Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inland

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scoostraw
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by scoostraw » Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:45 am

[Frailey] Should the Northeast Corridor be paved over? [O'Toole] No. But be aware that the next technological revolution is not going to be high-speed rail, but driverless cars. Driverless cars are going to do a lot to relieve congestion, in the early stages by 25 percent or more. Eventually, they may double, triple or quadruple highway capacities.
I think driverless cars could end up being the thing that kills the LD trains, especially outside of the northeast.

Arlington
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Arlington » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:03 am

A forum called Railroad.net is not going to get a representative sample of mode choice, so "I'm not going to ride the bus" while true, is not actually useful in route planning.

BUS: Without looking (I'll put the answer below) how many annual intercity bus passengers are there compared to how many intercity train (Amtrak) passengers? NOTE: the answer is not "nobody rides the bus" Rather it is that bus is the far larger, nationwide solution, providing both "essential" service to flyover Red State nothingburgs AND serving dense corridors.

CAR (AVs/Autonomous Vehicles) Relevant in this thread: the NY, CT, & MA markets are all the kind where AVs are going to make traffic worse. CT, with no toll roads, is particularly doomed to see AVs "take as long as they need" to use the "free" roads. I-91/I-84/I-95 (and the CT-15 Wilbur Cross+Merritt) are going to get profoundly sucky, since there are a lot of would-be supercommuters lurking in the leafy burbs.

BUT on the Inland-competitive MassPike, MassPike has the option of dynamic tolling to suppress congestion on the inner Pike (and toll-funded add-a-lane from Worcester-Auburn to Sturbridge). The MassPike will remain a fierce (and politically more popular) competitor to trains, and the SPG-WOR-BOS Bus can go along for the ride for just the price of a 3-axle toll.

AVs are like cheap gas: they'll promote trips "for fun" (this will be deadly to the LDs where thin demand means that the interstates can handle the fun-stimulated trips). I am definitely going to finally do that BOS-CHI-DEN-LA-SF-SEA-MSP-STL-ATL-WAS-BOS trip across America if it means me & the mishpucha can plan a 10-hour drive each night were we sleep in the back of our 2025 Sienna.

In cities and their exurbs within a 2hr drive, It will CRUSH rush hour traffic as people choose longer commutes and more trips because they'll tell themselves "I'll just work / nap / recreate" on the trip (probably a serious competitive threat for commuter rail, too).

This does create clear window for more corridor trains like the Greenfielder and Shuttles, and Brightline and like what Anderson is proposing. Call that 2020 to 2035, the AV-apocalypse overlaps nicely with the I-84 rebuild in Hartford. Where the competition is an un-tolled New England corridor, the train can be faster than the bus for most of the day.

But vs the MassPike, I don't see the train being "worth it" unless it runs at 110mph at least some of the time.


* 2018 was a record year for Amtrak, but also a record year for Bus.
Amtrak 31.7, of which 12M was NEC, 15M was SS, and LD was 4.5M, Meanwhile, Intercity Bus was double that at 60M ~ 65M (source DePaul U) So while the mode choice on RR.net is about 5-to-1 in favor of rail, in the rest of the USA, it is 2-to-1 in favor of bus. We're about 10x more bus-hostile here than the rest of America and it is good to remember that a "choose rail" consensus for the Inlands is unlikely to be borne out in actual route performance.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

njt/mnrrbuff
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:59 am

I can tell you one part of the Boston Line where I don't see any corridor train option being worth it is between Springfield and Albany. The stretch of the Boston & Albany west of Springfield is very curvy in many areas, causing too many speed restrictions. 448 and 449's traveling time is not even close to driving or taking the bus. Yes, I know that Amtrak will be start running a seasonal service from NYC Penn Station up to Pittsfield by way of ALB. Amtrak trains do make good speeds once they are on the Post Road Line, but that only helps a fraction. In order for there to be more passenger trains running from Boston to Albany, there would have to be a whole new right of way. The passenger corridor would have to be separated from the freight in many spots. CSX doesn't play very well with Amtrak or any other passenger trains. Even though capacity was recently expanded at ALB, if more passenger trains were to run from Boston to Rensselaer by way of the Boston Line and Post Road, probably another track would have to be added at ALB, unless if the trains were continuing across Upstate NY which actually isn't a bad idea.

gokeefe
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by gokeefe » Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:36 pm

dowlingm wrote:
Backshophoss wrote:there's no agreement to allow Amtrak equipment to be serviced at BET.
This is also an impediment to overnighting Downeaster at BON. But maybe combined with Inland Route services, there is enough "there" to bother figuring out what it would take to get it done, benefiting both services?
Extremely unlikely due to the required agreements with labor units involved.
gokeefe

BenH
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by BenH » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:55 pm

Some weekend reading --

"A Push for ‘Fair’ Train Fares"
https://www.recorder.com/Amtrak-fares-23675925
The Recorder | February 23, 2019

And an update on the planned Greenfield-New Haven service, from Trains In The Valley
https://trainsinthevalley.org/new-green ... n-service/

Arlington
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Arlington » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:20 pm

It isn't clear to me why a distanced based fare is called for here. The problem is that seats into NYP from the north are a scarce and valuable commodity. Cost per mile is not where the value of the trip comes from.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by lordsigma12345 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:26 pm

I think the ridership potential of east-west rail is equal to or could be greater than that of the current NHHS corridor and the Greenfield service and is a perfect corridor of the kind being proposed by present Amtrak management . While yes it comes with a much bigger cost than the Greenfield service, driving to Boston is miserable as is driving IN Boston and parking in Boston. The shuttles and greenfield train have huge competition from I91. Driving to New Haven and hopping on metro north isn’t that inconvenient and I would feel comfortable saying FAR more people from both western mass and metro Hartford do this over taking Amtrak or CTrail. I don’t and am a big supporter of the corridor BUT that doesn’t change that fact. Yes one could drive to Worcester and take the T but it is a bit out of the way than just driving direct (and you can be contending with Worcester traffic to get to the station.) this corridor has big potential - especially in a state like Massachusetts where people are looking for more sustainable ways to travel.

Plenty of Bus service is available now so the study doesn’t need to waste time looking at that. I don’t think many will be happy if that is the conclusion of the study. The study is including multiple alternatives including 90 minutes or less travel time. This is not simply a matter of reinstating some inland trains. The goal is to establish a service that is enough time to be competitive. While the fastest possibility would be ideal this service does not need to be faster than driving time at optimal times (no traffic times) as many corridors are not.

njt/mnrrbuff
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:42 am

There will probably be many people who use the shuttle trains from Greenfield who will be heading into the city for business meetings and there might be some who may use the trains to go sightseeing. There might be parents who will take their soon to be college children to visit schools in NYC as well as in Coastal Fairfield County. These new shuttle trains might attract people who live in the Knowledge Corridor region who might attend a concert or sporting event in either Springfield or Hartford. Of course, many concerts and sporting events start at the earliest in the middle of the day and many start in the early evening. They could take the shuttle train back but going south, they would probably have to either take a bus or the Vermonter.

Yes, people who live along the SPG Line will drive to New Haven to get MNR. As for driving along the Mass Pike to get to the Worcester T, that can be a little tricky with traffic but it is doable. People who live in the Philadelphia area on the PA side of the Delaware and even in Delaware drive to either Trenton or Hamilton to get NJT when they want to head to NYC. I think actually more people drive to Hamilton since just like taking the highways to get to Worcester Station and dealing with traffic, one traffic problem with driving to the Trenton Station from any major highway, whether if it is 95 which the closest that it passes the Trenton Station is Ewing, is that you have to take local roads for a few miles. Plus Trenton is not a safe city and many of the streets that one must take from 95 in Ewing to the Trenton Transit Center are very sketchy. I think people who live in and around Philadelphia will generally drive to Hamilton to get a NJT train since they don't have to travel too far off a highway. In fact, 95 becomes 295 very close to where it goes over the NEC in Hamilton.

Back to the topic of the original thread, I believe that New Haven Station is very close to highways.

east point
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by east point » Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:16 am

Lost track. Are all the slow orders to Greenfield removed from the line? Seem to remember that at one time several slow sections just north of Springfield?

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by lordsigma12345 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:39 pm

I am not saying that I don’t think the service will have a decent amount of success, I’m just saying it has major competition with driving to stations to the south that have more train times. I guess I’m trying to make the point that I believe a SPG-BOS train would be a success even though one can drive to Worcester or Framingham, etc. for the same reason the Greenfield corridor makes sense even though it also has people who will still choose to drive further south.

njt/mnrrbuff
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:33 pm

Hopefully the slow orders can be lifted as much as possible between Springfield and Greenfield. I remember riding the Vermonter to NYC from St. Albans in October of 2015 and we were crawling along multiple sections of tracks that looked like could have been capable of faster speeds. If as many of those speed restrictions aren't eliminated, then most likely more people will drive further south for better train service. Even if speeds are improved between Greenfield and Springfield, there will be people who will continue to drive to Springfield for more options or to New Haven for a lot more and cheaper options. The advantage of taking Metro North, in addition to it being a cheaper option, is you arrive into a much nicer station in Midtown Manhattan, although in the short term, the brand new waiting room in the same building of the Farley Post office should be open.

daybeers
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by daybeers » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:12 am

Arlington wrote:It isn't clear to me why a distanced based fare is called for here. The problem is that seats into NYP from the north are a scarce and valuable commodity. Cost per mile is not where the value of the trip comes from.
Seats into NYP are irrelavant here if we're talking about just Shuttles. Passengers will still have to connect in NHV to a NER or a MNR train. NHV-SPG is flat commuter rail buckets, so any train extended to GFD should be treated the same. It's absolutely ridiculous that it costs $12.75 SPG-NHV but on the Vermonter, GFD-NHV can cost anywhere from $26 to $51. If someone wants a one-seat ride, they have to pay the premium for the Vermonter because there are only so many seats on that train.

SPG-BOS service may be worth the cost if the travel time/taxpayer money ratio is acceptable, which, let's face it, will not be the case. Intercity buses are doing just fine for right now HFD-BOS and SPG-BOS. I do agree that business travelers generally don't take the bus, however, so I'm hoping the study will answer where people are driving to and from along the corridor. BOS-SPG-ALB service is certainly NOT feasible. Incredibly silly to spend whatever ridiculous amount of money to somewhat ease some curves SPG-ALB but even then, it won't be competitive with bus or driving.

I do think the Greenfield service will be successful, but of course those slow orders need to be lifted.

Why doesn't Amtrak just make NHV-SPG unreserved like the Keystones? That way any Amtrak ticket could be used on any Amtrak train. Instead, an Amtrak ticket can be used on only that Amtrak train but is accepted on board any CTrail train. CTrail tickets are accepted aboard any train period, but the senior/disabled and child fares are lower than Amtrak's. What?!?

Arlington
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by Arlington » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:16 am

As I read the article, legislators were complaining about high fares on the Vermonter to NYP and were seconding in those complaints from Greenfield to NYP
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by lordsigma12345 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:09 am

Officially the study is looking at Pittsfield-Springfield-Boston and not Albany. The representative from Amtrak made the suggestion about considering having it terminate in Albany if its decided to make it an Amtrak service due to the yard facilities and potential to connect to other service. At this point that was just a suggestion - the corridor of study is PIT-SPG-BOS. I will say there seems to be a decent amount of support for at LEAST SPG-BOS. We'll see how the public meeting goes but the committee meeting had a decent amount of spectators and there is HUGE enthusiasm among the advisory committee members . The alternatives will be based around SPG-BOS travel times. I got the impression that SPG-BOS is where the majority of infrastructure investment would take place maybe they are figuring PIT-SPG would remain largely as it is now at present speeds. This probably makes sense as the current LSL travel time PIT-SPG is not terrible given that Pittsfield does not have direct freeway access. The current PIT-SPG travel time might be good enough if the SPG-BOS segment is a decent speed. The MassDOT head pointed out that just because the train may take a bit longer than NOMINAL driving time that people won't take it and that much of the time it will be less when traffic is congested.

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak Springfield Line Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield/Inla

Post by lordsigma12345 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:19 am

daybeers wrote: Why doesn't Amtrak just make NHV-SPG unreserved like the Keystones? That way any Amtrak ticket could be used on any Amtrak train. Instead, an Amtrak ticket can be used on only that Amtrak train but is accepted on board any CTrail train. CTrail tickets are accepted aboard any train period, but the senior/disabled and child fares are lower than Amtrak's. What?!?
Even if they did go unreserved, they'd probably have to keep Amtrak transfers reserved - they can't afford to have northbound Amtrak passengers connecting in from Regionals or Acelas at NHV denied a seat on the Shuttle (also like the Keystone - The keystone service is reserved if you are connecting into the Keystone corridor from a reserved train such as taking it all the way in from NEC stops north of Philly.)

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