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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Southwest Chief "In The X-Hair" (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Southwest Chief "In The X-Hair"
sojourner
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Palmland, you're right; I for one am not wedded to Amtrak and am happy to have trains, private or public. But when are they coming? I thought there was to be a train Orlando to Tampa ages ago, but there isn't. That one little Sun line, whatever it is, that got put in in Winter Park is very local, commuters only. PS I think a train ought to go all the way to St Augustine. One of my favorite towns.
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Ocala Mike
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sojourner, you're conflating SunRail and Brightline, I think. As for me, I'm more concerned with the downgrading of Florida LD service.
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Gilbert B Norman
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There is an authoritative report at another site that the Boy Scouts' Philmont Ranch will not open this Summer. This is account the risk of fire damage in Northern New Mexico.

If there was ever an opportunity for Amtrak to "Tomahawk Chop the Chief", this has got to be it. They could maybe avoid the 180 Day Notice citing the possibility of fires.

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Gilbert B Norman
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quote:
Originally posted by sojourner:
I thought there was to be a train Orlando to Tampa ages ago, but there isn't.

Ms. Sojourner, is not 91-92, Silver Star, a train?
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Ocala Mike
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It's a train in a sense - I think Margaret is thinking about HSR between the two points, a la I-4.
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Gilbert B Norman
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A staff reported article appears in the Albuquerque Journal that summarizes more objectively then some material generated by the advocacy groups regarding the Chief.
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Vincent206
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My last trip on the Southwest Chief was in January 2016. I enjoyed that trip but it was easy to notice that the Chief's infrastructure was worn out. Most of my rail trips are between Seattle and Portland, which might be the most up-to-date and well maintained 79mph rail infrastructure in America. The Southwest Chief, by comparison, runs on tracks that are from another era. I can understand Amtrak's dilemma: finding money to fix an old rail plant that only serves 2 trains a day is difficult and Congress isn't going to drop hundreds of millions of dollars into Amtrak's lap. But Amtrak's solution to this problem, as spelled out in the Anderson Presentation, is a terrible way to fix the problem.

For decades Amtrak has been calling for states to pitch in and help with the long distance trains. Since 2016, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico have collaborated on finding money to get the rails fixed with federal and local dollars. Much of the trackage has already been fixed in KS and CO. Another grant has been earned to improve most of the remaining bolted tracks in NM and fix other bits of ancient infrastructure. But now Amtrak is balking and threatening to annul parts of the Chief because there isn't a total solution to fix all the problems.

Amtrak has always operated on an incremental improvement basis. There never is enough money to make all the problems go away. And in this case, the states have stepped up. In the future, I can't imagine any state would be willing to put money on the table and shovels in the ground if Amtrak decides to replace train service with buses on the KS to NM corridor.

On the last page of the Anderson Presentation, the slide reads "Amtrak wants to partner with the states to expand corridor services to and from this corridor". If Amtrak is serious about partnering with the states to expand corridor service, they had better come up with a better solution than 7 hour bus rides.

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sojourner
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Mr Norman, I was talking about that Sun Line, or whatever that private rail service is. I thought it was initially supposed to go all the way to Tampa but then it didn't. In fact, I thought there was supposed to be more service, but then the (Republican) governor shot it down.

Unrealiable LD trains is not something commuters and other more local travelers really want between Orlando and Tampa. Last time I took the Silver Star, 4 years ago, it was over 3 hours let getting to Lakeland, and that was NORTHBOUND from Miami!!!

Vincent, I so agree with your last paragraph. And, in general, when the government negotiates something, it should not reneg except in extreme circumstances.

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palmland
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One of the towns that will lose their train on the SWC route is Las Vegas, NM. Alan Affeldt, the owner of the Plaza hotel there (and La Posada in Winslow) is restoring the former Harvey House, La Castaneda, in Las Vegas.

This really is a great small town that apparently has their hopes for a renaissance pinned on the restoration of it as indicated by the Mayor in
this article.:

“The renovation of this historic hotel helps make this a more attractive rail destination,” she said in an email. “It is our hope that La Castañeda will serve as an anchor business for the renovation of Las Vegas’ railroad business district, and that the railroad district will in turn be a portal into Las Vegas for railroad tourists visiting this historic city.”

While some may think this is wishful thinking, they should go to Winslow. That far less attractive town really has had a rebirth thanks to the tourist dollars La Posada brings as well as from the art work of his wife, Tina Mion.

With this is mind I have written Mr. Affeldt and provided various articles and commentary on the subject, including Anderson's presentation. Knowing him, I suspect he is already working with his congressional delegation to make their voice heard.

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Vincent206
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The 2017 TIGER grant, awarded to Colfax County NM, is available online. The document shows how much work the states have put into preserving the Southwest Chief and what the latest grant will repair. If Amtrak pulls out at this point, no state should ever trust the Anderson/Amtrak regime again.
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yukon11
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Mr. Palmland, if the SW Chief is still around in a few years, I might be able get in a visit Las Vegas, NM. Also, possibly a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec if I have the time.

Does anyone know why the SW Chief doesn't stop in Santa Fe? I think it would be a much more popular stop than, say, Albuquerque. Santa Fe has a great opera house and a fine symphony, playhouse, the Santa Fe RR arts district, fine restaurants, and other attractions.

Richard

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palmland
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Vincent, thanks for that impressive write up. I’ll forward it to Mr. Affeldt.

Richard, the Cumbres and Toltec is my favorite Narrow gauge operation. Be sure to ride eastbound from Chama up the ruling grade. There are no deluxe accommodations there but the place just reeks of a real railroad operation rather than the tourist excursion that it is. Unlike the Durango and Silverton you can wander the property at will.

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by yukon11:
Does anyone know why the SW Chief doesn't stop in Santa Fe?

Because Santa Fe is at the end of a short branch line. The "Rail Runner" commuter service goes there, partly on the AT&SF passenger main, part on a new line, and part on the Lamy to Santa Fe branch. No main line train has ever gone to Santa Fe.

By the way, would the AT&SF be some sort of unique case in that it serves or did serve all the points in its corporate name, (does it still serve Atchison KS? ) but none of them were on their main line, and Topeka was the only one that was served by any of their through main line passenger trains, and not all those that went west out of Kansas City.

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PullmanCo
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The good news is Kansas ended FY18 with $300M in operating surplus.

The bad news is the State Supreme Court said the amount of money the legislature pumped into the K-12 was about $500M under the target.

I don't think Kansas will actually fund the Hutchinson-CO state line track improvement job for the BNSF anytime soon.

As for those who think 3-4 could be re routed onto the Transcon, If I were one of Mr Buffett's managers, I'd be saying "cash up front, please". Amtrak walked away from the San Francisco Chief and ATSFs Transcon 47 years ago.

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

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PullmanCo
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The ATSF merged into the BN over 20 years ago. BNSF was bought by Warren Buffett a few years back. It's a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

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

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