In this forum we talk about some ambitious ideas, like restoring service from Chicago - Florida. But on the other end of the spectrum, what are some examples of less daunting service expansions that you feel are within Amtrak's reach and would provide the most bang for Amtrak's buck (so to speak)?
(1) Increased frequency on existing lines. (Starting with a daily Cardinal and Sunset, but going on from there.)
(2) Purchase of existing freight-owned lines and upgrades to provide more reliable, higher-speed travel.
(3) High platforms at stations served by Amfleets and Viewliners to provide faster boarding and better ADA accommodations.
(4) Better connectivity to local rail. (This is actually pretty good most places now, but Pittsburgh, Miami, and Tampa stand out.) And between Amtrak trains. (Pennsy-Cap through cars, for instance.)
(5) The Ethan Allen to Burlington VT and the Vermonter to Montreal, largely because most of the work is already done.
OK, so these aren't the true operational low-hanging fruit (like "provide ingredients lists in the dining cars"). But in terms of capital investments, I believe the low-hanging fruit is in leveraging the economies of scale inherent in railroading. So "new route" is the last thing you should think of. There's a lot of stuff which is way more bang for the buck than a new route.
I've made a half-hearted pitch for Two A Day on the Lake Shore Limited route. I really do think it would be bigger bang for the buck than any "new route". Zero new stations required. Any track or signal improvements benefit multiple trains per day. Etc.
Edited by neroden, 13 November 2017 - 02:37 PM.