Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:08 am

Topeka is on the Topeka sub, which is not the Transcon. The Topeka sub runs Emporia north to Topeka, then east through Lawrence to Kansas City.

In red on this map: http://www.bnsf.com/ship-with-bnsf/maps ... ns-map.pdf

It's quiet. Real quiet. I lived in Lawrence for three years and there was maybe 4 trains a day, and Amtrak 3/4. The Newton-Emporia segment is mostly on the La Junta sub (the very quiet Chief route) and only on the transcon for ten miles maybe.

At the end of the day, It still doesn't make sense to run the Flyer to Wichita or KC. The population isn't there and that ten mile stretch on the Transcon near Emporia would be costly.

That's why I think a Topeka-Lawrence-KC (60 miles on a quiet route) really makes sense if they want a passenger train. You have population and tracks available.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:43 pm

So let’s say BNSF gets ten miles of third main track between Emporia and Newton and several new crossovers & interlockings along the entire distance KCY-Topeka-Newton-Wichita. Seems like it could be a reasonable (for government work!) $300m project. Add Wichita-OKC for say $100m, including stations, or a $2m/year Thruway for the moment. The demand is obvious from Kansas City to Wichita anyway.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:41 pm

So we're saying $400 million dollars is "okay" to start passenger service in some of the most sparsely populated parts of the country?

This is crazy. We're talking two states that do not have the population COMBINED of the Chicago metro area, spread over 152,000 square miles. For $400,000,000. In addition to $50,000,000 for the Chief's track upkeep this year. You're literally at half billion dollars for service in the state of Kansas. All 1x/day routes.

A Topeka extension of the Saint Louis trains might cost literally nothing given the existing track and equipment.

Also, Amtrak bought the entire Michigan route for $150m, lock stock and barrel, serving Detroit, Ann Arbor, South Bend, and Chicago. Population something like 10 million, 4x trains/day, might see 2 more if the LSL or Cap are ever rerouted.

My head is about to explode.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:09 pm

Tadman wrote:So we're saying $400 million dollars is "okay" to start passenger service in some of the most sparsely populated parts of the country?


It would never make it past the study phase.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:17 am

The Topeka Sub, which has just received CTC in its entirety, by the way--is quite busy. Its usefulness becomes apparent when one of the two tracks on the Emporia Sub is out of service, or when some other operational situation occurs. It's also used for lower priority movements on a regular basis. Empty auto trains, and the like.

I guess one's definition of "quiet" would color one's comments on how busy the Topeka Sub is.

Anyway, trying this out for size might give some definitive answers.

http://lawrencetraincam.com/
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:20 pm

Tad and George: then don’t fund it - Greyhound does business along this corridor anyway. Or negotiate a better deal with BNSF, since at least half of that money goes to them without accountability. Also keep in mind that I’m estimating way high - the cost could be as little as $60-80 million to start up, or less if BNSF determines they have the capacity and Amtrak has the equipment (especially if the sponsors cut a deal with BNSF during a slow period.)

Michigan isn’t a great comparison though, since a) NS had wanted out for years and sold relatively cheap, b) $150m was solely the purchase price, not the cost of upgrades, c) stations and Amtrak infrastructure already existed, and d) that’s only the stretch from K-Zoo to Detroit, since Amtrak bought/received Porter-Kalamazoo from the PC estate (or was it Conrail directly?)

The Wichita-Oklahoma City segment does seem to be the least-traveled, but I’d have to look at highway volumes and bus numbers to tell for sure.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:59 pm

Trainwise which segment has less freight traffic? Oklahoma City to Wichita or Wichita to Newton?
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:24 am

gokeefe wrote:Trainwise which segment has less freight traffic? Oklahoma City to Wichita or Wichita to Newton?


OC to Mulvane. Wichita to Newton forms part of the BNSF transcon, with directional running westbound.
[Eastbound trains usually use the Emporia Sub east of Mulvane, unless they're destined for Newton and points west of there on the La Junta Sub.] There's also a local or two between Wichita and Newton, plus the UP runs quite a few trains on BNSF tracks through the south part of Wichita to get to its own yard there. If a BNSF westbound train is heading to Texas from Newton, it will be on the transcon thru Wichita as far as Mulvane,
then continue south to Arkansas City, KS and Oklahoma City. The transcon goes west at Mulvane.

Confused yet? :-D
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby John_Perkowski » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:37 pm

You all are discussing this in political isolation to the transportation stovepipe.

Allow me to tell you Kansas has a money problem. It’s under a state Supreme Court mandate to increase K-12 funding. The colleges and universities have been underfunded for years, by legislative cuts.

Social spending is in between a rock and a hard place.

As I said in 2007, I say now.. Where will Kansas find the money?
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:37 pm

John_Perkowski wrote:Where will Kansas find the money?


Tax reforms that probably roll back some of the carve outs from the previous administration.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby John_Perkowski » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:38 am

That happened last year. My neighbors 2 miles to the South of me (I live at a bend on the Missouri River) are still in the hole. They are in the hole even with the Federal tax cuts, which brought more revenue to the State. OBTW, the Kansas Legislature wants to give that money back to the people.

Rail transportation for passengers is a non priority in Kansas. Rail transportation for B-737/8 jet fuselages from Wichita to Everett on the BNSF matters.

I’ve been watching this circus for over a decade, from the safe distance of Missouri. When I see the political organizers getting their act together, when they have people in Johnson, Wyandotte, Douglas and Jackson Counties, when I see the pro passenger rail folk have something to politically horse trade in the Legislature, I’ll believe the first run is ten years away. I learned that lesson in the 07-11 debacle. The regulatory process is far longer than you think.
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Re: Amtrak Heartland Flyer Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:03 am

Thank you for the reminder on the tax changes in Kansas. I completely understand your sentiment with regards to state level funding. Until the advocacy groups have some clout they wont do much more than sit around the table and talk.

Federal funding remains the best possible option for capital improvements. The question in my mind is whether or not they can get the state to spring for the operating costs if the initial trackwork is paid for.
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