What would be cheaper in cost to try and fix Texas Eagle Timekeeping

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What would be cheaper in cost to try and fix Texas Eagle Timekeeping
Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 1:14 PM

So two choices here.

 

1. Have the Texas Eagle only run direction of travel with two routes like the freight trains.   This would mean building new passenger stations on the new directional route.    C&NW used two routes for one of its trains through Wisconsin so there is precedent here though it was not because of directional frieght trains.

2. Paying UP railroad to add more sidings so that the immensely long freight trains could pull over on the single route currently used or more meets could be scheduled.

Just curious.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 7:32 PM

Third prospective choice: since the objectionable thing at present appears to be 'scheduled' freight trains that miss their normal meeting time, perhaps the thing to do is implement better PSR realtime tracking of UP freights (after the manner of the Erie trains involved in the first telegraphed meet!) and hold both late and expected-late trains at the last logical pass point until the Eagle has run by.  

This is likely to result, in turn, in some more ad hoc crew and van scheduling issues as crews near dying on hours get hurried up into Amtrak's current window.  Can these be so hard to 'see coming' with even a few coordinated subroutines?

CMStPnP could write the necessary system architecture in his sleep.

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Posted by PJS1 on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 7:36 PM
Number 22 was 5 hours, 50 minutes late for its January 6th arrival in Chicago.  The reason is because Number 2, with the through coach and sleeper from LAX, was 7 hours, 32 minutes late at San Antonio.  As a result, Number 22 was 5 hours, 1 minute late departing San Antonio.  And it stayed behind schedule all the way to Chicago.
 
Holding Number 22 in San Antonio for roughly 5 hours undoubtedly ticked off the passengers waiting to depart.  It is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.
 
This is not the first time that Number 22’s passengers had an opportunity to sit around the Amtrak Station in San Antonio because of a late running No. 2. 
 
Depending on the number of through passengers, maybe the schedule keeping for No. 22 could be improved by discontinuing the through cars. 
 
The most effective way to keep Amtrak’s long-distance trains on time is to pay the host railroads the fully allocated cost of making way for them.  Nothing captures the attention of business people like the opportunity to make money.  And America’s freight railroads are in the business of making money!

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 8:35 PM

Overmod
CMStPnP could write the necessary system architecture in his sleep.

No way, though I am redesigning a very important program now..... it is really cool.   Very satisfying work.   I love IT!!!

Anyways, this also reminded me way back when I was an Consultant.  We had an assignment at JB Hunt and they pointed to the BNSF customer shipment tracking website and said......we want something just like this.    As if it was something we could just whip out and deploy...lol.   

Just a little snippet from my IT past.   Cudos to BNSF IT department for developing a website that was the envy of a major trucking company and one of it's biggest clients no less.   When I see a railroad do something like that, it does really impress me.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 9:55 PM

Call me paranoid,  but I would be a week bit cautious about a freight railroad's calculations of fully allocated costs for hosting two Amtrak trains daily. 

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Posted by PJS1 on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 8:33 AM

charlie hebdo
 Call me paranoid,  but I would be a week bit cautious about a freight railroad's calculations of fully allocated costs for hosting two Amtrak trains daily. 

In the grown-up business world, which is where Anderson appears to be taking Amtrak, the company would sit down with the host carriers collectively or individually and agree on a cost allocation model.  This probably is what they have done with respect to the billing of incremental costs.
 
Once the parties agreed on a model for allocating all the costs of hosting Amtrak’s trains, they would engage one of the nation’s expert accounting firms, i.e. PWC, KPMG, etc. or perhaps the GAO, to evaluate the model.  Equally important, they would agree to have the outcomes of the model audited on a regular basis.  This is how most corporations do things.
 
All cost accounting models include some estimates.  Whether they are reasonable, consistant, and applied uniformly is a key question.   
 
Amtrak probably would be unwilling to agree to anything that would raise the costs of hosting its long-distance trains.  After all, in FY 19, the long-distance trains had an operating loss of $475 million.   

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 10:59 AM

And thus,  in the "adult" business world, nothing would change. 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 11:55 AM

charlie hebdo
And thus,  in the "adult" business world, nothing would change. 

That's actually very close to what I expect the actual process would be --- after a certain amount of gamesmanship and threats regarding Amtrak's nominal 'contractual' scheduling precedence over UP and why the latter should absorb the cost of 'non-compliance', etc.

Having the GAO be the 'referee' in figuring out the relevant cost allocations seems almost like a stroke of genius, as they ought to be relatively neutral in justifying fairness.  But again that only applies if Government claims or bullying don't loom large in the 'negotiating process.'

Personally I think an awful lot of negotiating room opens up if tax avoidance strategies involving some of the UP 'accommodations' come into play -- whether or not there can be subsidization outside the technical Amtrak budget.  These things become critical as 2020 winds on and the Congressional deadline for nominal profitability approaches...

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