Anderson possible changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

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AC4619
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Re: The dismantling of LDT are near.

Post by AC4619 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:47 pm

The dismantling of LDTs are not near. If they are, Anderson's dismantling is also near. Amtrak is a political organization as much as anything else. I fully believe Anderson is considering these moves, but, it'd be a mistake. Part of how Amtrak got 2 billion in funding this year, is by getting support from congress-roaches who can say "I have a train running through my state's small towns". If you get rid of that, you lose congressional support, and with it, your money. Anderson may WANT to cut LDs. Because, yeah, on paper they DO lose money. But as others have articulated...food service on trains also loses money. That's looking at it from a pure profit/loss perspective. It discounts the value the passengers placed on that amenity being part of the train. Same with LDs. All of Amtrak's most prolific and successful leaders have advocated for the LDs, even expanding them. They lose money, but they are what makes Amtrak a NATIONAL corporation. Anderson needs to get it through his head that he is not running a profitable private airline. He's running a public--owned by taxpayers. So, he may well try to cut a bunch of LDs to 3x a week. And we can then all look forward to the myriad news stories, and congresspeople making a big show of it. I mean, some even went after Amtrak for the private car ban (tourism rev)--imagine what they'd do if service stopped entirely! This is a don't bite the hand that feeds you situation. If you cut off the "losing" things (LDs), you'll find your funding for your cash cow (NEC/corridor services), also dries up. Now, if the NEC was truly self sufficient (it is not, it only makes an operational profit), Anderson would have stronger legs to stand on. Also *cough* gateway, *cough*. Gosh I need to see someone about this cough.

The above being said, Anderson is not running Amtrak well (putting it mildly), in my view, and based on this forum...everyone else's view as well. I wanted to give him a chance; I think many people wanted to give him a chance, because he really DID do a GOOD job at Delta (primarily by motivating employees to provide good service from top to bottom through profit sharing and other "good place to work" tactics). Most of these decisions though, do not make much sense for Amtrak. Fixed consists...yeah, fixed cost, but, you lose the flexibility of spacing by demand--which is a BIG advantage of trains, over buses & planes. You can't magically make a plane bigger if demand increases, you need to buy a whole separate NEW plane that's bigger. Same with buses. You have to run a whole second bus with a second driver and double the gas. Managed consists do make things more challenging, but, done right, can be more profitable. Your biggest cost is the powerhead (looking microscopically at the train). Once you have one, adding cars full of people adds more profit than cost. Conversely, running an excessively long train with low demand results in over-use of already old equipment and more than necessary power draw, which is both expensive and bad for the environment (just saying). The longer Amtrak can make these Amfleets last until a new single-level order is placed (let alone replacing the superliners in the next century...), the better. Running empty cars doesn't help that goal. In the past, perhaps Amtrak managed consists too much, instead of focusing on accurately forecasting demand and creating price buckets accordingly. But, none is too far in the opposite direction. And, I'm frankly worried at this point about what he'll do next. All of these decisions are Penny wise, pound foolish. Some of my thoughts for "coming soon!": Start charging for bags? Create "economy plus" and "economy minus" type seating in coaches? Eliminate the Acela and replace it with "Acela Airlines"-- with convenient hourly departures from DCA, LGA, and BOS!... (jk). But, seriously, he's as bad for Amtrak as Pruitt is for the EPA. Get it together, man.

AC

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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:33 am

http://railpac.org/2018/04/21/amtrak-ce ... corridors/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Report – Richard Anderson, Amtrak CEO – Remarks to California Rail Summit and Questions and Answers

19th April 2018

Richard Anderson, CEO of Amtrak, gave a keynote address to about 150 passenger rail officials and industry professionals, plus a handful of advocates. I have the feeling he had not counted on there being any advocates in the audience. To the best of my knowledge there was no audio or video recording of the meeting, which is most unfortunate. I have done my best to give a reasonably concise account from my notes and from memory and have conferred with others who were there. I am reasonably certain that I have captured both the tone and overall content of his remarks and replies. I wish I had had the presence of mind to turn on my I phone, at least to capture my own question. I have used quotation marks when I have recalled actual words used, otherwise it is my best recollection.

Anderson had some positive items to report about reforms and initiatives he has undertaken. These include:

...
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Re: The dismantling of LDT are near.

Post by Ridgefielder » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:22 am

blockline4180 wrote:Some people seem to believe all LDT trains as safe, and some think all will be gone.. I tend to believe half will probably continue, but probably not at the 5 days a week current ops.. We now know by the tone of Anderson that trains like Cardinal and Sunset probably won't make it.. I do hope others like the Meteor and Crescent arent on the chopping block either, but who knows what he is thinking or if they will be since there is no "diner lite" cold food proposal there ..
As long as West Virginia has a Congressional delegation, the Cardinal will keep running.

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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by Mackensen » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:35 am

I just want to reiterate that there's no actual evidence Anderson plans to kill the LDs. Not expand them? Sure, but that's not news. Amtrak hasn't added an LD since Gunn ended the disastrous Network Growth Strategy. Congress ordered Amtrak to conduct the various resumption studies, such as the Pioneer and North Coast Hiawatha, but it was clear that management considered these non-starters unless the states coughed up the money. Guy stands up in a middle of a policy conference and asks about parlor cars and the Pioneer, of course he gets a dismissive answer. Might as well have asked about rehabbing the Turboliners while he was at it. State corridors are the growth areas. That's where the ridership is. That's where the funding is. Killing the LDs, as others have said, is essentially a political question. Anderson didn't say Amtrak was killing the LDs. We know Amtrak is studying what breaking some of the LDs into end-to-end corridors would look like. Under PRIIA 2008 they can't do that unless the states agree to fund the individual trains. I've seen no evidence that such discussions are taking place.

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BandA
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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by BandA » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:24 pm

They could annul parts of a long-distance train and run it in <750 mile pieces and still pay the deficit out of federal dollars.

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Matt Johnson
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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by Matt Johnson » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:25 pm

Mackensen wrote:I just want to reiterate that there's no actual evidence Anderson plans to kill the LDs.
There's plenty of evidence that he has made and plans to continue making them worse, to the point of taking away much of their appeal.

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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by blockline4180 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:33 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:http://railpac.org/2018/04/21/amtrak-ce ... corridors/
Report – Richard Anderson, Amtrak CEO – Remarks to California Rail Summit and Questions and Answers

19th April 2018

Richard Anderson, CEO of Amtrak, gave a keynote address to about 150 passenger rail officials and industry professionals, plus a handful of advocates. I have the feeling he had not counted on there being any advocates in the audience. To the best of my knowledge there was no audio or video recording of the meeting, which is most unfortunate. I have done my best to give a reasonably concise account from my notes and from memory and have conferred with others who were there. I am reasonably certain that I have captured both the tone and overall content of his remarks and replies. I wish I had had the presence of mind to turn on my I phone, at least to capture my own question. I have used quotation marks when I have recalled actual words used, otherwise it is my best recollection.

Anderson had some positive items to report about reforms and initiatives he has undertaken. These include:

...
Thanks Jeff for re-posting this and changing the title....
I jumped the gun and probably should have waited to get all the facts before i used my trigger finger..
Right now we just have opinions and beliefs from some (Paul Dyson, Railpac, etc), that Anderson has this evil master plan to stop most, if not all long distance trains.. I realize he would get a lot push pack from congress and state reps if that would occur, so i guess it's not as easy as I once thought.. It surely wont happen at overnight if it at all does!!

In the end, I still have my opinion that a few very poor performing LDT will be eliminated in favor of short corridors, but who knows when and where.
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Matt Johnson
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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by Matt Johnson » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:38 pm

If you're not trying to grow and improve, you're dying. I think the current trajectory for long distance services = death spiral, and I believe that's by design.

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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:42 pm

It's going to be interesting... but, like "Trump wants to kill Amtrak", of course, there's going to be pushback. And there's a statutory process they have to go through before discontinuing a route (unless there's a hurricane: see Sunset East).
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Re: The dismantling of LDT are near.

Post by CNJGeep » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:50 pm

adamj023 wrote:We have the roads for that which can take over along with airplanes.
And that's dandy, until you don't drive and can't afford or don't want to subject yourself to the tortue of flying.
"I'll keep moving through the dark, with you in my heart, my blood brother." RIP D.C.

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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by 35dtmrs92 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:38 pm

Matt Johnson wrote:If you're not trying to grow and improve, you're dying. I think the current trajectory for long distance services = death spiral, and I believe that's by design.
Death spiral of what? Amtrak got almost $2 billion from this appropriations bill, much of which is for the long distance network. And to the extent that Anderson is trying to deemphasize the LD network, bring it on! Grow what? The LD network on the Gulf Coast and the West which are some of the sparsest places of the nation? If there is anywhere Amtrak should grow, it would be the Northeast Corridor, the Hiawatha, the San Joaquin, just about everywhere else besides that. Now, if we vote in a Congress that puts $10 billion a year to Amtrak, then the picture changes in favor of more LDs. But right now, Amtrak needs to prioritize developing capacity where lots of people live and is probably going to keep most of the LD routes it has since the law says it has to spend a certain amount of cash on them. If that means the weakest LDs get the axe, so be it. I challenge anyone on this forum to find an analogous rail company anywhere in the world that puts as high a share of its resources to such sparsely trafficked routes as does Amtrak. That is the death spiral if anything is a death spiral. Anderson clearly gets that, a welcome contrast to NARP and too many other rail advocacy organizations. Please (not just you) spare me the hyperbole.

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Matt Johnson
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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by Matt Johnson » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:06 pm

35dtmrs92 wrote:
Matt Johnson wrote:If you're not trying to grow and improve, you're dying. I think the current trajectory for long distance services = death spiral, and I believe that's by design.
Grow what? The LD network on the Gulf Coast and the West which are some of the sparsest places of the nation? If there is anywhere Amtrak should grow, it would be the Northeast Corridor, the Hiawatha, the San Joaquin, just about everywhere else besides that.
I would like to see restoration of the Gulf Coast Sunset, the Pioneer, and the Desert Wind. But at the very least, I'd like to draw a line in the sand and say no more cuts, while improving on the services that remain. Long term, on this planet of 7.5 billion people of which 300 million or so reside in the States, population growth trends will likely continue to require more sustainable transportation models which include rail, unless we desire a complete social and environmental disaster.

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Re: Anderson changes: Dismantling LD, Corridor, Etc.

Post by mtuandrew » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:01 pm

If Anderson cuts the Amtrak deficit to essentially zero, he has the ability to Corridor-chop service like the Cardinal without Congress needing to be involved. WV gets daily service NYP-CHW, Ohio gets daily service CHI-CIN, and he cuts some losses. Arizona, NM and Texas keep a Texas Eagle CHI-FTW and a Sunset Limited LAX-FTW, Houston gets a daily Regional train from either San Antonio or Ft. Worth, and again, he cuts a few more losses. BOS-ALB gets a Regional, etc. So on, and so on, and so on.

I don’t like it, but I see the business sense.

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Re: The dismantling of LDT are near.

Post by Nasadowsk » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:24 pm

CNJGeep wrote: or don't want to subject yourself to the tortue of flying.
Biggest torture of flying is dealing with idiot passengers, something Amtrak doesn't fix by any means. 90% of the problem with flying is people turn off their brains the second they step foot into an airport, and don't turn them back on until they're home from seeing Mr Mouse, or whatever.

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Re: The dismantling of LDT are near.

Post by blockline4180 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:24 pm

CNJGeep wrote:
adamj023 wrote:We have the roads for that which can take over along with airplanes.
And that's dandy, until you don't drive and can't afford or don't want to subject yourself to the tortue of flying.

Yes, and you can take uber or lyft to the nearest bus station and endure that type of torture!! ;-)
~Steve Pellettiere
Co-Moderator: DL&W/Erie/EL Forum
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