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Rail returning to Phoenix


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#61 fredmcain

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 08:19 AM

"Is the street running in Michigan City gone completely yet (I can't remember anymore)?"

 

I live in northeastern Indiana and ride the South Shore line from time to time.  There has been a lot of on again, off again, on again discussion about bypassing the street running in Michigan City (MC) but to the best of my knowledge, nothing has been etched in stone yet - kinda like restoring Amtrak service to Phoenix.  They have now improved the track and installed CTC all the way east to a location near what the railroad refers to as "Bendex" just a couple or three miles west of the end of the line at South Bend Airport.

 

Along with bypassing M.C. there has also been rumors about a new entrance to the airport that would replace the side-of-the-road, numerous grade crossings and circuitous "hook" that the current line uses to enter the airport but I don't expect either of these plans to take shape in the immediate future.  In fact, the last plan I heard about for M.C. would keep the tracks in the current location but segregate them from traffic somehow - don't have the details in front of me.

 

There is, however, another competing plan moving forward that would construct a new South Shore branch to Dyer, IN utilizing part of the abandoned Monon right of way.  There has been a lot of discussion as to whether this new line would be electric or diesel.  I'm not sure if that issue has been decided or not.

 

A number of years ago I wrote a letter to the editor of the Goshen, IN news suggesting that the South Shore line should be extended to Elkhart and then on through to Goshen.  My article was very well received by the general public and it might actually come to pass someday but I don't expect to see it in my lifetime.   :(


​Regards,

Fred M. Cain


#62 cirdan

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 08:49 AM

I must admit my last (and first) visit to Michigan City was in 2011. I went at the time because I though relocation would imminent so i wanted to experience the old arrangement before it vanished.

 

it turns out my haste was not necessary.

 

My overall impression was that the NICTD was an efficiently operated system, very clean, orderly and punctual. I was very impressed.

 

We stayed in a bed and breakfast in Michigan City, and during the three days or so we were there we got to see many parts of the city. My impression is that many parts of the city were very run down. Some parts were Ok but in others we felt decidedly unconfortable. Lots of abandoned houses and clear signs of economic downturn. Despite that we also clearly saw that the city isn't about to give up but is working hard to reverse the decline, and some parts had been refurbished. In a situation like that I imagine the location of NICTD line and station are not just an issue of transportation but can become a catalyst for regeneration of an entire neighborhood. Get it right and the returns can be susbtantial, get it wrong and you bring  a struggling town even closer to the brink.



#63 fredmcain

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 12:04 PM

So, to reiterate and reflect back over and summarize this topic, will Amtrak ever return to Phoenix?

 

I would like to review what I think we know, what we clearly don’t know and what I personally happen to know.

 

First of all, based on the testimony of a Mr. Stanley Jefferson from Litchfield Park, AZ, he has stated that he was informed by the UP signal department that the UP had begun preliminary procedures to reopen the Phoenix West line back in 2013.  Working west from near downtown Phoenix, the UP began replacing signals and rehabilitating the automatic block signal system.  They worked their way west to about a mile west of a point known as “Crag” on the railroad which is nearly halfway between Arlington and Hyder.

 

Then, mysteriously, the worked was halted in its tracks (no pun intended).

 

That brings me to what we don’t know.  WHY did the UP order this work done and WHY did they turn around and order it stopped.  We just plain don’t know.   I have a couple of good theories but why speculate when we really don’t have the facts?

 

This brings me, finally, to what I do know. There are at present AT LEAST five (count ‘em, 5) politically-oriented entities fighting to get this line rehabbed and reopened.  I stress at LEAST because there could well be more than five – but those are the only ones I am aware of.

 

The focus on two of these groups is to get the Sunset Limited rerouted back into the Phoenix area proper as well as get is changed to a daily operation.

 

While the other three groups recognize this as well, they are also focused on the economic development that they believe a reopened Phoenix West Line would spark.

 

There are two groups whose presence on this short list is conspicuous by their absence:  Amtrak and Union Pacific.  Amtrak appears to be ambivalent at best and we really don't know what the UP's intentions are other than "keep it for future development/transportation".

But, in conclusion, I guess I feel that there is enough of a push on to get this done that I’m optimistic that it will happen.   I just can’t say when.  I don’t think any of can.


​Regards,

Fred M. Cain


#64 Anthony V

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 03:44 PM

 

So, to reiterate and reflect back over and summarize this topic, will Amtrak ever return to Phoenix?

 

I would like to review what I think we know, what we clearly don’t know and what I personally happen to know.

 

First of all, based on the testimony of a Mr. Stanley Jefferson from Litchfield Park, AZ, he has stated that he was informed by the UP signal department that the UP had begun preliminary procedures to reopen the Phoenix West line back in 2013.  Working west from near downtown Phoenix, the UP began replacing signals and rehabilitating the automatic block signal system.  They worked their way west to about a mile west of a point known as “Crag” on the railroad which is nearly halfway between Arlington and Hyder.

 

Then, mysteriously, the worked was halted in its tracks (no pun intended).

 

That brings me to what we don’t know.  WHY did the UP order this work done and WHY did they turn around and order it stopped.  We just plain don’t know.   I have a couple of good theories but why speculate when we really don’t have the facts?

 

This brings me, finally, to what I do know. There are at present AT LEAST five (count ‘em, 5) politically-oriented entities fighting to get this line rehabbed and reopened.  I stress at LEAST because there could well be more than five – but those are the only ones I am aware of.

 

The focus on two of these groups is to get the Sunset Limited rerouted back into the Phoenix area proper as well as get is changed to a daily operation.

 

While the other three groups recognize this as well, they are also focused on the economic development that they believe a reopened Phoenix West Line would spark.

 

There are two groups whose presence on this short list is conspicuous by their absence:  Amtrak and Union Pacific.  Amtrak appears to be ambivalent at best and we really don't know what the UP's intentions are other than "keep it for future development/transportation".

But, in conclusion, I guess I feel that there is enough of a push on to get this done that I’m optimistic that it will happen.   I just can’t say when.  I don’t think any of can.

 

One can only hope they finish the rehab of the West Line and allow Amtrak to return to Phoenix.



#65 MikefromCrete

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 04:11 PM

If and when, the west line out of Phoenix is restored to service it won't be because of the Sunset Limited. Either some big industrial, mining or military facility that requires extensive rail freight service will locate on the line or Arizona will establish a commuter rail line serving Phoenix or start a multiple-train a day service between L.A.., Phoenix and Tucson. Even a daily Sunset won't be enough to restart that lengthy stretch of track. 



#66 fredmcain

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 11:52 AM

If and when, the west line out of Phoenix is restored to service it won't be because of the Sunset Limited. Either some big industrial, mining or military facility that requires extensive rail freight service will locate on the line <cut>

Mike,

 

This, I believe is probably true.  I think you're right about this.

Regards,

 

Fred M. Cain


​Regards,

Fred M. Cain


#67 dlagrua

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 02:32 PM

In reading the discussion about passenger rail returning to Phoenix; we obviously won't be able to convince Washington to expand Amtrak service to all major cities any time soon. There is undoubtedly demand for rail service in cities without Amtrak service and IMO this opens the door to state funded commuter lines to develop. Many cities already have nice rail stations and many remain unused.. If the political will is there these cities can connect to an Amtrak main line with commuter or regional rail.  Perhaps that is the answer to getting rail service back to Cheyenne, Sioux Falls, Nashville, Louisville, Boise, Sioux City, Augusta, and other cities.



#68 fredmcain

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:17 AM

In reading the discussion about passenger rail returning to Phoenix; we obviously won't be able to convince Washington to expand Amtrak service to all major cities any time soon. There is undoubtedly demand for rail service in cities without Amtrak service and IMO this opens the door to state funded commuter lines to develop. Many cities already have nice rail stations and many remain unused.. If the political will is there these cities can connect to an Amtrak main line with commuter or regional rail.  Perhaps that is the answer to getting rail service back to Cheyenne, Sioux Falls, Nashville, Louisville, Boise, Sioux City, Augusta, and other cities.

You know, I don't understand *WHY* some of these new services have to be so darned expensive.  It makes it really hard to expand service to anywhere.  I have a couple of cases in point:

 

A few years ago Congress passed legislation mandating Amtrak to at least study the restoration of rail service over the former Northern Pacific Railway line across southern North Dakota and Southern Montana.  This line actually had Amtrak service until around 1978.  Well, Amtrak "studied" then  came back to Congress with a price tag of over well over $2 BILLION ! I was shocked.  Two BILLION, for what?  Of course Congress wasn't about to pony up that kind of money to restore service on that line.  I mean, the tracks were there (and in fairly good shape at that) and there were automatic block signals throughout.  Most of the stations were still there although they would probably need some minor refurbishing.  Would that add up to 2 billion?  New equipment?  Maybe.  But even allowing for 2 million per new superliner car it's hard to see how that ran up to 2 billion.  Somebody please enlighten me here.

 

Case # 2:  Amtrak approached Union Pacific about converting train numbers 1 & 2 the Sunset Limited to daily operation.  Well, the UP came up with a similar figure.  Huh?  That was the UP coming up with that instead of Amtrak, BUT!

 

What both of these cases (and there are more examples) have in common is that both the UP and Amtrak possibly just didn't want to do this so they intentionally came up with some highly bloated figures.

 

I dunno, maybe I'm wrong but as a passenger rail supporter I have to admit I'm getting very discouraged.  We still have the same, overly-skeletalized "system" that we started out with in 1971. We have newer, better equipment but not more extensive service.  There have been a few bright spots in California, North Carolina,Oklahoma and Maine but weighted against those is the loss of the North Coast Ltd, a third New York-Florida train, the "Lone Star", the "Floridian", the Desert Wind & the Pioneer.

 

Depressing and discouraging indeed in my view.

​Regards,

Fred M. Cain


Edited by fredmcain, 11 October 2017 - 06:20 AM.

​Regards,

Fred M. Cain


#69 west point

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 02:56 PM

Over-skeletonized system is a very good analogy. Can we use it ?   That may be the case since Amtrak is so short of equipment to properly  provide LD service.  That is enough  equipment on present trains and multiple services.






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