Where should there be frequent corridor service?

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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby dowlingm » Sun Sep 30, 2018 2:05 pm

Phoenix-Tucson is a viable “corridor” subject to track upgrade/expansion. Phoenix-Yuma could be with PTC and Class 5/6 track on the Wellton Branch section currently OOS ($$$). Phoenix/I-10/Palm Springs maybe if you can have a Class 6+ corridor ($$$$$$, AZ state rail plan 2011 doesn’t even sketch it in).

For me, successful corridor trains need to be 2-3 hours duration no slower than a parallel car or bus between major centres of population and operate on <4 hour headways. But the problems in the US are: everyone wants someone else to fund, the freight roads have a stranglehold and veto over almost all urban ROWs, and building new ones is nigh on impossible.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby Backshophoss » Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:24 pm

IF UP reopens the Phoenix Sub to thru traffic,figure on Amtrak trying to return to Phoenix "Union station" in that city's center.
As it is now the Phoenix Sub beyond Buckeye is OOS and split apart at MP 802.8 near Kofa.
Lots of $$$$$ needed to restore that line to Passenger service.
The "lost in committee" proposed "Sunrunner commuter service" could have had limited service to Yuma and Nogales,
with the core service being Phoenix-Tucson and Wickenberg-Phoenix on the BNSF side

Palm Springs/Coachella-LAUS falls to Metrolink(SCAX) as long commuter run/Limited service on UP's southern Transconn
Driven by Casinos(Indian run)and events at both towns.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:29 am

Backshophoss wrote:IF UP reopens the Phoenix Sub to thru traffic,figure on Amtrak trying to return to Phoenix "Union station" in that city's center.

Has Omaha been talking about reopening the Phoenix Sub? It’s the kind of project that could probably earn a lot of Feddybux in an Infrastructure Week sweepstakes, possibly some funding from the business-oriented state government. It would also be worth UP’s time to get Amtrak off the Sunset Route from Tucson to Yuma.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:17 pm

This might be all for nothing as UP try to follow the EHH method of running a RR!!
Expect a big change in the Az political landscape with the passing of Senator McCain and the retirement of Senator Flake.
AS all of Az State government seems to be up for election as well.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby east point » Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:49 pm

It would seem that adding a main track to an existing route will be the best way. As previously suggested make the passenger rail without any grade crossings and where possible ease any curves by buying ROW. How to build ? On routes with already 2 Main tracks add a third track and then make the middle track passenger only. That way meets with other passenger trains could enter either freight line. that would not eliminate all meet delays but would mitigate many. For single track place extra track where freight RR would put in a second main track when needed. Of course the Passenger rail could have passing sidings at equal schedule time locations for meets where possible ( memory scheduling ).
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby Greg Moore » Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:28 pm

Adding one:
Buffalo-Toledo

Actually I'd make this part of a bigger service: Pittsfield (and eventually Boston) to Toledo. It's a 13.5 hour trip. Leave Pittsfield at 7:00 AM, arrive ALB at 8:30 (yeah, in theory can do it faster) and Buffalo 1:30 PM and Toledo at 8:30 PM.

And then swap the other direction.
This gives an additional day trip across NYS, while bringing the hoped for Pittsfield connection into play.
And Toledo already serves 4 trains a day, this adds 2 more and gives more options for exchanges, etc.

I would also consider extending one of the existing trains terminating in Buffalo to Toledo.

Along the way for daytime, I'd add stops with shuttle service to Cedar Point. (Right now the LSL is extremely non-useful for this nice tourist spot).
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby dowlingm » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:35 am

The negativity in Ohio politics about passenger rail makes Buffalo-Toledo a stretch given PRIIA realities. How about NY and PA funding Buffalo-Erie (1h31 LSL) and trying to rope Ohio into at least contributing to get a Buffalo-Erie-Cleveland service (2h56) going. Connecting Buffalo with Cleveland would also give western NY folks a connection to Capitol Limited and Clevelanders a connection to Empire Service.

Presumably this would require crossing the host railroad's palm with much silver in addition to the rolling stock required.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby east point » Thu Oct 04, 2018 12:49 pm

dowlingm wrote:The negativity in Ohio politics about passenger rail makes Buffalo-Toledo a stretch given PRIIA realities. How about NY and PA funding Buffalo-Erie (1h31 LSL) and trying to rope Ohio into at least contributing to get a Buffalo-Erie-Cleveland service (2h56) going. Connecting Buffalo with Cleveland would also give western NY folks a connection to Capitol Limited and Clevelanders a connection to Empire Service.

Presumably this would require crossing the host railroad's palm with much silver in addition to the rolling stock required.



It appears time to change the PRIIA rquirements. The requirement for 750 miles even when interstate routes are involved seems disingenious .
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby Backshophoss » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:00 pm

Buffalo-Cleveland is one of the joint mainlines shared by CSX/NS and an area that delays the Lake Shore 90% of the time.
CSX NEVER plays nice here!
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:22 pm

Backshophoss wrote:Buffalo-Cleveland is one of the joint mainlines shared by CSX/NS and an area that delays the Lake Shore 90% of the time.
CSX NEVER plays nice here!

Would NS play nicer on the ex-Nickel Plate?

east point wrote:It appears time to change the PRIIA rquirements. The requirement for 750 miles even when interstate routes are involved seems disingenious .

Now isn’t the time; trying to redo PRIIA would likely just lead to its repeal and upend state support of Amtrak. What’s to stop California, Michigan, or Illinois from canceling their support and expecting Amtrak to take on the cost for their in-state routes, just because Indiana and Ohio refuse to pay? It would ruin Amtrak.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby NIMBYkiller » Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:48 pm

mtuandrew wrote:I see what you mean about political value, but from my perspective the balance point is much further toward Viable Transportation Option and away from Pork-Barrel Express for most Amtrak trains. Where the corridors aren’t served well or at all by rail, it’s due to a vacuum of political willpower, rather than small-endpoint trains being solely a concession to political pressure - if that were the case, those trains would have much worse load factors than they do in reality.

I agree, the vast majority of Amtrak service leans far more towards being a real asset than just a vote seeker, I'm sorry if I made it seem like I was saying the majority of the corridor service was useless. As you hinted, load factors, from what I've read, are generally decent enough to show these routes have merit for the most part. Oddly enough, it seems the Hoosier State is probably the worst performing of all, approx 141 riders per day (365 days a year / 7 days a week = ~52 days x 4 operating days per week = ~208 operating days per year. 29,488 riders in 2016 / 208 operating days = ~141 daily riders). That's what, 2 cars max? Not sure what the ridership numbers on that portion of the route are for the 3 Cardinal Days though, but I can't imagine it will bring the daily number up dramatically. Yet the Carl Sandburg/Illinois Zephyr carried ~572 daily riders in 2015, so my methodology as to what corridors deserve service is definitely flawed. Any reason for Chi-Indy ridership sucking so bad?

In regards to right-of-way swaps, most railroads have very deliberately chosen which routes they occupy today. If Amtrak were to propose swapping the NS Chicago Line (ex-NYC Water Level Route) for both an upgraded Chicago, Ft Wayne & Eastern (ex-PRR) and upgraded ex-Nickel Plate across Indiana and Ohio, they’d get laughed out of Norfolk because the ex-NYC has a much more favorable grade profile. If they tried to negotiate for the ex-PRR mainline from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh, they’d get laughed out because of the online traffic and shorter route, even though there is a lower-grade route via Sunbury, Williamsport, and DuBois.

My suggestion there is definitely an application that is far and few between, but in the event such a swap were a possibility to accomplish any valuable corridor, I don't see why it shouldn't be included as an option in that (those) unique case(s). I think we'd have to come up with a running list of corridors (and to do that, a running list of what makes a good corridor) before we can guess where this suggestion could possibly be applied.

We’ve recently seen agencies buy a permanent right-of-way easement next to a freight line for a passenger main, or build a second, third, or fourth main for mixed traffic, or agree to assume ownership/a lease over a secondary railroad that sees (could see) much more passenger traffic than freight, or take over custodial duties on a railbanked line with the intent of reactivating it. I don’t think you’ll ever get the really major extant routes under government ownership or control, except possibly in cases where a merger makes one line redundant. (For instance, if CP and UP merged, it’s conceivable that the FRA could insist that they lease the ex-Milwaukee Road or the ex-Omaha Road to the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.)

As others have also mentioned, I think parallel tracks, either within the existing ROW or on an immediately adjacent easement, is the most likely solution (in the physical sense, not political) to getting a lot of good potential corridors up and running (and up to their maximum potential speed), but even this comes with objections. Didn't CSX have some major objections to NYS building tracks immediately adjacent for the NYS HSR through Central New York? A shame too because that's a corridor straight enough to really benefit from HSR and could possibly make an NYC-Toronto service time competitive. Being how big both cities are and the number of mid sized cities in between them, could probably support multiple trains a days, more than just the 1 to Toronto and 4 to Buffalo (although something about the border process might need to be changed, perhaps fewer stops in Canada each with immigration so the formalities are done off the train prior to boarding/upon disembarking so the train can just continue along).

Any links to studies that have been done as to what key elements would define a good corridor (and when we say corridor, how frequent are we talking, because I'm seeing a lot of proposals in this thread that seem to be one a day type of routes)? Off the metro area populations alone, using metro areas of 2 million or more people with 500 miles of each other as routed as the end points, the midwest has a pretty intense network, including routes like Indy-Ft Wayne-Toledo-Detroit, St Louis-Indy-Cinci, Cinci-Columbus-Toledo-Detroit, and Pitt-Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit, so as several of you noted, there's definitely got to be more to it. And then is 2 million people too high of a mark for endpoints? I'd like to at least share this map I created of all metro areas with at least 2 million people and lines connecting the ones within 350 miles of each other because it does at least show some interesting new candidates. How would I go about embedding that here?

What other factors do we think are important or have studies shown are important? Some have mentioned universities, which I agree, but with the footnote that they're really only good for Fridays/Sundays during Fall and Spring. Major medical facilities? What are some cities/towns of major tourist value other that would be along a potential corridor? We definitely should be looking to incorporate a lot more direct airport connections at large airports (high number of domestic and/or international destinations and schedules, not so much the podunk 2-3 route airports). Rail and air can certainly compliment each other and I'd argue is even more important here than in other countries because of the sheer size of our country. Instantly I'm seeing San Antonio, Phoenix Sky Harbor, SFO, O'Hare, Midway, Charlotte Douglas, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, just to name a few obvious ones. How about more international connections? I mentioned about limiting the number of stops on the other side of the border and having immigration formalities done at those stations in order to keep the trains moving rather than holding them at the border itself while everyone is checked simultaneously (likewise for bringing VIA services into the US). Prime candidates for this as part of a corridor service, in my opinion, would be Vancouver, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, and Monterrey. Vancouver, if I'm not mistaken, already has formalities done in the station and I think Montreal is moving towards that as well, no? For Toronto, that would mean eliminating some stops since there's no way Canadian Immigration is going to set up shop at all 5 VIA stations. Pick 2, no more within Canada riders, and move on. Coordinate connecting VIA service for travel to local stops and for travel between Canadian points. Either that or figure out a way to shave down the 2 hour border stop (perhaps with more frequent service, anyone requiring extra checks could be removed and placed on the next available train. That's what we used to do at Greyhound on the NYC-Montreal runs when we had someone who needed an extended immigration process). Detroit would be a good point for a VIA service to terminate at. Handle all the formalities in MCS and then everyone going further into the US can catch whichever train that is coordinated with that Toronto trains arrival. That would be far easier than getting a Chicago-Toronto direct service going again. Monterrey is a HUGE junction for Mexican connections to/from the US, and the traffic between Texas and Monterrey is nuts (at least from my little personal experience and my insight into the US based Mexican bus carriers like Tornado/El Expreso, Adame, Turimex, and the handful of other smaller carriers). Feeding the Texas Triangle/T-Bone with that influx seems like a no-brainer, even if it is a political nightmare (though it shouldn't be given the existence of the aforementioned trans-border buses and, ya know, those things called airplanes). South of the border the only stops worth making anyway are Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey. That's easy enough to set up immigration formalities within the stations themselves.
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Re: Where should there be frequent corridor service?

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:09 am

mtuandrew wrote:
Backshophoss wrote:Buffalo-Cleveland is one of the joint mainlines shared by CSX/NS and an area that delays the Lake Shore 90% of the time.
CSX NEVER plays nice here!
Would NS play nicer on the ex-Nickel Plate?

CSX and NS are parallel the whole way, though NS removed the NKP main line in Erie in favor of operating over the CSX (NYC) line.
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