Expanding the Amtrak Route Map

Discussion in 'Amtrak’s Future: Member Ideas and Discussion' started by Philly Amtrak Fan, Nov 27, 2016.

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  1. Nov 27, 2016 #1

    Philly Amtrak Fan

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    Many of us have proposed increased service. Some of these include increased service on existing routes while others include new routes. I want to keep this thread to new routes (either including at least one new city or new route between two existing cities) as opposed to increased service on existing routes (although a reroute of an existing route can be included).

    Some I remember being discussed by people other than myself...

    Gulf Coast, New Orleans to Jacksonville (since currently not being used, it counts)

    Toledo to Detroit/Dearborn

    Dallas/Ft. Worth to Meridian/Atlanta

    Reroute of Southwest Chief to include Pueblo

    Oklahoma City to Newton, KS

    Feel free to suggest others, especially anything that includes the largest major markets that don't presently have Amtrak train service.
     
  2. Nov 27, 2016 #2

    CCC1007

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    the North Coast Limited would add the population centers of Montana and North Dakota.
     
  3. Nov 27, 2016 #3

    brianpmcdonnell17

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    A Chicago-Florida train could add Nashville and Louisville while connecting Florida, Atlanta, and Indianapolis/Chicago. Other routes are also possible, but I feel that this route would be the most successful. Given the current condition of the tracks, it would take a lot of investment. However, I think it would become one of the most popular LD routes. It could be one of the few LD routes that could support corridor service over the entire route.
     
  4. Nov 28, 2016 #4

    Devil's Advocate

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    I'm confused. The Sunset Limited already passes by and through multiple cities and metros that each have populations larger than all the residents of Montana and North Dakota combined. If we can't reasonably entertain a daily SL schedule then what legitimate hope do these expanded routes have? Or is this is just another random wish list thread that's not based on any reasonable criteria for practicality and suitability beyond having connecting trackage of one sort or another?
     
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  5. Nov 28, 2016 #5

    brianpmcdonnell17

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    I agree that there are other routes with far more potential than a second parallel route through Montana and North Dakota. Unless Montana and North Dakota pay for it or Amtrak suddenly gets as much money as the highways, I do not think that the North Coast Limited would be a good investment.
     
  6. Nov 28, 2016 #6

    railiner

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    The "3-C", Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati, should be on top of that list, IMHO....

    Perhaps with a later extension to Louisville and beyond...
     
  7. Nov 28, 2016 #7

    west point

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    It would seem that taking the most populous locations and adding routes has the highest potential for making Amtrak a significant factor in transportation. Combining present destinations with different routes definitely a plus. So with that in mind these are our picks. Stations listed more than once will be considered another route. ATL has the highest number of passengers at its airport ~ 45 - 60 % connecting.

    1. NYP / WASH - PHL - Pittsburgh - Columbus OH, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas city connecting to SWC

    2.( split Cincinnati - Louisville - STL )

    3. Chicago - Fort Wayne, Columbus, PGH.

    4. Cincinnati - Nashville - BHM - Montgomery - NOL.

    5. Nashville - Chattanooga - ATL - Macon - JAX

    6. ATL - Columbus, Ga. - Tallahassee - Tampa - MIA.

    7. ATL - Montgomery

    8. ATL - Augusta - Savannah.

    9. ATL - Athens, Ga. - Florence, SC

    10. ATL - CLT - Raleigh - Petersburg - Richmond - WASH.

    11. ATL - BHM - Memphis - Kansas City

    12. WASH - LYH - Roanoke - Bristol - Knoxville - Chattanooga - MEM.

    13. DEN - FTW - DAL - HOU - Galveston

    14. DEN - ABQ.

    15 DET - TOL - Columbus - Cincinnati.

    16. Norfolk - Roanoke - Huntington - Columbus
     
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  8. Nov 28, 2016 #8

    cirdan

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    My understanding was that the reason the Daily Sunset wasn't happening has nothing to do with populations or ridership forecasts but is largely down to negotiations between Amtrak and UPRR not having been succesful.
     
  9. Nov 28, 2016 #9

    WoodyinNYC

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    A later round of negotiations got 9 hours squeezed out of the schedule, freeing up one trainset (that went to beef up the Capitol Limited), and allowing a sweet overnight run L.A.-Tucson & vice versa, including a connection to the Coast Starlight that was forecast to add $10 or $20 million revenues to that train.

    Nothing more happened for a couple of good reasons. One was Amtrak's critical and chronic lack of equipment; the other, a similarly critical and chronic lack of funds.

    The PRIIA route study forecast ridership roughly doubling with daily service, over 100,000 added pax. Therefore the daily 7x a week trains would have much lower costs per passenger/per mile/per every measure, than the current 3x a week schedule. But on a gross level, the daily train would in total lose a little more money than the current schedule.

    (Say we're losing $1 every day the train runs. That's $3 a week for both the Sunset and Cardinal. Go to daily and we can cut costs by half! Now we're losing only 50¢ a day! . . . Uh, oh. We're now losing $3.50 a week on each train. We don't have the budget to do that.)

    Nonetheless, I'm sure we'll see a daily Sunset when the new bi-levels are delivered to the Midwest and that cascades 70 or 90 or so Horizon cars to other routes.
     
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  10. Nov 28, 2016 #10

    jis

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    How are 70 or 90 Horizon cars going to affect equipment availability for the Superliner Sunset?
     
  11. Nov 28, 2016 #11

    PVD

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    The only way the Horizon availability (reasonably) influences SL supply is if an existing SL train such as the CL or CONO were converted to single level. That is also predicated on the arrival of additional VL sleepers. It may not be the ideal move, but it does partially answer the question. One would hope the Horizons used would be refurbished and set up for LD use if this were ever to happen.
     
  12. Nov 28, 2016 #12

    WoodyinNYC

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    Replace bi-levels on the koming Sunset Shuttle New Orleans-San Antonio service. Replace bi-levels on the Heartland Flyer. Replace bi-levels on the City of New Orleans.

    Amtrak will find other ways and places. They are pretty good at stretching equipment usage.
     
  13. Nov 28, 2016 #13

    jis

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    The problem will be shortage of Sleepers when it comes to replacing bi-levels in the City of New Orleans. None of the Viewliners that become available after delivery is completed of the VL IIs are slated for use anywhere other than on current trains plus a few service expansions like on the 65/66/67, and the through New York Chicago cars on the Pennsy and the Cap.I agree that bi-levels can be replaced on day trains across the board as single levels become more available due to the deployment of the bi-level short distance cars.

    I expect the Viewliners to be deployed in routes that will earn them the most revenue, and CONO is not one of those routes by a long shot. So I would not expect CONO to be converted to single level anytime soon.
     
  14. Nov 29, 2016 #14

    DesertDude

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    Yes, this. As I noted in a previous thread, the Sunset Limited from LAX-NOL could easily be one of Amtrak's top-performing LD routes. Yes, there are new routes I'd like to see as well, but improving the SL should be seen as low-hanging fruit for boosting ridership.
     
  15. Nov 29, 2016 #15

    Seaboard92

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    My number one route to be added is Chicago-Indianapolis-Cincinnati- Louisville-Nashville-Atlanta-Jacksonville-Orlando-(Miami).

    I think routing via CIN would be faster then taking the Louisville and Indianapolis Shortline railroad at shortline speeds. If it's going to take the same time might as well reroute to a major city. As far as time wise I would schedule it out of Chicago just before midnight putting it into Indy around 5 am ish making Cincy around seven am. Then the last decent hour station is potentially Atlanta or Macon. And it's at least an eight hour run from Atlanta to Jacksonville so ideally a great place to put nighttime running. This train could then run in the Silver Star's slot south and we could shift the Silver Star to a six pm departure from NYP making it a daylight run from Columbia south to Miami. Which would give Jacksonville a early morning, mid morning, and afternoon train south to Miami. I would speed the Star up by cutting the Tampa detour from its route and shifting the new Chicago train or Silver Meteor into Tampa.
     
  16. Nov 29, 2016 #16

    WoodyinNYC

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    I'm hoping that an avowed "pro-infrastructure" President might be fine with another $200-$300 million Viewliners. The options have presumably expired. Don't know if that would require the various "Requests For" to delay things. But I'd sure like to see CAF roll another 50 to 100 Viewliner IIs out the door before they forget all they have learned the hard way. LOL.

    Where to deploy any additional V IIs is not a simple answer. Assume we get a fat single-level car order but no bi-level order. Then replacing the Superliner consists on the City of New Orleans and the Capitol Ltd would allow those bi-level cars to be redistributed to other routes. Would an extra Superliner sleeper bring in more revenue if added to a Coast Starlight than it was getting on the CONO? Would another coach or two added to every Empire Builder and California Zephyr show a better return than it was making on the Capitol Ltd? Would a daily Sunset perform so much better than the CONO as to make a switch worth doing? Until we see some hard numbers, my hunch is to flip the Capitol Ltd and the CONO to new single-level consists and send the old bi-level equipment out West where trains often sell out.
     
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  17. Nov 30, 2016 #17

    west point

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    The equipment plans from the FY 2016 budget can give us some information. Look at page 22

    https://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/844/40/FY16-Business-Plan-FY17-Budget-Justification-FY-16-20-Five-Year-Financial-Plan.pdf

    Amtrak is looking for 100 single levels a year starting in 2019 - 2025. Bi-levels of 100 count starting in 2021 -2025. The bi-level situation is complicated by the NS order to be delivered if the testing in January passes so construction can start. Then "Maybe" either there will be more NS cars ordered by the states or Amtrak might tack onto the end of the present order ?

    Another factor is how well the present fleets fare. The Amfleet-2s and Superliner-1s mileages are going up very quickly.

    How the order for single levels will be allocated to the 5 different type of cars may depend on how the new V-2 sleepers attract riders. The question of options at CAF may be an open question. Unless someone can produce a copy of the option clause in the contract we are left in the dark. There may be a certain date or more likely CAF has to produce so many operating cars before the option expires. Then again there may be a blended option date. WHO knows ?
     
  18. Nov 30, 2016 #18

    WoodyinNYC

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    Fellas, C-mon. We can make a much bigger list than this!

    Baton Rouge-New Orleans

    Beaumont-Houston

    San Antonio-Houston

    a second daily train San Antonio-Houston-Lafayette-New Orleans (complementing the Sunset Shuttle route coming when the Sunset Ltd goes daily and combines with the Texas Eagle CHI-SAS-L.A., so one morning and one evening run each way)

    New Orleans-Baton Rouge-Alexandria-Shreveport-Dallas-Ft Worth

    CHI-St Paul-Duluth

    CHI-St Paul-St Cloud-Fargo-Grand Forks-Winnepeg

    CHI-St Paul-Sioux Falls-Sioux City-Lincoln-Omaha-Kansas City ///-StL-CHI

    CHI-St Paul-Des Moines-Quad Cities-CHI

    (and as mentioned above, the restored renamed Sakajawea {a.k.a. North Coast Hiawatha} route CHI-St Paul-St Cloud-Fargo-Bismark-Dickenson-Billings-Bozeman-Helena-Missoula-Spokane-Pasco-Yakima-Ellensburg-Stampede Pass-Seattle)

    Billings-Livingston (Yellowstone gateway)-Bozeman-Helena-Missoula "Montana Corridor" state-supported train

    Another Cascades route, an east-west corridor Spokane-Pasco-Yakima-Ellensburg-Seattle

    More to come.
     
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  19. Nov 30, 2016 #19

    railiner

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    You say we can make a bigger list?

    Might as well throw in the "Butte Special" (Salt Lake City-Ogden- Pocatello-Idaho Falls-Butte)

    And let's not forget the "Wabash Cannonball" (St. Louis-Decatur-Danville-Lafayette-Logansport-Fort Wayne-Montpelier-Detroit)

    Then there's the "Twin Star Rocket" (Minneapolis-St. Paul-Des Moines-Kansas City-Wichita-Fort Worth-Dallas-Houston)

    Not to mention the "Kansas City-Florida Special" (Kansas City-Springfield-Memphis-Birmingham-Atlanta-Macon-Jesup-Jacksonville)

    I could go on.... :p
     
  20. Nov 30, 2016 #20

    WoodyinNYC

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    Please do go on. :)

    Wondering if there are usable tracks today Kansas City-Springfield-Memphis? And if so, who runs the trains?
     
  21. Nov 30, 2016 #21

    Eric S

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    BNSF operates the old Frisco trackage. I *think* it's still a mainline in relatively good shape.
     
  22. Nov 30, 2016 #22

    west point

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    let us look at some numbers for expanded services. Assume that there is no reduction in the present fleets. That is unlikely due to accidents. assume no change of trains either bi-levels or single levels. Also hopefully the 25 additional V-2 sleepers will finally enter service probably not all for the summer 2017 season. Surge times can add more cars in revenue service but maintenance requirements will reduce available totals other times.

    1. It takes approximately 25 additional cars of any type to cover all LD single level routes. There are seasonal variations in demand but how much is unknown. So if 4 sleepers and 6 coaches on each train would require ~~ 75 more serviceable cars. 13 car trains appear to be practical limit of NYP ? Only Lake Shore can be longer due to no capacity limitations with the Albany addition of BOS cars.

    2. Required Single level routes eat up a lot Amfleet-1s. Hove no idea how many train sets of single levels but there are many. Downeaster 2 sets, Vermonter - 2. Adirondack -2, NY & Maple leaf ( State wants ~ 14 now and more later ) - 10?, Keystone - 5. NEC regionals ~30 ? Lynchburg, Norfolk. Newport news - 6 .

    So to fill out the single level trains is going to take a lot of cars.

    3. Superliner consists appear to require 42 additional serviceable cars to add one car to each train. With the states buying the new Nippon (NS) cars no new bi-levels SLs will be needed for Short distance trains.

    4. With no new SLs to delivered before 2021 any expansion of SLs trains much less new ones appear problematic. If several SLs trains are converted to single level probably Sunset east of DAD, CNO and Capitol that equipment release of 5 train sets will not even add one coach and sleeper to each SLs sets.ose

    Then we have the need for current LD routes to add another train such as Florida, WASH - ATL, CHI - NYP, CHI - MSP, CHI - DEN. Also SD trains Downeaster, Empire, Pennsylvanian, Several Va. trains may also require more single level cars ?

    As much as this poster wants more service just adding to present trains gets the operating ratio closer to 100 or below. Plus with Amtrak not adding trains to new routes means no new infrastructure is needed.

    To predict how traffic will be 5 - 7 years in the future is just a WAG. We will need to revisit high demand potential routes 3 - 5 years in the future when enough rolling stock is available.

    .
     
  23. Nov 30, 2016 #23

    MARC Rider

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    I vote for more corridor service to feed into existing hubs and increase the market share of passenger rail.

    Lots of possibilities if unconstrained by political reality, etc., but my first one is restoring service Washington - Baltimore - Harrisburg. The easy way is to use the line running down the Susquehanna River through Columbia, Port Deposit and Perryville, but the service would have more utility if a successor to the Northern Central as a sort of Shinkansen/TGV Lite parallel to I-83 that would connect, Baltimore, its northern suburbs and York to Harrisburg, maybe including commuter service between Baltimore and York. If Harrisburg and York have easy access to Washington, it could stimulate their local economies by attracting government contractors and other industries that need access to DC with their lower coast of living and lower real estate values.

    At the very least a Thruway bus from Baltimore that would allow a more convenient connection to the Pennsylvanian. My daughter went to college in Huntingdon, a 3 hour drive from Baltimore. Her public transportation choices were either a Greyhound bust to Harrisburg to connect to the Pennsylvanian with a 4 1/2 layover, or an 8 hour 2-seat ride via a Northeast Regional to 30th St. and the Pennsylvanian to Huntingdon.
     
  24. Nov 30, 2016 #24

    MARC Rider

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    If you're doing all this Texas stuff. How about Dallas - Ft Worth - Abilene - Midland -Odessa - Pecos - El Paso?

    I was amazed at the amount of traffic on I-20 as it runs through the Permian Basin.

    Also Del Rio - San Antonio - Austin corridor service, and San Antonio has grown to the point that they would benefit from commuter rail.
     
  25. Nov 30, 2016 #25

    Devil's Advocate

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    This thread has completely jumped the shark at this point. Even here in San Antonio we changed our city charter to prevent passenger rail from using government funds or government land. Good luck building a usable commuter rail system under rules like that. Even with private funding you'd get stuck the moment your passenger rail service reached government property, which is basically everywhere.
     

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