MSYtristar
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Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:05 am

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y34/Nolaguy79/IMG_1155.jpg


I've read this rumor on a couple of Amtrak related websites, and here's my take on it. Supposedely the Sunset Limited, which runs between New Orleans and Los Angeles, would be cancelled altogether. In its place, the Crescent (which runs daily between New Orleans and New York City) would extend its service from New Orleans to San Antonio three times a week, keeping train service alive in Houston. it would be evening departures with early morning arrivals in both cities. Also, the Texas Eagle would "supposedly" still cover the SAS (San Antonio)-LAX route.

I have some thoughts on the subject, seeing that it would affect the local operation down here....

1) This would severly curtail the Crecent's on time performance leaving NOL every morning, seeing as how the Sunset generally loses a lot of time going through thr rail yards outside of San Antonio, Houston, and Avondale. It's not good to start a long haul trip a few hours behind schedule. You know it only can get worse from there.

2) If this happens, they would have to keep connections in SAS for the passengers from Houston, New Orleans, and other stops to LAX. The past two times i've been on #1, there has been a significant # of passengers going to LAX from those two cities. Over 50, at least, both times.

3) Word is that the Crescent, trains #19 and 20, would run to SAS 3x weekly. They should make it daily. Houston is a big enough city to warrant daily service at a minimum, and the population of the New Orleans area continues to increase month after month.

If those concerns are addressed, (although I would mourn the loss of the Sunset Limited) I could at least accept it better.

Apparently this is just one of several ideas being thrown around by Amtrak management. A better idea, in my opinion, would be to make the Sunset go 4x weekly, and extend the "City of NO" to JAX at least...maybe have a through coach and sleeper from the Sunset connect with the NOL-JAX portion of the "City". Overall I think the Crescent is fine the way it is.

Long live the Sunset Limited, the oldest train name in America!
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TPAnx
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:17 am

Ran across this the other day...looks as though it will be very difficult to restore train service east of New Orleans..even though the post-Katrina repairs have been made...

http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200770430075

I've always wanted to do a cross-country train trip...before it goes the way of my "always wanted to fly Concorde" dream..

TPAnx  Sad
I read the news today..oh boy
 
MSYtristar
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:32 am

Quoting TPAnx (Reply 1):
looks as though it will be very difficult to restore train service east of New Orleans..even though the post-Katrina repairs have been made...

Yea, it's a shame that service east of NOL has never been restored. Rail advocacy groups have been pushing for it, but I think it's unlikely. It's a shame, too, because there are are some decent sized cities between NOL and JAX especially that should see rail service....Gulfport/Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola, Talahassee, etc. What really hurt that part of the route was the fact that it was common for the train to be seven to ten hours late (or more) by the time it got to Orlando. It drove the passengers away in droves.

The Orlando - New Orleans portion was important, not only because it offered the through service to the West coast, but because it allowed for quicker connections for folks going from Florida (let's use Orlando for argument's sake) to Chicago by rail (a decent sized market, always has been). Now, passengers wanting to do that have to go to D.C and connect to CHI...a total trip time of 49 hours including the connection time. Connecting through NOL took 41 hours.
 
stlgph
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:59 am

Quoting MSYtristar (Thread starter):
This would severly curtail the Crecent's on time performance leaving NOL every morning

well, with the California Zephyr running a good 5 to 6 hours late on a daily basis, i doubt they're that concerned with on time performance.
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tz757300
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 1:32 am

Quoting STLGph (Reply 3):

well, with the California Zephyr running a good 5 to 6 hours late on a daily basis, i doubt they're that concerned with on time performance.

Umm, if you know Amtrak, its not their fault. When UP and BNSF put them on the sidelines to keep their own trains going, you get delays, major delays at that.

I wish the Limited would stay, its such a good service.

Quoting MSYtristar (Thread starter):
Also, the Texas Eagle would "supposedly" still cover the SAS (San Antonio)-LAX route.

If you know the Eagle, it runs CHI-SAS-LAX 3x a week right now. It should cover the section still.
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stlgph
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 1:41 am

Quoting TZ757300 (Reply 4):
Umm, if you know Amtrak, its not their fault

right. it's never Amtrak's fault. ever.
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MSYtristar
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 1:43 am

Quoting TZ757300 (Reply 4):
If you know the Eagle, it runs CHI-SAS-LAX 3x a week right now. It should cover the section still.

Amtrak would not have to do a 180 day train off notice for the Sunset in this case, as all sections of the NOL-LAX route would still be covered, albeit with the Eagle and the Crescent.

Regarding the Eagle, I've always wanted to make a run on that one. I would miss the Eagle/Sunset interchange at SAS that's for sure.
 
tz757300
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 1:44 am

Quoting STLGph (Reply 5):

right. it's never Amtrak's fault. ever.

Heh, look at the Northeast Corridor where Amtrak owns those tracks, do you ever see their trains delayed? No, they are usually within 10min of scheduled arrival and departure.
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MSYtristar
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 1:47 am

Quoting STLGph (Reply 5):
right. it's never Amtrak's fault. ever.

Actually, most of the time it's not. I've completed about 200,000 rail miles, and I can only think of one time when we had an Amtrak related delay. I was departing Chicago on the City of New Orleans and we had to return to the station to get a new engine. One hour delay. All other times, excessive delays due to the host railroads, and one 18 hour delay in Iowa on the Zephyr due to a flooded track which caused us to take a detour.
 
stlgph
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 1:56 am

Of course. Now let's go over to Omaha and visit with my UP dispatcher friends and let them tell you how Amtrak misses their through-way times. Constantly.
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tz757300
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 2:01 am

Quoting STLGph (Reply 9):
Now let's go over to Omaha and visit with my UP dispatcher friends and let them tell you how Amtrak misses their through-way times.

I wonder why....hmm.....delays maybe?
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stlgph
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 2:10 am

Quoting TZ757300 (Reply 10):
I wonder why....hmm.....delays maybe?

fine, go ahead blame the railroads all you want to. but Amtrak couldn't be on time for a bathroom break.
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MSYtristar
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 2:18 am

Quoting STLGph (Reply 11):
but Amtrak couldn't be on time for a bathroom break.

It's all about dispatching. The schedules can be made if the host railroads give Amtrak priority. #59 was over :30 early into NOL a couple of days ago...and the day before, :42 early.

UP did an excellent job last time I took #1 to LAX....basically on time the entire trip....only held up about 15 waiting for a track assignment just a few hundred yards away from LAX.

So on time trains can happen....but generally, UP and CSX, more times than not, don't do enough to get the Amtrak's through on time.

The best host railroads for OTP are CN and BNSF...NS is not too bad but it has seen problems associated with the long closure of the CSX Gulf line and the associated re-routes onto the NS between Meridian and Atlanta.
 
seb146
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 2:24 am

Quoting TZ757300 (Reply 10):
I wonder why....hmm.....delays maybe?

Years ago, I was on the Pioneer. It was a great trip for me. I got on in Lincoln, Nebraska and was supposed to change trains to the Empire Builder in Portland Oregon and go to Pasco Washington where my car was. Anyway, the train was like two hours late or so leaving Ogden. Then, it was three and a half overnight in Idaho. Then, we had to slow down through Eastern Oregon because the tracks were too hot for high speed travel. There were about 20 of us changing trains in Portland onto the Empire Bulder. We were so late, due partly to weather, they had to take us off the train in Hood River and drive us across the Columbia River to Bingen to catch the train. I don't remember what the final "late tally" was, but no, it is not always the host railroad. Maybe if BNSF, UP and the rest would start passenger service again, they could show Amtrak how it is done!

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stlgph
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 2:25 am

City of New Orleans generally runs pretty well. majority of their routes are in Illinois. correct me if i'm wrong but Illinois, I believe (vaguely from when we did stories on the new increased Illinois service trains) is one of the few states that actually pumps more money into the Amtrak system for bonuses of getting the trains through on time.

this on time incentive has helped to boost ridership levels over the last few years which in turn has brought about the new and expanded train service Chicago - St. Louis, Chicago - Carbondale, Chicago - Quincy, Chicago - Milwaukee.

I believe the goal is to ultimately get Chicago - St. Louis up to 6 or 7 trains daily in each direction and slap another 2 daily in each direction to Milwaukee. apparently Chicago - Carbondale has been doing very well. a third daily in-state train might be unlikely but seasonal operation has been considered given the college markets that lie along the route.
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therock401
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 8:02 am

I rode the Empire Builder from St. Paul west to Portland, then the Coast Starlight (or whatever it's called) south to Oakland, then the California Zephyr east to Denver back in August of 1999. We were 2.5 hours late leaving St. Paul due to a train wreck near Winona, MN. Going west across North Dakota and Montana, BNSF was putting their hot transcon intermodals into the sidetrack to get us back to schedule. By the time we got to Portland, we were only about 10 minutes late.

After leaving Portland on UP, about half an hour out of Portland Union Station, we were put in the sidetrack to let several milk runs go by us. This trend continued all the way to Denver, where we grew tired of the train and got off and flew back to Minneapolis.

So yes, it's all about the dispatching.
 
BMIFlyer
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 8:23 am

Aww heck.

I love travelling on the Sunset Limited, I managed the trip a couple of years ago MCO - LAX on it Big grin

Hope they don't cut it off altogether from NOLA, that would be a shame.



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halls120
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 11:08 am

Quoting MSYtristar (Reply 12):
Quoting STLGph (Reply 11):but Amtrak couldn't be on time for a bathroom break.
It's all about dispatching. The schedules can be made if the host railroads give Amtrak priority. #59 was over :30 early into NOL a couple of days ago...and the day before, :42 early

US passenger trains will never be on time as long as they have to share main lines with freight. Even if a private company replaced Amtrak.

There is a reason that UP and BNSF, and their predecessor companies, gave up passenger service. It didn't make money. Freight does make money. Which is why it is only natural for those companies to give freight preference.

While rail travel makes excellent sense in limited situations - northeast corridor, commuter rail in major metropolitan areas - long distance coast to coast rail just isn't a viable solution in the US.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
tz757300
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 11:18 am

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 17):

While rail travel makes excellent sense in limited situations - northeast corridor, commuter rail in major metropolitan areas - long distance coast to coast rail just isn't a viable solution in the US.

So you think Amtrak would make money if they dropped all but a few LD routes and focused more on the corridors?
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ANCFlyer
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 11:29 am

Quoting STLGph (Reply 5):
right. it's never Amtrak's fault. ever.

Well, it certainly isn't out west where Freight railroads treat Amtrak like a red headed step child.

Quoting MSYtristar (Reply 8):
Actually, most of the time it's not. I've completed about 200,000 rail miles, and I can only think of one time when we had an Amtrak related delay. I was departing Chicago on the City of New Orleans and we had to return to the station to get a new engine. One hour delay. All other times, excessive delays due to the host railroads, and one 18 hour delay in Iowa on the Zephyr due to a flooded track which caused us to take a detour.

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MSYtristar
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:15 pm

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 17):
While rail travel makes excellent sense in limited situations - northeast corridor, commuter rail in major metropolitan areas - long distance coast to coast rail just isn't a viable solution in the US.

But ridership is generally strong on the LD's...not really end point to end point traffic, but sort of like old WN flights, the LD's pick up people along the way. They might not be financially viable due to a number of reasons, but they do provide a pretty valuable service to hundreds of communities both large and small across the country, and I think congress generally realizes that, as well.

I've heard a proposal that down the road perhaps some of the LD's will be broken up into regional segments...for example, you might not be able to ride the same train from New Orleans to New York City anymore....instead it may be split up like this:

New Orleans to Atlanta (via Meridian and Birmingham), Atlanta to D.C (via Charlotte and Greensboro), then on to PHL/NYC/BOS on the Northeast Corridor.
 
tz757300
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:24 pm

Quoting MSYtristar (Reply 20):

New Orleans to Atlanta (via Meridian and Birmingham), Atlanta to D.C (via Charlotte and Greensboro), then on to PHL/NYC/BOS on the Northeast Corridor.

That may be a good thing. It costs money hauling empty cars on say ATL-NOL, where WAS-ATL was completely full. Splitting trains into sections and having different consists for each will probably work out in the long run.
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MSYtristar
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:28 pm

Quoting TZ757300 (Reply 21):
Splitting trains into sections and having different consists for each will probably work out in the long run

Yep, and then you could ultimetely get more frequencies on each of the segments.

I can tell you that on the Crescent from NOL, for instance, most of its passengers are headed for BHM, ATL, and other "regional" destinations. You don't typically see a lot of NOL-WAS or NYP traffic...not on the ones i've been on anyway. The train really fills up out of ATL like you said, especially to WAS.
 
tz757300
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:32 pm

Quoting MSYtristar (Reply 22):

Yep, and then you could ultimetely get more frequencies on each of the segments.

I've often wondered about this on Silver Service trains. There is enough demand to warrant service of 2 daily trains, but could it make sense to combine them into 1? Yes, I know the Star goes more inland in NC/SC, but that part could be split up into a another train, like another Piedmont frequency. Also, the train could just go and service TPA like the Star and give up one destination. I just think it would end up better. Plus, the Meteor has better timing
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garnetpalmetto
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:50 pm

Quoting TZ757300 (Reply 23):
but that part could be split up into a another train, like another Piedmont frequency

Only problem there, of course, is that Piedmont is underwritten by the NCDOT and run with NCDOT equipment. At present NCDOT is more concerned with restoring service to Western NC first and then Eastern NC. In the meanwhile if you were to drop the Silver Star, you'd lose service through Camden, Columbia, and Denmark SC. From my experiences on the Star, Camden doesn't get a huge amount of ridership, but Columbia's usually a fairly solid number of passengers.
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tz757300
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 12:55 pm

Quoting Garnetpalmetto (Reply 24):

Only problem there, of course, is that Piedmont is underwritten by the NCDOT and run with NCDOT equipment. At present NCDOT is more concerned with restoring service to Western NC first and then Eastern NC.

Well, I said like the Piedmont, but I do get your point. Unfortunately, to keep LD routes and make Amtrak more profitable, things will have to be consolidated and cities removed from service for an unknown time span.
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MSYtristar
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 1:02 pm

Quoting TZ757300 (Reply 23):
but could it make sense to combine them into 1?

One thing i've noticed is that the Meteor and the Star generally don't leave Miami and NY at vastly different times. You would think they'd have like one morning one and one evening one, but they seem to usually leave within a few hours of each other. Remember they used to have the Silver Palm (later the Palmetto) which ran all the way to Miami...so they had three NYP-MIA trains at one time, so it looks like demand is not a problem.
 
tz757300
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 1:06 pm

Quoting MSYtristar (Reply 26):
Remember they used to have the Silver Palm (later the Palmetto) which ran all the way to Miami...so they had three NYP-MIA trains at one time, so it looks like demand is not a problem.

Was the demand on the Palm from SAV-MIA not heavy enough to warrant that to keep going?
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MSYtristar
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Sun May 06, 2007 1:16 pm

Quoting TZ757300 (Reply 27):
Was the demand on the Palm from SAV-MIA not heavy enough to warrant that to keep going?

Well from what I remember, the Palm switched names backed to the Palmetto, and that train was doing MIA-NYP with coach and business class service only...no sleepers and no full diner. I seem to recall that SAV-MIA didn't do nearly as well as SAV-NYP, probably due to the fact that the train did not have enough amenities (ie, sleepers and dining car) for such a long route.
 
halls120
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Mon May 07, 2007 6:59 am

Quoting MSYtristar (Reply 20):
New Orleans to Atlanta (via Meridian and Birmingham), Atlanta to D.C (via Charlotte and Greensboro), then on to PHL/NYC/BOS on the Northeast Corridor.

That would make sense. Running trains from the east coast to the west coast is just silly. How many people are really going to opt for a trip that takes 2 and 1/2 days?
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain, a Biography
 
tz757300
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RE: Amtrak News Regarding Trains 1/2 And 19/20

Mon May 07, 2007 7:38 am

Quoting Halls120 (Reply 29):
How many people are really going to opt for a trip that takes 2 and 1/2 days?

Heh, I would
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