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Airlines vs Amtrak

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JESSERABBIT

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With the current state of the airlines being as it is, gounded flights etc, Does anyone think that Amtrak will jump on this as an opportunity to expand their services? I realize that it would take an enormous amount of capital, as well as changing the infractructure. Of course with the way Congress works, it would obviously take years to get it accomplished, if at all. I do know that Congress struggles with funding on the current Amtrak budget every time it comes before them. Maybe there is something already in the works that I am not aware of, if so does anyone have any information on this? I doubt that the railroads could/would jump on it without some very strong push and financing from Congress. The regional approach may be the best way to go to get it implemented. Has anyone heard anything of this nature being proposed in any serious way? How do you think the railroad unions would react? I wonder how the traviling public would react if it was proposed, and the mood of the general traveling public giving a strong message to them to work on it. Also in your opinion how would the railroad unions react? I think that there is some sort of passenger association in this country, if so could anyone provide information on that? This is not wishful thinking on my part, just an idea.
 

mdulrich

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Flights being grounded are just a short term bump in the road. Personally I can only see railroads being an option for short regional type travel. Not only would the rail infrastructure and schedules need upgraded, but the car rental business would have put locations in place at rail terminals.

Mike
 

w5cyc

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Can't answer all your questions but can offer this from personal experience. I once considered taking Amtrak rather than flying on my vacation because of high airline prices. Naturally, I didn't expect to get there as quickly by rail.

When I called Amtrak for information, I found out two things: One, it would take almost three full days of one-way travel to get me from Oklahoma City to Minneapolis. Two, it would cost me MORE, not less, than the airline ticket, which would get me there in 5 hours.

Given that, I can't imagine rail ever being competitive with air travel or a reasonable alternative to air travel. The more reasonable alternative to air travel is Greyhound. For OKC to Tomah, Wis., you're there in 23-25 hours, for a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket.

Of course, you're also sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger who likely hasn't bathed in weeks for that entire 25 hours, too.
 

kb2vxa

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Add to this the fact that Congress has been propping up the airlines for years and overall rail travel can't compete when going the distance. Regional railroads and Amtrak business shuttles are highly competitive however so basically it depends the mission so people choose the mode according to the need. If you don't need to get there yesterday the scenery is much more enjoyable than empty sky.

"Of course, you're also sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger who likely hasn't bathed in weeks for that entire 25 hours, too."

You can fly to Hong Kong in far less time and you're not stuck next to stinky on a train as you are in a flying cattle car, there is no such thing as assigned seating on a train. Besides, on the rails odoriferous cattle are freight and travel separately.
 

wwhitby

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I've ridden on Amtrak in the past, and i've always enjoyed it.

However, the big problem that keeps me from taking Amtrak is that I can't get from Point A (Alabama) to Point B go conveniently. For example, I looked into taking Amtrak on a business trip to Minneapolis. I could take the City of New Orleans and then the Empire Builder. However, in order to get on the City of New Orleans, I would have to drive 5 hours to New Orleans or 5+ hours to Memphis. I could catch the Crescent in Birmingham (2 hour drive) but would have an overnight layover in New Orleans. None of that's doable right now....

Of course, that could be solved if Amtrak would get the same funding that highways or airlines get. Not to mention the $15 billion the airlines were "given" after 9/11 to keep them solvent.

There a host of other factors that would need to be addressed if Amtrak would get more funding. For example, many stations have limited or no long term parking. You would also need more rental car agencies. Many stations are in innnercity areas, so cities served by Amtrak will need good mass transit systems for shoppers or day trippers to get out into the suburbs.
 
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N1BHH

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I've taken the train from Boston to Richmond and I have seen some stations with plenty of parking and some that have next to nothing. The ones where they share facilities with local or regional rail all seem to have huge parking capacity. Richmond, despite having a good amount of traffic has a small lot, but most people use taxi or bus transport to and from the station, so it's not a problem parking. I have never seen that lot full in all the times I went through. In fact I think that was the best place I ever went, no long walks with your gear between street and train.

The government should not be subsidizing the airlines, because if they can't survive on the rates they charge, they should just go out of business. The airlines need to better their maintenance practices and customer service, then maybe they won't lose customers and that almighty dollar bill.
 

DPD1

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I think for a country as large as the US, local and regional rail has a place, but long distance will probably never be successful. They would have to spend billions on a super high-speed isolated system across the country, and that's not going to happen anytime soon. The average public's perception of trains in the US is that they're old-fashioned and a thing of the past. I like trains and even I wouldn't want to spend 3 days sitting on one to get somewhere. I rode a few long distance trains when I was a kid, and no matter how much you like them, the novelty wears off after your third day of not having a shower. I think they're successful in Europe and parts of Asia, simply because they have much shorter distances to cover, and the general public isn't so arrogant about how they travel. Most Americans think any form of public transportation (other than air) is low class. But I think regional and commuter services will continue to do well in the US as cities get larger.

Dave
www.DPDProductions.com
Antennas & Accessories for the RF Professional & Radio Hobbyist
 

tnuhllib

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wwhitby said:
Of course, that could be solved if Amtrak would get the same funding that highways or airlines get. Not to mention the $15 billion the airlines were "given" after 9/11 to keep them solvent.
Why in the world do you think Amtrak should get the same funding that highways do? The total amount of highway funding is taken from fuel tax, road use tax, federal excise tax and many more, most from taxes paid by the trucking industry, and they still rip off money for railroads, bike trails, and many other PORK projects. Our highways are falling apart from lack of funding, rest areas are being closed, and many federal roads are being converted to tolls. Plus returning highway funds to states is used as a carrot to require the passing of laws that some do gooder thinks is best for all of us.

If Amtrak is survive let it survive on its own!!!! Highways are the LIFE BLOOD of this country.

If you have a product, a TRUCK brought it. Find a WalMart with a rail spur.
 

burner50

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tnuhllib said:
Why in the world do you think Amtrak should get the same funding that highways do? The total amount of highway funding is taken from fuel tax, road use tax, federal excise tax and many more, most from taxes paid by the trucking industry, and they still rip off money for railroads, bike trails, and many other PORK projects. Our highways are falling apart from lack of funding, rest areas are being closed, and many federal roads are being converted to tolls. Plus returning highway funds to states is used as a carrot to require the passing of laws that some do gooder thinks is best for all of us.

If Amtrak is survive let it survive on its own!!!! Highways are the LIFE BLOOD of this country.

If you have a product, a TRUCK brought it. Find a WalMart with a rail spur.
You are correct, trucks are usefulfor short range transportation, but railroads are much more fuel efficient when it comes to getting things cross country, unless you live next to a major river, then it is barges...
 

tnuhllib

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burner50 said:
You are correct, trucks are usefulfor short range transportation, but railroads are much more fuel efficient when it comes to getting things cross country, unless you live next to a major river, then it is barges...

Do agree with rail for long distance except for time sensitive. If you run any of the major East West routes out West and watch the number of trailer and container trains, start counting and if all that freight was on the inter-state you would have to have reservation to get on at the entrance ramp. If I'm not mistaken rail freight companies are making a good profit but they are just about at capacity seems like I read 94%. There is plenty of freight out there for everyone and everyone has their strong points, I just do not want the government handing out my money to subsidize a company or industry. This take away the incentive to learn to do it better,
 

burner50

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time sensitive shipments travel rails all the time. UPS for one example ships hundreds of trailers via rail.

The railroads are increasing their capacity nationwide.

as far as 94% capacity, i doubt that very much.


Think about one simple coal train. that is 32,940,000 pounds of coal without the cars or engines...

how many semi's would it take to get that cargo from the mines in wyoming to chicago. by train it takes 2-3 days.

I do not know what a semi and trailer weighs empty, but even without the weight of the semi/trailer and the entire weight being 80,000 lbs of coal per load that is 412 semis rumbling down the highway.

One train = well over 400 trucks, maybe even 500 trucks rolling down the highways.


well anyway this thread was about amtrak...

Amtrak or passenger rail is a rip off outside of major metropolitan areas.

For me to get my family from the nearest amtrak station to my in laws city would take over $1200 and 34 hours in COACH SEATS And a BUS from Kansas City to Oklahoma City.

To make the entire route on a train avoiding the bus would be a 50 hour adventure in coach seats and over $1000.


That is including the layovers that may be as long as 22 hours.


Amtrak in the midwest is stupid.
 

ibagli

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The airlines don't really care if Joe Citizen from Topeka decides to take a train next time he goes to visit his mother in Minneapolis. Their big money is from business travelers who have a meeting a thousand miles away the next day. They pay full fare and fly frequently, and flying is the only option for them if they're actually going to go in person.
 

BHART

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but it's soooo much cheaper

The wife and 4 kids and I are going to Colorado from Omaha in July on Amtrak. Sure it's a ten hour trip each way. But when you consider we can drive 10 miles to the train station and be on the train in 10 minutes after we get there and not have to wait in the TSA line at the airport for an hour and then wait to take off, you have gained 2 of the 10 hours back....and I can do it all for 1/8 th the cost of flying....enough to pay for the whole rest of the trip ! We are lucky to be right by an Amtrak station. In my eyes, the biggest problem with Amtrak is their on time record. The California Zepher runs right behind my house on BN tracks east in the morning and west at night. It is normally on time heading west, but coming into town in the morning it is anywhere from on time to 90 minutes late...you never know....you really need to be a casual traveler to deal with that !
 

burner50

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BHART said:
The wife and 4 kids and I are going to Colorado from Omaha in July on Amtrak. Sure it's a ten hour trip each way. But when you consider we can drive 10 miles to the train station and be on the train in 10 minutes after we get there and not have to wait in the TSA line at the airport for an hour and then wait to take off, you have gained 2 of the 10 hours back....and I can do it all for 1/8 th the cost of flying....enough to pay for the whole rest of the trip ! We are lucky to be right by an Amtrak station. In my eyes, the biggest problem with Amtrak is their on time record. The California Zepher runs right behind my house on BN tracks east in the morning and west at night. It is normally on time heading west, but coming into town in the morning it is anywhere from on time to 90 minutes late...you never know....you really need to be a casual traveler to deal with that !

Ha... the there are the times where the EB Is so late they dont even send it to chicago, just turn it around in Omaha...
 
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