Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:19 pm

Memphis City and Press

Memphis-To-Little Rock High-Speed Rail To Be Studied

The State of Arkansas will study the possibility of high-speed trains traveling up to 200 mph between Memphis and Little Rock and Texarkana, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. State transportation officials anticipate spending $1 million to $1.25 million in federal and state funds to conduct two ...

State transportation officials anticipate spending $1 million to $1.25 million in federal and state funds to conduct two long-range railroad transportation plans in the next 18 to 24 months, the newspaper reported Friday.

One study will look at issues surrounding freight rail transport and existing passenger rail service. The other will examine how Arkansas might participate in a national initiative on high-speed passenger rail.

The high-speed report will examine ways to improve existing track between Little Rock and Texarkana for high-speed passenger trains. It also will study the possibility of offering high-speed rail service between Little Rock and Memphis.
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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN HSR STudy

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:26 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:Memphis City and Press

Memphis-To-Little Rock High-Speed Rail To Be Studied

Memphis-to-Little Rock high-speed rail to be studied The State of Arkansas will study the possibility of high-speed trains traveling up to 200 mph between Memphis and Little Rock and Texarkana, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. State transportation officials anticipate spending $1 million to $1.25 million in federal and state funds to conduct two ...


Also:

I think you lost a bit of your post, Jeff, but interesting news regardless. Seems this would be a perfect use of the now-vacant Rock right-of-way between Memphis and Little Rock at least, though I am skeptical of the HSR claims.
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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:31 pm

That was weird; might have been doing something at the same time? Anyway, put some more of the article in there.
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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby fauxcelt » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:02 am

Considering how crowded I-40 already is between North Little Rock and West Memphis, adding a high speed rail line might be worth the time, trouble, and effort as well as a good idea. I have lived in central Arkansas for many years and am more familiar with I-40 than I would like to be. I have heard a lot of jokes about the "I-40 Speedway" between North Little Rock and West Memphis. There is some truth behind those jokes because most of I-40 between North Little Rock and West Memphis is straight and flat.
However, I am not so sure about a high speed rail line between the Big Pebble (Little Rock) and Texarkana because there might not be enough passengers to justify building it.

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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby electricron » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:45 am

fauxcelt wrote:Considering how crowded I-40 already is between North Little Rock and West Memphis, adding a high speed rail line might be worth the time, trouble, and effort as well as a good idea. I have lived in central Arkansas for many years and am more familiar with I-40 than I would like to be. I have heard a lot of jokes about the "I-40 Speedway" between North Little Rock and West Memphis. There is some truth behind those jokes because most of I-40 between North Little Rock and West Memphis is straight and flat.
However, I am not so sure about a high speed rail line between the Big Pebble (Little Rock) and Texarkana because there might not be enough passengers to justify building it.

Laurence


I agree with your assessment, but I'll go one further, I also don't think there would be enough passengers between Little Rock and Memphis to support high speed rail.

Additionally, we should recognize the difference between High speed rail and Higher speed rail.

The Texarkana to Little Rock line is owned by UP, it's an active heavily used line, and UP frowns upon high speed passenger trains with policies such as 50 feet clearances between their mainline freight tracks and passenger trains exceeding 90 mph. So any increase in speed in this corridor will be small. With most rail corridors being 100 feet wide, that means placing much higher speed passenger tracks off the UP owned corridor.

The West Memphis to North Little Rock rail corridor doesn't carry as much traffic, which makes the chances of adding passenger train services with higher speeds greater. But without much freight services on that rail corridor, the passenger train services will have to pay almost all the operation & maintenance costs. That same cost is creating problems on the BNSF Raton Pass corridor for the daily Southwest Chief.

Which brings up my original point in this reply, I don't think there will be enough rail passenger traffic to come anywhere close paying to implementing faster than 90 mph speeds in Arkansas. Expect the same as Missouri has accomplished with its state subsidized intercity trains, 80 mph speeds with minimal funding and 90 mph speeds spending twice as much more. 110, 125, 150, 200 mph speeds will bust that state's pocketbook.

Additionally, I would like to see train services reinstated between Little Rock and Memphis. But I thinking it should be at standard speeds. Amtrak already serves both cities, so from a national point of view there is no need to reinstate this direct service between these cities. Little Rock to Memphis should be treated the same way as Dallas to Oklahoma City, St. Louis to Kansas City, Chicago to Milwaukee, or Los Angeles to San Diego.
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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby fauxcelt » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:47 am

Electricron, I was looking at this situation from the perspective of someone who has driven frequently on both I-40 and I-30. I am very familiar with both highways and have a goood idea just how busy they are. There is talk of adding another lane in either direction to I-40 and making it a toll road from North Little Rock to West Memphis but so far it is only talk and no action.
Also, I attend church with two retired railroad engineers who both confirmed and agreed with your comments about Union Pacific's mainline from Little Rock to Texarkana. Neither one thinks their former employer would be interested in high speed rail or allowing a dedicated high speed rail line to be built alongside the freight line even if the government offered UP some incentives such as tax credits.

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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby electricron » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:19 pm

fauxcelt wrote:Electricron, I was looking at this situation from the perspective of someone who has driven frequently on both I-40 and I-30. I am very familiar with both highways and have a goood idea just how busy they are. There is talk of adding another lane in either direction to I-40 and making it a toll road from North Little Rock to West Memphis but so far it is only talk and no action.
Also, I attend church with two retired railroad engineers who both confirmed and agreed with your comments about Union Pacific's mainline from Little Rock to Texarkana. Neither one thinks their former employer would be interested in high speed rail or allowing a dedicated high speed rail line to be built alongside the freight line even if the government offered UP some incentives such as tax credits.
Laurence

I'm aware of the traffic on I-40 between Little Rock and Memphis. But much of that traffic, possibly more than half, originates from parts unknown. I don't agree that originating Little Rock to Memphis traffic is sufficient to support high or higher speed rail. At best maybe a daily round trip train at regular speeds. The largest obstacle will be finding state subsidies for that train. Another obstacle to overcome is where to place the train between runs. There aren't extra tracks for idling the train, much less perform routine maintenance on the locomotive at either Amtrak station. So some track work will be required at both stations, and that will require a full Federal EIS process with plenty of opportunities for nimbys to kill or delay this train service.
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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby fauxcelt » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:59 am

I agree with your comments electricron and think you are correct. An extra lane in both directions will probably be added to I-40 and it will become a toll road instead of Amtrak starting to provide passenger service between Little Rock and Memphis--even once a day. Maybe this new highway, I-69, might take some of the traffic off of I-40. "State subsidies" for a train? Not in Arkansas because there are too many members of the Arkansas General Assembly who would object to subsidizing passenger train service.

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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby MCHammer » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:56 am

electricron wrote:
fauxcelt wrote:Electricron, I was looking at this situation from the perspective of someone who has driven frequently on both I-40 and I-30. I am very familiar with both highways and have a goood idea just how busy they are. There is talk of adding another lane in either direction to I-40 and making it a toll road from North Little Rock to West Memphis but so far it is only talk and no action.
Also, I attend church with two retired railroad engineers who both confirmed and agreed with your comments about Union Pacific's mainline from Little Rock to Texarkana. Neither one thinks their former employer would be interested in high speed rail or allowing a dedicated high speed rail line to be built alongside the freight line even if the government offered UP some incentives such as tax credits.
Laurence

I'm aware of the traffic on I-40 between Little Rock and Memphis. But much of that traffic, possibly more than half, originates from parts unknown. I don't agree that originating Little Rock to Memphis traffic is sufficient to support high or higher speed rail. At best maybe a daily round trip train at regular speeds. The largest obstacle will be finding state subsidies for that train. Another obstacle to overcome is where to place the train between runs. There aren't extra tracks for idling the train, much less perform routine maintenance on the locomotive at either Amtrak station. So some track work will be required at both stations, and that will require a full Federal EIS process with plenty of opportunities for nimbys to kill or delay this train service.

Little Rock-Memphis would be nice, but I don't have that on the highest or priorities for an HSR network. It does not really add any large network benefits given it does not connect to Dallas or Atlanta. If you drew 3 segments following Little Rock-Memphis-Birmingham-Atlanta, that is under 500 miles but only slightly. I would look for it to be a later priority once Atlanta has connected other major metro areas and especially within Georgia given the amount of regional jets currently at ATL. I am sure Delta would not mind freeing itself from the 50-seaters from ATL due to weak profitability with 50 seat regional jets.

I am curious to know where would most people be going on that stretch if they are heading to Dallas or Tulsa from Memphis?
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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby electricron » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:28 am

MCHammer wrote:Little Rock-Memphis would be nice, but I don't have that on the highest or priorities for an HSR network. It does not really add any large network benefits given it does not connect to Dallas or Atlanta. If you drew 3 segments following Little Rock-Memphis-Birmingham-Atlanta, that is under 500 miles but only slightly. I would look for it to be a later priority once Atlanta has connected other major metro areas and especially within Georgia given the amount of regional jets currently at ATL. I am sure Delta would not mind freeing itself from the 50-seaters from ATL due to weak profitability with 50 seat regional jets.
I am curious to know where would most people be going on that stretch if they are heading to Dallas or Tulsa from Memphis?

It could be half and half. Even traffic counts on westbound I-40 and I-30 will not tell you the original and final destinations.

Extending a Little Rock to Memphis train into a multiple state route should attract more riders on this leg, but where would you place the termini of this longer distance train? There aren't many passenger facilities left in the south or southwest to base a train. The Heartland Flyer takes advantage of multiple passenger track only sidings in both OKC and FW, and rotation of rolling stock from Chicago by using the Texas Eagle, but both city's station facilities lack coach yards and locomotive maintenance shops. Little Rock and Memphis stations have the same conditions.

I just wished that dreamers who propose new trains or routes keep this basic fact in mind, suggesting where will these new trains be maintained. Not one new streetcar, light rail, metro rail, or commuter rail project forgets to mention and address maintenance facilities. Two Talgo trainsets built for Wisconsin lie idle because that state failed to fully address maintenance facilities.
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Re: Little Rock AR to Memphis TN and Texarkana HSR STudy

Postby MCHammer » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:56 pm

That is where the challenge begins. You are going to have to make it a multi-state corridor in order for it to be a viable HSR track. Currently for Texas, I see connecting Houston and San Antonio and creating the mini-t-bone as the first priority. An extension of HSR to Oklahoma City and Tulsa would become the next priority. For Memphis, I would interconnect at Atlanta since I would plan on having trains coming from Nashville, Florida, the Northeast, and Alabama. It makes a natural Southeast hub geographically and via the current Interstate corridors. In terms of west of Little Rock, I do not see much demand for Tulsa or Oklahoma City, and I am not sure the economics would justify a direct line to Dallas and Fort Worth. It would make it easy to get to Dallas and the rest of Texas on HSR given that there is probably not as much demand for a connection to Oklahoma City. It is probably the right time to begin studying but it is probably a later phase of other HSR projects in this country.
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