Amtrak Expansion Plan

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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Bob Roberts » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:03 pm

electricron wrote: Where does Amtrak have the ability to turn the Crescent around right now? The answers south of DC are Charlotte, and New Orleans. Charlotte is or has just opened its' facilities to turn around Piedmonts and the Carolinian, which North Carolina invested millions on.


As a Charlotte resident I would _love_ to see the Crescent converted to linked day trains. I'll offer that the Charlotte coach yard is finished, but not yet connected to the NS main (or any other tracks yet). The bigger problem is that it was (IMO) underbuilt. As you can see in the google maps image of the yard there are only two service tracks and a shorter storage track. As best I can tell it will be able to handle one Carolinian set, one Piedmont set and a few spares. There is some potential for expansion (the other side of Summit st) but property acquisition has been a challenge for NCDOT (heavy contamination plus difficult owners -- they have been reluctant to embrace eminent domain for rail projects).

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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:06 pm

I would love to see a day train running from Washington DC all the way to Atlanta, Georgia.This would enable people to not just travel from DC to Atlanta without sleeping onboard, but it would enable passengers who are traveling between city pairs that are normally served by the Crescent in the wee hours of the night to be able to travel during the day time and early evening hours. You would probably get plenty of people riding from Charlotte to Atlanta. If the States, CSX, and NS ever approve of this, this would probably wait until after the Long Bridge is replaced as well as more track capacity on the former RF&P railway.

If Virginia and NC get onboard with upgrading the right of way from Petersburg which passes through Henderson and meets up with the NS in Raleigh, then Trains 79, 80, 91, and 92 would have a faster ride. Of course, 79 and 80 would not be able to serve Rocky Mount and Selma-Smithfield anymore, but maybe a corridor train could run between DC and the coastal communities like Wilmington, NC.

The Piedmont route has been doing very well with ridership and I believe that in the short term, there are plans to add some more Piedmont trains.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:33 pm

I’d like to have multiple NY-Atlanta trains.

The Piedmonts are nice but running between Charlotte and Raleigh, even with numerous frequencies, hasn’t resulted in as much ridership per train-mile as the Carolinian or Crescent. So I’d just extend the Piedmonts to Atlanta and NY. Or at least have them between Atlanta and Raleigh. I’d of course keep the Crescent.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby STrRedWolf » Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:07 pm

I can definitely see how Arlington's and the CEO's plans for more corridor service will help...

...but I'm reminded of capacity.

Start the Crescent at Boston at 8pm, Arrive NYC 11pm. Allow boarding. Dwell. Sleep. Depart NYP at 3am.


4 hour dwell time. Meanwhile NJ Transit, LIRR, and other Amtrak's are still running, and NYP barely has enough capacity for all three. NJ Transit parks there. LIRR parks nearby. Oh, and don't forget the Empire Corridor service parks there too.

I doubt we can do that, Dave.

Serve WAS at 6am and onward all the way to Atlanta and New Orleans
Just promise me (1) no laborious diner food and (2) Finally serve NC+SC at times they are awake (3) serve the empty To Kill a Mockingbird AL-MS bits at night. If NY people want to sleep on a train that goes to ATL, they still could.


If this is the goal, then why don't we run a second set, back and forth daily, just shifted 13 hours, and only servicing WAS to NOL. If folks want to catch that one north of DC, they can overnight in WAS, an early MARC, or catch a crack-of-dawn Regional/Accela in NYC or BOS.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby east point » Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:20 pm

Not sure how this worked but SOU RR had 2 then 1 RT a day that went from ATL to Palatka on SOU and the FEC to MIA avoiding JAX. Were they combined somewhere south of JAX to any JAX - MIA train?

We agree that the NC area is ignored by current overnight schedules. Why no initiate a mirror schedule to the Carolinian all the way to BOS ? That give those persons a night train CLT - BOS That picks up CLT - RGH 1900 - 2200. Arrivals RGH at about 0600 CLT 0900?
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:43 pm

There's a certain irony here as I'm sitting in ATL waiting for the 4.5 hour delayed NB Crescent. This will probably be my 12th or so trip on it.

As I've said, we need to stop thinking of either/or. We need to think more "how to do as much of both as we can".

And the WAS-ATL is a perfect example of that.
The Crescent, when it runs on time, is a great train with fairly good timing. (If they could cut 1-2 hours off the schedule it might help but that's a different story).

And having taken both coach and sleeper (both ways) I'm always surprised at how much coach turnover there. The train will fill up at WAS and empty at ATL. What also struck me on the way down this time in sleeper was how many of the roomettes filled AND emptied south of WAS but north of ATL.
The train is not doing too poorly in either category and despite it being "in the dark" during much of its ride, the roomettes appear to be doing a brisk business!

That said, I'm firmly convinced that based on the coach traffic, a WAS-ATL day train would do a very brisk business. Note I said WAS-ATL, not NYP-ATL. If you want NYP-ATL, either take the current 19, or take a corridor train and transfer. Not all trains have to reach all major endpoints.

So, I think the Crescent is a great example of where you could leverage your existing infrastructure (station, personal) and in general drop in another day train and do quite well. Cancelling all your existing 19/20 trains are not going to move everyone to your new train.

So again, if we can dump $80B more into the defense budget w/o finding a way to pay for it, I think we should be able to find $1B more a year to put into a service that folks actively want to use.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby electricron » Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:47 pm

Greg Moore wrote:As I've said, we need to stop thinking of either/or. We need to think more "how to do as much of both as we can".

And the WAS-ATL is a perfect example of that.
The Crescent, when it runs on time, is a great train with fairly good timing. (If they could cut 1-2 hours off the schedule it might help but that's a different story).

That said, I'm firmly convinced that based on the coach traffic, a WAS-ATL day train would do a very brisk business. Note I said WAS-ATL, not NYP-ATL. If you want NYP-ATL, either take the current 19, or take a corridor train and transfer. Not all trains have to reach all major endpoints.

So again, if we can dump $80B more into the defense budget w/o finding a way to pay for it, I think we should be able to find $1B more a year to put into a service that folks actively want to use.

WAS to ATL on the route ran by the Crescent is 634 rail miles. WAS to CLT on the route ran by the Carolinian is 479 rail miles, plus another 258 rail miles CLT to ATL. That totals 737 rail miles. The Crescent averages 46 mph between WAS and ATL taking 13.75 hours to travel 634 rail miles, the Carolinian averages 50 mph between WAS and CLT taking 9.5 hours to travel 479 rail miles. Assuming the best result averaging 50 mph, it would take a second "day" train between WAS and ATL using the route preferred by both VA and NC (via Richmond and Raleigh) 14.75 hours to travel the 737 rail miles. We should not take higher average speeds obtained by both the Crescent and Carolinian gained by traveling faster on the NEC between WAS and NYP since this new "day" train will not be using it.
In either case, be it 13.75 or 14.75 hours elapse time between WAS and ATL, both trains will require a crew change along the way somewhere. Obviously it would be either Charlotte or Raleigh? Why not avoid the crew change altogether and just run two day trains, WAS to CLT and CLT to ATL? That way you avoid trains beginning its run at 6 am and ending its run at 10 or 11 pm.
Would not a 7 am departure with a 5 pm arrival be better?

Of course, that would mean two, really four trains will be sitting idle overnight for 14 hours somewhere as they are turned around. If the ultimate goal is to increase frequencies and have multiple "day" trains running - there would be even more trains sitting idle every night.

At least with long distance trains, not as many trains will be sitting idle every night. An idle train will not be earning revenues.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:01 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Why are we still trying to run only one train NYP-WAS-ATL daily? It should be at least FOUR daily:
-the Crescent on today’s schedule, NYP-WAS-ATL-NOL and return
-the Peachtree on a daylight schedule NYP-WAS-ATL and return
-the Morning/Afternoon Highlander CLT-ATL and return x2, timed reasonably well for Carolinian and Piedmont connections

You could convince me to have a train on the Carolinian route continue to Georgia too. For such an enormous and underserved market, 4 or 5x daily doesn’t seem too much at all. (And it would be a lot more pressure on NS, therefore a lot more money to fork over, but as a congestion relief measure for I-85 it seems a no-brainer.)


Good luck coming up with the money/equipment for all of that. I'd be happy with a second train passing through ATL.

If you have CTL-ATL separately, I think there is absolutely no reason for the Peachtree to be "daylight" (which as I said before is mathematically impossible). I'd probably work with North Carolina to just extend one or two Piedmont frequencies to ATL. If the train was just NYP-ATL, I might try to run it to leave NYP around 7pm and WAS around 11pm which would get it to ATL around 1pm the next day. Northbound, if you left ATL around 5pm you would get into WAS around 7am and NYP around 11am. Or you can leave ATL around 10pm and get into DC around noon and NY around 4pm but you'd barely beat rush hour traffic. There are only so many possibilities to keep NYP, WAS, and ATL at "good" times.

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:I would love to see a day train running from Washington DC all the way to Atlanta, Georgia. This would enable people to not just travel from DC to Atlanta without sleeping onboard.


Why would anyone want to? Are you telling me you would rather be stuck on a train all day from 6am to 11pm rather than be able to sleep off a good 6-8 hours of it? I'm not saying there aren't other markets when having a "day train" between ATL-WAS but this idea that people are going to be lining up to spend their entire waking day on a train. I mean they once had the Pennsylvanian run from Philly to Chicago, a dream train for me, right? Not with that schedule. Pass.

east point wrote:
We agree that the NC area is ignored by current overnight schedules. Why no initiate a mirror schedule to the Carolinian all the way to BOS ? That give those persons a night train CLT - BOS That picks up CLT - RGH 1900 - 2200. Arrivals RGH at about 0600 CLT 0900?


I had suggested in another thread of rerouting the Night Owl to go to CLT instead of Newport News (no new equipment and you don't have to worry about adding another train to the Shore Line East capacity limitation).
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby GWoodle » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:22 pm

electricron wrote:I'll repeat what I wrote earlier about turning day trains around in the middle of long distance train routes, and apply what I wrote about Montana to Georgia. Where does Amtrak have the ability to turn the Crescent around right now? The answers south of DC are Charlotte, and New Orleans. Charlotte is or has just opened its' facilities to turn around Piedmonts and the Carolinian, which North Carolina invested millions on.


One part of the proposal for new cars is to have more cab cars, maybe convert P40/P42 into cabbage cars or at least have engine & cab at each end of the train. Now all you have to do is provide fuel & water & flip seats to reverse direction. May be easier for the 4-6 coach & dinette car short corridor trains in the Midwest.

To get some of these trains started maybe use some Amfleet 1, Amfleet 2, Horizon cars bumped from other routes until the replacement units can be built?
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:49 pm

Re: Night Owl to Charlotte, do you mean via CVS or via RVR? If via Richmond you could feasibly run an in-state Amtrak Tidewater shuttle service between Newport News and Richmond to meet any NEC-bound trains. Done right, you’d gain capacity to and from Hampton Roads even if you have a transfer for every other train.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby george matthews » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:43 am

Unlike most countries in Europe what the US lacks is trains with SPEED. If you had some fast trains people would use them and there would be continual demand for more. I have travelled by quite a few trains in America, such as New York to Chicago. They really are too slow. Quite pleasant but not attractive to those not interested in rail history.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:45 am

mtuandrew wrote:Re: Night Owl to Charlotte, do you mean via CVS or via RVR? If via Richmond you could feasibly run an in-state Amtrak Tidewater shuttle service between Newport News and Richmond to meet any NEC-bound trains. Done right, you’d gain capacity to and from Hampton Roads even if you have a transfer for every other train.


Richmond. Keep it as close to the current Night Owl as possible.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby Arlington » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:14 am

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.

Now, can we talk about the Capitol, Cardinal, & Lake Shore? 3 Night Trains between the NEC and Chicago seems like 2 too many, and 0 trains serving CLE/CIN at prime hours seems like 2 too few.

Ohio is 11.6M, one of the few states we've talked about that are actually bigger than Georgia or North Carolina or New Jersey. Like Charlotte & the Carolinas, Ohio is treated as "flyover" country by the CHI/NEC centered system. How can we fix that?
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby charlesriverbranch » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:37 am

Arlington wrote:Ohio is 11.6M, one of the few states we've talked about that are actually bigger than Georgia or North Carolina or New Jersey. Like Charlotte & the Carolinas, Ohio is treated as "flyover" country by the CHI/NEC centered system. How can we fix that?


Revive the 3C (Cleveland - Columbus - Cincinnati) proposal, and bring back the Three Rivers, running it on a schedule that takes it through Ohio during the day.
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Re: Amtrak Expansion Plan

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:25 am

Arlington wrote:Note: A day train can still have "sleeper" equipment (we're going to have a lot of V-II roomettes we're not otherwise using).

Start the Crescent at Boston at 8pm, Arrive NYC 11pm. Allow boarding. Dwell. Sleep. Depart NYP at 3am. Serve Was at 6am and onward all the way to Atlanta and New Orleans
Just promise me (1) no laborious diner food and (2) Finally serve NC+SC at times they are awake (3) serve the empty To Kill a Mockingbird AL-MS bits at night. If NY people want to sleep on a train that goes to ATL, they still could.

Not allowed: claiming these NYC people are in both (a) so little hurry that they're willing to take a train but (b) so much of a hurry that the train must conform to their schedule to the great detriment of the Carolinas.

Even better: take Anderson the next logical step and invest $10m in a yard near ATL (as part of a $1000m corridor-and-sidings procurement) Run both NOL-ATL and ATL-NYP/BOS as day (ish) rather than a single through train.


Why not an expanded 2 sleeper "Night Owl"? Keeping a similar overnight 65/66/67 schedule (BOS - WAS), split the train in DC and send half to Atlanta/New Orleans and half to Norfolk*. That would also create an overnight train between Atlanta and New Orleans.

* I have suggested on other websites that Amtrak should consider rerouting 65/66/67 to Norfolk. Some population info:

Proposed: Norfolk (242,070) + Virginia Beach (454,846) + Petersburg (31,396) = 728,312

Existing: Newport News = 181,345

BTW - Going via Norfolk will save about an hour travel time to/from Virginia Beach (via a much shorter bus connection).
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