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Another call for night train LAX <> SFO

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Another call for night train LAX <> SFO
Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, August 15, 2022 7:52 PM

It boggles the mind that reporter do not invetigate their stories.  Article speaks to the SP  Lark and how it died.  We know how SP shot down most of their passenger trains. Did it downgrade the Lark? 

Article speaks to the train going to Sacremento.  The better way would be for it to split at San Jose to also go to SFO.

What is ignored the most is the lack of equipent.  At least 20 cars needed and if any ridership projections are true more like 40 with 5 as standby maybe even more?  A few sleepers, more coaches, 3 food service,.  Then the necessary personnel. 

A red-eye train between LA and SF is a no brainer for California travel, so why don't we have one? (sfgate.com)nee d

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Monday, August 15, 2022 10:09 PM

I've had a fair share of one day business trips to the Bay Area where an overnight train would have made some sense. The advantage of flying is that I have the night before and the night after at home, and an overnight train would have taken time away from the kids.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 11:07 AM

Makes me wish I were younger and nuttier with the access to capital that I had in my 30s.

Assuming the reservation system functions months ahead, and with some judicious demand pricing closer to train time, I think a stable demand for reasonably full occupancy could be secured.  That in turn would give reasonable assumptions for equipment and service cost, running windows, service amenity locations, etc. etc. etc.

I'd run the train the same way they ran the Titanic: with first-class, second-class, and 'steerage' all going the same places at the same time.  Be fun to design the amenities for each, with 'steerage' being hostel-style or fold-down 'open sections' (as recently re-invented by the Chinese!) for those that want to pay coach prices but be able to be horizontal and reasonably comfortable.

Might be interesting to consider ways to split and join the consist for different destination or origin groups.  I'd at least consider coupling the two trains to run 'top and tail' so that all the internal amenities could be used by either train's passengers when 'together'.

I'd definitely do a controlled outsource of much of the food service.  While luxury dining would doubtless be a 'thing', the advance reservations could give an accurate accounting of who wants what, and only the supplies and personnel to achieve it would need to be carried, perhaps between a limited number of stops.  Otherwise order and pay for goodies on the app, and have them delivered to staff in therefreshment car' at known times.  Better or 'fuller' dining could be provided if the service permits over time, or at certain seasons or 'weekparts'.

Very close coordination with both origin/destination 'last mile' services (again, appropriate to the class of service) and to properly-equipped buses to other enroute locations, should be made.  This alone might leverage the service into take rate appropriate for... well, subsidy, probably, at least when starting, but as little as possible, and not being just a 'toy for the rich at general-revenue expense' (which is alarmingly becoming the definition of California HSR as any kind of paying proposition... Whistling)

This would be a good testbed for three-axis 'hoverbeds' and active tilt on the Coast route.  What works there for a good night's sleep could likely be adapted anywhere, either single- or double-level. 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 4:18 PM

We  again have the problem that advocates, posters and reporters forget the advantages of this train.  It is not just the LAX <> SFO / SAC  potential passengers.  How about San Obisco, Lompoc, goleta, San Juan Capistrano, Martinez, Richmond, Freeemont, Gilroy, Mountain view,  Redwood city,  etc.    It is all those potentials that can go to these whatever locations or can connect to Losssan, Caltrain, or Capitol corridor trains to/from.   No running to 2 airports and then either LYFT or transfer to one of the above commuter rails. 

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 6:44 PM

How is any of these intermediate stops or connections supposed to be significant for an overnight sleeper train?  Deceleration, stop, and reacceleration over 10 times and banging passengers in and out, at forget-it-o'clock in the morning?

I never bothered taking the City of New Orleans connecting to the eastern portion of the Sunset Limited when it was running -- the nearest approach to the place I stayed was in Grayton Beach, over 20 miles away, and the train arrived at something like 2:40 in the morning... with people having to drive up to meet me and drive back.  That is not something most people will voluntarily pay a premium to experience.

Seats on a daytime train are 'fungible' -- people get off, other people get on, one seat can accommodate 'multiple' passengers that way.  You might get away with that in a hostel car, but it sure wouldn't be cost-effective in other classes of sleeper, so anyone getting off the train in the middle of the night wastes the remainder, and anyone getting on the train needs to have reserved space not occupied for revenue to that point.

Multiple-day slogs like the Builder might not suffer the problems here, because comparatively few of the sleeper passengers wouldn't be able to get at least one night's sleep worth out of their expensive accommodation.  The arguments you make apply better to that duration of service.

 

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Posted by Backshop on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 7:12 PM

San Juan Capistrano is between LA and San Diego.  Nowhere near the route of this train.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 8:54 PM

Backshop

San Juan Capistrano is between LA and San Diego.  Nowhere near the route of this train.

 

The point is that Lossan route becomes a connecting train at  LAX from a location not close to an airport.
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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 9:27 PM

The author calls it a "no-brainer" and yet wants the fare to cost the same as a nice hotel room.  Good luck with that. 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, August 17, 2022 9:56 AM

Overmod

Multiple-day slogs like the Builder might not suffer the problems here, because comparatively few of the sleeper passengers wouldn't be able to get at least one night's sleep worth out of their expensive accommodation.  The arguments you make apply better to that duration of service.

Lynn and I never had problems getting a good night's sleep on the "Empire Builder" or any other long runs.  In fact, on two different occasions, we slept right through the switching at Spokane on the westbound Builder.

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 Wednesday, August 17, 2022 11:07 AM

blue streak 1
 
Backshop

San Juan Capistrano is between LA and San Diego.  Nowhere near the route of this train.

The point is that Lossan route becomes a connecting train at  LAX from a location not close to an airport.

Somebody has to explain this to me more clearly.  LAX is well south of the area where the sleeper train would terminate, and there is no non-transit route that goes there -- you wouldn't dare try rebuilding the Slauson Avenue ATSF line for a passenger train.  Do you mean semantically, in the sense that LOSSAN trains go nowhere near a prime airport destination?  
 
Are you suggesting that the overnight sleeper ought to be a San Diego - San Francisco train, with connection to LAX (probably last-mile by bus)?
 
Here's the thing: an overnight train up the Coast Route a la Daylight (we might call it the 'Nightlight'... that made all those little stops would have to run reasonably fast between them, over track at least comparable in curves and grades to PRR in western Pennsylvania.  So the equipment must be reasonably able to handle both curves and starting/stopping in ways that don't bother the various classes of 'sleeping people'.  This is by no means an impossible design exercise, just more demanding that the usual LD sleeper service. 
 
I was interested for many years in the promise of an overnight sleeper train over the HSR when completed between the two cities.  This would almost certainly not run at full HSR speed end-to-end, but would take considerably less than 'overnight' time net of all politically-expedient stops... and would run when actual HSR traffic would be minimal, comparable to the Owl in the NEC during PC/Conrail days.
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Posted by Jim200 on Monday, August 22, 2022 5:37 PM

I would be in favor of a train from San Diego to Sacramento. It’s what Blue Streak and FRA would call ”connectivity” and making it easy for people to take a train. A 6:00 PM departure from San Diego should be good for the 9:00 PM Los Angeles departure. San Diego has a lot of people and added to the people in those southern LA suburbs such as Anaheim, should help to fill the train. As the train goes north of LA, following the stops of #11 and #14 Coast Starlight, and adding more people, we still get to Santa Barbara at a reasonable hour of 11:30 PM.

Then we get to the night and sleep portion of the trip. It can be debated if we have one stop at San Luis Obispo, where a crew change takes place, or have two additional stops at Surf and Paso Robles. Maybe these should be flag stops which would make most trips without these stops.

At 6:00 AM we would get to Salinas, the stop for that game of golf at Pebble Beach or the Aquarium/cannery near Monterey. At present there is not an Amtrak stop at Gilroy, where the High Speed Railroad will eventually come. Then at about 7:30 AM we get to San Jose and other transportation choices toward San Francisco. I agree with Blue Streak, and would add the stop at Fremont and maybe one other before getting to Oakland at about 9:00 AM. If we had perfect timing, we could tag onto #6 going to Chicago. In about two and a half hours we should be in Sacramento at about 11:30 AM. Just how many people will be going to Sacramento is an open question, but the train will be going at a decent time of day.

The trip south would be about 6:45 PM Sacramento, 9:00 PM Oakland, 10:30 PM San Jose, 12:00 midnight Salinas, 6:20 AM Santa Barbara, 9:00AM LA, and 12:00 noon San Diego. Of course, we are going to have to wait until Amtrak gets some more equipment before contemplating this train.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, August 23, 2022 9:33 AM

Keep in mind that what we're talking about is a new train, running over the new HSR trackage at a time regular high-speed traffic won't be running, and not a resumption of Coast Line service.

Many of the intermediate stops are going to be handled for practical purposes by day trips in the high-speed trains, rather than an expensive overnight sleeper.  However there is certainly enough 'schedulable time' on the prospective run, especially if it leaves LAX and boards passengers at the 'usual' northern suburbs still in daylight, to allow for strategic 'flag stops' when there are actual passengers boarding or alighting.

I'd agree in a heartbeat that the triain ought to run between SFO and San Diego, when the actual HSR line down there gets built out.  Note that this is intended to run far inland from the Surf Line, so a large number of prospective sleeper customers from those intermediate towns would take regular or special Surf Line day trains either to Los Angeles or San Diego as appropriate to board the sleeper service.  I can't think of many communities extant on the route of the San Diego - Los Angeles routes -- but I foresee dramatic satellite developments including a la Brightline/Fortress around the 'new stations' that will be built for it, with new regional transit filling in the gaps.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, August 23, 2022 4:09 PM

Still believe that splitting the northbound at SJC for service to SFO.  Then service to Oakland and various stations to SAC.  SAC train could be combined with Capitol corridor train.

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Posted by Jim200 on Wednesday, August 24, 2022 8:12 PM

San Francisco has to be serviced somehow, but i’ll let the brain trust in Amtrak decide how. San Francisco metro has a population of 4.6 million, and the San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland combined statistical area has 9.7 million. The latter has a Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of $1.09 Trillion in 2019, that is $1,090,000,000,000, third in the USA. Some options for servicing San Francisco are splitting out the required passenger cars, a separate train, a Thruway bus, or some arrangement with CalTrain.

From 6-9 AM Caltrain has a train every 15 min between San Jose and San Francisco. Its fast trains, the Baby Bullet, with 4 to 6 stops, takes about an hour to reach San Francisco, while the local takes about an hour and one half. They plan to expand their route south from Gilroy with limited service to Salinas.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, August 25, 2022 7:48 AM

I must be missing something.  What is the possible point of an overnight sleeper train between San Diego - Los Angeles - Sacramento that goes nowhere near San Francisco and would have to be split to get a section there?  That's like running the Super Chief to Springfield and arranging connecting service to Chicago.

Look at the map in the EIS for the HSR SFO-SJC.  That shows that the divergence between the high speed lines to Sacramento and San Francisco occurs substantially east of San Jose.

In any case there's already a perfectly suitable sleeper train between San Francisco and Sacramento... well, the Oakland/Emeryville area and Sacramento.  It is called the Coast Starlight.  I see little reason to duplicate sleeper service from the capital and leave San Francisco at the end of a nominally high-speed connection or bus (no matter how luxurious).

The operating model if you had to split the train might resemble that of the Lake Shore Limited's Boston section... but with the main part of the train and its staff going San Francisco - San Diego and the connecting section up to the capital.  You'd have to work out the problem of keeping the HEP on and stable while the sections are switched.  This becomes fairly easy if there are two separate consists with high-speed power, coupled together, but that requires all amenities to be duplicated in each consist.

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