LD-to-LD in Chicago

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LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby Tadman » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:34 pm

We occasionally discuss the problems of connecting between erratically performing long distance trains in Chicago. Usually it involves either the cleanup train out east, holding a connection, bussing passengers ahead, or spur of the moment overnight stay in Chicago.

Either way the carrier spends a lot of money and it frustrates the host freights to have trains leaving the origin more than 20 minutes late.

Today I'm reading JP1822's post about checked baggage making the connection as well, and it seems an even bigger problem lies behind the scenes.

Why not take a page from Via's book? Via insists that passengers on 1/2 do not make fly-home plans for same day as arrival into Toronto and Vancouver because CN can't make the schedule. If Amtrak stopped guaranteeing LD-to-LD connections in Chicago for same day, there would be virtually no misconnects. No held trains, no motel costs, no baggage hassle... From now on, LD-to-LD connections are required overnight stay, and there could even be an option on the website to book a room in a local hotel (of course Amtrak gets a cut).

It's not like the typical LD passenger is in a hurry anyway.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:49 pm

That would also provide more freedom in scheduling the eastbounds out of Chicago, since it would no longer be necessary to protect same-day connections from the west.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:22 pm

I would be very against such a policy and I can't imagine Amtrak would ever bring it back (I believe Amtrak did have such a policy once). They have too much business between the east and west trains to cut off same day transfers. If they didn't have a significant number of passengers from a western train to an eastern train, they wouldn't be holding trains nor would the LSL leave at such a late time. Like it or not, Chicago is really important to Amtrak and that is why I bellyache about losing the Philly-Chicago train (I also have family in Chicago).

I wish there was the ability for same day connections in New Orleans between the Crescent and Sunset Limited. If there was, passengers would have another option in traveling between the Northeast and the West Coast. Can you imagine that in the winter? You wouldn't have to deal with the Chicago weather. Amtrak screwed that up on both ends though.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby Greg Moore » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:52 pm

You're right about one thing: There would be virtually no misconnects, and all those other issues, because... your number of passengers would drop.

I can't recall the numbers (someone with better google-foo can find it in one of the older threads) but as I recall, a significant number of passengers do change trains.

I've got to say, personally, if Amtrak instituted this policy, it would greatly reduce my odds of taking LD trains out west.

And while LD may not be "in a hurry" adding an entire 24 hours to a trip is the equivalent making the trip 25%-33% longer. That's still a substantial jump.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby electricron » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:45 pm

I understand why Amtrak schedule trains so same day transfers can be made in Chicago.
I'm usually either transferring from or to the Texas Eagle since I live in Texas. I rarely plan on making that same day transfer, usually booking a hotel room in Chicago overnight and taking the next train the next day. Golly, I have already spent one night on a train and have another one or two night left in the trip. Taking one night off the train midway has its benefits - especially now that Amtrak has changed its menus to serving mostly cold prepackaged meals.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby Tadman » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:05 pm

Unfortunately the numbers do not prove out in the "loss of business" scenario.

First, Via has seen increasing ridership over the last four years despite implementing the rule against same day connections. Keep in mind, a guy with three days to cover the same ground a 2 hour flight does probably has four days to cover that ground. If he was in a hurry, he'd fly.

Second, consider the traffic sources in Chicago. There are only 2.5 long distance trains into Chicago from the east, with a capacity of less than 800 passengers. There are something like 20 corridor trains with a total capacity of something like 7500. In other words, of all possible passengers coming off a western train connecting in Chicago, there is a possibility that only ten percent connect to eastern long distance trains if the proportion holds.

Finally, consider the financial ramifications. Every misconnect probably costs the carrier (1) a dollar amount including hotels and meals well in excess of the ticket revenue from that passenger; (2) the ire of the passenger that is delayed a day that says "I'm never riding that train again".

There is something to be said for delivering what was promised rather than sticking someone in a hotel downtown at the last minute.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby GWoodle » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:41 pm

There seems to be so many new hotels built in & near airport terminals to suggest. Why not have Amtrak partner with Holiday Inn or another hotel company to build a CUS Amtrak Holiday Inn. Have a place to place secure baggage, not in a locker. For the passenger, have a place to get a shower & a meal before continuing the journey. Partner with Amtrak Vacations to have a 1-2 nite stay with some vouchers to explore downtown Chicago. No more walking 4 blocks to the Palmer House or the Midland or some other fancy hotel.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:49 pm

Tadman wrote:There are only 2.5 long distance trains into Chicago from the east


They could use more. Of course if Amtrak had a brain, they would've kept the 1 and gotten rid of the .5 but that's a whole other story.

Tadman wrote:
Finally, consider the financial ramifications. Every misconnect probably costs the carrier (1) a dollar amount including hotels and meals well in excess of the ticket revenue from that passenger; (2) the ire of the passenger that is delayed a day that says "I'm never riding that train again".



On the other hand, if you don't offer the passenger the chance to connect, you never have that passenger to start with.

Amtrak for a short while did have to restrict transfers between the LSL and CL to the west coast trains but that was while the Broadway Limited was still running.

May 1993:
http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19 ... &item=0019

May 1994:
http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19 ... &item=0019

October 1994:
http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19 ... &item=0019
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby Arborwayfan » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:18 pm

It doesn't make sense to plan as though everyone rode LDs end to end. Cleveland to Denver is about 24 hours. Being willing to take that time does not equal being willing to take 48 hours. Elkhart to Omaha? Pittsburgh to Burlington? Indianapolis to Ft. Morgan?

Every time I've ridden an LD train I've seen and talked to a lot of people who are willing to take a little extra time, but who are really trying to get someplace. If you force overnights you're basically saying LD train travel that requires a connection is only for tourists with more than average vacation time and more than average money. Plenty of people in coach, especially, don't have a lot of money to throw around. If LD trains are just for carefree landcruisers with lots of time to spend, then they shouldn't be subsidized. They're subsidized to get people places, like the pastor from South Dakota who I met after he caught the old Pioneer in Nebraska on his way to Oregon for a church conference, or all the people I see getting off for college in Hastings, the crowds and crowds of people getting off and on in Denver, Grand Jct, even Salt Lake City at insane hours of the night. It's a transportation system and it should work like one.

How often do people miss connections in Chicago?

Does busing people ahead ever take the form of a bus bridge that avoids Chicago and the slow process of entering CUS entirely (Aurora to Homewood to catch the City, that sort of thing)?
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby bill613A » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:00 pm

A little off topic but why not convert surplus equipment into sleeping locations that can be stored in the coach yard and rolled onto a vacant track with appropriate hotel power hook ups? The recently retired ex-SF hi level lounges and any 10-6 sleepers would do nicely. In the late 70's ATK converted 2 Amfleet coaches into modified sleepers for use on the SHENANDOAH between DC-CIN. There was talk of trying this on the NITE OWL and MONTREALER but nothing materialized. The eastbound LSL & CL need better schedule reliability and this might be one way to get it.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby John_Perkowski » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:04 pm

I have to laugh at this. Once upon my brothers lifetime, you could get on a train at
- GCT
- Penn
- 30th St Philadelphia
- Washington Union Station

And then travel to Chicago LaSalle St on NYC, Union Station on the Pennsylvania, or Grand Central Station on the B&O. There, your Pullman car would be switched (you had the option of being aboard, or taking a four hour respite) to Dearborn Station to join the Santa Fe Chief. From there you would be transported over Raton and to he City of Angels.

Oh, the things Amtrak is too inept to do anymore.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby lirrelectrician » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:16 pm

Hello all,
Isnt part of the plan to redevelop Union station to include a hotel right in the station area? That would make an overnight transfer very easy. I would love to see 50/51 and 48/49 completely flip their schedules. Ex 49 would leave NY at 9pm, and 50 would leave Chicago at 645am. Daytime service on the western ends and overnight in spots where there are other trains ex Buf, NY.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby Ken V » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:10 pm

Tadman wrote:Via has seen increasing ridership over the last four years despite implementing the rule against same day connections.
I don't know where you got the idea VIA has a rule against same day connections. It's true that VIA strongly discourages same day connections from the Canadian but there's no rule against it. VIA's reservation site will also allow someone to book a trip, say from Winnipeg to Montreal, with a same day connection in Toronto.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:35 am

lirrelectrician wrote:Hello all,
Isnt part of the plan to redevelop Union station to include a hotel right in the station area? That would make an overnight transfer very easy. I would love to see 50/51 and 48/49 completely flip their schedules. Ex 49 would leave NY at 9pm, and 50 would leave Chicago at 645am. Daytime service on the western ends and overnight in spots where there are other trains ex Buf, NY.


It's still a matter of extra time and money. Transfers are bad enough already, adding an overnight discourages more travelers.

As for your rescheduling, I have stated in the "Cardinal reschedule" plan that I am on board for rescheduling the Cardinal to serve between CHI-CIN outside the graveyard shift. I would be against the LSL moving to that plan as that is by far the most popular CHI-East Coast train and needs to be a "transfer friendly" train along with the CL.
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Re: LD-to-LD in Chicago

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:38 am

Several thoughts come to mind reviewing this topic.

Regarding Col. Perkowski's, report, those transcontinental Pullman lines through Chicago originated "after The War", and all had the Adios drumhead hanging during a 1958 timetable change.

Regarding Mr. Woodle's thoughts, there is to be a hotel within the CUS redevelopment plan; what operator is to brand or manage it remains unannounced. It certainly would be a respite for a passenger to have "my space" between trains at CHI, but since the property will in all likelihood be branded as a "four star" (Holiday Inn I consider three), I don't think the Coach trade will be lining up. Whether Amtrak would participate in some kind of marketing arrangement, with the new "Lafayette Escadrille" at One Mass, "don't bet on it".

Finally, if guaranteed connections are blanketly broken at Chicago, this would simply be as much a concession to reliable timekeeping that VIA has "constructively" made regarding "The Canadian". I have wondered why VIA even publishes a schedule and instead letting it become an "it runs when it runs" operation. Let's say there are eight monthly runs in each direction. Passengers would book Run A through Run H, with A being the first departure during the month. For example, #1APR-A would be the first run Westward during April. As the progress of the inbound equipment can be determined, VIA would notify the passengers (really a big deal nowadays with email, robocalls, and texts) at each stage that they can firm a departure time. Once under way, "it gets there when it gets there". Any of us around here who "have been in", i.e. Service, know what a Port Date is - even if nowadays, it is an Aerial Port Date.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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