Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Conde Nast article "A Run on the Bankers", a Conde Nast site, recently published an article titled "A Run on the Bankers". The article talks about how the financial crisis may really hammer the airline industry. There will be fewer bankers flying now the story surmises which is probably true. "Airlines can charge corporate fliers 10 or even 12 times more than vacationers because business travelers need to get where they are going fast, with no advance notice and no price questioned". Joe Brancatelli, the articles' author, refers to this the Horny Banker Theory.

This publication focuses on the airline industry but there's a note about Acela:
"Bankers and brokers also dominate Amtrak's Acela and the New York-Washington Air Shuttle route."

I don't think the financial sectors' problems will impact Amtrak as dramatically as it will impact the airlines but I do think it will have an effect. Namely I don't see Amtrak breaking the ridership record next year that they'll most likely set this year.

Police Mobilize at Northeast Rail Stations

Story in the NY Times about a significant police presence/drill along the NEC on September 23, 2008. Some points from the article:
  • Local police departments in 13 states and security agents from Amtrak and the federal Transportation Security Administration planned to carry out a show of force at 150 railroad stations from Virginia to Vermont on Tuesday morning. The drill will include random searches of passengers and their belongings, as well as other, unspecified security measures, the authorities announced.
  • Amtrak has put police on trains coming in and out of Pennsylvania Station in New York to check passengers' identities and to inspect their luggage.
  • The surge will last through the morning rush hour, especially between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., but it may be repeated at some time in the future, officials said.
I don't have problems with the police being high profile along the NEC, it just has to be done now, but I hope the impact to commuters is kept to a minimum.

Monday, September 15, 2008

NYC Moynihan Station Plan Subject to Governor David Paterson's Terms

The development of the new Penn Station in NYC has been an ongoing drama. Latest info on the deal: "New York Gov. David Paterson on Friday set his terms for spending state dollars on New York City's planned Moynihan Station, saying it must include new train tracks and platforms and be done in tandem with other projects, including a new Hudson River tunnel."

I would love for the proposal to turn the Farley Post Office into Penn Station to move forward. Penn Station is terrible and as a former regular commuter I can state that a new station is needed to make the experience more comfortable for commuters and more efficient for NYC to get more people into and out of NYC more quickly.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Amtrak infrastructure and Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act

A couple articles commenting on the investment in rail/Amtrak infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor. I hope these things happen, more capacity in the NEC and upgrading track and rail cars are all very good things for any NEC commuter.
Not sure what will happen with the effort to get another tunnel into NYC, $8 billion is a lot of money to make this project happen. That Editorial in the Princeton Packet notes that "the single tunnel that now links New York's Penn Station to points south and west was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1910. It long ago reached its capacity to handle both Amtrak and NJ Transit rail traffic, especially during peak commuting periods. The new, two-track tunnel would double rail capacity into and out of New York City, upgrading a system built in the early 20th century to meet 21st-century demand. It is long overdue."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Amtrak Acela trains may expand to meet demand

Boston Globe article noting that Amtrak Acela trains may expand to meet demand. Some points from the article: Acela ridership rose 20 percent to 3.19 million passengers in the 2007 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Revenue from Acela fares was $403.5 million, or 27 percent of Amtrak's ticket sales. Trains are "running full and the demand is there". Each Acela train consists of two locomotives and six passenger cars. Amtrak would consider lengthening the Acela by adding a couple additional cars to the trains. The trains now run with an engine at each end as this speeds turnarounds when the Acela finishes its route and then reverses direction. Reconfiguring trains to add coaches would be "very difficult and very time consuming" Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero said.

Amtrak adjusts prices much like airlines do trying to match fares to supply and demand. Demand for the high-speed Acela service may spur Amtrak to levy a surcharge to help buy additional equipment. Amtrak also doesn't have any spare Acela passenger cars, so extending the trains would require buying more custom-built coaches Amtrak states. Acela trains are made by Bombarider and Alstom SA. Amtrak can operate its full Acela schedule of 32 weekday departures with as many as two of its 20 trains out of service. Higher fares alone wouldn't produce enough money to expand the Acela, for which Amtrak agreed to pay $800 million in 1996 for 20 trains and maintenance. Such a step would require more federal funding for Amtrak.

Acela trains can make the trip between New York and Washington DC in just under 2 and half hours. Amtrak started Acela service in December 200.