• North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

  • 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

  • 540 posts
  • 1
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32
  • 33
  • 36
  by Bob Roberts
 
Tadman wrote: Wed Apr 15, 2020 9:39 am Boy wouldn't that be a twist on history. Wilmington, although not seemingly big in the CSX system, is perhaps the most important (and easily top five) cities in the system. It was ACL headquarters. From what I understand, ACL was the dominant partner with the SAL/ACL merger, and then the SCL was at first the dominant partner in the CSX merger until Prime Osborn was driven out. You'll notice L&N grey was a prominent color until the mid-80's and has slowly disappeared in comparison to C&O blue/yellow.
The other benefit to NCDOT for purchasing the branch line from Goldsboro to Wallace (they already own Wallace to Wilmington) would be that they -could- lease freight rights on it to NS as part of the NCRR agreement (the branch connects to the NCRR in Goldsboro). This would help NS get their money's worth out of their maintenance costs down to Morehead City. But the bigger benefit is this would give the port of Wilmington freight service from two carriers for the first time since the 1967 ACL-Seaboard merger. I am sure CSX would be reluctant give up their monopoly freight position in the (comparatively) tiny port, but the lack of competitive freight service has always held the port back from getting more ships, and it appears clear that CSX has a price.
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Wed Apr 15, 2020 1:46 pm Back to the Piedmont-isn't there a plan to allow the Piedmont Trains to get up to 90 mph?
The ARRA grant was spec'd to make top speeds from Charlotte to Greensboro 90mph (I don't think that was the plan for Greensboro to Raleigh which is single tracked). 90mph never materialized however and NCDOT never explained why. My guess is that NS told them how much they planned to bill NCDOT to maintain Class 5 tracks and NCDOT decided they didn't need the extra 10mph that badly.
  by Alex M
 
Since NS leases the NCRR trackage, and North Carolina owns NCRR, I wonder why it is that NCDOT supports passenger rail and not NCRR.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Between Greensboro and Raleigh, aren't there going to be passing sidings? If so where, where and how many?
  by Bob Roberts
 
Alex M wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:58 am Since NS leases the NCRR trackage, and North Carolina owns NCRR, I wonder why it is that NCDOT supports passenger rail and not NCRR.
The NCRR is now hamstrung by the legislature. The republican legislature is ideologically opposed to owning a railroad. They initially discussed selling it (and the rumored prices were unbelievable giveaways). Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and they settled on requiring the NCRR to pay a 25% of annual revenue dividend to the state (I believe its around $4 million) and forcing the NCRR to sell some non-core properties (the NCRR owns several large lots in the middle of downtown Charlotte where they no longer have tracks) and distribute that money to the state as well (IIRC). There was talk of requesting that the NCRR spend some of its capital reserves to help move Wilmington service forward, but I have not heard of any action taken on that.

Also keep in mind that the NCRR has never actually operated any trains, they simply own their corridor from Charlotte to Morehead City and negotiate a lease to an operator every 40 (or so) years. They do fund and contract some track improvement projects (new grade crossing, drainage projects and an occasional industrial siding in an effort to keep communities happy. In short, the NCRR lacks the expertise and staff to operate a passenger railroad, they are not wealthy enough to finance such a thing, and finally, the current legislature would be unhappy about it.

On the other hand, the NCDOT benefits from passenger service because it allows them to point to some efforts to reduce congestion and emissions in their most heavily traveled corridor. They view it as their carbon offset. It also provides excellent photo and PR opportunities for NCDOT that make them look more progressive (I am not joking about this at all, just about every NCDOT publication or web site features at least one picture of of a train leaving Raleigh, and they have "take the train" signs up all over I-85). While the passenger rail division isn't much more than a hobby project for NCDOT, the rail division has been fortunate to have knowledgeable and trustworthy directors and staff and they have been good stewards of what little money they get.

njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:02 am Between Greensboro and Raleigh, aren't there going to be passing sidings? If so where, where and how many?
The ARRA money built two new passing sidings, one in Haw River (just east of Burlington) and one in the Research Triangle Park area between Durham and Morisville. The latter is thought to be a core element enabling Durham-Raleigh (and beyond) commuter rail

https://www.ncdot.gov/divisions/rail/Do ... ts-map.pdf
Last edited by Bob Roberts on Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Good news about those sidings. When I went to Streamliner Fest in 2014, I rode the Carolinian to Greensboro, the Piedmont from Greensboro to Salisbury, and then from Salisbury to Raleigh. I don't remember seeing any sidings at the time and I looked out of the rear of the train. How many miles are those two sidings? It will be great to have more Piedmont trains. Eventually, there could be like four Carolinians as well. I look forward to hearing the news for when the S Line will be upgraded to handle passenger trains and I know that that is supposed to save a lot of time off the Carolinian and Silver Star(will no longer serve RMT and Selma-Smithfield).
  by orulz
 
mtuandrew wrote: Wed Apr 15, 2020 5:56 am Now would be the time for NCDOT to buy out CSX, wouldn’t it! It doesn’t seem like the company is wedded to most of its branch lines.
Underrated comment. NCDOT should buy out the CSX line from Goldsboro to Wilmington and hand it to the NCRR to operate as a branch of their mainline. Include it in the NCRR lease with Norfolk Southern.

In conjunction with the Wilmington Rail Realignment (https://portcitydaily.com/local-news/20 ... t-forward/ - new article from today's newspaper!) it would achieve

(1) Makes passenger trains from Raleigh to Wilmington possible, which has been NC's top intrastate service expansion target for a long time
(2) Gets a second freight operator down to the Port of Wilmington, increasing its competitiveness for intermodal freight, which is another high-level priority for NC
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Orulz, your comments regarding Wilmington NC I fine interesting.

First, let it be noted, I have never been to Wilmington, and I cannot foresee any reason why I'd have occasion to do so. I'm aware that a WWII Battleship is a museum there.

Now so far as rail transport goes, the "Carolina Creeper", did not survive to see A-Day. As late as 1963, it was down to a Wash-Wilm Pullman line. If you were riding in (surely heavyweight) Coach, you had a few changes to make en route.

It would seem the area hss forgotten passenger trains, other than a consultant or two "studying", or otherwise feeding at the State trough, the feasibility of such.

Now so far as a maritime port, it would seem navigating up the Cape Fear River past a shoal on the Outter Bank, would present a hazard.

Nevertheless, here is material on the two NC ports - Morehead City being the other:

https://ncports.com/port-capabilities/

But no question whatever, two roads, rather than one to each, would make these ports more attractive to shippers. While my predictions regsrding the FEC in Florida, as well as Brightline, represent the most mistaken I have ever been in some sixty five years observing railroad industry affairs, I was correct that no way was the FEC going to be part of CSX or NS. It would indeed be in the Port authority's interest if each Class I had line haul access to both.

Mr Cowford, call home?
  by gokeefe
 
I believe Mr. Norman may be aware of such but I would note that in general the populations of most large cities in North Carolina have grown substantially in the past 50 years. At least in my eyes that means continued consideration of passenger rail expansion is a worthwhile endeavor.
  by mtuandrew
 
Betting that any sale CSX and NCRR/NCDOT finalize would also include a “no compete” or “limited compete” agreement. That means NS would only get overhead rights on the NCDOT-owned road unless forced otherwise by regulators, or a third party (AC&W?) would get freight operating rights out to an interchange point somewhere.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I have never been to Wilmington or any of the Outer Banks communities. If NCDOT can approve of a plan for Amtrak to run train to Wilmington-extending the Piedmonts there, then that would be a good idea. Wilmington is probably a city where there is a lot of commercial and residential properties plus lodging. People living along the existing Piedmont route as well as the A line would benefit from being able to take the train to where the largest city in the Outer Banks is. It would also be nice to have a train running to Wilmington, NC from NYC.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Buff, the route of the "Carolina Creeper", where cars were were added/cut at Rocky Mount, has been chopped up. The only remaining line X's CSX (ACL)/Amtrak at Pembroke, which would represent a circuitous routing from "points North".

I have no idea how much traffic the Port of Wilmington, or any other industry there, represents to CSX. For State sponsored passenger service, Wilmington is far away from the "Tech-Triangle" (or whatever it's called); the only advantage it has over that other "elusive destination" - Asheville - is that you need not "run up the hill", and, with track improvements to Class 4 (psgr 80mph), you could be highway time competitive.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I think before NCDOT decides to let Amtrak run something to Wilmington, they should learn from other Amtrak services that didn't do too well. Lets look at the Cape Codder-many of the years that it was running, it got to Hyannis a bit late and once you get to Hyannis, it's not like the Cape ends there. It continues for miles and many people rent homes on the Outer Cape, located from Chatham all the way to the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown. It takes a while to get from many of the towns on the Outer Cape to Hyannis and vice versa. The train ride from NYP to Hyannis took longer than driving although those traffic jams on 95 made people wish that they were riding the train. After 1996, that it was it for the Cape Codder. If you aren't going to drive all the way to the Cape but still want to on the Cape, you might as well just get off Amtrak in Providence and rent a car there. Many people do that. My parents, brother, and I never rode the Cape Codder when we went on our once a summer trips to Eastham. The times were very inconvenient for us.

It looks like between Raleigh and Wilmington, it is about a two hour drive. Hopefully there is a direct right of way that the Piedmont can take. As for running a passenger train from the Northeast, if that route in NC is roundabout, then forget about it and continue the Thruway bus service from Wilson, I think.
  by Bob Roberts
 
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Wed Apr 22, 2020 9:29 am I have never been to Wilmington or any of the Outer Banks communities. If NCDOT can approve of a plan for Amtrak to run train to Wilmington-extending the Piedmonts there, then that would be a good idea. Wilmington is probably a city where there is a lot of commercial and residential properties plus lodging. People living along the existing Piedmont route as well as the A line would benefit from being able to take the train to where the largest city in the Outer Banks is. It would also be nice to have a train running to Wilmington, NC from NYC.
I would bet that any NCDOT Wilmington-bound trains will originate in Raleigh and (mostly) be operated as separate from Piedmont service. The long-term plan for Piedmont service was for some trains to continue to DC (as part of SEHSR on the S-Line) and I would think a couple would continue to Selma, Wilson and Rocky Mount. Cross platform transfers from the Piedmont to the Wilmington train would only be possible if the Piedmonts are terminating in Raleigh or continuing to Rocky Mount. Piedmonts bound for the NE on the S-Line would use a separate platform.

A potential Amtrak route from New York to Wilmington via Raleigh would be tricky with the current track configuration around Raleigh Union Station -- a backing move would be required if the S-Line were use. Service on the A-Line (via Rocky Mount) would be possible, but would need to bypass Raleigh. I don't see much demand for Wilmington rail travel from outside NC. A Wilmington station would be 8 miles from the nearest ocean front (at Wrightsville). ILM airport is well connected to LGA and roads into Wilmington are fast and uncongested (except for holiday weekends).

Rail to Wilmington will not be faster than driving from Raleigh or Charlotte (in current conditions). Having said that, I do think that travel demand for Wilmington from within NC will be strong enough to justify 2-3 round trips per day. Intra-state business travel between Raleigh and Wilmington is strong (as well as college kids going back and forth) and summer beach holiday patterns often require the dad (usually) to commute back to Charlotte/Raleigh/Greensboro for work for part of the traditional 'beach trip'.

One nitpick (my apologies). Wilmington is about 5 hours South of the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks are basically the Northern 1/2 of the state's coastline and Wilmington forms the anchor of the Southern coast. Norfolk is the closest real city to the Outer Banks.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I don't think the Piedmonts will be extended from RGH to WAS. What I do know is in that there are going to be four Carolinians eventually, probably sometime after track capacity on the RF&P is expanded. NCDOT and Virginia DOT are doing whatever they can to reactivate the old S Line that leaves the A Line around Petersburg and passes through Henderson(maybe this will become an Amtrak stop). If the S-Line is reactivated for passenger trains, that will save a few hours off the schedule for your trip from the Northeast down to a station along the Piedmont route. Four of those new Carolinian trains in each direction would take the S Line south of Petersburg while the other pair would do the longer route serving Rocky Mount, Wilson, and Selma-Smithfield Stations.

It would be nice to have the Piedmont trains continue east of RGH rather than have people transfer there. At RGH, there would probably have to be a second platform. Wow, five hours from Wilmington, NC to the Outer Banks of NC-that's a lot. NC is certainly huge.
  by SouthernRailway
 
Wilmington itself is too small for its own train. But extend trains to Myrtle Beach and there could be a (price-sensitive) market for that. But the whole area is so car-oriented that either an Auto-Train or rental car offices at the train station would be needed.
  • 1
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32
  • 33
  • 36