Author Topic: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?  (Read 13301 times)

mononradio

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Train 850/851 for the year 2018
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2019, 01:47:07 PM »
Just looked at ASMAD, and the results for train 850 were not too bad compared to prior years.
Of the 200 trips that showed up on the chart as made during the year, only 13 were more than an hour late.
The worst, included in the 13, was on January 5/6 andseven plus hours down.  I don't remember what happened that day, but likely was weather related.
It left Chicago an hour late, and by Lafayette was 5 hours down.
One more southbound trip in that group of 13, also in January, was 4+ hours down.
Another 12 trips were between 30 minutes and an hour late.
Sixteen trips were between 10 and 30 minutes late, which I think is considered acceptable by most people.
The rest were on time, early, or within 10 minutes of schedule.

For the northbound train 851 it looks like the latest arrival was 2 1/2 hours late into Chicago on November 11.
That one was doing fine up to Dyer, but evidently got into trouble somewhere on the UP.
Only nine trips show up as being more than an hour late, including that one.
On March 23 they were 2 hours late leaving Indy, and did not make up any time.  Crew availability or mechanical issues perhaps?

I know there were a couple of vehicle incursions this year, including a pickup truck around Renssalaer, but I don't remember if they were on Hoosier or Cardinal days.
Those will generally set you back several hours to allow for law enforcement investigations and equipment/track inspections.

I do not think it would be justifiable to use chronic lateness as an excuse to cancel service, although in the past it was a factor.

By the way, last night's 850 had to do some kind of re-route as the result of a NS derailment.  The roundabout cost them a couple hours, which accounts for why it was late by that same amount this morning.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 02:25:57 PM by mononradio »

Rick

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2019, 06:15:06 PM »
They had a derailment at 518.  All Amtrak’s an non qualified freight crews had to have a pilot to go through or around 55th street yard


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NS7112

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2019, 09:32:49 PM »
Why is everyone so focused on whether its late or not?  In this day and age most can pull up Amtrak.com and see where the train is.  No need to get to a station and find out that you have to sit for two hours or whatever.  Just like Flightracker for the airlines.  No need to text me or call me that its going to be late I can see where its at.  Technology has that figured out.  The REAL issue is rider #'s...that's what they look at.  Riders #'s will ALWAYS suck as long as you have 5:15am arrival and departure and 12 midnight arrival and departure.  Sorry but I'll just sleep in a few extra hours and drive as will everyone else obviously!!  And really privatizing it made no difference either because they stuck with the absolute same schedule.

IndyHog

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2019, 09:49:38 PM »
Maybe move the crewbase to Lafayette. Crews could work to Chi and back in the same calendar day. Another crew could take the train to Indy and Beech Grove for servicing and back in the morning. Leave Indy at 9am and return at 10pm. use the same equipment and flip it in Chicago on a quicker turnaround.
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CSX_CO

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2019, 10:26:11 PM »
You change the Cardinals/Hoosier times, then you’re going to run into issues with CSX’s freight schedules.  As it is, they keep the railroad clear (for the most part) of conflicting moves.  You change those schedules, then there are 3 or 4 trains CSX will have to move around to accomplish that.

I always liked the Cardinal because you had a decent arrival time in Chicago, and later departure time out of Chicago.  Had a full day in Chicago before coming home.

IndyHog

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2019, 09:22:13 AM »
With all the places to meet or overtake freight trains now on the P&E and the Monon it seems like something could be worked out.
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Freightrain

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2019, 09:41:56 AM »
The arrival and departure times also coincide with arrival and departure times of the super cheif ,empire builder ,other train connections etc.Riding the cheif we talked to 2 sisters meeting a brother in KC they were from somewhere in Michigan they rode train to Union station.They said next time they will leave 3 hours later drive to Naperville get on cheif there instead of riding whatever the Michigan train is.And waiting 4 hours for train to depart.But it is that way if something goes wrong they arrive at 430 pm cheif leaves at 3 pm there's not another cheif until next day.We rode Zephyr back we we're I think like an hour and a half late .I was worried we wouldn't make cardinal connection but we did.We stopped in Dyer for 20 minutes even though there was no one to pick up.We also I think got stopped for freights in Crawford svile .I would do it again it's not perfect but truly To go to sleep entering Kansas and you wake up and your leaving that's just one reason.

CSX_CO

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #27 on: January 13, 2019, 10:12:19 AM »
With all the places to meet or overtake freight trains now on the P&E and the Monon it seems like something could be worked out.

So then the CSX freights are taking delays to be met or passed.  As it is now, only 641 ever gets “overtaken” on the line.  If you don’t move J727, 640, and 642 around, then you have 3 that will need to be dealt with.

Wema

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #28 on: January 13, 2019, 01:36:32 PM »
So then the CSX freights are taking delays to be met or passed.  As it is now, only 641 ever gets “overtaken” on the line.  If you don’t move J727, 640, and 642 around, then you have 3 that will need to be dealt with.

I assume Amtrak negotiates the departure and arrival times of their trains with the host railroads in accordance of their needs/wishes and in order to change those times a new contract would need to be done with all railroads hosted for the Hoosier State?

Or do the existing contracts allow enough wiggle room to make the arrival and/or departure times better?

Just Curious. :)

Rick

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Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2019, 02:02:23 PM »
I assume Amtrak negotiates the departure and arrival times of their trains with the host railroads in accordance of their needs/wishes and in order to change those times a new contract would need to be done with all railroads hosted for the Hoosier State?

Or do the existing contracts allow enough wiggle room to make the arrival and/or departure times better?

Just Curious. :)
There’s no negotiations of arrival and departure times with host railroads.  Amtrak sets their schedule to best fit the demand of passengers.  The host railroad then has to accommodate Amtrak and expedite them on their line as they see fit.  Amtrak normally operates at a much faster speed than freight so for them to be placed behind a slower freight train is dumb and wastes track space and time.  Host railroads get fined by Amtrak if they are the cause of extensive delays. As I’ve said before up here Amtrak is priority number one followed by hot van trains.  The luxury our dispatchers have is double mains.  Much easier than single track with sidings but not impossible.  There’s also many other factors such as terrain, HP/tonnage, etc.. that plays into it as well of how trains get prioritized.  Two heavy tonnage freight trains leaving Chicago at the same time is going to cause delays up Otis hill.  Better to hold them out for 30-60 mins and run faster traffic around then let them creep up with no worries if delaying other traffic. 


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Freightrain

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #30 on: January 13, 2019, 07:30:16 PM »
The conductor said that they had issues with the signals and that caused delays.

ckpcpqq

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2019, 12:31:29 PM »
The reason for wanting to cancel state funding for the HS is low ridership.  HS's revenues as a percentage of costs is the worst of all the Midwest corridor trains.

Why is the ridership so poor?  I think there are two main reasons:

1. Inconvenient arrival and departure times at Indy (11.45 pm and 6 am respectively).
2. Slow speed and hence long running time.  The trip now takes 40-45 minutes longer than it did in the early 1990s.  So it's no longer competitive with driving or taking the bus.

The reason for (1) is that those are the arrival/departure times for the Cardinal.
The reasons for (2): First, CSX's (and to a lesser extent UP's) speed restrictions; the trains cannot travel at 79 mph.  Second, the rerouting into Chicago back in the late 1990s required by Conrail's abandonment of the South Chicago & Southern.

There's nothing that can be done about the second reason for (2).  But obviously something could be done about the first.  It would take money to upgrade the track and infrastructure.  But the trains did travel at 79 mph back in the good old days, and so it certainly could be done now.  The question is: is spending the money for that a good investment or is it throwing good money after bad?

The only way of dealing with the reason for (1) is to "decouple" the HS from the Cardinal so that it can have reasonable departure/arrival times.  But that would require running the HS daily instead of four times/week.

Given the present makeup of the state legislature, doing these things is a dead issue unless public demand for improvement forces them to think seriously about investing more money into the HS.  Also, CSX no doubt would have a problem with operating two trains each way three times a week.  However, that was the case for a few years back in the 1990s.


mononradio

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Hoosier State Costs
« Reply #32 on: January 14, 2019, 01:18:40 PM »
We have never seen the actual cost figures for the Hoosier State, such as how much is paid to CSX for each trip.
And probably never will.
The trash that Amtrak puts out for public consumption is, as Col. Potter would have said, "horse puckey."

Indiana is being charged 3x more per train than sister states Illinois and Michigan.
And this is a train that Amtrak would run anyway, (but not necessarily as a scheduled operation) as a yard shuttle to and from Beech Grove.

It is no wonder that INDOT would get tired of dealing with the fuzzy math from back east.

But that being said, assuming it is $3 million a year, it is still a bargain compared to what else state government spends money on.

And it ain't like Indiana is a poor low-tax state.

It's swimming in money, especially considering the recent jacked up toll road rates.







hobodano

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2019, 04:53:23 PM »
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-amtrak/amtrak-works-to-modernize-speed-up-trains-in-busiest-us-rail-corridor-idUSKCN1P52JP

Amtrak works to modernize, speed up trains in busiest U.S. rail corridor........Billions!

The national U.S. passenger railroad on Friday gave reporters a tour by train of the busy northeast corridor from Washington to New York, showing off places where the rail system needs upgrades, including an 1873 Baltimore rail tunnel with water infiltration issues that will cost $4.5 billion to replace and the 1906 Susquehanna River Bridge whose replacement is estimated to cost $1.7 billion.
Fairly familiar with southern Indiana trackage

Rick

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2019, 05:03:32 PM »
We have never seen the actual cost figures for the Hoosier State, such as how much is paid to CSX for each trip.
And probably never will.
The trash that Amtrak puts out for public consumption is, as Col. Potter would have said, "horse puckey."

Indiana is being charged 3x more per train than sister states Illinois and Michigan.
And this is a train that Amtrak would run anyway, (but not necessarily as a scheduled operation) as a yard shuttle to and from Beech Grove.

It is no wonder that INDOT would get tired of dealing with the fuzzy math from back east.

But that being said, assuming it is $3 million a year, it is still a bargain compared to what else state government spends money on.

And it ain't like Indiana is a poor low-tax state.

It's swimming in money, especially considering the recent jacked up toll road rates.
What other toll roads are there in the state other than 80/90?


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IndyHog

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #35 on: January 14, 2019, 08:56:26 PM »
Well, several of the bridges from Indiana to Louisville are tolled.
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ckpcpqq

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Re: Hoosier State Costs
« Reply #36 on: January 15, 2019, 11:14:41 AM »
We have never seen the actual cost figures for the Hoosier State, such as how much is paid to CSX for each trip.
And probably never will.
I didn't pull my comment about revenue-to-cost figure out of thin air.  Amtrak may be reluctant to talk about costs but the FRA is not.  Their figures are publicly available and can be accessed via this link (thanks to a contributor on the TO site):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qU0d-rC3GANUB97d21pf3z-ctQ97MUjK/view

Scroll down to Table 2B, titled "Percentage of Fully Allocated Operating Costs Covered by Passenger Related Revenue--excluding state revenue."

Here are some of the figures for the period from Apr 2017 to Mar  2018:

Chi-St. Louis:  49%
Chi-Detroit/Pontiac:  41
Chi-Milwaukee:  80
Chi-Gr. Rapids:  44
Chi-Pt. Huron:  48

And the Hoosier State?  22%, that's right 22%,  the worst figure of all Chicago-based corridor trains.

Even the Cardinal, an LD train, does better:  34%.

As I said in my earlier comments, the only way of improving this figure is by spending more money on, first, upgrading the infrastructure for 79 mph speeds, and second, running the HS daily at more convenient Indy arrival/departure times.  But the likelihood of that happening is somewhere near zero.



« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 11:33:38 AM by ckpcpqq »

mononradio

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #37 on: January 15, 2019, 04:31:18 PM »
FRA does not have any independent source of accountability figures other than what Amtrak's CFO gives them.
No doubt they could pull inspections and do their own analysis if they wanted to, but FRA is not well-funded organization.

The known revenue is pretty easy to figure out, assuming that the passenger counts are accurate.  We may not know what fare buckets people paid, but at least we have guidance.

The nuts and bolts of what any particular train costs never makes it past first level managers, and maybe not even then.  I suspect that a lot of costs are aggregated nationwide, especially as for info technology, reservations, etc.  It is  no small potatoes, half a billion or more per year just for leasing telephone lines, paying bandwidth, satellite time, replacing computer systems and Wi-Fi.  Hoosier paid for a part of the proprietary Wi-Fi intall in the northeast and elsewhere, even years before they ever offered Wi-Fi in Indiana.

I doubt that they make much effort to attribute the Indianapolis crew base costs to Hoosier vs. Cardinal vs. Beech Grove, nor is the fuel put into a specific locomotive accounted for by a specific day or route.  On days that a train originates at Beech Grove instead of downtown, for instance, do they charge the extra crew hours and switching time to revenue service, or to yard service?  Is Beech Grove switching time charged to Hoosier on days that it piggybacked with the Cardinal?

Of course I could be shocked and amazed if Congress or INDOT ever could get to the bottom of cost allocation at Amtrak, or even more so if the organization would release the information directly to the public.

What I would like to see for the Hoosier State is some of the following:
1. How much do they pay CSX for track rental?  How much does CSX get for a loaner locomotive and pilot crew when Amtrak breaks down (like happened the other day)?
2. How much fuel is put into the Hoosier State per trip, and at what cost?  Is it bid out locally, or charged at a "national" per gallon rate?
3. How many Amtrak employees are directly charged to the train? How many indirectly?
4. What would it cost to purchase three or four 40+ year old passenger cars outright vs. the cost that Amtrak charges to "lease" them to the Hoosier State?
5. How much "station rent" for Indianapolis and Chicago Union Station is attributed for each trip?
6. How much "mechanical cost" for repair and upkeep of the cars?

If you could get a handle on the basics, you would have an idea how much another operator would need to run it.
Ed Ellis may be the only man on earth who knows this info (but he is not talking).
And North Carolina probably has a pretty good idea, since they have been quite successful in going mostly their own way.
Sure, it is probably north of more than $3 million per year, but how much farther north?

ckpcpqq

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #38 on: January 16, 2019, 12:05:13 PM »
FRA does not have any independent source of accountability figures other than what Amtrak's CFO gives them.
No doubt they could pull inspections and do their own analysis if they wanted to, but FRA is not well-funded organization.


I'm sure that if the FRA had any good reason for thinking Amtrak was fudging their data, they would investigate.

In any case, the important point here is ridership.  If you look at the figures and extrapolate out from four days/week to seven, the Hoosier State still has by far the worst ridership of all Chicago-based corridor services.

trainmaster53

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Re: Amtrak Hoosier State Funding on the chopping block?
« Reply #39 on: January 16, 2019, 02:39:37 PM »
Watch the Incoming Weather for this Weekend. Amtrak may see Several Train Interruptions or Cancelled all together. Some Places could see up to a Foot or more of Snow. Winds could exceed 40 to 50 MPH with Blowing and Drifting Snow and Blizzard Like Conditions. The Blizzard of 78 was Jan 25-27. This is the 40th Anniversary of it. I myself have already decided that we will Not be going anywhere on Saturday. They have already extend the Freezing Rain Line South of I 70 in Indianapolis to Seymour Indiana. Does Not Sound Good for us.