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Andy Byford leaving London transit -- Possible head of Amtrak ?

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Andy Byford leaving London transit -- Possible head of Amtrak ?
Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, September 24, 2022 1:54 PM

I would think that if he was to head up Amtrak woul be a great solution of the present incompetance.  Recognize that he does not have experience with intercity rail his work at the NY City MTA was significant.  He has experience with dealing with Coumo who tried to interfeer with MTA operations .  IMO he probably is one person who will be able to hold back efforts to eviscerate Amtrak.

Former NYC Transit President Byford to leave London job, return to US - Trains 

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, September 25, 2022 10:43 AM

He did OK when he ran the TTC. 

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Posted by Sunnyland on Sunday, September 25, 2022 6:41 PM

sounds like a good idea, Amtrak needs a leader with RR experience, they had 2 airline guys who knew nothing about trains and now a guy who only seems to care about NEC.   About time we get someone who cares about trains, it has been a mess the last couple of years since all the cuts and furloughs with Covid and now they are short staffed and equipment.

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, September 26, 2022 4:28 PM

Sunnyland
now a guy who only seems to care about NEC

I wouldn't agree with that.   In fact I think some of Amtrak's recent negotiations with Coridors outside the NEC has been relatively intelligent of late.    Expecially their agreement with CP in exchange for what?    A near meaningless vote for the KCS merger?  

I am in total agreement with their position on LD trains.   Cough up the funding for them Congress or the States or they will abandon the train.   Very reasonable to me.   Why should the rest of Amtraks network suffer at the expense of a LD train nobody is interested in paying for but in which produces deficits.

The problem you run into from a state transit guy, typically is the socalist view of rail.   That prices should be kept artifically low and service should never rise above just what is necessary to maximize ridership and reduce expenses.    Which is NOT a model Amtrak should ever follow but has been forced into following with past Presidents because they viewed Amtrak as a larger transit system vs a competing transportation provider.

Personally, I would like to see the next generation of LD passenger cars with more passenger frills vs just utiltarian models.    Superliners started down that path but then the Amtrak bozo's stripped them down.    Over time the lounge bartender disappeared, then the lounge piano, I don't think they ever implemented the sleeping car radio system which should have at least a subset of SIRIUS radio on it now.    I still remember the days when the sleeping car linens were white in color and Amtrak provided a full compliment of shampoo, conditioner, etc.     They appear to be going back to that but it was stupid to cut that back in the first place.     

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, September 26, 2022 5:05 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
Sunnyland
now a guy who only seems to care about NEC

 

I wouldn't agree with that.   In fact I think some of Amtrak's recent negotiations with Coridors outside the NEC has been relatively intelligent of late.    Expecially their agreement with CP in exchange for what?    A near meaningless vote for the KCS merger?  

I am in total agreement with their position on LD trains.   Cough up the funding for them Congress or the States or they will abandon the train.   Very reasonable to me.   Why should the rest of Amtraks network suffer at the expense of a LD train nobody is interested in paying for but in which produces deficits.

The problem you run into from a state transit guy, typically is the socalist view of rail.   That prices should be kept artifically low and service should never rise above just what is necessary to maximize ridership and reduce expenses.    Which is NOT a model Amtrak should ever follow but has been forced into following with past Presidents because they viewed Amtrak as a larger transit system vs a competing transportation provider.

Personally, I would like to see the next generation of LD passenger cars with more passenger frills vs just utiltarian models.    Superliners started down that path but then the Amtrak bozo's stripped them down.    Over time the lounge bartender disappeared, then the lounge piano, I don't think they ever implemented the sleeping car radio system which should have at least a subset of SIRIUS radio on it now.    I still remember the days when the sleeping car linens were white in color and Amtrak provided a full compliment of shampoo, conditioner, etc.     They appear to be going back to that but it was stupid to cut that back in the first place.     

 

I agreed with the first part of your post about LD.  But then you shift gears and talk in contradiction of yourself about rejecting a transit model yet want LD trains with bells and whistles.  You honestly think many people will pay the enormous costs of such services?

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, September 26, 2022 8:37 PM

CMStPnP
The problem you run into from a state transit guy, ...   That prices should be kept artifically low and service should never rise above just what is necessary to maximize ridership and reduce expenses. ...

I agree that a transit guy does not necessarily translate into a passenger rail guy.  I remember in Boston they were thinking about converting the Rockport commuter line into transit rail, but luckily thought better.  IIRC, NJT operates on 30% fare recovery.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 9:10 AM

charlie hebdo
...you shift gears and talk in contradiction of yourself about rejecting a transit model yet want LD trains with bells and whistles.  You honestly think many people will pay the enormous costs of such services?

He's not talking about "bell and whistle" amenities, he's talking about things that would make LD traffic more attractive to modern riders -- at more reasonable cost than putative time reductions would cost.

 We could easily be guided by the Delta discussion of in-flight services, and recognize that just a 'refresh' of existing cars and facilities won't solve many of the concerns that keep potential riders away from the LD trains.   None of what he's discussing is 'break the bank' luxuries, and I doubt you'll see a return to lounge pianos, but things like faster and better wireless-Internet connectivity (which is rapidly becoming preferable to wired satellite radio in Superliners), "to-go" apps for food pickup at stations en route, charge points for various devices, "hover seats" in at least business class, hostel sleeping for the coach contingent...  those aren't bank-breaking amenities and they would vastly enhance the experience for many who wouldn't consider Amtrak otherwise.

I won't get into crew training and management, but that's another place Amtrak really, really needs to improve... and it will be difficult.  

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 5:10 PM

Overmod

 

 
charlie hebdo
...you shift gears and talk in contradiction of yourself about rejecting a transit model yet want LD trains with bells and whistles.  You honestly think many people will pay the enormous costs of such services?

 

He's not talking about "bell and whistle" amenities, he's talking about things that would make LD traffic more attractive to modern riders -- at more reasonable cost than putative time reductions would cost.

 

 We could easily be guided by the Delta discussion of in-flight services, and recognize that just a 'refresh' of existing cars and facilities won't solve many of the concerns that keep potential riders away from the LD trains.   None of what he's discussing is 'break the bank' luxuries, and I doubt you'll see a return to lounge pianos, but things like faster and better wireless-Internet connectivity (which is rapidly becoming preferable to wired satellite radio in Superliners), "to-go" apps for food pickup at stations en route, charge points for various devices, "hover seats" in at least business class, hostel sleeping for the coach contingent...  those aren't bank-breaking amenities and they would vastly enhance the experience for many who wouldn't consider Amtrak otherwise.

I won't get into crew training and management, but that's another place Amtrak really, really needs to improve... and it will be difficult.  

 

He denounces those nasty 'socialist' trains,  which would mean he rejects the modern trains of much of the world outside NA, I guess. I regard 'bells and whistles' as pretty much synonomous with 'frills' though apparently you would not.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 2:01 AM

I thought he said 'socalist' -- Erik, wouldn't that be Metrolink? Devil

I think there are few true LD trains left in Europe or Asia that mirror the money-losing ones here.  The problem is that when Amtrak tries to pretend the service they're selling is 'transportation'... there are competing ways that uniformly get the job done both better and cheaper if a 'bare-bones' model (or the kind of 'transit' model that cuts out as much as possible to trim overhead in what is usually a 'captive' market) is tried.

Any overnight train without functional arrangements to accommodate sleeping is not very useful, and unsurprisingly if the only arrangements are high-priced sleepers with Motel 6-style amenities it isn't surprising to me that the trains are underpatronized.

Which does not solve the issue you brought up in a number of posts about Amtrak government-sponsoring perceived luxuries for train-riders not available to other taxpayers.

I keep looking over at Joe's critique of the Avelia Liberty purchase, though: if you're going to have a network of money-losing LD trains at least try making them less of a least-common-denominator commodity.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 10:02 AM

I think JBL would be more knowledgeable on this, but it seems adding more amenities including more staff would raise the above rails cost even higher than now. The sleepers are supposedly well-patronized already so improving them would be just throwing more good money down the deepening hole. 

My impression was, as CMStPnP said, that Amtrak had separated LD to show this more clearly with a view to discontinuing most/all this pointless operation.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Thursday, September 29, 2022 2:23 PM

Putting lipstick on a pig, 

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Posted by Gramp on Thursday, September 29, 2022 2:52 PM

We were going to take Thruway/Hiawatha/Texas Eagle (Roomette) to Dallas for Thanksgiving to see family, but have thought better of it. Took a $150 bath to cancel. My wife wanted to take a "sleeper" train, and I did, too. Just don't want to risk a miserable travel experience. Canceled flight back, too (fully refundable). Airline shrank connection time at OHare.  Too iffy. We're gonna drive instead. If it snows, it snows. Used to it with our Outback. We're looking into Mountaineer for our special train experience at a later date. 

If LD trains went away, would what remained be run any better?  I don't think I'd bet on it. 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, September 29, 2022 7:37 PM

charlie hebdo
yet want LD trains with bells and whistles

That is Amtraks goal for the LD line they want an "experience" type train, which means with some of the luxury items brought back.    Apparently they see a market for that being stronger than what they are offering now........though they want someone to backfill for any deficits as well so they also feel the "experience" trains will lose some money but maybe not as much as being lost now.......that is the vibe I get from Amtrak management comments to the press.

"We want to run them right" was one comment I heard.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, September 29, 2022 7:42 PM

Overmod
I thought he said 'socalist' -- Erik, wouldn't that be Metrolink?

No it's trying to market a long distance train with bare bones offerings to keep expenses low and at the same time setting up the fare tiers for that same train to appeal to the largest market segment possible.    Basically all Amtrak offers is a compartment with bed between point a and b..........and the meals suck unless your a Waffle House patron.    It has never offered a true first class experience.    It's business class stinks too.    

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, September 29, 2022 7:48 PM

Gramp
We're looking into Mountaineer for our special train experience

Pay for the Gold Leaf class.   You will only ride that train once or twice in a lifetime so the lower classes will save you money but are you taking a vacation  to remember or a vacation that is cheap.   Ultimately it is your choice.   

When I go on vacation, I pay through the nose for a decent rental car and a decent hotel with the attitude vacation is supposed to be my splurge and relax time not my stress out time because I cut a few corners financially.    Thats why I always make the arrangements myself and never use Expedia, Hotels dot com, or any of the other middle people.

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Posted by Gramp on Thursday, September 29, 2022 8:18 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
Gramp
We're looking into Mountaineer for our special train experience

 

Pay for the Gold Leaf class.   You will only ride that train once or twice in a lifetime so the lower classes will save you money but are you taking a vacation  to remember or a vacation that is cheap.   Ultimately it is your choice.   

When I go on vacation, I pay through the nose for a decent rental car and a decent hotel with the attitude vacation is supposed to be my splurge and relax time not my stress out time because I cut a few corners financially.    Thats why I always make the arrangements myself and never use Expedia, Hotels dot com, or any of the other middle people.

 

Thx for your recommendation, CMStPnP. 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Thursday, September 29, 2022 8:53 PM

I will second CMSt&P's recomendation. I took the Gold Leaf option and it was all I could have wanted. 

 

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Friday, September 30, 2022 3:55 AM

CMStPnP
  Basically all Amtrak offers is a compartment with bed between point a and b..........and the meals suck unless your a Waffle House patron.    It has never offered a true first class experience.    It's business class stinks too.

Amtrak is supposed to be transportation, not a land cruise. And what's wrong with Waffle House?

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, September 30, 2022 8:10 AM

BEAUSABRE

 

 
CMStPnP
  Basically all Amtrak offers is a compartment with bed between point a and b..........and the meals suck unless your a Waffle House patron.    It has never offered a true first class experience.    It's business class stinks too.

 

Amtrak is supposed to be transportation, not a land cruise. And what's wrong with Waffle House?

 

 

Statement 1: Absolutely!

Statement 2: "Let me count the ways!"

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, September 30, 2022 11:27 AM

Has Congress actually repealed the mandate that Amtrak cover its above-the-line costs by 2022?  That would imply at least two things: 'improvement' of the sleeper experience as necessary to ensure that it covers its own marginal costs, and bettering the current "transportation experience" for the rest of the riders that brings the additional marginal cost of coach or business within budget.

Some of the approaches, food service options and opportunities among them, address both categories.  As Delta pointed out, even minor changes in QoS can have a dramatic effect on liikely take rate.  

It just so happens that I can address statement #2, having gotten the highest recorded final exam score as part of WHU #266.  (This was during the runup to their Northeast expansion plans, following Krispy Kreme, in case anyone is shaking their head at this point...)

There really is little wrong with the Waffle House operating model, as properly and caringly applied.  Except that everything costs too much, and the clients are going to be encouraged to fit the 'magic twenty' -- which is not well served by the 'calling' order model, even with an experienced crew and wait staff.

Most every restaurant falls... short... of that standard, sometimes in awful ways.  A savvy manager can address many of them, but he or she has to be vigilant and capable of inspiring 'delegation' of maintenance tasks to people nominally underpaid even before assuming new responsibilities.  

As with Amtrak service, WH service could be dramatically improved with relatively slight changes in systems, amenities, and personnel, while preserving those aspects of the 'experience' (such as menu continuity in different regions).  Unfortunately, the post-September 2001 management had utterly no interest in any of that, and as far as I can tell still has none.

Knowing what I know... don't expect me back in a Waffle House except for my free large cup of ice on a hot day.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, September 30, 2022 1:48 PM

Overmod
That would imply at least two things: 'improvement' of the sleeper experience as necessary to ensure that it covers its own marginal costs, and bettering the current "transportation experience" for the rest of the riders that brings the additional marginal cost of coach or business within budget.

Some improvements cost nothing in terms of additional operating costs. But for Amtrak to improve LD service to bear some resemblance to that of the CZ in 1963 or thereabouts would require more and better staffing.  That would raise operating costs and unless fares were raised a bundle, the losses would increase dramatically. And, of course, if the price for sleeper service were raised accordingly, the load factor would drop, possibly precipitously.

Ah Awful House: My experience with them was in the 80s. The food was tolerable. The problem, at least to me in the Atlanta area, was their unsavory and often unwashed clientele.

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Posted by Gramp on Friday, September 30, 2022 3:45 PM

BEAUSABRE

 

 
CMStPnP
  Basically all Amtrak offers is a compartment with bed between point a and b..........and the meals suck unless your a Waffle House patron.    It has never offered a true first class experience.    It's business class stinks too.

 

Amtrak is supposed to be transportation, not a land cruise. And what's wrong with Waffle House?

 

 

Not expecting Amtrak to be the Mountaineer. Just want safe, dependable, comfortable service.  I'm not the spry person I was in my youth hostel days so I'm not going to sit up on an overnight train anymore. Being able to have a nice meal or two during the trip makes it especially enjoyable. I'm not assured that Amtrak delivers that right now. 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, September 30, 2022 8:10 PM

charlie hebdo
Some improvements cost nothing in terms of additional operating costs. But for Amtrak to improve LD service to bear some resemblance to that of the CZ in 1963 or thereabouts would require more and better staffing.  That would raise operating costs and unless fares were raised a bundle, the losses would increase dramatically. And, of course, if the price for sleeper service were raised accordingly, the load factor would drop, possibly precipitously.

Apparently, Amtrak would raise the price and sees the "experience train" concept as a way to narrow but not eliminate the deficit of operating the LD trains they want to keep.   They want Congress to fund the experiment seperately from the corridor service.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, September 30, 2022 8:11 PM

BEAUSABRE
Amtrak is supposed to be transportation

That is what 2nd Class Coach is for in Europe.   People that just want transportation.  You might have to shove a wino aside but you get what you pay for.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, October 2, 2022 9:58 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
BEAUSABRE
Amtrak is supposed to be transportation

 

That is what 2nd Class Coach is for in Europe.   People that just want transportation.  You might have to shove a wino aside but you get what you pay for.

 

Sorry but your remark is erroneous.You obviously haven't ridden second class on intercity trains in many western European countries in many years.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, October 2, 2022 11:05 PM

charlie hebdo
Sorry but your remark is erroneous.You obviously haven't ridden second class on intercity trains in many western European countries in many years.

All of that is irrelevant to what I stated in my post above.    Also not a lot has changed with 2nd class over the last few decades.    Certainly it has not changed much since the 1990's.    And being a tourist, I would love to hear about your broad experience with European trains someday.

It's very difficult to only use Inter City trains and get where you want to go in Germany and other large European countries unless you live on a trunk line and only travel to cities on the same trunk line.....even then you end up waiting a while if you only want to use the Inter City train.     It's the difference between living there and using rail as a necessity and cherry picking trains as a tourist.    It's why I was deliberate in what I stated above and limited to only 2nd Class Ticket vs narrowing it a whole lot further to just 2nd Class Ticket on a Inter City train.   2nd Class is the lowest and cheapest class in most of Europe and in the context of this conversation it is what it is.    You get what you pay for and it may not always be the upper level of service you get on an Inter City train.

 

s

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, October 3, 2022 9:25 AM

Your comments betray a lack of any first-hand knowledge.  When was the last time you rode any German train? 

BTW, I have lived in Germany for extended periods of 3-11 months, first 1969-70 and again 2004 and 2010. There are differences in service levels between today's ICE, IC, RE and RB trains and those in the days of D, E, P and F-Züge.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, October 3, 2022 3:02 PM

charlie hebdo
There are differences in service levels between today's ICE, IC, RE and RB trains and those in the days of D, E, P and F-Züge.

<sigh> The original point being made was 2nd Class is the cheapest ticket class of service available and is for people who just want a seat between points A and B.    You attempted to redirect to different levels of service which really has nothing to do with the 2nd class ticket being the cheapest class of ticket.

I can get different levels of service at Waffle House.    It is still Waffle House.   I don't have to frequent the place to know this.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, October 3, 2022 3:26 PM

 

First class vs second class are generally considered levels of service. I am unaware of any levels of service in a WH.   Your reply suggests once again you don't really know much about DB current operations.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, October 3, 2022 8:24 PM

charlie hebdo

First class vs second class are generally considered levels of service. I am unaware of any levels of service in a WH.   Your reply suggests once again you don't really know much about DB current operations.

Meh you just want to argue...................moving on.Sad 

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