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Los Angeles to San Francisco Overnight

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Los Angeles to San Francisco Overnight
Posted by PJS1 on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 9:48 PM
Dreamstar Line Inc., a Newport Beach startup, is working on a plan for overnight passenger train service between Los Angeles and San Francisco. 
 
It will focus on people who are willing to pay for an upscale, overnight, hotel train service. Its night trains would travel in each direction, departing around 10 p.m. and arriving the next day around 8 a.m.
 
The trains will be equipped with five or six sleeping cars offering single roomettes, executive-class double bedrooms, or first-class staterooms, and a car for drinks, dessert, and continental breakfast. The estimated fares would be $300, $600, or $1,000 depending on the tier of service.     
 
Major hurdles include finding the right equipment, start-up financing, and getting permission from UP, Metrolink, and Caltrain. 
 
I hope they make a go of it.  We need more alternatives to Amtrak.  Many more!

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 19, 2023 7:35 AM

It isn't so much that we need alternatives to Amtrak, we need alternatives that spur Amtrak and its various stakeholders to do better.  (And not skim the cream off a route already unprofitable for Amtrak 'transportation service')

Depending on the route they follow (which might not be the Coast route; in fact arguably wouldn't be for ride-quality issues alone!) they might be able to schedule this train to run only when it accrues adequate passenger load, certainly not as scheduled for any intermediate points of loading.  This may be seen as an issue.  

It would be interesting indeed to see this operated in whole or in part over 'improved' HSR or HrSR trackage...

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, April 19, 2023 9:58 AM

Since this service intends to run out of San Francisco and not Oakland, the Coast route may be the only option for this service.  I hope that this service is better capitalized than the late American European Express, or it will be doomed to failure.

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 PJS1 on Wednesday, April 19, 2023 3:06 PM

According to the source article, which I found in the Los Angeles Times, the plan is to run the train on the coast line.  

Apparently the planners recognize the need to properly capitalize the venture before the first trains rolls.  They are figuring out how to do it.  

Here is a link with more information:

https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/privately-operated-overnight-train-proposed-in-california/ 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, April 19, 2023 9:18 PM

The coast line would probably be the easiest to get Uncle Pete to agree to the service.  My understanding from others is that there aren't too many through freights running that line anymore.

Jeff

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, April 20, 2023 10:24 AM

I'd love to see it, I really would, therefore I just hate to throw cold water on it but I don't think this will happen very soon if at all.

A Fox News headline read something like "New Overnight Train Will Soon Hit the Rails" (between LA and San Francisco).

"Soon"?  Count me in as a skeptic.  First of all where will they find this kind of equipment?  As Amtrak has shown, it takes years to fill equipment orders in the U.S.  There is off-the-shelf equipment available from Europe or Asia but so much of that does not meet FRA crash standards.

Then there's Amtrak.  Woudn't Amtrak be legally able to either approve or reject this?  A few years ago an attempt was made to start an entirely private train between Chicago and Indy.  Amtrak refused to approve that (I think they can legally block proposals like this) UNLESS they could use Amtrak crews which is what they ended up doing.

Then they charged the private operators (I think it was Iowa Interstate) so much to operate the train with Amtrak crews that they just couldn't make it financially.

It only lasted about a year if that.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, April 20, 2023 8:17 PM

They could put together a train from heritage equipment, some available from the Iowa Pacific bankruptcy.  

The CHI-Indy train was allowed under PRIIA to bid on an existing Amtrak train.  The LA-SF would be a new train, like the Denver-Moab.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, April 21, 2023 10:14 AM

If they intend to run it 'on a schedule' as overnight transportation, expect it to go the way of the American Orient Express, or the Auto-Train, or Iowa Pacific on its smaller net scale.  It will start with great fanfare and full equipment.  Then as the buzz wears off, there will be fewer and fewer people who will ride, even if it has the full amenities likely to run sleepers 'overnight' over the Coast route.  Eventually there will be lean weeks or months, lawsuits, or wrecks, and either the cost of insurance rises too dramatically... or becomes unworkable... to continue service 'at these levels.'

The proper operating model is a cruise train, like a combination of the Rocky Mountaineer and a 'long dinner train'.  This might be scheduled for only a few 'sailings' a month, or as break-even demand warrants, and I might add that the equivalent of 'steerage' on the Titanic remains a possibility to make numbers, perhaps with things like Touralux or hostel car access.

Since this train does not constitute 'transportation' as Amtrak service would, there might be no formal objection that Amtrak between these destination-pair cities... and certainly transportation revenue from intermediate stops between them, which the cruise train would not make... is having its due revenue impaired.  Any loss to Amtrak sleeper revenue would be far more to inadequate Amtrak QoS than to improper cream-skimming a la first-class USPS service.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, April 21, 2023 9:45 PM

MidlandMike
They could put together a train from heritage equipment, some available from the Iowa Pacific bankruptcy.   The CHI-Indy train was allowed under PRIIA to bid on an existing Amtrak train.  The LA-SF would be a new train, like the Denver-Moab.

There are also a number of museums with relatively moderate mileage equipment in good shape.    That would probably need an HEP upgrade but scattered throughout the United States there is enough equipment retired in 1971 that Amtrak never took over sitting in Museums.    A smart operator could scoop those up as most museums would temporarily part for said passenger equipment if the promise to return it to them was in the lease.    Just for the HEP and upgrade to the inside......if the upgrade was done in good taste.

Additionally there is the AAPRCO pool which some owners are trying to get out of now with declining interest in charters.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, April 22, 2023 9:56 AM

While any all-room sleeping cars or dining cars in museums may be maintained well enough for display, it may probably take a fair amount of work to pass an FRA inspection for revenue service.  It would also take a lot of negotiation before a lease could be signed, assuming that any of the museums would even be interested.

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 CMStPnP on Saturday, April 22, 2023 10:15 AM

It is rather humorous that the Media is comparing this TO BE service with the Southern Pacific's train the Lark.    This service is not even up and running yet and I have no idea how they can make that comparison.

At any rate, it was interesting for me to learn that the LARK had telephones on board that passengers could use to call people while on the train while it was moving..........perhaps the predecessor to SPRINT Communications.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, April 22, 2023 10:16 AM

I'd say offhand that any car expected to run in the anticipated service would almost have to be tubed and a fully-appropriate interior designed and put in.  No one can be expected to pay the expected price consistently to ride in tired old cramped ex-Pullman-style accommodations -- there might be a little nostalgia, or sense of historic participation (like the American Orient Express expected to see), but the joy of North-by-Northwest-style accommodation won't last, especially if there is any poor riding or curving compliance problem anywhere during the night.

A trend in hotels for decades is that older-style rooms are no longer particularly attractive; even as early as the Traymore demolition, one of the great architectural crimes of the 20th Century, it was understood that no amount of cost-effective work could make it a paying proposition.  This new train has to be at least as good as a good hotel, possibly as good as a good resort hotel or cruise ship.  You won't get that by refurbishing cars from Ozark Rail or even AAPRCO.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, April 22, 2023 11:20 AM

Overmod

I'd say offhand that any car expected to run in the anticipated service would almost have to be tubed and a fully-appropriate interior designed and put in.  No one can be expected to pay the expected price consistently to ride in tired old cramped ex-Pullman-style accommodations -- there might be a little nostalgia, or sense of historic participation (like the American Orient Express expected to see), but the joy of North-by-Northwest-style accommodation won't last, especially if there is any poor riding or curving compliance problem anywhere during the night.

A trend in hotels for decades is that older-style rooms are no longer particularly attractive; even as early as the Traymore demolition, one of the great architectural crimes of the 20th Century, it was understood that no amount of cost-effective work could make it a paying proposition.  This new train has to be at least as good as a good hotel, possibly as good as a good resort hotel or cruise ship.  You won't get that by refurbishing cars from Ozark Rail or AAPRCO.

Um, take a look at some of these tired old sleeping cars:

https://www.up.com/heritage/fleet/historical-equip/index.htm

 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 2:42 AM

The PRR "Creek" series sleepers would be a great fit for today's market.

Any preserved and opertionable?

 

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Saturday, April 29, 2023 4:27 AM

It was called the Lark and the Owl

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, April 29, 2023 8:44 AM

...perhaps the predecessor to SPRINT Communications. 

SPRINT used the Southern Pacific microwave communication network as a (cheaper) long-distance backbone, in competition with the 'telephone company'.  The Lark telephones were just contemporary (1949) radiotelephones -- and iirc the service was gone before 1957.

PRR as I recall used their inductive train phone setup to offer a telephone to some of its patrons, but that used railroad infrastructure as a bridge to POTS.  The arrangement on the Metroliners was entirely phone-company (right down to being pay phones).

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