• Cuomo proposed High Speed System in NY

  • 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 WhartonAndNorthern
 
SRich wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:01 pm ]
P32AC-DM have cab signals. If not they can not run on empire corridor (MNRR portion). Many P42 DC also have cabsignals. They need that so they can run on the NEC. Parts of the NEC have no wayside signals(except interlocking signals and approach) but only cabsignals.

And the new Amtrak owned SC-44 has also cabsignals for the NEC portion. I don't know for sure but its likely that a few P40DC also have cab signals.
In addition to the NEC, MetroNorth, and the Keystone Corridor, Amtrak operates over the following cab-signalled freight lines: NS Pittsburgh Line (ex-PRR), CSX RF&P Subdivision, and CSX Boston Subdivision (installed in the Conrail-era). Expect quite a few P42s and P40s (AutoTrain service) to have cab signals. With modern computer technology, upgrading a locomotive to cab signalling isn't nearly the production it was in the steam era.

Edited to add: in addition to its diesels being fitted with cab signals, many have been upgraded to full on ACSES II for the NEC, others have been upgraded to host railroad PTC, and some have ATSF automatic train stop pick ups. I don't think any use UP-style cab signals so host power is required on those rare mileage excursions.
  by Tadman
 
The UP ex-CNW lines west of Chicago just dropped their cab signals. This means a few things - #1, the SD40 leaders on big road trains to Omaha are kaput. It was a nice vestige of the past. #2, Amtrak CZ detours are easier to do but no longer feature UP or Metra loaners. Remember the famous floods of 1993? For the first 10-15 years, Metra kept about a dozen spare ex-CNW E8's to cover for shopped F40's, and they were Amtrak's leader/loaners during the floods. An entire summer of Metra E8's leading the Zephyr to Omaha.

Most of those E's made it to today and are in Iowa Pacific /IC paint.
  by eolesen
 
Yep, PTC is an alternative. I'm enjoying seeing a lot more variety on the UP Harvard Sub lately. SD40-2's are still running the Proviso-Janesville turns, but all of the grain trains now are road power, usually big GE's or EMD's. Nice to see the operating efficiency there in that they can run the same power end to end.

No reason Amtrak can't now enjoy similar efficiencies (and speed increases) elsewhere.
  by johndmuller
 
Those who think about rebuilding parts or the entirety of the old 4 track line should bear in mind that the ROW is not always wide enough with current requirements for double stack and other freight equipment (high speed passenger equipment may also require somewhat more width). Of course, the places where the ROW is tight are also the most expensive to widen.

More of the western shore line west of Albany could be rebuilt and traded to CSX for control of more of the north of the Mohawk ROW. This would of course be expensive, and beg the question of whether it would be better to use the new portion for pax, but probably still be cheaper to build it with lesser freight requirements for speed and comfort and keep the pax on the side with the greater population. The ROW is generally there, but encroached upon and without grade separation.

With the improvements between Albany and Schenectady, more trains could be run from NYC thru beyond Albany, possibly running regularly up to Saratoga, a somewhat walkable destination. There used to be a lot of summer tourist business making that trip; tastes may be heading that way again. Just as streetcar lines planted amusement parks at the end of runs, railroads used to run resorts as part of their business plans. Upstate has a number of famous destinations that could figure into schemes like that.

Going for the economy market, it might be nice to offer cheaper fares over the Empire route than those offered by the existing service. While timewise, one can rationalize the train vs. driving, most fares are only competitive with driving as a party of one; any kind of family outings are way cheaper to drive. Even as a party of one, there is no particular advantage to the train aside from not having to do the driving, and there are obvious inconveniences getting around at the destination. The economics vs. flying are more favorable, but the time issue arises instead.

Running regular service over the Albany-Buffalo at everyman prices in only-slightly-above-commuter-level equipment at 'whatever' speeds could serve to help rebuild the idea of using the train and also allow the Empire service to serve fewer stops as an 'express' and let the 'local' fill in the gaps. Coexistence with the freight lines would be more tolerable at a discount.
  by Suburban Station
 
johndmuller wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:24 pm With the improvements between Albany and Schenectady, more trains could be run from NYC thru beyond Albany, possibly running regularly up to Saratoga, a somewhat walkable destination. There used to be a lot of summer tourist business making that trip; tastes may be heading that way again. Just as streetcar lines planted amusement parks at the end of runs, railroads used to run resorts as part of their business plans. Upstate has a number of famous destinations that could figure into schemes like that.
I made this trip over the summer and was generally pleased. the station is not close to downtown anymore (though that station still exists) but if it were reasonably fast, it is not a long uber/lyft ride and would probably generate a good amount of park n ride activity from the surrounding area for whom it still makes sense to drive to albany for better headways. it was a good experience and seemed like it wouldn't take all that much to really make it worthwhile (raising speeds beyond schenectady even just a little, and speed up the slow areas in metro north territory). making this a really useful corridor seems like a very doable option and would also benefit schenectady.
johndmuller wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:24 pm Going for the economy market, it might be nice to offer cheaper fares over the Empire route than those offered by the existing service. While timewise, one can rationalize the train vs. driving, most fares are only competitive with driving as a party of one; any kind of family outings are way cheaper to drive. Even as a party of one, there is no particular advantage to the train aside from not having to do the driving, and there are obvious inconveniences getting around at the destination. The economics vs. flying are more favorable, but the time issue arises instead.

Running regular service over the Albany-Buffalo at everyman prices in only-slightly-above-commuter-level equipment at 'whatever' speeds could serve to help rebuild the idea of using the train and also allow the Empire service to serve fewer stops as an 'express' and let the 'local' fill in the gaps. Coexistence with the freight lines would be more tolerable at a discount.
running longer trains would seem to be the ticket
  by NaugyRR
 
I would be thrilled with an extra car during Pony Season. I've gone to visit family in Lake George and been on more than a couple standing-room trains; one year I actually had to ride in the cafe car from RHI - SAR.
  by EuroStar
 
Suburban Station wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:26 am
johndmuller wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:24 pm Going for the economy market, it might be nice to offer cheaper fares over the Empire route than those offered by the existing service. While timewise, one can rationalize the train vs. driving, most fares are only competitive with driving as a party of one; any kind of family outings are way cheaper to drive. Even as a party of one, there is no particular advantage to the train aside from not having to do the driving, and there are obvious inconveniences getting around at the destination. The economics vs. flying are more favorable, but the time issue arises instead.

Running regular service over the Albany-Buffalo at everyman prices in only-slightly-above-commuter-level equipment at 'whatever' speeds could serve to help rebuild the idea of using the train and also allow the Empire service to serve fewer stops as an 'express' and let the 'local' fill in the gaps. Coexistence with the freight lines would be more tolerable at a discount.
running longer trains would seem to be the ticket
No, it is not. Unless they figure out how to run longer trains with a single conductor adding more cars is quite expensive in terms of wages and benefits for the extra staff. Most if not all labour unions in this country will never agree to one or even two crew operation (not counting the engineer).
  by Suburban Station
 
EuroStar wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:17 pm
Suburban Station wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:26 am
johndmuller wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:24 pm Going for the economy market, it might be nice to offer cheaper fares over the Empire route than those offered by the existing service. While timewise, one can rationalize the train vs. driving, most fares are only competitive with driving as a party of one; any kind of family outings are way cheaper to drive. Even as a party of one, there is no particular advantage to the train aside from not having to do the driving, and there are obvious inconveniences getting around at the destination. The economics vs. flying are more favorable, but the time issue arises instead.

Running regular service over the Albany-Buffalo at everyman prices in only-slightly-above-commuter-level equipment at 'whatever' speeds could serve to help rebuild the idea of using the train and also allow the Empire service to serve fewer stops as an 'express' and let the 'local' fill in the gaps. Coexistence with the freight lines would be more tolerable at a discount.
running longer trains would seem to be the ticket
No, it is not. Unless they figure out how to run longer trains with a single conductor adding more cars is quite expensive in terms of wages and benefits for the extra staff. Most if not all labour unions in this country will never agree to one or even two crew operation (not counting the engineer).
Disagree. The rules are set to encourage longer trains but protect the number of jobs should the railroad run shorter trains. Moreover, the unit cost drops since the railroad and stations as well as turnaround remain fixed. In this case, though, the locomotive cant handle longer trains.
  by Greg Moore
 
Just a note, years ago almost all Empire Service trains were 5 cars long (4 coach 1 cafe/business class).
Now it's not uncommon to see 6 cars trains.
So adding a car has become rather common.

I suspect we'd see more longer trains if the equipment was available.
  by EuroStar
 
Do we know if going from 5 cars to 6 cars increased the crew size? I am not familiar with the details of the Amtrak union contract, but if it was 2 cars per crew member, then going from 5 to 6 did not increase the labour cost while adding to the revenue. However going to 7 likely requires an additional crew member.

Also if it was just adding more cars, one wonders why NY State has not just ordered a bunch of new Siemens cars to add? Cars are cheap and they will be on the road for decades. Or even why have not they refurbished some retired commuter equipment with more comfortable seats and made them available to Amtrak? Part of the answer is that they are playing a game of chicken waiting for the mid-west cars to become available, but it is not the whole story. The major issue is that adding more cars requires increase in the operating costs and the subsidies for the service that will need to be paid year after year.
  by Railjunkie
 
A few thoughts, adding more cars will add to crew cost I believe its seven or eight revenue cars and you need an extra man. Cafe cafe cars don't count towards this number. More cars equal bigger axle counts which means more monies paid to foreign RRs. CN by the way has the highest per diem. The dual modes handle the LSL with 8 to 10 cars pretty easily. I once did 13 cars never went above 80mph didn't make sense to speed up to slow down.

As for raising speeds well thats big $$$ which NYS dosent have and MNRR dosent care and the NIMBYS will freak the @#$% out if you start cutting mountains back to straighten some curves. Remember its NOT how FAST you GO, its HOW you GO FAST.
  by Suburban Station
 
Railjunkie wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:43 am A few thoughts, adding more cars will add to crew cost I believe its seven or eight revenue cars and you need an extra man. Cafe cafe cars don't count towards this number. More cars equal bigger axle counts which means more monies paid to foreign RRs. CN by the way has the highest per diem. The dual modes handle the LSL with 8 to 10 cars pretty easily. I once did 13 cars never went above 80mph didn't make sense to speed up to slow down.

As for raising speeds well thats big $$$ which NYS dosent have and MNRR dosent care and the NIMBYS will freak the @#$% out if you start cutting mountains back to straighten some curves. Remember its NOT how FAST you GO, its HOW you GO FAST.
not sure that axle counts are how host RR's are paid for passenger trains but you are correct, café cars do not count. so 6 coaches would be one conductor and an assistant conductor. a seventh coach would be an additional conductor and a cafe has an attendant.5 coaches+1 cafe would be 3 employees, 9 coaches plus one cafe would be 4 employees...which is fewer employees per car. the fact that they are running 5 coaches instead of 6 says to me either there is no demand or the coaches can't be spared for all empire sets. I've been on trains where the dual mode was not enough power but perhaps there were other mitigating factors. I know the P42's have performance issues relative to the ACS64's but maybe that is electric versus diesel rather than the lack of horsepower on the P42's
  by Ridgefielder
 
Railjunkie wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:43 am As for raising speeds well thats big $$$ which NYS dosent have and MNRR dosent care and the NIMBYS will freak the @#$% out if you start cutting mountains back to straighten some curves. Remember its NOT how FAST you GO, its HOW you GO FAST.
The Water Level Route is not a particularly curvy railroad. And only ~65 of the ~435 miles are shared with MN. Seems to me that train speeds are being held back by track condition and freight interference, not curves. The New York Central, after all, was able to break 100mph on this line in 1893.
  by johndmuller
 
by Ridgefielder: The Water Level Route is not a particularly curvy railroad. And only ~65 of the ~435 miles are shared with MN. Seems to me that train speeds are being held back by track condition and freight interference, not curves. The New York Central, after all, was able to break 100mph on this line in 1893.
There's the track shared with MN up thru Poughkeepsie, then there's the 80 some miles to Schenectady controlled by Amtrak, then there's all the rest under CSX control. The speed record took place in western NY in the CSX territory. Doing that kind of speed out there is pretty unlikely in the present under the current ownership setup.

It should be possible to do 100+ in some parts of the Albany to Poughkeepsie section. Might need some grade crossings killed and/or track work / certification, but there would be nobody else to negotiate with in that sector except government officials. In the other sections, you'd probably need to beg, and then pick up nearly all the tab for necessary track improvements and then beg some more. MN has little to gain from higher speeds, so that little to nothing is what they'd be willing to pay; OTOH, they probably would be OK with it otherwise. CSX would presumably appreciate some free track work, but you'd probably need to build up the line enough to handle all your passenger stuff plus some extra so that CSX would see some improvement in their situation too. Maybe money in some form would be helpful too/instead.
  by mtuandrew
 
At one point, CSX had required that anyone purchasing their right-of-way would maintain a 50’ separation between future high-speed tracks and its own freight tracks. I doubt that they would be so persnickety now, as long as they get money in their coffers.
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