Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Wed Oct 04, 2017 10:24 pm

Bob Roberts wrote:^ some awfully big cartography errors in that map. Tidewater service has been moved south into NC, South Carolina has gained an HSR corridor and Raleigh to Charlotte is filed in the 'distant future' category?

I'd like to stay on point for this thread and focus on NE Regionals to & beyond Roanoke, the salient point of which is that the Blue Ridge ('cept for CLT-ATL) has never been an HSR priority at the national level, and even big, busy Charlottesville only appears when there's an "existing network" layer.

The basic problem for Roanoke-Knoxville-whatever is that every time someone might find $1 to spend, that $1 will have a way better payback if it is used to further upgrade a parallel segment that's more populous and more tightly bound into the national HSR/Higher-speed network, particularly within 100 miles of DC or along the Richmond-Raleigh-Charlotte corridor.

Neither Clinton's Last Map (from 2001) or during the Obama revival (below is 2009's) had anything on on the Carolina-DC stretch of the Crescent. I believe the (bad geography) one above is an early "stimulus" political map but is a good indication of where "the will" is, and any better DOT map sustains/repeats/refocuses the point that even in the grandest federal plans:
- Charlottesville may appear, but it never gets HSR
- Lynchburg has never appeared
- And even IF Virginia musters the will for a hugely-expensive, low-use, low-return rail corridor beyond New River Valley (not their bipartisan style, which emphasizes operating near breakeven), the beyond-Bristol is cripplingly expensive for not much demand.
- Tennessee, if it gets anything, in a "why not both/all" world, will get HSR on a Chicago-Indy-Louisville-Nashville-Chattanooga-Altanta axis:
Image

Or this "2009 Stimulus/Pre-Wisconsin/Ohio/Florida-opt-out" re-working of the bad-geography map above:
Image
The opt-out era was instructive: when money was refused on one place on the map, they didn't redraw the map, the moved the $ to segments elsewhere.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:26 am

You all know I love the Lynchburger. My strategy for making it a faster, more convenient, highway-beating mode for folks along NRV-Bristol would be
- Increasing to a 2nd and 3rd round trip per day, Fast trains work better when you only have to wait 6 hours for them instead of 24. 3 trains to ROA have to be prioritized above extending the trip, we'll also get to the point where 3 trains can be berthed overnight (one at NRV, ROA, and LYH) in addition to doing daylight turns.

- Where demand gets thin and dispersed beyond NRV/VaTech, timed bus connections, traveling at 70mph on I-81 and I-77, and converging on whatever the southern terminus is (ROA or future New River Valley station in Christiansburg) , something that can test market demand for, say $500k (buying buses and finding an operator). This also addresses the problem/opportunity that the Tri-Cities have 3 downtowns that can't all be served by rail:
-- Bus #1 Asheville-Johnson City- Bristol Roanoke
-- Bus #2 Kingsport-Bristol-Roanoke
-- Bus #3 Oak Ridge-Knoxville-Bristol-Roanoke
-- Bus #4 WInston Salem - I74/I77 - Roanoke

- Getting speeds up between LYH and ALX
- Getting from ALX to WAS in 15 minutes, instead of 24 ~ 28
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby east point » Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:41 pm

Minor quibble Roanoke identifier is RNK for Amtrak. Airport is ROA.
Speeding up the LYH - WASH route seems to be a very reasonable cost recovery ratio for more passengers. US-29 is just going to get worse. Now there are several grades that will need straightening. Remember SOU RR's Southern Crescent derailed on one of the downgrade curves killing a Chef.

Can LYH - RNK be straightened ? That would be a question ? Now extending to BLK remains to be determined. A 12 months comparison of Bus traffic BLK <> RNK before the RNK extension and 12 months after can give us an idea of how much more traffic between the 2 cities comes from LYH <> RNK train new service. It is very important if the thruway service is open booking or is limited to just on bus ? Wide swings of traffic thru the college year may preclude thruway service. Or maybe just weekend train service. It all depends on BLK <> RNK demand.

Crew, operating costs, large swings in traffic day to day week to week month to month & capital improvements may not justify service to BLK ? A much bigger problem is operating crew. Charlottesville is the operating crew base for all trains going thru there. A BLK train requires the crew to lay over about 30 hours due to HOS. RNK train's layovers give crews enough time to get a legal break.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Woody » Thu Oct 05, 2017 3:07 pm

Bob Roberts wrote:^ some awfully big cartography errors in that map. Tidewater service has been moved south into NC, South Carolina has gained an HSR corridor that is "in development," Atlanta is omitted entirely, and Raleigh to Charlotte is filed in the 'distant future' category?
The map is wack. Actually, every map I've seen of "future HSR" has been wack. LOL.

For example, this map shows three (3) HSR lines to Montreal, but zero (0) to Toronto. It shows no HSR connection at all between the East Coast BOS/NYC/ Philly/D.C. and Chicago. Etc.

Anyway, we have strong signals that Amtrak expects future growth from corridor services, with no mention of true HSR. So back to discussing Amtrak Virginia routes.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby east point » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:16 pm

The Amtrak campaign " we are ready to build " may put more pressure on the Washington establishment if more voters start asking why not more funds ?
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby jhdeasy » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:04 pm

east point wrote:Remember SOU RR's Southern Crescent derailed on one of the downgrade curves killing a Chef.


Southern Railway train # 2
Elma, Virginia
12-03-1978
Chef Louis Price (R.I.P.)

I see that heavyweight Pullman KITCHI GAMMI CLUB will be the first private car to visit Roanoke on the regional train. I believe they are heading south from Washington to Roanoke on Saturday November 4th, making a trip from Roanoke to Washington and return to Roanoke on Sunday November 5th, then returning from Roanoke to Washington on Monday November 6th.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:18 pm

Thanks, East Point for laying that all out (including RNK code).
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Woody » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:00 pm

Arlington wrote:Virginia is going to see a much bigger payback (in votes, trains, and mobility) investing at the "VRE end" (Manassas-ALX/WAS and Fredericksburg-ALX/WAS)

Investing in tracks southwest of the New River Valley (VaTech) serves, at best, 1 or 2 round trips per day. Investing between ALX and WAS serves something like 30 trains a day

... to speed travel from Bristol to DC by a half an hour, you'd spend an absolute fortune per passenger if you did it on the dangling Bristol end ...

But invest in the Long Bridge, and you've saved 15 mins x 30 trains = 7.5 hours of delay per day (and probably 100x as many passenger-hours of delay per day, given fuller trains)

Over the next 10 years at least, the big money should go on the VRE end of things, no doubt. (And after that is finished, build the Richmond-Raleigh short-cut.)

The entire Amtrak national system could benefit from eliminating the D.C.-ALX bottleneck and upgrading ALX-Richmond, not just the Amtrak Virginia corridor trains.

Taking 8 or 10 minutes out of D.C.-ALX would benefit the Cardinal and the Crescent. The same savings, before the routes diverge, would benefit the Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Palmetto, and Carolinian. Get another 20 minutes out of ALX-Richmond and we're looking at half an hour. Nice.

The SB Palmetto is scheduled to arrive in Savannah at 9 p.m. But 8:30 would make for happier customers. The NB Palmetto could still depart at 8:20 a.m., but arrive NYC at 11:30 p.m. That's late, but not as late as the current 11:56 p.m. -- that's midnight.

Currently the SB Meteor passes thru Savannah at 6:34 a.m. Not much gained by arriving earlier. Depart NYC at 3:45 instead of 3:15 p.m., to give a little more time to "do" the Big Apple. On the NB Meteor, saving half an hour thru Virginia would allow later times thru Florida and the Carolinas, or an earlier arrival in NYC.

Likewise the Silver Star schedules could be tweaked, but when the Richmond-Raleigh cut-off is opened, saving an hour or more right there, the Star's entire timetable will need a revamp.

Not least, saving half an hour D.C.-Richmond will benefit the Carolinian, which is already set to save good minutes when upgrades are completed on the overlapping Piedmont route. The Virginia work should allow a SB arrival in Raleigh around 4:30 p.m. and together with the Piedmont upgrades it should reach Charlotte by 8 p.m. (currently 8:45). NB that could mean sleeping a few minutes later in Charlotte and/or an earlier arrival in NYC (currently 8:35 p.m.).

I'm not sure if any expenses could be shaved from these slightly faster operations. But I'm optimistic that even slightly faster timetables, and more convenient departure and arrival times, will attract more ridership.

Then after 10 or 12 years have passed, and plenty money has been spent on the VRE end, and all the low-hanging and even medium-hanging fruit there have been gathered, we can take another look at the relative cost/benefit of Roanoke-New River Valley-Bristol-Knoxville-Chattanooga-points south.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby palmland » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:46 pm

It NC and VA could work together, you could save 2 hours off the Carolinian schedule by routing it direct from Washington to Greensboro over NS. Schedule one of the Piedmonts to connect for Raleigh passengers and maybe an additional WAS-RVR for that traffic. It would make it so much more attractive for Charlotte customers - one of the fastest growing cities that will someday rival Atlanta. Of coursse Greensboro and the nearby I-85 cities would benefit too.

And that two hours saved would get you into Greenville, SC about the same time as the Carolinian gets to Charlotte now. Greenville is SC's fastest growing city and home to an ever expanding BMW plant and Michelin tire. Of course that would depend on funding from SC that would be a tough sell.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby electricron » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:57 pm

And it would also depend if Raleigh likes being bypassed, which I doubt.
The Carolinian fills one of the Piedmont’s frequencies perfectly. Change it’s routing also means adding an additional Piedmont train that gains North Carolina itself “no” more effective train service.

The future speed gains between Richmond and Raleigh will more than make up any time savings running on mostly NS tracks in Virginia, assuming there will be any time savings on the crowded freight rail line.

And that also assumes NS would allow it, which you ignored having any infuence at all.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby east point » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:48 pm

Carolinian on Crescent route ? That seems to be non productive. The present route has Durham, Raleigh, Selma, Rocky Mount, Petersburg, Richmond, Fredericksburg, as intermediate stations. Danville, LYH, CVS are stations that have a much smaller population bases. Persons from CLT, Salisbury, High Point, Greensboro, can make connections to the intermediate stations of the Carolinian.

Once again we have proposals that worry about any train's end destinations. Why do we tend to ignore the intermediate origin / destination travelers when they are a majority on most trains ?
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Alex M » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:57 pm

Since the Trump Administration talks about public/private ventures, provided that they succeed well in Florida, I wonder if the Brightline folks would amass a real estate portfolio in Richmond and Raleigh, as well as the other two research triangle cities and partner with VA/NC on the Richmond to Raleigh HSR line.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Bob Roberts » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:12 pm

Alex M wrote:Since the Trump Administration talks about public/private ventures, provided that they succeed well in Florida, I wonder if the Brightline folks would amass a real estate portfolio in Richmond and Raleigh, as well as the other two research triangle cities and partner with VA/NC on the Richmond to Raleigh HSR line.


I agree that it is an interesting opportunity for Brightline to consider. The NCRR row from Charlotte to Raleigh is 200' wide (and only two tracks on it at the moment) and the S line for Norlina to Petersburg is (I believe) owned by NCDOT. Charlotte and Raleigh are also solidly locked into an explosive growth phase. However, the route lacks tourist traffic, business traffic (largely due to dispersed employment in the Triangle) and only small amounts of traffic between NC and Richmond. The route could work, but I only see higher capital costs and lower revenue than Miami-Orlando. As a Charlotte resident I hope I am wrong.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby Arlington » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:52 pm

A side thought: if Virginia is looking for further upgrade service via Charlottesville, and were looking to push new service outward from CVS, I'd say that running a train on the Buckingham Branch (the Cardinal's Route) would make good sense, reaching the 120,000 people of greater Staunton-Waynesboro (and perhaps drawing some James Madison U folks down from Harrisonburg) and onward to terminate at Clifton Forge (and serve the Homestead and tourism).

That'd give Amtrak really strong, Interstate-Accessible termini along the Blue Ridge, and maximize population per train-hour and track mile.
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Re: Lynchburg VA NE Regional (ext. to Roanoke and Bristol)

Postby electricron » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:23 pm

Arlington wrote:A side thought: if Virginia is looking for further upgrade service via Charlottesville, and were looking to push new service outward from CVS, I'd say that running a train on the Buckingham Branch (the Cardinal's Route) would make good sense, reaching the 120,000 people of greater Staunton-Waynesboro (and perhaps drawing some James Madison U folks down from Harrisonburg) and onward to terminate at Clifton Forge (and serve the Homestead and tourism).

That'd give Amtrak really strong, Interstate-Accessible termini along the Blue Ridge, and maximize population per train-hour and track mile.

Interesting proposal worthy of some discussion. Without establishing a new crew base, the further west a train could go is are und 4 hours, which allows the same crew to return over the next 4 hours. Looking at the Cardinal’s schedule, 4 hours west of Charlottesville will be around Anderson, WV. Hinton, WV would be too far away. Station VA is just an hour away fro. Charlottesville. Are there an Amfleet Amtrak regional train available that could be used? The Cardinal visits Staunton at 2 pm and 3 pm, very good times 3 times per week in both directions. What Station needs more is daily service from the Cardinal, to another train like the Hoosier State the other 4 days a week.
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