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Expanding the Amtrak Route Map

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Many of the proposals for various Midwest services and to Florida may be covered eventually to a Royal Palm type train linked just below. How would you initiate a Royal Palm (RP) type train ? All listed option connections would be labeled Royal Palm to prevent any conflict with the present 750 mile rule just as the Empire builder and LSL.

 

http://www.streamlinerschedules.com/concourse/track2/newroyalpalm195103.html

 

1. Initiate the train CIN - CHA - ATL - JAX - MIA. The ATL station problem may be worked out by the train passing Howell interlocking and backing into the present ATL station then pulling forward once station work complete. Back in can work in both directions but with the knowledge there will be some days delays will happen at the Howell interlocking. The NS route is ~ 840 miles CIN <> JAX . The NS rat hole division might be somewhat faster due to tunnel and track revisions since 1951 ?

 

The big problem is getting the train approved over the Cincinnati southern (NS) to CHA and the NS to ATL - JAX. The present Amtrak route to MIA could then be used. By following the old Royal Palm schedule the cars CIN <> CHI could be attached to at least a daily Cardinal CHI - CIN ( extended Hoosier ? ).

Certainly there will be more RP station stops than what is shown of the 1951 RP. As approved cities build required stations then schedule train stops there. Have no idea of status of stations on NS route ?

 

Then the following can be accomplished in no special order

2. Make the Cardinal daily and have the Hoosier run at better schedule times for day trippers. Attach RP cars CIN <> CHI .

 

3. Extend the RP to Detroit or Cleveland over the 3 C corridor. That may provide at least connections for Michigan travelers to connect at Toledo for east coast trains as well. Will leave day 3C trips to others

 

5. Or add car(s) at Toledo somehow for Cleveland maybe an extension of an Empire train to Toledo ? Maybe a Buffalo car(s) as well.

 

6. Initiate RP connection train STL - Louisville - Nashville - Chattanooga.

 

7. Reroute RP train over FEC to MIA. Will require upgrading / restoring the FEC - West Palm Beach connecting track to Tri Rail past the old Palm Beach hurricane cemetery. Alternate is to use FEC to MIA and connection built to Tri Rail. However Brightline station platforms at Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale high level with 12 inch gap.

 

8. Hattiesburg, Meridian, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham could also connect at ATL from Crescent for Florida that is not possible with the present proposed NOL - Orlando train without overnight at NOL.

 

9. Nashville - Louisville section might be extended to CHI.

 

10. If the Roanoke Virginia train is ever extended to Bristol, then Knoxville - CHA connecting at CHA RP times would mesh with present proposals.

 

11. Palmetto extended to JAX would give possible connections <> Florida destinations maybe even thru car(s) however that in future might make RP too long ? Would expect southbound schedule arrival JAX later northbound earlier ?

 

12 West Va / Va persons can also connect to south at CIN.

 

13. Unfortunately connections for Florida to Crescent north of ATL would require 9 hour layover in ATL. But at present Florida connections from Greensboro to ATL also requires a lay over in Raleigh or plus CLT at certain stations. Proposed Piedmont ATL <> NYP / WASH no connection.

 

Will leave east west trains in Ohio valley proposals to others.

 

The next big question then is equipment.

 

21, To start service CHI <> MIA will require just 5 train sets ? ( is my math bad ? ) Expect MIA will be too close to turn equipment same day.

 

22. Superliners or single level cars. There are pluses and minus both types. Am leaning toward single level. MIA would be able to rotate the Silver service trains but ? ?. Cardinal equipment would be compatible.

 

23. Single levels start with Baggage, 3 coaches, Diner, lounge 2 sleepers ? == 40 + 5 spares. Suspect that winter could easily be Bag, 5 coaches, diner, lounge, 5 sleepers = 65 + 8.

 

24. So definitely more cars. CAF ? Boy what a mess. Siemens Bright line ? maybe but it will take redesign to add traps.

 

25 Locos ? Probably enough P-42s released with Chargers taking their place.

 

26. Need 2 sets each for 3C and Nashville.

 

Just a wag but probably $450 - 500M ?

Edited by west point

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IMO the expansion that would seem to be the easiest (shortest distance) with the biggest potential gain are Detroit area-Michigan (about 60 miles). That would connect the Wolverine Corridor to the Chicago Line (LSL/CL) and give Michigan train access to the East Coast (even if you have to change trains in the middle of the night in TOL it still is more desirable than the bus). Also, it involves a state that seems to have some interest in investing in rail travel (Michigan). There were rumors last year the LSL would be rerouted via Michigan. Once the upgrade to 110 mph is complete you might be able to travel between CHI and TOL faster via Michigan than South Bend. At the very least, you use fewer miles of NS track. It's pretty clear NS uses the CHI-CLE route a lot. How about Michigan-TOL?

 

I do think ATL to Savannah and/or JAX would help a lot but then it goes back to the issues at ATL. Ideally I'd like to see a split at ATL for the Crescent with one leg to Florida and one leg to New Orleans to add ATL-Florida (and CLT/Greensboro-Florida) traffic.

 

The problem with Louisville and Nashville is unless the cities and/or states pay there isn't an obvious through car to or reroute of an existing LD route you can add them to. Maybe Kentucky Cardinal extended to Nashville? Or connect Louisville to Cincinnati to the Cardinal eastbound? Atlanta-Nashville would seem to be an obvious city pair but again ATL mess.

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IMO the two trains having the best chance to come back are the quad cities route from CHI to Moline and the Broadway Ltd route from PHL - CHI. . The Quad cities has been in the planing stages since 2009 and All Aboard Ohio, a lobbying group is putting out some favorable reports on the restoration of passenger service on the old PRR mainline ( that has been recently rebuilt by Norfolk Southern) .

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OK, fantasy exercise here:

 

You can add up to 5,000 train miles to the Amtrak map. This doesn't include multiple frequencies of a current route. You can choose any old route (Amtrak or otherwise), you don't have to worry about the ownership/ condition of the tracks or stations within the 5,000 track mile limit. Don't worry about putting routes together or one seat rides. If you want to bring back the 1995 BL, you only get charged the route between PGH-CHI since PGH-NYP is still being used.

 

We can play this really old Wheel of Fortune style ... "For 788 miles, I'll take the Desert Wind between LAX and SLC..."

 

90's Amtrak (timetables.org):

Sunset Limited East (MIA-NOL): 1033 miles

Desert Wind (SLC-LAX): 788 miles

Texas Eagle (DAL-HOS): 264 miles

Lake Cities (DET-TOL): 56 miles

 

Since my "ideal" Amtrak "BL" route would be via Michigan and I could live with it going via CLE-TOL-South Bend, I don't "need" the portion between PGH and CHI.

 

70's Amtrak:

National Limited (PGH-STL): 611 miles

Lone Star (OKC-Newton): 197 miles

Floridian (IND-Nashville): 298 miles (When it ran via Indy)
Pre Amtrak:
Cincinnati Limited (CIN-Columbus): 124.9 miles (http://www.american-rails.com/cinn-ltd.html)
Dixie Flagler (JAX-Nashville): 642.8 miles (http://streamlinerschedules.com/concourse/track2/dixieflag194106.html)
Phoebe Snow (Hoboken-BUF): 396.2 miles (http://www.american-rails.com/phoebe-snow.html) (Shout out to Neroden!)
Total so far (rounding up): 3,997 miles
My ideal CHI-Florida route would be via IND-Louisville-Nashville-Chattanooga-ATL-Jacksonville-ORL-MIA and/or TPA.
I don't have records of the mileage of any CLE-Columbus route or the proposed Meridian-DAL route. I certainly want CLE-Columbus included (AAO puts it at 135 miles, http://freepdfhosting.com/cf26514bc8.pdf).I'm not 100% sold on Meridian-DAL since if HOS-DAL are hooked up that would give you a potential shorter route between NOL-DAL (via HOS). Maybe you could just extend the Crescent to DAL or HOS or SAS (again, fantasy thread!!!!) Meridian-Dallas via the Thruway bus is 507 miles so that is a huge bit of real estate for Shreveport. If you include those, that would leave around 450 miles. I also would like routes for both Allentown/Bethlehem and Tulsa. Allentown to Philly would be really "cheap" (maybe 50 miles?) I don't think I can fit Boise in (I certainly won't include all 1,625 miles of the old Pioneer between DEN-SEA).
If you have any accurate train miles for any of the missing portions feel free to do so and I'll update my list.

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OK, fantasy exercise here:

 

You can add up to 5,000 train miles to the Amtrak map. This doesn't include multiple frequencies of a current route. You can choose any old route (Amtrak or otherwise), you don't have to worry about the ownership/ condition of the tracks or stations within the 5,000 track mile limit. Don't worry about putting routes together or one seat rides. If you want to bring back the 1995 BL, you only get charged the route between PGH-CHI since PGH-NYP is still being used.

 

We can play this really old Wheel of Fortune style ... "For 788 miles, I'll take the Desert Wind between LAX and SLC..."

 

90's Amtrak (timetables.org):

Sunset Limited East (MIA-NOL): 1033 miles

Desert Wind (SLC-LAX): 788 miles

Texas Eagle (DAL-HOS): 264 miles

Lake Cities (DET-TOL): 56 miles

 

Since my "ideal" Amtrak "BL" route would be via Michigan and I could live with it going via CLE-TOL-South Bend, I don't "need" the portion between PGH and CHI.

 

70's Amtrak:

National Limited (PGH-STL): 611 miles

Lone Star (OKC-Newton): 197 miles

Floridian (IND-Nashville): 298 miles (When it ran via Indy)
Pre Amtrak:
Cincinnati Limited (CIN-Columbus): 124.9 miles (http://www.american-rails.com/cinn-ltd.html)
Phoebe Snow (Hoboken-BUF): 396.2 miles (http://www.american-rails.com/phoebe-snow.html) (Shout out to Neroden!)
Total so far (rounding up): 3,997 miles
My ideal CHI-Florida route would be via IND-Louisville-Nashville-Chattanooga-ATL-Jacksonville-ORL-MIA and/or TPA.
I don't have records of the mileage of any CLE-Columbus route or the proposed Meridian-DAL route. I certainly want CLE-Columbus included (AAO puts it at 135 miles, http://freepdfhosting.com/cf26514bc8.pdf).I'm not 100% sold on Meridian-DAL since if HOS-DAL are hooked up that would give you a potential shorter route between NOL-DAL (via HOS). Maybe you could just extend the Crescent to DAL or HOS or SAS (again, fantasy thread!!!!) Meridian-Dallas via the Thruway bus is 507 miles so that is a huge bit of real estate for Shreveport. If you include those, that would leave around 450 miles. I also would like routes for both Allentown/Bethlehem and Tulsa. Allentown to Philly would be really "cheap" (maybe 50 miles?) I don't think I can fit Boise in (I certainly won't include all 1,625 miles of the old Pioneer between DEN-SEA).
If you have any accurate train miles for any of the missing portions feel free to do so and I'll update my list.

 

 

I understand this is an enjoyable exercise for you to develop, and there is not a thing wrong with that, or with sharing your vision. But instead of a pure fantasy, how about an exercise which is at least ostensibly productive? For instance, a politically persuasive rationale (to both sides of the aisle) for why Congress should provide X amount of increased subsidy to produce Y additional route miles and Z more passengers; Presumably adding up to a stronger national network with improved financial statistics, and which provides greater (hence, more politically defensible) benefits to the nation for the taxpayers' investment.

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What would be the most likely actual new (or restored) routes Amtrak will expand to? I understand Lynchburg to Roanoke is in the works, but any other's?

 

How about Davenport or Dubuque?

Or Bangor?

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What would be the most likely actual new (or restored) routes Amtrak will expand to? I understand Lynchburg to Roanoke is in the works, but any other's?

 

How about Davenport or Dubuque?

Or Bangor?

Davenport (technically Moline) seems to be still in progress. I suspect that something will happen on the IA side of things eventually...the real jam there, IMO, was that "phase one" only went to Iowa City instead of Des Moines (which is about 4x the size and happens to be, you know, the state capitol). Rockford/Dubuque is a bit jammed up as well, though I suspect that will get rolling as soon as Rauner is out of there (which seems more likely than not...I think he was elected almost as much because IL needed a "change of pace" after the whole Blago mess as anything, and IIRC Quinn also wasn't exactly the most popular guy).

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What would be the most likely actual new (or restored) routes Amtrak will expand to? I understand Lynchburg to Roanoke is in the works, but any other's?

 

How about Davenport or Dubuque?

Or Bangor?

Davenport (technically Moline) seems to be still in progress. I suspect that something will happen on the IA side of things eventually...the real jam there, IMO, was that "phase one" only went to Iowa City instead of Des Moines (which is about 4x the size and happens to be, you know, the state capitol). Rockford/Dubuque is a bit jammed up as well, though I suspect that will get rolling as soon as Rauner is out of there (which seems more likely than not...I think he was elected almost as much because IL needed a "change of pace" after the whole Blago mess as anything, and IIRC Quinn also wasn't exactly the most popular guy).

 

To continue to Dubuque would require negotiations with Canadian National, of which whom has been anything but cooperative. The latest proposal from 2014 has the train scheduled to run Chicago-Rockford via Metra's Milwaukee District West Line and the Union Pacific Belvidere Subdivision. Service to Dubuque can't happen until there are successful negotiations with CN for use of their line to Dubuque.

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What would be the most likely actual new (or restored) routes Amtrak will expand to? I understand Lynchburg to Roanoke is in the works, but any other's?

 

How about Davenport or Dubuque?

Or Bangor?

Davenport (technically Moline) seems to be still in progress. I suspect that something will happen on the IA side of things eventually...the real jam there, IMO, was that "phase one" only went to Iowa City instead of Des Moines (which is about 4x the size and happens to be, you know, the state capitol). Rockford/Dubuque is a bit jammed up as well, though I suspect that will get rolling as soon as Rauner is out of there (which seems more likely than not...I think he was elected almost as much because IL needed a "change of pace" after the whole Blago mess as anything, and IIRC Quinn also wasn't exactly the most popular guy).

To continue to Dubuque would require negotiations with Canadian National, of which whom has been anything but cooperative. The latest proposal from 2014 has the train scheduled to run Chicago-Rockford via Metra's Milwaukee District West Line and the Union Pacific Belvidere Subdivision. Service to Dubuque can't happen until there are successful negotiations with CN for use of their line to Dubuque.
Phase one of the Dubuque line on the UP will probably happen after the next governor election, they already have an agreement even, just needs the funding released. After that, CN is strongly anti passenger train.

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They could avoid the CN, and run a train over the BNSF to East Dubuque, but unfortunately that route doesn't serve Rockford...

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They could avoid the CN, and run a train over the BNSF to East Dubuque, but unfortunately that route doesn't serve Rockford...

The BNSF Aurora Sub is very heavily used and and therefore BNSF would surely not want Amtrak on that line either. In addition, there are no cities west of Aurora worth stopping at other than Rochelle (and possibly Oregon) along the Aurora Sub. Even if the line had room for a passenger train, there just isn't the population density needed for a passenger train along that route.

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I haven't been over that line since the days before Amtrak....but I recall riding the Afternoon Twin Cities Zephyr (combined with the Empire Builder and North Coast Limited) along the river enroute to St. Paul, and we really rolled along on that route... :)

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What ... routes Amtrak will expand to?

I understand Lynchburg to Roanoke is in the works, but any others?

 

How about Davenport or Dubuque?

Or Bangor?

Extending the Vermonter to Montreal is on track if the craziness in D.C. doesn't cause a wash out. Canada needs to get moving to upgrade the route from the border into the city. The State of Vermont has kept this project moving incrementally and I expect they will see it thru in 3 or 4 more years.

 

Vermont is also working to extend the Ethan Allen to Burlington, and I expect they will get there in 3 or 4 or 5 years despite the outbreak of Alzheimer's or whatever in D.C.

Edited by WoodyinNYC

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Roanoke seems to be on an accelerated schedule, which is awesome.

Moline is very definitely in the works, especially now that Governor Ruiner of Illinois has had his budget veto overridden (after his *own wife* asked legislators to override it). Great hunks of it are already done. I don't know what they'll use for rolling stock after the Nippon Sharyo failure, but track & stations should be done soon.

Rockford is probably happening; Davenport is probably not.

Burlington VT is definitely happening, currently delayed by a NIMBY outbreak in Middlebury.

Vermonter to Montreal is awaiting Canadian decision on a preclearance bill which has some nasty provisions objected to by civil rights campaigners, and then needs Canadian-side funding for the international platform at Montreal Central Station, and *then* agreement with the Canadian railroads... shaggy dog story there

 

It's not expansion, but the long-awaited Cascades reroute should happen this year, vastly improving the Tacoma station, improving reliability, and increasing the number of trains per day, which I think is important.

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What would be the most likely actual new (or restored) routes Amtrak will expand to? I understand Lynchburg to Roanoke is in the works, but any other's?

 

How about Davenport or Dubuque?

Or Bangor?

Davenport (technically Moline) seems to be still in progress. I suspect that something will happen on the IA side of things eventually...the real jam there, IMO, was that "phase one" only went to Iowa City instead of Des Moines (which is about 4x the size and happens to be, you know, the state capitol). Rockford/Dubuque is a bit jammed up as well, though I suspect that will get rolling as soon as Rauner is out of there (which seems more likely than not...I think he was elected almost as much because IL needed a "change of pace" after the whole Blago mess as anything, and IIRC Quinn also wasn't exactly the most popular guy).

 

To continue to Dubuque would require negotiations with Canadian National, of which whom has been anything but cooperative. The latest proposal from 2014 has the train scheduled to run Chicago-Rockford via Metra's Milwaukee District West Line and the Union Pacific Belvidere Subdivision. Service to Dubuque can't happen until there are successful negotiations with CN for use of their line to Dubuque.

 

Just so I understand better, provided a new Black Hawk train does serve Rockford, how far west can such a train run before it hits CN territory? You are right, Dubuque is probably out until Amtrak ever gets an agreement with CN to use their trackage into Dubuque. I recall it took forever for Metra and CN to reach an agreement to allow a 4th afternoon train(pre-afternoon rush hour) going outbound from Chicago to Joliet, on the Heritage Corridor.

 

 

Roanoke seems to be on an accelerated schedule, which is awesome.
Moline is very definitely in the works, especially now that Governor Ruiner of Illinois has had his budget veto overridden (after his *own wife* asked legislators to override it). Great hunks of it are already done. I don't know what they'll use for rolling stock after the Nippon Sharyo failure, but track & stations should be done soon.
Rockford is probably happening; Davenport is probably not.
Burlington VT is definitely happening, currently delayed by a NIMBY outbreak in Middlebury.
Vermonter to Montreal is awaiting Canadian decision on a preclearance bill which has some nasty provisions objected to by civil rights campaigners, and then needs Canadian-side funding for the international platform at Montreal Central Station, and *then* agreement with the Canadian railroads... shaggy dog story there

It's not expansion, but the long-awaited Cascades reroute should happen this year, vastly improving the Tacoma station, improving reliability, and increasing the number of trains per day, which I think is important.

Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines? It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation from cities and towns on that route to establish stations, and for grant money to help allow for that to happen.

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Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines? It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation from cities and towns on that route to establish stations, and for grant money to help allow for that to happen.

 

 

The issue is lack of funding from Iowa (or potentially local governments). Iowa declined federal funds that were available to help extend this (proposed/someday operating) train from the Quad Cities to Iowa City.

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Just so I understand better, provided a new Black Hawk train does serve Rockford, how far west can such a train run before it hits CN territory?

Rockford.

 

 

Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines? It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation from cities and towns on that route to establish stations, and for grant money to help allow for that to happen.

The Iowa Legislature refuses to fund any passenger train service in Iowa. This is the only issue.

 

I doubt the cities could raise enough funding locally with statehouse opposition, though if they can, go them.

Edited by neroden

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Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines?

 

It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation [and] grant money to allow that to happen.

The Iowa Legislature refuses to fund any passenger train service in Iowa. This is the only issue.

This is one of the tragic stories from the Stimulus. And a tragic example of the cost to the country of the Obama Derangement Syndrome that spread thru one of the major parties at about that time. O.D.S. -- simply put: if Obama is for it, we're against it -- helped cause several rail improvement projects to be aborted, including CHI-Milwaukee-Madison, Tampa-Orlando, and the 3-Cs in Ohio (Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati). And Iowa.

 

Of course, in 2009 and 2010, no state was really ready to push ahead with the Stimulus-funded projects. No one had the environmental stuff done, much less permitting and preliminary engineering. Illinois was ahead of most, and despite a hard deadline less than three months from now (Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year 2017), it's apparently not finished yet!

 

Iowa was completely unready when the windfall funding was offered. Illinois grabbed money to do CHI-Quad Cities, but Iowa balked at even Quad Cities-Iowa City. Anyway, in the end, Iowa refused to do anything at all and the federal money was reallocated to a happier state.

 

It was a pity to lose that opportunity, because in this rare instance, the host railroad (Iowa Interstate) actually WANTED to add passenger service because the funding to pay for the needed upgrades would have significantly improved its freight line to Council Bluffs/Omaha.

 

A new corridor thru central Iowa -- CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha- and eventually onward Lincoln-Denver -- had been discussed and studied for years, but no go. The appeal is obvious. Illinois seems to think that CHI-Quad Cities is viable on its own. Adding a few miles to Iowa City would pick up riders from that market and nearby Cedar Rapids. Down the road a bit, Des Moines is poorly served by the California Zephyr's stop 40ish miles south of the capital city, but could support several trains a day on this central corridor. Omaha is badly served by one train a day each way, so a second round trip is a no brainer. The studies have pondered if Omaha would need 3 or 4 or 5 daily trains. Lincoln, about an hour west of Omaha, is quietly one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest (state capital and main campus U of Nebraska). But the Zephyr arrives after midnight WB and EB is worse, with a 3:20 a.m. arrival, so a second train in Omaha would be very popular. Finally, the Zephyr reportedly is full or even actually sold out CHI-Denver-Greenwood Springs. A second Denver frequency would also fill up.

 

So the anti-passenger train votes by the Iowa Legislature delayed or killed new or better train service across four states.

 

Looking forward, it's difficult to see any corridor train proposal being revived, not so long as any one state can sink it. The laws require that any trains of less than 750 miles must be state-supported, not part of the national network. And CHI-Omaha is 500 miles.

 

But CHI-Denver is 1038 miles. So Amtrak could start a new second train on the route between Chicago and Denver, but only IF Denver is on the list of approved begin/end-point cities named in the law. I don't recall if it is or isn't, but I think it isn't.

 

If Denver is not a pre-approved end-point for a new train, Amtrak could ask Congress to amend the law or make this one exception. Or it could make Denver a stop on a longer train to an approved city, like L.A.

 

A CHI-Denver train should perform well. However, making it longer gets risky. God forbid a revived Desert Wind CHI-DEN-Las Vegas-L.A. Or worse, a revived Pioneer CHI-DEN-SLC-Boise-Portland. (Amtrak's study of a revived Pioneer showed its results would be the worst in the system, in the sub-basement below the 3-days-per-week Sunset.)

 

Perhaps a WB CHI-DEN train could leave the Zephyr route for a Front Range route, heading down to Colorado Springs-Pueblo-Trinidad to join the Southwest Chief route Albuquerque-Flagstaff-L.A. Or turn south again Albuquerque-El Paso-Tucson-Maricopa (Phoenix)-L.A.

 

A better solution could be a loop route:

 

Long form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-DEN-Colorado Springs-Pueblo-La Junta-Newton (Wichita)-Kansas City-CHI.

 

Short form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-St Joseph-Kansas City-CHI.

 

Alternate for both long form & short form loops: -Kansas City-Jefferson City-St Louis-CHI.

 

All the usual disclaimers apply: Need more equipment, agreement with freight hosts, tweaking of departure and arrival times, etc. But the loops do not require permission from the Legislature of the State of Iowa.

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Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines?

 

It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation [and] grant money to allow that to happen.

The Iowa Legislature refuses to fund any passenger train service in Iowa. This is the only issue.
This is one of the tragic stories from the Stimulus. And a tragic example of the cost to the country of the Obama Derangement Syndrome that spread thru one of the major parties at about that time. O.D.S. -- simply put: if Obama is for it, we're against it -- helped cause several rail improvement projects to be aborted, including CHI-Milwaukee-Madison, Tampa-Orlando, and the 3-Cs in Ohio (Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati). And Iowa.

 

Of course, in 2009 and 2010, no state was really ready to push ahead with the Stimulus-funded projects. No one had the environmental stuff done, much less permitting and preliminary engineering. Illinois was ahead of most, and despite a hard deadline less than three months from now (Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year 2017), it's apparently not finished yet!

 

Iowa was completely unready when the windfall funding was offered. Illinois grabbed money to do CHI-Quad Cities, but Iowa balked at even Quad Cities-Iowa City. Anyway, in the end, Iowa refused to do anything at all and the federal money was reallocated to a happier state.

 

It was a pity to lose that opportunity, because in this rare instance, the host railroad (Iowa Interstate) actually WANTED to add passenger service because the funding to pay for the needed upgrades would have significantly improved its freight line to Council Bluffs/Omaha.

 

A new corridor thru central Iowa -- CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha- and eventually onward Lincoln-Denver -- had been discussed and studied for years, but no go. The appeal is obvious. Illinois seems to think that CHI-Quad Cities is viable on its own. Adding a few miles to Iowa City would pick up riders from that market and nearby Cedar Rapids. Down the road a bit, Des Moines is poorly served by the California Zephyr's stop 40ish miles south of the capital city, but could support several trains a day on this central corridor. Omaha is badly served by one train a day each way, so a second round trip is a no brainer. The studies have pondered if Omaha would need 3 or 4 or 5 daily trains. Lincoln, about an hour west of Omaha, is quietly one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest (state capital and main campus U of Nebraska). But the Zephyr arrives after midnight WB and EB is worse, with a 3:20 a.m. arrival, so a second train in Omaha would be very popular. Finally, the Zephyr reportedly is full or even actually sold out CHI-Denver-Greenwood Springs. A second Denver frequency would also fill up.

 

So the anti-passenger train votes by the Iowa Legislature delayed or killed new or better train service across four states.

 

Looking forward, it's difficult to see any corridor train proposal being revived, not so long as any one state can sink it. The laws require that any trains of less than 750 miles must be state-supported, not part of the national network. And CHI-Omaha is 500 miles.

 

But CHI-Denver is 1038 miles. So Amtrak could start a new second train on the route between Chicago and Denver, but only IF Denver is on the list of approved begin/end-point cities named in the law. I don't recall if it is or isn't, but I think it isn't.

 

If Denver is not a pre-approved end-point for a new train, Amtrak could ask Congress to amend the law or make this one exception. Or it could make Denver a stop on a longer train to an approved city, like L.A.

 

A CHI-Denver train should perform well. However, making it longer gets risky. God forbid a revived Desert Wind CHI-DEN-Las Vegas-L.A. Or worse, a revived Pioneer CHI-DEN-SLC-Boise-Portland. (Amtrak's study of a revived Pioneer showed its results would be the worst in the system, in the sub-basement below the 3-days-per-week Sunset.)

 

Perhaps a WB CHI-DEN train could leave the Zephyr route for a Front Range route, heading down to Colorado Springs-Pueblo-Trinidad to join the Southwest Chief route Albuquerque-Flagstaff-L.A. Or turn south again Albuquerque-El Paso-Tucson-Maricopa (Phoenix)-L.A.

 

A better solution could be a loop route:

 

Long form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-DEN-Colorado Springs-Pueblo-La Junta-Newton (Wichita)-Kansas City-CHI.

 

Short form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-St Joseph-Kansas City-CHI.

 

Alternate for both long form & short form loops: -Kansas City-Jefferson City-St Louis-CHI.

 

All the usual disclaimers apply: Need more equipment, agreement with freight hosts, tweaking of departure and arrival times, etc. But the loops do not require permission from the Legislature of the State of Iowa.

To note, I think if the funding was made available again for Iowa now, they might approve it. At the time, the requirement was 60 million $ needed all at once, which would have been the biggest project in DOT history (though with the massive Illinois delays, it might have been interesting to see how that would have played out, Illinois almost cancelled their side too) which represented 20% of the DOTs budget. Now Iowa has a gas tax increase, has gotten over it's fear of large contracts, and a more moderate governor, so it might not give as much shock to the system. I think the further we get from the anti-obama hysteria, we'll see Republican resistance to rail continue to soften.

 

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I haven't checked up on them, but now that the Illinois State Budget is a reality, are the Rockford and Quad Cities (barring the N-S fiasco on the bi-levels) a go again? Or at least gearing up to come back to life?

 

I've heard zero on restarting service to Rockford. All aspects for that route were supposed to be funded with state money alone.

 

Regarding the Moline route, just last week it was announced that IDOT was considering applying for another extension for the $177 million federal grant awarded to establish the route. The state needs to come up with $45 million towards its share of the expenses. Those following the story will probably recall that in June, 2016, when the funding deadline loomed, Rauner committed the state to launching the new service, thus allowing the state to apply for its first extension.

 

Also, from the Quad Cities Times, July 11, 2017 (http://www.qctimes.com)

 

 

The state recently said that it had come to a memorandum of understanding with the Iowa Interstate Railroad to reimburse it for engineering costs associated with determining what improvements need to be made to accommodate passenger traffic. And Gurski said that work is proceeding and "will inform a schedule going forward."

 

Iowa Interstate owns the approximately 50 miles of track between Wyanet, Illinois, and Moline.

 

A Federal Railroad Administration official said it was his understanding an extension was in the works.

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Dang, I thought they were further along with that than they are. Thanks for the info.

 

Yeah...I had thought so too. I knew the Rockford (Dubuque) project was basically dead (or at least dormant) but thought that there had actually been some movement on Moline/Quad Cities. Or maybe there has been (the Moline station perhaps) but the trackage improvements have always been "starting in the near future."

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Dang, I thought they were further along with that than they are. Thanks for the info.

Yeah...I had thought so too. I knew the Rockford (Dubuque) project was basically dead (or at least dormant) but thought that there had actually been some movement on Moline/Quad Cities. Or maybe there has been (the Moline station perhaps) but the trackage improvements have always been "starting in the near future."

Moline has been told to expect service to start in 2018. I don't think the capital improvements are super intensive, so it might still happen.

 

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Dang, I thought they were further along with that than they are. Thanks for the info.

 

Yeah...I had thought so too. I knew the Rockford (Dubuque) project was basically dead (or at least dormant) but thought that there had actually been some movement on Moline/Quad Cities. Or maybe there has been (the Moline station perhaps) but the trackage improvements have always been "starting in the near future."

 

Funding for the Rockford line is still suspended. However, there has been no announcement stating it was cancelled.

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