How much new service is coming? And how?

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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:04 am

Killing the Cardinal would make absolutely no sense either. It runs every other day but West Virginia and the places that the Cardinal serves value this service. Take off the Cardinal and Amtrak will likely lose two more votes in the US Senate and some move votes in the US House as well. Keep this up and we will eventually lose the whole system including the corridors. The Broadway today is most un-necessary, the only places that even might benefit would be Philadelphia, Lancaster and Harrisburg and all three put together would not come anywhere near close to covering the costs of a waste like this. Philly you should have ridden this train when you could.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby johndmuller » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:27 am

The politics and priorities are skewed by all kinds of things. There are a lot of different conditions across the country, different people, different needs and wants. A lot of people feel that other people in other places are getting one over on them and yet other people feel that they know what is best for still other people, or even what is best for everyone; still other people don't even care what is best for anyone else but themselves.

Our democracy is sort of set up to work with everyone being in that last category - voting their own self interest - on the theory that it will all work out, that common sense will prevail, that people will give a little to get a little, planes here, trains there, and automobiles wherever. "Why can;t we all get along?", you say.

We seem to be getting a lesson in how much easier it is for some demagogues to convince people that other people are out to get them than it is to convince people that it might be a good idea to play nice and for both sides to get some of what they want. Instead we seem to be trending toward going back and forth trying to get all of what we want (but most of all making sure that the other side gets none of what they want) taking turns having the upper hand, but overall getting nowhere, cancelling each other out.

Map this into cars and trains - Trains make sense in the more populated urban areas while Cars are king in the wide open spaces. Our political system chokes on this for several reasons. First, the Senate (and the electoral college) reflect states rather than individuals, which is advantage:rural and the House counts by people, advantage:urban. Second, even within a state the same sort of thing occurs on the smaller playing field i.e. suburbs vs city - highways vs mass transit. Planes fit in here somewhere also, further muddying the waters.

Infrastructure funding is powered by politics - "All politics is local", said Tip O'Neil. Airports are local; roads are local; LD trains are not local. QED.

We might need a philosopher-king to find our way out of this mess, but that's not what we got.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:14 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:Killing the Cardinal would make absolutely no sense either. It runs every other day but West Virginia and the places that the Cardinal serves value this service. Take off the Cardinal and Amtrak will likely lose two more votes in the US Senate and some move votes in the US House as well. Keep this up and we will eventually lose the whole system including the corridors. The Broadway today is most un-necessary, the only places that even might benefit would be Philadelphia, Lancaster and Harrisburg and all three put together would not come anywhere near close to covering the costs of a waste like this. Philly you should have ridden this train when you could.
Noel Weaver


Well I didn't hear about the BL until 1995 when I first rode it. Then I made three round trips on the Three Rivers (once was when they had the through cars attached to/detached from the Capitol Limited that I would love to see now although that would still require a four hour layover in PGH westbound but at least we could stay in the train rather than have to spend it in the Amshack of Pittsburgh and eastbound we can sleep in the train).

But valuing Byrd Crap over the Broadway simply means pleasing what I have once heard called the "218+51+1" over the interests of the millions of people in the country. We should care more about people in the country that actually may be riding the trains, not the Senators, most of which have never and probably never will ride on an Amtrak train and those who have probably ride the fast Acela ones and not the LD trains running in the middle of nowhere. I'll bet Byrd never rode on Byrd Crap once. We care about the interests of the Senators and the interests of Montgomery, WV (population less than 2,000 people) are served over Montgomery County, PA (outside of Philly, population almost 800,000). Fewer people are served, the trains make less money, they cost more money to the rest of the country. If the trains served the people and not the Byrds and the Mansfields of the country maybe Amtrak can fully cover its operational costs like the airlines do and Amtrak wouldn't be the financial burden it is now and we wouldn't have to beg the 218+51+1 for money for trains. Do we beg Congress for more money for more plane or bus service?

We don't serve Ohio, we don't serve Florida, we don't serve Pennsylvania, we don't serve Texas. Instead we waste our money serving West Virginia, North Dakota, and Montana and wonder why Amtrak loses so much money. There are more people in the city of Philly (1,567,872) than the entire state of Montana (1,042,520). It takes 11 hours to go from Wolf Point, MT to Libby, MT and most people reading this don't have any idea where either of those places are. Think about how much fuel and labor is wasted on that alone. That's more than half of the Broadway Limited right there! North Dakota has even fewer people. Fargo to Libby is 20.5 hours, over 1000 miles (more than the distance of a Broadway Limited between Philly and Chicago), and North Dakota and Montana combined have barely have the population of Philadelphia alone. In the past, we didn't choose trains based on where people lived, we chose trains where the important people of the Senate came from. So we get worthless crap like this.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:16 am

The Feds DO give $$$ to "Essential Air Services" that keep "Puddle Jumper" type airline service to Airports way off the "beaten path"
to reach a "Hub" Airport in that state or a nearby state. Greyhound has done some major route pruning a few years ago,that has cut off
a lot of towns from any form of intercity service. In some cases,the state wind up paying a local operator to provide a "Hub-Spoke" type
service that's has some Greyhound connections at the "Hub" city/town.

The "given" is Amtrak will always be a political 'ball" that the Congress Critters will play with,and can dictate where the service runs,or
how it runs.

Now can we get back to getting the "Gulf Coaster" service(aka Sunset East) back along with a possible return to Montreal via Springfield Ma?
OR some emerging corridor service in another part of the US?
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:22 am

Backshophoss wrote:
Now can we get back to getting the "Gulf Coaster" service(aka Sunset East)


Sure. And since Noel is from Florida, the service can get him to New Orleans. That in theory would allow him to connect to the SL but according to the proposed schedule of the CONO extension it would arrive into NOL at 9:30am, just missing the 9:00AM departure of the westbound SL. He (and Florida passengers wanting to go west of NOL) might be better off just going all the way up to CHI and taking the SWC down to LAX. This once again speaks volumes about the pathetic level of Amtrak service in the south. Think about going from say, New Orleans to Dallas. Should be a straightforward trip. Try it on Amtrak.

http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5 ... t+2015.pdf


Going by train miles, that's 767. Overall the CONO would be 1693 from CHI to ORL, 8:05pm CT Monday to 11:30am ET Wednesday. Return would be 4:15pm Thursday to 9:00am Saturday. That's 5 sets when the current CONO needs 3.

But we don't have the money and we don't have the equipment. So what do we do? I know! I know!

No, not Byrd Crap, the equipment doesn't match. The other crap in the system. Let's waive the 750 mile rule for this case.

We keep Empire Builder service between SEA and SPK and between CHI and MSP but kill the part in the middle (that part is worthless). Passengers still can travel in the state of Washington, Spokane still has their trains, Minneapolis still has their trains and most of them travel to Chicago and that portion is untouched. We've saved 1461 train miles and 29 hr 20 min westbound, more than enough in terms of train miles, fuel, and labor to afford the CONO extension. Don't like the fact that the CONO doesn't have diner service? Get rid of the EB North Dakota/Montana service and they don't need their diners anymore. Now the CONO can have a full diner. So Amtrak can have the Gulf Coast service and it won't cost them any more money than it costs them now. They only lose maybe 1/2 of the EB ridership (not all of it because CHI-MSP and SEA-SPK service will still run. If Congress wants to make a fuss about the 750 mile rule, ask them for the money for the full Gulf Coast route then or ask them for the full money to keep running the whole Empire Builder because damn it those 4,161 riders/year we get from Rugby. ND are so important!

In fact, in terms of train miles we still have 694 miles. In the old days of Wheel of Fortune, contestants took their winnings and shopped for prizes. So what can we do with extra Superliner equipment and 694 miles of equipment and labor (we can also cut the 376 miles between SPK and PDX) for a total of 1070 miles. The old Desert Wind (http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19 ... &item=0038) was 788 miles between SLC and LAX so we have more than enough train miles for both the CONO addition and a through car branch off the CZ at SLC which would return Amtrak to Las Vegas. Amtrak recognized a desire to bring back service to Vegas in its PRIIA for the Zephyr in 2010 (https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... yr-PIP.pdf).

In terms of equipment and labor, you should be able to switch the Empire Builder service for the CONO extension and "Desert Wind" through cars (although of course there are other costs to consider). Assuming we can iron out the 750 mile rule details (or we can get Washington to pay for SEA-SPK service and Minnesota for CHI-MSP service), most of the relevant stops on the Empire Builder will still have service (I can't help it if you think Stanley, ND is relevant, I don't). Chicago won't have direct service to/from Seattle/Portland but they will have direct service to Florida and will have service to Las Vegas. I'd trade Seattle/Portland for Florida/Las Vegas any day of the week, there's way more to do. If you're from Seattle/Portland and want to get to Chicago, you take the Coast Starlight to Sacramento and then the California Zephyr to Chicago. Don't like transferring and the fact it's a much longer trip? Ahh, now you know how people in Philly/Harrisburg/Lancaster feel!

You have two choices to get more service, get more money (which doesn't look like it's happening) or cut service elsewhere to add service.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby electricron » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:46 am

Philly Amtrak Fan wrote: You have two choices to get more service, get more money (which doesn't look like it's happening) or cut service elsewhere to add service.


How many States can Amtrak afford to cut services to before it looses the necessary political support in the US Senate?

States today without any Amtrak service: (4 States = 8 Votes)
Alaska, Hawaii, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

States today with Amtrak service only because a State subsidizes a train: (4 States = 8 Votes)
New Hampshire*, Maine, Oklahoma, and Vermont.

States today that have additional Amtrak services provided with State subsidizes: (15 States = 30 Votes)
California, Connecticut*, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey*, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Note: (*) indicates States getting Amtrak services as a benefit from another's subsidizes.
My list indicates 46 Votes from States without Amtrak services at all, or States that subsidizes all or apart of their Amtrak services.

If you drop the LD trains out west as you proposed, add the following States to the lists.

Dropping Empire Builder LD train:
No Amtrak services: Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. (3 States = 6 Votes)
States subsidizing Amtrak services: Minnesota. (1 State = 2 Votes)

Dropping California Zephyr LD train:
No Amtrak services: Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa (5 States = 10 Votes)

Dropping Southwest Chief LD train:
No Amtrak services: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado#, and Kansas (4 or 3# States = 8 or 6# Votes)
States subsidizing Amtrak services: Nevada (1 State = 2 Votes)
Dropping Texas Eagle LD train:
No Amtrak services: Arizona#, New Mexico#, Texas, and Arkansas (4 or 2# States = 8 or 4# Votes)

Dropping Sunset Limited LD train:
No Amtrak services: Arizona#, New Mexico#, Texas# (3# States = 6# Votes)
Dropping City of New Orleans LD train:
No Amtrak services: Tennessee (1 State = 2 Votes)

That list does not include any LD trains to the East Coast.
But once you start down the slipperily path of eliminating LD trains out West, or reducing LD train frequencies to less than daily, - - - political support for Amtrak will decline in the Senate.

I don't think that once you decide to kill the Empire Builder that you can limit the cuts just to it. Other trains will get cut, if not immediately, soon. At some point, there will not be sufficient political support to subsidize Amtrak.
Last edited by electricron on Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:25 pm

I fully agree with this but apparently it is over Philly's head.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:16 pm

I have no plans to cut the CZ or SWC in any form. I was on both of those trains in 2015 and they serve the purpose of connecting Chicago and cities/states east of Chicago to California. In fact one of my proposals was the "Desert Wind" addition off the California Zephyr. Lose the CZ and you also lose Denver and Salt Lake City. Lose the SWC and you lose Kansas City and Albuquerque. The Texas Eagle is certainly also not on my hit list. I actually have family in the Dallas area and hope to take the TE soon to visit them. No I am not just in favor of Amtrak east of the Mississippi.

If those Senators in North Dakota and Montana won't support Amtrak because they lose their trains or those Senators in Wyoming and South Dakota won't support Amtrak now because they have no trains then that tells you why Amtrak doesn't get anywhere in this country, Congressmen are selfish and only care about themselves like Byrd did. If they truly cared about America they'd do what was best for America and not leave Las Vegas and Phoenix without trains to make sure Libby, MT has a train. There's more train service to Rugby, ND than there is to Houston, TX. That doesn't make any sense, or CENTS. But sure, let's kiss their butts some more. Look where it's gotten us. If we can get Amtrak to cover 100% of it's operating costs (last time I checked we're at 94%) we can determine our routes instead of the 2017 versions of Sen. Byrd.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:48 pm

The Broadway/Three Rivers seems like an odd rhetorical hill to choose to die upon, but c’est la vie. In an alternate universe, do you suppose there is a “Charleston Amtrak Crusader” waging war on the memory of Arlen Spector?

Contact your Congresspeople, your state DOTs & representatives, and Amtrak. Don’t tell us here - either we can’t do anything about it, or if we happen to have influence, we aren’t going to do anything because of your RAILROAD.NET essays.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby electricron » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:03 pm

Philly Amtrak Fan wrote:I have no plans to cut the CZ or SWC in any form. I was on both of those trains in 2015 and they serve the purpose of connecting Chicago and cities/states east of Chicago to California. In fact one of my proposals was the "Desert Wind" addition off the California Zephyr. Lose the CZ and you also lose Denver and Salt Lake City. Lose the SWC and you lose Kansas City and Albuquerque. The Texas Eagle is certainly also not on my hit list. I actually have family in the Dallas area and hope to take the TE soon to visit them. No I am not just in favor of Amtrak east of the Mississippi.

If those Senators in North Dakota and Montana won't support Amtrak because they lose their trains or those Senators in Wyoming and South Dakota won't support Amtrak now because they have no trains then that tells you why Amtrak doesn't get anywhere in this country, Congressmen are selfish and only care about themselves like Byrd did. If they truly cared about America they'd do what was best for America and not leave Las Vegas and Phoenix without trains to make sure Libby, MT has a train. There's more train service to Rugby, ND than there is to Houston, TX. That doesn't make any sense, or CENTS. But sure, let's kiss their butts some more. Look where it's gotten us. If we can get Amtrak to cover 100% of it's operating costs (last time I checked we're at 94%) we can determine our routes instead of the 2017 versions of Sen. Byrd.

While you may not have suggested cutting more LD trains than the Empire Builder, others will!
Congressmen and Senators are supposed to look after the interests of their own states and districts. They will be quickly unelected if they don’t. That’s democracy working just like it should.
I’ll agree, having a small town in any state having more Amtrak services than Houston is terrible, but that’s the way it is.
I’ll go a step a little further and suggest that once Texas Central is up and running successfully, a big if I will admit, watch Amtrak become redundant and unnecessary very quickly to most Texans.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby andegold » Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:42 pm

Congressmen, by the nature of their situation (elected by a small local population and for a very short time) may be "supposed" to look after the interests of their districts but Senators are most certainly supposed to be looking out for the interests of the United States and then protect the interests of their states against the self-interest of other states. None of them should be putting their own state's interest first. That's why it's a representative democracy and not a true democracy.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby electricron » Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:41 pm

andegold wrote:Congressmen, by the nature of their situation (elected by a small local population and for a very short time) may be "supposed" to look after the interests of their districts but Senators are most certainly supposed to be looking out for the interests of the United States and then protect the interests of their states against the self-interest of other states. None of them should be putting their own state's interest first. That's why it's a representative democracy and not a true democracy.

What? Didn’t state legislatures appoint Senators initially? The forefathers expected Senators to reflect the wishes of their States first! Golly, it wasn’t until 1865, after the Cnfederacy lost the war, did most citizens consider their first duty to the nation and then secondly to their home states. That idea wasn’t settled in a debate room of any Congress or Legislature, that idea was settled on the battlefield.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:03 am

Well the way Congress is set up the 218 (House) is OK because it's proportional to population. California has 53 of the 218 required, almost 1/4. If you took the "Broadway Limited" states, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, you get 107 votes which is almost half of the votes you need. If you reroute via Michigan instead of Indiana you trade away the 9 and gain 15 so that's 113 votes. This of course assumes all 113 house members vote in favor of the BL. Since it's the House, the member out of Wilkes Barre, PA's district that wouldn't be anywhere near the BL or Cincinnati Ohio's would be less likely to vote in favor of it assuming Congress critters are selfish (or vote for what's in their constituents best interests).

On the other hand the Senate is 2 per state. North Dakota and Montana are on par with California and Texas so an "Empire Builder" block will overpower a "Broadway Limited" block (7 states to 6 although Illinois will cancel out) and because the EB is more important to ND and Montana since they don't have the airports PA and OH do their Senators are more likely to fight for the EB they will more likely win or have won in the past. There are enough rural states that they can certainly dictate transportation policy over the urban states even though I'm guessing half of the people in this country live in the 15 most populous states (15 might be a conservative number, might even be closer to 10 considering the size of California).

The other problem IMO is that the leaders of Congress, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader, etc. are voted by Congress themselves with no input from America. We didn't elect Paul Ryan speaker of the House, they did. If Ryan wanted to, he can order a ton of trains to Wisconsin like Byrd did to West Virginia and Congress (or at least his party) will fall in line and vote for them. That's not the will of the people at all. The wrong person becomes Senate Majority Leader and you get Byrd Crap and lose the Broadway.

You consider what I proposed "cuts". I call them "trades". Sure everyone wants their train. The question is what is best for the country as a whole? Serve the most number of people. If a train that serves 5 people in Thurmond, WV keeps you from serving Columbus, OH, that's a waste. Under my proposal, we lose service in Montana and North Dakota and gain service in the Gulf Coast and Las Vegas. If the net gain is more ridership and revenue, that's worth it to me. You can say why not add service and keep what we have? If we can do that why hasn't the Gulf Coast service happened yet? We don't have the money and we don't have the equipment. Ask Congress for more money? We've been asking Congress for more money for 46 years. You're suggesting to me to beg Congress the same way NARP and other rail advocates have begged Congress the last 46 years and expect different results. I actually wrote an email to Senator Casey of PA about the Broadway and he (or someone from his office) said he was working to raise Amtrak's annual subsidy. Of course he's only one Senator and I'm guessing that got nowhere.

Amtrak has a "budget". So if you have a fixed amount of money, figure out to get the most out of that money. If you feel that there is untapped potential out there in terms of routes, markets, and city pairs vs. routes that are waste of money/resources by comparison, then you call Amtrak and Congress out on it. Tell Congress about a plan to increase ridership and revenue with minimal increase in annual operating costs but you lose service in some rural states/towns. If they are against it, then they just held back Amtrak. Or ask them for more money. But we already know what the answer to that question is.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:17 pm

[quote="Philly Amtrak Fan"

We don't serve Ohio, we don't serve Florida, we don't serve Pennsylvania, we don't serve Texas. Instead we waste our money serving West Virginia, North Dakota, and Montana and wonder why Amtrak loses so much money. There are more people in the city of Philly (1,567,872) than the entire state of Montana (1,042,520). It takes 11 hours to go from Wolf Point, MT to Libby, MT and most people reading this don't have any idea where either of those places are. Think about how much fuel and labor is wasted on that alone. That's more than half of the Broadway Limited right there! North Dakota has even fewer people. Fargo to Libby is 20.5 hours, over 1000 miles (more than the distance of a Broadway Limited between Philly and Chicago), and North Dakota and Montana combined have barely have the population of Philadelphia alone. In the past, we didn't choose trains based on where people lived, we chose trains where the important people of the Senate came from. So we get worthless crap like this.[/quote]

I beg to differ, Amtrak provides daylight service between all of their regular stops in Florida. I can board the train in Fort Lauderdale for a daylight ride to Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville or almost any other place that they serve IN FLORIDA. Amtrak's in state ridership within Florida would surprise many on here. I have ridden to Tampa, Kissimmee and Jacksonville more than once and the people traveling between these stations is higher than one would think.

I would bet the ridership in and out of Whitefish, MT. is higher than the BL did at any enroute station between New York and Chicago on a daily basis. West of Pittsburgh the BL served almost nothing of consequence between Pittsburgh and Chicago. The big mistake was when Amtrak was first set up that they did not use the route through Buffalo in the first place which had important stations all the way including Ohio and Indiana.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby matthewsaggie » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:29 pm

Every time I read the term "Byrd Crap" my interest in additional service in PA or revival of the BL declines that much more. The Amtrak map is what it is, not what Philly wants it to be.
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