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Is it possible for a Superliner car to travel from Chicago to New York City? If so why is there no direct train from SF to NYC?

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No. Superliners do not run in the east (except on the CL and AT and occasionally the Cardinal) because they are too tall for the tunnels in Baltimore and the entrances to NYP and (when used) NYG.

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And it adds enormously to schedule risk in the face of unpredictable events along a longer route.

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Not to mention issues of equipment maintenance and servicing.

 

That said, Amtrak did experiment with through-routing the Capitol Limited with one of the western trains (I think it was the SW Chief), but that didn't last very long. The negatives outweighed the positives of that arrangement.

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Not to mention issues of equipment maintenance and servicing.

 

That said, Amtrak did experiment with through-routing the Capitol Limited with one of the western trains (I think it was the SW Chief), but that didn't last very long. The negatives outweighed the positives of that arrangement.

 

Yes, the CL-SWC (http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19970511n&item=0042). Only the CL would work since the CL is SL while the LSL and TR (still existed) is/was Viewliner.

 

There was also CL-SS/SM back in the early 90's (http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19911027n&item=0012).

 

Finally there was the transcontinental LAX-MIA SL (http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19941030n&item=0030)

 

The full SL back then was 3066 miles. The current TE from CHI-LAX is now 2728 miles. LSL+SWC or LSL+CZ would be quite a bit over 3000 miles but if 2728 miles is reasonable now why isn't 3300 miles? Or do you not consider 2728 miles reasonable? Is there a magic number you consider reasonable?

 

I think by distance a 2000 mile one seat ride is reasonable since the SWC and CZ are that distance so NEC-Texas without a change of trains in Chicago is reasonable and hopefully Crescent Star will become a reality. Also, you should be able to do a one seat ride between Florida and Texas (or even a same day transfer in New Orleans). How about being able to travel between anywhere in Florida and Dallas (or New Orleans and Dallas or Houston and Dallas) without taking a bus or staying overnight in San Antonio?

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There are tons of reasons why there isn't a direct San Francisco to NY train, here are some of the main ones:

 

Delays

Delays compound and increase exponentially as a trip gets longer. Scheduling would be very difficult (making connections, arriving at the big cities at a good time of day, etc.)

 

Demand

There's very minimal demand for a one seat ride from San Francisco to NY. It would be at least 75 hours, and as has been mentioned, the longer the trip, the lower the demand. Traveling that kind of distance, most people are find with a transfer.

 

Equipment

This is the main problem. Superliners can not fit into most tunnels on the east coast, and can not access high-level platforms. They definitely can't modify the tunnels, so no operation through Baltimore or NY Penn. And new low platforms would have to be constructed at a lot of stations. So this SF-NY train has to use single-level equipment. There are no single-level Sightseer cars or proper Lounges, so these would have to be either designed and constructed (which is unlikely), or wouldn't operate with proper lounges at all. This means that on a 75+ hour train ride, people wouldn't have a good place to relax or really see the scenery. And since single-level cars have much less capacity than Superliners, the consists would have to be extended to fit more people. So this train probably doesn't fit at most stations, and would require a ton of equipment. There already are virtually no single-level cars to spare, and this train would probably require 6 or more extra-long consists. That's probably around 70 cars for one train. Do the math and it's probably $200 million to cover just the equipment for this train.

 

Put all this together and you realize that a direct SF-NYC train is pretty unlikely.

Edited by cpotisch

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Superliner no but why not Viewliner?

 

All these reasons:

Equipment

This is the main problem. Superliners can not fit into most tunnels on the east coast, and can not access high-level platforms. They definitely can't modify the tunnels, so no operation through Baltimore or NY Penn. And new low platforms would have to be constructed at a lot of stations. So this SF-NY train has to use single-level equipment. There are no single-level Sightseer cars or proper Lounges, so these would have to be either designed and constructed (which is unlikely), or wouldn't operate with proper lounges at all. This means that on a 75+ hour train ride, people wouldn't have a good place to relax or really see the scenery. And since single-level cars have much less capacity than Superliners, the consists would have to be extended to fit more people. So this train probably doesn't fit at most stations, and would require a ton of equipment. There already are virtually no single-level cars to spare, and this train would probably require 6 or more extra-long consists. That's probably around 70 cars for one train. Do the math and it's probably $200 million to cover just the equipment for this train.

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The ultimate question remains "why?". The only conceivable reason seems to be the fulfillment of fantasies of a limited number of fringe railfans, at a rather huge cost. That does not deserve much serious consideration IMHO in this day and age, unless the basis for trying to do that is on a completely different infrastructure perhaps, capable fo 250 to 300mph sustained speeds over very long stretches.

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Perhaps instead of thinking of this as "transportation"....there might be a reasonable market for this as an occasional (once or twice a summer, say), "cruise train"....where everyone aboard books for the entire journey. Such a train could be routed and scheduled to optimize for sightseeing, and have added recreation/feature cars in the consist....

Of course, the problem remains, where to obtain spare cars for such a service during a busy season...perhaps utilizing various privately owned cars? But then, it would probably be a private operation, not an Amtrak one, other than Amtrak providing power, crews, and other logistical support....

There have been some attempts at this type of market in the past, but alas, none succeeded for very long.....

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Perhaps instead of thinking of this as "transportation"....there might be a reasonable market for this as an occasional (once or twice a summer, say), "cruise train"....where everyone aboard books for the entire journey. Such a train could be routed and scheduled to optimize for sightseeing, and have added recreation/feature cars in the consist....

Of course, the problem remains, where to obtain spare cars for such a service during a busy season...perhaps utilizing various privately owned cars? But then, it would probably be a private operation, not an Amtrak one, other than Amtrak providing power, crews, and other logistical support....

There have been some attempts at this type of market in the past, but alas, none succeeded for very long.....

While I very much support the prospect of a "cruise train", Amtrak's current operations are currently so far from that kind of service, that that just doesn't seem feasible as an Amtrak service in any way.

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The Zephyr already requires six trainsets, so a hypothetical SF-NY route would require 9 or 10 sets.

So maybe $400 million in equipment. Even better.

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In my fantasy Amtrak plan, the revived National limited also goes west from Kansas City to Denver, Salt Lake City, and ends in the bay area.

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Even during the Golden Age of passenger rail, cross country trains never made it to NYC. Connections were always made by the railroads in Chicago. In some cases you had to arrive in Chicago and take transportation to another station as Dearborn (to depart on the Santa Fe) . In other cases through cars were transferred to trains West giving somewhat of a one train option but I believe that these served sleeper passengers only. The PRR may have offered this. The single seat one train option was not viable back then so it certainly isn't now. Actually we enjoy the 4 hr layover as we can walk to the French Market or Greektown for lunch and/or see the city. You can't do that with air travel and its one of the things that passenger rail offers.

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I wouldn't consider a one seat ride over 2000 miles (or two nights) to be reasonable. Now a one roomette ride, sure.

 

The TE between CHI and LAX is close to three days long. I personally would never travel between the two cities on the TE when the SWC exists although I know people at AU have said they have and insist that the TE should exist for that purpose. Now would anyone here would ride the whole way in a coach seat I don't know. But the idea that a three day train is a deal breaker is a crock when the CHI-LAX TE exists. You can say equipment isn't available for a NYC-SF train but don't tell me no one would ride a train for three days in a row without getting off.

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I enjoyed the four day trip from Jasper to Toronto on the VIS Canadian last year and would ride a NYP to SF train if it existed but never will.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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I wouldn't consider a one seat ride over 2000 miles (or two nights) to be reasonable. Now a one roomette ride, sure.

 

The TE between CHI and LAX is close to three days long. I personally would never travel between the two cities on the TE when the SWC exists although I know people at AU have said they have and insist that the TE should exist for that purpose. Now would anyone here would ride the whole way in a coach seat I don't know. But the idea that a three day train is a deal breaker is a crock when the CHI-LAX TE exists. You can say equipment isn't available for a NYC-SF train but don't tell me no one would ride a train for three days in a row without getting off.

 

The TE/Sunset doesn't just exist and people aren't taking it just because it's a three night ride from LA to Chicago. And I don't think anyone in AU has said it 'should exist just for that purpose'. But many people (like me) like the change in scenery and want a route that goes through the south. Nobody is taking an LD train to save time. They either do it because they have to (maybe flying or driving wasn't an option), or because they like to spend time on a train. For you, Amtrak is just how you get from point A to point B. But that's not how it is for everyone. In fact, here were plenty of coach passengers when I was taking #422 that were going the whole way (or almost the whole way) so clearly they must have had some reason not to take the Chief.

 

And while an SF-NYC train could also be three nights, it would be at least 20 hours longer, and would require significantly more equipment and operating costs. So it's not just that a coast-to-coast train would be three nights ('cause it probably would be four in practice), it's that it would be the longest route in North America, and the most difficult to operate, and with some of the least demand. That's why.

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I wouldn't consider a one seat ride over 2000 miles (or two nights) to be reasonable. Now a one roomette ride, sure.

 

The TE between CHI and LAX is close to three days long. I personally would never travel between the two cities on the TE when the SWC exists although I know people at AU have said they have and insist that the TE should exist for that purpose. Now would anyone here would ride the whole way in a coach seat I don't know. But the idea that a three day train is a deal breaker is a crock when the CHI-LAX TE exists. You can say equipment isn't available for a NYC-SF train but don't tell me no one would ride a train for three days in a row without getting off.

 

 

The endpoint fallacy again. TE doesn't really exist for CHI-LAX, though a few might ride the whole route. It exists for city pairs like CHI-ELP and FTW-LAX and LRK-TUS. Similarly, the number of people who would ride NYP-EMY would be extremely small. The advantage of such a train would be for passengers much closer to CHI who would not have to change trains there. For that purpose, something like CLE-DEN works just as well (except for minor details such as how and where to turn and service the train). EKH-MTP would likely be quite popular with the Amish, for example. Someone traversing the entire continent would still have to transfer somewhere, but could do so at a variety of stations, not just CHI.

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Someone traversing the entire continent would still have to transfer somewhere, but could do so at a variety of stations, not just CHI.

 

 

Certainly if that was an option LD coast to coast travel would be improved. I can speak from experience last year with my LSL nightmare. Chicago can easily be affected by weather as can the entire LSL route. The only same day transfer point from east to west now is CHI (NOL is possible but it requires an overnight stay from either the Crescent or CONO to the SL and the SL only runs 3x/week).

 

Certainly the network needs to be expanded but to do so requires more equipment. This is why I so want to get rid of routes I don't find useful, it frees up equipment for routes I would want.

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I enjoyed the four day trip from Jasper to Toronto on the VIS Canadian last year and would ride a NYP to SF train if it existed but never will.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

This.

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Someone traversing the entire continent would still have to transfer somewhere, but could do so at a variety of stations, not just CHI.

Certainly if that was an option LD coast to coast travel would be improved. I can speak from experience last year with my LSL nightmare. Chicago can easily be affected by weather as can the entire LSL route. The only same day transfer point from east to west now is CHI (NOL is possible but it requires an overnight stay from either the Crescent or CONO to the SL and the SL only runs 3x/week).

 

Certainly the network needs to be expanded but to do so requires more equipment. This is why I so want to get rid of routes I don't find useful, it frees up equipment for routes I would want.

I think what you’re saying here sort of discredits your whole point that Amtrak needs a coast to coast train. New/more equipment is definitely needed, and should a large portion of any new equipment acquired be used just to offer a one seat ride coast to coast? Or wouldn’t it make more sense to use new equipment to expand the Amtrak route map? to allow some people to take any ride at all.

 

That’s a huge flaw with the introduction of a coast to coast train. It would prioritize a minor convenience for a few passengers already served, above a necessity for people who aren’t.

Edited by cpotisch

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