masseybrown
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Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Thu Aug 23, 2007 11:57 pm

Nice article in today's WSJ saying that Amtrak's Boston-Washington corridor train business is up 20% and operating 90% on time in June. Amtrak's market share on the 10,000 pax/day Washington-New York route has grown to 54% of the market. Delays at LGA and fares cheaper than airlines are cited as reasons, but they also note that Chicago-St Louis is up 53%. Gordon Bethune and Robert Crandall are quoted supporting an expansion of high-speed rail for short hauls.

The article didn't mention the fact that the airlines no longer guarantee seats to walk-up pax on their shuttles - one of the prime advantages the shuttles used to offer

[Edited 2007-08-23 17:01:53]
 
PanAm747
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:25 am

I have always wondered how airports and traffic in the northeast would improve if the "shuttle" went the way of the dinosaur (exceptions being made for flights connecting to or from hub airports like EWR, JFK or IAD).

What percent of traffic in the northeast corridor area is shuttle traffic?

In a perfect world, Amtrak would handle the point-to-point traffic between the major metropolitan areas. Washington DC to New York City is SO easy by train - downtown to downtown without the drives to the airport (although DCA is as easy as it gets) or TSA security lines. Airports should be for longer flights.
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max999
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:39 am

Here's a link to the free article on their website...

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118781538275205642.html
All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.
 
masseybrown
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:35 am

Quoting PanAm747 (Reply 1):
I have always wondered how airports and traffic in the northeast would improve if the "shuttle" went the way of the dinosaur

I really think the loss of high fare walk-up business took a lot of profit out of the shuttles, but I've never seen any authoritative statement that this was true, although DL and US have both complained in print about generally poor profitability of the shuttles.

A couple weeks ago my son and his gf took a bus from a street corner in a DC suburb (Bethesda) to a street corner near the Port Authority in NY for $25 each. I think there are two companies that offer bargain bus rates on perhaps 400 seats a day each way. At that price, I'm surprised their business isn't bigger. $324 OW on the 3 hour (intown-to-intown) shuttle vs $25 on the 4-hour bus is quite a spread.
 
timz
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RE: Amtrak In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:37 am

The article says Acela ridership is up 20% -- not the whole Boston-Washington service.
 
planeguy727
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:53 am

I use the US Airways Shuttle quite a bit - I can say that I still do it because to make a day trip from NYC (where I live) to DC and back requires a 4:40am train (YUCK) and not getting home until 9pm or so. I can do the 6am or 7am shuttle and the 5 or 6pm shuttle back and with a little planning the cost is not that much different.

A little trick (don't tell US Airways) - but you can often book the shuttle flights on the United website for less - I did this the other day $485 on US site, $289 on UA site (for a day trip in September).

I also use the Shuttle for connecting flights at DCA or BOS - I have noticed and increased amount of leisure travelers over previous experiences, the majority of them seem to be connecting (from observation - no hard data). I know on the US website you can sometimes get cheaper fares by using a routing like LGA-DCA-MCO with the first segment a shuttle flight than doing LGA-CLT-MCO, etc.

All that being said, I still enjoy the Amtrak service, but if its a day trip, give me the shuttle (and I'm a morning person).

PG727
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lat41
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 3:21 am

With it's monoply on the PVD/LGA route and accompanying high fares, US fairly sends Southern New England business and leisure traffic to AMTRAK. And now that the Acela isn't busted every other day.....
 
stlgph
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 3:59 am

St. Louis - Chicago ridership is also up ... 40% since the addition of trains last October.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...147EC86257340000D17F2?OpenDocument
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NoBoeingNoGoin
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:04 am

Quoting Planeguy727 (Reply 5):
I also use the Shuttle for connecting flights at DCA or BOS - I have noticed and increased amount of leisure travelers over previous experiences, the majority of them seem to be connecting (from observation - no hard data). I know on the US website you can sometimes get cheaper fares by using a routing like LGA-DCA-MCO with the first segment a shuttle flight than doing LGA-CLT-MCO, etc.

I feel like the only reason that you are finding a cheaper fare is because the shuttles almost always show full availability across all of the fare classes. Since airlines post fares from city to city having lots of cheaper seats available would give a better chance of finding cheaper fares.

In my time at US, I never really looked into discount fare pricing because at TYS, there was no cheap flight anywhere.
 
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OA260
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:08 am

Last year I did Boston to Providence on Amtrak. Great fares and ontime service. It really was a nice experience. The staff were really friendly also.
 
SkyyMaster
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:19 am

It was either earlier this week or late last week, Amtrak announced some daily Acela services will no longer be stopping in Baltimore. I wonder if this have any affect on the airline shuttles between DCA and LGA? I've never ridden Acela, and I cannot imagine the stops in Baltimore are very long, but they might play that up in a campaign versus flying.
 
aajfksjubklyn
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:35 am

Quoting MasseyBrown (Reply 3):
A couple weeks ago my son and his gf took a bus from a street corner in a DC suburb (Bethesda) to a street corner near the Port Authority in NY for $25 each. I think there are two companies that offer bargain bus rates on perhaps 400 seats a day each way. At that price, I'm surprised their business isn't bigger. $324 OW on the 3 hour (intown-to-intown) shuttle vs $25 on the 4-hour bus is quite a spread.

I would never take these buses. They are run like trash. Sounds cheap, is cheap and I wonder what insurance they have. I have personally seen the buses to DCA and BOS. I wouldn't get on them.
 
spacecadet
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:40 am

While this is nice for Amtrak, it really isn't anything new. Amtrak has been setting ridership records basically every year for the last decade. The only real difference here seems to be that the WSJ finally noticed. But every year, Amtrak puts out press release after press release trying to get the media interested in their ridership story.

Here's a graph that shows Amtrak's ridership gains over the last 10 years: http://tinyurl.com/2gaqvy

It's about 2 years out of date, but with this new report I think it's safe to say that the trend is continuing.
I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
 
Mainland
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:07 am

Quoting SkyyMaster (Reply 10):
I've never ridden Acela, and I cannot imagine the stops in Baltimore are very long

One train a day (NYC-DC) each way is also bypassing stops in Delaware, making its only stop in Philadelphia. It will shave a total of 10 min. off the trip time -- not enough to really make a stronger argument in the flying vs. train war.
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bobnwa
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:19 am

Rail travel still has to be subsidized in this country to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollar, including the Boston-Washington corrider. Is it worth it?

[Edited 2007-08-23 22:20:21]
 
57AZ
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:33 am

Quoting Bobnwa (Reply 14):
Is it worth it?

Does the sun rise every day? Yes. Rail transportation is pound for pound and dollar per mile much more efficient than road or air transportation and it can be profitable. For a major railroad, freight subsidizes passenger service to be certain unless the passenger trains can cover their own operating costs. If that happens, every additional penny the trains make is pure profit. Passenger trains cannot survive totally on their own-the railroads knew that a century ago.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
masseybrown
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:37 am

Quoting Timz (Reply 4):
The article says Acela ridership is up 20% -- not the whole Boston-Washington service.

Thanks for the correction.
 
rjpieces
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:44 am

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 15):
Rail transportation is pound for pound and dollar per mile much more efficient than road or air transportation and it can be profitable.

Oh? Then why is it losing billions of dollars?
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airportplan
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:07 am

Quoting Bobnwa (Reply 14):
Rail travel still has to be subsidized in this country to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollar, including the Boston-Washington corrider. Is it worth it?

And how many billions of dollar per year do we pay to subsidized the FAA?
 
EXAAUADL
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:20 am

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 15):
Is it worth it?

Does the sun rise every day? Yes. Rail transportation is pound for pound and dollar per mile much more efficient than road or air transportation and it can be profitable.

Short haul yes, long haul no.....try booking a NYC to LA tickent on Amtrack, youll have a nice long layover in Chicago...like 8+ hours.

Quoting AirportPlan (Reply 18):
And how many billions of dollar per year do we pay to subsidized the FAA?

ATC in the US, like Canada, should be private.
 
iahflyer
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:51 am

Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 19):
Short haul yes, long haul no.....try booking a NYC to LA tickent on Amtrack, youll have a nice long layover in Chicago...like 8+ hours.

That is the basis of what many have said in this forum. Use trains in the DC to Boston market is better, which will help reduce airport delays via less traffic.

I don't know if you have been to Chicago or not but a great place for a day trip ( I don't know the time of the layover).

Also, taking the train is for those who enjoy the ride, not just the destination.
Little airports with the big jets are the best!! Floyd
 
caspritz78
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:10 am

Hi everyone,

since I live in a country where trains are the best way to travel domestically I was always surprised that Amtrak is not doing more to install a highspeed train network on the East Coast.

As wonderfull flying is as inconvenient it also got. Flying Boston New York, Boston Washington, Boston Philadelphia is no fun anymore. You spend more time to get to the airport and through check-in and security then you are actually on the plane. Had this experience with an BOS-LGA fligth. The trip from LGA to downtown Manhattan was the worst I ever experienced.

I think Amtrak should try to do what Deutsche Bahn (German Railroad) did in Germany. They started to do Code Sharing with Lufthansa for domestic connections. Deutsche Bahn invested heavily to connect FRA to the highspeed railway network and now you reach Cologne downtown within one hour. I think that this could be the future for Amtrak and several airports on the East Coast. You would reduce short domestic air traffic and could free assets for more valuable destinations.

Greetings

[Edited 2007-08-24 01:12:43]

[Edited 2007-08-24 01:13:14]
 
FlyPNS1
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:03 am

Quoting Bobnwa (Reply 14):
Rail travel still has to be subsidized in this country to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollar, including the Boston-Washington corrider.

Actually, if operated as its own entity, the BOS-WAS corridor of Amtrak could be self-sustaining. Unfortunately, the heavy losses endured on the long-haul sectors destroys any profits produced by the short-haul segments. And lets face it, all forms of transportation are subsidized to some degree...air, road, rail, mass transit.

I'm all for investing in rail for short haul travel on high density corridors. Having a well established short-haul rail system could be complementary to our air system.
 
ScottB
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:14 am

Quoting AirportPlan (Reply 18):
And how many billions of dollar per year do we pay to subsidized the FAA?

And how many billions of dollars per year are paid by air passengers in direct taxes on tickets to support the FAA? How much of the cost of an Amtrak ticket is tax?

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 15):
Rail transportation is pound for pound and dollar per mile much more efficient than road or air transportation and it can be profitable.

You left out one part: "...as long as you are not especially time-sensitive." Yes, it's far more efficient for sending bulk cargo like lumber, coal, automobiles, etc. For human cargoes traveling more than 300-400 miles, rail transportation isn't terribly effective when the cost of the passenger's time is factored into the equation.

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 15):
For a major railroad, freight subsidizes passenger service to be certain

Which essentially reinforces the idea that rail transportation isn't a terribly cost-effective mode for passenger transportation.

Amtrak lost just under a billion dollars in 2006 (from their 2006 Annual report, here: http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/AmtrakAnnualReport_2006.pdf ) while serving just under 25 million passengers -- or basically, they lost $40 on average for each passenger. Part of the problem is the grossly unprofitable long-distance routes they serve. Part of the problem is that their operation is extremely labor-intensive -- they carried about 1300 passengers per employee in 2006, while Delta carried about 2100 passengers per employee and Southwest carried over 2500 passengers per employee.

Quoting PanAm747 (Reply 1):
I have always wondered how airports and traffic in the northeast would improve if the "shuttle" went the way of the dinosaur

Well, it might be more important to question all the smaller regional aircraft using these airports. Is it entirely necessary to have 10 daily US Airways Express RJ's between BUF and LGA? Should there be 9 daily PHL-LGA round-trips? The Shuttles themselves are near the average aircraft size using those highly-congested airports. Sure, I'd agree that the American Eagle "Shuttle" flights are offenders here.

And yes, I think rail can be successful in certain niche markets like the Northeast Corridor. But in markets without congested airspace, I don't think that rail is a cost-effective competitor.
 
HPAEAA
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:17 am

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 22):
Unfortunately, the heavy losses endured on the long-haul sectors destroys any profits produced by the short-haul segments. And lets face it, all forms of transportation are subsidized to some degree...air, road, rail, mass transit.

I'm all for investing in rail for short haul travel on high density corridors. Having a well established short-haul rail system could be complementary to our air system.

Just look at Europe, the rail companies are setting up alliances, and giving the airlines a good run for their money when it comes to business travelers on 2 hour flights or less... the speed is greater (than US Acela), and terminals are easier /quicker (than european airports) to navigate. I'd like to see further investment in the high speed product, and expansion to the short haul/high density markets.... CHI-MKE, CHI-DTW, CHI-CLE, and cities in between come to mind.. added NE service, Texas service, California.. could be interesting, and help ease the air congestion in areas...
Why do I fly???
 
elmothehobo
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:18 am

Quoting Bobnwa (Reply 14):
Rail travel still has to be subsidized in this country to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollar, including the Boston-Washington corrider. Is it worth it?

The Northeastern Corridor is profitable. That and Autotrain are the only profitable Amtrak operations IIRC.

Quoting RJpieces (Reply 17):
Oh? Then why is it losing billions of dollars?

Actually yes, I think it's pennance. The government taxed railroads (and still does) to pay for the interstate highways. It is too bad that the money is squandered by politicians who want to keep rail service to to Po-dunk Hicksville for political purposes, but not to serve cities like Phoenix or Las Vegas.

Amtrak could well be a successful private railroad if politicians would stop meddling in the day to day operations and planning aspects of the railroad. Until that happens, Amtrak will remain the wreck that it is today.

Quoting ScottB (Reply 23):
And yes, I think rail can be successful in certain niche markets like the Northeast Corridor. But in markets without congested airspace, I don't think that rail is a cost-effective competitor.

It isn't the congested airspace, it's the distance between city pairs and population density. The Northeastern Corridor works because business and homes are very localized in Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. If you look at a corridor of similar length - Los Angeles to San Francsico, there is only a singly daily train between the two points, and that is because between Santa Barbara and San Jose, there is next to nothing (sorry Santa Cruz, Monterey, Salinas and San Luis Obispo!).

The rail infrastructure that exists in the Northeast also is conducive to high speed rail - electrified trackage, four track mailines, large stations, etc... there is a single track line with double tracked stations between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Should Amtrak decide to work with the local railroad ( in the case of SFO-LAX, the Union Pacific) to upgrade the tracks between the two cities, electrify the corridor and buy rolling stock, Amtrak could sure give Southwest, United and the other competitors on the route a run for their money.

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 22):
I'm all for investing in rail for short haul travel on high density corridors. Having a well established short-haul rail system could be complementary to our air system.

 checkmark 

Quoting Caspritz78 (Reply 21):
I think Amtrak should try to do what Deutsche Bahn (German Railroad) did in Germany. They started to do Code Sharing with Lufthansa for domestic connections.

Continental started a codeshare with Amtrak out of Newark's Airport station. They even offer frequent flyer miles to passengers traveling Amtrak (without the CO code) between Boston and Washington and select points between. A good way to compete with Delta, American and USAirways without having to lay down the dough IMO.
 
cloudboy
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:28 am

Let me ask you this, then. How efficient would air travel be if there was only one government owned airline, and all the air traffic control and airports were controlled by private cargo operators who didn't want passenger service flying over their routes? It's not a matter of technology - it's a matter of regulation. The government has heavily subsidized the growth of air travel, while basically allowing the freight rail companies to decimate rail travel. That's the real issue - fix that and it would be much more successful.

Back to the matter at hand, the Boston to Washington service should be far more successful than it is. There are a lot of benefits to the train - city center to city center, right on the transit lines, far more comfort, and the ability to offer better prices. he fact that this line is hampered by heavy trains, lots of traffic and poor trackage really hinders it.

The real advantage, though, is that rail travel could seriously compliment air travel. Amtrak doesn't want to stop there, but TF Green is right on the Northeast Corridor, and they are putting in a rail station. That would mean TF Green would be connected by high-speed train directly to downtown Boston, making a much easier connection to Boston than the T does! It would be great for a low cost operator to fly to TF Green and then cross sell service on Acela to Boston. The Acela also means that TF Green will now be a short hop away from a dozen small cities which can't get air service, thus making them far more attractive to people flying airlines that don't serve those small cities.
"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
 
ScottB
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:46 am

Quoting ElmoTheHobo (Reply 25):
Should Amtrak decide to work with the local railroad ( in the case of SFO-LAX, the Union Pacific) to upgrade the tracks between the two cities, electrify the corridor and buy rolling stock

How much would the capital cost for that be? How much per daily passenger? Yes, airports have huge capital costs as well, but those costs are spread out over far more passengers (the runways used for SFO-LAX can be used for flights to IAD, JFK, BOS, MIA, NRT, LHR, SEA, LAS, PHX, DFW, IAH, ...) and many of those costs are paid back as user fees.

Quoting ElmoTheHobo (Reply 25):
The rail infrastructure that exists in the Northeast also is conducive to high speed rail

Well, yes and no. If it had been built for high-speed rail, it would be more competitive, but the rights-of-way curve a bit too much. Rebuilding the lines through heavily populated areas of New England and NJ/PA/DE/MD are simply non-starters given the real estate costs and NIMBY backlash.

Quoting ElmoTheHobo (Reply 25):
If you look at a corridor of similar length - Los Angeles to San Francsico, there is only a singly daily train between the two points, and that is because between Santa Barbara and San Jose, there is next to nothing (sorry Santa Cruz, Monterey, Salinas and San Luis Obispo!).

I honestly don't think that's the only reason. I think part of it is the fact that the air fares between the L.A. Basin and the S.F. Bay Area have been extremely competitive for the last several decades, what with PSA, AirCal, Southwest, United Shuttle, etc. in the markets. Delays simply aren't a chronic problem at most of the California airports (aside from SFO when the fog rolls in). Terrain is actually a significant issue in California.
 
steeler83
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:55 am

Quoting HPAEAA (Reply 24):
Just look at Europe, the rail companies are setting up alliances, and giving the airlines a good run for their money when it comes to business travelers on 2 hour flights or less... the speed is greater (than US Acela), and terminals are easier /quicker (than european airports) to navigate. I'd like to see further investment in the high speed product, and expansion to the short haul/high density markets.... CHI-MKE, CHI-DTW, CHI-CLE, and cities in between come to mind.. added NE service, Texas service, California.. could be interesting, and help ease the air congestion in areas...

Ever hear of something called the Ohio Hub project? It's a new high-speed regional rail project to be based out of Cleveland, with a secondary base at Columbus. There is another high speed rail project out of Chicago called the Midwest rail project. The Ohio Rail Development Commission is trying to push for the rail project, which will also link up with CLE and DTW, along with the cities of Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo. The trains will run 110 mph.

Frankly, I am very in favor of high-speed regional rail. I think it can complement the air service network, as well as take some traffic off of the congested freeways. President Bush doesn't seem to want to favor rail service, given that he has proposed to remove Amtrak service at one point over the past few years. In 2004, he wanted to completely remove the Three Rivers (which is already no longer in service), the Pennsylvanian, and the Capitol Limited. Amazingly, Governor Rendell (of PA) emphatically opposed that idea, it basically would have left PGH without any passenger rail service.

I could go on forever about the Ohio Hub project though. If anyone is interested, you can go onto the following website:
http://www.dot.state.oh.us/ohiorail/Ohio%20Hub/Website/ordc/index.html

Enjoy  

edited for spelling

[Edited 2007-08-24 04:57:32]
Do not bring stranger girt into your room. The stranger girt is dangerous, it will hurt your life.
 
austinairport
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:56 am

Did anybody hear about the company that wants to put a high speed bi-directional rail system in to connect Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Sounds pretty cool hope it will happen.  Smile
Whoever said you can do anything you set your mind to has obviously never tried to slam a revolving door!!!
 
vincewy
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:58 am

In Taiwan, UNI Air recently ended TSA-RMQ and TSA-CYI (ended Aug 16th) because of not just high speed rail, but also much higher prices of gas, load factors for both routes were below 50% (RMQ was a lot lower than 50% as it actually takes longer to fly after check-in and traffics to downtown). The higher costs of gas also help reduce traffics on freeways, as for one or 2 persons, it's cheaper to take trains (conventional or high speed) or buses.
 
steeler83
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:01 pm

Quoting AustinAirport (Reply 29):
Did anybody hear about the company that wants to put a high speed bi-directional rail system in to connect Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Sounds pretty cool hope it will happen.

Is it a MAGLEV project? And will it link major airports like IAH and DFW?

You know what I think would be a good improvement for the Pittsburgh Maglev project? if they were to link that with the Baltimore-DC one. Then, ultimately 2 airports, possibly 3 would be linked by the project. PIT-IAD-BWI...
Do not bring stranger girt into your room. The stranger girt is dangerous, it will hurt your life.
 
gigneil
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:14 pm

Quoting AAJFKSJUBKLYN (Reply 11):
Sounds cheap, is cheap and I wonder what insurance they have.

It is cheap. And dirty. Usually smells funny. But you get there, they have insurance to get passenger transport registrations, and its cheap as hell.

Quoting Caspritz78 (Reply 21):
since I live in a country where trains are the best way to travel domestically I was always surprised that Amtrak is not doing more to install a highspeed train network on the East Coast.

The terrain really isn't all that accommodating. Between New York and Boston especially. Take the Eurostar, for example. Except for that minor little stretch of water, there's nothing but flat, green fields.

NS
 
gigneil
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:17 pm

Quoting AAJFKSJUBKLYN (Reply 11):
Sounds cheap, is cheap and I wonder what insurance they have.

It is cheap. And dirty. Usually smells funny. But you get there, they have insurance to get passenger transport registrations, and its cheap as hell.

Quoting Caspritz78 (Reply 21):
since I live in a country where trains are the best way to travel domestically I was always surprised that Amtrak is not doing more to install a highspeed train network on the East Coast.

The terrain really isn't all that accommodating. Between New York and Boston especially. Take the Eurostar, for example. Except for that minor little stretch of water, there's nothing but flat, green fields.

NS
 
57AZ
Posts: 2371
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:55 pm

RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:24 pm

Quoting ScottB (Reply 23):
as long as you are not especially time-sensitive.

Actually, most of US domestic travel is not time sensitive in the terms of life or death matters-it's only time sensitive because we think it is. With the technology available to us today, as long as you have a laptop you essentially have a mobile office. Wire the train set for connectivity and you can do the same things from the train as you can from airline business class-without the inconveniences of weather. Remember that Trans Atlantic air travel only became affordable for the masses with the advent of the 747 and DC-10. Before that, only the very well off could afford to cross by air-everyone else crossed the pond on the liners.

Quoting RJpieces (Reply 17):
Oh? Then why is it losing billions of dollars?

You mean Amtrak. The reason is that it's a quasi-governmental corporation like the post office. If they were allowed to manage themselves they would do just fine. As mentioned above, the politicians can't stand keeping their hands to themselves and leaving Amtrak alone. Don't forget that they've never fully funded Amtrak either, creating expensive capital investment situations that could have been headed off if they had been addressed as small problems years ago.

Back in the 1920s, passenger trains earned an average of $1.20 per passenger per mile. In fact, the only part of the passenger train operation that was marginal was the dining car service. Demands of high quality service with limited available patronage meant that properly run, the dining car service might make a small profit if any. You did good to cover your costs, but that was the cost of running a passenger railroad.

Quoting ElmoTheHobo (Reply 25):
Should Amtrak decide to work with the local railroad ( in the case of SFO-LAX, the Union Pacific) to upgrade the tracks between the two cities, electrify the corridor and buy rolling stock, Amtrak could sure give Southwest, United and the other competitors on the route a run for their money.

True. There are regional city pairs that Amtrak could really turn the heat up on. The problem is route capacity. The flood of imports from China has clogged the Overland and Sunset Routes. UP is working to double track as much as possible and here in Arizona, the state is negotiating with UP on high speed commuter service between Tucson, Casa Grande and Phoenix. Other states such as NC and CA have gone further, creating their own passenger rail operations (NCDOT and Amtrak California) that are funded as part of the state DOT but operated under contract by Amtrak. The states get more bang for the buck by running passenger trains than by increasing airport/highway facilities which take land off the tax rolls and push land taxes even higher.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
austinairport
Posts: 613
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:56 am

RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:27 pm

Quoting Steeler83 (Reply 31):
Is it a MAGLEV project? And will it link major airports like IAH and DFW?

Well i dont know but i imagine so.
Whoever said you can do anything you set your mind to has obviously never tried to slam a revolving door!!!
 
texan
Posts: 4059
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2003 2:23 am

RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:39 pm

Quoting Steeler83 (Reply 31):
Is it a MAGLEV project?

I don't believe so, but there is not a final decision on the matter. Texas High Speed Rail Commission

Quoting Steeler83 (Reply 31):
And will it link major airports like IAH and DFW?

Also, no. Not directly. In the DFW area it would likely serve Dallas' Union Station and from there you can connect to the Trinity Railway Express train to DFW airport or the new purple line, or some color like that, to DAL.

Interestingly, WN helped scuttle the original plan for high speed rail, which TGV was given the right to build in 1991. WN supports the new initiative.

Texan
"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
 
57AZ
Posts: 2371
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:55 pm

RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:44 pm

Quoting Texan (Reply 36):
In the DFW area it would likely serve Dallas' Union Station and from there you can connect to the Trinity Railway Express train to DFW airport or the new purple line, or some color like that, to DAL.

It's hard to believe that TRE has taken off like it did. Good planning and effective service make all the difference.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
steeler83
Posts: 7391
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:47 pm

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 34):
You mean Amtrak. The reason is that it's a quasi-governmental corporation like the post office. If they were allowed to manage themselves they would do just fine. As mentioned above, the politicians can't stand keeping their hands to themselves and leaving Amtrak alone. Don't forget that they've never fully funded Amtrak either, creating expensive capital investment situations that could have been headed off if they had been addressed as small problems years ago.

If you see post 28, I stated something about Bush wanting to cut service. Come to think of it, didn't he have some proposal of pretty much doing something that would ultimately result in the shut down of Amtrak, or am I going nuts? Perhaps this is a bit bold, but I think investing in more regional rail service could be a saving grace to the problems associated with the obsolete freeway systems. Rail service is also cheaper to build as well as to maintain... Besides, the rail infrastructure will last over 100 years according to my one professor from last semester. It could also generate some growth along the corridor, especially where you have direct access to a station by either pedestrian, bike, park and ride or even transit. This could be a multi-modal solution. Then throw in the possibility of having rail stations at major airports...

Granted, it could be a large scale solution IF pretty much all parties would be willing to adopt such an idea...
Do not bring stranger girt into your room. The stranger girt is dangerous, it will hurt your life.
 
articulatexpat
Posts: 101
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:10 pm

It's interesting how we view different modes of transportation in terms of whether they ought to be profitable or self-sustaining:

No one expects roads to earn a profit, except in cases where there are tolls. People tend to assume (in the US, anyway) that building them is one of the necessary functions of government. Roadways cost millions or billions of dollars, but they're investments. Other countries (I'm thinking of France and Australia) have experimented with privatized roadways, and I'm not sure how well that has worked out. Point is, we do need streets and highways, but Joe Taxpayer rarely thinks about how much they cost, because the costs of private car ownership are a red herring.

People seem to think mass transit and railways ought to be self-sustaining because they charge fares. Although in a few cases they have been able to turn a profit (I think WMATA, the DC metro authority, is in the black, and parts of Amtrak could be), this is the exception and not the rule... again, we're talking about the US. But the underlying need is the same: people need transit. One way or another, they're going to pay for it. The farebox may offset the costs associated with construction and operations, but the way I see it, governments have a vested interest in enabling people to move from point A to point B with as few obstructions (like traffic jams) as possible. This isn't socialism, it's just basic economics.

In contrast with these, the (US) airlines are private corporations and are expected to be profitable. There's a substantial degree of federal investment, though: the FAA, the TSA (a shining example of tax dollars well spent if ever there was one), maybe some portion of airport construction costs via the DOT... and bankruptcy. The federal government has permitted most of the majors to go through bankruptcy in order to stay in business. How many billions of dollars are the taxpayers ultimately eating, to make that happen? These don't represent free market capitalism at its best.

When people complain about Amtrak operating at a loss, or (more often) when they make ill-informed complaints about public transit projects being loss-making boondoggles, they need to rethink their positions on what's really profitable. All these transportation modes can be profitable, but people need to take the larger view of who's paying for what.
 
austinairport
Posts: 613
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:18 pm

[quote=Texan,reply=36]Quoting Steeler83 (Reply 31):
Is it a MAGLEV project?

I don't believe so, but there is not a final decision on the matter. Texas High Speed Rail Commission[/quoteth
Thanks for the link and it stops in Temple. YEAH  Silly
Whoever said you can do anything you set your mind to has obviously never tried to slam a revolving door!!!
 
57AZ
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:55 pm

RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:18 pm

Quoting Steeler83 (Reply 38):
I stated something about Bush wanting to cut service. Come to think of it, didn't he have some proposal of pretty much doing something that would ultimately result in the shut down of Amtrak, or am I going nuts?

Yes he did. Multi-modal is the way of transportation's future. The fact is that rail lines do generate growth along their routes (unlike air routes). Property values increase along that route corridor, often substantially. That's why the robber barons of old got rich off the government and land speculation was rampant in the latter part of the 19th century.

Virtually every large city could support multi-modal transportation if the designer so chose to put the parts in place. Tucson has a transit hub in the center of the downtown business district. You have Greyhound, Amtrak and Sun Tran (municipal bus system) major facilities all within walking distance of each other. Presently Greyhound is relegated to the west side of the city (about 10 blocks from Amtrak and 8 blocks from the Sun Tran terminal) due to road construction. The new permanent Greyhound terminal will be next door to the Amtrak station (in the old SP station) which is a block away from Sun Tran's Ronstadt Transit Center. Ronstadt is the largest of Sun Tran's three Transit Centers and is served by 18 of the system's 30 routes as well as TICET (Tucson Inner City Express Transit). Additional service will come in the next couple of years as Old Pueblo Trolley's street railway line is extended to Congress Street and 5th Avenue (Ronstadt Transit Center).

Now if the State of Arizona were to get commuter service between Tucson and Phoenix Union Station, you would have the city pair linked city center to city center. Also, Tucson will be building a modern streetcar line connecting the sections of the city between the University of Arizona Medical Center on the east and the proposed University of Arizona Science Center to the west of downtown Tucson and I-10. The downtown businesses are very interested in seeing the project completed due to the transportation benefits and the fact that the line's presence will increase business and land values along the route.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
masseybrown
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:19 pm

Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 19):
try booking a NYC to LA tickent on Amtrack, youll have a nice long layover in Chicago...like 8+ hours.

I believe that the connection times have improved since the Lake Shore Limited has been rescheduled. Looking at the current schedule there is a 5.5 hour westbound layover and slightly less than 3 hours eastbound. The problem with tightening the connections is that the long-haul trains can be VERY late.

Quoting Gigneil (Reply 32):
It is cheap. And dirty. Usually smells funny. But you get there, they have insurance to get passenger transport registrations, and its cheap as hell.

My son and his German gf (in their early 20's) didn't complain and said it ran on time. I never saw the bus, but some of the other people waiting (Waverly Ave. in Bethesda) looked fairly prosperous.
 
D328
Posts: 213
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:24 pm

Less delay's....Only answer.. Sorry I didn't read anything, but hey, that has to be it!
 
3201
Posts: 813
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2004 4:16 pm

RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:37 pm

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 15):
Rail transportation is pound for pound and dollar per mile much more efficient than road or air transportation and it can be profitable.

I would have thought this, especially for freight trains, but I've definitely seen calculations that Acela is a lot less efficient than Greyhound between DC and NY.

Keep in mind that in some markets in Europe and Asia, the train is the high-end option, and air is a lower-cost alternative.

Personally, the last time I took an intercity train in Europe, it was a pain. I had to go from (roughly) BRU airport to CDG airport, and that involved annoying connections on regional trains on both ends. Sometimes city-center to city-center isn't what you really want. But there are no flights between those airports, so the only alternative we saw was renting a car.
7 hours aint long-haul
 
threeifbyair
Posts: 939
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:37 pm

An interesting GAO report on Amtrak market share versus air in the NEC (and other locations) came out in January 2007. I seem to remember a more detailed report on the NEC specifically, but I can't find it right now.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07382r.pdf

Page 14 (slide 11) has the market share chart. If you don't want to download it, here are the highlights:

NYC-PHL: ~95%
WAS-PHL: ~80%
NYC-BAL: ~70%
NYC-WAS: ~55%
BOS-NYC: ~40%

The Keystone Corridor (Harrisburg-NYC) is also quite successful, thought I don't believe it is profitable yet. I took it from Paoli, PA to NYC in Sept. 2006 and was pleasantly surprised. Comfortable ride, especially compared to the New Jersey Turnpike, and just as fast if not faster. Now that the electric AEM-7s are hauling these trains all the way through, there's no need for the diesel to electric locomotive change in Philly which delayed me about 15 minutes due "lack of staff" to execute the change.

Also, federal employees are explicitly allowed to travel in Acela Business class without special authorization (usually coach is the only option for federal travel) so I would imagine that is popular inside the Beltway.
 
57AZ
Posts: 2371
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:55 pm

RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:52 pm

Quoting MasseyBrown (Reply 42):
My son and his German gf (in their early 20's) didn't complain and said it ran on time. I never saw the bus, but some of the other people waiting (Waverly Ave. in Bethesda) looked fairly prosperous.

Many carriers are now operating nicer Prevost, Van Hool, Setra or Dina coaches. Any one of these will set you back well over $150k for a late model coach. Some of the nicer coaches will set you back about $200k with options. Now, if Greyhound were to outfit more of their coaches like the Greyhound Unleashed coach you would see a major change in the perception of intercity buses. I don't know if they're still running it as originally outfitted-it had a different paint scheme and up to date in-seat entertainment equipment pretty much like airline first class.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
pwm2txlhopper
Posts: 1140
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RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:54 pm

Not only is Amtrak booming along the Northeast Corridor, but further north as well. About five years ago Amtrak started service between Portland, Maine and Boston-North Station, with five trains per day. In 2006, this route saw a 30% jump in traffic and this was the largest increase in ridership out of all the routes Amtrak operates. Is was also one of their most successful trains, and is known as the Downeaster. Supposedly, 4 out of their 5 daily trains are full the local media reports.. Often a week or two ahead of time.... Yet, as like all passenger railroads, as much ridership as this train has drawn it is still not profitable, and relies on a government subsidy. Yes, rail travel is efficient, but not usually profitable.





[Edited 2007-08-24 07:03:43]
 
CitrusCritter
Posts: 770
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 10:36 am

RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 2:15 pm

I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to take Amtrak. Admittedly, I've never done WAS-NYC on Acela, but I've done WAS-Baltimore and the absolutely terrible long-distance train of WAS-CAE. I will never again step on an Amtrak long-distrance train, and it'd take a lot for me to choose Acela over the US or DL shuttle to LGA. Amtrak is nothing but a disaster with poorer service than the airlines, just as much of a chance of a delay (maybe not on Acela to NYC, but otherwise), and more or less as cramped -- for a much longer period of time.

We should let Amtrak fold. If a private company wants to run their profitable routes like the WAS-BOS corridor and the Auto Train, then let them. Otherwise, let it go under if it can't stay afloat. What a waste of money for so little return. I'd rather sit in FR Y for an 8 hour flight than get on an Amtrak overnight long distance train!
 
tcfc424
Posts: 444
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2003 11:56 am

RE: Amtrak Booming In The NE US

Fri Aug 24, 2007 2:22 pm

As far as Texas is concerned, there are several rail projects worthy of mention. First is the Governor's Trans Texas Corridor. This is basically a huge freeway system with a significant rail component. Three lanes each way, with three tracks each way...2 freight lines and 1 high speed (close to 200 mph) passenger rail line.

Second is the previously mentioned rail corridor linking AUS-DAL-HOU. Each of these plans has significant opposition. I am more familiar with the latter, having recently talked with the Austin rail Authority (Capital Metro). One of the biggest obstacles they have to overcome is that freight trumps passengers unless the rail is owned by passenger rail....i.e. why AMTRAK is frequently late. They want to use the old Missouri-Pacific line that runs through town, but UPRR says they can't dlo that unless they build UPRR a secondary line (Expensive and NIMBY).

I think high-speed passenger rail connecting regional areas is EXCELLENT! I love going to SAT, and would love to do so using AMTRAK. There are a couple of factors preventing that, however. #1, AMTRAK is not reliable (time-wise). It is frequent that their trains run many hours (if not days) late. Second is the timing. The Friday night train from AUS-SAT is great, leave at 8:00 pm, arrive at ~10:00 pm, in downtown SA. The return at 6:00 am Sunday is a little early though.

The station location in Austin is good, because it is very close to the entertainment and convention district. It is also in a high-crime area and I would not feel too comfortable leaving my vehicle there overnight.

AMTRAK could make some serious money (and really screw WN) if they focused specific operations in Texas. If they operated a AUS-SAT-HOU route, they could steal passengers away, and could take a good number of cars off the road. A single train each way every day though is not going to get those business travelers that travel that route frequently. Frequency and reliability are two areas AMTRAK sorely lacks in this area.

I often price the train when taking a trip, hoping that someday it will work out. Each time, I have been met with great disappointment, both because of price and because of time. Maybe it's time this nation invested in it's rail system like we invested in the interstate highway system so long ago. Just food for thought.

Kudos in the NE corridor AMTRAK.

Mike S. in AUS

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