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Illinois High Speed Rail Work


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#21 eagle628

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 08:26 AM

Mike,
That's what I thought. I seem to recall the Blackhawk as lacking any sort of food service...which I'm sorry, but unless Amtrak kicks in at least a couple of vending machines or something, I think that renders the route rather difficult to ride.



The Pere Marquette doesn't have any food service, does it? And it seems to do perfectly fine.
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#22 MikefromCrete

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 09:29 AM

Blackhawk operated with RDC's, so I'm not sure what kind of food service was available. With the exception of the Hiawathas, Illinois-DOT supported trains operate with food service/business class cars, so I would guess the new trains would also operate with similar equipment.

#23 afigg

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 09:46 AM

Blackhawk operated with RDC's, so I'm not sure what kind of food service was available. With the exception of the Hiawathas, Illinois-DOT supported trains operate with food service/business class cars, so I would guess the new trains would also operate with similar equipment.

The Blackhawk will be a Illinois state supported corridor service, so it is up to IL to determine whether to provide food service. What equipment the corridor train operated with decades ago has no relevance to the new/restored service. According to what I could find, the Blackhawk service won't start until 2014. By then, the new bi-level corridor trains may be available or shortly thereafter. The bi-level train sets may have food or café service as a matter of course in each train set.

#24 Anderson

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 12:55 AM


Blackhawk operated with RDC's, so I'm not sure what kind of food service was available. With the exception of the Hiawathas, Illinois-DOT supported trains operate with food service/business class cars, so I would guess the new trains would also operate with similar equipment.

The Blackhawk will be a Illinois state supported corridor service, so it is up to IL to determine whether to provide food service. What equipment the corridor train operated with decades ago has no relevance to the new/restored service. According to what I could find, the Blackhawk service won't start until 2014. By then, the new bi-level corridor trains may be available or shortly thereafter. The bi-level train sets may have food or café service as a matter of course in each train set.


I was referring to the presently proposed service, not the predecessor line. I seem to recall looking at a feasibility study on the Blackhawk, and Amtrak noted that IL wasn't asking for any food service at that point. From the language, Amtrak (though willing to operate the line, obviously) seemed iffy about the prospect because it would make for a nearly six-hour trip with no food service, which is a very long time (and would almost assuredly run across a major meal time for riders and OBS alike).
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#25 Everydaymatters

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 02:21 PM

I've only ridden the Lincoln Service (Northbound) and Texas Eagle (Southbound) once from Alton to Chicago but my observation from that trip was that a huge amount of time was wasted at station stops. With 10 stops between St. Louis and Chicago, shortening stops by just 2-3 minutes each would save as much trip time as that gained through hundreds of millions of dollars of rail improvement.

For a fraction of the rail upgrade cost, relatively easy station improvements, such as increasing platform height, would significantly speed passenger loading and unloading. Increasing platform height even modestly could enable the Superliner cars to load direct from the platform with no need for conductors to put out step stools. Every step up/down saved per passenger really adds up--especially at the busier stops.

Better crew coordination or adding platform assistants at busier stops could speed unloading and loading also. If they can reduce the passenger logjam and get the passengers onboard faster, they get the trains rolling quicker. Even doing something as simple as posting instructions on a kiosk message board about where passengers should stand for business and coach class loading would cut down on loading times.

These simple station upgrades aren't as glamorous to politicians as big dollar rail improvement projects but they end up attaining similar results by boosting the average speed for the trips. Attack the station stop downtime in concert with the rail improvements (especially speeding the painfully slow St Louis-Alton segment) and you might actually approach the magical 4 hour trip time from Chicago to St Louis.


That makes sense to me. That's simple cure for a problem that truly never existed in the first place.

Another arugment for the money spent is that it would take truck traffic off the highways. The problem with that is that products arrive from China or where ever and are then railed to the Chicago area distribution points. I believe these distribution points are in Bedford Park and somewhere around Rockford. From there trucks pick them up and deliver them downstate. The quantities being delivered downstate are small enough that it would not be cost effective to ship them by train. Additionally, when products are delivered downstate it is to small towns which do not have rail service. Take a look at the map of Illinois. Once you are out of the Chicago area there are mostly small towns. I don't see rail service coming to these small towns any time in the future. Trucks are here to stay.
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#26 AlanB

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 04:18 PM

Another arugment for the money spent is that it would take truck traffic off the highways. The problem with that is that products arrive from China or where ever and are then railed to the Chicago area distribution points. I believe these distribution points are in Bedford Park and somewhere around Rockford. From there trucks pick them up and deliver them downstate. The quantities being delivered downstate are small enough that it would not be cost effective to ship them by train. Additionally, when products are delivered downstate it is to small towns which do not have rail service. Take a look at the map of Illinois. Once you are out of the Chicago area there are mostly small towns. I don't see rail service coming to these small towns any time in the future. Trucks are here to stay.


Betty,

You're just thinking locally though. Probably half to 2/3rds of all freight trains pass through Chicago. So while the small local town may not see an immediate benefit by improving this line, freight can now get to Chicago and those distribution points that you mentioned much faster and easier. And remember that Union Pacific moves large amounts of freight out of Los Angeles Port on its Sunset route to San Antonio. Those freights would then come up the line in question to Chicago where they might head to a distribution point for dispersal to the small towns.

The better & faster freight moves, the cheaper it is for the consumer. And the more freight that can be moved by train, the less impact on our roads and the less subsidies that our roads will need.

I remain firmly convinced that this is a good thing for everyone, including those in Illinois paying the bills. This line will help to prove to the many naysayers that one doesn't need the likes of Boston, NY City, Philly, and DC to have higher speed trains.

Additionally this will lead to further funding for this line, so as to increase the speeds on the northern end to benefit still more people.

Finally, please let me leave you with two other thoughts. One, this will see improvements made to some of the Illinois stations, which will benefit the locals. Two, part of the money being spent here is being spent on new cars. That alone is a huge benefit for the locals, having brand new modern cars.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!



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