• Moving to one terminal per big city - wise?

  • 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 STrRedWolf
 
StLouSteve wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:17 am Any advantage to moving the Eagle and Lincoln Service to Metra/Rock Island at Joilet (instead of the current CN routing) to Chicago or does that make it much more complicated to reach Union Station? I think this has been proposed before due to freight on the CN route.
I'd say more complicated. That's a mess of tracks from Union Pacific's Joliet Subdivision and CN's Chillicothe Subdivision crossing the Metra Joliet Sub-District. From what OpenStreetMap tells me, you'll miss a scheduled stop as there's no platform on the connecting track at Joliet. Plus, I think you incur a reverse move.
  by justalurker66
 
electricron wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:14 amIn 40 years Amtrak has been pleased with back up moves and their resulting delays. Just now they are looking at improving train access for quicker travel?
Amtrak is not looking to make a change. Tadman is looking to make a change. Tadman does not represent Amtrak (nor do I).

The CREATE project would like to make a change at Grand Crossing that will redirect Amtrak from CN-IC to the NS line and give the CONO and Carbondale trains a non reversing path to CUS.
CHTT1 wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:24 amInterestingly, the Dearborn station building still stands. It is used for offices, small businesses and even a jazz club. South of the station, an large residential community has been constructed. There are no rails anywhere near the station building.
But the station stands. So rails or no rails it is a "natural terminal". :-D
  by Arborwayfan
 
One good thing about this thread is that all the ideas we're discussing, Tad's as well as those from interlopers like me :-D , are about ways to speed up the slow parts of routes. Knocking off 20 minutes by changing terminals or by the CREATE project are probably both a lot cheaper per minute saved than upgrading some really long stretch of track from 79 to 90 and then bribing the RR in question to let the trains have the railroad...
  by STrRedWolf
 
justalurker66 wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:04 pm The CREATE project would like to make a change at Grand Crossing that will redirect Amtrak from CN-IC to the NS line and give the CONO and Carbondale trains a non reversing path to CUS.
So I was able to pull the chosen build plans. The essential part is that they build a single-track connection from the CN-IC Chicago Subdivision to the NS Chicago Line at Grand Crossing, then connect to the Metra SWS line in Englewood. Oh, also add a track and some interlocks for good measure.

To be honest, I thought there was a better route around Calumet... but the Metra SWS turns away from there way north, and the track I saw was UP track... which I think would of added handoffs. Eh, it was a thought.

CREATE at Grand Crossing is the best option here. The extra track and interlocks will make NS happy.
  by justalurker66
 
There are elements that may not get built, but Grand Crossing has benefits. I don't expect it to move forward quickly due to other projects.

The 75th St corridor is next ... a rebuild that will make a lot more difference in Chicago than rerouting a handful of Amtrak trains. 75th St corridor will also move the SWS over to LaSalle St - freeing some capacity at CUS and provide a better connection for the Cardinal and freight trains coming off of the UP line and the NS line.
  by David Benton
 
Some of that work adds capacity to the line for the Michigan and Ohio trains. There is already a disused bridge and R.o.w south of Grand crossing that they could use.
To curve the Airline into CUS, you would have to go on the Metra side of the yard . I guess they could swap sides , or just elevate it above the yard.
  by mtuandrew
 
eolesen wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:59 am Grand Crossing is a huge undertaking. It would probably be far cheaper to relocate the Amtrak car yard to the now-unused UP Wood Street yard and divert the Air Line into CUS...

http://www.grandcrossingrail.com/images ... tive_A.pdf
Wood Street Terminal is a clever idea. It’s pretty distant from Union Station so I’d like to avoid moving all Amtrak’s operations, but it’s a possibility for car storage or for a LD service site.
David Benton wrote:Some of that work adds capacity to the line for the Michigan and Ohio trains. There is already a disused bridge and R.o.w south of Grand crossing that they could use.
To curve the Airline into CUS, you would have to go on the Metra side of the yard . I guess they could swap sides , or just elevate it above the yard.
Elevation seems like the best plan. Hopefully elevating it enough to clear Metra’s lead into La Salle, any potential river traffic (allowing a fixed bridge), and the highest potential car or locomotive (including future wire.) It requires moving Amtrak’s car shops and coming down in the center of the CUS terminal tracks - I think you could make it a tight enough curve to avoid Metra - which might dovetail into using Wood Street Terminal or might send Amtrak to Metra Western Avenue for the short term.
  by Arborwayfan
 
And I guess that's why the plan is to connect at Grand Crossing... :wink:


I think a lot of us (me included) are missing an important part of Tad's thinking here. Or maybe ignoring it, since we've all seen Tad spell it out pretty clearly in this and other threads: Tad can correct me, but I think his underlying idea here is that Amtrak should put most of it's energy and money into developing shortish corridors with ~hourly day and evening trains on routes and at speeds where the train can be faster and maybe more convenient and even cheaper than driving. This is the natural market for trains in this country today with the way our cities and suburbs are built, the way our population is spread over the country, the typical price of flying, and people owning big cars they can drive on mostly untolled interstates. That kind of corridor service will attract a lot more new passengers than adding one-a-days on new 751-mile routes or anything Amtrak could do with the 1000-2500-mile LD routes. The service might be attractive enough that the subsidy per passenger would go way down and the total subsidy might not have to go up much to get a dozen trains a day instead of a two or three on a given route. A lot of capital costs and fixed operating costs (platform maintenance, waiting room heat, advertising, etc.) would be spread out over many more pax.
He also makes a related assumption: Most potential passengers want to go to or from a big city; only a few want to go from small city to small city, and really few of them want to transfer in a big city to get from small city to small city. His evidence for this is mostly what people have told him about how many Amtrak passengers transfer to other Amtrak trains in Chicago and maybe some other cities. It might be right, or it might not be. It does, in fact, make a lot of sense to think that a major market for train travel would be people who live in a small city driving distance from a huge city and don't want to drive and park downtown for some downtown business or pleasure errand. (Avoiding the Dan Ryan might also be a motivator to take the train to some spot on the other side of Chicago, but one can just drive around and the smaller cities tend to be pretty easy to drive in and are not always that great for pedestrians and public transit.

When you look at the "back to the natural terminals" argument with all that in mind, it makes a lot more sense than if we're thinking about the current system and connections for long-distance travel.
  by justalurker66
 
The "natural terminals" are arbitrary and do not solve the deeper problems Amtrak has (getting to Chicago in the first place) and do not provide the three hour service Tadman wants. It seems to be a lot of money to spend for minimal improvements for some passengers and no improvement to the vast majority of passengers.
  by GWoodle
 
justalurker66 wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:58 pm The "natural terminals" are arbitrary and do not solve the deeper problems Amtrak has (getting to Chicago in the first place) and do not provide the three hour service Tadman wants. It seems to be a lot of money to spend for minimal improvements for some passengers and no improvement to the vast majority of passengers.
It seems to me one answer could be to make better use of the suburban stations. Aurora, then Naperville/LaGrange seem fine. Joliet, Lemont, need Willow Springs/Summit. Up to the city to allow taxi, limo, Uber, Pace bus, other options. Maybe a Thruway type bus to direct connect with O'Hare, Midway, other Metra cities. Final stop to CUS & on to the shops for cleaning & repairs.
  by justalurker66
 
GWoodle wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:01 amIt seems to me one answer could be to make better use of the suburban stations. Aurora, then Naperville/LaGrange seem fine. Joliet, Lemont, need Willow Springs/Summit. Up to the city to allow taxi, limo, Uber, Pace bus, other options. Maybe a Thruway type bus to direct connect with O'Hare, Midway, other Metra cities. Final stop to CUS & on to the shops for cleaning & repairs.
Agreed. We detailed that discussing the CN-IC trains and Homewood. Promoting existing suburban connections is not a bad idea. Adding a suburban stop would add a few minutes to Amtrak's schedule, but promoting connections doesn't cost Amtrak running time unless the connection becomes really popular.

(And if one complains "increased passenger levels at Joliet have slowed trains" one needs to understand that the goal *IS* increased passenger levels. Station stops are faster without passengers but Amtrak trains are pointless without passengers.)
  by mtuandrew
 
justalurker66 wrote:Agreed. We detailed that discussing the CN-IC trains and Homewood. Promoting existing suburban connections is not a bad idea. Adding a suburban stop would add a few minutes to Amtrak's schedule, but promoting connections doesn't cost Amtrak running time unless the connection becomes really popular.

(And if one complains "increased passenger levels at Joliet have slowed trains" one needs to understand that the goal *IS* increased passenger levels. Station stops are faster without passengers but Amtrak trains are pointless without passengers.)
Yup, you got it. And that doesn’t even mean the station stops need to be longer - Amtrak would do well to hire some “passenger experience specialists” from European or East Asian roads (which seem to be the gold standard right now) to create an intuitive and fast boarding process. It’s been a minute since I’ve passed through Chicago Union Station but it seems like the process took a good 15 minutes longer than needed for no-baggage travelers. It’s an improvement that costs in the low millions of dollars but returns benefits equal to the high tens of millions (Tad’s proposal) or low billions (the unfunded portions of CREATE.)

I do love the idea of making “mini-terminals”. Arguably Amtrak does this on their Detroit route. When I go to “Detroit“, I’m as likely to use Ann Arbor and Dearborn as I am to use Detroit Station itself - more of my friends live in the northern & western suburbs for the moment, so the road network allows me to shave off an hour by driving Ann Arbor-Pontiac versus taking the train to Pontiac. That geography will always work to the disadvantage of Amtrak as much as I hate to admit it, so the company may as well embrace it, institute bus connections from Ann Arbor to northern points, and create a more useful regional route to balance the Wolverine. (Like Columbus-Toledo-Detroit-Pontiac-Flint-Saginaw.)
Arborwayfan wrote:And I guess that's why the plan is to connect at Grand Crossing... :wink:
Fine, skewer my prodigal child :P it’s plainly necessary to have a dedicated access from the east and southeast so we can have passenger connections. The Grand Crossing plan is potentially cheaper, but requires a fleet of individual changes to avoid freight congestion on the NS Chicago Line and will always have some freight conflicts. It’ll also always be partially controlled by a private company. The CN Lakeshore Line is nearly devoid of traffic, requires one or two Big Changes (the SCAL Bridge replacement and realignment; the CSX Porter Branch rebuild Porter-Kensington for 79 mph with sidings, quad gates, and IHB flyover), but could be wholly owned and dispatched by Amtrak. The NICTD route sits in the middle: fewer large capital expenditures, still needs the SCAL Bridge work, not Amtrak-owned but at least it’s owned by a government agency that could cooperate.
  by west point
 
There is a good reason that instead of arguring over which station compromise set ups are needed. Let us look at the European model. I propose that all sations need to have cross access for all lines Amtrak and Metra.
1. What happens if for some reason one of the 4 main stations becomes unusable ? Then all trains into and out of Chicago will have to use the 3 remaining stations.
2. The electric lines do have more than one station it can use unless a problem happens at Roosevelt. Hopefully the electric lines are robust enough.
3. It would take some track work or at least plans made for quick work to move service terminations.
4. The st.Charles air line needs the ability to remain to re 2 main track that route.
5. The Air Line need switches so access to LaSalle staion is possible.
6. Cross connections on the north side so all northside trains can access both Union station and Ogilve . That way if either becomes unusable the other could be used.
If any station happened to have to close for a time coordination of the operation would be difficult but not impossible. It would take many extra personnel to maintain crows and dispatch and switch trains.
  by justalurker66
 
west point wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:04 pm2. The electric lines do have more than one station it can use unless a problem happens at Roosevelt. Hopefully the electric lines are robust enough.
The electric lines have plenty of trains on them and will be adding more with the West Lake NICTD line. They could probably handle the Carbondale trains - but as noted, they cannot receive the maintenance they get at CUS unless the trains are moved to CUS after terminating at <insert station here> on the MED. Basically turning four trains into eight occupying MED tracks.
west point wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:04 pm3. It would take some track work or at least plans made for quick work to move service terminations.
And that is what kills tadman's plan. A lot of trackwork is needed to make it possible (if not other improvements).
west point wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:04 pm4. The st.Charles air line needs the ability to remain to re 2 main track that route.
The Air Line will retain the 2nd track alignment and will be able to be double tracked as needed.
west point wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:04 pm5. The Air Line need switches so access to LaSalle staion is possible.
That is less likely. While the RI line will be moving to the west it would take a sharp curve to go from the west edge of Clark St to the new alignment. Neighborhood 78 plans on building along Clark St between the new RI alignment and Clark St (capping the RI line with a linear park).
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