Hampton Roads/Norfolk/Newport News NE Regional Service

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

Postby afiggatt » Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:44 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:On another discussion board, the answer to your question is "yes". Here's my question: the state rail plan calls for up to 3 roundtrips to Norfolk. Where is the equipment going to come from?

These are longer term plans. Which means from new single level corridor car purchases starting sometime in the next 8-10 years. The date in the Amtrak Fleet Strategy plan to start delivery of the replacements for the Amfleet I's is FY2018. If Congress does not come through with enough capital equipment funding, Amtrak fall back plan may well be to take out RRIF loans to provide the bulk of the purchase funding. Then pay the RRIF loans off over 20-30 years.

The HSIPR grants to California and the mid-West states have provided enough funding to buy at least 120 bi-level cars and some diesel locomotives. Besides the Horizons, how many Amfleets are in use in California and the mid-West providing fill-in capacity? Once the new bi-levels start getting delivered, Amtrak can consolidate all the Amfleets for use on the eastern routes while they figure out what to do with the freed-up Horizon cars.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Station Aficionado » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:48 pm

Matt Johnson wrote:Hopefully this doesn't put the existing service along the peninsula to Newport News in danger.

No, that would continue. The plan is service to both NNS and Norfolk. My impression is that NNS and Williamsburg provide good ridership (though I'm not sure how much of the NNS ridership) comes on the Thruway from Norfolk/Virginia Beach).
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Arlington » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:21 pm

Station Aficionado wrote:
Matt Johnson wrote:Hopefully this doesn't put the existing service along the peninsula to Newport News in danger.

No, that would continue. The plan is service to both NNS and Norfolk. My impression is that NNS and Williamsburg provide good ridership (though I'm not sure how much of the NNS ridership) comes on the Thruway from Norfolk/Virginia Beach).


With Southwest Airlines canceling all of Air Tran's service at PHF (NN's Patrick Henry Field), that eliminates a daily departure to both NYC (LGA) and Boston (BOS). That should theoretically add a few passengers at the margin to Amtrak's NEC service to/from Williamsburg.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Ryand-Smith » Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:36 pm

As a sailor this is quite useful, because it means easier access home/to DC without driving (Norfolk is literally overcrowded with drivers thanks to a good chunk of the fleet being based there, so every less car driving means the roads could start to clog less), as well as promoting more commuting options for sailors based at the various shore commands!
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby jstolberg » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:36 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:
twropr wrote:Here's my question: the state rail plan calls for up to 3 roundtrips to Norfolk. Where is the equipment going to come from?

Virginia won't need any new equipment. The two existing round trips down the peninsula will continue. The third trip to Norfolk will use the new Northeast Regional train that now stops in Richmond. It will arrive in Norfolk later and leave earlier.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Arlington » Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:47 am

jstolberg wrote:Virginia won't need any new equipment. The two existing round trips down the peninsula will continue. The third trip to Norfolk will use the new Northeast Regional train that now stops in Richmond. It will arrive in Norfolk later and leave earlier.

So, for example, today, on a typical weekday, there are 3 southbound trains that terminate at RVR at 6:25p, 8:07p and 9:10p (trains 125, 93, & 85, respectively). These seem to sit overnight so they can turn into the next day's 3 northbound departures at 6:00, 7:00 and 8:00 (trains 86, 174, 84). Is the idea that they'd overnight in Norfolk instead?

With a running time of 1:43, you could extend all the southbounds to Norfolk and have them finish their southbound trips at 8:15pm, 9:45pm and 11:00pm. After overnighting, they could depart Norfolk at (roughly) 4:15am, 5:15am, and 6:15am and be in Richmond in time for their current hourly northbound departure schedule. Is that the plan?
"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: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby jstolberg » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:29 pm

I'm working from memory here. I can't lay my hands on where I read it. But here is the proposed schedule as I understand it.

Right now there are 2 weekday trains that leave Newport News at 9:15 am and 4:45 pm. These would continue. They return at 11:50 am and 6:50 pm.

The new Virginia service leaves Richmond at 7:00 am and returns at 6:25 pm. It is this train that would be extended. If it takes approximately 1:40 from Richmond to Norfolk, the train will arrive at Norfolk at 8:05 pm and leave the next morning at 5:20 am.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby afiggatt » Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:55 pm

Arlington wrote:So, for example, today, on a typical weekday, there are 3 southbound trains that terminate at RVR at 6:25p, 8:07p and 9:10p (trains 125, 93, & 85, respectively). These seem to sit overnight so they can turn into the next day's 3 northbound departures at 6:00, 7:00 and 8:00 (trains 86, 174, 84). Is the idea that they'd overnight in Norfolk instead?

With a running time of 1:43, you could extend all the southbounds to Norfolk and have them finish their southbound trips at 8:15pm, 9:45pm and 11:00pm. After overnighting, they could depart Norfolk at (roughly) 4:15am, 5:15am, and 6:15am and be in Richmond in time for their current hourly northbound departure schedule. Is that the plan?

The longer term plan is for 3 daily trains to Norfolk, as I recall. You don't want all 3 bunched leaving or arriving around the same time of day. Ideally, Norfolk would have trains leaving for WAS and beyond: early-mid morning, mid-day, late afternoon.

jstolberg's times for the start-up single daily train sound feasible, although leaving Norfolk at 5:20 AM is rather early if that is the only daily train.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Arlington » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:51 pm

The virtue of 3 trips, even departing at the ungodly hours of 4:15a, 5:15a and 6:15a and returning at the undesirable 8:15pm, 9:45pm and 11:00pm is that the equipment is essentially "free" (it would be sitting, unused, earning exactly $0 revenue, in Richmond) and, on the Washington DC end they are nearly-perfectly timed (arriving at WAS at 8:15, 9:30, and 10:15 am, and departing from WAS at 4p, 5:50p, and 7pm), making them fairly convenient for NFK originating business travelers (who can get to meetings and nap on the way). JetBlue and Southwest make a lot of their money by running planes for more hours per day, which means that some city, somewhere, gets a flight timed not for convenience, but because the plane would otherwise go idle.

RVR today also has a Northbound 11:04a and 6:35p Northeast Regional that get in to WAS at 1:35p and 9:00p, but this is on equipment that is coming from NPN, so you also have to consider that together the NFK and NPN trains have to make a useful pattern of service to the Northeast Corridor for Richmond-originating traffic (its a waste of equipment to run the Norfolk service following the "marker lights" on the NPN service from RVR to WAS)

No matter how you slice it, with Norfolk at the end of the line, the most economical way of extending service is going to involve at least one very-early northbound and one very-late southbound return--and maybe two of each. We see the same thing happening with the Downeaster's extension from Portland ME to Brunswick ME...Brunswick will get some very early and very late trains because the pattern of service is fundamentally driven by POR-BON traffic, with Brunswick being a "tag" on the end
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby NellieBly » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:17 pm

To get back to the connection at Petersburg and Mr. Norman's comment -- the connection used by the "Hilltopper" was actually a pre-existing piece of track, out of service (except perhaps for occasional freight moves) since through cars from ACL to N&W stopped running in the late 1960s. It had a wye just north of Petersburg Union Station so trains could turn either east or west, and as such could be used for the proposed train to Norfolk. However, it joins CSX north of the current Amtrak station location in Ettrick, and it's a hand-throw connection in the middle of a signal block.

So the plan is to build a new connection between CSX and NS south of the Appomattox River (hence the need for a double-track bridge) that will connect to the N&W's Petersburg "Belt Line" from Jack to Poe, bypassing downtown Petersburg altogether and enabling the new train to use the existing station.

While I'd like to see the old Petersburg Union Station used again for trains, it makes more sense to stop all service at a single location, and the line through downtown is steeply graded as it descends to river level.
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Re: Virginia and Norfolk Southern sign landmark agreement...

Postby Station Aficionado » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:57 pm

NB--isn't the line your talking about gone beyond the north end of the wye? On Google Maps' satellite image, you can see the bridge piers for the line, but the bridge is gone, and no sign of the line on the north side of the river.
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Norfolk, VA NE Regional

Postby Station Aficionado » Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:30 pm

Some more details on the upcoming service to Norfolk:http://hamptonroads.com/2011/10/norfolk-amtrak-schedule-will-allow-day-trips-dc
:
.................................
Service will start with one departing and one arriving train daily. The morning departure is set for around 5 a.m., with service to Richmond by 7 a.m. and Washington by 9 a.m. A train will depart Washington around 3 p.m., arriving in Norfolk by 7 p.m.
................................
Officials plan to build service to three daily roundtrips.
...............................
While work is already under way on the tracks and the platform, construction on the station is set to begin this winter.

I hope they can adjust the Norfolk departure time to just a bit later--5:00 is awfully early. And maybe Amtrak can add some bleacher seats to the planned station tower (see map at bottom of article).:)
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby electricron » Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:59 pm

About 44,000 residents from South Hampton Roads travel to Newport News each year to catch a train. Amtrak officials have told the city they expect about 67,000 customers each year to use the Norfolk service, or close to 200 passengers a day. The train will consist of eight passenger cars, each with 72 seats, and a diesel locomotive engine for a total capacity of 576 passengers. The train set will be 1,000 feet long.

Why does Amtrak want almost three times the capacity for the train than projected ridership? Seems to me that 3 cars capable of holding 216 passengers should be enough to handle 200 average. Add a fourth coach for really good days, not use eight coaches every day.
I assume there must be both a food service car and baggage car too, because 85 feet x 8 = 680 feet, adding a cafe car and baggage car brings the total to 850 feet. Although I don't recall any locomotive being more than 150 feet in length. Maybe in the future?
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby hi55us » Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:04 pm

I'm pretty sure that the train is going to be a regular NEC train, they're just going to be extending it to Nofolk, hence why it's 8 cars.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby electricron » Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:21 pm

That makes sense if that's the case. Do all Regional NEC trains have 8 coach cars today?
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