Amtrak Empire Service (New York State)

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Railjunkie
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by Railjunkie » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:53 am

Nasadowsk wrote:
Railjunkie wrote:You cant please everyone, most people dont care what your explanation all they know is they are not moving..
Why should they care? Amtrak published the schedule, they should follow it. Track work? Does Amtrak not own a telephone or have an email account to contact Metro-North and find out what's planned?

I don't get why this is so hard for people to understand. If the schedule says the train leaves station X at time A, and arrives at station Y at time B, then there's zero reason why I shouldn't expect that to be the case. It works like that everywhere else in the industrialized world.

You can expect all you want but when going from one railroad to another one must remember their trains will get priority over us, their playground their toys. The work being done is on the first interlocking south of the station. 3 station tracks go into 2 main tracks, there is no wiggle room. So you will sit at the division post until that single track becomes available. Be it 5min or 5 hours. The contract of carriage guarantees you a seat the schedule times in this case are a suggestion. If they had hit it right they would have gone straight in and out with little to no delay. A lot depends on how quick the foreman clears his gang, which way the RTC has traffic, and where his trains are.

Amtrak and MNRR both know when and where the work will be taking place. In the case of above Ill bet that stop sign is there all week but the major work will be done on the weekends when there is less traffic. Hence the single track.

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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:35 am

Saturday mornings can get very busy on northbound trains heading to Upstate NY. I’ve done plenty of trips to Upstate NY on Saturdays. Between Spuyten Duyvil and up to just north of Poughkeepsie, MNR gets the priority. Yes they have been doing a lot of trackwork and right now on weekends, every other MNR train goes to Poughkeepsie while others go to Beacon. Amtrak trains can be subjected to delays.
The trains that continue north and west of Albany-Rennselaer will continue to offer cafe service. Select one of those trains if you want a cafe experience, even when traveling from NYP to ALB. Don’t get your hopes up about food service returning to the trains that only run between ALB-NYP. Whatever NY state says goes.

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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:38 am

TimesUnion.com

1. I have to agree, there should be a cafe. Maybe some of those new-fangled CAF diners? /s

2. So, I have to ask, how does this corridor (ALB-NYP, not the Buffalo portion although I'd be interested in that as well) do financially if many trains are sold out? I always thought these were excluded from the most recent reform i.e. LD vs corridor.

3. If the corridor is controlled by NYSDOT and Amtrak (under a CSX lease, right? Or did they close on a sale?), why can't ALB-NYP be bid out the same as the Springfield NEC service? Amtrak would continue to run the LD's, and Buffalo/Niagara Falls trains. I've said it before; the corridor is ripe for Virgin.

4. Speaking of the NEC, if Springfield is part of the NEC, why not make ALB part of it? In the NYP Empire turns topic turning trains for Albany was discussed. Why not make them Regionals, with an engine change, just like at New Haven for Springfield.
Food service on Albany-NYC train may re-up in 2019
...
The Empire State Passengers Association has pushed for the reintroduction of food service to the route, which last year was one of Amtrak's busiest, after dining options on the train route were removed in 2005 as a "cost cutting measure," according to Bill Hollister, a government senior affairs manager for Amtrak.

But proponents say the train should offer a cup of coffee or snacks for passengers on the approximately two-hour and 40 minute train ride, and they argue the service could create enough revenue to pay for itself.

Because New York state subsidizes the Empire Service, the state would make the decision on whether to fund food service, which continues to be offered on trains traveling beyond the Albany-Rensselaer station.

Re-funding it would mean a defunct commissary at the Albany-Rensselaer station would be put into use again to stock food onto the Empire Service trains, Hollister said after speaking Saturday during ESPA's annual meeting at Proctors Theater in Schenectady.
...
Other ESPA priorities for this year include lobbying lawmakers to work on increasing the capacity of trains in the Empire Corridor to meet demand and reduce the number of sold-out trains — something the governor supports, according to Michael Wojnar, deputy secretary of transportation for Cuomo.
...
Next stop, Willoughby
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:13 am

By coincidence, a Bloomberg article answered some of my questions.

Although also somewhat of a trip report, it appears the writer's main point is the money; appropriately enough the article appears on: Bloomberg.com
The Amtrak That Works, and the Amtrak That Doesn’t

Its long-distance trains are expensive anachronisms that are dragging down the more successful parts of the system. But Congress can’t bear to give them up.
...
(see chart in article)
The chart I'm referring to is the corridor service chart. Empire SOUTH lost $17.4M on 1,150,498 passenger trips, with a revenue to cost ratio of .73, the WORST of Amtrak's most popular routes by ridership for FY18.

That's bad. The ALB-NYP route I would have thought would have been break even or better. It certainly should be.
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rcthompson04
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by rcthompson04 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:25 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:13 am
That's bad. The ALB-NYP route I would have thought would have been break even or better. It certainly should be.
The next best comparison to the ALB-NYP route is the Keystone, which is pretty close to break even ($3 per rider subsidy is nominal).

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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by gokeefe » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:08 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:13 am
That's bad. The ALB-NYP route I would have thought would have been break even or better. It certainly should be.
Completely agreed. I'm shocked at the poor farebox recovery. If the trains are consistently selling out and they're running 10 round-trips per day either fares are too low, trains are too short or both. It's an unfortunate policy choice which prevents additional service that could provide better utilization of public resources.
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by David Benton » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:50 pm

For Albany trains, It also has a complete train turn at each end, which must add to costs.
Plus having to maintain a separate aging locomotive class , which would add to costs .
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by gokeefe » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:59 pm

Oh wow. Yes, very good point there. Hadn't thought about the cost issues related to P32s.
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StLouSteve
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by StLouSteve » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:17 pm

NY Times reports possible flooding issues for West Side Line in upper Manhattan which could lead to expensive repairs.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/21/nyre ... oding.html

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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by Backshophoss » Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:23 pm

The Park's water drainage system needs repair ASAP,that "bright idea" from Robert Moses will fail if that unintended wetlands gets into
the tunnel structure.
Problem is NYC Parks Dept is waay under funded,most of the funding winds up in Central Park.
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by Ridgefielder » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:26 am

Backshophoss wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:23 pm
The Park's water drainage system needs repair ASAP,that "bright idea" from Robert Moses will fail if that unintended wetlands gets into
the tunnel structure.
Problem is NYC Parks Dept is waay under funded,most of the funding winds up in Central Park.
NYC Parks Department actually doesn't spend much at all on Central Park. The maintenance and improvement budget is covered by the non-profit Central Park Conservancy. Been that way since the early 1980's-- the Conservancy basically took over when the City was on the verge of bankruptcy and the park was in almost terminal decline.

There are similar organisations citywide that support the major parks-- Prospect, Riverside, Bryant, Battery. Parks Department funding tends to focus on smaller ones and facilities in the outer boroughs-- Asser Levy park and pool in Manhattan, Orchard Beach in The Bronx, Rockaway Beach in Queens, that sort of thing.

I can't read the Times article since it's behind a paywall. But I will say that if they're talking about flooding last week, well: the rain on Wednesday was nothing short of Biblical. Something like 3" of rain fell in 40mins. Even the best drainage system could get overwhelmed.

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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:38 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:26 am
NYC Parks Department actually doesn't spend much at all on Central Park. The maintenance and improvement budget is covered by the non-profit Central Park Conservancy. Been that way since the early 1980's-- the Conservancy basically took over when the City was on the verge of bankruptcy and the park was in almost terminal decline. There are similar organisations citywide that support the major parks-- Prospect, Riverside, Bryant, Battery.
This makes an more appealing case for public-private partnerships.
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by Greg Moore » Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:46 pm

NY has discussed (it's good at discussing) adding more trains.
A goal stated at one point was to increase to hourly service, not including the LSL (and perhaps not including the other named trains, I can't recall) so there would be a minimum of 12 trains a day in each direction.

For the longest time, all Empire Service trains with 5 cars (4 coach, 1 cafe/business) but over time more have started to run with 6.
The platforms can now support I believe 10 cars.

One thing that has been annoying is that the scheduled times have INCREASED over the years. This is frustrating. There's a variety of reasons, but a lot come down to the fact that NY can't get Metro-North and Amtrak on the same page.

Honestly, this is an area where NY should be spending the funds to get trip towns down to sub 2 hours. (I've been on trains that completed the route in just under 2:10, with 10 minute holds at POU and all "discharge only north of there).

There's a fair number of folks that already commute to NYC either daily (not common, but a few do) or weekly (far more common) from ALB or HUD.

As for the cafe cars, yes as stated, if the train begins or ends past Albany, it has a cafe car.
It would be great to bring back cafe cars for trains terminating in Albany. I know I'd prefer that for the times I've had to leave NYP around dinner time and didn't have time to get a decent meal before boarding.

But yeah.. this is one route I definitely don't think lives up to its potential.
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:22 pm

Greg Moore wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:46 pm
There's a fair number of folks that already commute to NYC either daily (not common, but a few do) or weekly (far more common) from ALB or HUD.
How many 10-trip and monthly passholders are there for Rhinecliff and Hudson? Would it be cheaper for Columbia and Upper Dutchess County residents to drive to MNCR at Poughkeepsie or Wassaic?
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Re: Empire Service (New York State)

Post by Railjunkie » Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:00 am

Early morning and evening trains I would say are around 20 percent monthly and 10 trips, its been a while since I collected revenue. There are a few that do indeed drive to Poughkeepsie save some money but its a longer trip cant speak to any who travel to Wassaic.

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