Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

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

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:23 pm

Fully concur. Especially in regards to Horizon cars. They are by no means a "win" if used on the Downeaster.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:16 pm

gokeefe wrote:The size of the Trump infrastructure proposal has given me (and others) reason to seriously question if the North-South Rail Link may be viable again. The current cost-estimate ballpark is $2 billion (which has come way down from the original $8 billion).

That possibility aside Grand Junction is not the favored option by any of the government agencies looking at service between Maine and points beyond Boston. NNEPRA has made public statements to this effect multiple times. They favor consideration of Worcester as well.

The Worcester Branch has seen some significant (self-funded no less ...) investment by Pan Am Railways in the past five years. It is probably closer to Class II than it is to Class I. That doesn't by any means indicate that it would be suitable for passenger service, merely that it is not as far gone as one would reasonably believe based on past history.



FCM2829 wrote:Interesting.
I was unaware the GJ was so far off the table. Guess that gaff of announcing potential CR thru Cambridge w/o any community notification a few years back really stung.

How much work does the Worcester branch need for class III?



The Worcester Branch is in abysmal shape through-and-through...Class 1, weed-choked, and derailment-prone. PAR needs it because its future rests on making its joint CSX "SEPO" train from Albany to Portland a more prominent moneymaker, but they deserve all the criticism coming to them for the neglect they've shown it. Class 2 upgrades are going to be a stiff price tag and large sunk cost in itself. Nobody's foreseeing a quantum leap to Class 3 for freight in this coming generation, because PAR just has too many state-of-repair holes it has to dig out of to "good enough" baseline systemwide before it can rationally justify going for premium-tier additional frills courting time-sensitive runs. That's an order of magnitude surplus-to-requirement from what their current priorities are.


Worcester Branch is a zero for passenger investment. TRNE and NNEPRA were shooting their mouths off even suggesting it. Their assertions were complete and total bunk, and that was one of the DE braintrust's worst all-time examples of the kind of amateur hour where they forgot how small they are and how reliant they are on third-party coalitions to make anything happen for them. MassDOT is not going to cooperate on anything that bypasses Boston, and that includes them blocking a train from using MBTA territory on the Fitchburg and Lowell Lines to put kibbosh on the idea. And Amtrak is not going to cooperate qualifying itself in new territory or divorcing itself from all-critical access to Southampton Yard for sake of running a once-daily with extremely limited margins for farebox recovery. NNEPRA doesn't have an end-run mechanism to ever propose something like that. Suggesting otherwise was a stupidly provocative action on their part that risked making pointless enemies.

TRNE's bleating about the Worcester bypass being necessary because of Boston overcrowding was also crock of BS, because the intermediate ridership overchurn on both the Springfield Shuttle (current)/Inland (projected) and DE routes doesn't behave that way in real life. Not every butt stays firmly planted in the seat the complete way end-to-end; New Haven-Springfield, Springfield-Worcester-Boston are big overturn points, and the DE itself has its documented trickle of ridership overchurn between Route 128, NH, and the Maine intermediates. The Vermonter still exists because it acts as a de facto real Springfield Regional that takes a big ridership dump from the south at SPG...to point where some cars are isolated from thru-Vermont passengers to accept only Regional/Shuttle tickets. And all of the Northern NE Intercity initiative's service expansion north of Springfield pivots itself off a bootstrap of mainstream Springfield/Inland Regional & Shuttle demand. That spurious argument of TRNE's has been utterly destroyed from so many ways by real math substantiated to the nines. If they still claim their math behind the Worcester bypass has merit, their counterpoint is going to have to overpower the field that says they're dead wrong. It would not be wise for them to pursue that "Boston overcrowding"/"Worcester's more important" again. Thankfully that's now a couple years in the rear view, and hopefully the players have wizened up.

Besides...it was empirically calculated on the other Maine intercity thread that historical-best speeds and travel times on the Worcester-Ayer bypass were outright poorer than a prospective Inland Route train run going over the Grand Junction Branch and reversing at North Station onto an orthodox DE routing. EGE was the poster who crunched those numbers in exhausting detail; search the board archives. So the argument for any NYP-POR service using the bypass is moot; it's an inferior route in every way, and stakes itself to the path of most resistance to exist at all.


You could feasibly 'hide' a NYP-POR slot over the Grand Junction within the farebox recovery of a regular Inland Route Shuttle shackled to a Downeaster schedule. Basically, two slots conjoined at the hip with a 10 min. North Station layover for changing ends, and sneaking any crew changes that may require into the layover. 100% of the territory, including the Grand Junction, already has Amtrak crew qualifications for everyone based out of Boston. The ridership overchurn of regular Inland riders and regular Downeaster riders gaining de facto regular slots on their normal routes floats the conjoined schedule well enough to support the small niche of weekenders and business travelers riding all the way through New York-Portland. Springfield Shuttles already will be getting the default PRIAA next-gen cab-bag-coach configuration for their cab cars, including if extended to Boston...so any run on that routing (incl. NYP-POR) will have baggage storage whether every run truly needs it or not. The only above-and-beyond equipment needs would be *maybe* an extra coach if they do that Vermonter-style cross-ticketing relief valve with Regional fares for the big Springfield rider dump. That's tiny enough operating cost specific to the thru run that NYP-POR can sustain a stable one-a-day schedule that lives within its very tiny margins, because the gain in slots on the regular-route halves pays 90%+ of the tab.

Since that route is the fastest you'll ever net between New York and Portland...NNEPRA might as well start scheming for synergies if MassDOT/CDOT/VTrans make a Go For It decision on the Northern NE Passenger Initiative. They have a viable vector to glom themselves parasitically onto that out-of-state biggie as an enthusiastic cheerleader, then worming its way into an achievable exploit on the Grand Junction Boston. It's not far-fetched at all if the other states follow through. It would help, though, if they vacated all brainspace of that empirically contradictory Worcester bypass first.
Last edited by Jeff Smith on Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:57 am, edited 3 times in total.
Reason: Minor edit for profanity, but we appreciate the analysis!
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby FCM2829 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:17 pm

OK, so the GRand Jct routing of potential NYP-POR is still in play.

Worcester branch sounds like an expensive detour with a dearth of support from most quarters.

That leaves NSRL, a Mayor Dilworth sized endeavor. Maybe larger.
Last edited by FCM2829 on Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:19 pm

Although F-line is right that a compelling case timing was has been made in favor of it, in my opinion, it is a non-starter with the community.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby sicariis » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:58 pm

688 involved in a Train vs. Car incident in Old Orchard Beach

http://wgme.com/news/local/train-hits-c ... hard-beach
OLD ORCHARD BEACH (WGME) -- Police confirm that a vehicle, stuck on the tracks, was hit by a train on Union Avenue in Old Orchard Beach.
According to a witness, the vehicle pulled out of a driveway and the throttle malfunctioned. The driver jumped out of the vehicle, and it rolled onto the tracks.


https://twitter.com/RideRail/status/819344741066276865
Train 688 was involved in an incident in Old Orchard Beach. The train will be approximately 90 late. Train 689 departure could be late too.


https://twitter.com/DanMcWGME/status/819345551120629760
It was an Amtrak Downeaster that hit the car driven by 23 y.o. Carson Filiault. Train lost power briefly, no one aboard was hurt. @WGME
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:38 am

FCM2829 wrote:OK, so the GRand Jct routing of potential NYP-POR is still in play.

Worcester branch sounds like an expensive detour with a dearth of support from most quarters.

That leaves NSRL, a Mayor Dilworth sized endeavor. Maybe larger.


Just watch for developments on the Inland Route to see if NNEPRA has a vector for NYP-POR. That's really all it'll take to bring that into the realm of very low-hanging fruit. The Grand Junction is only 2.5 miles long and is slated to eventually get some basic state-of-repair renewal to the grade crossings and trackbed as IOU's to CSX for MassDOT's line buy (much like several other branches in Southeastern MA included in that same transaction just got scheduled for FY17-21 upgrades owed to CSX). The junction with the B&A will also be completely cleanroomed and simplified due to the upcoming Mass Pike straightening over the vacated Beacon Park Yard land. Unless the Charles River Bridge needs another intensive rehab job due because the in-situ repairs of a couple years ago somehow weren't long-lasting enough, a second shot of upgrades to make it passenger-grade isn't going to cost more than a rounding error in the big picture because the branch is so short. The grade crossing work coming sooner addresses the biggest SGR item because of the number of crossings on those 2.5 miles. It's not like it's ever going to be that fast at tippy-top speeds; 30-35 MPH is probably it due to the crossing clusters, curves, and extremely short distance between B&A junction and Fitchburg Line junction marking start of the North Station terminal district. Baseline Class 3 maint standard, signalized, and the pre-existing Cambridgeport passing siding made automatic is the most one needs to shoot for.

There is a study on the books for routing 5 Worcester Line peak-direction trips in the A.M. and 5 in the P.M. over the Grand Junction to North Station. Inexpensive, but hasn't been picked up because it's too low-priority until they spend megabucks pulling the B&A-proper out of its huge performance-killing SGR hole via brand-new signal system. But there's potential to revisit that WOR-BON commuter proposal and lump the NYP-POR intercity round-trip in with it as a value-maxing package for passenger-rating the Grand Junction if/when the Inlands happen and carry through all that Worcester Line SGR work.


The best thing NNEPRA can do in the meantime while all this Inland Route machinery is still in late stages of study phase and still uncommitted is to keep stepping on the gas on BON-POR upgrades to the Western Route and NH Main. Keep tightening those bolts, because that's what'll matter most to both the existing schedules and keeping a decently taut NYP-POR schedule if the opportunity arises to jump in on the Inland upgrades. Make sure to stay ahead of subsequent rounds of tie replacement. Concentrate their grant apps on getting more double-tracking and performance improvements south of Portland (it's arguably more important than than spending one more cent Portland-Brunswick that doesn't involve getting PAR to stop parking its out-of-service trains on every siding). Use the high-priority need for double-stack clearances on the Western Route to roll some of those passenger-oriented DT upgrades in with state commitments to do the clearance work. Neither MEDOT nor NHDOT have all that many road bridges that have to be outright raised vs. the railroad undercutting the trackbed, but those DOT's giving firm schedule timetables allows the funding pitch for passenger + freight upgrades to get rolled in a wad and tap wider variety of federal freight grant sources than the passenger-only stuff they usually qualify for.

Also, make sure NNEPRA has their contingencies covered by Pan Am's likely company sale to a new railroad TBD, and how they'll pivot for building a relationship with their new (and almost certainly more competent) partners. This includes having their gameplan in order if PAR or successor outright puts the Western Route up for sale to the states or Amtrak in exchange for double-stack upgrade commitments, to goose the company's value. In a short and sudden window of opportunity for a buy, would they be able to get MEDOT, NHDOT, and/or Amtrak to front a cash-advance for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase outright ownership and control? Figure those mechanics out now, because opportunity may strike like lightning and require bang-bang decision on a potential purchase.

Over on the Massachusetts side it's high time to give the NH Main some SGR/upgrade love, as its asynchronous 70 MPH northbound and 60 MPH southbound speed limits from Somerville to Wilmington throw a bit of a curve for cleanly dispatching balanced inbound/outbound schedules. The ABS signal system south of Wilmington is glitchy and antiquated; replacement with the same generic CTC signaling that currently exists on the Western Route would make it easily capable of sustaining 79 MPH both directions. And the speed restriction at the West Medford grade crossing pair could get whacked with kitchen-sink upgrades to beefier-tech crossing protection there.

Do these minding-their-store things with full due diligence in the immediate-term and they'll have easy-grab opportunities with the Grand Junction and Inlands if/when the time comes.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby FCM2829 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:08 pm

From Swist's post 02 Oct 2015.
Unsure how much has changed, but schedule's the same:
As promised. DE speed report. Steady state speeds for several minutes or more. Acceleration/deceleration ignored, including station stops. Move in and out of Portland spur ignored. Done over 3 round trips from WOB to BRK. Stops or slowdowns for atypical reasons not included. There is a LOT of variability, these are very rough averages, rounded up. 79 is max track speed encountered (three times, briefly). At these speeds train is on time +/- 5 mins.

WOB
65
Wilmington
35,65,50
N Andover
30
Lawrence
30,60
Haverhill
45
Plaistow
75
Exeter
65,75
Durham
75
Dover
30,75,79
Wells
75,60,79,75
Saco
10,75,45
Old Orchard
45,79,75.65.45
Portland
30,65,75,65,50,35
Freeport
35,10,65
Brunswick
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:56 am

Unlocked; let's tone down the over-the-top hyperbole' a bit. We're here to inform, educate, discuss, etc. By all means, let's strongly argue positions. But let's not hinder anyone from making an observation or ask a question by disparaging an idea, no matter how unlikely one thinks of the possibility.

Thanks!
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:03 pm

Good Evening,

It gives me great pleasure to announce that I have been hired by TrainRiders Northeast to be their first ever Executive Director. You can see the announcement on the TNE website (http://www.trainridersne.org). I will be working alongside Chairman Wayne Davis to help ensure the future of the organization and to provide for the administration and management of our programs including (and perhaps most importantly) our TrainHost and StationHost volunteers.

I have been working with Wayne since October (2016) in a volunteer capacity and since December as a member of the Board of Directors to strengthen the organization and tend to its needs. He is an exceptionally generous person who is deeply committed to improving economic opportunity and through "modern and efficient" passenger rail service.

I will continue to be active at railroad.net and would note that any opinions or views expressed are my own personally and don't necessarily reflect the views of TrainRiders Northeast as an organization. I will still use these forums to learn, listen and understand things that I may not be able to see or do myself in the immediate sense.

I am deeply grateful to everyone here at railroad.net for your many years of support, encouragement and discussion of the topics at hand. My work with passenger rail has started here and has grown into a very significant part of my professional career. I am looking forward to helping TrainRiders advocate for and shape policy for passenger rail service in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and the Northeast for many years to come.

Best,
George O'Keefe, Jr.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Cowford » Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:11 pm

Congratulations, George!
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:28 pm

Thank you! :-D
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Renegade334 » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:49 pm

Congrats George! Let me know if there is anything that I can do to be of assistance in the Dover area
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby b&m 1566 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:07 pm

Congratulations Mr. O'Keefe!!!





I don't follow this thread as often as I once did and the same goes for the Downeaster Upgrades thread, so rather than trying to reading through the threads can someone give me a quick update on the Brunswick layover facility please.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Arlington » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:22 pm

b&m 1566 wrote:can someone give me a quick update on the Brunswick layover facility please.

They had an open house on the completed facility in October (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yLAG4e1hWU) accompanied by decent media coverage (http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/21/b ... ady-to-go/) and the forecast that it'd become fully operational Nov 21st.

Added round trip started Nov 21 too: http://www.amtrakdowneaster.com/press/d ... el-options
The Amtrak Downeaster makes five round-trips each day between Portland and Boston. Since November 2012, two of those round-trips have extended to Freeport and Brunswick. Beginning on November 21, 2016, the frequency of service to Freeport and Brunswick will increase to three round-trips each day with the addition of a new late morning southbound departure and new evening arrival times.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby b&m 1566 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:36 pm

Wow, I need to check in more often. Thank you for the update!
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