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

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

Postby gokeefe » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:31 am

What is the closest airport to Bristol and what do the fares to Washington and New York look like?
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:09 am

gokeefe wrote:What is the closest airport to Bristol and what do the fares to Washington and New York look like?

Tri Cities Airport (TRI), direct "business" flights only to Charlotte (3x) and Atlanta (6x!) (and leisure 1/day to Orlando), with long & expensive connections flights to WAS and NYC.

You might argue that that's an opportunity for Amtrak to carry them northward.

I'd worry that it is evidence that Bristol has a lack of NEC-affinity;, which is #3 of my 4 criteria, above.Lots of service, but only to CLT and ATL seems pretty strong evidence that Bristol's commercial world (NASCAR, paper/forest products (boxes), cellulosic chemicals & films) is oriented southward and globally but not particularly northeastward.

If AA wanted to sidestep competition vs DL's ATL hub (which is a very normal thing to want to do), flights from TRI to DCA or PHL would have made more sense than a highly-overlapped spoke from the CLT hub. Similarly, if United had seen a latent NEC opportunity not served by DL and AA's "south first" connections, a flight to IAD would be a no-brainer. So I read AA's CLT service, and UA's non-entry as indication that TRI's travel market is primarily south-oriented.

This recent interview suggests that the airport believes their best shot at a new route would be to Chicago or Dallas...and makes no mention of desire oriented Northeast. It is interesting to me that TRI locals, at least, think their next-most-important compass point is West, via ORD or DFW.

As a NEC-oriented guy, it is new to me to read an article on "new airport service" that does not include at least a throwaway "of course everyone would like to see direct service to New York" (or "everyone wants a nonstop to Washington")
"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 lirrelectrician » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:17 pm

Here is a crazy idea. I would have a train leave NY about 10pm or so it would arrive in Roanoke about 7am. Then keep going not only to Bristol, but to Knoxville, Chatanooga, then either to Atlanta, or Huntville and Memphis or Birmingham and then Meridian, Jackson, Shreveport and Dallas. There are plans for a Dallas section of the crescent, but maybe this idea could work. Another idea would be to split train 66/67 having one half going to Newport News as it does today and the other half go to Roanoke and Bristol.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby roavabees » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:42 pm

One of the problems of extending the line is that Amtrak had build a facility in Roanoke to stage/service their trains. If they extend the line to Christensburg/ Blacksburg they would need to spend the money to build new one there. Then again in Bristol and the next place and on and on.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:27 pm

I doubt Amtrak is considering adding any more LD (remember, the current service is an extension of the NEC) at this time, especially an overnight. I'm not sure how much longer it would take to get to Bristol, or even Memphis, but I think they'd still try to keep it a day train. They're just finishing up the V-II order this year.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:13 pm

Here is why Virginia will be unable to justify the cost of going beyond the New River Valley stop: http://www.catchthevabreeze.com, which Virginia's VADRPT (the same agency that sponsors all of Amtrak Virginia) has contracted from Megabus.

Here is the launch schedule (I will be riding it myself on Friday from IAD to Front Royal, given a 1-way trip to pick up a car)
Northvv South^^ City/Stop
_5:45a _5:45p Bristol VA Train station (HYPOTHETICAL EXTENSION)
_8:00a _3:30p Blacksburg /Squires Student Center
_8:25a _3:15p Christiansburg/Falling Branch Park & Ride
_9:45a _2:00p Lexington/Food Lion in Stonewall Square
10:30a _1:20p Staunton/Martin's on Richmond Avenue
11:15a 12:40p Harrisonburg/Godwin Transit Center at JMU
12:25p 11:40a Front Royal/Crooked Run VDOT Park & Ride
_1:30p 10:35a Dulles Airport/Curb 2E
_2:05p 10:00a Arlington/Kiss & Ride Lot, West Falls Church-VT/UVA Metrorail Station Bus Bay A
_2:30p _9:20a Washington, D.C./Union Station

First, even with multiple stops along the way, the bus is scheduled for 6h from Christiansburg, which is time-competitive with Amtrak from NRV to DC (which will take about 5h40m, based on today's 5h01m from RNK to WAS)

Then look at all the other stops they add: the practicality of getting to Dulles, the Metro, and to Union Station, not to mention the "intra" trips.

Third, consider that to add additional frequencies, there's no protracted negotiation with a host railroad about $50m worth of capital upgrades. There are some nice opportunities to add, say, a Noon departure from Bristol that'd get in at 8pm (using HOV lanes), and maybe a 2pm southbound.

Then it is easy enough to add "meet the Amtrak" frequencies that would also ply I-81 but connect at Roanoke, Manassas, or Charlottesville (via I-64 / Staunton)

I'm sure that the core will always be Amtrak from RNK/NRV, but it seems much more likely that the long, thin ends of the network are better handled by bus, and Virginia seems to have a good fix on what that network could look like.

[Link corrected, thank you]
Last edited by Arlington on Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Dick H » Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:41 pm

Corrected URL for connect the va breeze,
http://catchthevabreeze.com/
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:32 am

it isn't that there aren't enough people in SW Virginia, it is that they are too spread out--and you're going to have to ask them (or help them) to collect themselves all in one place. That place, from this map, looks to be Roanoke or Christiansburg.
https://coopercenterdemographics.files. ... pdata2.jpg
http://statchatva.org/2013/04/04/more-dot-density-maps/
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby dgvrengineer » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:40 pm

I rode the Roanoke train Monday, round trip to DC, just because I had not done it. What a pleasant trip! Train was on time or early at every stop except Lynchburg northbound(2 min late). Train was 9 cars both directions with food service car 5, quiet car was car 8 and business class car 9. Same order on both trips. Crews were very friendly, including food service. I did not get a passenger count out of Roanoke except for my car(car 4) which had 21 passengers. I'm sure there were over 50 on board. Return trip I counted 51 going down the station ramp at Roanoke, but there were still some people getting off the train. Passenger count appeared to double and halved at Lynchburg. Train was probably two-thirds full at max, which I think is pretty good for a 9 car regional train. Overall a great day trip.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby railgeekteen » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:51 pm

Maybe going south from Roanoke would be better than going southeast.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Wed May 02, 2018 4:02 pm

"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 andrewjw » Fri May 04, 2018 11:57 am

I wish this map better indicated service frequencies.
Last edited by Jeff Smith on Fri May 04, 2018 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed preceding quote with huge image.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri May 18, 2018 10:12 am

Bristol Extension Study Funded: (Bristol)HeraldCourier.com

State on track for passenger rail cost analysis
...
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is expected to begin the study during fiscal 2018-19, to assess other potential destinations west of Roanoke, including Bristol and the more heavily populated New River Valley, according to DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell.

“We have $350,000 in our six-year plan to do a study with Norfolk Southern and Amtrak to look at possibly extending passenger rail service out to the New River Valley and then possibly out to Bristol as well,” Mitchell said this week, following a Commonwealth Transportation Board public hearing in Abingdon.
...
However, DRPT needs to obtain and evaluate two years of ridership data from the Roanoke extension — which began in October 2017 — before any further extensions can be initiated, according to the document.
...
The New River Valley area has about 180,000 residents; its center is roughly 40 miles from Roanoke, and it provides commuter bus service to the Amtrak platform in Roanoke.
...
“The [state] study will look at various things: potential ridership and potential cost. The track is owned by Norfolk Southern so it might not be just cost to the commonwealth but cost to them, and how will it impact their freight movements as well,” said Mike McLaughlin, DRPT’s chief of rail transportation.
...
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby gokeefe » Sun Jun 24, 2018 10:05 pm

$350,000 is a very heavy investment for a study. Looks serious.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:19 am

My sense is that an 8% YOY increase is, as the blurb says, very significant.

The risk of a one-stop extension had been that you'd add costs but not riders (who'd already been getting themselves to LYH "for free"). This increase seems to show that the extra rail miles have won the extra passengers to "pay for it"

From June 25:
State transportation officials say Amtrak ridership for the first six months of the Lynchburg line’s extension to Roanoke [is more than meeting expectations] — and an obvious boost to the train that heads to Washington and beyond. It helped increase ridership on the route by more than 8% from the same time year before, this at a time when the Amtrak numbers are down a bit both nationwide and in Virginia..

(emphasis mine)

https://wlni.com/news/amtrak-ridership- ... impressive
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