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Date: 11/03/19 11:56
A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: regalstream1516

We are experiencing a meltdown of our passenger rail service this season.  It is really not anything new, but it is getting worse.  What concerns me most is that it is not for any one, or even a couple of reasons.  Walk with me as I suggest the main causes, which are  many...
1)The freight railroads are busy, especially in certain areas.  This reality, along with a lack of priority for passenger trains, makes for the delays that we are all too aware of.  Indiana, The BNSF trans-con in and on either side Of Arizona, the Sunset route in Texas, Crescent route in the south, along with many other lesser spots.
2)  It is hard to cry for Amtrak as a victim, since their own state of repair and employee moral is pathetic.  Locomotive failure, and other mechanical aspects, toilets, dining car dum-waiter elevators, refrigeration, and other stuff are a daily causes of expensive delay.  The Superliner fleet is aging and in bad shape.
3)  Tis the season for broken rails.  As the weather cools for the season, this is a cause of delay.
4)  Grade crossing accidents are rampant.  I have never seen a time of such distraction and stupidity on American roads.  The Starlight, Chief, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, and Crescent, and Capitol Limited were all affected in the last several days, not to mention freight trains hitting vehicles in front of the passenger trains.
5)  Suicide!  This is an awful reality and no doubt taxing our freight, commuter and passenger operations.  "Trespasser strike" most often is suicide, but accident by distraction and stupidity is also contributing.  These are expensive, demoralizing, and exceedingly long delays.  Ripple affects from traffic tie up can take hours or even days to clear up.
6) Railroad signal failure and bad track due to deferred maintenance is an issue.  The railroads are greedy American monopolies that like profits for their shareholders.  Personnel, expansion, and even maintenance suffer.  It took 8 hours for the eastbound Sunset Limited, train #2  to go 170 miles from Del Rio to San Antonio this morning.  This left the Texas Eagle to be multiple hours late moving north.  The westbound train did not do much better.
7)  Lots of freight derailments this year, no doubt from bad equipment and bad track, and long, long very heavy trains.
8)  The Disabled freight.  Every day there are passenger delays from this general excuse.  Often 'disablled' covers the negligence of the dispatching practices.  Train #22 today is evidence of such south of Austin, TX.
9) Amtrak Crew rule violations.  This is happening more often than we realize.  When Twitter reports 'unexpected crew change',  rule issues are often the result.  Amtrak does not have crews located in places to provide relief.  Both the Amtrak train, and the railroads operations are hammered by this stuff.
10) Police Activity.  Do not underestimate the frequency of having to have people removed from the train.  Smoking violations, bad language, violence, drug use, and other issues are way too common.  I rode one train last year where a woman was raped in the coaches by a large man.  
11)  Railroad maintenance windows.  When work DOES get done, the planning and communication are often missed between Amtrak and the railroads.  Today's Hiawatha fiasco is a prime example.
12)  Lack of railroad personnel and legal issues make bad weather a real challenge.  Passenger trains are no longer the 'all weather mode'  It is easy to just not run, leaving passengers in the lurch.
13)  PTC adjustment issues, or PTC related failure on locomotives,computers, or with people.  

I love rail travel.  It is hypnosis to me, relaxing and fun.  I have been blessed to travel more than I deserve.  But I am re-thinking my rail travel plans now because it is un-reliable.  My post here is not to complain, but to try and do what little I can to bring light to the situation.  I will also continue to support a great rail network, passenger, commuter, and freight for our great USA.  I still think and hope that it can be done.



Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 11/03/19 14:03 by regalstream1516.



Date: 11/03/19 12:24
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: RevRandy

from Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.



Date: 11/03/19 13:23
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: birdman

RevRandy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> from Yeats:
>
> Turning and turning in the widening gyre
> The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
> Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
> Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
> The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
> The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
> The best lack all conviction, while the worst
> Are full of passionate intensity.

Amen Reverend. A wonderful quote applicable to a lot of things these days.



Date: 11/03/19 13:52
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: Flyer92122

While we can’t blame Anderson for all Amtrak’s issues he is complicit in the overall mess Amtrak is experiencing systemwide. There’s never been as important a time as now for competent long term leadership at Amtrak. Unfortunately Anderson is the fox in the hen house. 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/03/19 13:53 by Flyer92122.



Date: 11/03/19 14:12
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: Passfanatic

regalstream1516 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> We are experiencing a meltdown of our passenger
> rail service this season.  It is really not
> anything new, but it is getting worse.  What
> concerns me most is that it is not for any one, or
> even a couple of reasons.  Walk with me as I
> suggest the main causes, which are  many...
> 1)The freight railroads are busy, especially in
> certain areas.  This reality, along with a lack
> of priority for passenger trains, makes for the
> delays that we are all too aware of.  Indiana,
> The BNSF trans-con in and on either side Of
> Arizona, the Sunset route in Texas, Crescent route
> in the south, along with many other lesser spots.
> 2)  It is hard to cry for Amtrak as a victim,
> since there own state of repair and employee moral
> is pathetic.  Locomotive failure, and other
> mechanical aspects, toilets, dining car dum-waiter
> elevators, refrigeration, and other stuff are a
> daily causes of expensive delay.  The Superliner
> fleet is aging and in bad shape.
> 3)  Tis the season for broken rails.  As the
> weather cools for the season, this is a cause of
> delay.
> 4)  Grade crossing accidents are rampant.  I
> have never seen a time of such distraction and
> stupidity on American roads.  The Starlight,
> Chief, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, and
> Crescent, and Capitol Limited were all affected in
> the last several days, not to mention freight
> trains hitting vehicles in front of the passenger
> trains.
> 5)  Suicide!  This is an awful reality and no
> doubt taxing our freight, commuter and passenger
> operations.  "Trespasser strike" most often is
> suicide, but accident by distraction and stupidity
> is also contributing.  These are expensive,
> demoralizing, and exceedingly long delays. 
> Ripple affects from traffic tie up can take hours
> or even days to clear up.
> 6) Railroad signal failure and bad track due to
> deferred maintenance is an issue.  The railroads
> are greedy American monopolies that like profits
> for their shareholders.  Personnel, expansion,
> and even maintenance suffer.  It took 8 hours for
> the eastbound Sunset Limited, train #2  to go 170
> miles from Del Rio to San Antonio this morning. 
> This left the Texas Eagle to be multiple hours
> late moving north.  The westbound train did not
> do much better.
> 7)  Lots of freight derailmenst this year, no
> doubt from bad equipment and bad track, and long,
> long very heavy trains.
> 8) Amtrak Crew rule violations.  This is
> happening more often than we realize.  When
> Twitter reports 'unexpected crew change',  rule
> issues are often the result.  Amtrak does not
> have crews located in places to provide relief. 
> Both the Amtrak train, and the railroads
> operations are hammered by this stuff.
> 9) Police Activity.  Do not underestimate the
> frequency of having to have people removed from
> the train.  Smoking violations, bad language,
> violence, drug use, and other issues are way too
> common.  I rode one train last year where a woman
> was raped in the coaches by a large man.  
> 10)  Railroad maintenance windows.  When work
> DOES get done, the planning and communication are
> often missed between Amtrak and the railroads. 
> Today's Hiawatha fiasco is a prime example.
> 11)  Lack of railroad personnel and legal issues
> make bad weather a real challenge.  Passenger
> trains are no longer the 'all weather mode'  It
> is easy to just not run, leaving passengers in the
> lurch.
> 12)  PTC adjustment issues, or PTC related
> failure on locomotives,computers, or with people.
>  
>
> I love rail travel.  It is hypnosis to me,
> relaxing and fun.  I have been blessed to travel
> more than I deserve.  But I am re-thinking my
> rail travel plans now because it is un-reliable. 
> My post here is not to complain, but to try and do
> what little I can to bring light to the
> situation.  I will also continue to support a
> great rail network, passenger, commuter, and
> freight for our great USA.  I still think and
> hope that it can be done.

I feel you about your points. I have gotten very tired with the way our rail systems have been and they have only gotten worst. Being that I live in NJ very close to NYC, I have to deal with the sub par service that NJT has to offer. Thanks to Christie, the brand new tunnels underneath the Hudson River into and out of NYC haven't been built. Portal-same thing but work should be underway on that soon. While Amtrak might own the busiest stretch of the NEC, NJT should take some more responsibility since they run a lot more trains than Amtrak does. Thanks to the lack of capacity into and out of NY Penn Station, NJT can't run more frequent express service from outlying stations. Many of their lines, the trains are local, making them look like a commuter bus system. For example, a NJT Midtown Direct local from NYP to Dover takes an hour and thirty five minutes on weekends. From NYP to Dover, that's almost 40 miles, I think.

Metro North and LIRR are the best commuter rail systems that operate in the NYC area, but they charge too much money, especially during the peak hours. In fact, on weekdays during rush hour, it's like MNR and LIRR don't want you to use their services from a station in an outer borough to Manhattan. The plus with Metro North and LIRR is that they run good express service from outlying stations daily.

Amtrak is hit or miss. More trains run on the NEC, but unfortunately, the prices are extremely expensive. It's almost time competitive with driving, especially between NYC and DC. NYC to Boston, while time competitive with driving, it would be great if the train was a little faster than what it is. First, Amtrak must play around with MNR between New Rochelle and New Haven. MNR runs so many trains on the New Haven Line. Even on the east end of the New Haven Line, MNR trains run twice an hour at the very least. Between NYP and DC, not only does Gateway need to be built. The tunnels in Baltimore must be built and that would save probably 10 minutes and that is pretty big right there. A brand new bridge over the Susquehanna River must be built. Four tracks on the NEC between BAL and DC is a must. MARC runs plenty of trains and they could run more if there was more track capacity. That would help Amtrak with running more of their own trains.

The P42 units have have varying reliability. It can be good but other times, it hasn't been. Their acceleration is not too good, especially for corridor trains. When I keep hearing about the Genesis units breaking down, especially out west in the middle of nowhere, I can emphasize with the passengers about their frustrations about not getting to their destinations on time. To make matters worst, several hours late which is beyond unacceptable by my books.

Many of the routes that Amtrak uses-their own trains must share the tracks with freight trains. It's never pleasant to hear that Trains 3 and 4 run several hours late because of BNSF having a traffic jam with their own trains deep in the heart of the Mojave Desert.
      There are plenty of potential state sponsored corridor routes that would run on freight owned tracks, especially the routes in Ohio. Ohio should have more passenger trains than it does. Many of the population centers are of varying distances. The proposed 3C corridor would be a true intrastate corridor, linking some of the largest cities in Ohio: Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinatti. Of course, it would be great to have more Amtrak options from Cleveland to Chicago. That would make a great corridor operation since many of the largest cities in the Rust Belt Region are along the route.



Date: 11/03/19 15:00
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: PHall

Flyer92122 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> While we can’t blame Anderson for all Amtrak’s
> issues he is complicit in the overall mess Amtrak
> is experiencing systemwide. There’s never been
> as important a time as now for competent long term
> leadership at Amtrak. Unfortunately Anderson is
> the fox in the hen house. 


I just knew somebody would find a way to blame Anderson for this.
I was not disappointed...



Date: 11/03/19 15:34
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: goneon66

what percentage of trains are late due to locomotive failures?

when will there be money to spend on new locomotives and l.d. passenger cars?

66



Date: 11/03/19 16:09
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: Passfanatic

I give credit to the Genesis units for continuing to operate for more than 20 years, considering what they have been going through. It wasn't as bad as the Amtrak HHP-8 units. Now those units were unreliable from the start and the issues only worsened. They were retired very early for good reasons and aren't missed by many. I think the first Genesis unit to enter revenue service was a P40. To this day, Genesis units continue to be the bread and butter of power on the long distance trains, the diesel corridor trains in the Northeast, the extension of Northeast Regional trains to Virginia. They operate on the Heartland Flyer and cover random Pacific Surfliner assignments. Multiple P40 units are operating in Ctrail service.



Date: 11/03/19 16:13
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: tmurray

Too bad the internet wasn't around when Penn Central or the SP were still attempting to operate passenger service in the late 60's...



Date: 11/04/19 07:06
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: westfalen

As a foreigner I've always looked on with wonder at the American railroads seeming inability to run anything on time. At the opposite end of the spectrum look at Japan where, unless there is an earthquake or something, everything down to the local freights can be counted on to run on time. Not to within a few hours or even minutes but to the second, and you know this because you can go to a book store and buy a national freight timetable.



Date: 11/04/19 07:39
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: ctillnc

Passenger rail remains paramount in the Japanese psyche (the Swiss too). When train service is imperfect, there is a high shame factor among the executives and heads will roll as a consequence. Not the case in the U.S. First came the Interstate highway system in the 1960s, then came deregulation of airlines in the 1970s. Passenger rail had been slipping in the American mindset even before those, but the two plus hostility of most RRs to money-losing trains really shoved passenger rail out of the psyche of Americans, with a few exceptions (commuter services, the NEC, etc). It has been a difficult slog just to keep a national system in place and it's not getting any easier... regardless of who the Amtrak CEO is.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/04/19 08:17 by ctillnc.



Date: 11/04/19 11:13
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: Lurch_in_ABQ

Pax rail works in teeny-weeny countries with homogeneous populace.



Date: 11/04/19 11:20
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: 79mph

Amen for the comment about the GE's.
The old mules have taken a lot of thrashing and for the most part just keep plodding along.
Most of the failures result from shoddy maintenance, faulty parts, and electronic crap that was shoehorned on top of them and never designed to work with GE's systems.



Date: 11/04/19 13:32
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: 86235

Lurch_in_ABQ Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Pax rail works in teeny-weeny countries with
> homogeneous populace.

It seems to work in Russia



Date: 11/04/19 13:33
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: tmurray

Lurch_in_ABQ Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Pax rail works in teeny-weeny countries with
> homogeneous populace.

Seems to work well in China (roughly the same size and varied density as the US - granted greater density in populated areas).



Date: 11/04/19 17:10
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: dcfbalcoS1

       And the freights in Japan or mostly anywhere else are NOT 100+ cars long and over 13,000 tons so comparing the tinker toy trains of the world with American trains for being on time is a waste of time.



Date: 11/05/19 04:25
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: ctillnc

China is much like the U.S. in that 60% of the population lives along the coast. 

In terms of freight railroading, it's the big three (the U.S., Russia, and China in that order) and then all the small fry. Well, there are a few long and heavy trains in Europe for ore, rock, and similar bulk commodities, but they're exceptions and run only on certain lines. There are threads on TO indicating that Russian freight trains max out at 3500 feet or 6000 U.S. tons... not the long or heavy as the U.S., but significantly longer and heavier than freight trains in western Europe. The western Europeans are limited by several factors... their coupler design, their axle loadings, the need to have a fluid railroad that accommodates all those passenger trains, and the small amount of very valuable land that can be used for freight yards. Similar story in Japan. Coupler strength and axle loadings in Russia are closer to U.S. standards. Coupler strength and axle loadings in China used to be more like western Europe, but the Chinese have been strengthening their rail system. 



Date: 11/05/19 09:29
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: PHall

dcfbalcoS1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>        And the freights in Japan or mostly
> anywhere else are NOT 100+ cars long and over
> 13,000 tons so comparing the tinker toy trains of
> the world with American trains for being on time
> is a waste of time.

They're also narrow gauge. 42 inches between the rails.



Date: 11/05/19 12:13
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: Duna

Lurch_in_ABQ Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Pax rail works in teeny-weeny countries with
> homogeneous populace.


It works in "big" countries too (China, Russia...)

Diversity is not a strength. We've been lied to.
 



Date: 11/06/19 02:54
Re: A 'Mell of a Hess'
Author: pennengineer

Duna Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lurch_in_ABQ Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Pax rail works in teeny-weeny countries with
> > homogeneous populace.
>
>
> It works in "big" countries too (China,
> Russia...)
>
> Diversity is not a strength. We've been lied to.
>  

Passenger rail in the U.S. has many problems, but to suggest that "diversity" is anywhere near the top of the list is simply absurd.

Find another venue to air your bizarre, xenophobic viewpoints; this is not the place for them.



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