Jump to content




Help Support AmtrakTrains.com by donating using the link above or becoming a Supporting Member.

Photo

HSR for MSP to Duluth progressing


  • Please log in to reply
45 replies to this topic

#21 CHamilton

CHamilton

    Engineer

  • Gathering Team Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,236 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:52 AM

Who will pay if NLX fails?
By David Levinson on April 15, 2013 10:10 AM

 

 

I was asked to write an opinion piece for The Pine City Pioneer: Who will pay if NLX fails? in response to one put forward by project consultant Alexander Metcalf of TEMS:

"TEMS, the consultant hired to advocate for the project, asserts that revenue will exceed operating costs at higher speeds. I agree that both revenue and costs will increase with speed, whether one increases faster than the other is an empirical question on which forecasts are highly questionable for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is lack of existing service on which to base such assumptions. Many have suggested the Downeaster is the most comparable market.

The Downeaster already carried 300,000 riders in 2005 and was in fact forecast to carry 625,000 passengers between Boston and Portland in 2015, so, [the fact] that it exceeds 525,000 riders in 2012 after a major investment is hardly testament to it beating targets. http://www.edrgroup....aster-final.pdf

More important is to compare the structure of the markets. Boston and Portland are less than 100 miles apart. Duluth is 137 miles from Minneapolis, so you would expect more trips between Boston and Portland if the sizes of the city pairs were equal. They are not.

The population of metropolitan Portland, Maine (516,000) exceeds that of Duluth (280,000); while the metropolitan Boston combined statistical area (7.6 million) remains larger than the Twin Cities (3.6 million). The number of trips between two places is a product of their sizes and inversely proportional to the travel time. On a population basis alone we expect the Boston to Portland market to have almost four times as many trips as Minneapolis to Duluth...."

 


Amtrak can be better! Tell your local, state and national elected officials to support a more robust rail system. Join NARP and your local rail advocacy organization.
Where you'll find my posts: // All Aboard Washington (websiteFacebook) // Amtrak Unlimited Forum Group (Facebook) // Grow Trains (websiteFacebook, Twitter) // Restore the Pioneer Train (website, Facebook, Twitter) // Save the Seattle Waterfront Streetcar (Again) (websiteFacebook, Twitter) // Transit Riders of Puget Sound (Facebook) // Trains on FB (Facebook) // My Random Twitter Musings @HamiltonChas

#22 Guest_Nathanael_*

Guest_Nathanael_*
  • Guests

Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:18 PM

I don't know anything about where would be best to put a rail line in MN, and I guess it's their money to do with as they please. But... When I read this, I can just imagine so many other places in the US where a new rail service would make much more sense. If someone was going to spend $1bil on linking two cities, I'd much rather it was AZ spending it to link Phoenix and Tucson, just for selfish reasons.

 

So, here's a game: If $1bil was up for grabs, like it just fell from the sky, and you could use it to create a new rail link or new service connecting two areas, where would you put it? Some basic rules apply to make it comparable to MN: <200 miles, up to 110mph. So, what would you do?

Ithaca, NY to Andover, NJ (onward on existing tracks to Hoboken for NYC), via Scranton, PA and Binghamton, NY.    This is known as "selfish local bias".

 

:-)

 

If my parochial local interests were satisfied or not an option, I'd pick something else.  Actually, before starting a new service, I'd improve some old services: first priority for me would be a fast passenger-exclusive route from Chicago Union Station eastward, for the joint use of the Michigan trains, New Orleans/Carbondale trains, and East Coast trains all at once.

 

Bluntly, the Duluth project is advancing because the region around Duluth would really, really like its passenger trains back.  It's a source of votes to put the train back in.  By contrast, many areas don't really care enough for anyone to vote on that basis.  I see nothing wrong in pandering to local taste.

 

Agreed that Northstar needs to get to St. Cloud.  I think St. Cloud even cares enough to push for it, perhaps.



#23 MattW

MattW

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,726 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:East of Atlanta, GA

Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:35 PM

I don't know anything about where would be best to put a rail line in MN, and I guess it's their money to do with as they please. But... When I read this, I can just imagine so many other places in the US where a new rail service would make much more sense. If someone was going to spend $1bil on linking two cities, I'd much rather it was AZ spending it to link Phoenix and Tucson, just for selfish reasons.

 

So, here's a game: If $1bil was up for grabs, like it just fell from the sky, and you could use it to create a new rail link or new service connecting two areas, where would you put it? Some basic rules apply to make it comparable to MN: <200 miles, up to 110mph. So, what would you do?

Atlanta-Chattanooga, though I'd settle for 79mph. Might could do it for less, but at the expense of greater travel time. As Bill Haithcoat and George Harris have pointed out before, the line is CURVY!

Alternately, I'd just use 1 billion for Atlanta commuter rail! (definitely less than 200 miles! :P)


Forum's official broken record about expanded Georgia passenger service!

#24 jis

jis

    Engineer

  • Gathering Team Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 21,926 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
  • Interests:Trains, Planes and Travel

Posted 16 April 2013 - 08:01 AM


I don't know anything about where would be best to put a rail line in MN, and I guess it's their money to do with as they please. But... When I read this, I can just imagine so many other places in the US where a new rail service would make much more sense. If someone was going to spend $1bil on linking two cities, I'd much rather it was AZ spending it to link Phoenix and Tucson, just for selfish reasons.
 
So, here's a game: If $1bil was up for grabs, like it just fell from the sky, and you could use it to create a new rail link or new service connecting two areas, where would you put it? Some basic rules apply to make it comparable to MN: <200 miles, up to 110mph. So, what would you do?

Ithaca, NY to Andover, NJ (onward on existing tracks to Hoboken for NYC), via Scranton, PA and Binghamton, NY.    This is known as "selfish local bias".
:-)


 
Actually I'd seriously consider using it to complete a higher speed connection from Port Morris NJ (Lake Hopatcong) to Scranton and then upgrade to Binghamton NY. That should exhaust the 1 billion, and open up possibilities of a second viable route via the Southern Tier from New York to Buffalo, and also a route from NE Pennsylvania to Albany, with a little additional connecting track work at Schenectady. :) Of course not to mention, it would also facilitate offloading I80 a bit with some well run regional service between Scranton via Morris County and Essex County in NJ and then onto Hoboken or New York.

Potentially bring back the 21st century Phoebe Snow!!!

Just dreamin' mind you :)

#25 jphjaxfl

jphjaxfl

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,250 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Jacksonville, FL
  • Interests:Rail passenger advocate for modern, reliable passenger trains that will allow for business or leasure travel. I have been riding trains for over 60 years, but I am not advocating going back to what we once had, rather an updated system similar to Europe, Japan, China, India and other nations with great passenger train systems.

Posted 16 April 2013 - 09:28 AM

The Northstar commuter trains terminate at Big Lake (middle of nowhere )Thats instead of St.Cloud because a certain congress person who ran for President pushed for less funding for a shorter rout.

#26 Guest_grover9559_*

Guest_grover9559_*
  • Guests

Posted 04 September 2013 - 09:15 PM

The Northstar commuter trains terminate at Big Lake (middle of nowhere )Thats instead of St.Cloud because a certain congress person who ran for President pushed for less funding for a shorter rout.

Should be fairly easy to extend existing service to St. Cloud, especially since this certain congress person is not running for re-election.  Northstar Service sure beats driving on US10.



#27 jebr

jebr

    Engineer

  • Forum Manager
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,006 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN

Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:57 PM

The Northstar commuter trains terminate at Big Lake (middle of nowhere )Thats instead of St.Cloud because a certain congress person who ran for President pushed for less funding for a shorter rout.

Should be fairly easy to extend existing service to St. Cloud, especially since this certain congress person is not running for re-election.  Northstar Service sure beats driving on US10.

The biggest problem is that BNSF will want some money to double track from Big Lake to Clear Lake before allowing service to St. Cloud.

 

Honestly, I think Metro Transit needs to invest in a stop at Foley Blvd. Park & Ride. That station has plenty of express bus riders already and could probably utilize the extra capacity train service provides.



#28 Guest_grover5995_*

Guest_grover5995_*
  • Guests

Posted 27 January 2014 - 12:06 PM

The prior Amtrak train between the Twin Cities and Duluth was fairly well patronized. I remember riding it in 1970s when most seats were occupied. It was not very fast at 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Originally it left the Twin Cities about 8AM and arrived in Duluth at 11:45AM. It returned at 5:30PM and arrived in the Twin Cities about 9PM. Towards the end it was run as the Northstar from Chicago to Duluth. Local patronage from the Twin Cities to Duluth dropped off because the train from Chicago was often late. They really needed 2to trains per day in each direction to give choices. The MN legislature became more conservative and withdrew the MN subsidy and that was the end of that.

The states of IL, WI and MN are currently taking a serous look at a 2nd Chicago-MSP train that might continue on to Duluth.  In order to realize its full potential, there would need to be additional trains during the day between MSP-Duluth.  Rochester is a good proposal but it would require all-new right-of-way for much of the distance.  Gov. Dayton and the current legislature seems to be a little easier to work with.



#29 Guest_Nathanael_*

Guest_Nathanael_*
  • Guests

Posted 03 February 2014 - 01:24 AM

FWIW, the current ongoing study is of Chicago-MSP; the lead agency is MinnDOT. They'd really like a train without the delays of the Empire Builder.

The study is supposed to come in sometime in mid-2014, and if it looks cheap enough, it could be a real possibility for funding from the MN legislature.

It should be cheap enough. The route is short enough, and the cities involved big enough, to have pretty high ridership if it runs on time. St. Paul Union Depot has more than enough tracks for it, as does Chicago Union Station north side. There would be no new stations. It's just a matter of finding a slot on the various railroads, and getting equipment. A slot can probably be obtained from Milwaukee to Chicago using one of the Hiawatha slots. The "807/808" coaches could be taken off the Empire Builder. So the amount of equipment needed wouldn't be that much, either.

If this happens, the inevitable result will be that CP will pay even less attention to timekeeping for the Empire Builder, since all the "time sensitive" traffic will be on the new train. That's OK.

#30 jphjaxfl

jphjaxfl

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,250 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Jacksonville, FL
  • Interests:Rail passenger advocate for modern, reliable passenger trains that will allow for business or leasure travel. I have been riding trains for over 60 years, but I am not advocating going back to what we once had, rather an updated system similar to Europe, Japan, China, India and other nations with great passenger train systems.

Posted 03 February 2014 - 04:55 AM

FWIW, the current ongoing study is of Chicago-MSP; the lead agency is MinnDOT. They'd really like a train without the delays of the Empire Builder.

The study is supposed to come in sometime in mid-2014, and if it looks cheap enough, it could be a real possibility for funding from the MN legislature.

It should be cheap enough. The route is short enough, and the cities involved big enough, to have pretty high ridership if it runs on time. St. Paul Union Depot has more than enough tracks for it, as does Chicago Union Station north side. There would be no new stations. It's just a matter of finding a slot on the various railroads, and getting equipment. A slot can probably be obtained from Milwaukee to Chicago using one of the Hiawatha slots. The "807/808" coaches could be taken off the Empire Builder. So the amount of equipment needed wouldn't be that much, either.

If this happens, the inevitable result will be that CP will pay even less attention to timekeeping for the Empire Builder, since all the "time sensitive" traffic will be on the new train. That's OK.

They would really need to market the separate Chicago - Twin Cities Train.  I lived in the Twin Cities for 20 years total in 2 different segments.  I knew lot of people who used to take Amtrak from the Twin Cities to Chicago.  The majority of them now fly because the Empire Builder has been unreliable for a number of years.  The service would need to be reliable and well marketed to get those people back.



#31 Anderson

Anderson

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,596 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia

Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:49 AM

Depending on how the numbers look, I could see the state springing for 10-12 bilevels off the current order if it would save enough on equipment charges.

 

As to ridership, the Builder will likely bleed most of its traffic EB due to the horrendous OTP.  WB is another story, however: The Builder doesn't tend to have OTP issues into MSP, it's got a full diner, and for a similar example the Silver Star still retains quite a bit of traffic NB out of RVR while the Meteor retains a decent amount SB into RVR.  Both have desirable schedules for some folks, after all.  This is likely to create some interesting issues...if you get a net of 25,000 folks who want to go WB on the Builder but EB on the state train, that's a headache waiting to happen.

 

Honestly, if I'm Amtrak, I'd retain 807 and 808 on the timetable.  However, I'd only run a spare car for 807 (the WB coach), and instead hook the car onto the state train in some sort of agreement to help with the asymmetric traffic that's likely to develop there.


Edited by Anderson, 03 February 2014 - 11:50 AM.

Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#32 Ispolkom

Ispolkom

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,076 posts
  • Location:St. Paul, Minn.

Posted 03 February 2014 - 12:22 PM

Depending on how the numbers look, I could see the state springing for 10-12 bilevels off the current order if it would save enough on equipment charges.

 

Sure, as long as either no state money was involved, or Wisconsin picked up part of the tab.



#33 Guest_Nathanael_*

Guest_Nathanael_*
  • Guests

Posted 03 February 2014 - 10:04 PM

WB is another story, however: The Builder doesn't tend to have OTP issues into MSP, it's got a full diner, and for a similar example the Silver Star still retains quite a bit of traffic NB out of RVR while the Meteor retains a decent amount SB into RVR.  Both have desirable schedules for some folks, after all.  This is likely to create some interesting issues...if you get a net of 25,000 folks who want to go WB on the Builder but EB on the state train, that's a headache waiting to happen.


The current Empire Builder schedule is pretty much designed around the Chicago-Twin Cities service.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a state-run train running very close to the same timeslots, maybe a couple of hours difference. Think about it this way:
(1) The main market is Minnesota residents visiting Chicago, not vice versa.
(2) The timetable is too long to serve day trips. (And you can't run the service with one trainset.)
(3) You don't want to run overnight.

This gives you two options for the westbound:
(A) depart afternoon, arrive evening
(B) depart morning, arrive afternoon
And two options for the eastbound:
(A) depart morning, arrive afternoon
(B) depart afternoon, arrive evening

Given that you're serving people from Minnesota visiting Chicago, you want to maximize time available in Chicago on a short trip, so you pick (A) both times, and you have a schedule which is pretty much the current Empire Builder schedule.

If the MSP train runs in close to the same slot as the Empire Builder, this is going to cause much less complaint from BNSF and CP, who can "fleet" the passenger trains if they're running on time.

Alternatively, if there is a standalone train on roughly this schedule, this allows the Empire Builder to move to a different schedule. It could be one more focused on its western connections: departing later eastbound, departing earlier westbound. Or it could be one more guaranteed to make Chicago connections: departing earlier eastbound, departing later westbound. Either way it would probably provide worse MSP-Chicago service.

So I don't think there will be much schedule competition between a new train and the Empire Builder for MSP-Chicago service. Some people may wish to take the Empire Builder in order to use the dining car or sleepers, true. I don't think this is going to be a huge group of people, particularly if the prices for the Empire Builder are kept slightly higher than the new train on MSP-CHI.

Regarding Minnesota's potential willingness to let Wisconsin "freeload", I looked at the PIP at the top 10 Empire Builder markets and what would happen to them:
Chicago-MSP (8%) -- new train
Chicago-Seattle (4%) -- Empire Builder
Chicago-La Crosse (3%) -- new train, and this benefits Minnesota (La Crescent)
Portland-Pasco (2%) -- Empire Builder
Chicago-Portland (2%) -- Empire Builder
Chicago-Winona (2%) -- new train, and this benefits Minnesota
Portland-Spokane (2%) -- Empire Builder
Minot-MSP (2%) -- Empire Builder
Chicago- Wis Dells (2%) -- new train, first "freeloading" from Wisconsin
Portland-Whitefish (1%) -- Empire Builder

So, just looking at the top 10 markets, 15% of the Empire Builder traffic would go to the new train, and of that, 13% would be Minnesota-benefiting traffic. Of course, I assume the standalone train would do better than that, but it goes to show what portion of the new train's traffic would be Minnesota-centric.

A plausible one-a-day service could be operated with 2 trainsets. If Minnesota decided to tag onto the bilevel order using the existing configurations, each would probably start with 1 locomotive, 1 "cab/baggage" car, 1 "cafe/business class" car, and 1-2 coaches. That's 6-8 cars and 2 locos -- not a lot. Enough to scrounge up by paying equipment charges to Amtrak, even. Or to Illinois, if some of its services take longer to get going than expected (which they might).

I could see Illinois paying for part of the service even if Wisconsin didn't; and if it absorbed a Hiawatha slot, I could see Wisconsin paying something even under Walker's government. The main obstacle in Minnesota is a retrograde group of anti-rail legislators from certain suburbs, and while that's an obstacle, I don't think it will last.

This leaves the obstacle of how much ransom CP will hold Minnesota up for -- if they demand a king's ransom, obviously, the train won't happen. We won't find out until the study is published, and maybe not even then.

Marketing would certainly be necessary... but also straightforward. I think it would be worth being honest and advertising "This train starts in St. Paul -- so it will leave on time."

#34 jebr

jebr

    Engineer

  • Forum Manager
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,006 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN

Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:44 PM

I question the assertion that a train shouldn't run overnight. Granted, without sleepers it may be a somewhat hard sell, but I don't see anything particularly wrong with running overnight. One of the reasons why I almost always take Megabus in the MSP - CHI corridor is the fact that I can travel overnight and basically sleep through the trip. I'd be willing to pay a bit of a premium, though probably not current Amtrak prices, for a coach seat on an overnight train on the MSP - CHI corridor.

 

Many of the overnight buses are full, too, so I'm not the only one that thinks this way. Enough for a train load? Not sure, but I wouldn't discount it immediately.

 

Also, I'm not sure BNSF would need to be in the negotiations at all, unless we were to run the new train north of MSP (which may make sense for political purposes, though with all the delays even between FAR and MSP lately, I don't think I want it starting before MSP. BNSF seems to have bitten off way more than it can chew on the Builder's line.)



#35 jphjaxfl

jphjaxfl

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,250 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Jacksonville, FL
  • Interests:Rail passenger advocate for modern, reliable passenger trains that will allow for business or leasure travel. I have been riding trains for over 60 years, but I am not advocating going back to what we once had, rather an updated system similar to Europe, Japan, China, India and other nations with great passenger train systems.

Posted 04 February 2014 - 04:47 AM

I question the assertion that a train shouldn't run overnight. Granted, without sleepers it may be a somewhat hard sell, but I don't see anything particularly wrong with running overnight. One of the reasons why I almost always take Megabus in the MSP - CHI corridor is the fact that I can travel overnight and basically sleep through the trip. I'd be willing to pay a bit of a premium, though probably not current Amtrak prices, for a coach seat on an overnight train on the MSP - CHI corridor.

 

Many of the overnight buses are full, too, so I'm not the only one that thinks this way. Enough for a train load? Not sure, but I wouldn't discount it immediately.

 

Also, I'm not sure BNSF would need to be in the negotiations at all, unless we were to run the new train north of MSP (which may make sense for political purposes, though with all the delays even between FAR and MSP lately, I don't think I want it starting before MSP. BNSF seems to have bitten off way more than it can chew on the Builder's line.)

When Amtrak operated the Northstar from Duluth to Midway Station to Chicago leaving the Twin Cities about 10:30PM and arriving in Chicago around 8:00AM, I used to ride it frequently as it was perfect for a weekend in Chicago.  Sometimes I would get a roomette in 10/6 and sometimes I would go coach.  I would go down to Chicago on Thursday or Friday night and return on the Empire Builder on Sunday or Monday.  It also made good connections to Detroit or St. Louis.  The train was well patronized and the Duluth-Twin Cities leg was subsidized by MN.



#36 Ispolkom

Ispolkom

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,076 posts
  • Location:St. Paul, Minn.

Posted 04 February 2014 - 09:18 AM


I could see Illinois paying for part of the service even if Wisconsin didn't; and if it absorbed a Hiawatha slot, I could see Wisconsin paying something even under Walker's government. The main obstacle in Minnesota is a retrograde group of anti-rail legislators from certain suburbs, and while that's an obstacle, I don't think it will last.

The real problem, I think, is that there isn't any group of pro-rail legislators.  The default is to do nothing (or rather, to spend money on roads), and you need advocates for intercity rail to overcome that.  Where are they?

 

Like jebr, I don't see the problem with an overnight train, but perhaps that's because my most common trip is overnight from St. Paul to Minot.  It wouldn't do much to serve intermediate cities in Wisconsin, but if you don't pay, you don't play.

 

The biggest problem (other than the lack of any prorail political will in Minnesota) is the lack of spare capacity on any rail route between the Twin Cities and Chicago.  BNSF's problems are well-known, but CP is also running full with tank cars of oil and hopper cars of frack sand, and has a far less robust built infrastructure. 


Edited by Ispolkom, 04 February 2014 - 09:24 AM.


#37 Anderson

Anderson

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,596 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia

Posted 04 February 2014 - 09:21 AM

The question of whether it's a difference of thirty minutes or three hours is not trivial in this respect.  If the scheduling is tight (such as is the case with the Lynchburger and the Crescent), that'll facilitate more traffic shifting over; if the scheduling is looser, less will since you effectively get two markets.

However, even with the Lynchburger, it seems that a good deal of business has slid back over to the Crescent in the last two years: Per NARP's stats, the Crescent has seen ridership at CVS jump by about 60% (and at LYH by 50%), and two of the top ridership pairs are CVS-NYP (#5) and CVS-WAS (#8).  While I suspect part of this is a rebound as the Lynchburger has increasingly filled up, so folks who switched to the Regional are getting pushed back to the Crescent once again.  This is reinforced by the fact that the Lynchburger's numbers are flat for both stations at the same time.

Additionally, I can't see Amtrak ditching the CHI-MSP market, at least WB, given its current size.  If MN makes a hard bid to undercut Amtrak's fares and a lot of people jump, they might, but as long as the Builder has a decent amount of traffic in that pair, it would be irresponsible of Amtrak to abandon it.  As you noted, those major pairs are about 75-80k of the Builder's riders (and you probably have another 15-25k from the smaller pairs)...you do NOT dump that much traffic without a good reason.

Finally, I think you do discount the share of traffic that would be CHI-MKE.  The odds of this train locking out the Milwakuee stations seem pretty low, after all, and at times that's just going to be leaving money on the table.  The train might get "space locked" starting at Milwaukee (i.e. MN limits the amount of space available for short hop traffic there), and MN might nudge the price up there to try and avoid having the train get swamped, but I can't see them freezing out Milwaukee.

=================================

One other thought: An overnight train on this route would be an excellent proposition, though it is sadly unlikely.  It probably does make the most sense as the third or fourth train on the route (i.e. as a second or third corridor train), but I'm skeptical of the idea that we'd see a state (other than CA or NY under the right circumstances) try to start up an overnight train of their own.


Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#38 Paulus

Paulus

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,472 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 04 February 2014 - 01:27 PM

I question the assertion that a train shouldn't run overnight. Granted, without sleepers it may be a somewhat hard sell, but I don't see anything particularly wrong with running overnight. One of the reasons why I almost always take Megabus in the MSP - CHI corridor is the fact that I can travel overnight and basically sleep through the trip. I'd be willing to pay a bit of a premium, though probably not current Amtrak prices, for a coach seat on an overnight train on the MSP - CHI corridor.


Overnight service does not do well, especially given how large of a percentage of trips come from the intermediate markets. Consider too that it is an 8 hour trip which means either a very late departure or a very early arrival at either terminal and horrible times for any intermediate traffic.

One other thought: An overnight train on this route would be an excellent proposition, though it is sadly unlikely.  It probably does make the most sense as the third or fourth train on the route (i.e. as a second or third corridor train), but I'm skeptical of the idea that we'd see a state (other than CA or NY under the right circumstances) try to start up an overnight train of their own.


California tried an overnight train, The Spirit of California, which was cancelled after poor ridership.

#39 Guest_Nathanael_*

Guest_Nathanael_*
  • Guests

Posted 05 February 2014 - 11:02 PM

I question the assertion that a train shouldn't run overnight. Granted, without sleepers it may be a somewhat hard sell, but I don't see anything particularly wrong with running overnight.

I graciously concede your point!

However, given the issue of sleepers and appropriateness of them for an overnight train, might it make more sense to run the state train as a day train and reschedule the Empire Builder to run overnight between the Twin Cities and MSP? This combination might get the best ridership and revenue overall.
Additional upsides: The "new" Empire Builder would have daytime running in North Dakota (where ridership has been booming due to the oil boom), and a good daytime schedule for Spokane-Seattle and Spokane-Portland.
Downsides: nighttime running in Montana, and breaking same-day connections with the Coast Starlight.
 

The real problem, I think, is that there isn't any group of pro-rail legislators.  The default is to do nothing (or rather, to spend money on roads), and you need advocates for intercity rail to overcome that.  Where are they?


Where? If you want a geographical answer, they come from St. Paul, Minneapolis, Rochester, Duluth, and Northfield. To my knowledge. The desirability of Chicago access is probably the only thing they can agree on; they've been kind of pulling at cross-purposes otherwise.

#40 Anderson

Anderson

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,596 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia

Posted 07 February 2014 - 06:41 AM

Mod note: This topic has been split.  Discussion on service in California can be found here: http://discuss.amtra...-for-msp/page-0
 


Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users