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Passenger Trains > Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?


Date: 05/27/20 12:55
Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: Railvt

Amtrak is asking Congress for another appropriation and threatening massive cuts to its system even if that is approved! While they suggest these cuts might someday be reversed they offer no hint of when, nor how. I am confused on a very important point not addressed in the Trains article with respect to this added funding demand. The second COVID-19 legislation already gave Amtrak an additional $1B+, with a majority of that for National Network and State-Supported trains. Is this on top of that as well? 

https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2020/05/26-amtrak-asks-congress-for-more-money-plans-workforce-reductions-cuts-to-long-distance-service 

I suspect it is an added request--based on the first paragraph of Amtrak President William Flynn's actual letter: 

https://media.amtrak.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Amtrak-Supplemental-FY21-Funding-Letter-to-Congress-Final-Signed-5.25.20.pdf 

and if so I am very concerned indeed. 

We may have no choice but to support this--but if every long-haul train goes less than daily I honestly don't know yet where I stand on continuing to support this sort of an Amtrak management in implementing what appears to be a systematic destruction of its inter-connected national system. At a minimum they've forgotten Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson's brilliant talking point--"Amtrak will be national or it will be nothing"! 

Of course their ridership is down with the COVID-19 tragedy--but this virtually guarantees it won't rebound. 

Emotionally I view this as blackmail. This is clearly emblematic of their management's eternal institutionalized pessimism and a perfect example of "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it". 

Less than daily service never saves any real money. Amtrak has tried this repeatedly in the past and the result is always unsatisfactory. Nor is ridership/revenue retained, if for no other reason than Amtrak unfailingly never increases capacity on the remaining train frequencies. Nor do they typically even coordinate the days of the week the remaining trains would operate/connect--for example--"Hub" at Chicago, Los Angeles or Portland/Seattle. This never was fully worked out in the past and I do not believe it would be this time either. This is BAD!

UPDATE:In fairness I need to acknowledge that this is an FY2021 request. But to me that doesn't change the fundamental problem here--Amtrak's intention to cut the entire National Network to less than daily. At a minimum they should tell Congress whet they really need and let it make the call. We in the advocacy world should support nothing less.I stand by my view that this is a very bad thing from Amtrak! 
Carl Fowler



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/27/20 14:30 by Railvt.



Date: 05/27/20 13:42
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: ronald321

Railvt

I am in the same "worry boat" as you are - but, my worries are a little different.

I'm not worried about the spending - but I'm scared to death that Congress WON'T give Amtrak 2nd round of help.

Then the Delta guys - who are ALL still in place from the disastrous Anderson regime - will have the perfect cover
to drop all long distance trains.

My fondest hope is that Congress WILL give Amtrak a second round of help - but with strings attached that says -
Amtrak MUST restore full service (gradually, of course), to that which existed prior to the virus (say, 1-1-20).

Another worry -- States have also been wacked by this virus - and there are a lot of State supported trains.  Will they return
if the Feds. refuse to aid the States.  Giving Amtrak a second round won't help these trains.

 



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/27/20 13:50 by ronald321.



Date: 05/27/20 13:51
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: BoilingMan

Indeed- not good.
I’m aboard the Coast Starlight (#11) right now, and no one on the crew is very optimistic about the future. There is a buyout offer that about 1800 employees will qualify for- how many actually take it is anyone’s guess.
They’ve been told there will be an overall reduction of 20%, so I imagine if not enough jump, then they’ll start getting pushed until that goal is met.
As to train frequencies being reduced, no one has any hard info as to which trains will get the axe.
No good.
SR

BTW: on board 11(26) right now:
7 in sleepers,
45 coach.



Date: 05/27/20 13:51
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: PRSL-recall

I'm sure many of us share these concerns as it is bad. Hopefully a sufficient number in Congress will get more involved with it. As for the NEC I cannot understand why Airnet-21 has not gotten more attention. I hesitate to say too much with this being a rail message board and not a political one. However it's hard to avoid that the resulting costs and damages involved with COVID-19 response do seem to eclipse the problem itself. The entire response strategy needs complete re-visitation in my opinion because we do not know when something like this could happen again. 



Date: 05/27/20 13:56
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: Railvt

Very reasonable thoughts! I’m not, as I said, opposed, but I’m very unhappy about the plan Amtrak has floated.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 05/27/20 13:58
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: andersonb109

Meanwhile airlines are beginning to add flights including some international.  It think they are using the virus as an excuse to get rid of service. 



Date: 05/27/20 13:59
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: Flyer92122

Just a horrible time in our nations history not to have solid leadership. The country as a whole is going to be reeling from this for years to come on many levels. Unfortunately we may be fighting to keep trains at tri weekly service levels best case scenario. It sucks but we can recover from tri weekly and build back up. Past experience shows once a train is temporary suspended (zero days a week) it  probably won't come back. The freights or Amtrak itself will have reasons a resumption can't occur. 

The grapths on page two of Flynn's letter are interesting. Of the 1.475 billion requested most would go to NEC and State corridors with only 151 million earmarked for long distance trains. Makes you think how much it really costs to run the short trains with no diners and maybe 4 on board employees total.  According to Amtrak's own request the NEC needs the biggest bailout. 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/27/20 14:07 by Flyer92122.



Date: 05/27/20 14:04
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: ts1457

No one knows what the new normal will be. I can't blame Amtrak for being cautious.

As for LDTs, if only half of the demand returns, kiss them good bye. If 80-90 percent of recent demand springs back then they may have a chance.

Another problem is that many sectors of the economy will be making demands on the residual resources, so will any be left for Amtrak?



Date: 05/27/20 14:04
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: joemvcnj

If they want more Covid-19 funding, they feel they have to show they did everything they could to pinch pennies, and they cannot justify frequencies with ridership down 90%. NEC  has been getting sharp frequency cuts as well, and Acela demand is the softest. NEC fares in general are not competitive.

We know from the past that LD frequency cuts don't do much to reduce the operating deficit. Flynn's letter did say tri-weekly, not route cuts, and service would be put back as demand warrants. In the last few years, LD ridership during the winter, except around the holidays, has been dropping like a brick. The trouble is, we don't trust them and suspect they have ulterior motives. But do notice they are restoring 15 stations agents, which means they want to stay within Congress's good graces in flyover country. 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/27/20 14:06 by joemvcnj.



Date: 05/27/20 14:05
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: njmidland

Once trains go to tri-weekly on an official basis they will never go back to daily.  Just look at the numbers UP was throwing out for the Sunset to go daily.



Date: 05/27/20 14:08
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: joemvcnj

njmidland Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Once trains go to tri-weekly on an official basis
> they will never go back to daily.  Just look at
> the numbers UP was throwing out for the Sunset to
> go daily.

All the western LD trains, except the Chief did, and they all went back to daily, except they killed the Pioneer and Desert Wind. But that was more the doing of Tom Downs and creating an equipment shortage by scrapping Heritage equipment. 



Date: 05/27/20 16:43
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: co614

The fundamental issue here is Amrtak's management is trying to come up with an educated guess as to what revenues will be from now through fiscal 2021 ( Ovt.1, 2020- Sep't. 30, 2021) and truth be told its anyones guess. If the optimists are right and we bounce back quickly, have a proven, safe, widely available vaccine by very early 2021 then perhaps Mr. Flynn's guess that 2021 ridership will be 50% of 2019's ??? If the pessimists are right and the vast majority of at risk Americans refuse to travel until the virus is truly controlled then his guesstimate will be too high and ridership could well end up being 25% or less of 2019. 

    IMHO if Congress does not agree to an additional substantial infusion of cash there's zero doubt that all the LDT's will be gone and service on the NEC will be sharply curtailed. 

   Sad but true. Ross Rowland 



Date: 05/27/20 17:20
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: agentatascadero

BoilingMan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Indeed- not good.
> I’m aboard the Coast Starlight (#11) right now,
> and no one on the crew is very optimistic about
> the future. There is a buyout offer that about
> 1800 employees will qualify for- how many actually
> take it is anyone’s guess.
> They’ve been told there will be an overall
> reduction of 20%, so I imagine if not enough jump,
> then they’ll start getting pushed until that
> goal is met.
> As to train frequencies being reduced, no one has
> any hard info as to which trains will get the axe.
>
> No good.
> SR
>
> BTW: on board 11(26) right now:
> 7 in sleepers,
> 45 coach.

SR, any comment on current "meal service" on this train?
I suppose you brought your water wings for that next great adventure?

AA

Stanford White
Carmel Valley, CA



Date: 05/27/20 17:33
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: BoilingMan

Well, nobody’s happy.
Those in the Sleepers were offered the choice between the boxed meals, exclusive for them, or credit in the lounge/cafe.
The LSA in the Cafe told me all, or nearly all, turned down the boxed meals for the hot dogs etc in the Cafe!
THAT does speak well of the new diner boxed meals!
SR

BTW: The LSA in the diner offered me a choice of the boxed meals a few weeks ago on the Zephyr, “under the table”
I tried the Chicken Fettuccine.
Mind you, I am NOT fussy and, hey- free is free, right?

OMG. It was horrible!
How do you screw up Fettuccine?!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/27/20 17:37 by BoilingMan.



Date: 05/27/20 18:24
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: chess

BoilingMan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Well, nobody’s happy.
> Those in the Sleepers were offered the choice
> between the boxed meals, exclusive for them, or
> credit in the lounge/cafe.
> The LSA in the Cafe told me all, or nearly all,
> turned down the boxed meals for the hot dogs etc
> in the Cafe!
> THAT does speak well of the new diner boxed
> meals!
> SR
>
> BTW: The LSA in the diner offered me a choice of
> the boxed meals a few weeks ago on the Zephyr,
> “under the table”
> I tried the Chicken Fettuccine.
> Mind you, I am NOT fussy and, hey- free is free,
> right?
>
> OMG. It was horrible!
> How do you screw up Fettuccine?!

Nitpicking.... The entire operation on the eastern LD dining cars are horrible, and it must be changed, however Amtrak has a much bigger problem now...



Date: 05/27/20 20:07
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: BoilingMan

Agreed. I’m retired, but many of my friends and former colleagues are facing a dire situation.
I worry for them.
SR

Amtrak LSA Retired



Date: 05/28/20 05:26
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: goduckies

BoilingMan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Well, nobody’s happy.
> Those in the Sleepers were offered the choice
> between the boxed meals, exclusive for them, or
> credit in the lounge/cafe.
> The LSA in the Cafe told me all, or nearly all,
> turned down the boxed meals for the hot dogs etc
> in the Cafe!
> THAT does speak well of the new diner boxed
> meals!
> SR
>
> BTW: The LSA in the diner offered me a choice of
> the boxed meals a few weeks ago on the Zephyr,
> “under the table”
> I tried the Chicken Fettuccine.
> Mind you, I am NOT fussy and, hey- free is free,
> right?
>
> OMG. It was horrible!
> How do you screw up Fettuccine?!


I'd rather have the burger in the cafe or Pizza too!

Posted from Android



Date: 05/29/20 14:55
Re: Amtrak Threatens Its Own Destruction?
Author: another_view

goduckies Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> BoilingMan Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Well, nobody’s happy.
> > Those in the Sleepers were offered the choice
> > between the boxed meals, exclusive for them, or
> > credit in the lounge/cafe.
> > The LSA in the Cafe told me all, or nearly all,
> > turned down the boxed meals for the hot dogs
> etc
> > in the Cafe!
> > THAT does speak well of the new diner boxed
> > meals!
> > SR
> >
> > BTW: The LSA in the diner offered me a choice
> of
> > the boxed meals a few weeks ago on the Zephyr,
> > “under the table”
> > I tried the Chicken Fettuccine.
> > Mind you, I am NOT fussy and, hey- free is
> free,
> > right?
> >
> > OMG. It was horrible!
> > How do you screw up Fettuccine?!
>
>
> I'd rather have the burger in the cafe or Pizza
> too!
>
> Posted from Android

Well there you go then, eliminate the dining car and let everyone share the same food and service in the lounge car, problem solved.

Posted from iPhone



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