Pacific Parlour Car Permanently Retired February 2018

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by AmtrakLKL, Jan 17, 2018.

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  1. Jan 18, 2018 #51

    jis

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    Poppycock! A vast majority of Amtrak customers do not use it as a cruise service at all, but as basic transportation.
     
  2. Jan 18, 2018 #52

    jebr

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    I wouldn't be surprised if there's no public memo and the service just quietly falls away. Amtrak wouldn't want to advertise outright removing an amenity, after all.

    Based on the numerous sources reporting it, I'd encourage anyone who wants to experience the PPC to do so sometime during these next, probably last, six runs. They may decide to keep the lounge amenity with a CCC, but it almost certainly won't be with the current PPC fleet.
     
  3. Jan 18, 2018 #53

    cpotisch

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    I meant that on certain flagship scenic routes, a not-super-insignificant portion of the passengers do it for the experience. I recognize that's a tiny portion of overall ridership.
     
  4. Jan 18, 2018 #54

    jebr

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    I generally agree, though I think most people in sleeper class accommodations are taking the train for more than just basic transportation. However, that's a pretty small portion of their customer base, even if it is one of the higher-revenue segments of their customer base. And almost everyone is traveling the train either primarily or in part because they want to get somewhere; anyone who is making the train trip their destination or the main part of their vacation is well outside the norm for Amtrak's customer base, likely even within the sleeper segment. Most people are taking the train to get to a destination with the destination being the motivation for the trip and the train either simply being a conveyance to get there or, perhaps more common on long distance trains, a choice made between competing modes because it is slower, more relaxing, etc.

    If Amtrak simply replaces the PPC with a first class lounge car (probably a CCC,) I doubt most people will really care, at least enough for business to truly suffer. While the PPC has some charm, it's aging, and most people simply want a place to relax and perhaps have a special meal that isn't available in the general diner car. Amtrak may suffer some, at least short-term, if they completely drop a sleeper lounge on this train, but considering how many other trains run without a sleeper-only lounge I doubt it'd cause major long-term damage to the finances.
     
  5. Jan 18, 2018 #55

    CCC1007

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    Please check the numbers on the Empire Builder again, as the train averages ~700 passengers per run utilizing a consist that has a capacity of ~400 passengers. This indicates that most seats are turning over at least once, especially since there is a capacity of only 132 sleeper passengers at a time, versus ~280 seats in coach.
     
  6. Jan 18, 2018 #56

    Devil's Advocate

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    I think the PPC was overhyped by some and underappreciated by others. Although it's not a make or break amenity for me It certainly affects how much I'm willing to pay for the ride. I personally found the old world style of the PPC to be much more inviting and conducive to socializing than the fast food style vinyl and fiberglass SSL that plies most long distance routes. The loss of folks like me is unlikely to have much impact on the Coast Starlight's financials, but the lack of unique features and premium services may spell trouble for the CS if and when CA's HSR line grows long enough to be relevant.

    I've actually read hundreds of remarks about service reductions on the EB and CS over the years. Once upon a time they were considered the cream of the Amtrak crop. In fact they were even given special recognition by Amtrak for their premium status over other routes. I never saw or heard anything about the existence of anything fancy or premium on CZ though. In any case, if it's really about the Benjamins then Amtrak should consider shelving the Superliner fleet as well. If Amtrak really wants to be profitable they should probably consider dropping anything that strays beyond their home trackage. I wonder how all the indifferent "who cares" posters in this thread would feel about that.
     
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  7. Jan 18, 2018 #57

    Seaboard92

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    I find it funny Canadians are majorly griping about the prestige class, and the addition to them getting private park car access almost the entire day. Yet people here seem to think it's a great thing.

    I'm going to take a NARP/RPA viewpoint for once and say trains are for modern transportation not to be seen as vintage or as a cruise. That's what's going to be the Canadian's downfall it's slipped from intercity passenger travel to foreign tourists taking a land cruise.

    So no I don't think the PPC is going to have any effect on the numbers on the route. In fact the removal of such might help because LAX is capacity constrained allowing it to maybe add a car. When I rode the Starlight this November we were sold out in the sleepers and coaches the entire way PDX to LAX. And we had four sleepers, and four coaches.

    And the same riff raff gets into the PPC too. I watched some foreign tourists let their child sit on the table. Then change its diaper on the table in the lounge. So no real difference there.

    I'm glad I've ridden the PPC, and I'll personally miss it in the future. But it's not a deal breaker for me.
     
  8. Jan 18, 2018 #58

    Maverickstation

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    A popular feature of the PPC was its specialized meal offerings. With the end of the PPC I assume that this feature is gone as well ??

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  9. Jan 18, 2018 #59

    OBS

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    Two different Amtrak employees have posted in this thread confirming the change. I think you can believe it is accurate.....
     
  10. Jan 18, 2018 #60

    rrdude

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    It is an ABSOLUTE DEAL BREAKER FOR ME. The CS, without it, just another middling Amtrak train, albeit with GREAT VIEWS.
     
  11. Jan 18, 2018 #61

    PRR 60

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    An official notice has been posted internally at Amtrak - dated January 16. A screenshot can be viewed at Trainorders.
     
  12. Jan 18, 2018 #62

    Green Maned Lion

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    Amtrak is not just for transportation; it is also used by people who want to make the trip from A to B a bit more interesting, and by those who simply ride trains for the fun of it. And for those who say they will stop riding the trains just because a car was removed, Im sure some will and some wont.

    I saw the PPC in two different lights. The historian in me who owns a more than 100 year old house and collects antiques liked the car- it added a bit of fake splendor to the CS. But not really historic value- the PPC was never so woody and Victorian when it ran on Santa Fe- at that point in time, such a thing would have been seen as clap trap. It had nice features.... that Amtrak could easily build into any Superliner if they so chose. The retirement of these cars suggests, but does NOT assure, that this level of splendor is going away; but Amtrak can install the retro mod wood and velour swivel seats into another car just as easily.

    As a person who spent some years selling safety, and who at one time was interested in becoming a lawyer, I saw these cars as dangerous- their different floor height was a law suit wating to happen in todays litigious society. Beyond that, looking past the veneers of wood and luxury on what was originally an economy class lounge, I saw a car that was in poor shape, expensive to maintain, and held together with duct tape and bailing wire. And that was 3 years ago. I will miss them, but for reasons other than additional cost to the CS Route, I understand their long overdue retirement.

    As a transit advocate, I saw these cars as an easy target for cut hawks. They certainly improved revenue and ridership for the CS, but also certainly did not improve return on investment (that is, the cost of operation exceeded the increase in revenue). We can explain the need for dining service, and the value of a sightseer lounge, and possibly, if it is above the rails profitable (by any combination of factors), a first class lounge. It is impossible to explain the operation of a dangerous, one off, expensive to maintain, and unprofitable antique as anything other than Amtrak engaging in historic preservation for its own sake.

    I will miss them. Im glad I rode in them. But this was inevitable. My only real objection is the short notice... and I would like to know the reason for it.
     
  13. Jan 18, 2018 #63

    Chey

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    All my life I have loved railroads. I take the CS every other summer from LAX to SJC where I have family. I have been in the PPC twice and liked it but it was never the focus of taking the CS, getting to SJC was.

    Most of my travel is on the Eagle, Southwest Chief, Cardinal and Capitol Ltd. none of which have a parlor car. Outside of this forum I have never heard any passenger extol the glories of the PPC, I'm guessing most passengers feel pretty much as I do. I love the rock & roll of the train, I love watching America go by my window. I understand why many are sad at the loss of the PPC - I agree it *is* sad. But it's not even close to a deal breaker for me.
     
  14. Jan 18, 2018 #64

    rtabern

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    Exactly! Thank you! Atleast for us... it IS a deal breaker for the 2-3x a year special trips we made to ride the Coast Starlight. I can get the same generic/sterile Amtrak Superliner "experience" I will be getting on the Coast Starlight now riding the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Galesburg, La Plata, or Kansas City. Why am I going to spend the extra bucks and time off work to fly out 4,000 miles round-trip to the west coast to ride the Coast Starlight without a special car on?

    My feeling for the past couple of years has been unfortunately ---- I have done the western long distance routes soooooo many times that I almost have the routes memorized and it's really "getting old". Doing a 14-day loop trip was fun maybe 10 years ago when each train had a different menu and there were special cars like the PPC to ride in and look forward to. When we have done extended trips recently we have plotted out pizza joints and locations where friends are willing to deliver food to the train because the dining options get old after multiple days. Going east -- egh -- with maybe the exception of the Cardinal -- the scenery on any LD route isn't worth taking 2 vacation days off of work to ride and see when you can fly and do it in just 2 hours. Especially when you only get 3 weeks vacation time.

    That, coupled with our Southwest Airlines Companion Pass we have got the past 3 years, means minimal rail travel. And, right now, we are personally okay with that for now. Maybe we'll shift back to traveling Amtrak more... I don't know. Right now... I am just kinda "blah" about Amtrak. I think some of that also comes from the fact we do volunteer narration on private railcars ---- and kinda have fallen in love with that too ---- call us "train snobs" I guess! Hahaha.
     
  15. Jan 18, 2018 #65

    crescent-zephyr

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    GML made all excellent points in his post and I think maybe hit the nail on the head for me... It's not as much the car is going away... It's the final goodbye for an Amtrak that was trying. Free wine and cheese tastings, the cloth toiletry bags, welcome champaigne, enhanced dining car menu, "real" plates and glassware... when all of this went away on the empire builder, lake shore, capitol, and starlight the PPC car remained for a few years.
     
  16. Jan 18, 2018 #66

    Devil's Advocate

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    Maybe try riding some more foreign trains for a while? Although, truth be told, you'll probably come back even less impressed with Amtrak.
     
  17. Jan 18, 2018 #67

    crescent-zephyr

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    While I do plan on doing that, it's hard to take foreign trains for transportation when I need to travel in the USA... Even when I took the Canadian, I still needed to get from NYC to the west coast... I just took a route that was a bit out of the way ha.
     
  18. Jan 18, 2018 #68

    Triley

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    You may want too keep those comments to yourself, about employees showing you confidential documents... It could cost someone their job.
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  19. Jan 18, 2018 #69

    Larry H.

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    The only time we rode the CS there was no parlor car on the consist, my luck of course. The old railroads realized something Amtrak isn't able somehow to do any longer, that is providing some amenities that attract riders. Like some others the level of the diners service, if you can even call them that any longer, the deteriorated sleepers with almost no perks but higher and higher fares have pretty much removed my interest in rail travel as it now is offered. I haven't even tried to find out how many points I would need for a trip I was thinking of, but my guess is the cost will be rather high compared to the old zone charges. The worst part still is the fact that when your located in the center of the nation but well below Chicago you still have to pay to ride way out of your way in order to get to Florida. The idea of the City of New Orleans running though cars from Chicago would be a huge help in saving money and time for passengers, but I doubt that will ever happen as well. When you check out some of the luxury trains run by the Japanese or other nations you start to realize how far we have fallen from where passenger rail should be.
     
  20. Jan 18, 2018 #70

    Mystic River Dragon

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    I have mixed feelings about this. I am glad I got to ride in the PPC, but I wouldn't make a special trip all the way across the country to do it again. I found it charming, and a nice piece of history, but I also thought it was a bit dangerous going to/from the regular cars and having to step up/down into the PPC. I hope the cars go where they will be appreciated--perhaps one to the rail museum in Sacramento, for example.
     
  21. Jan 18, 2018 #71

    OBS

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    Unfortunately, I think this sums it up all too well.....
     
  22. Jan 18, 2018 #72

    Devil's Advocate

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    These days for most of my US trips I drive or fly. Amtrak timekeeping is not dependable enough for most of my trips and in many ways has become little more than a nostalgic (and expensive) joyride at this point. I live fifteen minutes away from an airport with nonstop flights to every major hub, two hours away from an airport with nonstop flights to every major metro, and three hours away from an airport that has nonstop flights to virtually every commercial airport of statistical relevance. So maybe it's time to complete your journey to the dark side. It's faster and easier and sometimes they even serve cookies! But on more serious note, once you're done mourning the loss of the PPC you might want to consider making time and money available for a few joyrides in other countries. Foreign HSR is here to stay and growing rapidly, but foreign sleeper trains are disappearing quickly and will soon be relegated to the history books.

    Agreed. It's not just Amtrak either. Every time I connect between a US airline and a legacy Asian carrier I'm reminded of the stark contrasts in pride of the position, enthusiasm for the mission, and proficiency in their tasks.
     
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  23. Jan 18, 2018 #73

    cpotisch

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    You're dead on. I never got to ride the PPC, but I remember the dining experience before Amtrak first implemented SDS, and since then it just hasn't been the same. Some people will say that glassware, champagne, and ceramic plates are minor, unnecessary details, but those details add up to make a big difference in the experience. The PPC was Amtrak's last offering with that experience, and that will be missed.

    As has been mentioned, there is the possibility for Amtrak to turn an SSL into a sort of 'PPC II'. Put in the Hi-Level's sofas/booths, movie theater, glass, dining. But given Amtrak's recent priorities, I don't see that is very likely.

    All we can do now is keep our fingers crossed.
     
  24. Jan 18, 2018 #74

    SP&S

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    We take the CS, at least, every year. Will I miss the PPC? Absolutely! Will it's elimination drive me away from Amtrak? Absolutely not! In fact last year we rode in February and will be riding again in February - when the PPC wouldn't be in the consist anyway. I've said for years that it was a treasure to be enjoyed while it lasted because it wouldn't be around forever.

    GML's post is spot on. It's expensive to maintain, generates little revenue on it's own, has a dangerous transition to the other cars, and is the lowest of low hanging fruit for Amtrak haters in congress.

    Good bye old friend, you will be missed. Missed like the UP dome diners, missed like my namesake railroad, missed like the flowers in the dining car. But I'm a realist and, having written software for most of my adult life, I know full well that the only constant is change - and change is not always bad.

    Still looking forward to the next trip (SNC - PDX) in a month.
     
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  25. Jan 18, 2018 #75

    seat38a

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    Well it looks like riding CS Southbound on December 29th 2017 was a good decision I made. The dining car was a mess and turned away sleeping car passengers for lunch. Not having the PPC should make the dining car during busy times even more interesting.
     

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