Illinois Amtrak Service

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:53 pm

I must say for many years, there has been a lot of wasted opportunity for Amtrak in Illinois with speeds. Once the corridors leave the outer suburbs served by Metra behind, then there is so much potential to have the trains doing 110 mph. I know that down the road, Amtrak will be running at 110 mph for about 75 percent of the route between Chicago and St. Louis. Much of the 110 mph operation will be south of Joliet as the right of way is very dead straight in many spots and the stops are more spread out.

Cities like Aurora and Joliet are both about 40 miles from Downtown Chicago and when you are traveling on any Amtrak train heading west of Joliet and Aurora, suburban landscapes are taken over pretty fast by miles and miles of farmland.
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby dowlingm » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:35 am

eolesen wrote:And yet the dual presence isn’t the cause of failure.... unlike the rest of the train-culture countries, the US is made up of large yet geographically dispersed population centers. Illinois is the size of Ireland, and just about as rural once you get outside of Dublin.

If Ireland doesn’t need high speed rail, we don’t. Most long distance travel there is by bus...

Comparing Illinois to Ireland would be like putting a state line roughly at the level of Peoria. Also putting Chicago where I-74 enters Indiana and Springfield where Chicago is. Oh also it wouldn't be a state line but an international border with different signalling regulations (ATP vs CAWS).

There are *five* trains a day from STL-CHI. There are trains every hour from 0700-1900 leaving Dublin (city pop 520k) for Cork (city pop 120k) over a rail distance of about 160 miles. There are 5x daily services to other places even smaller. The difference being, of course, that the passenger rail operator owns and dispatches the tracks.
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby daybeers » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:24 pm

This project is certainly a boondoggle. I might even call it a waste of taxpayer money. How have taxpayers benefited? They haven't, only UP has.

The fact that some of you still refer to 110 mph MAS as "high-speed rail" is utterly ridiculous. It's 2019, which means it's even a stretch to call above 125 (and not 150) high-speed.

Let's face it: the way the U.S. goes about its infrastructure projects borders on a scam. Hope is at the end of the tunnel, with public-private partnerships becoming more common and the overhaul of rolling stock regulations, but we're rumbling through that tunnel in a 10 mph freight train instead of a 150 mph streamlined passenger train.
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby NealG » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:33 pm

dowlingm wrote: There are trains every hour from 0700-1900 leaving Dublin (city pop 520k) for Cork (city pop 120k) over a rail distance of about 160 miles. There are 5x daily services to other places even smaller. The difference being, of course, that the passenger rail operator owns and dispatches the tracks.


Not to mention, faster speeds and newer (presumably more lightweight) equipment. I took Iarnród Éireann from Dublin to Cork last fall and clocked the train I was on at between 105 and 110 mph regularly along the way. The service was quick, reliable, and presumably popular, seeing that an 11 AM train (with at least six cars) out of Dublin's Heuston Station maintained about 75% occupancy along much of the route.
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby Tadman » Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:04 pm

Given the amount of abandoned ROW we have in Illinois (and any east-of-Mississippi population center) it's probably time to stop giving freight lines money for upgrades or even trackage rights and pony up for some abandoned mainlines. Is it worth immediately converting the entire network? Probably not. But the concept has worked reasonably well on the Michigan lines, and would work better if (a) we let a private party run the passenger trains over the ROW; (b) quit pretending the NW Indiana situation isn't the stupidest thing in passenger rail (IE where there are 2 parallel gov't funded passenger corridors within spitting distance).

How it is that the state didn't pony up for one of these lines when they had the money (which they sure don't anymore) is beyond me, other than the idea that we all thought passenger trains were going away until 2002-ish.
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby eolesen » Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:12 pm

Two thoughts --

1) Chances are those abandoned corridors don't typically go between population centers on a preferred alignment
2) Building on an empty ROW would be many, many more times more expensive than upgrading existing, and that doesn't include the cost of maintaining it in perpetuity...

Illinois can't even afford rolling stock for its state-owned transit agency... Building out a new railroad alignment ain't gonna happen in any of our lifetimes.
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:25 pm

Given that high-speed passenger service on the Alton was a condition of the UP-SP merger, do Illinois or Amtrak have any recourse to either force compliance, or trigger a sale (a la Amtrak v B&M on the lower Conn River)?
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby eolesen » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:18 pm

Is it UP’s fault that Amtrak can’t go faster?....
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:40 pm

eolesen wrote:Is it UP’s fault that Amtrak can’t go faster?....

I don’t know, is it? There’s some evidence placing blame with Omaha unfairly prioritizing its own traffic and slowing down Amtrak’s construction. There’s also evidence that blame lies with Springfield or with Washington, and notably no one is calling for an independent investigation into the lack of 110 mph running.
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:02 am

Here is a long article appearing recently in the "Lefty-Libby"New Republic. The article certainly shows how the UP's Global 5 Intermodal terminal is "here to stay", and I think lends credence to thoughts that ARRA09 funds, ostensibly for the "High Speed Rail", could well have actually been allocated so the UP could have an upgraded line to access this facility.

The BNSF also has an adjacent intermodal facility to the UP's, but that is accessed over the former ATSF (Chillicothe Sub, route of the "Super") that no longer has passenger service.

The article is mainly concerned, considering the publication, with the environmental and economic impact to nearby Elwood, IL. Environment? "three guesses". Economic? Jobs; "plenty of 'em"; that is, if you like working in the "gig economy".
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:15 pm

Mr. Norman, from that article I’m reading two rail-related conclusions:
1) Illinois did a good deed for its tax base but not necessarily for its residents - at best the benefits are trickle-down - and
2) Joliet-Alton passenger service will never operate at >79 mph until there is a second and third main installed, at which point Illinois should be considering a fully-separate HSR line anyway.

How does this mesh with your opinion?
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Re: Illinois Amtrak Service

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:17 pm

Mr. Stephens, I was unable to determine how long it will take the Illinois government to recover the tax giveaway, but that is the first thing any industry expects when locating a facility.

Now so far as the jobs; UP and BNSF workers are likely the only ones who benefit. They're all Union. The rest; well you work when the boss needs you, but you'd better be standing by for that call that may or may not come.

So far as the railroad plant; if the intent was to operate a higher speed line, condition precedent would be restoration of the double track main that was yanked up during '69. Hey why not; the ROW is there.

But at the moment all I can hold is that "my railroad" (long position UNP) got an upgraded line at taxpayer expense. The improvement to the "five a day" over the route is marginal.
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