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#41 DryCreek

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 09:12 PM

The Caprock Chief - FTW to DEN

Hmmm, Caprock Chief - like Quanah Parker?  That route (BNSF) would possibly pass though Decatur, Wichita Falls, Vernon, Quanah, Childress, Amarillo, and then either through Childress or Stratford as it heads NW to Denver where it could be timed to meet up with Trains 3/4.

Another idea (if passenger loading would support it) would be from Belton, through Lampasas, Coleman, Sweetwater, Snyder and into Lubbock.



#42 jis

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 09:47 PM

 

The Caprock Chief - FTW to DEN

Hmmm, Caprock Chief - like Quanah Parker?  That route (BNSF) would possibly pass though Decatur, Wichita Falls, Vernon, Quanah, Childress, Amarillo, and then either through Childress or Stratford as it heads NW to Denver where it could be timed to meet up with Trains 3/4.

Another idea (if passenger loading would support it) would be from Belton, through Lampasas, Coleman, Sweetwater, Snyder and into Lubbock.

 

Hopefully at Denver it will connect with 5/6 and not 3/4. It should connect with 3/4 perhaps at Trinidad? It will be quite difficult to time it right to  meet all of them without some connections being rather long layovers.



#43 tomfuller

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 09:49 PM

On my wish list is an "Empire Builder Light" that leaves MSP at the same time as the regular EB leaves CHI. The EB Light would have 2 coach cars and a lounge/cafe car. It should be able to stay at least 7 hours ahead of the regular EB arriving in SPK about 6PM where it would turn. The eastbound EB Light should leave SPK about 10AM PT.



#44 jis

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 10:12 PM

 

Actually air travel is at par or possibly safer than Amtrak travel, depending on how one is counting.

Any way, I would really like to see a comparison, and it would be fine if it was just narrowed down to mainland US data.

 

Take a look at this Wikipedia page. It has a nice table comparing accident statistics for many modes with a short discussion about which statistics is more appropriate for what kind of analysis.

 

This article from Slate discusses the relative safety of air and rail travel in the US, and dwells quite a bit on the difficulty of actually doing and apples to apples comparison.

 


Edited by jis, 05 April 2015 - 10:32 PM.


#45 neutralist

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 10:26 PM

Those Auto train routes are interesting.  Here are a few points:

 

Several years ago the Amtrak marketing Dept. studied the idea of adding auto carriers to the SW Chief between Chicago and Flagstaff.  It had been determined that Chicago-LA would be unsuccessful because it would bypass intermediate tourist destinations.  Flagstaff would have been preferred because it provided access to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Phoenix/Tucson, as well as California. The cost of transporting an auto increases as the distance increases.  A Chicago-LA Auto Train would have to charge double the cost of the  current Auto Train auto charge.  Unless you're spending a LOT of time at the opposite endpoint, it would be much cheaper for customers to rent a car when they get there.  Nobody wants to start a service that is too expensive to attract enough customers.  Such a service would probably have to start as auto carriers added to an existing train such as the CZ or Chief. For any service west from Chicago, the point of origin for the auto carriers probably should be Aurora (CZ) or Joliet (SW Chief) so that people don't have to drive into the heart of Chicago. The Flagstaff plan was never implemented because of scheduling conflicts, lack of equipment, the cost of creating new terminals to handle the autos, etc.  Remember that such a new service would be an experiment, and Amtrak doesn't have the money to experiment unless somebody else foots the bill.  I got this info in a conversation with a certain Marketing Dept. employee (name withheld) who rode in my car when I was a SCA many years ago. 

 

Intermediate loading points for autos on any Auto Train service would require the building of loading facilities and the provision of switching crews and contract auto drivers at all such loading points.  They would seriously eat into the train's schedule.  In addition, the short-hauls would have to be transported at a lower charge because of the shorter distance hauled, while introducing those additional problems, thus increasing operating costs.  It would probably mean more miles hauling empty or half-empty auto carriers. By the way, these proposed intermediate loading points must be served at convenient hours of arrival and departure. 

 

Nobody has figured out a way to provide intermediate auto loading in a cost effective way. If you can figure out a way to do it, I'll nominate you for the Nobel Prize for Transportation.  There MUST be such a thing.

 

I don't want to sound too critical.  A certain amount of thinking outside the box can sometimes produce unforeseen imaginative solutions. Besides, most of the suggestions I made above are quite unlikely to se the light of day any time soon, if ever.

 

Tom

 

Auto trains has its appeals, especially for those:

1.) who have fancy sportscars to show around

2.) want to move a lot of stuff in their familiar SUVs without having to learn how to operate a new rental. ( i.e. a popular route will be CHI - DEN where people move a lot of their skiing equipment to Aspen)

3.) Seasonal workers that move around often (the tech industry has tons of those)

 

The loading points are obviously going to be in a suburb. Route 59 station in Aurora,IL actually have a mega-lot that can be well-suited for this purpose.

 

A time + cost efficient way to do intermediate loading points will only be possible if the auto containers can open sideways, which require the re-design of the container module and also the design of the station. Once this is nailed, loading / unloading will be just as easy as doing parallel parking. As of the way they are loading of the current auto train it will take at least 2-3 hours for couple-decouple, and possible no more than one station for every 1000 miles or so.


Edited by neutralist, 05 April 2015 - 10:34 PM.


#46 jebr

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 10:34 PM

On my wish list is an "Empire Builder Light" that leaves MSP at the same time as the regular EB leaves CHI. The EB Light would have 2 coach cars and a lounge/cafe car. It should be able to stay at least 7 hours ahead of the regular EB arriving in SPK about 6PM where it would turn. The eastbound EB Light should leave SPK about 10AM PT.

 

What would the purpose of such a train serve? I could see doing some sort of second train along the EB line (or a revival of the North Coast Hiawatha along that trackage, as much as is possible,) but even if you're shifting the times it seems incredibly foolish to cut off quite a few of the major markets, including all of the current endpoints.

 

I really think that cutting off any traffic east of MSP or west of SPK would result in a very lightly-used train. Heck, if timekeeping is the purpose for the shorter train (which would be odd, considering that the sections cut usually aren't the trouble spots,) pull a VIA Winnipeg and throw four hours of padding at SPK and MSP to make sure it leaves SPK and MSP at the designated time.



#47 neutralist

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 10:39 PM

Airplane crashes and passenger train crashes (at least in N. America) are so rare compared to say automobile crashes, that when one happens it becomes national news. Though I don't have the statistics to back it up, it seems that when a plane crashes the survival rate is a lot lower than when a train crashes. 

 

This.

 

Remember that:

 

overall survival rate = accident rate * survival rate when SHTF

 

On air travel, your "accident rate" may be very small, but your second variable is next to zero. A train engineer who wants to commit suicide can't do much damage, unlike air pilots like 4U9525.

 

And of course, you are contributing to global climate change due to the obsecene amount of CO2 emiitted for air travel vs. rail travel.


Edited by neutralist, 05 April 2015 - 10:40 PM.


#48 FormerOBS

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 10:46 PM

If the proposed new Auto Train service is to be seasonal, it's probably a non-starter.  The required new facilities will exist 365 days a year, and they have to be productive 365 days.

 

If users of the current Auto Train are any indication, these are some of the clientele that have to be served:

1.) Retirees traveling between winter home and summer home.  The Colorado service won't have this important element. The Flagstaff service might.

2.) Vacationers.

3.) College students traveling between home and school.

4.) Seasonal workers (Disney/Universal in Florida; ski resort workers etc. in Colorado)

5.) People making permanent moves.  They aren't the type of people who would necessarily become repeat users of the service, and they don't travel round trip.

6.) Business travelers.  A tiny percentage of current Auto Train riders. No reason to think this would be a larger group west of Chicago.

 

Tom


Edited by FormerOBS, 05 April 2015 - 10:52 PM.


#49 Guest_Richmond_*

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 11:13 PM

1) All Richmond, VA trains terminate or through at Richmond Main Street Station (RVM).

 

2) Train 66 with sleeper and timed for arrival in NYC at 5-6 am.

 

3) Hiawatha extended to Madison (MSN).

 

4) Empire Builder routed through Madison (MSN).

 

5) Daily Cardinal.

 

6) Sleeping berths or Slumbercoach for budget travelers (a.k.a., Lounge Lizards) who only want a lay-flat for overnight trips.

 

7) Kill the no-show rule on e-tickets.



#50 jis

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 11:39 PM

 
Remember that:
 
overall survival rate = accident rate * survival rate when SHTF
 
On air travel, your "accident rate" may be very small, but your second variable is next to zero.

Really? So you think that the survival rate of the Asiana crash at SFO or BA 777 short landing at LHR was zero? How about the US Air ditching in the Hudson?

#51 Anderson

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 04:10 AM

Being realistic and assuming:
(1) I'd get $1bn/yr added in constant dollars for a decade (I see this as a realistic ask/hope for);
(2) I've got the ability to twist some arms for access on any given route as long as I'm not grossly disrupting freight operations;
(3) In order to add non-LD trains I'd need to get at least tacit state support.  I'll assume a bit of flexibility with the strictures of PRIIA 209 (after all, it's been fudged once or twice) and the ability to allocate some amount of startup funding.
(4) Some flexibility on the EIS front.
(5) I don't have to independently cover the Acela IIs or the Hudson Tunnels.

I'm also assuming the following in terms of equipment costs:
One single-level car (sleeper, diner, coach, etc.): $2.5m
One bilevel coach: $3.5m (Amtrak used to assume $4.0m but the MSBL order came in well under this)
One diesel locomotive: $7.0m
One electric locomotive: $10.0m

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

With the above constraints, I'd look at the following:
(1) Equipment orders:
(1A) Replace the majority of the Amfleet fleet (which is closing in on 40 years old).  The Amfleet I fleet would be replaced with 500 additional cars.  Cost: $1.250bn
(1B) Replace the Amfleet II fleet with a set of 250 cars, aimed at expanding some of the eastern LD services (more on this later).  Cost: $625m.
(1C) Eastern sleeper order.  Purchase an additional 100 sleepers, 35 bag-dorms, and 15 diners.  Cost: $375m.
(1D) Superliner III order.  250 cars in an indefinite mix of sleepers, coaches, diners, etc.  Cost: $875m.
Total equipment cost: $3.125bn

Single-level equipment availability:
-175 sleepers
-45 bag-dorms (shared)
-41 diners
-225 "long distance" coaches (new order)
-450 "short distance" coaches (new order)

Do note that in most cases the equipment will be supplementing existing cars, not replacing them entirely (though I'd expect, for example, the Horizons to be squeezed out by the new stuff).  For example, the existing Amfleets would be kept in service indefinitely, albeit moved to certain state corridors and operated with a discount to their capital charge...there are several hundred of these cars, so I see no compelling reason to ditch them entirely at the moment.

(2) Train additions/expansions/overhauls.
(2A) "Standard" Eastern Overnight trains:
Lake Shore Limited (2x daily).  Consist for each train (5 sets total): 4 sleepers, 6 coaches, 1 diner, 1 cafe, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage car
-Total need: 20 sleepers, 30 coaches, 5 diners, 5 cafes, 5 bag-dorms, 5 baggage car
Silver Service (3x daily).  "Average" consist for each train (11 sets total): 5 sleepers, 5 coaches, 1 diner, 2 cafes*, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage car
*1 cafe acting in its present capacity, 1 added to the Meteor in a PPC capacity, and possibly an extra batch of cafes to be held in Jacksonville.
-Total need: 55 sleepers, 55 coaches, 11 diners, 22 cafes, 11 bag-dorms, 11 baggage cars
--Note that I would add an FEC section, doing my best to cooperate with All Aboard Florida to make the service happen (I think they'd cooperate in exchange for covering some of the double-track costs on the northern section).  Ideally all three trains would run sections both via Orlando and via Cocoa.  Likely, the Star and Palm would be running with 4 sleepers and the Meteor with 7 or something to that effect.
Cardinal Service (2x daily).  Consist for each train (6 sets total): 2 sleepers, 1 diner, 1 cafe, 4 coaches, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage car.
-Total need: 12 sleepers, 6 diners, 6 cafes, 24 coaches, 6 bag-dorms, 6 baggage cars
Crescent Service (2x daily).  "Average" consist for each train (8 sets total): 4 sleepers, 1 diner, 1 cafe, 5 coaches, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage
-Total need: 24 sleepers, 8 diners, 8 cafes, 40 coaches, 8 bag-dorms, 8 baggage
Broadway Limited (1x daily).  Consist for each train (3 sets needed): 3 sleepers, 1 diner, 1 cafe, 4 coaches, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage
-Total need: 9 sleepers, 3 diners, 3 cafes, 12 coaches, 3 bag-dorms, 3 baggage
Subtotal Eastern "standard" Long-Distance Equipment Need:
-120 sleepers
-161 coaches
-33 diners
-44 cafes
-33 bag-dorms
-33 baggage

(2B) Eastern "Short" overnight trains.
Montrealer (2 sets).  Consist per train: 2 sleepers, 1 cafe, 3 LD coaches*, 1 baggage.
Twilight Shoreliner (2x daily/4 sets).  Consist per train: 2 sleepers, 1 cafe, 2 LD coaches*, 1 baggage.  One trip would be the present 66/67; the other would run south as a late service from NYP (originating in BOS) and north as the 0315 from WAS (extending to BOS).
Niagara Rainbow (NYP-TWO) (2 sets).  Consist per train: 2 sleepers, 1 cafe, 2 LD coaches*, 1 baggage.
*Coach need here will be drawn from a mix of short-distance and long-distance coaches and will be more variable than the other trains.
Subtotal Eastern "Short" overnight trains:
-16 sleepers
-18 coaches
-8 cafes
-8 baggage cars

(2C) Adjusted Western Services
I will summarize here, but I would add the North Coast Hiawatha and Pioneer/Desert Wind (which would operate separately from the California Zephyr, though sharing the same route as far as Denver).  I would add a sleeper to almost every train out West (the possible exception being the Starlight, due to length issues, and with an asterisk on the Empire Builder considering the protracted issues there).  The Starlight would probably go twice-daily (ideally with one daily run being extended to either Vancouver or San Diego).

I would make the Sunset daily.  I would, in fact, add a Sunset East train...but there is a good chance that said train would be a single-level service.  It would definitely be separate from the Sunset West (I simply do not trust a run that long involving a hand-off between freight railroads at the midpoint), and it would likely run a through sleeper from the CONO rather than from the Sunset (IIRC there was heavier business coming from the north than from the West).

I'd also add the extended Heartland Flyer, with a northern terminus in Chicago and a possible southern terminus in San Antonio (so you'd have doubled-up service CHI-KCY and FTW-SAS).

I would also seriously look into running cars through from the Capitol Limited to the Silvers (and/or to running the Cap through to Orlando a la the Sunset East pending a connection in Jacksonville).  I'd like a daily Capitol Limited, but with the mix of service being added elsewhere I'd want to see how things played out as far as travel/demand patterns.  Simply sticking an extra pair of sleepers on the Cap might do the trick (as much as I do want that additional train).

Finally, the Auto Train would recieve a major overhaul (including the addition of a power car of some sort to enable the train to run longer).  I'd give serious consideration to buying a dedicated pair of bespoke sets for the train that would clock in somewhere in the range of 20-25 cars long.

(2D) Corridor Services
Again I will summarize, but I'd put a good deal of effort into diving into Virginia with as much money as I could, since there's little doubt that those services are massively revenue-incremental.  I'd be looking at 3x daily out to Roanoke and 4-5x daily each to Newport News and Norfolk.  I would also place a priority on developing SEHSR.

I would work to get a second train on the Adirondack's route once the Montreal facility is up and running (the Adirondack regularly sells out into Montreal, though this is partly due to artificial constraints).  Ideally, you'd have two "day trains" each on the Vermonter/Montrealer, Adirondack, and Pennsylvanian routes (with an overnight supplement train on two of the three).

In the Midwest, I would work to get a 2x daily CHI-MSP service running (with MN's support) to supplement the now twice-daily LD service on that route.  I would also work with WI and IL to double up the Hiawatha service, ideally converting the run to Surfliner-style cars (with higher capacity) and working with Metra to shuffle stops on a few runs.  I would put a priority on CHI-DSM-OMA and increasing frequencies on the other Chicago Hub services.

Out West, I'd work to increase frequencies on the Cascades in line with pending plans, as well as adding a few more frequencies SEA-PDX (ideally moving towards hourly service).  I'd want to do something on the Front Range, but I think valid congestion issues would preclude that.  I'd seriously look at a second train between Grand Junction and Denver (Grand Junction/Glenwood Springs to Denver traffic being a major source of traffic for the Zephyr, and especially in the winter there seems to be enough demand to seriously support a service here as long as you still have snow to work with in the region).

To be blunt, CA gets sort-of stiffed for a few reasons, notably the CAHSR focus (basically that's "their problem").  The two extensions I'd want, namely extra service to Reno and/or Tehachapi service, aren't likely (freight congestion being at issue).  I'd throw in for an extra San Joaquin or two, but that's really about all there.

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

Overall, I suspect the above mix adds no more than $50m to the actual operating losses of the system.  In particular, a lot of overhead isn't affected.  I suspect that the following trains are in the black:
-Auto Train
-Lake Shore Limited (at least one of the two)
-Silver Meteor

You'd also have a substantial reduction in losses on the Crescent, I believe (the combined service would probably have about the same loss-posting as at present, but the losses would be split over two trains; the overnight WAS-ATL train would likely be running with 5-6 sleepers while the train running during the day on that part would only have 2-3 sleepers).

Additionally, I'd expect a net improvement on the corridor front of about $25m or so (mostly off of increasing business to/from VA).  The expansion of the equipment available to the NEC would probably throw another $25-50m on there as well.


Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)

Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#52 fillyjonk

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 06:00 AM

From where I'm located, I like both the idea of the Caprock Chief and the northward extension of the Heartland Flyer. Or, a Heartland Flyer that goes through KC, Omaha, and up to Fargo, maybe even so connections to the Empire Builder could be made.

 

In general, I'd like to see more North-South routes. And maybe getting away, at least a little, from Chicago being such a big hub - remember the Polar Vortex of 2014?

 

I'd also like to see either new cars or a faster schedule of renovation of existing cars.



#53 FormerOBS

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 06:32 AM

Anderson:

I'll address only one of your many interesting points. You propose an Auto Train 25 cars long, but you don't say whether you're talking about the entire train (passenger cars plus auto carriers) or just the passenger cars. The current Auto Train tends to run around 48 cars long, with a maximum of fifty, dictated by CSX, the FRA, and Amtrak policy. If you are talking about 25 passenger cars, then the total train would be around 70 cars. This would exceed the mandated length limits and would certainly mean a major rebuild of both terminals. There really isn't room to expand either terminal, so it would probably mean abandoning the current locations and building anew elsewhere.

Tom

Edited by FormerOBS, 06 April 2015 - 07:34 AM.


#54 Palmetto

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 07:06 AM

I for one really wish Amtrak would offer sleeper service to every single state in the lower 48 (heck, I'd love if they went to Alaska and Hawaii too, but I won't get too wishful thinking!)  :giggle:

 

Seriously, there are several states in the lower 48 that have zero sleeper service - in alphabetical order, CT, ME, MI, NH, OK, RI, SD, VT, WY (and SD and WY have zero service at all unless there are Thruway buses that service them).  I wish this was priority one to any expansion of service.

I think you could reduce your list by cutting out CT and RI.  They are served by 66/67.



#55 FormerOBS

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 07:40 AM

Anderson:

 

One additional point re. Auto Train:  It's true that the A-T tends to run pretty close to max. capacity right now.  However, I question whether there is enough market to expand the train approx. 45-50%.  Amtrak would have to be thoroughly convinced that this expanded train could be filled all year in order to justify the necessary expansions of the fixed plant, and I'm not convinced of that.

 

Tom


Edited by FormerOBS, 06 April 2015 - 07:41 AM.


#56 keelhauled

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 08:03 AM


I for one really wish Amtrak would offer sleeper service to every single state in the lower 48 (heck, I'd love if they went to Alaska and Hawaii too, but I won't get too wishful thinking!)  :giggle:
 
Seriously, there are several states in the lower 48 that have zero sleeper service - in alphabetical order, CT, ME, MI, NH, OK, RI, SD, VT, WY (and SD and WY have zero service at all unless there are Thruway buses that service them).  I wish this was priority one to any expansion of service.

I think you could reduce your list by cutting out CT and RI.  They are served by 66/67.
Which have no sleepers. Maybe in a few years, but not right now.

Edited by keelhauled, 06 April 2015 - 08:03 AM.

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#57 jis

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 08:37 AM

I have still not seen any justification as to why each state must have Sleeper service. ;)

#58 keelhauled

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 08:47 AM

Personally, just because I travel in that area the most, what I'd like to see is more service in the Lake Shore Limited route. Something like 2x daily NYC-Chicago with a later departure from New York westbound to give Cleveland overnight service from the east and an afternoon departure from Chicago. I would keep the late departure as is, I think it works as a clean up train for late running arrivals from the west.

Then add an NYC-Cleveland and Chicago-Cleveland day trains. Also a New York-Deteoit train (although I'm not sure how you'd make an effective terminal in Detroit without building an entirely new station for all trains to Detroit. Maybe that would happen when their commuter trains get going. Or maybe it would make more sense to run all the way to Chicago and just call Dearborn close enough).

Also get the 3C corridor going, including an NYC-CLE-CIN train. If you're feeling really ambitious I think an NYC-CLE-IND-STL-KCY train would be great for bypassing Chicago for some western connections, and would be more viable (more population) then routing the Cardinal to St. Louis.

I think that those trains would be fairly economically viable, with frequent service, distances/speeds that would make it competitive with highways, and pretty high density population. Not gonna get a much better market than that for long distance trains. Trouble is the start up costs would never fly. You'd need the dedicated ROW across New York primarily. West of Cleveland they'd branch off, so maybe you could stuff the trains onto the existing tracks but still, that'd require improvements anyway. Really don't know where you'd get the money, absent Ohio and New York working together.

Edit: also the Broadway Limited would be nice to have back. But following the CL/LSL route west of Pittsburgh. I think it's silly to duplicate all the existing infrastructure for passenger trains on the ex-PRR when the current ex-NYC route already has the stations, crews and track speefs just a little to the north.

Also, by "fairly economically viable" I just mean "not hemorrhaging money."

Edited by keelhauled, 06 April 2015 - 08:55 AM.

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#59 lo2e

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 08:54 AM

I have still not seen any justification as to why each state must have Sleeper service. ;)

 

Because some of us who don't have access to it would like to be able to experience it!



#60 jis

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 08:56 AM

I have still not seen any justification as to why each state must have Sleeper service. ;)

 
Because some of us who don't have access to it would like to be able to experience it!
That is hardly a reasonable justification! :P




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