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  1. The feasibility study for the proposed Pittsfield service is available on a MassDOT webpage: Berkshire Flyer Study. The study describes 3 options, 2 through Albany and one using the Schodack Subdivision Route with a new connector track. Reviewing the study, the new connector track would be a significant project and thus expensive. What are the odds that Massachusetts would actually pay for or contribute to a train through Albany, even with a limited Friday, Sunday only schedule?
  2. According to a post on Trainorders, business class will cease on May 1 for both the Autotrain and the Crescent. Ending BC on those trains was a recommendation from a product development and revenue management review team. Sounds like the BC option did not sell enough seats to support the costs of offering it.
  3. Resurrecting an old topic, there was a public presentation scheduled for today (March 22, 2018) on the revised plan for the expansion for Washington Union Station. The Greater Greater Washington blog posted a preview and one person's take on the now scaled back Master plan for WAS: See details for Union Station’s future expansion. In short, a smaller concourse than proposed in the earlier Master Plan, a major reduction in the number of spaces for the parking garage and parking space, but space is to preserved for up to a 4 track Metro line (or perhaps 2 new Metro line side by side) running under the station. Not sure when the material being shown at the March 22 public presentation will be posted on the net. Although GGW and other blogs are likely to post stuff. Phase 1, the expansion of the Clayton Concourse, appears to have started as I noticed what appeared to be at least some pre-construction or utility relocation work underway when I was at WAS a few weeks ago.
  4. How many megabytes is it approximately, or is into the gigabyte range? The document is all text, so the size is only 3.6 MB. But it is 2232 pages long, so it has a LOT of text.
  5. afigg

    Omnibus Spending bill FY18

    Really big project for NYC-NJ to build two new Hudson River tunnels, the South Portal Bridge, expand to 4 tracks between NWK and NYP, Moynihan station (I think it is included when the $30 billion price tag gets discussed) and in the later phases, Penn Station south with new tracks and platforms for NJT. Website for the project with info: http://www.gatewayprogram.org/ To avoid confusion with other "gateway" infrastructure and rail projects, I try to remember to refer to it as NEC Gateway. Although NJ-NYC Gateway ($$$$$) would work as well. For example, other "gateway" projects that include Amtrak include the Virginia Atlantic Gateway which will add 3rd and 4th tracks between the Long Bridge and the Occoquan river in the next few years (
  6. afigg

    Omnibus Spending bill FY18

    Limited information on the deal to provide some of the previously expected funding for NEC Gateway from The Hill: House poised to vote on $1.3T spending bill. However, if I am interpreting the reports correctly, the allocation of the $541 million for the NEC will be under the control of the Department of Transportation, so the Trump Administration could choose to put all of the funds to other NEC projects if they really want to delay Gateway even longer. More info and details on the deal should come out over the next day or two. NEC Gateway may have to wait until next fiscal year appropriations to get proper sustained federal funding. Which I expect will be easier to get through the House since odds are good of a change in which party controls the House next January (figuring FY2019 will be continuing resolutions through early 2019).
  7. afigg

    Midway to Union Station via CTA

    Hope your expected lifetime extends to 2020. The construction of the DC Metro Silver Line Phase 2 extension is well along. The Dulles Airport station appears to be mostly built-out as are most of the Phase 2 stations, tracks have even been laid down in the median and elevated guideway for parts of the 11.5 mile Phase 2 extension. The reports are that the project is still on the (revised) schedule with Phase 2 supposed to open sometime in 2020 (hopefully early 2020). The Metro station at Dulles, however, will be some distance from the front of the main terminal building. There was a major dispute on where the station and tracks would go at the airport terminal. Locating the station and tracks under and near the front of the terminal building was going to be quite expensive; the decision was to save around $500 million and put the Dulles station on elevated tracks on the far side of the short term parking lot from the terminal. From the Dulles Metro station platform, the route will be to take an escalator or elevator down to a pedestrian tunnel that runs under the parking lot. The hike will be about 550' to the front of the terminal, but there are slidewalks in the existing tunnel. Then from go up into the terminal to the check-in counters and security checkpoint. Dulles airport is a rather spread out setup, so there can be a lot of walking and towing your suitcase to the checkpoints, then the Aerotrain to get to the gate even from the front entrance.
  8. Whaaaatt?? The Regionals do make money for Amtrak, good money, based on the Route performance results. In the September, 2017 monthly report (unaudited), which is on the website, and is in the new less informative shorter format, the Regionals generated a net surplus of $206.7 million in operating earnings for FY2017. The Acelas generated more money with a net surplus of $290.5 million, but the Regionals are doing fine. The Regionals also carry far more passengers on the NEC with 8.57 million in FY2017 compared to 3.44 million passengers on the Acelas. The goal of the 28 trainset Acela II order is to expand capacity and capture more revenue from the Acela set or group of business & well heeled travelers on the NEC, not to replace the Regionals in any way.
  9. Yes, it is possible that the $19.9 million to NC DOT for the Blue Ridge Road grade separation was applied for because NC DOT and the local governments were actually short of the funds needed to start the contract on time. Shuffling funds and pots of money for projects and contracts around is an essential bureaucratic skill. My subject title calling this round of grants as FY2018 announcements may be incorrect. The US DOT website is calling these grants 2017 grants so these may be FY2017 funds that were allocated after the fiscal year because the delays in the US DOT process and that Congress is passing the actual appropriations bills ever later in the fiscal year after months of continuing resolutions. This round is Tiger IX. The complete list of applications, apparently including the applications submitted for this round, is up on the TIGER website on the TIGER Application List page if anyone is interested in reviewing the titles, states, and categories of what was requested. Can download the list as an Excel or PDF file. There were a number of transit and passenger rail and grade separation projects that did not get selected this time around. Massachussets MBTA applied for $10 for a Back Bay Station Intermodal Improvement Project, whatever that covers. NJT applied for $31 million for a Newark Penn Station Platform D Improvement Project to pick out 2 NEC station applications.
  10. Just want to note that I started a thread on the 2018 TIGER grant awards a few days ago.
  11. US DOT has posted the complete list of FY2018 Tiger grant awards to 41 projects in 43 states: https://www.transportation.gov/tiger. No additional projects that appear to be relevant to Amtrak or commuter rail. Several grants for freight rail lines, such as "Repair of the Jaype to Lewiston Rail Line, Clearwater County, Idaho, $3,240,960". Excerpts from the announcement: and this bit: There are a few grants for local transit and trails, but my take is these awards are tilted toward road projects. One track repair project for the SW Chief route, 2 grade separation projects in the road safety and traffic improvement category, several freight rail projects (and nothing for Chicago CREATE if they submitted an application). Next up for US DOT grants, I think, are award selections from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program, which replaced the Obama Administration FASTLANE program.
  12. Another grade crossing separation project received a FY2018 TIGER grant, this one for Raleigh, NC. $19.9 million towards building an underpass for Blue Ridge Road which crosses the tracks between the Raleigh and Cary stations. So it goes towards eliminating a busy grade crossing on a portion of the Piedmont corridor which is used by the Piedmonts, Carolinian, and the Silver Star. Raleigh News & Observer: Feds will help pay for Blue Ridge Road underpass. Excerpts: But there is this: If NCDOT already had the state funding in place, why award NC $19.9 million for the project? Why not for another grade separation project that applied for funding? Can't help but wonder if politics was a factor in this grant award selection.
  13. OK, found a $9 million TIGER grant award to Spokane, WA to eliminate or separate 2 grade crossings of BNSF tracks. Press release from Senator Murray (D-WA) on the award: TRANSPORTATION: Senators Murray, Cantwell Secure Major Investment for Spokane Valley to Improve Barker Road Railway Intersection. Digging a bit into it, this is for a grade separation for a Barker road in Spokane over or under a BNSF track (http://www.spokanevalley.org/BarkerBNSF). Does the Empire Builder operate on those particular BNSF track(s)?
  14. I have not posted much here lately, but I saw a news report on an announcement of a FY2018 TIGER grant award, so went looking for more reports. Yes, the TIGER grant program is still alive for FY2018 with a total $500 million in funding to award. The announcements so far are by various politicians and local governments to local news media; won't have a complete list until the US DOT issues one, presumably in several days, once the politicians each issue their own press releases and get their names in the news. One grant award that is relevant to Amtrak is $16 million in track improvements for the Southwest Chief route. This is the 3rd TIGER grant for rehabilitation of another segment of the Colorado to Raton Pass route. Pueblo News Chieftain article: Feds award $16M grant to Southwest Chief project. Excerpt: My searches for other FY2018 Tiger grant awards announced so far turned up mostly road projects. And mostly in rural or suburban areas at that. But there might be a few local passenger or freight rail grants in the mix. Will have to wait for the complete list of grants from the US DOT to see how much the emphasis in TIGER grant selections has shifted from the Obama Administration to the US DOT under the control of Secretary Chao.
  15. afigg

    October MPR

    The last "classic" monthly performance report released and posted was August, 2017 which was 65 pages long. From September, 2017 onward, Amtrak has posted the new much shorter 7 page MPRs and 18 page long host railroad reports. I believe I have all or almost all the monthly reports going back to 2009. BTW, the November and December 2018 MPRs are on the website, so there are ridership and revenue numbers covering the 1st quarter of the fiscal year to discuss if anyone wants to start a thread on it. For all the challenges, total system ridership for the 1st 3 months of the FY was up 3.3% over FY2017 and exceeded the "plan" projections (ie budget) by 1.1%. Comparing or reviewing the year to year ridership & revenue numbers by train service or corridor is more difficult with the new MPRs but it can be done if one has the prior year MPR. Edit: Also, the fiscal year 2017 financial report is on the website. Was that posted recently? Anyway, info on debt and project costs in the financial report for anyone who wants to review or discuss it.