• Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

  • 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 gokeefe
 

CN9634 wrote:It seems everything is handled by 'status quo', but the lack of 'intent to participate' by NNEPRA and MaineDOT in the CSX transaction in the STB seems to show a lack of voice in key infrastructure for the Downeaster. Even now, with a second chance, we hear crickets and see 'news' like this that seemingly no one has any clue what the path forward looks like, especially from those who should know better.
Having worked directly with both MaineDOT and NNEPRA I would strongly disagree. I know the players and they are very proactive. Participation in the STB process is not necessary to protect the public interest. These are very savvy people who understand the value of working discretely.



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  by gokeefe
 

Ridgefielder wrote:Time to rescue that chunk of the trainshed from Thompson's Point! :wink:
I would be happier with something brand new. Image



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  by CN9634
 
gokeefe wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:41 pm
CN9634 wrote:It seems everything is handled by 'status quo', but the lack of 'intent to participate' by NNEPRA and MaineDOT in the CSX transaction in the STB seems to show a lack of voice in key infrastructure for the Downeaster. Even now, with a second chance, we hear crickets and see 'news' like this that seemingly no one has any clue what the path forward looks like, especially from those who should know better.
Having worked directly with both MaineDOT and NNEPRA I would strongly disagree. I know the players and they are very proactive. Participation in the STB process is not necessary to protect the public interest. These are very savvy people who understand the value of working discretely.



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I've worked with some of these players too... the frequent misuse of the word 'intermodal' is disappointing (multimodal always passenger, intermodal always freight). But how do you defend a 7-year old Rail Plan? Two Class Is land on your doorstep and hardly a peep from the Government or NNEPRA. The time to participate in the process and voice your needs is now, the window will close soon. The way I see it, these guys are the tax-payer fiduciary and I don't see them being very concerned or involved in our stake of this process. Working discretely at Government level with public monies actually isn't savvy at all, part of your obligation to tax payers is transparency. The word I think I'd choose is 'comfortable' with little oversight.

How about a strategic plan... or vision... for the Downeaster? They said Rockland for a few years now so it lands on a map and everyone is shocked. Really no communication with the Feds at all? No olive branch when the Amtrak-Friendly Biden administration took over? What do these guys get paid for these days?
  by gokeefe
 
They're public servants not activists. There is a significant difference in roles.

With regards to the State Rail Plan how much time do you want to spent writing plans that gather dust on shelves?

Comprehensive Plans for municipalities are considered good for 10 years. It is not a stretch of the imagination at all that a State Rail Plan would be good for 15 years as projects and goals are met.

With regards to terminology "intermodal" is used across both the passenger and freight modes.

The idea of "not a peep" to the Class Is seems likewise absurd. Canadian Pacific has already had extensive engagement with government at multiple levels (state and local). CSX doesn't even own the railroad yet and does not have STB approval.

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  by CN9634
 
Not sure the delineation on activist... but I think they owe us, the tax payers, an annual report on what is going on perhaps? And for sure we get bits and pieces, but the optics of the information really serves the interests well.. how about we get a report of how many people ride the Downeaster between Maine and Boston? The Woborn and Exeter figures do a bit of skewing don't you think? When did we get a sense last of how our dollars in freight rail created economic growth and in which sectors?

I also think you misunderstood my point.. there is an opportunity now to participate in the STB process with CSX taking over to protect the interests of the Downeaster present and future. NNEPRA has already mentioned in the news concern over CSX holding the service levels, but hasn't decided to participate in the STB process again to affirm and protect their needs. So when I say the window is closing, that is what I mean as the clock is on... they should at least throw into the conversation, similar to how the MBTA, even with their more erroneous demands, has been participating.

From an industry standpoint Intermodal is most certainly not used at all talking about passenger service... that is a term policy makers and state agencies have adopted incorrectly. It always since inception has been used exclusively for freight transportation.... JB Hunt Intermodal isn't a passenger carrier for instance.

So if I read this correctly-- the Maine State Rail Plan was just a big waste of time and tax payer money which was immediately shelved? I don't think you write a plan for the sake of writing a plan, it needs to be actionable, measurable and dynamic to the changing environment. Then again, all my career experience has been private sector, so I guess our views on business plans, or strategic visions are somewhat different (10 years is laughable you can realistically barely see anything past 3, or even 5 years).

Sorry my tone is so harsh, but if 30% of my salary didn't feed the Fed and State machines (some good tax payer benefits for sure that I'm happy about, others not so much) then maybe I'd be willing to overlook how comical sometimes the State of Maine works from a 'business' perspective.
  by gokeefe
 

CN9634 wrote:So if I read this correctly-- the Maine State Rail Plan was just a big waste of time and tax payer money which was immediately shelved? I don't think you write a plan for the sake of writing a plan, it needs to be actionable, measurable and dynamic to the changing environment. Then again, all my career experience has been private sector, so I guess our views on business plans, or strategic visions are somewhat different (10 years is laughable you can realistically barely see anything past 3, or even 5 years).
In government planning across many policy spheres planning is typically done on a 5 - 10 year horizon due at least in part to anticipating funding cycles and changing federal and state priorities. Plans are written and then executed forward from that point. In some cases they serve as placeholder policy documents that are used to meet federal requirements. Because of the depth involved with government plans it typically is considered wasteful to rewrite them more often than every 5-10 years and that is especially true of policy areas which are not particularly dynamic.

It is not at all unusual for a government plan to have a 10 year shelf life. This is also partly because unlike the private sector government revenues and programs are typically very stable. This allows for forward thinking and prioritization that can indeed look many years out.

In transportation planning and especially it seems in the freight markets the real issue remains attempting to predict economic activity levels by sector. For example real estate this past year ... No one in their right minds ever would have predicted the kind of market we have right now. Absolutely screaming hot. Easily the best real estate market in Maine since the 1920s and maybe ever. Anyone writing a plan assuming that or year we would have had 10%+ price growth *on average* would have been laughed out the door.

So ... "no" the State Rail Plan wasn't a waste of money but it is not a "live" document the way you might think. That type of policy is likely contained in something issued internally, likely on an annual basis similar to Maine DOTs three year work plan which is adjusted each year.




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  by Arborwayfan
 
how about we get a report of how many people ride the Downeaster between Maine and Boston? The Woborn and Exeter figures do a bit of skewing don't you think?
Do people going to Woburn and Exeter not count? Which city pairs that include them don't count? I can see a Maine taxpayer objecting to subsidizing NH-to-MA trips? Is that what you mean? Or do you object to Maine-to-Woburn trips, which I would think are just as good as Maine-to-BON trips?
  by markhb
 
I am not sure about trips in from Haverhill, but I do know that NH-MA tickets are a bit more per mile than tickets with an endpoint in Maine. I think the NH riders, especially the substantial commuter base in Exeter, help reduce Maine's overall subsidy.
  by gokeefe
 
That is entirely correct on both counts. Passenger originating in New Hampshire and Massachusetts pay more than those originating in Maine.

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  by CSRR573
 
oat324 wrote: Sat Mar 27, 2021 9:02 pm
markhb wrote: Mon Mar 08, 2021 5:38 pm I noticed today that at least one of the engines on the Downeaster has what appears to be a 50th Anniversary logo on the side. Has anyone gotten pictures yet?
Here you go when it was in the Amtrak yard at Boston MA.
Image
Nice to see another Amtraker here. What do you do for work?
  by pnolette
 
So from a PAR MOW person I talked to looks like the Wells siding project is not going to start this year. His boss hasn't heard anything about a start date yet.
  by jonnhrr
 
nomis wrote: Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:39 pm A quick tidbit from the STB Filing, PDF page 192
CSXT plans to install Positive Train Control (“PTC”) (I-ETMS) on the PAR System line segment north of the Massachusetts/New Hampshire State line to Brunswick, ME, which hosts the Amtrak Downeaster service described above. The PTC installation and funding responsibility will be coordinated with Amtrak. MBTA has installed PTC (ATC-ACSES), which is in service between Boston, MA and the Massachusetts/New Hampshire State line.
So that means the Amtrak locomotives used on the Downeaster will have to have both kinds of PTC installed.
  by Trinnau
 
Correct. However the Downeaster locomotive pool is shared with the Albany diesel pool, which has to have both kinds for use on the Lake Shore anyway. Amtrak may just need to install a few more as dual-equipped.
  by jcpatten
 
The Downeaster goes back to all 5 round trips today, including the stop at Old Orchard Beach. Interestingly enough, the weekday and weekend schedules are the same.
  by Maverickstation1
 
Yeah, with the trains running on the same schedule 7 days per week, the first departure from North Station (8:50 am) makes the train viable for day trips to Portland.
The weekend schedule from 2019 had the first Sat/Sun/Hol train departing almost 1 hour later, and in that case we would bypass the train for Concord Coach.

Ken
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