Fantasy Commuter Rail

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Post by gt7348b » Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:10 pm

I think about one everyday. I've even drawn up some. Discussed merits of multi-modal transfer stations between Amtrak, Commuter Rail, Light Rail, and Heavy Rail in specific locations as if they were real; added up train frequencies to identify choke points and potential by-pass connections, and fantasized about tram-trains a la Karlsruhe, Saarbruecken, and Paris.

I live in Atlanta.

Need I say more right now?
Atlanta - within two and a half hours of . . . the edge of its suburbs

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Post by wigwagfan » Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:05 am


Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.

Using Union Station (or another location in the downtown core) as a hub, there would be lines running on
the former BNSF (now Portland & Western) Astoria Line to St. Helens and possibly to Rainier,
one on the BNSF mainline to Kelso (Longview) (via Vancouver)
on the Lewis & Clark Railroad (a.k.a. the Portland Vancouver Junction Railroad, a.k.a. the Clark County Railroad) from Rye Junction (north of Vancouver, WA) to Battle Ground (via Vancouver)
on the BNSF (ex-SP&S) mainline to Camas and Washougal (via Vancouver)
on the UP (ex-SP) mainline south to Salem,
on the former SP (now P&W) branchline from Milwaukie to Lake Oswego, Tualatin, Sherwood, Newberg and McMinnville,
using the under-construction WES line between Beaverton and Wilsonville, an extension south of Wilsonville along Highway 551 to Hubbard, connecting with the UP line to Salem.

Most of the lines would use conventional Bombardier bi-level rolling stock with whatever locomotive is available
Erik Halstead - Portland, Oregon



Post by henry6 » Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:05 pm

The modernisms of Los Angeles, the automation of BART; the scenery of NJT’s Port Jervis Line and MNRR’s Hudson line; the smell of 20th Century money from MNRR’s Connecticut branches; the effeciency of the old DL&W; the density and diversity of the LIRR; the quaintness of MBTA; the Mainline austerity of Old Money on SEPTA; the 20’s and 30’s atmosphere of Chicago’s far flung transit system on a windy, snowy night; the ambiance of MARC along the Patomic in autumn; juice, diesel fuel, and coal smoke coating a main frame as crewmen compare Elgins below the cab at the head end.

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Post by gprimr1 » Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:00 pm

Ironically the MTA did at one point consider doing leaf trips up the Potomac to places like Harpers Ferry and contracting with hotels. It never went through because CSX wouldn't allow the return trip on Sunday.

They never considered Amtrak until I suggested it.
-Greg Primrose
Moderator: General Discussion: High Speed Rail Amtrak
"I'm leaving on a jet train, don't know when I'll be back again. Bags are packed and there ready to go."
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Post by kinlock » Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:58 am

I have written a couple of articles. One in the late 1980's and the other in the early 1990's. Both take place in the Albany, New York area.

The earlier one, ... tasyAlbany Fantasy Albany, even though my funds are "unlimited", I would plan to build on the existing rail network wherever possible. I'll make Rensselaer the center of my system and start by instituting frequent rail service to Hudson and Amsterdam. By close coordination and cooperation with AMTRAK (another literary license like having an unlimited budget), running on the same route as AMTRAK would actually increase their traffic to New York and Buffalo in the process. By adding station stops at Castleton, Colonie (near the former AMTRAK station), Rotterdam (at the West Shore connector), and Scotia (at the former New York Central Sunnyside Road yard); I would serve as a feeder to AMTRAK.

I added service to Clifton Park, Saratoga, airport, and a subway to Albany. Totaled 220 miles.

The other was a "what if" the ... ntasy.html
Troy and Schenectady branch of the New York Central was never abandoned.


Post by Pulley4 » Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:31 am


Revival of the GTW commuter route from Renaissance Center to Pontiac – stops at Eastern Market (@ Gratiott), Hamtramck, Highland Park, Fairgrounds (big station, 3 tracks – connecting to/interfacing w/ a north terminal of the Woodward LRT), Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Pontiac. .. but fully electrified. From RenCen west, the line would drop into a tunnel bending under Randolph and then, Cadillac Sq. Blvd to a major 4-track terminal under Campus Martius. From their, West under Michigan Ave., in a 2-track line, to the Michigan Central Terminal with a Mich Cent/Mexicantown Sta. Then, west out the NS line through/stopping at Dearborn, Greenfield Village, Inkster and Wayne. From Wayne, bending south on an elevated, behind the building line embankment along Merriman Ave, directly into Detroit Metro Airport, serving both the (rebuilt) original and McNamara Terminal (with 2 separate stops).

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Post by mtuandrew » Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:45 pm

Here's my passenger rail plan for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It's a very poor part of the country, but heavy winter snows and a large retiree population make it attractive for rail service. ... 0897_7.pdf

Bay Line - all CN: Escanaba, MI - Powers, MI - Stephenson, MI - Menominee, MI/Marinette, WI - Oconto, WI - Green Bay, WI - (Milwaukee, WI).

Loop Line - CN, LS&I, and E&LS: Marquette downtown - Northern Michigan U. - Negaunee - Ishpeming - Humboldt - Republic - Channing - Iron Mountain - Norway - Powers - Escanaba - Sawyer Int'l Airport (fmr. KI Sawyer AFB) - Marquette downtown.

Some short sections of track need to be reconstructed for the Loop, and all will need better signaling. The Escanaba & Lake Superior and the Lake Superior & Ishpeming, and possibly some of the CN track, would need track work as well. For equipment, a fleet of 20 used single-level cars would be more than enough, with perhaps 10 cars in service at any one time on all trains. Power would be diesel locomotives, either a GP unit rebuilt with a HEP generator or a used F40.

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Post by ljeppson » Fri Apr 25, 2008 5:55 pm

Yes, absolutely. I have constructed mental counterfactuals which have the Federal gov't not funding the interstates, and includes the survival and expansion of the old interurbans. We could be living in an entirely different, and energy-indpendent world.
Utah's interurban network is being rebuilt-who'd a thunked it?!

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Re: Fantasy Commuter Rail

Post by neroden » Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:23 am

What railfan doesn't make fantasy routes? Definitely. Until Google Maps, I just did it for fantasy cities -- since then I tend to come up with fantasy schemes for real cities. I'm too realistic to fantasize thoroughly though: I usually start imagining it out until I hit some fatal flaw in the route and then go "Well, that wouldn't work." Google Maps makes it rather easier to add details to a fantasy plan.... and to see ROW problems.

Thanks to local bias, I still like Ithaca-Dryden-Cortland-Syracuse (Single-unit Railcar, naturally). :-) There's this great place for a Cortland downtown station, with parking and everything, and it's only a few blocks from the end of the branch line to greenfields in the Ithaca direction, and the Ithaca station could be in the dense Cornell University end of town.... but substantial wetlands on the most non-farmland-severing routes (our small farmers really don't like their land severed) make it deeply unlikely even if paid for by a super-rich benefactor.

Minneapolis has a whole pile of really good fantasy routes along old ROWs, far more than the (already significant) list actually considered by the local transit authority.

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Re: Fantasy Commuter Rail

Post by jbvb » Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:50 am

Leaving out the old lines that I think should be put back (notably Boston - Concord, NH and Worcester MA - Providence RI), I've plotted circumfrential routes that didn't exist in the Old Days:
- Light Rail from Lynn, MA to Saugus, Malden, Medford and Somerville, possibly continuing to Watertown and/or Belmont/Waltham. Mostly on existing ROW, all through small cities and dense suburbs.
- Heavy rail from Worcester, MA to Lawrence or Haverhill via Clinton, Ayer, Lowell.
- Light Rail from Quincy, MA to Mattapan, Readville and Dedham, MA, almost all on existing RoW.

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Re: Fantasy Commuter Rail

Post by 4266 » Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:25 pm

The most obvious fantasy route in my mind would be to connect the gaps in the non-Amtrak commuter network in the Northeast corridor to make a complete regional rail trip from Maine to Virginia possible. Starting with Maine Eastern we could go from Rockland to Brunswick transfer to Downeaster to Boston North Station, North-South link to South Station, MBTA to Providence, rail shuttle to Old Saybrook, Shore Line East to New haven, MNRR to Grand Central, MTA Transit to NYPenn, NJTransit to Trenton, SEPTA to Philly, SEPTA to Wilmington? connection to MARC? MARC to D.C, VRE to Richmond?

Also I've always wanted to create a London Underground style Tube map for a fantasy system in Northern N.E.. Anybody know any programs that would make that easy?

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Re: Fantasy Commuter Rail

Post by Mitch » Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:38 pm

Everytime that notion comes to my mind I think about buying model railroad stuff. Sometimes I actually make the purchase. Come on down to the studio where you can see plenty of Budd cars (I ain't building no catenary,) some of them made into club cars, a bunch of depots, and a half-built gas station.

I tend to fantasize about phoney interurban routes. Like an hourly service between Michigan City and Indianapolis on the old NKP route. A train every hour, some with diners.

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Re: Fantasy Commuter Rail

Post by 4266 » Thu Sep 04, 2008 12:44 pm

The North Country Transit...
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Re: Fantasy Commuter Rail

Post by lpetrich » Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:41 pm

This is likely a non-starter, since these towns are very small, but here goes.

Lebanon - Albany - Corvallis in Oregon

Lebanon - Albany:
- South Lebanon
- North Lebanon
- Southeast Albany
- Albany Amtrak station

Albany - Corvallis:
- South Albany: Linn-Benton Community College
- Albany Amtrak station
- Downtown Albany
- North Albany
- Northeast Corvallis
- Downtown Corvallis
- Southwest Corvallis: Oregon State University

The trains: each one will be a single DMU railcar with a cab at both ends.

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Re: Fantasy Commuter Rail

Post by lpetrich » Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:00 pm

I'll do that for other areas I've lived in, though I will find it hard to avoid repeating others' proposals.

San Francisco Bay Area:

** Light Rail:

* Livermore - Pleasanton - Walnut Creek - Martinez

(Livermore) - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - East Ave. - Maple St. - Livermore Transit Center - Railroad Ave. - Stanley Blvd. - (Pleasanton) - Valley Ave. - San Ramon Branch ROW - Santa Rita Rd. - East Dublin-Pleasanton BART station - (Dublin) - Iron Horse Trail - (Walnut Creek) - Broadway - Walnut Creek BART station - Main St. - (Pleasant Hill) - Contra Costa Blvd. - (Concord) - Pacheco Blvd. - (Martinez) - Martinez Amtrak station

Alternatively in Pleasanton: Stanley Blvd. - First St. - Division St. - Hopyard Rd. - Owens Dr. - E. D-P BART station

* Downtown Oakland - San Pablo Blvd. - Richmond, San Pablo, and possibly Hercules
* Downtown Oakland - International Blvd. - East 14th St. - Mission Blvd. - Hayward
* Downtown Oakland - Telegraph Ave. - The University of California at Berkeley
* Downtown Oakland - Alameda

* Downtown San Francisco - Geary Blvd.
* San Francisco: Presidio - 22nd St. - Golden Gate Park - 19th St. - Stonestown Galleria

* San Jose: Downtown - Alum Rock
* San Jose: Downtown - Stevens Creek Blvd. - Cupertino

** Commuter/Intercity Rail:

Electrify Caltrain from downtown SF to the Tamien station in south San Jose
Electrify the Capitol Corridor route from San Jose to Sacramento

Ithaca, NY

Despite the valiant efforts of certain podcar enthusiasts, it's hard to justify any urban or suburban rail service for that place, so I'll concern myself with intercity rail service.

There is still a railroad line south from Ithaca to Waverly, NY; it connects to a Binghamton - Waverly - Elmira - Corning line.

One can then go from Binghamton to Scranton, and from there to the New Jersey Transit lines and New York City. One can either connect to the NJT-MN Port Jervis line or else rebuild the Lackawanna Cutoff at the Delaware Water Gap to connect to the NJT Morristown Line.

One can also go to Philadelphia from Scranton; one goes to Allentown/Bethlehem and then to the SEPTA lines.

Philadelphia, PA

Turning the Ardmore Busway in the western suburbs back into a trolley / light-rail line.

Improving northeast-Philadelphia rail service by adding Regional Rail service to an existing line between SEPTA"s Cheltenham (Fox Chase line) and Neshaminy Falls (West Trenton line) stations.

State College, PA

Even worse than Ithaca -- the closest active railroad line is apparently in nearby Bellefonte, and it connects to a line between Williamsport and Altoona. From Williamsport one can continue to Scranton, while Altoona is on the Pennsylvanian's Harrisburg - Pittsburgh route.

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