Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby Tadman » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:16 am

Ron, you make some really good points and the operational explanation is one I've been looking for.

That said, perhaps there would be more than 60k riders on HF if they went straight to downtown Dallas, perhaps through Denton and Carrolton? Or if there were more than one each way per day?

I don't know enough about the area to be adamant about my thoughts, just thinking it through.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby electricron » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:20 pm

Tadman wrote:Ron, you make some really good points and the operational explanation is one I've been looking for.

That said, perhaps there would be more than 60k riders on HF if they went straight to downtown Dallas, perhaps through Denton and Carrolton? Or if there were more than one each way per day?

I don't know enough about the area to be adamant about my thoughts, just thinking it through.


The BNSF rail line doesn't go through downtown Denton, it bypasses Denton 10 miles west. But there is a KCS branch line west of Denton the Flyer could take to reach downtown Dallas off the BNSF line. The KCS line would route east-south-east through Carrollton, RIchardson,and Garland before turning southwest into Dallas and approaching downtown Dallas from the southeast (like the Texas Eagle). It's around 30 rail miles from Denton to Fort Worth, it'll be like 50 rail miles from west of Denton to downtown Dallas and another 30 rail miles from Dallas to Fort Worth. It couldn't turnaround in Dallas because the Amtrak base is in Fort Worth. You'll also add two dispatching turnovers and delays caused by them, and Amtrak doesn't have the trackage rights to run the Flyer over the TRE tracks daily, nor over the KCS tracks at all. It's much simpler to just go directly to Fort Worth. As far as Amtrak is concerned, the Flyer and Eagle schedules are set to allow transfers in every direction. You can get from Oklahoma City to Dallas and vice versa every day - but it takes two trains with a transfer in Fort Worth.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:56 pm

DFW has had to play catch-up with its transit choices; I'm impressed by DART but their airport line is a mess and tbh the Dallas-Fort Worth TRE should be an extension of their heavy LRT system. It would be nice to consider electric MUs on the TRE line as well.

Sorry - this should really be in a DART thread elsewhere.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby Tadman » Mon Aug 21, 2017 2:43 pm

Ron, thanks. I didn't know that was KCS. The handoff delays are murder. I sat through one today between Amtrak and NS on my way into Chicago and about missed a meeting. Somehow last week Amtrak held us up in favor of an NS local even though we were on Amtrak property. WTF...


Andrew, you are right. The DART airport line stinks. It makes a lot of stops, and it does a crummy job of connecting to Love field - I guess you have to catch a city bus for a ten minute ride to the terminal. Nothing says "don't ride me!" like a transfer to a random city bus that you have to pay for.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby electricron » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:50 pm

Tadman wrote:Ron, thanks. I didn't know that was KCS. The handoff delays are murder. I sat through one today between Amtrak and NS on my way into Chicago and about missed a meeting. Somehow last week Amtrak held us up in favor of an NS local even though we were on Amtrak property. WTF...


Andrew, you are right. The DART airport line stinks. It makes a lot of stops, and it does a crummy job of connecting to Love field - I guess you have to catch a city bus for a ten minute ride to the terminal. Nothing says "don't ride me!" like a transfer to a random city bus that you have to pay for.


To be fair, DART wanted to subway the Green and Orange lines under Love Field to put a station under Love Field's terminal, but the FRA and FAA nixed that subway station in the EIS, so DART caved in to get some FTA "New Starts" funding for the Green Line. Without the FTA funds for the Green line, the Orange line would still be pencil lines on paper.

There's the possibility that Love Field and DART will build a short cable powered subway to connect the Green line to the airports terminal in the future. Love Field is owned by the city, and right now the city has placed more emphasis on expanding the streetcar lines downtown than connecting the airport to the light rail line.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:48 pm

Dallas was served by a stub train connection at Gainesvile train #'s 115/116 connecting to trains 15/16 the "Texas Chief".
Train ran via Denton and White Rock to/from Dallas Union.
From a Santa Fe "Ticket Agent" Folder dated 10/25/1959 to 01/15/1960.
Most of the connections were done were done by "Motor Coach"(bus) from Dallas Union to Ft Worth or train #'s 111/112.
Ft Worth was a "hub" for Santa Fe passenger traffic in the Metroplex.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby electricron » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:46 am

Backshophoss wrote:Dallas was served by a stub train connection at Gainesvile train #'s 115/116 connecting to trains 15/16 the "Texas Chief".
Train ran via Denton and White Rock to/from Dallas Union.
From a Santa Fe "Ticket Agent" Folder dated 10/25/1959 to 01/15/1960.
Most of the connections were done were done by "Motor Coach"(bus) from Dallas Union to Ft Worth or train #'s 111/112.
Ft Worth was a "hub" for Santa Fe passenger traffic in the Metroplex.


That's the same route I suggested earlier, except some of the tracks ownership has changed over the years from SF to KCS. The problem with either route, extending the trains from FW to D or vice versa is Amtrak's trackage rights deal over the TRE tracks between D and FW doesn't allow much more than 2 trains per day for an entire year, plus a few more trains over an entire year. That's the existing Eagle and Flyer trips that already runs every year. The trackage rights agreements would have to be changed - at Amtrak's costs....
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:16 pm

For a state-supported service, Texas would be expected to foot the bill for expanded trackage rights over BNSF/UP and TRE, or to renegotiate the existing deal.

Would be nice if TRE ran 1 Dallas - Fort Worth round trip on Sundays to meet the Flyer if Amtrak can't get to DAL itself.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby electricron » Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:39 pm

mtuandrew wrote:For a state-supported service, Texas would be expected to foot the bill for expanded trackage rights over BNSF/UP and TRE, or to renegotiate the existing deal.

Would be nice if TRE ran 1 Dallas - Fort Worth round trip on Sundays to meet the Flyer if Amtrak can't get to DAL itself.

Why? Amtrak's Texas Eagle does the job getting the Heartland Flyer's passengers to and from Dallas every day of the week, including Sunday.
The Flyer's locomotives are serviced and fueled in Fort Worth. Any extension to Dallas complicates every maintenance activity Amtrak does to the trains in Fort Worth. What advantage does one get catching the Flyer in Dallas when there is a prolonged stop in Fort Worth for these maintenance activities, including the possibility of a locomotive switch? Would you rather be sitting in a dark and hot passenger seat on the train or waiting in a lighted and air conditioned seat in the station waiting to board the Flyer?
Texas caps the amount of the yearly subsidy it is willing to pay to support the Flyer. It's not willing to subsidize a train between it's two largest cities. Do you really think it is going to subsidize an additional two Amtrak trains between Dallas and Fort Worth where Amtrak already runs two trains a day when it is unwilling to subsidize 50 TRE trains a day doing the same trip?

The TRE is fully subsidized by DART and the FWTA with a 50-50 share. There's been no financial help from the state in the TRE at all, and only a little federal financial help; some funds for the FW Intermodal station which Amtrak uses , and some funds for some double tracking in Tarrant County which was a requirement for the Eagle to run on the TRE tracks.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby SouthernRailway » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:29 am

I see from Wikipedia that the Heartland Flyer generates around $2MM of ticket sales and costs about $9MM to operate. That's a pretty poor cost recovery ratio. I'd think that Amtrak would be doing whatever it could to generate ridership.

Conversely, considering how DFW is car country and you can probably speed to Oklahoma City a lot faster than the train takes, it's impressive that the train has the ridership that it does.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby Tadman » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:00 am

That's a really good point. The recovery ratio is awful. But it's not hard to see why. Even though Ron makes some really good points about logistics vis-a-vis the host roads, you can't expect decent traffic when sending this train to downtown Fort Worth.

You also essentially don't have any connecting network to anywhere like Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, even the north Metroplex.

You could get an Uber to Dallas faster than TRE.

The Eagle is your typical UP-hosted long distance train, IE don't count on it.

There is only one train per day, which means few options or flexibility. I find the 3x/day on the Michigan line to be the bottom rung of a truly flexible corridor run, I just can't make it work (IE I take South Shore with 10+ trains/day) with less trains.

All of this doesn't change the reality and probably won't for a long time.
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Re: Heartland Flyer - Why Fort Worth?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:15 am

I found this in a transportation article. It discusses "ground transportation gaps": https://las.depaul.edu/centers-and-inst ... 170823.pdf

They found "152 routes in the 120 - 400 mile range linking metropolitan regions with populations of more than one million that lack a viable “middle mode” in August 2017" where a "middle mode" refers to rail or "express coach" bus which they include MegaBus, BoltBus but not Greyhound. #3 on their list is Dallas-Oklahoma City. So according to the Chaddick Institute, Fort Worth is not the same as Dallas.
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