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DesertDude

When it comes to growing Amtrak, what service expansion(s) do you view

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Just a billion a year?

 

First, id Bring the NEC up to a state of good repair, and upon completion set aside a quarter of those funds to keep it that way.

 

Second, Id contract with Siemens/Alstom to replace the P42s, then the entire LD fleet over a five year plan with 175% capacity Viaggio Comfort cars. Then Id do the same for the NEC corridor fleet.

 

By that time, Id guess the cost of maintaining all of that stuff in good repair would assume most of the rest of the $750 million, and what didnt Id set aside to prepare for the replacement of the 15 year old By that point P42 replacement fleet.

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That depends on your definition of good repair, really.

 

But my main point is the $3 a year or so per taxpayer that kind of thing does doe not actually provide enough money for doing anything.

Edited by Green Maned Lion

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Hence it doesn't fit the definition of low hanging fruit. I guess the question is what is out there where will significantly improve Amtrak. We just recently added service to Roanoke. But unless you live in or have a desire to go to Roanoke does that really improve Amtrak as a whole? No.

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The obvious 1st item is more passenger cars. Somehow speed up CAF deliveries and probably get coaches from Siemens ? Why ? The Cascades accident has Amtrak disclosing it is short of equipment and is having trouble getting cars to cover Cascades. After Jan 6th they probably can find some spare equipment but not Superliner coaches assigned to Denver ski train service.

Now state of good repair. For the NEC that would mean the whole route from NYPS - WASH would be able to maintain 160 MPH on all tracks with no slow orders except for curve restrictions. That would include CAT, Tunnels, Bridges, & most importantly class 9 tracks. Stations would be a secondary item.

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Given $1bn/yr for Amtrak, I'd probably put 2/3 towards SOGR on the NEC and 1/3 towards equipment orders ($300-350m/yr should support some decent equipment orders). I'd probably be hoping to get a few major bottlenecks cleared (those in the c. 2008 reports come to mind), but some projects such as Gateway would still need external support and cooperation.

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Hmm.

 

I guess right now I'd start by ordering a large single-level coach / business-class / cafe / (?cab) order, and getting a design which doesn't have the stupid freezing / snow problems. This is becoming the biggest risk to Amtrak.

 

I'd follow that up with long-distance Siemens Chargers.

 

Then, South of the Lake. Eliminate the biggest bottleneck under freight operator control, and create the conditions to generate political support in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and western Pennsylvania, as well as improving the synergies between the NEC and the Chicago Hub.

 

Then perhaps the Gateway tunnels, which are mostly for the benefit of NJT.

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Restore the Sunset Limited to Orlando. They truncated it because of Hurricane damaged track, which CSX repaired VERY quickly, but they never restored Sunset service to Orlando. Sunset Limited was ALWAYS supposed to be Transcontinental, and it WAS until then. You might be tempted to say "Just run it to JAX", but the reason for running it all the way to ORL is that they overnighted it at Sanford, at Auto-Train, since both Trains use Superliner equipment, and Sanford can do cleaning and maintenance, and there's a Y just South of ORL to turn the Train around. Worked fine. We rode that a bunch of times.

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Restore the Sunset Limited to Orlando. They truncated it because of Hurricane damaged track, which CSX repaired VERY quickly, but they never restored Sunset service to Orlando. Sunset Limited was ALWAYS supposed to be Transcontinental, and it WAS until then. You might be tempted to say "Just run it to JAX", but the reason for running it all the way to ORL is that they overnighted it at Sanford, at Auto-Train, since both Trains use Superliner equipment, and Sanford can do cleaning and maintenance, and there's a Y just South of ORL to turn the Train around. Worked fine. We rode that a bunch of times.

While that idea looks great on paper, it is a terrible idea operationally. The train's on-time performance suffered greatly when it ran to Orlando. The train was even as much as a day late at times. That's a major reason why ridership dropped every year after the run's first year. The Gulf Coast passenger rail study says that the better option for restoring Gulf Coast service is to extend the CONO to Orlando. That would be a shorter overall route than a transcontinental SL, and thus have much better OTP. In addition, it would create the Chicago-Florida route everyone on this forum has wanted ever since the Floridian's discontinuance in 1979.

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Just to amplify the equipment problems highlighted by the 501 derailment now we have LAX. There is not enough spare equipment to cover the Santa Barber mudslide demands on the Surf liners.

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One reason for the horrible OTP was the three-times-per-week schedule. The freight roads never really bother setting things up for it, I don't think. That would also have to be changed to daily to have a real hope for OTP change. We're still shackled to the freight, though. And just-barely-kept-running maintenance funding. I'm WELL AWARE of the OTP. We got back to WPK on Sunset at 2am-4am (or later) several times instead of early evening the previous day (IIRC the schedule correctly). Even really late, it was still a great ride WPK-NOL-WPK (sigh...).

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We got back to WPK on Sunset at 2am-4am (or later) several times instead of early evening the previous day (IIRC the schedule correctly). Even really late, it was still a great ride WPK-NOL-WPK (sigh...).

WPK is the code for Winter Park, Florida. This info for those of us who memorized the 500+ Amtrak codes when young, but have forgot them in our dotage. ;)

Edited by WoodyinNYC

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Time to resurrect the recommendation to bring Amtrak through Madison, WI.

For Madison service, I recommend two routes, this first would be restoring the Varsity route via Janesville, WI, which would be better for travel between Chicago and Madison. The second would be a separate Milwaukee to Madison run independent from the Hiawatha Service. However, before any of this will even start to take shape, you'll need to kick Walker out at the upcoming gubernatorial elections.

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IF Amtrak had the equipment, new routes could be created on the many short lines across the country as on the Louisville and Indiana that connects Indianapolis to Louisville. Such lines run far less freight than the major carriers so there should be plenty of space available for Amtrak. Short lines such as the L & I would probably be eager to have extra revenue for leasing route mileage to Amtrak. I believe that this line was formerly a portion of the route that the Chicago to Miami Amtrak Floridian and Midwest Autotrain used.

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IF Amtrak had the equipment, new routes could be created on the many short lines across the country as on the Louisville and Indiana that connects Indianapolis to Louisville. Such lines run far less freight than the major carriers so there should be plenty of space available for Amtrak. Short lines such as the L & I would probably be eager to have extra revenue for leasing route mileage to Amtrak. I believe that this line was formerly a portion of the route that the Chicago to Miami Amtrak Floridian and Midwest Autotrain used.

The Floridian used that route until 1974. The Midwest Auto-Train terminated in Louisville. Finally, from 1999-2003, the Kentucky Cardinal used the L&I.

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What about increased frequency of Pere Marquette? Has anyone mentioned that. The other Michigan services have multiple options but Pere Marquette is once daily each way. Especially since it stops in so many popular summer vacation towns for Chicago tourists.

 

Also The Cincinnatian (Detroit to Cincinnati version) maybe? Although Cincinnati to Chicago is a current route that has terrible timing in Cincinnati...maybe fix that first.

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What about increased frequency of Pere Marquette? Has anyone mentioned that. The other Michigan services have multiple options but Pere Marquette is once daily each way. Especially since it stops in so many popular summer vacation towns for Chicago tourists.

YES for increased frequencies of the Pere Marquette! I don’t know the double tracking situation, but a simple reflection of the current timetable, adding 0600 CHI and 1830 GRR departures, would make the train attractive to Chicago-based travelers, perhaps for vacationing spots.

 

On the note of single frequency state supported routes, the same thing could be done with the Heartland Flyer. Add an 0800 (or so) FTW - 1227 OKC and 1725 OKC - 2047 FTW. Would make day trips to OKC feasible from Norman, Ardmore, etc., including the moneyed Metroplex. I’d rather have that than a single frequency HF extension to Kansas or Tulsa.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Edited by Pere Flyer

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What about increased frequency of Pere Marquette? Has anyone mentioned that. The other Michigan services have multiple options but Pere Marquette is once daily each way. Especially since it stops in so many popular summer vacation towns for Chicago tourists.

YES for increased frequencies of the Pere Marquette! I don’t know the double tracking situation, but a simple reflection of the current timetable, adding 0600 CHI and 1830 GRR departures, would make the train attractive to Chicago-based travelers, perhaps for vacationing spots.

 

On the note of single frequency state supported routes, the same thing could be done with the Heartland Flyer. Add an 0800 (or so) FTW - 1227 OKC and 1725 OKC - 2047 FTW. Would make day trips to OKC feasible from Norman, Ardmore, etc., including the moneyed Metroplex. I’d rather have that than a single frequency HF extension to Kansas or Tulsa.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

 

My friends actually travel from Chicago quite a bit on the Pere Marquette, particularly for Founders new releases because then they can do a brewery "cruise" along the way. If you stop in St Joe you can get to Greenbush, Transient and Cultivate to name a few. Then in Holland you can go to New Holland or Saugatuck. And obviously Founders, Brewery Vivant and Perrin among others in GR.

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What about increased frequency of Pere Marquette? Has anyone mentioned that. The other Michigan services have multiple options but Pere Marquette is once daily each way. Especially since it stops in so many popular summer vacation towns for Chicago tourists.

 

Also The Cincinnatian (Detroit to Cincinnati version) maybe? Although Cincinnati to Chicago is a current route that has terrible timing in Cincinnati...maybe fix that first.

 

Of the two other Michigan services, one (Wolverine) is three-a-day, but the other (Blue Water) is also just once daily.

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At one point there was the idea of running 370/371 2x daily with the second frequency only to Holland due to not being able to get all the way to Grand Rapids and back twice using a single trainset. That was why the schedule was changed several years ago to earlier westbound and later eastbound, but obviously the step of filling in with the second trip has not happened, with the exception of the Thanksgiving schedule.

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What about through-cars going from the Cardinal or Capitol Limited to a Silver train down to Florida. This would result in direct service from Chicago to South Florida. This plus an extended CONO or Sunset Ltd would make south Florida vastly more accessible by train.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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The Cardinal connection would require passengers to ride south-- the opposite way they arrived. Some people don't mind riding backwards, but if I had a choice, I'd rather ride facing forward. No matter, we've been told Amtrak hates switching cars en route. Don't know if that's actually true or not, but a 29/97 connection should be doable at Washington. There's Amtrak yard jobs there that could perform the drop and add.

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The Cardinal connection would require passengers to ride south-- the opposite way they arrived. Some people don't mind riding backwards, but if I had a choice, I'd rather ride facing forward. No matter, we've been told Amtrak hates switching cars en route. Don't know if that's actually true or not, but a 29/97 connection should be doable at Washington. There's Amtrak yard jobs there that could perform the drop and add.

There are seats that either rotate 180 degrees or flip over (walk over). So what's the big deal? Amtrak trains are involved in drop and add movements every day--- the auto train. Amtrak wants money, route changes or new routes will be only if Amtrak sees it can make money by the changes

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