Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:29 pm

Any recent word on Bedford, VA getting their stop? Seems like a good investment.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby gokeefe » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:15 pm

8% is quite significant indeed. This would be the top end of the annual growth rate which had stabilized in the mid single digits a year or two ago. The text appears to indicate that this is the total growth rate ("help") for the entire route.

One possible reason why the improvement is so steep is that sellouts on the bus from Roanoke are no longer a limiting factor.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:22 am

mtuandrew wrote:Any recent word on Bedford, VA getting their stop? Seems like a good investment.

In the audio interview that goes with the link, a VA DRPT fellow is asked that, and replies that they aren't making any new investments until they've tracked the extension for 2 years.
"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: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby R&DB » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:48 am

Bedford seems like a logical spot for a station, though surveys should be taken to see if there is any need.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:42 am

R&DB wrote:Bedford seems like a logical spot for a station, though surveys should be taken to see if there is any need.

I think it inevitable that it gets a station, but I don't think its urgent or obvious that "now" is better than 2, 5, or 10 years from now.

Roanoke is growing (as a city/metro) and Bedford sits on the "NEC side of town" and therefore a park-and-ride trip from Bedford will avoid backtracking for the 30% to 40% of RNK ridership that lives on the East/Bedford/NEC side of town.

It could also be a good alternative for those living on the west side of Lynchburg.

As parking in Roanoke and Lynchburg gets scarce, a station in downtown Bedford (if it comes with parking) makes a lot of sense if it can also be seen as a cheaper way of adding parking in the RNK-LYH corridor than acquiring more land or structured parking in expensive downtowns. Land use is fundamentally suburban/exurban, so Bedford could fill a role similar to New Carrollton or Rte128.

So I see the logic, but don't see the urgency.
"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: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:50 pm

A station in Bedford would be great, especially since it is one of the largest towns along the route between Norfolk and Lynchburg. It seems that Bedford is almost midway between Roanoke and Lynchburg but it looks like it's a little closer to Lynchburg. I'm sure that many people who live in and around Bedford drive to Lynchburg to get the train to points east and this would take off pressure for those Amtrak passengers who want to park in Lynchburg to head points north.

I rode the train to Roanoke on Easter weekend. I took 171 down on Good Friday and then 156 back north on Easter Sunday. Train had a healthy size crowd detraining in Roanoke and then boarding on Easter.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Alex M » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:59 pm

Although it was 30 years ago when I was last through Bedford, I recall seeing the old stone station. If they have a stop, would they use it like the Ashland station?
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:24 pm

Alex M wrote:Although it was 30 years ago when I was last through Bedford, I recall seeing the old stone station. If they have a stop, would they use it like the Ashland station?

At least one study proposed a new station near the courthouse:
"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: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Tue Aug 28, 2018 7:39 am

If VA service did not appear on the list of "at risk" trains with no PTC, is that the same as saying that RNK (and Tidewater) trains all have PTC in place?
"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: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby electricron » Tue Aug 28, 2018 8:26 am

Arlington wrote:If VA service did not appear on the list of "at risk" trains with no PTC, is that the same as saying that RNK (and Tidewater) trains all have PTC in place?

That recent list without PTC lists all the tracks exempted by law - but not by Amtrak's board.
I don't think any late PTC implementation made that list.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Anthony » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:22 pm

Well, the Roanoke extension has now been operating for one year, and ridership numbers have far exceeded expectations for up to this point. The goal was to see ridership of 30,000 by September 30th, but as of that date, ridership has exceeded 54,000. These ridership numbers have been described as "Impressive."

https://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/roan ... il-service

https://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Amtr ... 99161.html
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:32 pm

Using
http://www.drpt.virginia.gov/rail/amtrak-reports/

As of June, RNK ons &offs was 37k
As of June, total corridor ridership was up 13k

I'm not sure how to convert ons and offs into ridership. If each Rider would be one on and one off, this would mean that 37k on/offs at RNK would be 18.5k corridor ridership.

If this interpretation is right, 13k new riders were attracted to RNK and 5.5k were cannibalized (presumably mostly from Lynchburg), to reach that total of 18.5 k.

But could the numbers be equivalent? If so, of 37k would 13k be new, and 24k would have been cannibalized from Lynchburg.

Either way, there's a strong case that all 13k new riders on the corridor (as of June) were attracted by the. new Roanoke location since on the other Amtrak Virginia lines ridership was essentially flat at a time when the Roanoke corridor had t
grown by nearly 10%
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:11 pm

If the latter method is correct, the 50k for the first year at RNK would be:
17k new riders
34k who used to on/off at Lynchburg
"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: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby east point » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:36 pm

LYH and to a lesser extent CVS northbound passengers are probably hard to quantify. For those Crescent passengers that are savvy the many very late Crescents northbound may have many getting on the train from RNK that is preceding the Crescent instead of following ? That could account for some of the 10% rise on the RNK train ? Believe that the year before that the Crescent was not having all its delays ?
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby gokeefe » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:30 pm

In Amtrak related reports "ridership" always equals "on+offs". Individual "passenger" counts are rarely used for anything because of problems with one way travel, or roundtrips that begin and end in different reporting periods (arrive in November, depart in December). "Corridor ridership" is similar to station ridership in that a round trip passenger will get counted for each trip leg. Once on the way out and once on the way back. Obviously one way travelers would only get counted once.

Determining growth rates in what is sometimes called "unique passengers" is almost irrelevant at our level because without access to deeper data layers you can't really make any useful analysis of shifts in travel patterns. It is safe to say that Amtrak does conduct this type of analysis internally using their available data sets. It's also really important to keep in mind that certain one way trips from Roanoke would be unique to that location and thus might skew the figures from Lynchburg.

There are two easy analytical approaches to understanding what might be happening. First is to assume that 100% of the previous Thruway service riders shifted to Roanoke from Lynchburg (my memory is that there weren't any intermediate stops). Second, if necessary, run the station ridership counts against each other year over year and see if Lynchburg has gone down. I would assume it has based on the change to Thruway service.

The next test would be to subtract out the Thruway service numbers and see what you have left. That might give you an idea of how many passengers were driving to Lynchburg from Roanoke and then taking the train. Based on previous reports of overflowing parking lots at Kemper Street station in Lynchburg I would suspect that this figure would be quite substantial. It's also worth noting that with an improvement in available parking Lynchburg might actually have slightly improved performance on trains beyond the first morning departure.

I think Roanoke's great performance is notable on many levels. One of the first angles I would look at would be running comparison with the former Hilltopper. I'm guessing that the Northeast Regional probably blows those numbers out of the water but if you run a "per capita" analysis using census figures for Roanoke (assuming no change to census tract boundaries) then you might get some interesting results. I would not be in the least bit surprised to see an improvement in utilization rates.

Although great performance for Amtrak service extensions in many places has become something of the norm I think its nothing short of astounding when you look at how Amtrak fared for the better part of its first 30 years of operations. There is nothing in the data from their early years that would lead one to believe that these routes would ever work.
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