• Amtrak Sunset East Reactivation Proposal (Including City of New Orleans Extension)

  • 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 John_Perkowski
Please post all things about proposed, planned, or implemented service for the Sunset Limited east of New Orleans here.

You can find the old thread here.

ADMIN: For Gulf Coast service NO to Mobile, AL: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=169769
  by gokeefe
Perhaps the biggest news since Hurricane Katrina:
The Southern Rail Commission (SRC) yesterday announced more than $2 million in allocations through the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to 11 communities in three southern states that are making plans for restored and improved Amtrak service.
A total of 11 grants will be awarded to communities in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. The commission worked with the states' congressional delegations, the FRA, host railroads and Amtrak to pursue the federal funds to restore the rail service in the three states, according to an SRC press release.

Funds will be available in early 2017. The projects are expected to be completed within 24 months of receiving the awards.
Looks like a service re/start in late 2018 ...
  by gokeefe
Southern Rail Commission projecting 18 to 24 months for service re/start:
If things go right, Amtrak could return to the Coast as early as 18 months from now, an official said.

Southern Railway Commission officials announced at a meeting Monday it had received more than $1.15 million in federal funding for improvements and upgrades to Coast passenger platforms and depots along the railway line.

The larger goal for the commission and city officials is to pave the way for the return of an Amtrak rail service that would extend from New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida, with stops along the Coast.

The project would require additional federal funding.

“Is it realistic to say this will be ready in 18 to 24 months? I think so,” Southern Railway Commission Chairman Gary White said at a Monday meeting.
  by gokeefe
Full list of station projects in Mississippi:
The SRC funding, which will be available in 2017, will be used over the next 24 months on the following projects:
• City of Pascagoula – $659,543 for improvements to restore the city’s historic train station. Total project budget: $1,300,744
• City of Biloxi – $252,000 for construction of passenger rail platform and transit station access. Total project budget: $497,000
• City of Gulfport – $190,000 for construction of new platform canopy, sidewalk and disability access improvements. Total project budget: $370,277
• City of Bay St. Louis – $55,000 for canopy, trackside and disability access improvements. Total project budget: $100,000
Amtrak is coming back to the Gulf Coast!
  by gokeefe
Full list of projects funded in Alabama (includes non "Gulf" stations):
The projects at each Alabama station:

Anniston: $139,500 to reconstruct parking area and extend platform.

Birmingham: $150,000 for enhancements and construction of new multi-modal station.

Mobile: $125,000 for passenger rail station plan development, including a master plan and architectural design.

Tuscaloosa: $314,457 for new passenger rail station construction.

The new passenger rail station in Birmingham, part of a larger $32 million construction project that began in 2014, is scheduled to open in March 2017.
  by gokeefe
Louisiana's grants were focused on planning for Baton Rouge - New Orleans service ... However the Times-Picayune had this to say about the Gulf Coast service:
Restoring passenger rail along the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Orlando looks more likely to happen in the immediate future. A study of restoring the Gulf Coast line is due in mid-January. Service could begin in 18 to 24 months, said John Spain, one of Louisiana's representatives to the Southern Rail Commission and executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
But Spain said improved services are planned for a New Orleans-Orlando line once it opens. There's a push to have the passenger trains run seven days per week, instead of just three.
This would be the first daily service since March of 1997.
  by east point
So service may start then "IF"
1. CSX agreement although service was just suspended that may be no problem.
2. Enough stations rebuilt
3. Enough Chargers enter into service to allow some P-42s to be reassigned to train
4. NS starts delivering enough revenue service approved cars to allow reassignment number needed
5. New or previous crews qualified / requalified
6. Money for operation subsidy
  by gokeefe
To the best of my knowledge ...

1. CSX has been publicly named in the linked news articles as an ongoing party to the committee established by the FAST Act for operational planning. Also CSX is already a party to an Amtrak operating agreement based on other services.

2. Mobile is the only station that needs to be completely rebuilt. All other stations needing improvments appear to be covered by this grant.

3. Amtrak appears to have sufficient power available to cover this train based on the fact that they still have P40 units stored Out of Service.

4. The route permits the use of Superliner cars which I believe Amtrak has in sufficient quantity already to support the new service. I say this only because I have never heard any indication of a "Superliner shortage".

5. I believe I may have read that Amtrak has actually already started the crew qualification process. The station improvements are almost certainly based entirely on the inspections that Amtrak previously conducted this past year. If not there is plenty of time remaining for that process to begin.

6. If the route is treated as an "extension" of the Sunset Limited then it could be run as a federal train. Some of the articles appeared to allude to the fact that this may in fact be a resumption of federally operated service. For reference the "road" distance New Orleans to Orlando is 642 miles. This route was previously operated as a "federal" service (although the Gulf Coast Limited was a 403(b) train). There has been no indication whatsoever of any request or interest in state funding of operations which leads me to believe that this is going to be a federally supported extension of the Sunset Limited.
  by east point
1. If the CSX service agreement has not expired then that should be good for at least 3 round trips per week. Whether the CSX agreement covered 7 RTs per week only someone who has access to the agreement can tell us ?

3. Amtrak does not have even enough locos P-42s to cover present trains. Yesterday's Train 11 that hit a tractor trailer has a 500 series loco pulling it. P-42s are not getting out of Beech grove fast enough for lack of replacement traction trucks ( 5 year requirement ) delivered to Amtrak. Appears that the truck manufacturer can only supply about 5 trucks a months. Study the past mechanical reports for Beech grove for loco repair and it states for many months that Beech grove waiting for P-42 trucks. Now about P-40s most of them have had their trucks robbed to place under P-42s so the same problem they cannot be refurbished until more trucks than 5 delivered.

4. Enough Superliners ? Absolutely not! Maybe in the middle of slow demand but not now, The only way the SW limited from LAX go out on time the other day was Amtrak was able to use the one day a week layover equipment of the Sunset, Many persons more in the know believe Amtrak will make the Capitol a single level train once enough single level cars are free. Since before Thanksgiving thru New years Amtrak has used almost every Superliner revenue car. The same almost applies to single level cars.

6. If The extension becomes a long distance extra federal funds will then be needed.
  by gokeefe
east point wrote:6. If The extension becomes a long distance extra federal funds will then be needed.
Nope. Amtrak is currently far below budget on federal appropriation. Because of expense and revenue improvements they have the ability to fund the service from their current appropriation.
  by gokeefe
The pending service restart is now receiving national coverage:
Now local and state Republican leaders along the Gulf Coast are promoting a revived Amtrak route as a tool for commerce and jobs. That argument mirrors the pro-transportation message of President-elect Donald Trump, who is proposing a nationwide $1 trillion infrastructure upgrade that he says would make the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and railroads “second to none.”

Could a new era of an Amtrak-friendly GOP be at hand?

“I think we can make Amtrak work,” said Republican Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. “We can make it more friendly to the taxpayer, and more efficient, but I think we need Amtrak, and I’ll just say it.”
  by east point
This support may mean the NOL <> ORL is closer/
What will be needed is probably a supplemental appropriation to fund this service. There will be the need to rebuild cars, locos, station, and maybe tracks including PTC all taking new funds. Do cannibalize the present money which is needed elsewhere.
  by gokeefe
east point wrote:This support may mean the NOL <> ORL is closer/
What will be needed is probably a supplemental appropriation to fund this service. There will be the need to rebuild cars, locos, station, and maybe tracks including PTC all taking new funds. Do cannibalize the present money which is needed elsewhere.
No supplemental. It's already provided for in the FAST Act. No car rebuilds either. They're going to use the City of New Orleans trainsets and probably supplement with additional Superliners. Exact power pool is unclear but it won't matter much longer now that the Chargers are coming. PTC is covered by CSX in part because the line in question will already be required to have it. Improvements to reopen stations have just been paid for through the recent grants mentioned in previous posts. Mobile will need to find further funds to fully rebuild but I suspect they will get a federal grant due to the fact that this is infrastructure that was lost due to Katrina.
  by SouthernRailway
CSX says $2 billion in track improvements, etc. is needed.

What could possibly be needed, other than restoring the track to 79-mph standards (if it's below that standard)?
  by Greg Moore
Cynically, "well, if you need it now, you need PTC, and well you have to pay for it." i.e. it's CSX's way of getting someone else to pay for the mandate.
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