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Philly Amtrak Fan

Is a coast to coast train feasible?

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That works only if the train is going through Philadelphia in the first place :P

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Getting back to the coast-to-coast train topic, I found these through car options from a June 1977 timetable.

 

http://www.timetables.org/full.php?group=19770622&item=0036

 

One is the old National Limited to the then Southwest Limited (now SWC) via KCY, the other is a train from NYP to NOL and then NOL to LAX. The schedule advertised a "hotel on wheels" in NOL.

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Well, if Amtrak ever implements the Pennsylvanian/Capitol Limited PIP, they'll get experience with mixed-level train consists. And then maybe they'll consider restoring a through car from the Crescent to the Sunset Limited.

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Well, if Amtrak ever implements the Pennsylvanian/Capitol Limited PIP, they'll get experience with mixed-level train consists. And then maybe they'll consider restoring a through car from the Crescent to the Sunset Limited.

Amtrak has had plenty of mixed level consist operation experience from the days when they were transitioning to Superliners. The transition cars then were the Hi-Level Transition Coach-Dorms. Today they are the Trans-Dorms. That should not make a huge difference. I have been on the Pioneer with single level Sleepers and Lounge and Superliner Coaches way back when.

 

At present they just don't want to do anything with LD trains until Congress gives them dedicated funding for them. That is all I can surmise from their behavior over the last several years.

Edited by jis

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I'd be curious as to what the passenger counts are between all the stations, it would be interesting to see if a through train would add enough passengers to make the logistics worthwhile. How many passengers that currently connect in Chicago would end up on a through train, and would it be reliable enough for people to trust? Equipment and running times could prove problematic, crew scheduling also.

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Well, if Amtrak ever implements the Pennsylvanian/Capitol Limited PIP, they'll get experience with mixed-level train consists. And then maybe they'll consider restoring a through car from the Crescent to the Sunset Limited.

Amtrak has had plenty of mixed level consist operation experience from the days when they were transitioning to Superliners. The transition cars then were the Hi-Level Transition Coach-Dorms. Today they are the Trans-Dorms. That should not make a huge difference. I have been on the Pioneer with single level Sleepers and Lounge and Superliner Coaches way back when.

 

At present they just don't want to do anything with LD trains until Congress gives them dedicated funding for them. That is all I can surmise from their behavior over the last several years.

 

But Congress does give them dedicated funding for the so-called long-distance trains. Nearly every year since 1971. I suppose there are screws loose in Amtrak management, which wouldn't be a change.

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So using those numbers, on the CL we are seeing an average of less than 100 a day transfer to CZ and SWC. The question still remains whether a through routing would generate enough additional traffic to offset the logistical difficulties. I'm a little surprised at those figures, I would have figured it was higher.

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So using those numbers, on the CL we are seeing an average of less than 100 a day transfer to CZ and SWC. The question still remains whether a through routing would generate enough additional traffic to offset the logistical difficulties. I'm a little surprised at those figures, I would have figured it was higher.

Most people just aren't travelling that far.

 

Remember that the majority of passengers on any given train are travelling from one end to somewhere in the middle.

 

The top city pair on the Southwest Chief is Chicago to Kansas City.

The top city pair on the California Zephyr is Chicago-Denver.

The top city pair on the Empire Builder is Chicago-Minneapolis/St. Paul.

 

The top city pair on the LSL is Chicago-NY, but it's followed by Chicago-Buffalo, Chicago-Syracuse, Chicago-Rochester, and Chicago-Albany.

The top city pair on the CL is Chicago-Washington, but the second is Chicago-Pittsburgh.

 

Trips of one night or less account for most of the riders. The "long-distance" trains get taken when they're the only train on that corridor, as with Chicago-Upstate NY which could support several trains per day.

 

Honestly, I'll bet that most of the SWC and CZ connections to the Capitol Limited are coming from relatively close points like Denver and Kansas City, not from the West Coast. I wonder how many extra riders you'd get by extending the SWC just to Galesburg!

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The link Philly posted above about the 1997-98 run of the "National Chief" (Southwest Chief + Capitol Ltd.) is quite a good read and explains why LA-WAS on a single train was and is a no-go. First, it involved an 8 hour layover in Chicago for cleaning and maintenance with the "option" to leave the train. Apart from physical disability, I can't imagine wanting to spend 8 hours sitting on a stationary train--and that impeded cleaning.

 

Second, sleeping PAX were not guaranteed the same bedroom or roomette on the CHI-WAS segment. Maybe it was a reservation's glitch at the time that computers today could handle--but for sure Amtrak would find other ways to inconvenience passengers going across the country, so seamless cross country train travel does not seem feasible to me. Unfortunately.

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Well if it ever became feasible, here's a proposal for a train NYP to LAX. It's basically the old Broadway Limited (routed through Michigan, as All Aboard Ohio proposed) and the old Desert Wind (http://www.timetables.org/full.php?group=19941030n&item=0032) combined.

 

The gaps in Chicago were chosen to provide "reasonable" times for the western cities (LAX eastbound had to be in the graveyard shift but not that bad). If the travel time between LAX and CHI on the DW route is longer it would help with the eastbound (could leave LAX before midnight) but would screw the westbound schedule to arrive in LAX after midnight. Outside of that, the train seems to put the least populous areas in the graveyard shift (eastbound LAX/Las Vegas is almost overnight). Unfortunately Grand Junction, CO would be late night (11:55pm east and 1:35am west). When I took the CZ I remember the store there. I highly doubt they will be open for this train.

 

The train wouldn't be competitive for NYP-LAX vs. LSL/SWC because of the detour to serve DEN/SLC. But SLC and Omaha/Lincoln (along with CLE) are outside the graveyard shift. The train would serve as a second train between NYP and DEN and the schedule is pretty competitive compared to LSL/CZ. Plus, you get Vegas service back.

 

The old transcontinental SL was 3066 miles between LAX-MIA (http://www.timetables.org/full.php?group=19941030n&item=0030) and this train checks in at 3318 miles, longer than any Amtrak train. It looks like 7 Viewliner sets since the train should be able to be turned around in NYP.

 

If the three day schedule is unrealistic, maybe just the NYP-DEN train would be. It would be about the same as most of the western trains and provide a second train between CHI-DEN which I believe Nathaniel has proposed before.

 

I am open to any other name suggestions if you're really bored today like I was.

Coast to Coast LAX to NYP January 2017.pdf

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Why does it have to run through Chicago? Could it not run further south such as via St Louis and then Kansas then up to Denver? Yes it would be more convoluted but would also offer more cities direct services to each coast and avoid congestion in and out of Chicago?

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In fantasy land we could do old National Limited to STL/KCY to bypass CHI but I'm not aware of any train west of KCY in Amtrak history other than the SWC or its predecessors and I don't remember any KCY-DEN train in Amtrak history.

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When Amtrak first started they had a through sleeper that ran Los Angeles-Kansas City on the Super Chief and Kansas City-New York on the National Limited.

Edited by zephyr17

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The fundamental issue is that it is generally better for ridership for trains to stop at larger cities. It's worth the detour.

 

Chicago is a very, very large city. We'd have to have several times as many trains running through Chicago before it would make sense to have a train which bypassed it.

Edited by neroden

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When Amtrak first started they had a through sleeper that ran Los Angeles-Kansas City on the Super Chief and Kansas City-New York on the National Limited.

 

That was a very cool itinerary. If we would have it today, it might mean a mixed consist, which would complicate things.

 

I would imagine the most feasible way to have coast to coast train is to bring the 2005 Sunset limited back.

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All our experience tells us passengers are not very tidy. This poster certainly would not to board a train going from LAX at Pittsburg to NYP. If you make passenger get off once or twice on a coast to coast train wouldn't it be better to just have them make a cross platform transfer to another clean and with no mechanical problems car ?

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All our experience tells us passengers are not very tidy. This poster certainly would not to board a train going from LAX at Pittsburg to NYP. If you make passenger get off once or twice on a coast to coast train wouldn't it be better to just have them make a cross platform transfer to another clean and with no mechanical problems car ?

 

I'm pretty sure it won't be two times. The SWC does not force passengers to get off while they clean the train (at least not in the times I rode it) and it is 2265 miles. Correct me if I'm wrong but the TE also doesn't require clearing the train to clean it and there's plenty of maintenance in SAS that they do without clearing the train. What about the old transcontinental SL? Maybe once you have to get off but you know for sure the train won't leave without you (unless you're stupid enough to go too far away) unlike the connections in Chicago which I'm guessing quite a few of you have been stranded at least once overnight. Was the transcontinental SL really that horrible an experience to ride in? Was the train a pig sty when you got to Florida or California? If Katrina hadn't happened, would the train be running today?

 

If the SWC, CZ, and EB work as trains that cross two time zones, surely a NYP-DEN train would work too and if you took my proposal and terminated it at DEN then you'd have the PHL/Eastern PA-CHI train I covet as well as a second train between CHI-DEN with better boarding times for Nebraska.

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Honestly, I'll bet that most of the SWC and CZ connections to the Capitol Limited are coming from relatively close points like Denver and Kansas City, not from the West Coast. I wonder how many extra riders you'd get by extending the SWC just to Galesburg!

 

 

I assume you meant LSL to Galesburg since the SWC already serves Galesburg.

 

As mentioned before, NYP-DEN is a train I would want to see. But then there's a problem with servicing the train in Denver.

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I can think of one major problem the longer the route the more possibility for delays. And if via Chicago your entering and again exiting the densest railroad network in the country. St Louis isn't much better.

 

As far as trains historically between Kansas City and Denver UP used to run the City of Saint Louis with Wabash from STL to LaX via KCY, DEN. And I believe the route is still in place.

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If a coast-to-coast train was feasible it probably would have been tried in the 1950s or early 1960s. The Pennsy had access to Union Station (where it could have run through onto the Milwaukee Road and UP, or on the CB&Q and then DRG&W and WP). The NYC had access to LaSalle St., which could connect with the Rock Island. The Erie, Wabash, and Grand Trunk Western had access to Dearborn, where they could connect with the Santa Fe. The B&O and C&O had a connection to the Soo Line at Grand Central. And all of this is presuming that they weren't willing to double-stop a train (since there were through cars running around), but 2-3 road operation of trains had been proven feasible by the California Zephyr (in particular). And so on. It's the sort of project that I would think Robert Young would have been able to put together if it could have been done (probably slinging a secondary train through on the Rock Island while at the NYC).

 

That this wasn't attempted as a product suggests that feasibility was a problem: The operation of a crack through-train would probably have at least been a net gain for the involved parties and in the era of regulated fares it would have been easy, relatively speaking, to split the fares up. Maybe there's an OBS turnover at Chicago (this seems reasonable, given the length of the trip).

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Was the old transcontinental SL train a failure? If it weren't for Katrina would it still be running today?

 

No doubt the delays are an issue. But two night trains (SWC, CZ) clearly "work" for Amtrak. A passenger from California can ride 2000 miles to Chicago without a transfer, a passenger from Philly or New York cannot. By distance and time, a NYP-DEN or NYP-DAL train should be just as feasible as a CHI-LAX or CHI-EMY train and have the same if not higher ridership. If delays are an issue, why not chop the CZ in half and run two separate trains CHI-DEN and DEN-EMY (or in the case of the EB two separate trains from CHI-Rugby, ND and Rugby to SEA :giggle: )? Why is 2 days the line in the sand? And if it is, why not the routes I suggested?

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