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Expanding the Amtrak Route Map


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#61 Anthony V

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 08:22 PM

They could avoid the CN, and run a train over the BNSF to East Dubuque, but unfortunately that route doesn't serve Rockford...

The BNSF Aurora Sub is very heavily used and and therefore BNSF would surely not want Amtrak on that line either. In addition, there are no cities west of Aurora worth stopping at other than Rochelle (and possibly Oregon) along the Aurora Sub. Even if the line had room for a passenger train, there just isn't the population density needed for a passenger train along that route.


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#62 railiner

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 10:30 PM

I haven't been over that line since the days before Amtrak....but I recall riding the Afternoon Twin Cities Zephyr (combined with the Empire Builder and North Coast Limited) along the river enroute to St. Paul, and we really rolled along on that route... :)


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#63 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 05:09 PM

What ... routes Amtrak will expand to?  

I understand Lynchburg to Roanoke is in the works, but any others?

 

How about Davenport or Dubuque?

Or Bangor?

Extending the Vermonter to Montreal is on track if the craziness in D.C. doesn't cause a wash out. Canada needs to get moving to upgrade the route from the border into the city. The State of Vermont has kept this project moving incrementally and I expect they will see it thru in 3 or 4 more years.

 

Vermont is also working to extend the Ethan Allen to Burlington, and I expect they will get there in 3 or 4 or 5 years despite the outbreak of Alzheimer's or whatever in D.C.


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 06 July 2017 - 05:11 PM.


#64 neroden

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 02:44 PM

Roanoke seems to be on an accelerated schedule, which is awesome.
Moline is very definitely in the works, especially now that Governor Ruiner of Illinois has had his budget veto overridden (after his *own wife* asked legislators to override it). Great hunks of it are already done. I don't know what they'll use for rolling stock after the Nippon Sharyo failure, but track & stations should be done soon.
Rockford is probably happening; Davenport is probably not.
Burlington VT is definitely happening, currently delayed by a NIMBY outbreak in Middlebury.
Vermonter to Montreal is awaiting Canadian decision on a preclearance bill which has some nasty provisions objected to by civil rights campaigners, and then needs Canadian-side funding for the international platform at Montreal Central Station, and *then* agreement with the Canadian railroads... shaggy dog story there

It's not expansion, but the long-awaited Cascades reroute should happen this year, vastly improving the Tacoma station, improving reliability, and increasing the number of trains per day, which I think is important.
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#65 dogbert617

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 11:39 PM

 

 

 

What would be the most likely actual new (or restored) routes Amtrak will expand to?  I understand Lynchburg to Roanoke is in the works, but any other's?

 

How about Davenport or Dubuque?

Or Bangor?

Davenport (technically Moline) seems to be still in progress.  I suspect that something will happen on the IA side of things eventually...the real jam there, IMO, was that "phase one" only went to Iowa City instead of Des Moines (which is about 4x the size and happens to be, you know, the state capitol).  Rockford/Dubuque is a bit jammed up as well, though I suspect that will get rolling as soon as Rauner is out of there (which seems more likely than not...I think he was elected almost as much because IL needed a "change of pace" after the whole Blago mess as anything, and IIRC Quinn also wasn't exactly the most popular guy).

 

To continue to Dubuque would require negotiations with Canadian National, of which whom has been anything but cooperative. The latest proposal from 2014 has the train scheduled to run Chicago-Rockford via Metra's Milwaukee District West Line and the Union Pacific Belvidere Subdivision. Service to Dubuque can't happen until there are successful negotiations with CN for use of their line to Dubuque.

 

Just so I understand better, provided a new Black Hawk train does serve Rockford, how far west can such a train run before it hits CN territory? You are right, Dubuque is probably out until Amtrak ever gets an agreement with CN to use their trackage into Dubuque. I recall it took forever for Metra and CN to reach an agreement to allow a 4th afternoon train(pre-afternoon rush hour) going outbound from Chicago to Joliet, on the Heritage Corridor.

 

 

Roanoke seems to be on an accelerated schedule, which is awesome.
Moline is very definitely in the works, especially now that Governor Ruiner of Illinois has had his budget veto overridden (after his *own wife* asked legislators to override it). Great hunks of it are already done. I don't know what they'll use for rolling stock after the Nippon Sharyo failure, but track & stations should be done soon.
Rockford is probably happening; Davenport is probably not.
Burlington VT is definitely happening, currently delayed by a NIMBY outbreak in Middlebury.
Vermonter to Montreal is awaiting Canadian decision on a preclearance bill which has some nasty provisions objected to by civil rights campaigners, and then needs Canadian-side funding for the international platform at Montreal Central Station, and *then* agreement with the Canadian railroads... shaggy dog story there

It's not expansion, but the long-awaited Cascades reroute should happen this year, vastly improving the Tacoma station, improving reliability, and increasing the number of trains per day, which I think is important.

Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines? It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation from cities and towns on that route to establish stations, and for grant money to help allow for that to happen.



#66 Eric S

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 07:39 AM

 

Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines? It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation from cities and towns on that route to establish stations, and for grant money to help allow for that to happen.

 

 

The issue is lack of funding from Iowa (or potentially local governments). Iowa declined federal funds that were available to help extend this (proposed/someday operating) train from the Quad Cities to Iowa City.



#67 neroden

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 11:42 AM

Just so I understand better, provided a new Black Hawk train does serve Rockford, how far west can such a train run before it hits CN territory?

Rockford.
 
 

Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines? It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation from cities and towns on that route to establish stations, and for grant money to help allow for that to happen.

The Iowa Legislature refuses to fund any passenger train service in Iowa. This is the only issue.

I doubt the cities could raise enough funding locally with statehouse opposition, though if they can, go them.

Edited by neroden, 17 July 2017 - 11:43 AM.

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#68 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 09:11 PM

 

 

 

Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines?

 

It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation [and] grant money to allow that to happen.

The Iowa Legislature refuses to fund any passenger train service in Iowa. This is the only issue.

This is one of the tragic stories from the Stimulus. And a tragic example of the cost to the country of the Obama Derangement Syndrome that spread thru one of the major parties at about that time. O.D.S. -- simply put: if Obama is for it, we're against it -- helped cause several rail improvement projects to be aborted, including CHI-Milwaukee-Madison, Tampa-Orlando, and the 3-Cs in Ohio (Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati). And Iowa.

 

Of course, in 2009 and 2010, no state was really ready to push ahead with the Stimulus-funded projects. No one had the environmental stuff done, much less permitting and preliminary engineering. Illinois was ahead of most, and despite a hard deadline less than three months from now (Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year 2017), it's apparently not finished yet!

 

Iowa was completely unready when the windfall funding was offered. Illinois grabbed money to do CHI-Quad Cities, but Iowa balked at even Quad Cities-Iowa City. Anyway, in the end, Iowa refused to do anything at all and the federal money was reallocated to a happier state.

 

It was a pity to lose that opportunity, because in this rare instance, the host railroad (Iowa Interstate) actually WANTED to add passenger service because the funding to pay for the needed upgrades would have significantly improved its freight line to Council Bluffs/Omaha.

 

A new corridor thru central Iowa -- CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha- and eventually onward Lincoln-Denver -- had been discussed and studied for years, but no go. The appeal is obvious. Illinois seems to think that CHI-Quad Cities is viable on its own. Adding a few miles to Iowa City would pick up riders from that market and nearby Cedar Rapids. Down the road a bit, Des Moines is poorly served by the California Zephyr's stop 40ish miles south of the capital city, but could support several trains a day on this central corridor. Omaha is badly served by one train a day each way, so a second round trip is a no brainer. The studies have pondered if Omaha would need 3 or 4 or 5 daily trains. Lincoln, about an hour west of Omaha, is quietly one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest (state capital and main campus U of Nebraska). But the Zephyr arrives after midnight WB and EB is worse, with a 3:20 a.m. arrival, so a second train in Omaha would be very popular. Finally, the Zephyr reportedly is full or even actually sold out CHI-Denver-Greenwood Springs. A second Denver frequency would also fill up.

 

So the anti-passenger train votes by the Iowa Legislature delayed or killed new or better train service across four states.

 

Looking forward, it's difficult to see any corridor train proposal being revived, not so long as any one state can sink it. The laws require that any trains of less than 750 miles must be state-supported, not part of the national network. And CHI-Omaha is 500 miles.

 

But CHI-Denver is 1038 miles. So Amtrak could start a new second train on the route between Chicago and Denver, but only IF Denver is on the list of approved begin/end-point cities named in the law. I don't recall if it is or isn't, but I think it isn't.

 

If Denver is not a pre-approved end-point for a new train, Amtrak could ask Congress to amend the law or make this one exception. Or it could make Denver a stop on a longer train to an approved city, like L.A.

 

A CHI-Denver train should perform well. However, making it longer gets risky. God forbid a revived Desert Wind CHI-DEN-Las Vegas-L.A. Or worse, a revived Pioneer CHI-DEN-SLC-Boise-Portland. (Amtrak's study of a revived Pioneer showed its results would be the worst in the system, in the sub-basement below the 3-days-per-week Sunset.)

 

Perhaps a WB CHI-DEN train could leave the Zephyr route for a Front Range route, heading down to Colorado Springs-Pueblo-Trinidad to join the Southwest Chief route Albuquerque-Flagstaff-L.A. Or turn south again Albuquerque-El Paso-Tucson-Maricopa (Phoenix)-L.A.

 

A better solution could be a loop route:

 

Long form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-DEN-Colorado Springs-Pueblo-La Junta-Newton (Wichita)-Kansas City-CHI.

 

Short form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-St Joseph-Kansas City-CHI.

 

Alternate for both long form & short form loops: -Kansas City-Jefferson City-St Louis-CHI.

 

All the usual disclaimers apply: Need more equipment, agreement with freight hosts, tweaking of departure and arrival times, etc. But the loops do not require permission from the Legislature of the State of Iowa.



#69 bretton88

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:28 PM

 

 

 

Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines?
 
It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation [and] grant money to allow that to happen.

The Iowa Legislature refuses to fund any passenger train service in Iowa. This is the only issue.
This is one of the tragic stories from the Stimulus. And a tragic example of the cost to the country of the Obama Derangement Syndrome that spread thru one of the major parties at about that time. O.D.S. -- simply put: if Obama is for it, we're against it -- helped cause several rail improvement projects to be aborted, including CHI-Milwaukee-Madison, Tampa-Orlando, and the 3-Cs in Ohio (Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati). And Iowa.
 
Of course, in 2009 and 2010, no state was really ready to push ahead with the Stimulus-funded projects. No one had the environmental stuff done, much less permitting and preliminary engineering. Illinois was ahead of most, and despite a hard deadline less than three months from now (Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year 2017), it's apparently not finished yet!
 
Iowa was completely unready when the windfall funding was offered. Illinois grabbed money to do CHI-Quad Cities, but Iowa balked at even Quad Cities-Iowa City. Anyway, in the end, Iowa refused to do anything at all and the federal money was reallocated to a happier state.
 
It was a pity to lose that opportunity, because in this rare instance, the host railroad (Iowa Interstate) actually WANTED to add passenger service because the funding to pay for the needed upgrades would have significantly improved its freight line to Council Bluffs/Omaha.
 
A new corridor thru central Iowa -- CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha- and eventually onward Lincoln-Denver -- had been discussed and studied for years, but no go. The appeal is obvious. Illinois seems to think that CHI-Quad Cities is viable on its own. Adding a few miles to Iowa City would pick up riders from that market and nearby Cedar Rapids. Down the road a bit, Des Moines is poorly served by the California Zephyr's stop 40ish miles south of the capital city, but could support several trains a day on this central corridor. Omaha is badly served by one train a day each way, so a second round trip is a no brainer. The studies have pondered if Omaha would need 3 or 4 or 5 daily trains. Lincoln, about an hour west of Omaha, is quietly one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest (state capital and main campus U of Nebraska). But the Zephyr arrives after midnight WB and EB is worse, with a 3:20 a.m. arrival, so a second train in Omaha would be very popular. Finally, the Zephyr reportedly is full or even actually sold out CHI-Denver-Greenwood Springs. A second Denver frequency would also fill up.
 
So the anti-passenger train votes by the Iowa Legislature delayed or killed new or better train service across four states.
 
Looking forward, it's difficult to see any corridor train proposal being revived, not so long as any one state can sink it. The laws require that any trains of less than 750 miles must be state-supported, not part of the national network. And CHI-Omaha is 500 miles.
 
But CHI-Denver is 1038 miles. So Amtrak could start a new second train on the route between Chicago and Denver, but only IF Denver is on the list of approved begin/end-point cities named in the law. I don't recall if it is or isn't, but I think it isn't.
 
If Denver is not a pre-approved end-point for a new train, Amtrak could ask Congress to amend the law or make this one exception. Or it could make Denver a stop on a longer train to an approved city, like L.A.
 
A CHI-Denver train should perform well. However, making it longer gets risky. God forbid a revived Desert Wind CHI-DEN-Las Vegas-L.A. Or worse, a revived Pioneer CHI-DEN-SLC-Boise-Portland. (Amtrak's study of a revived Pioneer showed its results would be the worst in the system, in the sub-basement below the 3-days-per-week Sunset.)
 
Perhaps a WB CHI-DEN train could leave the Zephyr route for a Front Range route, heading down to Colorado Springs-Pueblo-Trinidad to join the Southwest Chief route Albuquerque-Flagstaff-L.A. Or turn south again Albuquerque-El Paso-Tucson-Maricopa (Phoenix)-L.A.
 
A better solution could be a loop route:
 
Long form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-DEN-Colorado Springs-Pueblo-La Junta-Newton (Wichita)-Kansas City-CHI.
 
Short form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-St Joseph-Kansas City-CHI.
 
Alternate for both long form & short form loops: -Kansas City-Jefferson City-St Louis-CHI.
 
All the usual disclaimers apply: Need more equipment, agreement with freight hosts, tweaking of departure and arrival times, etc. But the loops do not require permission from the Legislature of the State of Iowa.
To note, I think if the funding was made available again for Iowa now, they might approve it. At the time, the requirement was 60 million $ needed all at once, which would have been the biggest project in DOT history (though with the massive Illinois delays, it might have been interesting to see how that would have played out, Illinois almost cancelled their side too) which represented 20% of the DOTs budget. Now Iowa has a gas tax increase, has gotten over it's fear of large contracts, and a more moderate governor, so it might not give as much shock to the system. I think the further we get from the anti-obama hysteria, we'll see Republican resistance to rail continue to soften.

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#70 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 04:19 PM

I haven't checked up on them, but now that the Illinois State Budget is a reality, are the Rockford and Quad Cities (barring the N-S fiasco on the bi-levels) a go again? Or at least gearing up to come back to life?


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#71 MisterUptempo

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 02:24 AM

I haven't checked up on them, but now that the Illinois State Budget is a reality, are the Rockford and Quad Cities (barring the N-S fiasco on the bi-levels) a go again? Or at least gearing up to come back to life?

 

I've heard zero on restarting service to Rockford. All aspects for that route were supposed to be funded with state money alone.

 

Regarding the Moline route, just last week it was announced that IDOT was considering applying for another extension for the $177 million federal grant awarded to establish the route. The state needs to come up with $45 million towards its share of the expenses. Those following the story will probably recall that in June, 2016, when the funding deadline loomed, Rauner committed the state to launching the new service, thus allowing the state to apply for its first extension.

 

Also, from the Quad Cities Times, July 11, 2017 (http://www.qctimes.com)

 

 

The state recently said that it had come to a memorandum of understanding with the Iowa Interstate Railroad to reimburse it for engineering costs associated with determining what improvements need to be made to accommodate passenger traffic. And Gurski said that work is proceeding and "will inform a schedule going forward."

 

Iowa Interstate owns the approximately 50 miles of track between Wyanet, Illinois, and Moline.

 

A Federal Railroad Administration official said it was his understanding an extension was in the works.



#72 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 10:10 AM

Dang, I thought they were further along with that than they are. Thanks for the info.


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#73 Eric S

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 10:24 AM

Dang, I thought they were further along with that than they are. Thanks for the info.

 

Yeah...I had thought so too. I knew the Rockford (Dubuque) project was basically dead (or at least dormant) but thought that there had actually been some movement on Moline/Quad Cities. Or maybe there has been (the Moline station perhaps) but the trackage improvements have always been "starting in the near future."



#74 bretton88

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 01:39 PM

Dang, I thought they were further along with that than they are. Thanks for the info.

 
Yeah...I had thought so too. I knew the Rockford (Dubuque) project was basically dead (or at least dormant) but thought that there had actually been some movement on Moline/Quad Cities. Or maybe there has been (the Moline station perhaps) but the trackage improvements have always been "starting in the near future."
Moline has been told to expect service to start in 2018. I don't think the capital improvements are super intensive, so it might still happen.

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#75 Anthony V

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 06:10 PM

 

Dang, I thought they were further along with that than they are. Thanks for the info.

 

Yeah...I had thought so too. I knew the Rockford (Dubuque) project was basically dead (or at least dormant) but thought that there had actually been some movement on Moline/Quad Cities. Or maybe there has been (the Moline station perhaps) but the trackage improvements have always been "starting in the near future."

 

Funding for the Rockford line is still suspended. However, there has been no announcement stating it was cancelled.


Trains I've traveled on:

 

Metra:

BNSF Railway Line

Union Pacific Northwest Line

Union Pacific West Line

 

Tourist railroads:

Rockford Park District Trolley Car #36 - Rockford, IL

Illinois Railway Museum - Union, IL

Mid-Continent Railway Museum - North Freedom, WI

 


#76 neroden

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 11:46 PM

 

Dang, I thought they were further along with that than they are. Thanks for the info.

 

Yeah...I had thought so too. I knew the Rockford (Dubuque) project was basically dead (or at least dormant) but thought that there had actually been some movement on Moline/Quad Cities. Or maybe there has been (the Moline station perhaps) but the trackage improvements have always been "starting in the near future."

 

They needed the following components:

(1) Agreement with BNSF.  Obtained.

(2) Upgrades on BNSF.  Done.

(3) Agreement with IAIS.  Apparently they only just got this finalized (delayed by the budget fiasco).

(4) Upgrades on IAIS.  They were in the middle of engineering when the budget fiasco delayed it.

(5) Moline station.  Designed.  Mostly built.  Can't do platform until after track work sets the track level.

(6) Intermediate station in Geneseo.  Not designed yet.  May open after the rest of the line.

(7)  Track connection at Wyanet.  Property surveyed.  I believe there is agreement with both IAIS and BNSF on the basic design.   Property purchase delayed by the budget fiasco.
(8) Locomotives.  Paid for and arriving.

(9) Rolling stock.  ???? -- Nippon Sharyo disaster.  I'm not sure what they're going to do for this.

The whole thing is complicated because the trackwork mostly can't be done in the winter.  The budget fiasco therefore delayed start of most IAIS construction until next spring, though if the engineering goes well they might get some of it done this year.


Edited by neroden, 20 July 2017 - 11:48 PM.

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