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Does current California Zephyr have any similarities to the orginal?


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#21 ehbowen

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:24 PM

 

The current routing is the same as the original CZ from Chicago to Weso, NV just east of Winnemucca, NV.  At that point, the Amtrak CZ follow the SP line over Donner Pass instead of the old WP through Feather River Canyon.


That's interesting to learn, that the original CZ had a different route west of Winnemucca. I guess per these schedules on the Streamliner website, the stops mentioned here reflect the old Western Pacific route rather than the Southern Pacific route? http://www.streamlin...phyr195008.html(1950), and http://www.streamlin...phyr197002.html (1970) I'd suspect one reason the CZ got rerouted to the SP route west of Winnemucca, is that the WP route has less population vs. the SP route. Wonder if Amtrak CZ trains have rarely used the WP route, if the SP route had an issue(i.e. flooding) that caused trains to be rerouted?

 

 
Two reasons:

  • Reno. An important destination in its own right, and even more so for the targeted (leisure) customers using the service.
  • The Western Pacific never joined Amtrak. They didn't have to; they shed the last of their passenger service and became a freight-only railroad when the original California Zephyr was discontinued in 1970. So, Amtrak had no right to use their tracks and would have had to make a separate deal to do so (as, I believe, they had to do with Katy for the Inter-American/Texas Eagle between Taylor and Temple). It was much simpler to keep using the existing Southern Pacific passenger route over the Sierra which served Reno (see above). I'm not a contract lawyer, but I imagine the legal situation might have changed after WP was acquired by UP in 1983. However, by that time passenger service through the Feather River Canyon had been abandoned for 13 years, stations would have had to be rebuilt, and, again, there's Reno. AFAIK, there have been no serious proposals to restore regular passenger service on the Feather River Route. 

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#22 chakk

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:51 PM

When Amtrak was formed the WP route between Winnemucca and Sacramento was mostly single track, while the SP route between Reno and Sacramento was mostly double track. (Much for the second track east of Emigrant Gap to the summit has since been removed.). So the route over the SP had less conflicts with freight traffic and was generally somewhat faster.

#23 dogbert617

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:50 AM

When Amtrak was formed the WP route between Winnemucca and Sacramento was mostly single track, while the SP route between Reno and Sacramento was mostly double track. (Much for the second track east of Emigrant Gap to the summit has since been removed.). So the route over the SP had less conflicts with freight traffic and was generally somewhat faster.

Interesting. Not sure where the summit in eastern California along the CZ route is, but I assume you mean the area from Emigrant Gap to Truckee, CA was where a 2nd track was removed? I don't blame Amtrak, as to them choosing the Southern Pacific route over the Western Pacific one. Which serves more populated places like Reno and Truckee, over say like Portola, CA and Gerlach, NV.

 

 

 

 

The current routing is the same as the original CZ from Chicago to Weso, NV just east of Winnemucca, NV.  At that point, the Amtrak CZ follow the SP line over Donner Pass instead of the old WP through Feather River Canyon.


That's interesting to learn, that the original CZ had a different route west of Winnemucca. I guess per these schedules on the Streamliner website, the stops mentioned here reflect the old Western Pacific route rather than the Southern Pacific route? http://www.streamlin...phyr195008.html(1950), and http://www.streamlin...phyr197002.html (1970) I'd suspect one reason the CZ got rerouted to the SP route west of Winnemucca, is that the WP route has less population vs. the SP route. Wonder if Amtrak CZ trains have rarely used the WP route, if the SP route had an issue(i.e. flooding) that caused trains to be rerouted?

 

 
Two reasons:

  • Reno. An important destination in its own right, and even more so for the targeted (leisure) customers using the service.
  • The Western Pacific never joined Amtrak. They didn't have to; they shed the last of their passenger service and became a freight-only railroad when the original California Zephyr was discontinued in 1970. So, Amtrak had no right to use their tracks and would have had to make a separate deal to do so (as, I believe, they had to do with Katy for the Inter-American/Texas Eagle between Taylor and Temple). It was much simpler to keep using the existing Southern Pacific passenger route over the Sierra which served Reno (see above). I'm not a contract lawyer, but I imagine the legal situation might have changed after WP was acquired by UP in 1983. However, by that time passenger service through the Feather River Canyon had been abandoned for 13 years, stations would have had to be rebuilt, and, again, there's Reno. AFAIK, there have been no serious proposals to restore regular passenger service on the Feather River Route. 

 

That's interesting about the Western Pacific never joining Amtrak. How many other railroads chose not to have Amtrak take over their passenger rail service, when it was formed in 1971?



#24 ehbowen

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:46 AM

That's interesting about the Western Pacific never joining Amtrak. How many other railroads chose not to have Amtrak take over their passenger rail service, when it was formed in 1971?

 
Two questions here: How many railroads voluntarily opted to stay out of Amtrak, and how many had already dumped all their passenger services and were able to say, "Nyaah nyaah!"
 
In the former category, to my "off-the-top-of-the-head" recollection, the big names were Southern and the Denver & Rio Grande Western. However, both voluntarily joined Amtrak several years later which is why the Crescent and the California Zephyr (between Denver and Salt Lake City) are Amtrak trains today. Santa Fe and Seaboard Coast Line were "on the fence" right up to the last minute; had either of them opted out and stayed out for more then a few years Amtrak would probably have been stillborn. The Rock Island stayed out as well, but mainly because it was too broke to afford the (very stiff!) up-front fee to join; shortly thereafter it was bankrupt. Small fry which stayed out would include the Georgia Railroad, the Reading, and the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend interurban service.
 
In the latter category, many (most!) railroads had already succeeded in dumping passenger service and just sat Amtrak out. The biggest names would be Kansas City Southern, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy), and a host of others that I'd have to break open the 1971 OG and spend an hour and a half typing to list.


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#25 railiner

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 07:28 AM

The Georgia RR ran mixed passenger and freight trains over three routes from freight yards, on very loose schedules for several years, that were really only suitable for railfans to ride. They only offered coach service, which could even be in a caboose at times...
They eventually received permission to discontinue service.

The Rock, besides its subsidized commuter routes to Blue Island, and Joliet, ran service to Rock Island and Peoria.
These were remnants of its once proud fleet of "Rockets".
They even carried a privately owned dome-parlor car at times. Service ended after the Rock Island went bankrupt a few years later. (You can blame the ICC for that, as they dragged out UP's attempt to buy the Rock Island so long, that they finally withdrew their offer when the neglected road was decrepit, but that's another story).
Eventually the UP gained entrance to Chicago by buying the C&NW...
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#26 KmH

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 09:57 AM

https://en.wikipedia...mtrak#Formation

 

 

Of the 26 railroads still offering intercity passenger service in 1970, only six declined to join Amtrak.

 

It is my understanding that prior to Nixon signing the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970unless they had previously gone bankrupt, railroads that provided passenger service had to get permission from the federal Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to discontinue passenger rail service.


Edited by KmH, 17 July 2017 - 09:58 AM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 


#27 zephyr17

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 12:25 PM

https://en.wikipedia...mtrak#Formation

 

 

Of the 26 railroads still offering intercity passenger service in 1970, only six declined to join Amtrak.

 

It is my understanding that prior to Nixon signing the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970unless they had previously gone bankrupt, railroads that provided passenger service had to get permission from the federal Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to discontinue passenger rail service.

Yes, they did.

 

The National Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970 provided a carrot and a stick for railroads to join Amtrak.  The carrot was that any railroads joining Amtrak could discontinue all intercity passenger service May 1,1971 through discontinuation petitions which would be automatically approved.  The stick was any railroad not joining Amtrak would not be able to submit any discontinuance petitions to the ICC until 1975.

 

There was a cost to joining Amtrak.  The railroads would have to pay a certain percentage of their passenger losses over a set period (don't recall the details, just the overall approach) to Amtrak, that provided Amtrak's initial capital.  It could be either in cash or in kind (passenger equipment).

 

The railroads that didn't join did not for various reasons:

Rock Island could not afford it and their equipment wasn't in good enough shape to be used for in kind.

Southern had been successful enough in pruning their passenger services that they felt they could continue their existing passenger services at minimal loss for a few years until they could again petition.

D&RGW objected to the contract requiring Amtrak to have First Class status and priority.  They felt it would interfere with dispatching on their single track mountain railroad.  Parenthetically, the famed RGZ was a SECOND Class train in the timetable, with many freights having priority over it.

 

Don't know the details about the other RRs that did not join.  One thing was that NO ONE at the time thought Amtrak would last much beyond 1975, it was seen as a fig leaf and decent burial for the intercity passenger train.

 

WP had no motivation to join Amtrak, they no longer had passenger service, and they didn't.  Amtrak did not have a choice to run over the WP even if they wanted to.  My understanding is they did sign a contract that would allow Amtrak to detour over the WP in case of emergency.

 

Finally, I have thought for a long time that had the RRs foreseen that they'd still be hosting Amtrak in 2017, none of them would have joined Amtrak.  They would have eaten the losses for a few more years, and started to petition for discontinuance when it opened up in 1975, and almost all trains would have been gone by about 1980 at the latest.


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#28 railiner

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:33 AM

 

https://en.wikipedia...mtrak#Formation

 

 

Of the 26 railroads still offering intercity passenger service in 1970, only six declined to join Amtrak.

 

It is my understanding that prior to Nixon signing the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970unless they had previously gone bankrupt, railroads that provided passenger service had to get permission from the federal Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to discontinue passenger rail service.

Yes, they did.

 

The National Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970 provided a carrot and a stick for railroads to join Amtrak.  The carrot was that any railroads joining Amtrak could discontinue all intercity passenger service May 1,1971 through discontinuation petitions which would be automatically approved.  The stick was any railroad not joining Amtrak would not be able to submit any discontinuance petitions to the ICC until 1975.

 

There was a cost to joining Amtrak.  The railroads would have to pay a certain percentage of their passenger losses over a set period (don't recall the details, just the overall approach) to Amtrak, that provided Amtrak's initial capital.  It could be either in cash or in kind (passenger equipment).

 

The railroads that didn't join did not for various reasons:

Rock Island could not afford it and their equipment wasn't in good enough shape to be used for in kind.

Southern had been successful enough in pruning their passenger services that they felt they could continue their existing passenger services at minimal loss for a few years until they could again petition.

D&RGW objected to the contract requiring Amtrak to have First Class status and priority.  They felt it would interfere with dispatching on their single track mountain railroad.  Parenthetically, the famed RGZ was a SECOND Class train in the timetable, with many freights having priority over it.

 

Don't know the details about the other RRs that did not join.  One thing was that NO ONE at the time thought Amtrak would last much beyond 1975, it was seen as a fig leaf and decent burial for the intercity passenger train.

 

WP had no motivation to join Amtrak, they no longer had passenger service, and they didn't.  Amtrak did not have a choice to run over the WP even if they wanted to.  My understanding is they did sign a contract that would allow Amtrak to detour over the WP in case of emergency.

 

Finally, I have thought for a long time that had the RRs foreseen that they'd still be hosting Amtrak in 2017, none of them would have joined Amtrak.  They would have eaten the losses for a few more years, and started to petition for discontinuance when it opened up in 1975, and almost all trains would have been gone by about 1980 at the latest.

 

I think you may be right, on that last point....probably the only trains to survive would be the NEC and branches, several California and Chicago corridor's, and that would be it...with perhaps a few "land cruise" type trains occasionally covering the other routes...


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#29 NS VIA Fan

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 04:09 AM

In May 1971 there was another US passenger train operator: Canadian Pacific with their Atlantic Limited....making six stops in the US on 200 mile of CPR track across the State of Maine....and it did have a car very similar to one on the California Zephyr....a Skyline Dome.

The Atlantic Limited was the last passenger train serving Maine until the Downeaster.... but essentially a Canadian train “just passing through”. It continued to run for a number of years after the formation of Amtrak.

Edited by NS VIA Fan, 18 July 2017 - 04:32 AM.


#30 railiner

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 05:21 AM

In May 1971 there was another US passenger train operator: Canadian Pacific with their Atlantic Limited....making six stops in the US on 200 mile of CPR track across the State of Maine....and it did have a car very similar to one on the California Zephyr....a Skyline Dome.

The Atlantic Limited was the last passenger train serving Maine until the Downeaster.... but essentially a Canadian train just passing through. It continued to run for a number of years after the formation of Amtrak.


By the time the Atlantic Limited was discontinued, it was no longer a CP train, but a VIA Rail train.....not sure, but I believe they were considered the same "status" as Amtrak, and did not answer to the ICC ( if in fact, it itself still existed
At that point).
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#31 ehbowen

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 07:21 AM

 

Finally, I have thought for a long time that had the RRs foreseen that they'd still be hosting Amtrak in 2017, none of them would have joined Amtrak.  They would have eaten the losses for a few more years, and started to petition for discontinuance when it opened up in 1975, and almost all trains would have been gone by about 1980 at the latest.

I think you may be right, on that last point....probably the only trains to survive would be the NEC and branches, several California and Chicago corridor's, and that would be it...with perhaps a few "land cruise" type trains occasionally covering the other routes...

 

 
On the other hand, it might possibly have motivated states and municipalities who realized how much they missed passenger service to pony up real money in order to keep it...particularly after the sheikhs reset the gas pumps in 1973.


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#32 railiner

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 09:18 AM

And on the other hand (I know, only have two hands :D),
once a route becomes dormant, it is much harder to restore train service...
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#33 PerRock

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 11:21 AM

The Georgia RR ran mixed passenger and freight trains over three routes from freight yards, on very loose schedules for several years, that were really only suitable for railfans to ride. They only offered coach service, which could even be in a caboose at times...
They eventually received permission to discontinue service.

 
In the UK a service similar to that is called a "Parliamentary train." Just a fun little FYI.

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#34 zephyr17

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 01:20 PM

 

 

Finally, I have thought for a long time that had the RRs foreseen that they'd still be hosting Amtrak in 2017, none of them would have joined Amtrak.  They would have eaten the losses for a few more years, and started to petition for discontinuance when it opened up in 1975, and almost all trains would have been gone by about 1980 at the latest.

I think you may be right, on that last point....probably the only trains to survive would be the NEC and branches, several California and Chicago corridor's, and that would be it...with perhaps a few "land cruise" type trains occasionally covering the other routes...

 

 
On the other hand, it might possibly have motivated states and municipalities who realized how much they missed passenger service to pony up real money in order to keep it...particularly after the sheikhs reset the gas pumps in 1973.

 

One of the alternatives to Amtrak proposed was to directly subsidize the railroads to run trains, which was dropped in favor of the NRPC proposal.  Throughout the late 1960s there was significant resistance to dropping trains by local towns and states (California Public Utilities Commission was practically at war with the SP).  ICC discontinuance petitions, once routine, were often fiercely resisted and frequently denied.  That resistance, in conjunction with unsustainable railroad losses were what led to Amtrak.  By 1970 it was perceived that something HAD to be done pretty much immediately about passenger rail, and NRPC/Railpax/Amtrak was the funnel for the money that was ponied up to save trains/provide a decent burial.  Train service, long distance train service in particular, was seen as a largely federal issue, as it had been federally regulated for decades at that point.

 

Parenthetically, it was the 1973 gas crisis that really saved Amtrak largely by resurrecting travel in the NEC.  After that the long term deal was the rest of the country could have it's skeletal system and the Northeast could have the NEC which the rest of the country would help pay for.


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#35 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 04:51 PM

When Amtrak was formed the WP route between Winnemucca and Sacramento was mostly single track, while the SP route between Reno and Sacramento was mostly double track. (Much for the second track east of Emigrant Gap to the summit has since been removed.). So the route over the SP had less conflicts with freight traffic and was generally somewhat faster.

 

Aren't those formerly competing routes run as "directional" for freight (for the most part anyways)?


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#36 zephyr17

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 06:10 PM

Not ex-WP Feather River, ex-SP Donner Pass over the Sierra.  SP & WP entered a shared track agreement through Nevada that allowed direction running, eastbound on the WP, westbound on the SP between Weso (near Winnemucca) and and Alazon (near Wells).  That practice is followed to this day by UP.  In Utah, they also started directional running between about Garfield, UT and Salt Lake City sometime after the merger.


Edited by zephyr17, 18 July 2017 - 06:11 PM.

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#37 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 11:39 AM

Thanks, that's right.... I wonder if they will ever double-track over Donner again?


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#38 ehbowen

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 12:33 PM

If the freight traffic comes back, or if someone offers a suitable incentive to add passenger capacity...I bet they would. After all, the right-of-way is already in place and graded; UP uses it as an access road for service vehicles.


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#39 chakk

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 07:20 PM

So, adding the second track again might lose the service road. Several of the tunnels in the single-track section can not hold two-tracks without substantial enlarging to allow double-stack freight trains to use both lines.




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