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Is it a matter of age and perception, or is it real?

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, May 6, 2022 1:20 PM

daveklepper

I fondly recall trips on both the Panama Limited and the City of New Orleans in the 1260s, and indeed the track was smooth.  And everything else was just great, also.

 

 

Ditto. 1964-68. Even on the student specials with old heavyweight cars.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, May 6, 2022 1:07 PM

GN_Fan
That mey be true, and I believe it is true. 

It depends on the person and size of the room.    The service is offered on CUNARD Cruise ships for the larger staterooms, they will bring the food to you.

The elderly folks have problems maintaining balance while the train is in motion and some of them would rather stay put then risk a fall.    Which might not be an issue on CUNARD but the larger staterooms have outside balcony's, some have mutiple floors and a good sized living area with TV.

Just on the Texas Eagle I have seen a lot of Bedroom Compartment folks have the food delivered to them.    Never saw it with the Economy or Roomette room but I am sure it happens there on occasion.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, May 6, 2022 8:21 AM

daveklepper
I fondly recall trips on both the Panama Limited and the City of New Orleans in the 1260s, and indeed the track was smooth.  And everything else was just great, also.

Thought you were only 90 Dave.  Doubt the Panama, CNO or you were in existence in 1260. Big SmileBig SmileBig Smile

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, May 6, 2022 7:52 AM

I fondly recall trips on both the Panama Limited and the City of New Orleans in the 1960s, and indeed the track was smooth.  And everything else was just great, also.

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, May 5, 2022 4:44 PM

ROBIN LUETHE
Some 10 years ago on a Seattle Chicago New Orleans Los Angeles loop, the worst track without doubt was the Chicago to New Orleans leg. 

Sixty years ago my family did a Baltimore - Chicago - New Orleans - Jacksonville - Baltimore loop.  The Panama Limited with 100 MPH running through Illinois to New Orleans was rock solid all the way.  The L&N from New Orleans was so rough I named the diner 'Square Wheels Tavern' for its performance from New Orleans to Flomaton on The Gulf Wind.  No complaints from either the Silver Meteor or the Capitol Limited.

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Posted by ROBIN LUETHE on Thursday, May 5, 2022 4:25 PM

Some 10 years ago on a Seattle Chicago New Orleans Los Angeles loop, the worst track without doubt was the Chicago to New Orleans leg. 

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Posted by GN_Fan on Thursday, May 5, 2022 11:23 AM

charlie hebdo
I believe most people do not want to be stuck in a tiny compartment for hours on end.  Stayed confined and having some sort of meals delivered should be optional.

That mey be true, and I believe it is true.  However, neither my wife of 54 years and change would have a problem with that.  We're expats retired in Italy and are pushing 80. Today is my 79th birthday.  Because of Covid and being REALLY rickety, we have not been outside of our apt for 2 years....well once, when she fell down an broker her arm.  So yah, we're confined to quarters and enjoy it as much as old farts can, and I have to admit that I get owly when there's too much pressure, and there is ALWAYS pressure.  We had planned an Emporer's suite of the Canadian between Toronto nad Vancouver, but Covid cancelled that, and age has obliterated it all together.  I have to say that I would cherish being stuck with her for days on end in a tiny comparment, as long as the food was good and the toilet handy.  For us good food and a big window are all we need....outside of a close-by toilet.  Old farts like us have incontene problems at times.  The high plains of Montana on the Builder was exquisite....love to see the Nulibor Plain on the Indian-Pacific.  That stuff doesn't bore us at all -- we find it interesting as hell.  Fat chance of the tho.

 

 

 
CMStPnP
I personally do not see why a first class passenger should ever have to leave their compartment on a train (exception using the restroom or shower)

 

I believe most people do not want to be stuck in a tiny compartment for hours on end.  Stayed confined and having some sort of meals delivered should be optional.

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, May 1, 2022 11:29 AM

CMStPnP
I personally do not see why a first class passenger should ever have to leave their compartment on a train (exception using the restroom or shower)

I believe most people do not want to be stuck in a tiny compartment for hours on end.  Stayed confined and having some sort of meals delivered should be optional.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Friday, April 29, 2022 5:18 PM

GN_Fan

Yah, everything is failing...eyes, ears, legs you name it.  It's a female dog getting old.  But the alternative is death, which is not so sweet, at least not for this guy.

As my Oncologist said to me, "Getting old is not for sissies."

I think the smoothest track I have ever been on was on the NS behind 611 on a Roanoke chapter NRHS four day trip from Alexandria to Detroit. Leaving Bellvue OH heading for Ft. Wayne, I had upgraded to first class for this section and was riding in the obs car and looking out the dutch door. Claytor was at the throttle. Clocking speed with watch & mile posts 52 sec.mi. And what amazed me was looking along the line of cars there was NO rocking or any sign of motion to the adjacent cars. Just a smooth rolling train on the must level track I've ever been on. Next smoothest was on a TGV trip between Paris and Marseille @ 183 kh. Could walk to the food counter and was not having any feeling of having to hang on.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 11:55 AM

There are two kinds of trucks on Superliners, and I don't think either has the lateral ride control or secondary suspension to give a proper ride on a large double-deck car.  The European Waggon Union trucks, built to the same low-inertia principles as the trucks on Genesis locomotives, are really not up to it as they get older, and their GSC American counterparts, which I believe have some of dat ol' Necroliner DNA, are different in some ways but on average not really better.

It doesn't help at all that PSR-economical track may be unsuitable to support 79mph or better operation with these types of truck...

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 10:55 AM

Your ability to balance deteriorates as you get older.   The feeling of if the rail is smooth or not while sitting down I would think does not change over time.    So walking while the train is moving or passage between cars does get more difficult with age.........there is a lesson here for Amtrak which I think they are slowly learning via adding food delivery to passenger car compartments.   

 I personally do not see why a first class passenger should ever have to leave their compartment on a train (exception using the restroom or shower).    Or why in the age of technology they can put a small elevator in a home but can't figure out how to do it on a bi-level rail car.     Yet they have dummy waiters?     Or why not combine a observation car with sleeping car like the Class I railroads did with Vista Domes?    Why not have the flexibility of two and a half sleeping cars with the remaining half being a second floor sight seer lounge or maybe split half the top level to be half sleeper and half sight seer lounge.

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Posted by Sunnyland on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 9:12 AM

And we are getting older too, my uncle always said "don't get old" and another friend said the golden years are tarnished.   So we notice things we never had a problem with. 

 

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Posted by Sunnyland on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 8:58 AM

I think it is the condition of the track today depending on who the host is. City of New Orleans is roughest ride I have ever had. I grew up knowing how to walk the aisle of a train coach never having to hold on to seat backs. Cannot do it with that train. I was surprised first time I rode to find sleeper car at front of train, right behind engine and dorm car, I love train horns but not that close or often when I am trying to sleep.  My SCA said road was so rough that people were bouncing out of their beds when car was on rear, so they put it farther up so it could be stabilized from either end.  That is rough. I rode in sleepers on Empire Builder and Coast Starlight in 2003 and cars were on rear and no problems.  Same with friends and me taking Pullman bedroom to CA on UP/SP City of St. Louis, no problems as we were on the rear returning from CA.  Cars were heavier then and more sway on double deck  Superliner. When I rode SW Chief in bedroom also on rear , I woke up during the night and train was moving very slow or even stopping but not at a station, I looked out window and middle of nowhere.  I asked SCA next day and he said when wind gusts are too strong, train has to slow down or even stop as Superliner cars can more easily be blown over. And track maintenance is not the same when same RR ran passengers and freight, they prided themselves on smooth ride for passengers. Today freight rules and they do  the bare minimum and could care less about Amtrak. Some hosts are better than others. My SCA also told me that CN does not keep up roadbed as well as IC did. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 7:33 AM

I think several people offered their relevant experiences. Italian and German rail now offer a comparison as well.

IMO, the ride here is rougher with more vertical and lateral swing. If we assume the suspension today is as good as in the 60s, then the problem is likely track maintenance.

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Posted by GN_Fan on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 3:14 AM

Am I missing something?  My observation was about TIME....the 60's VS present day in the US.  How did Italy and funding get into this?  All I want to know is have the standards for lateral and verticle variations been lowered in the last 60 years or is it my rickety, 78 and soon to be 79 year old body resonding (or not responding) to a rock and roll ride?  I did a lot of riding in the 60's and never got hit with a lateral "rail thump" so hard that it knocks people down.  Got that on Amtrak a couple of times.  That's it!  End of story.  If they have been relaxed, I understand it would probably be a function of funding....I get that part.  Everyone seems to be dancing around the original question....which hasn't been answered as far as i can tell.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, April 25, 2022 7:47 PM

I remember rough riding on the NYC Harlem Division in suburban New York in the early 1960s, and there was not much freight on that commuter line.  Do today's Amtrak superliners with their high center of gravity and longer side-to-side swing radius exacerbate the shaking?

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, April 25, 2022 4:08 PM

Surfacing standards have not changed. Surfacing gangs are fewer in number and cannot cover the ground they need to.(the dispatchers and operating folks keep them bottled-up in the hole too frequently.) .... The engineering side is in lust with continous action tampers (CAT), but you need to operate them on a more repetitive basis than the beancounters allow. They too get buried in the hole by dispatchers with overly huge territories who are less responsive, can't keep track windows reliably and struggle to keep all the required balls in the air. ....sign of the times.

ps - CAT tampers and turnouts don't mix. Suspect the biggest complaints are around turnouts and curves that are too far out of their original alignments. (CAT-09's are known as "Prussian curve wreckers" for good reason).... Lining to stakes does not happen frequrently anymore either (outside of the Santa Fe, most never saw the benefits of that and did away with the unwanted assistance from the survey side...plus to many of the current supervision do not understand  surfacing well if at all) .... the tonnage just magnifies the problem and PSR does not help the situation as the shiny toy people call the shots on budget....again sign of the times, production vs. quality.

The roughness is also bringing you closer to slow-order time as your tolerances are closer to the edge. (The 79 mph comment above makes about zero real sense. The dying old ATS technology has more to do with the 11mph drop in boarded speed than anything else. The lower class of track also is easier to maintain with the fewer surfacing gangs available. A win for the operating budget with very low real penalty in schedule.)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, April 25, 2022 12:37 PM

GN_Fan
...

Standards mean everything....how you achieve them is irrelevant.

When you are operating a FOR PROFIT business entity - how you achieve or attempt to achieve standards is totally relevant, in fact how financially efficent you are is the name of the game.  In Italy it is the State's money being spent on attaining standards - in the US it is private capital that is involved.  The State does not expect a return on investment; private capital does and it expects higher returns with each year that goes by.

In the 60's and 70's railroads were being driven to bankruptcy by ICC regulations.  The implementation of the Staggers act in 1980 allowed railroad to start to operate like other businesses.  To make contracted rates with their customers and to shed business it didn't find profitable.

American freight cars weight on rail is 2 to 3 times the weight of Italian freight cars.  Weight increases track degradation - wears it out faster and mandates more capital be expended more frequently to put it back in shape.  While Amtrak owned tracks no longer operate THROUGH freights - they do operate freights over shorter distances to access the former PRR/PC/CR serving yards that still exist on the NEC.  As we all know, Amtrak has NEVER in its 50+ years of operation had sufficient capital expenditures to adequately maintain its plant and equipment.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, April 25, 2022 12:16 PM

I have found that only the Capitol corridor is much smoother than the rest of the system.  Why?  I believe it is because CC pays UP to surface the track at least twice as much as would be necessary for just freight service?

Anyone with more information?

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Posted by GN_Fan on Monday, April 25, 2022 12:13 PM

Yah, everything is failing...eyes, ears, legs you name it.  It's a female dog getting old.  But the alternative is death, which is not so sweet, at least not for this guy.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, April 25, 2022 11:47 AM

GN fan:. Precisely!   Ditto with trains and track in Germany and Austria. The only point on which I disagree is the weight of loaded American freight cars is far greater than in Europe and it damages track.  American railroads  don't care about passenger service.

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Posted by rdamon on Monday, April 25, 2022 11:44 AM

BaltACD

Feature it is a combination of both.  Remember Amtrak is now more than 50 years old.

And so is Southwest Airlines.

When I first saw this thread I thought is was regarding the larger font for our older eyes :D

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Posted by GN_Fan on Monday, April 25, 2022 11:37 AM

How old do you think I am?  I'm not that old and crothety...yah...approaching 79....the max speed limit for Amtrak without age extenders.  All of my peregrinations were in the 60's and 70's....in the late 40's and early 50's I was a preteen to a teen confined to my neighborhood using a bicyle.  To me,it is irrelevant HOW the track was maintained....what is relevant is what standards were used.  Now I find myself an expat retired in Itay and have ridden a few trains here.  It is NOTHING like riding Amtrak as far as ride quality is concernerned.  It is what I remember as a young man in the 60's.  Standards mean everything....how you achieve them is irrelevant.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, April 25, 2022 9:52 AM

Feature it is a combination of both.  Remember Amtrak is now more than 50 years old.

I suspect most of your 'smooth' trips were taking in the late 40's & early 50's when the railroads were really trying to make their passenger services fast, friendly and efficient.  The 'streamliner' equipment was relatively new and in the best shape it would ever be over its ensuing life time.  Track was being maintained by Section Crews of 8 to 10 men with responsibility for a 8 to 10 mile 'section' of track that those employees knew like the back of the hand - where the low joint that needed constant attention was and it could be corrected with a simple track jack, lining bars, ballast rakes and some ballast.  Those days are long, long gone.

As I said, Amtrak is now over 50 years old.  The bulk of the equipment they operate is over 40 years old.  Even Acela is over 20 years old.  Track maintenance  is no longer done by local section gangs for anything but the simplest of issues and the 21st Century 'section gang' consists of maybe 4 people with responsibility of 50 to 100 miles of track.  Rail replacement, tie repacement and line and surfacing are all peformed by 'system' gangs that are highly mechanized and use 30-40 or more specialized machines to perform specific tasks in a assembly line like fashion and the system gangs while working on the specific track segments have those track segments Out of Service while they are working.  Once the system gangs have completed their work it is anticipated that 'that' work won't again be necessary for a period of years.

As a kid, and son, of a railroader I got to ride many trains of my father's carrier during my childhood - and found them to be fast and smooth riding at that time; of course as a child, what did I know?  As a Olde Phart in today's world, I know my sense of balance is not what it once was and I can't state if I am more sensitive to bumps or not - but with a less than 'satisfactory' sense of balance, I have to take more effort to recover from any imbalance I feel.  Throw in a occasional attack of vertigo and all bets are off.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, April 25, 2022 9:26 AM

GN fan:.  I too rode the various IC trains between Chicago and Champaign a lot in the mid to late1960s.  My experience was similar to yours. Very fast (often 100+mph) and smooth riding. Even the old heavyweight coaches dragged out of storage for holiday student specials could run fast, though less smooth. I rode the Burlington a few times to East Dubuque - very fast and smooth, even with curves. The last train I rode prior to Amtrak was the remnant of the CNW Kate Shelley 400 to DeKalb - not bad!  Clearly better track was a function of lighter loadings on freight cars. 

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Is it a matter of age and perception, or is it real?
Posted by GN_Fan on Monday, April 25, 2022 7:32 AM
Is it a matter of age and perception, or is it real?  That is my question.  As a young man going to college, I rode many IC trains from Chicago to Champagne….the Seminole, the Creole, the CNO, many student specials and once even the City of Miami.  Once I clocked the CNO doing a mile every 32 seconds north of Kankakee and had no problems standing or walking at 112 MPH, although I found a lot of their bridges were a bit low compared to the track just before and after.  A bit later I rode 5 RT’s between Chicago and Missoula, Montana on the North Coast Ltd, and Missoula to Spokane on the Mainstreeter several times.  I also rode the GN’s EB from Whitefish, MT to Chicago and the Western Star between Spokane and Whitefish.  Except for the EB, all of these were multiple trips and not a one-off, and on all of these jaunts I found the ride to be smooth and relaxing, without any problems trying to walk between cars.  But then again, back then I was in my prime of my life. 
Fast forward 50+ years and I’m a bit wobbly, but I can feel a rough ride even when I’m even sitting down.   I found the Acela between Boston and NYP rougher than a cob and had to wait for a station stop to get a burrito from the café car, lest I crash and burn.  My wife and I traveled Boston-Seattle twice, Boston-Emeryville twice, and Seattle-Frisco and I found them all to be rough.  Is it my age, or is the track rougher now than it was 50 years ago?  Love to know.
Alea Iacta Est -- The Die Is Cast

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