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View Full Version : Railfan Alert (kinda) and Surfliner reliability


jaanfo
02-22-2006, 05:19 AM
Fourth time in a week we've had to have two surfliner sets lash up together because one suffered some sort of problem, it's the second time in the same period that only one of those locomotives is functioning... Currently (9:00 PM PST on 21 february) it's northbound 589 running 1.5 hours behind schedule if you want to see this doubled up consist, it just left Irvine. Anybody have any idea what's been going wrong? Also, Two days in a row now, #11 has been delayed in Seattle due to (dare I say it) Toilet malfunctions. Apparently another common problem. Much like the Empire Builder, Coast Starlight is soon supposed to receive refurbished equipment according to rumors, possibly this summer. That may help some of the problems there.

jaanfo
02-27-2006, 09:44 AM
Well, Train 784 called it quits in Rose Canyon tonight, reservoir broke. It was shoved into San Diego by 590, 595 was held at Oceanside until a bus could take 597's passengers up there, and it assumed 597's schedule (597 was cancelled through Oceanside, 595 was cancelled from Oceanside to LA). So, there are four trainsets in San Diego tonight, one of them is doubled up and will shove to LA like that tomorrow (pity the lone locomotive that has to push all that, yet again!). Also, replacing an already broken down F59 is a P42... Tomorrow (Monday, 27 February) this P42 is supposed to shove train 763 to Goleta, pull 784 to San Diego, then shove 595 up to Los Angeles, so If anyone wants to witness this rare event..... There you have it. Thing is, there are 14 F59s to pull 8 trainsets, I believe two are at beech grove for their checkup, so where are the other five? They can't ALL be broken down!

bnsf sammy
02-27-2006, 08:37 PM
According to my soruce who has connections with Amtrak, the F59PHI is the most unrealiable locomotive that Amtrak owns. You're going to start seeing more P42's on the Surfliner because of the F59's.

In other news, the Superliner Dining cars are being converted to "Cafe" cars. This operation will be compleated by June 2006. This means no more food made fresh when you order it. Thanks Bush. :-x

hoydie17
02-27-2006, 10:34 PM
In other news, the Superliner Dining cars are being converted to "Cafe" cars. This operation will be compleated by June 2006. This means no more food made fresh when you order it. Thanks Bush. :-x


Spoken like a truly un-informed liberal.

For what it's worth, they are going to be contracted out to Aramark Services Inc. The same guys that are selling you the hotdogs and cracker jacks at most ballparks.

I've ridden ATK #4 (Southwest Chief) from LA to Chicago, the service was outstanding, but the food wasn't all that great anyways. The train stops frequently enough that it's not too difficult to cruise to the local fast food joint and grab a burger and fries.

And by the way, Bush has no control over the day to day operations of AMTRAK. I do realize that you're implied comment is over his recommendation to not fund AMTRAK as a whole, which Congress overturned and funded anyways.

BUT, you should consider that Bush simply recommended to cut funding to AMTRAK in it's "current state". IOW, if they can get operating costs reduced then future funding would be considered. The streamlining of meal service is but one of the many things that the AMTRAK Board of Directors is approaching to cut those costs.

I don't necessarily like the program either, but the financial situation AMTRAK is in is doomed to failure if something isn't done about it. More money on top of bad money is not the answer.

Sean

fuente1
02-27-2006, 10:38 PM
The long distance passenger train is dead. The only thing that I can see growing in the future is local/commuter rail service. Here in NC, we have Amtrak operated trains that are owned by the NCDOT, that seem to do well. This, IMO, is the only way passenger rail is going to survive, locals and commuter rail owned by the states. I love riding passenger trains, but I refuse to take days on end to get somewhere I can fly too cheaper in 4 hours.

bnsf sammy
02-27-2006, 11:11 PM
Thanks Sean for the further info, however if Bush gave more money to the passenger rail industy, Amtrak would be a lot better off, and wouldn't have to sacrifice luxuries. Look, for what its worth, Amtrak will never make any money and thats a fact. Simply not enough people ride it. However the only good thing I can see about long distance trains is when disaster strikes the US and all airplanes are grounded. Remember 9/11? The fastest, and pretty much only way to get across the country was by train.

fuente1
02-28-2006, 12:53 AM
Thanks Sean for the further info, however if Bush gave more money to the passenger rail industy, Amtrak would be a lot better off, and wouldn't have to sacrifice luxuries. Look, for what its worth, Amtrak will never make any money and thats a fact. Simply not enough people ride it. However the only good thing I can see about long distance trains is when disaster strikes the US and all airplanes are grounded. Remember 9/11? The fastest, and pretty much only way to get across the country was by train.


Did Amtrak run those few days after 9/11? If it did, a 747 could still beat Amtrak across the country after being grounded for 4 days while Amtrak was in motion.

bnsf sammy
02-28-2006, 01:31 AM
Did Amtrak run those few days after 9/11? If it did, a 747 could still beat Amtrak across the country after being grounded for 4 days while Amtrak was in motion.
Ha ha :lol: Yes, Amtrak did run those few days.

fuente1
02-28-2006, 01:49 AM
Ha ha :lol: Yes, Amtrak did run those few days.

The grounded 747 still beat Amtrak on a NY to LA trip, that Amtrak began 4 days earlier :lol:

Slopes09
02-28-2006, 02:14 AM
To answer all Amtrak questions, I present my well thought out and researched article I wrote for the school paper a couple months back. It ran more or less like this, with a little cut due to space restrictions.

Amtrak’s Last Whistle Stop?

“Riding on the City of New Orleans, Illinois Central Monday morning rail, there are fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders, three conductors and twenty five sacks of mail….” wrote Chicagoan Steve Goodman in 1971 before selling his song to Arlo Guthrie in 1972. While the Illinois Central no longer runs the City of New Orleans, the National Passenger Rail Corporation, or Amtrak, continues the legacy. Or, at least for now they do. Recent events have called into question Amtrak’s future. This cannot be so. Amtrak is a vital public service, as well as a vital part of our national infrastructure that many Americans depend on in their lives, and more depend on it for their livelihoods.
First though, some background and information on recent events. In March, President Bush proposed zero funding for Amtrak, which would have bankrupt the company and forced its shutdown. Congress, though, came to the rescue and voted overwhelmingly for full funding of Amtrak. Then, in November, new events arose. Amtrak has a board of directors who vote on all official decisions made by the company. It is composed of seven members who must all be approved by the Senate. Currently, there are four board members, only one of which has been approved by the Senate. Two of the positions are recess appointments, which expire in 2006. The Board’s chairperson, David Laney, rose over $100,000 for the Bush Campaign. The last position is the mandated position by the Secretary of Transportation, in this case Norman Mineta, a man who has never even ridden an Amtrak train, and whose position is filled by a representative. He has never actually attended a meeting of the board.
In September, the board secretly voted to sell off the entire Northeast Corridor without informing Congress or the affected states. The Northeast Corridor is Amtrak’s most profitable route that stretches from Boston to Washington, D.C., and is also home to Amtrak’s high-speed Acela train service. Enter Amtrak President David Gunn. Gunn is renown for saving transportation entities like New York’s subway systems. He came out of retirement in 2002 to try and save Amtrak after the previous president nearly ran the railroad into the ground. When Gunn attempted to expose and stop the Board’s actions, the Board fired him. This move has sparked rage among Congress, who demanded that Gunn, who was quoted as saying "I was definitely an obstacle to their dismantling of Amtrak," be reinstated and has begun looking into the legality both of the Board itself as well as its actions. Gunn has been heralded for cutting costs, imposing badly needed upgrades to decaying infrastructure and equipment, simplifying management structure, and increasing ridership to new record highs over the past three years. This year, Amtrak ridership reached over 25.4 million riders, versus last year’s record high of around 24 million. Overall, it’s pretty obvious that Gunn was not fired because of incompetence.
All this brings into question whether or not Amtrak should continue to be funded by the Federal Government. Many argue that it costs the taxpayer so much money for something they will never use. Well, that tax money also helped establish a museum in Ohio, a statue in Seattle, halls of fame in several cities, and funded a average of over $19 billion in other pork barrel legislation yearly over the last ten years, which is many times that of Amtrak’s yearly appropriations. Others argue that Amtrak can be profitable, they simply choose not to be because they know they will get money from the government. This is very untrue. As an example, European passenger rail, most of which has higher ridership levels than Amtrak, still needs government subsidies in order to survive. As a matter of course, almost all public forms of public transportation receive a subsidy in order to stay alive. Some also argue that Amtrak trains are never on time, which may be true in some cases. However, this is not the fault of Amtrak, but of the host railroads that Amtrak operates on, whose priorities are freight traffic, not passengers.
Probably among the most compelling arguments for keeping Amtrak around are the events that transpired on a day we all remember too well, September 11, 2001. After the hijackings, all air travel was suspended for several days. During these days, Amtrak became vital in ferrying the American people to and from where they needed to go. Many people argue that we would simply resort to driving in such a situation. But ask yourself, “Do I really want to drive from New England to California?” For most the answer is no, as it is simply impractical. Amtrak provides other vital services to the public. During Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent hurricanes, Amtrak helped to evacuate victims. Furthermore, think about the number of people that would be affected. If Amtrak were eliminated, twenty-five million people would suddenly have no way to get where they needed to go, and 20,000 people would be jobless.
If you are concerned about this issue, I encourage you to right our state and national representatives, and let your voices be heard. Amtrak is a vital public service, part of our infrastructure, and many people depend on it both for livelihoods and day-to-day lives. With any luck, the pressures of Congress will either force the reinstatement of Gunn as president or lead to a president with similar visions to Gunn. In the meantime, all we can do is hope that one of the last parts of Steve Goodman’s song doesn’t come true: “…And all the towns and people seem to fade into a bad dream. And the old steel rail, it ain't heard the news. The conductor sings his song again, its ‘Passengers oh please refrain, this train's got the disappearing railroad blues.’”
Mike Wnek is a photographer and sometimes columnist for the Porter Press. He is a Republican and staunch supporter of Amtrak.

bnsf sammy
02-28-2006, 03:12 AM
Mike, you wrote a very well-done essay that talks about a lot of good points. I think you should post that essay elseware besides your school paper, and here, so more people can read it and hopefully want to help Amtrak.

jaanfo
02-28-2006, 03:15 AM
First-off... The Long-distance passenger train is not dead yet, but by doing things like getting rid of full-service diners, Amtrak is killing them. There was a lot of internal outcry when that announcement was made. Amtrak needs to make some of their cross-country trips more like cruises, offering fine dining, first class accomodations, and quite frankly, higher prices. Basically, I think Amtrak should re-inject some romance into the long-distance train and turn the trip itself into the vacation, even offering airfare back to the point of origin as part of the ticket, via an agreement with an airline. At this point, Amtrak is trying to be a mode of transportation. That's great for the NEC and other commuter corridors, where it takes as long as the airplane process to actually do the travel (even if the flight is just 20 mins) but the California Zephyr and similar routes should bid themselves as the vacation rather then the travel.

fuente1
02-28-2006, 06:25 AM
First-off... The Long-distance passenger train is not dead yet, but by doing things like getting rid of full-service diners, Amtrak is killing them. There was a lot of internal outcry when that announcement was made. Amtrak needs to make some of their cross-country trips more like cruises, offering fine dining, first class accomodations, and quite frankly, higher prices. Basically, I think Amtrak should re-inject some romance into the long-distance train and turn the trip itself into the vacation, even offering airfare back to the point of origin as part of the ticket, via an agreement with an airline. At this point, Amtrak is trying to be a mode of transportation. That's great for the NEC and other commuter corridors, where it takes as long as the airplane process to actually do the travel (even if the flight is just 20 mins) but the California Zephyr and similar routes should bid themselves as the vacation rather then the travel.

Put a Heavyweight Pullman trainset and an E or F unit set on the point of the cross country trips and Id consider riding them. I dont care for the current Amtrak coaches, once ya go Pullman its hard to climb into the beer can on wheels that Amtrak calls a coach. Amtrak is boring, the cars are bland and boring, the service is boring, the whole experience is boring. You hit the nail on the head, conjure up some of the romance and you *might* be able to make some money. AOE is already doing the vacation on rail thing so Amtrak would have to compete with them, which Amtrak could never do. Im a huge fan of the Great American Passenger Train, but it died on 02/01/1979, the glory days are gone folks, its a shame yes, but its over, no sense beating a dead horse.

jaanfo
02-28-2006, 06:57 AM
Then let AOE run the long-distance trains, let Amtrak focus on regional services ;-)

Problem with AOE is they have only one trainset and use leased Amtrak Locos.

fuente1
02-28-2006, 07:00 AM
Then let AOE run the long-distance trains, let Amtrak focus on regional services ;-)

Problem with AOE is they have only one trainset and use leased Amtrak Locos.


Exactely, leave the upper end passenger stuff to the people who know how to do it. AOE needs to buy some vintage power but I am sure the Class I's have issues with them running vintage stuff. Damn lawyers. Seeing a P42 is about as exciting as seeing a Freightliner on the interstate.

Slopes09
03-02-2006, 05:39 AM
Mike, you wrote a very well-done essay that talks about a lot of good points. I think you should post that essay elseware besides your school paper, and here, so more people can read it and hopefully want to help Amtrak.
Thanks a lot, its about the only good essay I've ever written, probably article too. Any suggestions on where I could publish it?

bnsf sammy
03-02-2006, 03:35 PM
Any suggestions on where I could publish it?
Idealy, try to make the general public more aware of the issue. This means trying to get it published in a public newspaper instead of just the school one. Or maybe trying to get it into a widly read magazine, just somewhere where more people can read it and take a stand.

Although it might take some effort, if you really believe in this issue, then the effort is worth it.

J
03-02-2006, 03:50 PM
Thanks a lot, its about the only good essay I've ever written, probably article too. Any suggestions on where I could publish it?

http://www.narprail.org/cms/index.php