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Old 06-13-2014, 04:55 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,072 posts, read 16,094,154 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
Amtrak is "owned" by the federal government because otherwise there wouldn't have been much if any passenger rail service left in the USA.

It was Congress/Washington D.C. that regulated and or otherwise drove intercity rail service (and much of the commuter part as well) out of business. In particular in the post WWII era when the push was to autos and then air travel.

I've said it before, NO passenger rail service in the United States or elsewhere exists without some sort of local or state (federal) subsidy. Indeed much of the US rail system would not have been built if the government had not granted RRs easements to lay ROW.

When Amtrak was first put together it was mainly to solve the mess created by Conrail going under, and also to quiet those that felt American needed some sort of passenger rail service. Then as now the main jewel of Amtrak is the NEC.
Actually, that's incorrect.

Seattle's mono-rail, a passenger rail service, operates at a profit. It's owned by the city but the private operator and city split the profits. For something more comprehensive, there is one Amtrak line (Acela?) that operates at a profit. But generally true. Most public transit in the US doesn't really have any demand. Those that do actually have demand (NYC subway and other large mass-transit systems) are subsidized to make them more attractive to commuters so the prices are artificially low although they probably could be operated at a profit.

Eg, NY MTA is actually an interesting look at that. They could probably jack up the full-fare price and not subsidize it and most people would still ride it. They don't separate out rail versus bus, but numbers I can find show 67% covered by fares in 2002. Since then they've almost doubled the fares ($1.50 to $2.75; pass from $63 to $103.) People complained but they still paid for it since it's worth more than $2.75/$103 per month to the overwhelming majority who use it. Or with BART it's just not lean and they're way overpaid because nobody is going to say no to six-figure compensation for train operators due to the consequence of saying no.

Last edited by Malloric; 06-13-2014 at 05:11 PM..
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Old 06-13-2014, 05:24 PM
 
4,023 posts, read 3,267,953 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
You've not ridden on the Acela trains then have you?
Acela is an improvement, but I believe is only available relatively recently in the northeast from Boston to New York.
Its not representative of the (antiquated) system as a whole.
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Old 06-13-2014, 05:27 PM
 
20,786 posts, read 13,781,027 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
Actually, that's incorrect.

Seattle's mono-rail, a passenger rail service, operates at a profit. It's owned by the city but the private operator and city split the profits. For something more comprehensive, there is one Amtrak line (Acela?) that operates at a profit. But generally true. Most public transit in the US doesn't really have any demand. Those that do actually have demand (NYC subway and other large mass-transit systems) are subsidized to make them more attractive to commuters so the prices are artificially low although they probably could be operated at a profit.

Eg, NY MTA is actually an interesting look at that. They could probably jack up the full-fare price and not subsidize it and most people would still ride it. They don't separate out rail versus bus, but numbers I can find show 67% covered by fares in 2002. Since then they've almost doubled the fares ($1.50 to $2.75; pass from $63 to $103.) People complained but they still paid for it since it's worth more than $2.75/$103 per month to the overwhelming majority who use it. Or with BART it's just not lean and they're way overpaid because nobody is going to say no to six-figure compensation for train operators due to the consequence of saying no.
Should have made it clear; Seattle's mono rail, NYC's subway system etc.. are NOT intercity long distance, Tier I railroads, but commuter and or urban mass transit. Such systems are totally different than RRs that run between states and or carry freight. Being as that may the NYC subway/transit system does not recover full costs from farebox revenues and does receive various funding from state and local governments. What it cannot get from either of those sources comes via debt, that is the MTA issues bonds based upon predicted future revenue among other things.

As for the Acela, as one noted upthread the NEC is the jewel in Amtrak's crown and where it makes much money. However Acela is NOT a separate RR, but part of Amtrak who overall could not exist without funding from Congress. Well not at least in it's current form. Suppose of Amtrak were broken up and or the NEC sold off *that* ROW may prove profitable but for how long. Where would the funds come for the much needed maintenance and upgrades of the ROW including the aging parts like Hudson and East River tunnels.
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:01 PM
 
Location: Southern California
15,087 posts, read 17,572,046 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adi from the Brunswicks View Post
I wonder why sleeper train services are obsolete in the US. On busy routes, why doesn't Amtrak run overnight sleeper trains to ferry people. For example, wouldn't it be nice if one could board Amtrak in the evening, enjoy a comfortable night sleep, and arrive at my destination the next day morning. These service could be used in routes like Boston-DC, NYC-Montreal, Raleigh-Atlanta, San Fransisco-LA, or any other pair of cities within 400 miles of each other which people frequently travel between. Why has Amtrak decided not to start any new sleeper train services in recent times, when it has the potential to improve ridership on busy routes and increase revenue.
If it's for business, there's no time for lollygagging on a train overnight. And if there are faster options that will have one back home with his/her family by the evening, people will take that.

[fly]
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Old 06-13-2014, 07:51 PM
 
902 posts, read 795,700 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canadian citizen View Post
Somebody mentioned the "Canadian " that goes across Canada......

Unless you have VERY deep pockets, AND time to waste, its a bad idea. Now, don't get me wrong, the scenery is amazing, in the Rockies, but a thousand miles of Manitoba and Saskatchewan and Alberta ........down right boring. The vast majority of the passengers on that run are not Canadians, they are "from away ".

My wife and I priced the rail trip, Toronto to Vancouver, as seniors, and we could have bought a good used car for that amount of money, and that was ONLY a one way trip. We flew to Vancouver, on West Jet , took five hours, and about 500 each for a return ticket.

Jim B.

Toronto.
This is the reason right here.

On the other hand, long distance sleeper travel can be a good option (a) if you like trains, and will therefore regard the journey as part of the traveling experience which you seek, (b) you have the time, and (c) you have the money. Point (c) may not be as difficult as it first appears, depending on how many people are in your party and the kind of sleeping accommodation you choose. On Amtrak, meals come free with the price of accommodation, excluding wine, and they are usually* full sit-down meals served in the diner. When we went, the food was quite good, much better than airplane food and way the heck better than roadside fast food chains. If you think of it as a sort of cruise on land instead of sea it doesn't seem quite so costly, though it is still more than a budget Carnival cruise with interior cabin.

If you drive, you have to eat somewhere and you have to sleep somewhere, so the cost is obviously much more than just the cost of fuel, especially While driving or flying will almost certainly be cheaper nevertheless, the issue becomes a point for discussion rather than a straight slam-dunk for driving. Then you can sometimes get good deals and discounts; when we went one-way from Seattle to L.A. the whole thing was less than $500 for the two of us, two days and one night with all meals included except breakfast on the first day.

Pullman travel was always on the expensive size, about comparable to an airline for the same distance--and remember what airlines used to call standard or regular service was equivalent to what we now call first class.

It's interesting that rail travel declined well before air travel became a norm; in the world of numerous postwar films it often seems that the bus was the only intercity transit available for anyone who couldn't or wouldn't drive a car of their own.

*Usually full meals, but if the train's starting time at the terminus is just around a mealtime, they just give you a snack or continental breakfast or what have you
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Old 06-13-2014, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Oceania
8,623 posts, read 6,255,626 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adi from the Brunswicks View Post
Singapore and Emirates get my vote on the international sector. Going on an A380 from JFK to Dubai was a great experience, even though I booked economy class . Continental (domestic sector) has gone down my friend . My dad uses it regularly and says its now very bad.
A380s are the best plane. They have plenty of leg room and aren't as big as an ocean liner. I have flown in L-1011s and that is a warehouse with wings. I flew from CA to DC on one once and it was at 10% capacity. I had a hangover and rode in the back.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:13 PM
 
Location: Khobar, Saudi Arabia
7 posts, read 7,700 times
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I have taken trains in Europe. All of them put America's efforts at this to shame.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:10 PM
 
48,516 posts, read 83,966,925 times
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There are trains that have sleep compartments with dinning cars but the price is way high as they are purely private operated. That is the problem not enough people with the cash for what it takes to make a profit.One from Houston to California was 3500+ when I looked some years ago.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:36 PM
 
Location: Oregon, formerly Texas
5,459 posts, read 3,765,363 times
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Just to defend Amtrak travel -- it works extremely well in the northeast corridor. I've made the trip between Boston and Washington, D.C. many times. It gets you from downtown to downtown in about 6.5 hours for about $120 one way. The Acela cuts the trip by about an hour and is nicer, but costs $200. That's cheaper and faster than flying when you consider the 2 hours early you need to arrive at the airport, AND it gets you directly downtown. Definitely faster than driving through New York traffic. It's so convenient I've encountered people who went on evening dates from NYC to Boston or vice versa. Providence, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore... all the points in between are really fast.

Outside the Boston-DC corridor, however... not so good.

The gov't runs Amtrak but it only owns the track in that northeast corridor. Everywhere else RR track is privately owned and freight has the right of way. I've sat on Amtrak for a good 2 hours outside a city like St. Louis waiting for freight to pass. That combined with speed limits on trains so they can't go fast enough to make the trip competitive with flying makes it a poor choice unless you just don't care about your time.

I always check Amtrak when I plan travel, but for the cost weighed against the time, it's never worth it. If I'm going to travel 40+ hours it better damn well be half the cost of flying and it never is. Greyhound is often faster and cheaper than Amtrak - beating Amtrak by half a day or more on long distance trips.

UNLESS I'm travelling btw DC and Boston, in which case Amtrak is the best deal by far.

Last edited by redguard57; 06-13-2014 at 11:46 PM..
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:54 PM
 
902 posts, read 795,700 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaudiTeacher View Post
I have taken trains in Europe. All of them put America's efforts at this to shame.
I did this a long time ago, but when I went I found that typical second class sleeper service in Europe is a lot more practical in that it's just that--your meals aren't included but they do provide you a place to lie down. I don't remember if they provided you with bedding and pillows, though. IIRC a sleeping car compartment that seats six people in the daytime--two groups of three sitting opposite each other--can provide sleeping places for all of them at night. The catch is that the "bunks" are triple decked, and that's probably a tough sell in America. This might explain why seating compartments, which seem to be the standard arrangement in Europe and the British Isles, never caught on in the States. On the other hand, it's much cheaper than an Amtrak roomette.
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