electricron wrote: ↑Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:53 am
Chicago to Kansas City services is an excellent example what trains states are willing to subsidize.
Let’s switch trains for another example, the Zephyr through Iowa. It now runs east to west along the southern border of the state, bypassing larger cities more central to the state such as the Quad Cities and Des Moines. Why is Amtrak continuing to bypass all these larger cities with potential higher ridership?
If Amtrak really wishes to save long distance services long into the future, now is the time to haggle with the freight railroad companies and reroute the trains. We need a better design long distance network.
To address the Zephyr
first, yes, Amtrak uses the single worst existing route. It isn’t the fastest (UP ex-C&NW), the most populous (IAIS ex-Rock followed closely by UP), or even the least congested (pretty sure that’s CN ex-IC.) Any of those three would be preferable, and IAIS/Rail Development Corporation might even be willing to wheel and deal. Only reason the California Zephyr
is on BNSF ex-CB&Q is because that’s what the legacy road used, just like BNSF ex-ATSF was what the Super Chief
road used from Newton to Albuquerque.
The BNSF cross-Iowa route is well-maintained and Ft Worth is a good host, I’ll say that.
John_Perkowski wrote:I live in Kansas City. Why would it be nice?
Even with slack time for KCI inbound, even including TSA at each end, it's 2 1/2 hours plus my ground transport. (Where I happen to live, time to KCI and time to KC union station is a wash). Amtrak is 7 hours and 20 minutes enroute. My experience with Amtrak wi-fi is less than stellar. In addition, there are areas along the route of the Santa Fe that have ***no cell service whatsoever***.
Simply put, Amtrak cannot compete for the business traveler KC to Chicago.
The time-conscious business traveler no, but that 7h20m actually beats the drive time KCY <-> points in Illinois (Google estimates ~7h45m nonstop.) Shave the time to 7h flat, which I think you could for a stand-alone corridor that didn’t need LD recovery time, and that becomes even more competitive with driving. I’m having trouble finding travel statistics between CHI and KCY though - it’s possible the end-to-end potential market isn’t nearly as large as I think - but I suspect it’s underserved.
I consider CHI-KCY in the same vein as MKE-MSP and PGH-WAS. Despite having few intermediate stops of any size (MSP-MKE has the most mid-size stops), they have good load factors and are at least reasonably competitive with drive time - especially in foul weather. Amtrak National is the only agency able to shepherd routes that primarily serve end-to-end traffic, because as you said, there isn’t much between Fort Madison and Kansas City so Missouri wouldn’t see a lot of benefit in taking its residents out of state.