OBB Nightjet

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OBB Nightjet
Posted by Gramp on Tuesday, December 24, 2019 7:03 PM

"...comfortable and unhurried travel is the main selling point of Nightjets."

"...most important is to depart and arrive at a convenient time."

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/the-nightjet-a-train-companys-big-bet-on-travelers-who-take-it-slow/ar-BBYhpSv?ocid=spartanntp

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, December 25, 2019 1:21 PM

Gramp
Gramp wrote the following post 18 hours ago: "...comfortable and unhurried travel is the main selling point of Nightjets." "...most important is to depart and arrive at a convenient time." https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/the-nightjet-a-train-companys-big-bet-on-travelers-who-take-it-slow/ar-BBYhpSv?ocid=spartanntp

I think they could replicate that in the United States in some corridors for both vacation and business travelers.    It would cost a lot more money in the United States to setup though and you would have to nurse maid Amtrak beyond it's internal objection for train departures past 9:00 p.m. from major stations - origination points.

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Posted by NKP guy on Wednesday, December 25, 2019 7:00 PM

   It's been noted many times previously here that the United States has vaster distances between its cities than Europe.  So if ever a country was ideal for long distance overnight train travel, it's us.  But right now one wouldn't know that, to judge from Amtrak's current mis-direction.

   As a tourist and railfan in Europe, I'm afraid overnight trains don't work for me.  Most hotels want me to depart by noon; most overnight trains, especially in Europe, depart in the late evening.  That means that from before lunch until after dinner I have to find a place to check my bags, use a restroom a time or three, and have no place where I can crash out, unless I'm traveling by first class and have access to a station lounge.  Not cheap or convenient.  Of course, I could buy a hotel room for an additional day and check out in the evening, but this is an expensive option.

   While traveling at night I miss all the scenery, the very reason I'm riding a train instead of flying.

   In the morning I'm likely to arrive around 8 AM, when nothing but cafes, Starbucks and an occasional restaurant are open.  No stores or museums.  Check in time at most hotels is 3 or 4 PM, so that gives me 8 hours to be without a room and a place to access my bags.  Once again, I could buy a hotel room for the same night I'm on the train in order to have a room available when I arrive in town, but how silly is that?

   Although I enjoyed using CityNightLine a few times, the above obstacles presented themselves.  Nevertheless, I think OBB is on the right track as far as future travel, especially for young people, and I admire them for finding a formula or business plan that seems to work.

   When the Lake Shore Limited began operating in 1975 it's schedule had it call at Cleveland around 11:45 PM, and arrive at GCT around 12:45 PM: quite convenient as far as arriving at the right time of day for people using hotels or making connections.  I regret to say that #48's current 6:30+ PM arrival time (often much later and with no dinner offered) is no longer convenient for nearly anyone, whether staying in a hotel or making a connection.  

   

   

   

 

   

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, December 25, 2019 8:34 PM

NKP guy
   As a tourist and railfan in Europe, I'm afraid overnight trains don't work for me.  Most hotels want me to depart by noon; most overnight trains, especially in Europe, depart in the late evening.  That means that from before lunch until after dinner I have to find a place to check my bags, use a restroom a time or three, and have no place where I can crash out, unless I'm traveling by first class and have access to a station lounge.  Not cheap or convenient.  Of course, I could buy a hotel room for an additional day and check out in the evening, but this is an expensive option.    While traveling at night I miss all the scenery, the very reason I'm riding a train instead of flying.    In the morning I'm likely to arrive around 8 AM, when nothing but cafes, Starbucks and an occasional restaurant are open.  No stores or museums.  Check in time at most hotels is 3 or 4 PM, so that gives me 8 hours to be without a room and a place to access my bags.  Once again, I could buy a hotel room for the same night I'm on the train in order to have a room available when I arrive in town, but how silly is that?    Although I enjoyed using CityNightLine a few times, the above obstacles presented themselves.  Nevertheless, I think OBB is on the right track as far as future travel, especially for young people, and I admire them for finding a formula or business plan that seems to work.

Because you think like an American and sometimes presume Europe operates the same way and it really operates a bit differently in most of the places you listed above as issues.....

Most Train stations in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Denmark at least have luggage lockers or a staffed room to check your luggage.   

You can rent a decent hotel room by the hour via reputable American chain or European chain in a nice area in order to crash or take a shower in most areas of Europe without having to worry about crime or prostitution like you do in the United States and without having to pay a full nights charge.    These same hotels will hold or check your luggage at the front desk for up to 24 hours at a minimum.....no charge if your a paying client.    If you didn't want to use the more convienent train station option or needed to take a carry-on to the hotel but didn't want to carry it around the city after check-out.     Some of these hotels have a min of 5 hours room rental, some do not.     Some of the Mom and Pop hotels you can negotiate just about anything at the front desk, nothing is written in stone.

A lot more open prior to 8 AM, I seem to remember the bakeries opened prior to then and I could always rely on German Bakeries for fresh baked bread prior to breakfest.   A good portion of the major hotel front desks are 24 by 7 except maybe the smaller Mom and Pop operations.   

The Museums should have those planned out  with tickets in hand long before you arrive in the city vs attempting spur of the moment, in my humble opinion.   In which case their opening time would not matter to you.   Doing the planning for those after you arrive in the city is a waste of time standing in line.....just like it is in Chicago or New York City.     When I go to Chicago to visit the Museum of Science and Industry I obtain the tickets via Internet vs standing in line the day of.   This is actually an international standard now.   When in Mexico City, you want to see the Museums there buy tickets online or at your hotel prior to the day of visit or plan on wasting a lot of time in line the day of.

As for watching the scenery, it depends on the rail route and some rail routes in Germany (Frankfurt to Munich) for example, are pretty boring.   Hannover to Berlin........same.    Cologne to Frankfurt if your routed along the Rhine River can be interesting but I seem to remember that was only one of several possible rail routes between those cities.    So it depends how your routed on your ticket.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, December 25, 2019 9:02 PM

I thought most hotels would check a bag before check-in/after check-out.  I don't do it often, but I never had a problem with this, or camping out in the lobby for hours.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, December 26, 2019 10:03 AM

MidlandMike
I thought most hotels would check a bag before check-in/after check-out.  I don't do it often, but I never had a problem with this, or camping out in the lobby for hours.

Some weeks I commute on Southwest Airlines to KC from Dallas and spend the entire week at the Hotel there (Marriott Bonvoy Chain).    So when I fly out on Fridays I check out at 8:00 a.m. and free the room for the next guest but check my luggage with the bellman or concierge, then work until 10-11:00 a.m. from either my workplace or the hotel lobby, board the airport shuttle.     

Was also able to setup a deal because I fly-in every 5-6 weeks to spend a week at that hotel, I can check a suitcase to stay permanently at the hotel.     That way I only need to fly with my laptop and clothes on my back.    They will ship the suitcase back on demand as well via Email request (had that done as well).    They would do all of the above even if I was not a frequent guest.    I am not the only returning guest that checks a bag to stay at the hotel either.    They have a bunch of guests that do that.     The guest services manager at the front desk is fully empowered on hotel rates, and to make agreements like this.   A lot of Americans have no clue on their negotiation power sometimes and take just the first hotel rate offered instead of attempting to bargain (and listen to the newly  hired front guest person instead of talking with the more experienced front desk manager.....who looks at your stay history, company, etc).   

I can't bargain in KC on rates since it was agreed to between the hotel and Corporate but other cities I try to when I check in.......especially if the hotel is not full.   You can do the same on rental car rates during holidays when they are short on cars.    I got a double upgrade in Milwaukee to full size Suburban.   If I kept my mouth closed and took their normal subsititute I would have had a tiny Nissan Pickup.    However, I was nice and polite and told them I did not intend to do much traveling and asked if they had any large SUV's.    Why sure they said and I got one without any increase in rate.......because it freed up the tiny pickup to rent to someone else that was more desperate.    Also helps to use USAA app to rent because it covers all insurance scenarios and rental car companies love it if you have USAA full coverage car insurance.    They know you can decline all their coverages and the car will still be covered for damages.......so they can rent you just about anything without worry of it being returned misused or damaged.

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Posted by 54light15 on Thursday, December 26, 2019 7:53 PM

This is from Bloomberg news as printed in the National Post, a Toronto newspaper. 

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-03/not-exactly-the-orient-express-but-europe-s-sleepers-are-back  

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Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, January 11, 2020 11:02 AM
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 2:41 PM

Railway age atricle showing how European RRs made mistakes similar to Amtrak.

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/sleeper-service-why-we-should-follow-europes-lead/ 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 2:59 PM

blue streak 1

Railway age atricle showing how European RRs made mistakes similar to Amtrak.

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/sleeper-service-why-we-should-follow-europes-lead/ 

 

Did you actually read the article you linked? Whatever resurgence there is in night trains isn't about prior mistakes. It's about climate change: "What’s driving this seemingly unsupported initiative, you may rightly ask? It’s climate change, and Thunberg, among others, is leading the charge by posting photos of herself riding trains. In Sweden, her activism has now inspired “flight shaming,” one result of which is that the Swedish government has authorized the national transport authority to re-introduce overnight international trains to other European nations, and funded this with a  $4.2 million initial outlay." 

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Posted by 54light15 on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 3:08 PM

In other words, it's all good news! Thunberg, flight shaming- me I don't really care as long as I can take a sleeper train in Europe, something I have done many times since 1975 and is the most civilised way to travel ever since they retired the original Queen Mary. 

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 3:31 PM

You bet it is. It should not have left us in the first place.

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Posted by PJS1 on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 8:24 PM
I don’t know of a corridor in the U.S. that could support overnight sleeper service and cover its operating costs.  Forget about the capital costs. 
 
Most people are not going to trade a comfy hotel room for one on a train that is slightly larger than a broom closet.  Not to mention the challenge of paddling down the hall in the middle of the night to use the toilet!  At least for folks in an economy room!
 
Only a government agency that can dump it mistakes on the taxpayers would consider running an overnight train in the U.S.  No investor owned commercial enterprise would even consider it.
 
An overnight sleeper may work in Europe.  That does not mean that it would be a good option for the U.S.  

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 11:19 PM

PJS1
 
An overnight sleeper may work in Europe.  That does not mean that it would be a good option for the U.S.  
 

 
Why does  1/2 of the country think that the other half will follow their beliefs?.  I probably have no use at present for the type of overnight sleeper service depicted here.  But cannot say there is not demand  from other persons.  The WASH <> BOS route may certainly be ripe for some persons to use such service.
 
"IF" there was enough equipment and decent routes then we might know. At the  present there are no alternatives other than driving or flying.  There is much pressure to keep it that way.  When will we ever learn?  There is a real need to balance transportation but it never happens due to the merge every business into one giagantic single entity.
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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, January 23, 2020 7:59 AM

Overlooked in all the hoopla is one inconvenient fact.  Overnight trains are now and in the last 25 years a miniscule segment of the passenger train ridership in Europe. The addition of the new trains will restore ridership to what it was 20 years ago,  a small bite out of the apple,  for the reasons PSJ1 listed. 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, January 23, 2020 8:32 AM

PJS1
I don’t know of a corridor in the U.S. that could support overnight sleeper service and cover its operating costs.  Forget about the capital costs. 
 
Most people are not going to trade a comfy hotel room for one on a train that is slightly larger than a broom closet.  Not to mention the challenge of paddling down the hall in the middle of the night to use the toilet!  At least for folks in an economy room!
 
Only a government agency that can dump it mistakes on the taxpayers would consider running an overnight train in the U.S.  No investor owned commercial enterprise would even consider it.
 
An overnight sleeper may work in Europe.  That does not mean that it would be a good option for the U.S.  

 
Actually I disagree with absolutist statements like this.   What your basically stating outright is there is not enough interest in a rail corridor that carries hundreds of thousands of people a year to even fill what amounts to a single train full of sleepers between the two city points on an overnight run (at the most maybe 150-200 people).    Understood it is a personal opinion.
 
However, in Europe the sleeping accomodations on the economy end of the scale are shrinking smaller then the Amtrak Economy bedroom,  additionally if you visit the OBB nightjet sight they sell shared bedroom accomodations for what would be much cheaper than what Amtrak charges for an Economy bedroom with the disclaimer that Men and Women will be seperated.     They have compartments with up to 3 bunks stacked into a room now and sell that as a shared sleeping compartment for three men or three women with each paying 1/3 share of the total space........which is not a whole lot larger than Economy  bedroom.    Additionally, if you click on the FUTURE NIGHTRAIN link you'll see their Economy compartment is shrinking not getting larger.    To me that says it is getting more efficient.
 
Also neglected in the analysis is that increasingly, Europeans are riding Amtrak now, and have some expectations.    It is no so much a purely American clientele.   In fact my last ride on the Texas Eagle I encountered no less then 3 couples from Europe or Australia over here riding Amtrak on their vacation......which they decided to take at Christmas due to reduced costs.    You really had to look hard in the 1970's to see anyone from overseas riding a long distance Amtrak train.   Even with the rail pass offerings.
 
Additionally OBB has innovated the concept over what was in place before so there have been improvements made.    Now there is a website showing pictures of the accomodations and explaining in multiple languages the accomodations, what can be expected for food, scheduled times, etc.    NONE OF THAT was in place before.    The old arrangement was you had to call the specific national railway in Europe and ask about what you were getting, additionally you also had to be made aware of route specific surcharges applied for transit of specific countries or to pay for line improvements.    OBB has none of that.     Indeed when I traveled by overnight sleeper I had to pay a surcharge to obtain the compartment all to myself instead of sharing it.    Each National Railroad had it's own policies, they were not standardized and nor were the acommodations.   I remember back then the Swiss had the best sleepers wth the faux wood paneling and also the best breakfest snack in the morning.    The German Sleeping Car attendents were not as friendly as the Swiss or Italians.    So there was that as well.   The OBB improvements are noticeable to me and seem to make it a lot easier to use the service.
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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, January 23, 2020 8:39 AM

Also, one more thing.    Virgin Trains is an international player and with them there will be a LOT more international marketing of passenger trains in the United States as well as a lot more of those international trains are going to be using Amtrak reservations system to make reservations on Virgin Trains as well as potentially using Amtrak trains as connections........the world is shrinking in that aspect of Amtrak usage no longer being exclusively American as well.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, January 23, 2020 8:41 AM

blue streak 1
But cannot say there is not demand from other persons.

The argument PJS1 is making, however, is not that that there is little demand for overnight service, or even that there is adequate demand for it at many times.  It is that demand for a full, sustainable, bidirectional service offered on a regular timetable basis is not there.

Ed Ellis came to this conclusion after trying what is perhaps the most "sustainable" business model for such a thing: restored Pullman equipment from the 'golden age' of streamliners, operated as a premium service 'by appointment only' in a popular corridor with good overnight destination pairs.  He was unable to make enough money to sustain the operation.  

I'd be more inclined to think that there is a future for 'hostel'-style sleeping accommodations ... basically a sort of return to open sections, where riders get to curl up in a sort of cubbyhole but at least can stretch out flat with some privacy and a reading light and USB/Qi charging arrangement.  That has proven popular in other contexts, and certainly would improve a long-distance 'coach-class' experience at little marginal cost increase.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, January 23, 2020 11:03 AM

Overmod

 

 
blue streak 1
But cannot say there is not demand from other persons.

 

The argument PJS1 is making, however, is not that that there is little demand for overnight service, or even that there is adequate demand for it at many times.  It is that demand for a full, sustainable, bidirectional service offered on a regular timetable basis is not there.

Ed Ellis came to this conclusion after trying what is perhaps the most "sustainable" business model for such a thing: restored Pullman equipment from the 'golden age' of streamliners, operated as a premium service 'by appointment only' in a popular corridor with good overnight destination pairs.  He was unable to make enough money to sustain the operation.  

I'd be more inclined to think that there is a future for 'hostel'-style sleeping accommodations ... basically a sort of return to open sections, where riders get to curl up in a sort of cubbyhole but at least can stretch out flat with some privacy and a reading light and USB/Qi charging arrangement.  That has proven popular in other contexts, and certainly would improve a long-distance 'coach-class' experience at little marginal cost increase.

 

I agree with OM.

The luxury Ed Ellis model has a very limited market. It's something I might conceivably do once, but that's it.

However, to me, sitting up all night in a coach is excruciating. If I could pay, say, 35% more for some really basic dorm-type bunk (it would have to come with a little lock-box for valuables), I'd be very interested. My body gets to a point where it needs to be horizontal, period. The space would need to provide that opportunity, but little more.

I've enjoyed Amtrak sleepers, but that gets a bit pricey.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, January 23, 2020 1:22 PM

Lithonia Operator

 

 
Overmod

 

 
blue streak 1
But cannot say there is not demand from other persons.

 

The argument PJS1 is making, however, is not that that there is little demand for overnight service, or even that there is adequate demand for it at many times.  It is that demand for a full, sustainable, bidirectional service offered on a regular timetable basis is not there.

Ed Ellis came to this conclusion after trying what is perhaps the most "sustainable" business model for such a thing: restored Pullman equipment from the 'golden age' of streamliners, operated as a premium service 'by appointment only' in a popular corridor with good overnight destination pairs.  He was unable to make enough money to sustain the operation.  

I'd be more inclined to think that there is a future for 'hostel'-style sleeping accommodations ... basically a sort of return to open sections, where riders get to curl up in a sort of cubbyhole but at least can stretch out flat with some privacy and a reading light and USB/Qi charging arrangement.  That has proven popular in other contexts, and certainly would improve a long-distance 'coach-class' experience at little marginal cost increase.

 

 

 

I agree with OM.

The luxury Ed Ellis model has a very limited market. It's something I might conceivably do once, but that's it.

However, to me, sitting up all night in a coach is excruciating. If I could pay, say, 35% more for some really basic dorm-type bunk (it would have to come with a little lock-box for valuables), I'd be very interested. My body gets to a point where it needs to be horizontal, period. The space would need to provide that opportunity, but little more.

I've enjoyed Amtrak sleepers, but that gets a bit pricey.

 

Also overlooked by blue streak is explicitly stating that the new  OBB Nightjet is only partially like our sleepers.  Most of the cars have accommodations more like open sections (4-6 to a compartment couchettes,  favored by the young) and coach-seating.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, January 23, 2020 1:50 PM

Perhaps the Slumbercoach needs to be reinvented.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, January 23, 2020 2:13 PM

Overmod
Ed Ellis came to this conclusion after trying what is perhaps the most "sustainable" business model for such a thing: restored Pullman equipment from the 'golden age' of streamliners, operated as a premium service 'by appointment only' in a popular corridor with good overnight destination pairs.  He was unable to make enough money to sustain the operation.  

C'mon that guy was not a serious businessman nor was that a serious business attempt.    Look how quickly everything collapsed like a house of cards.   I was almost fooled myself until I heard about the cracked wheels and hastily dug inspection pits.    Then I started to have my doubts on the management.   Wheel inspection is pretty fundamental to running any type of railroad how that could be a surprise to a passenger rail operator is rather disturbing to me.

What Ed Ellis actually did was attempt to revive an old model without much or any thought to todays marketing.    In fact, I think most of his marketing was word of mouth.    He spent very little money upgrading the sleepers.    Unlike an operator say like the American Orient Express which spent close to or over a million a piece to rehab each sleeper.    Ellis just patched them up the best he could and repainted them.......and it almost cost him dearly.   

Even the blankets he used were manufactured replica blankets in production long before he formed his company.    I do not view that as a serious attempt at any market or even a serious attempt to establish a former brand in the market again.   Though I am sure folks would disagree with me.   To me it didn't seem like he really had a business plan but was inventing it as he went.

OBB has spent serious money on their service, including a fairly decent website that could use some work in the ease of use department........still it's pretty good.    The OBB service I believe is dedicated trains or are they hitching their sleepers onto scheduled trains?    Not sure on that point.

OBB service is showing it's future plans to the public already.   It's not running on a "if we can financially make it the next 6 months" financing model.    Which says something in the area of management confidence about the future and that it already feels it's business concept is sustainable.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, January 23, 2020 5:26 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

Perhaps the Slumbercoach needs to be reinvented.

 

Targeted customers would be? 

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