Hampton Roads/Norfolk/Newport News NE Regional Service

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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby jstolberg » Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:32 pm

electricron wrote: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?

The train will continue from Washington to Boston, so the 8-car set could be for the peak segment Metropark to NYP. But since they would be switching locomotives in Washington, why not add 4 cars there with the new locomotive?

I suppose a better answer would be that Amtrak was low by a factor of 3 when estimating the ridership between Lynchburg and Washington. They were also low by a factor of 3 when estimating ridership on the bus from Roanoke to Lynchburg. In Virginia lately, the estimates haven't even been close. If they plan a train with a capacity three times the projected ridership between Norfolk and Washington, they might get it just about right.

As for the clock tower, if the train is going to leave before sunrise and arrive after sunset, the clock should have a lighted dial.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby afiggatt » Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:45 pm

electricron wrote:
hi55us wrote: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.

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

I suspect the reporter got a little mixed up on the consist. The typical NEC Regional is a 60 seat business class car, one cafe car, and 6 or 7 coach cars the last several Regionals I was on. No baggage cars.

As for the predicted ridership, if they can start the service off with a better morning departure time, more suitable for a wider ridership base, the prediction will be way low. The really early start time by extending the 7 AM Regional departing Richmond south to Norfolk is aimed at a specific part of the market, military personnel and defense contractors heading to DC on business, at the disadvantage of everyone else who don't want to get up at 3 or 4 AM. They should make the first daily train depart Norfolk at a reasonable early-mid morning hour. Make the 5 to 5:30 AM departure the 2nd or 3rd daily train service to be added later.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby Station Aficionado » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:00 am

jstolberg wrote:I suppose a better answer would be that Amtrak was low by a factor of 3 when estimating the ridership between Lynchburg and Washington. They were also low by a factor of 3 when estimating ridership on the bus from Roanoke to Lynchburg. In Virginia lately, the estimates haven't even been close. If they plan a train with a capacity three times the projected ridership between Norfolk and Washington, they might get it just about right.

As for the clock tower, if the train is going to leave before sunrise and arrive after sunset, the clock should have a lighted dial.

Excellent idea on the clock tower--I'd even steal from Portland and add a "Go By Train" neon sign.

On the ridership projections, better to underpromise and overdeliver than vice versa. When/if there are three trains to Norfolk, combined with the Newport News trains, there will be a good level of service from DC and Richmond to Tidewater. This should produce high ridership.

One question--does anyone know/recall anything about intermediate stops between Norfolk and Petersburg? Suffolk is the most logical candidate. There probably should be one other stop between Suffolk and Petersburg, but there's no place of any size. I guess either Wakefield or Waverly would be ok distance-wise, but they're quite small.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby gprimr1 » Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:05 pm

Very true, first impressions are important.

If you over deliver, you can always scale back, but if you under deliver and alienate customers, its hard to recover from that.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby afiggatt » Sat Oct 29, 2011 4:47 pm

Station Aficionado wrote:On the ridership projections, better to underpromise and overdeliver than vice versa. When/if there are three trains to Norfolk, combined with the Newport News trains, there will be a good level of service from DC and Richmond to Tidewater. This should produce high ridership.

One question--does anyone know/recall anything about intermediate stops between Norfolk and Petersburg? Suffolk is the most logical candidate. There probably should be one other stop between Suffolk and Petersburg, but there's no place of any size. I guess either Wakefield or Waverly would be ok distance-wise, but they're quite small.

The planning documents for the Norfolk extension show a proposed Bowers Hill station in Chesapeake. That is the only planned station between Norfolk and Petersburg. I don't see specifics on the Bowers Hill station, so the station may still be in the planning stages. Other than Suffolk itself, I don't see any logical place for a station stop between Suffolk and Petersburg. A long stretch of lightly populated territory.

The 2009 EIS and planning documents for the two routes - north and south of the river - can be found at the Richmond/Hampton Roads Passenger rail website http://www.rich2hrrail.info/index.html.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby jhdeasy » Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:25 pm

At AAPRCO's recent convention in Kansas City, Amtrak officials indicated they would handle PVs on the train between Washington and Norfolk in both directions, and provide occupied PV parking at their facility in Norfolk.

I think I will take MOUNT VERNON for a visit to Norfolk after the service commences. I have not ridden on the former N&W mainline between Norfolk and Petersburg since about 1977.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby Station Aficionado » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:04 pm

Wonder of wonders, a rail project ahead of schedule:http://hamptonroads.com/2012/01/norfolk-passenger-rail-service-begin-end-year
Amtrak passenger trains between Norfolk and Richmond and beyond will begin nearly a year early, by Dec. 31, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday.

Service wasn’t expected to launch until October 2013, but work to make Norfolk Southern and CSX freight tracks ready for passenger rail has progressed faster than expected, a state spokeswoman said.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby afiggatt » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:35 pm

Station Aficionado wrote:Wonder of wonders, a rail project ahead of schedule:http://hamptonroads.com/2012/01/norfolk-passenger-rail-service-begin-end-year
Amtrak passenger trains between Norfolk and Richmond and beyond will begin nearly a year early, by Dec. 31, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday.

Service wasn’t expected to launch until October 2013, but work to make Norfolk Southern and CSX freight tracks ready for passenger rail has progressed faster than expected, a state spokeswoman said.

That may be more than a wonder of wonders! Miracle, perhaps? On the other hand, the project construction schedule may have been seriously padded because of unknowns and a very conservative estimate. If the track and station work is getting done that far ahead of the original schedule, that would also suggest it is coming in comfortably under budget. Getting it done more quickly means fewer months of overhead costs and fewer months to burn the funding. If there is funding left over, either put it towards track improvements in Richmond or to get started on extending service to Roanoke.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby Station Aficionado » Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:53 pm

I'd personally vote to put any leftover money toward an Acca bypass and rebuilding the Bellewood Subdivision to get Amtrak off the freight bypass around Richmond and onto the direct line to the south.

Back to Norfolk and the Tidewater generally, IIRC, the Commonwealth's eventual goal is three trains on each side of the James (i.e., three to Newport News and three to Norfolk). It appears by the year, we'll be halfway there with two to NNS and one to ORF--assuming Amtrak used the same unfortunate code for Norfolk). I think it would be a good idea to establish Thruway service to RVR to cover some or all of the other frequencies. The service pattern could thus be established now, with later conversion of the bus frequencies to rail.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby Amtrak7 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:16 pm

Any updates on Roanoke? Amtrak should put the Roanoke-LYH buses into Arrow as a Thruway Service.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby mkellerm » Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:36 pm

Unfortunately, the project is $11 million over budget. Virginia is finding the money by delaying a doubletrack project on the Crescent Corridor. It is not clear to me whether the extra expense is due to cost overruns or an increase in scope.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby Station Aficionado » Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:56 pm

Gov. McDonnell--a Republican, and a very conservative one--and the Dept. of Rail and Public Transportation (headed by a former GOP congresswoman) deserve credit for helping push this forward. And kudos as well to McDonnell's Democratic predecessor for initiating the Commonwealth's support of expanded intercity service. Kind of a refreshing change given the partisan divide on similar projects in other states.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:37 pm

What Happens to Rail When the Money Runs Out?

Some pros and cons, mostly cons.

Pro:

Good news from the Governor’s office: Amtrak will commence its Norfolk service by December 31, 2012 — 10 months earlier than expected! A round-trip train will bring intercity passenger rail to the city for the first time since 1977, linking Hampton Roads to Richmond, Washington, D.C., and the northeastern corridor!!


Con:

Turns out that a few previously unidentified costs were identified as the Norfolk passenger-rail project unfolded. Norfolk Southern needs to construct additional siding capacity at New Bohemia to alleviate freight train interference and provide capacity in the congested Petersburg area. Oh, and it needs to acquire additional property at the St. Julian’s Street Train Servicing Facility to prevent the rerouting of heavy truck traffic through residential neighborhoods. And come to think of it, there’s the minor matter of upgrading crossovers between Petersburg and Norfolk and upgrading the CSX railroad diamonds in Suffolk to allow for faster passenger speeds.

But other than that, they’d accounted for everything!
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby Station Aficionado » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:33 pm

mkellerm wrote:Unfortunately, the project is $11 million over budget. Virginia is finding the money by delaying a doubletrack project on the Crescent Corridor. It is not clear to me whether the extra expense is due to cost overruns or an increase in scope.

Ah well, leftover money was too much to hope for.

Based on Jeff's subsequent post (and assuming the cited blog is a reliable news source), it appears to be more of an increase in scope, as it looks like the extra money is for additional trackage in a couple of locations. $11-12 million is certainly a huge figure to the likes of me. In terms of transportation projects (either as an absolute figure or as a percentage of the whole cost--about 10% or so), it's probably not that bad.
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Re: Norfolk Update

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:45 am

Transit opening under a Republican governor. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Norfolk Passenger Rail Service Begins December 31

Amtrak passenger trains from Norfolk's Harbor Park to Richmond and beyond will begin rolling nearly a year earlier than planned, by Dec. 31, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday.

Service wasn't expected to start until October 2013, but work to prepare Norfolk Southern and CSX tracks for passenger rail has progressed faster than expected, said Thelma Drake, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation director.

...

Service will start with one train departing and one arriving daily. The morning departure is set for around 5 a.m., with service to Richmond's Staples Mill station by 7 a.m., and on to Washington by 9 a.m. A train will depart Washington around 3 p.m., arriving in Norfolk by 7 p.m. Officials designed the schedule to be attractive to military and business officials who make day trips to the capital area.

The one-seat service will carry riders all the way to Boston. Officials plan to increase service to three round-trips daily. It will be the first intercity passenger rail service in Norfolk since 1977.
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