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Author Topic: Save the Sunset (a new movement)
Steve O.
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Hey all,

Since I just have not heard much information regarding the resumption of Sunset Limited service between NOL and ORL from anyone....and the information shared by AMTRAK has been vague at best...I have taken it upon myself to start a new grassroots campaign...a movement, if you will...to spark more public and civic interest in this train. I call it SAVE THE SUNSET. It's pretty basic currently...just a basic web page...but I have bigger goals for this.

I am starting the promotional segment of this campaign in two steps initially:

1) Stickers. I have ordered a first shipment of 150 which I should be getting in about three weeks. I have made two different designs. I am letting everyone know that if you send me a self addressed stamped envelope, I will mail you one of each. If that sounds interesting to you, shoot me an email, and I will give you my address. One of them says "SAVE THE SUNSET" in big print and the other slightly smaller one says "RAIL UP!". My web page address is printed in small font below the main titles.

2) A "Rail Up" drive between New Orleans and Jacksonville this summer. I will be stopping at the CVB or Chamber of Commerce at every city that the Sunset served between NOL and JAX to spread the world of my cause.

This is entirely non profit. I am doing this because I want to and because I think it's important. Honestly, I don't like chances of the Sunset continuing service long term without expansion to Florida or daily service or some catalyst like that. I will do everything in my power to not let the past go down the drain.

If you'd like to see my progress thus far, please visit my temporary site. I'll be getting some friends of mine who are web designers involved at a later date so I can start a proper web site:

Save The Sunset

And shoot me an email if you'd like my mailing address for the stickers once I get them: saveoursunset@gmail.com


Thanks a lot!


Steve

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

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

Posts: 135 | From: Atlanta, GA / New Orleans, LA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SunsetLtd
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The website looks good. Hope there are other Sunset supporters here on this board!

--------------------
www.youtube.com/Amsunset

www.facebook.com/kevinschillinger

Posts: 250 | From: Texas State University-San Marcos, Texas (Hometown El Paso, TX) | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
amtraksupporter
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Certainly this board has many Sunset supporters.

I have some framing issues.

The "Sunset" means different things to different people. In the old days, the "Sunset" always ended in New Orleans. New Orleans Jacksonville ran on the L&N and SAL as the "New Orleans-Florida Limited" and the "Gulf Wind" after the L&N and SAL streamlined it in 1949. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Wind

"Gulf Wind" was a great name for a train.

When Amtrak reinstated the route in 1993, it ran the Sunset Limited through New Orleans with no change of name.

People living in Louisiana, Southern Mississippi and Alabama, and Florida naturally connect "Sunset" and the train between New Orleans and Jacksonville because they used the name and understand the message, "Save the Sunset." People living elsewhere may not make this connection. Purists, for whom nothing is more sacrosanct than train and railroad names, for whom the route remains forever the Gulf Wind, likewise may not make the connection. So some people reading the phrase, "Save the Sunset," may not immediately get the cause.

On the other hand, outside a few railfans, if you said "Restore the Gulf Wind," no one would know what you were talking about.

Maybe "Save the Florida Sunset" would work. But, as language goes, it is relatively awkward while "Save the Sunset" is as a good a phrase as they come.

The phrase does raise questions over the scope of the cause. Between New Orleans and Los Angeles, daily service is at the top of the list of needs. Is that a cause of the "Save the Sunset" site? From the words it would seem like it should, but from the organizational rule that causes should limit their scope, maybe it shouldn't.

I saw on the web page, "Help restore New Orleans-Orlando Service!"

I see in the Spring/Summer 1994 schedule that the train ran to Miami. I think describing it as New Orleans-Miami would avoid the question of why stop in Orlando, even though there may be arguable reasons to do so.

I have read claims to the effect that disagreements over scheduling between Florida, Amtrak, the CSX, and others have kept restoration from moving forward. I never understood what was so bad about the old schedule. The losers seemed to be Mississippi and Alabama, and they weren't paying the bills. Are there some better schedules, or is this talk just an excuse?

I do think scheduling of a restored service merits public discussion along with how it would fit in with other Florida rail moves. Maybe someone can some up with some good ideas.


The web page noted how Sunset traffic fell following elimination of the Florida segment. I noticed in the 2003 schedule, you could still connect from the Coast Starlight to the Sunset. The Sunset has been screwed right and left on connections. I think the time has come to revive demands for a Sunset-Coast Starlight connection.

One of the most helpful things a web site about a specific train could is identify the positions that the relevant politicians have taken. It is possible to get locals to write letters and then collect and post the responses on the web to identify the bad guys and generate yet more letters. You can do the same in elections with people seeking seats.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Steve, while various postings of mine made in the past have established I do not support the goals of your advocacy inititiative, I respect and uphold (and once wore the uniform of our country and took an oath swearing to do so) your First Amendment right of free speech and petition of the government.

Unlike the originator of this material over at another site, you are not attempting to use the resources of this public forum, at which the owners want both sides of an issue to be addressed, as a platform for your advocacy.

I respect your maturity and your recognition of what "freedom of speech" means - and what it does not.

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Steve O.
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Thanks for the kind words, gentlemen. I appreciate it, believe me.

Like I said, this is just a start. I plan on getting numerous people and entities involved along the Gulf Coast regarding the plight of this train. I think it can be an issue for people in all parts of the country...maybe something for people to get behind if they see the value and meaning in it. If not....at least I have tried.

Basically, I'm tired of all the feet dragging and excuses which have seemed to hang its head over the Sunset Limited for the past three years.

Thanks again for the support.


Steve

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

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

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George Harris
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Suggest you take a look at this web site:
http://www.srrtc.org
They have a lot of inforation and studies involving New Orleans - Mobile - Flomaton - Pensacola.

If we want a reliable and reasonably fast train on this route, there is a lot of work needed as the line is currently fairly congested, not to mention the lack of signals and long distances between sidings for the 200 odd miles between Flomaton and Tallahassee.

In the dead flat terrain and sandy soil conditions prevailing, adding or lengthening sidings and connecting sidings between New Orleans Mobile - Flomaton to create short sections of double track would be relatively cheap, as long as you avoided needing to double any of the long bridges over the gulf inlets. Same applies to adding or lengthening sidings between Flomaton - Tallahassee - Jacksonville

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amtraksupporter
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I looked at http://www.srrtc.org and asked how can a commission formed by three states, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, plan for passenger service for Florida.

Those three states should have learned from their own experience in the Civil War that state planning for railroads is not a good idea. State boundaries are not good stopping points for railroads. National rail service has to be planned nationally.

After giving this issue some thought, I do believe that Amtrak service east of New Orleans is not an easy question . I have some doubts about the prior Amtrak implementation of this run.

Why haven't alternatives got more attention from the rail rider community?

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gp35
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quote:
Originally posted by George Harris:
Suggest you take a look at this web site:
http://www.srrtc.org
They have a lot of inforation and studies involving New Orleans - Mobile - Flomaton - Pensacola.

If we want a reliable and reasonably fast train on this route, there is a lot of work needed as the line is currently fairly congested, not to mention the lack of signals and long distances between sidings for the 200 odd miles between Flomaton and Tallahassee.

In the dead flat terrain and sandy soil conditions prevailing, adding or lengthening sidings and connecting sidings between New Orleans Mobile - Flomaton to create short sections of double track would be relatively cheap, as long as you avoided needing to double any of the long bridges over the gulf inlets. Same applies to adding or lengthening sidings between Flomaton - Tallahassee - Jacksonville

I never understood why this concept of connect
siding were so hard to understand by the shirt & ties at the major railroads.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Of interest, the May 12 card timetable now available at the website uses the phrase "modified service" with regards to the truncated route. The footnote "The Sunset Limited service between Orlando and New Orleans has been suspended. Future service has not been determined" appears unchanged.
Posts: 9388 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
amtraxmaniac
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Actually Mr Supporter, multi-state initiatives may be the future of rail service. If the feds are unwilling to step to the plate, states might. It's worked in the Northwest, midwest, and TX-OKL (Heartland Flyer). In my brainstorming, I thought that if Amtrak went under, the Starlight could be preserved through a similar tri state arrangement (CA-OR-WA are three VERY pro rail states).

I hope Amtrak as a National organization DOES step to the plate for the Sunset. But if they don't, if the states want to form a coalition, more power to them.

I think winning over communities will be the easy part. Even winning over some public officials shouldn't be too hard. The tough sell will be to CSX and Amtrak itself. Class I's and Amtrak itself can give a rip less about public sentiment.

--------------------
Patrick

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Gilbert B Norman
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Lest we forget, away from the Northeast and Empire Corridors, any corridor out there is funded from local sources. The NEC I guess can be justify its sole Federal funding because of the overwhelming "credit states", i.e. the taxpayers put far more in to the Federal till than they ever take out, save possibly RI, through which the Corridor traverses. Since NY is likely (I'll stand corrected on this one if need be) the largest credit state and so little of the Corridor (28 miles, 2 stations) is within such, I guess that justifies having an intrastate service, the Empire Corridor, paid out of the Federal till.

But we should note that the last Federally funded service inauguration of any note, was the Sunset East now 15 years ago - and that has been gone for coming up on three years, the incumbent (236 and a wake up) Administration has held that any new services will have predominately local funding, and no doubt the 44th President and 111th Congress will hold same.

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amtraxmaniac
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We'll see. I certainly hope not. Amtrak deserves federal funding well beyond what they are already receiving.

It is absolutely embarrasing how the most powerful country in the world has the most pitiful national rail in the industrialized world. While Europe and Asia have criss crossed their respective continents with high speed rail, we cannot even support 79 mph trains at a federal level. Sad, sad, sad. Our politicians continue to cave in to the greed of the special interests that line their campaign coffers (ie; big oil, airlines, even class I's)

--------------------
Patrick

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Gilbert B Norman
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A review of the language of the Sunset East suspension notices is revealing to me:

Fall 2005:

  • The Sunset Limited normally operates three days-weekly between Orlando and Los Angeles. due to severe infrastructure damage from Hurricane Katrina, Train 1 and 2 will originate and terminate in San Antonio TX until a date to be determined. Coach class and First class (Sleeping Car) service will be offered with food service being served from two areas in the Dining Car. No alternative transportation is available between San Antonio and Orlando via New Orleans.
Spring 2006:

  • The Sunset Limited normally operates three days-weekly between Orlando and Los Angeles. due to severe infrastructure damage from Hurricane Katrina, Train 1 and 2 will originate and terminate in New Orleans LA until a date to be announced. No alternative transportation is available between New Orleans and Orlando.
Spring 2007 to present:
  • The Sunset Limited between Orlando and New Orleans has been suspended. Future service has not been determined
Sure seems like we are looking at an outfit, and I mean Amtrak, that is hardly interested in restoring this service and if it is to return, it will only be because someone is holding the 357 and saying "make my day" to someone.

Might the advocacy groups think more favorable if the Spring 2009 Timetable contained wording to this effect?:

  • Although the Sunset Limited remains suspended between New Orleans and Orlando, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 provides for a study to be made regarding the return of Sunset Limited service between Sanford FL and New Orleans. While the results of this study have yet to be released, Amtrak is ready to work with all concerned parties such as our Host Railroad, CSX Transportation, the communities and their legislative representatives, and our own employees to ensure a swift restoration of service when such is possible.
Might that sound a bit more like "we're ready, willing and able; just give us the word".
Posts: 9388 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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