This is topic The Palmetto in forum Amtrak at RAILforum.

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Posted by yukon11 (Member # 2997) on :
In issue 255 of Passenger Train Journal they have a table showing ridership figures, for various Amtrak trains, for 2012 and 2013. Under long distance, the train with the greatest gain in ridership was the Palmetto (+ 22.1 %). The next best was the Coast Starlight (+ 11.4 %).

Conversely, the LD train that was the worst is the Silver Star (-8.3%).

Is there an easy explanation for this? The survey was taken over 3 months, Jan, Feb, & March. Could seasonal reasons be a factor? Possibly the different time tables for the Palmetto & Silver Star might come into play. I wish they would run a survey for a 12 month period rather than just 3 months/year.

Posted by George Harris (Member # 2077) on :
Is there info on the aggregate Palmetto+Star+Meteor? Otherwise what we could be seeing is simply changes in time of travel of a portion of the travelers. Likewise, what proportion of the travelers are doing their trip in one direction on one of the three and return on another?
Posted by notelvis (Member # 3071) on :
The Palmetto parallels I-95 which is probably the most heavily used interstate in the southeast. That it serves the en route cities during daylight hours has always made it a surprisingly popular train.

From having lived there in the 1990's and spending some evenings down at the depot, I know that Ft. Bragg and Pope Air Force Base have always produced a great deal of traffic in and out of Fayetteville, NC
Posted by George Harris (Member # 2077) on :
This is a route that begs for more trains. A re-double tracking of the former ACL main would also be in order for the sake of reliability, and some increase in overall speed as well. There are enough good sized places along the way that you should have repectable ridership on multiple trains. The ridership would probably consist primarily of a lot of overlapping trips by people making short and medium length trips.
Posted by yukon11 (Member # 2997) on :
I have to agree, George.

With the very positive ridership figures, I wonder if it would be possible to consolidate the Palmetto and Silver Star into one train, which would travel all the way to Miami. As David suggests, have the new train schedule similar to the Palmetto which would mean mainly daylight hours through the Carolinas.

Have a 2nd, corridor train for the Southern Pines to Savannah route.

Posted by George Harris (Member # 2077) on :
Consolidation is not the need. More trains is the need.
Posted by Gilbert B Norman (Member # 1541) on :
Somehow, I think the CSX decision to abandon the ex-SAL Norlina Sub will go down as a 'bonehead'. While of course SAL hardly had as favorable a profile as does the ACL considering how it runs along the 'foot of the Piedmont' rather than across the Tidewater plain, it was abandoned when it should have been apparent to 'Frosty the Snowman' that rail traffic was increasing and to reduce capacity, even considering the short term gains from salvage of rails and signals, was simply counterproductive.

I could imagine that, save for some heavy moves such as coal, there could be two one way railroads between Petersburg and Savannah, or if more advantageous, one route for lighter tonnage and the other for heavies.

All Frosty was concerned with were next Quarter's 'whisper numbers', long term thinking, what was that to him, as likely he was already practicing his signature to place on dollar bills.

Oh, and as an aside, 79-80, Carolinian, and 91-92, Silver Star, would be in a better position to render better service. Considering how The Carolinian and The Palmetto kind of 'chase markers' in both directions, the reduction of trains at Rocky Mount (the only traffic source) would mean little.
Posted by notelvis (Member # 3071) on :
I do wish that the SAL option north of Raleigh still existed for the Silver Star certainly.

Mixed feelings on moving 79 & 80 though. The NCDOT has developed quite a niche market for passengers in the Rocky Mount area traveling to/from Greensboro and Charlotte.

Of course a dedicated throughway bus between Raleigh and Rocky Mount could resolve this issue.

But - all things considered - relaying the rail north of Norlina on the old SAL and rebuilding what remains south of there as part of a Washington-Charlotte southesat high speed rail route has been talked about for nearly two decades and until a shovel of dirt turns....well, no shovel of dirt is turned.
Posted by palmland (Member # 4344) on :
GBN, no doubt many decisions were made in the slash and burn days of the 80's and eary 90's that with the benefit of hindsight wouldn't be made today. But, it's a good thing to now have the problem of not enough capacity instead of taking up more track and making more train consolidations.

While rebuilding the SAL would be nice, I think putting double track down again with CTC for the entire stretch between Petersburg and Pembroke (where CSX line to Hamlet splits about 50 miles north of Florence) would be a better investment for both freight and passenger. For those on a leisurely LD trip I doubt that the 45 minutes orso gained by the more direct route would make much difference unless you really did have HSR.
Posted by notelvis (Member # 3071) on :
There are old, proud Seaboard men in parts of North Carolina who are still VERY angry about what CSX (and to a degree, ACL before them) did to their railroad.

I went to college with the twin daughters of one of them, a foreman in the Hamlet shops. To mix my metaphors a bit - those guys really ran a tight ship.
Posted by sojourner (Member # 3134) on :
Hi, sorry I haven't been on in a while.
One reason the Silver Star might be down is because if you are going to SOUTH Florida, it takes longer because of the Tampa "detour."
Posted by George Harris (Member # 2077) on :
Originally posted by notelvis:
There are old, proud Seaboard men in parts of North Carolina who are still VERY angry about what CSX (and to a degree, ACL before them) did to their railroad.

I went to college with the twin daughters of one of them, a foreman in the Hamlet shops. To mix my metaphors a bit - those guys really ran a tight ship.

What the ACL did to the SAL is very similar to what the ICRR did to the GM&O.
Posted by Gilbert B Norman (Member # 1541) on :
Mr. Harris, the single tracking of the Alton (Amtrak CHI-STL) occurred circa 1960, or well before the 1972 merger with the IC.

However, I wholly concur with your thoughts regarding the Mobile and Ohio end of things - the ICG essentially emaciated it beyond what was necessary to access traffic generating on line industries. Away from the Alton, not a single route survived to handle through freight.
Posted by George Harris (Member # 2077) on :
Mr. Norman: Yes, the pre Alton portion was primarily what I was thinking about. I am not so sure that GM&O's taking over of the Alton was such a good idea.I recall that the signing of the merger agreement between ICRR and GM&O was done in jackson MS. If the state could have seen what the ICRR would do to railroads in the state, they would have done everyting within their power to have prevented it.

But then, this was the post Ike Tigrett GM&O which was not the same company at all. Having family in the Jackson TN area, some of which had connections to GM&O people, I can say that Mr. Tigrett was regarded with a respect approacing reverence.

For those unfamiliar, at the time of the merger there were the following north-south railroad lines in Mississippi, going from west to east:
The ICRR's Y&MV Delta line, Memphis-Leland-Vicksburg-Baton Rouge-New Orleans, now mostly abandoned north of Baton Rouge
The ICRR freight line, Memphis-Yazoo City-Jackson MS. This is the only line remaining, and now hosts Amtrak.
The ICRR passenger line (Grenada District) Memphis-Grenada-Jackson, now a 10 mph steak of rust if not abandoned.
South of Jackson MS these lines combined to form the ICRR main to New Orleans
The original main, Jackson TN to Grenada, part remaining as a streak of rust.
The GM&O's GM&N main consisting of a bunch of streak of rust short lines combined by Tigrett, Jackson TN-New Albany MS-Union MS, splitting into lines to Meridian, Mobile, and Jacson MS-Slidell LA and on Southern to New Orleans. This became the route of The Rebel, a "pocket" streamliner, but a local in operation, the line is now mostly abandoned.
The GM&O's Mobile and Ohio, Jackson TN-Tupelo-Meridian-Mobile, now mostly abandoned south of Meridian, in the hands of KCS north to Corinth MS
The ICRR's line in the northeast corner of the state, route of the City of Miami, stitched together as follows: Trackage rights on M&O Jacson TN to Corinth MS, their own track there to Haleyville AL, on Southern there to Jasper AL, then on Frisco (now BNSF) to Birmingham. Part of their own track is now abandoned. By the way, the City of Miami was the last scheduled passenger train to operate on Frisco rails.

Almost forgot the east-west ICRR line Meridian-Jackson-Vicksburg-Monroe LA-Shreveport. Never much traffic under ICRR, sold off as a short line, but now heavily used by KCS, with major upgrading and signals added by KCS.

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