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Author Topic: Network Growth Strategy - Redux
Gilbert B Norman
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The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest "vision" from One Mass. Looks like a dust off of the W-Gang's Y2K "Network Growth Strategy" - only this time instead of being focused around "Mixto Diarios", it is around ostensible Corridors:

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  • WASHINGTON—Seeking to attract millions more passengers, Amtrak is preparing a large-scale overhaul of its national network aimed at boosting passenger service in the South and West—but at the expense of long-haul routes beloved by train buffs and their allies in Congress.

    The goal is to revamp the way Amtrak runs trains along the aging network of national routes it already maintains, with more frequent service between pairs of cities in the fastest-growing parts of the country, such as Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., or Cleveland and Cincinnati. Running more trains over shorter distances would allow Amtrak to better serve those commercial corridors where rail can compete with flying and driving, railroad officials said.

    But that new service could come at the cost of curtailing some long-distance routes, where storied trains like the Empire Builder and the Southwest Chief have small but fervent bases of support and lineage stretching back to the golden age of railroads.

Posts: 9391 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Vincent206
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What is Anderson's plan to gain additional access from the Class One railroads? It cost WSDOT over $800 million in track improvements, courtesy of ARRA, to get 2 additional roundtrips between Seattle and Portland. What will the price be for additional runs between Charlotte and Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans, Chicago and Kansas City, Los Angeles and Tucson?

I fully agree that Amtrak and the states should be building local, high(er) speed corridors that can be served with multiple daily frequencies. But if the plan is to eliminate the LD network and then offer once a day service on the highest ridership remnants of the LD network, that plan is surely going to fail.

I'd like to see an estimate of the cost to upgrade the rail infrastructure between Pittsburgh and Washington DC for 3 daily high(er) speed roundtrips. It surely won't be paid for by the money saved by eliminating the Capitol Limited.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Quick poll: which is more absurd: this or NGS?

My vote: This

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palmland
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Fred Frailey, in his Trains.com blog discusses Amtrak's new direction. I didn't catch it in the WSJ article but he says their strategy may be unveiled as early as next month.

I think all can agree more regional corridor service in the fastest growing parts of the country makes sense. But, even if they keep a few of the LD trains, no one yet has the answer as how do you fund it. It won't be by eliminating a handful of LD trains.

Fred gets to the point of the problem:

"There are problems, the first of which seems insurmountable. Amtrak’s experience in starting new services or increasing frequencies is that it must pay to expand capacity on host railroads. Usually the bill is a Christmas wish list submitted by the Class I, CSX Transportation and Union Pacific being the worst offenders. Still, it’s their property and their capacity that Amtrak seeks to soak up."

But, as he says, this is a debate that needs to be had. And not just among us railfans.

It'll be interesting to see what Amtrak proposes. I still remember that night in early 1971 on the evening news when Transportation Secretary Volpe first produced the route map of Amtrak. This may be round two. Too bad noted rail executive and historian Jim McClellan is not around to see it. He reportedly was the major force behind that first route map.

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Gilbert B Norman
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From Hilton West Boca---

First, my Holiday Inn Express from prior years' stays has "gone to pot". The rate here is much higher, but so far, so much nicer.

Here is my comment made at the Fred Frailey blog linked by Mr. Palmland:
  • Lest we forget, there are provisions within RPSA70 and the subsequent Agreement with the roads that stated the roads would maintain "the same degree of utility" as existed prior to signing. (can't check the exact language, as it's back home in Chicago and I'm now in Macon GA enroute to Fla).

    Clearly no one chose to enforce. Witnesses the IC's "emaciation" of their double track Main thereby limiting expansion through the "University Corridor". Witness further same on the MILW Milwaukee-Minneapolis. Where would "four a day" operating at 90mph go? And even the GM&O, where the doulble track was "singled" on the "eve" during 1969. Now here comes the much touted "HSR" which to me is simply an additional route for the UP to handle freight traffic into Chicago (lest we forget. they already have one from the STL Gateway - the C&EI), but hey let's have another - with the taxpayers footing the bill (ARRA09)

    Chi-Indy; chopping up the CC&STL killed the direct route over which the rails would have been speed competitive with highway.

    In short, the damage in the Midwest is irreparable. Forget HSR except maybe CHI Milw.

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palmland
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GBN, it is a shame the Big Four route was wiped out. The Riley made the trip in less than 6 hours - behind steam! The Cardinal takes about 3 hours longer. About the only mid west routes that might have potential without massive upgrades, outside the one you mention, is where a high speed multi track main has been single tracked. The basic infrastructure is still there. The IC to southern Illinois and the NYC west of Cleveland come to mind. Good luck getting the CN and NS to cooperate.

How,was the A-T trip?

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George Harris
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Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois all had the lines in place to create the ideal short-medium multi-frequency trains that should have had respectable if not large ridership. All that was needed was to develop the freight alternatives, most of which have occurred and do the signal and track upgrades to allow consistent 90 mph or higher speed limits. Most of these lines were sufficiently straight that enough of their distances could be operated at that speed, unlike, for example the NS ex-Southern Atlanta-Birmingham where even the 79 mph is meaningless thanks to the almost continuous 40 to 50 mph curves.

Alas, much of these lines are now gone.

Even now, given any imput from the state of Tennessee and the city of Memphis, a respectably fast day train Chicago-Memphis could be added, and it could well simply be an extension of a Chicago-Carbondale train.

As to Chicago-St. Louis, surely the contract amoung Amtrak, the State of Illinois and Union Pacific should be public record. Be interesting to read. From what I have seen so far looks like the people on the state of Illinois were such that any description of their situation could be categorized as libel.

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Gilbert B Norman
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quote:
Originally posted by palmland:
How,was the A-T trip?

From Ocala Mike's home Ocala--'

No AT this year. It was going to be $975 - and I just plain pushed the "obscenity button". The net saving in miles driven for me would have been 395, and at that rate, I'll just drive.

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Gilbert B Norman
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From Holiday Inn Express Macon--

Looks like 52(26) will arrive LOR 931A, schedule 859A.

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yukon11
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For the short to medium distance corridors, I think the trains would have to be daylight only. I wouldn't want more than 6-8 hrs on the train for any leg of the route, with good overnight lodging at each end. Possibly something could be worked out to get the train into Spokane and Salt Lake City at reasonable hours.

I don't think it would work for most LD routes, such as the E. Builder. Unless, of course, you could have plenty of hotels/motels in towns such as Stanley, ND, Shelby, MT, Libby, MT, Pasco, WA and others. I don't see the LD routes lasting unless each state, where the LD train runs, is willing to pick up the tab.

Richard

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