• Long distance light rail

  • General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.
General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by blockss
 
One of the reasons Amtrak's long distance service is so unreliable and losses so much money is that they are at the mercy of the freight companies.
But, what if they were able to run some type of light rail system instead, perhaps one that could share lanes of a highway with regular traffic over some stretches.
Given restrooms, sleeper cars and food would be required how long could a rightrail train be. I've seen double trucks on the road. Could sharing the road and a possible catinary with other commercial traffic make the system more economical?
The speed would be limited to the speed limit of the road.
Could such a system ever work and be more efficient than the one we have now?
  by walt
 
Sounds like a resurrection of some of the old midwest Interurbans to me. Cincinnati & Lake Erie, Lake Shore Electric, Pacific Electric, & the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee RR come to mind. The North Shore Line ( CNS&M) particularly, ran dining car service on its limited trains between Chicago & Milwaukee.
  by metrarider
 
blockss wrote:One of the reasons Amtrak's long distance service is so unreliable and losses so much money is that they are at the mercy of the freight companies.
So laying 1000's of miles of 'light' rail track (costing Billions) would help?
blockss wrote: But, what if they were able to run some type of light rail system instead, perhaps one that could share lanes of a highway with regular traffic over some stretches.
Sharing highway lanes is not a good idea. For one, train traffic should not be constrained by road traffic, and vice versa. secondly, there is the accident potential.

However, using the Interstate median is an idea that has been floated before, still you have to have the $$$ to build it in the first place
blockss wrote: Given restrooms, sleeper cars and food would be required how long could a rightrail train be. I've seen double trucks on the road. Could sharing the road and a possible catinary with other commercial traffic make the system more economical?
Lightrail has no inherent limits on train length, most cars being self propelled. However, the idea of sharing with other users (who would they be?) doesn't sound like a realistic proposition
blockss wrote: The speed would be limited to the speed limit of the road.
Could such a system ever work and be more efficient than the one we have now?
No, but having a non FRA regulated (in a sense this might be classified as light rail) that is seperate from the national freight rail system would allow the use of lightweight trainsets, off the shelf equipment from other countries, high speeds (200mph) and result in lower fuel costs, as well as lower maintenace costs. Now that is a good idea, however we still suffer from a lack of $$$

  by Mr. Toy
 
I've seen this idea of putting train tracks down existing freeway medians, but it won't fly. Many overpasses have suppport columns in the median. It might work as part of a new coordinated freeway/rail project, but on existing freeways it would present many technical challenges.

  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Railways laid along a median strip has been done in a few locatities. As I recall, the Sunset enters LA in an I-10 median. Also, Chicago has two rapid transit (they're called the "L" around here) lines built in the median strips of the Kennedy Expy (I-90) and the Eisenhower Expy (I-290).

Noting Mr. Closson's earlier posting, the originator, Mr. Block, essentially has proposed resurrecting the various interurban lines, that save the only survivor, the South Shore, has vanished by 1960. The "losses" hardest to take is that of the CNS&M, or the North Shore, and the CA&E or "Roarin Elgin'. These are a two lines that today would be providing needed transit between Chi and Milw and Chi and the Western 'Burbs'. A long time friend of mine's father regularly rode the Roarin Elgin from home in South Elmhurst to Wabash Ave in the 'Loop'. With an office on Michigan Ave, it was far more convenient than the C&NW. Any others (sorry Illinois Terminal fans around here such as Mr. Morris) simply were casualties of their time.

Incidentally, some interurbans such as the IT even offered Sleeping Car service. As Mr. Closson noted, Dining and Parlor service was offered on some trains, and I once had an "Electroburger' on the North Shore.
  by blockss
 
metrarider wrote: So laying 1000's of miles of 'light' rail track (costing Billions) would help?
OK. A bad idea then. Almost as bad as the system we've got where the rail sits unused for most of the day.
metrarider wrote: Lightrail has no inherent limits on train length, most cars being self propelled. However, the idea of sharing with other users (who would they be?) doesn't sound like a realistic proposition
UPS, FEDEX, WALMART, Joe's Lumber Yard. If Cat was available, they could all save fuel costs by using it and pay a toll to support the system instead.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
MODERATOR'S NOTE

While I find this topic interesting in that I am of age to have experienced interurban transportation, I think we are going to have to find another home for such. I am honestly 'stretched' to find any relevance with Amtrak operations or services.

However, I will leave this open here "for a while' lest further discussion develop.

GBN

  by AmtrakFan
 
Mr. Toy wrote:I've seen this idea of putting train tracks down existing freeway medians, but it won't fly. Many overpasses have suppport columns in the median. It might work as part of a new coordinated freeway/rail project, but on existing freeways it would present many technical challenges.
It won't happen ever I don't think it would fly but nice idea Mr. Toy. Also the L line to O'Hare in Chicago does go along the Median as well as the Dan Ryan line.

John

  by metrarider
 
Mr. Toy wrote:I've seen this idea of putting train tracks down existing freeway medians, but it won't fly. Many overpasses have suppport columns in the median. It might work as part of a new coordinated freeway/rail project, but on existing freeways it would present many technical challenges.
Going over the overpasses is doable (with modern electric equipment, grades are not nearly as constraining), as is spacing the tracks wide enough to pass around the support structure (in some places this is not possible), or elevating it ala AirTrain.

But I agree, it's a big task and would carry a correspondingly big pricetag, and not likely to happen anytime soon

  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Whoops, forgot the Dan Ryan (I-90-94).

'Don't git down that way much'.

Thanks, Mr. Poshepny
  by Noel Weaver
 
This idea is just like putting attendants in the rest rooms and running
trains to all of the ski areas of Vermont.
What's next?
Needs to be flushed.
Noel Weaver

  by Irish Chieftain
 
Still waiting for this thread to somehow become on-topic...?

"Light rail" is generally constrained to speeds of 60 mph or under. Where electrified, it also runs under low-voltage DC catenary wire, which requires a goodly number of substations. LRVs don't have toilets, nor do they have dining facilities (for the other end of the alimentary canal), and their seats are designed for short-distance tolerance and maximum crowding.
  by 2nd trick op
 
The book I've been working on this week is Thomas Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map. Mr. Barnett points out that it took nothing less than the events of 9/11/01 to get our military to stop thinking in terms of super-power confrontation and view strategy in terms of a consesnsus among the industrialized democracies (and against the remaining international thugs) that offers the best hope for a lasting peace.

There are a lot of useful paralells here for transportation planning. The object is to think "horizontally" (developing a workable integrated system for moving people) rather than "vertically" (re-engineering the traditional long-distance passenger train to try to attract a personal-service-oriented clientele which doesn't seen to have much interest).

Can light-rail fit in? Over the very-long run and given marketing freedom, quite possibly. This writer will readily admit he turned his nose up at the reincarnation of such systems twenty years ago, but I now feel that part of their success is that they were viewed as innovative enough to capture the (short) attention (span) of a public far-enough removed from their PCC predecessors.

It's also interesting to note that one interurban in this writer's own backyard (Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley) stretched its budget during its last years by utilizing its freight motors to expedite delivery of time-sensitive shipments.

  by Irish Chieftain
 
Can light-rail fit in?
Look at the title of the thread. "Long-distance" light rail. That's like Greyhound running GMC Fishbowls around the country instead of "Americruisers". The premise does not describe "vertically-integrated" multi-modal transportation. Apples and oranges.
  by 2nd trick op
 
Obviously, a fast conversion to a light-rail alternative is strictly for the dreamers.

But light-rail has certain elements which might be incorporated into a major redesign of the surface transportation system....as it evolves in response to market forces over the very-long-term.

Rightly or wrongly, it is the perception of innovation, even if only a repackaging of an earlier concept, that fires the public's imagination.

Those who insist upon restricting change to an established format are usually recognized as politically-favored individuals or organizations seeking to preserve an advantage granted by legisaltive fiat rather than the dollar-votes of the public.