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What’s the deal with Amtrak?

Old 11-08-2010, 07:21 AM
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Default What’s the deal with Amtrak?

Somebody explain Amtrak to me. I live in central MS. I can book a round trip train ticket to New Orleans for $46. It is a 3 hour drive or 4.5 hour train ride. I like riding the train to New Orleans so I thought why not Memphis. It’s on the same line. Equally a 3 hour drive or 4.5 hour train but round trip is $125. So with a little more looking Amtrak offers round trip to Chicago. It is a 15 hour train ride. Thought it might be fun for the wife and I to get a sleeper car ride the train to Chicago for a long weekend. Round trip for 2 with a sleeper car is $1200. Coach is $745. I can fly round trip for 2 for $450.

So my question why is Amtrak so expensive? Why is 3 hours south $46 and north $125? I thought maybe someone with more knowledge of the railroad could answer these questions.
Old 11-08-2010, 07:33 AM
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Because it is run by the govt.
Old 11-08-2010, 07:39 AM
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I cannot answer directly for Amtrak but I do work for a passenger railroad. Rail costs are high, it is expensive to run and maintain the miles upon miles of track, signals, and switches. Man power, insurance, operating their own police force all takes big bucks, and I've not even touched on the bridges they have to keep after or the pension plans.

We charge $1.75 per passenger ride yet it costs us in the $6.00 range to provide that service, we do have other sources of income to offset this loss and we operate as a non-profit organization.

Rail lines are not very cost effective.
If the US wanted to supply service on a national basis a bus line is far more economical, make it private and it would be better still.
Old 11-08-2010, 08:02 AM
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I haven't taken amtrak in 3 years but if I remember correctly the sleeper is paid for by only one occupant and then everyone else just pays the coach rate which also included meals. For a single person it definitely is not the cheap route but it was comparable for a family of four.

If passenger rail was subsidized similar to the way bus/car and commercial air traffic is then it might be comparable. Government provides roads and airports and maintains them for private use which is not the case for rail AFAIK
Old 11-08-2010, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by DFreedom View Post
Because it is run by the govt.
What he said.
Old 11-08-2010, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by YatYas View Post
What he said.
X2
Old 11-08-2010, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bsmit24 View Post
I haven't taken amtrak in 3 years but if I remember correctly the sleeper is paid for by only one occupant and then everyone else just pays the coach rate which also included meals. For a single person it definitely is not the cheap route but it was comparable for a family of four.

If passenger rail was subsidized similar to the way bus/car and commercial air traffic is then it might be comparable. Government provides roads and airports and maintains them for private use which is not the case for rail AFAIK

You are correct. The sleeper is paid for by one person and everyone else pays coach rate. The $745 for 2 was coach rate and the sleeper was and extra $335 each way.
Old 11-08-2010, 10:19 AM
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For the same reason I can fly to Orlando round trip for $99 but a round trip flight to NY is $399 even though they are both the same distance away.
Old 11-08-2010, 10:25 AM
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Its 3 hours to DC via I 95 and 3 1/2 by Amtrack, its also the same price as a tank of gas in my truck. I rode it a few times but I decided it was better to have my truck and park it at my friends than ride the train.
Old 11-08-2010, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by 08087 View Post
If the US wanted to supply service on a national basis a bus line is far more economical, make it private and it would be better still.[/FONT]
Arent there already such providers?

For me though, if it ever comes to having to get on a bus to go somewhere...just forget it.
Old 11-08-2010, 09:31 PM
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Ahh - BUS STATIONS - that's about 10 steps (in the clientel category) beLOW a Wal-Mart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Neighbor of mine took Amtrick from Richmond to Baltimore about a month ago - NIGHTMARE!

Tracks about 30mi. up the road had a wreck - buses came to Richmond to P/U folks (1hr. late and NO announcement!) - bused to D.C. - back on train - NASTY, NASTY restrooms (did I say NASTY???) - NEVER saw a conductor or any other person for "service, are you alive, someone CRAPPED on the restroom FLOOR, etc." - same crap on the way back, except she ACTUALLY rode in a TRAIN the whole way!

No thanks - I think I'll WALK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Note: I took a train from Richmond to Charleston, WV back in the early '60's - 23-1/2 HOURS (about 320mi. by car)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That was before Amtrak, but it was a decent ride.

Regards,

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