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Southwest Chief reroute via Wichita and Amarillo?

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The small towns you want the SWC to bypass don't have very many alternative transportation options other than driving, so if they lost the Chief, their economies would severely suffer because the train is their only affordable public transportation option, and is their only alternative to driving hundreds of miles to the nearest interstate highway or airport. Even in the towns that do have commercial air service, flights out of those towns are very expensive. Train service allows those in these small towns to ride to the nearest major city and fly out of the airport in that city with much lower airfares without having to drive hundreds of miles to get there.

 

How many of the communities that would lose intercity rail service (between Hutchinson and Lamy) do not have commercial air service or intercity bus service? Off the top of my head, Dodge City, Garden City, Hutchinson, Raton, and Trinidad do. Not sure about La Junta, Lamar, Lamy, and Las Vegas.

 

 

Lamy is the train station for Santa Fe, which does have (very expensive) air service.

 

Santa Fe also has a commuter train connection to ABQ, but it is not coordinated at all with the SWC and is not practical for making reliable connections due to its limited hours of service.

 

Ainamkartma

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This proposal does acknowledge the lack of equipment problems. A second train would be too much demand for equipment. A reroute does seem to neglect the present route. Instead if equipment can be allocated why not run a separate sections Newton <> ABQ ? Make it trains 23 and 24. That would be similar to the Builders 27 & 28. Just split off enough equipment to run on the southern transcon from Newton and ABQ and combine trains at ABQ & Newton ?

 

You would probably get enough additional revenue for the southern intermediate stations to beyond ABQ & NEW stations to at least break even. Only additional operating costs would then be track charges, 2 additional T&E per trip based at ABQ and NEW, The southern transcon route is quicker so the 23 & 24 would be waiting for regular Chief to recombine.

 

Agree that multiple platforms would be necessary. As the cities on the southern route get their platforms stops could be instituted. Another advantage is if either route becomes blocked for any reason the whole train could use the other route.

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So trains splitting and re-merging? We have the LSL and EB splits but no trains splitting off and then coming together but it is intriguing. Is there any precedent for doing so? Interesting concept. Could it be applied to other routes?

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So trains splitting and re-merging? We have the LSL and EB splits but no trains splitting off and then coming together but it is intriguing. Is there any precedent for doing so? Interesting concept. Could it be applied to other routes?

Technically the Empire Builder and North Coast Limited worked in a similar way to this, running combined from Chicago to Minneapolis and Spokane to Portland. This is also how it worked for the Mainstreeter and the Western Star, the secondary streamliners on the NP and GN.

 

As far as I know, this practice continued into BN days.

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The small towns you want the SWC to bypass don't have very many alternative transportation options other than driving, so if they lost the Chief, their economies would severely suffer because the train is their only affordable public transportation option, and is their only alternative to driving hundreds of miles to the nearest interstate highway or airport. Even in the towns that do have commercial air service, flights out of those towns are very expensive. Train service allows those in these small towns to ride to the nearest major city and fly out of the airport in that city with much lower airfares without having to drive hundreds of miles to get there.

 

Well, to hell with them, bluntly. What's so special about them that they get special treatment?

 

They're already depopulating. There are plenty of other larger cities with no other transportation options other than driving, such as:

 

Woodward, OK

Pampa, TX

Hereford, TX

Friona, TX

Clovis, NM

 

In short, *you have not made an argument*. The cities I listed are just as deserving as the ones on the existing route.

 

"Boy Scouts go to Raton so it punches above its weight" is a valid argument.

"North Dakota High Line cities punch above their weight because the roads close in the winter, unlike in other areas" is a valid argument.

 

What you said is NOT an argument, because it doesn't explain why these particular cities should get better treatment than Ithaca, NY (population >100,000) or Emporia KS (actually *on* the existing line and with no station) which have the same problems with sky-high airfare and long drives.

 

I believe that the argument being made is that the many of the smaller towns have little or no public transportation options especially during winter. . People in the larger cities do

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The small towns you want the SWC to bypass don't have very many alternative transportation options other than driving, so if they lost the Chief, their economies would severely suffer because the train is their only affordable public transportation option, and is their only alternative to driving hundreds of miles to the nearest interstate highway or airport. Even in the towns that do have commercial air service, flights out of those towns are very expensive. Train service allows those in these small towns to ride to the nearest major city and fly out of the airport in that city with much lower airfares without having to drive hundreds of miles to get there.

Well, to hell with them, bluntly. What's so special about them that they get special treatment?

 

They're already depopulating. There are plenty of other larger cities with no other transportation options other than driving, such as:

 

Woodward, OK

Pampa, TX

Hereford, TX

Friona, TX

Clovis, NM

 

In short, *you have not made an argument*. The cities I listed are just as deserving as the ones on the existing route.

 

"Boy Scouts go to Raton so it punches above its weight" is a valid argument.

"North Dakota High Line cities punch above their weight because the roads close in the winter, unlike in other areas" is a valid argument.

 

What you said is NOT an argument, because it doesn't explain why these particular cities should get better treatment than Ithaca, NY (population >100,000) or Emporia KS (actually *on* the existing line and with no station) which have the same problems with sky-high airfare and long drives.

 

I believe that the argument being made is that the many of the smaller towns have little or no public transportation options especially during winter. . People in the larger cities do

 

Sure, and AS I WROTE IN THE QUOTED MESSAGE, the smaller towns which I listed on the Amarillo route have the same problem.

 

Again, I repeat, *this is not an argument* for one route over the other.

Edited by neroden

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It would be nice to have "both/and" rather than "either/or", for sure. But as I stated before, the host railroad--BNSF--doesn't want Amtrak on their Southern Transcon. They tolerate Amtrak on it now because there's really no alternative like the one through Glorieta Pass. [A pretty ride, BTW.] Now, I have not seen this stance in any official BNSF document; but there's been a lot of talk about the matter elsewhere.

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The small towns you want the SWC to bypass don't have very many alternative transportation options other than driving, so if they lost the Chief, their economies would severely suffer because the train is their only affordable public transportation option, and is their only alternative to driving hundreds of miles to the nearest interstate highway or airport. Even in the towns that do have commercial air service, flights out of those towns are very expensive. Train service allows those in these small towns to ride to the nearest major city and fly out of the airport in that city with much lower airfares without having to drive hundreds of miles to get there.

Well, to hell with them, bluntly. What's so special about them that they get special treatment?

 

They're already depopulating. There are plenty of other larger cities with no other transportation options other than driving, such as:

 

Woodward, OK

Pampa, TX

Hereford, TX

Friona, TX

Clovis, NM

 

In short, *you have not made an argument*. The cities I listed are just as deserving as the ones on the existing route.

 

"Boy Scouts go to Raton so it punches above its weight" is a valid argument.

"North Dakota High Line cities punch above their weight because the roads close in the winter, unlike in other areas" is a valid argument.

 

What you said is NOT an argument, because it doesn't explain why these particular cities should get better treatment than Ithaca, NY (population >100,000) or Emporia KS (actually *on* the existing line and with no station) which have the same problems with sky-high airfare and long drives.

I believe that the argument being made is that the many of the smaller towns have little or no public transportation options especially during winter. . People in the larger cities do
Sure, and AS I WROTE IN THE QUOTED MESSAGE, the smaller towns which I listed on the Amarillo route have the same problem.

 

Again, I repeat, *this is not an argument* for one route over the other.

However, people living in the communities along the current route have come to expect to have Amtrak as a transportation option. Anyone living in the towns along the proposed routing chooses to live there knowing that train service is not available. If ridership along the other route would be significantly higher, I could understand moving the train over, but if it is not a large difference I think the current route should be retained. Another consideration is that the Raton Pass route would likely be abandoned if the Southwest Chief was moved away, essentially eliminating any possibility of restored service or a new route such as Denver-Albuquerque.

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In short, *you have not made an argument*. The cities I listed are just as deserving as the ones on the existing route.

 

"Boy Scouts go to Raton so it punches above its weight" is a valid argument.

"North Dakota High Line cities punch above their weight because the roads close in the winter, unlike in other areas" is a valid argument.

 

What you said is NOT an argument, because it doesn't explain why these particular cities should get better treatment than Ithaca, NY (population >100,000) or Emporia KS (actually *on* the existing line and with no station) which have the same problems with sky-high airfare and long drives.

 

 

I don't think you can make a rule and say, every city above a given size should get Amtrak service, or every city below a certain size should be denied it. The real situation is much more complex than that. People don't just ride a train for the sake of riding a train and you don't satisfy a need just by providing a train - any train. Rather, you have to look at what other cities people living in a given city actually need to travel to the most, and ask whether the proposed train makes any meaningful contribution towards that.

 

Often travel patterns develop for a reason. Somebody may live or have parents in city A but go to college or have a job in city B, precisely because they can actually get from one of those cities to the other. So in other words people use a train and have become reliant on the train because the train has been there for long enough to support those patterns.

 

This isn't always the case of course, and you can't always just assume things, but have to look at and survey the actual passengers and potential passengers. But saying the city has this number of inhabitants and is therefore more deserving of a train servive than a city with fewer inhabitants may be simplifying the situation too far.

 

 

Nothing is guaranteed with Amtrak service.

 

Sh*t happens. Hurricanes happen. Long service interruptions happen.

 

But freight comes before passengers. In the USA.

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A hypothetical compromise could be to run the Southwest Chief on the current route between Holliday Jct., KS and Dailies Jct., NM via La Junta, CO and Albuquerque, NM 4 days/week (e.g. Su, Mo, We, Fr) and over the Transcon between Holliday Jct., KS and Dailies Jct., NM via Amarillo, TX and Belen, NM the remaining 3 days/week (e.g. Tu, Th, Sa). This assumes, of course, that BNSF Railway would be more amenable to a compromise train via Amarillo 3 days/week rather than daily. Passengers bound for Santa Fe, NM and Albuquerque, NM the 3 days/week the train would operate via Amarillo could change to a New Mexico Rail Runner train at Belen, NM.

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A hypothetical compromise could be to run the Southwest Chief on the current route between Holliday Jct., KS and Dailies Jct., NM via La Junta, CO and Albuquerque, NM 4 days/week (e.g. Su, Mo, We, Fr) and over the Transcon between Holliday Jct., KS and Dailies Jct., NM via Amarillo, TX and Belen, NM the remaining 3 days/week (e.g. Tu, Th, Sa). This assumes, of course, that BNSF Railway would be more amenable to a compromise train via Amarillo 3 days/week rather than daily. Passengers bound for Santa Fe, NM and Albuquerque, NM the 3 days/week the train would operate via Amarillo could change to a New Mexico Rail Runner train at Belen, NM.

Even if the train was rerouted it would likely still stop in Albuquerque due to the high volume of passengers as well as the need to service the train there.

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Currently, there is no connection in Belen to allow for a run up to ABQ. Nor is there one for the train to continue west on the Transcon from the current Belen station. There's room for one though, it seems, so not an insurmountable logistics problem, and I assume in the ATSF days, there used to be a connection from a Belen station track to the main line.

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It would be nice to have "both/and" rather than "either/or", for sure. But as I stated before, the host railroad--BNSF--doesn't want Amtrak on their Southern Transcon. They tolerate Amtrak on it now because there's really no alternative like the one through Glorieta Pass. [A pretty ride, BTW.] Now, I have not seen this stance in any official BNSF document; but there's been a lot of talk about the matter elsewhere.

I would like to clear up misconception on population that has been expressed. The population of Amarillo is 200,000 proper and the metro area is almost another 200,000. Lubbock population is 225,000 and its metro is another 200,000. That is a total over 800,000. Facts you may not be aware of-- 1.The state of New Mexico has done nothing to install PTC regarding the rails and signaling. No monies budgeted for this year or next. 2. Their operational contract ends in September of 2018. After Dec. 31.2018 Amtrak will travel only on Fully Compliant PTC rails-- the wreck in Washington state settled that. I ask you a question-- Where does that leave Amtrak?

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Because New Mexico has done nothing to install PTC, according to you. Am I wrong to deduce, then, that Amtrak would not be allowed to run through New Mexico on non-PTC territory?

 

And why did you quote me to explain your facts? My post had nothing to do with the populations of Amarillo nor Lubbock.

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Because New Mexico has done nothing to install PTC, according to you. Am I wrong to deduce, then, that Amtrak would not be allowed to run through New Mexico on non-PTC territory?

 

And why did you quote me to explain your facts? My post had nothing to do with the populations of Amarillo nor Lubbock.

yes, you are completely wrong ---After the Washington wreck of Amtrak one of the senators on the Transportation committee reported they had or were going to submit a bill that would prohibit Amtrak from operating on non PTC routes after Dec.31,2018. Now have they done that? Only time will tell. There is only two states that that would effect, New Mexico and one other state. Earlier posts on this thread were on subject of population and you were one of those. ONLY the federal gov't. will tell Amtrak where the can or cannot go.

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Because New Mexico has done nothing to install PTC, according to you. Am I wrong to deduce, then, that Amtrak would not be allowed to run through New Mexico on non-PTC territory?

 

And why did you quote me to explain your facts? My post had nothing to do with the populations of Amarillo nor Lubbock.

yes, you are completely wrong ---After the Washington wreck of Amtrak one of the senators on the Transportation committee reported they had or were going to submit a bill that would prohibit Amtrak from operating on non PTC routes after Dec.31,2018. Now have they done that? Only time will tell. There is only two states that that would effect, New Mexico and one other state. Earlier posts on this thread were on subject of population and you were one of those. ONLY the federal gov't. will tell Amtrak where the can or cannot go.

 

If you say so.

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The PTC law says that beyond the end of 2018 certain types of trains including passenger trains are prohibited from operating on lines with no PTC, barring certain exceptions (which BTW the segment between La Junta and Lamy would fall under). It also provides FRA with considerable latitude to grant exceptions on a case by case basis. So no, things are not as cut and dried as some seem to believe here.

 

My educated guess is that no service will be halted for the lack of PTC come Jan 1, 2019.

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Thanks for that clarification. It would be interesting to learn just where Amtrak is operating on lines NOW that are PTC-equipped.

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Because New Mexico has done nothing to install PTC, according to you. Am I wrong to deduce, then, that Amtrak would not be allowed to run through New Mexico on non-PTC territory?

 

And why did you quote me to explain your facts? My post had nothing to do with the populations of Amarillo nor Lubbock.

yes, you are completely wrong ---After the Washington wreck of Amtrak one of the senators on the Transportation committee reported they had or were going to submit a bill that would prohibit Amtrak from operating on non PTC routes after Dec.31,2018. Now have they done that? Only time will tell. There is only two states that that would effect, New Mexico and one other state.

 

 

What's the other state?

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BNSF is much more transparent and straightforward than most of the other Class Is. UP doesn't publish their PTC status in detail, though rumor has it that over half is done. Last I read, there is NO working PTC on NS, CSX, or CN. Not sure about CP.

 

 

I continue to assert that BNSF has no particular interest in having Amtrak run on a route which they barely use any more, want to get rid of, but are somehow still stuck owning.

 

I'm pretty sure they would happily move Amtrak over to the Southern Transcon once it's double-tracked (and with appropriate standards for station design, as I said, passenger sidings and platforms on both sides, and of course funding for the trackwork at Belen and so forth).

 

I don't think "we might want Denver-Albuqerque service eventually, so we need to keep running a train over Raton Pass" is a good argument for hobbling the Southwest Chief. If we actually had some sort of movement towards Denver-Albuquerque service, that would be different, but we don't. Colorado can't even be convinced to run service from Denver to Fort Collins, and this is with a relatively pro-public-transport administration. Out of state service is something they won't even look at.

There is currently a PTC waiver for routes with a "de minimis" number of passenger trains per day. I don't know how long that's going to last, but it's not a good thing to rely on; that sort of waiver has a tendency to shrink over time.

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I think that Albuquerque should have service, just for the sake of this:

 

Edited by Rover

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I am almost certain that there will be no PTC required if the max speed is below some threshold.

 

Also note that just because a track is equipped for PTC does not mean every train running on that tracks is running under PTC. At present and even past 1/1/19 PTC will not become a universally mandatory item. There will be exceptions to deal with operations under failure conditions under some enforced restrictions, like max speed allowed etc. Considering how rickety most of the PTC implementations are, absent such the whole system would grind to a standstill. ;)

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