Where should there be frequent corridor service?

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Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:33 pm

I propose a thread to talk about corridors as good and useful service in themselves. We have a very active thread about what might or might not happen to long distance trains, and whether that's a good idea. We can leave that debate out here. We also know that PRIIA means Amtrak can't pay for corridors itself. Never mind that here, either. Just think about routes or sets of routes where there are (a) people pretty densely settled, (b) existing tracks or available ROW, (c) destinations where you don't need a car (good public transportation or walking attractions right at station) (d) maybe a lot of traffic or the good highways don't run to the right places, (e) maybe connections to existing trains, (f) maybe commuter operations that could be expanded or share infrastructure or provide connections in places (g) maybe the chance to connect existing hub-and-spoke routes into triangles or grids. These can be existing routes that could get more service, or new routes altogether. This is the Amtrak forum so this is mostly about Amtrak, but it could be other operators.

Which routes of about a hundred, hundred fifty miles could support four or five daily trains, but don't have them? Which could support hourly service all day, with a decent chance of enough passengers that the subsidy wouldn't have to be sixteen times the subsidy for one train a day? Pie in the sky in most of the US? Maybe. But in places where riding the train is normal, once an hour isn't that awful frequent. That kind of frequency could build ridership in some places. Lets face it: a daily train is at least part novelty. Trains all day is flexibility. That -- and high costs/difficulty of driving -- is what gets people to take 50-150 mile train rides.

Another way to ask this might be: What parts of the US are the most like Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, etc., etc. in having a lot of cities close together, or a lot of people with money but no cars who want to go places, BUT don't have frequent train service.

I am not actually sure there are any. Lets here your ideas.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby Mackensen » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:08 pm

Harrisburg-Reading-Allentown-Newark-New York. The Lehigh Valley metropolitan area has 800,000+ people in it; there's around another 100,000 in Reading and the surrounding areas. The Lehigh Valley is turning into a bedroom community for New York; access is via commuter bus or driving. I-78 is manageable but awful at times. There's some interest in reviving rail service; Amtrak ran the Autumn Express through there in 2016. Harrisburg and Newark are two established endpoints with good network effects.

There are all kinds of logistical problems:

  • The best route would be the ex-Lehigh Valley main line from Newark to Bethlehem, and then on to the ex-Reading Lebanon Valley Branch to Harrisburg. It's all owned by Norfolk Southern. Single-track with passing sidings. Good condition, but busy. NS has made it clear that's not very interested in seeing passenger trains on this route.
  • Pennsylvania supports passenger trains, but the SEPTA lines radiating out from Philadelphia take priority. After that, there's the Pennsylvanian to worry about and the possibility of Scranton service over the Lackawanna Cut-Off.
  • New Jersey supports passenger trains, but any such service would have to get in line behind NJ Transit which was chronically underfunded over the last decade. Nothing new is getting done until the New York tunnel situation is resolved.
  • Between the New York tunnels being at capacity and Newark-New York the only electrified piece save terminal track in Harrisburg, you're probably looking at an all-diesel Harrisburg-Newark train with a cross-platform transfer in Newark, as the Raritan Valley Line trains do. Given support from New Jersey, through-ticketing on NJ Transit could be arranged.

It's a hard sell given current realities: an interstate train which does most of its business taking people from Pennsylvania to New York via New Jersey. Within New Jersey itself the only area gaining service is Phillipsburg, though it could augment capacity along the Raritan Valley Line.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby Suburban Station » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:57 pm

In Pennsylvania Pittsburgh needs better service but reading-philadelphia would make sense. Perhaps an extension of some keystone service to Williamsport.
Chicago twin cities has to be up there as does houston-san Antonio, sas-austin. New Orleans-houston, chicago-kc, chicago-toronto via Detroit
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby benboston » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:06 pm

Amtrak Cascades should be upgraded to a departure every hour and more trains should continue onto Vancouver from Seattle. Maybe Amtrak should try to make their own ROW along this corridor that has a far straighter alignment. Another corrdor is the Boston-Albany corridor. Lastly, NYC to Montreal.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby R&DB » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:49 am

Mackensen » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:08 pm

Good ideas. The Harrisburg - Newark NS issue could be somewhat alleviated by utilizing the old CNJ main RoW instead of the LV route at least on the portion east of Allentown.This would give two routes, one for NS and one for passenger traffic. The NS section between ALDENE and HUNTER interlockings would still remain. Crossing the Delaware is also problematic. The existing bridge is single track, but could have the second track re-installed. This route would essentially be extending NJ Transit's Raritan Valley Line to Allentown.
Scanton to Newark should be done. (Susquehanna Cutoff) In my opinion it should be extended to Wilkes Barre or Binghamton NY.
Scranton - Philadelphia via Reading could be done using RBMN, SEPTA and NS as hosts.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby gprimr1 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:21 pm

San Diego-Los Angeles-San Francisco.

Flagstaff-Phoenix-Tucson

Dallas-Houston-San Antonio

Chicago and it's many corridors

Miami-Tampa-Orlando

Amtrak Cascades

DC-Richmond / Richmond-Newport News and North Carolina cities (I would operate them with across the platform transfers in order to keep DC-Richmond trains from being delayed by activity south/east/west of Richmond and hopefully a phase two could work on improving the maze like movements required to get around Richmond.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:57 pm

PGH-CLE, not necessary frequent, but several daily round trips. PRR had four dailies including AM and PM commuter runs either direction until late 1950s/early 60s.

Mackensen wrote:Harrisburg-Reading-Allentown-Newark-New York. The Lehigh Valley metropolitan area has 800,000+ people in it; there's around another 100,000 in Reading and the surrounding areas. The Lehigh Valley is turning into a bedroom community for New York; access is via commuter bus or driving. I-78 is manageable but awful at times. It's a hard sell given current realities: an interstate train which does most of its business taking people from Pennsylvania to New York via New Jersey. Within New Jersey itself the only area gaining service is Phillipsburg, though it could augment capacity along the Raritan Valley Line.
Trans-Bridge offers frequent bus service, service is well run and efficient. However these drivers are known to speed, especially on I-78
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby Mackensen » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:16 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote:Trans-Bridge offers frequent bus service, service is well run and efficient. However these drivers are known to speed, especially on I-78


My only real beef with Trans-Bridge is a lack of direct service to downtown Newark; the service to the airport doesn't count and is infrequent. The issue with Trans-Bridge, as with all buses, is that they're subject to the traffic on 78 and the vagaries of the Lincoln Tunnel. A rail option creates more resiliency in the system and has better network effects. With Trans-Bridge, it's basically Midtown or bust.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:54 pm

Along with the above:
TOL-DET-Lansing
CHI-TOR International, via DET
3C Ohio
Front Range north and south of DEN
ATL-Savannah-Florida
OMA-KCY
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby benboston » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:55 pm

gprimr1 wrote:San Diego-Los Angeles-San Francisco.

Flagstaff-Phoenix-Tucson

Dallas-Houston-San Antonio

Chicago and it's many corridors

Miami-Tampa-Orlando

Amtrak Cascades

DC-Richmond / Richmond-Newport News and North Carolina cities (I would operate them with across the platform transfers in order to keep DC-Richmond trains from being delayed by activity south/east/west of Richmond and hopefully a phase two could work on improving the maze like movements required to get around Richmond.



I'd say that for the Miami - Orlando Route Brightline should have that covered on the frequency and quality aspect, the only downfall for brightline is connections to the national network.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby east point » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:02 pm

Probably a natural would be the NEC extension WASH - Richmond / Petersburg / Norfolk / Newport news. That unfortunately will have to wait for Long Bridge expansion to 4 main track & triple tracking ALX - Richmond with the solution of the single track problem thru Fredericksburg.
WASH - PHL needs all 4 Main tracks to meet the present unmet demand for service
Greenville, SC - CLT - Greensboro, NC splitting to either Raleigh or Charlottesville onto WASH. Still problem of the Long bridge.
Chattanooga - ATL - Macon **** 2 routes each leg.
Almost every route in Florida
Speeding up SO CAL and NO CAL
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:50 pm

Is there such a thing as an FRA Small Starts program like the FTA version? Seems like NOL - Baton Rouge - Shreveport would be a feasible trial.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby electricron » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:51 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Is there such a thing as an FRA Small Starts program like the FTA version? Seems like NOL - Baton Rouge - Shreveport would be a feasible trial.

While this train route proposal covers much of Louisiana, there really isn't that many potential riders.
Latest Metro (MSA) population
New Orleans 1,262,888
Baton Rouge 830,480
Alexandria 153,922
Shreveport 443,708
Total 2,690,998

Let's compare that to other regional Amtrak trains
Missouri River Runner train would be the closest..
St. Louis 2,807,338
Jefferson City 149,807
Kansas City 2,159,159
Total 5,116,304
Missouri subsidizes two round trips (4 trains) every day. That's an am and pm departure from both terminus stations, located in fairly large cities. The proposed Louisiana route with half the population could probably subsidize one round trip? Baton Rouge and New Orleans would be better off with commuter train operations between them as terminus stations, imho.
2 million of the 2.6 million could be serviced with more than just one round trip a day. The two fairly large cities in Louisiana are located much closer to one another than they are in Missouri, at 81 miles vs 283 miles. You're going to find many more passengers wishing to commute 81 miles vs 283 miles - no matter the means of transport.
FYI, the driving distance between New Orleans and Shreveport is 327 miles.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:40 am

One place to start is to look at a map of the already federally designated corridors. Then add more corridors such as some of the ones suggested above. The federally designated corridors are what?--20 years old. I'm fairly certain others have emerged by now.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby prokowave » Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:58 pm

electricron wrote:
mtuandrew wrote:Is there such a thing as an FRA Small Starts program like the FTA version? Seems like NOL - Baton Rouge - Shreveport would be a feasible trial.

While this train route proposal covers much of Louisiana, there really isn't that many potential riders.
Latest Metro (MSA) population
New Orleans 1,262,888
Baton Rouge 830,480
Alexandria 153,922
Shreveport 443,708
Total 2,690,998


Continuing to Alexandria and Shreveport wouldn't make sense at this point. However they are working on restoring service to Mobile. If they did same train service, that would be a shorter route with well over 3 million. I think the goal is twice daily to start with. Being able to connect to three long distance trains and a variety of buses in NOL should help. The tourism factor boosts numbers a lot too. For example MSY has more passengers than MCI (and catching up to STL), despite being a much smaller metro.

New Orleans 1,262,888
Baton Rouge 830,480
Mobile 626,583
Gulfport-Biloxi 394,232
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