• FRA Long Distance Study

  • 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 John_Perkowski
 
eolesen wrote: Sat Jun 22, 2024 5:01 am Corridors would get more support from states... time of day matters as does frequency.

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With what money? I don’t care the state you live in, the voters do not like taxes.
  by Steamguy73
 
Tadman wrote:
For years we've said this 400+51=18billion or something like that. Okay, let's accept that is right as well (it isn't either, but I will entertain it for now).

So we need to maintain service to ex-corridor states. Take the east coast trunk for example: Lakeshore, Capital, Pennsylvanian, Empire Service, 448/9.

Change that to two CHI-CLE day trains, two CLE-BUF and CLE-PIT day trains, two PIT-WAS, two PIT-PHL, replace the LSL in New York with another Empire frequency and a ALB-BOS connection.

Now you have a really meaningful network with alternatives and options for frequent travelers. If you pay market rate trackage rights, you also have a fair chance of timeliness.

Or we could keep running that joke of a long distance network - the one where less than 1pct of traveling public uses it.

I'm not saying it's irrelevant. Everybody is. Let's at least try to use the bones of the current network to make something viable and useful to normal people. Don't we ever get tired of losing?
You kinda glossed over what I said. I’m not saying that this is a bad idea… in the east. Though there are issues that I will get to.

The problems come from the west where corridor trains aren’t viable forms of transit, due to a lack of population. You can’t have corridor trains replacing the entire route of the empire builder for instance. That’s not an option unless you’re ok with cutting out service to those states.

Replacing an entire LDR route with regional rail even in the East does also have its issues. If there is a set demand for people to travel between two larger points of distance you’re effectively forcing them to fly unless you want them to have to make several connections over a period of several days.

Since you’ve made the point Amtrak has no business running overnight trains, then you’re limiting your own market by making trips longer for people who want to go longer distances.

Say I’m someone who wants to go to Chicago from Albany, or from Rochester. In your reality I would have to take 3 trains probably over a period of 2 days in order to get to there because of the timing only being run during the day: take an empire corridor train to Buffalo, take another Erie corridor train to Cleveland, probably have to stay the night, and then take the next corridor train to Chicago in the morning. Whereas if I just took the lake shore limited, it saves the trouble.

Your views have merit but they are to an extent obtuse, and entirely ridding them may have negative side effects you hadn’t considered.
  by west point
 
Amtrak needs a rather quick result instituting a new route. There will be too many needed connections, PTC, track improvements, stations, ETC. Now the proposal of DFW -. ATL service will need just a few more stations about 12 new sidings preferably HrSR type and extend the train all the way to NYP. Just some signal work much less than the proposed alternative thru IND.

This route will have the potential to provide service to many locations that are not very available to airlines. End to end travelers??? maybe only 10 - 14%> Our posters need to only think end point to end point.
  by eolesen
 

With what money? I don’t care the state you live in, the voters do not like taxes.
True, but I think most would agree they would like to see the tax dollars they are already getting hit with to go a little bit further or to a more practical use.

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  by RandallW
 
John_Perkowski wrote: Sat Jun 22, 2024 7:17 pm With what money? I don’t care the state you live in, the voters do not like taxes.
No one likes paying to taxes but everyone likes the benefits of having paid those taxes, and a surprising number of times (to that argument) voters will voluntarily tax themselves by voting, when referendums that propose new taxes are put forward, to increase taxes.

The simple reality is that every single corridor train other than those running WAS-BOS are 100% paid for by states.
  by Tadman
 
Steamguy73 wrote: Sat Jun 22, 2024 7:27 pm The problems come from the west where corridor trains aren’t viable forms of transit, due to a lack of population. You can’t have corridor trains replacing the entire route of the empire builder for instance.
I've thought a lot about that and while you don't have a NEC or even Detroit-STL-MKE possibility in a lot of states, you could still have a lot of Palmetto-like operations in the west. For example, the Sunset could be a NOL-Houston corridor, Houton-San Antonio, Phoenix-Tucson, and Phoenix-LA. That leaves New Mexico which could see elevated federal funding for Rail Runner.

Or the Builder. CHI-MSP; MSP-Fargo; Glacier-Sandpoint-Spokane; Spokane-PDX; Spokane-SEA

If these are all coach-cafe sets making fast turns and paying market rate trackage, your potential for being late or low priority or losing as much money is lower. You also have a potential for a truly useful and welcome service that people accept, enjoy, and want.
Steamguy73 wrote: Sat Jun 22, 2024 7:27 pmSince you’ve made the point Amtrak has no business running overnight trains,
I don't know that they have no business running overnight trains or that overnight trains are bad. I know that they do a crappy job of running their current corridors and their overnight trains. When an organization is failing so bad, it's worth examining a reduction in scope until the core offering can get management focus and improve. Continuing to push a flea-ridden dog isn't a great idea and expanding the scope is a much worse idea. It certainly won't improve the public's image of Amtrak, which means no real outcry for more and better services.


I get a lot of reputation for being Anti-Amtrak or such. I'm not. I'm being very realistic about wanting something that doesn't suck. Something that the general public likes, enjoys, wants, is proud of, etc... It's not much fun to be a fan of a losing team all the time, and it's not much fun to ride the trains when theyre constantly late and the service is unpleasant.
  by eolesen
 

RandallW wrote: The simple reality is that every single corridor train other than those running WAS-BOS are 100% paid for by states.
No, they're paid for by the 59.9% of households who actually pay taxes...

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  by Steamguy73
 
Tadman wrote: Mon Jun 24, 2024 9:21 am I've thought a lot about that and while you don't have a NEC or even Detroit-STL-MKE possibility in a lot of states, you could still have a lot of Palmetto-like operations in the west. For example, the Sunset could be a NOL-Houston corridor, Houton-San Antonio, Phoenix-Tucson, and Phoenix-LA. That leaves New Mexico which could see elevated federal funding for Rail Runner.

Or the Builder. CHI-MSP; MSP-Fargo; Glacier-Sandpoint-Spokane; Spokane-PDX; Spokane-SEA
Maybe it’s just me but I don’t see the point of cutting out the middle section of these routes and corridorizing them like you’ve suggested.

If anything it’s merit to having both. Not one or the other. Have your LDR’s bridge the low population gaps between more high frequency corridors.
Tadman wrote: Mon Jun 24, 2024 9:21 am
I don't know that they have no business running overnight trains or that overnight trains are bad. I know that they do a crappy job of running their current corridors and their overnight trains. When an organization is failing so bad, it's worth examining a reduction in scope until the core offering can get management focus and improve. Continuing to push a flea-ridden dog isn't a great idea and expanding the scope is a much worse idea. It certainly won't improve the public's image of Amtrak, which means no real outcry for more and better services.
Except that this is not even close to true. People were pushing for better service long ago. And people want better service now.

And for this to be true, you’d have to entirely ignore Amtrak’s desires for expanding your shorter trains, many of which would share lines with proposed corridor trains.

Take the proposed Floridian for instance: this would be supplemented by proposed Chicago-Louisville, Nashville-Atlanta, and Jacksonville-Orlando-Tampa, Miami services. Only between Louisville and Nashville, and Atlanta and Jacksonville wouldn’t be supplemented.

That’s the way to do it. Have these LDR’s bridge connections between big cities where a corridor train may not be all that cost effective.
  by RandallW
 
eolesen wrote: Mon Jun 24, 2024 9:53 am
RandallW wrote: The simple reality is that every single corridor train other than those running WAS-BOS are 100% paid for by states.
No, they're paid for by the 59.9% of households who actually pay taxes...

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Whatever--they are paid out of state budgets, not federal budgets, and not all states that support corridor trains even have income taxes.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Weighted results of the study:
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  by Tadman
 
Steamguy73 wrote: Mon Jun 24, 2024 6:53 pm Maybe it’s just me but I don’t see the point of cutting out the middle section of these routes and corridorizing them like you’ve suggested.

If anything it’s merit to having both. Not one or the other. Have your LDR’s bridge the low population gaps between more high frequency corridors.
Cutting out the middle and corridorizing means you have the required elements for success - multiple frequencies on a 3-8 hour route. This is what it takes to make a route a viable alternative to driving or flying. It also eliminates most of the liabilities and problems - such as big money losers like full diners, sleepers, baggage cars, checked baggage service, and multiple Class 1 handoffs far away that can delay trains significantly.

Right now the middles are only bridging the gaps on a map drawn at Amtrak.com and the FRA. In reality, those people get in their SUV and drive to an airport nearby. Statistics show that less than 1pct of intercity travelers take the train. The quicker we get our minds around the fact that LD trains are a rounding error - in other words exist in a railfan dream and a BNSF timetable only - the quicker we can make changes to make Amtrak relevant to the travelling public.

When Amtrak becomes relevant to the travelling public, suddenly it will have real voter support for expansion, funding, and attention rather than being the butt of jokes.
Steamguy73 wrote: Mon Jun 24, 2024 6:53 pm . People were pushing for better service long ago. And people want better service now.
And have they got it? Where in the fifty years of Amtrak has service become better? The answer is never. Never never never never never. Yeah, you get better dining back, or better linen back, then it goes away, then it comes back, then it goes away...

This is gaslighting. You will never see material improvement. It's like an old drunk swearing he is going to get sober in a few years. And then again in a few years.

We have a proven track record of mediocrity at best for fifty years. Why do we think it's going to get any better?
  by Steamguy73
 
Tadman wrote: Cutting out the middle and corridorizing means you have the required elements for success - multiple frequencies on a 3-8 hour route. This is what it takes to make a route a viable alternative to driving or flying.
Which we agree upon. State supported services do generally sit right around breaking even. They are generally pretty popular and can take a market share. That’s the future of Amtrak. And they know it.
Tadman wrote: It also eliminates most of the liabilities and problems - such as big money losers like full diners, sleepers, baggage cars, checked baggage service, and multiple Class 1 handoffs far away that can delay trains significantly.
Sure, sure. But these problems also don’t mean these services shouldn’t exist in Amtrak’s modern system.
Tadman wrote: Right now the middles are only bridging the gaps on a map drawn at Amtrak.com and the FRA. In reality, those people get in their SUV and drive to an airport nearby. Statistics show that less than 1pct of intercity travelers take the train. The quicker we get our minds around the fact that LD trains are a rounding error - in other words exist in a railfan dream and a BNSF timetable only - the quicker we can make changes to make Amtrak relevant to the travelling public.
What does cutting these services have anything to do with making Amtrak as a whole “more relevant”?

Seriously. Explain that to me. Because what you’re suggesting in how Amtrak can be “more relevant” wouldn’t require these services to be eliminated. In fact, eliminating any service is not going to put the popularity of Amtrak in a shining light even with more corridorized trains.

Why? Well for as low of a market share as they hold they still are used, and because we’ve both agreed that there will be sections on many routes that will see no viability for corridorization, you’re left with several systems of fragmented regional rail, most glaring in the west.

I don’t think that’s a positive to effectively fragment the system into Amtrak Northeast, Amtrak Southeast, Amtrak Northwest, Amtrak Midwest, and Amtrak Southwest, while isolating many states that do have demand for Amtrak service like Colorado and Montana. Not even having the option to travel in these places by train isn’t a good thing. Especially not politically.

You want Amtrak to be even less popular nationally? That’s how.
Tadman wrote: And have they got it? Where in the fifty years of Amtrak has service become better? The answer is never. Never never never never never. Yeah, you get better dining back, or better linen back, then it goes away, then it comes back, then it goes away... This is gaslighting. You will never see material improvement. It's like an old drunk swearing he is going to get sober in a few years. And then again in a few years.
I’m referring to service period (more trains). Not amenities.

This isn’t the 1920’s. Even in train crazy places like Europe, luxury expresses aren’t in vogue. Plus I don’t even know why you even bring this up, nobody was ever talking about the bedrooms or the dining or anything. We were talking about the service period, aka, the trains running.

And yes, people have for a long time had demands for better service. People want more trains and we have the info that people will use them.

Are long distance services the best way to help people in that regard? Not really, but it’s certainly plausible that, like another user suggested, they could be the impetus for future corridor services, along with acting as connections in lower population areas where such isn’t possible.

I’m not suggesting that all of these routes are even good ideas. No way in hell do I support a service like that Minneapolis to Denver via South Dakota one for instance. But I can’t say the ideas many routes generally present are bad ideas, many of them are clearly attempts to introduce service on portions of line where no service exists, for the potential of a future corridor.

Why else did the Dallas to Miami service via the Florida panhandle get presented? Why else is that proposal for Houston to NYC service (via lower Alabama and east TN) taking that route? Why else did they have a route from NYC going past St. Louis through Tulsa, OKC, and then on to DFW? It’s clearly evident that’s the goal here for many of the proposed routes that aren’t just post 1971 Amtrak routes that had been previously cut.
  by Tadman
 
Steamguy73 wrote: Sat Jun 29, 2024 6:14 pm
Tadman wrote: Right now the middles are only bridging the gaps on a map drawn at Amtrak.com and the FRA. In reality, those people get in their SUV and drive to an airport nearby. Statistics show that less than 1pct of intercity travelers take the train. The quicker we get our minds around the fact that LD trains are a rounding error - in other words exist in a railfan dream and a BNSF timetable only - the quicker we can make changes to make Amtrak relevant to the travelling public.
What does cutting these services have anything to do with making Amtrak as a whole “more relevant”?

Seriously. Explain that to me. Because what you’re suggesting in how Amtrak can be “more relevant” wouldn’t require these services to be eliminated.
Because right now Amtrak receives lots of money to run these trains. Per the numbers, IE less than 1pct of travelers using them, they are irrelevant. They also aggravate the Class 1's who have to run them below market rates. They also cost money, big money, to run. To increase the relevance, those specific dollars going to fund sleeper/night trains should be retasked to corridor trains. Now we have more relevance. We also have host railroads relieved of the burden of running below-market rate trains, so now we get more cooperation and timliness from the host carriers. Once you have that, you start to see more and more passengers. This is more relevance. We focus on one thing, we do it well, we stop chasing things that dont work. This isn't hard to figure out.
And yes, people have for a long time had demands for better service. People want more trains and we have the info that people will use them.
No, we really don't. No ridership has "come back", in fact we've had less ridership on the LD and night trains as budget airlines came around in the 1990's.

If you want to see people "coming back", look at the British model. It focuses on corridors, newer equipment, and semi-privatisation, and we see a 2.7x ridership growth in 30 years. That's increased relevance.
  by lensovet
 
Weird, night trains are all the rage in Europe now, while the British model has been shown pretty well to have led in a reduction in quality of service and available options.

Also it's 2024, not sure how the 90s are relevant here.
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