Proposed Amtrak to PHL

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Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby Quinn » Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:05 pm

Philly.com: Feds propose an Amtrak stop at the Philly Airport and greatly speeding up regional service

Posting this here, since the proposed Amtrak service to PHL airport and NEC reconfiguration would make for some interesting SEPTA changes.
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby SemperFidelis » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:45 am

Don't hold your breath on this happening, of course, but it is an interesting find.

I wonder if SEPTA would operate a new service on the portion of the line between the junction for the branch t the airport and the junction that reconnects with the Corridor. It is short, probably only good for maybe a station or two...perhaps not worth it.

Anyway, we have decades and decades to figure it out.
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby NorthPennLimited » Sat Dec 17, 2016 2:39 pm

They can't even afford the engineering study and environmental impact study to undertake a project like THAT.
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby amtrakhogger » Sat Dec 17, 2016 6:57 pm

It has been done already. Amtrak ran a direct train from PHL to AC back in the mid-90's in
conjunction with Midway Airlines.
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby STrRedWolf » Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:51 pm

You'll want the NEC Future thread a few doors back. Part of the NEC Future plan is to route two tracks through the Airport.
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby JeffK » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:04 am

SemperFidelis wrote:I wonder if SEPTA would operate a new service on the portion of the line between the junction for the branch t the airport and the junction that reconnects with the Corridor.

The print version of the story included a small sidebar indicating plans were for Amtrak to route some trains on the airport branch while others would use their current routing. The issue I see is that proposal means service to 30th St or PHL rather than 30th St and PHL. Then again not every NEC train stops at EWR so it may not be a big deal - - ??

In any case if (big IF) a PHL stop is built, SEPTA should offer some kind of joint ticketing for Amtrak riders taking trains that only stop at 30th St. In fact, that would be reasonable NOW.

Anyway, we have decades and decades to figure it out.

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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby NorthPennLimited » Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:06 pm

This may be a stupid question.....but.

What prevents Amttak (today) from having the Harrisburg - New York trains change ends at the Philly Airport instead of at 30th Street?

Does SEPTA need both tracks at the Airport for its 30 minute Regional Rail service? Or can SEPTA spare one of its tracks for Amtrak?
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby STrRedWolf » Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:18 pm

NorthPennLimited wrote:This may be a stupid question.....but.

What prevents Amttak (today) from having the Harrisburg - New York trains change ends at the Philly Airport instead of at 30th Street?

Does SEPTA need both tracks at the Airport for its 30 minute Regional Rail service? Or can SEPTA spare one of its tracks for Amtrak?


Just by looking at the schedules... ether they can't turn a train in 15 minutes or they're slow with interlockings with CSX.
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby rrbluesman » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:52 am

Having read the article and reviewing the proposed study, I find it hard to believe this study was released to the public at all. From a purely design perspective this seems absurdly difficult and outrageously expensive to build. As memory serves me, the existing Airport Line service by SEPTA was built largely over former Reading Company trackage - so this new connection to Baldwin would also be made over Reading trackage then? And Amtrak will what, add ROW for 2 additional tracks along the existing SEPTA Airport Line? I'm not seeing the benefit to the public for Amtrak's massive investment to bypass the existing NEC to reach PHL. If anything, SEPTA should be forced to increase Airport service and make better connections at Pennsylvania 30th Street Station. Furthermore, I find it very difficult to believe the towns along the proposed new corridor going to buy into the plans to divert Amtrak high-speed services, I think the residents will fight to keep high-speed trains out of their backyard.

The Frankford curve reduction is important, that should be prioritized. There is no reason why Amtrak and SEPTA can't better cooperate to get Amtrak trains into Pennsylvania Suburban Station or even out to Reading Terminal/Market East-Gallery/Jefferson Station (whatever SEPTA is chooses to call it). Simple service upgrades appear to have been pushed aside because of a lack of cooperation between agencies.

At a glance, this seems like an idea that will ultimately go nowhere. I agree that the NEC needs improvement, but there are places this improvement would far better serve the public than an NEC bypass to PHL.
Ed

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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby SemperFidelis » Mon Dec 19, 2016 1:10 pm

Sadly (or gladly depending upon how you look at these things) the residents of the areas that might be negatively impacted are not the sort who would have tons of political pull. The areas along the tracks, along Interstate 95, and beneath the approaches and departure lanes of the airport are very, very poor areas with little to no clout.

On the "bright side" (and it is so hard to say there is a bright side to abject poverty), and as is the case in most poorer urban areas, there is probably very little home ownership in the affected areas so any negative financial impact of a high speed rail line would not be felt by the residents themselves. Having lived in such areas of the Northeast and having friends still stuck in those areas, I would imagine most of the homes are landlord controlled. Landlords in areas like these are far less likely to care and/or object with the sort of passion that might cause major delays for any project. All forms of media love stories about the small guy/single mom homeowner fighting to save his/her way of life from the evils of "big gubmint" and out of control spending run amok. Coverage of such stories can affect opinioin a huge way...right up until it is found out that the "little guy" fighting "big gubmint" is, in fact, a notorious slumlord.

See Ravine, Chavez.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chavez_Ravine

On the flip side, land/slum lords are friggin' legal ninjas when it comes to filing endless mountains of litigation in the hopes that someone with an interest in seeing the project going forward (see Rackets, Construction, Mafia Influence in :-D ) will accidentally leave an overly heavy briefcase on the desk after a meeting in a trailer/office. Of course, these land/slum lords might want to look up certain wiki entries that might impact thier longevity (shoes, cement :wink: ).
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 3:04 pm

According to the map on the link posted by Quinn at the top, the high-speed trains will serve both PHL and 30th St., and the PHL station will be under ground. It also states that the line will be in tunnel from North Philadelphia to Bridesburg, avoiding Frankford Jct. (pity no one reading this will ever find out). There would seem to be no point in having Regional trains stay on the present route, since they make no stops in that territory now; they might as well stop at PHL, and it would probably be faster that way anyhow.
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 3:13 pm

NorthPennLimited wrote:This may be a stupid question.....but.

What prevents Amttak (today) from having the Harrisburg - New York trains change ends at the Philly Airport instead of at 30th Street?

Does SEPTA need both tracks at the Airport for its 30 minute Regional Rail service? Or can SEPTA spare one of its tracks for Amtrak?

Going all the way to PHL to reverse direction would add somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes to the running time, which would be totally unacceptable to people going from Keystone points to New York. It would even be an improvement to have additional trains eliminate 30th St. altogether and run to New York
via the Pittsburgh Subway, but Pennsylvania probably wouldn't want to pay for that, and it's hard to see who else would. (At present all SEPTA Airport trains use the track closest to the terminal because of the direct access from Baggage Claim without having to go up, over, and down, which is necessary to reach the island platform.)
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby khecht » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:31 pm

More interesting would be exploring extending Keystones that terminate at 30th to the airport, and perhaps the NJT Atlantic City line there to try again what didn't work when Amtrak ran to AC. No infrastructure investment would be needed for this, other than perhaps rehabbing the "Airport escape track" on the south side of the NEC at PHIL for more operational flexibility, but current service frequencies of those services may make it less likely to succeed.

I just don't think the benefit is worth the cost to reroute the NEC via the airport. Aside from a few curves at Darby, Delaware County does not have a speed problem on the NEC, and there are so many other places they could spend money to speed it up - the Baltimore tunnels, which need major work anyway, two track sections between Baltimore and Wilmington, curves through North Philly, the Elizabeth NJ curves, Portal Bridge, the Hudson tunnels bottleneck ... and that's just what I can think of south of NYC.
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:50 pm

I don't know why it was done this way, but as PHIL interlocking is laid out you can't get from 30th St. Lower Level to the airport except by using the escape track, which requires airport-bound trains to cross over--and I can't see them getting anything better than 30 mph for that move--, fouling Track 2, used by northbound Corridor trains. At a minimum you'd need to squeeze in another crossover somewhere enabling a southbound movement to reach the flyover, raising the question of whether it's worth doing at the price.
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Re: Proposed Amtrak to PHL

Postby khecht » Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:19 am

ExCon90 wrote:I don't know why it was done this way, but as PHIL interlocking is laid out you can't get from 30th St. Lower Level to the airport except by using the escape track, which requires airport-bound trains to cross over--and I can't see them getting anything better than 30 mph for that move--, fouling Track 2, used by northbound Corridor trains. At a minimum you'd need to squeeze in another crossover somewhere enabling a southbound movement to reach the flyover, raising the question of whether it's worth doing at the price.

Huh, I never knew that about PHIL but looking at aerial images you're right. I guess a diversion today from the normal route of an Airport train to the lower level of 30th would require a reverse move. I've only had that happen due to switch trouble at PHIL or maintenance on the route to the upper level (the Grays Ferry Branch I think it the correct name for that connector) on inbound Newark trains. I think if they were going to invest in more service to the airport from Amtrak or NJ Transit, they'd need to put a switch in to avoid NEC traffic flow disruption as well as upgrade the track and catenary on the Airport Escape Track. The short single tracked section between PHIL and where the airport line joins the double tracked freight line is another potential bottleneck; I assume that's a holdover from the PRR days when that section was I believe part of a single-tracked freight branch to Southwest Philly.
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