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lordsigma

Checked baggage being cut from Boston Section of Lake Shore?

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I just spotted on Amtrak’s online reservation system beginning in January the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited shows no checked baggage service available. No official announcement or indication of this by Amtrak, but not a good sign. While a removal of the Boston section baggage would not be surprising I am very concerned this may lead to agent cuts at my local station (SPG.) If this indeed is real, I will be sending out emails to my local leaders advocating for the staff there and am hoping that staffing at SPG will be retained absent the checked baggage service for the lake shore.

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1 hour ago, lordsigma said:

 

 If this indeed is real, I will be sending out emails to my local leaders advocating for the staff there and am hoping that staffing at SPG will be retained absent the checked baggage service for the lake shore.

 

I suggest you get typing. :ph34r:

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  I suggest you get typing.

 

Not sure if you can elaborate, but should one expect a total closure or a reduction in positions in this case? The former would seem rediculous given the other state supported service (and recently expanded) present, and this isn’t a tiny station but who knows these days...

 

I guess I’m just trying to figure out where to start with this.

 

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I just tried a sample booking from South Station, so that would appear to be correct.A comparable booking from NYP still shows bags.

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Are there any other initial terminals of long distance trains with no checked baggage service? Are they going to shut down Boston baggage department completely? I can't see almost any savings when they already have the cars. And no checked baggage service really makes it harder for elderly or folks with mobility challenges to make a trip in my opinion. Even if people are technically available at a station, it is also lot easier to just check bags than ask for help for many people.  To me checked baggage is a pretty low cost service to offer and with all the cars available they should just offer it as many places as possible.

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The overnight NER are the only other Boston trains with checked bags. I don't know how the scheduled times for the arrival and departure of those trains fits in with the schedule of manpower. What do they really save?

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29 minutes ago, amtrakpass said:

Are there any other initial terminals of long distance trains with no checked baggage service? Are they going to shut down Boston baggage department completely? I can't see almost any savings when they already have the cars. And no checked baggage service really makes it harder for elderly or folks with mobility challenges to make a trip in my opinion. Even if people are technically available at a station, it is also lot easier to just check bags than ask for help for many people.  To me checked baggage is a pretty low cost service to offer and with all the cars available they should just offer it as many places as possible.

It is not low cost if there are better uses for the baggage car.  They probably looked at the consist and said "why are we using two baggage cars on these trains when there is hardly any luggage in the Boston section? We can cut this down to one car since one just like we did last summer and free up a few baggage cars."

 

Maybe that is the way it went. Reducing staff (like they've done elsewhere in the country) would just be a bonus.  I'd have to guess this would be the end of baggage lite at WOR.

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Where exactly are these excess baggage cars going  to be assigned to add service too then? Or are they just going into axel count service or storage? My view if you are going to call a crew and run a train anyway shortening a consist by one car is is not a real savings and it is a reduction in quality of service which has greater long term implications than just adding or subtracting a car.

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16 minutes ago, amtrakpass said:

Where exactly are these excess baggage cars going  to be assigned to add service too then? Or are they just going into axel count service or storage? My view if you are going to call a crew and run a train anyway shortening a consist by one car is is not a real savings and it is a reduction in quality of service which has greater long term implications than just adding or subtracting a car.

While I have no idea what if anything will happen to the baggage cars, your statement is not really true. When they shortened the Silver Star by losing the dining car, they cut an engine...which is another savings. If they keep whittling down the lake Shore, maybe they will assign it one engine on a permanent basis. 

Additionally, shortening a train may help with crew consist, meaning they need less manpower on the train, which is contractual.  That represents savings.

Continuing on this trend, what if they DID decided to cut or scale back the baggage personnel in BOS and/or Springfield? That would be a savings.

It could also mean a few less tons on the train which could also lead to fuel savings on the diesels.  That would represent a savings.

As for quality of service, I agree...but if people aren't really rebelling about a boxed lunch, I doubt a few passengers on the LSL being unable to check their parcels or bikes is going to make or break the train....which is what they are likely counting on.

 

Edited by Thirdrail7

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While we have to agree to disagree on our perspectives then. If you are saying it is was a good move to cut the diner off the silver Star because they could cut an engine, and to go for boxed lunches was a good move to reduce crew size. 

It would be one thing if they were adding multiple Boston-Albany trips per day. But they are not. And I have not seen any serious proposals to add service from Amtrak with the current regime. They are just cutting services to make it less appealing and will eventually find there is nothing left to cut except the whole train. 

 

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FWIW, I checked some dates in December and January. Between Boston and Albany, the LSL is still showing 6 bike spaces available on all dates. Although, as others have mentioned, it shows no checked baggage in January.

It would be nice to think they've figured out a way to fit a bike on a long distance train without a baggage car. But I'm betting that they just haven't finished coding the changes into the system. I'd be happy to lose that bet :).

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12 minutes ago, amtrakpass said:

While we have to agree to disagree on our perspectives then. If you are saying it is was a good move to cut the diner off the silver Star because they could cut an engine, and to go for boxed lunches was a good move to reduce crew size.

I have not stated that it was a good idea....or a bad idea. I'm merely pointing out that cutting one car can lead to savings and I listing some examples.

Obviously, someone thinks the idea is worth exploring and personally, I can think of other uses for those bags. I've wanted bags on the Pennsylvanian and the Colonial for YEARS! Hell, if they added it to the Colonial, Boston could have early corridor baggage service.

 

Who the heck am I kidding? They'll never add it to those trains.

Edited by Thirdrail7

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I think the main issue here is if Amtrak silently removes the baggage car from the Boston section of the LSL, it just gives them more reason to start reducing more amenities on that train and others.

4 hours ago, lordsigma said:

I just spotted on Amtrak’s online reservation system beginning in January the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited shows no checked baggage service available. No official announcement or indication of this by Amtrak, but not a good sign. While a removal of the Boston section baggage would not be surprising I am very concerned this may lead to agent cuts at my local station (SPG.) If this indeed is real, I will be sending out emails to my local leaders advocating for the staff there and am hoping that staffing at SPG will be retained absent the checked baggage service for the lake shore.

I live in Connecticut, but would very much like to write whomever you are writing to also. Could you pass along some names and/or emails?

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1 hour ago, daybeers said:

I think the main issue here is if Amtrak silently removes the baggage car from the Boston section of the LSL, it just gives them more reason to start reducing more amenities on that train and others.

I live in Connecticut, but would very much like to write whomever you are writing to also. Could you pass along some names and/or emails?

Will do. I am going to wait until there is an official announcement. I would be shocked at a full unstaffing as SPG has well above the ridership that Amtrak was supposedly using for unstaffing , I would imagine reduction of a position or two is probably more likely. However there are no dedicated baggage staff at Springfield. There are just station agents and they handle the baggage, but also provide ticketing/customer service/assistance for all the state supported trains as well. The baggage for the lake shore really is a small thing these days and most of the business is from the state supported trains. Also not sure of what's in the contracts for the state-supported service. Perhaps MassDOT has veto power over such decisions?

My first email will be to Congressman Neal who is about to become the chairman of Ways and Means and I think it would be an understatement to say that he is a supporter of the revitalization of Springfield union station.

Edited by lordsigma

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I'd write immediately; this is a sneak move on the part of the idiot in charge of Amtrak, so don't wait for an official announcement.  Write to Mr. Anderson, Mr. Coscia, and suitable members of Congress simultaneously.  Explain how you use baggage service

 

For example, my girlfriend generally ships her wheelchair in checked baggage.  Without checked baggage, they'll just have to find a place to put it in the passenger compartments of the train; that's an ADA accomodation, no choice on Amtrak's part.  Hope they have room, because they have to kick out paying passengers and remove seats to make the space if they don't.  Just federal law there, they have no choice.

Edited by neroden

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15 hours ago, Thirdrail7 said:

While I have no idea what if anything will happen to the baggage cars, your statement is not really true. When they shortened the Silver Star by losing the dining car, they cut an engine...which is another savings. If they keep whittling down the lake Shore, maybe they will assign it one engine on a permanent basis. 

Additionally, shortening a train may help with crew consist, meaning they need less manpower on the train, which is contractual.  That represents savings.

Continuing on this trend, what if they DID decided to cut or scale back the baggage personnel in BOS and/or Springfield? That would be a savings.

It could also mean a few less tons on the train which could also lead to fuel savings on the diesels.  That would represent a savings.

As for quality of service, I agree...but if people aren't really rebelling about a boxed lunch, I doubt a few passengers on the LSL being unable to check their parcels or bikes is going to make or break the train....which is what they are likely counting on.

Can one P42 really pull a 13 or so car train?

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If it is relatively flat terrain, and stations are far enough apart so that getting up to speed is less of an issue, physically, yes. I don't know if there is a company practice or standard that would apply, if there is, someone will point it out for sure. A P32-DM  took the Lake to Albany when the whole train went to NYP. If I recall, not that long ago, they were running singles from Albany to Chicago for a period of time.

Edited by PVD

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5 hours ago, cpotisch said:

Can one P42 really pull a 13 or so car train?

Sure it can. It won’t accelerate worth a damn and it might not be able to cruise at 79, but it will run. That’s why Auto Train can get away with two engines - no station stops and 70 mph MAS, with schedule room for cruising at 55 or 60 in run 8 for most of the run.

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17 minutes ago, Amtrak706 said:

Sure it can. It won’t accelerate worth a damn and it might not be able to cruise at 79, but it will run. That’s why Auto Train can get away with two engines - no station stops and 70 mph MAS, with schedule room for cruising at 55 or 60 in run 8 for most of the run.

Even taking into account the limited horsepower of one engine providing HEP? Because while the Auto Train is a good 50 cars long and only uses two locos, only 17 cars require HEP, which can be provided by just one P42, therefore the other unit can send the full 4,250 horsepower to the wheels (meaning a total of around 6,750 horsepower for traction). If you have just one engine, there’s a grand total of only about 2,500 horsepower going to the wheels, for the whole train. And remember that the stops on the Lake Shore are also relatively close together, making acceleration even more important.

Edited by cpotisch
Elaborated

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1 minute ago, cpotisch said:

Even taking into account the limited horsepower of one engine providing HEP?

Sure. With max HEP load, horsepower available for traction gets down to about 2500 or so. That is still a higher HP/ton ratio than your average freight train, but it is low enough for you to be in run 8 most of the time and possibly substantially below MAS. In other words it will handle like Auto Train or a freight train and not a passenger train, which will kill the schedule. Not to mention you now have a single point of failure on the head end that is being worked harder than normal. Just enough of a terrible idea to sound just right for Amtrak.

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Judging from a video linked at another site, the Boston (448-449) section is placed at the head of the 48-49. Absent the Bag as a "buffer", hope the Boston Sleeper passengers enjoy "hear the whistle blow".

I continue to hold the "Boston Section" discontinued by the "Gunn-men" was only restored during the Boardman regime owing to political pressure. It lacks any economic sense whatever in that the transfer is within "people hours" and that Boston must stock commissary items, such as linens, not needed by any other train.

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14 minutes ago, GBNorman said:

Judging from a video linked at another site, the Boston (448-449) section is placed at the head of the 48-49. Absent the Bag as a "buffer", hope the Boston Sleeper passengers enjoy "hear the whistle blow".

I was thinking the same thing. Won’t be fun spending the night directly adjacent to two P42s. :unsure:

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Judging from a video linked at another site, the Boston (448-449) section is placed at the head of the 48-49. Absent the Bag as a "buffer", hope the Boston Sleeper passengers enjoy "hear the whistle blow".
I continue to hold the "Boston Section" discontinued by the "Gunn-men" was only restored during the Boardman regime owing to political pressure. It lacks any economic sense whatever in that the transfer is within "people hours" and that Boston must stock commissary items, such as linens, not needed by any other train.

I wonder if they will once again eliminate
The “Boston section” and instead run a shuttle train between Boston and Albany.

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