How much new service is coming? And how?

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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Woody » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:13 pm

Alex M wrote:Regarding speeds, ... the late David P. Morgan in Trains magazine [said] that average speeds of passenger trains should be 25% higher than the highest posted speed limit on the interstate highways. ...

No doubt Amtrak's trains need to go faster. But, nah. I'm not feeling the 25% thing. I'd be tremendously happy if the LD and corridor trains could average a mere 5 mph faster than the speed limit on the interstates.

In other words, Morgan was specifying that the Sunset Ltd should average 100 mph out in West Texas, where I-10 is posted for 80 mph. Heck, I don't need for Amtrak to make even 85 mph out in the Great Chihuahua Desert. I do want to see the Sunset Ltd on segments like San Antonio-Houston, Houston-Lafayette, and Lafayette-New Orleans averaging, say, 75 mph. That would be twice the current speeds.

I recall years ago seeing several references to "the Amtrak average speed of 55 mph ". Haven't seen a reference to an Amtrak average speed lately. Wonder if someone actually calculates the average speed, or if it's a guesstimate. Any clues will be appreciated.

If "the Amtrak average speed" is a real thing, it could get revised up a bit (to what, 56 mph? LOL) in the coming year as the Stimulus-funded projects come on line and cut the run times Seattle-Portland, St Louis-Joliet (almost CHI), Kalamazoo-Detroit, Charlotte-Raleigh, New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, and Poughkeepsie-Albany-Schenectady. Nah. Not enuff there. We need another Stimulus.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby bdawe » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:39 am

I don't think it's unreasonable.

It's not saying that 60 mph isn't better than 55 mph, but it's saying that competitively useful intercity passenger rail is faster than competing car traffic. We can have modestly faster Amtrak trains that will preform modestly better, but if you want them to take a more than trivial share of the travel market, they have to be superior to alternatives. In terms of speed, in order to serve our sprawling metropolitan areas they need to be fast enough to be competitive including last mile connections to destinations which are almost invariably slower than driving.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby east point » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:02 pm

The slow sections can be upgraded to 60 - 80 MPH and you get more bang for the buck instead of spending first on higher speeds Going from 60 - 80 MPH takes much more track miles than 30 - 60 . 80 MPH/ You get more time reduction with the 30 -60 increase. That means much more money !s available to do more mile of eliminating the slow sections. That is what NC DOT is doing.

That is how you increase the average speed better than that pushing first to increase top speed. Know It is not as sexy but -----------
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:26 pm

The first Amtrak train departed Roanoke this morning with over 240 passengers. This spells success. Congrats to all concerned. This is the type of passenger train expansion that is needed in this country. Not more overnight trains crossing Ohio or trying to run trains where there is no state financial support coming. Good reading and good listening. Here is the link:

https://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/roan ... e-platform

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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:50 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:The first Amtrak train departed Roanoke this morning with over 240 passengers. This spells success. Congrats to all concerned. This is the type of passenger train expansion that is needed in this country. Not more overnight trains crossing Ohio or trying to run trains where there is no state financial support coming. Good reading and good listening. Here is the link:

https://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/roan ... e-platform

Noel Weaver


So you only will support expansion of service is where there is "state financial support coming"? The rest of America doesn't deserve trains then? Sounds like a double standard to me. Plenty of states get "free trains" while others only get trains because they have to pay for them (state supported service).
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:28 pm

Philly Amtrak Fan wrote:
Noel Weaver wrote:The first Amtrak train departed Roanoke this morning with over 240 passengers. This spells success. Congrats to all concerned. This is the type of passenger train expansion that is needed in this country. Not more overnight trains crossing Ohio or trying to run trains where there is no state financial support coming. Good reading and good listening. Here is the link:

https://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/roan ... e-platform

Noel Weaver


So you only will support expansion of service is where there is "state financial support coming"? The rest of America doesn't deserve trains then? Sounds like a double standard to me. Plenty of states get "free trains" while others only get trains because they have to pay for them (state supported service).


Ohio has done little or nothing for passenger trains and as a result has three trains in the state all of which run through in the wee hours of the night. Another one would be a total waste of money. There isn't much justification for The Broadway and for sure I would not want any of my tax dollars wasted on it. I favor lot more passenger trains but they have to make sense. The best and most useful trains are daytime intercity corridor type trains running with necessary state support. Pennsylvania has done a good job with their support of the Harrisburg - Philadelphia trains
I would like to see some state support for more service to Pittsburgh but no way more overnigh trains. Philadelphia has three choices to get to Chicago by connecting at New York or Washington or the Cardinal. I think this is adequate.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:57 pm

Noel Weaver wrote: I would like to see some state support for more service to Pittsburgh but no way more overnigh trains. Philadelphia has three choices to get to Chicago by connecting at New York or Washington or the Cardinal. I think this is adequate.
Noel Weaver


You don't live in Philly. You don't have a right to speak as to what's adequate to Philly.

Your comment about wasting tax dollars for trains that aren't used is reasonable but what about all of the other current trains that aren't used then? You are assuming the Broadway is going to be any worse than the Cardinal or Empire Builder. I don't think it will be. If you think spending federal tax money on a new Broadway is a waste of federal tax money why is Byrd Crap not a waste of tax payer money then? That's a double standard to me. The BL serves (or would serve) a larger population base.

Who should get trains and who shouldn't get trains in my opinion? Where do people live and where do people want to go to? If a lot of people live in Philly and a lot of people want to go to Philly, we need a lot of trains to/from Philly. If nobody lives in Thurmond, West Virginia and nobody wants to go to Thurmond, West Virginia, we don't need no damn trains to/from there just because Byrd demanded there be trains go through there 30 years ago.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby andrewjw » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:51 pm

Philly Amtrak Fan wrote:
Noel Weaver wrote: I would like to see some state support for more service to Pittsburgh but no way more overnigh trains. Philadelphia has three choices to get to Chicago by connecting at New York or Washington or the Cardinal. I think this is adequate.
Noel Weaver


You don't live in Philly. You don't have a right to speak as to what's adequate to Philly.

Your comment about wasting tax dollars for trains that aren't used is reasonable but what about all of the other current trains that aren't used then? You are assuming the Broadway is going to be any worse than the Cardinal or Empire Builder. I don't think it will be. If you think spending federal tax money on a new Broadway is a waste of federal tax money why is Byrd Crap not a waste of tax payer money then? That's a double standard to me. The BL serves (or would serve) a larger population base.

Who should get trains and who shouldn't get trains in my opinion? Where do people live and where do people want to go to? If a lot of people live in Philly and a lot of people want to go to Philly, we need a lot of trains to/from Philly. If nobody lives in Thurmond, West Virginia and nobody wants to go to Thurmond, West Virginia, we don't need no damn trains to/from there just because Byrd demanded there be trains go through there 30 years ago.


I grew up in Philadelphia, and yes, three trips to Chicago per day is quite enough for anyone without an unhealthy obsession with history.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:10 pm

andrewjw wrote:
Philly Amtrak Fan wrote:
Noel Weaver wrote: I would like to see some state support for more service to Pittsburgh but no way more overnigh trains. Philadelphia has three choices to get to Chicago by connecting at New York or Washington or the Cardinal. I think this is adequate.
Noel Weaver


You don't live in Philly. You don't have a right to speak as to what's adequate to Philly.

Your comment about wasting tax dollars for trains that aren't used is reasonable but what about all of the other current trains that aren't used then? You are assuming the Broadway is going to be any worse than the Cardinal or Empire Builder. I don't think it will be. If you think spending federal tax money on a new Broadway is a waste of federal tax money why is Byrd Crap not a waste of tax payer money then? That's a double standard to me. The BL serves (or would serve) a larger population base.

Who should get trains and who shouldn't get trains in my opinion? Where do people live and where do people want to go to? If a lot of people live in Philly and a lot of people want to go to Philly, we need a lot of trains to/from Philly. If nobody lives in Thurmond, West Virginia and nobody wants to go to Thurmond, West Virginia, we don't need no damn trains to/from there just because Byrd demanded there be trains go through there 30 years ago.


I grew up in Philadelphia, and yes, three trips to Chicago per day is quite enough for anyone without an unhealthy obsession with history.



Well the Cardinal isn't daily so that doesn't count and even if it is daily that's longer than 24 hours when the Broadway took about 18 hours. You talk about the Broadway being "history". I took the BL in 1994-95 and I took the Three Rivers in 1997 and 2001-02. You act like the BL is the old PRR/PC train, the BL ran on Amtrak for over 20 years and the TR for over a decade between Philly and Chicago after that. And even if Philly and New Jersey have the option of a 26 hour one seat ride, what about Lancaster and Harrisburg, what do they have? A four hour layover in the Pittsburgh Amshack westbound and getting kicked out of the CL at 5:05am in the morning (assuming the CL makes it into PGH on time, otherwise they miss the connection into PGH and they have to bustitute to make it back to eastern PA, which is what happened on my last trip back from California), that's what.

I think many of you do support a revival of the BL. I don't want it to be a fight between the BL and the Cardinal. I only say the Cardinal is worthless and not necessary and a waste of money when someone wants to say the BL is worthless or not necessary. When people ask "why not both"? I never have a problem with saying sure. The only reason I don't say why not both is because I know Congress isn't spending the money.

Getting back to new service, Noel's argument seems to be expansion of service should be the state's responsibility and not the federal responsibility. If that's the case, then chances are good the biggest expansion we'll see in the next 20 years will be ... Roanoke! Whoopie doo! I can't wait to take a train all the way down from Philly to Roanoke! I'm sure Noel is coming all the way from Pompano Beach to Roanoke! And those millions of people from Roanoke are really going to add millions of dollars in revenue and Amtrak's going to be swimming in money! Someone find me Leonard Hofstadter's sarcasm sign.

If you want meaningful expansion, you need to expand to routes/states/cities where people live and where people want to go to. There really is poor service in Ohio. If Ohio isn't willing to fund, maybe the federal government does need to step in, Maybe Cleveland does need service outside the graveyard shift. Maybe Cincinnati does too. Maybe Columbus needs a train at all. Just because they won't elect pro-rail officials doesn't they don't want or deserve trains. You think trains/transportation is the #1 issue on most voters' minds? It isn't on mine I can tell you that. The economy, taxes, education, health care, a lot of other issues come first. I won't get into that. But certainly if a train serves Columbus it can add a lot of people to Amtrak's base (and remember Columbus is home to Ohio State University and college kids often ride trains proportionally more frequently than the general public).

Where else? How about Noel's home state of Florida? You right now can only travel on Amtrak from Florida one direction, northward via the Silver routes. You can't head towards Texas (unless/until they restored the Gulf Coast service). Think about this. Try taking going from Florida to Atlanta. That should be taking I-75 from Tampa or from Orlando via Florida's Turnpike up to Atlanta. Any trains along that route? No. Why not? You would think that would be a popular route. Imagine if you could take a train overnight from Atlanta to Orlando, spend all day in Disneyworld and then take the train back to Atlanta. You wouldn't have to pay ridiculous hotel fees in Orlando. Couldn't you drive there? You have to pay for gas, you put miles on your car, and you have to deal with traffic. Plus overnight you can sleep the time away. I wish there was an overnight train to Pittsburgh. I'd visit there more often if there was. Now I have to give up two whole days traveling back and forth if I want to travel there (or take Greyhound). Or how about Las Vegas? No Amtrak service at all. Not everyone wants to fly and a lot of people are afraid to.

If we bring trains where people are and where they want to go, Amtrak can be more successful. If it's going to cost more money and the government isn't willing to spend more money then IMO we may have to start think about cutting some "under-performing" routes to start some more promising routes. If we lose 100,000 riders but gain 200,000 I will take that any day of the week. Would I rather gain the 200,000 and keep the 100,000? You bet. But we don't have the money to do so. So give me the chance to add the 200,000. It will cost the 100,000 but the net is still 100,000. What's the alternative? We do nothing and the net is nothing.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Arlington » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:41 pm

The beauty of PRIIA is that the people with the greatest say over service increases/decreases in a state end up being the people of that state--as travelers, voters, and taxpayers.

For better or or worse this does favor new Corridor options. I consider this "better" since corridors are the most likely to have conditions where rail can win: moderate trip length and competing roads where traffic is bad.

One service we have not mentioned in this thread (but have talked about in the Downeaster thread) is Maine's potential for having a summer weekends-only service which extends the Downeaster from Brunswick to Rockland Maine.

It may not be sexy, but these little track-upgrade-based expansions in VA, VT, ME, CT-MA, IL, WA represent sustainable progress, partly because they reflect a stable local consensus on the value of small expansions.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:13 pm

Ohio gets more trains for free (2 1/2 daily/direction) than most other states pay for. On a state level, they don’t have much skin in the Amtrak game, and that’s all PRIIA asks of them in order to get better service. (Same for Georgia, South Carolina, and for that matter West Virginia - I’m sure lack of state investment from Charleston is a leading factor for 60 Mass in why the Cardinal remains 3x/week/direction.)
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Anthony » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:07 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Ohio gets more trains for free (2 1/2 daily/direction) than most other states pay for. On a state level, they don’t have much skin in the Amtrak game, and that’s all PRIIA asks of them in order to get better service. (Same for Georgia, South Carolina, and for that matter West Virginia - I’m sure lack of state investment from Charleston is a leading factor for 60 Mass in why the Cardinal remains 3x/week/direction.)

Actually, West Virginia strongly supports a daily Cardinal. The state lead the creation of a multi-state compact supporting such a service improvement.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Arlington » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:32 pm

Anthony wrote:Actually, West Virginia strongly supports a daily Cardinal. The state lead the creation of a multi-state compact supporting such a service improvement.

What states and what total expenditure? (out of curiosity...below I'm going to claim that regardless of details, they don't make or unmake "fairness")

I don't really find it productive to try to say that one state or another has gotten "more than its share" of LD service. Only thing I think for sure: states with no service are probably getting less than their share.

Ohio and Florida, in particular, get vast LD service and offer no state support. Would doing a state train or two make them more legit, or less? From the Federal perspective OH and FL are large, populous states and deserve "some" share.

Other than that there's no True Fairness to any of this. True Love is easier to find than True Fairness.

State claims to service entitlement could be by square miles, or population, or GDP, or total intercity trips. Any could be a good answer, just like some like the Senate's "all states equal" and some like the House's "all voters equal"(ish).

And there's no fair/neutral measure of "Amtrak service." It could be measured by monthly train-hours, train-miles, available-seat-miles, available-seat-square-inch-miles (to adjust for seat size?), or CASM expenditures.
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:20 am

mtuandrew wrote:Ohio gets more trains for free (2 1/2 daily/direction) than most other states pay for. On a state level, they don’t have much skin in the Amtrak game, and that’s all PRIIA asks of them in order to get better service. (Same for Georgia, South Carolina, and for that matter West Virginia - I’m sure lack of state investment from Charleston is a leading factor for 60 Mass in why the Cardinal remains 3x/week/direction.)


Does a train stopping by during the graveyard shift really count as having a train? Does the fact that both of Cleveland's trains heading to Chicago stop by within an hour of each other (2:59am and 3:45am) mean they really have two trains to Chicago? Eastbound at least the LSL and CL go to separate destinations but the times still suck. By contrast, most of the Montana times on the Empire Builder are great in both directions. Comparing Montana's Amtrak service to Ohio's is like comparing a Corvette to a low end Chevy, like comparing a filet mignon to a hamburger.

But Ohio has 2 1/2 trains? Cincinnati doesn't have 2 1/2 trains. They don't have the LSL or CL. What if someone from Cincinnati wants to go to Pittsburgh or Buffalo? They're going to take the Cardinal all the way to Washington and then all the way back to Pittsburgh or the Cardinal all the way to New York and then all the way to Buffalo? And Columbus has ZERO trains. Similarly Pennsylvania has the LSL and CL right? Philly doesn't have either train. Erie has the LSL. Pittsburgh has the CL. Likewise, Philly has the Silver Meteor and Silver Star to Florida and I'm grateful for that. Pittsburgh? They don't have those. So "Pennsylvania" doesn't have all those trains.

California? Los Angeles doesn't have the California Zephyr. If you live in LA and want to go to Denver or Salt Lake City, you've been screwed since the Desert Wind got canceled. This wasn't a pre Amtrak thing, the DW got canceled around the same time the Broadway Limited got canned. That was the Las Vegas train. But instead of running that train, we run a train through Shelby, Montana because everyone would rather go to Shelby, Montana than Las Vegas! You'd have to say Las Vegas is a more attractive destination for most people than Seattle/Portland and passengers could always do California Zephyr/Coast Starlight if they really wanted to go Chicago/East of Chicago to Seattle/Portland. Now you can't do Chicago/East of Chicago to Las Vegas at all (without a Thruway). You could have also kept the Pioneer instead for direct Chicago-Portland/Seattle service, that would have saved you a lot of train miles because you'd only have to run it from Denver to Seattle instead of Milwaukee to Seattle and Spokane to Portland (I'd have kept Chicago-Minneapolis service no matter what, canceling that would have been stupid). Kentucky has Amtrak service. Try getting to an Amtrak train from Louisville.

We have this state mentality when it comes to Amtrak but you see why that logic doesn't work. We need to put people first and not states. We need to think about how can we get butts in the seats and how we can get ticket revenue into the Amtrak budget?

Anthony wrote:
mtuandrew wrote:Ohio gets more trains for free (2 1/2 daily/direction) than most other states pay for. On a state level, they don’t have much skin in the Amtrak game, and that’s all PRIIA asks of them in order to get better service. (Same for Georgia, South Carolina, and for that matter West Virginia - I’m sure lack of state investment from Charleston is a leading factor for 60 Mass in why the Cardinal remains 3x/week/direction.)

Actually, West Virginia strongly supports a daily Cardinal. The state lead the creation of a multi-state compact supporting such a service improvement.


Yeah, they should put their money where their mouth is. Send some money to Congress to pay for it so Congress can use the funding for other trains or other uses instead of wasting its money on the Cardinal. Talk is cheap.

Multi-state compact? Problem is no other state is interested. Ohio? Train gets in the middle of the night. Roughly 13,000 passengers in Cincinnati a year in a metro of about 3 million and a state of about 10 million. Sorry, we don't care. Pennsylvania? Even lower ridership in Philly and they have many other trains/options. Sorry, we don't care. Indiana? Technically they have the Hoosier State and the times suck, because of the Cardinal's times. The NEC, including Virginia, has multiple trains along that route (the Lynchburg/Roanoke service, the Crescent, anyone DC and north has more trains than they know what to do with). Most other LD trains do have multiple states/cities that the train serves well. Not the Cardinal. It's really West Virginia, West Virginia, West Virginia. Tell me why this train serves a national purpose?
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Re: How much new service is coming? And how?

Postby Tadman » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:46 pm

I disagree about Ohio. Cleveland and Cinci get all of their trains very late or very early. Columbus has no trains. Cinci's trains go nowhere fast. There are no corridor trains. That's not a recipe for success. It says "stay away". Above, someone cites Cinci ridership as 13,000. South Bend has 2x that, and if you count the greater metro area with stops in Niles and Elkhart, it's more like 60k. Does all of Ohio board that many?
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