Amtrak launching nonstop NYC-DC Acela

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by frequentflyer, Jul 25, 2019.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Jul 25, 2019 #1

    frequentflyer

    f

    frequentflyer

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    681
  2. Jul 25, 2019 #2

    NSC1109

    N

    NSC1109

    Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2016
    Messages:
    237
    Location:
    MI
  3. Jul 25, 2019 #3

    John Bobinyec

    John Bobinyec

    John Bobinyec

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,699
    Location:
    CYN
    It's just amazing at how much you can cut the running time down - if you don't stop anywhere.

    jb
     
    Cho Cho Charlie likes this.
  4. Jul 25, 2019 #4

    jis

    jis

    jis

    Conductor AU Lifetime Supporter Gathering Team Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Messages:
    25,065
    Location:
    Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
    IIRC not meeting expected ridership and revenue targets.
     
    NSC1109 likes this.
  5. Jul 25, 2019 #5

    AutoTrDvr

    A

    AutoTrDvr

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    623
    And on what tracks? Because I'm not sure they have any that could be dedicated to this route and not be compromised by freight lines and/or commuter rails....
     
  6. Jul 25, 2019 #6

    jis

    jis

    jis

    Conductor AU Lifetime Supporter Gathering Team Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Messages:
    25,065
    Location:
    Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
    On the NEC of course where such a schedule is actually quite feasible. Very little freight during daytime and well, we know how badly Amtrak screws commuter train if they get in the way of Acelas, even the stopping ones.

    Besides why would you dedicate an entire route for a single round trip per day?
     
    NSC1109 likes this.
  7. Jul 25, 2019 #7

    bretton88

    b

    bretton88

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,049
    I suspect this service will be more successful than the previous metroliner express. Business patterns have changed, and the Acela product is a better product. This will make the Acela the fastest trip on the NYC to DC corridor too.
     
    districtRich likes this.
  8. Jul 25, 2019 #8

    Ryan

    Ryan

    Ryan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Messages:
    16,890
    Location:
    OTN
    A whole 15 minutes? (curiously the article claims more, but the Acela currently can do the trip in 2h50, and this run comes in at 2h35)

    I'll boldly predict that this goes the same way that it did last time and that the train will return to making stops within a year.
     
    Bob Dylan likes this.
  9. Jul 25, 2019 #9

    chrsjrcj

    c

    chrsjrcj

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    785
    Location:
    West Palm Beach, FL
  10. Jul 25, 2019 #10

    jebr

    jebr

    jebr

    Conductor Staff Member Administator Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2012
    Messages:
    3,687
    Location:
    "The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
    Looking at the nearest Acela trains on the schedule, it's saving about 20 minutes (it's timetabled at 2hr 37min, and the ones immediately before/after are 2hr 56min and 2hr 59min.) There's probably shorter ones out there, but it seems fairer to compare it to the nearest timed alternatives.

    That said, does the extra 20 minutes shave off enough to be fully time-competitive against the air shuttles? Right now, with traffic, from the Capitol to DCA is 12 minutes, and to Union Station is 6 minutes. LGA to Wall Street is 46 minutes, whereas Penn Station to Wall Street is 27 minutes (although only 17 minutes by subway.) Padding a bit for traffic, that's 45 minutes extra for travel (round-trip.) Assuming an extra 45 minutes for security formalities, and a 1:15 timetabled trip, it's already 2 hr 45 minutes for the air shuttle plus added travel time to/from the airport.

    Perhaps being able to be just under instead of just over that will win people over, but it has to be enough and at the right time to win those passengers over. There might be enough latent demand that the frequency would fill up regardless, but I don't think the extra 20 minutes would be enough of a consideration to fill up a train on its own (the variability in travel time to/from the final destination would eat that up, I'd think.) That said, maybe this was one of the only ways to add the frequency at that timeslot (especially southbound you'd be hitting rush hour at many of the intermediate stations) and emphasizing the "nonstop" trip is just a way to make the added frequency look a bit more attractive than just noting that there's another train.
     
    Bob Dylan likes this.
  11. Jul 25, 2019 #11

    PVD

    P

    PVD

    Conductor AU Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2015
    Messages:
    4,220
    Location:
    NYC/Queens
    Will it add enough new riders and at a high enough price point? If it just moves riders from existing trains, it probably won't last.
     
    Bob Dylan likes this.
  12. Jul 25, 2019 #12

    AutoTrDvr

    A

    AutoTrDvr

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    623
    I wouldn't. Not *just* for that service. But I note that in most other HSR systems around the world, what makes them so reliable, among other things, is a dedicated set of tracks, mostly on raised platforms. I know we have very little if any of that in this country, and that the Acela is, mostly, "at grade" and sharing tracks with other services (freight and commuter). So I wondered if an express service NYP --> WAS would work, given the tracks I know they'd have to use, and what might prevent the success of such a service without delays... I guess we'll see if Amtrak has the mojo you say they do to eliminate commuter and other rail services from interfering with that express train.....
     
  13. Jul 25, 2019 #13

    bretton88

    b

    bretton88

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,049
    The points guy did a very unique comparison where they had 4 employees do the NYC to DC run. One on the air shuttle, one on the regional, one on the Acela, and one on the bus, meeting in downtown DC, so a good point to point comparison. The person on the shuttle won, but only by 4 minutes over the Acela. So this non stop definitely would make it faster than the air shuttles.
     
  14. Jul 25, 2019 #14

    Ryan

    Ryan

    Ryan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Messages:
    16,890
    Location:
    OTN
    The precise location of your endpoints makes a huge difference.
     
    daybeers, Ziv and jebr like this.
  15. Jul 25, 2019 #15

    jis

    jis

    jis

    Conductor AU Lifetime Supporter Gathering Team Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Messages:
    25,065
    Location:
    Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
    But NEC is not an HSR system with dedicated tracks. We already know that so what is the point of belaboring the point? These non stop trains do not run any faster than the ones that stop five times on the way in terms of track occupancy and max speed.

    Express service with infrequent stops works without dedicated tracks all over the world. It is not like non stop expresses over classic tracks were unheard of before and since the dedicated HSR lines were built.

    Amtrak did not have any greater difficulty keeping to the 2:37 schedule that they had in the past with one stop in Philly, compared to the marginally slower schedules with multiple stops. They should have no problem doing so now either. The question is not whether they have the ability to stick to a 2:35 schedule (they do). The question is whether there is enough ridership given the limited stops, i.e. whether the 15-20 minutes run time difference is attractive enough for the end to end travelers to balance out the lost ridership on those trains to the intermediate points where they do not stop. In the past they did not. Maybe now they do.
     
  16. Jul 25, 2019 #16

    AutoTrDvr

    A

    AutoTrDvr

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    623
    Fair enough... perhaps, I shouldn't have compared it to HSR... But if all they're doing it for is a 15-20 minute improvement, then why bother at all? I guess you're right... if there is sufficient demand for such an express train between the two end points without stopping...
     
  17. Jul 25, 2019 #17

    Anderson

    A

    Anderson

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Messages:
    9,372
    Location:
    Virginia
    I posted some of this elsewhere, but:
    (1) Origin and destination locations matter. Someone going from Crystal City to Queens is going to be in a different boat than someone going from Midtown Manhattan to K Street. Also, LGA is such a disaster right now that it isn't even funny.
    (2) Vis-a-vis the 2007 experiment, Acela ridership has been blocked up against a corner for the last few years. There is a good case that 1630 will work markedly better than 1555 did (for the WAS departure time). I know it is only half an hour, but being able to leave the office at 1600 vs having to leave half an hour early is probably a big deal for this crowd. Versus their capabilities in 2007, Amtrak can probably also better use dynamic pricing to "nudge" WAS-NYP pax onto the express and keep space available on the other train for intermediate pax.
    (3) This is a test bed as to what to do with the extra trainsets they're getting. In going from 20 sets to 28 sets, Amtrak should be able to add something like four peak-hour round trips in both the morning and the afternoon/evening. A situation where, over the course of two hours, they send out four expresses and two limited expresses seems entirely reasonable.
    (4) Also, I fully expect them to use the nonstop to experiment with universal seat assignment (since there's no need to accommodate intermediate seat turnover).
    (5) Probably the biggest shame is that with dropping PHL, the tracks aren't in the condition needed to be able to "showboat" a 2:29 timetable. If they could manage 2:35 in 2007, with tracks in good condition, dropping PHL, and the improvements that should have happened in New Jersey by now, I suspect that pushing travel time under that 2:30 threshold would be a big deal, even if only psychologically.
     
    daybeers likes this.
  18. Jul 25, 2019 #18

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    8,571
    Location:
    In a Sea of Foam
    I read their trip report. It was actually pretty interesting. :)

    Ryan, in the case of The Points Guys trip... They all started at one place and ended at the same place.

    https://thepointsguy.com/news/racing-from-nyc-to-dc/
     
  19. Jul 25, 2019 #19

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    8,571
    Location:
    In a Sea of Foam
    The plan for the extra Trainsets has been explained as half hourly service during certain hours.

    I don't see Amtrak using these trains as a seat assignment test outside of First Class. Unless they number cars I just don't see it. But anything is possible.
     
  20. Jul 25, 2019 #20

    Anderson

    A

    Anderson

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Messages:
    9,372
    Location:
    Virginia
    I know what's been explained. I'm not going to go so far as to say that Amtrak won't do that, but I'm not convinced that the plans won't end up getting altered.
     
  21. Jul 25, 2019 #21

    west point

    w

    west point

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2015
    Messages:
    1,862
    It will enlighten us to see actual end point arrival times. There of course will be several pinch points that will possibly slow the service. Commuter rail of course is a problem So watch WASH - BAL, B&P tunnel, the draw ridges, getting thru BAL, PHL, & Newark stations.
     
  22. Jul 26, 2019 #22

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    8,571
    Location:
    In a Sea of Foam
    I can agree with that.

    True. As far as Commuter trains getting in the way, CTEC often calls trains on the radio asking if they can clear up so they can get a "high speed by". CTEC treats Acela like gold. Run anything in front of it, it's frowned upon.
     
  23. Jul 26, 2019 #23

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Acela150

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    8,571
    Location:
    In a Sea of Foam
    Just looked at tickets online. Normal Acela service used to show as "Acela Express" it now shows as "Acela" and the Nonstop Acela service shows as "Acela Nonstop". Even on legs north of NYP.
     
  24. Jul 26, 2019 #24

    dlagrua

    dlagrua

    dlagrua

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Messages:
    3,060
    Location:
    Hillsborough, NJ
    Stupid idea. Currently the Acela makes only five or six stops. If we estimate that each stop averages only 3 minutes, the time savings to WAS is minimal and you lose the larger passenger load boarding or heading to PHL, BAL, WIL and BWA. The Acela is already faster than a NYP-WAS flight so advertise it as such and be done with it. I predict the direct service will have disappointing ridership numbers and will be cancelled within a year.
     
    daybeers and neroden like this.
  25. Jul 26, 2019 #25

    Bex

    Bex

    Bex

    Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2014
    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    NEC
    But this is an additional train, correct? So you lose nothing and you make NYP-WAS pax happier while lessening the crowds on the ones that do make all the stops.
     
    daybeers and Ziv like this.

Share This Page



arrow_white