Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Railfan General Discussion
NEW! - DIRECTLY POST YOUR RAILFAN PICTURES! For discussion and comments of any railroad related topic. No politics except as relates to railroading.

Moderators: othermoderator, moderator

SOO2719
Conductor
Posts: 354
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:18 pm
Interested in trains?: Yes

Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby SOO2719 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:50 pm

I do hope this is an early April Fool's Day joke:

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/03/28-amtrak-to-stop-operating-special-trains-charter-moves

If this story is true, then Wick Moorman put one incompetent dim bulb in his place, IMO.
Richard "Tony" Held

"Trackside with Tony"
http://www.tonyheld.hoboandbowser.net/category/trackside/

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3143
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby Mark D » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:59 am

It is all too true. The new headmaster at Amtrak has decided that it's not worth the effort to handle these special moves. I'm sure he is correct in that summation, but I wonder if there is another way to handle the costs? He says Amtrak loses on every move of this type. So, why doesn't he just raise the rates? It will obviously raise the cost to the charter operator, but it gives the operator at least the chance of being able to operate on main lines.

However, while it is usually a slow and rocky ride, charter operators can still run on railroads who permit operations. For the F.O. 261 it will likely mean more trips on TC&W and TC&W's subsidiary's. Seems like operating on BNSF is over forever unless BNSF changes its stance on steam operations. I don't think there is an operator out there that can afford the cost of insurance themselves and that is the main issue. With regards to moving equipment via Amtrak, Amtrak could simply mark up the price to where they don't lose money. If they were to do that, It would be the only thing in their operations that would make money. They should actually grasp at that while they can.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

John Bohon
Conductor
Posts: 369
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: North Carolina

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby John Bohon » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:50 am

All of this reminds me of both the early days of Amtrak and Conrail. In both cases attempts were made to bring people in from outside the railroad industry in an attempt to bring new ideas to the organization. These attempts only worsened the situation as it probably will today. The general arrangement today of lawyers and bean counters running the railroads instead of people who actually know what a railroad is and does has further eroded the performance of the industry. Wick proved that with the NS physical plant going in the tank before he arrived and now returning to that situation after his departure.

In some way I think this has been brought on by the collision in Virginia with a truck and an Amtrak special train for politicians. I am sure there are those in the organization who saw this as an opportunity to get rid of special moves citing the potential liability they present. The irony is that it is exactly this kind of special move that Amtrak will certainly make in the future if they know what is good for their funding while the rest of the industry suffers the consequences. This may well be a case of the lawyers winning. On the other hand we do not know what the insurance people are saying to Amtrak about all their problems and they may be the ones forcing the end to special moves. We may never know where this is really coming from.

What is obvious is this policy will certainly kill the economic viability of any number of organizations. The economic blow to the towns of Huntington and Hinton, WV in losing 2 weekends of 30 car excursion trains through the New River Gorge will be huge. You can include in that the origin and destination towns of any mainline steam operations operating under the Amtrak umbrella. My guess is the only hope of working some solution is for all these groups to put pressure on their political representatives. Lets face it, the government is the only supplier of revenue to Amtrak big enough to make them see this policy in a different light. Of course if you live in an area like mine that has no Amtrak service within a hundred miles those efforts are probably going to fall on deaf ears.

Only time will tell if this policy will be modified or eliminated. Until such time the steam excursion train operators are going to have to either do without mainline operation or find a way of their own to fund their insurance. Then will come the real problem of convincing any class I railroad to allow them to operate regardless of what they can provide for insurance. Remember the real loss here is the ability of Amtrak to access the Class I railroads. Add to all of this the expense difficulty of adding PTC to steam locomotives we may well have seen the end of mainline steam locomotive operations.

John Bohon

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3143
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby Mark D » Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:28 am

There is a petition going on and you all can help by signing it;

https://www.change.org/p/amtrak-rescind ... utopublish

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3143
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby Mark D » Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:37 am

It's not like we cost them a single dime when we operate a train to Duluth, for instance. We run as an extra Amtrak. We do have an Amtrak employee or two on the train - who are paid by us through Amtrak. More recently we haven't even used a locomotive in some cases. When we do use one of their engines we pay dearly for the "pleasure" of having a diesel just to light up the cars.
What is bothering the latest one to try to make Amtrak self sufficient (will never happen) is the trains they operate for special ops like moving football teams from here to there and other similar operations. Those do lose money for them. So do their daily operations. Everything they do loses money in some way shape or form and that won't change.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

SOO2719
Conductor
Posts: 354
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:18 pm
Interested in trains?: Yes

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby SOO2719 » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:47 am

Thanks for the link, Mark. I have signed.
As for Amtrak's current prez, I say throw that bozo from the train.
Richard "Tony" Held

"Trackside with Tony"
http://www.tonyheld.hoboandbowser.net/category/trackside/

John Bohon
Conductor
Posts: 369
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: North Carolina

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby John Bohon » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:40 pm

Assuming you are using hours of service employees on your "Amtrak" train what you may be costing Amtrak is a crew start. My guess is they maintain as few employees as possible and may not have enough to cover regular service trains and extra movements. That is the most valid reason I can see for Amtrak to want to stop doing special moves. I think regardless of what they say any move that turns out to be politically sensitive will somehow manage to fit into their schedule. That would include train loads of politicians. Frankly I did not know they moved any football teams. Those sort of moves could also fall into the same category depending on how politically connected the team may be.

John Bohon

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3143
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby Mark D » Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:06 am

In the past, when we have operated an excursion under Amtrak liability we have paid for any Amtrak equipment and any Amtrak employees. We also paid dearly for the privilege of operating under their umbrella. In our case, they could not possible have lost money. I am pretty sure they made a bit off of us, and that would only be fair.
Regarding the above said employees we have often only had one employee. At the most, two. I am sure they can afford that in man power.
I would lie to see what's-his-name, the new guy in charge, take a good look at how charters such as we and other steam operators have operated via Amtrak. He would find that in at least some of the operators that Amtrak does come out a little bit ahead.

And, yes, there are a lot of businesses that have spawned over the years because of Amtrak. With Amtrak suddenly just pulling the rug out of these businesses it is going to have a huge negative effect on a number of operations around the country.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

Charles T. McCullough
Conductor
Posts: 326
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2005 3:11 pm
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby Charles T. McCullough » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:04 am

Please note that the edict didn't say they didn't make money from the Charters and Private Car Moves... it said they didn't make enough.

I always thought that profit was profit, but these days it has to be MASSIVE profit or they don't think it is worth it.
Semper Vaporo,
Charles T. McCullough


Pkgs.

Millhouse
Conductor
Posts: 407
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 11:44 am

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby Millhouse » Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:44 pm

For whatever this is worth this morning, caught it on Facebook...

"A STATEMENT FROM AL WEBER, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY…
In response to Amtrak's Policy change of March 28 2018

The National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) would like to work with Amtrak to develop a program that will allow the continued operation of private passenger rail car trips and excursions that would be acceptable and make a fair profit to Amtrak.

Many NRHS chapters have run trips and excursions with Amtrak since the beginning of the founding of Amtrak. Many chapters have made major investments in keeping their passenger cars up to current Amtrak standards and have successfully run trips for the general public promoting rail passenger operations.

The NRHS is dedicated to preserving railroad history and giving the general public rides not only accomplishes that but shows that our partner, Amtrak, is needed in this day and age. NRHS chapters operate historic equipment and help preserve the equipment for future generations. We need to run this equipment, and keep it up to all Amtrak safety standards and understand that.

Al Weber - President National Railway Historical Society"

Source link: https://www.facebook.com/RailPreservation/posts/2099605076722554

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 3143
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: Amtrak Is No Longer Allowing Charters And Private Car Moves?

Postby Mark D » Sun Apr 01, 2018 11:48 am

Everybody in the charter and excursion business is working to find a solution that would involve Amtrak, it's new leader and how to make a deal that would be fair to all.
Hopefully there will be some sort of agreement before this coming May (I THINK that's the month) when we operate an excursion to Duluth and back to the Twin Cities in an effort to raise some money to pay the costs of adding PTC to the steam engine. Since it has never been done before, and the railroads don't operate steam engines, it is going to be a spendy thing to get it to work on a steam engine.
But, that would be money wasted if it turns out that steam excursions will be banned from Amtrak. Steam operators are forging ahead on the premise that some sort of agreement can be reached with Amtrak.

We'll see what happens in these two coming months. Probably not much, but hopefully some sort of temporary waiver.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve


Return to “General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest