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

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I wonder if this includes Amtrak's own "special moves." My eastbound SWC was delayed an hour and a half at ABQ last summer while they set off two Chargers and four Horizon coaches.

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Since when is a PV considered a "Charter" or "Special" Train?

 

Maybe I'm being too literal here, but I don't see the connection.

PVs are not Charters and Special trains. They are not the subject of the leaked memo to employees. The PV thing is a separate issue based on notifications to individual PV owners and all PV moves are not discontinued. Only moves from specific locations where the Amtrak train in question stops for considerably less than 30 mins in their schedules are involved.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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Just add/remove the private cars at the origin or destination stations. No work at intermediate stops. A few years ago I was on the WB Sunset and we were late, yes, probably due to a Class 1 issue, but I do not recall the reason. But I do remember we were making up time and actually got to Tucson on time. Then it all evaporated as Amtrak added a private car, it took too long for whatever reason, and we lost our place in the long freight train queue. Late arrival into LAX.

 

It's really not fair nor the way to treat the many other passengers on the train. If that's one of Anderson's reasons then I have to applaud him for trying to clean it up.

 

How about working out the bugs so that adding equipment doesn't delay the train? That seems like a better idea. I'd be interested in knowing how many private cars delayed trains versus Amtrak's own switching equipment delayed the trains.

 

 

At least I know for a fact that in order to run the Autumn Express, it required pulling equipment out of regular passenger use, requiring substitution with other limited capacity equipment on the NEC thus reducing overall capacity offered. So there is some truth to Charters and Specials having an impact on regular operations to the detriment of regular customers. Suffice it to say that the Autumn Express actually fulfills a specific request from the Congress as I understand it.

IIRC the Autumn Express also runs at a relatively slow time of the year (IIRC that part of September/October is only behind January/February in terms of slower ridership), so it's less disruptive than it might be, and it doesn't do too bad on the revenue front (IIRC they've had to add frequencies in previous years to deal with demand, and I highly doubt they'd do that on a money-loser).

 

 

The Autumn Express usually occurs around late OCT/early NOV and occurs while other specials are running. While it may not be the actually busiest times, you are approaching THE busiest time of year. We've lost quite a few Amfleets since this first special operated. The equipment has to be positioned and prepped for the bare bones shop count tolerance for Thanksgiving.

 

I see a petition has formed. Perhaps Mr. Anderson is an evil genius. I will elaborate in the CEO thread.

 

 

 

I am by no means a private car "expert"... but I am Vice President of a rail historical group that does narration on private cars... we have 7 partners where we narrate for over a 7-state region of the Upper Midwest... and I personally have been on between 60-65 moves since 2010.

 

I can only remember *ONE* private car move that delayed the train... this was 2016 in MSP with an IPH dome car. The funny thing was the problem wasn't because of the private car -- it was because there was something wrong with the coupler on the rear sleeping car on #28. They finally got it fixed -- but caused an hour delay. If they added an Amtrak car it would have caused the same problem because of the shoddy Superliner.

 

Not saying delays dont happen -- but out of 60-65 trips (probably more than the average person experiences), this was the only one I encountered.

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Looks like all this is the unintended consequence of PRIIA requirement to meet break even bottom line. I was wondering what is it that was driving all this at this specific time. Apparently the deadline grows near.

 

The ways to meet that goal are:

 

First, try to move as much as you can out of what should reasonably be included as operating expense by defining items to be not operating expense. We appear to be past this point

 

When you reach a point of incredulity doing that, then ...

Second step, identify and remove all cost items that are considered to be nonessential to the core system. This is where we may be at the present time. If that does not work then ....

 

Third step ... Go into slash and burn mode. Hope we don;t get there, but we have heard rumblings of internal discussions about LD trains reorganization. Frankly, between LD trains getting reorganized and a whole host of other things, I'd prefer most of the whole host of other things at this time.

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Hopefully they never get to the mega burn and slash mode because the end result may not be worth keeping. Further proving that providing public transportation service to the general public is not profit oriented, instead is or should be customer oriented.

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An interesting Blog in Trains:

Rolling back Amtrak's private car restrictions and special train ban won't be easy: Here's how to do it

A short excerpt:

 

 


The last figure I heard was that Amtrak earned about $3.7 million in private car moves and special trains on an overall budget of $2.2 billion. That’s about .17 percent of the total budget. There’s a lot of effort that goes on behind the scenes to make that $3.7 million happen. They aren’t cheap or easy dollars to earn. You cannot provide enough money to make this attractive, so figure out something else.

 

Remember also, that our traditions may seem foreign and strange to someone who isn’t from Train World. When Anderson, a former airline CEO went to work as Amtrak’s new boss, I have a vision of his staff sitting him down to explain private cars. I can see them using an analogy that goes something like this: “From time to time, on our Washington-Chicago route, we carry a 1920s private car with a dozen people on it. It’s like tying a Jenny bi-plane to the back of a 777.” Then everyone ducks as the man spits his coffee across the room.

 

The $3.7 million is on about $181.7 million of revenue or $178 million cost, so about 2%.

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When "no" no longer means "no."

 

Welcome to Amtrak, Mr. Anderson, where you only think you're you're in charge!! :giggle:Amtrak commits to working to preserve New River Train

 

 

Although details were few, officials said Wednesday that they have a commitment from Amtrak to work to preserve the New River Train for its 52nd running this year.

In a press release, U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins said he and Mike Hall, Gov. Jim Justice’s chief of staff, spoke with Amtrak President and Co-CEO Richard Anderson Wednesday afternoon about the importance of preserving the New River Train. Amtrak announced at the end of March that it would be ending charter and special service trains, putting West Virginia traditions like the New River Train and Hinton Railroad Days in jeopardy.

“I am very encouraged after our call with Richard Anderson that we have a commitment to resolving issues with the New River Train. Amtrak recognizes the importance and more than half century tradition of the New River Train and the Hinton Railroad Days. Amtrak is willing to make some limited exemptions to its ban on charter trains, and after our call, I feel confident we will be granted this exemption.

"As Gov. Justice launches a new tourism campaign for the great state of West Virginia, the New River Train will remain one of West Virginia’s premier tourist attractions,” Rep. Jenkins said.

 

While this one is public, there have been a few other "well placed calls." I'm sure you'll see other "limited exceptions in the future." ^_^

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When "no" no longer means "no."

 

Welcome to Amtrak, Mr. Anderson, where you only think you're you're in charge!! :giggle:Amtrak commits to working to preserve New River Train

 

 

Although details were few, officials said Wednesday that they have a commitment from Amtrak to work to preserve the New River Train for its 52nd running this year.

In a press release, U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins said he and Mike Hall, Gov. Jim Justice’s chief of staff, spoke with Amtrak President and Co-CEO Richard Anderson Wednesday afternoon about the importance of preserving the New River Train. Amtrak announced at the end of March that it would be ending charter and special service trains, putting West Virginia traditions like the New River Train and Hinton Railroad Days in jeopardy.

“I am very encouraged after our call with Richard Anderson that we have a commitment to resolving issues with the New River Train. Amtrak recognizes the importance and more than half century tradition of the New River Train and the Hinton Railroad Days. Amtrak is willing to make some limited exemptions to its ban on charter trains, and after our call, I feel confident we will be granted this exemption.

"As Gov. Justice launches a new tourism campaign for the great state of West Virginia, the New River Train will remain one of West Virginia’s premier tourist attractions,” Rep. Jenkins said.

 

While this one is public, there have been a few other "well placed calls." I'm sure you'll see other "limited exceptions in the future." ^_^

 

West Virginia politicians butting into Amtrak? The tradition continues!

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West Virginia politicians butting into Amtrak? The tradition continues!

 

 

And so does the service. If only Pennsylvania and Ohio cared as much.................particularly, your neighbor, Rep. S. Bloom in PA. Maybe you should send him to W. VA to see how to "not" block a train through his district. :)

Edited by Thirdrail7

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As many voices as I've heard calling for a removal of the ban there have been some very notable silent organizations. First and foremost my first contract ever the Virginia Museum of Transportation. They've been completely silent.

 

But I think we shall see some things change.

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I see an Amtrak Tip Toe Through The Tulips is an allowed exceptions. There are specials running in May. Additionally, there are trains assisting a tournament involving the PGA.

 

I see quite a bit of forthcoming private car movements being confirmed.

 

However, I did see a long time charter group asking for a long, drawn out move involving a special movement, another railroad and various reverse moves or complete run arounds on said territory. A counter proposal was made to eliminate some of those moves and the charter group didn't think it could work. So, that particular charter did not operate. A few months ago, the railroad may have bitten the bullet. This is why I suggested taking our time and seeing how things evolve on a case by case basis. A lot of it will be determined by the impact on operations.

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I see an Amtrak Tip Toe Through The Tulips is an allowed exceptions. There are specials running in May. Additionally, there are trains assisting a tournament involving the PGA.

 

I see quite a bit of forthcoming private car movements being confirmed.

 

However, I did see a long time charter group asking for a long, drawn out move involving a special movement, another railroad and various reverse moves or complete run arounds on said territory. A counter proposal was made to eliminate some of those moves and the charter group didn't think it could work. So, that particular charter did not operate. A few months ago, the railroad may have bitten the bullet. This is why I suggested taking our time and seeing how things evolve on a case by case basis. A lot of it will be determined by the impact on operations.

I think I know exactly which group that is too. Sounds like things are getting ever better for the industry I've devoted some years to. Hopefully things will keep getting better. Despite the fact I'm quitting as soon as I can find a better gig.

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Looks like all this is the unintended consequence of PRIIA requirement to meet break even bottom line. I was wondering what is it that was driving all this at this specific time. Apparently the deadline grows near.

 

The ways to meet that goal are:

 

First, try to move as much as you can out of what should reasonably be included as operating expense by defining items to be not operating expense. We appear to be past this point

 

When you reach a point of incredulity doing that, then ...

Second step, identify and remove all cost items that are considered to be nonessential to the core system. This is where we may be at the present time. If that does not work then ....

 

Third step ... Go into slash and burn mode. Hope we don;t get there, but we have heard rumblings of internal discussions about LD trains reorganization. Frankly, between LD trains getting reorganized and a whole host of other things, I'd prefer most of the whole host of other things at this time.

These are not the ways to meet that goal. These are the ways to be a complete blithering idiot who doesn't understand economies-of-scale businesses.

 

Is Mr. Anderson a complete blithering idiot? We know Thomas Downs was. I didn't think Mr. Anderson was.

 

The way you break even in an economies-of-scale business is to expand revenue. Never to cut costs. If you cut costs you lose economies of scale. The only time it makes sense to cut costs is if you're not getting any economies of scale out of them (so, bye bye PPCs).

 

Even Warrington the much-maligned understood this. I still think Anderson understnds it, but we'll see.

Edited by neroden

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I see an Amtrak Tip Toe Through The Tulips is an allowed exceptions. There are specials running in May. Additionally, there are trains assisting a tournament involving the PGA.

 

I see quite a bit of forthcoming private car movements being confirmed.

 

However, I did see a long time charter group asking for a long, drawn out move involving a special movement, another railroad and various reverse moves or complete run arounds on said territory. A counter proposal was made to eliminate some of those moves and the charter group didn't think it could work. So, that particular charter did not operate. A few months ago, the railroad may have bitten the bullet. This is why I suggested taking our time and seeing how things evolve on a case by case basis. A lot of it will be determined by the impact on operations.

That's an interesting anecdote because that's *entirely reasonable* on Amtrak's part.

 

I mean, if a group says "We want to run a charter from Boston to Syracuse", or even "We want to run a charter to Binghamton, by whatever route you can come up with", that's reasonable. Asking for a long, drawn-out route with multiple railroads, multiple runarounds and multiple reverse moves and *rejecting a counteroffer*... uh, that really is a distraction.

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West Virginia politicians butting into Amtrak? The tradition continues!

And so does the service. If only Pennsylvania and Ohio cared as much.................particularly, your neighbor, Rep. S. Bloom in PA. Maybe you should send him to W. VA to see how to "not" block a train through his district. :)

 

Pennsylvania's being redistricted this year, since the state Supreme Court ruled that the gerrymander violated the state constitution. In the new districts -- more competitive -- it may be possible to elect some representatives who care quite a bit more. Good luck, PhillyAmtrakFan... pay attention to those new Congressional races.

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The Autumn Express usually occurs around late OCT/early NOV and occurs while other specials are running. While it may not be the actually busiest times, you are approaching THE busiest time of year. We've lost quite a few Amfleets since this first special operated. The equipment has to be positioned and prepped for the bare bones shop count tolerance for Thanksgiving.

So do it during a different time period with lower demand. Given the people who routinely fill up the Autumn Express, I feel certain they could sell out a "Valentine's Day Express" just as well, and that really is the least busy time of year. That's if the host railroads can get a handle on their weather problems. :-( And if Amtrak could manage to fix the snow infiltration problem on certain Amfleets (why doesn't this get fixed when they go into the shop?!? it is only some of them so it is a defect) Edited by neroden

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The Autumn Express usually occurs around late OCT/early NOV and occurs while other specials are running. While it may not be the actually busiest times, you are approaching THE busiest time of year. We've lost quite a few Amfleets since this first special operated. The equipment has to be positioned and prepped for the bare bones shop count tolerance for Thanksgiving.

So do it during a different time period with lower demand. Given the people who routinely fill up the Autumn Express, I feel certain they could sell out a "Valentine's Day Express" just as well, and that really is the least busy time of year. That's if the host railroads can get a handle on their weather problems. :-( And if Amtrak could manage to fix the snow infiltration problem on certain Amfleets (why doesn't this get fixed when they go into the shop?!? it is only some of them so it is a defect)

 

Except you don't have the autumn leaves to sell as the reason for the train. Usually you don't run a special train because you feel like it. I would think patronage would drop significantly in the winter vs the fall.

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Private cars going along the Northeast seems to be operating regularly with these events showing.. My thoughts is if the Midwest and Southeast (as in CA) would be restored (allowing Private cars in the rear of the train for special passenger events)

Edited by CHvision

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They weren't really cut off. The current regime doesn't have the desire for jumping though hoops to pick them up and drop them off at outlying locations. Contrary to Rtbern's proclamation, adding and dropping equipment in areas without time allotted in the timetable and scheduled personnel on hand adds to delays....even IF the private car owners pick up the tab.

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Looks like all this is the unintended consequence of PRIIA requirement to meet break even bottom line. I was wondering what is it that was driving all this at this specific time. Apparently the deadline grows near.

 

The ways to meet that goal are:

 

First, try to move as much as you can out of what should reasonably be included as operating expense by defining items to be not operating expense. We appear to be past this point

 

When you reach a point of incredulity doing that, then ...

Second step, identify and remove all cost items that are considered to be nonessential to the core system. This is where we may be at the present time. If that does not work then ....

 

Third step ... Go into slash and burn mode. Hope we don;t get there, but we have heard rumblings of internal discussions about LD trains reorganization. Frankly, between LD trains getting reorganized and a whole host of other things, I'd prefer most of the whole host of other things at this time.

These are not the ways to meet that goal. These are the ways to be a complete blithering idiot who doesn't understand economies-of-scale businesses.

 

Is Mr. Anderson a complete blithering idiot? We know Thomas Downs was. I didn't think Mr. Anderson was.

 

The way you break even in an economies-of-scale business is to expand revenue. Never to cut costs. If you cut costs you lose economies of scale. The only time it makes sense to cut costs is if you're not getting any economies of scale out of them (so, bye bye PPCs).

 

Even Warrington the much-maligned understood this. I still think Anderson understnds it, but we'll see.

 

 

The problem is, to leverage economies of scale you need to expand service.

 

But if you want to expand you need

 

1) more equipment, a lot of it.

2) cooperation from railroads

3) preferably strong political backing so these things actually happen rather than just turn into money being spent on studies and yet more studies.

 

I don't really see the stars aligning to make any of this happen soon.

 

As we don't want slash and burn, the best we can hope for is to cling onto what we have and hope it flies below the radar.

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The Autumn Express usually occurs around late OCT/early NOV and occurs while other specials are running. While it may not be the actually busiest times, you are approaching THE busiest time of year. We've lost quite a few Amfleets since this first special operated. The equipment has to be positioned and prepped for the bare bones shop count tolerance for Thanksgiving.

So do it during a different time period with lower demand. Given the people who routinely fill up the Autumn Express, I feel certain they could sell out a "Valentine's Day Express" just as well, and that really is the least busy time of year. That's if the host railroads can get a handle on their weather problems. :-( And if Amtrak could manage to fix the snow infiltration problem on certain Amfleets (why doesn't this get fixed when they go into the shop?!? it is only some of them so it is a defect)

Except you don't have the autumn leaves to sell as the reason for the train. Usually you don't run a special train because you feel like it. I would think patronage would drop significantly in the winter vs the fall.
I think it still has the potential to be successful if it is deemed worthy of the effort. In past years, the Autumn Express often sold out easily for two days. While it only operated in the Northeast, a similar operation in California or Florida would have the same scenery every season, while some mountainous and far northern routes could be advertised for their snowy scenery. Although it may not be as popular as the Autumn trains, I think they could sell out at least one day a year this way.

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I see an Amtrak Tip Toe Through The Tulips is an allowed exceptions. There are specials running in May. Additionally, there are trains assisting a tournament involving the PGA.

 

I see quite a bit of forthcoming private car movements being confirmed.

 

However, I did see a long time charter group asking for a long, drawn out move involving a special movement, another railroad and various reverse moves or complete run arounds on said territory. A counter proposal was made to eliminate some of those moves and the charter group didn't think it could work. So, that particular charter did not operate. A few months ago, the railroad may have bitten the bullet. This is why I suggested taking our time and seeing how things evolve on a case by case basis. A lot of it will be determined by the impact on operations.

I think I know exactly which group that is too. Sounds like things are getting ever better for the industry I've devoted some years to. Hopefully things will keep getting better. Despite the fact I'm quitting as soon as I can find a better gig.

 

I guess this means you've abandoned plans to get your own PV?

Edited by Palmetto

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I think it still has the potential to be successful if it is deemed worthy of the effort. In past years, the Autumn Express often sold out easily for two days. While it only operated in the Northeast, a similar operation in California or Florida would have the same scenery every season, while some mountainous and far northern routes could be advertised for their snowy scenery. Although it may not be as popular as the Autumn trains, I think they could sell out at least one day a year this way.

But a similar operation in Florida or California would require deadheading equipment there and back, taking it out of service for a week or more. In theory, the Northeast train could operate with minimal equipment shifting (though, for some unknown reason, the first year they ran it they decided to deadhead those godawful Horizon cars from Chicago to run it, but later on it was just Amfleets), and the weekend schedule has lower equipment needs than weekdays anyway. I can’t speak to equipment maintenance and inspection needs, but in basic numbers, the Autumn Express is basically two regional consists joined together (plus a couple special cars such as the 9800, and whatever else they have laying around).

 

Florida doesn’t have any spare equipment other than what’s needed to protect the Silvers (which don’t have a weekday/weekend variation in schedules, so you can’t just use an idle consist or two) and California doesn’t have enough (and the equipment is mostly California-owned or leased, so Amtrak can’t just use it as they want). In fact, I think Capitol Corridor is the only non-Northeast route that runs less service on weekends than weekdays (well, there’s the early morning Hiawatha that doesn’t run on Sundays). Even routes that have weekend vs weekday schedules run essentially the same service, just in different time slots. So, there might not even be any spare equipment to do this in California either, even if Caltrans was agreeable to it.

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