Amtrak Reductions

Old Jun 15, 20, 5:53 pm
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Amtrak Reductions

Source: Amtrak Press Release June 15, 2020





Long Distance Business Line – Service Update
A Message from Roger Harris

To All Amtrak Employees,

We remain committed to operating a national network that serves our customers across America. However, we need to be smart about how we deliver our service in this market environment. Congress is not going to support us indefinitely to run mostly empty trains. We need to demonstrate that we are using our resources efficiently and responsibly.

Amtrak has made the decision to operate with reduced capacity through FY21. We are planning 32% fewer frequencies on the Northeast Corridor, 24% fewer for our state-supported service and plan to reduce most long-distance trains to three days per week, beginning October 1, 2020.

This is an appropriate response, given the current and near-term market conditions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our ridership has been down by as much as 95% year-over-year. It’s climbing back slowly – and it is going to take a long time to return to normal. The demand for our Long Distance service is down by 70%, even as some U.S. states begin to reopen. We expect our systemwide ridership in Fiscal Year 2021 to be only 50% of what it was in 2019.

Low ridership on long-distance trains has significantly increased our operating losses, which already exceeded $500 million annually on these services before the pandemic. We expect these long-distance frequency reductions will save as much as $150 million in FY21 vs. the losses that would have been incurred with daily service. These savings are part of our pledge to Congress to reduce costs by $500 million.

Our goal is to restore daily service on these routes as demand warrants, potentially by the summer of 2021.

We recognize these changes will impact our employees who support the Long Distance Service Line. While we have a broad plan on our FY21 service frequency, we still have work to do to determine how that will impact the employees who support this work. We are sensitive to the uncertainty that this announcement brings to our Long Distance team. We will work quickly to determine what staffing reductions or furloughs will occur, and we will communicate these changes to you as soon as possible.

A few additional points:
  • The Auto Train is an exception to Amtrak’s long-distance reduction plan and will continue its daily operation. The Sunset Limited and the Cardinal are currently tri-weekly and will remain tri-weekly. We expect to run the Silver Meteor four times a week so the stations that are common between it and the Silver Star have daily service.
  • Amtrak remains concerned about the potential for a second wave of the pandemic in the fall, which could further impact demand across the system.
  • Amtrak is developing specific and measurable metrics to guide our restoration of frequencies and service, and we will share those with you, Congressional staff and other stakeholders.
To ensure all stakeholders understand changes to our service, we will continue to communicate with our union leadership, our state partners, the federal government, the Rail Passengers Association, host railroads, our customers and you.

We appreciate your continued support as we work together to manage Amtrak through this difficult period.

Roger Harris
EVP, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer

------

Bob H
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Old Jun 16, 20, 5:32 pm
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Will Amtrak use this service reduction as a way to improve its on-time reliability for the long-distance trains?! At Union Station, I am always amused at the significant delays for the long-distance trains, such as the Miami and New Orleans (?) routes.
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Old Jun 16, 20, 6:48 pm
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Originally Posted by AndyPatterson View Post
Will Amtrak use this service reduction as a way to improve its on-time reliability for the long-distance trains?! At Union Station, I am always amused at the significant delays for the long-distance trains, such as the Miami and New Orleans (?) routes.
Amtrak can't improve the delay as a matter of fact.

Unlike other countries, Amtrak does not own many tracks Amtrak is currently operating on. Since they are privately owned, right of way is an issue that causes delays to Amtrak.
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Old Jun 17, 20, 5:53 am
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Originally Posted by AndyPatterson View Post
Will Amtrak use this service reduction as a way to improve its on-time reliability for the long-distance trains?!
I don't see a connection. Completely unrelated issues.
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Old Jun 17, 20, 8:17 am
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Originally Posted by AndyPatterson View Post
Will Amtrak use this service reduction as a way to improve its on-time reliability for the long-distance trains?! At Union Station, I am always amused at the significant delays for the long-distance trains, such as the Miami and New Orleans (?) routes.
I'm gonna guess no
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Old Jun 17, 20, 2:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Bear96 View Post
I don't see a connection. Completely unrelated issues.
Yup. Issues with on-time performance have absolutely zero causal connection to frequency of these trains.
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Old Jun 17, 20, 2:26 pm
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At one point UP actually blamed its horrible time keeping of the Sunset Limited on its tracks on the fact that the train only ran 3x a week.

They said that it was much harder on their dispatchers versus accounting for a daily train.

So, I don't think this helps OTP in any meaningful way.
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Old Aug 3, 20, 4:01 pm
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Freight carriers own most of the tracks. However, freight volume is down too. That should help on time performance.

Due to less trains in service, they can more efficiently do periodic maintenance of equipment and only use the equipment in best condition. That may help.
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Old Aug 15, 20, 10:22 pm
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Originally Posted by Long Train Runnin View Post
At one point UP actually blamed its horrible time keeping of the Sunset Limited on its tracks on the fact that the train only ran 3x a week.

They said that it was much harder on their dispatchers versus accounting for a daily train.

So, I don't think this helps OTP in any meaningful way.
I believe in the UK the carrier railroads are subject to a large penalty for every minute of delay that is caused. I wonder if something similar might motivate them to keep better track
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