in other words, "run your damn trains on time" is a base line goal. Perhaps, as the other poster mentioned, Amtrak will review this, AFTER they have succeeded in doing that. I for one tho, wouldn't hold my breath.

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Politics aside, does anyone know what alternatives exist for private car operators? Do all of the class 1's have HEP generator cars? Do they have policies that allow PV operators to actually move cars at anything close to a reasonable cost?

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Most PVs have self generating capabilities, but can operate in HEP consists. At least having HEP pass through is an Amtrak requirement.

 

Any Class 1 or Class 2 will happily tow a car as long as it is not carrying any people. To carry people they require the Amtrak level insurance, which Amtrak provides when they are in Amtrak consists but Class 1/2s don't carry such insurance. So they have to be independently arranged, and these insurances are hard to come by, unless underwritten by a large outfit like Amtrak.

 

As things stand it looks like Amtrak will not stop towing PVs as long as they are running from origin to destination of an Amtrak train or to an intermediate stop where the schedule Amtrak halt is 30 mins or more. This potentially increases the cost of someone that wants to run a PV excursion, say from Hinton WV to Cincinnati OH, just to pick a random example, to an impossible level.

 

Before these rules go into effect they could just hitch the car onto Cardinal at Hinton and have it dropped off at Cincy.

 

With the new rules they will have to get CSX to move the car (unstaffed) to Washington DC so that it can be hitched onto the Cardinal there. The they can board it wherever en route and get off wherever en route, but the car has to go all the way to Chicago. You can see the complication that this creates.

 

So bottom line is many of the currently run trips will become close to impossible, while many other will be operable with some extra cost for car positioning.

 

Finally, it is a fluid situation as the details of what the new policy are not fully clear yet.

 

Hope that clarifies more than confuses.

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The situation that will be most curious to me to see how it plays out is how they will handle St. Paul. Back when the station move was made from the Midway station to Union Depot, Amtrak shortened the station stop from 40+ minutes to under 20 minutes, but didn't adjust the overall runtime of the train or (as far as I remember) the calling times of the neighboring station stops. My understanding was that they kept the time in to allow for switching activities near the old Midway station (both private cars and potentially a cutoff coach MSP - CHI. I don't think I've ever seen the cutoff coach used in revenue service since the move to MSP, so I wonder if they'll just keep the padding but not allow any switching movements at MSP, if they'll reduce padding and not allow switching movements at MSP, or if they'll allow switching movements at MSP despite not having 30 minutes of dwell in the timetable.

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Just to correct Jis a bit Hinton and Cincinnati were never allowable cuts on the Cardinal. Cincy was till I think 2008 when CSX started denying switching there and all of the Cincy cars moved to Chicago.

 

The only places one could add or subtract to my knowledge were New York, Washington, Huntington, Indianapolis, and Chicago. This new policy strands the Dearing, JP Henderson, Braddock Inn, NYC 38, Wisconsin, and Berlin. And will likely cost the CP Huntington chapter upwards of 6k a month to store their cars somewhere.

 

Not factoring in that CP Huntington does brisk business year round with elementary, middle, and high school charters from WV to Washington. And their own PV trips to DC and New York.

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Thanks. I was just picking random examples illustrate a point. Substitute two existing cut points that won’t be any more.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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larail.com has a notice up on their site. Also looks like the online purchase feature for public trips has been removed. In my experience, riding Amtrak trains which involved private railcars, has involved delaying the train I was on due to failing equipment on the private car, or all services aboard the train pretty much coming to a complete halt because of having to kill power to the train to attach the car. Last December on the CS, we had to stop because something from the private car attached in Oakland was dragging on the tracks. On the SWC in ABQ, adding the Tioga Pass had us on the train without power for about 45 minutes in July. This compounded the already delayed service in the dining car and added to passengers frustration aboard the train since we had no AC.

 

I was thinking of trying one of the trips run by larail.com this year but I guess thats a no go now.

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Most PVs have self generating capabilities, but can operate in HEP consists. At least having HEP pass through is an Amtrak requirement.

 

Any Class 1 or Class 2 will happily tow a car as long as it is not carrying any people. To carry people they require the Amtrak level insurance, which Amtrak provides when they are in Amtrak consists but Class 1/2s don't carry such insurance. So they have to be independently arranged, and these insurances are hard to come by, unless underwritten by a large outfit like Amtrak.

 

As things stand it looks like Amtrak will not stop towing PVs as long as they are running from origin to destination of an Amtrak train or to an intermediate stop where the schedule Amtrak halt is 30 mins or more. This potentially increases the cost of someone that wants to run a PV excursion, say from Hinton WV to Cincinnati OH, just to pick a random example, to an impossible level.

 

Before these rules go into effect they could just hitch the car onto Cardinal at Hinton and have it dropped off at Cincy.

 

With the new rules they will have to get CSX to move the car (unstaffed) to Washington DC so that it can be hitched onto the Cardinal there. The they can board it wherever en route and get off wherever en route, but the car has to go all the way to Chicago. You can see the complication that this creates.

 

So bottom line is many of the currently run trips will become close to impossible, while many other will be operable with some extra cost for car positioning.

 

Finally, it is a fluid situation as the details of what the new policy are not fully clear yet.

 

Hope that clarifies more than confuses.

The private RR's have and do pull passenger cars. Barnum and Baily, Straits Shows are/were two examples. There is also Bennett Levin (located outside PHL) that runs his personal private train locos and all.

Edited by dlagrua

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Most PVs have self generating capabilities, but can operate in HEP consists. At least having HEP pass through is an Amtrak requirement.

 

Any Class 1 or Class 2 will happily tow a car as long as it is not carrying any people. To carry people they require the Amtrak level insurance, which Amtrak provides when they are in Amtrak consists but Class 1/2s don't carry such insurance. So they have to be independently arranged, and these insurances are hard to come by, unless underwritten by a large outfit like Amtrak.

 

As things stand it looks like Amtrak will not stop towing PVs as long as they are running from origin to destination of an Amtrak train or to an intermediate stop where the schedule Amtrak halt is 30 mins or more. This potentially increases the cost of someone that wants to run a PV excursion, say from Hinton WV to Cincinnati OH, just to pick a random example, to an impossible level.

 

Before these rules go into effect they could just hitch the car onto Cardinal at Hinton and have it dropped off at Cincy.

 

With the new rules they will have to get CSX to move the car (unstaffed) to Washington DC so that it can be hitched onto the Cardinal there. The they can board it wherever en route and get off wherever en route, but the car has to go all the way to Chicago. You can see the complication that this creates.

 

So bottom line is many of the currently run trips will become close to impossible, while many other will be operable with some extra cost for car positioning.

 

Finally, it is a fluid situation as the details of what the new policy are not fully clear yet.

 

Hope that clarifies more than confuses.

The private RR's have and do pull passenger cars. Barnum and Baily, Straits Shows are/were two examples. There is also Bennett Levin (located outside PHL) that runs his personal private train locos and all.

 

I suspect Barnum & Bailey and Straits show had their own insurance that met the RR's requirements. Perhaps Bennett Levin does too.

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I have heard that Bennett Levin is not planning to equip his engines with PTC. If that is true then their operational days on US main lines are numbered.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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One solution for the Huntington stop on the Cardinal: lengthen it’s 10 min stop to 30min. The train could use some schedule tweaking to better serve WV and Ohio cities and it is so slow now, another 20 min would make little difference. At least on the WB train the schedule padding at Indianapolis could be reduced slightly to account for the change.

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A note about Mr. Levin. His moves actually come under Amtrak and run as Amtrak specials generally. There have been a handful of exceptions to the rule when he has run without Amtrak. But those times are very rare.

 

The only time I can think of recently is for Streamliners at Spencer. And that was a Norfolk Southern train with his two E8s, and three cars. And that was NS 955 from Philly to Spencer. The actual Streamliners Special from Charlotte to Spencer was actually an Amtrak move with Amtrak pilots, conductor, and road foreman.

 

And yes it's true he is not installing PTC on his locomotives so this year will be the last time to see them.

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larail.com has a notice up on their site. Also looks like the online purchase feature for public trips has been removed. In my experience, riding Amtrak trains which involved private railcars, has involved delaying the train I was on due to failing equipment on the private car, or all services aboard the train pretty much coming to a complete halt because of having to kill power to the train to attach the car. Last December on the CS, we had to stop because something from the private car attached in Oakland was dragging on the tracks. On the SWC in ABQ, adding the Tioga Pass had us on the train without power for about 45 minutes in July. This compounded the already delayed service in the dining car and added to passengers frustration aboard the train since we had no AC.

 

I was thinking of trying one of the trips run by larail.com this year but I guess thats a no go now.

Actually, if you scroll down, the public trips schedule is still there. That said, it doesn't look good based on a FB post I saw by Bill Hatrick (Overland Trail) and an email received from John Caestecker (Silver Splendor). The San Diego to San Luis Obispo corridor (LOSSAN/Pacific Surfliner) has stopped PV moves. On perhaps a last trip, two LA Rail cars (Silver Splendor and Pacific Sands) departed LA on the Sunset Limited last night (3/30). Don't know the details of that move.

Edited by FrensicPic

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