• The All Stops Local

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by Pensyfan19
 
I was reading a bit on certain trains of the Great Northern Railway today, specifically the Dakotan, which stopped at every local station from St. Paul to Minot, ND, in order to serve the communities in that region. This topic might get a lot of backlash, but could it be possible for freight railroads to run at least one passenger car, or even caboose, along some of these main lines and run as mixed trains, similar to the Soo Line in the 1980s? This way, each town along the main lines of these railroads could have easy rail access at least once a day for service to other towns or larger cities, so this way no small town is left behind.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
NO, NO, and NO!!!

The member roads, and their successors, all gave up their franchise to Amtrak to operate intercity passenger trains. The predecessor SOO Line, was not an Amtrak member, and only became one by succession when they acquired the MILW. The Georgia RR, who also operated a Mixto Diario into the Amtrak era, only "joined" when they merged with CSX.

The potential liability arising from passenger injuries is something in this litigious day and age, is something I for one, care not to think about. Our Barristers around here (I'm not one of such; a CPA yes, which means I worked within a legal environment) would also join in (unless their field is personal injury, in which case they "will be licking their chops").

True, when there was a "secondary train" such as the Dakotan as you note, there could be conditional stops, known as flag stops, at any station along the route. Trains had timetable authority to run on through as well as to leave early; passengers beware.

Finally allow me to note, I get no enjoyment from "waterboarding" a young railfan's enthusiasm; when you graduate from college, follow your dreams, and maybe you'll have a rewarding career within the industry.
  by Pensyfan19
 
Ok. I apologize. I was just wondering about this possibility (or lack thereof at ths point). That is all.
  by SouthernRailway
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Wed May 06, 2020 12:34 pm I was reading a bit on certain trains of the Great Northern Railway today, specifically the Dakotan, which stopped at every local station from St. Paul to Minot, ND, in order to serve the communities in that region. This topic might get a lot of backlash, but could it be possible for freight railroads to run at least one passenger car, or even caboose, along some of these main lines and run as mixed trains, similar to the Soo Line in the 1980s? This way, each town along the main lines of these railroads could have easy rail access at least once a day for service to other towns or larger cities, so this way no small town is left behind.
I believe that most mainlines that currently have Amtrak trains on them (and other routes) had not only the "flagship" train but also a slew of others, ranging from skip-some-stops to stop-at-every-station trains until maybe the 1950s or later.

It is possible for freight railroads to run at least one passenger car or a caboose on those routes but I would expect that there would be almost no demand by passengers. Those trains would be slow and uncomfortable; think of an Amtrak Keystone traveling at 30 mph on average. In addition, freight trains don't stop at every station (even stations that are left) so having to add stops to freight schedules would complicate freight schedules.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
SouthernRailway wrote: Wed May 06, 2020 2:02 pmIt is possible for freight railroads to run at least one passenger car or a caboose on those routes but I would expect that there would be almost no demand by passengers. Those trains would be slow and uncomfortable; think of an Amtrak Keystone traveling at 30 mph on average. In addition, freight trains don't stop at every station (even stations that are left) so having to add stops to freight schedules would complicate freight schedules.
The last such example is the Keewatin Railway, with a coach in tow in a scheduled freight.

Mixed services ended in the 1970s: GARR and Black River being the last. The latter operated mixed passenger service between Flemington and Lambertville (12 miles) for $3.75 between 1970 and 1974, until traffic declined to the point there was no longer daily freight service. (Today the same distance is served by Trans-Bridge buses at $4 cash fare)
  by bdawe
 
didn't the Georgia Railroad only do that much because it allowed them to own a bank?
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
That's about it, Mr. Dawe.

There was a provision within their Charter requiring them to operate passenger train service, which when they merged with CSX, became null and void.

Guarantee you they weren't running it so that on one Atlanta-Stone Mountain run, five guys, myself being one, could have perfectly prepared cash fare receipts for our collections.
  by mtuandrew
 
Sounds both romantic and efficient doesn’t it? Whether a freight road towing coaches on a way freight, Amtrak pulling a half-dozen baggage cars and a couple Horizons, or a state-run service running bicycle cars and postal service deep into the countryside, a local train seems to be a good mobility extender.

But sorry to say, it isn’t coming back. Local service has to be faster, safer, more convenient, more comfortable and/or cheaper than driving to be an option.
-faster? Not with stops every 10-20 miles, it won’t be faster. That’s even discounting the time it would take to offload freight - as little as a minute for a couple boxes, more like twenty minutes when you’re unloading five pallets and have to take down & replace another ten to get the ones you need.
-safer? Possibly, or at least as safe as driving.
-more convenient? Nope, it wouldn’t be a one-seat ride to anywhere but the train stations.
-more comfortable? While it would be nice to have a lounge, I’d rather drive three hours than take the train for six.
-cheaper? Probably not. If government, the fares are subsidized to a reasonable level, but still above the marginal cost of driving (gas and ten bucks toward an oil change.) If private, the fares offset the added costs of servicing passenger equipment and maintaining station facilities, the liability, the added training, and the passenger conductor. Probably not as cheap as a car.
  by SouthernRailway
 
Even as someone who likes taking trains, the thought of spending a long time in a caboose seems painful--I don't even wish to spend much time on commuter trains.

Why did Soo Line run mixed trains until the '80s?

Unless a railroad was required to by the government, I don't see the point in spending the time and effort to attach a passenger-carrying car to a freight train if it'll carry only a handful of passengers. These days, it may be cheaper for the railroad to just use Lyft or Uber to ferry passengers around, at its own expense.
  by Pensyfan19
 
Ok. I agree with you that having mixed trains with stops to unload freight is not the most convenient way to go by rail nowadays. In this case, why not have a commuter service which stops at these towns, but goes on for a distance further than 120 miles, such as a commuter line from St. Paul to Minot ND? This train doesn't have to be a few bi levels depending on the region. It can even be one or two coaches or even a durable multiple unit that can withstand the journey.
  by chrisf
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 10:38 am Ok. I agree with you that having mixed trains with stops to unload freight is not the most convenient way to go by rail nowadays. In this case, why not have a commuter service which stops at these towns, but goes on for a distance further than 120 miles, such as a commuter line from St. Paul to Minot ND? This train doesn't have to be a few bi levels depending on the region. It can even be one or two coaches or even a durable multiple unit that can withstand the journey.
How many people would want to take this route, and how many people would want to spend 11-12 hours riding on a commuter coach? The reason trains like this don’t exist is because there’s no demand for them.
Last edited by chrisf on Sat May 09, 2020 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by SouthernRailway
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 10:38 am Ok. I agree with you that having mixed trains with stops to unload freight is not the most convenient way to go by rail nowadays. In this case, why not have a commuter service which stops at these towns, but goes on for a distance further than 120 miles, such as a commuter line from St. Paul to Minot ND? This train doesn't have to be a few bi levels depending on the region. It can even be one or two coaches or even a durable multiple unit that can withstand the journey.
Commuter trains travel at an average speed of about 30 miles per hour. So a 120-mile trip would be 4 hours, vs. 2 hours or less by car.

4 hours on a Metro-North coach: please no!
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
If you want to take a look at the last active mixed trains, see the Mile 99 documentary on the Keewatin Railway and the CBC short on Tshiuetin.

Warning: there is nothing glamorous or exciting about these trains.
  by Pensyfan19
 
SouthernRailway wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 2:37 pm
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 10:38 am Ok. I agree with you that having mixed trains with stops to unload freight is not the most convenient way to go by rail nowadays. In this case, why not have a commuter service which stops at these towns, but goes on for a distance further than 120 miles, such as a commuter line from St. Paul to Minot ND? This train doesn't have to be a few bi levels depending on the region. It can even be one or two coaches or even a durable multiple unit that can withstand the journey.
Commuter trains travel at an average speed of about 30 miles per hour. So a 120-mile trip would be 4 hours, vs. 2 hours or less by car.

4 hours on a Metro-North coach: please no!
No one said the coaches specifically had to be shoreliners. These coaches can either be new, used, or at least refurbished or comfortable enough for long distances, such as the Amfleet. Nothing a small refurbishment can't fix. Depending on the region, some of these trains can also go faster than 30 mph if necessary. Possibly up to 79 depending on the distance between stops.
  by SouthernRailway
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 4:24 pm
SouthernRailway wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 2:37 pm
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 10:38 am Ok. I agree with you that having mixed trains with stops to unload freight is not the most convenient way to go by rail nowadays. In this case, why not have a commuter service which stops at these towns, but goes on for a distance further than 120 miles, such as a commuter line from St. Paul to Minot ND? This train doesn't have to be a few bi levels depending on the region. It can even be one or two coaches or even a durable multiple unit that can withstand the journey.
Commuter trains travel at an average speed of about 30 miles per hour. So a 120-mile trip would be 4 hours, vs. 2 hours or less by car.

4 hours on a Metro-North coach: please no!
No one said the coaches specifically had to be shoreliners. These coaches can either be new, used, or at least refurbished or comfortable enough for long distances, such as the Amfleet. Nothing a small refurbishment can't fix. Depending on the region, some of these trains can also go faster than 30 mph if necessary. Possibly up to 79 depending on the distance between stops.
An all-stops local would still be really slow on average. Even if it has an average speed of 40 mph (including station stops) that’s not really competitive with driving.

And no food service, for a trip of a few hours? No thanks.