Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, gprimr1, Amtrak67 of America, Tadman

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:24 pm

I think the above is reasonable analysis. But it really illustrates the bind that Amtrak is always in ... Calls for more "service" on board at the expense of ridership and revenues. Amtrak has had a laser like focus on ridership and revenues now for over 10 years and the biggest payoff is just around the corner, operational self-sufficiency and all of the freedoms that implies.

I don't think the Avelia Liberty trainsets are going to be "the one" for the introduction/reintroduction of additional amenities to business travelers. However, I do think there will be room for Amtrak to breathe and consider these kinds of modifications at a later date.
gokeefe
User avatar
gokeefe
 
Posts: 9808
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:28 pm
Location: Winthrop, Maine

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Matt Johnson » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:38 pm

Amtrak seems to have a winning formula with the existing Acela service. Don't fix what ain't broken I say! Not that new amenities aren't worth consideration, but I'm glad they're building on the success of the Acela brand with new trains that will offer comparable accommodations and superior performance.
User avatar
Matt Johnson
 
Posts: 3820
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 3:57 pm
Location: Hazlet, NJ

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby alewifebp » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:44 pm

With an airline executive at the helm, I'd say that enhanced options for the premier service are certainly being considered. The airline industry is in sort of a golden age of first class travel. Current business class is the old first class, and first class is something different all together. Delta in particular has created the One Suites offering. The shorter trips don't really require such an over the top experience, but something a little more enhanced would certainly be interesting.
We used to be WORMs, now we are WORBS. West Of Regal Bay Street
And yes, Bay Street IS BS.

Pictures: http://sdrv.ms/16NOZS8
User avatar
alewifebp
 
Posts: 1012
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2004 11:03 pm
Location: WORMland

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Arlington » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:14 am

Matt Johnson wrote:Amtrak seems to have a winning formula with the existing Acela service. Don't fix what ain't broken I say! Not that new amenities aren't worth consideration, but I'm glad they're building on the success of the Acela brand with new trains that will offer comparable accommodations and superior performance.


This'd be my advice. FASTER is the main amenity. Recall the Concorde: once class of service in tiny little seats, but dominated the high end through time-savings. Imagine a Star Trek Transporter or Elon Musk's Passenger Rocket to Shanghai. What kind of meal options? None. Need a conference room or a meal?book one on either end, not during the trip. As trip times shorten, and departures go twice-hourly, the odds that a trip will overlap a meal (or need to include one) go down, suggesting that the cafe gets *less* important, not more. Same goes for meeting space: as trip times shorten, the odds that you'll get a productive meeting in (or think you'd need/want to) go down, not up. The golden age of first class is on *long* trips--we're talking Europe and Dubai--not Airline Shuttle/NEC style.

Acela beat the airlines in WAS-NYC on total elapsed trip time to downtown in a slightly bigger seat--a proven, winning strategy. And frankly the airline response on the NEC is still focused on capacity, speed, short trip times, and streamlined terminal processes. Focus there. Avelia's lower energy costs and higher capacity also mean Avelia has all the flexibility that a low-cost carrier does to either "put the hurt" on the airlines by under-pricing them, or match their prices and bank the winnings--that kind of competitive position is much better than being larded up on amenities.

To keep this on-topic, to me that directly suggests upgrading lounge space and meal grab-and-go options at Acela stations, not onboard. FASTER means reducing terminal time: easy on and off doors (Avelia's are nice and wide) and more streamlined in-terminal experiences. Easier paths to car and transit connections.

And the biggest amenity fail of all: no seat available on the departure that best fits your schedule. So, CAPACITY and FREQUENCY are the second and third amenities to focus on. The passenger you bump to the next train has just suffered a :30 minute loss--something that would cost $1b in track upgrades if you wanted to fix it with a 186mph trip on the departure :30mins later instead of just making sure there was capacity on the 165mph trip leaving at a more convenient time. So fix it with CAPACITY and FREQUENCY. In a worse case, the passenger your café space bumps a full hour (two sold-out trains in a row) is probably lost to the airlines. Don't make that mistake.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington
 
Posts: 3264
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 7:51 am
Location: Medford MA (was Arlington MA and Arlington VA)

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby jamesinclair » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:17 pm

alewifebp wrote:With an airline executive at the helm, I'd say that enhanced options for the premier service are certainly being considered. The airline industry is in sort of a golden age of first class travel. Current business class is the old first class, and first class is something different all together. Delta in particular has created the One Suites offering. The shorter trips don't really require such an over the top experience, but something a little more enhanced would certainly be interesting.


This is incorrect, most airlines are pulling out first class and going to business, premium economy, and economy (and then basic economy).
jamesinclair
 
Posts: 2163
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:22 pm

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Arlington » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:22 pm

^ I think the key point (that jamesinclair has nailed and which even alewifebp seems prepared to concede) is that amenities are getting upgraded in long-haul flying, not in Air Shuttle / Acela markets.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington
 
Posts: 3264
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 7:51 am
Location: Medford MA (was Arlington MA and Arlington VA)

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby dt_rt40 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:49 pm

Excellent discussion here, that I'm sure no one from Amtrak will ever read.
I think, yeah, the Occam's razor/most obvious solution is just to stay the course, make Avelia an update of the things that made Acela successful. That's what will almost certainly happen. OTOH, one wonders if Amtrak really has the vision to exploit the widening gulf between rich and poor in the West. As someone else posted, we are currently in a golden age of first class air travel. What partly makes Acela successfully isn't that it's much faster - we all know it isn't - but that it has the cachet of exclusivity. It was more a triumph of marketing than technology in the final analysis. Well...maybe there's room for more of a good thing? (Good if you have > 1 million of liquid assets...or the egotism to spend like you do, when you don't.)
I think I posted along these lines a year or two ago and was jeered. So be it. I too have noticed the 'conference alcove' thingie on Thalys trains. The idea is begging to be taken further. Here's what I envision: take one end of the first class carriage. (oh yes, let's use the European term!) The motor side, because, srsly, does the engineer ever actually have to walk back to the train set while it's running? There's no such access on regionals obviously. Block it off and create a ultimate-luxury suite: 5 or 6 super-comfy chairs, fully reclining, a foldable conference table, and tiny mini-bar stocked with the best mini-bottles of champagne. Maybe a big screen TV, ultra-thin OLED should be available by then for a reasonable price, and easy to hide away if not wanted. Solid wall and curtains to completely separate it from the rest of the first class passengers. Soundproof, too. A couple could "join the 165 mph club" if they wanted too. What would really be over-the-top would be that section also having its own entry and exit doors, controllable by the first class purser, or suite occupants. (when the train is stopped of course!) I truly think they'd have no trouble finding people, right now, if Acela had such a feature, willing to pay $1000 or more per person, NYC to DC, for that privilege. Which would cover the revenue per square footage difference. "I'm so important I have my own door on the new Acela". (btw they'd be damn fools not to keep the Acela branding.) I think it would work. I know, peripherally, a couple families who do have roughly enough money to live that way, and you realize the showing-off aspect of that lifestyle is what drives a lot of the spending. They need people to know they can afford it. (Well, I should say a couple families for whom that is important; I also know of the very rich who prefer to a keep a low profile. But I think those are becoming a rarity these days!)
dt_rt40
 
Posts: 209
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2007 11:45 am
Location: MD

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:04 pm

Hey, if those $1000 fares pay for me to ride in coach, I’ll take it.
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 4078
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby electricron » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:55 pm

dt_rt40 wrote:I think I posted along these lines a year or two ago and was jeered. So be it. I too have noticed the 'conference alcove' thingie on Thalys trains. The idea is begging to be taken further. Here's what I envision: take one end of the first class carriage. (oh yes, let's use the European term!) The motor side, because, srsly, does the engineer ever actually have to walk back to the train set while it's running? There's no such access on regionals obviously. Block it off and create a ultimate-luxury suite: 5 or 6 super-comfy chairs, fully reclining, a foldable conference table, and tiny mini-bar stocked with the best mini-bottles of champagne. Maybe a big screen TV, ultra-thin OLED should be available by then for a reasonable price, and easy to hide away if not wanted. Solid wall and curtains to completely separate it from the rest of the first class passengers. Soundproof, too. A couple could "join the 165 mph club" if they wanted too. What would really be over-the-top would be that section also having its own entry and exit doors, controllable by the first class purser, or suite occupants. (when the train is stopped of course!) I truly think they'd have no trouble finding people, right now, if Acela had such a feature, willing to pay $1000 or more per person, NYC to DC, for that privilege. Which would cover the revenue per square footage difference. "I'm so important I have my own door on the new Acela". (btw they'd be damn fools not to keep the Acela branding.) I think it would work. I know, peripherally, a couple families who do have roughly enough money to live that way, and you realize the showing-off aspect of that lifestyle is what drives a lot of the spending. They need people to know they can afford it. (Well, I should say a couple families for whom that is important; I also know of the very rich who prefer to a keep a low profile. But I think those are becoming a rarity these days!)

For a thousand dollar each, six riders probably could hire an entire private railroad coach for a day like the Babbling Brook or Hickory Creek. I'll admit I don't know what they lease for per day, but they can't be that high or nobody would ride in them.
electricron
 
Posts: 3895
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:35 pm

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:01 am

More than $1,000 per day ...

The problem with "ultra" class is that you typically can't charge enough to make up the difference lost by volume for additional seats in lower tiers.
gokeefe
User avatar
gokeefe
 
Posts: 9808
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:28 pm
Location: Winthrop, Maine

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Tadman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:00 am

As a very frequent flyer, I'd like to address a few misconceptions here not to discuss airline offerings, but because we're framing our comparisons on them:

1. Concorde was a financial disaster from start to finish. I would be very careful about using Concorde as comparison.
2. It is both the age of golden first class air travel and the age of losing first class. How? (1) there are little three-class planes left in domestic service; (2) on overseas, you seem to have the super-premium focus on some airlines, with knockout meals and service, and then the "it doesnt suck like coach" service. I usually fly this type of airline overseas. It's a giant seat with respectable service, plenty of booze, plenty of space, etc... but it's not over the top. That's all I really need, I don't feel like gold spoons and Dom are required. I just don't want to be jammed into steerage with a bunch of tourists and college kids.

One thing we don't really think about around here is "what does first class mean?". Usually, people frame that with answers like bigger seats, higher prices, free booze, etc...

I think the correct answer is that it provides an exceptional experience from start to finish. Bigger seats aren't necessary if the coach seats are already enormous. A good station experience is paramount, and that's often overlooked outside of a few big terminals. Have a redcap with a cart (don't make me carry my bags), free checked baggage at the station, great wifi, take my coat once aboard, come through the car once an hour and take drink orders, etc... little stuff counts!

What good is a big seat if I have to sit at the station with a bunch of rambunctious toddlers or carry my bags 100 yards to the train?
Tadman
 
Posts: 8427
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:21 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:15 am

Now imagine just how pleased the business travelers who feel the way you do will be with the new Moynihan station.

Anyone in the "I refuse to travel via NYP" camp will have reason to reconsider. There may or may not be a lot of people who feel this way. However, if any significant number of them are business travelers on corporate accounts the difference to Amtrak will be substantial.

The conventional wisdom I have been given by a senior industry leader is that a major station improvement will increase ridership by about 30%.

NYP currently sees: 10,436,909 (2016) for Amtrak alone. A 30% increase would result in about 3,131,073 new passengers for an annual total of approximately 13,567,982.

These totals would be spread out across all services, not just Acela but I'm sure a very significant number would be Acela passengers.
gokeefe
User avatar
gokeefe
 
Posts: 9808
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:28 pm
Location: Winthrop, Maine

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:24 am

Amtrak's station in NYC will still be in a slummy area, which I find to be a huge turnoff. If Amtrak ran to Grand Central, I'd be much more likely to take it.
SouthernRailway
 
Posts: 1184
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 8:27 pm

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby SwingMan » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:55 am

I don't know where or when you got your "slummy" definition, probably from not actually being in the area within the past 5 years. It is already a completely different area all the way down to the water.
SwingMan
 
Posts: 2242
Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:52 pm

Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Tadman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:59 am

Agreed, I come through NYP 3-4 times a year and cannot fathom the slummy description.


And let's been honest, in the wildest foamer dream you won't see Acela service into GCT. There is just no way to get a train from Jersey into GCT. You either get Acela service to NYP or you don't get Acela service to Manhattan.

Finally, we should frame the debate: how bad is NYP and the surrounding area compared with La Guardia, where the shuttle is? If I worked or lived anywhere but Long Island, there is no way I would prefer the La Guardia slog coupled with the La Guardia experience.
Tadman
 
Posts: 8427
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:21 am
Location: Michigan

PreviousNext

Return to Amtrak

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests