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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » NARP Passenger Rail Map (Page 2)

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Author Topic: NARP Passenger Rail Map
4021North
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According to my online check Medford has a population of about 74,000 and Eugene, 138,000. So I would guess it could support modest passenger service (how much road/air traffic is there between Eugene and Medford), and also willing to bet that similar-sized city pairs already do.

Moreover I don't think one can say NARP's whole map is a pipe dream based on one or two routes that don't seem feasible. I don't think the Medford-Eugene corridor should be taken to represent the whole country; how about ones like the Sunset or the Desert Wind?

Also, let's keep in mind the maps that show the diminishing extents of Amtrak since the 1970s; NARP's new map was supposed to be a specific follow-on to those. Why is alarm being raised over a couple of new routes that have "never seen passenger service," as if proposing even one new route is unthinkable? What really concerns me is the dramatic picture of decline that those maps portray. I'm glad to see NARP's response.

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

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Mr. Toy
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After my last post, I read something in the NARP newsletter tonight that was rather interesting. It suggested that the freight railroads reluctance to accept federal funds isn't due to the attachment strings (passenger trains). Rather they are worried that Uncle Sam might tip the balance in favor of their competitors, depending on how the funds are allocated.

I can see one way that concern might be justified. Suppose there are two competing freight lines, one on BNSF and the other on UP (for example). If one of those routes carries Amtrak while the other does not, the route that carries Amtrak would likely get more funding, leaving the other at a competitive disadvantage.

That's not to say these things can't be worked out. In business and politics everything is negotiable. But it does complicate matters.

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Mr. Toy
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quote:
Originally posted by 4021North:
According to my online check Medford has a population of about 74,000 and Eugene, 138,000.

I think Medford (pop 73,960) is Oregon's fourth largest city. That's not saying a whole lot, but add in Medford's immediate neighbor Central Point (16,550) and you start approaching the 100,000 mark. And don't forget that Medford sits between two other small cities, Ashland (a college and tourist town - pop 21,430) and Grants pass (30,930). Add in a number of nearby small towns totaling between 8,000-10,000 people, plus rural areas, and we're talking about a population well over 150,000.

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

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delvyrails
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Even if the corridor has a couple hundred thousand residents, how many would travel over 100 miles in that corridor daily (2%?) and how many of those (typically about the same level?) would choose a single train over driving, flying or buses?

Are there perhaps much bigger waiting markets with better existing track elsewhere?

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wayne72145
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Douglas and Josephine counties, which take in Medford, Ashland, Grants Pass and Roseburg have a year 2000 pop of 175,000 and growing fast. These is nothing I'd like to see more than a Medford--Eugene rail line. I would even like to see a regular Amtrak Bus service on that run. It would serve me at least 6 times a year but I'm only one of 175 000.
That was the only line on the map I knew anything about. It would be one of the most scenic lines in the country, thats for sure and I wish it were possible.
I am delighted to have found Amtrak late in life, I enjoy it so much. I visit my children in Boston and Tampa 3 to 5 times a year and almost always use the rail now. I wish the New Orleans--Orlando run would open again.

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palmland
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A quick comment on Mr. Norman's class 1 railroads' track capacity (or lack of) argument for additional passenger trains.

Someone needs to do a better job of working with the railroads to maximize use of mainlines that are underutilized and rerouting service over them. Two examples;

1. Why not work with CSX to upgrade the S line where freight traffic is minimal in lieu of the congested A line that has the Meteor, Palmetto, and Auto Train.

2. We're on a western trip and today drove beside the UP (DRGW) line following the Arkansas river over Tennessee Pass. The Royal Gorge used to run on this route. It of course is 'rail banked" and very rusty. But it is in good shape and at the summit I noted 136 lb welded rail (1995). We also followed the mainline from Salt Lake city to eastern Utah. It is double track all the way to Helper, UT. While single track beyond there, I noted that some of the passing sidings are filled only with empty auto rack cars presumably being stored (railroads collect money from Trailer Train for doing this). Makes you wonder about the CZ.

3. As we know, BNSF will be pulling freight off the SWC route from Trinidad, CO to Albuquerque leaving a passenger train route with no freight interference.

Surely someone can connect the dots on these undertilized lines to put passenger trains where the freights ain't.

How about a second train on the SWC line that splits at LaJunta for the Royal Gorge route and San Francisco. The rest of the train continues to Flagstaff and Williams Jct and then down to Phoenix.

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PullmanCo
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Mr Palmland,

As Mr Norman pointed out, the investor-owned railroads will be quite happy to run Amtrak ... when Amtrak pays the same for its time on the rails as any other customer.

Amtrak for years has lived on its mandate of access. Until RPSA 70 sunsetted in 1997 or so, it also had the right of "access at the prior level" meaning UP, ATSF, BN, SP, CSX, all had to give it the same rights they gave their own passenger trains pre A-Day.

Now, Amtrak can demand access, but it is legally foreclosed from "access at the prior level," sans money. So, the containers, UPS, and anyone who pays over Amtrak gets in line ahead of Amtrak. Further, Amtrak, if it has an internal problem (mechanical), and delays itself, has to wait for a dispatcher to find room on the trainsheet.

218+51+1: Amtrak needs funding for what Mr Gunn called the State of Good Repair, and for making the reasonable and proper payments that don't have various trains about to compete with steam speeds again!

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Ocala Mike
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Palmland wrote:

"1. Why not work with CSX to upgrade the S line where freight traffic is minimal in lieu of the congested A line that has the Meteor, Palmetto, and Auto Train."

Someone's already worked with CSX to move most of the freight traffic over the next few years TO the S line FROM the A line. Reason: To enable commuter rail from Deland to Poinciana along the A line, the existence of which is looking like a reality. So, you can probably forget any passenger moves down the S line anytime soon, and any relief for the A line will be tempered by the addition of the commuter trains, unless more actual track capacity is built.

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

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RRRICH
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Will someone please refresh my memory? Again, what does "218+51+1" mean? I know that was explained in an earlier topic, but I don't remember where that discussion was.

Concerning the commuter rail on the "A" line through Orlando, I know the service has been voted for by the various municipalities through which the service would run, but to be honest, I'll be surprised if it is ever built. Ever since I've lived in this area (almost 15 years), the commuter rail has been talked about, voted on, approved, scrapped, talked about again, voted on again, approved again, and scrapped again........

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Gilbert B Norman
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Very quickly until Mr. Pullman again visits the forum, at which time I will delete this message.

218+51+1 comprises the legislative majority needed in each "body" in order to enact any legislation, i.e. 218/435 Members of Congress + 51/100 United States Senators + 1/1 President of the United States, comprise a majority in each such 'body".

It is indeed a descriptive term, and having personal knowledge of Mr. Pullman's educational and professional backgrounds, it is no wonder he "picked it up along the way".

Secondly, to address the matter of utilizing lightly used lines for increased passenger service, such as the D&RGW Royal Gorge, the ATSF line acquired by New Mexico, as well as the Rock Island Chi to Omaha, would of course be a more economical alternative to building I-80 across Pennsylvania, but such would result in mighty, MIGHTY, costly passenger trains with no assurance of public acceptance.

In short, here comes Lisa Myers (I can remember 20 years ago when she started out with NBC she was relatively "slim"; in fact back then she actually resembled a girl living in New York I socialized with)!!!!!!

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rchina
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On another thread in the past 18 months I advised that the 'very busy' lines of Class I's would have serious problems with additional Amtrak trains. But if they made their ROW available for Amtrak to construct, operate and dispatch trains on their own track they may find that acceptable.

Of course, there would be many locations where it would be necessary to have the Class I handle interchanges, xovers and access to existing stations. But an arrangement where Amtrak was a separate operation which did not interfere with freight trains for 80-90% of its operation might be acceptable. Complicated, yes, but Amtrak could use existing ROW and minmize costs.

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PullmanCo
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Mr Norman said it so well that I won't let him purge his note.

As long as Amtrak is a creature of the Executive and Legislative branches, we will go through the funding cycle every year.

The cynic and pessimist in me wonders how anyone can think Amtrak will get real $$$ anytime soon, given the track records of the Legislative (regardless of party in the Majority) and the Executive.

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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Robert L
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Everyone keeps talking "access" and "the costs to the Class I's" to run Amtrak trains per NARP's new national map vision.
My question is: Does anyone know what these "costs," or price points, are that,
1) Amtrak is currently paying,
2) that the Class I's see is a more realistic cost, that they want Amtrak to pay for access and on-time performance, and
3) would there be another actual dollar cost for passenger priority service?
It seems to me that freight rates may not apply since the number of cars per Amtrak train set [length] have been reduced over the years and Amtrak could move through their slot faster than a slower longer freight.
Would appreciate exact dollar figures from some of my more knowledgeable webmates.

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Gilbert B Norman
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You make good points immediately above, Mr. Robert L.

However, the contractual remuneration rates between Amtrak and any road are proprietary in nature and are not publicly disclosed. Referring to either Amtrak's or a Class I's Annual Report (public documents) or even the more detailed in the case of the Class 1, the 10-K, will not yield any pertinent information.

What is fair remuneration is sort of a "which came first the chicken or the egg" question. So far as Congress and passenger advocacy groups go, the existing "incremental cost', or how much time does a Train Dispatcher spend moving Amtrak over the road, is quite enough. Congress says "we struck a good deal, and "sorry 'bout that" they once agreed to the "rights of access' provisions...it keeps needed funding down". Advocates seem to be of the thought that railroads had some obligation "from on high" as their social duty or whatever to run passenger trains on into perpetuity, and RPSA '70 (Amtrak) relieved them of the cost of so doing.

Naturally as a railroad securities investor (positions in BNI NSC), and one who rides only when I need go somewhere and Amtrak is convenient, to me fair remuneration is whatever the "gross margin' of operating the highest priority freight train ("Z" train) would be, but it would be fair to have most of that remuneration built into performance payments.

In short, money talks, UNOWAT walks.

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Mr. Toy
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Robert, I don't know offhand what Amtrak is paying the host railroads, but as Mr. Norman said it is supposed to be the incremental cost of adding the Amtrak train to the system as opposed to an equal portion of the total costs of running every train in the system. These are negotiated with each railroad individually. But I might add that Amtrak also pays additional money in the form of incentives when trains run on time. If every Amtrak train ran on time, the incentives would be roughly equal to the basic access payment. In other words, if every Amtrak train ran on time, the host railroads would earn twice the basic access rate. I believe Amtrak also collects penalties for late trains.

BNSF is the only host railroad that considers the incentives worth pursuing. David Gunn once said that BNSF considers Amtrak to be a "profit center" and not a burden.

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delvyrails
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Robert,

According to a series of postings a year or so ago on another site, Amtrak pays between $5.50 and $6.50 per train mile for access. Any incentive payments are in addition to that.

A string of other cost-per-train-mile figures were stated around that time. The gist is that most LD trains will cost in the $20-40 per train mile range for direct train costs. The highest paying LD train is Auto Train, gets about $90 revenue per train mile, but of course its costs (long trains, two dedicated terminals, etc.) are much higher than for other LD trains.

The average revenue for LD coach passengers is about 12 cents per passenger mile, for sleeper passengers about 28 cents, IIRC.

When these unit costs and revenues are projected (very approximately of course)on to a real train, it becomes evident that Amtrak needs revenue from sources other than coach and sleeper passengers to supplement its train revenues from passengers alone.

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MOKSRail
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quote:
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.

Gee, if SP and the powers that be took the attitude some on this "rail" forum took, we wouldn't have that Caltrain corridor now, would we?

Denver to El Paso? That's some 695-mile "corridor." It's more like Chicago-Dallas.

The route is more like a medium LD route, which certainly has potential as do all other medium- and long LD routes.

LD trains contrary to the limited view are hardly "dead."

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