That BIG Silver Star Bargain for not having a Diner:

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by VentureForth, May 9, 2019.

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  1. May 9, 2019 #1

    VentureForth

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    Both rides are during meal times. It could slightly be argued that you're getting a "day use" rate for the Meteor, but still... $7 difference? Puh-leeeeese.

    upload_2019-5-9_8-9-1.png
     
  2. May 9, 2019 #2

    PRR 60

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    Probably fare buckets kicking in. Star roomettes in a higher bucket thus priced closer to the lower-bucket Meteor rooms?
     
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  3. May 9, 2019 #3

    niemi24s

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    Methinks PRR 60 nailed it. As near as I can tell (based on four SS and three SM Roomette buckets, the $201 fare on the Star is for the next-to-highest bucket while the $208 fare for the Meteor Roomette is for the low bucket.

    But hold on to your shorts! If the Silver Star was at high bucket, its Roomette fare for one adult is estimated to be $213 - $6 MORE than the Silver Meteor low bucket!! :eek:
     
  4. May 9, 2019 #4

    Anderson

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    It isn't hard to see a situation where the Star (two sleepers) is more capacity-constrained on a given day than the Meteor (three sleepers). This isn't uncommon up in VA, where the Star's sleepers are cost-competitive with Regional Business Class.
     
  5. May 9, 2019 #5

    jis

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    The Star runs amazingly full in Sleepers these days. It is a strong candidate for getting an additional Sleeper or two IMHO.
     
  6. May 10, 2019 #6

    Seaboard92

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    Well look at the consists of the past as well.
    Silver Star Route remember the Meteor existed here before.

    1958: Silver Meteor 7 sleepers
    1970: Silver Meteor 5 sleepers and a slumber coach.
    1971: Silver Star 4 sleepers.
    1980s: 3 sleepers
    2000s: 2 sleepers

    Historically the route has supported several sleeper lines.
     
  7. May 10, 2019 #7

    SanDiegan

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    Could be there is less of a market for the trains, or Amtrak has driven it away ?
     
  8. May 10, 2019 #8

    Michigan Mom

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    If you're trying to connect in WAS, in my experience, the most important consideration separating the Star from the Meteor is the connect time. The Meteor has a longer layover and, a diner, although this has not lived up to expectations for our Florida trips. Ideally you'd be able to grab a sandwich etc. at WAS before boarding the Star, if the Capitol Ltd. is on time... which often times, it is not, even with the padding. So you think no worries we'll get a meal in the diner. When we tried this last year we got to the diner for our reservation and the staff greeted us with, "No steaks or seafood." Chicken was running low as well. This was due to a tour group. At breakfast, most hot entrees gone as well. I gave our SCA a tip and asked him to try and reserve some burgers for lunch which he did. All in all, if this is typical provisioning, I'd rather take the Star and bring some energy bars, cheese sticks etc. and save some money on the meals.
     
  9. May 10, 2019 #9

    Anderson

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    I saw some videos of trains (either the Star or Meteor) at Orlando in the early 1990s with a lot more than three sleepers. Now, it is worth noting that until the 1990s the Star and Meteor got split at, I believe, Orlando into Miami and Tampa sections...so 2-3 sleepers for each section makes sense. This was also at a time when the Meteor connected to/from the Cap, LSL, and Broadway Limited...

    Which comes to the question of whether Amtrak has "driven away" the market. They sort of have, though arguably not through bad service but through weakening connections and a lack of capacity/high prices.
     
  10. May 10, 2019 #10

    bratkinson

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    The reason for the reduction of numbers of sleepers is the introduction of Viewliners about 1997 or so:

    Heritage sleeper: 10 roomettes + 6 bedrooms = 22 beds x 4 = 88 beds
    Viewliner sleeper: 12 roomettes + 3 bedrooms = 30 beds (includes handicap room) x 3 = 90 beds

    Be reminded, though, that the total number of in-service Viewliner sleepers is the biggest limiting factor to how many sleepers per train. I know there's a railfan 'issue' about how many Viewliner Sleepers are not in use due to keeping spares, routine maintenance, and unrepaired wreck damage. But as the number out of service grows, the number in service must be reduced. Given the dire need for more sleepers, only Amtrak insiders know why Amtrak hasn't sued the daylights out of CAF for being very late in their delivery.
     
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  11. May 10, 2019 #11

    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    It probably also explains the loss of the Broadway Limited/Three Rivers and the truncating of the Palmetto (formerly Silver Palm) to Savannah.
     
  12. May 10, 2019 #12

    bretton88

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    Because suing CAF is probably a quick way to guarantee no sleepers. CAF would probably just pack up shop since it sounds like they aren't in the best of financial shape either. So that's why Amtrak is tolerating the delays, they just want a product at some point versus no product at all.
     
  13. May 10, 2019 #13

    jis

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    CAF the parent company has no financial issues at all. They are delivering lots of rolling stock all over the world including the Mark 5 stock to multiple TOCs in the UK. CAF USA, the US subsidiary apparently has a pretty full order book for other customers for LRTs and such until 2022. So they are really not going anywhere soon.

    What I have heard (to be independently substantiated) is that CAF has already paid all the damages that were specified in the original contract with Amtrak and they are able to basically walk away from this contract without delivering anything further. Amtrak OTOH wants stuff delivered, hence this strange Kabuki dance that is going on.

    Viewliners appear to be jinxed. Even the VL-I order went through bizarre gyrations with the original manufacturer going belly up. Finally Alstom landed up with the residual of that one, and yet due to the wonders of the bidding process, it is CAF, not Alstom which landed up with the VL-II order. Indeed, I am not even sure that Alstom ever seriously participated in the RFP process.
     
  14. May 11, 2019 #14

    Ryan

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    Looking at YTD data, there has been less than 30 minutes of connection time 25 out of 127 opportunities. Those are pretty good odds to be able to grab something.
     
  15. May 11, 2019 #15

    Ryan

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    I found 4 of each - the discount ranges between 14-33% when comparing like buckets:
    Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 7.28.33 AM.png
     
  16. May 11, 2019 #16

    Thirdrail7

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    These are similar enough to address in one post. It isn't a matter of driving away the market. It is a matter of not having enough equipment to support the market. As Bratkinson mentioned, the loss of the Heritage fleet without the appropriate number of replacements was and still remains a major issue.

    However, he left something out of his equation. While the Viewliner Sleeper may hold more that a 10/6 deluxe heritage sleeper. he didn't calculate or consider the loss of the Heritage 24/8 sleeper that was often in the same consist. Two of those would yield 48 single sleeping rooms with 16 double rooms....on top of the 22 beds in the 10/6 sleeper.

    This is a huge reduction in availability that hasn't been compensated for.
     
  17. May 11, 2019 #17

    niemi24s

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    Looked again and managed to find all five Meteor (95) Roomette buckets (which include one low bucket Coach fare) of: $412, 358, 301, 244 and 208.
    Never could seem to find the high bucket for the Star, but based on the $54 low bucket coach fare and knowing sleeper upcharges rise in nearly an arithmetic progression [allowing an estimate of the high bucket Roomette fare for one adult] the five Star (92) buckets (including one low bucket Coach fare) are: $[213], 201, 190, 178 and 165.
    Comparison of these fares at the same bucket level yields discounts (from high to low bucket) of 48, 44, 37, 27 and 21%

    FWIW, that $412 fare disappeared about 30 minutes after I first found it. Gone like a phart in the wind!! :rolleyes: I'm confident it was a good fare, however, because it fit nicely into the arithmetic progression of the top four Roomette upcharge buckets.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
  18. May 11, 2019 #18

    niemi24s

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    Unfortunately the only comparison made at like buckets is that on the top line. For Train 98, the repeated $208 on the second line from the top should be $244, the $244 on third line from the top should be $301 and the $301 on the bottom line should be $358.

    Also, FWIW, in all the times I've looked since the last fare increases I have never, ever seen the high bucket Roomette fare offered for the Silver Star - either for the whole route or for the portion of interest here (ORL - SAV or SAV - ORL)
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
  19. May 12, 2019 #19

    Michigan Mom

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    Half hour? Not likely. Even with a full hour the Cap SCA will tell you just to get over to your next train.
    If it's your once a year vacation time with the family, you might view even that rosy 20% fail rate a little differently.
     
  20. May 12, 2019 #20

    Seaboard92

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    There is a chick fil a in the station now. Use your app on your phone and you can preorder while your pulling in. Run down and run to the gate and you’ll have time.
     
  21. May 12, 2019 #21

    Ryan

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    They can tell you that, but 30 minutes is more than enough time to spend the extra 5 minutes to walk through one of the many food places and grab something to go. It's not like the train is going to leave early.
     
  22. May 12, 2019 #22

    AmtrakBlue

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    True. When I was taking the Cardinal to Chicago, I went into WUS during the engine change to grab a timetable and then down to the food court to grab some lunch. I knew the train would not leave till the scheduled time and I keep my eye on the "clock". Helped that it was before the lunch rush, otherwise I might have not succeeded in getting lunch.
     
  23. May 12, 2019 #23

    Michigan Mom

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    People's mileage may vary of course.
    I can share how it's worked for us on the three trips we've done:
    1) Capitol Ltd/Silver Star to Orlando. The Cap still had a diner so breakfast covered; no lunch due to 1 pm scheduled arrival in WAS. Price differential was $130 compared to the Meteor. Cap was a bit more than an hour late, using up more than half of the 2 hour connect time. This was the first time not flying and I wasn't familiar with WUS so asked the SCA if we had time to get something from one of the food court places and he advised against it. However, the kids had already scoped out all the options both in the cafe car and the station, and with them being older I let them handle all such arrangements (other than paying). So my son took the bags to the Lounge while my daughter and I ran to the food court, it was well after the lunch rush so the lines were not long (which the SCA also said could be an issue) and we got food from some Italian place forget the name, it was fine. We were literally running and they were boarding when we returned. Had the takeout for dinner on the Star. Next morning, the kids got bagels or such from the cafe car, I stayed in the room and coffee was available the sleeping car. 10 am arrival into Orlando.
    2) Cap/Silver Meteor to Miami. This time Cap was 5 hours late. I had been watching their on-time record prior to booking and decided to book the Meteor based on the misconnect possibility. We would have missed the Star so the extra money was well worth it. We had none too much connect time for the Meteor either but there was no need to get dinner from the food court. Going all the way to South Florida, the sleeper car fare included dinner, lunch and breakfast. Early evening arrival, no issues.
    3) Second time Cap connecting so SM. Cap was over and hour late; we weren't concerned since there was plenty of connect time. I didn't pay as much attention to what time the Star departed but remember thinking we could have made it but not much time otherwise. This time the provisioning was insufficient for the passenger load; fare differential was around $100 so worth it for the connection, not worth it for the meals.

    Again YMMV, I liked the Star and would prefer to save the money where possible, I've just stopped thinking the meals are part of the cost equation. So we will continue booking the Meteor or maybe, fly to New York and catch the Star at origin.
     
  24. May 13, 2019 #24

    VentureForth

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    Well, I was on this training, #92, Saturday. At least judging by coach, the train between ORL and SAV never got much more than 50% full,o s i don't get why they would be charging higher bucket.

    Of course, I have no idea what the sleeper loading was. Could have been higher as passengers in sleepers are typically traveling further. But if there was about a $50 drop, I would have gladly paid $100 more for my 6 hr journey.

    I still think not having a diner sucks. They should at LEAST offer the Crapitol Limited boxes in the cafe.
     
  25. May 13, 2019 #25

    niemi24s

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    I don't think the passenger loading in Coach has anything at all to do with the bucket level of any sleeping accommodation.

    And after giving the "discount" analysis between the SS & SM some additional thought, it doesn't seem entirely logical to include the low bucket coach fare as was done in Posts #15 and #17. So after the low bucket coach fare for both trains is deducted from the AmSnag data, the "discounts" for all five Roomette bucket upcharges on the SS increase a bit more than 7 percentage points and are now (from high to low bucket) 56, 52, 45, 35 and 28%.

    These same "discount" percents for the ORL to SAV portion of the route also apply to the entire route.

    Another way to view the cost difference between the SS and SM (instead of as a discount) is as an increase in the sleeper upcharge by comparing the SS to the SM. Looking at it this other way shows increases for the entire route (from high to low bucket) of $311 or 128% down to $73 or 39%. For smaller segments of the route the dollar values would decrease but I suspect the percent increase figures would remain the same. In effect, that's the premium paid for having a diner on the Silver Meteor.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019

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