Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

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

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, gprimr1, Amtrak67 of America, Tadman

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby Safetee » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:05 pm

Let's be honest. Just what perks does current Amtrak passenger service provide. On time service? Rarely. Clean trains, especially windows? Occasionally. Functioning clean rest rooms? Sometimes. Convenient passenger loading with baggage etc? Not many examples in my life time. Friendly service on and off the trains? It does happen if you're lucky. Inexpensive transport relative to other modes? Not this week.

So how does eliminating and or seriously diminishing the quality of the diners add to the enjoyability of a ride on Amtrak?? In my mind, dining car service was one of the very few remaining Amtrak perks. Eliminating the diners sure as hell won't make Amtrak a shining example of capitalism on the rails. And in the meantime, continuing to squeeze the product quality in order to appeal to the folks who cringe at the suggestion of socialism, is going to result in system bye bye. Why, because with a few exceptions in isolated rural locations, Amtrak just doesn't cut it for 21st century travelers.
Safetee
 
Posts: 231
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:07 am

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby gokeefe » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:24 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:While my reaction to Mr. O'Keefe's immediate is that Mr. Anderson is doing his job and the results are beginning to show, others evidently hold differing views - including this Railway Age columnist:


I felt the reference to Warrington was beneath them. They're equating a very complex non-passenger revenue enhancement effort with effective (if often unpleasant) cost cutting.

Who shot the Amtrak diner? Better food and take out dining options in stations aka "fast casual". Diners were essential, especially in the early years of Amtrak, when station facilities were absolutely decrepit everywhere.

That is no longer the case at all in many places. Amtrak also competes against itself with cheap on-board food offerrings in their wildly sucessful cafe cars which routinely sell out of stock.
gokeefe
User avatar
gokeefe
 
Posts: 10878
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:28 pm
Location: Winthrop, Maine

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:49 pm

gokeefe wrote:I felt the reference to Warrington was beneath them. They're equating a very complex non-passenger revenue enhancement effort with effective (if often unpleasant) cost cutting.

Who shot the Amtrak diner? Better food and take out dining options in stations aka "fast casual". Diners were essential, especially in the early years of Amtrak, when station facilities were absolutely decrepit everywhere.

That is no longer the case at all in many places. Amtrak also competes against itself with cheap on-board food offerrings in their wildly sucessful cafe cars which routinely sell out of stock.

If cafe cars are selling out routinely, that’s a big problem. Amtrak cannot afford to leave cash on the table when it’s a pretty simple matter to order more stock.
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 5133
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby gokeefe » Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:06 pm

Agreed, however, that's a logistics problem. The diners had/have a fiscal problem with their operating cost structure. It appears that the sleeping car passenger market is unable to bear the actual cost of full meal service.
gokeefe
User avatar
gokeefe
 
Posts: 10878
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:28 pm
Location: Winthrop, Maine

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby David Benton » Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:28 am

If Amtrak's operating deficit is less than the government operating subsidy,can Amtrak use that money for capital expenditure? Sorry ,I know I have not used the correct terms , but I think most will get the gist of the question.
Moderator worldwide railfan , Rail travel & trip reports
The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.
User avatar
David Benton
 
Posts: 8238
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:29 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby benboston » Mon Nov 19, 2018 4:55 am

Maybe a good idea as far as making Amtrak profitable would be to split off the different regions of the country into different service providers like in Japan. there could be Amtrak Northeast, Amtrak Southeast, Amtrak Midwest, Amtrak South, Amtrak Southwest, and Amtrak Pacific. This would allow for separate management and focusing on problems more specifically. Also, this would mean that regions which function on an operating profit are separated from those who lose money which could be helpful as riders on the NEC won't be providing a subsidy to those riding the Empire Builder, allowing for easy improvements on infrastructure and capacity.
benboston
 
Posts: 95
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:44 pm

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby FatNoah » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:04 am

In my mind, dining car service was one of the very few remaining Amtrak perks


The dining car is one of the only reasons I could convince Mrs. FatNoah to take an overnight train. Without that, it's pretty much a no-go. We make an annual pilgrimage from Boston to Lakeland, FL to see the in-laws and end up on the Meteor because the Star no longer has a diner.
FatNoah
 
Posts: 1030
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:10 am

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby gokeefe » Mon Nov 19, 2018 8:03 pm

David Benton wrote:If Amtrak's operating deficit is less than the government operating subsidy,can Amtrak use that money for capital expenditure? Sorry ,I know I have not used the correct terms , but I think most will get the gist of the question.


No. The appropriation as written is specifically for operations. I don't know the exact mechanics but typically there would be a periodic (monthly or quarterly) draw of funds from the Treasury via USDOT. Any unused appropriation is void at the close of the fiscal year (or as otherwise specified by Congress).
gokeefe
User avatar
gokeefe
 
Posts: 10878
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:28 pm
Location: Winthrop, Maine

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby Greg Moore » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:42 pm

You know, I think if this becomes a reality (operating deficits ending), how much of a factor are the dining cars?

By not using them as much, it appears to be saving money. If this gets you into a positive territory, I suppose that's great.
BUT, I know for one, I'm LESS likely to ride a train w/o a dining car.

i.e. I'm more than willing to ride the Silver Meteor over the Star, and if they end up removing the diner (or reducing it to the abomination that the LSL has now) I'll stop riding the Crescent (which I do usually once or twice a year, both as coach and sleeping car passenger).
I suppose if they can fill my berth with someone else, they come out ahead, but if they do start to lose passengers as a result, the idea of a loss-leader diner might be appealing.

At this point I've pretty much given up on the idea of taking the LSL westward again, which is a shame, since I really was planning a few trips around a decent diner.
Check out QuiCR, Quick, Crowdsourced Responses for businesses.
Greg Moore
 
Posts: 5180
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 12:15 am
Location: IT Consultant

Re: Amtrak Operating Deficit Appears Likely to End

Postby FatNoah » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:09 am

By not using them as much, it appears to be saving money. If this gets you into a positive territory, I suppose that's great.
BUT, I know for one, I'm LESS likely to ride a train w/o a dining car.


I'm less likely, but will still do it. The value of the train is eroded, though. Per my previous comment, it basically means a sleeper is only an option when I'm solo and not traveling with the family.


At this point I've pretty much given up on the idea of taking the LSL westward again, which is a shame, since I really was planning a few trips around a decent diner.


Until this year, I took the LSL every other year for a "get together with friends" trip in the Chicagoland area. I've done the trip about 5 times now. For the last iteration, I ended up flying. I don't mind paying a premium for the sleeper and a reasonably good benefit (hot meals) but I just can't pay extra for the sleeper and a "continental" breakfast and no hot food options. Hell, the kids option is a turkey sandwich. That means traveling with the kiddo means bringing our own food or going to the lounge car to buy our own food. No thanks.
FatNoah
 
Posts: 1030
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:10 am

Previous

Return to Amtrak

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests