Amtrak Expansion Plan

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

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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby electricron » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:38 pm

The problem with cut rate low fares is the hit to Amtak’s own revenues. Would Amtrak actually attract more riders from buses to offset the lower fares they sell from their own passengers? Amtrak’s long distance coach fares are already very low, although maybe not as low as bus fares. But I’m not aware of any Chicago to Los Angeles single seat bus rides. So Amtrak’s single seat ride is generally worth any extra fares.
Another problem that arises from charging too low fares (prices) is the value of worth any service or product is granted by the public. If you charge half the price a product or service is worth long enough, then that product or service will soon be valued at half it was before by the public. Devalue your product or service sufficiently, Congress might devalue Amtrak completely out of business because it isn’t valued as much by the public. What keeps Amtrak in business with subsidy grants every year is because the public values it enough for Congress to keep it in business.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby bostontrainguy » Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:23 pm

Alex M wrote:Correct me if I am wrong, but was there a PRIAA recommendation that the Southwest Chief have a car or two to carry palletized shipments? With ecommerce being the big thing, One would think that a M&E service on the NEC would be tailor made for some of this business.


I thought that Amtrak was thinking this way when they changed the CAF order from Baggage/Dorms to 2 door full Baggage cars. I was thinking that they had plans to expand their Express Services or had plans to acquire some possible USPS mail business. Why else would they want all these baggage cars? But I have not heard of any increased business for these new cars.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby OrangeGrove » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:45 pm

The switch to more full baggage cars, and fewer baggage-dorms, was driven by the realization that a single baggage-dormitory car would have had insufficient baggage capacity for some eastern trains (namely the Florida services).
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:35 am

Posting to another topic today about Acela replacement and facilities in Boston, I realized that Boston would be a perfect place to try an Amtrak produce service. The Boston Food Mart is located literally inside Amtrak's loop in Boston's rail yards. The buildings once all had rail spurs and loading docks although they haven't been used for years. A few produce cars could be added to or removed from passenger trains as they are made up in the yard. It could be a place to at least try the concept.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby electricron » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:22 pm

Let’s run with your idea a little, with Amtrak adding a few refrigerator freight cars to an Amtrak train. Will you be loading or unloading these cars in Boston? Where would you be loading and unloading these same cars elsewhere? What speeds would these freight cars be allowed to go? Which passenger train would you select to be the slow train, because most likely it will not be able to obtain the same speeds of an Amfleet car. Where will you be storing loaded and empty refrigerator cars in Boston, there’s barely enough room fo r what Amtrak already runs there? Will you supply hotel power to these cars while they wait, or will you dedicate a running locomotive to keep the food inside the cars cool? Who pays if and when the food spoils within the car? There’s more to running a produce transportation service than just moving cars full with produce around. The more to this service Amtrak is completely ignorant about.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:14 pm

Thinking out loud here . . .

Probably unloading fruits/vegetables/meats/poultry in Boston and then there is probably a market for fish and seafood going outbound. Poland Springs water also.

The other end? Don't know the possibilities. Have to build or find a similar distribution center location near an Amtrak yard or long station stop. Fruits/Vegetables . . . Tampa or Miami or Savannah? Fruits/Coffee . . . Portland or Seattle? Wines/fruits/vegetables . . . LA or Oakland? Meat/Chicken . . . Chicago? Got to do some homework but these products are moving across the country now (mostly by truck).

High-speed trucks would be used of course. Auto Train's auto-carriers are rated at 79 mph. That speed would surfice especially if the service comes in via the B&A. So your slow train is the Lake Shore Limited. Coming up the NEC? The extended Florida train going via the Inland Route or the "Night Owl".

Store cars within the Food Market. There were lots of tracks in there when it was built and they are all unused/removed but can be replaced.

No hotel power. Reefer cars are self-contained like truck trailers.

Insurance companies.

I have no idea to what degree rail service was used when the Food Mart first opened, but it was definitely designed with lots of rail service in mind.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:40 pm

Not insurance companies. The carrier (whichever entity issues the bill of lading--the contract of carriage--with the shipper) is responsible for loss and damage en route. Railroads are generally self-insured up to a catastrophic loss, so any lettuce turning brown in transit is part of the cost of doing business; if not kept to a minimum it will result in excessive costs and loss of the traffic, in that order.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Bostontoallpoints » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:50 am

"I have no idea to what degree rail service was used when the Food Mart first opened, but it was definitely designed with lots of rail service in mind."

The New York, New Haven and Hartford ran freight rail out of South Boston. Southbound freight was sent to Cedar Hill (New Haven) hump yard for classification and consolidation. Westbound freight was sent to Maybrook (New York) hump yard.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby charlesriverbranch » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:37 am

Alex M wrote:Correct me if I am wrong, but was there a PRIAA recommendation that the Southwest Chief have a car or two to carry palletized shipments? With ecommerce being the big thing, One would think that a M&E service on the NEC would be tailor made for some of this business. Use a Regional that operates on a local schedule to function as such a train like what was done in the '80s. Maybe you could set aside a coach or two to sell low priced tickets aimed at the cut rate bus competition


The only way Amtrak could do this would be as a partnership with one or more freight railroads, as a premium high-speed service marketed by the freight railroads. I can get from Boston to L.A. by rail in three days, but I read somewhere that no freight shipment by rail can make the trip in less than five.

Is there a market for this sort of service? I suspect the answer is no; otherwise Amtrak and the freight railroads woul already be doing it.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Bostontoallpoints » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:18 am

https://www.american-rails.com/railway- ... gency.html

Railway express agency. The REA guaranteed a delivery, anywhere in the country, within five days and went to great lengths to ensure this promise.

On May 1, 1971 Amtrak, a quasi-government agency, took over most intercity passenger services. Then, only around 5% of REA's business still moved by rail.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby bostontrainguy » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:04 pm

charlesriverbranch wrote:Is there a market for this sort of service? I suspect the answer is no; otherwise Amtrak and the freight railroads woul already be doing it.


I guess the first place to look is airfreight shipments. Could some of that be transported cheaper via "Amtrak Express"?

Examples I found are:

Pharmaceuticals
Medical supplies
Lab samples
Live plants/Flowers
Live lobsters
Fresh Seafood
Hatching eggs
Ornamental and Aquarium Fish
Amphibians
Reptiles
Live Invertebrates (e.g. bees, worms, leeches, crickets, etc.)
Live Day–old chickens, ducks, emus, geese, guinea birds, partridges, pheasants, quail, and turkeys.

Maybe there are markets out there we never thought of?
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:44 pm

Possibly for distances traversed overnight, but no farther, and nothing requiring temperature controls. It might be made to work in various corridors (NEC and California, for starters) as long as it didn't delay the train at intermediate stops.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:05 pm

It might work where there is a Corridor service, but van or truck service would still be faster for most door-to-door delivery.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby BandA » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:07 pm

I believe Widett Circle / New Boston Food Mart area is slated to be redeveloped as MBTA CR storage yard. Although the property owners and the city have not agreed. The New England Produce Center is in Chelsea MA, the CSX Grand Junction branch's only major customer. The Post Office mail sorting facility is still right next to BOS, with USPS & Amtrak's loading docks facing each other longingly, and USPS could easily add a siding. That isn't going to happen either, because the postal facility is to be subsumed back into South Station. (Of course the Post Office hasn't agreed).

Assembling a mixed Amtrak/freight train in Boston would be awkward -- drop off the freight cars at the passenger platform? Or in a cramped yard? Very unlikely.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby bostontrainguy » Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:21 pm

Absolutely needs to be preserved for rail service one way or the other. The only other possibility was Beacon Park which was almost as convenient but probably off the table.

As far as assembling a train in Boston, just drop the end Express cars before the train goes through the wash and have a switcher bring them into the Food Mart. It's right there! It can't be any more convenient than the way Boston is laid out. Adding cars should be pretty straight forward too.
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