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JDStutts

Capitol Limited/Pennsylvanian Expansion

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At this point, there is conclusive evidence that dispatchers in certain divisions of certain railroads have been led to believe that their job is to delay Amtrak trains for freight trains. This is, of course, flatly illegal, but nobody has managed to nail the relevant management on it yet.

 

You can tell what's going on because other dispatchers in other divisions of other railroads do what they're supposed to.

It's not always fair to blame the dispatchers.

 

I should point out that I'm not really blaming them as individuals -- I've heard too many leaks from class Is indicating that management was *leaning* on them to dispatch illegally, punishing them for following the law and rewarding them for delaying Amtrak. :-( Edited by neroden

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For a number of reasons....there was of course, much more passenger equipment, much more mechanical forces at various location, more than one-a-day trains on many routes, so that if a train section was seriously delayed, they had alternate trains to forward late trains on, etc....and certainly not least....the railroads operating the passenger trains, in general, had a much better attitude towards their operation.

And Railroaders took pride in their Line and their jobs!

 

Not to mention that the underlying railroad had a stake in the train's performance, both in terms of finance and in terms of PR.

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Often a Dispatcher is placed in a no win situation by decisions made at higher levels on how much traffic will be shoved through the Dispatcher's territory. All that the Dispatcher can do is deal with the hand that s/he is served by events and decisions out of their control.

 

For example, the NS fiasco with auto-dispatching (which BTW happened under Moorman's watch) is something that a Dispatcher could not do much about, short of just quitting or getting fired.

Yeah, that's just top-level incompetence. I'm thinking of the sort of stuff which happened on the CN lines, which amounts to deliberate troublemaking. Amtrak actually filed a complaint to the STB (its first ever against a Class I IIRC) over that.

 

Oddly enough, Amtrak seems to face similar problems in territories dispatched by Amtrak Dispatchers, even involving Amtrak trains.

Not like the CN stuff.

 

Of course screwing NJT trains is completely par for the course too. So I guess what is good for the goose is good for the gander when the tables are turned.

And Metro-North is actually one of the worst for dispatching Amtrak poorly (and in their case it's legal -- it's only illegal to prioritize freight over passengers, it's legal to prioritize some passengers over other passengers), so yeah.

 

Amtrak has, IIRC, filed three claims. One was over SP's (blatant) mishandling of the Sunset back in the 80s. One was an eminent domain claim over the deterioration of the Montrealer/Vermonter's route due to grossly deferred maintenance following a derailment. The CN case was likely the third. But yes, those claims are rare and reserved for highly egregious misbehavior.

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IMO, what would probably work best is the reactivation of the old Broadway LTD route that ran on the Pennsylvania RR mainline to CHI. Since its rebuilding as a freight line there is another clear route available from PGH to CHI. That's the old line that ran through Crestline, Sandusky, Ft Wayne, & Valpariso. Many of the stations are still there. Ft Wayne station has even been restored and is ready for service.

Just a minor correction to your post...

 

The Broadway Limited route never went through Sandusky. It ran about 45-50 miles south of there, stopping in Canton, Crestline, and Lima.

 

Much of what remains of that line (PRRs Pittsburgh, Ft Wayne & Chicago) has been downgraded and would require a lot of capital to be suitable for passenger service. The CF&E leases the line (from CSX) from Crestline to Gary, and track speeds are relatively slow these days.

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I think I/we have discussed having a train serve TOL/CHi via Michigan rather than South Bend as AAO proposed (http://freepdfhosting.com/cf26514bc8.pdf).

 

They also proposed a train routing between PGH and CLE stopping in Youngstown and Ravenna-Kent (discussed on p. 26). Whose tracks would that be and how feasible would it be (they put a price tag, including both Michigan and Youngstown reroutings, of $119M for the entire up front cost of expansion of the Pennsylvanian to Chicago) with $700,000 new annual subsidy a year. This is cheaper than a daily Cardinal and would produce a greater economic impact according to their chart on p. 32.They list the projected annual ridership of 360,000 but that includes the current Pennsylvanian ridership. But that ridership is pretty close to the Lake Shore Limited in terms of East-Midwest traffic and would blow the Capitol Limited and Cardinal out of the water.

Edited by Philly Amtrak Fan

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I think I/we have discussed having a train serve TOL/CHi via Michigan rather than South Bend as AAO proposed (http://freepdfhosting.com/cf26514bc8.pdf).

 

They also proposed a train routing between PGH and CLE stopping in Youngstown and Ravenna-Kent (discussed on p. 26). Whose tracks would that be and how feasible would it be (they put a price tag, including both Michigan and Youngstown reroutings, of $119M for the entire up front cost of expansion of the Pennsylvanian to Chicago) with $700,000 new annual subsidy a year. This is cheaper than a daily Cardinal and would produce a greater economic impact according to their chart on p. 32.They list the projected annual ridership of 360,000 but that includes the current Pennsylvanian ridership. But that ridership is pretty close to the Lake Shore Limited in terms of East-Midwest traffic and would blow the Capitol Limited and Cardinal out of the water.

Those numbers may be true, but I do wonder how much of the Pennsylvanian's traffic is in eastern PA (something that the Cap doesn't have). IIRC a net of 140-150k riders is about on par with the incremental increase expected with a daily Cardinal (said train probably goes to about 270-280k riders vs.the present 130k...this increase would be in line with the hits the Western trains took during the less-than-daily fiasco in the 90s). The Cap's ridership situation, on the other hand, is...complicated since it offers the only convenient connection to/from Florida at present, meaning that it's got an inordinate amount of through-ridership (IIRC you're looking at about 40% endpoint ridership and another 20% that's turnover at PGH from the endpoints).

 

Basically, I think the through-ridership isn't that much higher on any of the options...it's a question of intermediate destinations (e.g. CIN-WAS on the Cardinal, HAR-PGH on the Pennsylvanian, WAS-PGH on the Cap, etc.)

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If Amtrak adds another train through Pittsburgh, what are the chances that the city would improve the existing station which could attract even more passengers. Pittsburgh could benefit from daylight calling times in Ohio.

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Zero chance. There's no space to put the improvements because of the apartment building. I'm not sure even a rebuild of the existing space would do much good.

 

They'd probably be better off building a new "head house" at the east end of the platforms. There's space for that and improved parking down there. But I'd rate the actual chances at less than zero.

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IMO, what would probably work best is the reactivation of the old Broadway LTD route that ran on the Pennsylvania RR mainline to CHI. Since its rebuilding as a freight line there is another clear route available from PGH to CHI. That's the old line that ran through Crestline, Sandusky, Ft Wayne, & Valpariso. Many of the stations are still there. Ft Wayne station has even been restored and is ready for service.

Just a minor correction to your post...

 

The Broadway Limited route never went through Sandusky. It ran about 45-50 miles south of there, stopping in Canton, Crestline, and Lima.

 

Much of what remains of that line (PRRs Pittsburgh, Ft Wayne & Chicago) has been downgraded and would require a lot of capital to be suitable for passenger service. The CF&E leases the line (from CSX) from Crestline to Gary, and track speeds are relatively slow these days.

 

A better routing for a revived Broadway Ltd would be the old Three Rivers route between PGH and Fostoria, via Youngstown and Akron. At Fostoria, the train would take the old Nickel Plate route to Fort Wayne, and then the old PRR to Chicago. AAO didn't recommend restoring the TR to it's old route because of low population west of Akron. However the routing via Fort Wayne I'm recommending would take care of that problem. In addition, the Chicago - Fort Wayne portion is going to be upgraded if the proposed Chicago - Columbus, OH passenger rail line currently under study is built.

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But Ohio will have to elect a different Governor and other Politicians before this could happen! Lots of Luck with that, the Buckeye State went for Trump ( who has,shown Zero Interest in Rail)and the Current Guv killed the 3C project.

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So the long-term solution in Pittsburgh is unfortunately far out of sight. The solution is this: convert the "East Busway" to light rail, and link it to the disused underground stub of a light rail line which leads to the Pittsburgh Amtrak station. Apart from the inherent benefits to everyone along the "East Light Rail Line", this would finally provide enough steady demand to keep the Amtrak station served by light rail. This would create a situation where there would be enough interchange demand for a new Pittsburgh headhouse to be funded. (Plus: creates the logic for a suburban transfer station in Rankin.) Anyway, damn that busway.

Edited by neroden

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Oh my God, I would love that. We live in Pittsburgh and go up to Cleveland a couple times a year. We took Amtrak there once, but it's annoying to get there at 3 o'clock in the morning and have to pay for a night in a hotel room that you're only going to use for four hours.

 

We take at least one long distance Amtrak trip a year for vacation. If there was a major destination on a daytime trip within a few hours we'd take a few more. And I'm sure I can sell that to some friends as an introduction to Amtrak if we can leave at say 8 AM and get to Cleveland by 11:30.

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If Amtrak adds another train through Pittsburgh, what are the chances that the city would improve the existing station which could attract even more passengers. Pittsburgh could benefit from daylight calling times in Ohio.

The station in Pittsburgh is still there, as are the tracks, Trouble is that most of it is now apartments. The beautiful great station hall is now the apartment house lobby. Point is that Amtrak doesn't own it and the basement waiting room has little if any room for expansion. Although its ugly, its sufficient for its current use.

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If Amtrak adds another train through Pittsburgh, what are the chances that the city would improve the existing station which could attract even more passengers. Pittsburgh could benefit from daylight calling times in Ohio.

The station in Pittsburgh is still there, as are the tracks, Trouble is that most of it is now apartments. The beautiful great station hall is now the apartment house lobby. Point is that Amtrak doesn't own it and the basement waiting room has little if any room for expansion. Although its ugly, its sufficient for its current use.

 

I searched in vain for some good interior photo's of the Pittsburgh station when it was in its prime...plenty of outside shots, but only one small slice of the interior....anyone have any links to photo's?

I do recall the station main level during the late 60's, including the time that Continental Trailways started sharing its space...the buses would drive up and load in the Rotunda...

IIRC, the station at one time had escalator's and stairways to a lower level area, that was long out of use by the time I was there....

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I know my father took pictures when we went to the station when we traveled or picked up relatives, but so far I have not been able to find any. My Grandparents came twice a year on the PRR from NYP. My father traveled on business many times on the train. I remember station being huge and grand as a kid. It would be nice if the city reworked arrangement's for the current station so Amtrak could have a nice facility. I know the station seems to be landlocked, but creative minds have done more with less.

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I still can't help thinking about the 'sealed off' lower level....I am not sure of what it was ever used for, somewhere I heard that the 'Panhandle Route' trains operated from there, but I recall leaving on the Spirit of St. Louis, and even Amtrak's National Limited from the upper (main) level, IIRC.... :unsure:

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