• Amtrak New Gulf Coast Service - New Orleans to Mobile AL

  • 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 Bob Roberts
 
Just heard a talk from some members of the Southeastern Rail Commission on the process of creating this train at the Southeast Rail Forum. Stephen McNair, a member of the SRC discussed the Mobile end of the route. He said that service will -initially- end at a 'platform' in downtown Mobile. But, the longer term plans are to terminate the train at Brookley Airport near I-10 in order to avoid blocking the freight crossings in town (specific location of this stop has not yet been determined). The movement of the termination point to Brookley will correspond to the movement of the Mobile Regional Airport to Brookley Field. It was said that this decision was made in order to placate the concerns of the city and CSX about gumming up port rail and the passenger terminal.

I am kinda bummed about this news. I would ride somewhat regularly (meaning an annual(ish) round trip) if the train dropped me within walking distance to downtown. A peripheral stop out by the interstate just will not work for me. I am just a tourist and I am certainly not going to make or break the service.

It was also mentioned that the State of Alabama has been "verbally supportive of the train, but not yet financially supportive"
  by prokowave
 
Bob Roberts wrote: Fri Mar 26, 2021 9:47 am Just heard a talk from some members of the Southeastern Rail Commission on the process of creating this train at the Southeast Rail Forum. Stephen McNair, a member of the SRC discussed the Mobile end of the route. He said that service will -initially- end at a 'platform' in downtown Mobile. But, the longer term plans are to terminate the train at Brookley Airport near I-10 in order to avoid blocking the freight crossings in town (specific location of this stop has not yet been determined). The movement of the termination point to Brookley will correspond to the movement of the Mobile Regional Airport to Brookley Field. It was said that this decision was made in order to placate the concerns of the city and CSX about gumming up port rail and the passenger terminal.

I am kinda bummed about this news. I would ride somewhat regularly (meaning an annual(ish) round trip) if the train dropped me within walking distance to downtown. A peripheral stop out by the interstate just will not work for me. I am just a tourist and I am certainly not going to make or break the service.
I totally agree with you. It's crazy how backwards Mobile is being with regards to this service. Mississippi recognizes the value of being able to lure tourists from New Orleans for a short trip. I'd be one to do a day trip to Mobile's downtown but certainly not to the airport. It's not like it's a major hub airport that people are trying to get to and I can't imagine there will be any decent transit options to downtown. If the stop moves to Brookley it becomes just a way for Mobile residents to get to Mississippi or New Orleans.

Then again it might just be something they are saying to placate the port naysayers, since building a new terminal at Brookley to replace MOB is one of those projects that could be kicked down the road indefinitely, just like the often discussed bay bridge.
  by Roadgeek Adam
 
Amtrak looks at this differently. Amtrak seems to be under the impression the Brookley station is going to be a Milwaukee & Mitchell Airport situation. That seems to be the better solution.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Milwaukee Mitchell and Mobile Regional are two different animals. The main difference is that Mitchell siphons off a lot of Illinois residents [in addition to the Milwaukee folks] than Mobile does, and is a much busier airport.

This Mobile airport stop situation reminds me of the situation in South Bend, IN.
  by dgvrengineer
 
Are we sure the change to terminate the run at the airport precludes a stop downtown? My take is rather than have the train sit in the downtown station until it's return trip, it will stop downtown, then terminate at the airport to await it's trip back to NO.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
dgvrengineer wrote: Sat Mar 27, 2021 6:50 pm Are we sure the change to terminate the run at the airport precludes a stop downtown? My take is rather than have the train sit in the downtown station until it's return trip, it will stop downtown, then terminate at the airport to await it's trip back to NO.
That is a good point. But having looked on Google Maps, I cannot find a railroad that goes to the airport!
  by Roadgeek Adam
 
I would presume the Aeroplex station would be along Perimeter Road, though I have no idea where they would let any equipment sit.
  by Bob Roberts
 
dgvrengineer wrote: Sat Mar 27, 2021 6:50 pm Are we sure the change to terminate the run at the airport precludes a stop downtown? My take is rather than have the train sit in the downtown station until it's return trip, it will stop downtown, then terminate at the airport to await it's trip back to NO.
My initial post about the Brookley Field terminus was made from memory of viewing the presentation live. The video of the talk has now been posted, but appears to only be available to folks who registered for the conference. At the risk of over-interpreting what was a relatively casual presentation by several Southern Rail Commission (SRC) board members I re watched the video and provided relevant quotes from Stephen McNair below:

"The downtown [Mobile] passenger site (the legacy site) is where the platform is going to be when service returns until perhaps it is moved to an airport site. For the time-being, at least a platform will be downtown."

"With the downtown platform being where the dropoff point is going to be for the time-being, there is a real push locally to have the primary station at Brookley field. For more of an intermodal facility facility there, and the airport authority really wants to make that happen. Its part of [the airport authority's] master plan and it opens up many grant opportunities for the authority. And, quite frankly it moves the platform about a mile further west out of downtown which means that Amtrak would not cross the north-south access point where coal trains come in from Birmingham and so it creates an environment where Amtrak really is out of the way of port activity but it supports the airport, so its a win win. But we will need FRA approval on where, exactly, the platform will be on the Brookley campus. But that negotiation [of putting the main station [main station are my words not McNair's] at Brookley] was also part of receiving verbal commitments for funding at the local level."

"A lot of people might say, "that doesn't make any sense, wouldn't you want the station to be downtown?". Well, in order to receive the funding, sometimes you can't get exactly what you want. And so that is why putting the station at Brookly may secure all of the operating, and possibly infrastructure funds [airport authority infrastructure grants were implied as the source of this funding] that we need. But it creates something new and exciting for the greater downtown ecosystem of having trains, planes and automobiles together all within a half-mile radius." [he said earlier that he viewed Brookley Field as a "downtown" airport so the SRC appears to be rationalizing the Brookley end point as close enough to downtown.]

That was pretty much everything that was discussed about Mobile. While the text above looks a bit garbled, they are a faithful recreation of what was said. There is certainly some ambiguity here about the permanence of the downtown platform, but it appears (to me) that the city of Mobile (who is the only financial contributor to the service in Alabama so far) has made their funding commitment on the condition of passenger service not interfering with with port freight service in any way.

The only visuals used in McNair's presentation were two unadorned Google Maps satellite images. One was of downtown Mobile and the other was of Brookley field and I-10. There were two other speakers from the SRC (John Robert Smith and Knox Ross), but neither discussed the details of routing or Brookley field.
Last edited by Bob Roberts on Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by electricron
 
David Benton wrote: Mon Mar 29, 2021 1:28 pm so multiple coal trains rollling through downtown are o.k, a single passenger train is not?
Those coal trains are going to a coal dock. Shipping from the seaport has always been Mobile’s number one industry, and although coal is just one part, it is a major part.
CSX has been shipping coal from the seaport for more than 100 years. How long has Amtrak serviced Mobile the last 50 years?
Additionally, how much earnings has CSX earned the last 50 years moving coal vs from passenger fares?
  by Arborwayfan
 
I didn't get the impression that the city or the port were worried about the passengers trains passing through downtown; the railroad and the city are worried that the passenger trains will delay the coal trains.

On the other hand, if we count CSX as serving Mobile for 100 or 150 or however many years, then we need to count Amtrak as serving Mobile for the same years, up until Katrina. If CSX is the successor to all the old railroads for freight, then Amtrak is the successor to all the old railroads for passenger. But the question about the revenue is valid.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Mon Mar 29, 2021 6:41 pm I didn't get the impression that the city or the port were worried about the passengers trains passing through downtown; the railroad and the city are worried that the passenger trains will delay the coal trains.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

And here I thought it's supposed to be the other way around.
  by eolesen
 
Looking at where BFM is, and assuming a new terminal would be on the northwest side of the field, it does makes some sense to have a stop there. There are already sidings off the NO&M that serve the airport, and it wouldn't be disruptive to tie into or repurpose one of those existing sidings for adding a passenger platform and holding tracks.

If you think longer term, I'd assume there'd be a local bus transit hub at the airport, which would make places like downtown or the cruise terminal a one-seat ride. There's also going to be better long-term parking at the airport and better highway access being right off of I-10.

https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=13/3 ... 9&layers=T

Whether or not it would make sense to stop there and continue downtown?... Dunno. It's only a four mile hop, and that seems like an expensive move if there's alternative transportation available to handle the last mile. But... downtown along the river is a fairly blighted area and there's no shortage of room to add a siding and holding track there, either.
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