Amtrak Quad Cities Proposal Chicago, Moline, Iowa City

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Amtrak Quad Cities Proposal Chicago, Moline, Iowa City

Postby mkellerm » Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:41 pm

Amtrak has posted their feasibility report to bring service to the Quad Cities. The press release is here and the executive summary is here (pdf).

The punchline: routing via BNSF to Wyanet and then IAIS to the Quad Cities is cheaper, faster, and has higher projected ridership than IAIS through Joliet. If you scroll down the press release there are two tables that provide a good summary of the result.
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Postby mkellerm » Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:25 pm

Not surprisingly, the Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition is happy today:

http://qconline.com/archives/qco/display.php?id=369329
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Postby MudLake » Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:17 pm

The comment that the 3.5 hour expected trip time being "competitive" with driving must imply a loose interpretation of competitive. The driving distance is 170 miles.

Any Rock Island experts know what their running time was back in the day?
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Postby ne plus ultra » Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:31 pm

MudLake wrote:The comment that the 3.5 hour expected trip time being "competitive" with driving must imply a loose interpretation of competitive. The driving distance is 170 miles.

Any Rock Island experts know what their running time was back in the day?

Your post implies a somewhat loose familiarity with traffic between Chicago and Naperville or Joliet. Depending on time of day, the first 30 miles would often take more than an hour, so yes, 200 minutes is very competitive (the 79 mph estimate); and even 215 minutes (the estimate if service is mostly at 60 mph) is in the range.

In terms of schedule, this will be a solid option. But reliability is everything. If Amtrak is as apt as your car to get "stuck in traffic" and lose 30-45 minutes, then all bets are off.

But ultimately, this is about creating a Chicago hub with the kinds of economies of scale and marketing footprint that New York has. Soon, you'll be able to go to every major town in the state except Peoria and Decatur by rail. It will change the way people think about regional travel here.
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Postby bmichel5581 » Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:30 pm

it has taken me over an hour to go from exit 293 (McCormick Place) to exit 274 (HWY 83) on the outbound Stevenson before...

:(
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Postby MudLake » Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:43 pm

ne plus ultra wrote:
MudLake wrote:The comment that the 3.5 hour expected trip time being "competitive" with driving must imply a loose interpretation of competitive. The driving distance is 170 miles.

Any Rock Island experts know what their running time was back in the day?

Your post implies a somewhat loose familiarity with traffic between Chicago and Naperville or Joliet. Depending on time of day, the first 30 miles would often take more than an hour, so yes, 200 minutes is very competitive (the 79 mph estimate); and even 215 minutes (the estimate if service is mostly at 60 mph) is in the range.


I grew up there and am back very often so, yeah, I know the good, bad, and ugly of Chicago traffic. The proposed departure and arrival times in the report are not that bad for traffic but certainly you never know for sure on any given day. One thing I do know is that my brother drives frequently from Naperville to the Quad Cities and it doesn't take him very much more than two hours.
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Postby icgsteve » Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:51 pm

Two two things that popped out to me are that Amtrak is throwing in a charge of $700,000 per car to get them ready for service, and that this report contains guesstaments PRIOR to the railroads making their demands. This is very much not the price tag of the deal, this is what Amtrak figures a fair price tag would be.
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Postby SecaucusJunction » Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:44 pm

Yeah but there's no "wow" factor with any of these trains. The average person isnt gonna take into account that there might be traffic unless its smack in the middle of rush hour and most drivers think they can find their way around it. If the trains were really running at 79mph all the way and could easily beat the cars even with only little or moderate traffic, the service would probably work.
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Corridor

Postby jp1822 » Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:53 pm

My guess is you'll get renovated or operational Amfleet that is currently in storage for the price of $700,000 per car. Perhaps the state should look into buying their own cars or applying for deal that Amtrak wanted Vermont to take on with the Colorado DMU's. This service would make more sense with DMU service - than getting stored Amfleets ready for service (my guess any way).

And if this is to be a true corridor, multiple frequencies should be considered, as its been proven that's what often leads to success
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Re: Corridor

Postby ne plus ultra » Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:16 pm

jp1822 wrote:My guess is you'll get renovated or operational Amfleet that is currently in storage for the price of $700,000 per car. Perhaps the state should look into buying their own cars or applying for deal that Amtrak wanted Vermont to take on with the Colorado DMU's. This service would make more sense with DMU service - than getting stored Amfleets ready for service (my guess any way).

And if this is to be a true corridor, multiple frequencies should be considered, as its been proven that's what often leads to success

The report calls for two round trips daily.

One interesting result is that the preferred route would give tiny Princeton, IL 6 round trips daily.

Or maybe they'd no longer stop the LD's there.
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Postby icgsteve » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:38 am

Did anyone besides me notice that amtrak omitted the estimated passenger miles figure, so we have no way to make much sense of the forecasted required state subsidy? We know basically the passengers on state routes tend to be charged in the high teens per passenger mile, and we know that the states tend to be required to put in about $.20 per passenger mile. If we knew what the best guess is for this route for the subsidy/RPM we would be better able to judge if this is a good idea or not. The yard stick is comparing this route to others that we already pay for, which can only be done with the number of passenger miles generated and the cost/RPM. The guess about the state subsidy required is made fully from cost and fare box take, so why do we not know what the assumed charge to the passenger per passenger mile is? We could take that figure, look at the schedule, figure out how many miles a journey is thus how much it will cost the rider, and we could make up our minds if we would ever pay that.

They call this a summery, but a lot of the most important stuff is left out that is needed to decide if the basic concept is sound.
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Postby ne plus ultra » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:57 am

icgsteve wrote:Did anyone besides me notice that amtrak omitted the estimated passenger miles figure ...


I know you're looking for a more solid figure than this but I'll offer: the towns along the way are shockingly small. Princeton and Mendota each have about 7,500. Plano may be up to 7,500 now, and Geneseo is only 6,500. I think it's safe to say that 85% or more will be going at least from Quad Cities to Naperville, and most of those will be going all the way downtown. There is no Joliet, no Bloomington, no Kankakee/Bourbonnais, no Champaign on the way to Carbondale. It's basically just Quad Cities and Chicago. Consider Pontiac's 600 riders/month versus Springfield's 9,000 and Bloomington's 10,000 and you still don't have a sense of it, because Pontiac is 50% bigger than any of the little towns on the proposed QC route.

And remember, Princeton (4X), Mendota (3X) and Plano (2x) already have multiple daily departures to Chicago!! This is going to be an all Quad Cities train.
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Postby icgsteve » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:18 am

ne plus ultra wrote: I think it's safe to say that 85% or more will be going at least from Quad Cities to Naperville, and most of those will be going all the way downtown. .


if you assume the total route is about 170 miles (which I am not sure about) and assume that 80% of 100,000 passengers (the 60 mph passenger count guess) go all the way and the other 20% go half the distance the state subsidy comes out to $.35/RPM, which would be high. Does not tell us anything about what the passengers would be changed, and I did not see a yearly cost of operation number so we can't figure this out either.
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Postby bmichel5581 » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:33 am

I think it's important to keep in mind that Chicago to QC's is the first part of a corridor that will hopefully one day reach Iowa City, Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Omaha.
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Postby CarterB » Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:54 pm

The study mentions only a station/end point of Moline. (1200 River Drive?? MetroLink? )

Not sure how anxious the folks in Bettendorf and Davenport will be to drive to Moline to catch a train. If they really plan to use this as the 'springboard' on to Iowa City and Des Moines, I wonder why not at least consider temp end point of Davenport?
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
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