Amtrak out West?

Apr 6th, 2005, 03:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,491
You pay for so many other things you don't need or use, why object to something that would reduce dependence on oil?
soccr is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 82
Horizon, we've taken Amtrak from Newport News, VA to Boston, from Seattle to Chicago to New Orleans, but never done the route you've done. Once we were three hours late going into NYC and they gave us a voucher for two free tickets...never seen an airline do that for being three hours late. Amtrak is not as nice as European or Canadian trains, but if you like to read and take things slowly, it's fine. Last summer my husband said he wanted to sit around and read on his vacation, so we took a long train trip- it was very relaxing and enjoyable. I know there are lots of naysayers, but slow travel is not for everyone. A good book and a bottle of wine sounds good (don't they have wine tastings on the Coast Starlight?). We weren't even in the private bathroom, just the regular sleeper, and we thought it was fine on the long trip we took. Our biggest complaint was the lack of variety in the menu because we'd just come off the Canadian train with great food.

I'm in agreement with WICT 106's rant, also. Unfortunately Amtrak doesn't have the political clout of those who care about the highways, airlines, and increasing our dependence on oil.

HOpe you enjoy your trip.
Nosy is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 05:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Here's a super idea. Bring back the steam locomotive! Not any steam loco, but one that burns coal, not oil. Don't use any foreign oil, for sure. And millions of people will line up paying big bucks for the change to ride coast-to-coast behind a steam loco.

Let's tell AMTRAK to do this. They will be running a surplus to help reduce the federal budget.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 05:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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BTW, here are some real numbers:

Based on a study you can read here. AMTRAK's fuel economy in 2002 is 26 passenger-mile per gallon of gasoline equivalent.

Based on Airbus's A380 papers, its fuel burn can be as low as 3liter per passenger per 100km. Or after some conversions, 79 passenger-miles/gallon. Which is 3 times more fuel efficient than AMTRAK is in 2002.

Now, even if you account for the fact that a 737 or A320 is less efficient than an A380, etc, you'll find that AMTRAK is not a fuel-efficient way to transport passengers in this country.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 49
Rkkwan, if you think that "no one" rides a train such as the Empire builder across the northern portion of the nation, you are mistaken. I can tell from personal experience that it is a busy train, and Amtrak's own figures support the assertion that the Builder has the highest average ridership of all Amtrak's trains. People get on and off at almost every single stop, to the point that most of the ridership is generated by the intermediate stops, not the endpoints. You wrote of "money losing" trains, well, this one isn't it. It also helps that the builder has a rather hospitable landlord RR, but that is another argument.

To Horizon: Be patient, get a bottle of wine, and grab a good book, and enjoy. You'll find it relaxing. As long as I'm on the topic, the Coast Starlight is on the rails of the Union Pacific RR, which is notorious for being highly indifferent to Amtrak. You will find that the bedrooms are a bit on the small side, but then they have to fit into a small area. I've always considered them to be cozy. You'll also find that your experience can vary depending upon your perspective. I've had train trips where I've met people who thought the train was horrible, and others who thought it was "fairly good," on the same train.
WICT_106 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 06:14 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 49
OK, rkkwan, would those numbers be the same if the planes traveled on routes that required as many as 40 stops enroute? What sort of fuel economy would those vehicles have if they had to make 40 different landings and takeoffs along the route between, say, Seattke and Chicago? How much would such a type of flight cost? Or, were those measurements based upon one single trip between two points. You can't compare flights to train routes, because they are invalid comparisons. Train routes generate traffic and business based upon the stops along the route, whereas plane routes are based soley upon the end-points of a given route. They are two different things. Did your cost also Factor how much the trip would cost if the airlines had to fund their airports - each airport - and traffic control entirly out of their own money (ie., no taxpayer funds, no gov't bond issues, no Trust Fund)? Railroads, for the most part have to pay their own way.

Comparing train trips to plane flights is like, well, comparing apples to oranges.

While I share your desire to reduce the amount of governemtn waste that is supported by our taxpayer money, I think that there are better ways to accomplish this goal than by reducing transport choices for many citizens of our fine country. Not everyone uses Amtrak for vacations or tourism.
WICT_106 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 10:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Okay. Forget about the plane. If people can't ride the train to small towns in the upper midwest, and I don't mean the tourists, but people who actually live or work there - how about government subsidized bus service. I am sure Greyhound or other bus companies won't mind increasing service if they get paid - and I am sure the bus is much more efficient in getting people to their places.

And a bus can get at least 6 miles to a gallon. Even if it's only 1/4 full, carrying say 15 passengers, that will still give us 90 passenger-miles/gallon. More fuel efficient than passenger rail.

BTW, if the states along Empire Builder's route and their local communities want to subsidize the train, I'll okay with that. Many other states are already doing that, or in fact runs their own commuter trains.

Again, I don't object using some taxpayes' money to help with rail, when the rail is important (certain corridors) or when locals are willing to put some money up. But AMTRAK as it is makes no economical sense.

Even if a train is full of passengers, that doesn't mean it makes economical sense. And mind you the Empire Builder which you keep mentioning is one of the best run and efficient cross-country trains. That cannot be said of other trains like the Sunset Limited.

Anyways, that's all I have to say about this. 30+ years with AMTRAK, when the US has 7 Presidents of both parties, and it is still a mess is the best proof that this makes no sense. Let it die.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 08:08 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 49
Well, again, comparing a bus to a train is another apples to oranges comparison. Each Amtrak double deck passenger car has the capacity to carry 74 people in coach, and 45 per sleeper. Two 4000hp locomotives can pull as many as four dozen passenger cars, and even more if the circumstances (and car availability) call for it. The Empire Builder that I bring up typically has capacity for 500, that's 350 in coach and 150 in the sleepers.
Trains have a higher "panache" than buses, which may be one reason why Greyhound is reducing service in many markets. It seems to me that, if given a valid choice, people would rather take a train trip where they can get up, stretch their legs, or go to the lounge car and get a beverage. The train itself makes 40 stops in each trip along its route, which works out to as many as 931 possible city pairs. What flight route can make that claim?

Also you write that if a train is full it still makes no economic sense? To me it seems as though being full to capacity indicates that it makes plenty of sense. What happens is that in order to ensure vitality, what is needed is a network of routes with multiple departures each day, and nt just a lose connection of trains. (see, and click on "think you know trains? think again.")

I still concur with yor sentiments against wsteful spending of taxpayer funds, though.
WICT_106 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 08:36 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
I sure did not read all the post regarding Amtrak but after taking the train several times up and down the west coast I would never take Amtrak again. Especially after older relatives rode Amtrak also thinking it would be easier then flying.

And how sad, train travel should be wonderful.
LoveItaly is offline  

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