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Amtrak no longer allowing standing passengers on unreserved trains?

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1 minute ago, Thirdrail7 said:

The Amfleets will work with the MARC cars, which is why I suggested them.

That sounds like the ideal answer. And three cars would do the job as there are three sets. Maybe one or two more spares or for peak times of year.

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13 minutes ago, lordsigma said:

That sounds like the ideal answer. And three cars would do the job as there are three sets. Maybe one or two more spares or for peak times of year.

Perhaps Rspenmoll can tweet this suggestion to CDot and CT Rails commuters.  Then, we'd see if they were serious about investing in this line and providing a reasonable solution for their underestimation....or  are they just interested in making headlines. :ph34r:

Edited by Thirdrail7

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Another thing I would add is that only half of the CTrail trains go north of Hartford. As a result folks north of Hartford have to choose from the remaining trains the majority of which are Amtrak as all the Amtrak’s go to SPG....if all the ctrails ran to Springfield it may further spread out some of the commuter traffic.

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My thought would be to pull a lease for the ex-A-Train RDCs that those folks up in Vermont bought.  I dunno if those are Amfleet-compatible, but as a short(-ish) term replacement the fleet of them should be able to pinch-hit.

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7 hours ago, lordsigma said:

In reality this is affecting three specific afternoon train times which unfortunately are both popular times for Amtrak connections in NHV, and are prime commuting times. Otherwise things are working fine. I am hoping a solution is reached and am concerned CDOT could overreact and throw Amtrak off the corridor and replace the Shuttles with commuter trains.

 

That's pretty much what will happen.  If Amtrak keeps failing to honor its contract with CDOT, whether they squeal "safety" or not, they're gonna be kicked off the line and replaced.  It doesn't even matter that Amtrak owns the line -- fighting the state government is a losing position for Amtrak.

Metro-North is already publicly describing Amtrak as "not negotiating in good faith" over Penn Station Access for Metro-North.  I'm sure they'd be happy to team up with Connecticut.  They have the whip hand over Amtrak given who owns the NEC from New Rochelle to New Haven.

The whacked-out part is that Amtrak would presumably make money by adding enough cars to carry additional passengers.  They're not *that* short on cars.  (How often do the Empire Service sets run full?)

Edited by neroden

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7 hours ago, Thirdrail7 said:

Long story short, the Amtrak to somewhere south of DC broke down. They transferred passengers to another regional. The initial preference was for people going south of DC since the new regional would now go south. However, it was packed which created standing conditions. Not a problem but eventually the crew stated they had no more room to handle more standee safely. So, the train left without taking on more passengers. Years ago, they would have stuffed the bathrooms, the vestibules and put 6 people to work behind the cafe counter! ^_^

This is no longer the case. They rest of the passengers waited to transfer to the next train...which had the same problem. Eventually, they hijacked a commuter train,  put the rest of the passengers  and just held the other train in WAS for connecting passengers arriving on the commuter set.

 

That is not well-thought out.  After a certain amount of delays, passengers WILL self-evacuate, even if that's less safe.  Any consideration of safety must emphasize getting passengers off the disabled train and into the station within a reasonable amount of time.

 

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10 minutes ago, neroden said:

That is not well-thought out.  After a certain amount of delays, passengers WILL self-evacuate, even if that's less safe.  Any consideration of safety must emphasize getting passengers off the disabled train and into the station within a reasonable amount of time.

Umm...that may apply in your neck of the woods...where trains are far and few between. When this occurred (and when it occurs in areas with high saturation), there were passenger trains stacked everywhere. Why? The disabled train occupied a track and blocked it, the trains receiving the passengers blocked another track, leaving one lone track for everything else. This leads to single tracking which caused massive back ups. As I stated, TWRopr has the details but I believe 5 or 6 northbounds were slammed while 4-7 southbounds were impacted.

Additionally, the train had HEP so if anyone wanted to leave the heated train and self evacuate into the darkness of nowheresville, so be it.

Now, if this is the LAST train or there is nothing around for hours or there is no HEP, I would agree. It could be more dangerous than standees being cheek to cheek.

 

Edited by Thirdrail7

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That's pretty much what will happen.  If Amtrak keeps failing to honor its contract with CDOT, whether they squeal "safety" or not, they're gonna be kicked off the line and replaced.  It doesn't even matter that Amtrak owns the line -- fighting the state government is a losing position for Amtrak.
Metro-North is already publicly describing Amtrak as "not negotiating in good faith" over Penn Station Access for Metro-North.  I'm sure they'd be happy to team up with Connecticut.  They have the whip hand over Amtrak given who owns the NEC from New Rochelle to New Haven.
The whacked-out part is that Amtrak would presumably make money by adding enough cars to carry additional passengers.  They're not *that* short on cars.  (How often do the Empire Service sets run full?)

But once again they can blame Amtrak but they also have some responsibility in the way the scheduling was done - they were well aware that the Amtrak sets are two cars. And there is nothing stopping them from altering the schedule to try to deal with the problem. The annoying thing is the people that are going to get punished are the Amtrak staff on the line who will lose their jobs and the Amtrak riders who are happy with the service. I don’t think the solution to dealing with one unhappy group on the line is to punish other riders. This isn’t a matter of personnel- the Amtrak employees do just as fine a job as the TASI crews that CDOT hired. It’s a matter of equipment. Either way CDOT does it they need to buy equipment. Whether they buy coaches for Amtrak to use or buy coaches to add CTrail trains. The common thing is buying equipment which is what the focus needs to be.

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52 minutes ago, neroden said:

That's pretty much what will happen.  If Amtrak keeps failing to honor its contract with CDOT, whether they squeal "safety" or not, they're gonna be kicked off the line and replaced.  It doesn't even matter that Amtrak owns the line -- fighting the state government is a losing position for Amtrak.

Metro-North is already publicly describing Amtrak as "not negotiating in good faith" over Penn Station Access for Metro-North.  I'm sure they'd be happy to team up with Connecticut.  They have the whip hand over Amtrak given who owns the NEC from New Rochelle to New Haven.

The whacked-out part is that Amtrak would presumably make money by adding enough cars to carry additional passengers.  They're not *that* short on cars.  (How often do the Empire Service sets run full?)

You must have added the last part after I responded to your other post. Metro-North didn't even get the service on the SPG line so I doubt they'd want it. Additionally, and this is a key point: Saying Amtrak is not that short on cars is untrue. They are still down a few sets of Am1s, they down a set of AM2s plus a few sleepers and you have to remember, there are contracts involved.

If the Empire trains all carried 1 passenger per train, it doesn't matter. Why? NYS PAYS for them. The train make up is part of the operating agreement with the state. Amtrak can't arbitrarily take that equipment from the Empire pool without amending the agreement with NYS.

The same goes for the Keystones....the Carolinian...the Vermonter and other state supported trains. Those consists are provided for by operating agreements hashed out under PRIIA. As long as the states want the consists as they are now, they will remain that way.

That's the problem with the SPG shuttles. They are state supported service. As Lordsigma indicated, everyone knew those consists and the pool for that service.  They obviously decided it was enough based upon their projections. (Un)Fortunately, the line is an immediate success, with numbers well outside of the projection, a good problem to have. They've already added a car to a set. Obviously, it wasn't enough. Now, CT can do what Virginia New York, Pennsylvania  and other states have done. They can add to their pool. However, resources aren't plentiful. If Amtrak starts taking cars from other trains, it would come with a cost. That is why I suggested the MARC cars that everyone has borrowed over the last couple of years.

The question is" will CT think it is worth it?

 

Edited by Thirdrail7

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I just sent a comment to MassDOT encouraging them to consider Amtrak passengers in any decision made in concert with CTDOT regrading the overcrowding issue to to try to find a way to solve the problem without eliminating the intercity options.

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Crazy idea but instead of selling off the surplus heritage diners in a pinch they could add some capacity by using the benches in the diners as unreserved seating.  Not ideal but in a pinch serviceable equipment.

 

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1 hour ago, Thirdrail7 said:

Umm...that may apply in your neck of the woods...where trains are far and few between. When this occurred (and when it occurs in areas with high saturation), there were passenger trains stacked everywhere. Why? The disabled train occupied a track and blocked it, the trains receiving the passengers blocked another track, leaving one lone track for everything else. This leads to single tracking which caused massive back ups. As I stated, TWRopr has the details but I believe 5 or 6 northbounds were slammed while 4-7 southbounds were impacted.

Additionally, the train had HEP so if anyone wanted to leave the heated train and self evacuate into the darkness of nowheresville, so be it.

Now, if this is the LAST train or there is nothing around for hours or there is no HEP, I would agree. It could be more dangerous than standees being cheek to cheek.

Oh, if it was only an hour or two, with HEP, sure.   Length of delay time matters.  People will tolerate an hour or two. 

If, on the other hand, it was THIS sort of six-hour delay:

http://gothamist.com/2018/11/26/amtrak_boston_nightmare.php

...which unbelievably happened in Sunnyside.  Amtrak should have emptied the train within two hours, whatever it took.

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47 minutes ago, Thirdrail7 said:

You must have added the last part after I responded to your other post. Metro-North didn't even get the service on the SPG line so I doubt they'd want it. Additionally, and this is a key point: Saying Amtrak is not that short on cars is untrue. They are still down a few sets of Am1s, they down a set of AM2s plus a few sleepers and you have to remember, there are contracts involved.

If the Empire trains all carried 1 passenger per train, it doesn't matter. Why? NYS PAYS for them. The train make up is part of the operating agreement with the state.

That's outright bizarre.  Specified consist lengths in the contracts!  (And *seven cars* for Empire Service!) Well, that does sort of explain what's going on... I mean, this provision must not be present itn the Michigan contracts, since they chop and change the consists there all the time.  I could see specifying "cafe, business class, minimum of two coaches" or something, but specifying *seven* -- why would Amtrak have agreed to put that in a contract?

 

Quote

Amtrak can't arbitrarily take that equipment from the Empire pool without amending the agreement with NYS.

The same goes for the Keystones....the Carolinian...the Vermonter and other state supported trains. Those consists are provided for by operating agreements hashed out under PRIIA. As long as the states want the consists as they are now, they will remain that way.

That's the problem with the SPG shuttles. They are state supported service. As Lordsigma indicated, everyone knew those consists and the pool for that service.

Specified in the contracts, eh?  Then Amtrak should say that... seems to me the contract also specifies that they're going to honor commuter tickets, however.

 

Quote

They obviously decided it was enough based upon their projections. (Un)Fortunately, the line is an immediate success, with numbers well outside of the projection, a good problem to have. They've already added a car to a set. Obviously, it wasn't enough. Now, CT can do what Virginia New York, Pennsylvania  and other states have done. They can add to their pool. However, resources aren't plentiful. If Amtrak starts taking cars from other trains, it would come with a cost. That is why I suggested the MARC cars that everyone has borrowed over the last couple of years.

The question is" will CT think it is worth it?

I don't think that's a question.  When it's already in the newspapers and state legislators are making noise about it, the state has already decided.  The question is whether Amtrak has any sense of PR whatsoever.  It's possible for Amtrak to say "Our contract with Connecticut specifies X cars, and they will have to pay us more to add additional cars."  Instead, apparently Amtrak says they're going to fix the problem and then doesn't.  Bad PR.  Most likely outcome if Amtrak doesn't start a charm campaign is that Connecticut starts hard negotiations about removing Amtrak from the loop completely.

Edited by neroden

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With the winter time slump in riders maybe Amtrak can free up several Amfleets until the Easter rush ?  And of course use the V-2 diners in storage ?

Edited by west point

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1 hour ago, Thirdrail7 said:

They've already added a car to a set. 

 

Unfortunately it seems as if either that was a temporary loaner car for just the Thanksgiving period or they robbed peter to pay paul from one of the other sets. Right after the Thanksgiving period the Shuttle sets all went back to 2 cars. In addition to a third car on one set, they also used one of the 4 car CDOT Shore Line East sets in place of one of the Shuttle sets during this period (operated by Amtrak crews.) It worked out ok - only one train the day before Thanksgiving (476) which was using the one remaining 2 car set in the mix was over capacity - at least they knew ahead of time for that one and overflow CTrail passengers were offered a bus-stitution. There were rumors something similar was going to happen for the Christmas - New Years peak period but nothing did - from what I heard Amtrak received some complaints from their ticketed customers about the SLE equipment which may have led to them not doing it again (or possible the CDOT equipment was unavailable.) It should be noted that while CDOT occasionally uses the Shore Line equipment on the Hartford Line it will be more difficult for them to do this when SLE goes back to a full train schedule and CDOT will have to rely on the primary equipment that was leased for the Hartford Line. The primary CTrail equipment has had some reliability issues from the sounds of it and they are currently in the process of modifying restrooms.

Edited by lordsigma

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Another logistical issue that as of right now complicates any permanent changes is that SPG is currently under heavy construction. They are constructing a high level island platform and one of the tracks where equipment is normally stored overnight is totally out of service to provide enough space for the contractors to work on the platform. As the Shuttle equipment is based in Springfield overnight, I doubt there is enough space with the reduced availability of "parking spots" to have 3 lengthened Shuttle sets along with a 7 car regional set (2 regional sets on Friday and Saturday nights.) Its possible something more could happen once that project is done.

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1 hour ago, west point said:

And of course use the V-2 diners in storage ?

What diners are in storage?

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2 hours ago, cuppb001 said:

Crazy idea but instead of selling off the surplus heritage diners in a pinch they could add some capacity by using the benches in the diners as unreserved seating.  Not ideal but in a pinch serviceable equipment.

The Heritage diners are mechanical hell. I absolutely love those cars, but they are nearly 70 years old and parts are hard to come by or must be fabricated. The way I see it, using them on the Shuttles would cause more problems than it would solve.

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14 minutes ago, Ryan said:
1 hour ago, west point said:

And of course use the V-2 diners in storage ?

 What diners are in storage?

Amtrak currently has 25 ViewDiners (24 of the 25 V-II diners have been delivered, plus 8400), out of which 11 are in active service at a given time. Even with protects in Hialeah, New Orleans, Sunnyside, and Chicago, that still leaves 10 to spare.

Still, I really don’t think dining cars are a good candidate for carrying surplus passengers.

Edited by cpotisch

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1 hour ago, neroden said:

It's possible for Amtrak to say "Our contract with Connecticut specifies X cars, and they will have to pay us more to add additional cars."Instead, apparently Amtrak says they're going to fix the problem and then doesn't. Bad PR. 

But if Amtrak doesn’t have any additional cars, they can’t just make that offer.

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4 minutes ago, cpotisch said:

Amtrak currently has 25 ViewDiners (24 of the 25 V-II diners have been delivered, plus 8400), out of which 11 are in active service at a given time. Even with protects in Hialeah, New Orleans, Sunnyside, and Chicago, that still leaves 10 to spare.

Still, I really don’t think dining cars are a good candidate for carrying surplus passengers.

 

I am well aware of the numbers. That doesn’t mean that there are 10 diners stored somewhere. 

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My knowledge of trains is far less than most of the members of this forum, so maybe someone can help me out with why this is a "safety" issue. If it's unsafe to have standees on an Amtrak train (other than the vestibules), why is it safe for me to get up and stand in line in the cafe car? Or walk around the train in general. Or take a shower. On a plane they want you in your seat with the seat belt on unless you have to get up, for obvious reasons. I've never heard anybody suggest that was necessary for a train. So I don't see why standing, in and of itself, would be a danger.

I can see where there could be a concern about congestion in the aisles in case of an emergency, but this isn't a plane with fuel in its wings in danger of blowing up. Only life-or-death snag I see here is if you land in a body of water. This train does go over a river or two, and if that's the issue, it would make more sense. But I profess ignorance on this ... would love to hear from someone who knows train safety issues.

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On 12/29/2018 at 1:40 AM, Thirdrail7 said:

It also has to do with blocking emergency egress and in the case of the vestibules, well, those are crumple zones. They were never the best place to stand, particularly if the train happens to pull apart.

From way back on page one. 

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So how does Amtrak justifies the shuttle train still running?  The route is under 750 miles (61 miles).  Smiling Joe Boardman was asked once if the Amtrak owned route would fall under the 750 mile rules.  His reply was “Yes”.  So why does Amtrak still run these shuttle trains?

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29 minutes ago, Just-Thinking-51 said:

So how does Amtrak justifies the shuttle train still running?  The route is under 750 miles (61 miles).  Smiling Joe Boardman was asked once if the Amtrak owned route would fall under the 750 mile rules.  His reply was “Yes”.  So why does Amtrak still run these shuttle trains?

Amtrak runs the Shuttles, but they are state-supported just as the Keystone and Empire Service trains.

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