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May 1976 - Page 14

National Railroad Passenger Corporation

T ho se few remaining Amtrak FP7 unit s , all of which are ex-Southern Pacific, have been handed an operating exten sion which should keep severa l of the Electro-Motive c:ab units active for a few extra months. Six are presently scheduled to be retained at Oakland for service on the San Joaquin, a lthough their actual operat.ion m ay be somewhat l i mi ted. A pair of EMD SDP40F'unit s , number s 542 and 543 , have been transferred We st an d now work thi s run through Ca lifornia' s Centra l Valley wh ich now brings the FP7' s out for service onl y on Fr iday , Saturday and Sunday when the Renb Fun Train i s operating; the l atter i s now b eing a s signed the S DP40Ps. New Amfleet equipment, both locomotives and car s, is promi sed for the San Joaquin, po ssibl y by early summer, which wil l allow rea s signment again of both the 542 and 54 3 , the pre sen t fleet of cars and retirement of the last FPTs. The initial u se in the Far We st of new Amfleet equipment wil l be on the Los Angel e s -to-San Diego San Diegan service. Upgrading of these six train s , three each way , i s scheduled for May and w i l l include assignment o f twenty Amfleet car s and three o f the new 200-series F40PH locomotives recently del ivered to Amtrak by Electro-Motive. Locomotive s and car s sh ould be in Southern Cal i forni a by ear ly in May. On January 27 a truck ran into the eastboun d Sunset Limited near Orange, Texas , dera iling almost a l l of its eight car s; but SDP40F' s 556, leading, and 553 were undamaged. The tra in included baggage car 1104 , h i gh-level coache s 9943 and 9933, dorm l ounge 3390, diner 8504 and s leeper s 2622, 2210 and 2618. The next day a make-up tra in departed from New Orlean s u sing spare Pan ama Limited equipment as wel l a s the transcontinental s leeper off of the Southern Crescent. New General E l ectric P30CH' s 719 and 7 20, with heater-car 1916, from Panama Limited service, were used for the make-up tra in a s far we st a s Houston and then returned to New Orleans coupled ahead of SDP40P s 567 and 558 (Michael M. Palmieri). Amtrak' s U.S.A. Rai l Pas s, which i s good for unl imited travel anywhere in the Amtrak passen ger system, ha s been extended from its original May 15 deadl ine and will continue to be offered through the peak-travel summer month s but at higher prices. The U.S.A. Rai l Pas se s sold over seas for use only by vi sitors from abroad wil l continue to be offered at the present rates. The new dome stic price s are $250 for fourteen day s of unli mited coach travel anywhere on the Amtrak system; $ 325 for twenty-one day s ; and $400 for thirty day s. The pass remains good on all Amtrak train s e xcept the Metrol iner s, and i s now good on a l l Southern Rai lway pas senger trains a s well. Pa s s h o l ders may, of course, upgra de any segment of their trip to fir st cla s s by paying the difference in fares. However, after May 15, the
14 MAY , 1 976

upgrading wi l l be permitted onl y on a space ava i la b le ba sis no sooner than thirty minute s before departure time , or on board the train. Lower off- sea son rate s are being consi dered for Fal l. Amtrak's expre s s an d mai l b u sine s s showed a decisive gain in 1975, a lthough pa s senger revenue decli ned from 1974' s record level s induced by the energy shortage. Baggage and expre ss s ales reported an 84 per cent gain in sales over 1974, while ma i l revenues were up 1 8 per cent. Amtrak's own expres s service, which did not go into operati on until mid year in 1973, brought in $120,727 in it s first year, $697, 1 33 in 1974 and $1 , 308,291 in 1 975. Further gains are expected in a l l field s as Amtrak a dd s thirty baggage car s remodeled from former U. S. Army car s to its fleet. These cars , by the way, will be combatible with either Amtrak's new Amfleet trains or with older, conventional equipment. According to recent marketing research studie s of ridership characteri stics, it wa s sh own that sixty-five per cent of Amtrak' s pa s sengers are traveling on vacati on s , twenty per cent are r i ding the tra ins for rea s ons associated w ith bu siness and fifteen per cent are on board for other rea son s. And, although pas senger volume in 1975 was down from 1974, the pa ssenger-mi le t ota l s have continued to increa se at a nine per cent annual rate. On-time performance i s up, too, from 60.2 per cent in 197 3 to 7 5.4 per cent in 1974 and 77.4 per cent in 1975. And, for the secon d straight year Amtrak reported an out standing safety record with no pa ssenger fatal ities. Both Amtrak and the State of Neva da wil l jo intly sponsor a new L o s Angele s-to-Las Vega s train, the Las Vegas Limited, b eginning on May 21. The train - a revival of that Las Vegas tradition the week-end "Oap shooters Special" - w i l l ma ke one r ound trip per week , leaving Lo s Angeles on Friday a fternoon s and returning from Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon. Amtrak is operating the new ser vice at the reque st of the State of Nevada , which ha s a greed to pay one -ha l f of any start-up and operating l o s se s. The initial operati on of the tra in was delayed unti l after the final run - on the weekend of Apri l 30-May 2 of the Reno Fun Train spon sored by the Greater Reno Chamber of Commerce in order to u se much of the same equipment. The eastbound run to Las Vegas wi l l depart from Los Angeles at 1 : 30 PM, stopping at pa sadena, Pomona, San Bernardino and Barstow. The arrival in La s Vega s w i l l be at 8:55 PM. The westbound return run leave s Las Vega s at 2:00 PM, arriv ing back in Los Angeles at 9: 30 PM. Accommodati on s on the train w i l l include a diner, ful l l ounge and coache s. Minimum capacity w i l l be for three hundred pa ssengers. Amtrak wil l be offering a specia l three day excur sion fare with a twenty -five per cent saving for the trip. The round-trip fare wi l l be $36.00. A second daily round-trip Amfleet tra in between Chicago and St. Louis i s scheduled to begin service on April 25. The A nn Rutledge, trai n s 301 and 304 , has been operating with Amfleet equipment and now the new car s will al so be used regularly on the State House w hich departs Chic ago at 5: 45 PM, and from St. Louis at 4: 20 AM. The third dai ly train on the route, the Abraham Lincoln, w i l l continue to be conventionall y equipped .

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