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- Arkansas Association of Railroad Passengers -


Following the busy Christmas travel period, Amtrak in January 1997 reduced the capacity of the Texas Eagle by eliminating one coach, thus reducing capacity by one-third. January is a traditionally light travel month, but by mid-February advance reservations for this train were already selling out for a number of dates during the month of March. At the same time, Amtrak management provided no indication of willingness to restore the Eagle's third coach.

Advance reservation data was compiled by Arkansas Rail (see accompanying table) to illustrate the Eagle's near sold out conditions for many trips in March. This information was provided to the National Association of Railroad Passengers, and the matter was taken before Amtrak's top management. As a result, a third coach was restored to the Eagle, beginning with service through Arkansas and Texas on Thursday March 6, 1997. Although this additional space was placed in the reservation system only 96 hours earlier, the third coach was already over one-half full on its first trip. Not all Amtrak officials were pleased with the Eagle's enlarged consist, and threats have been made that the coach may be removed after the Easter/Spring break travel period. Amtrak's prompt action in adding a third coach to the Eagle is commendable. However, it is unfortunate that input from outside the management hierarchy is necessary to effect changes which will result in increased ridership on the train.

On a similar concern, involving a serious shortage of sleeping car accommodations, Amtrak continues to refuse to sell economy rooms in the Superliner II dormitory car. Rooms in this car were specifically designed to be identical to standard economy rooms, so that they might be sold when the entire car was not occupied by crew members. In the case of the Eagle, approximately one-half of this car would be available to be sold as revenue space, an option which would significantly increase the train's inventory of sleeping car accommodations.

Texas Eagle advance reservations as of February 24, 1997. For each train, the maximum reservations now on hand are listed as (coach) + (sleeper). Two coaches are considered sold out at 140-146 passengers, two sleepers are considered sold out at 60-70 passengers.

           DATE             Train 21            Train 22
          -------         (southbound)        (northbound)
          2-28-97            149+67              135+61
          3-2-97             127+62              123+53
          3-4-97             112+69              148+72
          3-7-97             153+69              159+70
          3-9-97             122+70              129+66
          3-11-97            117+66              119+78
          3-14-97            154+74              145+73
          3-16-97            128+69              130+69
          3-18-97            113+56              129+71
          3-21-97            160+80              114+72
          3-23-97            129+66              115+51
          3-25-97            124+59              122+48
          3-28-97            156+80              140+73
          3-30-97            100+60              134+76

Prepared for Arkansas Rail by Bill Pollard. Email:, February 24, 1997.

Posted: Monday, March 10, 1997.

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