Amtrak Should Have Canceled Other Trains Instead of the Ones They Did In the Past

1792 views
36 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April, 2016
  • 101 posts
Amtrak Should Have Canceled Other Trains Instead of the Ones They Did In the Past
Posted by Philly Amtrak Fan on Thursday, August 03, 2017 8:24 PM

I was asked to start a new thread since my posts were off topic to others.

As you know, my favorite train was canceled. Amtrak has canceled other trains as well. With their budget and equipment constraints they probably had to. But considering some of the trains that run now vs. the ones that were canceled, I think Amtrak made mistakes and would have been better off canceling other trains as opposed to others. 

Feel free to debate. I just spent a whole hour on a thread and lost it because of a computer problem (either my end or the host end) so I'll just start this thread and take it from there.

  • Member since
    April, 2016
  • 101 posts
Posted by Philly Amtrak Fan on Thursday, August 03, 2017 9:31 PM

I don't think I discussed this at this group.

Back in the 70's, Amtrak had its first major round of cuts. I found by the beauty of the internet these reports:

The first was a "preliminary" report: https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L16827

The second was a "final" one: https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L04153

They suggested canceling several routes, mainly using passenger miles per train miles (PM/TM) as the main criteria for which routes to cancel. The preliminary report lists PM/TM for all trains in FY 1977 (Table 3-11) and then highlights some of them when discussing those to ax. The Cardinal's PM/TM in 1977 was a pathetic 60. The Floridian, National Limited, and Lone Star, all who were canceled, had higher PM/TM. If the cuts were based on PM/TM, the Cardinal should have been cut and the Lone Star should still be here (actually the Lone Star should be here and the Inter-American which is actually worse should be gone). The Cardinal actually was cut but brought back because of Senator Byrd. This is fact: http://www.nytimes.com/1982/10/03/business/where-the-budget-cutters-didn-t-want-to-cut.html?pagewanted=1. If the Cardinal was canceled like it should have been the Broadway Limited would still be here today and i could still take a direct train to Chicago and get there a lot faster than I can on Byrd Crap and people in nearby Lancaster and Harrisburg can get to Chicago without having to change trains in Pittsburgh where the connecting times are lousy and so is the station. The decision on which trains to cancel should be based on merit not based on nepotism.

  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • 1,937 posts
Posted by Miningman on Thursday, August 03, 2017 10:29 PM

Well I applaud you for starting the thread. The provided downloadable PDF files, provide great information. 

Your logic seems pretty sound to me regarding the Broadway. 

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Fort Worth, TX
  • 437 posts
Posted by VerMontanan on Friday, August 04, 2017 1:52 AM

Comments on Philly Amtrak Fan’s latest attempt to paint himself as a victim of the past:

 

If time is such a concern for travel between Philadelphia and Chicago, and that the Cardinal is considered so toxic that he cannot set foot on it, I am curious as to why not instead take a Northeast Regional train to Washington, DC and then the Capitol Limited to Chicago and save 6 hours travel time?  After all, four days a week, he’d not be burdened with the option of the Cardinal, anyway (and even travel via New York and the Lake Shore Limited would be faster than the Cardinal on the few days it does run).

 

This statement from Philly Amtrak Fan is precious: “If the Cardinal was canceled like it should have been the Broadway Limited would still be here today…”  This of course is ridiculous.  (It’s in reference to the Cardinal’s passenger miles per train mile being less than the Floridian, National Limited, and Lone Star in 1977.) 

 

The timeline was:

 

The Floridian, National Limited, and Lone Star were discontinued in the fall of 1979.

The Cardinal was discontinued in the fall of 1981, and was reinstated as a tri-weekly train in early 1982.

The Broadway Limited was discontinued in 1995, and was replaced by the Three Rivers between New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (passengers then could transfer to the Capitol Limited at Pittsburgh).

Early in 1996 through cars from New York to Chicago via Pittsburgh began operating via the Three Rivers and Capitol Limited; in late 1996, the Three Rivers was extended to Chicago, thus creating a New York-Chicago train via Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Three Rivers was discontinued in 2005 mostly due to a cancelation of a mail contract.

 

Given the myriad other changes to Amtrak routes over the years (such as the Montrealer also being discontinued in 1995 – just like the Broadway Limited – and that the Desert Wind began operating at the same time – 1979 – that the Lone Star was discontinued), it’s truly ridiculous to claim that discontinuing the Cardinal in 1977 or 1979 or 1981 would have any bearing on the Broadway Limited.  Given the political football Amtrak was, especially in early years, and its chronic lack of adequate funding, there are simply too many variables to make such an outlandish claim that would stick nearly 40 years into the future.  Since the Cardinal and Broadway Limited were not competitors, had the Cardinal been discontinued in 1979 there is no way of telling how the reallocation of its physical and fiscal assets would have occurred.

 

But the best line of all from Philly Amtrak Fan’s latest post was his last: “The decision on which trains to cancel should be based on merit not based on nepotism.”  Indeed.  If Philly Amtrak Fan really thinks the Broadway Limited – or any Amtrak train that once ran – should be reinstated, then logic would dictate that he should tout why that train should be running, not why he thinks another should not.  True passenger train advocates do not have Philly Amtrak Fan’s selfish “Trains for me, but not for thee” attitude.  If you truly believe in long distance passenger trains in the U.S., you know that there are not enough regardless the location, and you can build a case for your train based on the merits you supply.  But he has done none of that.

 

Additionally, in reference the last line in the post, nepotism is defined: “The practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.”  It’s well known that Senator Byrd was the “King of Pork” in the Senate, and there are many better words to describe his actions than nepotism!  (Unless it can now be revealed railroad employees working on and supporting the Cardinal were/are Senator Byrd’s relatives….!)

 

 

Mark Meyer

  • Member since
    April, 2016
  • 101 posts
Posted by Philly Amtrak Fan on Friday, August 04, 2017 6:45 AM

VerMontanan

Comments on Philly Amtrak Fan’s latest attempt to paint himself as a victim of the past:

 

If time is such a concern for travel between Philadelphia and Chicago, and that the Cardinal is considered so toxic that he cannot set foot on it, I am curious as to why not instead take a Northeast Regional train to Washington, DC and then the Capitol Limited to Chicago and save 6 hours travel time?  After all, four days a week, he’d not be burdened with the option of the Cardinal, anyway (and even travel via New York and the Lake Shore Limited would be faster than the Cardinal on the few days it does run).

 

In 2015 on the way to California, I rode a regional to the LSL westbound to Chicago and the CL to a regional eastbound. The eastbound CL was almost four hours late into WAS and I missed my connection into WAS after a delayed trip after being on the SWC for two days. Then I had to wait another half hour in a line with my bags to change my ticket. Still think I have no right to be PO'ed? Has it ever happened to you?

VerMontanan

This statement from Philly Amtrak Fan is precious: “If the Cardinal was canceled like it should have been the Broadway Limited would still be here today…”  This of course is ridiculous.  

Is it? Without the Broadway Limited or Cardinal there would be only the LSL and CL for Chicago-NEC trains. Even though only an idiot would believe Byrd Crap is a reasonable Chicago-NEC train, can you imagine just one Chicago-NEC train? So they could have canceled the Cardinal in 1995 instead of the Broadway Limited. They could have canceled the Cardinal in 2004 instead of the Three Rivers (the mail contract was just an excuse, the Three Rivers still had higher ridership/revenue than the Cardinal). You'll say 3x/week but it makes more sense to run a daily train than run a 3x/week train which every metric says doesn't work. You cancel the Cardinal and CHI-IND still has Hoosier State service and they can run daily service using the same equipment they use now while Charlottesville-NYP still has 2 daily trains and Virginia would be motivated to pay to replace the Cardinal with a third daily train with the financial success of the Lynchburg service. So the only major market that would lose service would be Cincinnati and they currently only have graveyard shift service. Does anyone other than the 5 people who live in Thurmond WV care about service to Thurmond WV? Meanwhile, PA would still have a train to Chicago and New York would still have two dailies instead of 1 3/7 (and both would take less than 24 hrs). Plus that was before the 750 mile rule. What was stopping Amtrak from running a separate Chicago-Cincinnati train?

Why not both the Cardinal and Broadway/Three Rivers? Did Amtrak have the $/equipment for both? If Byrd was able to find extra money for the Cardinal, why not the Floridian or the Lone Star? Why was the Cardinal important enough but the Floridian not important enough? Why wasn't the Broadway in 1995 not important enough in 1995? If the Cardinal was on the chopping block, Byrd would have made sure it was saved. If you think I'm selfish, Byrd's selfish. He finds enough money for his train but not others. That's not how you run a national train system. In addition we still have a train going through Mike Mansfield territory. Coincidence? Mansfield's fingerprints are more on the North Coast Hiawatha but I don't think it's a coincidence that the Empire Builder runs through Montana either and was kept through two rounds of western cuts while the Desert Wind (the Las Vegas train) and Pioneer were cut.

 

  • Member since
    December, 2012
  • 194 posts
Posted by A McIntosh on Friday, August 04, 2017 11:06 AM

If one wishes to have a New York to Chicago train on the old Broadway Ltd. route, maybe the Capitol could be re equipped as a single level viewliner train an have a New York section join it at Pittsburgh, a variation of the old B&O. PRIAA suggested something on those lines with through cars. All this presupposes more rolling stock being made available. I agree that the Floridian and the Lone Star should have been retained, but one issue is that some of the lines Amtrak uses are those the freight railroads wish to downgrade. The S line through the Carolinas that the Silver Star uses is one example. This may have been a contributing factor in the Floridian's demise.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Friday, August 04, 2017 11:39 AM

Philly Amtrak Fan
I just spent a whole hour on a thread and lost it because of a computer problem (either my end or the host end) so I'll just start this thread and take it from there.

I think that problem is on the Trains server end.  I've had the same experience in the past (still do) so now I copy my post before I submit it in the event there is a disruption.

As to the theme of your thread, I'll only say that you and VerMontanan seem to have issues.  However, your vulgar term for the Cardinal does not aid your cause.  The last time (1986) I rode the Broadway from NYC to CHI it was over 6 hours late, much of that sitting in Ohio and Indiana. It should be resumed, though on a different route.

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

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 788 posts
Posted by NKP guy on Friday, August 04, 2017 12:12 PM

   I agree with schlimm that using a vulgar term for the Cardinal isn't helpful and comes across as sophomoric.

   I rode the Cardinal only once, from Cincinnati to Washington, and I enjoyed it.

    Perhaps, however, there's another side to the question of the efficacy of this train.  Namely, that  Senator Byrd and his train was a positive sign back in the day that Amtrak was not going to be killed, but supported instead.  A different Senator from that state might not have had any interest in Amtrak at all.  Instead, Byrd made sure that Amtrak got funding for this train and the system as a whole.  Byrd was an Amtrak supporter; any problem with that?

   Senator Byrd, like it or not, looked out for his constituents, just as he was supposed to do.  If there was pork being passed around, he made sure his state got a big piece of it; he didn't invent pork and he alone couldn't end the practice.  It wasn't solely his fault that Amtrak has never been given the money it needs to operate the desired type of national system that always seems to be just out of reach.  

   We in Ohio would be well served to have a similarly powerful Senator looking out for our Amtrak interests; instead we have no one in our delegation who cares much for trains.  As a result our Amtrak service is not exactly ideal.

   This railfan has no dog in this fight, but it seems to me that denigrating a respected and effective Senator and especially his efforts on Amtrak's behalf, just because one doesn't approve of one particular route, is small-minded and ungrateful.

   Possibly the Cardinal has outlived its usefulness, but West Virginia is so poor, its citizens have so little, and the train passes through some of the best scenery east of the Mississippi; I would hate to see this train taken away from them.

    

 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 8,321 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, August 04, 2017 3:44 PM

This poster has only a suspicion but political decisions made in Congress and the EPA may have caused the cancellations listed.

1.  100 V-1 sleepers were originally scheduled to be purchased.  However Congress somehow limited that number to 51.

2.  The locomotive situation was a problem with the SDP-40s not accepted by some RRs and the F-40s came on as a quick fill in.  Then not enough P-40 & P-42s were ordered due to lack of funds to replace the F-40s.

3.  The rebuilding of Heritage sleepers and coaches did not include the installation of retention toilets to meet EPA requirements as Amtrak expected to be able to order enough Single level cars.

4.  Of course not enough or any funds to get more SLLD cars was forthcoming.Soon trains got cancelled such as the Floridian. 

5.  The result was Amtrak haters got part of their wish to torpedo Amtrak.  That was accomplished by cancelling some trains that had better PM/TM ratios than some that were kept.

6.  Now almost all trains have good passenger loads during high and shoulder seasons that are constrained by rolling stock shortages.  Until Amtrak can get more rolling stock there will not be more service on present routes, restored routes, or new routes. 

We would probably see much lower ridership totals now except for the funds allocated in 2009 for rebuilding Superliners and Amfleet-1s.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Fort Worth, TX
  • 437 posts
Posted by VerMontanan on Friday, August 04, 2017 6:15 PM

Yes, I can imagine a time when there was only one Chicago-East Coast train, as would anyone who knows the history of Amtrak:  On Amtrak Day 1971, the Broadway Limited was the sole train departing Chicago for the Eastern Seaboard.  There was no Lake Shore Limited in the original route plan and service on what would become the Cardinal was a Chicago-Cincinnati James Whitcomb Riley, and a Cincinnati-Newport News/Washington George Washington.  The Broadway Limited originally had a Washington, DC section. 

 

The Broadway Limited was chosen over the ex-NYC route due to better track (at the time) and the ability to combine the Chicago-Washington section with the train as far as Harrisburg (though they sometimes ran in sections).  Using the Broadway Limited route also allowed consolidation of facilities between New York and Pittsburgh with the New York-Kansas City National Limited.  Some claimed that what would become the Lake Shore Limited should have been the Chicago-New York train all along as ridership was artificially by New York Central service cuts in 1967 and by Penn Central thereafter all along the route (whereas the Broadway Limited retained its name and service).  “Amtrak in the Heartland” by Craig Sanders chronicles the myriad things which affected all the routes between Chicago and the East Coast, and is a good read.  There are so many variables with track conditions Conrail and subsequent changes when Conrail was split between CSX and NS, it remains truly ridiculous to claim that discontinuing the Cardinal in 1979 could possibly have guaranteed the chance that the Broadway Limited would be around today.  And indeed, as was the case with axing the Montrealer (which had other issues, too), lack of usable equipment was an issue.

 

Senator Byrd found money for the Cardinal and not the Lone Star because he represented a state through which the Cardinal passed, and did not represent states along the routes of the other trains.  Duh.  The Hilltopper through West Virginia did die in 1979, and the Shenandoah through West Virginia succumbed in 1981, however.

 

The Cardinal does not stop at Thurmond to serve the 5 people who reside there; Rather, it is to serve the New River Gorge National River (i.e. National Park).  Railroads have a long history of association with National Parks, and therefore providing stops to serve them are not only logical, but historical, and helps keep alive the legacy of this association.  Actually, the best example of this is the Empire Builder’s stops near and at Glacier National Park, Montana.  No other national park had its creation so tied to a railroad, and today Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park have North America’s greatest collection of railroad-built hotels and chalets still in use (in fact, three of these hostelries are within walking distance of stops at East Glacier Park, Essex, and West Glacier Park).  That’s why over 20,000 people use the train at these stops alone during the short summer Park season (about three months).

 

Mike Mansfield had nothing to do with the longevity of the Empire Builder.  He retired from the Senate in 1976, and was appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Japan the following year.  Many thought the North Coast Limited could have survived had he still be in the senate during the Amtrak cutbacks of 1979; therefore it’s categorically untrue he could have influenced the retention of the Empire Builder when the Pioneer was discontinued in 1997.  (Like the Broadway Limited and Montrealer, Amtrak’s budget and equipment problems contributed mightily to the decision to ax the Pioneer, as well as poor handling by Union Pacific; the train was also poorly patronized except in the summer.)

 

And again, this salient point remains: Complaining (especially when one is ignorant of facts and history) about something happening that may (well, in this case, didn’t) have any bearing on something else does nothing toward the goal of rectifying even a perceived wrong.  If reinstating the Broadway Limited has merit, then pick up, and go from there.  But complaining that some other train exists or the reasons why will do nothing to help reinstate such service.

 

 

 

Mark Meyer

  • Member since
    February, 2016
  • 569 posts
Posted by JPS1 on Friday, August 04, 2017 8:07 PM

NKP guy
.....but West Virginia is so poor, its citizens have so little, and the train passes through some of the best scenery east of the Mississippi; I would hate to see this train taken away from them. 

West Virginia is indeed among America’s poorest states.  According to the Census Bureau, in 2015 household income was 77 percent of the national average and 17.9 percent of the population lived in poverty compared to 13.5 percent for the nation as a whole.
 
How West Virginia’s poor have benefited from the Cardinal or the Capitol Limited, which also serves parts of West Virginia, is unclear.  Amtrak employed 41 people in West Virginia in 2016 out of a potential working population of 714,000, i.e. persons over 18 and under 65.

From 2012 to 2016 the Cardinal lost $83.1 million plus depreciation and interest.  West Virginians would have been better off if the government had funneled this money, or at least that portion of it attributable to West Virginia, to the state’s colleges and universities to help poor West Virginians get an education, which is the best way out of poverty for most people.  

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

  • Member since
    April, 2016
  • 101 posts
Posted by Philly Amtrak Fan on Saturday, August 05, 2017 8:37 AM

You might not have a problem with a problem with Sen. Byrd favoring West Virginia over other states when it comes to Amtrak routes but I do. Amtrak is (or is supposed to be) a national system. It is supposed to represent national interests, not the interests of West Virginia over the rest of the country. Should it represent Philly over the rest of the country? No. I will say it should represent Philly more than West Virginia because Philly as a city has about the same population as the entire state of West Virginia (for a much shorter distance in train miles) and is a much larger tourist attraction. You want to talk national parks? I'm pretty sure Independence Hall is one too. You want to talk about scenery? You forget about Horseshoe Curve because the only route that uses it now is the Pennsylvanian and no one east of Pittsburgh uses it now. The state of Pennsylvania has about 5 times the population of West Virginia, they should have better service than West Virginia. If the money used to save the Cardinal in 1982 could have been used to save another train instead with a higher PM/TM but the Cardinal got saved instead to satisfy Byrd, that is worse for America and negatively affected Amtrak's bottom line which means the rest of us are paying more tax dollars for it and have been paying more tax dollars for it the past 35 years.  Meanwhile whether it's the Broadway or Desert Wind or Floridian or some other train, they lost their service. You don't have a problem with it but I do.

There are other fingerprints of Byrd on Amtrak in the past and today.

Before Amtrak, there used to be a Cincinnati Limited connecting Cincinnati to Columbus-Pittsburgh-Harrisburg-Philadelphia-New York (http://www.american-rails.com/cinn-ltd.html). It used to be attached to the Spirit of St. Louis which Amtrak did operate as the National Limited. Amtrak could have run an extra 124.9 miles between Columbus and Cincinnati and they would have connected the two cities and it would have been a faster trip from Cincinnati to the East Coast than the "Byrd" route, the George Washington (old Cardinal route). Wasted train miles, denying Cincinnati-Columbus rail travel, Cincinnati-Pittsburgh rail travel, faster Cincinnati-Philadelphia/New York rail travel ...just to keep Byrd happy.

You mention the Shenendoah. It was also on the hit list along with the Cardinal and the Lone Star, Floridian, and National Limited. Those three were canceled in 1979 while the Shenendoah lasted until 1981. It's not a coincidence the two West Virginia trains lasted an additional two years while the others didn't? I have a used Saturn I'd like to sell you. And the eastern half of the Shenendoah seems somewhat familiar. Oh that's right, it's the Capitol Limited. Yeah, cause I was stuck on it. Amtrak (Byrd) felt the need to protect the eastern half of it (which conveniently passes through West Virginia) for a new route between Pittsburgh and Washington. Instead of splitting off the Broadway Limited at Philadelphia (it was Harrisburg but eventually became Philadelphia after Port Road became unusuable). they did it at Pittsburgh which meant Wilmington and Baltimore lost their direct train to Chicago. All because God forbid Harper's Ferry lose their train service! Supposedly the Capitol Limited was meant to replace the Cardinal (at least that was what the final report to Congress said) but instead Byrd got his Capitol and his Cardinal and instead the Broadway gets canceled instead so he gets both his trains, yippee!

You ask why dwell in the past and why not push for trains now? Try asking Norfolk Southern/CSX/etc. for a new Broadway Limited route in 2017 and see how much money they will ask for. Then go to Congress and ask for that much money. The point of this thread is if we didn't cancel these trains in the past we wouldn't have to ask for them back today. The last new long distance train introduced that is still around today was the Auto Train in 1983 and before that the Capitol Limited in 1981 (which essentially replaced the Broadway). Amtrak hasn't done a good job with introducing national LD trains lately and if Trump had his way the ones we have now wouldn't be around. The real push for new train routes should be the short distance corridor variety which is more popular. Congress conveniently said via the 750 mile rule: Go ask your state. There are many states (including Pennsylvania I might add) that spend money to help fund routes to expand the Amtrak map. If the Cardinal primarily benefits West Virginia and no one else, I think West Virginia DOT should contribute to the costs of the train or Amtrak should cancel it. North Carolina contributes to the Carolinian and it serves other states too. Byrd's a genius. Get West Virginia trains and make the entire country pay for them.

BTW, here's the most recent PM/TM figures from the FRA. Guess who's dead last among LD trains! And while the Empire Builder may have the highest ridership it is in the bottom half of LD trains, well below trains like the Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited, or Coast Starlight. Of the three western trains, the Southwest Chief has by far the best PM/TM (most popular destination).

https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L18308#p1_z5_gD_lRO_y2016_m8

 

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 05, 2017 9:26 AM

I think you've made your point, many, many times over now.  

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

  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • From: On the Ballast.
  • 5,841 posts
Posted by zugmann on Saturday, August 05, 2017 9:46 AM

I wish we had a direct train to Chicago from PA.  Then I remember I probably wouldn't ride it.  Sorry - being crammed in an amtube with that many people makes me shudder.

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

I occasionally post off-topic remarks.  Adults can handle that.

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 10,204 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, August 05, 2017 10:05 AM

Not that many years ago, Amtrak ran the "Pennsylvanian" as a Chicago-Philadelphia day train.  Admittedly, it was primarily a mail & express run, but it did have a couple of Amcoaches and a snack bar.

Amtrak is a political creation and as long as that is the situation, politicians of all stripes will attempt to exert their influence on it.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Fort Worth, TX
  • 437 posts
Posted by VerMontanan on Saturday, August 05, 2017 11:02 AM

PAF: With each subsequent post, you display how incredibly ignorant you are about this topic, and your inability to comprehend the topic at hand.

I do take exception with your telling people what I think.  You can and have expressed any maligned opinion you want, but you cannot speak for others. I never said I didn't have a problem with Senator Byrd's porkbarrelness, and when you say, "Meanwhile whether it's the Broadway or Desert Wind or Floridian or some other train, they lost their service. You don't have a problem with it but I do," you are insinuating I supported the discontinuance of these trains.  When you clearly, and ongoingly I might add, display ignorance of history, I was merely trying to point out the "why."  If I had my way, all of these trains and more would still be part of the core system, even if they had to be modified due to changes in freight infrastructure.

Your "most recent PM/TM figures from the FRA" are provided by Amtrak.  Much more updated information is available at the Amtrak website.  One snapshot does not give the full picture, but regardless of which train is the worst on the list, if you get rid of it, there will always be a new "worst" that is targeted, and then there will be a drumbeat to again dump the "worst" and so on until eventually there is nothing left; akin to Martin Niemoller's famed quote ending, "then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me." 

I'm glad you at least seem to understand how difficult it will be to resurrect any long distance trains today, and given your lack of historical knowledge and "it's all about me" myopia, I understand your frustration.  Therefore, you seem to understand that even though discontinuing the Cardinal would make you happy, it could not bring back the Broadway.  So what really is the point of your postings?

Mark Meyer

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 12,703 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, August 05, 2017 11:05 AM

The railroads and Amtrak basically owe their present existance to West Virginia.

Harley O. Staggers - of Staggers Act deregulation fame and Robert Byrd were both West Virginians.  Without both of them the railroad industry - both passenger and freight would look very different than it does today.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

  • Member since
    September, 2010
  • From: East Coast
  • 828 posts
Posted by D.Carleton on Saturday, August 05, 2017 11:06 AM

blue streak 1

2.  The locomotive situation was a problem with the SDP-40s not accepted by some RRs and the F-40s came on as a quick fill in.  Then not enough P-40 & P-42s were ordered due to lack of funds to replace the F-40s. 

At their zenith there were 216 F40s in Amtrak's stable. There were over 250 P40/42s delivered not to mention the P32DCs, P32DMs and F59s. Of all Amtrak's woes motive power should not be one of them.

Editor Emeritus, This Week at Amtrak

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 999 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, August 05, 2017 4:05 PM

Perhaps the Broadway Ltd wasn't killed by Amtrak but rather died on its own. Oddly the Broadway way Ltd was singled out by Amtrak to be it's first fully refurbished  long distance train. In 1972, the train was refurbished, Inside and out, from the e units to the mountain series observation cars. Newer refurbished Union Pacific sleepers were added as well slumber coaches. At the time she might have been Amtrak' best long distance train, at least in terms of equipment.

The train received rebuilt heritage equipment again in 1980 as well long distance amfleet cars, all being equpited with hep.

In 1990, the train was rerouted off it's oringal route on the prr to a b&o route. Either way the train didn't serve many population centers west of Pittsburg. Even in the final recommendation report, it suggested restructuring the train west of Pittsburg via cleveland. Who killed the Broadway?  Probably some bean counter who saw the opportunity to save 24 million dollar. She was bleeding cash.

The train I wish was saved  was the Floridian. I rode the train Chicago to Tampa in 1974. It was slow 2 night 3 day train on a poor route. But it was one of the few  north south route's Amtrak carded. Like the Broadway, it route changed because of Penn Central poor trackage. A better route would have made a difference.

Who killed these trains, in reality, a lack of commitment by our politicans. It's going to be the same thing that evenuatly kills the entire long distance system. Amtrak's long distance trains can't survive without long term financial commitment from the American public and the federal government. Without the commitment, the system will die one train at time till it collapses.

It will be 1969 all over again, some body going to ask,. " Who shot the American  passenger train"? We already know the answer.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 05, 2017 6:13 PM

ROBERT WILLISON
Who killed these trains, in reality, a lack of commitment by our politicans. It's going to be the same thing that evenuatly kills the entire long distance system. Amtrak's long distance trains can't survive without long term financial commitment from the American public and the federal government. Without the commitment, the system will die one train at time till it collapses.

I would suggest the primary reasons LD trains are a failure is they are inconveniently scheduled (1X/day or 3X/week), slow and unreliable as transportation and the most of the public abandoned them as a transportation option long ago. The LD ridership would be even less without a subsidy of ~20 cents per pm. 

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

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 999 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, August 05, 2017 6:27 PM

schlimm

 

 
ROBERT WILLISON
Who killed these trains, in reality, a lack of commitment by our politicans. It's going to be the same thing that evenuatly kills the entire long distance system. Amtrak's long distance trains can't survive without long term financial commitment from the American public and the federal government. Without the commitment, the system will die one train at time till it collapses.

 

I would suggest the primary reasons LD trains are a failure is they are inconveniently scheduled (1X/day or 3X/week), slow and unreliable as transportation and the most of the public abandoned them as a transportation option long ago. The LD ridership would be even less without a subsidy of ~20 cents per pm. 

 

I'm not arguing your point of view. But millions of passenger buy tickets on these trains each year. Every one has a different perception as to thier valueand thier continued existence. Only time will tell.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 05, 2017 7:18 PM

ROBERT WILLISON
But millions of passenger buy tickets on these trains each year. Every one has a different perception as to thier valueand thier continued existence. Only time will tell.

In 2016, Amtrak LD ridership was 4.6 million (out of 31.3 million total).

In 2015, US airlines' domestic ridership was 696.2 million.

.

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

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • 3,968 posts
Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, August 06, 2017 2:32 AM

http://www.wvculture.org/goldenseal/Fall10/byrd.html

NY Times, Oct. 1, 1979

Amtrak Hilltopper Given Last ‘All Aboard!’

WILLIAMSON, W. Va., Sept. 30 — The headlight of Amtrak Train No. 67, the twocar Hilltopper, running late, brightened the clear track between the sidelined coal cars for the last time tonight. It will probably be the last time Mingo County sees a passenger train.

Less than 100 years ago, there were feuding Hatfields and McCoys in these southern West Virginia mountains, but there were no roads, and railroads opened up what the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce calls “the milliondollar coal field.” Now railroads are shutting it off again.

In addition, rural West Virginia has lost almost half its intercity bus connections in the last 10 years, more than any other state, according to the American Bus Association. More may go soon.

Wheel and deal as they might, the members of West Virginia's formidable Congressional delegation could not save the Hilltopper, whose average number of passengers varied from 15 to two, according to a Department of Transportation study.

The most formidable West Virginian of all, the Senate majority leader, Robert C. Byrd, did manage to preserve a sister train, the Cardinal, Amtrak's last train between Washington and Chicago, which serves his hometown station. Senator Byrd inserted the Cardinal's reprieve in a measure eliminating 5,000 miles of Amtrak's 27,500mile system, which was cleared by Congress last Thursday.

Neither train is exactly a flier in its transit of West Virginia. But the WashingtontoChicago Cardinal has consistently had more riders than the Hilltopper, although it is still marginal.

That is because the Cardinal's more northern sweep across the Appalachians takes it through Charlottesville, Va., the resort of White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., Senator Byrd's home station of Beckley, and Charleston, the West Virginia capital, before it rolls on to Cincinnati and Chicago.

The BostontoKentucky Hilltopper has had to survive on the scantier ridership at such stops as Lynchburg, Bedford, Roanoke, Christianburg and Narrows, Va. Lynchburg and Roanoke have ticket agents, but at the others, passengers had to flag down the train — no problem, really, because the Hilltopper moved very         slowly.

Over serpentine Norfolk & Western tracks originally laid for coal hauling before 1900, the Hilltopper reached an average transAppalachian speed of 37.1 miles an hour, the lowest on Amtrak's long distance system. The train was losing $200,000 a year, costing $1 for each 25 cents of revenue taken in.

Few in Washington or in the Virginia foothills of the Appalachians were interested in riding the train west to Bluefield, Welch or Williamson, W. Va., much less to the Hilltopper's destination, Catlettsburg, Ky., a rail freight hub that is 16½ twisting, creeping, hilltopping hours by train from the nation's capital. By air, the journey takes 90 minutes.

The survival of the Hilltopper since 1977, when it replaced an even more ill-starred NorfolkCincinnati train, the Mountaineer, is a modern saga of railroad politics. It almost rivals the epics in song of those mythical figures of the Appalachian rails, John Henry, “the steel driving man,” and Casey Jones, the “brave engineer.” It even has a touch of Appalachian fatalism.

Last Friday, when save-the-trains groups obtained from two Federal judges separate, lastminute injunctions that will keep four other trains due to expire tonight on the rails at least temporarily, no one bothered to seek a reprieve for the Hilltopper.

Before railroad passenger service began collapsing in the 1960's, the Norfolk & Western ran three daily trains from Norfolk to Cincinnati over these mountain tracks — the Pocahontas, the Powhatan Arrow and the Cavalier.

“Until 1971 the N.&W. ran a quality operation with diners, sleeping cars and domed coaches,” recalls John D. Heffner, a Washington lawyer and rail historian who is a director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, a consumer group. But the twisting, often spectacularly scenic trajectory of the Powhatan Arrow “went nowhere that many people wanted to go,” he said.

From 1971 to 1974 the N.&W. gave up passenger service, but Senator Byrd did not give up hope. When amendments to Federal rail legislation came before Congress in 1974, one of them authorized Amtrak to reopen an “experimental” route. The one chosen was that of the successful Lake Shore Limited, still running between New York and Chicago by way of Boston, Albany and Cleveland.

Senator Byrd, however, inserted language authorizing a second experiment, the Mountaineer, restoring the Norfolk-Cincinnati route on a spartan basis.

The Mountaineer, renamed the Hilltopper when its eastern terminal was changed from Norfolk to Boston in 1977, did well enough on the BostonWashington leg. That segment is to survive as the Night Owl.

But according to Representative Nick J. Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat who is another defender of the Hilltopper, the train's Washingtonandwest patronage averaged only 33 passengers a trip in 1978 due to “Amtrak's inept scheduling and pathetic market development plan.” Today's manifest from Petersburgwest listed 18 passengers in two coaches, not including 12 more aboard the private car, “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The Hilltopper's demise is going to give once more isolated towns like Williamson “an awful lot of problems,” according to Mayor Sammy Kapourales, a pharmacist here.

“The greatest hardship is that we have a lot of retired railroad people here,” the Mayor said. “Most of them don't have cars, or they are too old and sick to drive to doctors and hospitals.”

“But they've all got lifetime passes on the railroad,” he said, pausing as if to savor the irony. “And now the railroad doesn't stop here anymore.”

  • Member since
    April, 2016
  • 101 posts
Posted by Philly Amtrak Fan on Sunday, August 06, 2017 5:43 AM

Other tidbits from the "final report" (I'll refer to it as the "Brock Adams" report after the author, the former Secretary of Transportation):

There were several restructuring of routes suggested:

Combining the then Southwest Limited and San Francisco Zephyr into one train Chicago to Kansas City to Denver to Ogden to Los Angeles with a branch from Ogden to San Francisco (according to this 1978 schedule, http://www.timetables.org/full.php?group=19781029&item=0044,  it looks like it actually did serve San Fran, was that true?). The Desert Wind (mentioned in the Tom Hanks movie Rain Man BTW) eventually came about from this restructuring while the Southwest Chief remained untouched so at one time CHI-LAX did have two trains. While I would like to have both trains and Vegas Amtrak service, I have ridden the Chief several times and it is faster than the Desert Wind between CHI-LAX. I do wonder if it was ever feasible to have had Kansas City-Denver service. 

The Broadway Limited via Cleveland was mentioned and that certainly could have added some ridership to the route after the Ft. Wayne route was downgraded. Another reroute suggested that never came to plan was the Lake Shore Limited via Michigan but also via Canada and a "closed door". I don't know how practical that is today but All Aboard Ohio has suggested a Chicago-NEC route via Michigan now that Amtrak owns track in Michigan (it would be Chicago-Michigan-Toledo-Cleveland-Pittsburgh-Philly-New York). There were also rumors that Amtrak was considering rerouting the LSL via Michigan as well. There used to be a Lake Cities route which although a change of trains late night in Toledo to the LSL was required to get from Michigan to New York was required it was still better than the bus to train connection required now. I feel Michigan deserves a direct train to New York as much as Pennsylvania deserves a direct train to Chicago and AAO's plan would kill two birds with one stone without putting a third train on NS's line between Chicago and Cleveland.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Sunday, August 06, 2017 9:37 AM

Philly Fan:  A rational Broadway would involve Amtrak's buying and rehabbing the former PRR RoW from Pittsburgh to Chicago (via Columbus) and run trains at a more competitive speed: ~100+ mph.

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

  • Member since
    April, 2016
  • 101 posts
Posted by Philly Amtrak Fan on Sunday, August 06, 2017 10:15 AM

schlimm

Philly Fan:  A rational Broadway would involve Amtrak's buying and rehabbing the former PRR RoW from Pittsburgh to Chicago (via Columbus) and run trains at a more competitive speed: ~100+ mph.

 

There is talk about Chicago-Columbus:http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/12/23/columbus-chicago-passenger-rail-moves-ahead-slowly.html

There is also talk about a second Pennsylvanian frequency. So all you would need would be Columbus-Pittsburgh and there you go. One suggestion which has been discussed would be exchanging through cars between the Pennsylvanian and Capitol Limited. It would be a step up from the current situation but westbound passengers would still be stranded for four hours westbound (although in a train is still better than in a station) and eastbound the Pennsylvanian would have to wait for the Capitol Limited which would hurt passengers boarding in Pittsburgh when the CL is delayed. Having two trains from PGH to PHL/NYP would allow one train continuing from CHI and one originating from PGH.

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 12,703 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, August 06, 2017 11:41 AM

Talk is cheap.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 8,582 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, August 06, 2017 1:52 PM

BaltACD

Talk is cheap.

 

And here is another inexpensive shot: I would rejoice to see passenger trains on all the routes they were on fifty-five years ago. But, I know that such will never be again.

Johnny

  • Member since
    April, 2016
  • 101 posts
Posted by Philly Amtrak Fan on Sunday, August 06, 2017 2:14 PM

Deggesty

  

 

And here is another inexpensive shot: I would rejoice to see passenger trains on all the routes they were on fifty-five years ago. But, I know that such will never be again.

Well the big difference between 55 years ago and today is back then you had private railroad companies providing passenger rail service vs. the government. If we had the level of rail service today provided by our government how high would our taxes be now? 

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 999 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Sunday, August 06, 2017 2:24 PM

With the amount of money our federal government wastes and or loses in a typical year, a decent level of rail service could be provided with no tax increases.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy

Search the Community