Dr. Adrian Herzog, RailPac and URPA
- URPA: United Rail Passenger Alliance
- the author acknowledges the technical assistance of the Surface Transportation Systems Institute in the preparation of this paper.
How to Reduce Ridership and Justify Train DiscontinuancesWhen Amtrak discontinued the Dallas-Houston segment of the Texas Eagle in September 1995, it was generally assumed that the coaches operating between Chicago-Houston would be reassigned to operate on the surviving segment of the train between Chicago-San Antonio, due to heavy utilization of these cars for ridership which either originated or terminated at stations between Dallas and St. Louis. Rather than reassign these cars to accommodate existing ridership, however, Amtrak management chose to simply remove the cars, immediately dropping the total capacity of the Texas Eagle approximately 40 percent. In reviewing Amtrak actions involving the Texas Eagle during the past 18 months, it appears that the loss of these Houston cars was probably tied to Amtrak’s desire to show a larger “paper” savings as a result of the discontinuance of the Dallas-Houston trains. The true out of pocket costs of the Dallas-Houston segment was relatively minor, essentially only the train operating costs. No significant savings were achieved at either the Houston or Dallas stations, and the discontinuance generated no station savings enroute since all intermediate stations were unmanned. A number of mechanical department employees were furloughed at Houston and/or Dallas, but most of these so-called savings continue to be offset by C-2 severance payments..
From the beginning of Amtrak in 1971, any attempt to add new routes, trains or frequencies has been met with Amtrak’s standard reply that “We don’t have enough equipment.” A lack of equipment is now being given by Amtrak as one of the reasons to eliminate service on the Texas Eagle, Pioneer, Desert Wind, and Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.
by URPA Executive Committee