On tonight's Hoosier State...

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by tommylicious, Feb 7, 2017.

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  1. Feb 7, 2017 #1

    tommylicious

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    tommylicious

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    Outstanding OBS by Jack....will be missed! Ride this train while you still can before it turns into Horizon or Amfleet microwave gas station food!

    IMG_20170206_173038.jpg
     
  2. Feb 7, 2017 #2

    jphjaxfl

    jphjaxfl

    jphjaxfl

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    Yes, and Iowa Pacific, the current T&E operator of The Hoosier State is having financial problems and can't fund salaries! I would rather have a train with coaches, business class seating and limited food service compared to a high cost service that is completely discontinued. I can always eat in a nice restaurant in Chicago or Indianapolis.
     
  3. Feb 7, 2017 #3

    tommylicious

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    tommylicious

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    The train was doomed from the start due to the schedule forced upon it by the Cardinal's terrible schedule. Who wants to arrive at midnight and depart at 6am?? I would take Iowa Pacific over dreary, surly Amtrak any time it's available. It's the difference between a barely utilitarian transfer on Amtrak and a real journey such as this. Cooked to order, really good food and beverage too with great service.
     
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  4. Feb 7, 2017 #4

    jphjaxfl

    jphjaxfl

    jphjaxfl

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    The schedule problem is due to the marginal rail line that the Cardinal and Hoosier State use. Amtrak and in pre-Amtrak days, the James Whitcomb Riley traveled on the Illinois Central from Chicago to Kankakee and the New York Central's Big Four route from Kankakee via Layette to Indianapolis. It was the best direct route from Chicago to Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Unfortunately Conrail abandoned most of this route. The state of Indiana should have bought this route and saved it for a high speed line. I traveled frequently on the pre-Amtrak James Whitcomb Riley in the late 1960s early 1970s. This was coaches only with a snack bar, but left Indianapolis around 10 AM ET and reached Chicago by 1PM. When Amtrak started, they combined the train with the George Washington east of Cincinnati so the train had sleeping cars as well as full diner lounge. I ate dinner several times departing Chicago around 5:00PM and arriving Indianapolis around 8:30PM. Unfortunately, the full Dining Car with fresh cooked food that was available in the early 1970s is not cost effective in the 21st century unless passengers are willing to pay a significantly higher fare (ie Acela Express First Class which is not freshly cooked). All the first class type rail service that has been tried in the US has failed due to financial concerns. The kind of service Iowa Pacific offered is not coming back!
     
  5. Feb 7, 2017 #5

    Palmetto

    Palmetto

    Palmetto

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    The schedule problem is due to the one-a-day scenario. As pointed out many times here and elsewhere, this is a corridor that would do much better with multiple departures. Illinois learned that a few years ago. Indiana could care less about passenger rail service, it seems.
     
  6. Feb 7, 2017 #6

    Triley

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    Triley

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    I think you're mistaken about the terms. T&E means Train & Engine Service, ie. engineers, conductors, and assistant conductors. OBS means Onboard Service, such as Lead Service Attendant/Cafe Attendant (abbreviated as LSA), Service Attendant (diner waiters), Chef, Food Specialist, Coach Attendant, or Sleeper Attendant.

    That being clarified, even though the Hoosier State used Iowa Pacific equipment, the T&E crew is provided by Amtrak, and is having no trouble paying wages. OBS and all related supplies however are provided by Iowa Pacific. No clue on if wages aren't being paid. If that's the case, I doubt the attendants would still be showing up for work.
     
  7. Feb 7, 2017 #7

    Triley

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    Triley

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    As I've mentioned everywhere, I'm sure part of the reason is because they want (or maybe need) to match the scheduling of the Cardinal to make it one consistent schedule for passengers to remember (and for the freight companys to schedule a passenger train through their territory).

    Adjusting the schedule to provide better times at Indianapolis would provide ridiculous times at many other cities, and as we all should know by now, at some point there are going to be towns or cities that are going to be screwed on any long distance route.

    More than one departure per day would help in the long run, but with the fares they were able to get for business class, they were doomed from the start. Sucks because it seems like a wonderful service and all, but welcome to the real world IP.
     
  8. Feb 7, 2017 #8

    jis

    jis

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    The only way Hoosier State will ever get more reasonable timings is when it becomes a train separate from the Cardinal.
     
  9. Feb 7, 2017 #9

    west point

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    west point

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    If CSX will continue upgrading the route and the multi RR travails in CHI are fixed then the schedule might get 1 hour + removed from enroute schedule. Consistent arrivals at each station ahead of schedule the past months certainly indicates maybe 1/2 hour could be taken from off the schedule now.

    Maybe Amtrak could work out an agreement with CSX that the present schedule would count as on time but a speeded up schedule would be the actual schedule in ETTs and public schedules ? That could apply to Cardinal as well getting into CHI earlier and arriving IND earlier with remainder of schedule the same.

    As far as CHI goes it's above this poster's pay grade.
     
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  10. Feb 7, 2017 #10

    CoachSlumber

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    CoachSlumber

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    He worked a New Orleans trip I took. I think he told me he once ran food and beverage at Hawthorne Race Track by Chicago. (Possibly the defunct Sportsman's, but I think he said Hawthorne)
     
  11. Feb 7, 2017 #11

    Gulfwind2

    Gulfwind2

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    I know Jack personally and I can attest to his brilliant work ethic and wealth of experience. I think he will have no shortage of choices for his future employment- but regrettably the flaws with how IPH's passenger traffic department was managed may have given him a bad taste for railroad employment.
     
  12. Feb 7, 2017 #12

    rtabern

    rtabern

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    Say hello to Jack for us!! He worked a private car trip that we narrated on last October between Chicago and St. Paul. The #8 coming home was about 8 hours late and he was so funny and kept everyone is good spirits. What's his line?? "Hey... it isssss.... what it is!" We will be on the Hoosier State one more time doing our narration before the end of IP... on Feb.26th... hope we can run into him again. He is great and will be missed. If he needs any references... have him drop us a line... railrangers@rtabern.com
     
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  13. Feb 8, 2017 #13

    Anderson

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    Anderson

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    There was a back-and-forth on an email list over this, but to make a long story short I concur with the sentiment that the present operational situation was unworkable in certain respects: The runtime was overly long, the times at IND stank, the train was not a daily operation, etc.

    With that said, there were also apparently issues with the contract between Amtrak, IP, and the state. I don't think Mr. Ellis wanting a guarantee of, I believe, $150k/month in revenue (between ticket sales and state support) was unreasonable...that would come to $1.8m/yr (or the equivalent of about $3.2m/yr for a daily train), which would still be far less than Amtrak had been sandbagging the train's results to and well under the operating cost for, say, the Lynchburger's WAS-LYH segment (expenses of $8.3m indicated for FY16), WAS-NFK (expenses of $8.7m indicated), or the WAS-NPN operation (expenses of $17.7m indicated for two trains/day, or $8.85m/train...which is slightly inflated because of the third Friday train). I've picked those three since they cover about a four-hour train run with either one or two frequencies.

    By the way, according to the September 2016 MPR the Hoosier State's expenses dropped $2m year-over-year between 2015 and 2016, though God only knows what the actual cause of that was.
     
  14. Feb 8, 2017 #14

    PVD

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    If the situation was unworkable (it may well have been) than they should not have signed the deal. It only leaves a few alternatives: 1. they are incompetent business people 2. they thought the state would relent and give them more money or 3.they thought taking a loser would be a loss leader to others investing or getting much more additional work...
     
  15. Feb 8, 2017 #15

    Anderson

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    Actually, depending on how much of this was influenced by incentive payments going out the door to the host railroads, it's possible that IP straightening out the train's OTP bit them.
     
  16. Feb 8, 2017 #16

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    All of my contacts in the industry including myself believe this opinion.
     
  17. Feb 8, 2017 #17

    jis

    jis

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    What exactly did IP do to straighten out OTP? Another railfan myth perhaps? How does an outfit that has no role in the operation of a train improve OTP?
     
  18. Feb 8, 2017 #18

    Triley

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    Triley

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    Right, it was Amtrak who handled OTP payments.
     
  19. Feb 9, 2017 #19

    seat38a

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    seat38a

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    Yes we get it! Amtrak sucks and IP is better. But like those funny mortgages where the math didn't add up, neither did the math for this service and now the "bubble burst!"
     
  20. Feb 9, 2017 #20

    west point

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    west point

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    This on time payments situation really has some interesting nuances.

    Here we have the unusual situation of a route improvement that is resulting in consistent early arrivals into CHI. Arrivals the other direction have not been examined. It appears that the Hoosier has had to wait at almost every stop for schedule on the CSX portion ? As well the westbound Cardinal has been able to make up some lost time after arriving westbound into IND.

    The Hoosier has consistently made CHI Union Station 30 minutes early and sometimes even 35+ early even traveling thru the CHI multi RR Quagmire.

    So here we have a situation that Amtrak may want the enroute schedule reduced. How does that affect CSX ?

    Here is a section of a route that has had a significant improvement in speeds. Does Amtrak insist on a schedule reduction that would penalize CSX when occasionally some trains might not meet the new schedule times reducing CSX performance bonus payments ? A Hobson's choice not only for CSX on this route but nationwide for all the contract RRs.
     
  21. Feb 9, 2017 #21

    jis

    jis

    jis

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    Ideally one would want to agree on a schedule where the train would be mostly on time, and occasionally late. It should not be mostly ahead of schedule.

    One odd thing that I have noticed about Amtrak schedules is that for stations at which only a departure is specified in the public timetable, trains seem to arrive just about at the departure time or a little later at the intermediate stops, and at some major stops there appears to be a much better leeway.

    In my experience, typically in Europe and Asia, trains tend to arrive with a minute or two to spare at each intermediate stop before their scheduled departure time, when they are running on time. I wonder why that is the case. Haven't been able to quite figure out why trains tend to not arrive a minute or two before the scheduled departure at most intermediate stops.
     
  22. Feb 9, 2017 #22

    PRR 60

    PRR 60

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    Mechanicals can influence on-time percentage, and would have been within the influence of IPH.
     
  23. Feb 10, 2017 #23

    jis

    jis

    jis

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    True. But that in general was one of IP's weak areas.
     
  24. Feb 10, 2017 #24

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    In all areas IPH has been horrible at mechanical. Especially on the PV fleet.
     

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