• All things Pennsylvanian AND Keystone West

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by STrRedWolf
 
To get from Trenton to Harrisburg requires reversing at 30th street, even if you use the upper tracks. Plus, you'll have to go through SEPTA's fare gates, which kills the upper track idea twice.

Also... found this: https://www.abc27.com/news/pennsylvania ... ual-event/

In short: Scranton and Allentown to NYP, Reading to NYP via PHL, and the second Pennsylvanian being extended to Cleveland (NYC-PHL-HAR-PGH-CLE).

Ooooh boy. I better grab my spreadsheets.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Okay, I grabbed my old Pennsy calculated schedule spreadsheet and plugged in the timings from the Capital Limited between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. And one thing is apparent:

It's a 12 hour train.

That means it needs a diner or enhanced cafe car... and you might as run it overnight. But... you got the Lake Shore Limited, and that complicates things. Lets ponder a few scenarios, with the basis being the 2018 time table.:

Lake Shore Limited connection: This stretches the concept of "day train" but assumes the LSL's NY to Albany service becomes this train. I assume a 3 hour window here. This train will go Pennsy starting at 12 noon, PHL 1:23p, PGH 9:13p, and hits CLE at 12:07 am (aka o'dark-thirty). The return trail starts CLE at 8:30a, PGH 11:24a, PHL 6:49P, NYP 8:44p.

LSL NY Reroute: Instead of combining at Albany-Rensselaer, the LSL's parts are combined in Cleveland. Train 49 leaves at 3:20p, PHL 4:43p, PGH 12:33a, and joins up on time with 449 at 3:27a. Return trip starts at 5:50a, PGH 8:44a, Philly 4:09p, NYP 6:04p.

I don't like that timing. That's basically on the heels of the existing Pennsy, which isn't much use to folks day-tripping to Pittsburgh.

Pennsy Overnight: The train leaves at 10pm, with folks snoozing almost immediately. PHL 11:23p, PGH 7:13a, CLE 10:07a. Return trip at 7:30p, PGH 10:24p, PHL 5:49a, NYP 7:44a.

I like that timing better. Granted, it sucks for transfers but it gives folks the option to spend daylight in Pittsburgh.
  by electricron
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:30 am Okay, I grabbed my old Pennsy calculated schedule spreadsheet and plugged in the timings from the Capital Limited between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. And one thing is apparent:
It's a 12 hour train.
That means it needs a diner or enhanced cafe car... and you might as run it overnight. But... you got the Lake Shore Limited, and that complicates things. Lets ponder a few scenarios, with the basis being the 2018 time table.
Some state, either NY, PA, OH, or a combination of all them, will be expected by Amtrak to subsidize the New York City to Cleveland regional train losses no matter which route and tracks are chosen. I doubt few states will be willing to subsidize losses of any train that arrives in their major city in the wee hours every night. So right off-hand we must recognize that fact and limit the train to daylight hours as much as possible. Which will be difficult to do for a 12 hour train. Never-the-less, operating times for such a train should be limited to between 6 am and 10 pm. I would suggest those same time limitations for every regional train Amtrak expects losses to be subsidized by states. No exceptions.

As a State Legislator from any state, would you vote to subsidize an Amtrak train that arrives in your state after midnight? Of course not. Then why do we see passenger train advocates keep suggesting this?

I expect someone will pipe in and suggest the Keystone trains run after 10 pm; but that occurs in NJ and NY - not in PA which subsidizes their losses..

The best link I can find that looks at time of day boardings involves NYC's MTA.
https://www.metrotransit.org/Data/Sites ... apter4.pdf
Look at the charts on page 40 of this pdf.
Ridership during the wee hours of the morning is very bleak.
Why would anyone think the opposite is true for Amtrak's intercity trains?

On paper, looking just at scheduling, running trains in the middle of the night looks right and balanced, but in reality when ridership is added to the equation - running trains in the middle of the night is absolutely the worse thing you can do - by far!
Last edited by electricron on Thu Sep 16, 2021 12:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
If this 2nd Pennsylvanian roundtrip begins and if it actually goes into Ohio, of course, Ohio will be helping support the service. I have a feeling that if this proposed 2nd Pennsylvanian actually gets extended west of PGH, it would probably depart NYC around the 7:00-7:30 am ballpark and it would arrive into Cleveland about 12 hours later. Something tells me that if this comes to fruition and the train runs to and from Cleveland, it would be interesting to see stations that might get added between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I know that Alliance would certainly be a stop and it obviously is on the Capitol Limited. I think PA should look into having the train stop in Beaver Falls. In Ohio, new stops that should be considered should be Salem and one of the Cleveland suburbs around Hudson.
  by rcthompson04
 
There are some interesting ideas here, but let’s get back to reality of what the Pennsylvania General Assembly is willing to fund based on their complaints:
1. Harrisburg to Philadelphia has basically NE Corridor style service while Harrisburg to Pittsburgh has one train.
2. A lot of the complaints seem centered on not having service that allows people to get to and from Pittsburgh in the same day.

I think what is needed is really two solutions:
1. Second Pennsylvanian running from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia each way and an adjustment to the existing Pennsylvanian. The trains would be as follows:
A. Philadelphia to Pittsburgh departing at around 730am.
B. Pittsburgh to New York departing at around 8am.
C. New York to Pittsburgh departing at around 12pm.
D. Pittsburgh to Philadelphia departing at 1pm.

2. The second thing I would do is bring back some variation of the Fort Pitt or Parkway Limited. There would be a morning departure from wherever with an arrival in Pittsburgh by 830am and an afternoon departure from Pittsburgh at 5pm. If you go all the way to Johnstown or Altoona you depart earlier in morning or afternoon than if you go from Greensburg.

The last idea seems plausible since Amtrak is blatantly getting into the commuter business with the Reading proposal. Add an infill station at Irwin.

It is a proposal that state legislators in both parties in Western PA could throw money at and justify as bringing money home.
  by Arborwayfan
 
electricron wrote:Never-the-less, operating times for such a train should be limited to between 6 am and 10 pm. I would suggest those same time limitations for every regional train Amtrak expects losses to be subsidized by states. No exceptions.
The state of Maine seems to disagree, with a very early southbound and a very late northbound to serve both long-distance commuters and people having an evening in Boston--real markets. And it could make total sense for Illinois to have a post-theater, post-game departure from Chicago to Springfield or Champaign (maybe not all the way to Carbondale). Plenty of people take driving day-trips that bring them home around midnight, so I would think that the most popular train pair to a lot of cities might actually be one that let you board at 7 or 8, get into town at 10 or 11 am, spend the rest of the day and part of the evening, board the return trip at 8 or 9, and get back at 11 or midnight (with later morning boardings and earlier evening arrivals for intermediate stations, of course).

But I agree what a train that stops someplace at midnight barely serves that place, and a train that stops at 3 in the morning really doesn't serve it at all; no state would ask for a train like that, and Amtrak won't likely get very far trying to sell a state a train like that. (I have often seen fifty people get on the CZ at SLC at 3:30 am, but that's kind of a bonus of a train that's really not designed for SLC passengers at all.)
rcthompson04 wrote:The second thing I would do is bring back some variation of the Fort Pitt or Parkway Limited. There would be a morning departure from wherever with an arrival in Pittsburgh by 830am and an afternoon departure from Pittsburgh at 5pm. If you go all the way to Johnstown or Altoona you depart earlier in morning or afternoon than if you go from Greensburg.
I was wondering about something like that, too. Maybe a couple of daily short-distance trains suitable for day trips into Pittsburgh from two or three hours east and west of Pittsburgh (regardless of whether they connected to any other trains at the endpoints) would be more to the liking of western PA than a "Second Pennsylvanian". PA might even be willing to subsidize a train that ran partly in Ohio if that train was set up in such a way that it lured people from Ohio to go spend money in Pittsburgh (kind of the way Maine subsidizes the whole Downeaster route in order to get Boston commuters to live in Maine and Boston tourists to visit Maine more.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
An ALT-PGH and back train would be great to have. I would say have this train leave ALT 7:30-8:00 am range and then it would arrive into PGH between 10:15-10:45. Have it leave PGH just before or around dinnertime and arrive back into ALT mid evening. This option would be great for a person who lives in Altoona, Johnstown, and Latrobe who might have a business meeting to attend in Pittsburgh plus a family who might want to travel to Pittsburgh for a day of sightseeing.
  by electricron
 
njtmnrrbuff wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 5:49 am An ALT-PGH and back train would be great to have. I would say have this train leave ALT 7:30-8:00 am range and then it would arrive into PGH between 10:15-10:45. Have it leave PGH just before or around dinnertime and arrive back into ALT mid evening. This option would be great for a person who lives in Altoona, Johnstown, and Latrobe who might have a business meeting to attend in Pittsburgh plus a family who might want to travel to Pittsburgh for a day of sightseeing.
It's 117 rail miles between Altoona and Pittsburgh, and at best 2.5 hours elapse time per the schedule, with the train averaging 46.8 mph. All Amtrak will need is a place to stable the train set in Altoona overnight, or in Pittsburgh during the day. Good luck with that.... :wink:
  by STrRedWolf
 
I do agree, the timings suck on the overnights. But I do see value in a Pittsburgh to Altoona train.
electricron wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 6:39 am It's 117 rail miles between Altoona and Pittsburgh, and at best 2.5 hours elapse time per the schedule, with the train averaging 46.8 mph. All Amtrak will need is a place to stable the train set in Altoona overnight, or in Pittsburgh during the day. Good luck with that.... :wink:
Oh, simple! And all it takes is comparing Google Maps and OpenStreetMap.

1. Lease a track at the NS Rose Yard in Altoona. For extra fun, reconstruct the track layout in Altoona for an extra platform.

2. Rebuild the tracks that were removed in Pittsburgh. There's enough room there to do two through tracks and a ton of pocket tracks there, plus the two termination tracks to boot.

Done! You make NS happy that it can avoid the mess, and you make Amtrak happy that it can provide better service to Pittsburgh.
  by rcthompson04
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 8:50 am I do agree, the timings suck on the overnights. But I do see value in a Pittsburgh to Altoona train.
electricron wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 6:39 am It's 117 rail miles between Altoona and Pittsburgh, and at best 2.5 hours elapse time per the schedule, with the train averaging 46.8 mph. All Amtrak will need is a place to stable the train set in Altoona overnight, or in Pittsburgh during the day. Good luck with that.... :wink:
Oh, simple! And all it takes is comparing Google Maps and OpenStreetMap.

1. Lease a track at the NS Rose Yard in Altoona. For extra fun, reconstruct the track layout in Altoona for an extra platform.

2. Rebuild the tracks that were removed in Pittsburgh. There's enough room there to do two through tracks and a ton of pocket tracks there, plus the two termination tracks to boot.

Done! You make NS happy that it can avoid the mess, and you make Amtrak happy that it can provide better service to Pittsburgh.
Another interesting question is where do Pittsburgh trains fuel? I always presumed they fueled at Philadelphia and carried enough to run to Pittsburgh and back.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Ideally don't stable the train in Pittsburgh at all, or not for very long. Run it right out the other side to Cleveland along the existing Amtrak route, scheduled for about 3 hours now. Use two sets that each make one morning and one afternoon-evening trip a day from Altoona to Cleveland and vice versa, with the trains in both directions passing through Pittsburgh at around 10:30-11 am and around 7-8 pm. You'd have enough of a layover at each endpoint to prevent most cascading delays. You'd allow decent day trips into Pittsburgh from either side. Arriving in Cleveland at 1 pm and leaving again at 5 pm wouldn't be too bad for service to Cleveland, either: it wouldn't really be a good day-trip window, but it would be similar to the service that the Illini and Saluki provide in Chicago. Two daylight roundtrips between two cities 3 hours apart that have decent public transportation and interesting downtown attractions and universities, plus at least one biggish city and some small ones along the way, and flowing seemlessly into matching services to Johnstown, Altoona, and maybe an intermediate or two, seems like just about the perfect kind of train service to start up: it fits into the current transportation market rather than trying to recreate a pre-interstate-highway memory or build a sudden TGV-Shinkansen-ICE system to compete with flying. The timing might even work to one set Cleveland-Harrisburg-Cleveland (and the other Altoona-Cleveland-Altoona) if the Penna legislature preferred that, although I think it would require an earlier Cleveland departure in the morning and arrival in the evening than would be ideal, and even then would be an impossibly tight turnaround time in Harrisburg.

Would Ohio and Penna every agree on this esp in current political climate? Are there currently enough coaches and locomotives sitting around or on order? Dunno. But I think that if there is actually any future for train service outside the NEC, this route is reasonable and a reason to buy or keep enough equipment to operate it.

If Amtrak can or in the past could have a private supplier drive up with a tank truck of diesel to fuel the eastbound LSL diesels at Albany for the run to Boston, they can do that in Cleveland or Altoona or anyplace else they have a layover with road access to the tracks, right?
  by STrRedWolf
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 10:01 am Another interesting question is where do Pittsburgh trains fuel? I always presumed they fueled at Philadelphia and carried enough to run to Pittsburgh and back.
Given the 1000 mile range of the P42DC, it's a reasonable assumption. But NS's Juniata rail shop is in Altoona as well, so there's a possible candidate.
Arborwayfan wrote: If Amtrak can or in the past could have a private supplier drive up with a tank truck of diesel to fuel the eastbound LSL diesels at Albany for the run to Boston, they can do that in Cleveland or Altoona or anyplace else they have a layover with road access to the tracks, right?
Or Pittsburgh. The tracks are along Liberty Road and the MLK Jr East Busway. So you can talk to the Pittsburgh Port Authority to let a tanker onto the Busway (it's level to the track), or you build a refueling rig with a pump to pump the diesel to where you want to go. This can be done at station.
  by west point
 
Remember equipment is required to be rotated thru various maintenance checks. Cleveland and Altoona do not have those facilities and cannot be added at an exorbitant cost for one train set. Then Amtrak would have to dead head equipment to Beech, Bear, or Hialeah.
  by jp1822
 
Backing up a few threads - to a degree, could Cleveland be used as a hub:

- NY ARP at one time wanted to have an Empire Corridor train originate in Cleveland, as opposed to Niagara Falls.

- Gain some efficiencies by splitting the Lake Shore Limited east of Cleveland to create a section that goes to Boston/NYP via Albany, and another section that could go all the way to NYP via Pittsburgh/Philly.

- Train #29/49 and #30/48 do nothing but trail each other across Ohio. I'd look to combine them west of Cleveland, again, to try and gain some efficiencies. This may mean the Capitol Limited becomes a single level train once again, but since it's been butchered lately as a Superliner train, why not convert it.

- Extend the Pennsylvanian to Cleveland.

- Don't want to create one massive train west of Cleveland? Split the Capitol Limited (just like the Lake Shore) and run a section to Washington DC and another section to Philly, again as a single level train.

Yes, some major infrastructure improvements would have to be undertaken at Cleveland. But it would seem to me that even in Amtrak's past, and presently in Europe, they do gain efficiencies (and those along the rail lines gain additional frequencies for passenger train service). In terms of operation, Amtrak merely splits the consist to fill, refill, and and make for more effective turnovers when the train is at its peak passenger - especially at Cleveland.

Only problem in connections, and splits/combinations of train sets, is that the trains have to operate within schedule (or its padding).....Not for nothing, but the split at Albany and others have been going well. Amtrak has considered in PRIIA and other reports/recommendations some of what I've mentioned above. But Ohio would have to play ball a bit. If I recall, there was a commuter train operation out of Youngstown, OH in the early 1970s.....

Just trying to see what could be done with inter-connectivity of existing train sets, and extensions of others.....
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