Amtrak Front Range Route?

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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:05 pm

electricron wrote:A quick Google search for driving distances got two different answers:
1 h 56 min (101.2 mi) via I-25 N
2 h 30 min (113.6 mi) via US-85 N
I feel the train's route might be longer than either highway route.
Whether it's 101, 113, or more miles, it will probably take a coonvential train stopping at stations along the way over 2 hours to travel. Here's an experiment I suggest you do, sit for 2 hours doing nothing else, then tell me how short it is!
Then consider the train would have to travel in both directions before it could head south again towards Colorado Springs and Pubelo from Denver.

Sitting for two hours on a train traveling along the Front Range definitely isn't the same as sitting for two hours in a waiting room :P

It probably would take a little over 3 hours Denver - Cheyenne. This CB&Q timetable from 1953 clocks in at 3h30m from Cheyenne to Denver and just shy of 4h DEN-CHD. There is some serious padding in that schedule though, considering that northbound trains from Denver to Ft. Collins took nearly an hour longer than southbound. On the down side, BNSF's route is definitely longer than either I-25 or US-85, and coal trains are still a problem to dodge.

Is the traffic potential there for an extension to Wyoming? Depends on how much this train is just tapping residents of Cheyenne (or Coloradans that want to go there), and how much it taps into the traffic to Warren AFB and any other destination nearby... probably not enough demand to sustain even 1/day at a reasonable farebox recovery ratio (say, 60%.) However, Wyoming might still opt to fund a train to tap into the national network again, and that depends as much on state pride & finances as on ridership. Regardless, there's really no call for more than one train a day in each direction to Wyoming.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby leviramsey » Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:51 pm

Arlington wrote:When you look at the Front Range Urban Corridor, and its 4.7m people, the most natural rail system would serve about 3.6m people "near" a 180mile spine between Ft Collins and Pueblo. That's 200,000 people per mile.

Adding Cheyenne adds 50 route-miles for barely 100,000 people: 2,000 people per mile, or just 1/100th of the density of the rest of the Front Range line. So Cheyenne ads big costs, small population, interstate complexity, and a junior partner (WY) with no history or expertise of big transit, and would run along a stretch of I-25 that probably works perfectly fine for bus or car.

Same goes for the southern end: Pueblo to Santa Fe is also a whole lot of nothing populated by a whole lot of nobody, but having a big, commuter-free interstate.

For reference, New Mexico's Rail Runner is a 100 mile system serving about 1m people. 100k per mile has proven kind of marginal.

I think Colorado has a good case for Ft Collins to Pueblo but not beyond. And its an interesting question of whether it should be operated by Amtrak or by a Transit Authority (as NM's Rail Runner is)


Your math is a little off in places...

3.6 million over 180 miles is 20,000 people per mile.
1 million over 100 miles is 10,000 people per mile.

Adding Cheyenne is a tenth of the density of the other portion.

Probably doesn't change the basic point, but a factor of 10 is worth pointing out.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:01 pm

On reason for continuing far enough south (or I suppose far enough north, but I think that's far less likely) is the network effect.

Connecting the California Zephyr to the Southwest Chief along this route gives riders a bit more flexibility which makes both routes viable (I'll note already that if you try to book Denver to Chicago, Amtrak will pop up bus options to connect you to the Southwest Chief. Turning this into a train connection isn't a huge stretch).
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Arlington » Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:51 pm

leviramsey wrote:3.6 million over 180 miles is 20,000 people per mile.
1 million over 100 miles is 10,000 people per mile.

Adding Cheyenne is a tenth of the density of the other portion..


Thanks. Yes the point stands: tracks don't make the route, people do.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby David Benton » Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:05 pm

Greg Moore wrote:On reason for continuing far enough south (or I suppose far enough north, but I think that's far less likely) is the network effect.

Connecting the California Zephyr to the Southwest Chief along this route gives riders a bit more flexibility which makes both routes viable (I'll note already that if you try to book Denver to Chicago, Amtrak will pop up bus options to connect you to the Southwest Chief. Turning this into a train connection isn't a huge stretch).

Kansas city, St Louis, and possibly Texas via Newton thruway also become better "networked".
As a tourist , i would find a north south link in Colorado/New Mexico useful, although I would probably be more tempted to drive the mountain routes.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby John_Perkowski » Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:12 pm

To hook 3-4 and 5-6 together means pushing the service down to Trinidad.

As far as any extension of the Heartland Flyer goes, let me simply say Kansas had to raise taxes to get its economic house out of the outhouse.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:42 pm

John_Perkowski wrote:To hook 3-4 and 5-6 together means pushing the service down to Trinidad.

Or La Junta, if Colorado gives up on a train to El Paso and starts thinking about service to KC.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Jul 03, 2017 12:21 am

La junta would be easier to pull off,BNSF to Pueblo,depending on the routing over the Joint Line,UP for sections needed to Denver.
Pueblo to Walsenburg will need UP OK to use. :(
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Literalman » Sat Jul 08, 2017 5:08 pm

if you try to book Denver to Chicago, Amtrak will pop up bus options to connect you to the Southwest Chief


Is that only when the California Zephyr is sold out, or is it a standard option Denver-Chicago?
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Greg Moore » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:40 pm

Standard from what I've seen.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby jobtraklite » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:44 pm

Literalman wrote:
if you try to book Denver to Chicago, Amtrak will pop up bus options to connect you to the Southwest Chief


Is that only when the California Zephyr is sold out, or is it a standard option Denver-Chicago?


I don't think there is any distinction between standard and non(sub?) standard options on the Amtrak fare page. The website always shows all connections that someone at Amtrak deems worthy of being shown. For example, if you want to go between CHI and LAX, one of the options is the Empire Builder connecting to the Coast Starlight at Portland, whether or not the SW Chief is sold out or not.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby codasd » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:26 pm

Front page article in the Colorado Springs Gazette about Front Range passenger rail. As usual the biggest issue is where's the money. As a side light, Excel Energy plans on closing two of the three coal fired Pueblo plants in 2022 an 2025. This will reduce the current traffic on the line.
http://gazette.com/commission-works-on- ... le/1610414
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Arborwayfan » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:18 pm

Arlington, there actually is a book called "How to Lie with Maps," and it does have a section about a hypothetical misleading railroad route map. I have a copy somewhere. http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/H/bo3696845.html
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby John_Perkowski » Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:32 pm

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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Tadman » Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:06 am

John_Perkowski wrote:UP does just fine operating its portion of METRA in Chicago.

I think we'll find the answer to the question is "money talks." It's state service, a la CA or IL, so money will talk.

This is interurban, not intercity. To me, it's more like METRA than Amtrak.


UP does just fine for two reasons - they are well-compensated, and the inner 10-20 miles of each route sees far less freight than it once did. Most freight (but not all) comes in from Omaha and Milwaukee and diverges to yards near the city limits like Proviso rather than run all the way downtown. Also, there is no way the commuter service will ever go anywhere, so the strong arm will not get them anywhere.

For new-start? BNSF all the way with regard to friendliness. The real question is on which route has the better population and least bottlenecks. Also, provided this train goes through DUS, you have to back in every time. It's not unheard of, the surfliners do so in LA, but it's certainly not optimal and there are plans in LA to fix this.
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