Matrix theory and extending Amtrak's Southwest Chief to Pueblo and potentially Denver.

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Matrix theory and extending Amtrak's Southwest Chief to Pueblo and potentially Denver.
Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, May 06, 2017 8:43 PM

Not really taking an opinion on this because I do not know enough about the marketing theory discussed to form an opinion.     Interesting article though.

https://ntbraymer.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/whats-wrong-with-amtraks-plan-to-serve-pueblo/

 

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Posted by RME on Saturday, May 06, 2017 9:59 PM

It's not a 'matrix marketing' theory; that's a whole different thing.  Nor is it a business-school use of either Ansoff or BCG-style matrices.

What it appears to be, as presented, is little more than a statistical mathematical represention of multiplicity of city pairs related to overall -- and very broad and unspecific -- population (not demographic) of the surrounding regions.  From this they extract an argument that the whole Southwest Chief should be rerouted to run through Pueblo, rather than having a small 'shuttle' train extend there.

I seem to recall discussions here about why running the train via Pueblo would be a bad, or even unfeasible, idea - this might have changed with traffic and congestion pattern changes over the past couple of years.  We certainly have people  reading the forums who have better knowledge of the 'do-ability' of the idea.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, May 06, 2017 10:11 PM

The article says the rail matrix theory was developed in the 1980s and refers the the airline's hub and spoke.  While hub and spoke is still important to the airlines, they have realized that they can sell more tickets, often at higher prices, for direct flights that bypass hubs.

While the matrix theory touts the geometric growth in city pairs with the addition of just one extra station, it should be realized that all those extra passengers will still just be those that board/detrain at Pueblo.  What the article does not seem to get into, is how many passengers they may loose by detouring thru Pueblo.  This was discussed in other threads on Pueblo, and IIRC its about 4 extra hours.  While the SWC now arrives in LA first thing in the morming, the detoured Chief would arrive after noon, and by the time you are at your final destination, you have pretty much lost the day.  The SWC schedule shows a bus connection to Denver at Trinidad.  I would rather see a corridor train along the Front Range/I-25 from Denver to Trinidad. 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Sunday, May 07, 2017 5:19 PM

What could be added (In my opinion) would be a train beween LaJunta and Denver with a schedule that could connect with the CZ and the SW Chief. This would require rearranging the schedules of the SWC to meet near LaJunta within a window that would allow a train from Denver to Arrive before the two SWC's and Leave after the SWC's. Back in 1953, SF's trains (#101) took 4:30 hours SB and (#130) took 4:00 hours NB. #102 was scheduled for 5:55 NB and #141 for 5:20 SB. The WB sleeper was parked for 2:30 hrs at La Junta, while the EB had a 0:35 hr connection.

Since #5 is scheduled into Denver before 8;00 AM and allowing 4:30 hr time a connecting train could be in LaJunta by 1:00 PM and leave LaJunta at 2:00PM and arrive back in Denver by 6:30 PM in time for #6's 6:36 PM scheduled Arrival. So next one would have to see what schedule adjustments would be needed for #3 & #4 to be in LaJunta in that window. Currently #3 arrives at 6:15 AM & lv 6:30 so that would mean it should leave Chicago 7 hrs later (10PM) and Ar LA at 3:15PM.  Similarly #4 is scheduled to AR at 7:31PM so it would need to leave LA six hours earlier or 12:10 PM. and Ar Chicago at 9:15 AM These changes would affect the servicing times and I suspect might require an additional equipment set. It also messes up the St Louis connections at KC and the Albuquerque times to unacceptable times. 

Of corse there are other combinations and perhaps a second LaJunta - Denver train. Perhaps one of you have a better solution. 

And with the variablity of Amtraks time keeping, as they say forgetaboutit.

They do it in Switzerland and used to do it in the states but not lately. 

An example, NYC had cars interchange at Indianapolis between the Chicago-Cincinnati trains and the NYC Cleveland-St Louis trains. There was a through St Louis-Richmond VA Sleeper and a St Louis-Cincinnati coach on #24 Knickerbocker & #406 Caroliner Special. #406 was scheduled into Indianapolis at 5:05 PM nd out at 5:20 while #24 was in at 5:10 and out at 5:18. This per the 1953 schedule.

I recall on a trip through Indy to Chicago in the middle fifties as my train is coming into the station, a switcher pushing a diner that our train would have lunch service moving up toward us after we passed the switches but before we stopped. After the exiting passengers got off, they made the joint, test, connected the air and steam lines, new passengers boarded and we departed on the schedule. Amtrak allows 45 minutes to separate the Lakeshore and change engines at Albany. 

Just a thought, If he was motivated, I wonder how E.H.H could apply precision to such an operation

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Posted by schlimm on Sunday, May 07, 2017 6:56 PM

The Pueblo-Cañon City combined statistical area (CSA) totals approximately 208,000 people.  While it is commendable to add its potential ridership (considerably greater than other stops on the SWC such as Garden City and Hutchinson)), a shuttle makes more sense, even though as the article points out, most ridership is not between the ultimate endpoints.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, May 08, 2017 6:47 AM

Electroliner 1935
Amtrak allows 45 minutes to separate the Lakeshore and change engines at Albany. 

...and if the train is on time, the LSL has the station clogged up for that entire time - a waste of resources.

I remember as a kid when the PRR used to add and drop coaches in 30th St. to their New York to Washington DC trains.  A switcher would just tack some P70s on the rear, air test, and away we go.

The problem with railroadin today is that we often get so busy being safe and efficient that we forget the goal is to MOVE!

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Philly Amtrak Fan on Monday, May 08, 2017 8:52 AM

If you wanted Denver-Los Angeles, I'd rather the old Desert Wind between SLC and LA (so you can serve Las Vegas).

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, May 08, 2017 10:00 AM

oltmannd

The problem with railroadin today is that we often get so busy being safe and efficient that we forget the goal is to MOVE!

 
Whatever happened to SAFETY FIRST??
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 RME on Monday, May 08, 2017 11:06 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
Whatever happened to SAFETY FIRST??

Safety first, last, and always -- but as part of the process that is the reason for the railroad's existence: moving freight effectively.

It is easily possible to start becoming obsessive in documenting safety, or in 'overdoing' things like safety meetings for mandated or other policy reasons.  See many of the discussions in Britain regarding "elf'n safety" and note that when safety gets too convoluted or exhausting, the corners that get cut might be critical 'in the event'.  I think the BP Deepwater Horizon fire was an illustration of how easily an obsessive cult of safety can actually produce accidents through concentration on safety process and documentation rather than actual safe operation.

The developing fun with FRA training, including safety training -- specifically development of 'model programs' that feature all the rich and intricate detail of politically-correct safety education -- (this is now on track to be mandated not later than May 1, 2022 for even small operators) is associated with this.

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Posted by schlimm on Monday, May 08, 2017 2:02 PM

RME
The developing fun with FRA training, including safety training -- specifically development of 'model programs' that feature all the rich and intricate detail of politically-correct safety education -- (this is now on track to be mandated not later than May 1, 2022 for even small operators) is associated with this.

Would you please specify which elements of this program are so objectionable to you, rather than simply invoke the hackneyed term "politically correct"?

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Monday, May 08, 2017 2:03 PM

I think this whole discussion may be mute anyway.  Didn't someone point out that the approach tracks to DUS from the south have been removed and the ROW built upon?  If that is the case a whole new ROW would need to be acquired at an exorbinate cost in Downtown Denver.  That and the NIMBYs would tie the whole thing up in court for years.  I think the truway bus would be a better idea.  Save Amtrak money too.

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, May 08, 2017 2:39 PM

Even though the passenger tracks south of the station in Denver are no longer there, it is possible for passenger service to the south to be reinstated--simply go north to reach the freight tracks and then go south. There would be little difference between this and the current practice used to bring the California Zephyr into/out of the station.

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Monday, May 08, 2017 4:51 PM

RME
I think the BP Deepwater Horizon fire was an illustration of how easily an obsessive cult of safety can actually produce accidents through concentration on safety process and documentation rather than actual safe operation.

   This is the first time I've heard this take on that incident.   Of course, I wasn't there, but everything I've heard pointed to complacency.   Warning signs were ignored in the face of possible hindering of production.   Government monitors were lax in enforcing regulations.   By "concentration on safety process and documentation", do you mean "cover-up"?

_____________

   My mind's made up.   Don't confuse me with the facts.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, May 08, 2017 5:42 PM

runnerdude48

I think this whole discussion may be mute anyway.  Didn't someone point out that the approach tracks to DUS from the south have been removed and the ROW built upon?  If that is the case a whole new ROW would need to be acquired at an exorbinate cost in Downtown Denver.  That and the NIMBYs would tie the whole thing up in court for years.  I think the truway bus would be a better idea.  Save Amtrak money too.

I believe Dallas had a similar problem before Union Station was built, the city was built up by the time most railroads got there and they initially just laid the tracks in the center of the city streets to their respective seperate stations from the outskirts of town.

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, May 08, 2017 8:30 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

 

 
oltmannd

The problem with railroadin today is that we often get so busy being safe and efficient that we forget the goal is to MOVE!

 

 

 
Whatever happened to SAFETY FIRST??
 

Safely is how you MOVE.  Safety isn't a product. 

The goal is to move something from here to there.  You want to do that without anyone getting hurt, breaking stuff, creating a nuscience or wasting resources.  

Those things are all part of the process, but not the product.

 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by RME on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 1:19 PM

oltmannd
The goal is to move something from here to there. You want to do that without anyone getting hurt, breaking stuff, creating a nuisance or wasting resources. Those things are all part of the process, but not the product.

But that's not the issue here.  The issue is that, if a great many timewasting things, perhaps individually small but necessarily sequential, are needed to preclude people getting hurt, stuff getting broken, nuisances from emerging, or resources being wasted, the net result may be a slowing down of the actual "motion" that moves the freight.

You could move an awful lot of ton-miles for the overall cost of a derailment, let alone a fatality accident.  I am assuming that we are still grounding this in the idea that the particular timewasting steps at issue concern proper operation of the brake systems...

Of course safety isn't a product.  It's a precondition.

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Posted by Buslist on Friday, May 12, 2017 9:49 AM

RME

 

   I think the BP Deepwater Horizon fire was an illustration of how easily an obsessive cult of safety can actually produce accidents through concentration on safety process and documentation rather than actual safe operation.

 

 

 

i think this is probably the first time I have ever heard of BP having an "obsessive cult" of safety. They have a reputation of cutting corners often leading to safety issues.

Although I'm not aware of the details of the Deepwater Horizon, we did a study of the Texsas City incident, which turned out to have been preventable if in place safety procedures had been observed. Folks in the know have indicated the Alaska stiuatiion was similar.

A railroad example: Amoco Chemicals was very proud of the condition of their (leased) covered hopper car fleet. A significant part of this was that they maintained a car shop (contract) at each loading location. The fleet received extensive preventative maintenance. BP's first action on take over was to close the shops and depend on the interchange car repair system to maintain the fleet. Although the cars were kept to a condition acceptable to the industry (through the interchange standards) it's hard to argue that this represented an "obsessive cult" of safety.

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Posted by RME on Friday, May 12, 2017 2:10 PM

Buslist
i think this is probably the first time I have ever heard of BP having an "obsessive cult" of safety.

No! At R&B Falcon and Transocean. 

The proximate cause of the blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon was almost certainly meddling by BP corporate personnel.  And I thoroughly agree with you that their 'corporate' approach to safety was incompetent, expedient, and (dare I say it) reminiscent of the worst practices typical of English capitalism.

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Posted by Buslist on Friday, May 12, 2017 4:20 PM

RME

 

 
Buslist
i think this is probably the first time I have ever heard of BP having an "obsessive cult" of safety.

 

No! At R&B Falcon and Transocean. 

 

 

 

No I heard it elsewhere?

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Posted by RME on Friday, May 12, 2017 6:25 PM

Buslist
No I heard it elsewhere?

No, it was Falcon and then Transocean (the actual rig owners and operators) that had the 'obsessive cult of safety'.  There is a good if somewhat tarted-up illustration in 'Fire on the Horizon' if you can find a copy.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Saturday, May 20, 2017 2:32 PM

I was on the Southwest Chief of May 16, and the train had four locomotives and a deadhead sleeper on the front. The 3rd & 4th locomotive and the sleeper were removed from the train at La Junta. I inquired and was told that they were going to be used for qualifying crews for the Pueblo-LaJunta SWC section. It took about an hour for the crew and the primary two engines to take the two locomotives and car and park them, return to our train, couple, connect cables and air and get us back on the road. Left LAJ down about 3 hours.

We had lost time at Fullerton removing a stowaway who had been spotted riding on the front of the deadhead sleeper behind the engine. We lost about twenty minutes. A young man about 20-25 yrs old was being questioned by four policemen as we departed. Our train left Gallup 40 min down and arrived Albuquerque 13 min early (padding) but left 24 minutes late. We lost time all the way in New Mexico some 10 mph running. And saw old ties along side the ROW in Colorado. On the ASM Transitdocs web site, it only showed a three minute increase in lateness at LAJ though by Lamar, we are shown down 2:50 late and at Garden City, its showing 3:15 delay. Finally arrived Naperville 3:38 late. Passengers connecting to the Cardinal were put on a Throughway bus to Indianapolis at Galesburg. as they would not have made the connection. 

I found the food good but one menu that doesn't change is not what I would provide. And our car attendent tells me the health dept is the reason they don't have ice on the sleepers, which I miss. Claimed that little kids would put their dirty hands in the ice. 

And when I get picked up, I learn that #4 (14) had had their conductor shot by a passenger. And that passengers had tackled the shooter and held him for the police. They say, it takes all kinds and I wish it didn't include crazies. 

 

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Posted by JPS1 on Sunday, May 21, 2017 7:13 PM

schlimm
....a shuttle makes more sense, even though as the article points out, most ridership is not between the ultimate endpoints.  

In 2016 the Southwest Chief had an operating loss of $55.6 million on total revenues or $60.6 million on ticket revenues.  

According to a July 2016 article in the Denver Post, running a connecting train to and from Pueblo would generate additional ticket revenues of approximately $1.4 million.  Not surprisingly the article did not mention the additional losses that would be incurred. 

If the revenue to operating cost ratio remained the same for the segment as it is for SW Chief, a Pueblo section could add another $750,000 to $1,000,000 of red ink to Amtrak’s books.

In addition, according to the article, the track between La Junta and Pueblo would require major capital improvements.

Agree!  A connecting bus makes a lot more sense.

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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