Cardinal discussion

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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Arlington » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:41 pm

My doodle for CIN retiming ridership now looks like this:
102k current ridership of Cardinal
- 8k losses at CHW as CHW gets graveyard shift
- 8k losses in WVx as rest of WV gets graveyard shift
- 17k losses of 100% of CHI LD connection connectivity including those who can't see the NRG
- 4k in Cardinal local (no LD via CHI) passengers who ride solely and exclusively to gaze into the NRG in daylight
+80k gains at CIN
-------------------
145k ridership (a net gain of 43k, aka a 40%+ gain in ridership)

[EDIT/ADD] Revenue and overall profitability is an interesting question. It really depends on how expensive food on the western LDs is, and what share of CHI-WAS could actually be reaccommodated on the LSL or CL--and make those trains *better* performing if LD connections were squeezed off the Cardinal and onto LSL & CL running fuller, kind of like chasing the diner-fans from the Star to the Meteor, they need not be lost as customers, so add this row:

+5k of ridership spilled off of Cardinal connections that'd be recaptured on LSL or CL
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby CComMack » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:12 pm

These numbers look about right to me. I don't know that there's a lot of slack capacity on the LSL and CL to pick up displaced NEC-CHI passengers, or at least there won't be until the V-IIs are accepted and the V-I overhauls are done.

Actually, it occurs to me that if the new OXF station gets service at a reasonable hour, a retimed Cardinal could lose *100%* of its current ridership and still make it up from new passengers at CIN, OXF, and IND. And as a counter to those who think the Cardinal is better off as two day corridors CHI-CIN and CVS-NYP with no overnight bridge between them: Southwest Ohio has surprisingly strong connections to the Northeast. A lot of that new CIN/OXF ridership will be going east. I might finally use the train to visit my parents, or vice-versa, for example.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Arlington » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:44 pm

^ I am hoping that we see added capacity utilization once all Single Level LD consists are free of heritage equipment (neither bags nor diners) to turn faster and be ready to go back out sooner. (See the V-II topic). Basically reliable diners should yield more deployable sleeper capacity.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Literalman » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:32 pm

In reply to a couple of comments above: I think that the Cardinal goes to New York not to handle passengers between there and Chicago but because New York is Amtrak's biggest market, and a lot of the passengers from Virginia and West Virginia would be traveling to New York and other Northeast Corridor points north of Washington. A guaranteed connection at Washington might work well enough if the Cardinal reliably ran on time. At one time it was a Superliner train with end points in Chicago and Washington.

North Philadelphia, both the neighborhood and the station, are bad. People in Philadelphia and its suburbs don't want to get off at North Philly or go there to board a train. Most Amtrak passengers at North Philly are, I understand, connecting to and from Chestnut Hill locals. Yes, through trains used to stop there rather than 30th Street to save time between New York and points west. I once boarded Amtrak's National Limited at North Philly. Nowadays I would think more than twice before using that station. I believe that Amtrak found that 30th Street was a much better place, with better local transit access, to serve Philadelphia. I agree. It would be nice if a train between New York and points west didn't have to change ends there, but North Philadelphia is not an acceptable substitute to serve the market. Back in the Pennsylvania Railroad days, through trains skipped 30th Street and called only at North Philly, but I believe there were other trains you could ride directly between 30th Street and Chicago.

As for the Cardinal schedule, yes, it should be daily, and, yes, the train is trying to be too many things. Amtrak President Paul Reistrup said that every route should have service at least twice daily. Two trains a day on the Cardinal route could, between them, serve every station at a reasonable time, offering better schedules for travel to and from Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Charleston, New York, and Chicago.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Arlington » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:30 pm

Literalman wrote:In reply to a couple of comments above: I think that the Cardinal goes to New York not to handle passengers between there and Chicago but because New York is Amtrak's biggest market, and a lot of the passengers from Virginia and West Virginia would be traveling to New York and other Northeast Corridor points north of Washington. A guaranteed connection at Washington might work well enough if the Cardinal reliably ran on time. At one time it was a Superliner train with end points in Chicago and Washington.


The Cardinal goes to NYP because people in Charlottesville want to go to NYP. CVS-NYP is the #1 city pair by revenue for the Cardinal! (and #5 by ridership).

This goes back to a point made by ThirdRail7: the Cardinal is two corridor trains, CHI-CIN and CVS-NYP, that happens to roll overnight between CIN and CVS (and, to my mind, can't quite get the timing at CIN right, but makes a decent CVS-CHI), much the same way that the Silver Star is two corridor trains: MIA-JAX and Pinehurst SC to NYP, that happens to roll overnight between JAX and Pinehurst.

The middle can only be as strong as:
1) If end-to-end makes sense (on the Cardinal it doesn't on the Crescent and Star its somewhat better and the Meteor and AT seem to do well)
2) If the 9p to 12m and 5a to 7a can hit decent sized midpoint markets
3) If the 1am to 4am doesn't miss big cities (something the Crescent misses (CLT) and Star misses (SAV and CLB))
4) If the midsection doesn't last too long (ideally, a big market at 11pm and big one at 7am, on the Star, Pinehurst and JAX hit these times exactly)

If Virginia was paying for a state overlay (for a second daily frequency) they could be counted on to be interested in the train as far as Clifton Forge (Homestead resort/Hot Springs VA) - Staunton (Midway between VMI/W&L & JMU) -Charlottesville. (There's a danger that since they can only turn a train at either ROA or LYH that they'll never invest in a good turning station anyplace else)

The Greenbrier would then want it extended to White Sulfur Springs, just 35miles and 50 minutes further, and maybe they or WV would pay in the name of tourism (and daily tourism at that). That's got to work about the same way that other lines like MARC into WV and MBTA into RI get done: a short extension is cheap and if ridership is good it makes sense.
After that the corridor--and the need to get to/from NYC-- ends real fast, and you see this in the ridership numbers.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:26 am

The Cardinal goes to NYP because that is where the single level long distance equipment is based.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby CComMack » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:04 pm

Alcochaser wrote:The Cardinal goes to NYP because that is where the single level long distance equipment is based.


Fallacy. The Cardinal did quite well, mechanically, as a CHI-WAS Superliner train, drawing on the Superliner base in the Greater Washington area (split between WAS for the Capitol Limited and Lorton for the Auto Train, of course). But the train does much better financially today, now that it can serve the CVS-NYP and CVS-PHL markets without a change of train.

If the Cardinal could be guaranteed excellent timekeeping over its route, the change of trains wouldn't matter, but that has never, ever been the case for Amtrak on a Class I's rails. I'm sure that Philly Amtrak Fan isn't the only person who's looked covetously at the Cardinal's Viewliners, thinking that they might make marginally more money on 65/66/67, or perhaps the Silver Meteor or Silver Star. But the meat and potatoes of the Cardinal is as a corridor day train, CHI-IND (for now) and CHW (for now)-NYP, and the Sleeper tail is wagged by the Coach dog.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby gokeefe » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:24 pm

That's an interesting point I've never thought of the Auto Train as part of the "pool" for that area but it clearly is. Combined with the Capitol Limited that makes Washington a unique terminal in terms of its ability to serve both single level and bi-level Amtrak fleets, along with electric and diesel-electric motive power.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:21 pm

CComMack wrote:
Alcochaser wrote:The Cardinal goes to NYP because that is where the single level long distance equipment is based.


Fallacy. The Cardinal did quite well, mechanically, as a CHI-WAS Superliner train, drawing on the Superliner base in the Greater Washington area (split between WAS for the Capitol Limited and Lorton for the Auto Train, of course). But the train does much better financially today, now that it can serve the CVS-NYP and CVS-PHL markets without a change of train.


Sorry, your wrong.

Look at when the Cardinal went to NYP. It was a about 1.5 years from when they changed from Superliners when they were pulled to put on the Autotrain.

Having the end point of the single level Cardinal at washington meant they would have to deadhead Cars on ether the LSL to Chicago or down the NEC from sunny side. It only took VERY short time before they just started running the train on to NYP. Ivy city normally doesn't deal with the single level long distance fleet. Sunny side is the "central" dispatch point for the single levels fleet. Chicago along with LA handles the Superliner Fleet.

The autotrain has its own pool of cars they generally are not mixed with the rest of the system, remember they had some superliners of a special config originally just for the Auto Train. (Lounges made from Diners and Deluxe Sleepers).

My answer that the extension of the Cardinal to NYP Having to do with the change to single level came right from someone at Amtrak. After 2 years of constantly having to deadhead stuff from NYP to CHI or WAS to put on the Cardinal, Amtrak just extended the train.

This is Amtrak we are talking about. YES, There are HUGE benefits to Cardinal Pax in going to NYP. But the first and foremost reason they did it was the ease operational hassles.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:01 pm

Alcochaser: so you're saying that the important part isn't running to NYP for passengers, but running there to bring equipment to/from Beech Grove? It makes a lot more sense to think of the Cardinal as a 3x/week equipment drag that happens to carry passengers than a passenger train that happens to deadhead equipment. Makes it easier to transfer equipment, since you don't have to find yard space at either CHI or WAS. That also explains the timetable - arrival time from the east is optimized to hit IND during the morning shift at Beech Grove. It's kind of an accident that the train hits WV during daylight.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:21 pm

It was a nice bonus. Has nothing to do with the grove though. The Cardinal rarely handles deadheads east of Indy unless it's a high priority move.

It has everything to do with the Single Level LD fleet being pretty much based out of Sunnyside. Washington isn't a terminal for trains that have LD single level cars used in 2003 and 2004. (Amfleet IIs, Heritage Diners and Dorms, and Viewliner Sleepers)

Don't forget that the original single level Cardinal was a FULL consist train. Heritage dorm, and Heritage diner included. Wasn't until the GREAT FREEZE UP, those were removed from the cardinal. Replaced with a Horizon Dinette set up for Diner Lite. Thats right the first Diner Lite used a Horizon Car.

So anytime for whatever reason a Car needed replaced on the Cardinal, Sunnyside had to dispatch it as a deadhead on the LSL or the NEC to the endpoints of the Cardinal.

Ivy City isn't the biggest place ether. The train sat there taking up yard space too, and used cars they couldn't use for anything else.

The fact that it helped Cardinal ridership is an ACCIDENT! I hate to be cynical here, but as I said this is AMTRAK we are talking about. This was all about operational efficiencies.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby east point » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:09 pm

The Cardinal's equipment going to NYP has the additional advantage of the equipment cross interchanging at different times to the LSL, Crescent, Silver Star & Meteor. Cardinal equipment often needs to go to MIA for some more than just turn servicing.
IMO the only need for turning sleepers at WASH would be the ability to get more longer distance passengers. Example Crescent , Star, Meteor each drop 1 or more sleepers at WASH and then south bounds of those trains pick up cars which ever needs to go to MIA. The Cardinal can go to SSY and interchange with at of the 4 single level routes out of NYP.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby bratkinson » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:22 pm

Alcochaser & East Point hit the nail on the head. Sunnyside is where the supply of spare single level LD equipment is kept. So is the supply of spare parts and mechanics trained on those specific car types. And, as well documented, robbing Peter to pay Paul is not unheard of when it comes to getting any of the LD trains 'out the door'. Cycling through SSY also allows frozen cars to head South every now and then to thaw out.

Also, other than Auto Train (which is separate unto itself, as I understand), there are NO long distance OBS crew based in Washington. If there were, could you imagine what would happen if two OBS staff called out sick and there wasn't anybody rested or even in town to take their place? At NYP, as well as CHI and other major cities where multiple LD trains originate/terminate, there's usually an LD OBS person or 3 that can take an extra run when needed. Not so in WAS.

re: adding or dropping cars at WAS...If the 48/49/448/449 'crew' at Albany/Rensaeller is any gauge, the trains would lose an extra 30 minutes over and above the engine change...and longer periods with no HEP, as well! Oh, and I just experienced a 16 minute engine change at NHV on train 148 a mere 20 minutes ago. They used to be faster when they split the train to go to Springfield...consistently 12-14 minutes as I recall.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Arlington » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:20 am

Not good news for the Cardinal's economics (though WV fans will also see it as less of a reason to retime to chase CIN traffic, its going to be grim in what, today, is the Cardinal's #5 market by revenue, CIN-CHI ): Southwest airlines to fly from Cincinnati (CVG) to MDW (Chicago Midway) and BWI starting in June 2017:
New city! Cincinnati - Baltimore/Washington (BWI) 3 daily nonstops
New city! Cincinnati - Chicago (Midway) 5 Su-F, 4 Sa
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:55 am

I doubt additional air travel will take away passengers, especially if such routes already exist. I can't imagine Cincinnati doesn't already have direct flights to both the Chicago and DC areas (although might be to O'Hare and Dulles or National). The people who take Amtrak now probably wouldn't care how many flights there were and people who think of flights first are already lost to Amtrak. I doubt Amtrak can legitimately compete with planes for LD travel until it gets its speeds up.
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