Amtrak's Roanoke-New River Valley Extension

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Thirdrail7, Dec 10, 2018.

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  1. Dec 10, 2018 #1

    Thirdrail7

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    Thirdrail7

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    I was looking for an existing thread that discussed service to Blacksburg, Christiansburg and even Bristol. Most of the threads were very old and predated the Roanoke extension. Now that service is up and running and we still don't know if there will be another Lynchburger, I decided to start a thread post Roanoke.

    The reason being is although Virginia dprt does want to continue marching south/west/east and every other direction, the host railroads aren't pulling out all stops to assist.

    As such, the study for the NRV has hit a snag.

    Norfolk Southern delay sidetracks New River Valley's Amtrak plan

    A brief fair use quote:

     
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  2. Dec 10, 2018 #2

    Anthony V

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    Where can we get a rough timeline for the resolution of the issues mentioned in the article above that put Norfolk Southern's participation in the study on the back burner, so we can get an idea on when work on the study may resume?
     
  3. Dec 10, 2018 #3

    bretton88

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    If it's anything like how UP pulled out of the Reno extension study with California, there may never be resumption. Truth be told, NS has really taken up a more hostile attitude towards passenger trains in the last few years.
     
  4. Dec 11, 2018 #4

    Anthony V

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    Let's not jump to conclusions so quickly. The Capitol Corridor extension was largely hampered by the limited capacity and increasingly heavy freight traffic over Donner Pass, and this was before Precision Scheduled Railroading became all the rage among Class 1 railroads. This is not as much as a problem with the NRV and Bristol extension.
     
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  5. Dec 11, 2018 #5

    west point

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    The problem with Bristol is the Route is too slow.  4 hours by train vs 2 by car and 2-1/4 by bus
     
  6. Dec 12, 2018 #6

    neroden

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    NS's behavior is unreasonable.  You talk to the state government when the state government wants to talk to you.  The state should pull out the big sticks, and they do have them, but Virginia isn't used to using them.  Massachusetts would know what to do here.
     
  7. Dec 12, 2018 #7

    Thirdrail7

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    Based upon this statement:

    I'm thinking a rough timeline is not available.

    Virginia has whipped CSX into some sort of shape. I'm sure that if necessary, they know how to approach NS when the time is right.
     
  8. Dec 12, 2018 #8

    bretton88

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    Virginia just lost a big stick too. Announced today, NS made their HQ move to Atlanta official.
     
  9. Dec 12, 2018 #9

    jis

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    At the end of the day I think what got CSX in line is the amount of money offered.

    I have no idea what NS could possibly be looking for on a line that is of far less importance in the overall scheme of things than the RF&P.

    NS has already played nicely on the Collier Yard to Norfolk piece, so it is a bit perplexing.
     
  10. Dec 14, 2018 #10

    Anderson

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    When was the Collier Yard to Norfolk bit?  Was that for the 2012 project?
     
  11. Dec 14, 2018 #11

    jis

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    I am talking of the agreement with NS allowing the use of their tracks for the Norfolk Service. The connection from CSX to NS for that service was built near Collier Yard.
     
  12. Dec 15, 2018 #12

    Anderson

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    Yep, that's what I thought.  This is really the sad thing about some of the changes in (lack-of-)Class I management as of late, at least on the east coast.

    A raft of discussion down here in VA is starting to revolve around picking up possible chunks of (for example) CSX.
     
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  13. Dec 15, 2018 #13

    jis

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    I think VA really needs to try to get at least joint dispatching control over RF&P.
     
  14. Dec 15, 2018 #14

    Thirdrail7

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    The problem lies in CSX giving up what Virginia actually wants. The most attractive routes to Virginia are probably the routes that are most attractive to CSX.
     
  15. Dec 15, 2018 #15

    Seaboard92

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    The core triangle is what CSX wants to keep. Think Jacksonville-Northeast, Jacksonville-Chicago, and Northeast-Chicago.

    Now if you are North Carolina there are some prime lines available. The Norlina Sub, and the Aberdeen Sub. Now the Norlina Sub also has high value to a shortline operator.
     
  16. Dec 15, 2018 #16

    jis

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    Norlina Sub or rather part of the RoW is already destined for use by the SEHSR between Petersburg and Raleigh.
     
  17. Dec 15, 2018 #17

    Thirdrail7

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    I really resent how these major operators gobbled up all of the territory, failed to maintain it, keep it viable as a major route, drove away service and are now trying to discard the territories.
     
  18. Dec 15, 2018 #18

    Seaboard92

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    I resent what is happening as well even though it may benefit me directly. I have a family member namely my brother in law who is studying a handful of CSX branch lines. And it benefits me because I'll probably get some equity in it.

    But in the whole I don't support what's going on.
     
  19. Dec 16, 2018 #19

    Anderson

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    IIRC Norlina has already been transferred to the state.  The state is also likely to end up with sort-of ownership of the second Long Bridge ("actual" ownership is complicated by the fact that the bridge is physically located in the District, so the state might end up with something absurd like supermajority ownership in a corporation that does the actual owning of the bridge).  We could potentially hope for some sort of agency control over tracks down as far as Crystal City and up to Union Station (since I think there's a rather strong case, with the whole Amazon mess, to extend some extra service those few miles if we can get some electrification going).

    The RF&P core is going to be problematic for the aforementioned reasons, however.
     
  20. Dec 16, 2018 #20

    neroden

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    I'm guessing Jim Squires has a bad attitude.
     
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  21. Dec 16, 2018 #21

    William W.

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    Something needs to be done. That line is an absolute mess, especially for commuters. CSX trains constantly breaking down, bad dispatching of the VRE (seriously CSX, it’s a set schedule), and crippling summer heat restrictions (which somehow isn’t a problem on the NS-operated Manassas Line). 

    I’m on board with Virginia just taking the line from CSX, especially once the third track is finished (assuming the NIMBYs in Ashland finally get pushed aside). At the very least, VA should entirely take over dispatching between DC/VA border and RVA.

    Back when the VRE was doing their “meet the managers” sessions, I tried to talk with several of them about the problems with CSX, and they were completely unwilling to even discuss it. Either they are that afraid of pissing off their hosts, or they just don’t care. I think it’s a combination of both, especially since the culture at the VRE isn’t the greatest. 
     
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  22. Dec 16, 2018 #22

    neroden

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    VA used to own a large fraction of the RF&P, and under idiotic Republican mismanagement, sold their interest to CSX.  This was wrong.  They should have bought CSX's interest.  I said so at the time.  But you can't get Republican politicians to do sane things.

    In the short run, I think the priority is wresting control of a pair of passenger tracks from DC as far as the junction with the Manasass Line.  In the long run, they should buy out the entire route, and if that' s not possible, build a four-track configuration, let CSX have two tracks and buy the other two.
     
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  23. Dec 16, 2018 #23

    William W.

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    The breaking point for me was watching VRE trains being forced to unload on the wrong track at single platform stations. This happened at least three or four times a month when I was taking it daily. What that means is using a single door and having passengers cross the tracks on a makeshift pedestrian bridge. A three minute station stop turned into 10-15 min. I’ve also watched Amtrak trains have to do the same thing at ALX, using that tiny gap in the chain link fence on the far platform (that one shocked me TBH). 
     
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  24. Dec 16, 2018 #24

    William W.

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    A third track is being built, but a fourth track isn’t possible with the current right of way. Supposedly the new track will allow for 90MPH operation, but if CSX is in control, I don’t see that happening. 
     
  25. Dec 17, 2018 #25

    Anderson

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    *blows whistle*
    Technical foul, no research and bad assumptions!  Ten minutes in a passing siding for a freight to go by!

    *ahem*
    The sale took place under Doug Wilder (a Democrat; trivia point, he briefly ran in the '92 Democratic primaries) and under a Democratic-controlled General Assembly.  It was, IIRC, part of a convoluted land swap that resulted in the Potomac Yard development in Arlington/Alexandria.  We can bang about over who was of what ideology, but Wilder was NOT a Republican.

    Later on, what should have been done/should be done is a swap to give CSX either a bridge or a tunnel at Dahlgren/La Plata in exchange for VA (or an agency) getting control of Dahlgren Junction to the junction in Washington (with local freight from CSX and any access-rights freight from NS allowed but all other through freight being sent around DC).  Ideally you'd stretch that to just south of Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania with a bypass there as well, and voila, the Fredericksburg Line has a near-blank check while VA could then (in theory) extend as many Regionals as they wanted down to FBG without much ado.  At that point I think we enter into "negotiate with Amtrak to move their facilities from Ivy City to a nice, new yard in Spotsylvania County"...  Yes, I wish this would happen, and it probably isn't impossibly expensive with federal matching funds...just obnoxiously so.
     

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