• North Coast Hiawatha Study

  • For discussion of the "National Network", Amtrak's Long Distance Routes, which presently include:

    Auto Train; California Zephyr; Capitol Limited; Cardinal; City of New Orleans; Coast Starlight; Crescent; Empire Builder;
    Lakeshore Limited; Palmetto; Silver Meteor; Silver Star; Southwest Chief; Sunset Limited; Texas Eagle
For discussion of the "National Network", Amtrak's Long Distance Routes, which presently include:

Auto Train; California Zephyr; Capitol Limited; Cardinal; City of New Orleans; Coast Starlight; Crescent; Empire Builder;
Lakeshore Limited; Palmetto; Silver Meteor; Silver Star; Southwest Chief; Sunset Limited; Texas Eagle

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by Pensyfan19
 
Le update:

https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2 ... rvice-laws
Missoula County names representative as Big Sky passenger agency continues to take shape

Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier, who has led the effort to create the agency seeking to restore Amtrak service in southern Montana, has been named to that agency. The Missoula Current reports Strohmaier was named to the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority on Thursday by county commissioners. So far, five counties have ratified membership on the commission; six others have previously indicated their intention to join. Each county will have one member on the commission, which seeks to restore service on the route last served by the North Coast Hiawatha in 1979,
  by Pensyfan19
 
Update from Railfan and Railroad:

http://railfan.com/montana-group-hopes- ... tha-route/
MISSOULA, Mont. — A grassroots effort is underway in Montana to restore passenger rail service across the southern part of the state. On Thursday, the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority held an online summit featuring local politicians and the president and CEO of the Passenger Rail Association.

While Amtrak still operates the Empire Builder across the northern part of the state on the former Great Northern Railway, the southern part of the state — including cities like Missoula, Helena and Bozeman — lost service 41 years ago when Amtrak suspended the North Coast Hiawatha (a hybrid of the Northern Pacific’s North Coast Limited and the Milwaukee Road’s Hiawatha). Today, the route is mostly used by Montana Rail Link, which leases it from BNSF Railway.

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority is being modeled after the Southern Rail Commission, which is spearheading the effort to restore service to the Gulf Coast. Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier is leading the Montana effort. ...
edited for brief, fair-use quote
  by Jeff Smith
 
Nothing new to see here.
  by mtuandrew
 
Some news on the NCH front:

https://www.kpax.com/news/montana-news/ ... cture-bill
Montana passenger rail commission grows to 10 counties; Tester eyes infrastructure bill

By: Martin Kidston - Missoula Current

Posted at 12:44 PM, Oct 20, 2020 and last updated 2:44 PM, Oct 20, 2020

MISSOULA — The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority grew to 10 Montana counties on Tuesday in a growing effort to restore Amtrak service to the state’s southern tier.

While passenger rail service has contracted nationally during the pandemic, Sen. Jon Tester said it enjoys bipartisan support in the Senate and could be eyed for investment down the road with the aid of an infrastructure bill.

...

On Tuesday, Prairie County became the 10th county to adopt the [Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority] resolution. The effort also has the backing of the Rail Passengers Association and Transportation for America. Sen. Steve Daines has expressed support for a southern route as well, as have cities in surrounding states.
It appears to have broad bipartisan support, including from Sens. Daines (R) & Tester (D), Rep. Gianforte (R), and Gov. Bullock (D) (currently running against Daines for the Senate.) Still no letter of support from Yellowstone County, which I believe is home to Billings.
  by John_Perkowski
 
My assessment

No matter which gateway city Montana wants to connect to, they’re going to need to pony up money to help fund service. The chances of a second transcon service on the northern routings are near zero.
  by jp1822
 
Where does MRL join in (interchange) with the Great Northern (BNSF Main Line) in western Montana/Idaho/Washington?

Would seem that the only train that "could" be added to the map is a "State sponsored train" operating on the MRL from Spokane, WA to Missoula to Helena to Bozeman etc.

In other words, any "southern tier" train would have to be a state sponsored "day train" - connecting with the existing Empire Builder - and having an eastern stub end terminal point in eastern Montana.
  by Alphaboi
 
I agree a day train that offers connections to Seattle & Portland in Spokane via the Empire Builder is more feasible than a transcontinental LD. Perhaps a day train could even run twice daily and/or extend to North Dakota?

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

  by vermontanan
 
jp1822 wrote: Mon Oct 26, 2020 4:24 am Where does MRL join in (interchange) with the Great Northern (BNSF Main Line) in western Montana/Idaho/Washington?
The BNSF run-through trains to/from the MRL change crews at Hauser Yard, Idaho, but MRL has trackage rights all the way to Spokane. MRL doesn't regularly run any of its own trains west of Thompson Falls, Montana. In and out of Spokane/Hauser Yard, any traffic destined to/from the MRL is handled in BNSF run-through trains.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Meyer, I presume you have retired from BNSF - and considering that "oven" you had to reside within (beyond seeing my "Little Niece" in Dallas Jul '19, that was my "takeaway" from being down there), guess you "chose to go home".

If this psssenger train over the NP is to have a "prayer" of making it, I think it either cuts off at Missoula or moves on to Spokane. If the latter, what luck would it have being funded by Idaho, or even Washington being that it's well away from the system they presently fund?
  by Arborwayfan
 
Are they looking for transportation for locals or for a way to bring in tourists from far away? That would make a difference in the type of service they would be willing to pay for.
  by vermontanan
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: If this passenger train over the NP is to have a "prayer" of making it, I think it either cuts off at Missoula or moves on to Spokane. If the latter, what luck would it have being funded by Idaho, or even Washington being that it's well away from the system they presently fund?
Hi Gilbert: No, I think it would have to be a Chicago-Seattle long distance train. For instance, the running time from Missoula to Seattle via Yakima is about double that of driving, so I think that the only way it could be viable would be on an overnight schedule, much as was the case with the NP North Coast Limited. Montana Rail Link has a lot of operating issues, and even with a lot of investment, it would take the train over 8 hours from Billings to Missoula versus about five on I-90. Therefore, I just don't think a regional service is workable, unless the capital is available to do major capacity enhancements, we all know that isn't going to happen.

--Mark Meyer
  by Choo Choo Coleman
 
New York Times article on North Coast Hiawatha and the possibility of the line reopening:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/24/us/m ... mtrak.html

Good article but surprised there was no mention of possible tourist connections to Yellowstone National Park in Livingston. I would think this line could draw a lot of tourists which would keep the economics of the line viable for the local residents who could really use the connections only the train can bring.
  by Backshophoss
 
While there're are Empire Builder sets cooling their wheels with the tri-weekly service,there's little to no spare equipment to restart the NCH routing when covid is knocked out.
This is the Nippon-Sharyo Crush test failure fallout.,No 3rd -gen Superliners.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
I think that photo of the Olympian Hi is earlier than '61. That was the year it was cut West of Deer Lodge along with the amenities such as the Super Dome and Skytop.

It was subsequently cut to a Mpls-Aberdeen Coach only; then gone. It was gone when I hired on.

I think the car on the head is a Touralux sleeper; obviously not in revenue service. That was the MILW's take on an Econosnooze.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.
  by electricron
 
mtuandrew wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:54 pm I find it very suspicious that BNSF requires $546.6 million - over half of the proposed cost - to run an additional train daily each way. Aren't there enough alternate freight routes that they can use from St. Paul to the MRL at Jones Junction, and from Spokane to Seattle?

This LD reinstatement has the best chance of the bunch, but I do hope that a few senators lean on BNSF to bring their proposed costs down.
Did you read the study's specifics on required improvements and costs associated with them? If you did, you would not be so suspicious. At some point, we have to trust our friends so as not to make enemies of them.

Spending over a $Billion over a 5 year construction cycle to provide around $40-$50 Million additional revenues each year, at a loss that also increases the loss of the Empire Builder, seems really foolish.

Lets look at it from another point of view, moving the Empire Builder to the new route. Still spend that $500 million on track upgrades, but not the almost $400 million in new additional Superliners. If moving the Empire Builder to the new route looks foolish to you, the entire new train over that new route should look foolish as well. If moving the Empire Builder to the new route looks like a great idea, maybe that is what we should be doing.

As an aside, I also like the ideas of moving the SW Chief to the SF mainline via Amarillo and moving the Sunset Limited to the T&P mainline via Dallas, Abilene, Midland, and Odessa. Trains should be routed where more people live, not towards vast stretches of emptiness. But I recognize how politically unpopular any reroutes will be.
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