Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby John_Perkowski » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:50 pm

electricron wrote:Additionally, That will easily double the subsidies needed to tun the train which barely gets enough subsidy for one train set with one crew. There isn't enough political support to do so from Texas, Oklahoma, or Kansas. Maybe Kansas will pitch in the majority of the funds needed, maybe Oklahoma will increase its subsidy, but I doubt Texas would.


Considering who is running for Governor in Kansas to replace Sam Brownback (Chris Kobach), considering Kansas just had to raise taxes to make ends meet, considering Kansas is on the hook for $250M a year in added K-12 funding, I doubt my next door neighbor state is going to be in position to subsidize anything anytime soon.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby east point » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:18 pm

It may be that if Heartland Flyer is extended to Newton that the additional passengers might have enough revenue for there would be no additional operational subsidy. Or it might even take less subsidy ? That of course only if enough equipment is available for the additional passengers including the SWC. That is another reason that more rolling stock needs ordering and not the N-S fiasco. The ridership cited for the Texas Chief & Lone star certainly does have merit for this extension. The ability to connect both east and SW at FTW on the Eagles has much merit

Does FTW station have good space and close by facilities for connecting passengers that wish to wander ?
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby electricron » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:11 am

east point wrote:Does FTW station have good space and close by facilities for connecting passengers that wish to wander ?

Fort Worth's ITC has plenty of seating for transferring passengers. But it is surrounded by tracks and parking lots. FYI. about a quarter mile away to the southwest is the Water Gardens, where one could easily waste away hours if you like water fountains. Sundance Square is just as far away to the northwest. Both activities would be long walks considering you'll have to walk both directions during the layover.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Anthony » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:35 pm

I see extending the Heartland Flyer to Newton as a start in a much larger regional plan for improved service in the region. I see this being done over time through four steps as equipment and funding become available for each of them. The first step would be to extend the HF to Newton for a SWC connection. The second step would be the further extend the HF to Chicago via thru-cars on the Southwest Chief. Third, extend the HF south to San Antonio via the current Texas Eagle route between FTW and SAS. (This would be done in conjunction with a TE reroute west from Fort Worth to El Paso via Abilene and Midland-Odessa, TX). Fourth, restore the Houston section of the TE to restore Chicago-Houston service.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:53 pm

Good thoughts, Anthony. Next step is to talk with the Kansas and Oklahoma state legislatures and convince them to reallocate money and raise their taxes enough to afford this extension.

Otherwise, there's the option of the Flyer going to Tulsa, then north via EDIT: BNSF to Joplin and KCS to Kansas City. Mostly skips Kansas if they don't want to pay for a train.
Last edited by mtuandrew on Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Anthony » Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:35 pm

The Tulsa-Kansas City route would go via Joplin, not Branson
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:41 pm

Yup, I see that now - edited my post to correct it.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby electricron » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:01 pm

The problem with extending the Heartland Flyer to either Kansas City n is there are no spare Superliners around to add a second train set to this train. It runs today normally with just one set of 3 to 4 Superliner cars.
The existing set round trip lasts 13 hours over a total distance of 412 rail miles. There's 11 hours remaining within 24 hours idle in Oklahoma City. The highway distance between Oklahoma City and Newton is 186.5 miles, a round trip would be at least 373 rail miles - most likely more as the tracks take a longer route than I-35. It's only 39 total miles shorter. In its favor is that the Heartland Flyer lays over in Fort Worth for 5 hours, so there's plenty of padding in the schedule.
Assuming it takes just as long to reach Newton as it does to reach Fort Worth, which is 4 hours, the Flyer would be arriving in Newton around 1:30 am. To be back in Oklahoma City at the time it is now scheduled to depart, it would have to leave Newton around 4:30 am. So it could have a 3 hour layover in Newton.
As a reminder, the Heartland Flyer would be in Newton between 1:30 am to 4:30 am, in the wee late night hours. The Southwest Chief is scheduled today to be in Newton at 2:45 am westbound and 2:59 am eastbound. Which is basically in the middle of that 3 hour window for the Heartland Flyer. Which brings up the question, is there enough tracks and platforms in Newton to handle all three trains at once?

Kansas City is another 200 rail miles from Newton, 400 rail miles per round trip; so extending the Heartland Flyer to Kansas City will require an additional train set. The same answer applies for extending the Heartland Flyer to San Antonio, which is 283 rail miles away from Fort Worth, 566 rail miles per round trip. If Amtrak was to extend the Flyer to Newton or San Antonio, you'll be expected to change trains in Newton just like you do or will do in Fort Worth today.

Oklahoma and Texas revenues have taken a hit with the fall of oil and natural gas prices. Neither state is in a position to double down on subsidizing inter city trains. So what may be physically possible isn't fiscally possible right now. :)
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:58 am

Extension News: KSN.com

Kansans optimistic on passenger rail to Oklahoma, Texas

...
Hauge says before the Heartland Flyer starts running from Newton to Wichita into Oklahoma and Texas, there are issues that have to be resolved. First, the state has to fix some issues with the Southwest Chief route that currently stops in Newton. Another issue is seeing what states like Kansas and Oklahoma would do in the way of helping start and sustain service.

Hague also says Burlington Northern needs to do a feasability study on the rail lines but adds Amtrak could run South out of Newton into Texas without a major rail upgrades right away.

"What Amtrak made clear to the Ways and Means committee is that without a huge investment they would be able to run trains back and forth to Oklahoma City and Newton at freight speeds," Hague said. "Which is essentially 60 miles an hour ."
...
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:59 am

Also interesting: there is an independent site for the route.

http://heartlandflyer.com/
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:45 pm

Mentions that BNSF needs to do an assessment. They already did an assessment, and they were asking for at least 2 stretches of a second main track installment. So they need to do another assessment???
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:52 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:Mentions that BNSF needs to do an assessment. They already did an assessment, and they were asking for at least 2 stretches of a second main track installment. So they need to do another assessment???

Sounds fishy from the outside and they could probably go forward with the old plan without too many sticking points, but they’re trying to tailor their route exactly to the amount of traffic they have. The more second and third track they have, the more they pay in upkeep and in property tax. Crossovers cost money too, as does signaling and a more robust PTC overlay (one already having been required on this route), and BNSF gets final say on whether railroad-owned stations can be used by the public, and on what property stations & platforms can be built.

Think of it as planning a wedding, if you’ve been involved with one: when’s the shower & is it co-ed, where are the bachelor & bachelorette parties (and who brings the bail money :P ), which relatives can’t sit next to each other, what venues do you want, and what music to play... which all comes back to the time and money budget.

Also, I’m chuckling at the article referring to “Burlington Northern” in Santa Fe territory :-D
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Tadman » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:13 pm

I'm having trouble seeing the sense of extending the Flyer. Consider this:

You can either extend the Flyer to Wichita or KC through some of the emptiest land in the country, or you can
1. Open passenger service DFW to Houston, two of the biggest cities in the country, with no passenger service now
2. Open corridor service DFW to San Antonio, because the daily LD train is erratic in timekeeping and basically useless to regional passengers
3. Run a second train on the Flyer route to provide some sort of frequency rather than nominally covering the map with 1/day trains that carry less than 1% of all travelers
4. Open corridor service Tulsa-OKC
5. Connect current Flyer service to DFW because let's face it, I doubt many Flyer passengers want to connect with an erratic LD train in Fort Worth to... (Little Rock? Chicago? Los Angeles? three seat ride to NOLA? )

Of course we're going to do the option that makes the least sense.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Tue Jan 29, 2019 8:21 pm

1 & 2 are probably DOA because, well, it's Texas. Enough said.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Tadman » Fri Feb 01, 2019 3:17 pm

Are they? I would've agreed a few years ago, but that Texas HSR system seems to be moving forward. Also, Dallas is more LA than Texas some days, not sure if that is better or worse for transit/trains.

Knowing the Texas culture, I don't think a few corridor trains with aged equipment would work. I do think medium or HSR would work if done right. New equipment, full service, lots of amenities, valet parking at stations... That's a big state and I never drive Dallas-Houston, I fly. I'd take HSR if there was good frequency.
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