Skip to comments.Please answer my ignorant questions about AMTRACK [vanity]
Posted on 05/29/2012 9:17:57 AM PDT by Feline_AIDS
Alternate title for this post:
Dreams from My Freightcar: A Story of Pace and Incompetence
1. Why can't private passenger trains operate like plane companies?
2. Why don't we rip up some old tracks and turn them into true high-speed elevated rail that travels at 500 kilometers/hr?
3. Why is Amtrack, as it is now, so inefficient and crappy when train transportation is supposedly so efficient (CSX's 430+miles/gallon fuel)
4. There seems to be an inverse relationship of luxury to efficiency. Plane travel is torture, but it's efficient. Train travel could be luxurious since it's not fuel inefficient, but is time inefficient. Why is this ratio not considered for leisure travel? In other words, weight doesn't seem like it should be a serious consideration in train travel like it is in air travel, so why don't we have palatial luxury compartments? Is there a limit to the length of a passenger train?
5. Is Amtrack not as bad as I think it is? (All I know is I thought maybe I'd take a train on a leisure trip, but found the prices were outrageous, at least compared to flying.)
3. because government funding leads to inefficiencies.
The only feasibility I see in high speed rail would be two or east west routes that only stop 2 or 3 times along their routes.
That said, I don’t want to pay for them. Rail is more effective as a means of long distance overland freight.
Is that you ?
Seriously, CSX’s numbers are lacking one essential dimension - the pounds being carried.
If passenger rail could be done profitably in this country some company would be out there doing it.
The very fact that Amtrak has a monopoly on it, is heavily subsidized and runs constantly at a loss tells you that it cannot be done profitably. Too few people would be wiling to pay the ticket price.
To my knowledge Amtrak is not even making money in the Boston-NY-Washington corridor where there is substantial demand.
I think you can figure out the difficulties from that.
Where’s Willie Green when we need him?
As one who loves to travel by train if feasible its a shame we can’t have a decent travel experience. The trains are old and not likely to be maintained properly, the routes have too many stops that make no sense, the right of way is too restrictive to accommodate more speed, the list goes on and on.
I even pay for the small roomette, which adds 2x the cost to the ticket but at least you have your own toilet, and the sleep is so much better. But the TV screens rarely work in the car. WiFi is pretty much non-existent on the long hauls and the food has really gone downhill since my youth. It’s almost better to bring your own food in a cooler.
Most people won’t pay enough to make the investments needed worthwhile.
Don’t have to maintain tracks in the sky.
Whoare "we"? Do you have a mouse in your pocket?
I remember my sister and brother in law decided to travel to Redding, California from Seattle, Washington via AMTRAK train. It’s only like 600 miles.
They wanted to travel comfortably so they decided to take the train instead of a 3 hour flight (SEA-PDX-CEC-RDD on Horizon Air).
They told me to pick them up at 11PM at the Redding train station. 11PM came and went, we were told the train was running late. Long story short, we went to Denny’s for breakfast and were planning lunch when the train finally arrived at 1030AM. From that day forward, I said no train, no how.
12 hours late on a 600 mile trip, unbelievable. How they stay in business is beyond me (oh yeah...government subsidy)
Schedule 750, Fuel consumed (freight + switching) = 446,999,921 gallons
Schedule 755, line 110, Revenue Ton-Miles = 209,248,946,000 RTM
RTM per gallon = (209,248,946,000 RTM / 446,999,921 gals) = 468 RTM/gal
Public transportation - because nobody wants to die alone.
Moving goods by train is highly efficient.
Moving people is not, maybe.
I love to travel by train, like the slow non rushed travel. The travel time by train just has to figured into the length of a vacation.
If you are talking about moving people at high speed across long distances, I agree, we have the tech to do it, and other countries already have done it.
Freight train business isn’t even remotely like the passenger biz.
CSX/NS/BSNF/etc run trains over 100 cars long to a few customers located near existing tracks. A cross-country or cross-state distance is no issue for these companies or the companies they serve.
AMTRAK can only run on the tracks where they are, use trains that are only a few cars long, and carry people who often want to go to places not anywhere near tracks. Thus the pool of possible riders is substantially limited.
Outside of the NE Corridor, most trackbeds are owned by the freight-rail companies. As a result, AMTRAK often has to yield to the trains carrying freight.
Putting in new high speed rail is therefore prohibitively costly because (a) right-of-way must be purchases; (b) rail and fencing installed from the ground up; (c) and now you face the same problems as with passenger rail today: people not living close to tracks and not close to tracks where they work. It’s a cost AND convenience problem, which is why high-speed rail will always fail between bigger cities.
(Note: it works in Europe because their rail infrastructure was there 100 years ago, and the culture is substantially different as a result).
“Wheres Willie Green when we need him?”
That’s a good question. What did he do? I knew I hadn’t seen him around.
I think it’s Amtrak.
Indy to Chicago has a passenger train schedule that would seem efficient at first glance if you don't want to fly or drive. Let's say you wanted to see a Cubs or Sox game.
It would take about 4 hours to get there by train and cost about $150 round trip for two people. Plus, the schedule doesn't match up with game times. You would likely have to spend the night.
The 4 hours includes 2 or 3 stops. You can drive in 3 hours and for about $125 in gas round trip. Flying would take you 3 hours when checking in and all that but would cost about $350 (best price round trip with overnight stay).
So I too have wondered, why hasn't anyone considered running some passenger trains that should be able to cut travel to 2 hours at about $40/person on infrastructure that already exists? I would think there would be a considerable market for this all over the Midwest.
Indy, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit (if it still has recyclable metal tracks in place), etc. are all 3 to 4 hour trips. Indiana already has a huge rail network (Crossroads of America) that would seem to make it work simply.
Amtrak is government subsidized, I’m sure they’re saddled with debt and inflexible Union contracts. Government owned companies become safe-havens for low to mid level political functionaries that served their political parties interests but couldn’t break out into the big time themselves.
These people generally have impressive looking, yet functionally worthless CV’s and end up in positions where they can unintentional inflict the worst damage possible to an organization that should be a market driven free enterprise.