Expanded Virginia Regional Service

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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby STrRedWolf » Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:39 pm

electricron wrote:
STrRedWolf wrote:
Rockingham Racer wrote:It's probably safe to say the train was operating safely and the dump truck was not. There seems to be a lot of this lately.


It's also safe to say that anything over 99 mph requires removal of grade crossings, including private ones.


Maybe what you're suggesting should be the rule, but FRA regulations do not read that way.
As it is today, removal of all grade crossings is required for speeds over 125 mph. At speeds over 110 mph the railroad corridor requires improved reinforced gates at grade crossings. At speeds 80 mph and above, the railroad corridor requires improved signaling throughout.


To be honest, I was hesitant to say over 79 mph. Probably a good idea in general, given how stupid drivers are. Just walk around Baltimore!
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby Matt Johnson » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:38 pm

Norfolk Southern delay sidetracks New River Valley's Amtrak plan

I wouldn't hold my breath on New River Valley service, but hey, just getting Roanoke was an accomplishment. With bus connections to Blacksburg, that makes Virginia Tech reachable without having to battle I-81 traffic yourself.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby gokeefe » Mon Dec 10, 2018 7:43 pm

"Pause" for a few years ... Not the end of the world. They got to Roanoke. That was the real "miracle" if I've ever seen one.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby bretton88 » Mon Dec 10, 2018 9:10 pm

gokeefe wrote:"Pause" for a few years ... Not the end of the world. They got to Roanoke. That was the real "miracle" if I've ever seen one.

"Pause" can mean different things. UP "paused" the studies for the Capital Corridor train extension to Reno and never "resumed" it. So who knows what NS means.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Dec 10, 2018 9:48 pm

I think NS and the other Class 1s aren’t interested in getting government money, unless it comes with no obligation to spend their own. Precision Scheduled Railroading keeps calling for reduction of forces and infrastructure, because the ghost of Hunter is haunting boardrooms and investment funds. Sucks for Amtrak.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby Station Aficionado » Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:15 pm

mtuandrew wrote:I think NS and the other Class 1s aren’t interested in getting government money, unless it comes with no obligation to spend their own. Precision Scheduled Railroading keeps calling for reduction of forces and infrastructure, because the ghost of Hunter is haunting boardrooms and investment funds. Sucks for Amtrak.

It looks like, for the American roads at least, that PSR is just a return to a hyper short term focus on cutting costs to boost quarterly earnings in (given the current stock market) a forlorn hope of juicing the stock prices. Can’t see any way this won’t turn out well.

Although, it might be a good time for some public entities to pick up some trackage on the cheap—e.g. LOSSAN/State of California buying the Coast Line. For us here in the Old Dominion, though, we’re not going to Christiansburg anytime soon.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby Matt Johnson » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:18 am

Roanoke was a win as far as I'm concerned. As a VPI alum who was hearing talk of Amtrak service restoration to Roanoke when I was there in the 90s, I was starting to think it was like the Lackawanna Cutoff and Scranton, i.e. never gonna happen. So in a pick your battles environment, I'll take Roanoke plus this!

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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby Arlington » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:00 am

Matt Johnson wrote:Roanoke was a win as far as I'm concerned. ...So in a pick your battles environment, I'll take Roanoke plus this!
https://smartwaybus.com

And the long bus connection: Blacksburg to DC Union Station, (via 81 & 66): https://virginiabreeze.org/
which has now added a "weekend getaway" Friday 2pm Northbound and Sunday 5pm Southbound in addition to their daily. (Note that it cleverly avoids DC rush hours while maximizing student's days and arriving 2 hours before departures hub bank(c 9:30p) at Dulles)

Va DRPT as the sponsor of both Amtrak Virginia and of the Breeze bus has a lot of growing they can do with the bus, and so leverage over NS (NS must know they are not the only way VA DRPT can connect NRV to DC).

The bus is worth talking about here because it isn't just "the competition" but it is VA DRPT's "alternate sponsored service" To the extent that it succeeds, it is both "don't yet need the train" and "proving the need for the train"

And the fact that they've added a FRI/SUN pm pair says (1) they've gotten the ridership they were looking for and (2) are committed to growing it to match demand. So NS can dither and DRPT can grow college-oriented transit in parallel:

NORTHBOUND New Schedule with Fri-only 2pm (pure "6 hours later" run)
Daily Friday
8:00a 2:00p VPI (Squires)
8:25a 2:25p Christiansburg (Radford
9:45a 3:45p Lexington (VMI & W&L)
10:30a 4:30p Staunton (Mary Baldwin)
11:15a 5:15p Harrisonburg (JMU)
12:25p 6:25p Front Royal (Exurban Residents)
1:30p 7:30p Dulles Airport
2:05p 8:05p West Falls Church (Metro station & inner burbs)
2:30p 8:30p Union Station (Amtrak, Metro, & city center)

SOUTHBOUND New Schedule with Sun-only 5pm (about 8 hours later)
Daily Sunday
9:20a 5:00p Union Station (Amtrak, Metro, & city center)
10:00a 5:40p West Falls Church (Metro station & inner burbs)
10:35a 6:15p Dulles Airport
11:40a 7:20p Front Royal (Exurban Residents)
12:40a 8:20p Harrisonburg (JMU)
1:20p 9:00p Staunton (Mary Baldwin)
2:00p 9:40p Lexington (VMI & W&L)
3:15p 10:55p Christiansburg (Radford
3:30p 11:10p VPI (Squires)
Last edited by Arlington on Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby EuroStar » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:05 am

Station Aficionado wrote:It looks like, for the American roads at least, that PSR is just a return to a hyper short term focus on cutting costs to boost quarterly earnings in (given the current stock market) a forlorn hope of juicing the stock prices. Can’t see any way this won’t turn out well.
Although, it might be a good time for some public entities to pick up some trackage on the cheap—e.g. LOSSAN/State of California buying the Coast Line. For us here in the Old Dominion, though, we’re not going to Christiansburg anytime soon.


No, it will not turn out well. You do not hear about "precision railroading" at BNSF because they are not public and are not looking for quick earnings boost at the expense of their future. The sad part is that after falling in disrepair, a number of secondary lines will be eventually abandoned 20 years from now and more of the traffic will move to trucks. This line is not one of them, but others will.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:30 am

EuroStar wrote:No, it will not turn out well. You do not hear about "precision railroading" at BNSF because they are not public and are not looking for quick earnings boost at the expense of their future. The sad part is that after falling in disrepair, a number of secondary lines will be eventually abandoned 20 years from now and more of the traffic will move to trucks. This line is not one of them, but others will.

Not to go far off topic, but Frailey addresses this in the last issue of Trains - reading between the lines, he thinks NS will toy with the concept until shareholders see better returns, and BNSF is liable to be forced into it with a future management change at Berkshire Hathaway. So, governments are going to have to figure out deals with Class 1s that account for downsizing capacity as maintained by the railroad on their own accounts while doing the opposite for passenger service.

As a taxpayer and rider I’m not opposed to government funding of improvements to private infrastructure, like for Virginia service expansion, but with the caveat that it has to include some sort of long-term trackage rights or a lease.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby John_Perkowski » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:20 am

mtuandrew wrote:Not to go far off topic, but Frailey addresses this in the last issue of Trains - reading between the lines, he thinks NS will toy with the concept until shareholders see better returns, and BNSF is liable to be forced into it with a future management change at Berkshire Hathaway.


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Too bad Amtrak hasn’t seen one of those true professionals in a while...
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby Arlington » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:20 pm

^ Good stuff. Is there a thread it can move to?

I think of all the off-topic digressions the question of publicly-sponsored buses--not NS' exact preoccupation--is the bigger.

Note that VT itself runs a bus twice weekdays and once Sa/Su (must be student, staff, or "friend") that makes 2 stops in NRV and terminates at the VPI campus near the Metro / Orange /Silver Line.

The net result is that until the train can offer more than one daily round-trip it is really not going to be the flexible, reliable option at NRV.

A digression on the Long Bridge replacement and trans-Potomac slots would be just as worthy as digression here as PSR is(n't)
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby Anthony » Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:05 pm

bretton88 wrote:
gokeefe wrote:"Pause" for a few years ... Not the end of the world. They got to Roanoke. That was the real "miracle" if I've ever seen one.

"Pause" can mean different things. UP "paused" the studies for the Capital Corridor train extension to Reno and never "resumed" it. So who knows what NS means.

Let's not jump to conclusions so quickly. The Capitol Corridor extension was largely hampered by the limited capacity and increasingly heavy freight traffic over Donner Pass, and this was before Precision Scheduled Railroading became all the rage among Class 1 railroads. This is not as much as a problem with the NRV and Bristol extension.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby east point » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:27 pm

Repost --- The major problem of Bristol is that N&W trains took 4 + hours Bristol - ROA and car on I-81 2 hours and bus 2-1/4 hours.
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Re: Expanded Virginia Regional Service

Postby Arlington » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:32 am

east point wrote:Repost --- The major problem of Bristol is that N&W trains took 4 + hours Bristol - ROA and car on I-81 2 hours and bus 2-1/4 hours.

Exactly. The train wins when the competition is:
  • US-29 (Blue Ridge) or US-17 (Tidewater) for any distance
  • DC-Area I-x95 Interstates with traffic or high tolls
  • Richmond area I-x95s at rush hours
  • Tidewater area I-x64s at rush hours

And ideally, trips for which bus/car are hobbled by *two* of these--which pretty much describes why Amtrak Virginia expansions have paid for themselves: the competition delivers a lousy alternative.

Once the competition is I-81 south of RNK, (or I-95 south of Petersburg), the opportunity to win versus bus evaporates very quickly, maybe even before NRV but definitely by whichever stop you'd propose as "next one south" Worse, the population centers evaporate too, re-condensing only at Bristol itself (and still spread across 3 states)

A train to Greensboro Charlotte from Lynchburg retains that ability to win vs US-29 and are places that Virginians need to get to. And better, would make the route double-ended (rather than a dangling end, such as the Downeaster and most of Illinois service (except STL anchored routes) suffer from).

NRV will make a great bus/train hub because it has easy interstate access--but that's kind of like saying there should still be airline hubs at Kansas City or Dayton (a good-as-any place to connect, but not a place people needed to be)

RNK makes a better bus/train hub because in addition to having reasonable interstate access, it is a decent sized destination in itself.

So for as long as trips are being made with the purpose of "getting there" (and not leisure of the ride itself), VA DRPT and Passengers, both, are quite rational to prefer a bus on a wide-open interstate once they've gotten away from the zones where trains beat buses.

Unfortunately for railfans, this includes places like Staunton VA and White Sulfur Springs (which actually has Cardinal service, but for which a trip via CVS is worse than a bus on I-64/81/66)
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