Checked baggage being cut from Boston Section of Lake Shore?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by lordsigma, Dec 1, 2018.

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  1. Dec 16, 2018 #126

    neroden

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    The new baggage cars have a pretty efficient layout, but you'd need a full baggage car for the Thanksgiving load on the LSL, period.  Also for the mid-june load.  Syracuse baggage alone occupies about 1/8 of a baggage car on a peak day.  By contrast, on a non-peak day in January, you probably wouldn't even fill a half-bag.

    I think there's something non-obvious happening.  Off-peak-season travellers take substantially less baggage than peak-season travellers.  So the baggage load is even more peaky than the passenger load.

    This raises an interesting commercial possibility: "checked baggage for the holidays".  That didn't make sense with dedicated baggage employees (who would be doing nothing most of the year), but with trainside baggage handing done by conductors, it actually might make sense.  During the peaks, with the carry-on space crammed full, add a baggage car and offer what airlines used to call "checked carry-ons" or "gate-checked" bags.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2018
  2. Dec 16, 2018 #127

    lordsigma

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    I wish they would consider running it seasonally on the Boston section rather than permanent removal. In off season run a single bag dorm on the New York only. On peak season run the regular bag on New York and bag dorm on Boston. Boston will still have its baggage service via 65/67 so it doesn’t require modifying anything there, Springfield doesn’t have dedicated baggage personnel the regular agents did the baggage, and Worcester and Pittsfield did trackside baggage so operationally it would be no big deal. But seems unlikely. It should be noted that many stations don’t have dedicated baggage personnel, only really the major ones do.
    At manned stations not big enough to warrant checked baggage personnel and red caps, the regular agents that work the counter also do checked baggage, baggage assistance, and helping passengers with wheelchairs, etc.
     
  3. Dec 17, 2018 #128

    Thirdrail7

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    Perhaps this is a long term plan....when the bag dorms enter service. In the meantime, you have two FULL baggage cars on the LSL, meaning you need 6 bags...now.  As I indicated, I can think of better uses for those baggage cars.
     
  4. Dec 17, 2018 #129

    bratkinson

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    Somehow, I don't see 'peak season' baggage cars on 448/449.  Exactly HOW would they make that known to potential passengers?  And, as mentioned above, WHO would be handling the baggage at Springfield?  (I suspect they'll cut at least one position there).  Adding a coach or even a sleeper to a train isn't something a passenger would be aware of (other than railfans noticing an extra coach or sleeper).  Most passengers have no idea whatsoever if there will be 3 coaches or 4 or even 5 on a train.  So why would Amtrak management want to potentially confuse passengers by 'advertising'/publishing/changing the online booking process to show that checked baggage available on certain dates only?

    I think the reason for the end of the BOS baggage car is strictly a numbers game.  All following numbers are 'reasonable guesstimates'  on my part:

    Let's assume the extra fuel needed to haul an empty baggage car is 30 gallons (what's that 1 ton goes how many miles on 1 gallon of fuel?  How heavy is a V2 baggage car?  Do the math for 200 miles BOS-ALB)  Wear and tear, miscellaneous, and general maintenance adds perhaps $10 per trip on said baggage car...inspections...maintenance...cleaning?  Don't forget insurance costs in case it gets damaged in a wreck (I know, Amtrak is self-insured).  30 gals x $3.00/gal = $90 + 10 = $100 x 2 trips per day = $200/day x 365 = $73,000.

    Now throw in the cost of one full time position at SPG whose primary job is baggage handler and that position can be eliminated.  I've seen as many as 3 on-duty Amtrak ticket clerks/baggage handlers at Springfield.  It might have even been 4 every now and then.  Eliminating one position works out to: $50/hr (30/hr + benefits + corporate RRR matching, etc) or about $100,000/year total cost to Amtrak.

    Grand total 'savings' per year: $173,000 per year

    Loss of 1 roomette per trip for sleeper passenger baggage:  $345/trip BOS-CHI (low-bucket fare just checked with Amsnag.  There will be one less low-bucket fare in the BOS sleeper from now on!)   x 2 trips/day x 365 days = $251,850!!!

    Obviously, the loss of revenue is of ZERO concern to Amtrak HQ!!!  All they care about these days is 'savings', and NOT growing the business!!!!

    As has been said in various forums and magazines by various people: "Ride  'em' while you can!!!
     
  5. Dec 17, 2018 #130

    lordsigma

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    From the response I got from the RPA, no job cuts are planned as far as they know this is about equipment, fuel, etc. I am at Springfield often and it’s usually one or two on duty. If you saw 3 or more it may have been near shift change time in the middle of the day.
     
  6. Dec 17, 2018 #131

    Thirdrail7

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    Your numbers leave out a lot of details and are using assumptions that may be incorrect...such as:

    1)We don't know if the sleeper car is only being used from BOS-ALB.  If that is the case, you're not really losing the revenue ALB-CHI and the ridership from BOS-ALB is marginal so you're not likely to use that space anyway.

    2) The cost of keeping three lightly used bags on a train that already has a bag. These cars can be used to generate or stimulate revenue somewhere else in the system, leading to extra revenue..

    3) Costs savings for crew consists (contractual). This is a biggie and I've noticed little subtleties that make it harder to claim these productivity savings. For one train, it may not seem like much, but throughout the system, it is indeed adding up.

    4) In theory, if they bothered to enforce the carry on policy (while stripping you of the ability to check bags), that would also add revenue while cutting expenses.

    5) There is no way that dragging a baggage car  across the roughly 1040 miles between BOS-ALB costs $10 is wear, tear and general maintenance.
     
  7. Dec 17, 2018 #132

    cpotisch

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    How did you conclude that any of these numbers are correct? Sounds like you just pulled a bunch of numbers out of thin air and said “Yeah, that could be right”, and then posted it.
     
  8. Dec 17, 2018 #133

    VTTrain

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    For starters it assumes that the last roomette is sold out on every trip of the year.
     
  9. Dec 17, 2018 #134

    lordsigma

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    One other interesting local development that may be a similar situation - it appears the Vermonter is running with only one engine this winter (normally they run two in the winter)

    I guess they’re getting serious about saving fuel.
     
  10. Dec 17, 2018 #135

    Thirdrail7

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    They haven't routinely operated with two diesels in the winter since the train was rerouted.
     
  11. Dec 17, 2018 #136

    jis

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    Yeah, in the four or so trips I took since after the rerouting, I have never ahd two engines, and this is over several years and one trip in the depth of Winter.
     
  12. Dec 17, 2018 #137

    MARC Rider

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    You are aware that even on trains with full meal service (like nearly all popularly priced restaurants off the rails), most of the food is not "fresh cooked?"
     
  13. Dec 17, 2018 #138

    cpotisch

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    Remind me what the reroute was? I know that the Vermonter at one point ran with a locomotive on each end, and then switched to a cab car, and now just physically turns at each terminus, but what was the actual change to the route? Did the actual route/stations change or was it just an operational change that didn’t affect passenger?
     
  14. Dec 17, 2018 #139

    jis

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    Moving from the route via Palmer MA back to the old Guiford (B&M) Line directly to the north from Springfield.

    The route via Palmer required engine at both ends since there was a reversal of direction of running at Palmer MA.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2018
  15. Dec 17, 2018 #140

    cpotisch

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    Thanks. So sort of like how the Surfliners have to reverse out of LAX when they stop there, because there aren’t any through tracks?
     
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  16. Dec 17, 2018 #141

    jis

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    Well the tracks are pointed in the wrong direction at Palmer, in a manner of speaking. Going towards St. Albans, the Vermonter would pull into Palmer coming in from Springfield traveling East, and then it had to depart West to go north from there. Of course the tracks continue east towards Boston, and also you exit east to go South towards New London.
     
  17. Dec 17, 2018 #142

    lordsigma

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    Good to know didn’t realize.
     
  18. Dec 19, 2018 #143

    VTTrain

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    From a security perspective, I am surprised that Amtrak will allow a customer to transport a bag on a train that is different than the train that the passenger is actually traveling on.  
     
  19. Dec 19, 2018 #144

    PVD

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    A problem with a checked bag on a train is not likely to have the catastrophic effect that it might have on an airplane. With the exception of a bag coach or cabbage, checked bags aren't in a car carrying people enroute. Positive bag matching is only partially used even in the airline industry, it is not absolute. Typically, transferred bags are not matched, so even in a domestic flight scenario  PPBM  would only be for the first leg of a multi leg flight.
     
  20. Dec 19, 2018 #145

    Devil's Advocate

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    The primary issue with checked luggage on Amtrak is that it receives no known scanning whatsoever.  On the other hand, there are easier ways to damage a train and Amtrak's low level of citizen awareness means it's unlikely to generate the sort of fear a terrorist would typically be seeking.  Amtrak has had at least two terrorism related events, one of which is long since forgotten while the other barely even registered in the public consciousness. 
     
  21. Dec 19, 2018 #146

    VTTrain

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    I had that same thought - except that the baggage car is often in a location that is sensitive (e.g. a tunnel) or near people (e.g. while loading at a terminus).

    The difference with PPBM and flying is that one should assume that their bag is on the aircraft that they are flying.  The bags are also screened.  

    I'm not saying that it's the most appealing security target - I'm just saying that I am surprised that they are allowing this policy.
     
  22. Dec 19, 2018 #147

    cocojacoby

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    Kind of have to.  For instance if you are traveling from Boston to Miami on the Silver Service you need to bring your bags to South Station the night before since they need to go overnight on the "Night Owl" since there is no through baggage available.  Not very convenient for most people.
     
  23. Dec 19, 2018 #148

    PVD

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    Considering the 1000s of miles of thinly patrolled track, and the daily accidents at crossings it is much easier to cause a major wreck having greater economic impact without dealing with bags. 2017 saw 2107 RR crossing collisions with 274 fatalities and 804 injuries. (operation lifesaver numbers). A friend, working for Homeland Security (now retired) used to respond to a steady stream of crossing accidents and derailments, even minor "just in case"   Put a tank car with dangerous chemicals on its side, and you can cause a (potential) disaster of immense proportions. 
     
  24. Dec 20, 2018 #149

    neroden

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    When I say "fresh cooked food", it's code for "fried eggs", which were in fact fresh-cooked
     
  25. Dec 21, 2018 #150

    cpotisch

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    It might make sense to just say “fried eggs” then, because I imagine plenty of people here do not automatically know your code words.
     

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