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Author Topic: NARP Passenger Rail Map
Mike Smith
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What do y'all think about NARP's proposed passenger rail map?

http://www.narprail.org/cms/images/uploads/NARP_Vision_Map.pdf

I like their "go for it" attitude, plus their rock solid reasoning for expanding our National Passenger rail system.

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Gilbert B Norman
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No wonder I have never been or ever will be a Member of NARP.

Can't they accept that Corridors are what 21st century passenger railroads are all about?

But then NARP suffers from the same "neurosis" that afflicts LD's, where in order to Federally fund the only thing that counts, i.e. the Northeast Corridor, there must be a system national in scope to drop off crumbs of economic largess in enough legislative districts to ensure Mr. Pullman's 218+51+1.

NARP has the same dilemma; they to need a national constituency in order to have any standing whatever as lobbyists (whoops, public information, lest their 501(c)(3) recognition be disturbed), hence this map putting trains where I don't think they have ever been before. Indicative of such is proposing restoration of service on the Northern Pacific where there is a declining population base and I-90 is already there to provide surface transportation to the region.

Long distance passenger rail has not been part of the national everyday scene in over 60 years. Even if Amtrak LD were stellar, that trend is not going to be reversed.

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yukon11
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Interesting Proposal:

Things I like:

The Eugene to Medford run. Would this be the Cascades?

The route from Oklahoma City to Tulsa to Springfield.

I understand Mr. Norman's argument..but I still wonder if routes designed for vacation travel, such as the old Northern Pacific route, would gain a new following if a first-class train could be in place.

I still would like to see some sort of north-south route, in the west, to link up the EB, Zephyr, and Southwest Chief.

Richard

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smitty195
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I like seeing the new line running from Bakersfield to Las Vegas, and from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Gosh I hope they revive Vegas service someday. That would be the frosting on the cake, IMHO.
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George Harris
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I understand Mr. Norman's perspective. I just don't agree with it. I feel that he is falling into the "I won't so therefore nobody will" mindset. There is a lot of long and medium distance demand out there, but until something resembling a reasonably reliable service is in place there is simply no certain way to quantify it. When we consider the ridership our very skeletal system does get, it looks like given the opportunity a doubling of train miles would probably result in far more than a doubling of ridership.

However, I also feel that NARP is tilting at windmills on this stuff.

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wayne72145
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Medford to Eugene is never going to happen, it would take $BILLIONS to up grade the track to serve very few people. I would like to see Amtrak Through Way on this run but it wouldn't even come close to paying. Amtrak and Greyhound had something going for a while until Greyhound stopped gaurenteeing seats to make connections.

NARP is dreaming and unrealistic.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Your disagreement is duly noted with respect, Mr. Harris.

Essentially, no one in the "mainstream" , is about to consider using Amtrak in the few overnight markets it serves (Chi to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Memphis; Wash to Atlanta, Savannah is "all there is') and nothing is going to make such a traveler voluntarilly consider such. We have a fly/drive mentality (my Sister regularly "drives in" from Greenwich to Manhattan - "it's so much more convenient, and what if I want to pop over to Brooklyn first and see any of the kids") and no one is going to change that.

Residing in Chicago, and considering the only places away from a contiguous state I travel nowadays (I have been 3/4th of the way around the world and on the ground in all 50 states, but that was another life) are to visit family in the New York area or to convene with them in Florida, any Amtrak trip I take will involve use of an LD.

As I have often noted here, my LD trips can be summarized as "more positives than negatives'.

But what I am most concerned about as an industry observer of over fifty years standing, is that passenger rail, for which I have never "bought into' the Dr. Utt thesis of kill it all, is relevant to the 21st century travel needs - and that in my estimation means services where the average journey will be 200 miles and with a population base sufficient to support not less than 'six a day". It further means having an infrastructure that will not interfere with investor owned Class I roads from performing their role in our economy which is to move freight and in the process generate a return on investment to their stakeholders (disclaimer; hold BNI and NSC).

All of the above means Corridors.

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Mike Smith
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I see the plan completely different. Our Nation needs a 3rd alternative to travel.

80,000,000 retirees on our roads and in our airports won't work. We do not have the capacity. Retirees, by their very nature, have time to travel. They do not need the rush-rush of flying or the tedium of driving. They could easily enjoy the train and scenery and lack of hassle passenger rail offers.

80,000,000 is a good base to draw from...

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train lady
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Once my husband retired we had the time to take long trips. We combined driving with Amtrak. We would take the train to Denver or Seattle,or north rent a car and spend a few weeks driving to various areas.By taking the tain cross country to Seattle we could spend the time driving up into Canada and around the Northwest. If we had added the milage to driving I doubt we would have done so much. So I do think Mike has a very good point.Off season,which is when we travel the number of retirees on the train is signifigant
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Ocala Mike
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Much of it's a pipe dream, yes, but I am salivating over the Sunshine State additions proposed, as well as the addition of lines in Maine.

1. Service over the "S" line through Ocala down to Naples (pipe dream because CSX's "S" line is earmarked for mucho freight with part of the "A" line being earmarked for commuter rail between Deland and Poinciana down the I-4 corridor through Orlando).

2. Service east of NOL across the panhandle to (at least) Jacksonville restored (not a pipe dream; this should and will happen, I believe).

3. Service down the FEC from JAX to WPB (pipe dream; this was supposed to happen a few years back and didn't. FEC is now in new hands, further complicating matters).

4. Service from Portland, ME to Bangor and north (the day this happens, I promise to book a trip to Lewiston, ME to look up lots of old French-Canadian relatives on my mother's side).

--------------------
Ocala Mike

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4021North
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I have to agree with Mike and Mr. Harris; future ridership needs to be taken more seriously. If there is good train service, people will ride it. There are large segments of the traveling population who make trips that don't require intermediate stops, or the use of their own car at their destination. They are simply trying to get from here to there in a safe manner.

All the discussion of AMTRAK -- outside of railfan and train advocate circles -- seems to revolve around "losing money" and whether or not we should keep train service, so it's no wonder why few in the general public would give thought to even a modest plan for expansion. But on this site, it's a little harder to understand.

I'm not sure where all the criticism of NARP among rail advocates is coming from. "Tilting at windmills" would seem to me more appropriate to apply to people who got all upset at the failure of high-speed rail plans (rightly so) and then decided to blame it on long-distance advocates in some sort of perceived "us or them" situation. One in which we either have high speed, or we have long distance, and not each mode complementing the other. Argument over the best route to take has its place, but does not need to stand in the way of reconstructing our passenger rail system. We'll be stronger by focusing our efforts on what we have in common.

Let's have some more explanation why NARP is
unrealistic.

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4021North
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As for the map...I'm putting it on my wall!
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Mike Smith
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If I'm traveling from Houston to Seattle, do I get crammed into a sardine can and fly there in 4 hours? {I'm doing that tomorrow [Frown] } Do I drive for 3 days {11 hour days} and spend $500 in gas EACH WAY, or do I Amtrak?

I'm not driving. And if I'm in a hurry, I fly; if not, I Amtrak it... Oh wait... no I don't. I either have to stay overnight in Los Angeles or Chicago. That sucks.

I'm supporting NARP in their "pie-in-the-sky" attempt to expand passenger rail.

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cubzo
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A couple of quick thoughts here, are the new lines actually new tracks that have yet to be built? If so then that would be a huge and expensive undertaking, the E.I.S. would take decades and would likely be tied up in courts forever, if not and those tracks are already there I'd be willing to bet that the folks who live near those lines wouldn't want the extra train traffic. Then one would have to think about the train crews to be hired at union wages and benefits, the taxpayers who would never ride a train would have to pay for all that. As far as retirees go well alot of us own RVs and would rather our tax dollars go to keeping up the roads and bridges.
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RRRICH
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Cubzo - I believe all the proposed routes shown on the NARP map are existing rail lines.
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Ocala Mike
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Cubzo, I will take the other side of your "bet that the folks who live near those lines wouldn't want the extra train traffic."

First of all, we're probably talking about one or two trains a day, not dozens. Secondly, the nimbys that might get aroused would quickly be outgunned by the reality of putting formerly unserved localities back on the passenger rail transport map.

Here in Ocala, FL, for example, the ADDITION of rail service would result in a REDUCTION of train traffic overall, as CSX would probably be rerouting some freight runs over parallel or redundant routes that they have.

--------------------
Ocala Mike

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Gilbert B Norman
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Concur Mr. Rich; all lines shown are in place.

I guess I must give NARP credit for 'drawing the line' at not proposing that MILW Lines West be relaid and used as a passenger only line through Montana. Likewise, they have not proposed service to Lander, WY - once the furthest point West on the C&NW.

But, since no Class I road is about to seek a contract to operate a passenger train, the entire proposal borders upon a 'taking', or a public condemnation. To expect that any organization can dictate to the investor owned Class I industry that passenger trains WILL be operated over their lines - and of course be given priority of movement over freight is simply absurd. If any group advocates the issue of expanded and more reliable passenger service over Class I lines, the matter of seeking repeal of Amtrak's, or any successor passenger agency, "right of access' will become a much more front burner issue than at present. At this time, I believe the industry accepts the existing level of passenger train interference as a "nuisance' they are prepared to live with.

As an aside, I believe I once saw that map posted st another discussion site showing restored service Miami-Key West. Apparently that was a ' things they can do with computers nowadays" moment.

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DeeCT
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Cubzo -
Retiree here --- one who does not own a RV --- and one who age (with it's slower reaction time and diminished eyesight) precludes long distance travel on Interstates. For me, and others like me, Amtrak and the Hound are our options to "get there from here". (In an emergency I could fly, but medically it is not recomended).
While this "proposal" contains a lot of pie in the sky ideas - there are contained within it a lot of interesting routes. The level of interest in a particular route is, of course, dependent on personal need. For me those Maine routes up to Bangor sure look good!

Dee

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Steve O.
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Mr. Norman, let me add to your list of "overnight markets" which see steady demand:

Chicago-Denver (always very busy with high sleeping car patronage)
Chicago-New Orleans (AMTK actually has a huge chunk of the local CHI-NOL travel market...always has...mostly coach travel)

--------------------
Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

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train lady
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Dee, You beat me to the answer. It's great that some retirees can and do travel by RV. But there re many of us who can't. There should be enough public transportaation for everyone. Not only do many of us want to stay away from the airport hassle but many of us do not live near airports. Buses have cut back on their lines and they aren't especially comfortable to begin with. I feel that if we can support two wars, 12,000,000 illegal immigrants and money to other countries we certainly should be able to provide for the needs of our own people. To my mind rail transportation is one of them.
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Gilbert B Norman
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quote:
Originally posted by Mike Smith:
80,000,000 retirees on our roads and in our airports won't work. We do not have the capacity. Retirees, by their very nature, have time to travel. They do not need the rush-rush of flying or the tedium of driving. They could easily enjoy the train and scenery and lack of hassle passenger rail offers.

Your point regarding diminished driving skills is well taken, Mr. Smith. I know that my own are deteriorating to such extent that I plan routes on which I will make either right or signal protected left turns. I know I also have had two "accidents' in the past year, and even though in both cases, the other party "took 100", it is of record I had them. My current driver's license expires July 09, but I am prepared to 'carry on' even if it be revoked.

So why am I not advocating more trains?

To suggest that LD trains be expanded simply for "our" convenience is the quickest way to kill all funding for any passenger service. Opponents such as Dr. Utt (Heritage Fdn) would be quick to say that if Granny wants to see the world, she can do so from a cruise ship.

But so many Boomers have lived such active lives that they simply won't have time to even think about a train. I'm sure my now 65 year old Brother in Law will be "zipping" his Porsche through traffic ("it's the challenge, Gil') even when he is 80, and my Sister still "driving in' to Manhattan. It is simply their Type A lifestyle for which LD rail is simply not compatible.

Even on my trip "down below' last March with my Sister (and for that matter, meeting up with Ocala Mike), Southward we met at MCO after I arrived on Auto Train. The plan was to 'reverse route" for the return. However, she chose to hire a car service from the hotel in Boca (that was $100) and change her flight home from MCO to PBI (another $150). Reason given me; 'that's three hours quicker I can be home'.

Some of these Boomers such as my Sister and Brother in Law, even retired, still place a $$$ on their time. For me, I've been retired for four years and my time isn't worth a plugged nickel.

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delvyrails
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We're largely repeating ourselves (see on page 2 the orignal topic as started by GBN).

They've got it backwards. First you assess the market (NARP itself has the data on its website). Then you do the economics. Then and only then do you draw the map.

It's hard to avoid concluding that this gambit was meant to arouse passions rather than to begin (independently of Amtrak and government) the substantial exercise needed to do the job adequately and responsibly.

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4021North
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Mr. Delvy, be more specific about what economic analysis we need before we can go forward with a major expansion of Amtrak. How long does it take a major highway project to go through the process and be built? How long after they planned the Interstates did it take until they were largely completed? (Seems to me that that project was at least as ambitious as NARP's proposal would be.) This is a long-range goal, not a detailed plan for each individual segment.
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Gilbert B Norman
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We have not yet addressed, nor for that matter has NARP, to what extent public funding should be appropriated for capacity to support this additional service.

Does anyone here really think the roads would open their arms to the "manna from heaven" when they realized the strings attached in hosting more passenger trains? They did it once on A-Day and I can assure you they have had second thoughts about the wisdom of that decision;

"Who the he-ll are they to come on our property and dictate to us how and when we will run their trains?"

'Can't they just do the taxpayers a big favor and find somewhere else to run their trains?, Better yet, just fold up"

'That morphodite bunch of clowns...that don't even know a drawbar from a draftgear".

"We are going to be stuck with these trains much longer than anyone first thought'


Allow me to respect the privity of those who made those comments, even if deceased. But lest we forget where I was employed on A-Day.

Lastly, from NARP's FAQ on "their vision":

Q: Does NARP’s vision interfere with the movement of freight?
A: To the contrary – we believe this vision will help advance freight mobility by spurring capital investment that benefits both passenger and freight rail. Much of the construction aimed at passenger rail benefits freight including, for example, intercity investments in the states of Washington, California, and Maine.


Anyone really believe that tripe? I guess the faithful do.

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Mike Smith
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Mr Norman:
The only way this works is for the government to double or triple track the existing routes. This can be an easy trade-out with the RRs. We will double track their road, and use it once or twice a day. They can have the double track for the rest of the time. Their dispatching will become easy enough for the current crop of UP dispatchers to do it...

Also, in Houston, we spent $500 million for a 7.5 mile toy train that has minimal ridership. For that same $500 million, we could put a double track all the way to Dallas. Building passenger rail line is much cheaper than building roads.

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Ocala Mike
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I'm in Mike Smith and train lady's camp on this one, Gil. Having a rail transportation network that can efficiently move a ton of coal or a live human from point A to point B must be seen as so much in the national interest that a partnership between government and private enterprise (yes, even CSX) must be seen as inevitable.

P.S. As an example of government intervention in the capitalist process, the Fed has just injected a third round of "liquidity" into the banking system to quell fears of a meltdown on Wall Street. Imagine if they injected that kind of money into Amtrak? How are the rail stocks holding up today? I heard that Warren Buffett stepped up and bought more BNSF.

--------------------
Ocala Mike

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Mr. Toy
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This topic was first broached on the Railforum last June under the heading Narp's Manifesto Comrades My thoughts on the subject were stated in that thread, fifth message down.
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ehbowen
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Look, fellas, aside from maintaining the status quo (which makes no one happy) I say we have three basic choices:

1. The zero option. Hang Amtrak out to dry and let long-distance passenger rail become a quaint memory. Those people who, for physical or financial reasons, can't fly or drive? Let 'em walk!

2. The European Solution. Create a massive, taxpayer-financed bureaucracy to operate a network of passenger trains—Amtrak on a grand scale, with all of Amtrak's wonderful customer service "issues" magnified a thousandfold. The freight railroads consider it a "taking" and balk? Nationalize them too!

3. Change the incentives. Give freight railroads a reason to want to put passenger trains back on their tracks, in a way that will be profitable. I propose we start with a complete exemption from all state and local ad valorem (property) taxes on any railroad line which hosts a qualifying daily passenger service. That's step 1. Step 2: The most effective method of subsidizing a service is to leverage the consumer's dollar. Enact an across-the-board subsidy of, say, 5 cents per passenger-mile on all rail tickets sold. You might add an extra cent or two for trains providing real food service. That gives the railroads an incentive to fill those seats and keep customers happy and coming back for more.

I choose option 3.

--------------------
--------Eric H. Bowen

Stop by my website: Streamliner Schedules - Historic timetables of the great trains of the past!

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Gilbert B Norman
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That is a relevant point, Mr. Bowen; give the Class I's payment for performance equal or greater what they would earn from expeditionsly moving (what at least two Western Class I's call) a "Z" train.

But somehow I think if there were to be an expansion of LD service, Congress and passenger train advocates, would whip out Article 2 of the May 1, 1971 Agreement, and otherwise direct those funds to something else such as shiny new trains.

Don't they look good coming off an assembly line here is the USA next to a photo op seeking pol!!!!

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4021North
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Perhaps why so many train riders don't contemplate expanding Amtrak substantially has to do with things having been the way they are for so long. For decades we've seen the number of places served by Amtrak slowly decline. If things stay the same for a long time people start to think of the status quo as rooted and unchanging. So when an organization like NARP comes along with a plan to expand a national passenger train network that many assumed was going to fade away, it's easy to think they're going in the wrong direction.

A lot of the ridicule that Amtrak is subjected to has to do with its tenuous hold on having train service at all. The poor or non-existent service at present is easily exploited as an excuse to get rid of Amtrak altogether -- to say that Amtrak today is such a small part of long-distance travel that who would feel the impact if it were to disappear?

But certain aspects of the situation, including continued ridership and support of Amtrak long distance trains, lead me to think Amtrak is at a sort of low point, rather than being something that doesn't make sense on its way out. Problems from which the absence of passenger train service results may weigh more than the burden of keeping Amtrak, though Amtrak is talked about more often. Our transportation system may be said to be unbalanced by way of over-reliance on highways and aviation. At some point, the efficiency of using trains to carry people over long distances will probably be more recognized and put into use than it is today. That is why to me an expanding Amtrak looks more likely than an Amtrak that goes away, and why NARP's goal for the end of the next forty years seems realistic.

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Gilbert B Norman
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quote:
Originally posted by Mike Smith:
Mr Norman:
The only way this works is for the government to double or triple track the existing routes.

Obviously, Mr. Smith, you recognize that if there is to be an expansion of any passenger service, there will need be expansion of track capacity. Secondly, there is only one source from which those funds will come - and that is the public trough.

I'm not sure NARP recognizes this little fact of life. The only reference I noted to track capacity was the FAQ that I pasted into an earlier posting. They seem to be suggesting that additional passenger trains WILL be hosted by the Class I's over lines that haven't seen such since A-Day, i.e. Overland Route Elburn to Borie, and if they don't move them efficiently and in the same manner the Central once moved the Century, the wrath of the US government will be breathing down their necks.

But you clearly have more intelligence than does anyone at NARP. I suppose some here think it was fortunate 40 years ago, a rich kid chose to blow his play money promoting something that the industry had laid the groundwork to be rid of, but I don't think any railroad managers saw it that way.

Of course, there have been publicly funded infrastructure improvements made to investor owned ROW's to enable passenger trains to be handled - and there will be more. But in these instances, most of the improvements are to support regional (commuter) operations and some short distance Corridors on the West Coast.

But no such programs are of the scope the 40,000 mile network NARP envisions. I contend that any funds spent, if the railroads would even accept them (which I highly doubt), would attract some additional passengers, but hardly enough to warrant the expenditure.

Lisa Myers will have a "field day'.

Posts: 9388 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kiernan
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As Mr. Norman knows, the rights-of-way in the West may be investor-owned, but they certainly weren't investor bought. The land grants to the railroads in the West were a direct subsidy, and they continute to be a direct subsidy. Doesn't BNSF make a lot of money from coal and oil? In many states, railroads can condem private property. Even if they can't, the state can condem it and give it to the railroad. But that's only fair--states regularly condem property for the trucking industry.

All transportation systems need subsidies. Without the Interstate highway system--paid for from the public trough--the trucking industry wouldn't exist. Without the public trough paying for local airports, and the transportation system around airports (BART), the airlines would have serious problems. Someone on this site pointed out how much Federal money went into keeping the Mississippi River navigable.

The railroads are just like any other business in the world, they're not at all shy about asking for a handout from the government. Railway-highway grade crossing signals are paid for mostly by the public trough. Who pays for grade separations? Who is going to pay for the New Mexico Rail Runner expansion to Santa Fe? If BNSF thought they could make money at it would they be shy about asking for permission to use the track at night to move freight?

We all line up at the public trough. We all want benefits from the government. Sure, we've "paid" for them over the years, but we all want them. The railroads have "paid" for their trips to the trough, too. And they're going to continue to make them. When I worked for the Federal Highway Administration in Baton Rouge, I went to a meeting in New Orleans about the freight traffic blocking up the streets. The railroads weren't looking for investors to pay for a railroad bypass of New Orleans, they were looking for the government to pay for it.

The most important thing about the NARP map, though, is that if you don't shoot for the moon, you're not even going to make it into orbit.

--------------------
Kiernan

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Gilbert B Norman
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I agree with everything you state in your mature and respectful posting, Mr. Kiernan.

There is no question whatever, NARP has learned how to "play the Washington game" - I may have called Tony Haswell a rich kid, but I never called him stupid.

Transportation interests have and will continue to line up at the feeding trough - and those "vittles' always come with strings attached. Away from railroads, let us remember that Uncle Sam can requisition any commercial aircraft or maritime vessel for a rather low standard of "National Defense' (Uncle can even requisition foreign flagged vessels where US shipping has been sold to foreign interests; case in point the "tonnage" conveyed from US flagged Sea-Land to Danish flagged Maersk).

Even though "my" MILW did not benefit one penny from land grants for Lines West (they did for other lines West of "Big Mo'), I think the land grants were paid in full for years of handling government shipments at bargain basement rates.

Now to the issue dear at hand to this Forum - intercity passenger trains (remember, volks, I ride 'em too - "more positives than negatives"). Yes, by grace of joining Amtrak, the railroads were instantly and without any further arduous trips "to the courthouse", i.e. regulatory agencies, relieved of the real, i.e. $$$ out of the cookie jar, passenger train losses.

But how long is proper "penance" for this relief?

As I have noted, I was in railroad management on A-Day. By no means was I high up (entry level Internal Auditor) but I did have informal contact with those who were "higher up' and the only consensus I could gather regarding Amtrak was negative. However, it was to be all over in about five years. Amtrak was to be a means to instantly kill some 66% of the intercity service (that it did) and to provide for an orderly means to discontinue the rest.

That of course meant "buying time' for the NECorridor (I think it would have been folded into the RRR '73, or Conrail enabling legislation) and to conduct a "spruce 'em up', a marketing campaign, and otherwise present a 'well we tried" case prior to hanging up the Adios drumheads.

Needless to say that was not the outcome; the roads are now burdened with over saturated ROW's operating passenger trains that "don't exactly' pay their way - and now an advocacy group that seems to know how to play the game better than most is pushing for more of 'em!!!

I guess there are differing viewpoints between contemporary railroad managers and most here at the Forum.

Disclaimer: while author @ age 66 does not seek to return to the railroad industry in any capacity, nevertheless holds positions in BNI and NSC

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wayne72145
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The NARP passenger rail map is a nice dream and I'd love to see it happen but who's going to pay for it? I see the route from Medford to Eugene and since I live on that line I know for certain that NARP hasn't done their home work or they are just shooting high to get membership.
That line is an old SP line that abandoned passenger service in 1955. Even in those days it couldn't average 30 miles per hour. Now the track belongs to Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad. It serves the logging and lumber industry well but I have my doubts that this track would servive another "Spotted Owl" hit.
The City of Medford did a "study" around 2000 to see if they could have passenger service to Eugene and found that it would cost nearly a Billion dollars to up grade the track. I dont know how much the "study" cost the tax payer but I know that they could have found out fast from talking to COandP railroad.
The two counties this line would serve doesn't have a population of 250,000. That's why I can say without a doubt that NARP is unrealistic. It would be a nice idea to have a steam locomotive to run that track once a year, it is beautiful country but I have my doubts you could fill even that train.

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Kiernan
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Mr. Norman, I completely agree with you regarding corridors. I firmly believe that the ftuure of Amtrak is with corridors, and that long distance trains are dead. It's just a question of when we'll have the funeral.

I remember years ago--I must have been in high school--when Southern Pacific wanted to abandon the passenger service that is now Caltrain. We're fortunate that they didn't. Caltrain is just the kind of corridor that we need. I'm amazed at the growth of the Amtrak-California trains, particularly the Capitol Corridor. I've heard that there is an active group that is trying to get trains running in the corridor between El Paso and Denver. There's certainly passenger demand on that route--three bus lines run back and forth almost full.

It's good to read your stuff.

--------------------
Kiernan

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Gilbert B Norman
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Thank you very much, Mr. Kiernan.

All I'm trying to do, as a railroad industry observer of more than fifty years standing, is to share the "facts of life" to our younger members here.

To this day, I believe DPM "had it right" during April 1959,

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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
Obviously, Mr. Smith, you recognize that if there is to be an expansion of any passenger service, there will need be expansion of track capacity. Secondly, there is only one source from which those funds will come - and that is the public trough.

I'm not sure NARP recognizes this little fact of life.

NARP has been advocating public funding for rail infrastructure for at least as long as I've been a member.

If anyone wants to see a more detailed plan, rather than just a map, see NARP's Passenger Rail Revitalization Plan. The link leads to a summary page, from which you can download a 76 page detailed report.

My criticisms of NARP mostly focus on its poor communication to the public at large. A prime example is their failure to make a link from their "vision" page to the "plan" page.

--------------------
The Del Monte Club Car

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George Harris
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Mr. Norman, consider this possibility: Perhaps when thinking on many things such as the requirement to provide passenger service as a relic of permission to build in the first place and the land grants as a long since paid for historical curiosity, (and I agree totally that this was probably one of the best deals the government ever made and in total costs some of the most expensive right of way ever obtained) consider the results if the attitude becomes, well the railroads are a private business with no real service to the general public, so they have no more right to priority at a road crossing than a truck in a side road. Let them wait their turn, or put up traffic lights where they get a light cycle, and no more. Can't happen? We are dealing with politics here. Anything can happen if you offend the wrong people. Too much insistance on "we are private we owe nothing for the public good" can result in, a "if you owe nothing, you get nothing" response. It is too easy for those in charge to get too isolated from reality.
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Gilbert B Norman
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The Bush administration, in its 526 days remaining in office, has hotter potatoes to address; the '05 "rationalize' initiative, when they thought they had some political capital to expend, was a flop; they have moved on.

Congress (both houses) wants to ensure that their 218+51 stands; the program is quite cheap (I estimate LD's account for some $300M of the $1.4B appropriation) and seems to attract much constituent attention - even if for nothing more than take Jr. down to the station to see the train (if scheduled during the daylight and on time). The +1 of Mr. Pullman's 218+51+1 is really meaningless - no President is about to veto an "omnibus' spending bill, where any Amtrak appropriation would simply be a deeply buried line item.

But at present the Class I industry is not seeking public funding for infrastructure expansion, and I think one such deterrent would be the "strings attached" - one such string could be a key insertion of "and passenger' into the provisions. To impose upon the roads a requirement that they host additional passenger trains on their existing infrastructure would be tantamount to a "takings' and would escalate what I presently believe is considered within the industry a "nuisance" to that of a "threat".

So in this environment the existing LD's will continue to chug on - or at least until the equipment exceeds its economic life.

However as one has likely surmised, I would not hold out too much hope for any expansion of the system, and in my personal opinion there is no need for such.

While I'm hardly passionate to the extent some here appear to be (while I once was in another life, I'm no longer of "ride just to ride' persuasion), I'll still ride 'em when convenient, but I think that largely means Auto Train on trips to Florida (one or two a year in Season for the past 25+ years) if I have reason to first drive out to the Northeast.

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Mr. Toy
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Sorry, GBN, but I think George has the stronger argument here. The "takings" argument would be very hard to prove. Remember, taking is perfectly proper as long as just compensation is provided. If the public is providing funds that will allow passenger and freight trains to operate without undue interference with each other, the legal conditions should be satisfied.

And frankly, under those conditions the host railroads would have absolutely nothing to complain about. It would be a win-win situation. In your scenario, somebody has to lose. But that need not be so. In California UP has allowed public funding for track upgrades with just the results I have described, proving that it not only can work, but DOES work!

Whether in business, politics, or personal relationships, everyone gets farther when we take the attitude that "we're all in this together" than if we say "I've got mine and the rest of you can go away." (An authoritative statement on this principle can be found in the Sermon on the Mount.)

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