• If you could restore a defunct Amtrak route

  • 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

  • 319 posts
  • 1
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Must acknowledge, Mr. Thompson, that the C&PD - The Port Road, is one of the most scenic segments of railroad in the Northeast. From A-Day until '74, both the Broadway and National Limiteds were routed over such, Perryville-Middletown.

I've ridden it in this life.

Beyond that, where is the potential as a Corridor?
  by ExCon90
 
Thie was discussed at length awhile (I think a few years) back, and I-81 defeats any possible speed enhancements. HBG-BAL-WAS is two sides of a triangle versus the direct route by highway, and the direct route by rail wasn't very direct in its heyday -- there were so many restrictive curves the speeds were represented by white bands painted on line poles (3 bands = 30 mph, 4 bands 40). Hurricane Agnes and I-81 between them finished off that stretch of railroad. Admittedly the Port Road is scenic, and like the Hudson Line the you don't get to see it unless you're on a train or a boat -- no highway within sight on either side.
  by mtuandrew
 
I’d definitely like a regular weekend BAL-HAR run - perhaps some of the municipalities and tourist boards could come up with a funding scheme - but you’re all correct in that it would have limited utility as a daily train. Perhaps if Amtrak ever gets kicked off CSX over Sandpatch, or if the Pennsylvanian route falls under state ownership, we would see a regular train over the Port Road. But I doubt it.

Something I would like to see resume is SLC-POC (Pocatello) service. Salt Lake City seems to have a critical mass of potential supercommuters who’d live in Pocatello, and they share cultural and religious ties pretty strongly.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Interesting thought about Pocatello. On the one hand, it's a city of 56,000 2.5 hours away via a highway that's almost always empty north of Ogden. On the other hand, SLC is growing fast in people and wealth, and land is limited. Developers are starting to build subdivisions that require people to use chains in winter and are sometimes closed by avalanches. In what used to be totally car-focused, four- and five-story apartment houses or condos are going up next to Frontrunner train stations. Rose Park, a neighborhood between the airport, downtown, and the UP and UTA railroad yards that used to be a working-class area of cheap brick split-levels is becoming a professional-class area of expensive brick split-levels because it has some of the last slightly affordable yards you can buy without a long commute in traffic. So maybe some developer could put together a high-speed commuter train AND build homes convenient to stations in Pocatello and make the whole enterprise pay. But somehow it seems more likely to me that a developer would build a whole new suburb 10 miles north of Ogden and pay for Frontrunner to go up there.

Biggest problem for a Pocatello train in terms of operation would be Ogden-SLC. The UP track is always full of freights, often waiting for hours for yard space? new crews? IDK, I just drive by and see the same trains there by the highway. The Frontrunner line belongs to the UTA and allows train schedules that slightly beat driving at rush hour, if your start and end points are near stations; UTA seems unlikely to allow Amtrak to use its tracks and mess up its schedules, and I would think that neither UTA not Amtrak could run express from Ogden to SLC or Provo without a lot of extra track to avoid being slowed down by the frequent Frontrunner trains -- as many as every 15 mins at rush hour, and clearly UTAs priority and the low hanging fruit would be to bring Frontrunner to max frequency rather than to fit in one or two expresses from far away. North of Ogden, specifically north of where most trains head for the causeway across the lake, the UP line is lightly trafficked.
  by Anthony
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 12:20 pm Interesting thought about Pocatello. On the one hand, it's a city of 56,000 2.5 hours away via a highway that's almost always empty north of Ogden. On the other hand, SLC is growing fast in people and wealth, and land is limited. Developers are starting to build subdivisions that require people to use chains in winter and are sometimes closed by avalanches. In what used to be totally car-focused, four- and five-story apartment houses or condos are going up next to Frontrunner train stations. Rose Park, a neighborhood between the airport, downtown, and the UP and UTA railroad yards that used to be a working-class area of cheap brick split-levels is becoming a professional-class area of expensive brick split-levels because it has some of the last slightly affordable yards you can buy without a long commute in traffic. So maybe some developer could put together a high-speed commuter train AND build homes convenient to stations in Pocatello and make the whole enterprise pay. But somehow it seems more likely to me that a developer would build a whole new suburb 10 miles north of Ogden and pay for Frontrunner to go up there.

Biggest problem for a Pocatello train in terms of operation would be Ogden-SLC. The UP track is always full of freights, often waiting for hours for yard space? new crews? IDK, I just drive by and see the same trains there by the highway. The Frontrunner line belongs to the UTA and allows train schedules that slightly beat driving at rush hour, if your start and end points are near stations; UTA seems unlikely to allow Amtrak to use its tracks and mess up its schedules, and I would think that neither UTA not Amtrak could run express from Ogden to SLC or Provo without a lot of extra track to avoid being slowed down by the frequent Frontrunner trains -- as many as every 15 mins at rush hour, and clearly UTAs priority and the low hanging fruit would be to bring Frontrunner to max frequency rather than to fit in one or two expresses from far away. North of Ogden, specifically north of where most trains head for the causeway across the lake, the UP line is lightly trafficked.
Even though we all know how difficult it is to restore a defunct long distance route, it would actually be easier to restore the Amtrak Pioneer to bring rail service back to Pocatello than it would be to extend Frontrunner commuter rail to Pocatello, as there would then be only one additional daily round trip, rather than several daily commuter trains in each direction, on the busy UP mainline.
  by mtuandrew
 
Yup, exactly what I was thinking Anthony. I would prefer 2x or 3x/day but would accept a single 6a departure from POC (8:30a arrival SLC) and 5p departure from SLC (7:30p arrival POC.) Maybe it’s a bad assumption, but I would think more traffic is headed into Utah in the morning than out of it.

I think SLC to Boise & the Pacific coast is a fool’s errand without Idaho buying in.
  by Suburban Station
 
mtuandrew wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:09 am I’d definitely like a regular weekend BAL-HAR run - perhaps some of the municipalities and tourist boards could come up with a funding scheme - but you’re all correct in that it would have limited utility as a daily train. Perhaps if Amtrak ever gets kicked off CSX over Sandpatch, or if the Pennsylvanian route falls under state ownership, we would see a regular train over the Port Road. But I doubt it.

Something I would like to see resume is SLC-POC (Pocatello) service. Salt Lake City seems to have a critical mass of potential supercommuters who’d live in Pocatello, and they share cultural and religious ties pretty strongly.
I would think that even with a restoration of the broadway it would make more sense to split the broadway at Philadelphia or turn it south there because the time savings don't justify skipping the market. If there were a high speed segment between HAR and PGH then perhaps this routing might make sense for a limited number of trains. does anyone know what the time savings to HAR versus going via PHL are? I do think that HAR-WAS would generate trips to avoid WAS traffic but BAL would not be very competitive. still, at this point it would be hard to justify putting the money into that line instead of improving the Harrisburg line and getting trips down to 80 minutes as was planned decades ago.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Boston-Hartford or Boston-NHV via Hartford. 4x a day or more. Is there another pair of nearby, densely populated metro areas where lots of people already ride trains and where there's some decent transit and walkability, that are already connected by lines mostly maintained and signalled for passenger trains that don't have direct passenger trains between them? It looks like very low-hanging fruit. If Mass puts in frequent trains Boston-Springfield, then coordinating them with Amtrak and CT trains down through Connecticut, with no-waiting cross-platform transfers, would be just as good.

Denver-Ogden via Wyoming. Stop at Cheyene and Laramie; dunno about Rawlins, Green River, and Evanston. Work with UP to have a somewhat padded but still fast schedule based on following one of their intermodal hotshots; few stops would mean more flexibility for the dispatchers = less conflict with freights. Could leave each endpoint at a civilized hour in the morning and arrive at a civilized hour in the evening, or possibly run as a night train in each direction instead. Either way, work with U?Consider possiblity of auto-train service between the endpoints. (Drive I-80 in winter and you might see why, if the blowing-and-drifting hit you hard.) Arrange to terminate at the Ogden Frontrunner station for cross-platform transfers to Provo and intermediates, with through ticketing. Two big, growing, prosperous metro areas with good local transit and a lot of business and family ties between them . Do it right and one might even cover costs. It's worth a look, and a look at a new service pattern designed for now, not a look at whether the City of Everywhere could justify a subsidy now.
  by scratchyX1
 
ExCon90 wrote: Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:54 pm Thie was discussed at length awhile (I think a few years) back, and I-81 defeats any possible speed enhancements. HBG-BAL-WAS is two sides of a triangle versus the direct route by highway, and the direct route by rail wasn't very direct in its heyday -- there were so many restrictive curves the speeds were represented by white bands painted on line poles (3 bands = 30 mph, 4 bands 40). Hurricane Agnes and I-81 between them finished off that stretch of railroad. Admittedly the Port Road is scenic, and like the Hudson Line the you don't get to see it unless you're on a train or a boat -- no highway within sight on either side.
If I'm not mistaken , wasn't the worst damage from Agnes to the Northern Central, to the north of the state line?
I thought there were still customers, but not enough the bankrupt Penn Central to maintain service to.
Moot point, as part of it is now light rail.
  by scratchyX1
 
mtuandrew wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:09 am I’d definitely like a regular weekend BAL-HAR run - perhaps some of the municipalities and tourist boards could come up with a funding scheme - but you’re all correct in that it would have limited utility as a daily train. Perhaps if Amtrak ever gets kicked off CSX over Sandpatch, or if the Pennsylvanian route falls under state ownership, we would see a regular train over the Port Road. But I doubt it.

Something I would like to see resume is SLC-POC (Pocatello) service. Salt Lake City seems to have a critical mass of potential supercommuters who’d live in Pocatello, and they share cultural and religious ties pretty strongly.
Speaking of seasonal/weekend runs, I wonder what a train from BAL (or WAS) to Hancock MD, with connecting coach to Berkley Springs, stopping at Harper;'s Ferry and Martinsburg could do? Cap Limited takes hour and forty minutes to Martinsburg. So about 2.5 hours train, and 8 minutes into Berkley Springs.
  by Arborwayfan
 
I wonder what a train from BAL (or WAS) to Hancock MD, with connecting coach to Berkley Springs, stopping at Harper;'s Ferry and Martinsburg could do?
It would be a good use of existing infrastructure and easy to advertise in existing busy stations.
  by John_Perkowski
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Thu Oct 01, 2020 10:52 am
Denver-Ogden via Wyoming. Stop at Cheyene and Laramie; dunno about Rawlins, Green River, and Evanston.
What is the traffic demand? Any studies?
  by Jeff Smith
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Tue Sep 29, 2020 3:17 pm Oh, absolutely I'm attacking you, mtuandrew! You know how I am :wink:
Honestly, though, I don't know many groups I've belonged to with fewer attacks in them than this one.
...
You're welcome! :wink:
  by mtuandrew
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Thu Oct 01, 2020 12:39 pm
I wonder what a train from BAL (or WAS) to Hancock MD, with connecting coach to Berkley Springs, stopping at Harper;'s Ferry and Martinsburg could do?
It would be a good use of existing infrastructure and easy to advertise in existing busy stations.
Wouldn’t that just be an extra stop on the Capitol Limited? Seems scenic and like a decent tourist destination, if CSX would allow a new platform (or use of the heritage depot!) in their yards across the river from Hancock.

I don’t think service directly west from Baltimore will happen though.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Arborwayfan wrote: ↑
Thu Oct 01, 2020 10:52 am

Denver-Ogden via Wyoming. Stop at Cheyene and Laramie; dunno about Rawlins, Green River, and Evanston.
What is the traffic demand? Any studies?
No studies I know of, Col. Perkowski, at least not of the market for a Den-Ogden express or overnight express. I just think there's two big metro areas with a fast enough railroad in between and I think a study would be interesting.

I was guessing at the post covid price of a DEN-SLC plane ticket and calculating the revenue for 3 sleepers with carrying two pax per bedroom and avg 1.5 pax per roomette and paying the same as the airfare. Less than a year ago? More than a year ago? I don't even know what was typical a year ago. At $300/person rt, which seems kind of high for a 550-mile plane trip, such a train would take in about $27,000 for each rt. That's much less than what 3 Superliner sleepers currently take in for a typical night, but there would be no meals and therefore no diner costs, no need for a lounge car with its costs, just the beds. (And maybe a coach or two.) But what does it cost to run a 3-car train of sleepers with no food service on an 1,100-mile round trip -- total cost, above and below the rail? Or 1 coach and three sleepers with no food service? Or whatever consist you want to think about? And what would a class I (UP specifically) be likely to charge for such a slot if it were to run at the average speed of their fastest intermodals, running as essentially a second section of one such intermodal to minimize disruption to other trains, with no or very few intermediates so that there would be no problem having the train's speed over any given part of the route vary with the traffic as long as it made the endpoints on time? Amtrak calculated a total direct cost of ~$40/mile for a train of two coaches, one sleeper, and one lounge over this route in 2014 when they studied restoring the Pioneer https://transitzac.files.wordpress.com/ ... estudy.pdf. That's about $44,000 rt Den-Ogden, raise it a little for inflation, make it $46,000 rt, but I'm thinking of a train without the diner-lounge and its obs crew, and I don't have the numbers to figure out how much that would save...

These rough numbers are not looking like breaking even even if there were 90-100 people a day wanting to pay $300 rt over Ogden-DEN. That's not surprising. Probably pie-in-the-sky -- but how far in the sky? :wink:
  • 1
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22