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NARP's "Vision For Trains In America"


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#41 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 12:30 PM

 

 

So we need a ranking, with the low hanging fruit at the top, and the nostalgic wishes and dreams toward the bottom. Or the 'more bang for the buck' at the top, however to phrase it.

 

NARP will have internal battles if it tries to rank the priorities. Good. NARP needs to think seriously about what each route deserves, and not cover up the political thing by saying that all trains and all routes are equally desirable.

 

 

In the past I have questioned NARP priorities. 

 

They had this campaign to buy a bunch of bags to Congress to emphasize diner service. One, a small majority of LD passengers ride in sleepers and letters/emails/phone calls would do the job than spend a ton of money on bags that will mostly wind up in the trash.

 

Also when it comes to making 3x/week trains daily they should campaign for both. But if they choose one to emphasize it makes more sense for me to choose the one where no part of the route currently is daily vs. the one where roughly half of the route already has daily service. Would it give more bang for your buck to give Houston daily service or Prince, West Virginia daily service? 


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Shore 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/


#42 west point

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 12:42 PM

In other words, it would help things to prioritize.
 
We don't have to be cannibals to know that some routes are better than others. Upgrading some routes will cost less than upgrading others, because of tracks too far deteriorated. Some host railroads will need government money to handle new or more frequent passenger service. Other hosts will be completely unreasonable. Some routes have growing populations while other regions are stagnant. And so forth. (For this purpose, of long range thinking, political obstacles, e.g., Gov Scott, Gov Kasich, can be largely ignored.)
 
So we need a ranking, with the low hanging fruit at the top, and the nostalgic wishes and dreams toward the bottom. Or the 'more bang for the buck' at the top, however to phrase it.
 
NARP will have internal battles if it tries to rank the priorities. Good. NARP needs to think seriously about what each route deserves, and not cover up the political thing by saying that all trains and all routes are equally desirable.


Well said ! To expand. Once Amtrak gets the additional equipment it needs. Then. Any route or additional trains on present routes that can show above rail profit is the first priority. That of course most likely would mean present routes getting another train. Then new routes with the best -Revenue potential.

#43 west point

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 12:51 PM

NARP will have internal battles if it tries to rank the priorities. Good. NARP needs to think seriously about what each route deserves, and not cover up the political thing by saying that all trains and all routes are equally desirable.


Once Amtrak increases its fleet size get those routes that will provide above rail positive revenue. That of course will probably mean additional trains on present routes. Then other routes that will provide the most revenue/cost ratio.
New equipment assigned to present trains may be the first best use. A 16 car Meteor should break even better than the usual 9 car one that has 3 non revenue cars. With more OBS assigned to long train diners they may be able to break even ?

#44 railiner

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 08:33 PM

Or like someone in Facebook did, plan on having Morgantown West Virginia served by four different bullet train routes, Heh heh :P


Must have been inspired by "Harley's Hornet"...
Anyone remember the Potomac Turbo? :D
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#45 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 10:02 PM

 

Or like someone in Facebook did, plan on having Morgantown West Virginia served by four different bullet train routes, Heh heh :P


Must have been inspired by "Harley's Hornet"...
Anyone remember the Potomac Turbo? :D

 

 

More meddling by West Virginia's Congressmen? What a shock!

 

Notice that no new NARP routes go through West Virginia.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Shore 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 jis

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 10:28 PM

One is enough to carry the entire remaining population of WV :P

#47 Carolina Special

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 10:44 PM

Well, Morgantown does have a reasonably successful personal rapid transit (PRT) run by WVU. 15,000 riders a day when school is in session. It's been operating since the 1970s. After watching their video I'd like to ride it. :)

Yep, Byrd did help them get the money for it, along with Richard Nixon.

#48 neroden

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 05:04 AM

Also when it comes to making 3x/week trains daily they should campaign for both. But if they choose one to emphasize it makes more sense for me to choose the one where no part of the route currently is daily vs. the one where roughly half of the route already has daily service. Would it give more bang for your buck to give Houston Sanderson, TX daily service or Prince, West Virginia  Cincinnati, Ohio daily service?

Corrected that for you ;)


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#49 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:18 AM

 

Or like someone in Facebook did, plan on having Morgantown West Virginia served by four different bullet train routes, Heh heh :P


Must have been inspired by "Harley's Hornet"...
Anyone remember the Potomac Turbo? :D

 

 

How come "Harley's Hornet" and "Staggers Special" stuck and my nickname doesn't and there weren't there any derogatory names made for Senator Robert's train(s) (until 2016 that is:)? 

 

 

 

Also when it comes to making 3x/week trains daily they should campaign for both. But if they choose one to emphasize it makes more sense for me to choose the one where no part of the route currently is daily vs. the one where roughly half of the route already has daily service. Would it give more bang for your buck to give Houston Sanderson, TX daily service or Prince, West Virginia  Cincinnati, Ohio daily service?

Corrected that for you ;)

 

 

Fair enough. But if you add up the entire non daily portions of both trains, the SL has to come out ahead. From Wikipedia estimates, the Houston metropolitan has about 6 million while the Cincinnati metro has about 2 million and the entire state of West Virginia also has about 2 million. And that's not counting El Paso and Tucson along the SL route. The one argument (and I can't believe I am helping here) is that there are fewer train miles that have to be upgraded on that train than the SL.


Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan, 18 May 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 Shore 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/


#50 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:12 AM

 

Or like someone in Facebook did, plan on having Morgantown West Virginia served by four different bullet train routes, Heh heh :P

Must have been inspired by "Harley's Hornet"...
Anyone remember the Potomac Turbo? :D
 
 
How come "Harley's Hornet" and "Staggers Special" stuck and my nickname doesn't and there weren't there any derogatory names made for Senator Robert's train(s) (until 2016 that is:)? 
 
 

 

Also when it comes to making 3x/week trains daily they should campaign for both. But if they choose one to emphasize it makes more sense for me to choose the one where no part of the route currently is daily vs. the one where roughly half of the route already has daily service. Would it give more bang for your buck to give Houston Sanderson, TX daily service or Prince, West Virginia  Cincinnati, Ohio daily service?

Corrected that for you ;)
 
 
Fair enough. But if you add up the entire non daily portions of both trains, the SL has to come out ahead. From Wikipedia estimates, the Houston metropolitan has about 6 million while the Cincinnati metro has about 2 million and the entire state of West Virginia also has about 2 million. And that's not counting El Paso and Tucson along the SL route. The one argument (and I can't believe I am helping here) is that there are fewer train miles that have to be upgraded on that train than the SL.

While I do believe both trains should be daily, I agree that the SL should be a higher priority. I would rather see 3-5 daily trains west of Cincinnati and tri-weekly service between Cincinnati and Charlottesville than once daily service over the entire route (although in a perfect world there would be both). A daily SL would be the exclusive train in the 5th, 12th, 53rd, 68th largest metro areas, while having stops in the 2nd, 13th, 24th, 46th largest metro areas. With the exception of Los Angeles, these cities would have a drastic increase in service with a daily train. The Cardinal/Hoosier State exclusively stops in the 28th and 34th largest metro areas while also having stops in the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 7th, and 21st largest metro areas. However, four of these five cities are located on the NEC which already has very frequent service on the same line. The other one (Chicago) as well as the exclusive cities could all be served by a corridor service.
Routes Travelled: CL WAS-CHI, Card. CHI-WAS, Caro. CLT-RGH, CS SJC-LAX, Cre. BAL-ATL, EB MSP-CHI, ES NYG/NYP-NFL, LSL BOS-ALB, ML ALB-NYP, NER FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, PS LAX-ANA, Pen. NYP-PGH, Pie. RGH-DNC, SM ORL-NYP, SS FTL-WAS
New Routes: LSL NYP-CHI, CZ CHI-RIC, CS SJC-SEA, EB SEA-MSP

#51 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 12:41 PM

The CardinaI has a reputation for being the most scenic route in the East, which seems to be the main reason to take it. If Amtrak can't sustain it with also trying to get the SL daily, do you think it's possible that it could be taken over by a private operator and run more like a tourist train? Rooms fixed up, menu improved and with a real dining car, nice PV-type lounge car. (I am not good at thinking out of the box, so this may be a ridiculous idea--please do not throw Amtrak café food at me :P). But there might be people who would take it for the scenery as a land cruise, but of course that could only be done if Amtrak gave it up.


Edited by Mystic River Dragon, 18 May 2017 - 12:42 PM.


#52 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:27 PM

The CardinaI has a reputation for being the most scenic route in the East, which seems to be the main reason to take it. If Amtrak can't sustain it with also trying to get the SL daily, do you think it's possible that it could be taken over by a private operator and run more like a tourist train? Rooms fixed up, menu improved and with a real dining car, nice PV-type lounge car. (I am not good at thinking out of the box, so this may be a ridiculous idea--please do not throw Amtrak café food at me :P). But there might be people who would take it for the scenery as a land cruise, but of course that could only be done if Amtrak gave it up.


I doubt that most of the passengers are riding due to the scenery. That is likely the reason for many railfans, but not the general population. If it truly was a tourist train, they would find a way to put an observation car/sightseer lounge on it, even if that meant terminating the the route in Washington. A large share of the passengers are on the daily portions of the route, west of Indianapolis and east of Charlottesville. There is also a significant number of people travelling to Cincinnati or smaller cities in West Virginia. In addition, there are also passengers who connect to the Crescent in Charlottesville or the Silver Meteor via a bus to Richmond. When viewed as a New York-Chicago or Washington-Chicago train it may appear that only tourists would ride it, however the reality is very few passengers are travelling on this route for those city pairs. Although these markets are relatively small, especially given the poor hours at Indianapolis and Cincinnati, it doesn't take many people to fill up a tri-weekly train with the short Cardinal consist.
Routes Travelled: CL WAS-CHI, Card. CHI-WAS, Caro. CLT-RGH, CS SJC-LAX, Cre. BAL-ATL, EB MSP-CHI, ES NYG/NYP-NFL, LSL BOS-ALB, ML ALB-NYP, NER FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, PS LAX-ANA, Pen. NYP-PGH, Pie. RGH-DNC, SM ORL-NYP, SS FTL-WAS
New Routes: LSL NYP-CHI, CZ CHI-RIC, CS SJC-SEA, EB SEA-MSP

#53 dlagrua

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:24 AM

I cannot imagine the Cardinal being taken over by a private railroad. It is said that like many Amtrak LD routes the Cardinal is not profitable, yet every time that we have taken a summer trip on it (the last three years) it has been completely sold out or near capacity. This whole vision that the NARP has of future passenger rail is really a fantasy. You can double the Amtrak budget and you still wouldn't see it. The capital expenditure for equipment and track improvements would be staggering and that is assuming that the freight railroads would even be willing to share their tracks. Yes it would be great to see it but right now even a single new service is a stretch.  Amtrak can't even get funding to restore the Gulf Coast service.



#54 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 07:40 AM

I didn't realize how many people take the Cardinal between intermediate points. Definitely, then, it needs to be fought for and kept, and maybe even fought for to go daily.



#55 railiner

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 12:38 PM

I feel that if a train is run at all, it should be run at least daily....hate to have to consult a calendar to figure which days a train will run.   That should be the first priority before any additional frequency on other routes is considered...even if increasing said frequency will yield better financially...just my humble opinion.    


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#56 neroden

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 12:42 PM

While I do believe both trains should be daily, I agree that the SL should be a higher priority. I would rather see 3-5 daily trains west of Cincinnati and tri-weekly service between Cincinnati and Charlottesville than once daily service over the entire route (although in a perfect world there would be both).

Well, in my ideal world we'd have the 3C (Cleveland-Columbus-Cincy) line.  And a Houston-Dallas line.  And the Sunset Limited would stop in Phoenix.

The SL is actually an inherently weak route, because the cities are too far apart.  A good rail line thrives on intermediate population.  El Paso is an awfully long way away from both Houston and San Antonio.    (Salt Lake - Reno is the next largest "depopulated" gap I can think of in the Amtrak network).  The portion of the route from San Antonio to Houston is better but lacks intermediate stations, and Houston really ought to be connected northward.  Houston - New Orleans is all right (good even) and would make a decent corridor if Louisana or Texas ever cared enough and completed their other priorities first.

On top of that, the SL has terrible politics, with no state government support and very little local government support (most of which is from Beaumont to New Orleans).  The Cardinal gets much stronger local support for whatever reason, perhaps because it's more useful.


Edited by neroden, 20 May 2017 - 12:42 PM.

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#57 Anderson

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 04:38 PM

I think utility has something to do with it.  As far as that gap, Reno-Salt Lake does a pretty good job of hosing the Zephyr's performance (and indeed, that gap hosed WP's service prior to A-Day).  Not that having the train isn't useful (it serves an EAS-esque role in some areas) but it's hard to get good financial performance out of the situation between Tucson and San Antonio.

TBH I think it would, financially, probably make more sense to run a daily train Tucson-Phoenix-Los Angeles and another one San Antonio-New Orleans (I once heard a suggestion to extend the Crescent to either Houston or San Antonio) alongside the existing 3x weekly through train than to try and force this one to be daily.  That has all sorts of operational disadvantages, but unlike (for example) the gap between Cleveland and Buffalo or Huntington/Cincinnatti and Indianapolis, both of which are only a few hours long, the one on the Sunset is 920 miles and about 18 hours long.


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

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

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

#58 neroden

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 10:47 AM

Agree with Anderson. Until there is enough support in Phoenix, there is no stop in Phoenix, which makes part of that plan very hard. On the east end, Dallas to Houston to New Orleans seems like the correct daily train to me. Stop at College Station...
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#59 west point

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 01:21 PM

Cardinal ? How many O & Ds south of WASH for locations to the west ? That would include Cincinnati. Only CIN <> WASH has good air service. Every other town has very limited service available including locations north of WASH.

We certainly cannot say the other routes to CHI are that limited.

Edited by west point, 05 June 2017 - 01:22 PM.


#60 Anderson

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 05:03 AM

Agree with Anderson. Until there is enough support in Phoenix, there is no stop in Phoenix, which makes part of that plan very hard. On the east end, Dallas to Houston to New Orleans seems like the correct daily train to me. Stop at College Station...

Phoenix is a bit of an odd duck: If I'm not mistaken, service on that part of the line was cut when SP wanted to abandon the line...but the line was never abandoned.  This was probably in some part due to the merger...the timing is certainly right to it being merger-related (Phoenix/Tempe/Coolidge are still the stops in the April 1996 timetable; Wikipedia lists service as having stopped on May 28, 1996 while the merger wasn't for a few months...so it sounds like this was an SP plan that got thrown out when the merger became a fiasco).

My best guess is that returning the train to that routing would be worth perhaps 25-30k riders: Ridership at Maricopa right now is a little over half what it was in Phoenix in the 1990s (12k vs 21k) and I'm going to hazard a guess that, given the trend in ridership on the Sunset Limited over the last 10-15 years even in spite of losing the Sunset East (LAX-NOL now has as much ridership as LAX-ORL had pre-Katrina, and IIRC even that was up from where it was in the 1990s) I would guess very much that ridership at Phoenix would be up significantly as well (especially since the population of the Phoenix metro area has also grown since then).  Also, Tempe had a station (and presumably at least some ridership), and said station is apparently within walking distance of the light rail line (which also didn't exist 20 years ago).  I'm guessing that, vis-a-vis Maricopa's 12k/yr, Phoenix should probably generate about 25k/yr (up modestly since the 1990s) while Tempe should generate perhaps 10-15k (I'm being generous to Tempe, but it arguably has somewhat better calling times as well as a significant catchment area on that side of the city as well as being more transit-accessible).  That added ridership (presuming it could be accommodated) would probably be worth around $2.5-3.5m/yr, presuming that the passengers from those stations behave like the pax originating at Maricopa do.  By the way, just under half of the traffic from Maricopa goes to LAX (and that, in turn, is about 5% of the Sunset Limited's ridership).

@West Point:
I'm going to go off of NARP's ridership data (which differs a little from the Amtrak ridership report data), but 5 of your top 9 ridership pairs and 4 of your top 9 revenue pairs fall under that category.  Setting aside the Hoosier State-supplemented stops in Indiana, Charlottesville and Cincinnati both send quite a few folks through to Chicago (ridership to Chicago is right behind ridership to Atlanta for CVS, which is saying something considering that ATL has the Crescent running daily versus the Cardinal going 3x weekly).  With that aside, the stops in WV switch back and forth between WAS and CHI as their #1 destination (HUN and WSS have WAS, HIN and CHW have CHI).  The turnover in CVS has actually been pretty stunning every time I've seen it.


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

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

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




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