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Passenger Trains > LDT as a hotel on wheels


Date: 10/06/19 17:24
LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: Cole42

While this would probably never work, I would like to see a proposal for a hospitality chain to take over sleepers and dining on LDTs.  When you think about it, the sleeper is a hotel on wheels.  I know I have used it as such, an overnight trip where you sleep and wake up at your destination, instead of flying and having a hotel room that extra night.  Many hotel chains offer free breakfast.  Amtrak wants out of the food business, and I see ever increasing comments asking why are taxpayers subsidizing sleeping cars as that is not basic transportation, which is what Amtrak is saddled with as a basic tenet.

So why couldn't a Marriott/Wyndham/Choice/whomever pay a fee to Amtrak and handle the sleepers and diners.  Amtrak would handle them as any other passenger car as far as switching etc, but the hotel could handle the sale of rooms and whatever meal service they deem appropriate for that route and maintenance could either be Amtrak or contracted out.

You want to go from NY to Miami in a sleeper? Get on the hotel website and book your room/roomette for the dates you want.  The hotel company can tell Amtrak "we need 3 sleepers on the Meteor" on whatever date.  They can run the diner, be it free breakfast or pay for it, and whatever other meals.  We already are restricting coach passengers from the diners on the newest program, so they would still have the cafe car so no change there.  You want the basic transportation from point A to point B?  Book in on Amtrak.com.  Amtrak handles coach reservations, the hotel chain handles sleepers.

Yes I know it would never happen, but with the scrutiny Amtrak is under and their apparent disdain for LDT's, why wouldn't it be worth a shot?   I also know all the logistical problems with equipment failures, and horrible time keeping, but just thinking out of the box here.



Date: 10/06/19 17:41
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: wa4umr

Great idea, but bring those hotel employees on the property and watch how fast the picket lines go up.  Several years ago they tried to bring Subway on some NEC trains.  That only lasted for a few days.  I remember that one of the gripes, and a valid one at that, was that the Subway people had absolutely no safety training in case there was a derailment or other emergency.  

John



Date: 10/06/19 17:46
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: Lurch_in_ABQ

Motel 6 on steel wheels:
"We'll try to keep the electricity and water on for you."



Date: 10/06/19 17:51
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: UP951West

The unions would stop it to protect their members high wages/ benefits . 



Date: 10/06/19 17:59
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: CPR_4000

wa4umr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Several years ago they tried to bring Subway
> on some NEC trains.

I think that was Empire Service between New York and Buffalo.



Date: 10/06/19 18:18
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: PHall

Yeah, there used to be a company that did this.
I think it was called PULLMAN.



Date: 10/06/19 18:49
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: CPRR

UP951West Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The unions would stop it to protect their members
> high wages/ benefits . 

And that hat is part or the problem. Amtrak will never be straightened out because of this. The other think is we are trying to run a modern passenger service on tracks that are designed for freight traffic, built in the 19th century. If the country wants to be serious about passenger service, then new tracks need to be built, with faster deal times between the cities. 

This is of course will never happen, not in my lifetime 



Date: 10/06/19 21:22
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: BRAtkinson

Consider that Amtrak would then treat sleepers as 'private cars' with all the rules, limitations, and high per-mile and switching charges.  Then check the rates for AARPCO PVs that offer an overnight room on a trip.  Just to break even would be far higher prices than any non-railfan tourist would be willing to pay vs flying and a deluxe hotel room.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/06/19 21:22 by BRAtkinson.



Date: 10/06/19 22:07
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: MojaveBill

You mean like Pullman and the railroads did for decades?

Bill Deaver
Mojave, CA



Date: 10/07/19 04:41
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: swirsk53

the Subway expirement was NY-Albany Renssalear.  Amtrak continued cafe cars on the longer Buffalo, Toronoto and Montreal trains. 



Date: 10/07/19 07:25
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: toledopatch

BRAtkinson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Consider that Amtrak would then treat sleepers as
> 'private cars' with all the rules, limitations,
> and high per-mile and switching charges.

That would be subject to negotiation -- they wouldn't -have- to treat a hospitality contractor the same way they treat the private cars.

The union problem would be much thornier.



Date: 10/07/19 08:44
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: eminence_grise

The Rocky Mountaineer started in the late 1980's as a Via Rail operation, with the on board service employees serving pre-packaged lunch trays. The Vancouver-Banff fare was $375.

The current owner purchased the operation, and initially honoured the ex-Via working contract. His background is the hospitality industry. From his days operating a Grey Line tour bus company, he was acquainted with different labour regulations. The "heritage" on board continued to receive the same wages and benefits, including Via work rules. However, new hires were not subject to those conditions, and received lower wages and different working conditions. In time, the new hires outnumbered the originals and there was dissention in the ranks.

For the union, a local of the Canadian Auto Workers, this caused much trouble, because labour law in Canada allows the practice of hiring new staff at a different wage than staff with seniority. The new employees were more hospitality oriented than the originals, having been trained by the new employer. Someone must have had a family member in the trucking industry who promised that the Teamsters would resolve the two tier wage issue amongst the on boards. The Teamsters promised changes should they replace the CAW as the union representing the on boards.The IBT won a representation election.. Rocky Mountaineer management stated flat out that they would not negotiate with the Teamsters and that on a certain date, the employees would be locked out. They were, and they were replaced by non union staff. This took place over a decade ago.

Very few of the pre-strike employees returned.

I worked in the hospitality industry for awhile after a railroad career, for a good employer. However, the turnaround in staff was amazing. Managers and staff came and went very quickly. Wages were modest, and also there was a huge difference in the number of staff between seasons. Usually, it was a case of termination when not needed. A few came back seasonally. 

Another thing about the hotel business, very few hotels are managed and operated by the name on the marquis. The Fairmonts which Rocky Mountaineer guests stay at are franchised to what amount to "hotel operating companies". The hotel owners tender out the operation, offering a certain amount for another company to operate the hotel. There are high and low bidders. Hence, it becomes a balancing act for the owners, who often have shareholder investors. That is how you can have a less than stellar visit to a famous hotel. The shareholders went for the lowest bidder who may not have the same service standards as some other bidders. The staff are employees of the operating company and the usual practice is hire and fire everyone when the operating company changes.

The reason for all this , should Amtrak contract out the operation to the hotel industry, the Rocky Mountaineer scenario could play out on a grand scale.I don't know if "red circling", the regulation which allow long service employees to retain different wages and benefits than new hires exists in the US. Certainly, it has caused many issues in Canada , specially amonst Government employees, where this issue is "permanent part time" versus "full time" employment with fewer benefits for part time staff.

 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/07/19 09:30 by eminence_grise.



Date: 10/07/19 11:38
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: trainnut

I am not sure of the actual power of the unions currently.  Looking at the way the Anderson regime has handled the dining car staff reductions leads me to think that changes to the entire OBS crew changes would not be much of a problem.  What has the union done to protect the jobs of the former chefs and wait staff working the eastern LDT trains? Nothing that I can see. 



Date: 10/07/19 14:41
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: TWC

The Alaska Railroad contracts with ESS Support Services to staff food service positions on it's trains. Outsourcing to a nonunion operator can be done, but it would require disciplined management and oversight from Amtrak... and that is never going to happen.



Date: 10/07/19 17:04
Re: LDT as a hotel on wheels
Author: Wurli1938

CPRR Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> UP951West Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > The unions would stop it to protect their
> members
> > high wages/ benefits . 
>
> And that hat is part or the problem. Amtrak will
> never be straightened out because of this. The
> other think is we are trying to run a modern
> passenger service on tracks that are designed for
> freight traffic, built in the 19th century. If the
> country wants to be serious about passenger
> service, then new tracks need to be built, with
> faster deal times between the cities. 
>
> This is of course will never happen, not in my
> lifetime 

The cost to obtain the right of way would be prohibitive -



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