"Essential Rail Service" program

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

Moderators: gprimr1, mtuandrew

"Essential Rail Service" program

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Tue May 24, 2016 11:07 pm

The USDOT has an "Essential Air Service" program which provides federally subsidized passenger airline service to rural and low-density areas and smaller communities, usually as connecting shuttles or feeder flights to nearby major hub cities.

Would a "Essential Rail Service" program be a feasible concept? The Canadian Government does have such a policy, with VIA passenger service in Northern Ontario and Quebec and the on the Hudson Bay and Keewatin lines as well as flag stops in rural communities along the Canadian route. Ontario Northland provides service between Cochrane and Moosonee, and Algoma Central ran scheduled service until a funding crisis a year ago.

In a Essential Rail Service program, service could be provided by local or state agencies or by freight railroad carriers (Class I, regional carrier or shortline) under contract. Such service is a form of rural mass transit, which would provide additional transportation choices and potential economic growth in smaller communities.

Note: Some might consider Amtrak's western LD routes as a form of essential rail service, but will not be part of the discussion here.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
User avatar
R36 Combine Coach
 
Posts: 4848
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:51 pm

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby electricron » Tue May 24, 2016 11:37 pm

Before we start worrying about providing "essential" rail services to communities in the middle of nowhere. we start providing rail services to large cities not having rail services today. Such as Nashville Louisville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Columbus, Mobile, and Tallahassee, etc. There's lots of cities in American with over 100,000 population not serviced with a Amtrak train at all, and a few with over 1,000,000 not serviced with a daily train.
electricron
 
Posts: 3798
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:35 pm

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby mtuandrew » Wed May 25, 2016 11:03 am

Taking in mind electricron's notes, I like the idea*, R36. What would your criteria be, and where do you have in mind?

* I'd imagine that the Starlight, Builder, Zephyr, Chief, Sunset, Eagle, Cardinal, Cap, Pennsylvanian, Vermonter, and Ethan Allen already serve some Essential Rail Service, more so than other lines which directly parallel major interstates and have fewer weather problems.
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 4001
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby TomNelligan » Wed May 25, 2016 4:34 pm

If promoting mobility in rural areas is the goal, then I'm afraid that an "Essential Bus Service" program with basically zero infrastructure startup costs and a much lower operating cost would be the only thing that would have even a tiny chance of getting funding in the current confrontational political climate.
TomNelligan
 
Posts: 3179
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 5:43 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby Ken V » Wed May 25, 2016 11:19 pm

Remote service in Canada was mentioned as an example. The thing to keep in mind is that these trains serve towns and villages that have poor or no road access which makes driving not an option. The only transportation alternatives these communities may have is air (helicopter / float plane) or water (canoe / kayak). Are there any areas within the continental United States under similar circumstances?
Ken V. Moderator: Most things Canadian.
Any time could be train time!
User avatar
Ken V
 
Posts: 876
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:14 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby mtuandrew » Wed May 25, 2016 11:39 pm

Ken V: Not much outside of Alaska, and the ARR already runs accommodation service. Otherwise... maybe bits of the Appalachian and Rocky Mountain ranges? There's really not a lot that is served by rail and not by highway here; mostly stuff that would be served more/as effectively by rail than by highway.
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 4001
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby bdawe » Wed May 25, 2016 11:52 pm

it's the kind of thing that foreign DMU designs were meant for.

What a pity they're illegal
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations https://brendandawe.carto.com/viz/80b9d ... /embed_map NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations
User avatar
bdawe
 
Posts: 505
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:06 pm
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby ExCon90 » Thu May 26, 2016 1:00 pm

Along the lines of TomNelligan's post, I think the starting point has to be what Congress might be willing to consider, and which members would be prepared to sponsor it--whether rail or bus.
ExCon90
 
Posts: 3435
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby mtuandrew » Thu May 26, 2016 5:18 pm

bdawe wrote:it's the kind of thing that foreign DMU designs were meant for.

What a pity they're illegal

Some are illegal, some are usable by waiver (Stadler), some are grandfathered (RDC), and some are FRA-compliant (Nippon Sharyo.)

Seems like DMUs might be good for essential rail service (ERS) where weather would permit (snow or rock slides), or where the added protection of a full locomotive (against heavy freight rail or truck traffic) isn't necessary. ERS would also be a good home for cascaded F40s, HEPped Geeps, or one of the genset/high-RPM small mfr products. No need to waste a 110 mph, 4200 hp Genesis on 60 mph, 1500 hp service!

ExCon: and how willing the host railroads would be... when Amtrak checks in, it rarely checks out.
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 4001
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Thu May 26, 2016 9:11 pm

mtuandrew wrote: I like the idea*, R36. What would your criteria be, and where do you have in mind?

The "ERS" service does not mean intercity or LD per se, and could include local, regional and intrastate services. Examples would be low-density counties already on freight lines and that can be linked to serve communities together. Example: service linking from a regional hub/anchor city or county seat to smaller towns along the line. Branch line services would also be an interest, as "feeder" service (much like the "Essential Air" program). In this example, communities on a branch line or shortline would see service operate to a hub/anchor city, especially if there is Amtrak/commuter service, Greyhound or an intermodal (bus/rail) terminal located there. Service could be 2-3 times per week, daily, or multiple daily round trips, with each case on a unique basis. A maximum "cap" on mileage for a route to be considered an essential rail program would be determined.

mtuandrew wrote:I'd imagine that the Starlight, Builder, Zephyr, Chief, Sunset, Eagle, Cardinal, Cap, Pennsylvanian, Vermonter and Ethan Allen already serve some Essential Rail Service, more so than other lines which directly parallel major interstates and have fewer weather problems.

There's really not a lot that is served by rail and not by highway; mostly stuff that would be served more/as effectively by rail than by highway.

Also note some Amtrak LD routes do parallel main highways. The Builder more or less directly parallels U.S. Route 2 between North Dakota and Everett, WA (U.S. 2 being a full 4-lane highway in ND). The Vermonter follows I-89/91 north of SPG. And the Starlight follows U.S. Route 101 (a freeway) south of the Bay Area, and largely I-5 from Sacramento north.

While there is a well-developed Interstate Highway system throughout much of the United States, high-speed freeways are an uncommon concept in Canadian transportation, except in Ontario, Quebec and parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Even the Trans-Canada Highway is largely 2-lane, undivided local road (a 4-lane divided highway in Western Provinces).
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
User avatar
R36 Combine Coach
 
Posts: 4848
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:51 pm

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby ExCon90 » Fri May 27, 2016 1:27 pm

mtuandrew wrote:ExCon: and how willing the host railroads would be... when Amtrak checks in, it rarely checks out.

Oh, right--that too. And what if any legislation included a provision requiring the freight railroad to host the operation? Things get tacked onto bills as they work their way through, especially in committee late at night after all the hearings have been held.
ExCon90
 
Posts: 3435
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby Ken W2KB » Sat May 28, 2016 10:42 pm

The freight railroad would be entitled to be paid the full costs, including lost opportunity costs such as adverse impacts on freight business, liability indemnification, perhaps a portion of capital costs, at a minimum, of hosting such operation. Otherwise it would be an unlawful taking under the Constitition.
~Ken :: Fairmont ex-UP/MP C436 MT-14M1 :: Cessna 177B Cardinal N16019
Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: My Personal Site
User avatar
Ken W2KB
 
Posts: 5651
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 9:27 pm
Location: Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey & Tiverton, RI USA

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby ExCon90 » Sun May 29, 2016 12:53 pm

It certainly would, but that wouldn't necessarily stop Congress from enacting it to impress the folks back home, leaving the whole thing to work its way through the courts.
ExCon90
 
Posts: 3435
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby mtuandrew » Sun May 29, 2016 3:35 pm

Ken & ExCon: We'll see how right-of-access and right-of-priority shakes out in any further action on DOT v. AAR. DOT directive may not be enough to insert Amtrak service, at least not with a reasonable certainty of on-time performance.
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 4001
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: "Essential Rail Service" program

Postby Anthony » Wed Jul 13, 2016 2:40 pm

Chicago-Rockford-Dubuque (the Black Hawk) and Chicago-Janesville-Madison (the Varsity) would be two rail services that are desperately needed due to high traffic congestion along parallel highways between these cities, and have great ridership potential due to the size of the towns along the routes as well as factors like tourism and more people in train-riding-demographics (college students, young adults, elderly, and low income folks) living in or traveling between those towns regularly. (like Dubuque and Madison) that would be perfect for this kind of funding arrangement. The first route would be a candidate for this because IL is broke and has a legislature and governor that both know little more than how to bicker over a budget. The second one would be a candidate because WI has no interest in subsidizing passenger trains beyond levels that the Hiawatha takes.
Anthony
 
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:29 pm

Next

Return to General Discussion - Passenger Rail

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 3 guests