Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby BostonUrbEx » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:14 am

Anyone care to speculate on service pattern? Perhaps 681/691 terminating in Rockland, and 688/698 origination from Rockland? Needs to jive with the impending six round-trips per day, though, so hard to say based on current five round-trips.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Arlington » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:21 am

gokeefe wrote:
Arlington wrote:Seems to me you could do a crew change in BRU if hours of service were an issue.


Pretty sure that is something NNEPRA is trying to avoid. The whole plan is about using existing resources, to include crews, trainsets and right of way.


I think you've misunderstood me: both crews would be DE crews, but you'd do a shift change at BRU so as to send a DE crew with enough service hours to do BRU-Rockland-BRU.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Arlington » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:28 am

NeedhamLine wrote:It sounds like service would be one daily round-trip from Boston, presumably Friday through Sunday. Hypothetically, a train leaving North Station at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday evening could get to Brunswick by 8:15, and Rockland around 10:15 (based on the trip time on Maine Eastern), for travel time of a little over 5 hours. That compares to a drive time of 3.5 hours (but potentially much longer on summer weekends) and bus time of 4.25 hours (but again subject to traffic). Given the increasing congestion on I-95 and Route 1 during summer weekends, the train could be a realistic choice for Bostonians and others along the route who either plan on staying in downtown Rockland or Wiscasset or, more likely, have local transportation available at their destination.


Cloning as closely as possible the success of the MBTA/CCRTA's Cape Flyer (which earns an operating surplus for CCRTA after renting crew and train from the MBTA) seems a great strategy, and would work roughly along the lines you say. The Cape Flyer seems full (enough) of urbanite singles and couples who happen to work/play on a slightly different schedule from the rest of their family/group who've travelled by car. There are a lot of "we'll drive one leg together, but I'll go or return on my own schedule by using the train"

CF does
Friday Outbound 5:50pm (slightly later than the original 5pm commuter train they'd extended)
Sat/Sun Outbound 8:00am (a blend of "early bird" and "c'mon it is my vacation")
Friday Inbound 9:00pm (to not leave a train overnight in foreign territory)
Sat/Sun Inbound 6:40pm (after a "long day at the beach") that gets into BOS at 9:02

I'd hope they'd find a way to (finally) leave a trainset overnight at BON so they could do an 8:00am Sat/Sun Mainebound departure (or is that already baked into r/t #6) CF has an 8am outbound.
And you'd probably want to be back at BON on Sat & Sun by 10:10pm for "work tomorrow" and "subway still open" (The Cape Flyer is scheduled to get in at 9:02).

The CF has an easier time at hitting ideal departure & arrival times simply because it is a 2:20 trip to the Cape, so it will be something of a challenge for NNEPRA to make a schedule that doesn't look like it is always leaving too early or arriving too late.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby NeedhamLine » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:05 am

Arlington wrote:
The CF has an easier time at hitting ideal departure & arrival times simply because it is a 2:20 trip to the Cape, so it will be something of a challenge for NNEPRA to make a schedule that doesn't look like it is always leaving too early or arriving too late.


Agreed, a travel time of 5+ hours is always going to be a challenge. I figured the 5 p.m. departure might be the best option because (i) it allows people in Boston to work most of the day before catching the train and (ii) as the run currently terminates in Brunswick and lays over, it could just as easily go all the way to Rockland and lay over overnight, heading back to BON in the morning. An earlier-afternoon departure from Boston would be another good choice (and would allow passengers to get to the midcoast at a reasonable hour), but might be more challenging from an equipment turning standpoint.

The northbound trip would be in the darkness north of Brunswick, but passengers would get great views heading back to Boston. Depending on timing of the weekend runs, NNEPRA might be able to position the service as an option for day trips from Rockland/Wiscasset/Newcastle/Bath to places like Portland, Freeport and OOB (catch the train down in the morning, visit for the day, catch the northbound run around dinnertime). That could help to catch some of the former market for the Maine Eastern runs. But who knows, there could be all kinds of schedule adjustments that impact what is ultimately proposed.

If I were NNEPRA marketing, I would get as many photos and videos of these weekend runs as possible - they would be great for general marketing purposes, given how scenic the line is. A lot of their current marketing materials use the Scarborough Marsh, and the Rockland Branch is infinitely more scenic.

One last note: the concept of arranging rental cars for urbanites traveling to coastal Maine is not new - the 1958 MEC schedule notes Avis locations with an "auto-rail plan" at many stations, including Rockland.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby east point » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:22 am

There may be a problem with Rockland service. Depending on Friday evening departure time the train may have capacity problems ? Any one know how the Friday evening BON departures in the summer run as to capacity ?

EDIT "IF" Downeaster could get extra cars for the service to Rockland how would that fit in ? Maybe just have those passengers in the front cars and stop train with back cars at short platform stations and on Rockland branch have front cars stop at that Branch's platforms ? Then where can the extra cars come from ?
Last edited by east point on Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Arlington » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:34 am

Given the 5-hour trip time, I'm now thinking they should consider the "3 day weekend" market, just so that folks can make their stay long enough to be "worth it"

This would potentially favor extending morning or midday train on Friday northbound and thereby putting the MEC crowds on a less-full train (not the 5pm peak).
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Cowford » Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:17 pm

Temper that enthusiasm - this is nothing close to a slam dunk. Some random thoughts... Such a service wouldn't draw anything close to patronage on the Cape Flyer, and I don't even know what that patronage is. There is a much closer "connection" between Boston and the Cape, i.e., relatively few MA residents have summer homes/friends/relatives Downeast... I would also argue that Maine draws a different tourist than the Cape; you don't go Downeast to hang out and get some sun on the beach... the BON-Rockland being a solid 5 1/2 hr journey is a natural limitation on market penetration, in passenger count, esp for families (5 1/2 hrs on the train with young 'uns? Please assign me a different car.),in (as has been stated) attractive departure windows, capacity- and travel convenience-wise (and a 5pm departure would be less than attractive as it means 1030p arrival, which means getting checked in/settled into your hotel/inn around 1100p/1130p, which means no proper dinner or even a nightcap, save for the nip bottles in your minifridge... oh, and who's going to pay for ~55 miles of track maintenance that supports the fastest practical running times? It ain't gonna be CMQ! I'm guessing the branch hasn't had any large-scale tie/surfacing job in years and is probably in need of some TLC.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Arlington » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:31 pm

^ But will you admit that as far as Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, summer weekend traffic jams in Maine are a valid time and place where Maine actually does have congestion and air quality problems that a train could mitigate?
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:45 pm

east point wrote:There may be a problem with Rockland service. Depending on Friday evening departure time the train may have capacity problems ? Any one know how the Friday evening BON departures in the summer run as to capacity ?

EDIT "IF" Downeaster could get extra cars for the service to Rockland how would that fit in ? Maybe just have those passengers in the front cars and stop train with back cars at short platform stations and on Rockland branch have front cars stop at that Branch's platforms ? Then where can the extra cars come from ?


Make Haverhill an "R" stop for that train, and you just might open up enough seats. Haverhill riders have the T and can use that service with the rest of the lines peons. :-D
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Cowford » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:12 pm

But will you admit that as far as Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, summer weekend traffic jams in Maine are a valid time and place where Maine actually does have congestion and air quality problems that a train could mitigate?


Are you serious? Before I answer that, tell me what you'd expect for revenue riders per trip/week.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Dick H » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:45 pm

MBTA Trackwork

October 28th Downeasters will run via Reading. No Woburn service.
November 4th and 5th, Busing between Haverhill and Boston. No Woburn Service,
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:15 pm

Arlington wrote:
gokeefe wrote:
Arlington wrote:Seems to me you could do a crew change in BRU if hours of service were an issue.


Pretty sure that is something NNEPRA is trying to avoid. The whole plan is about using existing resources, to include crews, trainsets and right of way.


I think you've misunderstood me: both crews would be DE crews, but you'd do a shift change at BRU so as to send a DE crew with enough service hours to do BRU-Rockland-BRU.


Totally get it. The point for NNEPRA is to avoid another crew start and to maximize crew resources within allowable hours of service.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:16 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:
east point wrote:There may be a problem with Rockland service. Depending on Friday evening departure time the train may have capacity problems ? Any one know how the Friday evening BON departures in the summer run as to capacity ?

EDIT "IF" Downeaster could get extra cars for the service to Rockland how would that fit in ? Maybe just have those passengers in the front cars and stop train with back cars at short platform stations and on Rockland branch have front cars stop at that Branch's platforms ? Then where can the extra cars come from ?


Make Haverhill an "R" stop for that train, and you just might open up enough seats. Haverhill riders have the T and can use that service with the rest of the lines peons. :-D


The middle ground alternative would be to modify available seat blocks for a given destination (HHL).
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:27 pm

Cowford wrote:Temper that enthusiasm - this is nothing close to a slam dunk. Some random thoughts... Such a service wouldn't draw anything close to patronage on the Cape Flyer, and I don't even know what that patronage is. There is a much closer "connection" between Boston and the Cape, i.e., relatively few MA residents have summer homes/friends/relatives Downeast...


I can comfortably say that Massachusetts makes up a very high proportion of out of state visitors to Maine, including a very substantial number on the Mid-Coast. Of all of the things you've ever said, "relatively few MA residents have summer homes/friends/relatives Downeast..." is truly a stretch! :-D


Cowford wrote:I would also argue that Maine draws a different tourist than the Cape; you don't go Downeast to hang out and get some sun on the beach... the BON-Rockland being a solid 5 1/2 hr journey is a natural limitation on market penetration, in passenger count, esp for families (5 1/2 hrs on the train with young 'uns? Please assign me a different car.),in (as has been stated) attractive departure windows, capacity- and travel convenience-wise (and a 5pm departure would be less than attractive as it means 1030p arrival, which means getting checked in/settled into your hotel/inn around 1100p/1130p, which means no proper dinner or even a nightcap, save for the nip bottles in your minifridge...


I agree ... the current mid-day layover trainsets appear to be the likely candidates, meaning a comfortable morning departure from Boston and afternoon arrival with plenty of time for lobster in Rockland.

Cowford wrote:oh, and who's going to pay for ~55 miles of track maintenance that supports the fastest practical running times? It ain't gonna be CMQ! I'm guessing the branch hasn't had any large-scale tie/surfacing job in years and is probably in need of some TLC.


There were some significant tie jobs in the late 2000s with only very light use since. I think the line is in excellent condition for this level of use. I would imagine that NNEPRA will have some kind of fee structure with CMQ/MDOT that will be similar to what they pay to Pan Am.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:30 pm

Arlington wrote:^ But will you admit that as far as Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, summer weekend traffic jams in Maine are a valid time and place where Maine actually does have congestion and air quality problems that a train could mitigate?


He might not but plenty of others (like me!) would. As a pilot project the service will have an opportunity to demonstrate that it can in fact support an alternative mode of transportation that could help alleviate congestion (or at least help prevent it from getting any worse ...). Given the congestion issues on Route 1 I don't think anyone would dispute that the proposition is valid.
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