• 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 Arlington
 
Yes, let’s focus on practical obligations on the Gulf Coast (money, STB, and horse trading). And also point out that the winning strategy in other states usually ends up being state $ and statewide will, not the STB.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Arlington wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 4:45 pm Yes, let’s focus on practical obligations on the Gulf Coast (money, STB, and horse trading). And also point out that the winning strategy in other states usually ends up being state $ and statewide will, not the STB.
I kind of want to have CSX and NS dragged through the STB, namely for why it's taken 16 years to get to this point. Service should of been restored over a decade ago.

The other side of the coin is that I would not want the Sunset Limited extended past New Orleans, due to how on-time it was in the past (read: it wasn't). I'm more for splitting the line up, making a new "Gulf Coast Limited" train.
  by gokeefe
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote:Uh, Uh, Mr. Ridgefield; the MILW never got a dime for Lines West.

I still hold it should haven't been built in the first place. I only hope by those "much higher up" than me gave careful evaluation if it could have been used, hardly deserving to be operated by a "reorganized" MILW, but by someone such as the UP to provide balanced competition through the North Pacific region.

Stand by for contrary, yet well informed, words from Mr. Meyer. His career, from Rocky to Warren, was a "mite bit" longer than my eleven years.
According to this nicely done report the entire Idaho segment of the Pacific Coast Extension was on federally granted land.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... LA58-7QFQf

If the link doesn't work just search "Idaho rails to trails Milwaukee road land grants" and the report should come up.



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  by gokeefe
 
Nice to see a mention of "MILW Lines West" can still get everyone going ...

With regards to the administration's involvement in the STB docket I think it is indeed quite notable. Can anyone ever remember the White House going to bat for Amtrak at the "Surf Board" or the ICC?

Unheard of from anything I can remember ... The writing is on the wall but CSX doesn't want to read it ...

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  by electricron
 
gokeefe wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 8:38 pm According to this nicely done report the entire Idaho segment of the Pacific Coast Extension was on federally granted land.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... LA58-7QFQf

If the link doesn't work just search "Idaho rails to trails Milwaukee road land grants" and the report should come up.
From the link so kindly provided on page 11, "Valuation Section1 (VS#1) is the portion from the Montana state line west of Portal, MT to the Idaho state line west of Mowry, Idaho. The section (VS#1) is listed in written records as including 464.9 acres of federally granted ROW. As this segment is approximately 90 miles long with a 100 ROW, it consists of approximately 1, 000 acres. Since the federally granted ROW consists of only 464.9 acres, we know only about half of this route was federally granted."

I would just simply suggest half is not all.

It certainly was not half the sections 10 miles on either side of the row either, to be specific; 90 miles x 10 miles with is an area of 900 square miles, at 640 acres per square mile around 576,000 acres. 464.9 acres is not that much - not even a section of land or square mile.

Yes, Uncle Sam's land grants made the Milwaukee Road RR rich, nope........;)
  by eolesen
 
That sounds more like an easement than a land grant. Land grants were intended to be sold to settlers and businesses and induce populating the territory. Ain't nobody populating on the ROW aside from perhaps a boarding house or saloon....
  by Arlington
 
Can we focus on Actual 2021 news or motivation for 2x Mobile service?
  by Jeff Smith
 
Arlington wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 9:48 am Can we focus on Actual 2021 news or motivation for 2x Mobile service?
Apparently not.... :wink:

Reminder: this isn't landgrant.gov LOL.
  by gokeefe
 
Arlington wrote:Can we focus on Actual 2021 news or motivation for 2x Mobile service?
That is a very tall order when serious matters such as "Lines West" abandonment have crept into the discussion. My apologies for pouring more than my fair share of gasoline onto the fire. Image

I'm going to be very curious to see how this goes. Amtrak taking an access issue to the Board is literally a once in a generation event (at least from what I know) ...

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  by eolesen
 
Indeed. I searched the online STB docket and couldn't find any evidence of an access issue for Amtrak.

STB is supposed to act as an independent non-partisan board, and I find it a bit problematic for the WH to be interjecting itself in what should be Amtrak negotiating with the property owners. This pollutes their appearance of neutrality.

From a comment Jeff Smith made over a month ago regarding federal funds after Katrina... Best I can tell, CSX repaired the Bay St. Louis and Rigolets bridges on their own dime (or their insurers), not with Federal funds. That's how they got it done in a matter of 17 weeks. It would have taken longer just to do the paperwork for Federal loan guarantees.....

Assuming STB forces the issue, I'm curious how much the cost will actually be to get this up and running...

The statutory requirement to have 80% on-time performance (this may be the first corridor added with that requirement) is going to force portions of what's a single track line will to be double tracked, and yes, the 17 bridges do pose a problem, and will need approach tracks on each side to hold freights... I'm also assuming there's no PTC on the existing line.

Flatland track is closer to $1M per mile. Bridging or fill in the swamps averages $3-5M per mile of track. Figure another $1M for each crossover including signalling.

PTC is around $500K per mile, so 150 miles of track will run ~$75M.

We're now up to $225M before the first train rolls, double the SRC's estimate, and that's without any modifications to train stations. That seems like a lot of money for a service that's only estimated to carry 40,000 people per year.

Assuming 250 people on every train, every day of the year.... that's an investment of $125 per passenger over five years. In reality, it will probably be a considerably higher cost since I wouldn't expect 1000 people a day riding the line.

Megabus currently offers service between NOL and MOB for about $15 and gets you there in 2.5 hours. They only have demand for one 44 seat bus each day. Where anyone expects Amtrak to fill >10x as many seats is beyond me...
  by Arlington
 
Is PTC required? The Downeaster is permitted a max 12 operations per day (5 r/t and 1 tbd) with no PTC. Are PTC waivers no longer a thing?
  by eolesen
 
Not really applicable with CSX. The waivers were on Class-2's that hosted Amtrak. The Downeaster waiver appears null and void once CSX takes over, and CSX has already said they will be installing PTC as part of the acquisition.
  by gokeefe
 
Agreed. PTC probably already has been installed. With regards to rebuilding tracks CSX benefited greatly from the investments made by the federal government to rebuild the economy on the Gulf Coast. This rail line would not be needed today otherwise.

At the end of the day railroads are a utility and not simply an alternative to trucks. If I have to say it a thousand times I will ... There are certain commodities and even entire industries for which rail transportation is the only option.

The railroads have a very special franchise on transportation which is unique in the national economy. This arrangement is supported and guaranteed by the government. Their consequent burden is to work with the national rail passenger carrier as agreed by contract or if directed by the STB.

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  by TurningOfTheWheel
 
North American railroads in particular are in a precarious regulatory position. Most other countries have recognized the role of railways as a public utility equivalent to highways or a water system and nationalize the ownership (though not necessarily the operations) of their rails as such. The United States, due to the complex economic and legal history surrounding the railroads (reinforcing many times over the private sector's ownership and control) doesn't really have nationalization as an option. Yet the US government has the same obligation to preserve freight and passenger rail service as a public utility. The result is a.) regulatory bodies such as the STB which attempt to reconcile private ownership of the railroads with the vital public good they provide and b.) massive government investment in the business and operational interests of the Class Is. Coal trains will be extinct by the end of the decade, and the government and the Class Is both understand whose responsibility it is to keep the railroads solvent once they lose those revenues.

NS and CSX are bound by the Faustian bargain that they and their predecessors made in 1971 to shift passenger obligations to Amtrak. The legislation and current regulations clearly articulate Amtrak's rights to establish new service, but until now, Amtrak has never had the need nor the desire to flex the comparatively few legal privileges they have. As GBN will tell you, Amtrak was designed as a way to peacefully allow most rail service to die off, not to expand it from where it stood in 1971. If STB are truly neutral arbiters, they will correctly point out that Sunset Limited service should have been restored years ago and NS/CSX have no legal standing in their crusade here.
  by David Benton
 
Once coal is gone , (followed by oil, but probably replaced by hauling biomass), the railroads may welcome the revenue passenger rail brings. Particularily if they can develop high speed freight on the same lines.
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