• Amtrak Empire Builder 2nd Daily Frequency Chicago - St Paul

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by David Benton
If ,
-you have a car capable of driving 400 miles at 70 mph,
- you are/have a driver capable of driving 400 miles at 70 mph,
- you can / need to return the car to origin point.

For a growing number of people , these may not apply , so there is a need to have public transport.
  by eolesen
Actually, it's not a growing number of people....


Interestingly, the reason I'm seeing cited most frequently for not owning a car isn't opposition to fossil fuels... it's the cost of car insurance.

Just for fun, I just looked up car insurance where I used to live on Long Island, and it's an average of $4700 a year for full coverage. $400 a month for insurance comes out to be more than my truck payment...

Regardless, I'd be curious to know how many of those 8% of people who don't have a car would have a need to be traveling back and forth between Chicago and Minnesota (or points in between) and not choose to fly.

For more fun, I pulled up flights... you can get a round trip for about $200 on a number of airlines and be there in less than two hours. Or, pay between $75/120 each way for Amtrak's value fares (if available) or $153 for the flexible and waste an entire day in each direction.... To be ridiculous, $677 for a sleeper is still cheaper than $1100 for a taxi.
  by David Benton
Having access to a car and wanting/ be able to drive 400 miles are different things.
I was actually thinking of the elderly , not the carbon guilt crowd. Not all of them have the driving skills of Mr Norman, and lots with medication or medical conditions that prevent them from driving long distance , or at all .
admittedly , 400 miles on a US interstate is probably a tad easier than 640km on a New Zealand tarsealed goat track .
  by WashingtonPark
electricron wrote: Tue Jun 29, 2021 9:45 pm 400 miles in 400 minutes is one mile per minute, or 60 miles per hour.
Per the internet, Chicago to St. Paul along I-94 takes 6 hours and 9 minutes to travel 403 road miles.
Math = 403/6.15 = 65.5 mph on average
The Empire Builder schedule suggest 7 hours and 48 minutes to travel 411 rail miles.
Math = 411/7.8= 52.7 mph on average.
Yes, you can drive it one hour and 41 minutes faster!
Except if I'm driving 6 hours that's two rest stops. (one for a meal) so now I'm at 6 hours 45 minutes if I don't run into any slowdowns due to traffic and construction, not to mention I'm close to 70 and am going to be completely blown out by the time I reach my destination, so yeah, I'd take the train.
  by Gilbert B Norman
First, to the topic's subject.

I heard a report on WBBM 780/105.9 that Minnesota has approved funding for the second CHI-MSP frequency. The report further noted, as reported here, such would be an extension of an existing CHI-MKE Hiawatha. Hopefully, until the bi-directional Siemens equipment is available, the trailing P-42 could be cut from the set used MKE-MSP. Lest we forget, there is a wye on the GN at SPUD (7&8, Builder simply runs through on the MILW).

Now secondly, sorry that Mr. Benton's video cut before getting to the scenic part of NZ. I am "unthinking" a journey to Australia next year; ORD-SYD air fares are presently posted at $22K (Twenty Two Thousand US Dollars) - and that's "a mite bit more" than this dude is willing to part with (Coach is $6K - thanks but no thanks).

So at this point, it remains on Wisconsin to pony up; and in the existing political environment, that could prove "problematic".

Now so far as "driving and me". It's a case of Henley's "Invictus":

It doesn't matter how straight the gate
No matter how hard the punishment and troll,
For I am the master of my fate,
I am the Captain of my soul.

Possibly Mr. Benton noted that 400mi in that such is the driving mileage saved for me if on a Florida-Chicago drive would be saved using the Auto Train. My likely final AT journey - #52 on the day Kobe Bryant was killed (staff at SFA - race notwithstanding - were crying) - was simply a "take it or leave it - meh" experience - and at $900 v. the $350 estimate drive expense; simply "not worth it".

And lastly, at 80yo, I'm up for a Driver's License next month. The Optometrist has "signed off" so one less concern at DMV. I still have to drive for those sadistic people ("Gramps, I really should flunk you, but I'm such a nice guy I'll pass you. Please don't kill anyone until you are off our premises"). Last time during '17, my '13 Lex did not pass inspection - no front tag (ever see a Lex model whose appearance is enhanced with one?), and my present '18 would be same. I'm just going to rent an auto this time and save the misery.
  by ryanwc
The timing is a little different if you live on Chicago's north shore, where a round trip from Glenview is closer to 7 hours, and a 2-hour flight takes 3.5-4 hours once you account for the drive to O'Hare and whatever time you allocate at O'Hare. (I'd get by with leaving home 1.5 hours before a flight, but my wife wants 2 hours.)

A lot will depend on on-time percentage.

The latest on the CP-KCS merger is that service could start sooner than 2024.
  by Arborwayfan
Re "access to a vehicle" statistic: For that number to mean much for whether the number of potential train pax is rising or falling, we'd need to know how the people keeping the statistic define access. I assume they don't mean "the household owns or leases a car that they can always do whatever they want with", or they'd say that specifically. And they are even less likely to mean "each person in the household has a car that they can always do whatever they want with." There could be a large number of people where the situation is something like "anyone in my household can usually drive or get a ride to nearby things if they need to, but we have three adults, two teenagers, and one car so most of us usually take the bus or the subway and we only drive out of town when we're all going together". There could be a lot of people people who have an old beater for driving around the suburbs but don't trust it for long intercity trips, and who choose instead to save money with an old car and spend it on occasional train/plain/bus trips. Could be. I don't know that there is or isn't.

Even household with a car could find it a lot easier to send one member of the household to college, to grandma's, to a special work assignment/training course/convention, or whatever, on the train than to drive them there and then drive home without them, only to repeat the process a week or three months later to bring them home. This would apply to young teens old enough to travel alone but not able to drive, as well as to situations where the household needed to keep the car while that one person was gone.

And national numbers, as has been said, might or might not apply to the people along any particular route. Just at a guess I would think that there would be a lot of people in Chicago who fit that last description, and some in Mpls-StP, and probably smaller numbers in intermediate cities and towns except maybe for university towns. Having 2-a-day trains might result in more college students going without a car, or it might not.

2 a day should mean at least twice as many passengers, because there would be a train leaving at twice as many times and therefore convenient for at least twice as many schedules. Assuming most passengers aren't so committed to the train that they will wait hours to take the train rather than choose some other mode, that is. And assuming Covid doesn't leave many potential passengers permanently afraid of trains.
  by ryanwc
This article offers a little more detail on a couple things related to the 2nd Chicago-St. Paul frequency, and other aspects of CP-Amtrak cooperation.:grinning:
https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews ... -analysis/

First, it mentions that the necessary improvements are signaling and capacity upgrades around Winona and La Crosse, which will start this year. And that they will "explore additional construction necessary to add a 2nd round trip (that is, a 3rd frequency, counting the Empire Builder)" within a year after the first round trip begins.

It also mentions that CP will not insist on a layover track in/near Glenview, IL in order to add up to 10 round trips Chgo-Milwaukee. Instead, they want improvements in and around Milwaukee, universal crossovers at Glenview and Lake Forest, and unspecified upgrades in Rondout.

That's some pretty big news, I think.

For those interested, there are also bits about New Orleans-Baton Rouge and Chicago-Windsor/Toronto.
  by ryanwc
Not sure why Trains previously (above) said construction was slated to start this year. Their more recent article says design work has begun, and will be completed in the summer of 2023, with construction starting shortly after.
https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews ... ger-train/

https://www.winonapost.com/news/second- ... 17587.html
  by ExCon90
Arborwayfan makes an interesting point, applying equally well in other areas: the results of a survey don't tell you much unless you know exactly what questions were asked and how they were worded.
  by ryanwc
The Milwaukee paper is reporting this morning that the additional round trip Chicago-Twin Cities "could start this year":
https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/202 ... 940025007/

To be honest, I'd be more reassured if I saw even one quote in the article. It's hard to know whether this reflects any new reporting, or whether she is just repeating old news. Normally I wouldn't expect a major metro daily to rehash, but I also would expect an article to have quotes and better sourcing. The paragraph with the only news - that the line is (still) expected to start this year - is sourced to WisDOT, but WisDOT has no issued no new press release about the service in 2023. The draft of the 2050 rail plan was released a few weeks ago, but it speaks of a 2024 service launch.
  by west point
IMO all this is tied into the STB approval of the CP-KCS merger with the Meridian speedway staying with CP. With approval then the service will start as soon as Amtrak can qualify crews on the route. That will probably take about 90 days if Amtrak can get other route crews to move to this route. Since the Builder crew segments will probably not meet the MSP <> CHI locations there may be some shuffling of crew districts.

Now, in no way will MSP approval enable Meridian - DAL approval as UP will be involved in SHR - DAL approval.
  by superbad
Some new info... https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_River_(train)


https://amtraktimetable.com/blog/2023/0 ... k-service/

Per wiki this service will start in September 2023. It will operate under the Amtrak Midwest brand. It will be trains 333 ad 340.

I hope September is true. Current Empire Builder is either sold out or near sold out constantly.
  by electricron
WashingtonPark wrote: Wed Jun 30, 2021 8:07 am Except if I'm driving 6 hours that's two rest stops. (one for a meal) so now I'm at 6 hours 45 minutes if I don't run into any slowdowns due to traffic and construction, not to mention I'm close to 70 and am going to be completely blown out by the time I reach my destination, so yeah, I'd take the train.
And the train running between Chicago and St.Paul will make many more stops (8 per its schedule)
Per the Empire Builder schedule - timetable
3:05p Chicago, IL Union Station (CHI) (CT) 0
1) 3:29p Glenview, IL (GLN) (Metra) 17
2) 4:35p | 4:45p Milwaukee, WI Downtown (MKE) 85
3) 5:55p Columbus, WI (CBS) (Madison) 15
4) 6:42p Wisconsin Dells, WI (WDL) 195
5) 7:20p Tomah, WI (TOH) 240
6) 8:04p La Crosse, WI * Amtrak Station (LSE) 281
7) 8:34p | 8:40p Winona, MN (WIN) 308
8) 9:42p Red Wing, MN (RDW) 371
10:56p | 11:13p St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN*Union Depot (MSP) 410

If you are driving on I-94 with no traffic signals along the way between Chicago and St/ Paul, are you going to make as many as 8 stops for rest breaks and/or refueling breaks?
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