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I've often wondered if a New Orleans to Kansas City route would be possible. Maybe use Kansas City Southern ROW and even possibly extend up north to Omaha.

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Maybe they should try the Caprock out with a Thruway Bus first before throwing the necessary mucho dinero at it!

Edited by jis

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I've often wondered if a New Orleans to Kansas City route would be possible. Maybe use Kansas City Southern ROW and even possibly extend up north to Omaha.

There used to be a through car from STL to NOL for a short while AFAIR. There was a connection for much longer period, first via the National Limited and then by a little two car train.

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1) Thruway buses just about everywhere, it's hard to go wrong with them.

2) Multiple daily Los Angeles-Indio daylight trains, ideally with several of them extending north to Santa Barbara.

3) Multiple Sacramento-Redding daylight trains, some extending to Bakersfield.

4) Multiple daylight intrastate Ohio trains, using Class III railroads would probably be the best basis.

5) Multiple daily Minneapolis-Chicago

6) Spokane-Seattle daylight train

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An additional connection with VIA Rail in Canada would be nice, but I think the the only reasonably doable one is Port Huron MI to Sarnia ON with only about 3 miles of track separating the two stations. But the one train a day on both sides of the border involves a 6 to 8 hour hour layover in Sarnia - an unmanned station - from about 2200 to 0600 hours going either way.

 

Via Rail has more trains in and out of Windsor (across the river from Detroit) but a rail connection there looks almost impossible because of the trackage.

 

I think any other connection across the border West of Detroit would be a sure money pit - even bigger than the Port Huron/Sarnia one.

What he/she said and restore Detroit - NYC service. Also bring Amtrak back to Phoenix/Tempe( and no, for the multiplicity of times, Maricopa does NOT count).

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1. Chicago - Wisconsin Dells via Elgin, Rockford, Janesville, Madison.

 

2. Chicago - Denver Auto Train on the CZ route, intermediate stop at Omaha only

 

3. Chicago - Jacksonville via NOL (combined CONO and Sunset East operations)

 

4. Chicago - Los Angeles Auto Train on SWC route ( intermediate loading points at KCY, ABQ only)

 

Seriously we need more variants of the auto trains since air travel are inherently dangerous. (MH370,MH17,QZ8501,4U9525....)

Edited by neutralist

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Actually air travel is at par or possibly safer than Amtrak travel, depending on how one is counting.

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I for one really wish Amtrak would offer sleeper service to every single state in the lower 48 (heck, I'd love if they went to Alaska and Hawaii too, but I won't get too wishful thinking!) :giggle:

 

Seriously, there are several states in the lower 48 that have zero sleeper service - in alphabetical order, CT, ME, MI, NH, OK, RI, SD, VT, WY (and SD and WY have zero service at all unless there are Thruway buses that service them). I wish this was priority one to any expansion of service.

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What is the obsession with adding more Auto Trains? I don't understand why people seem to expect the fairly unique Northeast--Florida market to suddenly replicate itself between any random city pairs you can throw a dart at.

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Actually air travel is at par or possibly safer than Amtrak travel, depending on how one is counting.

That's an interesting position - one I hadn't thought of before. Do you have numbers to corrorobrate your statement? I naturally would have thought that the reverse was true - based on how few fatal (for passenger) train wrecks I have read about. It seems like the last one I remember was the (Sunset Limited) wreck where a barge struck the rail bridge and then the train ran into the bayou. I also vaguely remember some passenger train collisions with a freight train (Colonial?) - but those just don't stand out in my mind like the recent spate of airline disasters. On the other hand, most of the recent airliner crashes have been overseas. I know that in India they have horrific train wrecks because of overloading issues, and there was that one little problem with China's high speed rail.

Any way, I would really like to see a comparison, and it would be fine if it was just narrowed down to mainland US data.

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I for one really wish Amtrak would offer sleeper service to every single state in the lower 48 (heck, I'd love if they went to Alaska and Hawaii too, but I won't get too wishful thinking!) :giggle:

 

Seriously, there are several states in the lower 48 that have zero sleeper service - in alphabetical order, CT, ME, MI, NH, OK, RI, SD, VT, WY (and SD and WY have zero service at all unless there are Thruway buses that service them). I wish this was priority one to any expansion of service.

Well, If they can have an Interstate System (H-1 and H-2) on Oahu, I can't see why Amtrak couldn't get involved there. Still, I'm not so sure that sleeper service could be very cost effective.......

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Airplane crashes and passenger train crashes (at least in N. America) are so rare compared to say automobile crashes, that when one happens it becomes national news. Though I don't have the statistics to back it up, it seems that when a plane crashes the survival rate is a lot lower than when a train crashes.

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Love to see the return of the Desert Wind, and extend it to Reno!

 

West Texas is in dire need of passenger rail service. There are already tracks everywhere, but loaded with oil tankers. Texans are too used to driving an hour for a gallon of milk, they are ripe for reasonably priced rail traffice.

 

High speed rail from Houston to Dallas to San Antonio to Odessa/Mildland, to El Paso.

 

Extend the heartland flyer to Kansas City or somewhere to intersect with the Southwest Chief

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Those Auto train routes are interesting. Here are a few points:

 

Several years ago the Amtrak marketing Dept. studied the idea of adding auto carriers to the SW Chief between Chicago and Flagstaff. It had been determined that Chicago-LA would be unsuccessful because it would bypass intermediate tourist destinations. Flagstaff would have been preferred because it provided access to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Phoenix/Tucson, as well as California. The cost of transporting an auto increases as the distance increases. A Chicago-LA Auto Train would have to charge double the cost of the current Auto Train auto charge. Unless you're spending a LOT of time at the opposite endpoint, it would be much cheaper for customers to rent a car when they get there. Nobody wants to start a service that is too expensive to attract enough customers. Such a service would probably have to start as auto carriers added to an existing train such as the CZ or Chief. For any service west from Chicago, the point of origin for the auto carriers probably should be Aurora (CZ) or Joliet (SW Chief) so that people don't have to drive into the heart of Chicago. The Flagstaff plan was never implemented because of scheduling conflicts, lack of equipment, the cost of creating new terminals to handle the autos, etc. Remember that such a new service would be an experiment, and Amtrak doesn't have the money to experiment unless somebody else foots the bill. I got this info in a conversation with a certain Marketing Dept. employee (name withheld) who rode in my car when I was a SCA many years ago.

 

Intermediate loading points for autos on any Auto Train service would require the building of loading facilities and the provision of switching crews and contract auto drivers at all such loading points. They would seriously eat into the train's schedule. In addition, the short-hauls would have to be transported at a lower charge because of the shorter distance hauled, while introducing those additional problems, thus increasing operating costs. It would probably mean more miles hauling empty or half-empty auto carriers. By the way, these proposed intermediate loading points must be served at convenient hours of arrival and departure.

 

Nobody has figured out a way to provide intermediate auto loading in a cost effective way. If you can figure out a way to do it, I'll nominate you for the Nobel Prize for Transportation. There MUST be such a thing.

 

I don't want to sound too critical. A certain amount of thinking outside the box can sometimes produce unforeseen imaginative solutions. Besides, most of the suggestions I made above are quite unlikely to se the light of day any time soon, if ever.

 

Tom

Edited by FormerOBS

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Actually air travel is at par or possibly safer than Amtrak travel, depending on how one is counting.

That's an interesting position - one I hadn't thought of before. Do you have numbers to corrorobrate your statement? I naturally would have thought that the reverse was true - based on how few fatal (for passenger) train wrecks I have read about. It seems like the last one I remember was the (Sunset Limited) wreck where a barge struck the rail bridge and then the train ran into the bayou. I also vaguely remember some passenger train collisions with a freight train (Colonial?) - but those just don't stand out in my mind like the recent spate of airline disasters. On the other hand, most of the recent airliner crashes have been overseas. I know that in India they have horrific train wrecks because of overloading issues, and there was that one little problem with China's high speed rail.

Any way, I would really like to see a comparison, and it would be fine if it was just narrowed down to mainland US data.

I will dig up the info after I get back to the U.S. Next Sunday. But meanwhile consider how many air fatalities have occurred in the US in the last 10 or 15 years and divide that by the total passengers or passenger-miles. Do the same for rail. US DOT has these figures somewhere, but I am a bit challenged at present being on the road.

 

Air travel in the US is actually incredibly safe, contrary to the belief of those that do not like air travel for various reasons.

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The Caprock Chief - FTW to DEN

Hmmm, Caprock Chief - like Quanah Parker? That route (BNSF) would possibly pass though Decatur, Wichita Falls, Vernon, Quanah, Childress, Amarillo, and then either through Childress or Stratford as it heads NW to Denver where it could be timed to meet up with Trains 3/4.

Another idea (if passenger loading would support it) would be from Belton, through Lampasas, Coleman, Sweetwater, Snyder and into Lubbock.

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The Caprock Chief - FTW to DEN

Hmmm, Caprock Chief - like Quanah Parker? That route (BNSF) would possibly pass though Decatur, Wichita Falls, Vernon, Quanah, Childress, Amarillo, and then either through Childress or Stratford as it heads NW to Denver where it could be timed to meet up with Trains 3/4.

Another idea (if passenger loading would support it) would be from Belton, through Lampasas, Coleman, Sweetwater, Snyder and into Lubbock.

 

Hopefully at Denver it will connect with 5/6 and not 3/4. It should connect with 3/4 perhaps at Trinidad? It will be quite difficult to time it right to meet all of them without some connections being rather long layovers.

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On my wish list is an "Empire Builder Light" that leaves MSP at the same time as the regular EB leaves CHI. The EB Light would have 2 coach cars and a lounge/cafe car. It should be able to stay at least 7 hours ahead of the regular EB arriving in SPK about 6PM where it would turn. The eastbound EB Light should leave SPK about 10AM PT.

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Actually air travel is at par or possibly safer than Amtrak travel, depending on how one is counting.

Any way, I would really like to see a comparison, and it would be fine if it was just narrowed down to mainland US data.

 

Take a look at this Wikipedia page. It has a nice table comparing accident statistics for many modes with a short discussion about which statistics is more appropriate for what kind of analysis.

 

This article from Slate discusses the relative safety of air and rail travel in the US, and dwells quite a bit on the difficulty of actually doing and apples to apples comparison.

 

 

Edited by jis

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Those Auto train routes are interesting. Here are a few points:

 

Several years ago the Amtrak marketing Dept. studied the idea of adding auto carriers to the SW Chief between Chicago and Flagstaff. It had been determined that Chicago-LA would be unsuccessful because it would bypass intermediate tourist destinations. Flagstaff would have been preferred because it provided access to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Phoenix/Tucson, as well as California. The cost of transporting an auto increases as the distance increases. A Chicago-LA Auto Train would have to charge double the cost of the current Auto Train auto charge. Unless you're spending a LOT of time at the opposite endpoint, it would be much cheaper for customers to rent a car when they get there. Nobody wants to start a service that is too expensive to attract enough customers. Such a service would probably have to start as auto carriers added to an existing train such as the CZ or Chief. For any service west from Chicago, the point of origin for the auto carriers probably should be Aurora (CZ) or Joliet (SW Chief) so that people don't have to drive into the heart of Chicago. The Flagstaff plan was never implemented because of scheduling conflicts, lack of equipment, the cost of creating new terminals to handle the autos, etc. Remember that such a new service would be an experiment, and Amtrak doesn't have the money to experiment unless somebody else foots the bill. I got this info in a conversation with a certain Marketing Dept. employee (name withheld) who rode in my car when I was a SCA many years ago.

 

Intermediate loading points for autos on any Auto Train service would require the building of loading facilities and the provision of switching crews and contract auto drivers at all such loading points. They would seriously eat into the train's schedule. In addition, the short-hauls would have to be transported at a lower charge because of the shorter distance hauled, while introducing those additional problems, thus increasing operating costs. It would probably mean more miles hauling empty or half-empty auto carriers. By the way, these proposed intermediate loading points must be served at convenient hours of arrival and departure.

 

Nobody has figured out a way to provide intermediate auto loading in a cost effective way. If you can figure out a way to do it, I'll nominate you for the Nobel Prize for Transportation. There MUST be such a thing.

 

I don't want to sound too critical. A certain amount of thinking outside the box can sometimes produce unforeseen imaginative solutions. Besides, most of the suggestions I made above are quite unlikely to se the light of day any time soon, if ever.

 

Tom

 

Auto trains has its appeals, especially for those:

1.) who have fancy sportscars to show around

2.) want to move a lot of stuff in their familiar SUVs without having to learn how to operate a new rental. ( i.e. a popular route will be CHI - DEN where people move a lot of their skiing equipment to Aspen)

3.) Seasonal workers that move around often (the tech industry has tons of those)

 

The loading points are obviously going to be in a suburb. Route 59 station in Aurora,IL actually have a mega-lot that can be well-suited for this purpose.

 

A time + cost efficient way to do intermediate loading points will only be possible if the auto containers can open sideways, which require the re-design of the container module and also the design of the station. Once this is nailed, loading / unloading will be just as easy as doing parallel parking. As of the way they are loading of the current auto train it will take at least 2-3 hours for couple-decouple, and possible no more than one station for every 1000 miles or so.

Edited by neutralist

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On my wish list is an "Empire Builder Light" that leaves MSP at the same time as the regular EB leaves CHI. The EB Light would have 2 coach cars and a lounge/cafe car. It should be able to stay at least 7 hours ahead of the regular EB arriving in SPK about 6PM where it would turn. The eastbound EB Light should leave SPK about 10AM PT.

 

What would the purpose of such a train serve? I could see doing some sort of second train along the EB line (or a revival of the North Coast Hiawatha along that trackage, as much as is possible,) but even if you're shifting the times it seems incredibly foolish to cut off quite a few of the major markets, including all of the current endpoints.

 

I really think that cutting off any traffic east of MSP or west of SPK would result in a very lightly-used train. Heck, if timekeeping is the purpose for the shorter train (which would be odd, considering that the sections cut usually aren't the trouble spots,) pull a VIA Winnipeg and throw four hours of padding at SPK and MSP to make sure it leaves SPK and MSP at the designated time.

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Airplane crashes and passenger train crashes (at least in N. America) are so rare compared to say automobile crashes, that when one happens it becomes national news. Though I don't have the statistics to back it up, it seems that when a plane crashes the survival rate is a lot lower than when a train crashes.

 

This.

 

Remember that:

 

overall survival rate = accident rate * survival rate when SHTF

 

On air travel, your "accident rate" may be very small, but your second variable is next to zero. A train engineer who wants to commit suicide can't do much damage, unlike air pilots like 4U9525.

 

And of course, you are contributing to global climate change due to the obsecene amount of CO2 emiitted for air travel vs. rail travel.

Edited by neutralist

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If the proposed new Auto Train service is to be seasonal, it's probably a non-starter. The required new facilities will exist 365 days a year, and they have to be productive 365 days.

 

If users of the current Auto Train are any indication, these are some of the clientele that have to be served:

1.) Retirees traveling between winter home and summer home. The Colorado service won't have this important element. The Flagstaff service might.

2.) Vacationers.

3.) College students traveling between home and school.

4.) Seasonal workers (Disney/Universal in Florida; ski resort workers etc. in Colorado)

5.) People making permanent moves. They aren't the type of people who would necessarily become repeat users of the service, and they don't travel round trip.

6.) Business travelers. A tiny percentage of current Auto Train riders. No reason to think this would be a larger group west of Chicago.

 

Tom

Edited by FormerOBS

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Guest Richmond

1) All Richmond, VA trains terminate or through at Richmond Main Street Station (RVM).

 

2) Train 66 with sleeper and timed for arrival in NYC at 5-6 am.

 

3) Hiawatha extended to Madison (MSN).

 

4) Empire Builder routed through Madison (MSN).

 

5) Daily Cardinal.

 

6) Sleeping berths or Slumbercoach for budget travelers (a.k.a., Lounge Lizards) who only want a lay-flat for overnight trips.

 

7) Kill the no-show rule on e-tickets.

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Remember that:

 

overall survival rate = accident rate * survival rate when SHTF

 

On air travel, your "accident rate" may be very small, but your second variable is next to zero.

Really? So you think that the survival rate of the Asiana crash at SFO or BA 777 short landing at LHR was zero? How about the US Air ditching in the Hudson?

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