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(Duluth News Tribune)   Mudslide derails three cars of an Amtrak train. No one on board injured. Or, being Amtrak, perhaps it was just no one on board   (duluthnewstribune.com) divider line 62
    More: Scary, Amtrak, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, trains  
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2509 clicks; posted to Main » on 08 Apr 2013 at 7:47 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-04-08 07:50:37 AM  
I wish trains were more convenient.
 
2013-04-08 07:56:22 AM  
Sorry to derail your amtrak bashing, compositard: 86 passengers & 11 crew FTFA.
 
2013-04-08 08:02:49 AM  
Amtrak sucks. Decided to give it a try with a trip from Ohio to D.C. a couple of years ago. NEVER AGAIN!

Seriously, I'll take a Greyhound first. . . .
 
2013-04-08 08:07:11 AM  
I sincerely don't understand how the passenger trains stay in business.  A couple of months ago my family and I took a quick trip down the coast on the train just so the kids could have the experience.  It cost over $100.00 for the tickets.  Then we had to take local transportation to our final destination for another $20.00.  All the while, we had to plan everything around the train's schedule.  If we had taken the car we would have spent about $30.00 on gas, taken half the travel time, and been able to do stuff in our own good time.

Likewise, thinking to save a little money, I looked at taking a train trip to Nebraska to see friends last year.  It would have taken 3 days, 3 different trains, and 2 connector bus trips, all the while costing considerably more than a couple of hours on a plane to get to the same place.

Seriously, why do they exist?
 
2013-04-08 08:09:46 AM  
I've heard that stretch of track is notorious for having this problem; Sound Transit has had to repeatedly cancel trains to/from Everett because of numerous mudslides in that area.
 
2013-04-08 08:21:59 AM  
You forgot your flash drive
You forgot your flash drive
You forgot your flash drive
You forgot your flash drive
You forgot your flash drive
You forgot your flash drive
 
2013-04-08 08:25:57 AM  

Louisiana_Sitar_Club: I sincerely don't understand how the passenger trains stay in business.


Enormous federal subsidies.
 
2013-04-08 08:29:05 AM  

Louisiana_Sitar_Club: Seriously, why do they exist?


The Northeast Corridor and Acela lines are hugely popular. It's by far my preferred way to get from DC to NY/Boston and places nearby. It's also great for western sightseeing trips. The two-day trip down the west coast is nice, as are some of the trains that cross through the Rockies.

Outside of the NE Corridor you just can't look at Amtrak as a cheaper or faster alternative to flying or driving. It's not. It's a novelty and a fun way to take a trip (i.e. part of the vacation IS the train ride). Lots of people have the same impression of Amtrak as you (it's a cheap alternative to flying) when that's really not what they try to be. Unfortunately you're right that huge amounts of their network are pretty much useless for normal travel.

It's also those "boring" routes that cost them a ton of money, and yet they're required to run them. Just like the USPS wants to drop a day so they can lose less money, Congress won't let Amtrak ditch unprofitable routes so the NE Corridor and Acela have to subsidize the rest of the country.
 
2013-04-08 08:29:55 AM  

Louisiana_Sitar_Club: I sincerely don't understand how the passenger trains stay in business.  A couple of months ago my family and I took a quick trip down the coast on the train just so the kids could have the experience.  It cost over $100.00 for the tickets.  Then we had to take local transportation to our final destination for another $20.00.  All the while, we had to plan everything around the train's schedule.  If we had taken the car we would have spent about $30.00 on gas, taken half the travel time, and been able to do stuff in our own good time.

Likewise, thinking to save a little money, I looked at taking a train trip to Nebraska to see friends last year.  It would have taken 3 days, 3 different trains, and 2 connector bus trips, all the while costing considerably more than a couple of hours on a plane to get to the same place.

Seriously, why do they exist?


Democrats:

http://www.goiam.org/index.php/tcunion/legislative-outlook/8966-amtr ak future

/ losses guaranteed to be paid for by people who cannot yet vote
 
2013-04-08 08:30:26 AM  
That Kahlua is a dangerous drink.
 
2013-04-08 08:30:41 AM  

dukeblue219: Just like the USPS wants to drop a day so they can lose less money, Congress won't let Amtrak ditch unprofitable routes so the NE Corridor and Acela have to subsidize the rest of the country.


It's almost like the federal government shouldn't be involved in running businesses.
 
2013-04-08 08:34:14 AM  
I was planning a backpacking trip to the Adirondacks and saw that there was a train station in the area which would make travel easier.  So I put in the nearest train station to me and that one to get coasts.  It returned an error, so played with dates and then other starting stations error, error, error.  I then tried working backward finding what trains went into the station where found under amenities- no wifi, not ticket counter, no shelter, no taxi stand, no regular service.  Amtrak is the cheese shop from Monty Python
 
2013-04-08 08:39:59 AM  
took amtrak from my town to NYC last year... everything went fine.
 
2013-04-08 08:40:45 AM  
I've ridden the Empire Builder and the Southwest Chief (the latter many times).

They may be overpriced.  They may lose money on every passenger. Late every time. Food service (and customer service) was bad 20 years ago and far worse now.  They may not make any financial sense.

But the one thing they aren't is empty.  I have no idea who these people are, where they're coming from, or where they're going.  But the transcon trains I've seen are, every last time, at least 80% full.
 
2013-04-08 08:41:50 AM  

YixilTesiphon: Louisiana_Sitar_Club: I sincerely don't understand how the passenger trains stay in business.

Enormous federal subsidies.


dukeblue219: Louisiana_Sitar_Club: Seriously, why do they exist?
.....words words words.


Holy cow.  Honest to goodness answers that make sense. Thanks guys!  I almost wasted time looking stuff up for myself!
 
2013-04-08 08:47:32 AM  
Bash it all you want but when it comes to the north east routes, nothing beats the cost.
 
2013-04-08 08:51:30 AM  
Take it all the time to Milwaukee, easypeasy.
 
2013-04-08 08:51:42 AM  
Subby obviously doesn't travel by Amtrak.  Most Midwest and Northwest routes are routinely full, and many states are falling over themselves trying to build more capacity to keep up with demand.

Can't speak about the northeast, though.
 
2013-04-08 08:59:03 AM  
 
2013-04-08 09:05:02 AM  
www.kahlua.com
 
2013-04-08 09:12:26 AM  
St. Louis to Chicago is getting high(er) speed rail, so a train trip between the two cities will be about 4.25 hours. It's a 50 min flight, but when you factor in the time going thru security (and having to deal with the TSA's bullshiat), sitting on the runway, de-planing, etc., it's pretty much a push...
 
2013-04-08 09:19:07 AM  

fat_free: St. Louis to Chicago is getting high(er) speed rail, so a train trip between the two cities will be about 4.25 hours. It's a 50 min flight, but when you factor in the time going thru security (and having to deal with the TSA's bullshiat), sitting on the runway, de-planing, etc., it's pretty much a push...


Also, train stations are usually centrally located.


The trick to an enjoyable train ride is getting a sleeper.
 
2013-04-08 09:30:56 AM  

dazed420: Bash it all you want but when it comes to the north east routes, nothing beats the cost.


Other than driving or flying.
 
2013-04-08 09:31:37 AM  
The cause of the slide is under investigation by Amtrak and BNSF officials.

I'm going with gravity.  Just a hunch though...
 
2013-04-08 09:31:38 AM  
The northeast corridor is also a pretty decent art show once you get past Baltimore northbound.    One of the graffiti artists did a 10 foot Chief Wiggam on the side of a building outside of Philadelphia.  I was thinking <obama_not_bad.jpg> when I last saw it.
 
2013-04-08 09:33:42 AM  
"Trains often go through land that is rarely seen by anyone except passengers on trains."
 
2013-04-08 09:38:37 AM  
Who travels by train? I priced out a trip 10 or 12 years ago, and it was 4 or 5 times the price of an airline ticket.
 
2013-04-08 09:42:31 AM  
Louisiana_Sitar_Club:
Holy cow.  Honest to goodness answers that make sense. Thanks guys!  I almost wasted time looking stuff up for myself!

I went to grad school in DC.  Between the gas and tolls from there to CT, it was quicker and far less stressful to take the train.  The cost was nearly the same given the high cost of gas and the goddamn tolls.  Plus, I could have a beer on the train with my meal.  If multiple people were traveling I'd drive every time, though.
 
2013-04-08 09:53:31 AM  

dukeblue219: Unfortunately you're right that huge amounts of their network are pretty much useless for normal travel.


Also unfortunately, what some people get from this is "let's abandon the whole thing" rather than "let's make it better".
 
2013-04-08 09:59:42 AM  
Been on 9 AMTRAK trips from Seattle to Chicago. Always full and ofttimes sold out weeks ahead. People are pi**ed at airlines and TSA.
 
2013-04-08 10:05:06 AM  

musashi1600: I've heard that stretch of track is notorious for having this problem; Sound Transit has had to repeatedly cancel trains to/from Everett because of numerous mudslides in that area.


Correct. The tracks belong to old legacy freight shipper BNSF. The tracks run along a steep embankment next to Puget Sound. They are following a route that was convenient 80 years ago, when logging was the big deal for train transport.

The steep hill never gets carved back, never gets a retaining wall put up. I have no idea why. Locals are so used to the hill sliding shut ever year they put up with it.

Welcome to life in the Northwest. All civic projects in Seattle are a conflict between people that did not grow up here (and probably saw a more complete version of civilization implemented someplace else) and people that did grow up here, who can't imagine civilization being more thorough and thus balk and push back on the "waste" and "need" for such things as actual operating train tracks through a major metro area that carry passengers on a daily basis.

Seattle's civic mind can be understood if you distill everything down to: "This is a frontier outpost and a fishing village." Who needs better tracks? Hell we'll be out fishing 6 months a year, let the Railroad take care of it! Why have commuter trains? The prospectors (new arrivals) can walk, I already can make it to work fine without it.

Etc.


// 22 year Seattle visitor.
 
2013-04-08 10:06:32 AM  

reaperducer: Subby obviously doesn't travel by Amtrak.  Most Midwest and Northwest routes are routinely full, and many states are falling over themselves trying to build more capacity to keep up with demand.

Can't speak about the northeast, though.


Capacity is lagging behind demand, and future growth regularly meets stiff NIMBY pushback.
 
2013-04-08 10:07:44 AM  

blatz514: The cause of the slide is under investigation by Amtrak and BNSF officials.

I'm going with gravity.  Just a hunch though...


Gravity, and the last 80 years of the same hill sliding down on top of the same tracks.
 
2013-04-08 10:15:22 AM  

GoTarHeels: Louisiana_Sitar_Club: I sincerely don't understand how the passenger trains stay in business.  A couple of months ago my family and I took a quick trip down the coast on the train just so the kids could have the experience.  It cost over $100.00 for the tickets.  Then we had to take local transportation to our final destination for another $20.00.  All the while, we had to plan everything around the train's schedule.  If we had taken the car we would have spent about $30.00 on gas, taken half the travel time, and been able to do stuff in our own good time.

Likewise, thinking to save a little money, I looked at taking a train trip to Nebraska to see friends last year.  It would have taken 3 days, 3 different trains, and 2 connector bus trips, all the while costing considerably more than a couple of hours on a plane to get to the same place.

Seriously, why do they exist?

Democrats:

http://www.goiam.org/index.php/tcunion/legislative-outlook/8966-amtr ak future

/ losses guaranteed to be paid for by people who cannot yet vote


Rail is useful for freight in its present incarnation, or else it would not be used. The issue comes up in the Northwest when well intentioned yet cheap compromise solutions put passenger trains on top of track maintained by private freight rail. The private freight rail can survive a week long outage because 1) there's two side-by-side tracks on this route, and 2) Freight will just route to the other track while repairs are made.

But that supposes only 10-12 freight runs a day, and most of those are in the middle of the night.

Commuters need full time 15 minutes on the hour all day long, or at least for 2-3 hours in the morning then 2-3 hours at night. Puts the system at conflict with what the freight company needs, and since its the freight company's track nothing gets done about it.

Its a weird dumb compromise. Our highways are choking full of trucks and cars, we have another option, but its a halfass option cobbled together out of old spare still working parts. Just building more roads? You're not from here are ya. Road building gets a sh*t-ton of pushback around here. Various NIMBYs plus limited budgets plus no state income tax means all civic projects have to run a gauntlet of funding, and are in there battling for funds with school bond issues and other base needs, plus all the frivolity that local government can come up with as well.

One other big problem I just realized is most of the people that move here, a sizeable chunk anyway, are moving here from California to retire. They bring their conservative politics with them, as well as their "I got mine and screw you" mentality. Even the Californians that aren't retiring, a lot of them are moving because of perceived failure in California that they just can't stand living around, i.e. they are self-selecting fiscal conservatives moving here for a 6 figure tech job but hating the idea they'd have to pay taxes like they just escaped California for paying.

So we're kind of stuck between Northwest pragmatism and various and sundry idiot new arrivals, no consensus anywhere and loads of "eh, it'll do." The Scandanavian mind set might play a part here as well. The right way, the wrong way, and the Norwegian Way. The Seattle Way has a lot of Norway in it, so we see lots of bodged, half-ass implementations of civilization around here that locals actually point to with sort of a goofy pride, like "did you look at how much money we saved on that?" Never mind the damn thing might sink, blow over, or slide down a hill. We'll just cut down more trees and rebuild it.
 
2013-04-08 10:16:04 AM  

fat_free: St. Louis to Chicago is getting high(er) speed rail, so a train trip between the two cities will be about 4.25 hours. It's a 50 min flight, but when you factor in the time going thru security (and having to deal with the TSA's bullshiat), sitting on the runway, de-planing, etc., it's pretty much a push...


I live in central Illinois and I've tried taking the Amtrak to Chicago before. The problem is that it stops so freaking much. Amtrak runs that route like it's a subway. It doesn't matter what the train's top speed is, if it stops for 15 minutes every 30 miles, it's still faster to take a car. I know that cutting stops would mean the station I got on at would be closed, but that's the price for effective long-distance travel.

Oh, but the Amtrak can't not stop at Podunkia, IL. It's federally subsidized and Podunkia has an influential representative just like every little town that slows down Amtrak. No congressional representative is going to vote for the funding unless their constituency get the service too. So bloated, ineffective service it is.
 
2013-04-08 10:19:01 AM  

Alonjar: I wish trains were more convenient.


We need to bring in the Germans. Those guys know how to run trains efficiently and how to pack em in.
 
2013-04-08 10:19:59 AM  

LesserEvil: Who travels by train? I priced out a trip 10 or 12 years ago, and it was 4 or 5 times the price of an airline ticket.


Like folks have said already, for *most* of their network they are not, and don't claim to be, a cheap alternative to airfare. If you're trying to go cross country nothing will beat a cheap, deep-discount airline ticket other than maybe Greyhound and I'm not certain about that.

If you want to go DC-NY you can do it by Amtrak for $40/person each way and it's much more convenient, faster and more comfortable than flying. If you want a wonderful scenic vacation, take the train out west. But if you want to go from Orlando to Milwaukee.... or Chicago to Dallas or whatever... that's not what Amtrak is good at.

Usually it's just a little bit more than flying, though. What route did you find where it was 4-5 times the price of flying?
 
2013-04-08 10:24:02 AM  
No passengers? This guy spends most of his time riding Amtrak. This Trans Amtrak just gets TLC on the weekend.

blog.amebulo.com
 
2013-04-08 10:26:27 AM  

dukeblue219: LesserEvil: Who travels by train? I priced out a trip 10 or 12 years ago, and it was 4 or 5 times the price of an airline ticket.

Like folks have said already, for *most* of their network they are not, and don't claim to be, a cheap alternative to airfare. If you're trying to go cross country nothing will beat a cheap, deep-discount airline ticket other than maybe Greyhound and I'm not certain about that.

If you want to go DC-NY you can do it by Amtrak for $40/person each way and it's much more convenient, faster and more comfortable than flying. If you want a wonderful scenic vacation, take the train out west. But if you want to go from Orlando to Milwaukee.... or Chicago to Dallas or whatever... that's not what Amtrak is good at.

Usually it's just a little bit more than flying, though. What route did you find where it was 4-5 times the price of flying?


Michigan to New Orleans.

I will say, I did use the train to travel between DC and Quantico when I was going to school there, but that was back in '86
 
2013-04-08 10:27:27 AM  

dukeblue219: LesserEvil: Who travels by train? I priced out a trip 10 or 12 years ago, and it was 4 or 5 times the price of an airline ticket.

Like folks have said already, for *most* of their network they are not, and don't claim to be, a cheap alternative to airfare. If you're trying to go cross country nothing will beat a cheap, deep-discount airline ticket other than maybe Greyhound and I'm not certain about that.

If you want to go DC-NY you can do it by Amtrak for $40/person each way and it's much more convenient, faster and more comfortable than flying. If you want a wonderful scenic vacation, take the train out west. But if you want to go from Orlando to Milwaukee.... or Chicago to Dallas or whatever... that's not what Amtrak is good at.

Usually it's just a little bit more than flying, though. What route did you find where it was 4-5 times the price of flying?


You're arguing with non specific very old information provided by an anonymous internet troll who looks like he is interested in grinding his own agenda rather than discuss. Good luck with him actually coming up with this "example" he claimed he had. And even if he did, from 12 years ago, does it matter? Plane fare was a whole lot cheaper 10 years ago than it is right now too. I fly 20 times a year for business, so that part I can back up.

Agreeing Amtrak fills a niche, I would like to see us actually publically fund a new rail grid through major metro areas, which Portland/Seattle/Vancouver BC are fast becoming. But we don't, because politics and money and inertia.
 
2013-04-08 10:40:11 AM  

LesserEvil: Michigan to New Orleans.


Yeah, just not worth it for a ride like that. Way too long of a distance for Amtrak unless it was the ride/scenery you were interested in, and it probably isn't on that route.
 
2013-04-08 10:41:50 AM  
Louisiana_Sitar_Club: ...  Seriously, why do they exist?

to get from DC to NY and back.
 
2013-04-08 10:48:14 AM  
Seriously, how to trains still exist.

I took one last year and it cost 400 times what a plane would cost, I had to pee out the back door, and then push the last mile and a half of the trip.
 
2013-04-08 10:49:33 AM  

Generation_D: dukeblue219: LesserEvil: Who travels by train? I priced out a trip 10 or 12 years ago, and it was 4 or 5 times the price of an airline ticket.

Like folks have said already, for *most* of their network they are not, and don't claim to be, a cheap alternative to airfare. If you're trying to go cross country nothing will beat a cheap, deep-discount airline ticket other than maybe Greyhound and I'm not certain about that.

If you want to go DC-NY you can do it by Amtrak for $40/person each way and it's much more convenient, faster and more comfortable than flying. If you want a wonderful scenic vacation, take the train out west. But if you want to go from Orlando to Milwaukee.... or Chicago to Dallas or whatever... that's not what Amtrak is good at.

Usually it's just a little bit more than flying, though. What route did you find where it was 4-5 times the price of flying?

You're arguing with non specific very old information provided by an anonymous internet troll who looks like he is interested in grinding his own agenda rather than discuss. Good luck with him actually coming up with this "example" he claimed he had. And even if he did, from 12 years ago, does it matter? Plane fare was a whole lot cheaper 10 years ago than it is right now too. I fly 20 times a year for business, so that part I can back up.

Agreeing Amtrak fills a niche, I would like to see us actually publically fund a new rail grid through major metro areas, which Portland/Seattle/Vancouver BC are fast becoming. But we don't, because politics and money and inertia.


Oh noes! I've been outed as a shill for the ebil airlines!

I'm just sharing my experience. One $1200 ticket (one way) is enough to put trains on the back burner for any sort of meaningful travel. As others have said, it's fine if you are keeping it relatively short and traveling along the coast, where it is probably economic and convenient, but passenger rail fails when it comes to cross-country travel. I find this a shame. I also know a bit about the economics of rail, having worked with Electro Motive with control systems. Freight by rail is extremely cheap, but moving people? It really can't be that expensive... but when you price yourself out of competition with bus and air transportation, you'll never fill passenger cars, and if you can't fill passenger cars... well, it's a cycle that won't be broken by short-sighted pricing strategies.
 
2013-04-08 10:52:38 AM  

DrZiffle: Seriously, how to trains still exist.

I took one last year and it cost 400 times what a plane would cost, I had to pee out the back door, and then push the last mile and a half of the trip.


Ha! Luxury!

The last time I took a train trip I had to jump on to the damn thing as it rolled by and stick a little piece of board on the truss rod so I had a place to sit and then some damn conductor tied a knuckle pin to a piece of cord and tried to whack me with it. On the first leg of the trip the door got stuck and me and my chicken had to burn our way out.

!
 
2013-04-08 10:59:40 AM  
I travel on Amtrak for business instead flying. There are plenty of other riders.

I don't like the time consuming TSA theater at the airport. I don't like my luggage, which I am required to check due to TSA rules, not showing up. I don't like the routinely canceled connection flights. And, I don't like the cramped crappy seats.

On Amtrak I can plug in my laptop computer and nobody cares if it's turned on when the train leaves the station. I can spread out at a table and do actual work. The trick is I buy a sleeper, then I get free meals, linens and courteous service. The scenery and chatting with fellow travelers at meals are nice perks.

If I don't want the sleeper, there is a snack shop and bar open almost all the time with reasonable prices. I can bring on my own food, even a bottle of wine if I want, nobody cares. When I get home there is no expensive long term parking fee after having left my car at the guarded parking lot right next to station. Parking is free.

As I said, there are plenty of other Amtrak riders.
 
2013-04-08 11:01:27 AM  

LesserEvil: I'm just sharing my experience. One $1200 ticket (one way)


Chicago to NOLA is $125 one way next Wednesday. You must have booked a sleeper or something.
 
2013-04-08 11:03:59 AM  

Generation_D: Agreeing Amtrak fills a niche, I would like to see us actually publically fund a new rail grid through major metro areas, which Portland/Seattle/Vancouver BC are fast becoming. But we don't, because politics and money and inertia.


There's $800 million in active projects along the Portland to Canadian Border segment right now.  Oregon has studies underway for Portland to Eugene, and WSDOT is working with BC authorities to get some Canadian Border to Vancouver improvements in place as well.  Two addition trainsets (purchased by Oregon)  just arrived also, which will allow additional daily roundtrips in the next few months.

The NW has been doing a lot to improve Cascades service.
 
2013-04-08 11:09:47 AM  
I just got back from Italy and the trains were amazing.

However, Italy (and even the whole of Europe) is tiny compared the US. I just don't think it's possible for it to work here. We have too much space (and not enough density).
 
2013-04-08 11:10:56 AM  

Old_Chief_Scott: LesserEvil: I'm just sharing my experience. One $1200 ticket (one way)

Chicago to NOLA is $125 one way next Wednesday. You must have booked a sleeper or something.


Well, as I said, this was years ago. My wife wanted some alternatives to traveling there. She also had to be there on specific days, which probably increased the price - and this was from Michigan, not Chicago, and Chicago is a big transportation hub for rail.
 
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