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Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by AmtrakLKL, Jan 17, 2018.
Can the Great Dome be far behind?
Just jumped on and booked one of the last runs. Ughhh.... with only 3 weeks notice and my employer requiring 4 weeks notice for vacation... we'll only be able to fly out and back to ride about a 6 hour stretch... but I guess better than nothing and we can be part of history, I guess.
2018 will indeed be the first year since I was a kid (early-to-mid 1980's) I have not done a single overnight on Amtrak. THAT right there should say something. After being Select Plus and Select Executive 2007-2016. I am sure I'm not the only one here... this should be a BIG red flag that customers who enjoy train travel aren't happy with decisions made in the past 2 or 3 years... but, hey... I doubt anyone at Amtrak cares and maybe they feel someone else who doesn't care about good food or extras like the dome car or PPC's matter will fill my seat anyway... oh well. If Amtrak doesn't want my $$, then I know Southwest AIrlines does... we will just be doing more and more trips to areas of the country we haven't seen because Amtrak doesn't go there. And yes, we would spend several thousand dollars per year to ride the Coast Starlight 2-3x a year despite living on the opposite end of the country for these cars.
I am not surprised the PPC are being retired, my last two trips the car was malfunctioning. I do think a replacement with similar services for the three Sleeping Cars is needed. Amtrak also needs a second SSL car on the CZ during the summer.
Omg that picture was hilarious
I wish you the best of luck in getting a PPC! I rode #14 that originated in Los Angeles last Thursday (Jan.11). Not only was there no PPC, but there was a Diner-Lounge in place of the SSL as well. I saw a PPC on the #14 that originated in Los Angeles on Monday
Well... we have a friend who will be getting on the train we plan to ride in LAX --- so he can alert us if it's not on... and we're flying Southwest into Portland the next day so we can cancel and get air credit -- so it will be okay. But the internal memo I saw this morning specifically listed the 6 remaining departures of #14 that will have them on. Of course that's not to say it's not on because realistically it can get bad-ordered. Hopefully though if it's the last run they will be able to do it.
It's a diner that has been converted to a lounge car, with a food service counter in the middle and tables on either side.
Is it the Diner Car I rode on the Capitol Limited a few years ago (CC or CCC, something like that)?
Yep, the Cross Country Cafe that is the usual Diner on the CONO and the Texas Eagle.
They suck as Lounge Cars!
RPA is now confirming the rumors.
I figured they were not just rumors when I saw a copy of a memo this morning with official Amtrak letter head and signed by an employee who would have the authority to announce such a decision. We are riding on #14(02) Salem to Seattle. Just heartbroken... but... again... no reason now really to come out and ride the Coast Starlight like we have made a point to do 2-3x per year for the past decade or so. Time to explore other areas of the country that Amtrak doesn't go to... is how I look at it. I just wish they didn't pull the B.S. of only giving people 3 weeks notice about this happening. Airfare to come out to the west coast and enjoy one last trip was not cheap that close in!
They suck as diner cars!!!
There are some recent postings over on trainorders that say it is all a hoax, and that all PPcs will return to service on the CS sometime in late March.
But then again, the Saints were certain they’d won the Divisional Playoff...
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If it's a hoax.... it's one hell of a hoax. The notice I saw was uploaded on the internal Amtrak website accessed by station agents... memo signed by an Amtrak official who would have the title to announce such decisions. That's not saying it isn't a hoax I guess... because anything can be a hoax these days, I guess... but THREE station agents who know me well and know I enjoy the PPC screen-shotted the memo to me all independently when it popped up this morning. If it's a hoax then someone got into the internal website. Guess I'll keep my reservations on the last northbound run for now... I am sure all space is going to be booked on the last few runs I'd imagine.
This is really kind of a bizarre statement. I don't understand how an ancient glorified sightseer lounge car makes or breaks a trip for you. Its not even a dome. Im pretty sure there aren't many people who will stop riding the train because of the retiring of these elderly cars. They're cool, but really not much more than a better sightseer lounge.
I rode around the same time, maybe my car was an anomaly. It had empty boxes on the floor and obviously wasn't being used. But maybe if someone asked the lounge attendant they would have popped in a movie.
The reality is they are old cars and Amtrak has enough other things to worry about besides rehabilitating this equipment. If there were more resources then it would be great to keep them rolling.
Wasn't the annual removal of these cars a soft launch to retire them completely?
Honestly, what Amtrak really needs to spend money on is refreshing the Superliners. They really are getting worn out, especially bathrooms. But that's another thread.
Amtrak accountants and maintenance managers have been trying to kill off the PPC for several years now. The only reason the PPC fleet lasted this long was because of sleeper customer feedback informing Amtrak that the PPC was considered an important part of the Coast Starlight experience. That's what I was told by an Amtrak customer service manager who was riding the CS during one of my trips. It's not hard to imagine that keeping a small and mechanically unique fleet of cars in service has long since exceeded their ability to bring in additional revenue, but that doesn't mean they aren't popular with most passengers or that they're not a big draw to people who love trains but live far away from the one and only route that retained them. When they're gone it's not the end of the world, but for those of us who live far away it will be one less reason to spend the time and money necessary to reach and ride the CS.
If there's a renewed focus on refurbishing the Superliner fleet, especially the bathrooms, then I would feel better about losing this battle. But my fear is that we're going to see continued penny pinching to improve cash flow up to the point that folks won't be willing to spend the extra bucks on the train and particularly sleepers for a much reduced product. I doubt anything will happen in the next three years, but hopefully the next administration will be willing to open the purse for replacement of much of Amtrak's fleet as it's getting progressively more and more ragged as time marches on. There's limits to the miracles that Beach Grove can turn out.
And, yet, still no "written" document to confirm these rumors. And "I personally saw the memo" doesn't fly with me. Nor does "RPA just confirmed it."
Just the same I will not miss the PPC but it would be nice to have a dedicated Sightseer Lounge for sleeping car passengers.
The PPCs are special for me and I suspect many others for several reasons... First its just really nice having an exclusive lounge car and dining area just for sleeping car passengers. Let's face it... If I dropped $1300 for one night in a bedroom and the car isn't turned the right way to see the ocean from my room... What are my options without the PPC? Pretty much fighting for a seat in the regular lounge car? The Sightseer Lounges are increasingly dirty with food crumbs all over the floor and people who haven't showered in days lingering around or people sitting at tables playing cards games where they slap the table. No respect or restraint. The PPC was just more quiet usually and more elegant and more comfortable. Something you expect for shelling out over $1000. Now you get to compete for an ocean side seat with someone who paid $19 for a coach ticket on the Starlight. Yeah go have fun with that... I will not partake. As I said it was as close to the private railcar experience on a public train route. We purposely rode that route for that car numerous times. And yes some of the ambiance was the history of a vintage railcar. I probably would have been okay with this decision if a replacement first class car was used instead. That isn't happening here. And guess what... I doubt fares will go down any after February 5. What is funny is VIA is making a killing off their high-end sleeper service where you have an exclusive lounge for most of the day. They can't convert sleepers fast enough to the Prestiege Class. Maybe it's something Amtrak should consider. I know Amtrak and VIA attract different clientle but maybe a route or two like the Starlight or Zephyr might be really well to consider a Prestiege option.
Clipped for saving pixels.
Interesting comments. And good points throughout.
I understand, and agree, with all your points. But...I have to ask the question: Is Amtrak a transportation company, or a cruise company? If the answer is the former, there's really no need for the PPC (as much as I enjoyed it a few years ago). If the answer is the latter, then...well, there you go.
I have no idea if eliminating the PPC will cost ridership, but I'd guess it won't (see "transportation company"), and, in a few years, most riders won't know the difference.
I'm not agreeing with the decision, at all. Just trying to understand the financial decisions behind it. Face it, it's always about the Benjamins, isn't it? As much as I'd like to have a "premium experience" for my hard-earned bucks, that's not Amtrak's vision. After all, riders on the EB, CZ, CS don't complain about the lack of a similar "premium experience,"
A friend of mine works for Amtrak (operations) and he has confirmed this change, as well. "Money loser". Surprise surprise...
Amtrak is a transportation company, but much of their clientele use it somewhat like a cruise service. This is especially the case on scenic routes such as the CZ, EB, and yes, the Starlight. People choose to take the train over flying (if flying is an option) for the experience. Sleeper passengers pay plenty, so providing some cruise-esque amenities do support that customer-base.
I would argue why couldn't it be both? As in be part transportation (coach)... Something in the middle (sleeper)... and part cruise (maybe Prestiege sleeper)? Offer travelers even more varying level of classes and services as long as people are willing to pay for them. Airlines do that... First class, comfort class, main cabin and now the super economy service where you get no overhead bin space. Why can't Amtrak make sleeper class a little nicer with first class lounge cars if people are willing to pay more? Maybe some of those premium fares can go to off setting losses of coach or economy class even?
I would think a sleeping car makes as much if not more than a coach car in terms of revenue. Let's say you have a packed train and almost every seat or accommodation is sold. Let's say 60 people in coach x an average fare of $150. That is $9000. For a sleeper you have 14 roomettes at $400 each and 7 bedrooms at $900 each. That's $11900. Toss in a first class lounge and I bet people are willing to pay for it.
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