• Georgia Commuter/HSR Rail Proposals (Georgia Rail Express)

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by Jeff Smith
Been a while since there's been movement, but at last there has been some:

http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider- ... nger-rail/
In Georgia’s hot-then-cold pursuit of passenger rail, the missing item has been the working experiment – a short but substantial, inter-city line that could help us determine what is possible and what is pipedream.

Several weeks ago, a Norfolk Southern executive wrote a letter to Todd Long, planning director for the state Department of Transportation.

If voters in three transportation regions approve the measure next year, the railroad company is ready to sit down with the state and negotiate a passenger rail service between Macon and Atlanta, according to the March 29 letter.
I've also posted a link to this thread on our FB page; we're trying to get to 1,000 "likes", so visit the page, and like and share it!
  by Jeff Smith
Dropping like flies......

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news ... a=e_du_pap
Gone from the latest lists, which reflect the $6.1 billion the proposed regional transportation sales tax on next year’s ballot is expected to raise, are plans to extend MARTA’s western rail line, relocate Atlanta’s Amtrak station or build a multi-modal passenger terminal in the Gulch area of downtown.
  by Champlain Division
The following is from the AJC. My comments below it.

Regional Transportation Planning
AJC 7-16-11
Q&A: Henry County commission chairman MathisBy Tammy Joyner
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Elizabeth Mathis often is hunkered down in paperwork, fortified by a strong pot of coffee.

"Always a strong pot of coffee," Mathis said, laughing.

The Henry County commission chairman — better known in family and political circles as B.J., which is short for Beth Jo (a Southern thing, she says) — has the onerous task of sifting through proposed transportation projects and helping cut metro Atlanta’s $12.2 billion transportation wish list in half.

Mathis, 48, is one of five voting members for the executive committee of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable, which is responsible for creating a final list that metro Atlantans will vote on next July. The committee will present a pared-down list to the 21 member regional round table in August.

The Henry County leader spoke with us about her round-table duties and where the region’s headed.

Q: How do you see your role on the committee?

A: I’m looking for what’s going to have the greatest impact on traffic congestion. Secondly, I’m looking at what’s going to have the greatest impact on job creation and development. I’m also looking at it, not only from a metro perspective, but from the southern part of the metro region. We want to encourage more economic growth on the Southside.

Q: Transportation. Money. Traffic. These are all emotional issues. How do you take the emotion out of the decision-making process?

A: The Atlanta Regional Commission has all of this computer software that allows them to do modeling. When they do the modeling, they put the scope of the work into the computer model, which generates reports that tell traffic flow and job growth. They’ve put together a fact sheet on every project. They’re taking the emotions and allegiance out of it. We’re looking at it purely from a data base, from an information-based aspect.

Q: It looks like [Atlanta-to-Griffin] commuter rail is dead. It didn’t make the cut. Why?

A: This particular commuter rail project has some challenges. The Atlanta-to-Griffin is the first phase, and that’s the only one we’re discussing. Then there’s another phase that goes from Griffin to Macon. The Atlanta-to-Griffin phase didn’t make the cut. The primary challenge is the fact it’s going to be operating on Norfolk Southern train tracks. As a county, we’ve had some dealings with the railroad in the past. It’s very difficult to get an approval from the railroad to do a simple train crossing. So trying to utilize miles and miles of their track for [commuter rail] services that they won’t be operating could take years to work out. We have to have these projects completed and operational in 10 years.

Q: What is the Southside’s biggest challenge when it comes to transportation needs?

A: What we keep hearing is transportation options. From Henry County’s perspective, it’s improved roadways and capacity and more GRTA buses, more park-and-rides. For Clayton County, they want transit. They also need some roadway projects improved, as well. Fayette has expressed an interest in roadway project but no interest in transit or express buses.

Q: The 20 or so projects in Clayton and Henry counties combined account for fewer than 7 percent of the $12.2 billion project that still has to be pared down. Does the Southside have a fighting chance?

A: Absolutely! My goal as a member of the executive committee is to assure that every county in the region proportionately receives their fair share of funding for their projects.

Q: How will some of the Southside projects benefit the region as a whole?

A: We have a project to widen [Ga.] 155 from Spalding County to Race Track Road in Henry County. Spalding has already widened its road to the Henry county line. So that is a very critical freight corridor for Henry County. We have a large number of industrial, warehouse and distribution centers in that area. Those businesses employ people from Clayton, Spalding, Rockdale, DeKalb and of course Henry. If those business can’t move their freight, they’ll relocate and we’ll have people losing their jobs.

Q: The fear on the Southside among some people is that this transportation wish-list campaign will mostly benefit the Northside.

A: I’ve heard those concerns, as well. But I believe once the final project list is released those fears will be alleviated.

Ms. Mathis' comments reflect no such lack of emotion as her resentment of NS is obvious and the lies she's telling about them has me choking on the disinformation fumes wafting away from her summary execution of a mode of transportation that could be up and running in less than three years; not ten or more. $157M for commuter rail start-up vs $400M for the first phase of any of the light rail proposals. Besides, the way the ARC is cutting back what each approved project will get, per Jeff Smith's posting, NONE of these new projects will get anything meaningful started!!! Yeah, folks, let's spread that wealth around so thin that it won't be edible. IDIOTS!
  by Jeff Smith
Rick, I agree. If anything, NFS wants to get the project moving, and have expressed that interest to the state as I noted in an earlier post. Now, I don't necessarily think the Griffin line should be the first. After all, ATL already has the Crescent line, and well-developed plans for bringing trains off of that line to midtown or downtown along the Belt Line or other alternatives. Why they don't do it, I don't know. There are plenty of excess coaches and motive power out there to run a few trains a day. And, NFS has in the past expressed interest in running it.
  by Jeff Smith
Within the realm of Georgia Rail Express News, looking for service between Savannah and Atlanta:

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/morn ... e_atl_rdup
A group is working to grow public support for a passenger rail line between the port city and Atlanta, reports Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The last time passenger service connected the two cities was in 1971. Supporters of restarting the line say they realize getting it going again is a long shot, but say you have to start someplace and they are looking to the state’s institutions of higher learning for help.
Not a lot of detail here on the proposal. Would they use NS tracks? Georgia Central? North of I-16 or south?
  by Champlain Division
Back in the 00s when the now defunct Georgia Rail Passenger Authority was the agency responsible for this the favored line was the Georgia Central. It passing through more populous communities and being straighter even though needing upgrade was considered favorable over NS former Central of Georgia Nancy Hanks II route even though, at the time, it was CTC. In recent years the route has been darkened with signals being removed and TWC replaced it. AFAIK, trains cannot go 79 mph without direct CTC dispatcher control so no 6 hr service possible there anymore.
  by neroden
I wish Georgia good luck at getting more passenger rail service. Unfortunately, it sure does sound like a long shot; the political forces are never in alignment, not since MARTA was initially built.

I wonder what changed the political environment in North Carolina? It was as bad as Georgia 20 years ago. Somehow rail "took off" there, and despite slow progress, money troubles, and political changes, stuff keeps getting improved. In contrast, even a simple proposal from Amtrak ("Move your intercity passenger station somewhere downtown where we can cut and add cars") just doesn't happen in Georgia.
  by lpetrich
neroden wrote:I wonder what changed the political environment in North Carolina? It was as bad as Georgia 20 years ago. Somehow rail "took off" there, and despite slow progress, money troubles, and political changes, stuff keeps getting improved. In contrast, even a simple proposal from Amtrak ("Move your intercity passenger station somewhere downtown where we can cut and add cars") just doesn't happen in Georgia.
Hard to say. I remember posting some time ago about how patchy urban-rail development is, how a city can build an urban-rail network while a nearby similar-sized city does nothing at all.

On a state level, one sees the same patchiness. Illinois and Michigan have been developing regional routes while Indiana and Ohio have not. California has been doing so while Texas has not. Washington has been doing so while Arizona has not. Etc.

It seems to me a matter of political whim, of some politicians deciding that they want to push for it.
  by Champlain Division
Well, here's another patch. The Mayor of Columbus, GA is making some waves saying she wants to make sure she doesn't get left behind in the train effort in Georgia.

http://www.gpb.org/news/2011/11/21/colu ... -rail-talk

I think this idea of putting back in the Griffin to Atlanta former SRR line is lunacy. None of the movers and shakers are considering the cost of building from scratch a completely new railroad that will have to be built to FRA Class 4 minimum track standards with CTC and PTC overlay. The cost could easily exceed 20 million dollars a mile!!! Times 68 miles, as the Google Earth crow flies, thats $1.36 Billion!!!

I think her idea of, at first, connecting to Macon (83 miles by same method) is as close as she's gonna get. When she realizes that Columbus to Atlanta can only go that one way, will take a minimum of six hours to make the trip and could easily exceed $100,000,000 to overlay the line with CTC and PTC she'll begin choking on the dollar signs.

There is one more possibility. 26 miles to Opelika, AL on the NS former CofG main and then up the CSX A&WP Sub for a total of 121 miles would be by far the cheapest option, but you have go through Alabama! 'Bama had a bad experience with the state supported Birmingham to Mobile via Montgomery Crescent split Gulf Breeze in the early 90's and probably won't want to do the 403b thing again. If Ms. Mayor goes and makes real nice with CSX because their trackage is already up to snuff, she might be able to get away with a deal with Alabama, NS & CSX for a "no stops in Alabama" operation. Thing is, 'Bama just might not like the idea of Georgia money being spent to upgrade tracks in their state without any benefit there from.

It's nice the lady wants to ride the train, but I just don't think she's gonna be able to afford to buy a ticket any way she looks at it.
  by MattW
If they want to spend that much money on resurrecting the old RoW, I'd argue that you might as well build higher speed (up to 125 anyone?) right down the middle of I-185 with a connection to Lagrange and on up through Newnan, past Hartsfield to Atlanta. It'd require some fancy tunneling to dunk under the highway and connect with existing trackage at each end, but the median is certainly wide enough all the way down and you'd connect the state's third largest city with the world's busiest airport.
  by Jeff Smith
I'd make the same argument for ATL-Macon-Savannah or Valdosta. Some of the lines proposed are not in tip-top shape. And, I'd think for the frequencies, you'd only need one track and some passing sidings (lengthy ones, but still) for meets.
  by Jeff Smith
MMPT making some progress...maybe: http://www.ajc.com/opinion/transit-hub- ... 19703.html
It’s been talked about for decades, so there’s much precedent for skepticism, but a MultiModal Passenger Terminal in the downtown “Gulch” between CNN and Underground Atlanta is closer to happening than ever before.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has contracted with a trifecta of developers to incubate a master plan, and the main players have begun taking their mission public.


Of course, there’s much work to be done, including negotiating with the freight train companies — CSX and Norfolk Southern — that own and use the rails running through the Gulch: They are going nowhere.

In fact, there’s a chance they will add tracks in the future, increasing freight traffic through an already-congested downtown corridor.

Wisely, the terminal developers have embraced CSX and Norfolk Southern early in the process.

“They have brought us in on the front end,” said Joel E. Harrell III, regional vice president for Norfolk Southern in Atlanta. “They seem to grasp the concept that if our freight service is not taken care of in whatever they’re looking to do, then the project is not going to be successful. We have to protect the freight franchise that both us and CSX have back through that corridor.”
  by electricron
I believe you have grossly overpriced restoring an abandoned rail line into service. DCTA restored 21 miles of an old abandoned freight line within the last year, some miles still usable in very poor service and some miles already converted into a bike trail. They hired Herzog as the primary rail contractor for $192 Million to lay 25 miles of brand new track in the 21 mile corridor, including $17 Million for the maintenance facility. The entire commuter rail project costs were $314 Million. Subtracting $17 Million for the train maintenance facility, all railroad track costs was $175 Million.
Therefore, $175/25 = $7 Million/rail mile of track.

That's much less than the $20 Million/mile mentioned earlier.

68 miles is approximately three times DCTA's 21 corridor miles or 25 track miles, so I suggest the track work could be done for $476 Million. Another $100 to $150 Million would have to be spent for trains, maintenance shop, stations, and parking lots. Still, if you're willing to buy cheaper used trains, and build less elaborate stations, and build smaller parking lots, some saving can be found.

Therefore, in an old freight rail right-of-way, a 68 mile commuter rail service could costs as little as $600 Million.
  by Jeff Smith
[url=http://www.news-daily.com/news/2012/dec ... rity-bill/]Clayton News Daily

I'm a little confused to the reference to the Southern Crescent; I thought they'd be heading to Anniston and Birmingham.
Waites drafts southside transit authority bill

ATLANTA — Legislation has been pre-filed to create a transportation authority that could bring bus service and commuter rail to part of the Southern Crescent.

State Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta) has pre-filed House Bill 6, which would create the “Piedmont Altamaha Transit Authority,” which would oversee transportation from the College Park and Forest Park areas to Macon.

“The authority is created for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, completing, developing, owning, operating, and maintaining a high-speed intercity and urban rail, tram, and bus transit system in the Counties of Bibb, Butts, Clayton, Henry and Monroe,” the legislation states.

If the legislation, which is co-sponsored by State Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) and State Rep.-elect Valencia Stovall, who will represent the Riverdale area, would be a means to create the Atlanta-to-Macon commuter rail line that transit proponents have been pushing for years.