Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

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Re: Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

Postby Bob Roberts » Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:45 pm

mtuandrew wrote:...
Likely that AMTK, VA, & NC would dump money into the A-Line SEHSR between Petersburg and Raleigh, and reroute every train off the S-Line except for the Silver Star and perhaps the Auto Train. It'd probably whine about the slower speeds on the S-Line but otherwise accept it as a condition of use.


I think you have your lines mixed up. The S-Line runs between Raleigh and Petersburg, its partially decommissioned and its hoped that VA and NC will purchase it and rebuild it for a 110 mph, 90 minute shortcut between the two cities. The A-Line runs along I-95 (Petersburg, Rocky Mount, Fayetteville, Florida) and I have not heard any rumors about downgrading it (but they may be out there).

I have heard rumors (but nothing I took very seriously) that CSX is looking critically at the line between Raleigh and Columbia (through Sanford, Southern Pines and Hamlet -- I believe this was the old Seaboard line). This line carries the Star but no other Amtrak trains. AFAIK a speed downgrade here would not be a big deal for Amtrak, it could easily reroute the train via the NCRR to Charlotte and then via NS to Columbia. This would certainly create a significant boost to ridership in the Carolinas, but there would be some significant station problems in Columbia to deal with (the old NS station was a seafood restaurant last I checked).
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Re: Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:46 pm

You're absolutely right, Mr. Roberts, I swapped S-Line for A-Line, and further wasn't clear on which CSX line went Raleigh-Columbia and which went direct to Charleston. Mea culpa.

And yes, it does seem like a better ridership bargain for Amtrak to use the NCRR to Charlotte thence NS - the current Columbia station is accessible through a short backing move.
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Re: Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

Postby Alex M » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:40 pm

Rerouting over to Charlotte and south via the R line of NS, while increasing potential ridership, would add more time to the Silver Star's schedule. In addition to the curvy and hilly nature of the R line, you would need to build stations in places like Ft. Mill and Rock Hill, as well as a connection to get to the S line for arrival at Amtrak's station in Columbia. I would do this if it was a last resort.
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Re: Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:15 pm

Unlikely that Amtrak would move the Star without a firm embargo notice on the S-Line. Maybe NCDOT should offer to help rebuild the old SAL branch from Norlina to Weldon as part of the SEHSR project, and let EHH institute directional running Weldon-Savannah. That would surely warm the cockles of his heart :P

Suppose his reign could mean other routes going into government or third-party hands? I'm specifically thinking the ex-Erie Northern Branch in New Jersey and the ex-Pere Marquette in Michigan.
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Re: Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

Postby Tadman » Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:46 am

I'm not sure I would count on EHH being around CSX for very long.

The obvious is that he's no 55 anymore. I can't envision him sticking around for ten years. The less obvious: he's not doing so hot. At CN, and to a lesser extent CP, he had a lot to work with. At CSX, you have a railroad that wasn't well cared for by John Snow and was already pared down pretty well. CSX was never a bloated ward of the Canadian government like CN. So trying to pare down CSX might result in the problems we've seen. You may notice he reactivated Avon last month.

He's also making a lot of enemies of shippers and labor. Shareholders might stand for that if it works, but I question whethere it's working. I don't hate EHH and he certainly did something with CN. But this is a different time and place.

TLDR - If I were Amtrak, I wouldn't make a lot of plans based on EHH, because he might be gone in 2018.
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Re: Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

Postby Backshophoss » Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:05 pm

Wonder how long before the Shareholders of CSX and some of Board of Directors will ask for a Medical opinion on EHH's health
and mental state of health? The "battle" he waged on the failed NS "hostile takeover" might finally be catching up to him mentally. :wink:

For now might be better for Amtrak to "lay low" and watch how long EHH lasts at the helm of CSX.
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Re: Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:49 pm

After EHH leaves Jacksonville (one way or another), maybe the powers-that-be will invite Wick to the party :P
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Re: Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

Postby palmland » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:53 pm

Alex M wrote:Rerouting over to Charlotte and south via the R line of NS, while increasing potential ridership, would add more time to the Silver Star's schedule. In addition to the curvy and hilly nature of the R line, you would need to build stations in places like Ft. Mill and Rock Hill, as well as a connection to get to the S line for arrival at Amtrak's station in Columbia. I would do this if it was a last resort.


Don't think a new connection would be required in Columbia - the wye is already there. But it would require a 4 block back up move. A better solution is to use the old Southern station, or at least part of it's real estate. A very successful restaurant is on the top, street level, but the bottom floor is at track level and doesn't appear to be used much. It too could be accessed by the city street with a little work. That NS line is operated jointly with CSX from there across the river where CSX continues on to Savannah. The problem as someone said is the slow speeds on NS south of Charlotte. Southern's Augusta Special took a little more than 3 hours. Add that to the Raleigh-Charlotte time of the Carolinian and you get 6hrs 30min. The Star on the current route does it in 4hrs 40min. It would be a tough sell. But no doubt it would open up a new market for those in Charlotte that want to head south.
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Re: Hunter Harrison, CSX, and Amtrak OTP

Postby Bob Roberts » Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:28 pm

I had not thought about the timing issue, your right -- its slow. There are a few things that could take a few minutes from your estimates. Eliminating stops in Kannapolis, Salisbury, High Point, Burlington Durham (perhaps) and Cary might remove 15-20 minutes (they are all well served by other trains). The recently completed ARRA project may take 10 minutes (optimistically) out of Greensboro-Charlotte running time (but with double-track reliability). Recent improvements to NS tracks just west of downtown Charlotte (around the junction between the Atlanta and Columbia lines) might shave another 5 (?) minutes on the historical pax time.

Finally (this is just fantasy) commuter rail from Charlotte to Rock Hill (and eventually Columbia) could eliminate grade crossings and straighten curves in the first 20 miles South of Charlotte. While this plan isn't really in public discussion, traffic on I77 is getting much worse and York County SC has the facility for a dedicated sales tax so its not the most far-fetched rail prospect ever.

All this might get run time down to a bit under 6hrs rather than 4:40 on the current route -- Geometry is unkind to railfans.
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