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Alternate travel times.


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#1 Sis

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 06:39 PM

In our area (1.5 hr from me) you can only catch Amtrak in the middle of the night. Not only is this very inconvenient (especially with delays) and a bit scary, but nearly the whole trip is in the dark! It seems like such a shame that we don't have the option of a daylight service thru our beautiful state.

 

 



#2 PVD

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 07:02 PM

which state? 



#3 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 07:04 PM

In our area (1.5 hr from me) you can only catch Amtrak in the middle of the night. Not only is this very inconvenient (especially with delays) and a bit scary, but nearly the whole trip is in the dark! It seems like such a shame that we don't have the option of a daylight service thru our beautiful state.


If you want alternate travel times you'll need to find another mode of transportation.  We have the same problem in San Antonio. In addition to dead of night service being inconvenient for working age passengers it's also impossible to connect to any other public transportation schedule and impolite to ask friends or family to drop you off or pick you up late at night or in the early morning hours.  The poor calling times, rudimentary three-a-week train service, lack of connecting services, cramped and filthy station, and surly night shift staff are major impediments to future Amtrak growth in my city.  In most of the US there is no way for Amtrak to introduce more services or to speed things up to reach major stations at a better hour, but they might be able to improve calling times by slowing down a bit.  It's not like anyone who is in a hurry is riding Amtrak anyway.  If we can't make Amtrak any faster maybe we can at least make it more convenient by saving the dead of night portions for relatively empty regions of remote trackage.


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#4 west point

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 08:48 PM

Lets see.  To give  every  LD "ROUTE" daytime service you would need another train with a mirror schedule about 12 hours difference.  That would require at least as many LD cars on each route as presently on the opposite schedule.  Then to meet the demand that would naturally occur it probably would take 1-1/2 as many revenue cars on each trip.  Then more locos as well.  That would mean another 450 - 500 of just LD cars not including more cars for state and NEC trains ?



#5 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 10:56 PM

Lets see.  To give  every  LD "ROUTE" daytime service you would need another train with a mirror schedule about 12 hours difference.  That would require at least as many LD cars on each route as presently on the opposite schedule.  Then to meet the demand that would naturally occur it probably would take 1-1/2 as many revenue cars on each trip.  Then more locos as well.  That would mean another 450 - 500 of just LD cars not including more cars for state and NEC trains ?

 

You could also cut the number of route miles in half and run double daily trains on the remaining sections.  Not saying this would be wise, but if we're going to test the limits of possibility there are other ways to achieve this.  Personally I'd be happy with some schedule changes and speed reductions that helped position late night runs deep in the rural deserts instead of right in the middle of major cities.


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#6 StriderGDM

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 10:58 PM

I've argued for awhile that at least some routes need additional trains, though in general I'd argue more like 6 or so hours off. The reason being that in general you can get better utilization of the stations in route.

Also, you could probably get away with couch only trains at first. Imagine a Southwest Scout.

 

I also suspect you could get away with slightly better equipment utilization with existing trains.

 

And in some cases, you don't need to serve the exact same routes, but just close enough.  Make the network a bit larger/broader.



#7 KmH

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 11:29 PM

Something like the Santa Fe El Capitan.

The Scout had sleepers and coach cars. 

  • "June 7, 1948: The Scout is withdrawn as passengers prefer to use Santa Fe's streamlined trains."

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#8 StriderGDM

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 08:15 AM

Ah, interesting for some reason, I had thought the Scout was w/o sleepers.  Thanks for the correction.



#9 jebr

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 11:59 AM

 

In our area (1.5 hr from me) you can only catch Amtrak in the middle of the night. Not only is this very inconvenient (especially with delays) and a bit scary, but nearly the whole trip is in the dark! It seems like such a shame that we don't have the option of a daylight service thru our beautiful state.


If you want alternate travel times you'll need to find another mode of transportation.  We have the same problem in San Antonio. In addition to dead of night service being inconvenient for working age passengers it's also impossible to connect to any other public transportation schedule and impolite to ask friends or family to drop you off or pick you up late at night or in the early morning hours.  The poor calling times, rudimentary three-a-week train service, lack of connecting services, cramped and filthy station, and surly night shift staff are major impediments to future Amtrak growth in my city.  In most of the US there is no way for Amtrak to introduce more services or to speed things up to reach major stations at a better hour, but they might be able to improve calling times by slowing down a bit.  It's not like anyone who is in a hurry is riding Amtrak anyway.  If we can't make Amtrak any faster maybe we can at least make it more convenient by saving the dead of night portions for relatively empty regions of remote trackage.

 

 

Done poorly, however, this could drive off more intermediate market travel than it helps recover elsewhere. If you slow down a little bit between each stop, someone going between those two stops may decide to just drive instead of taking Amtrak (as it's now no longer speed-competitive enough to use.) It might work to just stop for a few hours at certain destinations, but then you risk downline stops becoming later and then extending a 2-3 day trip end to end (for those that decide to do that) into 3-4 days. 

 

As an example, looking at the Texas Eagle westbound Little Rock is currently served at 3:10 AM. If we want to move that 4 hours to, say, 7:10 AM, now we've put Austin from a pretty convenient 6:30 PM arrival/departure to a much less convenient 10:30 PM arrival/departure. We also move the acceptable-but-not-amazing 9:55 PM arrival into San Antonio into a dreadful 1:55 AM arrival. If we decide "hey, let's just bump out the 2:45 AM departure to a more reasonable 7:15 AM departure" we now put Tucson at a 11:15 PM arrival and 12:05 AM departure and the Phoenix connection at a terrible 1:22 AM arrival and 1:32 AM departure. We're also already at a 10:05 AM arrival into Los Angeles, which makes the Coast Starlight connection unworkable (at 10:10 AM departure.) We could bump things back an hour, giving a 6:15 AM departure from San Antonio, but we've still got the Phoenix connection at a terrible time and Tucson at a rather late departure, and we're still looking pretty tight for a Coast Starlight connection.

 

No matter what schedule you use, there's going to be winners and losers unless you slow it down to the point of unusability for anything except the most leisurely of travel (which I think is worse than having terrible calling points at one or two major metro areas but, once you get on, a semi-usable speed.) There could be some tweaks here and there to make some more usable (actually, putting the westbound Texas Eagle at 6:10 AM in Little Rock and bumping everything else back three hours isn't the worst idea if through traffic through Little Rock to points in Texas before the Sunset Limited pairing wouldn't be a terrible idea, and if trips ending at San Antonio are low already - unsure about this) but I don't think there's a practical way to make one train serve every metro area with a wonderful timetable.



#10 jis

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 12:12 PM

Then there is VIA's Skeena model, where you simply park the train at a town in night and put everyone up in hotels, and then get going the following morning again. So there are no middle of the night stops, and in addition you don't need to provide Sleeper service at all, if push comes to shove. :)



#11 Bob Dylan

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 12:50 PM

And the old Harvey House Model where Trains would stop for the Passengers to eat, and perhaps spend the night @ the ones that had Hotels, and then continue on its way.
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#12 west point

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:49 PM

The silver service seems to refute some arguments.  The Palmetto runs counter to the Meteor and Star.  All 3 trains appears to have some of the highest load factors.  The daytime runs of the Palmetto are running high loads that Meteor and Star do not carry.  Of course if the Palmetto went all the way to Miami by way of Tampa the ridership potential might be very high.  Now we get back to the lack of equipment.

 

Look at how much traffic are carried by the night owls and the early morning train from WASH .   


Edited by west point, 17 August 2017 - 02:50 PM.


#13 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 10:17 PM

Then there is VIA's Skeena model, where you simply park the train at a town in night and put everyone up in hotels, and then get going the following morning again. So there are no middle of the night stops, and in addition you don't need to provide Sleeper service at all, if push comes to shove. :)

If someone wanted to do this on Amtrak at present, it is possible with the Florida Service. A passenger would have to pay for the hotel, however The Palmetto could be used as far South as Savannah and the SM could be used South of there. Theoretically, it would actually be possible to travel from Miami to Montreal or any other station in the Northeastern short/medium distance system without any overnights on the train, although two overnights would be required at that point. If Via Rail is considered, the Chicago hub could even be included in this discussion as Detroit and Windsor are close enough that connections could be made (or even Sarnia/Port Huron). Considering that virtually nobody would choose to do this, a forced overnight stopover is not a viable transportation option. The only way such a method would likely be successful is as a tourist operation, such as the Rocky Mountaineer.

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Trains travelled: Capitol Limited WAS-CHI, Cardinal CHI-WAS, Carolinian CLT-RGH, Coast Starlight SJC-LAX, Crescent BAL-ATL, Empire Builder MSP-CHI, Empire Service NYP-NFL+NYG-YNY, Lake Shore Limited BOS-ALB, Maple Leaf ALB-NYP, Northeast Regional FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, Pacific Surfliner LAX-ANA, Pennsylvanian NYP-PGH, Piedmont RGH-DNC, Silver Meteor ORL-NYP, Silver Star FTL-WAS, 2016 Autumn Express NYP-HAR-NYP

Upcoming New Routes: Lake Shore Limited NYP-CHI (December), California Zephyr CHI-RIC (December), Coast Starlight SJC-SEA (December), Empire Builder SEA-MSP (January).

Non Amtrak: Atlanta Streetcar, Caltrain, CTA, DC Streetcar, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, LIRR, MARC, MARTA, MBTA Subway, Metra, Metrolink, Metro-North, METRO Transit Light Rail, Miami Metrorail, Muni Metro, NJT Commuter Rail, North Star, NYC Subway, PATH, Pittsburgh Light Rail, River Line (NJT), SEPTA Regional Rail, SEPTA Subway, South Shore Line, Sunrail, Staten Island Railway, TECO Streetcar, Tri-Rail, Washington Metro

#14 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 04:57 AM

As jebr said, someone usually winds up in the graveyard shift on an LD train. IMO you'd want to maximize the number of people served outside the "graveyard shift" and strive to hit the graveyard shift in as low populated areas as possible and if you have multiple trains stagger them. The biggest headache is what's best for Amtrak isn't best for the host railroads who call the shots and make Amtrak (and most of our lives) miserable. 

 

Also IMO the two worst schedules in the Amtrak LD system are the Cardinal and Sunset Limited, not coincidentally the two least financially successful trains. Most will say it's because they aren't daily but I say their failure to hit peak markets at ideal times also contributes to their financial failures.

 

More discussion of Amtrak schedules: http://discuss.amtra...host-railroads/


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)
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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/

 


#15 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 03:14 PM

Some Amtrak trains seem to be scheduled to be more beneficial for scenery than major cities. For example, the Cardinal travels during the daylight in the lightly populated but scenic Huntington-Charlottesville segment, while it travels during the late night and early morning through the major cities of Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Another example of this is the California Zephyr, which is very early in the morning in Salt Lake City eastbound. If the schedule was pushed back a few hours, no major city would be in the middle of the night, but the Front Range of the Rockies would likely be in darkness. Other routes are largely scheduled based on connections, such as the Empire Builder. Connections are available in both Chicago and Portland, but Spokane has poor hours and some of the best scenery is covered overnight.

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Edited by brianpmcdonnell17, 21 August 2017 - 07:51 AM.

Trains travelled: Capitol Limited WAS-CHI, Cardinal CHI-WAS, Carolinian CLT-RGH, Coast Starlight SJC-LAX, Crescent BAL-ATL, Empire Builder MSP-CHI, Empire Service NYP-NFL+NYG-YNY, Lake Shore Limited BOS-ALB, Maple Leaf ALB-NYP, Northeast Regional FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, Pacific Surfliner LAX-ANA, Pennsylvanian NYP-PGH, Piedmont RGH-DNC, Silver Meteor ORL-NYP, Silver Star FTL-WAS, 2016 Autumn Express NYP-HAR-NYP

Upcoming New Routes: Lake Shore Limited NYP-CHI (December), California Zephyr CHI-RIC (December), Coast Starlight SJC-SEA (December), Empire Builder SEA-MSP (January).

Non Amtrak: Atlanta Streetcar, Caltrain, CTA, DC Streetcar, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, LIRR, MARC, MARTA, MBTA Subway, Metra, Metrolink, Metro-North, METRO Transit Light Rail, Miami Metrorail, Muni Metro, NJT Commuter Rail, North Star, NYC Subway, PATH, Pittsburgh Light Rail, River Line (NJT), SEPTA Regional Rail, SEPTA Subway, South Shore Line, Sunrail, Staten Island Railway, TECO Streetcar, Tri-Rail, Washington Metro

#16 Hotblack Desiato

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 11:15 PM

The schedules of trains are far more complicated than just saying they're scheduled for "scenery" (so far down the list that it's almost not a factor).

 

The Cardinal, for example, is scheduled to meet all the major western trains in Chicago (connections), allow for reasonable equipment and crew turns (admittedly very difficult to do on a 3x/week schedule), have more-or-less reasonable times on the NEC (also major traffic generators), and also to minimize the disruption on the Buckingham Branch railroad (basically, from what I remember from a few years ago, the BB essentially shuts down their railroad to most/all freight traffic when the Cardinals are running; I can't remember if it's because of directional running, track warrant territory, sidings too short to hold freight trains when the Cardinal is going through so no easy way to avoid delays to the Cardinal, or likely some combination of all of those).  The Cardinal's schedule is also designed so that the east & westbound Cardinals meet on the BB territory at specified sidings at the same time each of the 3 days per week the trains operate (granted, those meets only work when both trains are on schedule, but in theory they can be met).  There were a lot of different options looked at when the Cardinal was under PRIIA review 5 or 6 years ago, but there weren't many options that would really work without significant investment in infrastructure on the Buckingham Branch.

 

Now, I could be getting my railroads and trains wrong here, but I think the Cardinals are scheduled to meet on the only (or one of the only?) CTC-equipped sidings on the Buckingham Branch (basically, dispatchers can remotely control the switches and signals rather than making the train stop, have the train crew unlock the switch, go into the siding, then when the other train passes, open the switch on the other end, wait 5 minutes for downline signals to time out, then operate restricted speed to the next signal, in other words, major delays for non-CTC sidings).

 

Next, factor in that long-distance trains are essentially banned from NYP during rush hour (and this was true when NYP was at full capacity, it's worse with all the trackwork going on), so the Cardinal has to get out before 7 am.  If it waits until after the rush hour, then the entire schedule has to shift a few hours later and then you jeopardize connections in Chicago with other trains.  While Indianapolis may not get the best of scheduled times, it provides for a reasonable arrival into Chicago, allowing for day trips from Indy and Lafayette (big college town).  Give Indianapolis better times and you get into Chicago too late to offer a day's events.  You also then have less time to service and turn the train, and depending on the specifics, could also run into crew rest issues.

 

Once you factor in all of those considerations, there's no room to even consider worrying about scenery in the schedule.  That's more of a happy side-effect than anything else.



#17 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 05:41 AM

The reason for the Cardinal schedule? The train was rescheduled from serving Cincinnati in daytime so it could serve West Virginia at more convenient times. And since I know you think I wrote that: http://allaboardohio...mtrak-cardinal/

 

Anything that came after that is a mere coincidence.


Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan, 21 August 2017 - 05:57 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)!
 

https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

 


#18 Hotblack Desiato

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 02:01 PM

Most long-distance trains have had schedule changes since the early 1980s, and conditions on the host railroads have changed considerably since then.  The Cardinal's current schedule limitations are because of today's conditions, not because of what Robert Byrd did in 1981.


Edited by Hotblack Desiato, 21 August 2017 - 02:01 PM.


#19 ehbowen

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 10:36 AM

Most long-distance trains have had schedule changes since the early 1980s, and conditions on the host railroads have changed considerably since then.  The Cardinal's current schedule limitations are because of today's conditions, not because of what Robert Byrd did in 1981.

 

I think that as far as this poster is concerned, Robert Byrd is still running Amtrak (and the country) from the grave....


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#20 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 10:12 PM

... The Cardinal is scheduled to meet all the major Western trains in Chicago (connections), allow for reasonable equipment and crew turns ... , have more-or-less reasonable times on the NEC (also major traffic generators), and also to minimize the disruption on the Buckingham Branch railroad ...

 

... There were a lot of different options looked at when the Cardinal was under PRIIA review 5 or 6 years ago, but there weren't many options that would really work without significant investment in infrastructure on the Buckingham Branch.

 

Next, factor in that long-distance trains are essentially banned from NYP during rush hour ... so the Cardinal has to get out before 7 am.  ... Indianapolis may not get the best of scheduled times, it provides for a reasonable arrival into Chicago, allowing for day trips from Indy and Lafayette (big college town).  Give Indianapolis better times and you get into Chicago too late to offer a day's events. ... less time to service and turn the train, and depending ... could also run into crew rest issues.

Thanks for the run-down on these issues.

 

It is one of God's little jokes that Cincinnati is in the wrong place for the Cardinal's schedule. Provoked by our friend Philly Amtrak Fan, I've wasted some good time puzzling over the Cardinal route. Best I could come up was for God to move Cincinnati to the present location of Indianapolis.

 

Otherwise, the slow Cardinal (currently 42 mph on average) needs to go faster. Easy to do, actually, if you are willing to spend the money.

 

A few years back, Indiana paid consultants for a study that claimed the tracks between Indy and the Illinois state line could be upgraded to cut the run time by 25 minutes. (More could be cut state line into CHI, but that's for C.R.E.A.T.E., not Indiana's problem.)

 

That 25-minute savings offers delicious choices to tweak the schedule of the Cardinal/Hoosier State, arriving CHI a little earlier in the day, or leaving Indy a little later. The CHI arrival is now 10 a.m. I'll leave that alone because iirc, Union Station has a very busy commuter rush hour like NY Penn. So let's leave Indy at 6:25 a.m. instead of 6 o'clock sharp (and attract more sleepyhead riders like me). Then EB, arrive back in Indy at 11:15 p.m. instead of 11:40 as now (because nobody wants to be downtown anywhere, not even in corn-fed Indianapolis, so close to midnight).

 

That projected 25-minute savings was estimated to cost roughly $250+ million for the needed upgrades. Small potatoes compared with the Stimulus projects. The study suggested that running one or two more frequencies of the Hoosier State daily could help to justify that investment. Alas, by the time this study was released, Congress had killed almost all new infrastructure funding.

 

And btw, the Indiana study did not have any figure for how upgraded tracks, faster trains, better times, and added complementary frequencies would add riders, improve revenue, and cut losses on the Cardinal. But I take it on faith.

 

Since God won't move Cincinnati, we'll need to speed up the trains serving the city. Leaving Cincy WB at 1:41 a.m., arriving Indy at 5:15 a.m. and CHI at 10 o'clock are all horrible times. Going EB, leaving CHI at 5:45 p.m. is fine, but arriving Indy at 11:39 p.m. is barely tolerable, and Cincy at 3:17 a.m. is simply intolerable.

 

Again, there's plans, part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, going back 20 years or so. The MWRRI studies are being updated, iiuc. But working from a 2004 version (latest I found still on the Net), we can see the potential. Cincy-Indy-CHI takes 8 hours now. Investing a Billion or more could cut the trip time to 4 hours, they say. That, plus more money for more equipment, would allow 8 corridor trains on the route, plus the Cardinal. Obviously, when the route carries 8 corridor trains departing between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. or so, nobody will sweat the Cardinal's schedule of post-midnight stops in Cincy.

 

Still, the Cardinal's timetable could be tweaked to make better use of the 4 hours saved from faster running Cincy-CHI. For one example, the CHI arrival could be 6 a.m., before the morning rush hour, instead of the 10 a.m. currently.

 

Or the 4 hours could be pushed to the NYC end of the route. Last I read, a daily Cardinal would require 4 train sets, instead of the 3 now in service. That's because there's not enuff time to clean and turn the train between its 10 p.m. arrival in Penn Station and its 6:45 morning departure. But with 4 hours saved CHI-Cincy and vice versa, all other things being equal, the Penn Station arrival could be 6 p.m., departing at 10:45 the next morning. Plenty of time to turn the train without a fourth consist. In fact, two or three hours earlier into NYC might be enuff time for the turn, without shredding the rest of the current schedule

 

So where was I? Getting too close to bedtime. LOL. The cure for what ails this LD route is faster running and more complementary corridor frequencies. So I've ended up in a very familiar place: As usual, the cure for what ails Amtrak's Cardinal is more Amtrak.


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 03 September 2017 - 10:28 PM.





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