Amtrak Corridor Expansion Laundry List

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Anderson, Aug 4, 2019.

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  1. Aug 4, 2019 #26

    JP1822

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    As far as expansion of corridor service in the southeast - particularly in Roanoke and the Norfolk Southern heartland per say - not sure if I can blame NS, as they are going to be battling capacity constraint. It’s no longer a two track main from DC to Atlanta.

    The “corridor plans” of Amtrak can draw some parallel to the M&E initiative during the Downs and Warrington years. Amtrak drew up plans, announced the plans, and then approached the freight railroads by trying to cram it down their throats. “What do you mean it could be a problem” was the simplistic way of putting it. Freight railroads were almost an after thought...

    The corridors noted above are not as radical admittedly. Amtrak appears to be talking with the freight RR’s now. However, some of these projects pre-date Anderson’s term so I don’t see Anderson being very radical in corridor development - or as much as he proclaimed he wanted to be. Capacity constraint is going to be the main issue. And that should also be explained. It’s new trains being put on the schedule to develop a corridor. But to the extent that Amtrak can help and offer a grant to rebuild track where the second/third/fourth mainline was rationalized years ago, that will be for the better and help NS come around, as an example.

    Rebuilding - strategically - some track rationalized during the various Class 1 mergers will help to develop corridors. Immediately coming to mind is the track between Richmond and Raleigh that was abandoned/tore up. Amtrak rebuilt the line between Springfield and Brattleboro, VT and this helped the Vermonter tremendously. But with low freight traffic it can now allow the State of MA to invest in and build the “Knwledge Corridor.” NC has done its Piedmont expansions, but with also track expansion and improvements! BNSF has said its capacity is tight between Twin Cities and Chicago. Second passenger train frequency is a no-brainer, ensuring capacity to run it, or installing track to facilitate it, becomes the issue.

    And whatever Amtrak does, it should NOT give up the “slots” it has with LD trains.

    But many of these corridors mentioned have been on the drawing boards before. Seasonal service to Rockland in Maine is the only major new one for me.
     
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  2. Aug 4, 2019 #27

    jebr

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    To address "why not from SPUD:"

    With the current track layout in the MSP metro, serving both Minneapolis and St. Paul requires a backup move to get out from downtown Minneapolis back onto the mainline - a backup move that is about 2 miles long, if I remember correctly. Between that and negotiating additional trackage rights, it's easier to simply serve them as two separate corridors. Minneapolis is almost certainly the bigger draw between the two for corridor traffic, and there's no easy transfer point to frequent, high-amenity transit along the trackage to St. Paul, despite it passing within a mile or so from downtown Minneapolis. St. Paul still makes sense for the Chicago corridor as it's the closest station, and you'd still have the backup issue in reverse to keep the train going to Minneapolis.

    The Green Line (and, when it's running, the 94 bus) can serve connecting passengers nearly as well and as quickly as a direct train would. I'd imagine that if Amtrak approached Metro Transit with some sort of deal to pay the fares for those making a ticketed connection (maybe the cost of a rush-hour ticket at $2.50) Metro Transit would be happy to serve as the connection. Since the system is proof-of-purchase without turnstiles, it'd just take some training to recognize those tickets as valid fare. If the Chicago train is extended to St. Cloud, a connection could be made somewhere in the suburbs along the shared trackage (either Fridley or a new station at Foley Blvd. in Coon Rapids.)
     
  3. Aug 5, 2019 #28

    Anderson

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    Palm Springs? Or Palmdale?

    And I tend to agree...the Metrolink arrangement is the open question, since while VTUSA can hope for access, I suspect the question is whether any improvements to runtime can be managed between Palmdale and downtown.
     
  4. Aug 5, 2019 #29

    jis

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    Palmdale. Fixed in the original.

    Agreed with the rest.
     
  5. Aug 5, 2019 #30

    lordsigma

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    This all is, of course, assuming that all of VTUSA’s plans work out and they are able to get it profitable enough so it continues indefinitely. The service looks promising but this is passenger rail we are taking about so it’s by no means a done deal that the service with succeed.
     
  6. Aug 5, 2019 #31

    Josh M

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    When Ford bought the Michigan Central Station, I saw an article somewhere (Detroit Free Press, maybe?) that mentioned there was interest in developing a CHI-DET-TOR Amtrak service that would use Michigan Central as the Detroit stop, because the rail lines that run next to the station go directly to the CP tunnel to Windsor. It would be a bit of a long trip for sure, probably 9 hours minimum even under the most ideal conditions. But I can definitely see a market for it, so maybe someday.
     
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  7. Aug 5, 2019 #32

    jis

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    That of course is true of anything that anyone is trying to introduce. This is completely true of all Amtrak and State Commuter services too. Some succeed and others fail. All are part of an eco system, and sometimes things work out and at other times they don't. Think of all the Commuter and Amtrak lines that have disappeared voer the years to see what I mean.
     
  8. Aug 5, 2019 #33

    lordsigma

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    I agree but it is especially true of a completely private sector service like VTUSA where they are looking to eventually make a profit. A state that is funding an Amtrak corridor or commuter service is going to accept a loss if the service is providing the level of public utility that they feel is sufficient. Amtrak has several corridors that are considered "successful" that lose money at least on paper and require subsidies. Virgin is likely going to bail at a point before a public sector agency would. Not to say that I am hoping that is what's going to happen or that I think it's going to happen, but it's just that given that it's private there is even more uncertainty. It's going to be an interesting trial because Florida is a decent market as well as LA to Vegas... If VTUSA can't succeed in those markets, the prospect of a completely private passenger rail service is likely dead for good. If it does, than there certainly could be other areas of opportunity.
     
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  9. Aug 5, 2019 #34

    jis

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    From Amtrak's accounting perspective most state funded corridors either make money or are close to break even since the state funding is considered to be non ticket revenue. Who is to say that a state will not decide to fund some amount for a private operator. They already do to bring airlines to specific airports.

    On the flip side we also have an example where when a state cuts its funding Amtrak stops a state corridor service. That is to be expected since again from Amtrak's accounting perspective the route becomes non-viable with the loss of revenue. So I fail to see a major distinction between the two.

    Yeah the risk profiles are slightly different, but both have risks, very significant sometimes. Political risk is pretty much as unpredictable as market risk.

    I do agree that many over the top VTUSA enthusiasts and fanbois have very little understanding of what corridors the likes VTUSA will touch and what they won't and I am sure in five years there will be a lot of disappointed and ticked off enthusiasts, even if Florida and Vegas succeeds, never mind if one of them fails.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
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  10. Aug 6, 2019 #35

    Qapla

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    Something that may help their efforts in Florida is the announcement of a new theme park being built by Universal. This will provide an additional potential for an income stream as people from South Florida head to that area to visit the various theme parks.
     
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  11. Aug 6, 2019 #36

    Just-Thinking-51

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    Problem is all the theme parks are not very rail accessible. Someone needs to put some effort into this mode of transportation. Too much freelancing, unlike the Airport.
     
  12. Aug 6, 2019 #37

    Qapla

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    Some sort of trolley system would be nice ...
     
  13. Aug 6, 2019 #38

    MisterUptempo

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    The closest thing I've seen to a timeline on Hiawatha expansion thus far-

    https://www.jsonline.com/story/mone...ase-milwaukee-chicago-round-trips/1755826001/

    snip

     
  14. Aug 6, 2019 #39

    dogbert617

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    Have to say with all the talk about other Illinois service expansion ideas (Quad Cities, Rockford, and btw I'm upset that the latter may not get expanded west to Galena and/or Dubuque if CN I fear blocks that from occurring, but hope I'm proven wrong), I had oddly NEVER till now heard any talk about the Illini and Saluki trains possibly being expanded to Memphis till now. Would it only be one of these 2 runs from Chicago-Carbondale expanded southward to Memphis? Chicago-Memphis may work for a 2nd train between these 2 places (on top of the existing CONO), if the Illini/Saluki train leaving Chicago in the morning around 7-8amish were to arrive in Memphis, around say 5-6pm(forget the CONO schedule going north, this is a post I did off the memory I could think of on top of my head). Also, I wonder how the funding would work, so that one of these 2 trains would run to Memphis. Would say Tennessee chip in some money, so this would occur? Also, would a few of the existing CONO/Illini/Saluki stops that are less used in Illinois/Kentucky/Tennessee get skipped, so that this extended train would have a decent running time to Memphis? Would be a nice goal if it could get accomplished, and create a daytime train similar to Palmetto(NYC-Savannah) for the CONO route. Part of me worries this is a nice idea in theory, but not so sure if enough political will is there for this goal to be accomplished. My worry being, if Tennessee was reluctant to help fund such a project.

    Who knows, maybe I'd pleasantly be surprised and my fears this won't occur are proven wrong, and it does occur? We will see down the road.....
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  15. Aug 6, 2019 #40

    Anderson

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    Per the discussion, Tennessee seems open to the possibility of funding such a train. Now, whether that pans out when the rubber meets the road is another question...but my understanding is that TN hasn't been hostile towards passenger rail per se, it just lacks anywhere to run anything that wouldn't be an isolated corridor (except to/from Memphis, where the timing would likely be messy with the CONO).
     
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  16. Aug 6, 2019 #41

    jis

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    TN could fund extension of the Roanoke service into Tennessee thus getting direct access to the nation’s capital and the northeast.
     
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  17. Aug 6, 2019 #42

    sttom

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    There is also the potential of a Nashville/Memphis line if Tennessee wants it. It's not like we lack rail in this country, just passenger trains and the will of the federal government.
     
  18. Aug 6, 2019 #43

    neroden

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    After Brightline reaches Tampa, the correct move for Amtrak in Florida is to support Brightline, connect at Orlando, and abandon all service south of there. Of course they'd have to abandon Hialeah (which they should do anyway, since it's a nightmare location in terms of climate change); could relocate the facilities to Sanford, I suppose.

    The catch is that Brightline is nowhere near getting to Tampa; it's years ago. By the time they get there, we may have had a hurricane take out Miami or Tampa. Florida is just a bad place to build infrastructure at all now.
     
  19. Aug 6, 2019 #44

    Barb Stout

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    "Chicago-Columbus project: Issues in Indiana (Ed. note: No ****, Sherlock)" Why does the capital of Ohio not have train service and instead of Chicago to Columbus, what about Cincinnati to Columbus or Toledo to Columbus or Cleveland to Columbus or Pittsburgh, PA to Columbus or Cincinnati to Cleveland or Pittsburgh through Columbus?
     
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  20. Aug 6, 2019 #45

    Eric S

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    The 3C corridor (Cleveland - Columbus - Dayton - Cincinnati) did receive federal funding in early 2010 but when the then-governor-elect pledged to cancel the project, the funds were revoked in late 2010 and distributed to other states.
     
  21. Aug 6, 2019 #46

    jis

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    As soon as Ohio comes up with the money, indeed why not? Gotta ask the Ohio Legislature and Governor. Even when they got free money they returned it unused. Can't shove a service down the throat of someone who does not fervently want it simply because ....
     
  22. Aug 6, 2019 #47

    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    It's easy to blame Ohio but Amtrak has never taken well of Columbus. Amtrak has never had N-S service in its 48 year history and its only E-W service was the National Limited. Gov. Walker of Wisconsin turned down funds as well but he won't touch the Hiawatha service because Amtrak took care of Chicago-Milwaukee well before he took office. If Amtrak had done so with Columbus, we'd have service there now.
     
  23. Aug 7, 2019 #48

    MikefromCrete

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    Ohio had a chance for the 3-C's service, but Republican Gov. Kaisch returned the money. You can't blame the long-ago discontinuance of the National Limited for that.
     
  24. Aug 7, 2019 #49

    Anderson

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    Ohio also stands out as a particular case, historically, in that a north-south corridor (Cincy-Cleveland-Detroit, I believe) was considered for inclusion in the initial system map but was ultimately dropped because of a lack of local political support in Congress. It was, I believe, the only such cut. This is not, mind you, to say that such a train would have worked given some of the track conditions then...but it stands out.

    In Ohio's defense, since then the only proper "daylight" service the state has tended to have has been, I believe, with the extension of the Pennsylvanian in the late 1990s/early 2000s...which got cut when the Mail and Express project was axed even though my understanding is that it was actually building up a bit of a market for itself. The WB LSL also has had some decent times in Ohio, but it doesn't have a passably-timed train in the other direction.
     
  25. Aug 7, 2019 #50

    Barb Stout

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    Why did Kaisich turn the money down? Did Ohio have to come up with a chunk to complete the deal or is he just philosophically opposed to public transportation like some Republicans or some other reason?
     

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