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I'm not sure if this is a repeated topic, sorry if it is.

 

I think a good way to speed up the TE would be to travel at 100 MPH from CHI-STL, since the infrastructure is there (or soon will be), Superliners can handle 100 MPH maximum, and a single P42 should be able to pull the train that fast. If a single P42 can't pull the train that fast, add a second ONLY between CHI and STL. What would be needed to turn this idea into a reality.

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This is an excellent idea, but the Eagle needs TWO P-42s for the entire trip between CHI and SAS.No LD Train should run with just one P42 since they are worn out after being run hard and put up wet as the old saying goes!🤔

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I believe part of the contract with the speed improvements between Joliet and Alton stated that the TE is to remain at current speeds. This does appear rather ridiculous to me, but I have no idea what would be necessary to remove this speed restriction from the TE.

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Well can Illinois pay UP for the extra speed, I can't imagine it would cost more than a few million dollars a year.

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The CHI <> STL situation does need less secrecy and true reasons for the speed limits for the TE..

We feel that keeping the TE on time needs one solution of the long station dwells that occur on all trains. That needs solving.

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What happens if the TE is running late, and they do 95 MPH on a 110 MPH section of track, what kind of problems would happen then.

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Well can Illinois pay UP for the extra speed, I can't imagine it would cost more than a few million dollars a year.

 

A million here, a million there ... pretty soon you're talking real money.

 

While Illinois could pay to speed up a state supported train, the TE is a national network train, so the dollars (if that's the obstacle) would come from Amtrak.

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My interpretation is that the contracted changes had to do with slot allocation, changing the timetable, and the like. If a train is late but the tracks are otherwise clear, I suspect there's nothing stopping dispatch from telling the TE to open up the throttle since I presume the crossings have been re-timed and so on.

The underlying jam is that hypothetically in order to justify an extra $1m/yr to UP you'd need to add some riders or be able to charge them more. The IL-funded trains take 5:20-5:30 southbound and 5:30-5:40 northbound. The Eagle takes 5:36 southbound and 5:57 northbound (including end-of-route padding), so it's questionable how useful dropping 5-10 minutes would be (after all, the TE can't fully utilize the 110 that the state trains presumably can, I think it might be a slightly heavier train as well, and it does have three checked baggage stops along the line).

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Well can Illinois pay UP for the extra speed, I can't imagine it would cost more than a few million dollars a year.

A million here, a million there ... pretty soon you're talking real money.

 

While Illinois could pay to speed up a state supported train, the TE is a national network train, so the dollars (if that's the obstacle) would come from Amtrak.

an extra car is added, perhaps make that car the 321/321 Lincoln Service AND the 21/22 & 421/422 TE, rather than the TE, it just happens to be the same train.

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I remember coming back from TX on the TE, and we were pacing the cars on the highway while having lunch, and I was thinking "why would you drive from STL to CHI when you can have a fine meal, smooth ride, and great time on the train". Now I want to be going faster than the cars and use my binoculars to watch their faces as they get overtaken by 1,000 tons of Amtrak.

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The TE still has the DAL/FTW buffer in the schedule from before the switch to the current track. FYI - the current Eagle only runs with one P42, no protection anywhere along the route, which is a nightmare waiting to happen.

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My interpretation is that the contracted changes had to do with slot allocation, changing the timetable, and the like. If a train is late but the tracks are otherwise clear, I suspect there's nothing stopping dispatch from telling the TE to open up the throttle since I presume the crossings have been re-timed and so on.

 

I don't know if it's still the case, but when the 110 mph sections were first implemented a few years ago, the timetable (as in, railroad operating timetable, not passenger timetable) specifically called out certain train numbers as being permitted to operate at higher speeds. Therefore, if a train other than the specific trains mentioned were to exceed the 79 mph speed limit, the crew would be in violation of the rules and, if caught, would be removed from service and face disciplinary action, just as if they had done so on a railroad with no 110 mph service. Assuming these restrictions are still in place, they still couldn't operate above the 79 mph limit (or lower, depending on location, obviously) even if they were late, there were no other trains on the railroad, and the dispatcher approved it (the dispatcher can't override timetable rules or special instructions).

 

Is it stupid? Yes. But, them's the rules; such is the contract signed between Illinois and UP.

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If Chicago Maintenance can get their act together (sigh), I would expect UP would be quite happy to reschedule the SOUTHBOUND Texas Eagle, which is predictable, to run at full speed. They might ask for a ransom, as these crooks always do, but they'd actually want to get it done.

 

The northbound is another matter. I think UP wants a late Texas Eagle on as slow a timetable as possible. :-P

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Unfortunately, Illinois is such a mess right now that the state government is unlikely to renegotiate anything. Although eliminating this "paper barrier" would be a really good idea.

 

Perhaps the best chance of speedups in the short term is on the southern end, removing some of the recovery time in Dallas-Fort Worth which is unnecessary now that the train is on the TRE route. It would get added to San Antonio wait time for those on the Sunset, of course, but that's OK...

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Why is it OK to increase the Layover time in San Antonio for the Eagle, it's already way too Long?🤔

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Why is it OK to increase the Layover time in San Antonio for the Eagle, it's already way too Long?

Moving the layover time from Dallas and Ft. Worth to San Antonio would shorten the TE 21/22 schedule while not lengthening the schedule of TE 421/422. This would benefit anyone travelling from any station between San Antonio and Ft. Worth inclusive to any station from Dallas north. The only people negatively affected would be those travelling from west of San Antonio to a station between San Marcos and Dallas inclusive, which is a much smaller market.

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If i had some extra time from reducing the layover in DAL and FTW, I'd (at least on the westbound side) push the westbound departure out of CHI back (currently 1:45pm, the earliest of the four western trains). I don't think it is as big of an issue with passengers missing transfers from the CL/LSL but pushing the 21 departure back would make it even less of an issue.

 

The reason for the long layover between the TE and SL is the pathetic (at least westbound) SL schedule. I don't know what's less attractive, getting to SAS at 2:45am to board the train or spending six hours in SAS if traveling from DAL/FTW to LAX. And in either case, you arrive in LAX during the graveyard shift. With a better schedule, you'd have way more business between DAL/SAS-:LAX. Based on the markets served, the SL (including passengers from DAL/FTW and south heading to LAX via SAS) should be blowing the Cardinal out of the water in terms of ridership/revenue. IMO the schedule is the biggest reason it's not.

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As long as we're talking about my (only!) hometown train...suppose we could talk UP into reinstituting the 1960 schedule? The running times are not that far off; the current Sunset is scheduled 46:35 westbound (but frequently arrives early...much too early!) and 45:40 eastbound.

 

It would break connections with the Coast Starlight in L. A., true...unless perchance we could have that schedule tweaked as well. We might need an extra hour or so of running time eastbound, but that would put us into San Antonio at a marginally palatable hour and if we could structure the incentives so that the schedule was kept reliably it wouldn't break the connection to the TE. Westbound, though, I still see problems; either we write off the through cars CHI-LAX completely, or else we advance or retard the schedule and end up (for practical purposes) losing either New Orleans, Houston, L.A., or San Antonio...much the same problem as today.

 

(Sounds to me as if we need additional frequencies...additional DAILY frequencies!)

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I personally would prefer that 1960 schedule as that would allow a same day 19-1 or 59-1 transfer at NOL and the westbound train would serve SAS and LAX at way better hours (although I doubt arriving into LAX at 5:05pm is ever going to happen) although eastbound the train got into SAS at 4:30am and for any train to be able to connect in NOL with the current 20 it would have to arrive in NOL before 7am.

 

I also like the idea of a through branch going from DAL/FTW-ELP and travel between DAL/FTW-LAX would be way way better than it is today. Plus the route between DAL and ELP back then was 645.3 miles, 13:35 hrs where today via SAS is 919 miles, about 20.5 hours, not counting the layover in SAS. They must have had some shortcut. I had proposed breaking the SL and TE and run through cars from DAL-SAS connecting with the SL. If you can have through cars DAL-ELP to the SL that would be even better for DAL to get to LAX.

 

Of course the #1 reason this schedule was better.... PHOENIX!

 

I personally don't care much for the SL-CS connection, I'd rather have the Crescent-SL connection (although of course I'm biased). (Dream Sequence): This SL westbound schedule with the Dallas branch and a resurrected Spirit of California. That way you can still go from Texas/Arizona to the Bay Area with a same day transfer and you'd have the overnight SF Area/LA Area train again.

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I also like the idea of a through branch going from DAL/FTW-ELP and travel between DAL/FTW-LAX would be way way better than it is today. Plus the route between DAL and ELP back then was 645.3 miles, 13:35 hrs where today via SAS is 919 miles, about 20.5 hours, not counting the layover in SAS. They must have had some shortcut. I had proposed breaking the SL and TE and run through cars from DAL-SAS connecting with the SL. If you can have through cars DAL-ELP to the SL that would be even better for DAL to get to LAX.

 

Yes, there's a UP line (former T&P) that essentially follows I-20 heading west from Fort Worth through Abilene, Midland, and Odessa.

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Unfortunately, Illinois is such a mess right now that the state government is unlikely to renegotiate anything. Although eliminating this "paper barrier" would be a really good idea.

 

What you call a "paper barrier" is what Union Pacific would call an invoice. The fact that taxpayers paid to bring the tracks up to code doesn't change the fact that UP remains in firm control of operating speeds and dispatching. Either pay up or slow down. The power imbalance between Amtrak and Union Pacific is so great that Amtrak needs to tread very carefully. Nearly all of the practical and political leverage is on UP's side.

 

 

The reason for the long layover between the TE and SL is the pathetic (at least westbound) SL schedule. I don't know what's less attractive, getting to SAS at 2:45am to board the train or spending six hours in SAS if traveling from DAL/FTW to LAX. And in either case, you arrive in LAX during the graveyard shift. With a better schedule, you'd have way more business between DAL/SAS-:LAX. Based on the markets served, the SL (including passengers from DAL/FTW and south heading to LAX via SAS) should be blowing the Cardinal out of the water in terms of ridership/revenue. IMO the schedule is the biggest reason it's not.

 

Who cares about worsening calling times for the 2nd and 7th largest cities in the country when you can improve calling times for much more important markets like Maricopa, AZ and Beaumont, TX?

 

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Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Unfortunately, Illinois is such a mess right now ...

... The fact that taxpayers paid to bring the tracks up to code doesn't change the fact that UP remains in firm control of operating speeds and dispatching. Either pay up or slow down. The power imbalance between Amtrak and Union Pacific is so great that Amtrak needs to tread very carefully. Nearly all of the practical and political leverage is on UP's side.

To be fair to Illinois and UP, things beyond their control haven't gone as had been hoped for.

 

The Stimulus committed a Billion or so to upgrading from near Chicago (Aurora) to near St Louis (more or less Alton). Everyone understood that was enuff to chew on for Phase One, and anyway they weren't ready with plans and permits for the Phase Two stuff right then.

 

Then after the mid-term election of 2010, Congress in its wisdom aborted the plans to further invest in passenger rail, because after all, Obama was for it and that meant the Crazies were agin it.

 

When or if funding ever materializes for the now phantom Phase Two, the CHI-Aurora segment will get the full 110-mph upgrade treatment: double tracking, new bridges, grade crossings fixed, fencing, etc.; and the Aurora-St Louis segment will get complete double tracking etc. That way Phase Two, costing about another Billion, will cut another 30 or 40 or 50 minutes out of the run time. At that point more frequencies will be added, and the Texas Eagle presumably will be allowed to move at 110-mph speeds. By the time Phase Two is finishing up, we might even see the Horizons replaced by new cars of one level or another. (A Phase Three could include a new bridge over the Mississippi among other projects to shave more minutes from the schedules.)

 

Anyway, no problem that can't be fixed by time and money and clear thinking in Congress. So don't count on any progress for the foreseeable future.

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I also like the idea of a through branch going from DAL/FTW-ELP and travel between DAL/FTW-LAX would be way way better than it is today. Plus the route between DAL and ELP back then was 645.3 miles, 13:35 hrs where today via SAS is 919 miles, about 20.5 hours, not counting the layover in SAS. They must have had some shortcut. I had proposed breaking the SL and TE and run through cars from DAL-SAS connecting with the SL. If you can have through cars DAL-ELP to the SL that would be even better for DAL to get to LAX.

 

Yes, there's a UP line (former T&P) that essentially follows I-20 heading west from Fort Worth through Abilene, Midland, and Odessa.

 

 

Umm, from a standpoint of temporal coordinates I think it would be more correct to say that Interstate 20 follows the UP's former T&P route....

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