• Amtrak Auto Train Discussion

  • 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

  by natethegreat
Where is Linden located on the NEC?
How far from Washington?

  by Nasadowsk
It's in NJ.

I don't see any reason why the new autoracks couldn't have been built to fit on the NEC - I mean, let's face it, most automobiles aren't hyper tall anyway. keep it lower than Viewliner, run all, Viewliners, and go into Linden? Wow, a big silver snowbird magnet! i'm not kidding - look at all the Florida plates up here, and let's face it, the biggest reason to NOT take the A/T is the drive to Virgina, by which point you're past all the bad traffic anyway.

Given the 'snowbird' market, it might even make sense to reach out with senior citizen package deals - say, take your car down in fall, return trip in spring, plus a premium on-board experience. Remember, you're talking about a surprisingly regular stream of customers, and they've got disposeable income, and they're not in a huge hurry anyway...

  by hsr_fan
Problem is, Amtrak doesn't have enough Viewliners for its existing single level long distance trains!

I just saw the yard empty for the first time yesterday aboard a NJ Transit train, as we passed Linden on the way to NYP.

  by Gilbert B Norman
We have discussed here before the feasability of an Auto Train, which could continue to be bi-level, operating over the Royal Blue Line from somewhere near New York (CNJ-RDG-B&O) to the Anacostia Branch avoiding the Wash tunnel, over the 14th St bridge to the RF&P.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by CNJ
Problem is Mr. Norman, I don't know if they could fit under the former B&O's Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore.

Would there really be a benefit to running Auto Train to New Jersey????

  by Robert Paniagua
I seriously doubt that AutoTrain will ever make it past WAS, let alone it's current terminus. Also, there's the danger of the overhead catenary lines, and some of the tunnels and underpasses may be too low for such units to go up this way.

  by JoeG
Since the Auto Train at least covers its operating ("cookie jar") expenses, and even generates some cash, a Fla-NJ Auto Train might make sense. It would have to run via the Royal Blue route Mr Norman mentions, and my guess it should end in Bound Brook, to avoid interfering with the Lehigh line or with NJTs Raritan Valley line. Amtrak would need to lease some auto racks.
The problem is, where would the sleepers and diners come from? And, could a "new route" waiver be gotten from Mr Minetta? My solution would be to run one of the existing Florida trains on this new route. That way, it might not be considered a new service. And, unlike the current Auto Train, it could make some intermediate stops. It would, however, be slower.
Maybe, instead, the current Auto Train could be extended. If it were extended to NJ, by a slower route than the NEC, could the service be run with the amount of equipment used now? I suspect it couldn't, and that would mean that extra equipment would still have to be found, and Amtrak doesn't have any.
So, in the short run, and extended Auto Train would have to replace an existing Florida train.


  by Noel Weaver
The present equipment on the Auto Train would have problems with both
the wires and with tunnels. I do not think the equipment now in use on
that operation will clear the CSX tunnel in Baltimore either although I have
not checked for sure.
As for combining this with a regular passenger train, they would be quite
difficult both from an operating sense and a train handling sense. The
Auto Train is actually a "mixed train" combination of passenger and freight
equipment and would be somewhat rough trying to make station stops
with a train of this nature.
I do not think a daily train would be the way to go out of New Jersey but I
think three days a week from Linden and four days a week from Lorton
could be a winner, reverse it if you want to. A train like this with the
distance that it would have to cover would require a second stop for a
crew change, probably Lorton.
To those who think that one train could serve both north end stations, I
do not think this would work either, there would be too much switching and
jolting around to pick up the auto carriers or drop them at Lorton and the
Auto Train station is only in the yard for a train originating. It would also
result in a huge loss of time.
I do agree that they could do much better with the financial end of that
operation if the train could continue farther north than Lortonl, the worst
part of the automobile trip between the north east and Florida is north of
Lorton, Virginia.
Amtrak also needs to modify its pet policy for that train, a lot of seniors
travel with dogs and/or cats and putting aside one coach and one sleeper
for people with pets could help patronage too.
Noel Weaver
Noel Weaver
  by NellieBly
As it happens, I worked for an advertising agency in Washington, DC in the summer of 1971. They had been approached by Auto-Train (the private corporation), which was about to start service, and they wanted to assure themselves that the company could attain solvency. So they sent me down to the ICC to research the various filings by Eugene Garfield et.al.

Lorton was chosen as the northern terminus for several reasons. One was the clearance issue (although CSX does have clearance for enclosed auto racks all the way to Twin Oaks, DE, where there is a huge unloading facility adjacent to I-95 -- there are two restricted tunnels in PHL).

The bigger reason was that, by putting the north terminal south of Washington, Mr. Garfield maximized his market, drawing from WAS, BAL, PHL, NY, and even Harrisburg and western Maryland. He also avoided getting mixed up with all the commuter trains and other traffic in the NY region.

  by Gilbert B Norman
Your point is duly noted with respect, Ms Bly; however, we should note "things were a little different' when the private Auto Train was inaugurated during late 1971.

All too many of the present AT clientele "really have no business" piloting the Bennie, Caddy, or Lex through the I-95 I-495 spaghetti bowl - especially since it is perpetually under construction. This was simply a non issue during "EKG's" day. On both of my two most recent "sojourns', one following I-95 enroute to New York, the other interchanging to I-495 West enroute home to Chicago, an SUV or Pickup was 'not exactly' happy with my adherence to construction zone speed limits.

I have noted from recent AT ticket envelopes, that a nearby Lorton hotel (Comfort Inn as I recall) suggests the clientele 'stay with them the night before...just to be sure". To me this obivates the 'raison d'etre' of the Auto Train.

Possibly someday the Auto Train will be in the hands of the private sector; however I think it would be one of the last LD's to go, and even 'Amtrak Loving' Rep John Mica (R-7th-FL) has noted it should be retained in his vision of a "Corridor and Auto Train" Amtrak. However, should a private sector operator approach CSX for access to the New York area over the Royal Blue, who knows what the reception would be?
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Sun Jun 26, 2005 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

  by matthewsaggie
CSX to future private operator: "Show me the cash" "If you have enough, and it will be a lot, we can talk, otherwise, the door is that way".

  by F40
Problem is, Amtrak doesn't have enough Viewliners for its existing single level long distance trains!

I just saw the yard empty for the first time yesterday aboard a NJ Transit train, as we passed Linden on the way to NYP.
The yard in Linden next to the NEC ROW is for CONRAIL freight. And it was empty also on Monday, I think and on Tuesday of last week.
  by Tom Curtin
Somewhere earlier in this thread there was a suggestion to operate Auto train north of Alexandria, VA via the Anacostia freight line, then the Royal Blue Line** from there north.

I do not believe this route is fully "catenary free" --- isn't there some ex-Reading trackage in the Philly area that is electrified? If this is so, then I think there is no completely catenary-free route from the south into the NY area, at least not without cobbling together some convoluted combination of routings that would make sense only to the most dedicated rare-mileage collector!

**It occurred to me while composing the above post that there are likely a couple of generations of folks on this forum who have no idea what the hell the term "Royal Blue Line"means . . . .

  by Gilbert B Norman
Point indeed noted, Mr. Curtin--

Come to think of it, while the PRR (CSX) Anacostia line has a physical interchange with the B&O(CSX), that traffic must nevertheless X the PRR (Amtrak NEC) @ Anacostia Jct..

If, in someone's wisdom, Auto Train patronage would be increased by relocating the terminal North of The District, then I believe, given the absence of a caternary free routing to the New York area (absent absurdities such as using the N&W to Hagerstown, PRR to Harrisburg, thence RDG-CNJ to New York), the best that could be done wouldbe to locate the terminal somewhere on the aforementioned Anacostia line. This line, incidentally, roundly follows I-295.
  by Tom Curtin
Yes, those "routing absurdities" are examples of the kind of thing I was thinking.

BTW, I seem to recall the B&O freights leave the PRR Anacostia freight route before Landover Jct. and cross over (i.e., on a bridge) the PRR passenger main around Landover, MD, on their way to join the B&O Washington-Baltimore main.
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