Amtrak Expansion Plan

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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Arlington » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:38 am

In re: Capitol & Cardinal:

If you did a survey of where WV people need to get to, I suspect that the top places would be:
DC, Cinci, & Pittsburgh as the closest commercial hubs, and the places that the families of "Hillbilly Elegy" migrated to, leaving connections both in WV and these hubs.

So the cousins, the grandkids, the funeral, the university medical center, the scholarship-to-college, the regional sales office, and the tall-building bankers and lawyers are in CIN, PGH, and WAS all of which are expensive to get to by air.

And vice-versa for where "tourists" and "weekend getaway" vacationers come from. The sweetspot for weekends is 2 ~3 hours away, and for vacations is 6 hours away.

This has strong implications for how you connect WV to CIN, WAS & PIT but also how you make corridor trains, in general.

And I think of Oxford Ohio and the 20,000 students at Miami of Ohio. Like UVa, or Liberty U, they've been bypassed by the interstates. They want a stop, but the Cardinal comes through at 2am (both ways). I think the corridor here is Indy-Cinci-CharlestonWV, which cannot be done by interstate (IND-CIN can but CIN-CHW cannot) and putting Oxford Ohio (OXO?) on that completes the set of
IND(2M)-CIN(2.5M)-HUN+CHW+etc(1M)-CVS+Nova(1M)-WAS(4M) and that's about 10M people.

What if the Capitol were, instead timed for
CHI-CLE-PGH a
WAS-PGH-CLE? Can Amtrak turn a train in CLE? (or should I note that in the appropriation request?) (or maybe keep going to "the other end" as a odd-hours revenue deadhead)

And the LSL split into:
CHI-CLE-BUF-ALB
(timed for the convenience of CHI-BUF, and tag NYP whenever as a revenue deadhead)
NYP-BUF-CLE-TOL
(timed for the convenience of NYP-CLE,and tag CHI whenever as a revenue deadhead)

Here again CURRENTLY all these night trains' biggest market and fans are end-to-enders, but that's because we're systematically screwing the potentially-bigger market of day corridors with crappy flyover timing.
Last edited by Arlington on Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:09 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Rockingham Racer » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:51 am

Oxford was being talked about as a stop a couple of years ago. What happened to that proposal?
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Arlington » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:00 am

Rockingham Racer wrote:Oxford was being talked about as a stop a couple of years ago. What happened to that proposal?

(see link). Google trail goes cold in Oct 2017 with site, concept, & half-funded. They'd raised more than half of 1.2M from local sources, but it is really hard to solidify a deal on a station served only at 2am and only 3x each direction per week. Simlar to Bedford VA. Hard to justify stops that rarely get a train.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:41 am

I keep coming back to “single-level Capitol/Broadway, bilevel Cardinal/Hoosier” as an ideal use of capacity and equipment for that route triad for the meantime. I wouldn’t mind at all if Amtrak solicited local support for an extension to Cincinnati and a concrete platform at Oxford (unless they finally mean to move to the ex-NYC via Beech Grove.)

I find it a shame that Indianapolis-Louisville is de facto removed as an Amtrak route. There are so few places where Amtrak effectively serves the mid-south, and this could have been one. Also would have been a good gateway to Nashville, Atlanta, and Florida from Chicago. Oh well - at least there’s Thruway.

And one more comment while in the eastern Rust Belt and western Appalachia - there’s a strong affinity between Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia, judged solely by personal experience. Difficult to get all four, but the first three + a Thruway to Martinsburg could have potential as a corridor.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Tadman » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:43 am

Arlington wrote:
* Further, last time when you mentioned your location and rail use, you didn't live near the Crescent route and had never taken the Crescent. Have things changed?
6) Truly, deeply, irrelevant. Nobody lives near the moon, but as Americans, people who'd never been--nor planned on going--nonetheless worked out the correct numbers for getting there. Interestingly, I do have close that visit (each other) between Charlotte <--> Manassas VA and have observed that they think the Crescent absurd (and slept through its CLT stop the one time they tried to use it)


I couldn't agree more. WTF does living on a route have to do with anything? I don't know that any of us live in California, we can clearly see that the HSR project over there is a giant disaster.

Further, I've taken the Crescent for business few times. It works ATL-WAS, maybe all the way to NYC. It also works somewhat NOL-BHM, but not that great. It's also chronically late.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:28 pm

Tadman wrote:
Arlington wrote:
* Further, last time when you mentioned your location and rail use, you didn't live near the Crescent route and had never taken the Crescent. Have things changed?
6) Truly, deeply, irrelevant. Nobody lives near the moon, but as Americans, people who'd never been--nor planned on going--nonetheless worked out the correct numbers for getting there. Interestingly, I do have close that visit (each other) between Charlotte <--> Manassas VA and have observed that they think the Crescent absurd (and slept through its CLT stop the one time they tried to use it)


I couldn't agree more. WTF does living on a route have to do with anything? I don't know that any of us live in California, we can clearly see that the HSR project over there is a giant disaster.

Further, I've taken the Crescent for business few times. It works ATL-WAS, maybe all the way to NYC. It also works somewhat NOL-BHM, but not that great. It's also chronically late.


In my view, it's simply helpful to have first-hand knowledge of something in order to provide the most informed and most helpful opinions about it. Seeing data is critical, but having first-hand experience adds knowledge that can't be gained on paper or from a screen alone. That's why I'm flying down to ride Brightline shortly; I can read about it all I want, but actually taking it adds perspective.

For example, I love dogs. I can read about them, and analyze them based on articles and other data, but how much of an expert would I be if I had never seen a dog in real life? Having a dog adds insights that data alone cannot give.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Suburban Station » Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:28 pm

Arlington wrote:What if the Capitol were, instead timed for
CHI-CLE-PGH a
WAS-PGH-CLE? Can Amtrak turn a train in CLE? (or should I note that in the appropriation request?) (or maybe keep going to "the other end" as a odd-hours revenue deadhead)

the WAS-PGH market is not at all competitive. 4.5 drive versus 8 hours on the train...you may as well run to DC via Philadelphia which isn't much longer and has a vastly superior market to the old B&O route. OTOH, CHI-CLE-PGH is already competitive with driving as is.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Feb 25, 2019 2:57 pm

Suburban Station wrote:the WAS-PGH market is not at all competitive. 4.5 drive versus 8 hours on the train...you may as well run to DC via Philadelphia which isn't much longer and has a vastly superior market to the old B&O route. OTOH, CHI-CLE-PGH is already competitive with driving as is.

Thanks, Suburban Station - this illustrates a point I’d missed until now:

Amtrak is competitive in the flatlands or foothills, especially when there isn’t a parallel Interstate Highway. It is not competitive in the mountains, especially when paralleled by an interstate. The B&O via the Sandpatch Grade will never be as fast as the Pennsylvania Turnpike to I-70/270 via Breezewood. The B&A will never be as fast as I-90. The DRGW across the Rockies will never be as fast as I-70, nor will the SP via Donner Pass be as fast as I-80 over the same route.

Which means that Amtrak needs to
a) make up time in the Northern Plains, the Great Basin, the Central Valley, the Tidewater, and anywhere else it’s reasonably flat, and
b) limit its time in the mountains, and understand that a lot of delays happen there too.

That might mean making NYP-CHW and WAS-PGH into corridors, finally moving the Southwest Chief to the Southern Transcon, or decoupling the California Zephyr into two trains - SAC-SLC-DEN via the Rio Grande and CHI-DEN(-SLC via UP) - with different equipment needs and pools.

It also means investing with Class Is on their foothills lines (I’ll include the NS Pittsburgh Line here, and the water-level CSX route CIN-CHW) and building out the flatlands to allow 90/110/125 and beyond.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby george matthews » Mon Feb 25, 2019 3:24 pm

Arlington wrote:700 miles at 50mph is a good 14 hour day on any route that can touch 10M to 25M people strung like pearls along it.

700 miles at 150mph would be a modern train. Think how many people would prefer it to travelling by polluting aircraft or road transport.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Arlington » Mon Feb 25, 2019 3:30 pm

I think Brightline (debt aside) has proven that 90mph diesels can be highly preferred.
I'd like to see investment in 110mph diesel running as part of a corridorization plan
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby electricron » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:07 pm

george matthews wrote:
Arlington wrote:700 miles at 50mph is a good 14 hour day on any route that can touch 10M to 25M people strung like pearls along it.

700 miles at 150mph would be a modern train. Think how many people would prefer it to travelling by polluting aircraft or road transport.

You are being too generous. 700 miles at an "average speed" of 50 mph is a not so great 14 hour day on a train. It would great if 6 to 7 hours of that 14 hour trip was spent sleeping in a bunk. ;)

But Acela trains on the NEC with few and far between freight trains reach 150 mph max speeds at some places on the NEC, but they do NOT average that. Acela trains between NYP and WAS average around 75 mph.
Math = 226 rail miles / 3 hours = 75.333333
It would take a train capable of Acela speeds (requiring at least double track and electric catenaries) to travel the 700 miles between ATL and WAS 9 hours and 20 minutes at an average speed of 75 mph.
Math = 700 rail miles / 75 mph = 9.333333 hours.
Maybe a diesel electric locomotive capable of a max speed of 125 mph could acheive an average speed of 75 mph on improved double track corridor. NCRR in the last decade has spent over $500 million improving the 173 rail miles between RGH and CLT. It is not nor will be double track the entire way, and it is now only capable of a max speeds of 79 mph and averaging 52 mph.
Train 80 takes 3 hours and 20 minutes between CLT and RGH.
Math = 173 rail miles / 3.333333 hours = 51.90 mph.

You are going to need to build an entirely new railroad corridor to achieve 75 mph average speeds - whether you use diesel electric or electric locomotives to push/pull your faster train. Where are you going to build it? Who is going to pay for it? What do you want to build (how fast will your max speeds be? When will it be done (the main question CHSR still has not answered)? Why do we need it?
Who, what, when, where, and why should be asked and answered by every government program.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby east point » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:31 pm

If the "S" line is ever rebuilt Petersburgh <> Raleigh it may well average more than 75 ?
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Arlington » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:58 pm

^ it targets 110 max and has few stops, so I'd hope so.

But this has to be about what's possible in a corridorization package political deal, which I think is more along the lines of
1) New coaches
2) Places to berth/turn corridor trains about 400 to 600 miles from the US's biggest cities that meet some combination of:
2a) berths at the end of 600 miles of flat & fast running from NYP, WAS, CHI, LAX
2b) berths at today's midpoints that'd be tomorrow's endpoints: SPK, MSP, CIN, CLE, BUF, OMA, DEN, SLC, PHX, HOU, SAT?
3) Improvements to host RRs that are win-win (faster, more reliable running for 2x to 4x current LD frequency)
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby R&DB » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:44 am

east point wrote:If the "S" line is ever rebuilt Petersburgh <> Raleigh it may well average more than 75 ?

I think you are on the right track here concerning the 'S' line. It should never have been torn out. Most of the ROW still exists as does the bridge over Lake Gaston/Roanoke River.
Imagine the time saved for the Carolinian and Silver Star. Rocky Mount, Wilson and Selma would lose the link to Raliegh though.
On another point, why does the Regional/LD 700 miles break point exist?
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Bob Roberts » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:12 am

R&DB wrote: Rocky Mount, Wilson and Selma would lose the link to Raliegh though.


I have heard several things about this issue (although none of it ever rose above ‘scuttlebutt’ statusj

The first was that the Carolinian would continue to run on the current route through Rocky Mount and Wilson and only new SEHSR trains would run on the S Line (I think this line of thinking has been abandoned). The second plan was to extend one or two Piedmont runs to Selma / Rocky Mount.

Finally, since Wake county approved their transit tax there is discussion of commuter rail to the east. The most obvious destination is Goldsboro (which would serve Selma). There has been less advanced discussion of service to Wilson (via Knightdale) which could possibly serve Rocky Mount (although Greenville is a much better terminus).

Rocky Mount is a tricky place, it simultainously manages to be the biggest economic basket case in eastern NC but remains politically powerful. I suspect passenger service to Raleigh will always exist in some form.
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