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Empire Builders

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Empire Builders
Posted by NP Eddie on Sunday, May 14, 2023 11:17 PM

What is AMTRAK's sad excuse for not running the Empire Builders?

I still say that the GN, CBQ, and NP ran their passenger trains in all sorts of weather.

 

Ed Burns

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, May 15, 2023 7:27 AM

NP Eddie
What is AMTRAK's sad excuse for not running the Empire Builders?

I still say that the GN, CBQ, and NP ran their passenger trains in all sorts of weather. 

Ed Burns

In the days before BN and later BNSF - railroads had relative legions of MofW employees to marshall against the challenges that Mother Nature would throw the railroads way.  Back in the day a railroad Section Gang would be on the order of 8 to 10 men who lived in walking distance of their on duty location and the Gang would be responsible for a Section that was 10 to 20 miles in length.

In the 21st Century a Section Gang will consist of 4 to 5 men who, for the most part, live 10 to 20 miles from their on duty location and will be responsible for 100 miles or more.

When Mother Nature throws her punches the employees for a variety of reasons are unable to get to their on duty location and even when they get to the on duty location they lack sufficient man power to do the manual things necessary to restore or sustain the operation under the challenges.

Amtrak is at the mercy of BNSF for its ability to operate the Empire Builder and how the BNSF MofW forces and Operations personnel respond to Mother Nature's challenges.  Railroads in the 21st Century are no longer all weather carriers, they don't possess the manpower to do that job.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, May 15, 2023 2:29 PM

T & E Crews are a big factor.  Amtrak only has enough crews to cover 1 RT a day mainly on time.  BNSF are supposed to not help in a pinch. Back in legacy days the various RRs had 100 + mile crew districts, Earlier 16 hour duty limits not vigoursly enforced. Almost any freight crew could take over passenger train in a pinch. 

2 trains a day on the route would help crewing. The MSP <> CHI 2 trains will probably maintain at  least 1 train even in near Blizzard conditions if tracks not blocked.  As well the occasional runing 2 builders less than 8 hours apart.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, May 15, 2023 6:47 PM

blue streak 1
T & E Crews are a big factor.  Amtrak only has enough crews to cover 1 RT a day mainly on time.  BNSF are supposed to not help in a pinch. Back in legacy days the various RRs had 100 + mile crew districts, Earlier 16 hour duty limits not vigoursly enforced. Almost any freight crew could take over passenger train in a pinch. 

2 trains a day on the route would help crewing. The MSP <> CHI 2 trains will probably maintain at  least 1 train even in near Blizzard conditions if tracks not blocked.  As well the occasional runing 2 builders less than 8 hours apart.

Remember - and this applies to all companies -

For the past three decades everyone has been following the precept of 'Right Sizing' and Plant Rationalization.  ie. no extra's in either plant or manpower - no ability to expand for additional demand or recovery from unanticipated 'Acts of God'.  Those precepts apply to every aspect of both Amtrak and the railroads business models.  When it comes to 'Acts of God' the domiciles of employees tend to ensure that employees will be hamstrug in reporting for duty by said Acts of God.  Living 10-20 or more miles for their work location means if highways are impassable from the Acts of God, the employees cannot report.

The operation of Railroads and Amtrak cannot be done with 'Working from Home'.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, May 15, 2023 6:57 PM

BaltACD
Railroads in the 21st Century are no longer all weather carriers, they don't possess the manpower to do that job.

Why can't they hire local High School kids?   OK just kidding and I know the answer.DevilBig Smile

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 9:54 AM

"Right Sizing", Plant Rationalization and other new terms for layoffs and plant closures are turning up in a lot of other businesses besides railroading.  Consider 
Twitter and Amazon among others.

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 Overmod on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 11:21 AM

In addition, I'm real sure that a service that loses tens of millions a year is going to be budgeted for tens of thousands in overtime and supervision every time it storms.

Now, having said that, there are certainly Federal programs that would underwrite a considerable amount of such work, if it could be directed or funneled to the 'right' kinds of people who need or could benefit from the work.  In fact this is one of the things that I am listing in the grant application for the "Rail Research and Development Center of Excellence" -- both in training and equipment provision, and in liaison with Amtrak to give them the proactive political credit for the program.

But it still won't be at the level of a GN's or New Haven's efforts to keep the line open no matter what...

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Posted by PJS1 on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 12:34 PM
In FY22 the Empire Builder had a fully allocated loss of $61.1 million.  The subsidy averaged $201.25 per passenger.  The California Zephyr lost $65.7 million and had an average subsidy per passenger of $226.24, while the Southwest Chief racked up a loss of $64.5 million with an average subsidy per passenger of $288.34.
 
The long-distance train financials don’t offer much incentive to go all out to keep them running when the weather gods have turned against them. 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by Gramp on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 4:07 PM

Do you think BNSF and UP lose money operating these trains?

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 5:45 PM

Gramp
Do you think BNSF and UP lose money operating these trains?

On paper - Yes!

In reality it doesn't even quiver their profit/loss statements.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, May 29, 2023 7:21 PM

Back in the Good Ole Days, they would go down to the local skidrow and hire a bunch of "strong backs and weak minds" to shovel dirt or snow, fill and pile up sandbags, etc. Marx called it the "reserve army of the unemployed"

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, May 29, 2023 9:57 PM

BEAUSABRE
Back in the Good Ole Days, they would go down to the local skidrow and hire a bunch of "strong backs and weak minds" to shovel dirt or snow, fill and pile up sandbags, etc. Marx called it the "reserve army of the unemployed"

Two words - Lawyers Liability

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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