Browsing Category

Reports

Issues, Reports, Tracking Rail News

Amtrak CEO announces organizational revamp for 2017

From an email sent by Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman on Jan. 4, 2017. His full email is reposted below. Only changes to the repost is the formatting, ensuring clarity when reading.

Special Employee Advisory from Wick Moorman – Organization Update

With a new year ahead of us, I want to share some initial thoughts with you about the future of our company and the actions we are taking to improve our organization.

As I’ve been learning about the company in my first three months on the job, I’ve come to see that there is a lot that is working well at Amtrak, starting with the quality of our people. I’ve also gained a deeper appreciation of the importance of our services to customers across the country. Americans want and need a strong national passenger rail service, and the hard work that all of you have put in during the past decade to modernize and improve our service, including our record performance last year, has translated into broad public support for Amtrak and our mission.

Looking ahead to 2017, it is vital for us to capitalize on this success. We have a terrific opportunity to build an even more efficient and effective company that can facilitate, organize and operate best-in-class passenger rail services throughout the United States. To do so, we need to be structured properly, and having reviewed our organization and evaluated our future needs with our Board, I believe this is the time to streamline and improve our reporting structure.

Therefore, we are pleased today to introduce a new organizational structure for Amtrak that will enable us to create greater product and customer focus, along with strengthening accountability and decision-making throughout our company. This new structure aligns with our focus to improve the way we do business, modernize and enhance the customer experience, and invest in our future. While changes to an organization are never a “silver bullet,” the right structure is a necessary first step to driving the five key objectives that we believe are critical to our long-term success:

  • Building a world-class safety culture with a relentless focus on training, risk-reduction, positive reinforcement and personal accountability;
  • Developing and consistently providing competitive products and services;
  • Creating the teams and processes necessary to serve and grow our customers across all business segments;
  • Gaining support for and delivering on investments that sustain, improve and grow our business; and
  • Harnessing innovation, technology and partnerships to enhance and accelerate our business.

To support our pursuit of these objectives, we are making the following changes:

Senior Executives

We are consolidating the senior team into six direct reports to the CEO, effective immediately. This change will streamline decision-making, increase alignment between departments, and establish clear areas of accountability.

These six groups and their respective Executive Vice Presidents are:

  • Operations – Scot Naparstek, Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Marketing and Business Development – Jason Molfetas, Executive Vice President
  • Finance – Jerry Sokol, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Law – Eldie Acheson, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary (GC)
  • Administration – DJ Stadtler, Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)
  • Planning, Technology, and Public Affairs – Stephen Gardner, Executive Vice President

Operations

The Operations group will be reorganized to strengthen our focus on safety, service delivery, productivity and capital project execution.
The product development, planning, and contract management functions of the current Business Lines, certain customer service functions and some onboard service personnel for certain products will be transferred to the new Business Development and Product Support and Management organizations within the Marketing and Sales group. Train operations will be managed regionally through Vice Presidents of Operations and supported by Safety, Compliance and Training; Mechanical; Engineering; Network Support; Amtrak Police; and Corporate Security organizations. Additionally, certain planning and station and facility functions will be transferred to the new Planning, Technology and Public Affairs group.

All departments and functions currently within Operations will continue to report to Scot Naparstek, COO, until February 1, 2017. At that time, the following new and existing departments and functions will report directly to Scot and all previous organizations will be merged within this structure or transferred to other groups:

Department/Function/Leader

Operations, East
Michael DeCataldo, Vice President

Operations, Central
To be announced

Operations, West
Jay Commer, Vice President

Mechanical
Mario Bergeron, Chief Mechanical Officer

Engineering
Rodrigo Bitar, Chief Engineer

Safety, Compliance and Training
Dave Nichols, Vice President

Network Support
Robin McDonough, Vice President

Amtrak Police
Neil Trugman, Chief and Assistant Vice President

Corporate Security
Susan Reinertson, Assistant Vice President

Further details regarding changes within the Operations organization will be announced later this month.

Marketing and Business Development

The newly formed Marketing and Business Development group will be expanded from the current Marketing and Sales department to create greater focus on the development and management of our key products and streamlined to align this work with Amtrak’s broader marketing and branding efforts. The product development, planning, and contract management functions of the current Business Lines and customer service functions within Operations, together with certain staff from the Government Affairs and Infrastructure and Investment Development groups, will be transferred to new Business Development and Product Support and Management organizations within this group.

All departments and functions currently within the Marketing and Sales organization will continue to report to Jason Molfetas until February 1, 2017. At that time, the following new and existing departments and functions will report directly to Jason and all previous organizations will be merged within this structure:

Department/Function/Leader

Northeast Corridor Business Development
Mark Yachmetz, Vice President

State Supported Services Business Development
Joe McHugh, Vice President

Long Distance Services Business Development
Mark Murphy, Vice President

Passenger Experience
Tom Hall, Vice President

Product Support and Management
To Be Announced

Marketing
Rob Friedman, Vice President

In addition, a newly formed group for Commuter and Ancillary Services Business Development has been created, and will be led by Paul Vilter, Assistant Vice President. Paul will report to Mark Murphy.

Further details regarding changes within the Marketing and Business Development organization will be announced later this month.

Finance

The Finance department will continue to report to Jerry Sokol, CFO, with further organizational changes to come within the department over the coming months. Procurement will now report to DJ Stadtler, CAO, effective immediately.

Law

All departments and functions currently reporting to the Law Department will continue to report to Eldie Acheson, GC.

Administration

As the new Chief Administration Officer, DJ Stadtler will be responsible for a newly-named Human Resources department. The new HR department will be developed from the current Human Capital organization and led by Byl Herrmann, Vice President, effective immediately. Byl will assume this role from Barry Melnkovic, who is retiring from the company. I want to thank Barry for his years of service and dedication to Amtrak.

Joining Human Resources in Administration will be Labor Relations, led by Charlie Woodcock, Vice President; Procurement, led by Bud Reynolds, Assistant Vice President; and the Enterprise Project Management Office (ePMO), led by Sarina Arcari, Assistant Vice President, effective immediately.

Further details regarding changes within the Administration organization will be announced later this month.

Planning, Technology and Public Affairs

The new Planning, Technology and Public Affairs group will bring together the network and corporate planning, infrastructure access, government affairs and corporate communications and strategy groups. It will also include fleet planning, real estate, and various station and facility management, maintenance and development functions to better coordinate the long-term development of the company’s key assets and services. In addition, IT will be integrated into this group, as it is an essential function for our current operations across the country, as well as a driver of our future success.

All departments and functions currently reporting to Stephen Gardner will continue to do so, with IT now reporting to Stephen as well, effective immediately.

On February 1, 2017, Stephen’s new organization will include the following:

Department/Function/Leader

Planning
To be announced

IT
Ghada Ijam, Chief Information Officer

Government Affairs and Corporate Communications
Caroline Decker, Vice President

Real Estate, Stations and Facilities
Bart Bush, Vice President

Further details regarding changes within the Planning, Technology and Public Affairs organization will be announced later this month.

Additionally, as part of these changes, we will simplify our titling for senior officials by adopting a three-level titling structure of Executive Vice President, Vice President and Assistant Vice President to apply to all such positions.

I understand that many of you will have questions about these changes. We will follow this announcement up with more information as it becomes available, and I’d ask for your patience, continued focus – especially on safety – and dedication to our mission as we work through this transition.

On behalf of our entire leadership team, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done so far to make Amtrak successful. You are an important part of our continued success and I’m excited for the journey ahead of us, starting with the launch of this new organization.

Sincerely,
Wick Moorman President and CEO

Commentary, Reports

The Coast Starlight:  Paso Robles to Eugene; not endpoint travel!  What about the food?

Report and Commentary by Russ Jackson with Ralph James

Amtrak likes to tout its end points and the volume of traffic it gets between those departures and destinations on all of its routes, but while some passengers do that it is the intermediate station travel that fills up the trains.  Can you imagine, as RailPAC President Paul Dyson says, if you could only travel between endpoints on the interstate highway system?  Amtrak is usually surprised when someone wants to travel from, say, Paso Robles, CA, to Eugene, OR.  They might not be able to collect as much money from that passenger, but they can still sell that seat on either side of those two locations.  Here is an instance of that exact travel pair as reported to us by RailPAC member Ralph James.  He recommended to a friend that he take the his Thanksgiving trip on the Coast Starlight from Paso Robles to Eugene.  The  friend was dreading the long drive.  “With the necessary tinge of reservation,” Ralph says, “I suggested he look into Amtrak since his origin and destination were right at stops for the Starlight.”  He did so, and sent Ralph a trip report of the first half of his trip, as an “assessment,” giving Amtrak numeric grades for what he experienced with comparisons to airline travel: Continue Reading

Reports

Overview of the March 27 San Joaquin JPA Board Meeting

Outlined below are some key takeaways I found noteworthy from the March 27th San Joaquin JPA Board meeting:
  1. The Fresno City and County presentation was an overview of the new 2-year pilot Thruway bus initiative linking Fresno with Yosemite National Park and Fresno with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.  This 2-year pilot project is CMAC funded grant.  Both services start Memorial Day weekend 2015.  Both services should be available through Amtrak.  The Fresno – Yosemite service will be operated by YARTS and utilize full size motor coaches.  Stops in Fresno with be Amtrak, Fresno Airport and Fresno State.  There would be five round-trips daily 365 days per year.  The $30 round-trip fare includes park admission.  The Fresno – Sequoia/Kings Canyon route will be operated by the local regional transit contractor and utilized 18 passenger vans.  Stops would be at Amtrak and the Fresno Airport.  There would be four round-trips daily 102 days a year (Memorial Day through Labor Day).  The $15 round-trip fare includes park admission.
  2. The SJJPA Board agreed to send letters of support for the three San Joaquin communities, Bakersfield, Stockton and Merced, that applied for Sustainable Communities Grant Applications under the new Cap and Trade funding program.
  3. SJJPA Board approved grant applications under the Cap and Trade Intercity Rail Capital Projects section.  For major projects (projects greater than $3 million) recommended was the BNSF Stockton – Escalon double track segment 4 (5.7 miles MP 1106.8 – 1116.3).  This project is ready for construction, complements Stockton – Escalon segments already completed or underway, and results in run-time savings and the free flow of freight trains that no longer have to stop and idle to meet passenger trains.  It would also facilitate the addition of an 8thround-trip to the route.  For minor projects (under $3 million) recommended was a fare program designed to target lower income San Joaquin Valley residents.  This would be a 3-year program.  It was noted that for many years Kings County has had a special program for its residents – county purchased 10-ride tickets are used by residents for shopping, medical and legal trips on the San Joaquin’s.\
  4. The legislature has appropriated funds for CHSRA planning work for the Sacramento – Merced route segment.  As part of this study, staff would work with CHSRA to include “early action” San Joaquin route investments to improve connectivity between northern San Joaquin Valley communities and CHSRA’s Initial Operating Segment.
  5. The framework of the Interagency Transfer agreement is basically completed.  The two key outstanding issues are liability and equipment.  Also the San Joaquin budget needs to be finalized with up-dated Amtrak costs.  The goal is to have all documents completed by the end of May for submission to CalSTA.  To provide more time in case the SJJPA Board has any issues with the final document, the May Board meeting has been moved to May 15th.  Also being discussed with Caltrans is the specific process for the payment transfer beginning in July.
  6. Brian Schmidt, SJJPA Operations, indicated that the proposed 14 train rotation (compared to today’s 15) would not work without a major change to current schedules (which would negatively impact their marketability).  Unless they can come up with a new solution or reduce consist size from 5-cars to 4-cars (either option are unlikely), the Comet Car trainset will continue to operate on the San Joaquin route.  It was suggested that the SJJPA push hard for the first trainset of new cars be assigned to the San Joaquin route.  Mr. Schmidt also reported that BNSF track work negatively impacted San Joaquin on-time performance in January and February.  Two of three projects are completed and the third will be completed within the next week.  Staff is working with the UP and BNSF on slotting for the 7th frequency which should be starting in the Fall.  Track improvements completed or underway for the 7th frequency should reduce run times by 15-20 minutes.
  7. The recommendation for the SJJPA to send a letter (see below) to Caltrans regarding San Joaquin revenue management policy generated a lively discussion on the subject.  Since the day of the meeting also corresponded to a peak travel day for college students leaving for spring break, the discussion actually started early during the public comment period with members of the audience commenting on the high fares they paid to travel to the meeting and changes in fares they observed during the booking process.  Clem Bomar, retired Caltrans Division of Rail manager, provided some background on the operational reasons (elimination of standees, shifting customers to less full trains, improved equipment utilization, improved motor coach assignments, etc.) for making the San Joaquin’s reserved.  In a separate conversation with Dan Leavitt I added that another reason Caltrans engaged in revenue management was to increase ticket revenues to better meet budget expectations.  The Board acknowledged, as a body, the need to determine the benefits of revenue management and how it works.  They requested that staff set up a workshop with Amtrak’s Revenue Management Department.  In the meantime they agreed to staff’s suggestion to send the letter to Caltrans requesting a meeting and perhaps making some near-term changes in fare inventory levels.
SAN JOAQUIN JOINT POWERS AUTHORITY
March 27, 2015
STAFF REPORT
Item 9 ACTION
Letter to State Regarding Changes to San Joaquin Fare Policy
 
The San Joaquin service ticketing is done by reservation. Passengers reserve a seat
on a specific San Joaquin train. Amtrak’s fare management policy on the San Joaquin’s
is to increase the standard “value” fares as the San Joaquin trains start to reach
capacity. In a recent meeting with Amtrak, Caltrans, and CalSTA, SJJPA staff has
learned that under their current practice, Amtrak begins raising the San Joaquin prices
once the train is shown to be 60% full. SJJPA staff was told that they have five levels of
fare increase, and as the trains continue to fill up, the fares continue to rise. The
highest level of increase can be about twice as much as the initial fare offered. Since
the San Joaquin’s have a very limited frequency of service a significant cost increase on
any of the trains may result in a decrease in ridership.
San Joaquin ridership has been below expectations for the last year and a half. Higher
fares could be contributing to depressed ridership on the San Joaquin’s. Staff
recommends sending a letter to Caltrans requesting that they adjust their policy so that
the San Joaquin trains are much closer to capacity before they begin to raise the fares
As part of the SJJPA Business Plan, the SJJPA committed to working with Amtrak to
investigate moving the San Joaquin’s back to unreserved ticketing (like the Capitol
Corridor and Pacific Surfliner). After the administrative responsibilities have been
transferred, the SJJPA will explore with Amtrak the “tradeoffs between reserved and
unreserved ticketing, including if the benefits outweigh the impacts” (SJJPA Business
Plan Update, CH 9, page 38). Nevertheless, action could be taken now by Caltrans, to
adjust their fare management policy which could help stimulate San Joaquin ridership.
Fiscal Impact:
No Fiscal Impact at this time.
Recommendation:
Approve draft letter to Caltrans for signature by the Chairperson
Reports

Breaking News!

Approval has just been granted to form a State Assembly Select Committee for Passenger Rail.  More details to come…

sanfrancisco2
Reports

San Francisco Amtrak Station Will Move

Mike Barnbaum

Effective Sunday, March 1, 2015, five Amtrak Routes (Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, California Zephyr, and Coast Starlight) will be affected by stop and schedule changes in San Francisco, California due to the relocation of the staffed Amtrak ticket office from 101 The Embarcadero (Ferry Building) to 200 Folsom Street (San Francisco Temporary TransBay Terminal). The Amtrak computer program “Arrow” should have this information updated for Amtrak Guests booking new reservations sometime during the day on Friday leading into the Presidents’ Day Weekend. Due to upcoming system updates, Amtrak Guests traveling to/from San Francisco, California on and after March 1st should wait to book their travel until at least Valentine’s Day or Presidents’ Day. Staff at Amtrak Bus Operations have emailed me saying that “SFC” will remain the Amtrak three-letter station/stop code, even after the move takes place.

For the remainder of February, 101 The Embarcadero (Ferry Building) will continue to be the Amtrak ticket Office. Based on the information I have received to date, the first Amtrak service that will serve the new “SFC” stop at 200 Folsom Street will be Southbound 3402 at 4:50 am. This is a bus to the Stockton ACE Station for passengers traveling to San Joaquin Valley Destinations. Northbound Pacific Surfliner Bus 4785 that actually departs Santa Barbara on Saturday, February 28th at 9:55 pm, arriving March 1st at 5:35 am in San Francisco will be the first arriving bus. This bus will continue onto Emeryville with a final destination of Oakland Jack London Square.

Printed timetables showing this as well as other changes across the country will be available at stations throughout the Amtrak System later on in March. Prior to the end of February, both Amtrak.com and CapitolCorridor.org should have detailed news about the San Francisco changes.

Additional Comments

Marcus Jung

The 200 Folsom Street address is a separate building at the far end of the Temporary Transbay Terminal that serves as the Greyhound station. I have not been there recently, but I remember that in the past, Greyhound Security only allowed ticketed passengers to access the waiting room and restrooms. It’s 3 blocks between Folsom Street and Market Street to get to/from a BART station. The rest of the Temporary Transbay Terminal spans the whole block and is mostly a huge bus staging lot with loading lanes.

Since the station code remains “SFC”, passengers should be able to continue purchasing tickets in February for travel in March or beyond, without experiencing any computer difficulties. It might be possible for .”Ferry Building” to still be printed on a ticket, but for travel after 2/28, the system would automatically recognize that it really meant “Transbay Terminal”. Since Amtrak uses dynamic pricing (as certain travel dates become popular, those tickets will cost more), it may be to a passenger’s advantage to not delay ticketing, so that they can avoid any subsequent price increases.

The new Amtrak location would represent a return to the station’s previous roots. Prior to being located at the Ferry Building, it was inside the old Transbay Terminal. The bus lines (including AC Transit and Greyhound) are currently operating at this temporary facility while the permanent building is being constructed. A number of SF Muni bus lines also serve the Temporary Transbay Terminal.

If the Thruway buses are also able to use the Financial District stop, it would be right at the Embarcadero BART station, saving the 3 block walk to reach BART. This stop had sometimes been suspended in the past, during periods of heavy construction, but is in a very convenient location very close to the Ferry Building and Embarcadero Center.

The Governor Signing the Symbolic Rail
Issues, Rail Photos, Reports

CAHSR Groundbreaking Ceremony – January 6, 2015

Photos by Paul Dyson, President

Commentary, Issues, Reports

Amtrak’s 2014 – The Real Stats

Amtrak continually tells us about how many passengers they put into seats in the Northeast corridor. What many suspect because of far longer travel distances, but never can get Amtrak to say, is that in passenger miles (passenger mile = one passenger riding for one mile), and is said by some to be the most proper measure of how much transportation is being produced … the Northeast Corridor is the least productive part of the company. Here are the statistics that Amtrak doesn’t tell us for FY 2014.

 

PASSENGER MILES
Includes over 3 million on NEC Spine Special Trains, and over 4 million on State Corridor Special Trains; none on Long Distance Special Trains

  • NEC Spine – 1,931,319,000
  • State Corridors – 1,961,953,000
  • Long Distance – 2,760,957,000

TRAIN MILES
Includes 14,000 on NEC Spine Special Trains, 10,000 on State Corridor Special Trains; none on Long Distance Special Trains

  • NEC Spine – 9,094,000
  • State Corridors – 15,232,000
  • Long Distance – 14,732,000

SEAT MILES
Includes over 9.2 million on NEC Spine Special Trains, 5.9 million on State Corridor Special Trains; none on Long Distance Special Trains

  • NEC Spine – 3,462,836,268
  • State Corridors – 4,607,897,790
  • Long Distance – 4,678,361,006

LOAD FACTOR
Load factors on NEC Special Trains 33.8%, State Corridor Special Trains 72.2%, no Long Distance Special Trains

  • NEC Spine – 55.8%
  • State Corridors – 42.6%
  • Long Distance – 59.0%
Source: AMTRAK
Issues, Reports

Bipartisan Passenger Rail Legislation introduced in U.S. House

email
PRESS RELEASE

Committee Leaders Introduce Bipartisan Passenger Rail Legislation READ THE BILL at http://transportation.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hr5449.pdf

For Immediate Release: September 11, 2014
Contact: Jim Billimoria, Justin Harclerode

Washington, DC – Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders today introduced bipartisan legislation that improves the infrastructure, reduces costs, leverages private sector resources, creates greater accountability and transparency, and accelerates project delivery for Amtrak and the Nation’s passenger rail transportation system.

The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2014, or PRRIA (H.R. 5449), was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA); T&I Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV); Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA); and Subcommittee Ranking Member Corrine Brown (D-FL).

“The reality is intercity passenger rail plays an important role in our national transportation network,” Shuster said. “Congress can either sit back while Amtrak and our passenger rail system continue to muddle along without reforms and without improvements, or we can take significant steps forward in improving Amtrak’s transparency and cost-effectiveness, and compelling it to operate like a true business should. I commend Chairman Denham for his leadership on this legislation.”

“This bill provides much-needed investments in the long-distance network and ensures continuation of all long-distance trains, including the Cardinal Route that runs through southern West Virginia,” Rahall said. “Reliable passenger rail service helps move our economy forward and is critical to communities across our nation. I appreciate the bipartisan work that went into drafting this bill, and I look forward to advancing it through our committee.”

“The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act will bring our nation’s rail system into the 21st century,” Denham said. “It reduces costs, strengthens crucial infrastructure, and encourages innovation through partnerships with the states and the private sector. The bill will require Amtrak to operate more like a business and force them to be accountable and transparent to taxpayers.”

“This bipartisan bill is a good first step in providing the systemwide investment and operational improvements that Amtrak needs to serve its steadily increasing ridership,” Brown said.

Passenger rail presents one of the best transportation alternatives for relieving congestion on some of the Nation’s most crowded highways and in our busy airspace. However, the rail system and Amtrak – the country’s intercity passenger rail provider – must be reformed and improved. For years, Amtrak has operated under unrealistic fiscal expectations and without a sufficient level of transparency. Profits from Amtrak’s only profitable route — the Northeast Corridor (NEC) – currently are not invested back into the corridor. And although significant ridership increases are occurring on Amtrak’s state-supported routes, its inconsistent financial structure and “black box” accounting system hamper states’ ability to help manage the routes and understand what exactly it is they’re paying Amtrak for.

In addition, rail infrastructure projects are unnecessarily delayed by unwieldy review processes that cost time and money, and current law that limits the ability to partner with the private sector holds back the development of the system.

PRRIA addresses these issues and builds upon improvements included in the previous rail authorization of 2008.

Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2014 Highlights

Reforms Amtrak to Increase Transparency, Reduce Costs, and Operate More Like a Business

Eliminates Amtrak’s losses in food and beverage service
Mandates Amtrak carry out a business case analysis for all major procurements
Eliminates Amtrak’s black-box accounting and requires transparent bookkeeping aligned with core service functions

Leverages Resources and Encourages Non-Federal Participation

Creates station development opportunities for the private sector
Opens new revenue streams through right-of-way development
Unlocks an underutilized federal railroad loan program
Assists with advancing large infrastructure projects through partnerships with states

Targets Investments Where There is the Greatest Potential for Success

Improves management of the Northeast Corridor
Incentivizes increased Northeast Corridor investments

Empowers States to Have a Greater Role in Managing Routes

Ensures states are equal partners, giving them a greater say in decision making to ensure passengers get the best service
Strengthens transparency to give states and Congress greater insight into Amtrak’s accounting to identify areas for improvement
Requires Amtrak to evaluate long-distance routes, improve services, and lower costs

Streamlines Environmental Reviews and Accelerates Project Delivery

Sets hard deadlines to reasonably limit review times
Requires reviews to occur concurrently rather than consecutively
Improves coordination among federal, state, and local agencies involved in the reviews

# # #

Reports

RailPAC member rides the Silver Star

Trip Report and PHOTOS by Anthony Lee, RailPAC Associate Director

After spending a couple of days at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center at Disney World as well as Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, I decided to take the Amtrak’s Sliver Service Silver Star instead of driving home. This is my first time riding the Silver Star; I have ridden the Silver Meteor several times. Before proceeding to the Amtrak/Sun Rail Station in Orlando I had breakfast at the world largest McDonald’s Restaurant which has a bowling alley.

20140521_105315

While waiting at the Amtrak/ Sunrail Station for the Silver Star# 91 to arrive from New York, which was now 38 minutes late due to other train interference from other trains( …ie Sunrail, other Amtrak trains and freight trains), the 1054 am Sunrail train from DeBray,Fl arrived. It had the Cab control car leading with two coaches and the loco pushing. The Sunrail trains use the north end of the platform (pictured) where the ticket vending machines are located. A handful of passengers got off and on for the midday Sunrail train. Five minutes later, The Silver Star #91 arrived. Approximately 40-50 passengers got off, and another 30–40 passengers got on which is pretty good for mid -week. The Orlando Amtrak/Sunrail Station and the Tampa Amtrak Station serve thruway buses as well to the West Coast of Florida.

I had my ticket scan on the platform using my smart phone, the first time I have used the smart phone on Amtrak. After some station work, we highballed to Tampa. We encounterd some slow orders to Kissimmee,Fl. After a quick stop at Kissimmee we continue on to Tampa, and because of these slow orders we ended up adding 27 mins to our late train. The track speed from Orlando to Tampa is 60-79 mph. The LSA from the dining car came through the coaches for lunch reservations.

20140521_123223

I chose the 1230 reservation. the other choices were 1145, 1230, 1315,or 1400. For lunch, I ordered the Angus beef burger (pictured below, left) and the Strawberry cheese cake (below right) for dessert. During lunch, my train met northbound Silver Meteor #98.

20140521_123959 20140521_130112

At Tampa, the train does a backup move to the station. Approximately 100 -125 passengers got off and on at Tampa. The Amtrak station is located in the Ybor City area of Tampa, which is a redeveloped and historical area with plenty of hotels and restaurants located nearby and connected by a street car system.

With everybody on board and a everyone had their smoke break, my train continued on to South Florida. The Silver Star stops in Lakeland, which has a nice new station, a stop at Winter Haven, which is the gateway to Legoland, Sebring, and at Okeechobee, which is the gateway to Lake Okeechobee and Everglades Recreational areas.

Before Sebring , at Devon Park, my trains passed Northbound #92 Amtrak’s Silver Star. After having a pleasant, wonderful trip and a friendly crew on my trip on Amtrak Silver Star, I arrived 1h 05 mins late at Ft. Lauderdale, Amtrak/Tri-Rail Station.

NOTE: I used the Amtrak Saver fare of $39 Orlando-Ft.lauderdale. If i used my car it would have cost $32 in gas and $12.00 tolls. Air would have cost $69-$563, or the Bus $30.00.

Reports

Los Angeles Union Station 75th Anniversary event

Report and PHOTOS by Robert Manning, Executive VP, RailPAC

The combination National Train Day and 75th anniversary for LAUS was a success even though the temperature hit 91, which made for a very hot day. In spite of this thousands attended making it very hard to move about. The photo below shows the main waiting room, with its new video arrival/departure screens on the far wall.

LAUS 75th photo waiting room

LA Metro which owns LAUS did a wonderful job in refurbishing the station. It was painted inside and out, all the brass and wood work was refurbished and new signage was added throughout the station, keeping with the art deco theme. The tunnel inside the station was repainted white with lights added making all of the connecting tunnels much brighter and safer.

The outside gardens looked great, and I must credit LA Metro for doing an overall fantastic job.

LAUS 75th photo ticket area w mural

The old ticket area (above) was turned into a seated area so people could listen to a live band with a singer performing music from the 1930’s with most everyone dressing from the same era.

LAUS 75th photo Harvey restuarant

The Fred Harvey Restaurant, (above) was where my wife and I spent most of the time because it was air conditioned, and they also had music and dancing from the 1930’s. And again many folks were dressed from the same period.

The equipment display included an Amtrak sleeping car, Lounge car, coach and Parlour car. There were also several private cars on display. The very long lines to visit this equipment took almost two hours.

LA Metro provided free Metrolink travel to Glendale and back and the same on the Gold line to Little Tokyo. If you showed your “tap card” (this is the card used to travel the LA Subway system) you received a 10% discount offered by restaurants in the greater LA area including Glendale, and at the retailers located inside LAUS.