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Author Topic: Amtrak and the Sunset
Steve O.
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This topic has been discussed to death, and I do apologize for bringing it up again, although my motives are not to stir up conversation about when the Sunset will resume service East of NOL, because clearly that's not the plan, but rather why on earth Amtrak has decided to keep everyone "in limbo", so to speak.

The "service disruption" message in the timetable is really what bothers me:

"Sunset Limited service between Orlando and New Orleans has been suspended. Future service has not been determined."

Ok, that's a message which is good for oh, say, six months at the most, in my opinion. You would think, if the service was important to them in the least, that at some point during a six month period Amtrak could sit down with people and come to a final determination of what to do with the train. But after six months (and well longer) of reading that same message, it just gives me the impression that Amtrak has tried to cut corners and, instead of doing a proper train off notice, has decided to keep people guessing about the fate of the train (for some unknown reason), while they know all too well what that fate is.

It seems like the Sunset Limited is the long forgotten stepchild of Amtrak. It just seems to be always "hanging on". You would think Amtrak would take some pride in the fact that the Sunset was the only true transcontinental train in America, and try to restore that status as soon as possible. Certainly, the people along the Gulf Coast haven't just "given up" on the area. But since that likely won't happen, they should accept some responsibility, stop jerking the public around, cancel all of the stops East of New Orleans in the timetable, and officially announce that trains 1 and 2 will be back to NOL-LAX only, as it ran for nearly 100 years leading up to the Florida extension in 1993.

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Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

Posts: 135 | From: Atlanta, GA / New Orleans, LA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gilbert B Norman
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As I have noted in the past, "Sunset East" appears to be "Amtrak's Korean War". While hostilities ended with a truce agreed to during July 1953, a state of war still remains between North and South Korea.

Part of the "suspension" charade still has "Sunset West" days of operation unchanged post-Katrina. It is also my understanding that a WB #1 is still identified by a date of origin as if it had actually departed from Orlando. For example, #1 that will depart New Orleans on Sunday Nov 11 is still identified as #1(10) - just as if it departed Orlando on Sat Nov 10. While I have not personally reviewed such, it is my understanding that a change in the days of operation could result in more optimal utilization of equipment.

Therefore, Mr. Native Son's premise that this "temporary suspension" being used to obviate the "180 Day Notice" under ARAA '97 and the resulting public hearings, at which advocacy groups would be out in force, could well be the case.

Posts: 9390 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pojon
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The "mystery" of why the Sunset Limited hasn't been re-instated east of New Orleans to Orlando is working a hardship on people who have to or who want to go to Tallahassee and Pensacola from eastern Florida. I asked Senator Bill Nelson about it and I received a letter from him last week indicating that he would like to know why the re-instatement hasn't begun already and that he will look into it immediately. The CSX RR says that schedules were cleared in April 2006 for re-instatement and Amtrak says that they trained new crews to take over the run in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. So what happened?
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TwinStarRocket
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Is the Sunset limbo situation due to a shortage of Superliner equipment? There is a thread on another site about the many sold out LD trains for Thanksgiving week. Obviously cars could be added and revenue increased. Is this Amtrak ineptitude or an equipment shortage that is keeping this from happening?

Does anyone know if there is any Superliner equipment not being used?

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Gilbert B Norman
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Likely here is the nail in the coffin for Sunset East. If the service had a "patron saint", Sen. Lott was it. Now it appears he is off to K Street:

Associated Press courtesy of The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Lott-Senate.html

However, regarding the Sunset, it appears most "nails were driven" by outgoing Amtrak Chairman David Laney. Here is a "brief passage' from an interview he granted to an Associated Press(courtesy Radio Station WWL 870) reporter;

The railroad has taken heat for failing to restore service east of New Orleans on the Sunset Limited, which until Hurricane Katrina went from Orlando to Los Angeles. Freight service was restored on the line long ago, but Amtrak has maintained the truncated route and kept silent on its future plans

Laney confirmed what most Amtrak watchers have long suspected. "You wont see the Sunset Limited east of New Orleans, and there will be changes west," he said.

Posts: 9390 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
tarheelman
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While "Sunset East" may be gone, all might not be lost: It's a long shot, I know, but perhaps if demand for service between Orlando and New Orleans is strong enough (i.e., enough people wanting this service get in touch with their Congresscritters and Amtrak), then Amtrak will add a couple of day trains between these two cities.
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Steve O.
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Well, I got a reply today:

Dear Mr. xxxx:

Thank you for your recent correspondence. Amtrak has not yet made a decision regarding restoration of service between Orlando and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. We are working closely with the states along the route and with CSX, the railroad that owns the line. When a decision is made, we will make a public announcement. I am sorry that I am not able to give you a more definitive answer, and I regret the impact this may be having on your travel plans.

Once again, thank you for writing. We look forward to having you aboard soon.



Sincerely,







Karen
Customer Relations Specialist

--------------------
Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

Posts: 135 | From: Atlanta, GA / New Orleans, LA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gilbert B Norman
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The Spring/Summer timetables effective May 7 are now available at the website. The System Timetable is also available for download, but fair warning, such is 21MB.

For all intent and purpose, the Sunset is now a New Orleans-LA train. The only reference to NO-Orlando is a Note using the word "suspended" with no mention of "temporary".

With the schedule change, as well as the days of operation that results in more effective use of equipment, I think it is a safe conclusion that Sunset East is gone forever and that Amtrak has won their victory in that they have removed service over a route without the 180 Day Notice under ARAA '97.

Posts: 9390 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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