New Atlanta Station

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New Atlanta Station

Postby Jeff Smith » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:01 pm

...and as a denizen of Georgia, so am I. I've long thought Atlanta needs a second daily frequency, a day train from ATL to NYP. Interesing asides in the editorial include reference to regional services.

http://www.ajc.com/opinion/atlanta-shou ... 98196.html

Is all this asking too much? Well, yes — if you continue to host only two trains and about 300 people a day, as Amtrak does now.

Yet a new terminal linked to the region’s other public transportation stands a greater chance of attracting new passengers and expanded service than the Brookwood station on Peachtree Street in Buckhead, a pocket-sized whistlestop that opened in 1918 for the Southern Railway.

....

A new terminal is a priority for Amtrak in Atlanta.

“There certainly is a sense of urgency within my department,” Jeff Mann, Amtrak’s assistant vice president for policy and development for the Southern region, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “A new station would allow us to pursue growth opportunities in Atlanta as far as regional service, a new corridor and connecting with MARTA services that we may not be able to access at the [current terminal].”

Operations are limited at the current terminal. Norfolk Southern’s main line shuts down while Amtrak trains are in the station; there isn’t room for Amtrak to pull off the main tracks during boarding. (Norfolk Southern also favors relocating the Amtrak terminal; alas, it can’t offer financial help.)

Amtrak is conducting a feasibility study and should have a preferred site for a new terminal early next year. Then the real work begins to secure funding, environmental approval and new agreements with other rail users and owners.
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Oct 24, 2011 5:30 pm

Ow, that is a really cramped station location. Very convenient to the highway, but not really a place to lay over.

The two obvious areas I see are near the Atlantic Station shopping center and at the Five Points MARTA station. While Five Points would be preferable for getting people into the heart of downtown, Atlantic Station might be the cheaper option, and would be better for through Crescent service.

The area near Georgia Tech and the Coca-Cola headquarters campus is another option, but I don't see much room for expansion there.

What are your thoughts, Jeff?
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby afiggatt » Mon Oct 24, 2011 5:51 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:...and as a denizen of Georgia, so am I. I've long thought Atlanta needs a second daily frequency, a day train from ATL to NYP. Interesing asides in the editorial include reference to regional services.

Amtrak spent over 5 pages in the 2011 PRIIA Performance improvement report in the Crescent section on the limits of the Atlanta station and lack of switching options. Amtrak wants a new better located station, but they are indeed to run into resistance for replacing a once a day station.

Atlanta should have a lot more than just one second daily train, however, the current ~18 hour NYP-ATL trip time makes that a poor prospect for a day train. Reduce trip time by 2-3 hours, then it gets more feasible. All 3 segments of the Southeast HSR corridor would need to be mostly in place to achieve that.

However, an Atlanta to Raleigh NC day train should be viable. NC has the funding to expand Piedmont corridor service to 4-5 daily round trip trains plus the Carolinian. NC and GA could cooperate to get the additional equipment needed to extend one Piedmont slot into a daily Raleigh - Charlotte - Atlanta train. Set the schedule so the eastbound ATL - RGH train allows for connections to a southbound Silver Star and the west bound leaves late enough for connections from the northbound Silver Star. If it could be done, perhaps extend the ATL - RGH train to originate & terminate at Rocky Mount to bring those cities into the route, but looking at the schedule, would not provide for same day connections to the Silver Meteor or Palmetto. NC and Amtrak could probably start up a RGH to ATL service to the existing Atlanta station if NS is willing - and the equipment is available.
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby MACTRAXX » Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:08 pm

Everyone: I recall a June 1985 trip that I took on the Crescent to Atlanta and New Orleans...I covered the entire MARTA system
that was open at the time and after noticing the not-so-good location of Atlanta's Peachtree Station I thought then about
relocating the Amtrak station to alongside MARTA's Lenox Station noting then that room for at least another 1 or two tracks
could be available if tracks were shifted...I recall suggesting this while I was talking to some Amtrak employees during my visit
and bringing up this idea of station relocation I recall being told "They don't think like that down here" noting that I was from
up North...I came up with the idea because of the connection to the MARTA rail system at that point...
Nowadays that N/S line takes you S to ATL/Hartsfield Airport...

I feel a relocation of Amtrak's ATL station would be a good thing...Lenox would be a good alternative if a Downtown location is
not feasible...or even better what about BOTH locations especially if Commuter Rail uses this line in the future...

After looking at MARTA's NE Rail Line another connection could be made at Doraville and noting the adjacent yard track space
at that point it would probably not be a problem for a suburban Amtrak/Commuter Rail future station there also...

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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby Jeff Smith » Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:59 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Ow, that is a really cramped station location. Very convenient to the highway, but not really a place to lay over.

The two obvious areas I see are near the Atlantic Station shopping center and at the Five Points MARTA station. While Five Points would be preferable for getting people into the heart of downtown, Atlantic Station might be the cheaper option, and would be better for through Crescent service.

The area near Georgia Tech and the Coca-Cola headquarters campus is another option, but I don't see much room for expansion there.

What are your thoughts, Jeff?


Lenox would be the easiest to implement.

I think the preferred location, though, is something called "the gulch" downtown, which I think you point out as being near Coke. GA DOT has some plans for commuter rail, the closest to coming to fruition being a route South of Atlanta which NS would love to unload on the DOT (it's a secondary line) which runs Atlanta to Lovejoy and Griffin (and eventually Macon). This service would use the gulch location.

The Brookwood location is not actually all that convenient to the highway. It's not as bad as it used to be with a 17th St. exit now in place both North and South bound, but if you're coming from NE of Buckhead (I-85 and GA 400) it's a real hassle. I used to work in an office building two blocks north of the location. Terrible local streets and almost no parking. I also understand that there are now structural deficiencies in the building (or it could be the parking, or both), which is quite high over the tracks.

I've always wondered why NS mainline traffic has to stop; there are three tracks through the station, and although two abut the platform, one is shielded and freight only. The third track would be good.

I like the Atlantic Station idea; there's an old spur Amtrak stores the Crescent on when the train is annuled west of Atlanta which used to run to an old steel mill there. They turn on a wye which forms part of the beltine (which would be the preferred method of getting to the "gulch" location) slightly north and east of the station. It seems like there's more than enough room to put a station which could come off the main line there. This is also one one of the selling points of Lenox (which also has Marta). MARTA had some type of a provision when built to run towards Cobb County and Marietta and Atlantic Station, but this will never happen now.

As for service levels, I agree that hours for a daylight run to NYP are not great; however, they do it with the Palmetto from Savannah (which arrives around midnight in NYP; IMO they leave too late from Savannah after 0800). I do like the idea of shorter runs to Raleigh, but would still prefer a run to at least DC.

As for commuter service, I still scratch my head as to why they don't just start it on the NS line Amtrak currently uses. I'm sure there are freight conflicts; still, it already supports passenger service so it shouldn't be that hard.

The Crescent is long a favorite of mine. I rode it in April 1979 from Newark Penn to Anniston, AL to report to basic at Fort McLellan. It had only just been absorbed from Southern to Amtrak that February, as Mssr. Norman advises, but I"m sure it was still a "Southern" operation in spite of the ticketing.
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby Greg Moore » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:53 pm

There's really only two tracks through the station. The third is a long lead that doesn't rejoin the mainline.

And the two tracks are close enough to the platform, and the fact that generally you have to cross one track to get to the elevator, it's just not safe.

Also, I don't think NYP-ATL is worth it. But WAS-ATL would be.

And I am surprised Lenox isn't high on the list. Would be VERY convenient for me.

(In any case, I may be on the Crescent in just under a month.)
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:45 pm

Didn't even notice the Lenox location. (If you can't tell, I'm not an Atlanta native. :-)) That would offer similar benefits to the Atlantic Station location, minus a TOD community and Georgia Tech but plus an interstate and MARTA.

In reference to the "gulch," I think it's south of the Georgia Tech/Coke location I'd pointed out, in the Georgia World Congress Center. Also a good possibility with a MARTA stop right there, but quite crowded - at least as much so as Peachtree.

And, to add onto Greg Moore's note about the third track through Peachtree, that is indeed the spur that goes towards what is now Atlantic Station, but what was a steel mill. It can't really be used as a through route for freight since that spur goes across the highway on a separate bridge, then in front of a Target parking lot. That makes it problematic for a passenger spur too, but something could be worked out.
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby Station Aficionado » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:13 pm

afiggatt wrote:However, an Atlanta to Raleigh NC day train should be viable. NC has the funding to expand Piedmont corridor service to 4-5 daily round trip trains plus the Carolinian. NC and GA could cooperate to get the additional equipment needed to extend one Piedmont slot into a daily Raleigh - Charlotte - Atlanta train. Set the schedule so the eastbound ATL - RGH train allows for connections to a southbound Silver Star and the west bound leaves late enough for connections from the northbound Silver Star. If it could be done, perhaps extend the ATL - RGH train to originate & terminate at Rocky Mount to bring those cities into the route, but looking at the schedule, would not provide for same day connections to the Silver Meteor or Palmetto. NC and Amtrak could probably start up a RGH to ATL service to the existing Atlanta station if NS is willing - and the equipment is available.

I fully agree on the viability (i.e., justified by the ridership) of an ATL-RGH train, even just ATL-CLT, connecting to one of the Piedmonts (I suspect ATL-CLT would be higher in ridership than ATL-RGH). There are a couple of problems: First, even granting that Brookwood/Peachtree itself could accomodate one additional train (it was, after all, the only ATL stop back when SOU was running two trains a day to ATL post-A-Day), there is still the problem of where to store and service the equipment (the same problem that currently exists with regard to adding/dropping cars for the Crescent). Indeed, it would be especially challenging if there was equipment for both the Crescent and an ATL-RGH train laying over at the same time. The other problem is that I suspect NC has got all it can handle with the current trains + future service to Ashville. And I'd be surprised if either NC or GA would be very willing to fund service in that big stretch of SC between Toccoa and Gastonia--though NC does fund the Carolinian south of DC (or is south of Richmond??--in any event they do fund some portion of Carolinian north of Rocky Mt.).
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby Station Aficionado » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:35 pm

I think a link to MARTA is essential, if ATL really wants to create an alternative to driving--whether for increased Amtrak service or a significant amount of commuter rail service in the future. For that reason, I'm not at all keen on the Atlantic Station location.

IIRC, the Five Points MARTA station is quite near where the old Union and Terminal Stations were located in downtown. While a station there would cause some operational hurdles for the Crescent, it would be better situated if there is ever to be service on any route other than the current Crescent route.
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby afiggatt » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:49 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:As for service levels, I agree that hours for a daylight run to NYP are not great; however, they do it with the Palmetto from Savannah (which arrives around midnight in NYP; IMO they leave too late from Savannah after 0800). I do like the idea of shorter runs to Raleigh, but would still prefer a run to at least DC.

The Crescent NYP to ATL trip time is about 18 hours. A train would have to leave ATL at 6 AM to make NYP at around midnight. Not very good hours on either end. An 18 hour day trip could also result in additional operating costs if the limit is 6 hours for an engineer.

The Palmetto trip time is about 15 hours which allows better day time hours at one end or the other. The top city pair for the Palmetto is NYP to Charleston SC, so the schedule leaving SAV at 8:20 AM may be tuned to provide a better departure time at Charleston. The Palmetto departs NYP at the very early hour of 6:15 AM due I expect mostly to having to depart before the peak morning rush hours. But NYC has a 24/7 subway service and LIRR runs trains in the early morning hours, so residents in NYC or closer in on Long island can get to NYP via train in the wee hours of the morning.

ATL to WAS would be under 15 hours so it could be done. But who would provide the subsidy support? NC might say, we are already paying for a daily Carolinian connecting NC to WAS and NYP. Yes, a daytime Crescent route train would connect Charlotte to Greensboro to Atlanta and Lynchburg & Charlottesville to the north, but not Raleigh & Durham. A Raleigh to Charlotte to Atlanta day train would balance the Carolinian and might be primarily supported by NC. If NC wants to restrict their refurbished equipment entirely to in-state use, NC & GA could have Amtrak to provide the equipment, possibly using Horizon cars after the new corridor bi-levels are delivered.

The major hold-up, as has been pointed out, could be the lack of layover storage and service capacity with the current Atlanta station. If Amtrak is working with GA DOT and Atlanta on selecting a new station, hopefully they will include in their plans at least enough capacity for expansion of service such as daily ATL-Raleigh, ATL to Chattanooga, ATL to Macon- SAV trains. The prospect of having more than just one daily train through Atlanta should help in getting support for funding a new station in Atlanta.
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby neroden » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:39 am

I do hope someone comes through with funding for a new Atlanta station.

Amtrak has made very clear that this is something they can't pay for themselves. The state of Georgia does nothing for rail but conduct studies, sometimes not even that. The City of Atlanta seems to have enough other transportation projects on its plate that it's put this on the back burner.

Doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon unless a Representative gets a federal earmark, or unless the City changes priorities. Unfortunately so.
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:34 am

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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:52 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:"This is the place"

Same thought I had, Mr. Norman. Convenient to a large development, not far from Georgia Tech, not so constricted as right downtown. No MARTA access though, and not as convenient to the interstate.

We'll see if Amtrak considers the site.
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby slchub » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:20 pm

Without much support from the City or the State, "this is the place" may be about as good as it gets. I don't know how much traffic Amtrak would pick up if they continued service south from RDU/CLT as some has said. With Delta, USAir, Airtran (soon to be Southwest) offering plenty of service from Atlanta to CLT, RDU and points north, it would be a hard sell. I think Lennox would be a great place, but I don't think the City of Atlanta has the foresight to offer it. This should have all been done back in 96 with the monies flowing into the City/State for the Olympics (same goes for SLC, where Amtrak gave up a fantastic D&RGW depot for the State and it's Olympic dreams, and still sits in a "Amshack").
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Re: Amtrak Anxious for New Atlanta Station...

Postby Greg Moore » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:24 pm

The thing that gets me, is I could see Atlanta being somewhat of a crossroads of the South for passenger traffic if they did some work.

But they won't.
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