Anderson possible changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby R&DB » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:58 am

george matthews » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:05 am

Their long distance trains are horribly SLOW. Solve that problem and people would want to use them in huge numbers.

Amtrak equipment is capable of faster service. The problem is they are running behind slow freight trains. The freight haulers own the tracks and dispatch all trains. Their priority is to keep the the freight moving and not stopping a stuff train to let a people train pass. Many historic routes that were multi-tracked were down graded to single track and lower quality track in the 70s and 80s. Now with freight traffic at an all time high, the existing infrastructure is not capable of all the demands made upon it. Perhaps Amtrak needs to find a way to make it more profitable to the Class 1 railroads to prioritize Amtrak trains (as mandated by Congress at the beginning of Amtrak) and improve infrastructure to maximize speed.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby eolesen » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:30 am

In other words, the fees Amtrak pays for accessing the BNSF/CN/CP/CSX/NS/UP need to increase so they can be as profitable as the Z trains? That money would have to come from somewhere, and it shouldn’t be taxpayers. It needs to be reflected in the fares. People already pay more for Acela vs Regional, but I don’t think they’ll want to pay more for cutting an hour or two from the existing schedules.

Ultimately, Amtrak’s problem on the LD “network” isn’t speed. It is a lack of interest by the general public to take a “rail cruise” when they simply want to get from A to B as quickly and economically as possible. Nothing anyone at Amtrak can do will overcome that. We aren’t Europe where freight rarely goes by rail, or Asia where population density and dedicated ROW make high speed practical.

Those seeking the nostalgia factor of rail travel are literally dying off. Few of us now in our 50’s rode LD trains prior to Amtrak, and we are decreasingly the ones making vacation purchasing decisions for family vacations. Amtrak can’t survive as a network reliant on retirees...

There really is no easy solution to the LD network. Yet the corridors are strong.

Typically, a business would focus on its strengths, not fixing its perpetual weaknesses.

Look at retail. Those who clung to 1960’s retailing models are now dead or dying. The large retailers who accepted the Walmart model survived, and now they’re having to adapt to Amazon. Others turned to high value/quality specialties, and survive in spite of mass merchandisers and the Internet.

It’s time that Amtrak supporter he realizes that airplanes and cars are here to stay, much like Amazon and Walmart. Someone had better figure out how to adjust the business model, and yes, that would mean alienating some of the current customer base. When you’re in survival mode, that option has to be on the table.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby R&DB » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:35 am

eolesen » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:30 am

See my post in the Amtrak Diner and Food Service Discussion thread. It all depends of how fast you need to get there, how much comfort (or discomfort) you want and what you are willing to pay for those choices. And remember there are those who can't or won't fly and do not want to drive long distances. Also the taxpayer subsidies to support air and road travel are enormous at all governmental levels compared to what passenger rail travel receives.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby oamundsen » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:12 am

R&DB, There is also the fact that most advanced nations in the world do in fact have extensive and intensive railroad based short and long distance passenger service and their citizens seem to be accepting of what some have called out modded or nostalgic based means of getting about their nations and their continents! The US is the outlier in all this.
Over some 15+ years of fairly frequent travel across the US and Canada in sleepers on Amtrak and VIA, we have met many diverse people while having a meal in the dining car. Several months ago, on the CZ we had breakfast with an eastbound senior Delta Airlines pilot who was traveling by train because he was suffering from deep vein thromboses acquired while flying couch deadheading back from a long international flight. A few years back, while we were aboard the Canadian, a Canadian federal employee boarded in Winnipeg where he had heart surgery after suffering a heart attack on a flight from Toronto to Edmonton, his doctors would not allow him to travel by air, bus or car due to his recovery needs and so he completed the journey by train in the section next to us. We have met large numbers of elderly and/or disabled passengers who travel by train because for the most part it will better accommodate their needs for rest, access, room for assistance gear and/or because air or bus service is no longer available or they cannot handle long sitting in cramped seats without adequate rest or food. Lately, we have noticed many more families traveling in sleepers with their young children, the whole family getting more rest that way according to those we have spoken with.

There have been some comments regarding the needs of disabled persons and suggesting that they simply not travel: in a civil society, when citizens, either through the fates of birth or as the former Secretary of HHS, the late Arthur Fleming, said "those who suffer from the vicissitudes of life" we, as a nation, help them in full knowledge that such events can strike anyone of us even when young and strong as with our wounded veterans. It must surly be a tiny minority which cannot understand the absolute need for the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and the role a national passenger railroad system plays in addressing the travel needs and options for all Americans.

We have met numerous foreign travelers who want to really see our country from the ground up and visit cities along the way as they are used to in Europe, Japan or China. We have met on the CZ couples traveling from Chicago to Denver just for a weekend getaway or to see a favorite music group and they found that an overnight trip with dinner and breakfast was a far better way of traveling between those cities than other modes. There seems to be a huge variety of good reasons for long distance trains in our country but we have been unable to come up with a long term national passenger transportation plan which would examine and give guidance for infrastructure/operational funding of all modes of passenger travel and better develop the integration of each mode with the other. Maybe if we did, we would be better able to meet the real travel needs of this and the next century with more enjoyable, efficient,environmentally friendly and effective ways of getting about for business, pleasure and expanded knowledge of each other.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:40 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Really now, anyone about to ride 270 miles Chicago - Detroit on this?

Sorry, I'll be on I-94, listening to the Premium Audio in my buggy and making a stop off at Schuler's in Marshall for a good hunk of cow.

To be honest, it sounds like Amtrak has already lost you as its target audience CHI-DET. No roomette or bedroom accommodations, no big honking steak whether fresh off the cow or vacuum-packed, and no control over your own destiny for the last mile on either end. The best Anderson can and should do is to invest in the physical plant and equipment, so future passengers don’t have to suffer the indignity of sitting stopped for hours on a 110 mph railroad.

Matt Johnson wrote:I have nothing against a good DMU or even a mediocre one on a commuter run, even if I prefer more exotic propulsion.

Ew, no. That’s like expecting a limo and getting this limo instead.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:09 pm

Ole Jr., if DPM were still alive, he could not have penned a better essay on the joys of train travel than you have presented to this Forum.

But I doubt if any of such is why no prior Amtrak management has been given the vote of confidence that Mr. Anderson has received from Congress with 1.9B of "votes".

However, that $1.9B was not granted to restore the glory of LD travel as you have described. It was given to provide passenger rail transportation in such where such could be competitive in total transit time, and at rates and attractiveness to generate public acceptance.

The Acela, despite the reported mechanical nightmare of the equipment, has shown such public acceptance, and along with the other Regional trains, is "putting more into the cookie jar than being taken out" to run them. Localities within nine different regions have determined there is need for such service and has agreed to fund such to one extent or the other. Coupled with this Local funding, those services collectively are a "push" with the cookie jar.

The Appropriation is directed towards Maintenance of Way and Structures; not Maintenance of Equipment or Transportation (terms from the ICC/STB Chart of Accounts).

None of this should be directed towards maintaining, let alone expanding the LD system, yet about one third of it "replenishes the cookie jar" for what these services have taken out.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby R&DB » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:18 pm

oamundsen » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:12 am
R&DB, There is also the fact that most advanced nations in the world do in fact have extensive and intensive railroad based short and long distance passenger service and their citizens seem to be accepting of what some have called out modded or nostalgic based means of getting about their nations and their continents! The US is the outlier in all this.

The only countries I would use for comparison would be Canada, Russia, China and Australia. They are the only ones with a similar mix of traffic and large spaces. Russia and China rail is state-owned. Canada's situation is very similar to ours. Not sure of Australia's but probably similar to ours.
I think Mr. Anderson should look into Congressional action for Amtrak on-time performance with the Class 1s. That said, Amtrak should never have been set up as a for-profit corporation.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:22 pm

mtuandrew wrote:
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sorry, I'll be on I-94, listening to the Premium Audio in my buggy and making a stop off at Schuler's in Marshall for a good hunk of cow.

To be honest, it sounds like Amtrak has already lost you as its target audience CHI-DET.


Mr. Stephens, I could well be listening to a disc of Mahler's Ninth. No audio system can do this magnificent work the justice it deserves, even if that in my Red Lex makes a good stab at it. I last heard it live performed by the Cleveland Orchestra this past January in Miami. The Chicago Symphony performed it during the just-closing season, but it wasn't part of my subscription, and "I just wasn't up to it" that night to go in for an "extra" - and maybe end up in the rafters with a "nosebleed". :-D

Oh, and ask Mr. Dunville about that "cow" at Schulers. :wink:
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby R&DB » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:45 pm

Mr Norman said:
No audio system can do this magnificent work the justice it deserves, even if that in my Red Lex makes a good stab at it.

Your problem with your audio systems is they are solid state and your source (disc) is digital. Neither of these reproduce sounds they way the human ear does. If you want to get close to a live performance you need get an analog source (turntable or analog tape) and amplify that source through high quality tube equipment and high quality speakers. (Ear buds won't work.)
Oh, forgot to say I worked in the audio industries for over 45 years.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby eolesen » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:22 pm

R&DB wrote:The only countries I would use for comparison would be Canada, Russia, China and Australia. They are the only ones with a similar mix of traffic and large spaces. Russia and China rail is state-owned. Canada's situation is very similar to ours. Not sure of Australia's but probably similar to ours.


Australia's long and medium distance network is all state funded, not nationally. The longest routes are a single round-trim each (SYD-PER, ADL-DRW), and comparable in length to the Chicago-West Coast routes Amtrak serves. As I understand it, the rails and ROW are mostly government owned, with maintenance & operations contracted out to a mix of for-profit operators and state managed/owned operators.

R&DB wrote:I think Mr. Anderson should look into Congressional action for Amtrak on-time performance with the Class 1s. That said, Amtrak should never have been set up as a for-profit corporation.


Arguably, the problem is that Amtrak was set up as a government corporation... Perhaps if the solution had been a direct subsidy to UP, BN, etc. to operate services, it would have been better managed. Both UP and BN/BNSF have done a fairly good job operating contracted services for Metra.

Understandably, commuter service is different in nature, but when it's your name associated with the failures and your employees manning the throttle, I suspect the dispatchers might respond differently than they do with Amtrak.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:33 pm

R&DB wrote:Your problem with your audio systems is they are solid state and your source (disc) is digital.

Oh, forgot to say I worked in the audio industries for over 45 years.


WAAAY off topic, Mr. R&DB.

Thank you for what appears to be an informed explanation for all the chatter I hear and read about "back to vinyl" and "analog rocks".
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby adamj023 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:54 pm

eolesen wrote:
R&DB wrote:The only countries I would use for comparison would be Canada, Russia, China and Australia. They are the only ones with a similar mix of traffic and large spaces. Russia and China rail is state-owned. Canada's situation is very similar to ours. Not sure of Australia's but probably similar to ours.


Australia's long and medium distance network is all state funded, not nationally. The longest routes are a single round-trim each (SYD-PER, ADL-DRW), and comparable in length to the Chicago-West Coast routes Amtrak serves. As I understand it, the rails and ROW are mostly government owned, with maintenance & operations contracted out to a mix of for-profit operators and state managed/owned operators.

R&DB wrote:I think Mr. Anderson should look into Congressional action for Amtrak on-time performance with the Class 1s. That said, Amtrak should never have been set up as a for-profit corporation.


Arguably, the problem is that Amtrak was set up as a government corporation... Perhaps if the solution had been a direct subsidy to UP, BN, etc. to operate services, it would have been better managed. Both UP and BN/BNSF have done a fairly good job operating contracted services for Metra.

Understandably, commuter service is different in nature, but when it's your name associated with the failures and your employees manning the throttle, I suspect the dispatchers might respond differently than they do with Amtrak.


It is amazing how busy the freight railroads are today across the USA. At the rail yards, and across the system you see loads of rail cars being moved. Dedicated tracks for Amtrak are being worked on with thr Acca Yard bypass and many other projects across the system, too many to name. Dedicated bypasses, crossovers, and adding more tracks and the like are all being implemented.

Lots of different high speed rail corridors exist and projects have indeed been funded and are being worked on right now.

Funding limitations and states which don’t have a huge appetite for high speed rail are problems however.

Some projects like Harold Interlocking and Acca Yard seem to have had delays in implementation and others so in the USA, upgrades do seem to come at a slow pace.

I don’t see Anderson an an issue with any of this and any CEO would have the same challenges as you have complex dealings with local, state and federal government. This isn’t a true private company. If there was real profit potential in high speed rail, it would accelerate growth and implementation but as of now private sector investment is still minimal with no proven path to profitability as of yet.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby frequentflyer » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:14 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:
R&DB wrote:Your problem with your audio systems is they are solid state and your source (disc) is digital.

Oh, forgot to say I worked in the audio industries for over 45 years.


WAAAY off topic, Mr. R&DB.

Thank you for what appears to be an informed explanation for all the chatter I hear and read about "back to vinyl" and "analog rocks".


Don't forget your high end cables and power cords to tie the system together. :-D :-D :wink:

Back to subject, there is nothing to save about Amtrak. The question is stay the course of 47 years or go in a new direction. Anderson is for a new direction.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:24 pm

frequentflyer wrote:Back to subject, there is nothing to save about Amtrak. The question is stay the course of 47 years or go in a new direction. Anderson is for a new direction.

Anderson is thinking the way a businessman should, cut costs and aim for profitability, which would be towards the GOP's dream: an IPO.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
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Re: Save Amtrak; Fire Anderson

Postby Mackensen » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:28 pm

eolesen wrote:
Arguably, the problem is that Amtrak was set up as a government corporation... Perhaps if the solution had been a direct subsidy to UP, BN, etc. to operate services, it would have been better managed. Both UP and BN/BNSF have done a fairly good job operating contracted services for Metra.

Understandably, commuter service is different in nature, but when it's your name associated with the failures and your employees manning the throttle, I suspect the dispatchers might respond differently than they do with Amtrak.


This solution was considered at the time, but none of the parties involved (the railroads, Congress, Nixon) were in favor of a "direct subsidy." The railroads wanted out, and saw a direct subsidy as a lifeline they neither asked for nor wanted. Congress was worried about the massive sums required to prop up the passenger network as it existed under private ownership. Remember: the railroads were losing money hand over first; some were in bankruptcy. We know what the private sector alternative looks like. The direct subsidy plans also didn't grapple with the thorny question of capital renewal. By 1971 most of the passenger fleet was falling apart.
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