Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Return

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Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Return

Postby gokeefe » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:21 am

I thought this could be a very interesting topic for discussion of routes that will never return to service for whatever reason. I am generally thinking of actual named Amtrak trains not small segments of track mileage (anything less than 10% of the route or which is not essential to the schedule) or trains that ran with specific equipment (Sorry Matt).

To an extent perhaps the most interesting part of this discussion will be discovering just exactly how many routes truly can "never" return. For the sake of argument I will accept a rail trail conversion as a "never" but not merely an inactive, out of service or disused track. Example: Snoqualmie Pass ="Never", Homestake Pass="Possible". The real question then becomes (to an extent) whether or not we can agree that in the previous example one could still say the North Coast Hiawatha would merely operate over another pass. I think the answer based on previous history is, "Yes".

No matter how bad the condition if the iron is still in place and the bridges aren't rotting let's assume that a route "could" come back someday. Rail banked right of way without tracks or trails is the "gray zone".

Finally this leads me to what I believe is the only true example of a route that Amtrak will never be able to operate again, the Floridian (CHI-MIA). I am very unfamiliar with the route miles but it is my understanding that a very significant chunk of this route has been abandoned (disposition unknown) since it was last operated. That in all of the almost 50 year history of Amtrak only one route has truly ever been lost to history is in my opinion extraordinary given the voluminous abandonments of track miles by U.S. railroads throughout the 20th century.

I am more than aware of course that most of the damage had already happened by the time Amtrak came onto the scene but I think that it is easy to loose sight of how many potential corridors have in fact been preserved for the future. I would also note that although a train can always be re-routed around the triangle in another manner (Example: CHI-NOL-MIA) such inefficiency even on largely overnight routes precludes consideration by anyone but the most avid enthusiast. I leave it to others to make the case that the Floridian is not in fact "extinct" or that there are others like it.

For reference here is the wiki.

For those looking to discuss specific abandoned segments of mileage please feel free to pickup the discussion where the late Mr. Rezor (NellieBly) left off with an excellent post in 2004.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:01 am

Mr. O'Keefe: most of the Floridian route is still in operation. The big outliers are the Monon south of Lafayette, IN and some of the Florida trackage (abandoned) - Ocala Mike could tell you more - but the Louisville, Nashville, Birmingham, Jacksonville route is still critically important for CSX.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby Alcochaser » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:15 am

The Floridian route is 100% intact south of Louisville. to Jacksonville. FEC could easily be used to MIA.

North of Louisville the train was rerouted so many times its hard to keep track.
The train initially was named the South Wind. And used IC and PC trackage. Later it shifted to the Monon and became the Floridian.

Wasn't the only train to use this track. Auto Train Corp had the Louisville auto train operation.

The route of the old Kentucky Cardinal could be used if someone wanted to restore the Floridian. Though you would probably be better off trying to restore the Louisville auto train operation, but allow coach only traffic as well.

The Amtrak National Limited is however a route that probably can NEVER be restored. HUGE section missing from Dayton to Indianapolis that NO good alternative exists.
Same goes with the Amtrak Shenandoah. MASSIVE gap between WV and Cincinnati. Unless you want to use a circuitous routing to connect to the route of the Cardinal
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby Backshophoss » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:43 am

Believe parts of the long defunct "North Coast Hiawatha" has been removed,it followed the old NP route of
the "North Coast LTD". Like the Sunset Ltd,it was "Tri-weekly" past the Twin Cities when the "Hi" was running
BN may have abandoned part of it,or BNSF after the merger.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:52 am

Passenger trains can no longer operate over the former ATSF into any Chicago passenger station, as "end of track" is Corwith Yard (sort of near Midway Airport). The Amtrak-era trackage agreement with the GM&O to access CUS has been broken and that (physical) with the C&WI to access Dearborn is of course no more.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:04 am

Alcochaser wrote:
The Amtrak National Limited is however a route that probably can NEVER be restored. HUGE section missing from Dayton to Indianapolis that NO good alternative exists.


Could you go from Indy to Cincy and then back up to Dayton (then to Columbus)? It would be a little longer than the old National between Indy and Dayton but you'd add a big market.

Then the problem is how do you go from Columbus to Pittsburgh. Once we figure that out we can give Cincinnati a faster train to the east coast and open up Cincinnati-Columbus-Pittsburgh travel. I believe that was the old Cincinnati Limited route which was canceled on A-Day in favor of the George Washington (I wonder why). Or maybe we can do 3-C to upstate New York. Sure that would be a long detour but it's not like there's not a huge detour now.

I'm pretty sure IND-STL is reasonable (ideally you'd pass through Champaign/Urbana and hit the huge college town but not required) and KCY-STL and PGH-NYP is currently served. I'd like to see HAR-BAL-WAS served again but I don't see that happening.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby NS VIA FAN » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:08 am

The Empire State Express/Niagara Rainbow on 230 miles of now mostly abandoned xPenn Central, x Conrail track across Southern Ontario between Detroit/Windsor and Buffalo/Niagara Falls. In it's last months of operation in 1979.....the Niagara Rainbow crossed the border at Niagara Falls instead of Fort Erie/Black Rock.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby Alcochaser » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:17 am

Philly Amtrak Fan wrote:
Alcochaser wrote:
The Amtrak National Limited is however a route that probably can NEVER be restored. HUGE section missing from Dayton to Indianapolis that NO good alternative exists.


Could you go from Indy to Cincy and then back up to Dayton (then to Columbus)? It would be a little longer than the old National between Indy and Dayton but you'd add a big market.

Then the problem is how do you go from Columbus to Pittsburgh. Once we figure that out we can give Cincinnati a faster train to the east coast and open up Cincinnati-Columbus-Pittsburgh travel. I believe that was the old Cincinnati Limited route which was canceled on A-Day in favor of the George Washington (I wonder why). Or maybe we can do 3-C to upstate New York. Sure that would be a long detour but it's not like there's not a huge detour now.

I'm pretty sure IND-STL is reasonable (ideally you'd pass through Champaign/Urbana and hit the huge college town but not required) and KCY-STL and PGH-NYP is currently served. I'd like to see HAR-BAL-WAS served again but I don't see that happening.


Harrisburg to Baltimore is VERY possible from the track all being there. Nothing would need done with it. It would need to be diesel as the wires are gone. (Well the 12.5KV wires are gone, most of the route still caries the 138 kV transmission lines from the Safe Harbor hydro plant for Amtrak)
Since the south end of the Port Road dumps into the NEC to get to Baltimore. NS doesn't run SQUAT daytime hours. Amtrak would have a up to date CTC railroad all to itself. But with one end in PA and the other in MD. Who pays for it is a big question.

Columbus to Pittsburgh is intact.... but it's a 25mph G&W owned dark single track line. IND to COL is problematic. CSX has a route that goes fairly far up north to connect to the mainline that requires using a single track dark secondary mainline. It takes a freight crew an entire shift to run IND COL right now.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby John_Perkowski » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:55 am

I rather doubt we will see a Pioneer Limited ever again.

I rather doubt we will see a Texas Chief ever again.

I have most serious doubts about seeing a Sunset Limited east of New Orleans ever again.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:11 am

I think the route between NOL-ORL is still possible (one option is extending the CONO to Florida). I'm thinking you mean the transcontinental LAX-ORL will never happen again. I kind of wish they did the coast to coast train again but service between NOL and Florida returning would be valuable. The problem is to go from Florida to Texas you would still have to spend overnight in NOL on your own dime. But that's still better than what you'd have to do now.

What was the Texas Chief? And wasn't the Pioneer Limited just the Pioneer or are you referring to a different train?
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby John_Perkowski » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:35 am

The Texas Chief (later the Lone Star) was the Houston-Chicago daily. It died under Carter.

I've heard the Pioneer called both. By the way, let's add the Desert Wind to that list. UP is just a tad busy on the Overland Route now, I don't think there's a space for a passenger train on the schedule without Amtrak paying for some sidings.

Here's a link to the Pioneer, in wiki
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:13 pm

An obscure one for you: The Calumet. The old PRR is abandoned between Hammond and Hobart - you could get around that stretch, but it substantially changes the train's route. Also, Amtrak would never operate such a short route even if the track were there.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:22 pm

John_Perkowski wrote:The Texas Chief (later the Lone Star) was the Houston-Chicago daily. It died under Carter.



Currently Chicago-Kansas City is the Southwest Chief and Oklahoma City-Ft. Worth is the Heartland Flyer. There is talk about extending the HF north to Newton, KS which would connect to the SWC. That would get you CHI-FTW. Then you have to go to Houston.

I guess when we say "never will return" is it because Amtrak/Congress/states won't pay for it or because there's no tracks or the tracks are in such bad shape? The last time Amtrak "brought back" a canceled route was the Three Rivers (old Broadway) and that got canceled again. I would think Amtrak "could" restart most of those but choose not to. There aren't many trains that they can't physically return (or are there?)
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby John_Perkowski » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:48 pm

WRT to the Heartland Flyer extension:

Listen to Satchmo and Ella sing "Dream a Little Dream"

I've been following this since 2009 or so. Kansas will never vote the matching funds.
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Re: Lost & Gone Forever, Amtrak Routes That Will Never Retur

Postby AgentSkelly » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:42 pm

As I recall, the Desert Wind if it was revived, the way it would go thru Portland doesn't exist anymore without a reverse move...
New Westminster to Amtrak 516, whats up with the extra 4 axles, over?
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