#421 Sold Out on 12/01...Additional Sleeping Car Possible?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by JC_620, Nov 11, 2019.

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  1. Nov 11, 2019 #1

    JC_620

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    Been tracking #421 for the possibility of an upcoming trip to Arizona for 12/01, and 12/03. 12/01 #421 is now officially completely SOLD OUT. 12/03 soon to follow. Even #21 has no rooms left. Only coach seats on 12/03.

    My question is this: since there is still 3 or 4 weeks before departure of this train, what are the chances of Amtrak actually adding another sleeping car? I would think that between now and then, they might get some more additional potential travelers who might want to take #421 on this date, or even #21.

    Additionally, even IF they were to do such a thing, how would someone like myself, the consumer looking to book, be able to book it?

    I have read on other threads that it is slim pickings because Amtrak does not have any additional equipment to spare, which I do not know if I 110% believe. You mean to tell me that they cannot scrounge up one extra sleeping car IF the demand warrants it? I guess that they would then complain that then they would have to add another attendant to work that additional sleeping car, but is not revenue, revenue? Money is money. How much of a loss would they incur, but anyhow...

    Has anyone had any experience with Amtrak selling out a train, but then due to either demand or other factors, adding an additional sleeping car to the consist?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Nov 11, 2019 #2

    pennyk

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    I think the chances are greater that there will be a cancellation than Amtrak adding a sleeper. However, December 1st is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is a very busy travel day, so, if there is equipment available, Amtrak may add a sleeper. Someone with more knowledge of 421 may chime in.

    I have seen added sleepers on the Florida trains during the holidays, but I do not think they were added at the last minute.
     
  3. Nov 11, 2019 #3

    Maglev

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    I rode the Empire Builder in a Family Bedroom in January 2017, and saw that another Family Bedroom was added to availability about three months out. Because of crew and equipment dispatching issues, I would not expect a sleeper to be added to a consist as little as three weeks before travel dates.

    When I took the Texas Eagle from Los Angeles to Chicago on non-holiday dates in January of this year, the sleeper was full.
     
  4. Nov 11, 2019 #4

    bratkinson

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    Adding a sleeper at this late date would be a loser, plain and simple. How many potential passengers would ride it? Those, like the OP, checked some days or weeks ago and found it sold out. They won't be checking again unless they are diehard railfans.

    Consider, too, that late fall and winter into early spring are when numerous cars are offline for annual maintenance, refurbishing, inspections, etc. Don't forget the cost(s) of having an SCA for the car, and then deadheading them back, along with the car, to Chicago.
     
  5. Nov 11, 2019 #5

    OBS

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    Operating consists for holiday weekends are planned 2-3 months in advance. There is zero chance an additional sleeper would be added at this point. As suggested, watch for cancellations....
     
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  6. Nov 11, 2019 #6

    F900ElCapitan

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    The Texas Eagle doesn’t even get an extra sleeper during the summer months. In fact it has the same planned consist year round, which includes the transition sleeper and one full sleeper. So I agree, there is zero chance of them adding one.
     
  7. Nov 12, 2019 #7

    Larry H.

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    Makes me even more nostalgic about rail before Amtrak. We traveled at Peak times around Christmas. The Missouri Pacific would run 5 or more sleepers. Some quite old and didn't really ride too well. That fact sort of aggravated me as we made reservations far out and when we boarded we ended up in vintage cars from well before the Stream Liner era. Worse it had a flat wheel that kept my Grandmother awake all night. I rode many long distance trains that routinely had 5 sleepers. The original Empire Builder had that many as standard equipment. In Canada the Canadian National cross country train ran with 22 or more passenger cars and at least half were some form of sleeper from double bedrooms to births. I have never understood the system of eliminating sleepers from busy trains. If you want a sleeper you should be able to purchase it.
     
  8. Nov 12, 2019 #8

    Just-Thinking-51

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    We like it when a train’s sleeper is fully booked. How far out does it book, how many days per month, how many months. Answer those three questions then we can talk about adding capacity. (If available)

    A train sold out around a holiday period, a month before the holiday is not a enough data point to add equipment. (If available)

    Amtrak can’t just drive down to the local dealership and grab something off the lot.
     
  9. Nov 13, 2019 #9

    Seaboard92

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    To add equipment one must first have equipment to add. I’ve always thought Amtrak was missing a great opportunity to partner with PV owners and make both Amtrak and PV owners money.

    Think about it Amtrak knows when they are nearing capacity. And there are several 10/6s scattered around the country.

    Why not rent out the cars and then sell the space. Just put a note that it’s not a standard space and not up to Amtrak standards. Especially because it’ll probably go above and beyond Amtrak’s Standards.
     
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  10. Nov 14, 2019 #10

    dlagrua

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    In 17 years of riding the rails, we have hardly seen open accommodations in the sleepers during our trips. This is especially so during the summer months. IMO, Amtrak is missing quite a bit of business from the lack of sufficient sleeper space. The sleepers are a cash cow for Amtrak. If only they would buy more sleepers the revenue stream would show a significant improvement and the service may even end up being profitable.
     
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  11. Nov 15, 2019 #11

    Way2Kewl

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    In the past decade reported losses on LD trains, I had always thought it was the Sleepers that contributed the most.
    Being curious I took an estimated sample for a couple trips 5 months out using what I think are full capacity numbers for the cars. Assuming these numbers are correct, I’m surprised that both Coach and Sleepers are pretty close.

    Est pp TE Apr3 (22 hrs) Est pp Zephyr TE Apr3 (52 hrs)
    74 Coach @ $135 = $9,990 74 Coach @ $176 = $13,024


    14 Roomette @ $316 = $4,424 14 Roomette @ $547 = $7,658
    6 Bedroom & Acc @ $644 = $3,864 6 Bedroom & Acc @ $926 = $5,556
    1 Family @ $572 = $572 1 Family @ $1,613 = $1,613
    Total $8,860 Total $14,827
     
  12. Nov 16, 2019 #12

    chakk

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    Since a superliner coach and a superliner sleeper weigh approximately the same amount, would it not make sense for Amtrak to set their prices so that revenues for each type of car approximately match, since in theory it costs the same amount of fuel to pull each type of car?
     
  13. Nov 18, 2019 at 9:17 PM #13

    Lonestar648

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    In all the years of riding 21/421 I have never known or heard of an extra sleeper. During the summer when 421/422 regularly sells out, no inventory is added. Some people will reserve in the 21 TransDorm Roomette to SAS then reserve in the SL 1 SLeeper SAS-LAX.
     
  14. Nov 18, 2019 at 11:36 PM #14

    Bob Dylan

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    The above procedure concerning the usual consist of #21/#421 is Amtrak's Policy, but on a few occasions over the years I have caught #21/#421 in Austin heading West and there have been times when an Extra Coach,2nd P-42 and even an Extra Sleeper were in the consist.
     
  15. Nov 19, 2019 at 4:06 AM #15

    saxman

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    Amtrak will not add an extra sleeper, however there are rooms from St. Louis to Arizona on #421 on the trains are you looking at. Looks like there are also rooms from Dallas available too. You may be able to get a good agent to let you switch rooms mid trip if you do the leg work of figuring out where to switch. Or just go coach to St. Louis and switch to a room there. (You didn't say which city you were boarding, so I'm only guessing)
     
  16. Nov 19, 2019 at 7:42 AM #16

    RSG

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    Good agents will also be able to figure out which rooms are open between city pairs and keep you in the same car, even perhaps the same level, if possible.

    Along with equipment, it's not as easy as it may seem to add another service attendant to a particular trip. Union work rules may require that any open trips be made available to those with seniority for a certain period of time. Meanwhile, those with seniority are possibly taking PTO during the holiday period, thus complicating scheduling.

    Then there's the basic human factor. A regional transit operator of my acquaintance is having problems finding operators to run all of their light rail and bus routes. When things started getting tight, they started requiring operators to work 6 days/week. That just caused the current operator pool to shrink even further since in a good economy, there are other jobs that pay as well where one is not expected to work one's behind off. So now they are having to cancel a certain number of train and bus runs per day because of a now-chronic operator shortage.

    Amtrak may be mismanaged in certain respects, but they've been in the game long enough to know what the minimum staffing levels need to be and what to do to maintain those staffing levels under most circumstances. That most likely doesn't include scheduling additional staff a couple of weeks out.
     
  17. Nov 19, 2019 at 5:39 PM #17

    fillyjonk

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    I'm wondering if the 12/1 sellout has to do with it being the very last day of Thanksgiving break, and lots of people returning home after the holiday? I think that's the busiest travel day of the year.

    I mean, yeah: if Amtrak HAD extra sleepers, they could plan for this and stick them on then. But they don't, I guess.

    (I've learned to just book REALLY early for big travel days. Luckily because of my employment I know what my vacation days are a year in advance so I can do that. I get that not everyone can.)
     
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  18. Nov 20, 2019 at 11:52 PM #18

    Way2Kewl

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    Ironically I’ll be on the #22 Dec 1 DAL>JOL for a night playing Craps at the Joliet Harrah's just a block away from the station before returning the following day Dec 3 on #21.
    I promise I didn’t take the last room on #21… :eek: I booked a while back and was able to change rooms… I think there was a room as little as 2 weeks ago but is indeed sold out now.

    It’s possible but unlikely to see an extra Sleeper.

    Here’s an idea how #21 has been running the last few weeks coming thru Texarkana:
    • an extra Coach and Sleeper on Nov 5
    • and a Sleeper in lieu of the Transition Sleeper on Nov 8. Trans Sleeper only has Roomettes for sale, a full Sleeper would add 5 bedrooms.
    The current normal consist for the #21 Eagle is Trans Sleeper, ONE standard Sleeper, Dinning, Observation, then 3 Coach.

    Data Reference -YouTube Webcam : “Texarkana, Arkansas USA - Virtual Railfan LIVE”
    TE.jpg
     
  19. Nov 21, 2019 at 3:54 AM #19

    JC_620

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    I sincerely appreciate the responses from the members on the site here. I am unfamiliar with how I would go about booking one leg in one room, or coach from Chicago to St. Louis , or Dallas then the other pair? Hmmm..
     
  20. Nov 21, 2019 at 3:58 AM #20

    Bob Dylan

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    Call Amtrak to book this trip, dont do it online! ( use Amsnag and Amtrak.com to get Fares,Availability,Train #s etc so you're ready to book when you get a live agent.
     
  21. Nov 22, 2019 at 3:59 AM #21

    Lonestar648

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    Do your homework before you call, that way if you by chance get an inexperienced agent, you will know it. Make sure you are getting what you want. Remember that 421 is only three days a week but 21 is every day.
     
  22. Nov 22, 2019 at 3:44 PM #22

    saxman

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    Also if you book 21 to San Antonio you’ll have to get off and wait in the station until they board for the departure of 1 and 421.
     
  23. Nov 22, 2019 at 6:56 PM #23

    Devil's Advocate

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    I think this restriction only applies to coach passengers. If you're in sleeper class they seem to let you board anytime after the arrival rush.
     

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