• 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 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.
Mr. Mike B, here is a completely rail unrelated column appearing in The Times today suggesting, as you have in your captioned point, that "infrastructure" extends far beyond "bricks and mortar" and includes all facets of society:

Fair Use:
This is not a matter of semantics. Infrastructure “of a country, society, or organization,” according to the Collins Dictionary, “consists of the basic facilities … which enable it to function.” I’ve inserted an ellipsis in place of the clause “such as transportation, communications, power supplies, and buildings.” That is the hard physical infrastructure that seemingly everyone agrees is what infrastructure “really” means.

But let’s take at face value that infrastructure are those facilities that are essential for everyone to do their jobs. It makes sense that men with wives at home to take on the 16-hour-a-day care responsibilities involved in raising children, supporting aged parents or otherwise tending to the sick, those with disabilities and the vulnerable would need roads and bridges to grease the wheels of commerce and allow them access to their desks and deals. But let’s imagine — it’s not that hard — a scenario in which those same men didn’t have wives at home and yet still wanted to have children, or to ensure that their own parents received love and support in their final years. In that case, they, too, might just find that care facilities were themselves just as “essential” to their ability to do paid work.
I would guess, if put to this columnist, she would likely agree that adding new rail routes as proposed by Connects US, would be within the scope of infrastructure. But even after giving this column a careful read, and due respect to the passion with which she sets forth her points, I still find it "a bit of a stretch".
  by bostontrainguy
 
Rockingham Racer wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 1:32 pm 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.
From Trains:

New Hampshire legislator introduces bill to modify RRIF program to aid commuter rail project

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) has reintroduced a bill to amend the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program in a manner which could allow the program to help fund expansion of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail service into her state.

https://kuster.house.gov/uploadedfiles/ ... zation.pdf
  by Rockingham Racer
 
As we know, New Hampshire commuter rail has been an on-again, off-again proposition for many years. I don't see Amtrak getting involved in this at all.
  by Pensyfan19
 
Rockingham Racer wrote:As we know, New Hampshire commuter rail has been an on-again, off-again proposition for many years. I don't see Amtrak getting involved in this at all.
In terms of service, how about MBTA service to Dover and Portsmouth? And for Amtrak, other than Concord, how about through service to Montreal for services like the Green Mountain Flyer via Bellows Falls (VT), the Alouette via Woodsville, and/or the New Englander via White River Junction (VT)?
  by eolesen
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Apr 19, 2021 8:18 am I would guess, if put to this columnist, she would likely agree that adding new rail routes as proposed by Connects US, would be within the scope of infrastructure. But even after giving this column a careful read, and due respect to the passion with which she sets forth her points, I still find it "a bit of a stretch".
Infrastructure is almost always considered capital expenditure.

There are hard and fast accounting rules on what makes a capital expenditure and what are operating expenditures.

New service over existing rail is clearly OpEx.

CapEx is an asset that remains behind in perpetuity after the last dollar allocated has been spent.

Rails, ROW, bridges, tunnels, power lines? All fair game. Building a physical child care facility or school? Yep. That's fair game too.

But staffing those facilities? Nope. OpEx.

Regular maintaining of those facilities? OpEx.

Renovating those facilities? CapEx.

Another benchmark is if you need to spend money to remove something, that "something" is considered infrastructure. Anything discretionary that can be wiped away clean with the stroke of a pen or keyboard? OpEx.
  by Red Wing
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Mon Apr 19, 2021 8:59 am In terms of service, how about MBTA service to Dover and Portsmouth? And for Amtrak, other than Concord, how about through service to Montreal for services like the Green Mountain Flyer via Bellows Falls (VT), the Alouette via Woodsville, and/or the New Englander via White River Junction (VT)?
Hate to tell you that the Eastern Division is gone getting to Portsmouth, the Cheshire is gone getting to Bellow's Falls, and the BC&M is gone to Woodsville. How could you forget the Red Wing :wink: the Northern is also gone though to White River Junction. Never heard of the New Englander.
  by electricron
 
Need to address several issues recently bought up again.
First issue - double tracking entire rail corridors between city pairs.
Why? Increase speeds - sounds great - just what Brightline is doing along the FEC between Miami and Cocoa. Shared tracks with freight trains, maximum speed up to 110 mph. On the dedicated track between Cocoa and Orlando - Brightline is installing single track for the 125 mph max speeds. Why are they going faster on the single track vs the double track? Grade separations, and no slow freight trains, check. But the key point I wish to point out is that all the tracks for Brightline are owned by themselves - or their parent corporation.
Who would own the double track if installed on the Lincoln corridor - ILDOT or UP?
Second issue - making Atlanta an Amtrak hub for several Southeast rail corridors.
Where will the train station be built, where will the maintenance shop and car yards be built, how many platforms will be needed for all those trains? Answer, who knows? Before building new train services in every compass point from Atlanta, build Amtrak a new home first.
Third issue - 90 mph max speed trains do so little in saving traveling time between cities less than 750 miles apart. To illustrate this very point, let's look at Lincoln services trains more closely. The existing schedule suggest a quickest elapse time of 5 hours and 25 minutes between Chicago and St. Louis, at a distance of 284 rail miles with the train averaging mph.
Math = 284 / 5.4 hours = 52.5 mph average.
Let's increase the speed of the train for the entire distance an average of 10 mph, the very best case possible.
More Math = 284 / 62.5 mph = 4.54 hours or 4 hours and 32 minutes.
A time savings at best of 53 minutes.
Considering the max speed of the trains will not be increase the 37 rail miles between Chicago and Joliet nor the 27 rail miles between Alton and St. Louis, a sub total of 64 rail miles without any speed increases.
That's 22.5% of the 284 rail mile route, so the time saving should be reduce down to minutes.
Math = 64 / 284 x 100 = 22.5 % , 100 - 22.5 = 77.5
More Math = 53 minutes x 77.5% = 41 minutes
So after all that was spent on the Lincoln corridor by Amtrak and ILDOT, the travel time saved was less than 45 minutes. Whoopie!

Using a similar formula for a distance twice as far, like 440 miles vs the 220 miles upgraded on the Lincoln corridor, the time savings might be 82 minutes on a trip taking over hours to complete. For instance, Chicago to Kansas City is 437 rail miles, and takes the Southwest Chief 7 hours and 10 minutes, averaging 61 mph. Adding an additional 10 mph to the average speed, it now would take the Southwest Chief 6 hours and 9 minutes to travel the same 437 rail miles.
Math = 437 / 7.166 = 61 mph
More math = 437 / 71 mph = 6.15 hours
So this train would save 1 hour and 1 minute is it could run all 437 miles 10 mph faster than it does now.

I'm sorry, 90 mph maximum speeds is just not worth the expense with such tiny time savings, imho.
Why take a 6 hour train when you can fly it in less than an hour and a half, or less than 90 minutes?
The only valid reasons are you can not fly, or you wish to see the countryside fly by your window from an elevation around 10 feet high instead of 30,000 - 40,000 feet high. In either case, 7 hours vs 6 hours would give you more of what you want and not require wasting billions of dollars for 10 mph faster train speeds.

If we are going to spend $80 billion on trains, let's do so effectively and really increase the trains speeds where they will gain a majority of the market share from planes. Let's aim for that 3 hours sweet spot between major city pairs when that market share shift occurs. Otherwise we will just be throwing money away wastefully into projects that do not affect market share, and therefore do not affect pollution, etc. It is hard to get excited with elapse times of 4.5 and 6 hours when planes do so in less than 1.5 hours.
  by eolesen
 
electricron wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:40 pm So after all that was spent on the Lincoln corridor by Amtrak and ILDOT, the travel time saved was less than 45 minutes.
But it was shovel ready....

We just spent billions on PTC, so I'm wondering why FRA can't simply do a rule change to allow railroads to increase max speeds allowed. The rails can take it, and the equipment is capable. With the advance signaling and realtime location information, a zero cost rule change would accomplish far more than anything proposed in the infrastructure plan outside of the Gateway project.
  by David Benton
 
A six hour corridor may contain several city pairs where the transit time between them is less than 3 hours.
There are freight trains on the NEC , and 125 mph is allowed.
I thought PTC was the equivalent of Asces, so at least 125 mph is achievable, barring track an grade crossing conditions ???
  by lordsigma12345
 
ACSES is a type of PTC technology. I believe there are other requirements for 125 mph - I believe a cab signal system is also presently still required for speeds of that level though someone with more knowledge may be able to clarify further.
  by eolesen
 
How does PTC not trump basic cab signals? It literally shows the signals and more.......
  by Jeff Smith
 
electricron wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:40 pm ...
Second issue - making Atlanta an Amtrak hub for several Southeast rail corridors.
Where will the train station be built, where will the maintenance shop and car yards be built, how many platforms will be needed for all those trains? Answer, who knows? Before building new train services in every compass point from Atlanta, build Amtrak a new home first.
...
Yeah, that's been an issue forever; there was the gulch, then nothing. Missed opportunity. Peachtree Station just won't cut it; it doesn't cut it now. It was a Southern RR commuter station, not an LD station. Extremely limited parking for an LD station.

NS was actively telling GDOT back when (early 00's?) they were talking about state passenger rail to sh!t or get off the pot. One of the southbound lines is lightly used; I guess that's similar to what's going on in VA betwixt CSX and the state.
  by jthomas
 
eolesen wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 11:32 pm We just spent billions on PTC, so I'm wondering why FRA can't simply do a rule change to allow railroads to increase max speeds allowed. The rails can take it, and the equipment is capable. With the advance signaling and realtime location information, a zero cost rule change would accomplish far more than anything proposed in the infrastructure plan outside of the Gateway project.
I have wondered the same thing. As electricron points out, it's not worth spending billions to raise the speed limit by 10 MPH. But the FRA could raise the speed limit on Class 4 track to 90 with the stroke of a pen. Per the example above, cutting 45 minutes out of a schedule at zero cost would be a huge boon. Is there any physical reason (track, signals, ROW geometry) why this could not be done?
  by Ridgefielder
 
jthomas wrote: Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:29 am
eolesen wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 11:32 pm We just spent billions on PTC, so I'm wondering why FRA can't simply do a rule change to allow railroads to increase max speeds allowed. The rails can take it, and the equipment is capable. With the advance signaling and realtime location information, a zero cost rule change would accomplish far more than anything proposed in the infrastructure plan outside of the Gateway project.
I have wondered the same thing. As electricron points out, it's not worth spending billions to raise the speed limit by 10 MPH. But the FRA could raise the speed limit on Class 4 track to 90 with the stroke of a pen. Per the example above, cutting 45 minutes out of a schedule at zero cost would be a huge boon. Is there any physical reason (track, signals, ROW geometry) why this could not be done?
They're not just going to do it at the stroke of a pen. No FRA official would want to take the risk of approving this then getting blamed for a fatal wreck. Would need Congressional/Administration pressure and/or a serious study of the risks to do it.
  by eolesen
 
I'm sure there were extensive studies done with when PTC that could point to potential speed improvements. Or maybe they didn't do studies at all....

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