Hampton Roads/Norfolk/Newport News NE Regional Service

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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Station Aficionado » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:32 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:When the Norfolk-Cincinnati The Mountaineer that ran roundly on the schedule of N&W's The Pocahontas was discontinued during 1977 and replaced with Wash-Cinci The Hilltopper that ran on roundly The Powhatan Arrow's schedule over the N&W, there was a physical interchange built at Petersburg between the SAL and the N&W. The SAL and ACL passed overhead of the N&W with no physical interchange. That interchange to support The Hilltopper operation obviously was built through the NW quadrant which of course is useless for service operating South on CSX then East on NS and v.v.

The NW quadrant was a waste in view of that The Hilltopper was gone with the Carter Cuts - likely before the time of any of our VPI alums (Mr. Johnson for one IIRC?) around here. I defer to others here who may have on the ground knowledge regarding how feasible would be the construction of an interchange through the NE quadrant at Petersburg.

Mr. Norman, the Mountaineer and Hilltopper were long before my time in Virginia, so the following is based on what I have read and on looking at Google Maps. I have read elsewhere that the Hilltopper followed N&W's passenger route, hugging the Appomatax River. At that time, there was a low-level bridge (the piers can still be seen on Google Maps satellite image) that provided a direct connection for a train headed east on the N&W to head north on (I'll try to keep my A's and S's straight) the now-gone ACL. Likewise, a train heading south on the ACL could cross the bridge and head west on N&W. I believe this connection long pre-dated Amtrak. Indeed, I think there may have have been a wye south of the bridge that would have allowed a train heading south on the ACL to go east on N & W, and this may have been the path used by NY-Norfolk sleeper service. The ACL and the low-level bridge are all long gone.

As I understand it, the new Norfolk trains would use the N&W freight line that mostly by-passes Petersburg to the south, and would connect to CSX (ex-SAL) just north of Collier Yard (I don't think there ever was a connection from the N&W passenger line to the SAL). The only current connection for these lines that I see is in the SW quadrant. As you note, there would need to be a new NE quadrant connection for the Norfolk trains, but there appears (on the Google satellite photo) to be plenty of room to build such a connection, though given the difference in elevation between the lines, it won't come cheap. My apologies if I have mixed up the ACL and SAL lines.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby D.Carleton » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:45 pm

It shall be interesting to see what happens at Petersburg, VA. Not only is this the jumping off point for the new Norfolk service but also for the proposed SE-HSR service to Raleigh, NC. Will the connection at Petersburg be built so as to accommodate both future services? The correct answer is intuitively obvious but we are dealing with politicians here.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby strench707 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:29 pm

If they wanted to bring trains from the South into Main Street wouldn't they have to rebuild a platform on that side as the other side can't be accessed from the line from Petersburg? I'm all for any improvements to that station (heck I'd love the shed to open back up) but it seems like what they need to do would require a lot of work.

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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby tfherb » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:06 pm

D.Carleton wrote:It shall be interesting to see what happens at Petersburg, VA. Not only is this the jumping off point for the new Norfolk service but also for the proposed SE-HSR service to Raleigh, NC. Will the connection at Petersburg be built so as to accommodate both future services? ...

The plan is to extend train 174 south bound and trail 175 north bound from Richmond staples Mills all the way to Norfolk. Both trains were put in service this summer and both currently start and terminate respectively at Richmond Staples Mills (RVR) These trains are separate from the Newport News trains which pass through Williamsburg and will continue service.

There will be an all rail way to reach Virginia Beach via connection to the TIDE light rail at Harbor Park.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby electricron » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:35 pm

This will allow Amtrak passengers in the near future to ride trains on one of the longest straight tracks in America. Between Petersburg and Suffolk, through the Great Dismal Swamp, the N&W mainline has 52 miles of straight track. The longest straight track in America is 78.9 miles on the former Seaboard Air Line Railway between Wilmington and Hamlet, North Carolina.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby JimBoylan » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:57 pm

A much older post mentioned another way to handle the junction near Petersburg:
Re: Possible Southwest Chief re-route?
Here's a solution... I'm not being serious, but evidently Amtrak and RF&P were:
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 7&nseq=100
Pictured is an RF&P geep moving the Hilltopper backwards for a lengthy stretch. Evidently the RF&P thought this was faster than a shove move.
by Tadman Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:25 pm
The linked photo has more commentary.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby D.Carleton » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:35 pm

tfherb wrote:
D.Carleton wrote:It shall be interesting to see what happens at Petersburg, VA. Not only is this the jumping off point for the new Norfolk service but also for the proposed SE-HSR service to Raleigh, NC. Will the connection at Petersburg be built so as to accommodate both future services? ...
The plan is to extend train 174 south bound and trail 175 north bound from Richmond staples Mills all the way to Norfolk. Both trains were put in service this summer and both currently start and terminate respectively at Richmond Staples Mills (RVR) These trains are separate from the Newport News trains which pass through Williamsburg and will continue service.

There will be an all rail way to reach Virginia Beach via connection to the TIDE light rail at Harbor Park.
Very well but I'm not sure how that relates to the infrastructure investment necessary to realize the duel goals of reaching Raleigh and Norfolk. To the point this April 2002 report prepared by Parsons demonstrates three separate proposals to link the current existing passenger infrastructure with current NS mainline to Norfolk AND the rebuilt former SAL main to Raleigh. However, as stated earlier "it won't come cheap."
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Station Aficionado » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:49 pm

JimBoylan wrote:A much older post mentioned another way to handle the junction near Petersburg:
Re: Possible Southwest Chief re-route?
Here's a solution... I'm not being serious, but evidently Amtrak and RF&P were:
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 7&nseq=100
Pictured is an RF&P geep moving the Hilltopper backwards for a lengthy stretch. Evidently the RF&P thought this was faster than a shove move.
by Tadman Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:25 pm
The linked photo has more commentary.

Here's another site that indicates that the Hilltopper used this convoluted way to switch lines for a few months prior to restoring the direct connection via the low-level bridge:http://www.hebners.net/amtrak/amtP30CH.html (scroll down about half way down the page).
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby jstolberg » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:32 pm

electricron wrote:This will allow Amtrak passengers in the near future to ride trains on one of the longest straight tracks in America. Between Petersburg and Suffolk, through the Great Dismal Swamp, the N&W mainline has 52 miles of straight track. The longest straight track in America is 78.9 miles on the former Seaboard Air Line Railway between Wilmington and Hamlet, North Carolina.

Ron, thank you for calling it "straight track". I know the technical term is "tangent track", but as far as I'm concerned if the last curve is miles behind me and the next curve is miles ahead of me, the track is straight, not tangent.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby num1hendrickfan » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:07 am

electricron wrote:This will allow Amtrak passengers in the near future to ride trains on one of the longest straight tracks in America. Between Petersburg and Suffolk, through the Great Dismal Swamp, the N&W mainline has 52 miles of straight track. The longest straight track in America is 78.9 miles on the former Seaboard Air Line Railway between Wilmington and Hamlet, North Carolina.


Also has the oldest trackbed in America. William Mahone was a gifted engineer, using the swamps characteristics to build a trackbed that will never succumb to the elements.

Would be well worth any fare to ride on that section of track.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby tfherb » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:17 am

D.Carleton wrote:...Very well but I'm not sure how that relates to the infrastructure investment necessary to realize the duel goals of reaching Raleigh and Norfolk. To the point this April 2002 report prepared by Parsons demonstrates three separate proposals to link the current existing passenger infrastructure with current NS mainline to Norfolk AND the rebuilt former SAL main to Raleigh. However, as stated earlier "it won't come cheap."


Here is another map of the proposed route, from the Virginia department of Rail and Public Transportation

Virginia seems to have been left out of this round of HSR funding. D. Carlton is correct that the current plans don't address the funding source. North Carolina was much more favored in this round of funding. Part of the problem is that Virginia is very slow to commit to a stable source of funding for the state's portion of the HSR project. The current budget to be presented to the Legislature calls for borrowing all of $2.9B for all Virginia's badly needed transportation projects most of which of course is roads. I am not sure what portion of that is dedicated to rail but I think it may only include about $5M for some of the operating costs for 2 years for the currently Virginia supported trains, 174, 125 to Richmond and 151, 145 and 171 to Lynchburg. I have not heard whether the current budget addresses the Norfolk corridor sufficiently for the state to re-apply for federal HSR funds.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby afiggatt » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:47 am

tfherb wrote:Virginia seems to have been left out of this round of HSR funding. D. Carlton is correct that the current plans don't address the funding source. North Carolina was much more favored in this round of funding. Part of the problem is that Virginia is very slow to commit to a stable source of funding for the state's portion of the HSR project. The current budget to be presented to the Legislature calls for borrowing all of $2.9B for all Virginia's badly needed transportation projects most of which of course is roads. I am not sure what portion of that is dedicated to rail but I think it may only include about $5M for some of the operating costs for 2 years for the currently Virginia supported trains, 174, 125 to Richmond and 151, 145 and 171 to Lynchburg. I have not heard whether the current budget addresses the Norfolk corridor sufficiently for the state to re-apply for federal HSR funds.

Virginia got $44.3 million for preliminary engineering and Tier II EIS or the DC to Richmond corridor and $1.2 million for PE for a new Appomattox River bridge and related track work from the FY2010 HSIPR grants. That is all Virginia applied for, as far as I know. I think the reason that Virginia did not get more in the original $8 billion of HSIPR stimulus grants beyond the $75 million for the 3rd track from Arkendale to Powell's creek is that the engineering design and detailed cost analysis work was not adequate to get funding at that time. North Carolina's engineering design studies were further along, so NC got the lion's share of the SE HSR funds. A $2.9 million engineering study for replacing the Long Bridge across the Potomac was also funded in the HSIPR stimulus grants, so there is allocated funding to cover the engineering design work for the entire DC Union Station to south of Richmond Main Street corridor.

The $44.3 million plus the $11 million of 20% Virginia matching funds covers a lot for engineering work. If they can do parts of the PE incrementally, Virginia might be able apply for specific improvement projects over the next few years for whatever federal funds for passenger rail are made available.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby tfherb » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:44 am

afiggatt wrote: Virginia got $44.3 million for preliminary engineering and Tier II EIS or the DC to Richmond corridor and $1.2 million for PE for a new Appomattox River bridge and related track work from the FY2010 HSIPR grants. That is all Virginia applied for, as far as I know. I think the reason that Virginia did not get more in the original $8 billion of HSIPR stimulus grants beyond the $75 million for the 3rd track from Arkendale to Powell's creek is that the engineering design and detailed cost analysis work was not adequate to get funding at that time. North Carolina's engineering design studies were further along, so NC got the lion's share of the SE HSR funds. A $2.9 million engineering study for replacing the Long Bridge across the Potomac was also funded in the HSIPR stimulus grants, so there is allocated funding to cover the engineering design work for the entire DC Union Station to south of Richmond Main Street corridor.

The $44.3 million plus the $11 million of 20% Virginia matching funds covers a lot for engineering work. If they can do parts of the PE incrementally, Virginia might be able apply for specific improvement projects over the next few years for whatever federal funds for passenger rail are made available.


Afiggat, you are right. I am aware of the $44.3M and I have posted about that in another thread. I drifted perilously close to a political statement in my post.

Afiggat, when you say refer to the engineering study for the
afiggatt wrote:Long Bridge across the Potomac
do you mean the bridge across the Appomattox near Petersburg that is a key component of the SEHSR plans? That bridge is supposed to get a 2nd track.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Station Aficionado » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:49 am

tfherb wrote:
afiggatt wrote: Virginia got $44.3 million for preliminary engineering and Tier II EIS or the DC to Richmond corridor and $1.2 million for PE for a new Appomattox River bridge and related track work from the FY2010 HSIPR grants. That is all Virginia applied for, as far as I know. I think the reason that Virginia did not get more in the original $8 billion of HSIPR stimulus grants beyond the $75 million for the 3rd track from Arkendale to Powell's creek is that the engineering design and detailed cost analysis work was not adequate to get funding at that time. North Carolina's engineering design studies were further along, so NC got the lion's share of the SE HSR funds. A $2.9 million engineering study for replacing the Long Bridge across the Potomac was also funded in the HSIPR stimulus grants, so there is allocated funding to cover the engineering design work for the entire DC Union Station to south of Richmond Main Street corridor.

The $44.3 million plus the $11 million of 20% Virginia matching funds covers a lot for engineering work. If they can do parts of the PE incrementally, Virginia might be able apply for specific improvement projects over the next few years for whatever federal funds for passenger rail are made available.


Afiggat, you are right. I am aware of the $44.3M and I have posted about that in another thread. I drifted perilously close to a political statement in my post.

Afiggat, when you say refer to the engineering study for the
afiggatt wrote:Long Bridge across the Potomac
do you mean the bridge across the Appomattox near Petersburg that is a key component of the SEHSR plans? That bridge is supposed to get a 2nd track.

The Long Bridge is the railroad bridge that carries the CSX tracks (and Amtrak and VRE) from DC across the Potomac to Virginia. The name dates back to the Civil War. The current version (which once had an operable swing span in the middle) is in need of replacement.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Ridgefielder » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:45 pm

Station Afficionado wrote: As I understand it, the new Norfolk trains would use the N&W freight line that mostly by-passes Petersburg to the south, and would connect to CSX (ex-SAL) just north of Collier Yard (I don't think there ever was a connection from the N&W passenger line to the SAL). The only current connection for these lines that I see is in the SW quadrant. As you note, there would need to be a new NE quadrant connection for the Norfolk trains, but there appears (on the Google satellite photo) to be plenty of room to build such a connection, though given the difference in elevation between the lines, it won't come cheap. My apologies if I have mixed up the ACL and SAL lines.

Why couldn't the Norfolk train simply do a reverse move through the SW quadrant interchange to access the N&W? Amtrak does something similar every day with the Vermonter at Palmer, MA to move from the CSX (ex-B&A) Boston Line to the NECR (ex CV).
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