• Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion and Possible Extension

  • 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 Backshophoss
 
Dallas was served by a stub train connection at Gainesvile train #'s 115/116 connecting to trains 15/16 the "Texas Chief".
Train ran via Denton and White Rock to/from Dallas Union.
From a Santa Fe "Ticket Agent" Folder dated 10/25/1959 to 01/15/1960.
Most of the connections were done were done by "Motor Coach"(bus) from Dallas Union to Ft Worth or train #'s 111/112.
Ft Worth was a "hub" for Santa Fe passenger traffic in the Metroplex.
  by electricron
 
Backshophoss wrote:Dallas was served by a stub train connection at Gainesvile train #'s 115/116 connecting to trains 15/16 the "Texas Chief".
Train ran via Denton and White Rock to/from Dallas Union.
From a Santa Fe "Ticket Agent" Folder dated 10/25/1959 to 01/15/1960.
Most of the connections were done were done by "Motor Coach"(bus) from Dallas Union to Ft Worth or train #'s 111/112.
Ft Worth was a "hub" for Santa Fe passenger traffic in the Metroplex.
That's the same route I suggested earlier, except some of the tracks ownership has changed over the years from SF to KCS. The problem with either route, extending the trains from FW to D or vice versa is Amtrak's trackage rights deal over the TRE tracks between D and FW doesn't allow much more than 2 trains per day for an entire year, plus a few more trains over an entire year. That's the existing Eagle and Flyer trips that already runs every year. The trackage rights agreements would have to be changed - at Amtrak's costs....
  by mtuandrew
 
For a state-supported service, Texas would be expected to foot the bill for expanded trackage rights over BNSF/UP and TRE, or to renegotiate the existing deal.

Would be nice if TRE ran 1 Dallas - Fort Worth round trip on Sundays to meet the Flyer if Amtrak can't get to DAL itself.
  by electricron
 
mtuandrew wrote:For a state-supported service, Texas would be expected to foot the bill for expanded trackage rights over BNSF/UP and TRE, or to renegotiate the existing deal.

Would be nice if TRE ran 1 Dallas - Fort Worth round trip on Sundays to meet the Flyer if Amtrak can't get to DAL itself.
Why? Amtrak's Texas Eagle does the job getting the Heartland Flyer's passengers to and from Dallas every day of the week, including Sunday.
The Flyer's locomotives are serviced and fueled in Fort Worth. Any extension to Dallas complicates every maintenance activity Amtrak does to the trains in Fort Worth. What advantage does one get catching the Flyer in Dallas when there is a prolonged stop in Fort Worth for these maintenance activities, including the possibility of a locomotive switch? Would you rather be sitting in a dark and hot passenger seat on the train or waiting in a lighted and air conditioned seat in the station waiting to board the Flyer?
Texas caps the amount of the yearly subsidy it is willing to pay to support the Flyer. It's not willing to subsidize a train between it's two largest cities. Do you really think it is going to subsidize an additional two Amtrak trains between Dallas and Fort Worth where Amtrak already runs two trains a day when it is unwilling to subsidize 50 TRE trains a day doing the same trip?

The TRE is fully subsidized by DART and the FWTA with a 50-50 share. There's been no financial help from the state in the TRE at all, and only a little federal financial help; some funds for the FW Intermodal station which Amtrak uses , and some funds for some double tracking in Tarrant County which was a requirement for the Eagle to run on the TRE tracks.
  by SouthernRailway
 
I see from Wikipedia that the Heartland Flyer generates around $2MM of ticket sales and costs about $9MM to operate. That's a pretty poor cost recovery ratio. I'd think that Amtrak would be doing whatever it could to generate ridership.

Conversely, considering how DFW is car country and you can probably speed to Oklahoma City a lot faster than the train takes, it's impressive that the train has the ridership that it does.
  by Tadman
 
That's a really good point. The recovery ratio is awful. But it's not hard to see why. Even though Ron makes some really good points about logistics vis-a-vis the host roads, you can't expect decent traffic when sending this train to downtown Fort Worth.

You also essentially don't have any connecting network to anywhere like Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, even the north Metroplex.

You could get an Uber to Dallas faster than TRE.

The Eagle is your typical UP-hosted long distance train, IE don't count on it.

There is only one train per day, which means few options or flexibility. I find the 3x/day on the Michigan line to be the bottom rung of a truly flexible corridor run, I just can't make it work (IE I take South Shore with 10+ trains/day) with less trains.

All of this doesn't change the reality and probably won't for a long time.
  by Philly Amtrak Fan
 
I found this in a transportation article. It discusses "ground transportation gaps": https://las.depaul.edu/centers-and-inst ... 170823.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

They found "152 routes in the 120 - 400 mile range linking metropolitan regions with populations of more than one million that lack a viable “middle mode” in August 2017" where a "middle mode" refers to rail or "express coach" bus which they include MegaBus, BoltBus but not Greyhound. #3 on their list is Dallas-Oklahoma City. So according to the Chaddick Institute, Fort Worth is not the same as Dallas.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Extension News: KSN.com

Kansans optimistic on passenger rail to Oklahoma, Texas
...
Hauge says before the Heartland Flyer starts running from Newton to Wichita into Oklahoma and Texas, there are issues that have to be resolved. First, the state has to fix some issues with the Southwest Chief route that currently stops in Newton. Another issue is seeing what states like Kansas and Oklahoma would do in the way of helping start and sustain service.

Hague also says Burlington Northern needs to do a feasability study on the rail lines but adds Amtrak could run South out of Newton into Texas without a major rail upgrades right away.

"What Amtrak made clear to the Ways and Means committee is that without a huge investment they would be able to run trains back and forth to Oklahoma City and Newton at freight speeds," Hague said. "Which is essentially 60 miles an hour ."
...
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Mentions that BNSF needs to do an assessment. They already did an assessment, and they were asking for at least 2 stretches of a second main track installment. So they need to do another assessment???
  by mtuandrew
 
Rockingham Racer wrote:Mentions that BNSF needs to do an assessment. They already did an assessment, and they were asking for at least 2 stretches of a second main track installment. So they need to do another assessment???
Sounds fishy from the outside and they could probably go forward with the old plan without too many sticking points, but they’re trying to tailor their route exactly to the amount of traffic they have. The more second and third track they have, the more they pay in upkeep and in property tax. Crossovers cost money too, as does signaling and a more robust PTC overlay (one already having been required on this route), and BNSF gets final say on whether railroad-owned stations can be used by the public, and on what property stations & platforms can be built.

Think of it as planning a wedding, if you’ve been involved with one: when’s the shower & is it co-ed, where are the bachelor & bachelorette parties (and who brings the bail money :P ), which relatives can’t sit next to each other, what venues do you want, and what music to play... which all comes back to the time and money budget.

Also, I’m chuckling at the article referring to “Burlington Northern” in Santa Fe territory :-D
  by Tadman
 
I'm having trouble seeing the sense of extending the Flyer. Consider this:

You can either extend the Flyer to Wichita or KC through some of the emptiest land in the country, or you can
1. Open passenger service DFW to Houston, two of the biggest cities in the country, with no passenger service now
2. Open corridor service DFW to San Antonio, because the daily LD train is erratic in timekeeping and basically useless to regional passengers
3. Run a second train on the Flyer route to provide some sort of frequency rather than nominally covering the map with 1/day trains that carry less than 1% of all travelers
4. Open corridor service Tulsa-OKC
5. Connect current Flyer service to DFW because let's face it, I doubt many Flyer passengers want to connect with an erratic LD train in Fort Worth to... (Little Rock? Chicago? Los Angeles? three seat ride to NOLA? )

Of course we're going to do the option that makes the least sense.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
1 & 2 are probably DOA because, well, it's Texas. Enough said.
  by Tadman
 
Are they? I would've agreed a few years ago, but that Texas HSR system seems to be moving forward. Also, Dallas is more LA than Texas some days, not sure if that is better or worse for transit/trains.

Knowing the Texas culture, I don't think a few corridor trains with aged equipment would work. I do think medium or HSR would work if done right. New equipment, full service, lots of amenities, valet parking at stations... That's a big state and I never drive Dallas-Houston, I fly. I'd take HSR if there was good frequency.
  by gokeefe
 
What's even more interesting about the Texas projects is the internal clash it has produced between the big city/big oil corporate suits and the Texas countryside.
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