• Amtrak service proposed: Reading, PA to Philadelphia and NYC

  • 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

  by NorthEastRegional
Pulled from the petition link with some editing:

As we all know, the Amtrak Autumn Express was a huge success, but due to this Excursion trip, it got a lot of people thinking about potentials for the corridor the AXP 2014 had run on for a mixed commuter and freight operation and reactivation for a Reading Line service. The biggest problem is funding the service and the fear of potential revenue losses. Fortunately, I believe I have thought of a brilliant alternative that could mitigate the concerns. The concerns shown by government, rail operators and locals.

The great alternative turns out to be something that has been done in the technology sector, it turns out we don't need to build everything to start possible routes, it turns it we don't even need the potential ridership data and analysis on so many data charts! It is not that Complicated! We could Beta Test!

I have took the Amtrak Autumn Express Excursion on November-08th, but can't help but notice old (well maintained looking at least) platforms, gated off and waiting there, begging for service, these platforms with the gates temporarily removed, along with some more basic wooden, low-level platforms (as well as wooden extensions to the current existing stations if it couldn't reach the stairs of train coaches) could be constructed quickly and simply to try out a weekday only with perhaps added Saturday "Shopper Special") service! The station doesn't even have to have all the amenities of a regular SEPTA and Amtrak stop, it could be as basic as possible with printed out plastic/cardboard signs for station names and temporary paper schedules (and promotions for this Beta Testing)!

I believe the Philadelphia-Pottstown-Reading Corridor could lead the way for an innovative idea for the entire US and Canada! These Beta Testing programs along existing raillines are very possible, and the potential could be a huge innovation and step forward for the rail transport sector.

The new line would be used by either a NJTransit ALP45DP loaner or a Diesel Locomotive on one end, and an Electric Locomotive on the other end. The coaches used would be the existing Comet Cars. The intent is to use the existing Norristown Regional Rail Line and crossing the Schuylkill River just west of Norristown. +Edit (Clarification) 1: The Beta Test suggested stations after Norristown would be: Bridgeport-King Of Prussia / Pheonixville-Mont Clare / Royersford-Spring City / Pottstown-Douglassville / Reading Center City.

I have suggested Amtrak to possibly explore it too! Eventually, this could go all the way to Hershey to serve Hershey Park and Harrisburg! It is a real possibility to serve not just commuters but beyond them, including tourists and recreationalists. But we can't know it with only dreaming, and looking at a loadful of data, analysis, graphs and charts, it can go on and on and on, nothing gets done! The fortunate situation is we can get to know it's potential by just trying it out for a Season, the infrastructure exists and the service could be twice per direction per day, one AM and one PM roundtrip or more every weekday, and potentially Saturday as well!

Hence, after a long thought process that proceeds way behind this Autumn Excursion Train, and input from others, I decided to release my plans after a deep analysis of the surroundings of this route!

Petition: https://www.change.org/p/septa-southeas ... reading-pa" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Comments, Questions, Suggestions and Other information is much appreciated, :-)!
  by gprimr1
I think technically this would be a trial run. Beta testing is done to refine a product to complete status. :) (Sorry I'm a computer guy)

I like the idea, but here's a couple things to consider:

1.) Lawyer hissyfits about the condition of platforms etc.

2.) How do you define success?

3.) Your going to need to secure funds to address the chokepoint in Redding.
  by TomNelligan
Plus you have to convince Norfolk Southern to accommodate regular passenger service on the ex-Reading. NS is probably the most passenger-friendly of the North American mega-railroads, but hosting a one-weekend excursion is not the same thing as an ongoing operation, and freight interference always becomes an issue. In the fairly recent past, NS has greeted proposals for restored Philadelphia-Reading passenger service with the position that it would require publicly funded restoration of long-gone additional tracks on the RDG right-of-way. So plan on coming up with huge piles of money to make a full service restoration happen.
  by Literalman
In Amtrak's early years, if I recall correctly, Congress directed the Secretary of Transportation to designate experimental or demonstration routes in addition to the established national network. Although it might be difficult to get a Reading demonstration service going because of possibly inadequate capacity on Norfolk Southern, maybe states could arrange for demonstration service on other routes without a long-term commitment.
  by NorthPennLimited
In order to receive a dime of federal money for transit development, you have to do environmental studies, funding analysis, and comply with ADA.

Then you need compatable engines with PTC that work on BOTH Norfolk southern and SEPTA.

You'll never get this done quick, easy, and on the cheap.

Too much politics, paperwork, goofy laws, and pencil pushing
  by mtuandrew
NorthPennLimited wrote:In order to receive a dime of federal money for transit development, you have to do environmental studies, funding analysis, and comply with ADA.
Or do enough of an environmental study to receive a Finding of No Significant Impact. If we're talking a line that needs little upgrading like the Reading, Amtrak ought to be able to get a FONSI.
NorthPennLimited wrote:Then you need compatable engines with PTC that work on BOTH Norfolk southern and SEPTA.
The P42. Next?
NorthPennLimited wrote:You'll never get this done quick, easy, and on the cheap.

Too much politics, paperwork, goofy laws, and pencil pushing
It wouldn't be as quick, easy, or cheap as NorthEastRegional maintains, but if Amtrak were willing to pay market rate to NS for use of its tracks, it could be relatively quick and not so painful. That's the biggest stumbling block that I see - station properties and platforms aren't as big an issue.
  by AgentSkelly
I think its worth a try; however, I'm afraid the experiement will turn into a Janesville Javelin...
  by SwingMan
If it were really truly that easy to add routes, then there would be lots more of them across the country. Of course, realistically, this isn't a worthwhile venture for Amtrak. Why? Well, they are already power short, and while expansion is a plus, flexibility is a must. You are segregating a certain number of locomotives exclusively for a route that is not going to make a whole lot of noise. Sure, it could get it's fair share of people, but realistically it is just not worth the planning, negotiating, etc.
  by mtuandrew
Also true. There just aren't enough regional passenger cars in Amtrak's fleet for demo services like this, and I suspect they're not as flush with HEP locomotives and crews as they were in the late 1990s either. Maybe it's a job for a subcontractor like Iowa Pacific, if the powers-that-be around SEPTAland felt it was worthwhile.

In fact, I think that contractors and commuter agencies are going to "beta test" the lion's share of new passenger service in the next few decades. Amtrak is unlikely to have enough extra cars or locomotives for one-offs, even with the new Chargers, LDSLs (V-IIs), Midwest/California Bilevels (S-IIIs), AX-IIs, and regional single-levels (V-IIs?) in the pipeline. They're essentially all spoken for.
  by RDGAndrew
This is really more of SEPTA's turf to try than Amtrak's. AMTK already serves the PHL-Harrisburg endpoints via the Keystone Service, so adding a parallel short-haul route via Reading wouldn't be much of a demonstration, except to show the viability of an extended commuter route. It's a shame that SEPTA wasted time and money chasing the "Schuylkill Valley Metro" concept (rapid transit model over a 60-mile route). In this particular corridor, I think the demand is there... Just need to do it right (including NS's full buy-in, maybe even to the point of being designated operator of the service), plan right (another SEPTA issue - they had opposing SVM trains meeting in the single-track Black Rock tunnel in Phoenixville), build attractive stations like NJT's RiverLine, market it right (traffic reports of 422 and I-76 are ready-made for this!) and roll.
  by gprimr1
And work to connect it with Great Valley's business parks.
  by Jersey_Mike
I'm not sure which train you were riding, but the old Reading Main Line has major problems that need to be corrected even before a Beta Test.

1) The speeds are abysmal. Yes, we were mostly running at 40-50mph freight train speeds, but you can't just plop down a passenger train and dig out the old 1981 speed charts. All the grade crossings would need to be re-timed at a minimum. Also the 10mph running into Reading just kills the service.

2) The line operates via Rule 251 with few crossovers. This may have been alright back before 1981 when freights still ran to a schedule, a lot of the line still had 4 tracks and BIRD tower was still open, but today trains get into a conga line and wait their turn. On Sunday's train a MoW crew just north of CP-PHOENIX couldn't clear up in time and we had wrong rail all the way from CP-TITUS to CP-PHOENIX and the Restricting signal at Phoenix required 5 miles of restricted speed operation which eat up about 15-20 minutes.
  by 25Hz
If you're going to have diesel service here, why not to 600 other places in pennsylvania that need it? SEPTA is the poster child of hopelessly inadequate service for the region it serves. Beta test, but where is the equipment coming from? What about other areas with no wires, tell them to go stuff it?

If i'm not mistaken, you'd need to use a NJT P40, because they are wired up to work with transit cars, or something.
  by Backshophoss
At present,NS and CSX(defendants?) to a complaint filed to the STB by Amtrak about Delays near Chicago
and other locations on both RR's due to reported "freight interferance",congestion,and track condition/repairs.
This whole "Concept" maybe moot untill the complaint is settled.
  by Jeff Smith
I'm folding this into an existing topic which discussed much the same idea.

https://www.pennlive.com/news/2021/02/b ... oject.html
A July 2020 study by Transportation Economics and Management Systems, Inc., funded by Berks Alliance, identified a strong case for the return of passenger rail service from Berks County to New York City and Washington D.C. via Pottstown, Phoenixville and Philadelphia, a press release said.

The study, “Restoring Passenger Rail Service to Berks County, PA,” found that restoring rail service would produce substantial economic benefits for all the communities along the line, including jobs, income and property development opportunities. The project would also generate benefits for travelers and could be effectively integrated into the Northeast Corridor rail services to both New York and Washington D.C., according to the release.
More: https://www.co.berks.pa.us/Documents/Be ... -Final.pdf