Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:06 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:First class exists on the Paris subway, as well. It's usually one half of one car in the middle of the train.

Does it still? I thought it was discontinued under Mitterrand* for political reasons mentioned above by others (how can a socialist country have two classes?) I think that if all the other problems mentioned above could be solved, the political angle would still doom the idea. I'm assuming that the car remaining on the UP North Line (and I just read in First and Fastest that it was recently repainted in C&NW colors!), and requiring membership, is not what Southern Railway has in mind--rather the any-train-any-time availability as in Europe. At one time the S-Bahns in Berlin and Hamburg had 1st Class smoking and nonsmoking and 2nd Class smoking and nonsmoking in every consist, but those days are gone--and never existed in this country.
* And Mitterrand was the son of a stationmaster, and something of a railfan.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby Rockingham Racer » Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:40 pm

Right you are on the discontinuance of Paris subway 1st class--back in the 80s!! Didn't seem that far back, either when I rode it.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby truck6018 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:27 pm

Tadman wrote:And why does the state favor drivers, giving them a free road, while passenger train riders need to pay part of their fare?


I wouldn't consider driving in NY free. There is the cost of vehicle registration and driver's license fees. Being I live in once of the counties the MTA service's, I pay a premium on both that goes toward the MTA. There are also the taxes I pay that goes toward maintaining the roads and highways. Tolls to go over bridges and gasoline taxes where NY State has one of the highest gasoline tax the country.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby hs3730 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:56 pm

jlichyen wrote:Most Japanese suburban railroads have a special "Green Car" first-class car or two with reservation-only seats.

I believe some of them have onboard food & drink service like the shinkansen, but the main differentiation is the fact that you're guaranteed a seat, as many regional rail trains in Japan have subway-like seating to fit more people standing.


I've used the green cars on JR East. You get Amfleet-style seats that all face forward. There is a special attendant for the 2 cars who checks tickets, makes rounds for snack/beverage sales (including alcohol) between stops, and rotates the seats at the terminal stations. The surcharge is about $10 for a long (90 minute) trip, no peak/off-peak distinction, and is cheaper for shorter distances. On off-peak and weekend trains the cars are lightly patronized, but they never close them, so it must be worthwhile despite the expense of an additional crewmember.

As for how they handle positioning the cars, on the lines that have them, every train has them, in the exact same spot (cars 4 and 5). They can pull this off because all trains are semi-permanent linked sets, and JR has no qualms about pulling the full 10 car set out of service to handle a defect in one car. MNRR couldn't handle shopping 3 cars at a time with the triplets, so that method is kinda DOA for over here. That said, MNRR can manage to make sure there's a cab car on the south end of every diesel train, so I have confidence they could figure out how to put a specific car as car #3 from the north on a regular basis if they really wanted to.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby andegold » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:48 pm

Another thing about my idea to turn the cab cars into a half a first class car. I don't know about MN or LIRR but NJT has more cab cars than needed and will regularly use them in the middle of a train. Converting them to first class cars would preclude that or require even more equipment to prevent the need for ever using cab cars mid consist. In a fixed consist it could work but I don't see any of the three area railroads going in that direction any time soon, or ever.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:07 pm

The private "commuter club" cars went the way of the Dodo bird as the M-1's went online and the 3rd rail reached to Put Jct on the Harlem line.
MTA would not allow a club to control one half of a married pair. as it was not easy to keep a married pair of M-1's on the same train on a 5 day
a week basis.
As the steam heated cars were retired,the "commuter clubs" were retired,that included that ex NH 1100 class EMU that was used by a
New Canaan Based commuter club.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby talltim » Tue Mar 05, 2019 7:05 am

With the question of where in the train the 1st class is, this is easily handled by announcements and on the departure screens. Trains on the route I catch (which are not necessarily commuter trains) may have the first class at the front or rear, or at the front and rear, or at the front and middle or the middle and rear, or even just the middle. The location of the wheelchair spaces and bicycle spaces is also given.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby NaugyRR » Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:58 am

I think having any kind of enhanced class in a cab car would be an issue if it's leading a train, as it's hard enough to hold a conversation with the horn right over your head, especially on a grade-crossing heavy line like the Harlem.

I think most people looking for a nicer experience are just going to grab Amtrak on the Hudson or New Haven lines... less stops, nicer seating, actual business-class accommodations...

Unless I need a flexible schedule where I choose what train I want, I prefer to ride Amtrak out of Rhinecliff since the seats are nicer, the view's nicer, and you're only hitting Po-Town, Croton, and Yonkers before stopping at Penn. The downside to that is GCT is a much nicer experience than Penn; if Amtrak offered a handful of Empire trains back into GCT, that, I think, would be a hit and help offer an enhanced class of service to the Midtown market.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:27 pm

Yes, if you want any business class service when traveling between two stations in or very close to Metro North territory, take Amtrak if it’s offered. There are probably many people who might use Amtrak to travel from NYC to New Haven or Newark, NJ to New Haven.

Even though Rhinecliff is close to Poughkeepsie, people will still want to take Amtrak to get there from NYP. These people don’t mind spending extra when the opportunity arises. There might even be commuters who will use Amtrak from Rhinecliff.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby NaugyRR » Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:04 pm

It's not even much more expensive than Metro-North. Coach at the moment is $60 round trip to/from RHI, round trip off-peak out of Wassaic (closer to me than Po-Town) is $40, plus weekday/non-holiday parking. Parking is free at RHI for ten days, but fills up fast.

I think if Amtrak offered unreserved Empire Trains, where an Empire train ticket was valid on any Empire train and not just the scheduled train booked, that that would go a long way towards filling the enhanced service niche as well. The downside to that is Empire trains fill up fast, so unreserved trains might not be the best choice since they're shorter than their Metro-North counterparts.
"That sapling that once grew just south of Wassaic may be long gone, and the Harlem Line’s appearance may have changed over the years, but for decades to come, I can count on it continuing to provide me with funny recollections"
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:26 pm

Yes, that is true about Amtrak fares being close to that of MNR, especially peak MNR fares. There seems to not be a huge difference in fares of taking Amtrak from RHI to NYP over taking MNR from either Wassaic or Poughkeepsie to GCT.

Look at the Springfield Line-any travel that you do between NHV and SPG or from any point in between- the fares for the Amtrak shuttles and NE Regionals is the same as Ctrail trains. The Vermonter costs more.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby Ridgefielder » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:09 pm

andegold wrote:What's the next option? Maybe all new cab cars (for motor hauled trains) could be half premium class. Then the service could be offered on all trains. This might work on MNCR since they never turn their trains.

MN turns quite a few of their trains. Pretty much everything that arrives on the upper level loop tracks runs around the loop to the Lexington Ave yard.

The LIRR's Cannonball is arguably a premium class service operated by a commuter railroad, although I suppose it doesn't really count as a commuter operation itself. All-reserved, even carries a drumhead.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby truck6018 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:54 am

If premium seating were implemented on MNRR, they would have to do a complete overhaul of their ticketing procedures and system. Currently, when one buys a ticket, there is no commitment riding a specific train. If there were premium seating, they would have to link all of the ticket vending machines and ticket sellers together so only a certain number of premium tickets would be sold any given train and ultimately making all ticketing train specific with cut off of all the tickets sold.


The other issue is the coaches are constantly getting swapped. What is a currently a "cab car" on the lead (or trailing) end of the consist might be buried in the middle of the consist tomorrow. I've seen as many as 3 cab cars within one consist, that would lead to alot of premium seating but the tickets would not be sold since the program would only be set up for "x" number of premium seating. That would leave the other seats up for grab by the "undeserving" with coach tickets siting in the same comfort as someone with the premium tickets.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby hs3730 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:24 pm

truck6018 wrote:If premium seating were implemented on MNRR, they would have to do a complete overhaul of their ticketing procedures and system. Currently, when one buys a ticket, there is no commitment riding a specific train. If there were premium seating, they would have to link all of the ticket vending machines and ticket sellers together so only a certain number of premium tickets would be sold any given train and ultimately making all ticketing train specific with cut off of all the tickets sold.


That wouldn't be needed at all; it could be as simple as buying a premium seat causes 2 tickets to get printed out: one for the base rail fare, and one for the premium surcharge. If the premium car is full, passenger sits in a regular car and saves their premium-upcharge ticket for another time.
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Re: Why no premium class of service on commuter trains?

Postby Ridgefielder » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:38 am

truck6018 wrote:If premium seating were implemented on MNRR, they would have to do a complete overhaul of their ticketing procedures and system. Currently, when one buys a ticket, there is no commitment riding a specific train. If there were premium seating, they would have to link all of the ticket vending machines and ticket sellers together so only a certain number of premium tickets would be sold any given train and ultimately making all ticketing train specific with cut off of all the tickets sold.


The other issue is the coaches are constantly getting swapped. What is a currently a "cab car" on the lead (or trailing) end of the consist might be buried in the middle of the consist tomorrow. I've seen as many as 3 cab cars within one consist, that would lead to alot of premium seating but the tickets would not be sold since the program would only be set up for "x" number of premium seating. That would leave the other seats up for grab by the "undeserving" with coach tickets siting in the same comfort as someone with the premium tickets.

Given the demographics of Metro-North's service area, I'd think that the primary market for premium service exists in electric territory-- lower Hudson, lower Harlem, the New Haven main and the New Canaan branch. It was places like Bedford Hills, New Canaan and Southport that supported club cars back in the NYC/NH days, and they could probably do so again. I don't think the same holds true for Peekskill, Pawling or Branchville-- although they might be able to support a Fri-PM-out/Sun-PM-in premium model.

So focus on adding premium seating in the MU equipment, not the locomotive-hauled.
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