• Amtrak in Virginia updates (and other transportation)

  • 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 MattW
 
Greg Moore wrote: Thu Dec 16, 2021 11:36 am No, the Atlanta station. I forget the exact rules, but basically, even though there's a 2nd track, CSX can't use it when a train is approaching, in, or leaving the station, so there's like an hour window when the Crescent is in Atlanta where they have to hold their trains or otherwise schedule them differently.

Adding a 2nd Amtrak train to the mix would not be welcome by them as it would tie up their main through there even longer. (now if you could guarantee that the NB and SB trains arrived and departed within say 20 minutes of each other, they might be more amicable, but nothing coming out of New Orleans will be on schedule at this point!)
NS, but yes since the baggage and ADA access to the train is at-grade over the other track through the station. The way Amtrak has arranged things at the station, the Crescent also HAS to use that one track in particular which I'm sure imposes another limitation as well. Whatever trains they have parked to stay out of that window, they can't keep Amtrak from its track.
  by west point
 
There may be potential problems with the natural gas line east or on the ROW from ALX south? Anyone know its size and operating pressure?
  by Alex M
 
Looking at the maps, who will be managing and dispatching the DRPT tracks? Are they still planning on having two tracks on either side of Main St. Station?
  by KTHW
 
CSX will dispatch until a certain threshold of passenger/freight separation is met for each segment. At that point it will be up to the DRPT to determine who will manage dispatching of their rails. This could take place between AF and LE as soon as the completion of long bridge. I’d be DRPT holds off on making dispatching changes until they are confident that they won’t have to significantly use CSX rails on any portion of the route.
Did not see four sets of tracks at RVM included.
  by Matt Johnson
 
These are the areas being considered for the New River Valley Amtrak station. I used to ride my bike out by the Ellet Valley location - it's closer to Blacksburg but there's not a lot out there and I don't think any existing bus routes go there. The New River Valley Mall location is served by the bus system and is sort of centrally located between Blacksburg and Christiansburg. Presumably they are looking at connecting the remaining portion of the Huckleberry line aka the Blacksburg branch to the Corning plant with the northern Whitethorne District line that Amtrak will be using.
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  by Pensyfan19
 
Why is Amtrak using the ex-Virginian line again? Doing so would also dash any hope of service to Bristol and beyond, and that's especially concerning since there's been talk of Amtrak service to that town, which is only accessible via Christiansburg via the ex-N&W trackage.
  by Matt Johnson
 
That's the line NS was willing to let the state have for Amtrak use, so I guess it probably means less freight interference. I think Blacksburg/Christiansburg will be the terminus for the remainder of my lifetime, but I suppose that should an extension beyond happen, they could use that Blacksburg branch to connect with the other line. It's a remnant of the Huckleberry branch that once went all the way into Blacksburg, with much of it being a bike trail now, but the remaining rail portion is a siding that serves the Corning plant.
  by kitchin
 
In a mega deal with NS (and CSX), Virginia bought the Virginian line. On the plus side, it's a little closer to Va. Tech. Have you looked at the NS line from Radford to Bristol? It has single-track freight interference written all over it, and is crooked. Sure that area of the state would benefit, but it probably would not turn around the declining population. Bristol itself is the bright star, true. Anyway, the state negotiates and pays and NS and CSX deliver... somewhat. Lots of needs elsewhere short and medium term. With the next four year of contested politics, the party of the governor in power does tend to favor the rural areas - his vote in far SW was 80%+. But even he made his money in NoVa.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Matt Johnson wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 11:01 pm That's the line NS was willing to let the state have for Amtrak use, so I guess it probably means less freight interference. I think Blacksburg/Christiansburg will be the terminus for the remainder of my lifetime
Well Mr. Johnson, I think if I properly recall, you are a VPI alum - so in time you'll will likely be able to return to campus on Amtrak.

Over at the New England Railfan Forum, Housatonic RR topic, I've often speculated on the (Zilch) likelihood of returning to South Kent School ('61) for an Alumni Weekend and hiking "up The Hill" from the train station. My 60th (delayed a year) Reunion is this year, so there goes that chance as in all likelihood, this is the last I will ever attend (yeah rah rah; the $100 registration fee is waived for my class - but be assured no waiver when it's time to break out the checkbook for the Annual Fund drive :-D :-D ).

Finally, could we clarify that the Commonwealth only bought the VGN West of Roanoke to Christiansburg (closer to VPI than where the N&W runs)? To the East of Roanoke, NS uses both the VGN and N&W as "one-way roads" to the Tidewater.
  by scratchyX1
 
Matt Johnson wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 11:01 pm That's the line NS was willing to let the state have for Amtrak use, so I guess it probably means less freight interference. I think Blacksburg/Christiansburg will be the terminus for the remainder of my lifetime, but I suppose that should an extension beyond happen, they could use that Blacksburg branch to connect with the other line. It's a remnant of the Huckleberry branch that once went all the way into Blacksburg, with much of it being a bike trail now, but the remaining rail portion is a siding that serves the Corning plant.
A southbound facing connection would need to be built, from the branch, requiring a large fill/viaduct, and leveling a few houses.
Wouldn't be worth the price for limited number of passengers from bristol.
  by kitchin
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Jan 31, 2022 8:54 am Finally, could we clarify that the Commonwealth only bought the VGN West of Roanoke to Christiansburg (closer to VPI than where the N&W runs)? To the East of Roanoke, NS uses both the VGN and N&W as "one-way roads" to the Tidewater.
CSX does the same thing in Virginia for Newport News. Full cars along the James River line, empties along the so-called Buckingham Branch through Doswell. The state bought the latter line in the same deal but has no plans in the next decade for its use, other than the western part the Amtrak Cardinal is already on.
  by orulz
 
KTHW wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 4:22 pm Virginia recently posted detailed future track diagrams of the RF&P as part of their "Transforming Rail in VA" initiative. The document covers LE interlocking all the way down to where the S line diverges south of Petersburg VA. Below are 10 interesting things I found in the documents, I tried to reference the pages that I found the info on. Link here: https://transformingrailva.com/wp-conte ... on-CRA.pdf
Looking at those maps, here's my takeaways.

Some of them are duplicates, or near-duplicates of your observations.
  1. It does not mention anything about a speed limit for DRPT's tracks. It even specifically calls out "High or Higher Speed Passenger Rail" as possibilities. It does mention that DRPT tracks in the RF&P right-of-way would be subject to CSX Operating Rules (link: http://www.chartertoconductor.com/wp-co ... e-Book.pdf) but as far as I can tell there's no restriction on speeds for passenger-only tracks, even when they're next to freight tracks. I could be missing something, but I'm hopeful!
  2. Also, I see nothing that would prohibit DRPT from installing overhead catenary wire to electrify their tracks. Again, could be missing something, but I'm hopeful!
  3. There appear to be no third- or fourth- passenger tracks provisioned anywhere, for higher speed passenger trains (eg Amtrak, SEHSR) to overtake slower ones (eg VRE). I guess if DRPT wants to do this, they will be up to their own devices to widen the right-of-way to make enough space for it.
  4. There are quite a few places with grade crossings today, that are upgraded to four tracks but not apparently labeled for a grade separation - in spite of FRA's strong discouragement (or outright banning) of grade crossings with more than three mainline tracks
  5. What they propose for Ashland is that DRPT gets one track and CSXT gets the other. I'm not sure whether this is better or worse than the current situation with shared freight/passenger on a two track RR. From just north of Vaughn Road to just south of Ashcake Road, it's going to be about a 2 mile "single track" section for both DRPT and CSXT. Assuming 25mph, passenger trains will take about 5 minutes to clear this stretch. Assuming alternating trains, the theoretical maximum throughput would be 1 train every 10 minutes per direction. With Swiss or Japanese precision, 12 or 15 minutes between trains could probably be dispatched reliably. In the US, though, they'll probably need to plan for 20 or 30 minutes between trains. So until Ashland is bypassed, I suspect 2 to 3 trains per hour is probably going to be the maximum throughput possible to Richmond, and that's only if they let Ashland be the "tail that wags the dog" with all other scheduling on the line orchestrated around smoothly sharing the single track there (which would be the correct thing to do).
  6. CSX is doing very little to make it easy on DRPT to get that fourth track. For example, at Possum Point, where DRPT completed a new two track bridge, CSX gets the new bridge, while DRPT gets the old single track structure, and will have to build a new one to get their double track.
  7. For Acca, it looks like they've planned an interference-free double track bypass along the east edge of the yard, but it's not going to be fast or easy to build. In particular the area near CSX's office on Westwood Avenue looks tight.
  8. The area around Main Street Station, including the James River Bridge, looks kind of like a placeholder - and doesn't show any new infrastructure. I wonder if they're going to punt on that until the SEHSR/S-Line plan.
  9. That said, they *do* show a dedicated two-track line from south of the James all the way to Burgess.
  10. Burgess is, however, shown with a series of crossovers across the mainline tracks, rather than the flyover that was called for in the SEHSR plan.
  by BlueFlag
 
Can’t address many of the points above, but I do know DRPT is counting on Amtrak’s dual diesel/electric locomotives for future Virginia service. To the best of my knowledge, electrification in Virginia is not under active primary consideration.
  by Anthony
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 10:15 pm Why is Amtrak using the ex-Virginian line again? Doing so would also dash any hope of service to Bristol and beyond, and that's especially concerning since there's been talk of Amtrak service to that town, which is only accessible via Christiansburg via the ex-N&W trackage.
I didn't get that move either. It may be because it is closer to Blacksburg and VA Tech University. If proposals to extend service to Bristol ever get serious, there is the possibility that the state may sell the Ex. Virginian Line back to NS and have them reroute more of their freight trains onto that line to make room for Amtrak trains on the former N&W route, permitting a route expansion to Bristol. This may happen as part of the construction of such a service expansion or before construction starts to position the train for the expansion.
  by orulz
 
Thinking further about Ashland, the achievable throughput here takes a big hit if they keep a *station* (which it appears that they will not). A station, in a 2 mile long, 25mph, single track zone, on an otherwise double track, high speed line. Couldn't come up with a better way to kill capacity if you tried.

Likewise, honestly: the situation at Richmond Main Street isn't much better wither, at least per this plan. Perhaps worse even? There seems to be a single track shared between passenger AND freight. But then again this isn't on the RF&P, so there isn't a lot of heavy through freight traffic. Plus, at least there's a clear path forward, albeit a costly one: restore the second track on the viaduct, and build another bridge over the James. For Ashland, whether a bypass route can even be designed that can pass environmental review over all the NIMBY objections is still far from clear.