North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:56 am

Station Aficionado wrote:Well, it would be a fun ride for those of us born too late to ride the Carolina Special!

They could pay for the extension with railfan fares & souvenirs alone :P
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby Alex M » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:30 pm

Interesting that the Carolina Special is mentioned as this is the 50th anniversary of its last run.
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby electricron » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:01 am

mtuandrew wrote:Have the city fathers in Spartanburg ever inquired to NCDOT about the price of an extended Piedmont or two daily? It wouldn’t be a silly thing for NC to investigate either, because it puts them in a decent position to negotiate with NS re: Asheville via Saluda. No, seriously.

Anything is possible with money backing it up!
South of Charlotte, the railroad corridor is owned by Norfolk Southern, which may not want additional passenger trains on it. North and east of Charlotte the Piedmont railroad corridor is owned by North Carolina Railroad (a for profit company owned by NCDOT). Norfolk Southern has little say on what runs on it.
It is 173 rail miles between Raleigh and Charlotte, and another 77 rail miles between Charloette and Spartanburg. A round trip extension to Spartanburg would require the Piedmont trains to travel 154 more rail miles than they do today. it takes the Crescent 90 minutes to make that additional distance per direction, a minimum of 3 hours for the round trip.
I'm not even sure NCRR has enough rolling stock to run trains that far. So, lets see how the additional elapse time effects the existing Piedmont train schedules.....
Westbound
(First train set)
Train 73 departs Raleigh at 0630, arrives in Charlotte at 0940, and would arrive in Spartanburg at 1110.
(Third train set)
Train 75 departs Raleigh at 1000, arrives in Charlotte at 1310 , and would arrive in Spartanburg at 1440.
(return second train set with 80 minutes layover)
Train 77 departs Raleigh at 1500, arrives in Charlotte at 1810 , and would arrive in Spartanburg at 1940.
Eastbound
(Second train set)
Train 74 would depart Spartanburg at 0900, arrives in Charlotte at 1030, and arrives in Raleigh at 1341 .
(Return first train set with 150 minutes layover)
Train 76 would depart Spartanburg at 1345, arrives in Charlotte at 1515, and arrives in Raleigh at 1826 .
(Return third train set with 170 minutes layover)
Train 78 would depart Spartanburg at 1730, arrives in Charlotte at 1900, and arrives in Raleigh at 2210.

So, looking at the turnovers, it looks very promising as being doable.
But let us now look at how many hours the crews would work to make each round trip.
Train one = 0620 to 1826 = 12 hours 6 minutes ??? (150 minutes layover)
Train two = 0900 to 1940 = 9 hours 40 minutes ??? (80 minutes layover)
Train three = 1000 to 2210 = 12 hours 10 minutes ??? (170 minutes layover)

All much longer than your typical 8 hour workday even with taking them off the clock during turnaround, and this assumes all the trains actually run on time. There's going to be problems with the additional cost of labor. Who is going to pay? Spartanburg?
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Dec 03, 2018 5:45 am

Freight congestion is so severe on NS at least around Atlanta and towards Greenville that running more trains south of Charlotte is risky: timekeeping could be very poor, which would cause lateness north of Charlotte, too.
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:29 am

Ron: thanks for doing the math re: crews. There’d have to be a crew change at CLT to handle a South Carolina extension, to say nothing on an Asheville section in the distant future.

SRY: right, if I were at Norfolk HQ I’d be asking for a third full track to handle the extra traffic. If I were at NCDOT I’d counter with offering to finance extra crossovers, a few 10,000 foot passing sidings between Charlotte and the state line, and bi-directional signaling. I feel like South Carolina could get behind some of the improvements as well, if only as a freight congestion relief measure.
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby Alex M » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:36 am

Would the increase in ridership and revenue help to offset the increase in cost? For additional cars, NCDOT could buy some of the horizon cars as they become surplus when the Siemens cars are delivered. As far as South Carolina goes, any conversation about railroads revolves around freight. Period. If capacity expansion for NS is framed with this in mind, they might go along.
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby Station Aficionado » Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:56 pm

I don’t know if this was noted previously, but with the addition of a third Piedmont this summer, there is now 5x/day service between Charlotte and Greensboro (three Piedmonts, the Carolinian, and the Crescent). Granted the Crescent is carded for the wee hours, but I wonder when the last time that service level was reached? There’s also 5x/day for the short distance between Cary and Raleigh (subbing the Star for the Crescent). And 4x/day Greensboro-Cary.
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby gokeefe » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:49 pm

Interesting question. I'm going to guess pre-1960.
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby east point » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:24 pm

One of our group has figured that since all Gastonia - CLT - GRO trains 4 of 5 times make up as much as 25 minutes . If this is from the all 2 Main track bi-directional running seems a fair certain. Then if the second track with bi-directional running was installed to Spartanburg schedule keeping should be very reliable. If the improvements could be listed as NC DOT property including all CPs then they could become property tax free as an incentive to NS
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:59 pm

South Carolina has no interest in doing anything for passenger rail. Any discussion of expanded service in SC is a waste of breath. It needs it and it would generate good ridership along the I-85 corridor but it just won’t happen.
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby deestrains » Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:53 pm

The primary challenge here is paying for improvements in South Carolina where no one locally will pony up any money. If they were to do anything, extending 79/80 further south would be first on the list as it wouldn't change any of the local ops paradigms for the Piedmonts.

I am not sure there is any amount of money NS is interested in right now to do anything. I think you could offer them just about anything, track wise, and they would turn you down. As they are in a smaller is better mode they don't see additional track as anything more than a future liability.

Note that when BNSF and CN have encountered crises on main lines from too much business they followed with major construction programs to improve each corridor's resiliency. NS has followed its resiliency crisis on the Main line from Birmingham to Roanoke with...rhetoric. No sidings, no double track, nothing. And there is nothing stopping them from asking GA, SC or NC for money, but they don't, because they just want to run fewer things, not more. I have no idea how to incentivize them to want to run more trains outside of dramatic re-regulation ideas, either.

If I were asked to put together a package, I could get NCDOT to put in 9 figures for double track n. of Greensboro and s. of Charlotte, as they are doing with CSX for the new intermodal terminal at RMT. They could then turn around and get some token amount from SC, and put all that in the mixing bowl for a Federal INFRA grant, which would probably net them over 30 miles or more of new double track in NC and SC. There is not even a shred of desire to pursue this type of program, though. Between the states and the Federal grant programs, the funds are finally there for rail freight, but the eastern Class 1s see no desire to actually grow the franchise.
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:00 am

NS wants some of that sweet Precision Scheduling pie to keep their investors happy. (And can’t justify big capital spending until it gets its operating ratio down) Can’t get a public-private partnership if the private isn’t willing to come to the table. Maybe after 2020 and after the Precision fad gives way to a new diet.
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby dowlingm » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:21 pm

Station Aficionado wrote:I don’t know if this was noted previously, but with the addition of a third Piedmont this summer, there is now 5x/day service between Charlotte and Greensboro (three Piedmonts, the Carolinian, and the Crescent). Granted the Crescent is carded for the wee hours, but I wonder when the last time that service level was reached? There’s also 5x/day for the short distance between Cary and Raleigh (subbing the Star for the Crescent). And 4x/day Greensboro-Cary.
Given the increase in frequency noted above, is there any merit in Amtrak seeking to shave some time off the Crescent by dropping either or both of Salisbury or High Point?
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby SouthernRailway » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:36 pm

dowlingm wrote:
Station Aficionado wrote:I don’t know if this was noted previously, but with the addition of a third Piedmont this summer, there is now 5x/day service between Charlotte and Greensboro (three Piedmonts, the Carolinian, and the Crescent). Granted the Crescent is carded for the wee hours, but I wonder when the last time that service level was reached? There’s also 5x/day for the short distance between Cary and Raleigh (subbing the Star for the Crescent). And 4x/day Greensboro-Cary.
Given the increase in frequency noted above, is there any merit in Amtrak seeking to shave some time off the Crescent by dropping either or both of Salisbury or High Point?


Wouldn't Crescent ridership to Salisbury and High Point be mostly long-distance ridership from the Northeast, which isn't affected by the increase in Piedmonts?
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Re: North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

Postby Arlington » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:11 pm

Cutting established stops on the Crescent seems like a way to lose customers, revenues, and political support. I'd prefer a focus on operational things to speed up trips for all trains rather than try to speed the Crescent by dropping stops.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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