Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inland

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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby charlesriverbranch » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:06 pm

Arlington wrote:A forum called Railroad.net is not going to get a representative sample of mode choice, so "I'm not going to ride the bus" while true, is not actually useful in route planning.
BUS: Without looking (I'll put the answer below) how many annual intercity bus passengers are there compared to how many intercity train (Amtrak) passengers? NOTE: the answer is not "nobody rides the bus" Rather it is that bus is the far larger, nationwide solution, providing both "essential" service to flyover Red State nothingburgs AND serving dense corridors.


That's only because there are more buses running than trains.

Have you ridden 400 miles on a bus lately? It's an extremely unpleasant experience.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Arlington » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:26 pm

More buses run because customers like them and the market supports them, and as a system they are profitable. Being profitable has funded a continent's worth of network coverage and twice the patronage.

What share of any CT/Pioneer Valley trips (this thread's topic) are 400 miles? I suspect 150 to 250 mile trips VASTLY predominate.

Further, from CT&PV, trips of 400 miles probably mean having to cross mountains where the train is never going to keep up.

Please propose appropriate modes for the demands of the trip. Where we have Class 4+ rails, awesome, let's use 'em, but it undercuts the political case for any mode when they get too far beyond their business case.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby NRGeep » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:18 pm

Meanwhile, in October '18, Peter Pan ended bus service in Greenfield.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Arlington » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:25 pm

Rail can win running straight, flat, & fast. Let's find more where rail wins!
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:51 pm

Even with a few curves that are sharp, fine but too many every few miles is not ok.

In many territories along defunct or very curvy right of ways, such as in Northeastern PA where the Lackawanna Pocono Main is, the bus is the best mode of public transportation. From having ridden the excursion powered by the 765 in September of 2015, I noticed those are extremely sharp curves once you get past E. Stroudsburg. There is no way that a train running from Hoboken to Scranton would do well ridershipwise because of speed being a major obstacle. In fact, taking a NJT local train from NYP to Dover is extremely slow and doesn't compete with driving or taking the bus between those two points.

It seems that between Springfield and Greenfield, there are a lot of curves but I think there is a lot of straight track too. The curves aren't 180 degrees which helps. Looking at a map, it looks like the main roads between Springfield and Greenfield curve as well. Hopefully, train travel time between Springfield and Greenfield won't be much slower than driving. It looks like presently, the timetable says that Amtrak Train # 56 does the trip between Springfield and Greenfield in one hour and seven minutes. Is that terrible? Probably not, given that it makes stops in between. Could the times be improved? Yes, and whatever slow orders there are once you clear the junction just west of the Springfield Amtrak Station, hopefully they can help bring down the travel time. I doubt that the approach in and out of the Springfield station can be improved with speed.

When these shuttles are extended north of SPG, Mass needs to let Amtrak run at least three car trains or even have a forth car. I wouldn't be overly surprised that these trains will get crowded. I also think the fares north of SPG up to Greenfield should be lowered.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby shadyjay » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:44 pm

Actually, the Conn River Line is most likely one of the straightest in New England, at least between just north of Northampton to Greenfield. The Vermonter operates at 79 MPH through here. It gets curvy from Holyoke to Northampton, as it follows the river, which takes a large bend in the area (the Oxbow), and so does I-91 and Route 5. I would think some run time improvements would be available between Springfield and Chicopee, but not much in Holyoke as its pretty built up, there are some bridges and curves. Its actually not a bad spot for a station since you're already traveling slow. A station between Northampton and Greenfield wouldn't be necessary at the present as it would be right in the middle of the straight-line between the two existing stations, and you'd lose time accelerating/decellerating to/from 79 MPH.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Kilo Echo » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:29 pm

shadyjay wrote:It gets curvy from Holyoke to Northampton, as it follows the river, which takes a large bend in the area (the Oxbow), and so does I-91 and Route 5.

Just to be clear: the tracks are straight as they cross the Oxbow; they do not follow its bend. The most tortuous stretch runs through Holyoke.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Arlington » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:12 pm

And for me to be clear: I consider the MassDOT-owned Pioneer Valley* line to be straight and flat: a place where the train can win or at least be at parity with I-91 particularly at rush hour in HFD.

By contrast, I say these other "Inland" and "LSL" routes are NOT straight and flat: SPG-PIT, and PAS to Hoosac or the Worcester hills, and so bus feed into SPG (and its multi-bay bus facility) make sense from anything to the East or West of SPG. So when I hear that transit service to any place in the Berkshires is being studied, my conclusion is: That should be and will be a bus. (except for a Berkshire Flyer, via ALB which uses the flat-and-fast Hudson Valley, but we have a different thread for that)

The one exception I'd make for toughing it out in mountainous curves is for a complete Inland run from SPG to BOS where SPG-Palmer and WOR-BOS are genuinely fast, traversing the Worcester hills would be "worth it"

* We Massholes call it the Pioneer Valley because, apparently, we can't bring ourselves to call it the Connecticut River Valley.
Last edited by Arlington on Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby daybeers » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:14 pm

lordsigma12345 wrote:
daybeers wrote:Why doesn't Amtrak just make NHV-SPG unreserved like the Keystones? That way any Amtrak ticket could be used on any Amtrak train. Instead, an Amtrak ticket can be used on only that Amtrak train but is accepted on board any CTrail train. CTrail tickets are accepted aboard any train period, but the senior/disabled and child fares are lower than Amtrak's. What?!?

Even if they did go unreserved, they'd probably have to keep Amtrak transfers reserved - they can't afford to have northbound Amtrak passengers connecting in from Regionals or Acelas at NHV denied a seat on the Shuttle (also like the Keystone - The keystone service is reserved if you are connecting into the Keystone corridor from a reserved train such as taking it all the way in from NEC stops north of Philly.)

I'm not familiar with how the unreserved Keystones work: what happens if you try to board and all seats are taken? Are standees allowed?
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby BandA » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:48 pm

I don't understand why a bus could not be configured to have comfortable seating - see Limoliner, although the ride would still be rougher & more jerky than a train. Looking at the map, I-90 Ma$$pike looks straighter Worcester-Albany than CSX, but I assume the pike has gradients too steep for steel-on-steel traction - it certainly does around Blandford!

Earlier someone suggested a new route SPG-ALB. Would that make sense?
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby bratkinson » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:33 pm

BandA wrote:I don't understand why a bus could not be configured to have comfortable seating - see Limoliner, although the ride would still be rougher & more jerky than a train.


A typical Amtrak car is 10' 6" wide vs an intercity bus is typically between 8' and 9' wide. Fitting two seats on each side of the aisle requires that bus seats are 4 to 6 inches narrower than on Amtrak. The only way to make a bus comfortable would be to make seating 2 x 1 for width, AND, adding another 4-6" of legroom between each row, to match an Amfleet I coach. Add another 10" legroom or so to match the legroom of an Amfleet II long-distance coach. The loss of seats/bus would likely adversely affect potential revenue to the point no company would offer such a service.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby Arlington » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:50 pm

The LimoLiner has a tiny niche in the BOS-NYC market, where the bus is a 4 hour trip. Which sort of demonstrates that even in a huge market the number of people who are willing to pay more for a bigger seat is very very small, likely because they also want speed. I would expect a train with big comfy seats but moving at slow speed to get a similarly small market share.

All* significant trips to/from the CT River Valley top out around 2h30, for which speed, frequency and price (and not seat size) are going to be the dominant consideration.

* ALB, BOS, PVD, STM, NHV and trips through a SPG bus-rail hub with bus spokes to minor places.

NYC ~3hrs from SPG, which is why the Shuttles and GFD will work well.

A second daily Vermonter and connection from NYP ALB and BOS basically cover the rest of the world.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby lordsigma12345 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:50 am

daybeers wrote:I'm not familiar with how the unreserved Keystones work: what happens if you try to board and all seats are taken? Are standees allowed?

I'm not sure actually I've never ridden it. I just know that it's unreserved on trips contained between Philly and Harrisburg but reserved if one end of the trip terminates beyond Philly on the NEC. Not sure if they limit the amount of reserved spots on the train so that a certain amount of seats are "reserved" for unreserved ticket holders. Something like that could work here - make all the SPG-NHV tickets unreserved and equal to CTrail, and only reserve seats for those transferring to or from reserved Amtrak service at NHV (and on the busier commuter runs sell out the intercity transfer reservations when they get to a certain amount to ensure there's space set aside for local customers.) Amtrak pretty much is always going to make their priority the NEC transfer passengers - they are passengers that Amtrak actually makes some money from. The NHV-SPG state corridor loses money (and is paid back by CTDOT/MassDOT) but with the transfer passengers that gives them NEC revenue which is Amtrak's big priority.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:27 am

Arlington wrote:More buses run because customers like them


Ha! I’ve never met a single person who prefers the bus, except as a range extender for rail, or as an unfortunately cheaper alternative. Have you?

Arlington wrote:and the market supports them, and as a system they are profitable. Being profitable has funded a continent's worth of network coverage and twice the patronage.


That’s more like it. :wink:

Arlington wrote:Please propose appropriate modes for the demands of the trip. Where we have Class 4+ rails, awesome, let's use 'em, but it undercuts the political case for any mode when they get too far beyond their business case.


In the expansion thread I laid out the two major factors in competitive train service: fast, straight running, and little highway competition by buses and cars. The third factor I neglected is simple demand for connections. SPG-WOR is slow, and the B&A will always be slow even under public ownership, but there is latent demand for at least one more train if not several between Massachusetts’ two largest metropolitan areas. Even a slow train will consistently get riders.

That said, if Massachusetts doesn’t want to buy out CSX or CSX doesn’t want to sell, the next best option is the CalTrans model Bakersfield-LAX of frequent through-ticketed bus connections essentially across the platform.
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:57 am

Driving to W. Haven is also a cheaper opportunity. I heard that it is expensive to park at New Haven Station. While W. Haven Station might be a little longer to drive to from any town served by the Springfield Line, it’s not by much, especially as you get closer to New Haven.
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