Cardinal discussion

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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:20 pm

CComMack wrote:
Sorry, but this is taking the thing to be proven as a given. Sure, if you're running single-level equipment on the Cardinal, there are blindingly obvious operational reasons to run the train out of NYP/Sunnyside and not WAS/Ivy City. But why is Amtrak running single-level equipment on the Cardinal in the first place? Either the opportunity cost of using Viewliners and Amfleets (and not assigning those cars to the Silver Service or 65/66/67) is lower than that of using Superliners (and not assigning those cars to the Auto Train), or that opportunity cost is slightly higher but is of a smaller magnitude than the revenue jump from extending to NYP.

Even Amtrak knows how to do this math, and they would not have made such a major decision without it.


That anwser is dead simple. There were not enough of them.

When the superliner equipped Auto Train derailed in the 2002 timeframe. There were not enough running to replace the ones on the auto train. The cars from the Cardinal were needed to restore operation of the auto train. So they were sent to Lorton and used there.

The Cardinal was equipped with the sleepers from the twilight shoreliner and what other little bit of extra cars could be wrung from the single level fleet. Often that meant high cap coaches from the amfleet 1 and horizon fleets. At least until 6 horizon cars got 60 seat mods. Lounges were a mix of horizon and amfleet of various types. Diners at the time did have some extras (thanks to the Timosina rebuilds) but those went during the next shortage during a freeze.

You have to remember the era. Warrington had badly neglected repairing things, and lots were FULL of wrecks. Gunn was literally one derailment away from having to cut service.


Things have obviously changed. We have come back from the brink. But since then we have lost the three rivers. So the Cardinal is locked into being the second NYP CHI train.

Amtrak is forced to do a lot of this stuff do to limitations with equipment.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:34 pm

A second NYP CHI train no one rides between the two cities. Should've just kept the some people did use but of course Byrd wouldn't have it.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:52 pm

Ohh I agree. Loosing the Three Rivers was a bit short sighted.

Gunn killed it because it carried a lot of mail. But it had a big benefit too.

It freed the LSL from having to be the cleanup train for late trains from the west. When the TR was around the eastbound LSL used to leave CHI in time to have dinner in the diner.

Okay yeah, I will freely admit the B&O route west of Pittsburgh had WORSE online traffic then the Cardinal does now. Fostoria, Garrett, and Napanee....... LOL But it was a fast route thanks to the CSX upgrade for the CR de-merger
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:02 pm

CComMack and Alcochaser: thanks for asking and answering the question I was trying to get! What threshold of Superliner availability would make Amtrak change back? I'm assuming it's no use converting to bilevel without also making the train daily. Here's my count, let me know how wrong I am :P

Four sets, each:
-2 Geneses (8 total)
-1 bag* (4 total)
-3 coaches (12 total)
-1 lounge or Cross-Country Cafe (4 total)
-2 sleepers (8 total)

How's it look?

*this could use H-bags for as long as Amtrak has cars to run the wheels off - no 125 mph NEC to contend with, and Beech can set out cars as necessary
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:17 pm

Superliners have pinch hit as recently as March of 2015. And before that Jan 2014. Freeze ups will occasionally cause Amtrak to pull the single level cars for other trains.

A sample consist was as follows for the most recent version of the superliner Cardinal
#2 P42DC
#1245 Heritage baggage
#34001 superliner coach
#35001 superliner coach
#37011 cross country cafe
#32073 Superliner sleeper
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBjSu2Wn-XU

Yep that is all you need. I would prefer a Superliner Sightseer Lounge. But I guess they can't handle dinner lite.

Othertimes they didn't have time to switch consists around and used a full Capitol Limited trainset.

Sinca ARRA, the Superliner fleet has recovered enough that it could go back. I honestly liked the Superliner Cardinal better.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:29 pm

Recovered enough to go to Superliners 3x/week, or to add a full weekly schedule? (With due regard to the Buckingham Branch's limitations.)
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:03 am

I am not sure to be honest. I think however the Cardinal is a single level train to stay

They do have more Superliners available in the winter then peak season. The super liner consists shrink this time a year. Which is a good thing as they are made available to pinch hit for single level stuff that freezes up. The Michigan trains go superliner in the winter a lot too.

Peak season however, I think they want the available superliners available to run on the western trains.

I just don't see the will from management to go back to Superliners on the Cardinal.

I am more worried about the ex C&O from Northern Junction towards Cincinnati.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby bratkinson » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:08 am

In addition to the major benefit of having all single level equipment maintained at Sunnyside, I have little doubt that perhaps one of the main reasons the Cardinal has not been converted back is purely financial. Given a captive 'set' of, what?... 3 coaches, 1 Amdinette/diner-light and 1 Viewliner sleeper per train (2 viewliners the past 2 summers when Florida traffic is light) that makes about 1.5 round trips per week (3 nights), which generates more revenue/car/week? A Viewliner sleeper on the Cardinal or a Superliner sleeper on the Southwest Chief that generates 1.25 RT/week (5 nights)? Do the same calculations with the coaches and food cars. Revenue management 101 dictates you put your best earning assets where they get the most revenue. Keeping the Superliners out west makes the most money with them, especially since the revenue numbers on the Cardinal are near the bottom.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:51 am

Current Consist is as following.

P42DC (sometimes another if a PV movement is occurring)
Two to Four Amfleet iI coaches
One Amfleet II Lounge
One Amfleet 1 Club-Dinette (unstaffed for current Business class)
One or Two Viewliner Sleeper
One Viewliner II Baggage
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:22 pm

The Cardinal Is in the CLEAR.

There is a CSXT produced map posted elsewhere titled "Transforming the Network", breaking down which lines are part of their "primary network"and which lines are part of their "Local network". Tracks in blue are the "Primary network" that will allegedly form the "3" Regions, while tracks shown in yellow are marked "Local Network" and are the lines allegedly comprising the "4th" region, dubbed "The Shortline Region" Map also shows Capital Investmenst for 2016 and 2017, which dominate the west side of the system. Of the 31 project locations shown, all but 4 are in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, WESTERN Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and western Georgia.

The lines comprising the "local network" reportedly will have NO scheduled "Q" trains and any "through" traffic will be limited to low priority bulk commodity unit trains. Otherwise, lines only host local service to the degree line supports. ALL of these lines are "rumored" to be for sale or lease.

The C&O from Cincinnati to Richmond VA is marked Blue. Which for the Cardinal is good.
The reason that the C&O from Cincinnati to Russel is blue, is that CSX has put the entire C&O from Russel KY north as yellow (except Toledo to Detroit)

(I will wait while you all pick yourselves up off the floor)

Yes EVERY EX C&O LINE IN MICHIGAN AND OHIO (Except Toledo to Detroit) is slated for downgrade. So this save for the Cardinal comes at a tremendous cost.

GOOD news is the Monon and P&E are BLUE as is the ex B&O from Indy to Cincinnati.

Buckingham Branch is status quo.

Of course this now puts the Perre Marquette as potentially threatened, but that is a new thread.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Arlington » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:06 pm

^Link, please?
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Backshophoss » Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:59 pm

It would help if there's a map showing these changes,CSX is a very large RR.
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby east point » Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:00 pm

if superliners were added back to the Cardinal you loose those cars for other Superliner trains. Especially sleepers that could be assigned to say Capitol or CNO. And if CNO is extended to Florida then all that equipment will be needed there. Coaches from NS are not going to help free up the necessary equipment.
Frankly this equipment problem is IMO so bad that Amtrak may just be a derailment away from having to cancel a train or make it a three day a week operation. ( HORRORS )
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:05 am

I highly doubt Amtrak will go to cutting a currently daily train to 3 days a week. Amtrak tried that more back in the 90's when they alternated the Empire Builder/Pioneer and the California Zephyr/Desert Wind and then flat out canceled the Pioneer and Desert Wind and made the others daily. I'd personally rather have a train 3x/week than no train at all but all the statistics show that 3x/week hurts the financial performance of a train.

Another option would be if they run out of sleepers is to run an overnight train without sleepers. Currently the Night Owl runs without sleepers and surely any market would rather keep their train w/o sleepers than lose it. As much as people don't like not having dining cars it has to be better than Amtrak flat out canceling the train. The Three Rivers started out with coach only before they were able to add sleepers and they never got a dining car. I'd take an overnight sleeper less, dining car less Three Rivers than not having one (I have never used a sleeper and I eat most of my meals from the cafe car).

Hopefully if it comes down to flat out canceling a route they finally do the right thing and not cancel a good route to save Byrd Crap again. At least now Byrd's dead. Hopefully the decision as to what route(s) get canceled is based on performance and not who has the most power in the Senate. If Amtrak kills off a worthless train or two it might improve their financial performance.

I think it would make a lot of sense to remove the sleeper from the Cardinal if push comes to shove as it probably has the lowest percentage of long distance passengers and the lowest percentage of passengers that need/use sleepers. No one's going to need a sleeper going from Chicago to Indy and probably not for passengers traveling between Charlottesville and Washington/New York either (and they still have the Crescent for that purpose). I'm sure they don't want to lose their sleepers but it's got to be better than losing the train (assuming you care about Byrd Crap to begin with).
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Re: Cardinal discussion

Postby Alcochaser » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:09 am

During one of the big winter freeze ups, the Cardinal lost all cars except the lounge and the coaches. Maybe 7 ish years ago?
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