Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Northeast rail service resumes after power problems during the evening commute for July 23rd

There were major power problems along the NEC on Wednesday July 23rd. Commuters experienced long delays for Amtrak trains and all other train using the NEC tracks yesterday. Things look to be cleared up today. This kind of thing seems to happen at least once every summer along the NEC.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New York Observer on Amtrak Fare Hike

New York Observer article: Amtrak On Its Latest Fare Hike. Northeast Regional fares were increased 5%. The routes that got higher fares:

  • Northeast Regional (Washington, DC - New York - Boston)
  • Maple Leaf (Toronto - Niagara Falls - Syracuse - Albany - New York)
  • New Haven to Springfield Service
  • Empire (Niagara Falls - Syracuse - Albany - New York)
    Pennsylvanian (Pittsburgh - New York)
  • Adirondack (Montreal - Albany - New York)
  • Ethan Allan Express (Rutland - Albany - New York)
  • Vermonter (St Albans - Springfield - New York - Washington)
  • Keystone (Harrisburg - Philadelphia - New York)
  • Hiawatha (Chicago - Milwaukee)
  • Wolverine (Chicago - Pontiac, MI)
  • Pere Marquette (Chicago - Grand Rapids, MI)
  • Blue Water (Chicago - Port Huron, MI)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Amtrak Northeast Corridor pricing scam for Philly-NYC commuters?

Here's a YouTube video of what I believe is a Philly-NYC commuter noting what seems to be the dubious ticket pricing practices of Amtrak. The NEC commuters are getting shafted by the Amtrak pricing policies he claims which I agree with. He notes that a one way rush hour ticket (train #137 for example) purchased the day of from NYC to Philly costs more than the fare to Washington DC!?! Another example - train #180 Amtrak pricing; Washington to NYC is $69 while Philadelphia to NYC is $83! These seem absurd.

Here's another YouTube video the same guy did with his comments on Amtrak trying to destroy NEC commuters. And this is a good one of his: Amtrak Caught Faking Ticket Shortage to Gouge Philly Riders. Amtrak does look to be scamming those that go to Philadelphia from NYC. Maybe this mostly gouges business travelers who don't price shop as much as regular commuters. Amtrak has the right to set ticket prices in a manner that maximizes money and I applaud this. My concern is over how this impacts the pricing of Smart passes. Philly-NYC pricing seem inflated but the discount, by law, Amtrak can apply to Smart passes is a max 50% discount. So these higher standard prices likely result in higher prices for commuter passes. I hope Amtrak revisits commuter pricing for the Philly-NYC folks, we pay our fair share, you don't need to gouge us.

A moral of the story here is, when possible, buy single trip tickets to a stop South of 30th Street Station and just get of at 30th Street and save a bunch of money.

Amtrak raising fares on 13 routes says Detroit News

The Detroit News is reporting that Amtrak will be raising fares on 13 routes in the Midwest and Northeast by 3 percent to 5 percent. The fares were increased this month because of agreements with labor unions reached this year and the rising cost of fuel on routes served by diesel locomotives, Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero said.

Article on this topic by Tom Acitelli in The New York Observer: Amtrak Ups Northeast Fares Again

I think Amtrak could have the courtesy to tell the public of fare increases in advance, a few weeks would be nice. This is probably true but I have not seen other reports of it and I cannot find a statement on the Amtrak site.

Commuting costs for the Philly-NYC Amtrak commuter look to be going up. Buy your next multi-ride or monthly pass ASAP to delay the hit of this price increase.

Amtrak renames Regional service 'Northeast Regional'

AP article on states that Amtrak will rebrand the Regional service on the Northeast Corridor as the Northeast Regional. Along with the new name the Northeast Regional features refurbished cafe cars, a new menu and improved business-class seats and interiors. The Regional service carried 6.8 million passengers in 2007, and Amtrak is looking to attract an additional 136,000 passengers.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Need for Speed - WSJ Opinion Article

Opinion article in the Wall Street Journal about the latest Amtrak funding bill in Congress.  Congress wants to allow private industry to submit bids on building a high speed train between NYC and DC (Amtrak can submit a bid too). The Acela train takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes to cover the distance between the two cites; high speed trains in Europe cover roughly the same distance in about half the time. Why can't the US have a train service that's on par with performance of high speed trains in Europe? Good question and I think it's worth soliciting bids from the private sector to see what options there are to improve speed along the NEC. I'd like to see proposals for high speed trains all the way North to Boston from DC, not just up to NYC. Any high speed development along the NEC (any development period actually) would benefit Philly-NYC commuters with more options and ultimately better service.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Amtrak in Line for a Big Funding Boost

A June 27, 2008 article by Martha Lynn Craver in The Kiplinger Letter comments that rising gasoline prices are helping convince Congress that it's time to give the national railroad a shot in the arm. The bill authorizes funds to buy new passenger cars and other equipment, rehab bridges and repair tracks.

The House bill commitee report is here: PASSENGER RAIL INVESTMENT AND IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2008

More money for Amtrak means improved rail cars and tracks and should lead to better travel experience for Philly-NYC commuters.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Travelers Shift to Rail as Cost of Fuel Rises. Amtrak set records in May 2008 for number of passengers and for ticket revenues. New York Times

NY Times article about travel on Amtrak. The article notes that Amtrak set records in May, both for the number of passengers it carried and for ticket revenues. A notable accomplishment as May is not usually a strong travel month. It looks like the boost is mainly in Amtrak's long-distance trains as they already sold out for some days this summer.

Amtrak's Route Performance Page

Amtrak has recently launched a Route Performance Page on This page covers all nationwide routes and their historical on-time performance.  This site blames most delays on freight trains causing delays.

From the page:
We know that on-time performance is an important ingredient in fulfilling Amtrak's quest for providing quality customer service. As many of you know, the tracks Amtrak trains travel outside of the Northeast Corridor are owned by various host freight and commuter railroads. We offer this information as an opportunity for you to follow along as we work with those railroads on the path to improvement and to assist you in planning your trip.

Of particular interest to Philly-NYC Amtrak commuters are the Acela, Regional, and Keystone train on-time performance (OTP) pages.