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Old 03-31-2019, 03:33 AM
 
20,778 posts, read 13,771,877 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labonte18 View Post
I actually did the math on this one time before.. Let's look at it again.


Greenville, SC to Los Angeles, CA


I want to leave April 22nd.


Amtrak will get me there for $383


American Airlines gets me there for $187




Now, let's look at the travel. With American.. I have to fly from GSP to Charlotte, transfer, then a direct flight from Charlotte to LAX. Total time.. 8 hours 11 minutes




amtrak.. Get this.. I board at 11pm on the 22nd. Travel to Union Station in DC, arriving about 10am on the 23rd. Wait at Union Station 6 hours and 12 minutes, boarding and departing on the Capitol Limited at 4:05pm. arriving in Chicago at 8:45am on the 24th. Wait 6 hours and board the Southwest Chief at 2:50pm.. Arrive in LA at 8am on the 26th. And this is all assuming things go on time. 5 times this year, the Crescent arrived in DC after the Capitol Limited had already departed. Total travel time, at a minimum.. 84 hours.

So you add another day. That's all coach. To get a roomette the whole way.. $1500.


if I were retired.. Ok, maybe I could see it. Where I'm just out having fun.. No time concerns at all.

Going from DC to New York or Philly or Boston or something? Sure.. I'd do that in a heartbeat. Again, northeast.. Even DC to Chicago.. Maybe.

Now you begin to understand why cars, buses, and later airplanes largely killed long distance travel by rail. Intercity was bad enough for some, but even back in the heyday of passenger rail it often was annoying as *** and slow to get anywhere.


Consider no RR owned ROW/tracks from coast to coast. That is you couldn't go from Maine or even Massachusetts on one railroad, much less train.


Here is a listing of all major North American RR passenger routes in 1940s and 1950's.


Major Passenger Routes Operated by each Railroad


First off you can see unless one lived in or close to a large urban area (New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc...) first you'd have to take a train, taxi, drive or whatever to reach a terminal or station that had rail service that got you on your way. This could also be something like a "'whistle stop" in a small town, or something. In days of steam locomotives since the things needed refueling many RR's did have stops/stations out in the boonies. I mean if you're going to be stopping anyway.....


Then once you got on your way it was a series of connections. From Boston to either Albany or New York City. From either of those two onwards to Chicago, Philadelphia or thereabouts where you transferred to *another* train (maybe the Santa Fe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atchis...senger_service ) that got you out west.


How fast you got to where you were going in a long distance train depending upon how much money was spent (limited stop trains cost more), and route. Oh and then there were things like weather problems with locomotive, mandated stops for crew changes, water/fueling (a steam) engine.


Fastest trains and with no hiccups you got from Chicago to California in about three days. Mind you again you may have already been traveling one or more days before reaching Chicago. I'll say it again; once airlines began using jets on domestic flights that was end of passenger rail long distance service. Instead of three days from Chicago to Los Angeles you could get there in three hours. First to go were businessmen and the wealthy. Soon only the elderly and those who for various personal reasons refused to fly were mainly the only customer base for LD train travel.


Those who didn't fly simply drove a car. That way you at least move on your own time and not the railroad's. You can also see all the scenery and so forth all you like.


All this illustrates why LD train travel in USA will never make any really big comeback in the USA. Intercity is another matter; but few people have the time or patience today for Amtrak's nonsense.
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Old 03-31-2019, 07:50 PM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
12,351 posts, read 7,513,144 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
Yes, freight RR's own much of the ROW outside of northeast that Amtrak needs. Equally true there are times when passenger (Amtrak) service is delayed due to priority being given to freight. However it all isn't the fault of those big bad old freight railroads.


Amtrak is given a window of time to get their trains over certain tracks. If they are running late (which frequently happens for a host of reasons), then it can be just to GD bad for them; as now that freight train which is scheduled or whatever to go through now is making that move.


Back in days when private Tier 1 RRs offered passenger service things were done to mitigate delayed passenger trains. Far more ROW was double tracked in one or both directions, that and or extensive use of sidings. All of which allowed a slower train to be overtaken by faster. Much of all that duplicate ROW has been ripped up/abandoned, leaving just single tracks.


The other thing done (while officially discouraged) was for a passenger train engineer was to open up the throttle and increase speed to make up for lost time. That of course caused no end of accidents so RRs and federal government long have cracked down and began enforcing speed limits.


Good part of freight RR traffic isn't that time sensitive. But there are trains (usually carrying produce, livestock or other goods) that must run on schedule/on time, period.


As have said numerous times in these sort of discussions; passenger service then and now is all very good; but freight is what pays the bills. That was true in back in the day and still so today. CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and other major freight RRs aren't going to allow themselves to be put in position of ticking off customers because their shipments aren't arriving because [they're] stuck behind some slow/delayed Amtrak train.
Amtrak has been around for a little short of 48 years now; at the time of it's inception, all of the Eastern "trunk line" railroads were flirting with bankruptcy (the last holdouts would follow due to the Hurricane Agnes flooding the next spring, and the disease was spreading to the Upper Midwest. What high-value merchandise traffic remained (livestock hasn't moved by rail in any quantity since the early 1980s, and the completion of the Interstate highway system killed the once-lucrative dressed-meat traffic) moved in trailers/containers on flat cars. Container equipment had not yet been standardized, and what there was wasn't kind to damage-prone freight.

Fast-forward to 2019; deregulation has allowed North American railroads to shrink into seven major systems, all of which turn steady-if-unspectacular returns. The four-track main lines (two for passengers, two for freight) have been cut down to two tracks, and dispatching / traffic control is handled by a much smaller labor force -- sometimes from hundreds of miles away. Container equipment hasn't been completely standardized, but it's a lot closer to it, and loss and damage claims are way down.

Amtrak trains can be a disruptive force here; the differential between passenger and high-priority container traffic isn't that great, but the need to accelerate and decelerate for scheduled station stops can complicate dispatchers' plans. I've seen dispatchers "stab" Amtrak trains (usually in the dead of night, and not for too long) to address congestion on the approaches to a major terminal.

When Amtrak was founded, it was envisioned as a temporary measure that would dry up as it's elderly, non-driving and afraid-to-fly clientele passed from the scene; it hasn't turned out that way. And the disruption of freight service on the handful of long-distance routes isn't significant enough that the freight roads are going to make much of a protest about it. Most Amtrak long-distance passengers aren't that time-conscious either.

Last edited by 2nd trick op; 03-31-2019 at 08:07 PM..
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Old 03-31-2019, 08:29 PM
 
Location: New Mexico
6,586 posts, read 3,674,133 times
Reputation: 12396
"All this illustrates why LD train travel in USA will never make any really big comeback in the USA. Intercity is another matter; but few people have the time or patience today for Amtrak's nonsense. "

People won't take the train because, as a national rail system, Amtrak is designed to fail. And they complain as if it is Amtrak's fault. Amtrak is forced to use freight routes, has poor scheduling, operates secondary to freight, has inadequate investment and maintenance, few dedicated rail lines, ridiculous hub routing, and headed up by an airline CEO. There is something wrong with that picture. If you want to go from El Paso to Albuquerque or Denver you have to go through Chicago. There's no excuse for this inept system when other countries do so much better.
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Old 03-31-2019, 10:59 PM
 
9,200 posts, read 9,280,929 times
Reputation: 28823
Quote:
Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
Now you begin to understand why cars, buses, and later airplanes largely killed long distance travel by rail. Intercity was bad enough for some, but even back in the heyday of passenger rail it often was annoying as *** and slow to get anywhere.


Consider no RR owned ROW/tracks from coast to coast. That is you couldn't go from Maine or even Massachusetts on one railroad, much less train.


Here is a listing of all major North American RR passenger routes in 1940s and 1950's.


Major Passenger Routes Operated by each Railroad


First off you can see unless one lived in or close to a large urban area (New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc...) first you'd have to take a train, taxi, drive or whatever to reach a terminal or station that had rail service that got you on your way. This could also be something like a "'whistle stop" in a small town, or something. In days of steam locomotives since the things needed refueling many RR's did have stops/stations out in the boonies. I mean if you're going to be stopping anyway.....


Then once you got on your way it was a series of connections. From Boston to either Albany or New York City. From either of those two onwards to Chicago, Philadelphia or thereabouts where you transferred to *another* train (maybe the Santa Fe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atchis...senger_service ) that got you out west.


How fast you got to where you were going in a long distance train depending upon how much money was spent (limited stop trains cost more), and route. Oh and then there were things like weather problems with locomotive, mandated stops for crew changes, water/fueling (a steam) engine.


Fastest trains and with no hiccups you got from Chicago to California in about three days. Mind you again you may have already been traveling one or more days before reaching Chicago. I'll say it again; once airlines began using jets on domestic flights that was end of passenger rail long distance service. Instead of three days from Chicago to Los Angeles you could get there in three hours. First to go were businessmen and the wealthy. Soon only the elderly and those who for various personal reasons refused to fly were mainly the only customer base for LD train travel.


Those who didn't fly simply drove a car. That way you at least move on your own time and not the railroad's. You can also see all the scenery and so forth all you like.


All this illustrates why LD train travel in USA will never make any really big comeback in the USA. Intercity is another matter; but few people have the time or patience today for Amtrak's nonsense
.
Largely, if not totally correct.

The end of World War II to 1970 saw a decline in passenger rail traffic in every continuous year. Passenger rail service was never particularly profitable for railroads. If you look at the time involved to transport passengers, the ratio of employees per passenger, and the limited number of passengers on a particular train there has never been a huge profit potential in passenger rail service.

From 1945 until 1970, the railroads literally deluged the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) with an endless series of requests to allow them to discontinue one passenger route after another. It did not behoove railroads seeking to discontinue service to invest money in better cars, tracks, or locomotives. Some felt the railroads were deliberately going out of their way to make passenger rail service look unpopular and unprofitable. Sometimes, the ICC would get opposition to these requests. Small cities and towns on railroad lines usually objected to requests to discontinue service.

Congress created Amtrak in response to several constituencies. Small cities did not want to lose train service. Railroad unions did not want to lose the jobs that would be cut with an end of private train service. Finally, a group I will call "train buffs" did not want to see an end to passenger service either. These groups prevailed on Congress and Congress created Amtrak. Amtrak was never designed to earn a profit. It was created to keep some limited train service going with the help of an annual government subsidy.

Amtrak moves a small fraction of travelers. I suspect its less than 3% of all interstate travelers.
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Old 04-01-2019, 07:21 AM
 
13,923 posts, read 7,416,674 times
Reputation: 25432
Quote:
Originally Posted by Labonte18 View Post
Trains certainly don't run on time in the US. Outside of the Northeast, where all the tracks are owned by Amtrak.

Sort of. The Northeast Corridor run Acela uses between DC and Boston is almost all Amtrak-owned tracks. The exception is Greenwich CT to New Haven CT which is owned by Connecticut and maintained by Metro North. The Connecticut rail infrastructure is awful. Whenever Amtrak tries to upgrade anything, the wealthy NIMBY people on the Connecticut shore sue the proposed project to a standstill. It would be quicker to divert around the whole state and run high speed rail from Boston to Albany and then down the Hudson.



I ride that corridor frequently. It's unusual for trains to run much more than 30 minutes late but it happens. I remember being in Philly 30th Street Station a couple years ago when somebody did "suicide by train" and shut down the Northeast Corridor for 3 hours.
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:28 PM
 
20,778 posts, read 13,771,877 times
Reputation: 14442
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
Sort of. The Northeast Corridor run Acela uses between DC and Boston is almost all Amtrak-owned tracks. The exception is Greenwich CT to New Haven CT which is owned by Connecticut and maintained by Metro North. The Connecticut rail infrastructure is awful. Whenever Amtrak tries to upgrade anything, the wealthy NIMBY people on the Connecticut shore sue the proposed project to a standstill. It would be quicker to divert around the whole state and run high speed rail from Boston to Albany and then down the Hudson.



I ride that corridor frequently. It's unusual for trains to run much more than 30 minutes late but it happens. I remember being in Philly 30th Street Station a couple years ago when somebody did "suicide by train" and shut down the Northeast Corridor for 3 hours.


Connecticut is and has always been a heck hole far as RRs are concerned. Relatively little flat land compared to hills and mountains. That and plenty of bodies of water (lakes, rivers, streams, etc...) that need to be crossed meant building a ROW was always problematic. That was one reason why the New York, New Haven and Hartford RR mainline ended up hugging the Conn coast. That and wealthy Conn residents didn't want trains zooming through their property.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Yo...tford_Railroad


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Yo..._Haven_Map.png
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:34 PM
 
20,778 posts, read 13,771,877 times
Reputation: 14442
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
Sort of. The Northeast Corridor run Acela uses between DC and Boston is almost all Amtrak-owned tracks. The exception is Greenwich CT to New Haven CT which is owned by Connecticut and maintained by Metro North. The Connecticut rail infrastructure is awful. Whenever Amtrak tries to upgrade anything, the wealthy NIMBY people on the Connecticut shore sue the proposed project to a standstill. It would be quicker to divert around the whole state and run high speed rail from Boston to Albany and then down the Hudson.



I ride that corridor frequently. It's unusual for trains to run much more than 30 minutes late but it happens. I remember being in Philly 30th Street Station a couple years ago when somebody did "suicide by train" and shut down the Northeast Corridor for 3 hours.


Can't be done I'm afraid. Well not easily anyway.


ROW between Boston and Albany was part of New York Central's "Water Level Route", and now mostly belongs to CSX and other RRs. Amtrak only owns a portion of the ROW and relies upon track rights for balance.


CSX has no interest or plans in upgrading their ROW to handle high speed or even faster passenger rail service. So if Amtrak wants it they'll have to pony up the money.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_States


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Shore_Limited


That being said the Berkshires are "hot" again as a destination for living and recreation; as such plans are a foot to bring back former New York Central train service to that area from GCT. Baby steps at first, but who knows where it will lead: https://www.timesunion.com/business/...e-13594539.php
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:37 PM
 
20,778 posts, read 13,771,877 times
Reputation: 14442
Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
Largely, if not totally correct.

The end of World War II to 1970 saw a decline in passenger rail traffic in every continuous year. Passenger rail service was never particularly profitable for railroads. If you look at the time involved to transport passengers, the ratio of employees per passenger, and the limited number of passengers on a particular train there has never been a huge profit potential in passenger rail service.

From 1945 until 1970, the railroads literally deluged the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) with an endless series of requests to allow them to discontinue one passenger route after another. It did not behoove railroads seeking to discontinue service to invest money in better cars, tracks, or locomotives. Some felt the railroads were deliberately going out of their way to make passenger rail service look unpopular and unprofitable. Sometimes, the ICC would get opposition to these requests. Small cities and towns on railroad lines usually objected to requests to discontinue service.

Congress created Amtrak in response to several constituencies. Small cities did not want to lose train service. Railroad unions did not want to lose the jobs that would be cut with an end of private train service. Finally, a group I will call "train buffs" did not want to see an end to passenger service either. These groups prevailed on Congress and Congress created Amtrak. Amtrak was never designed to earn a profit. It was created to keep some limited train service going with the help of an annual government subsidy.

Amtrak moves a small fraction of travelers. I suspect its less than 3% of all interstate travelers.

This was the sad state of Penn-Central in 1971:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHmyYqfNYnc


That doomed merger should never have been allowed to happen; but then again there were few other options around at that time. However if people knew then what we know now what was coming on the horizon maybe things would have been different.
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:45 PM
 
20,778 posts, read 13,771,877 times
Reputation: 14442
Quote:
Originally Posted by SunGrins View Post
"All this illustrates why LD train travel in USA will never make any really big comeback in the USA. Intercity is another matter; but few people have the time or patience today for Amtrak's nonsense. "

People won't take the train because, as a national rail system, Amtrak is designed to fail. And they complain as if it is Amtrak's fault. Amtrak is forced to use freight routes, has poor scheduling, operates secondary to freight, has inadequate investment and maintenance, few dedicated rail lines, ridiculous hub routing, and headed up by an airline CEO. There is something wrong with that picture. If you want to go from El Paso to Albuquerque or Denver you have to go through Chicago. There's no excuse for this inept system when other countries do so much better.

Just to be clear going back decades before Amtrak was even thought about railroads negotiated trackage rights/agreements between themselves allowing "foreign" trains to travel over their ROW. Indeed government laws demanded and or heavily leaned on RRs to make this happen in order to bust up and or prevent monopolies.

Nothing besides lack of money prevents Amtrak from building their own ROW. Indeed historically when a RR wanted access to a certain route/city/area and a RR already there wouldn't play nice, that is exactly what they did; build their own ROW. This why many areas had two, three or more railroads providing service.


All this being said maddening thing about ROW is that it costs money. Not just to acquire land and build out, but to maintain and so forth. For the one or so trains Amtrak runs over many routes per week (or even day) it just isn't worth bothering for them to build ROW.


In the old days when all Tier 1 railroads had both passenger and freight service a RR could (and did) run freight trains down those tracks to make their money. Amtrak is strictly forbidden by law from getting inot the freight market. So that is that.
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:54 PM
 
20,778 posts, read 13,771,877 times
Reputation: 14442
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd trick op View Post
Amtrak has been around for a little short of 48 years now; at the time of it's inception, all of the Eastern "trunk line" railroads were flirting with bankruptcy (the last holdouts would follow due to the Hurricane Agnes flooding the next spring, and the disease was spreading to the Upper Midwest. What high-value merchandise traffic remained (livestock hasn't moved by rail in any quantity since the early 1980s, and the completion of the Interstate highway system killed the once-lucrative dressed-meat traffic) moved in trailers/containers on flat cars. Container equipment had not yet been standardized, and what there was wasn't kind to damage-prone freight.

Fast-forward to 2019; deregulation has allowed North American railroads to shrink into seven major systems, all of which turn steady-if-unspectacular returns. The four-track main lines (two for passengers, two for freight) have been cut down to two tracks, and dispatching / traffic control is handled by a much smaller labor force -- sometimes from hundreds of miles away. Container equipment hasn't been completely standardized, but it's a lot closer to it, and loss and damage claims are way down.

Amtrak trains can be a disruptive force here; the differential between passenger and high-priority container traffic isn't that great, but the need to accelerate and decelerate for scheduled station stops can complicate dispatchers' plans. I've seen dispatchers "stab" Amtrak trains (usually in the dead of night, and not for too long) to address congestion on the approaches to a major terminal.

When Amtrak was founded, it was envisioned as a temporary measure that would dry up as it's elderly, non-driving and afraid-to-fly clientele passed from the scene; it hasn't turned out that way. And the disruption of freight service on the handful of long-distance routes isn't significant enough that the freight roads are going to make much of a protest about it. Most Amtrak long-distance passengers aren't that time-conscious either.


Poor Erie Lackawanna Railway, it just couldn't catch a break. *LOL*


Declining freight traffic thanks to the new Interstate highway system was bad enough, but Hurricane Agnes pushed that knife in a bit deeper. Given its poor finances and bleak future (predicted) the Erie just didn't see any point in rebuilding flood damaged ROW and was would up.


Ironically Conrail (who got much of the Erie) did and has done well enough, which again shows if people knew then what we know now......
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Lackawanna_Railway


One huge issue for all the NE RRs was the declining coal market post WWII. As oil, diesel,
natural gas and other fuels replaced coal railroads that make good to excellent money hauling that stuff to ports or whatever found themselves in trouble. One by one as coal mines closed so went reliable steady customers.
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