Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Freq)

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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby AgentSkelly » Fri Dec 30, 2016 3:48 am

Negative...there was Thruway service via Milwaukee on the old Badger Bus service in the 90s which also stopped in the town of Lake Mills, where I lived briefly, but I see now looking at the time table that there is no Thruway connection.

But I see the Badger Bus is still around sans Amtrak contract; I see it now stops at UW Madison, Johnson Creek Outlet Mall (between Lake Mills and Concord), and the Goerke's Corner, which is Brookfield basically before it does stops MILW Depot and the airport.
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby east point » Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:53 pm

gokeefe wrote:It's interesting to see the increase in ridership. I was told in a recent conversation with a senior railroad executive with extensive passenger experience that station improvements have been shown to have a 20-30% positive impact on ridership.


That statement might really bring out the skeptics. Talk in the boardroom " Why would my RR approve any station improvements if it increases demand for more service ? " Think Atlanta....San Antionia
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby gokeefe » Fri Dec 30, 2016 11:55 pm

Well ... If you're a railroad like "for example" Florida East Coast and want to leverage some prime urban real estate you might take a second (or third) look at your options and come to some very interesting conclusions.
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby Jeff Smith » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:24 am

Portage viewpoint: WiscNews

Amtrak expansion could be ‘game-changer’ for Portage
...
The Portage Amtrak station on its Empire Builder line saw a 27 percent increase in ridership from 2015 to 2016, “far exceeding” the state’s average increase of 1 percent ridership. A lot of that is due to geography, Sobiek said, but “more people are coming to Portage,” the impetus for discussions between the city and Amtrak about possibly expanding or moving the depot to better accommodate more users.

Such talks are related to the fact Wisconsin and Minnesota are “seriously looking at adding another train in each direction to the Empire Builder line,” Sobiek said, one which would “drastically increase people coming to Portage.”
...
Next stop, Willoughby
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:48 am

For those unaware, Portage is about 40 miles directly north of Madison on the combined I-39/90/94, and about 70 and 100 miles south of Stevens Point and Wausau respectively on I-39. Makes me wonder whether the majority of those additional 27% are southbound from points near Wausau or northbound from points near Madison. (Columbus is nearer Madison, but also further east and has somewhat less parking.)
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby gokeefe » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:21 pm

The whole concept is a very pleasant surprise. Great to see so much emphasis on increasing corridor service. These are the kinds of trains that make a big difference to the long distance service by enhancing ridership density on underserved route miles.
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:58 pm

Hoping too that Wisconsin figures itself out re: Madison service over WSOR & CP, so a Twin Cities Hiawatha can also hit Mad-town (with the Builder retaining the current faster route via Columbus.)
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:57 pm

Got this email my inbox today. The full email is below (it's a government communication therefore public-use):

MnDOT wrote:Purpose and Need Statement now available for proposed Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service

We thought you'd like to know that the proposed Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service project between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, Chicago, and smaller cities in between, completed a first milestone towards entering the federal passenger rail program.

The recently released Purpose and Need Statement, which defines the purpose of the project and the transportation needs addressed by the project is now available at : http://www.dot.state.mn.us/passengerrai ... index.html

Statement focus

The proposed TCMC service focuses on population increases and economic growth projected within the rail corridor by providing a second daily roundtrip between the Twin Cities and Chicago, in addition to the existing long-distance Amtrak Empire Builder service that operates between Portland, Seattle and Chicago.

This will provide flexibility and convenience, oriented towards shorter-distance, intercity travel within the TCMC corridor. The service will connect travelers in cities along the corridor with regional destinations and provide schedule choices for existing and future travelers.

Public involvement, environmental processes will now begin

This also marks the beginning of the public involvement and environmental processes for the project and strengthens the partnership between Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois DOTs, as well as regional agencies and FRA. The report also identifies issues within the corridor and defines the service will benefit travelers.

The first public information meetings for the project are UPDATED IN EMAIL 7/20 Sept. 6 at the La Crosse County Administrative Center in Wisconsin and Sept. 7 at St. Paul’s Union Depot.

Next steps

The next steps for the proposed project are to evaluate the alternatives for the project and necessary infrastructure upgrades.

More about this project

The Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois departments of Transportation, in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission, and La Crosse Area Planning Committee, are working cooperatively on the initial planning effort for the proposed TCMC Project.

The TCMC corridor is an approximately 418-mile rail corridor connecting major metropolitan regions of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Chicago and providing service to smaller cities of Red Wing and Winona in Minnesota, La Crosse, Tomah, Wisconsin Dells, Portage, Columbus, and Milwaukee in Wisconsin, and Glenview in Illinois. The TCMC corridor currently is served by Amtrak’s long-distance Empire Builder service that operates between Chicago, IL and Seattle, WA and Portland, OR. This service provides one trip per day in each direction. The TCMC Intercity Passenger Rail Service would add a new shorter-distance second frequency along this route between Union Depot in St. Paul and Union Station in Chicago.

Sign up to receive project updates and information on upcoming public meetings at the project website: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/passengerrail/tc-mil-chi/. The Purpose and Need Statement is also located on the project website.

MnDOT • mndot.gov


Of note: this is a 79 mph proposal that operates over the existing Empire Builder corridor, adding the Hiawatha Service stop at MKA. The corridor study also includes potential extensions to St. Cloud or Minneapolis Target Field Station.
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby Ridgefielder » Fri Jul 21, 2017 8:29 am

Assuming the schedule is roughly the same as the Empire Builder, this resuscitated Twin Cities Hiawatha/Zephyr/400 (or whatever they call it) is going to take roughly 8 hours. Will they be looking to have food service beyond that offered by a cafe car?
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:27 am

No official word yet, but on a state-supported service? Probably not.

I'm even having trouble identifying when the train would depart and arrive. Maybe 7ish CHI - 3ish MSP, 2ish MSP - 10ish CHI?
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby leviramsey » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:40 am

Ridgefielder wrote:Assuming the schedule is roughly the same as the Empire Builder, this resuscitated Twin Cities Hiawatha/Zephyr/400 (or whatever they call it) is going to take roughly 8 hours. Will they be looking to have food service beyond that offered by a cafe car?


The Silver Meteor (with more-than-cafe foodservice) is paralleled for more than 8 hours of its run by the Silver Star (cafe foodservice).

There are also NE Regional trains with 8 hour runs with just a cafe.

Both cases seem at least first-glance comparable to Chicago/MSP.
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby Ridgefielder » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:56 am

mtuandrew wrote:No official word yet, but on a state-supported service? Probably not.

I'm even having trouble identifying when the train would depart and arrive. Maybe 7ish CHI - 3ish MSP, 2ish MSP - 10ish CHI?

That seems reasonable to me. Would give a morning and afternoon departure from both terminals.

For some perspective, by the way, historical schedules (courtesy of the Streamliner Schedules website):
-CB&Q's Morning Zephyr, 1938: 6hrs30mins, Union Sta. (Chicago) to St. Paul
-C&NW's 400, 1941: 6hrs15mins, Northwestern Sta. (Chicago) to St. Paul
-MILW's Hiawatha, 1938: 6hrs30mins, Union Sta. (Chicago) to St. Paul

Sure would be nice if we in 2017 could achieve the same running time over this route that our great-grandfathers did in the 1930's.
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:33 pm

Would definitely be nice. We have the technology, and a car ride at or just above posted speed limits takes 7 hours. Arguably the track structure is in better shape than it ever was in the 1930s, for at least the BNSF and CP routes, and the axle loadings would be lower for any diesel-electric than for the F7-class Hudsons (still among the prettiest engines ever built IMO.)

Nota bene: Got an email today correcting the meeting times to September 6 in La Crosse, September 7 in St. Paul.
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby bdawe » Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:05 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Would definitely be nice. We have the technology, and a car ride at or just above posted speed limits takes 7 hours. Arguably the track structure is in better shape than it ever was in the 1930s, for at least the BNSF and CP routes, and the axle loadings would be lower for any diesel-electric than for the F7-class Hudsons (still among the prettiest engines ever built IMO.)

Nota bene: Got an email today correcting the meeting times to September 6 in La Crosse, September 7 in St. Paul.


Forgive my ignorance, but beyond CWR, why would the track be better today than during the 100 mph passenger era?
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Re: Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Fre

Postby gokeefe » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:05 pm

Heavier rail, better signals, different types of tie fasteners and rock vs. cinder ballast.

No idea if cinder ballast was used on the main line between Chicago and Milwaukee to any extent but in general it was quite common back then.

Worth remembering that after the Naperville crash in 1946 speeds were limited to 79MPH (effective 1951) on tracks without some form of train control.

In short ... In the 1930s trains could run at 100 MPH on the basis of block signals alone.
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