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> Sunset Limited schedule change effective 5/7/12
KevinKorell
post Mar 14 2012, 01:10 PM
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Amtrak press release:
QUOTE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2012
NEW SCHEDULE FOR SUNSET LIMITED BENEFITS PASSENGERS AND IMPROVES FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
Better connections, increased ridership and revenue, and reduced costs

NEW ORLEANS -- A new schedule for the Amtrak Sunset Limited is planned to take effect on May 7 for the New Orleans-Los Angeles route that will change the days of westbound operations and provide better connections for passengers travelling to and through California. These changes are expected to increase ridership and revenue, and reduce crew layover costs.

“The passenger benefits and financial improvement resulting from changing the Sunset Limited schedule are two-fold: Amtrak is providing better service and acting to improve our bottom line,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman. “These are improvements that can be implemented quickly, require no capital investment and will enhance connectivity across our national network.”

The westbound Sunset Limited (Train 1) will depart from New Orleans on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays almost three hours earlier each day than the current Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. While there is no change to the eastbound Sunset Limited (Train 2) days of operations from Los Angeles on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, it will depart seven hours later each day in order to restore connections between the Sunset Limited and the Amtrak Coast Starlight (Trains 11 & 14) and to make possible an attractive next morning arrival to Arizona destinations.

In addition, the change will significantly reduce the layover for through passengers at San Antonio by more than seven hours for eastbound passengers and by more than three hours for westbound passengers when railcars are exchanged between the Sunset Limited and the Texas Eagle (Trains 21 & 22). Better connections between the Sunset Limited, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle and Amtrak corridor services in California are predicted to increase the ridership and revenue of these trains.

Those passengers who have already purchased tickets for the period affected by the schedule change will be notified and offered rebooking at no charge.

Inaugurated by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1894, the Sunset Limited has been operated by Amtrak since its inception in 1971. Nearly 100,000 passengers rode the Sunset Limited last year, an increase of almost nine percent over the previous fiscal year.

About Amtrak®:

Celebrating 40 years of dedicated service as America’s Railroad® Amtrak is the nation’s intercity passenger rail provider and its only high-speed rail operator. A record 30.2 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2011 on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates trains in partnership with 15 states and four commuter rail agencies.

Enjoy the journey at http://www.Amtrak.com/ or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Join us on http://www.facebook.com/Amtrak and follow us at http://www.twitter.com/Amtrak .
The press release also contains a new timetable, but that would have been too time consuming to reproduce here. Once it's available online I'll provide a link to it.


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KevinKorell
post Mar 14 2012, 04:02 PM
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The schedules more resemble those of the old days, before severe timekeeping issues caused them to greatly lengthen the schedule. Now it's being re-condensed since UP has been successful in getting the train over the route on time or early.

Although things will be better than they are now, I see a few negatives. The 5:30 AM arrival into Los Angeles on #1 is one problem. Allowing sleeper passengers to remain on board until 6:30 AM is a nice perk but it's not enough. How about 8 AM? Does the extra hour allow them to provide breakfast for sleeping car passengers? That would mean they'd still need to report to the dining car at 5:30 to have time to eat before they are kicked off into the early morning smog.

They also tout an overnight schedule between Los Angeles and Arizona on #2. Tuscon is OK, but arrival at the thriving downtown metropolis of Maricopa is still around 5:30 AM... assuming one has a ride at that hour between there and Phoenix or any semblance of civilization.

Cutting down the time spent in San Antonio for those connecting to or from the Texas Eagle is a great thing as well, especially since the attractions they recommended people enjoy during the long layover aren't open at those overnight hours anyhow.

Of course one traveler's gain is another one's loss. The strong-willed passenger who wants to go from Houston to Dallas via a change of trains at San Antonio (#1 to #22) currently has a 4-hour layover. That layover will increase to 7 hours under the new schedule. And in the other direction (#21 to #2), the current layover of 2 hours increases to 8-1/2 hours. There's enough time there to take a hotel room and get 6 or more hours of sleep in between.

I think that this schedule update also further solidifies the situation with the lack of service east of New Orleans. The current schedule accommodated a late morning arrival from Florida, with some meat built in for a long layover in NOL, and the current early afternoon westbound departure. Likewise, the current 4 PM arrival time in New Orleans allowed for a 6-hour layover in NOL before the train left for an overnight run across the Gulf Coast, emerging into the Florida sun the next morning. Now the train will officially tie up for the night (and the next 2 or 3 days) in New Orleans, since a potential eastward depature towards Florida would probably be pushed back to midnight or later to allow the catch-up time to continue. My guess is that the official timetables when they come out won't have the defacto station listing along the eastern segment of the route anymore, the segment that hasn't been served since August of 2005. Even if service is eventually provided with a City of New Orleans extension or a separate train, I would expect that either of those departures towards Florida would be made much earlier than the new arrival time of #2.

Here is NARP's copy of the Amtrak press release, which at present still isn't on Amtrak's own site. It includes the whole timetable effective 5/7/12. http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/trac...gaFC9UO7%2BQ5DY


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