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Ideas for Additional "Night Owl" Train Service


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#1 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 07:17 AM

"Fantasy Thread" (so I don't get any "we can't do that" complaints)

 

I have on various occasions expressed my desire for overnight trains where I can board late at night and wake up at my destination as opposed to spending all day on a train. The NEC currently has a route between Boston and Washington DC/Virginia (66-65/67) that serves that purpose. There are also parts of LD trains where this trip is possible. Assuming we had the equipment and host railroad cooperation to do so, what other routes would this work well? I consider the graveyard shift to be midnight-6am so trains should not leave either endpoint after midnight nor arrive at the other before 6am. So the route has to be a minimum of 6 hours. Ideally it would be more so the endpoints can be stretched to 11am-7pm. Also, if there is a big city as an intermediate point close to an endpoint, effort would be to keep that city out of the graveyard shift. These schedules are in addition to the current trains and not reschedules.

 

The two I wish for the most are...

 

Pittsburgh to Philadelphia/New York: (Using Pennsylvanian schedule)

West NYP 9:52pm, PHL 11:42pm, PGH 7:05am

East PGH midnight, PHL 7:25am, NYP 9:20am 

 

Ideally the eastbound would leave Pittsburgh earlier but you want Philly after 6am and don't want to hit the New York/New Jersey tunnels during the graveyard shift (also the later for Harrisburg the better).

 

Bay Area to Los Angeles (Using Coast Starlight schedule)

South SAC 7:35pm, Oakland 9:50pm, SJC 11:07pm, Santa Barbara 7:02am, LAX 10:00am

North LAX 9:10pm, Santa Barbara 11:40pm, SJC 7:11am, Oakland 8:24am, SAC 10:59am

 

Other possibilities:

 

Dallas to Austin/San Antonio (Texas Eagle)

South DAL 11:50pm, FTW 2:10am, AUS 6:30am, SAS 9:55am

North SAS 10:00pm, AUS 12:31am, FTW 4:58am, DAL 6:20am

 

I'd rather Austin be outside the graveyard shift than Ft. Worth because they can go to Dallas easier than Austin area passengers can go to another station.

 

New York to Buffalo/Niagara Falls/Toronto (Maple Leaf)

 

West NYP 10:15pm, ALB 1:00am, SYR 3:43am, ROC 4:57am, Buffalo Exchange St 6:14am, Niagara Falls, NY 7:26am, TOR 10:41am

East TOR 6:20pm, Niagara Falls 10:27am, Buffalo Exchange St. 11:05pm, ROC 12:13am, SYR 1:28am, ALB 4:55am, NYP 7:50am

 

New York to Montreal (Adirondack)

 

South: Montreal: 11:20pm, ALB 6:55am, NYP 9:50am

North: NYP 8:15pm, ALB 11:10pm, Montreal 7:11am

 

Chicago to Minneapolis/St. Paul (Empire Builder)

 

West: CHI 10:15pm, Milwaukee 11:52pm, MSP 6:03am

East: MSP midnight, Milwaukee 6:07am, CHI 7:55am

 

Chicago to Kansas City (Southwest Chief)

 

West: CHI midnight, KCY 7:11am

East: KCY 11:43pm, CHI 7:15am

 

New Orleans to Houston/San Antonio (Sunset Limited)

 

West: Use current 1 schedule

East: SAS 4:25pm, HOS 10:10pm, NOL 7:40am

 

Feel free to suggest other routes.

 

 

 


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)!
 
 


#2 ScouseAndy

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 07:35 AM

For me personally night trains could run slower then the day trains on the same route so leaving earlier in the evening and arriving later - this might also appease the freight companies as if they ran at freight train speeds would cause less issues for them perhaps,

One issue I'd see with your train arriving at 9:20 at NYP would be that this is prime commuter times and the lines are more likely to be congested- but of course this is just fantasy

#3 CraigDK

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 10:01 AM

The Pittsburgh to New York overnight might work. I can vaguely recollect reading an article about such service in the days before Amtrak. An evening departure and morning arrival followed by the ability to have a full work day at the destination might appeal to business travelers. It would spread out some of the cost of operating service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

 

Slotting it into the morning arrivals in New York might present a challenge (one that should be partially alleviated by completing the Hudson River Tunnel project portion of Gateway), at least it is not traveling against the current. As far as equipment goes, it would only require two trainsets. I would guess each one would include a viewliner or sleeper or two (if/when the Vii order is finished I think that could be done), an amfleet cafe as a lounge (and possibly a BC section), a coach or two, and maybe a baggage car.

 

I would guess that it would require the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to support it though....



#4 Seaboard92

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 12:06 PM

If I remember right our New York Nightmare long distance train we had here a long time ago would have connected New York with a plethora of thru cars going to Montreal, Toronto, Cincinnati, and maybe even Detroit. But the switching enroute would be a major pain but not terrible.

Albany cut and add the Montreal cars.
Buffalo cut and add Toronto and potentially a Buffalo Cut away.
Cleveland cut and add Cincinnatti
Toledo cut and add Detroit and let it terminate in Chicago.

Equipment needs one sleeper and two coaches per section. So your looking at five sleepers per train and ten coaches. Without counting a cafe.

Which would end up being too long for some platforms causing a headache on operations. The required five locomotives one for each section. You would end up with a total of ten sleepers being required to run daily without a protect car and twenty coaches. And seven locomotives minimum but even those wouldn't be at home terminal which would create issues.

All in all that train is a pipe dream because of operations being a large problem before the class ones get involved.

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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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#5 jis

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 12:10 PM

Not to mention the additional staffing and stabling facilities required at places such as Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati etc.



#6 west point

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 05:32 PM

In the past there were two major airline night hubs that carried many connecting passengers and might again do the same with trains/. That is CHI and ATL. Leave it to others to determine possible destinations.

#7 jphjaxfl

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 06:30 PM

The Pittsburgh to New York overnight might work. I can vaguely recollect reading an article about such service in the days before Amtrak. An evening departure and morning arrival followed by the ability to have a full work day at the destination might appeal to business travelers. It would spread out some of the cost of operating service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

 

Slotting it into the morning arrivals in New York might present a challenge (one that should be partially alleviated by completing the Hudson River Tunnel project portion of Gateway), at least it is not traveling against the current. As far as equipment goes, it would only require two trainsets. I would guess each one would include a viewliner or sleeper or two (if/when the Vii order is finished I think that could be done), an amfleet cafe as a lounge (and possibly a BC section), a coach or two, and maybe a baggage car.

 

I would guess that it would require the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to support it though....

The Pennsylvania Railroad's PITTSBURGHER from New York to Pittsburgh  was one of the last all Sleeping Car trains that ran up until early to mid 1960s.  It carried Sleeping Cars including a 6 BR lounge car that served snacks and cocktails out of New York and Pittsburgh at night and light breakfasts the following morning.  I believe it operated through 30th Street Philadelphia instead of the direct route.  At that time business travelers were still familiar with overnight train travel.  Today most business travelers outside certain corridors have no clue about train travel for business.  I remember being on a drive with 2 business associates from my company.  One of them grew up in Providence, RI and was very familiar with business train travel in the NEC and in Southern California where he was located then. The other associate, from Milwaukee, was very surprised that anyone would take a train for business travel.



#8 CraigDK

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 07:27 PM

The Pennsylvania Railroad's PITTSBURGHER from New York to Pittsburgh  was one of the last all Sleeping Car trains that ran up until early to mid 1960s.  It carried Sleeping Cars including a 6 BR lounge car that served snacks and cocktails out of New York and Pittsburgh at night and light breakfasts the following morning.  I believe it operated through 30th Street Philadelphia instead of the direct route.  At that time business travelers were still familiar with overnight train travel.  Today most business travelers outside certain corridors have no clue about train travel for business.  I remember being on a drive with 2 business associates from my company.  One of them grew up in Providence, RI and was very familiar with business train travel in the NEC and in Southern California where he was located then. The other associate, from Milwaukee, was very surprised that anyone would take a train for business travel.

 

Thanks. I should have remembered the name, it is that obvious. The fact that many business travelers in New York today are very familiar with using the train would be a positive for this as a potential route. I don't think a modern incarnation would skip Philly though...  



#9 jphjaxfl

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 07:08 AM

 

The Pennsylvania Railroad's PITTSBURGHER from New York to Pittsburgh  was one of the last all Sleeping Car trains that ran up until early to mid 1960s.  It carried Sleeping Cars including a 6 BR lounge car that served snacks and cocktails out of New York and Pittsburgh at night and light breakfasts the following morning.  I believe it operated through 30th Street Philadelphia instead of the direct route.  At that time business travelers were still familiar with overnight train travel.  Today most business travelers outside certain corridors have no clue about train travel for business.  I remember being on a drive with 2 business associates from my company.  One of them grew up in Providence, RI and was very familiar with business train travel in the NEC and in Southern California where he was located then. The other associate, from Milwaukee, was very surprised that anyone would take a train for business travel.

 

Thanks. I should have remembered the name, it is that obvious. The fact that many business travelers in New York today are very familiar with using the train would be a positive for this as a potential route. I don't think a modern incarnation would skip Philly though...  

 

As I said, the PITTSBURGHER did operate through 30th Street Station Philadelphia and did not skip Philadelphia.



#10 west point

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 12:06 PM

Did any overnight trains either pass thru or originate from PHL Broad street station ?

#11 maxbuskirk

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 02:16 AM

It would be great if the Spirit of California were resurrected. It would create great overnight service from LA to Bay Area and Sacramento.
I modified the schedule a bit, and added a segment to San Diego.
SAN 4:50pm
LAX 7:40pm/8:05pm
SBA 10:28pm/10:35pm
SLO 1:17am/1:30am
SNS 4:23am
*Detraining only SJC to SAC weekdays*
SJC 6:06am/6:18am
OKJ 7:19am/7:29am 
EMY 7:39am/8:04am (let #710 (7:45am), #723 (7:50am), #524 (7:55am), and #525 (8:00am) pass by here) I did this to let it connect with leeway to #6
MTZ 8:46am
SAC 9:59am
 
These stations have sophisticated announcement technologies, so with good forewarning, mass confusion should be avoided between it and the other 3 trains (2 on weekends), unless the passengers are stupid or deaf.
Emeryville has 2 tracks with platforms. This one can sit on one track, while the others pass by on the other one.
*Receiving only SAC-OKJ*
SAC 5:15pm
EMY 6:50pm/7:00pm
OKJ 7:10pm/7:20pm
SJC 8:25pm/8:37pm
SNS 10:18pm
SLO 1:37am/1:50am
SBA 4:25am/4:32am
*Detraining only LAX to SAN*
LAX 7:30am/7:50am
SAN 10:40am
 
I think getting into LAX earlier is good, at the cost of leaving Santa Barbara at 4:30am.

Edited by maxbuskirk, 11 March 2017 - 11:51 AM.

I have ridden Cascades #516 (SEA-STW), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-SLO), Southwest Chief #4 (LAX-CHI), Cardinal #50 (CHI-NYP), Northeast Regional #85 (NYP-WAS), Capitol Limited #30 (HFY-WAS), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-PDX), and many Pacific Surfliners with Amtrak. I have seen, including the previous, California Zephyr #5 at SAC (with luck), what I guess to be Crescent #19 (at WAS) and Silver Meteor #97 (at WAS), and Empire Builder #28 at PDX. I have also ridden the Hokutosei in Japan, Ueno - Sapporo (now discontinued).


#12 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 08:40 AM

I love maxbuskirk's idea for the Spirit of California. If this a fantasy new train I'd like to have it go from San Jose to San Fran on the Caltrain track so you can directly serve the city.


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)!
 
 


#13 west point

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 11:08 AM

The proposed Spirit could combine split at SJC. Then one section to downtown Frisco and other to Sacramento.

#14 maxbuskirk

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 11:50 AM

Would it then have 2 engines from SAN to SJC? Also, a fast split would be needed at SJC to let it go ahead of #524. How many minutes would it take?

What about a dedicated connection train with a cross platform transfer?

How fast would it go? As fast as a Baby Bullet, or an Express, or Local?

Edited by maxbuskirk, 11 March 2017 - 12:00 PM.

I have ridden Cascades #516 (SEA-STW), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-SLO), Southwest Chief #4 (LAX-CHI), Cardinal #50 (CHI-NYP), Northeast Regional #85 (NYP-WAS), Capitol Limited #30 (HFY-WAS), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-PDX), and many Pacific Surfliners with Amtrak. I have seen, including the previous, California Zephyr #5 at SAC (with luck), what I guess to be Crescent #19 (at WAS) and Silver Meteor #97 (at WAS), and Empire Builder #28 at PDX. I have also ridden the Hokutosei in Japan, Ueno - Sapporo (now discontinued).


#15 neroden

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 07:01 PM

I have proposed my favorite schedule before.

 

TWO A DAY 

 

Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland-Buffalo-Syracuse-New York City

 

 

(Eastbound)
Chicago 10:00 AM
Toledo 3:50 PM
Cleveland 6:20 PM
Buffalo 9:21 PM
Syracuse 11:48 PM
Albany 4:15 AM
New York 6:53 AM
(schedules are approximate and indicative only)

(Westbound)
New York 11:40 PM
Albany 3:05 AM
Syracuse 5:49 AM
Buffalo 7:59 AM
Cleveland 11:45 AM
Toledo 2:15 PM
Chicago 5:45 PM

This provides overnight service between NYC and anywhere from Syracuse to Cleveland.  Which I think is pretty good.

It also provides daytime service from Chicago through the Midwest as far as Buffalo (Syracuse going eastbound).  Also pretty good.

I strongly believe that the synergies from having TWO A DAY will give great results.  I don't know how to do the financial modelling in a form acceptable to Amtrak, or what input data to use, and I wonder if someone else does know -- if they do I can construct the model myself (I know more than enough math and CS).  I strongly suspect that this would be financially positive or neutral on operating costs, though equipment costs are another matter.

Oh.  Also, I never came up with a name for the train for marketing purposes, apart from TWO A DAY.  Anything which might help pitch it would be welcome.


Edited by neroden, 11 March 2017 - 07:05 PM.

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#16 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 08:20 PM

A couple of times I have reported another member's solid explanation of why some Amtrak trains closely track each other, notably the Lake Shore and Capitol Limited, and the Star and Meteor thru Florida.

 

The Class 1 freight hosts complain that the Amtrak trains ruin their schedules, not just in each train's slot, but for a couple of hours on either side of the slot. The Lake Shore disturbs the host for four hours, two before this Amtrak slot and two hours after the Lake Shore is scheduled to pass thru. Two trains a day Cleveland-CHI means eight hours of disruption. When the Lake Shore runs only two hours different from the Cap Ltd, two of the Lake Shore's hours of disruption overlap and ruin the same two hours of freight time as the Capitol Ltd. Say the Lake Shore disrupts two hours behind its slot. Then the Cap Ltd disrupts two hours ahead of its slot. Overlapping, they are the same two hours from the host's point of view. That way the host's freight trains are disrupted 'only' six hours a day instead of eight hours. So the 2-hours apart schedules for the two Amtrak trains are set to minimize inconvenience to the hosts.

 

Tell me what sweet things we gonna say to NS to get a third train out of CHI to the East Coast, with a morning departure, disrupting the freight schedule twice a day?

 

Simple solution: Build South of the Lake, CHI-Porter, IN, and then build another dedicated 110-mph track for passenger trains on this corridor to Toledo and Cleveland, and beyond to Pittsburgh-Philly-NYC/DC and to Buffalo-Albany-NYC. Simple solution if Congress would pay for it.


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 11 March 2017 - 08:23 PM.


#17 neroden

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 11:06 AM

The Water Level Route is an all-double-track mainline which primarily carries high-speed intermodal freight.  Passenger operations are, bluntly, not disruptive at all.; they're averaging the same speed.  Complaints to the contrary are best described as "****".  We all know the freight railroads aren't scheduling their freight trains properly anyway (some precision railroading would help a lot here).  The LSL and CL follow similar schedules largely due to their need to run overnight out of Chicago and in the daytime at the east end; nothing more.

 

As I stated in my flyer, NS and CSX would probably both ask for passenger sidings so that trains stopped at stations do not block the mainline; this is actually a reasonable request and we should be doing it anyway.  It also allows for making ADA-accessible platforms without obstructing high-and-wide freights, so it's desirable for that reason anyway.

 

On the whole, NS has been very cooperative, allowing additional Amtrak trains on single-track lines which carry slow freight (such as Virginia and North Carolina and Michigan), where the passenger trains are *much* more disruptive.

 

However, if they did decide to be obnoxious: Norfolk Southern is under an over-100-year-old legal obligation to provide passenger service, which is currently enforced by requiring them to provide access to Amtrak on reasonable terms.  If they don't want to comply with their legal obligations, NS can have their license to operate a railroad revoked.  The STB has shown that they are willing to enforce these obligations. 

 

Frankly, I think the problem of finding rolling stock is much more serious than the problem of getting a slot.


Edited by neroden, 12 March 2017 - 11:08 AM.

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#18 west point

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 07:34 PM

[quote name="neroden" post="701236"
As I stated in my flyer, NS and CSX would probably both ask for passenger sidings so that trains stopped at stations do not block the mainline; this is actually a reasonable request and we should be doing it anyway.  It also allows for making ADA-accessible platforms without obstructing high-and-wide freights, so it's desirable for that reason anyway.
 
Frankly, I think the problem of finding rolling stock is much more serious than the problem of getting a slot.Station tracks and platforms really are the best for any location needing high level platforms or has a large passenger turn over. those stations with just occasional ADA passengers a lift would seem best choice.
Rolling stock is a very serious problem . As of now more rolling stock seems problematic ?

#19 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 06:21 AM

 
Frankly, I think the problem of finding rolling stock is much more serious than the problem of getting a slot.Station tracks and platforms really are the best for any location needing high level platforms or has a large passenger turn over. those stations with just occasional ADA passengers a lift would seem best choice.
Rolling stock is a very serious problem . As of now more rolling stock seems problematic ?

 

If west point's statement is true then hopefully now you see why I suggest killing one train to resurrect another (or cannibalism as it has been called) or the fact that I claim Byrd killed the Broadway/Three Rivers. We're competing for equipment. The fact that both LD trains killed in 2005 (Silver Palm downgraded and terminated in Savannah) were both Viewliners doesn't seem coincidental to me (to this day Viewliners are still in short supply). You can now say we can't get the slots back but if we still had them we wouldn't have to get them back now.


Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan, 13 March 2017 - 06:21 AM.

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)!
 
 


#20 CCC1007

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 08:33 AM

 
Frankly, I think the problem of finding rolling stock is much more serious than the problem of getting a slot.Station tracks and platforms really are the best for any location needing high level platforms or has a large passenger turn over. those stations with just occasional ADA passengers a lift would seem best choice.
Rolling stock is a very serious problem . As of now more rolling stock seems problematic ?

 
If west point's statement is true then hopefully now you see why I suggest killing one train to resurrect another (or cannibalism as it has been called) or the fact that I claim Byrd killed the Broadway/Three Rivers. We're competing for equipment. The fact that both LD trains killed in 2005 (Silver Palm downgraded and terminated in Savannah) were both Viewliners doesn't seem coincidental to me (to this day Viewliners are still in short supply). You can now say we can't get the slots back but if we still had them we wouldn't have to get them back now.
The withdrawal of the last of the heritage sleepers is what caused the three rivers to loose its sleeper service, and the loss of mail and express traffic led to there being not enough of a need for four trains NEC to Chicago at that time. The three rivers was effectively killed off by David Gunn and the FRA requirements that a retention tank be installed on the passenger cars.




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