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Being realistic and assuming:
(1) I'd get $1bn/yr added in constant dollars for a decade (I see this as a realistic ask/hope for);
(2) I've got the ability to twist some arms for access on any given route as long as I'm not grossly disrupting freight operations;
(3) In order to add non-LD trains I'd need to get at least tacit state support. I'll assume a bit of flexibility with the strictures of PRIIA 209 (after all, it's been fudged once or twice) and the ability to allocate some amount of startup funding.
(4) Some flexibility on the EIS front.
(5) I don't have to independently cover the Acela IIs or the Hudson Tunnels.

I'm also assuming the following in terms of equipment costs:
One single-level car (sleeper, diner, coach, etc.): $2.5m
One bilevel coach: $3.5m (Amtrak used to assume $4.0m but the MSBL order came in well under this)
One diesel locomotive: $7.0m
One electric locomotive: $10.0m

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With the above constraints, I'd look at the following:
(1) Equipment orders:
(1A) Replace the majority of the Amfleet fleet (which is closing in on 40 years old). The Amfleet I fleet would be replaced with 500 additional cars. Cost: $1.250bn
(1B) Replace the Amfleet II fleet with a set of 250 cars, aimed at expanding some of the eastern LD services (more on this later). Cost: $625m.
(1C) Eastern sleeper order. Purchase an additional 100 sleepers, 35 bag-dorms, and 15 diners. Cost: $375m.
(1D) Superliner III order. 250 cars in an indefinite mix of sleepers, coaches, diners, etc. Cost: $875m.
Total equipment cost: $3.125bn

Single-level equipment availability:
-175 sleepers
-45 bag-dorms (shared)
-41 diners
-225 "long distance" coaches (new order)
-450 "short distance" coaches (new order)

Do note that in most cases the equipment will be supplementing existing cars, not replacing them entirely (though I'd expect, for example, the Horizons to be squeezed out by the new stuff). For example, the existing Amfleets would be kept in service indefinitely, albeit moved to certain state corridors and operated with a discount to their capital charge...there are several hundred of these cars, so I see no compelling reason to ditch them entirely at the moment.

(2) Train additions/expansions/overhauls.
(2A) "Standard" Eastern Overnight trains:
Lake Shore Limited (2x daily). Consist for each train (5 sets total): 4 sleepers, 6 coaches, 1 diner, 1 cafe, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage car
-Total need: 20 sleepers, 30 coaches, 5 diners, 5 cafes, 5 bag-dorms, 5 baggage car
Silver Service (3x daily). "Average" consist for each train (11 sets total): 5 sleepers, 5 coaches, 1 diner, 2 cafes*, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage car
*1 cafe acting in its present capacity, 1 added to the Meteor in a PPC capacity, and possibly an extra batch of cafes to be held in Jacksonville.
-Total need: 55 sleepers, 55 coaches, 11 diners, 22 cafes, 11 bag-dorms, 11 baggage cars
--Note that I would add an FEC section, doing my best to cooperate with All Aboard Florida to make the service happen (I think they'd cooperate in exchange for covering some of the double-track costs on the northern section). Ideally all three trains would run sections both via Orlando and via Cocoa. Likely, the Star and Palm would be running with 4 sleepers and the Meteor with 7 or something to that effect.
Cardinal Service (2x daily). Consist for each train (6 sets total): 2 sleepers, 1 diner, 1 cafe, 4 coaches, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage car.
-Total need: 12 sleepers, 6 diners, 6 cafes, 24 coaches, 6 bag-dorms, 6 baggage cars
Crescent Service (2x daily). "Average" consist for each train (8 sets total): 4 sleepers, 1 diner, 1 cafe, 5 coaches, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage
-Total need: 24 sleepers, 8 diners, 8 cafes, 40 coaches, 8 bag-dorms, 8 baggage
Broadway Limited (1x daily). Consist for each train (3 sets needed): 3 sleepers, 1 diner, 1 cafe, 4 coaches, 1 bag-dorm, 1 baggage
-Total need: 9 sleepers, 3 diners, 3 cafes, 12 coaches, 3 bag-dorms, 3 baggage
Subtotal Eastern "standard" Long-Distance Equipment Need:
-120 sleepers
-161 coaches
-33 diners
-44 cafes
-33 bag-dorms
-33 baggage

(2B) Eastern "Short" overnight trains.
Montrealer (2 sets). Consist per train: 2 sleepers, 1 cafe, 3 LD coaches*, 1 baggage.
Twilight Shoreliner (2x daily/4 sets). Consist per train: 2 sleepers, 1 cafe, 2 LD coaches*, 1 baggage. One trip would be the present 66/67; the other would run south as a late service from NYP (originating in BOS) and north as the 0315 from WAS (extending to BOS).
Niagara Rainbow (NYP-TWO) (2 sets). Consist per train: 2 sleepers, 1 cafe, 2 LD coaches*, 1 baggage.
*Coach need here will be drawn from a mix of short-distance and long-distance coaches and will be more variable than the other trains.
Subtotal Eastern "Short" overnight trains:
-16 sleepers
-18 coaches
-8 cafes
-8 baggage cars

(2C) Adjusted Western Services
I will summarize here, but I would add the North Coast Hiawatha and Pioneer/Desert Wind (which would operate separately from the California Zephyr, though sharing the same route as far as Denver). I would add a sleeper to almost every train out West (the possible exception being the Starlight, due to length issues, and with an asterisk on the Empire Builder considering the protracted issues there). The Starlight would probably go twice-daily (ideally with one daily run being extended to either Vancouver or San Diego).

I would make the Sunset daily. I would, in fact, add a Sunset East train...but there is a good chance that said train would be a single-level service. It would definitely be separate from the Sunset West (I simply do not trust a run that long involving a hand-off between freight railroads at the midpoint), and it would likely run a through sleeper from the CONO rather than from the Sunset (IIRC there was heavier business coming from the north than from the West).

I'd also add the extended Heartland Flyer, with a northern terminus in Chicago and a possible southern terminus in San Antonio (so you'd have doubled-up service CHI-KCY and FTW-SAS).

I would also seriously look into running cars through from the Capitol Limited to the Silvers (and/or to running the Cap through to Orlando a la the Sunset East pending a connection in Jacksonville). I'd like a daily Capitol Limited, but with the mix of service being added elsewhere I'd want to see how things played out as far as travel/demand patterns. Simply sticking an extra pair of sleepers on the Cap might do the trick (as much as I do want that additional train).

Finally, the Auto Train would recieve a major overhaul (including the addition of a power car of some sort to enable the train to run longer). I'd give serious consideration to buying a dedicated pair of bespoke sets for the train that would clock in somewhere in the range of 20-25 cars long.

(2D) Corridor Services
Again I will summarize, but I'd put a good deal of effort into diving into Virginia with as much money as I could, since there's little doubt that those services are massively revenue-incremental. I'd be looking at 3x daily out to Roanoke and 4-5x daily each to Newport News and Norfolk. I would also place a priority on developing SEHSR.

I would work to get a second train on the Adirondack's route once the Montreal facility is up and running (the Adirondack regularly sells out into Montreal, though this is partly due to artificial constraints). Ideally, you'd have two "day trains" each on the Vermonter/Montrealer, Adirondack, and Pennsylvanian routes (with an overnight supplement train on two of the three).

In the Midwest, I would work to get a 2x daily CHI-MSP service running (with MN's support) to supplement the now twice-daily LD service on that route. I would also work with WI and IL to double up the Hiawatha service, ideally converting the run to Surfliner-style cars (with higher capacity) and working with Metra to shuffle stops on a few runs. I would put a priority on CHI-DSM-OMA and increasing frequencies on the other Chicago Hub services.

Out West, I'd work to increase frequencies on the Cascades in line with pending plans, as well as adding a few more frequencies SEA-PDX (ideally moving towards hourly service). I'd want to do something on the Front Range, but I think valid congestion issues would preclude that. I'd seriously look at a second train between Grand Junction and Denver (Grand Junction/Glenwood Springs to Denver traffic being a major source of traffic for the Zephyr, and especially in the winter there seems to be enough demand to seriously support a service here as long as you still have snow to work with in the region).

To be blunt, CA gets sort-of stiffed for a few reasons, notably the CAHSR focus (basically that's "their problem"). The two extensions I'd want, namely extra service to Reno and/or Tehachapi service, aren't likely (freight congestion being at issue). I'd throw in for an extra San Joaquin or two, but that's really about all there.

===== ===== ===== ===== =====

Overall, I suspect the above mix adds no more than $50m to the actual operating losses of the system. In particular, a lot of overhead isn't affected. I suspect that the following trains are in the black:
-Auto Train
-Lake Shore Limited (at least one of the two)
-Silver Meteor

You'd also have a substantial reduction in losses on the Crescent, I believe (the combined service would probably have about the same loss-posting as at present, but the losses would be split over two trains; the overnight WAS-ATL train would likely be running with 5-6 sleepers while the train running during the day on that part would only have 2-3 sleepers).

Additionally, I'd expect a net improvement on the corridor front of about $25m or so (mostly off of increasing business to/from VA). The expansion of the equipment available to the NEC would probably throw another $25-50m on there as well.

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From where I'm located, I like both the idea of the Caprock Chief and the northward extension of the Heartland Flyer. Or, a Heartland Flyer that goes through KC, Omaha, and up to Fargo, maybe even so connections to the Empire Builder could be made.

 

In general, I'd like to see more North-South routes. And maybe getting away, at least a little, from Chicago being such a big hub - remember the Polar Vortex of 2014?

 

I'd also like to see either new cars or a faster schedule of renovation of existing cars.

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Anderson:

 

I'll address only one of your many interesting points. You propose an Auto Train 25 cars long, but you don't say whether you're talking about the entire train (passenger cars plus auto carriers) or just the passenger cars. The current Auto Train tends to run around 48 cars long, with a maximum of fifty, dictated by CSX, the FRA, and Amtrak policy. If you are talking about 25 passenger cars, then the total train would be around 70 cars. This would exceed the mandated length limits and would certainly mean a major rebuild of both terminals. There really isn't room to expand either terminal, so it would probably mean abandoning the current locations and building anew elsewhere.

 

Tom

Edited by FormerOBS

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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.

I think you could reduce your list by cutting out CT and RI. They are served by 66/67.

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Anderson:

 

One additional point re. Auto Train: It's true that the A-T tends to run pretty close to max. capacity right now. However, I question whether there is enough market to expand the train approx. 45-50%. Amtrak would have to be thoroughly convinced that this expanded train could be filled all year in order to justify the necessary expansions of the fixed plant, and I'm not convinced of that.

 

Tom

Edited by FormerOBS

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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.

I think you could reduce your list by cutting out CT and RI. They are served by 66/67.
Which have no sleepers. Maybe in a few years, but not right now. Edited by keelhauled

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I have still not seen any justification as to why each state must have Sleeper service. ;)

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Personally, just because I travel in that area the most, what I'd like to see is more service in the Lake Shore Limited route. Something like 2x daily NYC-Chicago with a later departure from New York westbound to give Cleveland overnight service from the east and an afternoon departure from Chicago. I would keep the late departure as is, I think it works as a clean up train for late running arrivals from the west.

 

Then add an NYC-Cleveland and Chicago-Cleveland day trains. Also a New York-Deteoit train (although I'm not sure how you'd make an effective terminal in Detroit without building an entirely new station for all trains to Detroit. Maybe that would happen when their commuter trains get going. Or maybe it would make more sense to run all the way to Chicago and just call Dearborn close enough).

 

Also get the 3C corridor going, including an NYC-CLE-CIN train. If you're feeling really ambitious I think an NYC-CLE-IND-STL-KCY train would be great for bypassing Chicago for some western connections, and would be more viable (more population) then routing the Cardinal to St. Louis.

 

I think that those trains would be fairly economically viable, with frequent service, distances/speeds that would make it competitive with highways, and pretty high density population. Not gonna get a much better market than that for long distance trains. Trouble is the start up costs would never fly. You'd need the dedicated ROW across New York primarily. West of Cleveland they'd branch off, so maybe you could stuff the trains onto the existing tracks but still, that'd require improvements anyway. Really don't know where you'd get the money, absent Ohio and New York working together.

 

Edit: also the Broadway Limited would be nice to have back. But following the CL/LSL route west of Pittsburgh. I think it's silly to duplicate all the existing infrastructure for passenger trains on the ex-PRR when the current ex-NYC route already has the stations, crews and track speefs just a little to the north.

 

Also, by "fairly economically viable" I just mean "not hemorrhaging money."

Edited by keelhauled

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I have still not seen any justification as to why each state must have Sleeper service. ;)

 

Because some of us who don't have access to it would like to be able to experience it!

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I have still not seen any justification as to why each state must have Sleeper service. ;)

Because some of us who don't have access to it would like to be able to experience it!

That is hardly a reasonable justification! :P

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Oh see I thought Amtrak's primary role was to transport people, not provide trains to folks who just want to take first class joyrides for the heck of it...Besides, what prevents you from driving to the nearest station the next state over? And really, are you going to argue that people in say Las Vegas or Missoula have easier access to sleeper cars than people in Providence?

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Personally, just because I travel in that area the most, what I'd like to see is more service in the Lake Shore Limited route. Something like 2x daily NYC-Chicago with a later departure from New York westbound to give Cleveland overnight service from the east and an afternoon departure from Chicago. I would keep the late departure as is, I think it works as a clean up train for late running arrivals from the west.

 

Then add an NYC-Cleveland and Chicago-Cleveland day trains. Also a New York-Deteoit train (although I'm not sure how you'd make an effective terminal in Detroit without building an entirely new station for all trains to Detroit. Maybe that would happen when their commuter trains get going. Or maybe it would make more sense to run all the way to Chicago and just call Dearborn close enough).

 

Also get the 3C corridor going, including an NYC-CLE-CIN train. If you're feeling really ambitious I think an NYC-CLE-IND-STL-KCY train would be great for bypassing Chicago for some western connections, and would be more viable (more population) then routing the Cardinal to St. Louis.

 

I think that those trains would be fairly economically viable, with frequent service, distances/speeds that would make it competitive with highways, and pretty high density population. Not gonna get a much better market than that for long distance trains. Trouble is the start up costs would never fly. You'd need the dedicated ROW across New York primarily. West of Cleveland they'd branch off, so maybe you could stuff the trains onto the existing tracks but still, that'd require improvements anyway. Really don't know where you'd get the money, absent Ohio and New York working together.

 

Edit: also the Broadway Limited would be nice to have back. But following the CL/LSL route west of Pittsburgh. I think it's silly to duplicate all the existing infrastructure for passenger trains on the ex-PRR when the current ex-NYC route already has the stations, crews and track speefs just a little to the north.

 

Also, by "fairly economically viable" I just mean "not hemorrhaging money."

 

Personally I think there's a couple of ways to handle this.

1) Add a 6:15 AM our of NYP and have it get to Buffalo at 2:01 PM and then extend to Chicago at 11:45 PM (Central time). It's a late arrival, but gives other points between Buffalo and Chicago reasonable (compared to the LSL) boarding time. Make this strictly a day train, no sleepers. Yes, very long, but the expectation isn't that you'd get much NYP-CHI traffic, but more BUF-CHI traffic that is then fed from points east.

2) Similar to 1, but do this again as an extension of an existing Empire Service train, but late in the afternoon.).

3) I've proposed elsewhere what I call a "21st Century Limited". Change the existing LSL to be strictly BOS-ALB-CHI service. Then add a separate train from NYP-ALB-CHI that runs an hour later. Doesn't really Toledo and such points in terms of hours of service, but provides additional sleeper traffic between major cities.

4) Variation, bring back the International and route through Detroit, Ann Arbor and on to Chicago.

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Boston - NYP used to have a sleeper, serving Providence, New Haven, etc. It was one of two Heritage 10-6 cars on the overnight train to & from Washington. Two sleepers were on the train leaving WAS in the evening. One was dropped in NY and the passengers allowed to stay aboard till morning. The other went on to Boston and turned to return the following night. As the Boston car was beginning its southbound trip, the New York car began boarding in the evening and the passengers went to sleep before the arrival of the rest of the southbound train. The two cars were reunited at NY in the middle of the night and proceeded to WAS. I worked as SCA on both cars a various times in early 1987. When I worked the cars, they tended to be full, or nearly so. With the arrival of new single-level sleepers, it might be reasonable to think the Boston car could return.

 

I'm not sure about the removal of the two cars. I never heard about a justification, but I suspect the New York car was eliminated due to lack of equipment, toilet sanitation during the Penn Station layover, and overnight security at Penn Station. In order to restore the New York car, the latter two problems would probably have to be addressed.

 

As for a Boston - Chicago sleeper, it might be feasible once the new sleepers are in service. There probably aren't enough Viewliners available to do it now. It won't happen unless/until the Marketing Dept. determines that the market justifies it.

 

Tom

Edited by FormerOBS

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almost a purely regional perspective

 

1. Daily Cardinal with Washington as the terminus

2. 3 C - Cincy Columbus Cleveland

3. 2 C - Columbus to Chicago

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Oh see I thought Amtrak's primary role was to transport people, not provide trains to folks who just want to take first class joyrides for the heck of it...

Maybe my mind went in the wrong direction for this thread.

 

I thought it was implied that any such "adds" to Amtrak would need to make Amtrak a more successful business. That such "adds" would surely produce more revenue, and such revenue would completely cover all costs associated with the "add".

 

For example, adding an Autotrain or Sleeper Service from point "A" to point "B", where just few people would use it, once or twice a year, isn't a good business "add". In particular, adding back a service that was discontinued due to it not generating enough revenue, would be an example of bad management. Amtrak already has enough politically motivated subsidized routes, and adding more in a time when subsidizing even the existing routes is being challenged, just isn't good business sense.

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Boston - NYP used to have a sleeper, serving Providence, New Haven, etc. It was one of two Heritage 10-6 cars on the overnight train to & from Washington. Two sleepers were on the train leaving WAS in the evening. One was dropped in NY and the passengers allowed to stay aboard till morning. The other went on to Boston and turned to return the following night. As the Boston car was beginning its southbound trip, the New York car began boarding in the evening and the passengers went to sleep before the arrival of the rest of the southbound train. The two cars were reunited at NY in the middle of the night and proceeded to WAS. I worked as SCA on both cars a various times in early 1987. When I worked the cars, they tended to be full, or nearly so. With the arrival of new single-level sleepers, it might be reasonable to think the Boston car could return.

 

I'm not sure about the removal of the two cars. I never heard about a justification, but I suspect the New York car was eliminated due to lack of equipment, toilet sanitation during the Penn Station layover, and overnight security at Penn Station. In order to restore the New York car, the latter two problems would probably have to be addressed.

 

As for a Boston - Chicago sleeper, it might be feasible once the new sleepers are in service. There probably aren't enough Viewliners available to do it now. It won't happen unless/until the Marketing Dept. determines that the market justifies it.

 

Tom

 

Boston-NYP-WAS has had a sleeper since 87. For awhile it had a single Viewliner sleeper. This would rotate with the sleeper on the 448/449 section of the LSL. At one point both trains lost their sleeper. This freed up several sleepers for other service (I believe the 448/449 was simply moved to the 48/49 section and the 66/67 sleeper used as a protect car).

 

The sleeper was returned to 448/449 several years ago. (The cross-platform transfer for sleeper customers who boarded in Boston was hugely unpopular).

 

There's a lot of rumor that 66/67 will regain is sleeper once enough of the IIs become available.

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Anderson:

 

One additional point re. Auto Train: It's true that the A-T tends to run pretty close to max. capacity right now. However, I question whether there is enough market to expand the train approx. 45-50%. Amtrak would have to be thoroughly convinced that this expanded train could be filled all year in order to justify the necessary expansions of the fixed plant, and I'm not convinced of that.

 

Tom

I actually don't think you could fill it right out of the gate (well, not year-in and year-out), but I think that if you don't cut amenities again you could easily grow the service by that over 5-10 years. With a lot of services, that's the case. My presumption is that you'd run more or less the same set all the time...but you could put a few cars out of service as slow demand permits.

Edit: I'd also seriously look at extending at least one or two LD trains up from NYP to Boston. Under my scenario you have a large number of such trains to pick from, and it might even make sense to just do so with one of the Pennsylvania service (i.e. BOS-PGH) timed to cover part of the trip overnight. Oddly, though, I think the Cardinal might be your best bet if you want to run that leg overnight: The NYP arrival of one of the Cardinals would be awful if the train is timed for "west end" service (which I'd inherently be shooting for).

Edited by Anderson

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Slumbercoaches. And open vestibule observation cars. Flowers and real china in the dining cars. Dome cars everywhere, even on the NEC. Hot tub sleeper suite.

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Slumbercoaches. And open vestibule observation cars. Flowers and real china in the dining cars. Dome cars everywhere, even on the NEC. Hot tub sleeper suite.

LOL! If you can convince Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to finance this, it will happen!

 

Otherwise you'll need to ride on a PV trip or the Canadian!!/

Edited by jimhudson

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And for the hot tub sleeper suite talk to the traveller. He might have something to offer ;)

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Somebody please slap me awake. I forgot about sleepers being dropped on 66/67. :blush:

Don't worry, I'm sure at least one railroad managed this once over the years as well...to the surprise of customers waking up approaching Boston...

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Maybe my mind went in the wrong direction for this thread.

Perhaps so. The title of the thread is, after all, "What Would You Add?" (emphasis mine) with no restrictive caveats. Hence, my pipe dream post about restoring the abandoned Milwaukee Road route to the West through Taft MT and Avery ID. One of the tricks to productive brainstorming is the free flow of ideas - good or bad. Capture them all, then weed out the bad ones later. Just my US2¢ worth.

Edited by niemi24s

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Certainly a daily Cardinal would be a good choice, along with a continued "new service" NOL - JAX - ORL and daily Sunset Limited, which gets my vote.

 

I basically favor Midwest-eastern and southern service Amtrak expansion where the balance of the US population, timely services and a good marketing campaign will draw traffic:

 

A return of a daily Broadway Limited with service from Chicago to PHL and NYC: This service could include Chicago (Milwaukee) - Fort Wayne - Lima and the dog leg to/from Springfield OH (Dayton) - Columbus - Steubenville, OH (Wheeling, WV) to Pittsburgh and across Pennsylvania to the east.

 

A return of the Chicago - Florida service via FEC: Its another potentially profitable service that would support public convenience and necessity and attract riders from some of America's major cities.

 

A proposed routing could be Chicago (Milwaukee) - Indianapolis (St Louis) - Cincinnati (Dayton, Columbus) - Louisville - Bowling Green - Nashville - Decatur, AL (Huntsville) - Birmingham - Atlanta - Macon (Warner-Robins) - Waycross - Jacksonville and down the FEC to Miami. Such a route could also draw passengers from multiple larger cities via Amtrak stops and bus connections, (easily 30+ larger cities which is serious.) This could be Amtrak's "surprise" routing with unlimited potential, and the first rail service - in many years - between Louisville, Nashville, Birmingham and Atlanta and major Florida cities.

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Maybe my mind went in the wrong direction for this thread.

Perhaps so. The title of the thread is, after all, "What Would You Add?" (emphasis mine) with no restrictive caveats. Hence, my pipe dream post about restoring the abandoned Milwaukee Road route to the West through Taft MT and Avery ID. One of the tricks to productive brainstorming is the free flow of ideas - good or bad. Capture them all, then weed out the bad ones later. Just my US2¢ worth.

 

 

Actually there was one... "Let's be reasonable. We're not going to see $10B a year added. " Not a very strict restriction but I did put it there. ;-)

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