Amtrak Expansion Plan

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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:07 pm

The problems would be at the other end.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby BandA » Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:56 pm

Well, Amazon should be ready to absorb the railroads about 2027, including their ownership in NPRC/Amtrak. The Amtrak Express cars will have roofs that open, using drones to carry the packages to their final destination. [OT]
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby johndmuller » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:46 pm

BandA wrote:. . . The Amtrak Express cars will have roofs that open, using drones to carry the packages to their final destination.

That sounds like a pretty decent idea, with some reality checks perhaps. It might work better actually with freight trains and NOT running under the wire. One can imagine warehouse trains cruising the country releasing drone deliveries on the fly. The trains could stop periodically to get a resupply of stock and drones (unless the drones could wait after deliveries and rejoin the next train on the fly). Takeoffs on the fly might be difficult, but they do it on aircraft carriers, so . . ..
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby sullysullinburg » Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:03 am

I think the first issue is to find a company that would even be interested in some form of high speed freight. Building more track and springing for high speed box cars with no idea if anyone is going to use them isn’t a great idea. The best plan would be for Amtrak to put out a memo or something looking to see if anyone is interested and then going from there with new equipment/track/storage systems/etc.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:43 am

Ugh - I’m sorry I brought this concept up. It keeps getting more impractical!
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:23 pm

Amtrak is in business to haul passengers period. It should stick to hauling passengers and leave the freight to the freight railroads. This includes express, UPS, USPS, FedEx and any other carriers. Most passenger facilities are not designed nor intended to handle freight, containers or other non passenger equipment. Adding freight will usually require more motive power and will make the trains quite a bit more difficult to handle. Their could be safety issues as well. It would also slow up any such trains maybe to freight train speeds. They tried this once before and it died, it should be left dead.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:46 pm

Heartily concur with Mr. Weaver's thoughts.

RPSA 70 allowed Amtrak to handle "express"; but the "W Gang" (Matt Fels is long gone around here) stretched the enacted legislation to such extent the LD's were best described as "Mixto Diarios".

The result was freight train like delays for which the Amtrak Train crews were hardly equipped to handle. Travel during that era made me a "never again" (last Transcon was '91; First Class in a United 737-900 simply is the better deal).

While the Class I's made noise about "stealing business that wasn't theirs", it is interesting how no Class I emulated that business model after Amtrak exited.

All told, it "looked good on paper". In real life, anything but.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:55 pm

One thing not mentioned is expanding Auto Train service either by adding another train on the east coast (maybe going further north on CSX) or the possibility of a new train from the midwest to the southwest. Both ideas have been around for a while.

Since the Auto Train has been considered a "profitable" operation, perhaps this needs more serious consideration.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:05 pm

Not mentioned here in this thread, btg, but we’ve wasted plenty of electrons on Auto Trains south and west from the New York area, between Chicago and Florida, and between Chicago and either Arizona or California. If you can come up with a reasonable business plan for any of those (that also lands within Amtrak's budget), send it to 60 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, DC 20002. :wink:
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:18 pm

Mr. Trainguy, I hear you. Mr.Stephens has a point that from my perspective I herewith summarize.

Amtrak, under RPSA 70 clearly has mandate to develop Auto-Train routes, but hasn't done so to date.

While I realize there is sentiment around here to extend the existing service to the New York area, those advocates overlook the operational constraints of doing so. Operation over the Corridor could result in someone getting fried - even if empty Superliners have been operated over such. The B&O Baltimore tunnel remains "single stack", and even if it were dug out, who says Yäger is about to allow an Amtrak train over such?

As for the Midwest, if any such initiative were to move forth, I reiterate my earlier thoughts; "Auto Train Srrvice", with passengers in existing line space, over these routes:

Galesburg-Irondale CO
Galesburg-La Junta
Albuquerque-Victorville

Let the autos drive over the hills using their gas.

Finally, from having done 23 Auto-Train voyages, I know those passengers are not fans. Or even just lovers of relaxed travel. They are there to have their auto moved in an expeditious manner from Ehh to Bee.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:40 pm

Mr. Norman: sounds like a market for one train on the Southwest Chief route, with sections calling at Galesburg*, La Junta, Albuquerque, Flagstaff or Kingman, and Barstow or San Bernardino.

* Blue Island instead? Better for serving both Northeast-Midwest, Midwest-South, and Midwest-West destinations.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:01 pm

Blue Island is not on an Amtrak route; at least not yet.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:08 pm

Doesn’t have to be - it’s on the Interstate, and is connected to all of Amtrak’s Chicago routes via the IHB, CSX BOCT, CN EJE, or Metra. Real estate for an Auto Train terminal is also cheaper in Blue Island (or Harvey, Joliet, etc.) than by 21st St Coach Yard/Chinatown. Doesn’t matter if you’re near Union Station, because you can’t load your car at Union Station anyway.

EDIT: I’m aware that just like Express service above, Auto Train is a rabbit hole for us at this forum. There will never be a “pot of gold” at the other end. However, there is unmet demand, which I suspect but can’t prove would remain constant (given a reasonable advertising budget) even in the era of the self-driving car.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:55 pm

Mr. Stephens, let me reiterate that I'm simply addressing a couple of auto carriers added to the Chief and Zephyr at Gslesburg and not any kind of additional train originating in Blue Island.

The passengers on such would simply occupy line space as, lest we forget, the existing A-T is now "just another train".
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:15 am

Auto Train serves a very unique market namely folks traveling with their own car between the northeastern states and Florida. It does that job very well on a daily basis and it is normally a delight to ride. There is no other market in the US that could generate the ridership that would be required to support a similar operation anywhere else in the US. Sanford is a good location for all of Florida and while it might be better if the northern end of the trip could operate to some point further north than Lorton it would be difficult, expensive and time consuming. Amtrak's operating costs are not that high with this one as the revenue just keeps flowing in. There is only one enroute crew change point which helps, two sets of equipment which again helps. Running any further north than Lorton would result in Amtrak needing another T & E crew to accomplish, another set of equipment as well and a lot more headaches as well. Clearance problems would probably make anything north of Virginia just about impossible without a big expenses for clearances. Adding more cars to the existing train might be possible but it would result in more switching at both Lorton and Sanford and may not be possible with the length of the train, passenger and freight equipment and train handling. It might well result in a lower top speed as well and that could make it necessary to have a third set of equipment, not likely.
If it is not broke, don't fix it and Auto Train is not broke in any way, it is probably Amtrak's best train.
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