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Is a coast to coast train feasible?


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#41 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 05 November 2015 - 05:09 PM

 

I would guess it would be unrealistic to not have a late train (around 9:30pm) going east.

I'm going to make a hard call here. I think this is the tail wagging the dog, and Amtrak should *not* have a "cleanup train" for late western trains. This is wasting a valuable Chicago-East Coast slot on assisting the money-sucking western Transcontinentals. If there were an independent business case for a train departing Chicago for the east at 9:30, that would be a reason to do it; "collecting passengers from delayed Western trains" is NOT a good reason.

We've already documented that a supermajority of "Chicago-East Coast" passengers do *not* connect from *any* western trains. (A fair number connect to the corridors, but we're not worried about those trains being super-late.)

LSL ridership was predicted to go up by 10% or more by changing the schedule. Is it really worth losing 9% of your riders on a *relatively successful* service, in order to avoid overnight stays and hotel bills for customers on your *less successful*, *lower-ticket-price-per-mile* services? I say it isn't. They don't hold the Silver Service for late trains coming into NYP or WAS. They should dispatch the LSL at an appropriate starting time and not hold it for Western trains.

I will also point out that people taking most of the Western trains long distances are not in a hurry and can afford to spend the time overnight in Chicago in case of a late train. People riding a short distance on those trains, like from Denver or Minneapolis are an exception, but they are already dealing with their train arriving at their starting point late, and have time to find alternate transportation if they're in a hurry to make the Chicago connection.

I'll tell you what railways USED to do in situations like this.
(a) The railway owned a hotel located in the station.
(b) When getting news of delays that day, the railway would block out rooms in the hotel for delayed trains.
I don't know if Amtrak could set up a partnership with a hotel company and do this, but it would be better than messing up another train's schedule.

 

 

It sounds like you want the more "connected corridor" approach. Nothing personal but I hope that doesn't in general happen. I think for the most part CHI works. I have been past CHI three times (all Southwest Chief coming east) and never missed my East Coast train (twice Three Rivers, once Capitol Limited). I hope we don't get to a situation where if you want to get from the East Coast to California you have to make 2-3 transfers as opposed to the 1 now (honestly I'd love it to be 0 but that might not be realistic in 2015). That would give you three chances to miss a connection as opposed to one.

 

I get that the longer a train the more delays there are. I want the CL/Pennsylvanian to happen but I understand PGH residents would prefer not to have to wait for the CL to come from CHI to travel east. If PA DOT does come through with the second PGH to NYP train, I think that will help PGH passengers to give them a train that does not come from CHI.

 

In terms of the LSL leaving early, I guess I would prefer to leave a little bit earlier and arrive in NYP before 6:23pm (I have a feeling that the next time I travel to CHI from PHL I will probably take SEPTA/NJT to NYP and then the LSL rather than use the CL). But I'm not going to fuss too much over the times. If the LSL leaves CHI three hours early as proposed it would get to CLE around 2:30am which I would say is far worse than 5:30am and it would get to BUF to before 6am. I'm not saying the shift is wrong. But if you shift a schedule, there's winners and losers.

 

Let's go to fantasy world now. If there was a BL AND a LSL, one can be a train arriving at NYP before rush hour and the other can be the "cleanup train". Or if you have a CHI-PGH-PHL-NYP on a schedule where it would arrive in PGH before midnight and arrive in PHL the next morning that could help passengers who get stranded in CHI. So if the LSL leaves at 6:30-7pm ish and you miss it, it still sucks for you. But if the CHI-PHL-NYP train leaves around noon the next day as opposed to 6:30-7, it's still six hours better than now. So either a new BL or a "Skyline" schedule that goes CHI-Ohio in reasonable hours would still make things better and help move the LSL earlier.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
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#42 neroden

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Posted 05 November 2015 - 10:14 PM

FWIW, I've taken round trips through CHI repeatedly. I've been to the West Coast on the Southwest Chief at least 4 times and the California Zephyr once (another one coming up this year), Denver on the California Zephyr at least twice (they all blur together), and Minneapolis on the Empire Builder at least 3 times. And I've been to Chicago just to go to Chicago two additional times.

I typically end up staying overnight in Chicago going west. I generally have a specific date I have to be there on the western end, and *they don't hold the Western trains for a severely delayed LSL*. I cannot afford the risk of getting there late, so I have to schedule a night in Chicago on the outbound anyway.

The eastbound LSL is bringing me home. I can wait overnight if I have to. But in the normal situation when I arrive fairly early into Chicago, I would rather get out of Chicago earlier and get home earlier. I'm usually exhausted waiting for the super-late boarding of the LSL.

My friends take the LSL to Michigan (via Toledo or Elkhart) or Indianapolis (via Elkhart or South Bend) on a more-than-yearly basis. The current westbound schedule is... OK; the eastbound schedule is very unpleasant for them.

And that's before you get into the issue of getting into NY earlier than 6:30 PM -- and Boston earlier than 9 PM -- which is very valuable.

Here's an important point: The 6 PM LSL makes the timetable match up day and night, so that some cities have "good times" for both eastbound and westbound and others have "bad times" for both eastbound and westbound. The current situation gives a much larger number of cities one "good time" and one "bad time", and from the point of view of someone making a round trip, this is just as likely to deter them from travelling as two "bad times".

-----
In a world of fantasy funding, we would have a properly-scheduled LSL *and* a late "cleanup train". As long as we don't have all the funding we want, I think the LSL should be made to work for as many customers along the line as possible, not treated dismissively as "cleanup" for people coming from California.
If we had the frequencies I'd actually like, after moving the LSL into its correct and traditional earlier slot, we'd have another train (the Commodore Vanderbilt?) which looked more like this:
Westbound
depart NY 8:40 PM
depart Boston 5 PM
(nighttime through upstate New York)
depart Buffalo 5 AM
depart Cleveland 8:45 AM
arrive Chicago 2:45 PM

Eastbound
depart Chicago in the morning
depart Cleveland in the evening
depart Buffalo late night
(nighttime through upstate New York)
arrive New York morning AM
arrive Boston midday

This would serve Indiana & Ohio; or perhaps better, Michigan and Ohio.

If you must have a "cleanup train", the Capitol Limited is currently the best candidate for a "cleanup train" due to its poor ridership from intermediate points on the line. Of course, with the Cap/Pennsy through cars, that would change.

If we had real funding:
-- Restore the LSL schedule, but reroute it through Michigan (after upgrading the Toledo-Detroit track)
-- Restore the Broadway Limited on a suitable schedule which serves Pennsylvania and Indiana well -- ideally via Fort Wayne
-- Run a separate set of schedules designed to serve Ohio in daytime from all three directions
-- Convert the Capitol Limited into the "cleanup train".

Or if you have a CHI-PGH-PHL-NYP on a schedule where it would arrive in PGH before midnight and arrive in PHL the next morning that could help passengers who get stranded in CHI. So if the LSL leaves at 6:30-7pm ish and you miss it, it still sucks for you. But if the CHI-PHL-NYP train leaves around noon the next day as opposed to 6:30-7, it's still six hours better than now.

Or better yet if there's a morning departure from Chicago to the East Coast. Yes.
More trains spread out across the day are definitely better.
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#43 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 05 November 2015 - 10:27 PM

FWIW, I've taken round trips through CHI repeatedly. I've been to the West Coast on the Southwest Chief at least 4 times and the California Zephyr once (another one coming up this year), Denver on the California Zephyr at least twice (they all blur together), and Minneapolis on the Empire Builder at least 3 times. And I've been to Chicago just to go to Chicago two additional times.

I typically end up staying overnight in Chicago going west. I generally have a specific date I have to be there on the western end, and *they don't hold the Western trains for a severely delayed LSL*. I cannot afford the risk of getting there late, so I have to schedule a night in Chicago on the outbound anyway.

The eastbound LSL is bringing me home. I can wait overnight if I have to. But in the normal situation when I arrive fairly early into Chicago, I would rather get out of Chicago earlier and get home earlier. I'm usually exhausted waiting for the super-late boarding of the LSL.

My friends take the LSL to Michigan (via Toledo or Elkhart) or Indianapolis (via Elkhart or South Bend) on a more-than-yearly basis. The current westbound schedule is... OK; the eastbound schedule is very unpleasant for them.

And that's before you get into the issue of getting into NY earlier than 6:30 PM -- and Boston earlier than 9 PM -- which is very valuable.

Here's an important point: The 6 PM LSL makes the timetable match up day and night, so that some cities have "good times" for both eastbound and westbound and others have "bad times" for both eastbound and westbound. The current situation gives a much larger number of cities one "good time" and one "bad time", and from the point of view of someone making a round trip, this is just as likely to deter them from travelling as two "bad times".

-----
In a world of fantasy funding, we would have a properly-scheduled LSL *and* a late "cleanup train". As long as we don't have all the funding we want, I think the LSL should be made to work for as many customers along the line as possible, not treated dismissively as "cleanup" for people coming from California.
If we had the frequencies I'd actually like, after moving the LSL into its correct and traditional earlier slot, we'd have another train (the Commodore Vanderbilt?) which looked more like this:
Westbound
depart NY 8:40 PM
depart Boston 5 PM
(nighttime through upstate New York)
depart Buffalo 5 AM
depart Cleveland 8:45 AM
arrive Chicago 2:45 PM

Eastbound
depart Chicago in the morning
depart Cleveland in the evening
depart Buffalo late night
(nighttime through upstate New York)
arrive New York morning AM
arrive Boston midday

This would serve Indiana & Ohio; or perhaps better, Michigan and Ohio.

If you must have a "cleanup train", the Capitol Limited is currently the best candidate for a "cleanup train" due to its poor ridership from intermediate points on the line. Of course, with the Cap/Pennsy through cars, that would change.

If we had real funding:
-- Restore the LSL schedule, but reroute it through Michigan (after upgrading the Toledo-Detroit track)
-- Restore the Broadway Limited on a suitable schedule which serves Pennsylvania and Indiana well -- ideally via Fort Wayne
-- Run a separate set of schedules designed to serve Ohio in daytime from all three directions
-- Convert the Capitol Limited into the "cleanup train".
 

Or if you have a CHI-PGH-PHL-NYP on a schedule where it would arrive in PGH before midnight and arrive in PHL the next morning that could help passengers who get stranded in CHI. So if the LSL leaves at 6:30-7pm ish and you miss it, it still sucks for you. But if the CHI-PHL-NYP train leaves around noon the next day as opposed to 6:30-7, it's still six hours better than now.

Or better yet if there's a morning departure from Chicago to the East Coast. Yes.
More trains spread out across the day are definitely better.

 

 

CHI-NYP via the Empire Route is currently close to 20 hours. I imagine CHI-NYP via the Keystone Route would be longer.

 

So if a train left CHI at 9:30am and traveled via the Empire Route it would arrive in NYP at 6:23am. Any earlier and the NYP arrival time would be horrible. I think the 6:23am doesn't work. Would you want to arrive in NYP at 6:23am?

 

The All Aboard Ohio proposal ( the train leaving 11:50am and arrive in NYP at 8:58am (Keystone Route). The train arrives in PHL at 7:08am. You'd have a little more leeway with this train but moving the train up hurts Philadelphia.

 

I don't see any early morning departure from CHI to the east coast working well. It kind of reminds me of the CHI-PHL Pennsylvanian. 


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#44 neroden

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 07:44 PM

CHI-NYP via the Empire Route is currently close to 20 hours. I imagine CHI-NYP via the Keystone Route would be longer.
 
So if a train left CHI at 9:30am and traveled via the Empire Route it would arrive in NYP at 6:23am. Any earlier and the NYP arrival time would be horrible. I think the 6:23am doesn't work. Would you want to arrive in NYP at 6:23am?


Get breakfast, go to work (meetings / shopping / etc.). The only reason it's so early is to stay out of the rush hour train traffic into NY. Otherwise you could put it an hour or two later.
 

The All Aboard Ohio proposal ( the train leaving 11:50am and arrive in NYP at 8:58am (Keystone Route). The train arrives in PHL at 7:08am. You'd have a little more leeway with this train but moving the train up hurts Philadelphia.


Better timing, but it's going to be hard to convince anyone to slot a long-distance train into the rush hour at NYP.

And yet it's desirable to arrive before business hours. :-P

Edited by neroden, 06 November 2015 - 07:46 PM.

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#45 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 08:46 PM

 

CHI-NYP via the Empire Route is currently close to 20 hours. I imagine CHI-NYP via the Keystone Route would be longer.
 
So if a train left CHI at 9:30am and traveled via the Empire Route it would arrive in NYP at 6:23am. Any earlier and the NYP arrival time would be horrible. I think the 6:23am doesn't work. Would you want to arrive in NYP at 6:23am?


Get breakfast, go to work (meetings / shopping / etc.). The only reason it's so early is to stay out of the rush hour train traffic into NY. Otherwise you could put it an hour or two later.
 

The All Aboard Ohio proposal ( the train leaving 11:50am and arrive in NYP at 8:58am (Keystone Route). The train arrives in PHL at 7:08am. You'd have a little more leeway with this train but moving the train up hurts Philadelphia.


Better timing, but it's going to be hard to convince anyone to slot a long-distance train into the rush hour at NYP.

And yet it's desirable to arrive before business hours. :-P

 

 

 

 

CHI-NYP via the Empire Route is currently close to 20 hours. I imagine CHI-NYP via the Keystone Route would be longer.
 
So if a train left CHI at 9:30am and traveled via the Empire Route it would arrive in NYP at 6:23am. Any earlier and the NYP arrival time would be horrible. I think the 6:23am doesn't work. Would you want to arrive in NYP at 6:23am?


Get breakfast, go to work (meetings / shopping / etc.). The only reason it's so early is to stay out of the rush hour train traffic into NY. Otherwise you could put it an hour or two later.
 

The All Aboard Ohio proposal ( the train leaving 11:50am and arrive in NYP at 8:58am (Keystone Route). The train arrives in PHL at 7:08am. You'd have a little more leeway with this train but moving the train up hurts Philadelphia.


Better timing, but it's going to be hard to convince anyone to slot a long-distance train into the rush hour at NYP.

And yet it's desirable to arrive before business hours. :-P

 

 

How about arriving in NYP around 9:30am? It would leave PGH after midnight though.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#46 Ryan

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 08:51 PM

Not much good if you have a meeting at 8 or 9...
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#47 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 08:59 PM

Not much good if you have a meeting at 8 or 9...

 

If it gets into NYP before 8am, it gets into PHL around 6am. 


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#48 Seaboard92

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Posted 07 November 2015 - 08:02 PM

Here's part of the problem with Penn. There is a limited amount of tracks that can run to the Empire route. I believe five I could be wrong. Then there are two tunnels. You have the Hudson tubes which is two tracks total. And the east tubes which are four. NJ Transit takes up the majority of the Rush Hour slots. And a LD from the south has to compete with them and the LIRR into New York. That's the issue.

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Amtrak Routes I've riden: Silver Star(NYP-ORL), Silver Meteor(KIS-NYP),Carolinian(CLT-NWK), Palmetto (FLO-NYP), Acela(WAS-NYP), NE Regional(WBG-RVR), Pacific Surfliner(SAN-OSD), Piedmont(CLT-SAL), Crescent(NYP-CLT), Cardinal (WAS-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Cascade (PDX-SEA)

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#49 neroden

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 01:03 PM

From New Jersey, Amtrak trains are competing with NJT rush hour trains, and there are only two tubes.

From upstate NY, they're competing with Metro-North rush hour trains; there are three tracks but Amtrak has to cross the path of Metro-North at grade at Sputyen Duvyil.

In both cases the commuter railroad really doesn't want potentially-delayed Amtrak trains coming in during rush hour.

P.S. I've considered whether there's a way to grade-separate Sputyen Duvyil, but really, no, there isn't. Basically the only way you can schedule an Amtrak train to arrive during rush hour is if you can guarantee that it will be on time (or within, say, 2 minutes) approximately 364 days out of 365. And we're a very long way from being able to do that. :-( Sigh.

Edited by neroden, 11 November 2015 - 01:04 PM.

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#50 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 02:44 PM

OK, if you can't get into NYP then just terminate the train in Philadelphia. The route would be CHI-Michigan-TOL-CLE-PGH-PHL with through cars CIN-Columbus-CLE. Hey, if Amtrak can end a train in Savannah, you can't tell me you can't end a train in Philly.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#51 jis

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 05:59 PM

That works only if the train is going through Philadelphia in the first place :P



#52 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 12 December 2015 - 06:55 PM

Getting back to the coast-to-coast train topic, I found these through car options from a June 1977 timetable.

 

http://www.timetable...70622&item=0036

 

One is the old National Limited to the then Southwest Limited (now SWC) via KCY, the other is a train from NYP to NOL and then NOL to LAX. The schedule advertised a "hotel on wheels" in NOL.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#53 neroden

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Posted 13 December 2015 - 11:31 AM

Well, if Amtrak ever implements the Pennsylvanian/Capitol Limited PIP, they'll get experience with mixed-level train consists. And then maybe they'll consider restoring a through car from the Crescent to the Sunset Limited.
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#54 jis

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Posted 13 December 2015 - 04:24 PM

Well, if Amtrak ever implements the Pennsylvanian/Capitol Limited PIP, they'll get experience with mixed-level train consists. And then maybe they'll consider restoring a through car from the Crescent to the Sunset Limited.

Amtrak has had plenty of mixed level consist operation experience from the days when they were transitioning to Superliners. The transition cars then were the Hi-Level Transition Coach-Dorms. Today they are the Trans-Dorms. That should not make a huge difference. I have been on the Pioneer with single level Sleepers and Lounge and Superliner Coaches way back when.

 

At present they just don't want to do anything with LD trains until Congress gives them dedicated funding for them. That is all I can surmise from their behavior over the last several years.


Edited by jis, 13 December 2015 - 04:25 PM.


#55 west point

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 01:05 PM

Mixed level trains ?  A consist of order of locos, bag - dorm, V1 & V-2 sleeper(s), single level coaches, Transition car, then super liner consist would work well.



#56 PVD

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 11:14 PM

I'd be curious as to what the passenger counts are between all the stations, it would be interesting to see if a through train would add enough passengers to make the logistics worthwhile. How many passengers that currently connect in Chicago would end up on a through train, and would it be reliable enough for people to trust? Equipment and running times could prove problematic, crew scheduling also.



#57 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 11:26 PM

From the Chicago Gateway report,

 

http://www.amtrak.co...inal-Report.pdf

 

Capitol Limited:

 

63,195 transfer out of 153,397 in Chicago to/from another train. 15,988 go to the SWC, 15,212 to the CZ. 


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#58 neroden

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Posted 15 December 2015 - 01:53 AM

Well, if Amtrak ever implements the Pennsylvanian/Capitol Limited PIP, they'll get experience with mixed-level train consists. And then maybe they'll consider restoring a through car from the Crescent to the Sunset Limited.

Amtrak has had plenty of mixed level consist operation experience from the days when they were transitioning to Superliners. The transition cars then were the Hi-Level Transition Coach-Dorms. Today they are the Trans-Dorms. That should not make a huge difference. I have been on the Pioneer with single level Sleepers and Lounge and Superliner Coaches way back when.
 
At present they just don't want to do anything with LD trains until Congress gives them dedicated funding for them. That is all I can surmise from their behavior over the last several years.


But Congress does give them dedicated funding for the so-called long-distance trains. Nearly every year since 1971. I suppose there are screws loose in Amtrak management, which wouldn't be a change.
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#59 PVD

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Posted 15 December 2015 - 08:18 AM

So using those numbers, on the CL we are seeing an average of less than 100 a day transfer to CZ and SWC. The question still remains whether a through routing would generate enough additional traffic to offset the logistical difficulties. I'm a little surprised at those figures, I would have figured it was higher.



#60 neroden

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Posted 19 December 2015 - 08:54 PM

So using those numbers, on the CL we are seeing an average of less than 100 a day transfer to CZ and SWC. The question still remains whether a through routing would generate enough additional traffic to offset the logistical difficulties. I'm a little surprised at those figures, I would have figured it was higher.


Most people just aren't travelling that far.

Remember that the majority of passengers on any given train are travelling from one end to somewhere in the middle.

The top city pair on the Southwest Chief is Chicago to Kansas City.
The top city pair on the California Zephyr is Chicago-Denver.
The top city pair on the Empire Builder is Chicago-Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The top city pair on the LSL is Chicago-NY, but it's followed by Chicago-Buffalo, Chicago-Syracuse, Chicago-Rochester, and Chicago-Albany.
The top city pair on the CL is Chicago-Washington, but the second is Chicago-Pittsburgh.

Trips of one night or less account for most of the riders. The "long-distance" trains get taken when they're the only train on that corridor, as with Chicago-Upstate NY which could support several trains per day.

Honestly, I'll bet that most of the SWC and CZ connections to the Capitol Limited are coming from relatively close points like Denver and Kansas City, not from the West Coast. I wonder how many extra riders you'd get by extending the SWC just to Galesburg!
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