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Baltimore/Washington -- Pittsburgh corridor service?


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#1 MARC Rider

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 07:49 AM

It sure seems like there's a lot of traffic on I-70 that could be diverted to train travel.  True, the Capitol Limited takes 8 hours for this run when you can drive it in 5.  However, I recall seeing a B&) RDC on display att he B&O railroad Museum in Baltimore that stated the B&O rain an RDC service n the 50s or 60s that did the trip in 6 hours.  I recently rode the Capitol Limited with a GPS and I was surprised at the percentage of the route that had 70 mph plus running.  Sure, the route is curvy, and it's 50 miles longer than the equivalent highway route,  but perhaps using Talgos could make this a popular corridor.  At the very least, I would think that extending MARC service to Cumberland would help with economic development in Western Maryland.  And restoring the Pittsburgh-McKeesport commuter service would help people avoid Pittsburgh traffic.

 

Baltimore, MD

Ellicott City

Sykesville

Mt. Airy

Point of Ricks (Frederick, MD)

Washington, DC

Silver Spring, MD

Rockville

Gaithersburg

Point of Rocks (Frederick, MD)

Brunswick

Harper's Ferry, WVA

Martinsburg, WVA (Hagerstown, MD and Winchester, VA)

Hancock (Berkeley Springs, WVA)

Cumberland, MD

Myersdale, PA

Rockwood PA (Somerset)

Confluence, PA (Laurel Highlands)

Ohiopyle (seasonal)

Conelsville

McKeesport

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#2 Anderson

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:34 PM

The biggest obstacles are:
(1) CSX and

(2) Which state is going to pay for this?  Regrettably this is a corridor that there isn't much of a case for MD, WV, or PA to cover as far as I can tell: Maryland already has MARC as far as Martinsburg and the rest of the route is both slow and thinly-populated.


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#3 norfolkwesternhenry

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 12:55 AM

How much time would the talgos cut, I would for travel time to be the same or less than driving. Is that within reason?

Empire Builder MSP-CHI (2) CHI-MSP (2) MSP-PDX (1) MSP-CBS (5.5 H late) (1) MKE-MSP (1) MSP-SEA (1) Coast Starlate PDX-EMY (1.5H late) (1) California Zephyr DEN-SLC (1H late) (1) Hiawatha CHI-MKE (1) NE Regional WAS-BAL (1) WAS-NYP (1) Acela Express BAL-WAS (1) BOS-WAS (1) Late Shore (Limited service) CHI-BOS (On Time) (1) Capitol Limited WAS-CHI (1) Texas Eagle SAS-CHI (1.5 HR late, 1 HR late) (2) CHI-SAS (1) (55 min early) Wolverine DET-DER-ARB-CHI (35 Min late) (1) Cascades SEA-VAC (1)
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No trees were killed to make this, but a number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

My apologies if I offend you, or seem stubborn, it's simply my nature. I am 14 after all, and my English isn't exactly perfect.


#4 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 02:54 PM

How much time would the talgos cut, I would for travel time to be the same or less than driving. Is that within reason?

Look at the schedules for the Amtrak Cascades. Portland-Seattle is scheduled for 3 hrs 40 min. The Coast Starlight is scheduled for a flat 4 hrs. (Some of that extra time may be padding against lateness of trains coming up from California.) So the tilting Talgos appear to save ~20 min on this 187-mile route.

 

What are the Talgos worth to the Cascades service? The Stimulus grant invested in improving this stretch was at least $850 million, probably $1 Billion counting other sources of funds.

 

By October 1, the beginning of FY 2018, the Cascades (and maybe the Starlight) will take 10 minutes less to make the trip. If a 10 minute savings from upgrading tracks etc is worth a Billion, then saving the 20 minutes thanks to tilting Talgos is worth ~$2 Billion.

 

Of course, as with so much of railroading, it's the economies of scale, as Neroden likes to remind us. The Cascades core route, Seattle-Portland, has been carrying four Talgo frequencies plus the Starlight; when the new and improved kicks in, there will be the Starlight and six Talgo round trips. I'm not feeling six or even four round trips PGH-D.C./Balto if no state is eager to pay for even one.


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 20 June 2017 - 02:56 PM.


#5 MARC Rider

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:27 AM

The biggest obstacles are:
(1) CSX and

(2) Which state is going to pay for this?  Regrettably this is a corridor that there isn't much of a case for MD, WV, or PA to cover as far as I can tell: Maryland already has MARC as far as Martinsburg and the rest of the route is both slow and thinly-populated.

 

You probably have a point about the interests of the states, but there could be a possible benefit that getting cars off the road would be useful for both Baltimore-Washington and Pittsburgh in formulating attainment plans under the Clean Air Act.  At the very least, service Baltimore/Washington to Cumberland would get cars off of I-70/I-68 in Maryland and might help economic development in western Maryland. Of course, that could possibly be done with extending the MARC Brunswick Line to Cumberland.  But, yes, I guess the attitude of CSX regarding passenger rail would have to change.



#6 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:39 AM

I'm not even sure if running a single train PGH-WAS-BAL is even practical now (how would you turn the train in WAS?) The last I remember a one seat ride between PGH and BAL was when the BL ran a WAS leg (could you turn the train in PHL today either?)


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Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 

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#7 jis

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 11:36 AM

All Keystones between NY and PGH reverse direction at PHL today using push-pull.

Absent that, at Washington the train could be backed into the station upon arrival like is done at TPA and DEN. Or it could be backed out for departure on the other leg of the wye from the one going in the direction of departure.

No big deal really!

Edited by jis, 21 June 2017 - 11:37 AM.


#8 MARC Rider

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 11:39 AM

I'm not even sure if running a single train PGH-WAS-BAL is even practical now (how would you turn the train in WAS?) The last I remember a one seat ride between PGH and BAL was when the BL ran a WAS leg (could you turn the train in PHL today either?)

A long time ago, the Pre Amtrak Capitol Limited ran from New York.  They turned around in Washington the same way the Keystones and the Pennsylvanian turn around at 30th St.

 

But I was thinking of the possibility of having some trains serve Baltimore directly via the old B&O main Line from Point of Rocks through Ellicott City, Sykesville and Mt. Airy.



#9 Anderson

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 04:21 PM

 

How much time would the talgos cut, I would for travel time to be the same or less than driving. Is that within reason?

Look at the schedules for the Amtrak Cascades. Portland-Seattle is scheduled for 3 hrs 40 min. The Coast Starlight is scheduled for a flat 4 hrs. (Some of that extra time may be padding against lateness of trains coming up from California.) So the tilting Talgos appear to save ~20 min on this 187-mile route.

 

What are the Talgos worth to the Cascades service? The Stimulus grant invested in improving this stretch was at least $850 million, probably $1 Billion counting other sources of funds.

 

By October 1, the beginning of FY 2018, the Cascades (and maybe the Starlight) will take 10 minutes less to make the trip. If a 10 minute savings from upgrading tracks etc is worth a Billion, then saving the 20 minutes thanks to tilting Talgos is worth ~$2 Billion.

 

Of course, as with so much of railroading, it's the economies of scale, as Neroden likes to remind us. The Cascades core route, Seattle-Portland, has been carrying four Talgo frequencies plus the Starlight; when the new and improved kicks in, there will be the Starlight and six Talgo round trips. I'm not feeling six or even four round trips PGH-D.C./Balto if no state is eager to pay for even one.

 

The Cascades also got two additional round-trip slots between SEA and PDX for their $1bn, so I don't think it's fair to say that they "only" got a ten-minute improvement out of the deal.


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#10 Lonestar648

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 05:36 PM

I think Pennsylvania would get more bang for their buck by extending some of the Keystones from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh which could ease the number of cars going east/west.

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#11 Eric S

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 08:22 AM

I think Pennsylvania would get more bang for their buck by extending some of the Keystones from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh which could ease the number of cars going east/west.

 

Yeah, I can't see a Pittsburgh-Washington corridor being very high on the list of Pennsylvania's priorities. Or Maryland's. Or West Virginia's. Not that PGH-WAS service *should* necessarily be a high priority, either, but it does point out the challenges that often come with multi-state corridors.



#12 west point

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 12:44 PM

What has only been hinted at is if additional Keystone service to PGH then there will be additional connections to Baltimore  and WASH + intermediate stations.  Of course still need to get an additional 10 - 12 passenger cars for the service.


Edited by west point, 27 June 2017 - 12:45 PM.


#13 jis

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 12:57 PM

What has only been hinted at is if additional Keystone service to PGH then there will be additional connections to Baltimore  and WASH + intermediate stations.  Of course still need to get an additional 10 - 12 passenger cars for the service.

Can you perhaps explain why it would require ten to twelve additional cars to extend one Keystone to Pittsburgh?

#14 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 06:30 PM

What has only been hinted at is if additional Keystone service to PGH then there will be additional connections to Baltimore  and WASH + intermediate stations.  Of course still need to get an additional 10 - 12 passenger cars for the service.

Can you perhaps explain why it would require ten to twelve additional cars to extend one Keystone to Pittsburgh?

Yeah, I see no reason why it would take more than one trainset. I am not familiar with the current equipment layover schedule in Harrisburg, but it is possible that no more passengers cars are required. However, one to two additional locomotives will likely be required. If the CL ends up recieving through cars, it may be possible to take a locomotive off in Pittsburgh for the new train.
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#15 west point

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 10:13 AM

10 - 12 cars was based on maybe 2 train sets needed.  If one set then 5 cars for service  +   one maintenance rotation car.  Another thought why cannot there be a train or connecting car(s) direct from Harrisville - (NS) - Perryville - Baltimore - WASH.  The past service did not justify that but Maybe now.  How much time would that save and how many passengers ?  That could boost Keystone traffic HAR <> PGH ?  



#16 Alexandria Nick

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 04:57 PM

Pennsylvania would have zero interest.  It would take cars off the Turnpike and negatively impact the ability to pay for the rest of the Turnpike.

 

Also, the Turnpike is now signed at 70 mph.  You can do DC to Pittsburgh in under 4 hours now.  The train is getting less and less competitive now.


Edited by Alexandria Nick, 28 June 2017 - 05:05 PM.


#17 MARC Rider

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 11:48 AM

Pennsylvania would have zero interest.  It would take cars off the Turnpike and negatively impact the ability to pay for the rest of the Turnpike.

 

Also, the Turnpike is now signed at 70 mph.  You can do DC to Pittsburgh in under 4 hours now.  The train is getting less and less competitive now.

 

You mean the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission might not want cars taken off the turnpike.  Other state and local interests in Pennsylvania might have other ideas.  For example, the Pittsburgh area MPO might be interested in the prospect of taking cars off the road in western Pennsylvania in order to comply with the transportation conformity provisions of the Clean Air Act.  Likewise, the MPOs in the Baltimore-Washington area would be interested in getting cars of of I-70 and I-270 in Maryland for the same reasons.  Then there may be an interest on the part of Maryland to use passenger rail service as a tool to spur economic development in the Cumberland area and western Maryland in general.

 

As far as the new speed limit on the Turnpike, I think that's a nothingburger.  The speed limit from I-270 from Washington to Frederick is unchanged, and don't forget the 25 miles of 55 mph speed limit on I-70 between the Mason-Dixon Line and Breezewood, plus the little drive through Breezewood. Oh, yes, and getting in/out of Pittsburgh and Baltimore/Washington in the bumper to bumper traffic that is common in all 3 cities.  Anyway, people were driving on the Turnpike and I-70 at >70 mph already even before they raised the speed limits.   :)  My experience driving this route both before and after the speed limit changes is that the drive time hasn't really changed, and it still takes me 5 hours to get to Pittsburgh.  Of course, I need to make at least 3 rest stops along the way, so perhaps if I were fitted with a catheter, I might be able to do it in 4 hours. :)


Edited by MARC Rider, 29 June 2017 - 11:49 AM.


#18 west point

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 04:02 PM

MARC rider:  At least on the train you can take your rest breaks without stopping.  And of course read, play games, computer work, sightsee, etc.   What so many opponents of Amtrak forget is not one size fits all ! !



#19 Alexandria Nick

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 09:45 PM

 

Pennsylvania would have zero interest.  It would take cars off the Turnpike and negatively impact the ability to pay for the rest of the Turnpike.

 

Also, the Turnpike is now signed at 70 mph.  You can do DC to Pittsburgh in under 4 hours now.  The train is getting less and less competitive now.

 

You mean the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission might not want cars taken off the turnpike.  Other state and local interests in Pennsylvania might have other ideas.  For example, the Pittsburgh area MPO might be interested in the prospect of taking cars off the road in western Pennsylvania in order to comply with the transportation conformity provisions of the Clean Air Act.  Likewise, the MPOs in the Baltimore-Washington area would be interested in getting cars of of I-70 and I-270 in Maryland for the same reasons.  Then there may be an interest on the part of Maryland to use passenger rail service as a tool to spur economic development in the Cumberland area and western Maryland in general.

 

As far as the new speed limit on the Turnpike, I think that's a nothingburger.  The speed limit from I-270 from Washington to Frederick is unchanged, and don't forget the 25 miles of 55 mph speed limit on I-70 between the Mason-Dixon Line and Breezewood, plus the little drive through Breezewood. Oh, yes, and getting in/out of Pittsburgh and Baltimore/Washington in the bumper to bumper traffic that is common in all 3 cities.  Anyway, people were driving on the Turnpike and I-70 at >70 mph already even before they raised the speed limits.   :)  My experience driving this route both before and after the speed limit changes is that the drive time hasn't really changed, and it still takes me 5 hours to get to Pittsburgh.  Of course, I need to make at least 3 rest stops along the way, so perhaps if I were fitted with a catheter, I might be able to do it in 4 hours. :)

 

Extremely disagreeing on this.  Those towns *want* the tax revenue and have a vested interest in making sure the Turnpike is in working order.  There's a reason Breezewood still has a stoplight on I-70. The townships and counties that would be hypothetically benefiting from this aren't the same ones that are benefiting from the Turnpike.  Rural PA gives literally no craps about what Baltimore and Washington want.  They'd fight to the death over it.

 

I literally drove it today.  You can do it way faster now because the slow traffic is faster than it used to be.  I make that run once a month or so, usually leaving in the teeth of rush hour on Friday.  It shaved a half hour off after they raised the speed limit.  Even good old google maps gives the driving time from WAS to PGH (the stations, that is) as a hair over four hours.  



#20 Carolina Special

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 02:00 PM

So PA protected Breezewood instead of the Broadway Limited. If the Cardinal is "Byrd Crap", does this make the Breezewood interstate traffic light "Wood Rot"? :)




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