• Illini / Saluki / Memphis

  • 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 ryanwc
[If there's an existing thread that better fits this topic, feel free to merge.]

A couple things are going on that may have an impact on Illini / Saluki service. First is simply their return to 2019 ridership levels, even before the Lincoln service did so.:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Amtrak/comment ... 3_vs_fy19/

Second, if funded, Chicago Hub improvements offer the possibility of cutting some time off the Illini / Saluki schedule and providing greater reliability of passage through the South Side Swamp.

I wonder whether this could help make the case for extending one of the Illini trains to Memphis.

Ultimately, I think the Chicago Hub takes off when there is a minimum of 2-a-day service to each major city in its surroundings. With St. Louis, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities and Detroit all now connected, we need to begin planning for Indy, Toledo/Cleveland and Memphis to complete the hub and make Amtrak a first-choice option for midwestern travel, rather than an asterisk that you think of occasionally if you're a regular traveler to a given place that happens to have reasonable service levels.

And of course, reliability is critical, underlining the importance of Chicago Hub Improvements and an agreement with the South Shore to allow fast passage South of the Lake.

Curious to hear anyone's experience of the Illini / Saluki. (Including Mr. Norman's, even if it's from the 1960s!! :grinning: ) I haven't been on this service since a one-way trip on the CONO to a N'awlins wedding nearly 20 years ago.
  by Gilbert B Norman
First Mr. Ryan, in response to your perfectly reasonable proposal for an existing daylight train, presumably 391, extended to Memphis is that KY and TN are "not exactly" into funding passenger trains.

Now regarding IC service "back in my day", I did with a few less suds at Kams to be able to ride the Panama, which was a superb train. Otherwise, however, the remark a frat brother once made to me "This looks like something out of Dr. Zhivago" still rings with me.
  by John_Perkowski
To build on GBNs comments, a Chicago to Indy run will require something much better than cobbled together Class 2 trackage. Indiana won’t pay for it, BTW.
  by ryanwc
Indy's US senators are supporting the Chicago Hub Improvement Project, presumably because they recognize it's an important step towards restoring a more useful service in Indiana. Otherwise, I can't see why they signed on.

My larger point is that the synergy in a functioning Chicago Hub with multiple frequencies in all directions makes all these services look very different, with a chance of break-even operations. (Ignoring capital costs, but that's how Congress has traditionally understood transportation issues.)

But to focus on Memphis, I'm wondering how great the costs are if it were possible to use existing trainsets to extend the service. And if CHIP cuts 15 minutes off a Chgo-Memphis schedule currently at 10:20 SB, what is a realistic timetable for a train that can be turned reliably same-day? Can you count on re-using a trainset on a 9-hour train? An 8-hour train? Or is 7 the outer limit? Are cleaning/restocking typically more significant at one end than the other?

Much will become clear next year when we see how the 2nd Twin Cities frequency performs. It may well bring in no more than the Empire Builder over the same trackage. If it fills up, I think you start to see other in-fill 2nd frequencies become more attractive, moving Chicago closer to hub synergies.
  by eolesen
Two Senators signing on to try and get money already approved but not yet allocated is fairly harmless. It's not like they're spending money in the process -- they're just trying to bring a piece of it back to their State. I'm not a fan of earmarks, but once it's approved, getting a share is fair game.
  by ryanwc
Whatever your political opinions on earmarks may be, the money in question will be spent in Illinois, so that won’t have anything to do with why the IN senators signed on.
  by eolesen
Oh, there's something in it for Indiana.

If Amtrak is set to be riding on the CSSSB, that's revenue and likely future spending for improvements.

Sent from my SM-S911U using Tapatalk

  by Gilbert B Norman
John_Perkowski wrote: Sat Dec 02, 2023 12:30 pm To build on GBNs comments, a Chicago to Indy run will require something much better than cobbled together Class 2 trackage. Indiana won’t pay for it, BTW.
Colonel. Isn't what left of the Monon and the NYC for the last leg into Indy FRA Class 3?

But I agree, "cobbled" is probably the nicest term for the existing Cardinal route.

Owing to my recent hand surgery (Dupuytrens Contracture), I was afraid I would not be able to drive to Indianapolis for Thanx. Trust me, I was not about to even THINK of The Cardinal to get there. But to fly (especially with two bottles which means I would have to check my bag - something I haven't done in some thirty five years) would have been two long taxicab rides (IND Wier Cook on the West side of town; friends live near Carmel on the Northeast), but the Doctor and Therapist allowed me to remove the brace enabling me to drive there without incident.

Finally, and enough of my Soap Opera, if there is ever to be competitive H'erSR between the cities, best start relaying the chopped up CCC&StL, where pre 79mph, 3hr CHI-IND timings were made and kept.
  by ryanwc
Maybe there’s a Brightline in Indy’s future.

Or does BL only run on trackage they own?
  by eolesen
That's been their business model. They're a real estate company who runs trains.

Unless they get land in the deal, they're not running on someone else's rails just to be the operator...

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  by GWoodle
If we go by CONO time it is 5 hours from Carbondale to Memphis. Pick up 1 stop in Fulton KY & another stop at Dyersburg TN. For a fare of $26 for the distance may be possible. You could argue CONO operates at odd times in the area given it's LD purpose.

Main problem may be getting support of 4 Senators & 3 representatives in a very rural, poor & isolated parts of KY/TN. Train would be competing with someday funding of I-69. Interstate still needs to be built from Memphis to Fulton. You could argue maybe I-69 should be rerouted over to I-55 via 155 (Dyersburg).

So sure you could do it but would anyone want to?

Another missing link here is any Memphis to St Louis connection.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. Woodle, off topic but related to your immediate,The Highwaymen also have to listen to Mick.

In addition to the "bits and pieces" of the 69 you note have been completed, they haven't been able to extend the 24 to the West from its present "end of track" at the 57 in Southern IL to St. Louis (beyond?) nor Eastward from Chattanooga to Charleston.

And didn't they once have visions of tunneling through Monteagle rather than the "treacherous" route over the top?

Here endeth GBN's "knowledge" of either C&W or Rock; this is a bit more "his thing" (friends living in Antioch are subscribers).
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Wed Dec 06, 2023 8:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by ryanwc
I think the reason to do it would be to better connect Chicago and Memphis. Even forgetting the politics, I wouldn't expect anything from Kentucky for a train serving only a town of 2,500, on the state's border, with not even a mid-sized town within 30 miles. I would think it would bring some Illinoisans to Beale St., and some Tennesseans to SIU and U of I, as well as Chicago.

The economics seem dependent on the ability to turn an existing trainset. I wonder what improvements would be required to bring down the running time between Carbondale and Memphis, a highway distance of 215 miles, which Mr. Woodle above says the CONO travels in 5 hours.
  by GWoodle
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/new-g ... 6065&ei=12

Not sure where this belongs but seems to be new $500,000 grant money to study Memphis - Nashville - Chattanooga then on to Atlanta.

As for I-24 seems to be no more effort on Monteagle. The last major upgrade put NB on the other side of the mountain from SB. There is a section one is more than a mile from the other. Both sides can be tricky for the unwary. Then there is another curvy section split between GA and TN as you head into Chattanooga. Would need a tunnel to do 6 lanes in this area & not on a shelf over Tennessee river.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. Woodle, while I cannot find any justification whatever of throwing $500K into the trough for the consultants, who are "selected" more for their political connections than to properly evaluate the need and feasibility of competitive passenger rail service X the state, we are addressing a routing, absent laying a passenger-only ROW, complete with a tunnel under Monteagle that hasn't a "prayer" of being competitive with the existing 40/24 route.

I've ridden both the unnamed Nash-Memphis in a heavyweight 10-2-1 Pullman during '62 that had four Roomettes carved out of the Sections, as well as the Georgian circa '69. The Georgian's route "ducked" around Monteagle (just as it does today) but adding some twenty miles which remains mountainous complete with tunnels.

Of course, the NC&STL Train Dispatchers "gave the railroad" to The Georgian; uh, don't think Chessie's would be about to do same.

Now so far as the 24 goes, approaching Chattanooga, I found last year on my annual road trip to Florida, the "heavy and slow with stop and go" now extends Westward to where it dips into GA for a few miles. I totally agree with Mr. Woodle as to, short of "double decking" along the Tennesee where they would put additional lanes, as I don't think Chessie is about to relocate the NC&StL - and to where I know not.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Thu Dec 07, 2023 6:30 am, edited 1 time in total.