• Amtrak: Connects US

  • 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 MikeBPRR
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:49 pm The Times has a front page article today reporting how "everybody and his uncle" is vying for a space at the AJPA21 feeding trough. The following Fair Use quotation illustrates how the top rail infrastructure project must compete with the other interests -transportation related and otherwise:
Representative Mikie Sherrill, Democrat of New Jersey, wants to tackle the Gateway rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, has suggested that surely the “functionally obsolete” Brent Spence Bridge in his state should receive funding. And progressive lawmakers have a five-part wish list that includes lowering drug costs and providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.
Into this frenzy, Amtrak throws in their Connected US "whatever you care to call it" nonsense. I'm certain Amtrak isn’t the only agency about town "muddling waters" with similar. But the more stuff like Connected US gets thrown about, the greater the chance that the Opposition within the Senate will seek to have the Bill deemed outside the Reconciliation measurement and allow a Filibuster that can only be ended by a 60 vote Cloture - or a compromise.

With a compromise, wither $80B for passenger rail, for this Bill is supposed to be for infrastructure. It is not the Omnibus Spending Bill.
Good afternoon, Mr. Norman. I have always respected your posts from afar. I totally understand what you are saying, and I hope to add my perspective. ConnectUS is still infrastructure because the rails on which the new routes would travel may be possible by funding infrastructure upgrades along those corridors. I think that the bill will be funding the infrastructure expansion, not the service expansion. One example that comes to mind is what I call the "Peachtree Corridor" route of Nashville/Chattanooga/Atlanta/Macon/Savannah. A good chunk of this route would travel over what is now single trackage. A quick survey of OpenRailwayMap shows single trackage along a great percentage of CSX's Chattanooga Division between Nashville and Chattanooga, the Georgia-owned W&A between Chattanooga and Atlanta, the NS Atlanta South District between Atlanta and Macon, and the NS Savannah District between Macon and Savannah. The freight railroads aren't going to turn down a free infrastructure upgrade that gives them double trackage along those lengths of track, and NS probably won't say no to a bypass through Macon that would allow trains to avoid the hump yard. Even if no Peachtree corridor came to pass, it would certainly be a boon to freight traffic. Passenger service may even happen because states may be more likely to institute service if they don't have to pony up the cash for infrastructure improvements that host railroads typically demand for any added passenger service. It also makes sense for ConnectUs to be in this infrastructure plan because once the infrastructure upgrades are finished, people would realize that big only reason they don't have new train service train is because their state legislature won't fund the service, which would be significantly less expensive than having to build the infrastructure AND fund the service.

Of course, this would have been a lot easier had PRIIA 2008 not left the funding of routes of <750 miles in length to the states.
  by Greg Moore
 
Editorial on what the connection in California should be: An overnight train..

I don't agree with their suggestion that some of the returning daily Coast Starlight's should become overnight trains.

But I've argued for more overnight trains between city pairs where a person can go to bed in one city and wake up in the other. This seems to match that.

That said, ideally I think it would be a Superliner III, but that won't happen.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Greg Moore wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 7:56 pm Editorial on what the connection in California should be: An overnight train..

I don't agree with their suggestion that some of the returning daily Coast Starlight's should become overnight trains.

But I've argued for more overnight trains between city pairs where a person can go to bed in one city and wake up in the other. This seems to match that.

That said, ideally I think it would be a Superliner III, but that won't happen.
I'm with you on that: Oakland/LA with a connection to BART in Oakland would be a good overnight train on top of the Coastal Starlight. I can also see an overnight Pennsylvanian (although similar to the Lake Shore Limited, split at Philadelphia for NYC/DC service).
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
MikeBPRR wrote: Thu Apr 15, 2021 3:48 pm ConnectUS is still infrastructure because the rails on which the new routes would travel may be possible by funding infrastructure upgrades along those corridors. I think that the bill will be funding the infrastructure expansion, not the service expansion. One example that comes to mind is what I call the "Peachtree Corridor" route of Nashville/Chattanooga/Atlanta/Macon/Savannah. A good chunk of this route would travel over what is now single trackage.
Mike B, I suppose that some advocate could set forth the position that Connected US represents a "well, here's what we can do if we had the infrastructure, so let's fund it". The best rebuttal I have for such is what happened under the far less ambitious Obama era ARRA09 "stimulus" legislation. Included within the enacted legislation were plenty of meaningless passenger rail provisions such as "studies" of High-Speed Trans-Kansas passenger rail service. But one that actually did result in shovels turning dirt ("shovel ready" was a "buzz term" surrounding that legislation) was the so-called "Illinois High Speed Rail" Chi-St Louis over the existing Chicago & Alton (can't keep track of the many successors). There were many a "busteetoot" disruption, but in the end, "my" Union Pacific got a new line accessing Chicago from St. Louis (they already had one; the C&EI) built for them at taxpayer expense. The promise was "twelve a day" operating at 125mph; the reality is the pre-existing five a day (once COVID cuts are restored) at 79; and with many more UP freights to contend with. Well volks, I must wonder what a passenger thinks of "HSR" when their train runs into a siding for a meet, then backs out and runs around a freight that was also in the siding.

Now regarding Nashville-Chattanooga-Atlanta-Savannah, forget using any of the NC&STL, W&A, CofG - especially the first two. Think that you will have to build a new ROW from scratch; including four miles of tunneling under Monteagle (thirty miles West of Chat) in order to even think about being time competitive with existing surface transportation. Oh well, it would make for for a "High Speed Great Locomotive Chase" filming.

Incidentally, I missed out on riding The Georgian. By the time I had occasion to go to Atlanta for a wedding during Oct '68, it was a Coach only Evansville-Atlanta stub that was gone on A-Day. All told "Delta was ready when I was" (take on their one time tagline). But the route is arduous and some how I don't think sleep came easy for those in the Pullmans - especially in the 6SEC-4BR-6RM "--Pine" cars the L&N and C&EI bought for the route. Roomettes were over the wheels.
  by MikeBPRR
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:35 am Mike B, I suppose that some advocate could set forth the position that Connected US represents a "well, here's what we can do if we had the infrastructure, so let's fund it". The best rebuttal I have for such is what happened under the far less ambitious Obama era ARRA09 "stimulus" legislation. Included within the enacted legislation were plenty of meaningless passenger rail provisions such as "studies" of High-Speed Trans-Kansas passenger rail service. But one that actually did result in shovels turning dirt ("shovel ready" was a "buzz term" surrounding that legislation) was the so-called "Illinois High Speed Rail" Chi-St Louis over the existing Chicago & Alton (can't keep track of the many successors). There were many a "busteetoot" disruption, but in the end, "my" Union Pacific got a new line accessing Chicago from St. Louis (they already had one; the C&EI) built for them at taxpayer expense. The promise was "twelve a day" operating at 125mph; the reality is the pre-existing five a day (once COVID cuts are restored) at 79; and with many more UP freights to contend with. Well volks, I must wonder what a passenger thinks of "HSR" when their train runs into a siding for a meet, then backs out and runs around a freight that was also in the siding.
You make an excellent point. I wonder if any contracts will have language saying that these tracks belong to Amtrak and freight railroads can lease them for $1 a year. If not, I fear you may be right, as it would be foolish to repeat the same mistakes as ARRA. Thank you for your clarification - the Wikipedia page said "Up to 110 miles per hour" and never mentioned scenarios such as yours.
Now regarding Nashville-Chattanooga-Atlanta-Savannah, forget using any of the NC&STL, W&A, CofG - especially the first two. Think that you will have to build a new ROW from scratch; including four miles of tunneling under Monteagle (thirty miles West of Chat) in order to even think about being time competitive with existing surface transportation. Oh well, it would make for for a "High Speed Great Locomotive Chase" filming.
I disagree in that the corridor doesn't necessarily have to be time-competitive. Sure, it's not as direct as the I-24/I-75 and Greyhound, but that doesn't always matter. The Pennsylvanian wends its way through central Pennsylvania and takes 7:17 to get from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, while driving takes ~5. The Pennsylvanian is pretty popular; people have advocated for a second daily frequency for years, and as someone who once rode it frequently, it would sometimes be sold out if I didn't get a seat in advance. I knew it would take longer than the bus, but I much preferred it to the bus, and I am sure many people would say the same thing about a Peachtree Corridor if the time difference isn't much more than an hour or two.

Just for fun, I used Google Maps to make driving directions from Nashville to Atlanta via Chattanooga, once using I-24/I-75, the other time making a route (very) roughly parallel to the NC&STL. Interstate driving took 4:15, while the route parallel to the NC&STL took 6:34. The time difference between train and interstate is the same as with the Pennsylvanian; plus, I can only imagine that track speeds would be faster than driving on back roads in Alabama, Tennessee, and northern Georgia, so my time estimate may be inflated. Of course, as your scenario with the Lincoln Service on UP trackage indicates, that won't matter if Amtrak can't control dispatching.

EDITED because I wasn't paying attention to formatting.
  by kitchin
 
Chicago to Atlanta is an easier drive. I'm confused about how on-board Georgia is. The state plan for the federal DOT (done every five to ten years?) seems more positive about rail than the ones from South Carolina and Tennessee. But making ATL a semi-high-speed hub is an incentive. Yet the major seaport states are sensitive to freight rail. It's a selling point for their competitive container ports. Norfolk's has the highest percentage of containers via rail on the East Coast. Savannah is the #2 container port overall by a good margin, after dominant NJ/NY. Charleston is investing too.

I was waiting to see if red/blue politics would affect federal dredging, since they are all selling on new depths and widths, in addition to cranes and speed. Apparently the White House didn't get around to favoritism until the waning months of the Trump administration, knocking out funding for Norfolk. It's just a blip since push comes to shove the state would pay. These ports are massive financially. The multi-decade contract to operate several ports in the Norfolk area came up a few governors ago in a full-contact political football match attended by international concerns. In the end the state-chartered operator won and kept the contract. A new automated port went up recently and a somewhat old one is being converted to serve offshore wind farms.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
MikeBPRR wrote: Fri Apr 16, 2021 2:13 pm Thank you for your clarification - the Wikipedia page said "Up to 110 miles per hour" and never mentioned scenarios such as yours...... Of course, as your scenario with the Lincoln Service on UP trackage indicates, that won't matter if Amtrak can't control dispatching.
Mr. Mike B, I think I can respond to your captioned point and still remain on topic.

First, as UP Shareholder, I should say "happy happy, Uncle Sam built me a new road to access Chicago", but my problem is the deception.

In order for this rebuilding to have what was there through '68, double track would have needed to be restored. True that was then towers connected by trainwire to the Dispatcher, but there were six a day, with one being the famed by song "Midnight Special".

With CTC and double FRA Class 5 track, the twelve a day and UP's traffic could have been handled. Just keep the 40 mph "manifests" on the C&EI.

But the funding got skimpy and only the pre-existing single track was laid - ironically in that the ROW once had double.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Saw this come across Reddit. Conservative opinion piece on The Hill... agreeing with Pres. Biden:

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house ... ravel?rl=1
...I have not boarded an airplane in 15 years. Because of that, those who knew I loved to travel thought I would be miserable.

But it’s just the opposite. I rediscovered the joy, camaraderie and mental relaxation of train travel, here in the United States and across Europe.

...

Since its creation in May 1971, Amtrak in many ways has become a hot mess. Much of that mess was out of their control. Some of it was directly attributable to a lack of Amtrak leadership and supervision of employees.
  by urr304
 
Lincoln Corridor

I was on another discussion and someone brought up the Lincoln Corridor and held it as a positive example that could be used in Ohio. But it seems per your conversations confirm my opinion that it was another example of corruption this time corporate.
  by gokeefe
 
I'm curious what people think the "most unlikely" inclusion in the Connects US plan is ... My feeling is either the Wichita segment or the short Pennsylvania additions to Scranton, Reading and Allentown.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  by Rockingham Racer
 
Boston to Concord. Commuter rail distance, easily. It seems that a lot of the new service was already studied or proposed, and the map piggybacks on that.
  by Bob Roberts
 
Honestly the Ohio (3Cs at least), Kentucky and Tennessee trains seem the most politically unlikely to me. (the Green Bay route also seems... far fetched...)

I think the Asheville trains will probably happen, but even I (as an NC railfan) think running passenger rail from Salisbury up the Old Fort Loops to a peripheral station in Asheville (Biltmore Village) or down by the French Broad (Old Station site at Depot St. which may as well be 10 miles from downtown) is a stupid idea. Save that money for a nice, Swiss-style, tunnel (or a rebuilt Saluda Grade) instead!
Last edited by Bob Roberts on Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by MikeBPRR
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote:First, as UP Shareholder, I should say "happy happy, Uncle Sam built me a new road to access Chicago", but my problem is the deception.

In order for this rebuilding to have what was there through '68, double track would have needed to be restored. ... With CTC and double FRA Class 5 track, the twelve a day and UP's traffic could have been handled. Just keep the 40 mph "manifests" on the C&EI.

But the funding got skimpy and only the pre-existing single track was laid - ironically in that the ROW once had double.
Sorry for my delayed response, Mr. Norman. I just completely forgot to hit “submit.” Anyway, how could they be skimpy? The closest I have ever come to infrastructure planning is playing Railroad Tycoon 2, and even I know that double tracking is necessary for reliable higher-speed rail. Hopefully the current proposal takes into account the mistakes made in the past. Maybe the “enhanced service” on the map will happen by addressing that issue.
gokeefe wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:29 pmI'm curious what people think the "most unlikely" inclusion in the Connects US plan is ... My feeling is either the Wichita segment or the short Pennsylvania additions to Scranton, Reading and Allentown.
In terms of Amtrak service, the new corridor in NH and Reading service from PHL would be tied for least likely, in my book. NH won’t pay for it, so that’s a non-starter. As for Reading, the old main line seems well-maintained by NS, but they have been cool to any new service by SEPTA without restoring one of the two missing tracks, not to mention the issue of the bottleneck that is the single-track Black Rock Tunnel north of Phoenixville. It also is the length of the commuter rail line from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. With that said, I could see service run by SEPTA if Amtrak builds the track themselves and leases it to SEPTA for a dollar a year or something, or maybe it will be set up in a structure similar to the Piedmont in that it is run by PA but operated by Amtrak crews. Who knows? Not me. I know nothing, nothing...

It sure is fun to speculate, though.
  by photobug56
 
Well I'd sure like to see Scranton connected - to New York Penn Station. And to Reading, Allentown and Philly, Binghamton, and the Southern Tier and west. I'm on Long Island, and a lot of the kids at SUNY Binghamton are from Long Island - it would be great for me, for them and for tourists, skiers. I80 is clogged, this could help, plus when I have reason to go to my hometown of Scranton, I'd love to be able to go by train.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Reminder: this is not politics.net. Leave the hyperbole' out, whichever side of the aisle one may be on.
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