Amtrak Fare and Availability Discussion Thread

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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ThirdRail7
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Re: Amtrak Springfield branch fare bucket issue

Post by ThirdRail7 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:19 pm

NH2060 wrote:
gprimr1 wrote:I believe Amtrak is considering running the shuttles as far north as Greenfield so I doubt they will stop them.
The plan all along has been to eventually have 4-6(?) round trips (presumably Amtrak) up to Greenfield. However there are proposals to have a separate contractor (including Pan Am) operate their own passenger trains so aside from the Vermonter -and any additional Montrealer or other through trains from south of SPG- who knows who'll operate any additional services. Some NHHS runs could possibly be extended to Greenfield as well.
I think the shuttles should become the express trains on the route and let CT run locals.
I believe that's part of the plan as well, most likely having them be NHV-HFD-SPG runs. They certainly won't be stopping at any of the planned new stations for NHHS. Having them only stop at only a handful of stations would presumably streamline the new fare system.
I'm sure there is a better place for this, but I'm short on time and a lot of threads turned up during a search. So, if a MOD would move this to a more appropriate thread, I'd appreciate it:

Who Should Run New Haven-Springfield Rail Service?

Plans On Course For Late 2016, But Connecticut Has To Decide If Amtrak, Metro-North, Or A Different Contractor Should Take Control

Please allow a brief" fair use" quote:


By DON STACOM, dstacom@courant.comThe Hartford Courant
8:10 a.m. EDT, March 20, 2014



HARTFORD — Commuters along the I-91 corridor can expect a new way to get to work in late 2016 when trains begin running a relatively high-frequency schedule between New Haven and Springfield, transportation planners said Wednesday night.

But who will operate the service is still undecided — and might be for another year or more.

Many state politicians have assumed that Amtrak would run the trains because it owns the 62-mile rail line. Others were looking for Metro-North to get the contract because it runs Connecticut's busy New Haven Line, along with the Waterbury, New Canaan and Danbury branches.


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But in a two-hour meeting Wednesday night at Hartford's Union Station, state Department of Transportation managers told the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council that no choice has been made yet.


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"It's in internal discussions at this time," said John Bernick, project manager with the DOT. "It's a very sensitive issue."

Connecticut is spending more than $400 million in state and federal funds to modernize the lightly used Amtrak line, add a second set of tracks, rebuild bridges, renovate stations and install modern signals and new grade crossings. The goal is to have the system ready to accommodate commuter service by December 2016, with 17 round-trips a day between New Haven and Hartford — including 12 that will continue north to Springfield.

Connecticut intends to deploy a fleet of diesel locomotives and passenger cars on the line, and will hire a contractor to operate the system. Whether that job goes to Amtrak, Metro-North or another railroad is a choice that's become more politically sensitive for the Malloy administration in the past year because of Metro-North's crashes, plummeting service and suddenly dismal customer satisfaction level.

The legislation that authorized that state to create the new service also enables it to seek competitive bids from prospective operators, and last month Gov. Dannel P. Malloy pointedly said that Connecticut will keep its options open in light of Metro-North's troubles.

DOT officials on Wednesday night said they would like to decide within the next three to six months whether to issue a general request for proposals; if the state does that, it would need another year or so to work out detailed operating agreements with the successful vendor
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JimBoylan
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Re: Interesting Fare Structure Practice

Post by JimBoylan » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:05 pm

Today, 4/6/14, I checked for tickets on the Empire Builder from the Twin Cities to Chicago to see if St. Paul Union Depot was yet listed instead of Midway station. I looked on 3/8/15, as far in the future as Amtrak would let me, and it's still listed as St. Paul / Minneapolis, MN (MSP) with the same times as to day. But the fares were interesting. Bedrooms on Train 8 were cheaper than on Train 28, even though each "train" had only 1 left at that price!
So, if you want tickets on a train with multiple sections, like the Empire Builder, Lake Shore Limited, or Texas Eagle, look carefully, in case they are treated as separate trains that sell out at different times.

lirr42
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Re: Interesting Fare Structure Practice

Post by lirr42 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:01 am

JimBoylan wrote:So, if you want tickets on a train with multiple sections, like the Empire Builder, Lake Shore Limited, or Texas Eagle, look carefully, in case they are treated as separate trains that sell out at different times.
That has been the case for a while with the split trains. It also happens for trains that add or drop cars enroute. (And it works for coach fares too, in addition to sleepers)

David Benton
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Re: Interesting Fare Structure Practice

Post by David Benton » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:39 am

JimBoylan wrote:Today, 4/6/14, I checked for tickets on the Empire Builder from the Twin Cities to Chicago to see if St. Paul Union Depot was yet listed instead of Midway station. I looked on 3/8/15, as far in the future as Amtrak would let me, and it's still listed as St. Paul / Minneapolis, MN (MSP) with the same times as to day. But the fares were interesting. Bedrooms on Train 8 were cheaper than on Train 28, even though each "train" had only 1 left at that price!
So, if you want tickets on a train with multiple sections, like the Empire Builder, Lake Shore Limited, or Texas Eagle, look carefully, in case they are treated as separate trains that sell out at different times.
It makes sense to me . They may have had only one seat left on each train, in that bucket. Before moving to the next bucket price. It would be very complex to treat the seperate sections as one train.
what happens if someone wants to book 2 seats, and there is only one seat left in each "train". Do they end up in different sections ?
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EricL
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Re: Interesting Fare Structure Practice

Post by EricL » Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:29 pm

In order to make the booking, they might have to be wise to the situation, and figure out how to make the two separate reservations. An agent who is on the ball would just handle it for them, though.

The conductor's manifest (train list) works just the same way as the reservation system - separate sections are treated as different train numbers. Thus, 7's conductor departing Chicago during peak season would have to ask the clerk to print him a manifest for "trains" 7, 27, and 807. It is up to the conductor to page through this paperwork ahead of time - i.e. total up the pax counts on each section, to figure out how many passengers he expects to entrain at each station stop he works. Then he writes up a boarding plan for the length of his crew district, which indicates only said totals for said stations, and does not discern any difference between 7/27/807 (or 21/321/421, or 48/448, or whatever). In this manner, yes, it is completely possible - and even likely - for those two people, booked in opposite sections, to be able to sit in the same car.

___off topic___
...unless, of course, these two traveling companions happen to be destined for separate places - say, Seattle and Portland. In this situation, these two folks will likely try to argue that they will be on the train for two days, and they shouldn't be deprived of the ability to be seated next to each other, just because they are ending up in different places. This is a difficult situation for the train crew, and they will always bristle at such a suggestion - because of course, before Spokane, one of those two passengers is going to have to move to the other section, in order to get where they are going. More often than not, even after plentiful advice of the gravity of the situation, they fail to do so; guess who gets blamed for it? And if the conductor DOES allow this seating arrangement, another factor working against him is the simple fact that the train will traverse several more crew districts before it gets to the split point. So even if he gives the next guy a heads up, or leaves a note, how likely is it that this information will actually make it to the person it needs to get to? Picture the "telephone game" and that's pretty much the scenario. So in summary, in this case of two friends with two split endpoints: a wary conductor's tendency IS to make them sit in the separate sections, too bad so sad.
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Vincent
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Re: Interesting Fare Structure Practice

Post by Vincent » Thu Apr 10, 2014 12:13 am

The Michigan trains seems to have a very inconsistent system for calculating the Business Class fare. Between Chicago and Detroit, the coach fare buckets appear to be $34-46-58 with a BC surcharge of $24. On some trains, the BC fare is the lowest available coach fare plus $24. On other trains, the BC fare is the $46 or $58 coach fare plus $24--even when a lower coach bucket is still available. But on most trains the BC fare is the Flexible fare ($80) plus $24. However confusing the system may be, BC seems to frequently sell out.

On the Cascades trains between Seattle and Portland Business Class is consistently priced at the lowest Value or Flexible coach fare plus $18 (the 14 day Saver fares can't be upgraded to Business). The strange thing about Cascades fares is that a BC seat is often cheaper than the Flexible coach seat.

hi55us
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Fare Hike?

Post by hi55us » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:30 pm

Did amtrak hike their fares recently? I normally pay ~$80 for a regional NY-Boston (even a week in advance), but tickets for this friday are all $110+, with the Acela's going for ~$200 (in business, closer to $300 for first class).

I wonder if this has anything to do with the bug in the website over the weekend...

Greg Moore
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by Greg Moore » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:54 pm

hi55us wrote:Did amtrak hike their fares recently? I normally pay ~$80 for a regional NY-Boston (even a week in advance), but tickets for this friday are all $110+, with the Acela's going for ~$200 (in business, closer to $300 for first class).

I wonder if this has anything to do with the bug in the website over the weekend...
Or it being a holiday weekend perhaps?
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barciur
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by barciur » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:00 pm

It probably is the holiday weekend thing. For next week on Thursday there is a bunch of $74 tickets left. Best to be flexible and be able to book 2 weeks in advance - saver fares run at $49 for this route!

theozno
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by theozno » Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:03 am

Checked the Vermonter fare codes seeming a regular up that way during ski season. Still all the same. Funny one for tomorrow is while the Vemonter is sold out to Meriden CT From Meriden to Vermont Bellows falls is showing as fare code 1 weird? Only 3 available seats on the entire train from Meriden.
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runningwithscalpels
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by runningwithscalpels » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:57 am

It's Friday in prime foliage season...obviously the Vermonter is going to be pretty much sold out.
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theozno
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by theozno » Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:01 pm

While I was checking schedules for this winter in Vermont... Fare code 1 has gone up for Bridgeport and Stamford going to Bellows Falls Vermont and are staying the same for New Haven. it used to be only $3 more to go to Bridgeport to Bellows falls now it is $6 more and Stamford is $19 more than New Haven ouch! I guess I'll be buying 10 trips for Metro North New Haven to Stamford instead of being on the Vermonter in this section :(
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peconicstation
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by peconicstation » Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:25 pm

hi55us wrote:Did amtrak hike their fares recently? I normally pay ~$80 for a regional NY-Boston (even a week in advance), but tickets for this friday are all $110+, with the Acela's going for ~$200 (in business, closer to $300 for first class). I wonder if this has anything to do with the bug in the website over the weekend...
The Boston end of the NEC has been doing strong business, and the distance makes services like Bolt and MegaBus less attractive.
I would say a combination of this, and the Holiday weekend resulted in the fares you got.

My regular ride is from New London to Boston, and lately to get the lowest tier fare I have to book several weeks out.

Ken

CVRA7
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by CVRA7 » Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:14 pm

Fares did go up. In this deregulated world all it takes is the touch of a keyboard, no announcement required. Also Amtrak can tweak their pricing whenever they feel the need. Last year in January a friend reserved a ticket from Albany to NY on the first train of Thanksgiving Sunday. He told me he received the second highest fare out of 4 levels. His first thought was the train must be filling up fast even that early but later found out he was the first one to reserve space on that train. So Amtrak fares are established by either real or anticipated demand.

barciur
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by barciur » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:44 am

theozno wrote:While I was checking schedules for this winter in Vermont... Fare code 1 has gone up for Bridgeport and Stamford going to Bellows Falls Vermont and are staying the same for New Haven. it used to be only $3 more to go to Bridgeport to Bellows falls now it is $6 more and Stamford is $19 more than New Haven ouch! I guess I'll be buying 10 trips for Metro North New Haven to Stamford instead of being on the Vermonter in this section :(
Yep. Lancaster (PA) to New York Penn went up to $58 from $56. If you want to go from Lancaster to Boston, it used to be $95 - now it's $100. So not huge changes, but changes nonetheless.

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