Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:06 pm

That's why I've continually suggested this as a "low demand" option. Opening up ticket sales with no further requirement on Amtrak to improve the facility or add to the train creates revenue that is as close to "pure (operating) profit" as it gets. The fact that this would also be a 2 for 1 deal with additional high mileage and high revenue capacity from NYP is not something to be considered lightly.

I'm also assuming that the train runs out of space before the auto racks ever do. Can anyone confirm that?
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby David Benton » Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:08 pm

If i recall correctly, Hep limits the number of passenger cars, which would suggest the cars are at maximum capacity, and not the auto carriers. I think there is a total maximum axle count in the agreement too.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby electricron » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:02 pm

gokeefe wrote:
bostontrainguy wrote:Took it two times this year and it was pretty much sold out anyway.


It often is, however there are plenty of days when it is not and there is unsold capacity due to uneven passenger loads. It seems at least worthy of consideration given the very high density of population and the ability it would grant to Amtrak to maximize their return on investment in the NYP originating services.


Isn’t Lorton over 250 miles away from NYP? How does increasing ridership on the AT by stealing passengers away from Silver service trains maximize revenues generated at NYP? Seems to be you’ll be lowering revenues from NYP instead....
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby east point » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:59 pm

David Benton wrote:[
If i recall correctly, Hep limits the number of passenger cars, which would suggest the cars are at maximum capacity, and not the auto carriers. .


The HEP limits are complicated. The HEP source in most locos is not the 1000 kW that is needed for consistent passenger lengths. If all locos were 1000 then maybe a longer consists. More LED lighting will help some but not enough. The big problem is Amtrak never expected HEP loads to be as great as it has become. Now all new locos ACS-64s and SC-44s both produce 1000 kW.

HEP has never been able to parallel from 2 locos. VIA fortunately avoided that by enabling HEP when 2 or more locos in consist to use 2 locos non paralleled . The passenger cars are set up so power from 1st loco supplies 1st car and 2nd car from 2nd loco. Alternately all way down train allowing train car consists of 30 + cars. WAG that converting Auto train cars would be $10 - 20k per car. Loco mods ? no ides ?
Last edited by east point on Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:00 pm

Here is an example from the Silver Meteor.

The top city pair is NYP-ORL. When riders get on the train at WAS, BAL, PHL or even ALX they are taking available capacity away the NYP-ORL market. By diverting some riders from the ALX/WAS/RVR - ORL market onto the "Silver Palm" (Auto Train) Amtrak would be able to hold onto capacity for the prime NYP market and have greater leverage in that market.

Selling a train out is great, but when it becomes chronic the ability to grow the service and to achieve maximum utilization of resources deployed is damaged. Because there is not also a complimentary RVR/ALX/WAS - NYP market this means that the seat miles for NYP-WAS/ALX/RVR are typically going to be empty until the berth/seat receives it passengers.

The travel market for rail from New York to Florida has probably never been bigger in Amtrak's history but right now the demand cannot be fully met because of a lack of capacity. Pulling passengers onto the Auto Train/"Silver Palm" would give Amtrak the added benefit of properly serving the bursting market in Northern Virginia with a premium product and the prospect of "many happy returns".
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:03 pm

David Benton wrote:If i recall correctly, Hep limits the number of passenger cars, which would suggest the cars are at maximum capacity, and not the auto carriers. I think there is a total maximum axle count in the agreement too.


Some of this has recently been addressed by changes to lighting fixtures and other energy efficiency improvements. Another change in the past year has been to the operating agreement which lifted the previously imposed "cap" on train consist length.

There is still reason to believe that Amtrak may have unsold capacity on one of its premium trains that could alleviate sellouts on services that go further north.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby palmland » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:00 am

I did not know the 50 car train length cap imposed by CSX has benn lifted. Looking at the Ashland cam the past few days it appears it’s still stuck at 17 superliners and 33auto carriers.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:12 am

Why is the cap even an issue? CSX is now running trains down here close to 200 cars long! Auto Train is a tiny blip on the radar.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby electricron » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:54 am

bostontrainguy wrote:Why is the cap even an issue? CSX is now running trains down here close to 200 cars long! Auto Train is a tiny blip on the radar.

The cap limit is probably reflects more the car space limitations at Lorton and Sanford than along the entire length of the CSX rail corridor. But there might be a structure, or a stretch of track along the corridor that created the cap in the first place since eliminated but Amtrak doesn't want to renegotiate the access contract.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:45 pm

An alternative: If NYP-ORL is so huge, why not a limited stop regular old passenger train/sleeper service?

(BOS)
NYP
BAL
WUS
-overnight-
JAX
ORL
etc....

I would think the host railroads would prefer a limited stop train such as this. Now, I know service hours would require a crew change somewhere... CHS?
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:09 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:An alternative: If NYP-ORL is so huge, why not a limited stop regular old passenger train/sleeper service?

(BOS)
NYP
BAL
WUS
-overnight-
JAX
ORL
etc....

I would think the host railroads would prefer a limited stop train such as this. Now, I know service hours would require a crew change somewhere... CHS?

Maybe a named train operating on the markers of the Auto Train as a de facto second section. Depends on a new Long Bridge, but it’s a thought.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby Tadman » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:36 pm

east point wrote:
David Benton wrote:[
If i recall correctly, Hep limits the number of passenger cars, which would suggest the cars are at maximum capacity, and not the auto carriers. .


The HEP limits are complicated. The HEP source in most locos is not the 1000 kW that is needed for consistent passenger lengths. If all locos were 1000 then maybe a longer consists. More LED lighting will help some but not enough. The big problem is Amtrak never expected HEP loads to be as great as it has become. Now all new locos ACS-64s and SC-44s both produce 1000 kW.

HEP has never been able to parallel from 2 locos. VIA fortunately avoided that by enabling HEP when 2 or more locos in consist to use 2 locos non paralleled . The passenger cars are set up so power from 1st loco supplies 1st car and 2nd car from 2nd loco. Alternately all way down train allowing train car consists of 30 + cars. WAG that converting Auto train cars would be $10 - 20k per car. Loco mods ? no ides ?


Last year I was on the Canadian at 27 cars (include three deadheads all lit and heated) behind two F40's. Longest train I've been on in my life. Second to that were the Caledonian, 16-ish, and then Sunset Eagle, 12-13 cars.

From what I understand, the P30CH at one time had a feature where double headers could both run HEP in phase or something like that, but that's neither here nor there as they're long gone. Perhaps that's why they worked AT and Sunset last.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby amtrakhogger » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:15 pm

P30's could run in phase HEP in multiple, and (I know this is an AT thread but we are talking HEP) AEM7's 947-953 could run in phase multiple HEP as well.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby David Benton » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:36 pm

I believe the limitation is the hep cable and/or connectors, not the amount of hep that can be generated at the head end.
I also have read that the Canadians use a loop system for hep , which would possibly enable longer trains. Although the Auto train is double deck with more a/c and passenger demand per car as well.
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Re: Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

Postby David Benton » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:41 pm

actually thinking about my post,and reading East point's post, I may have it wrong way round. Possibly it is Amtrak's system which is looped , and Via's is 2 sets of parallel cables , effectively allowing double the current on the Via system . I do know they are definitely different systems.
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