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...
Fine, skewer my prodigal child
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.