• 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

  • 291 posts
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 20
  by Pensyfan19
 
Bob Roberts wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:52 am Gezzus this is a depressing discussion. We talk about South of the Lake here as if it is an impossibly difficult problem to solve, but look at Germany, Belgium or the UK and you will see countries with much less fiscal capacity than the US spending multiple billions on projects to connect or consolidate terminals and build new urban tunnels to enable through running for regional rail (see Berlin Hopbhanhof, Stuttgart 21, Leipzig center city tunnel, Brussels center city tunnel, and Crossrail 1 and 2). Even Buenos Aires is planning a center city RER tunnel network! Meanwhile in our (supposedly) more nimble economic system we can’t even get it together enough to build a new double track ROW through 20 miles of abandoned bownfield space — there are not even any NIMBYs to deal with!
That's because Europe fully funds and maintains their rail infrastructure while ours is painfully lagging behind due to lack of funding which is directed towards consumer products and other stuff. (Hence my theory to have private corporations fund intercity passenger trains so that Amtrak doesn't have to compete with other government-owned corporations for funding, but I already beat that topic to death in a dew different topics). In order to get a large terminal for the railroad capitol of the world (Chicago) and others like it, you would need a large amount of funding to build, or in some cases restore, a large terminal to hold present and future frequencies.
I don’t have much to say about the facility, but Detroit New Center Station is very much within the City of Detroit! It’s immediately next to one of the largest universities in the state and an arts & entertainment district.
The point I was trying to make with Detroit and other Amshacks like it is that it is not as close to the Downtown hub of the city as Michigan Central Station. Another example is Grand Forks, ND, whose Amshack is on the outskirts of town while the original Great Northern Station was located right in the center and was more convenient for travel within the town.
  by Tadman
 
justalurker66 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:51 am Ok. We will build a terminus east of Porter Indiana and let people find their own way into the big city 30 miles away.
I don't think anybody intended for this to be a part of the discussion and you're being difficult. Good talk. I think they're looking for you in the NYO&W thread.
CHTT1 wrote:Having a single terminal for intercity trains in Chicago seems like a such a slam dunk,
What assumptions are you making to back this up? That we want to spend billions more than necessary to start up a new service and add 30-60 minutes to the timetable? New start services are turning into bad PBS british comedies of seeing how many class 1's we can involve and flyovers/junctions we can upgrade.
Bob Roberts wrote:Gezzus this is a depressing discussion. We talk about South of the Lake here as if it is an impossibly difficult problem to solve,
Agreed. Maybe if we hadn't let Amtrak manage that one.

Bob Roberts wrote:Even Buenos Aires is planning a center city RER tunnel network!
I think they hit the pause on that due to economic issues prior to Covid. Stuff has a long gestation there, but it's a fun railfan city. I still don't know how they are going to reconcile the AC catenary on the south side with DC third rail on the north side. They also had /have a dormant tunnel from Once station (third biggest, west of downtown) to the waterfront, where there was/is a dormant yard that connects the southerly network with the northerly network.

Bob Roberts wrote:If we are at all serious about sustainablility we need to just F’ing build it.
YES! Notice most of the really big successful recent companies were not long-gestation highly-planned products, but they started small and iterated until they had a good business model. Amazon, Facebook, Salesforce... none of them were billion dollar launches. The lack of billions to launch disciplines the leadership and management to start wisely, see what works, and chase it.
Bob Roberts wrote:We also need to stop discussing inter city rail in isolation from regional / commuter rail.
Agreed provided this is regional and commuter. I don't think its wise to relate LD to commuter in much of a planned way.
  by Arborwayfan
 
I have wondered about the running the IC-route trains to Van Buren or Millenium stations, too. Van Buren is open-air, so if Metra and FRA would let Amtrak share the Metra Electric tracks it would theoretically work. But then deadhead to CUS for servicing or build expensive servicing facilities south of Van Buren? Seems less practical.

My pet idea for the IC-route trains is to have, and advertise, simple through ticketing to Millenium and intermediates via Metra, connecting at Homewood. There are enough rush-hour trains that a late CONO would not cause major trouble, at least on weekdays -- just take the next Metra. I was even thinking what it would cost to build a platform between the westernmost Amtrak track and the easternmost Metra track, for cross-platform transfers, but there's not enough space to build a platform without moving tracks ($$, I assume) and anyway Superliners. But even with the need to use the underpass to change platforms, it's an easy place to transfer. In an ideal world of roughly OT trains, it might be possible to tweak a few schedules for pretty seamless transfers in both directions. And then list all those Metra stops as destinations you can choose on the website. Suddenly Carbondale-Hyde Park (etc etc) are on the Amtrak website, so someone unfamiliar with the systems can see that obvious, easy route to the U of C and the Museum of Science and Industry, so say nothing of the various museums downtown.

Ditto for changing to Metro North to get to Grand Central and intermediates from the north or east.
Last edited by Arborwayfan on Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by mtuandrew
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:43 pmThe point I was trying to make with Detroit and other Amshacks like it is that it is not as close to the Downtown hub of the city as Michigan Central Station.
Technically you’re right - MCS is about a mile closer to Campus Martius than New Center is. In terms of development, many more attractions lie along Woodward Avenue than along Michigan Avenue. It’s like Midtown Manhattan versus Lower Manhattan, whereas MCS is the equivalent of Secaucus :P
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:53 pm
justalurker66 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:51 am Ok. We will build a terminus east of Porter Indiana and let people find their own way into the big city 30 miles away.
I don't think anybody intended for this to be a part of the discussion and you're being difficult. Good talk. I think they're looking for you in the NYO&W thread.
Your chosen topic for the thread was the wisdom of having one terminal vs having multiple terminus stations. You cite the difficulty of funneling all lines from all directions to one location in a city. In my previous post I listed several routes that somehow end up at CUS ... and when I suggested that CUS was a good endpoint for the Michigan trains you pulled the issues SOTL out of the hat. I asked if you have a better endpoint for the Michigan trains. Do you?

If SOTL is a huge problem then terminating in Porter would solve that problem. Would it not? Amtrak on time without interference from NS. And it fits in to the desire to have multiple terminals. The same applies on a lesser scale to CN-IC. Terminate trains at 27th St just south of McCormick place. It gives the multiple terminals that you seem to want and the awkward back up move to enter Amtrak property doesn't count against the train's running time.

I don't see anything wrong with Chicago having one terminal station. I believe approaches can be improved (Grand Crossing will help). A better place to put the money than building additional terminus stations.

Chicago has one LD/Regional Amtrak terminus. How would you split it up?
  by justalurker66
 
Bob Roberts wrote:We also need to stop discussing inter city rail in isolation from regional / commuter rail.
As far as terminus planning (whether one has one or multiple termini in a city) I can see the value of having the same terminus for all trains using a particular approach. The old Central Station in Chicago on the IC (now long gone) was a good place for long distance and regional trains to terminate. The suburban rail terminated further north along the same tracks on the edge of a large freight yard. The IC had separate tracks for suburban and intercity rail. (Perhaps they are not the best historical example.)

The connections between terminus stations need to be strong. As noted, the cities where multiple termini work have better local connectivity between the stations. It lessens the need to have a single terminus station.

There is far more commuter traffic at CUS than Amtrak ... that terminus is certainly not isolated.
  by Backshophoss
 
They forget that the critters forced the issue of Amtrak moving everything to NY Penn and out of GCT ,the Downeaster gets a pass due to the contorted route via the Grand Jct connection in Boston.
Access to CUS is still a contorted routing needing reverse moves to/from ICG/CN trackage, a direct connection still years away.Mi services are funneled onto a congested freight mainline.
The possible alternate route has catenary on it,not great for Superliners,becomes moot when the single level midwest fleet goes online.
What worked back in the good old days, transferring between the terminals,is no longer an option,now considered a major pain in the neck,to be avoided if possible.
  by John_Perkowski
 
Once upon a time, Chicago was served by
Union Station, the Pennsy and the Q among others
LaSalle Street, NYC and Rock Island
Dearborn, Santa Fe among others
North Western, C&NW among others
Central, I C among others

Parmelee Transport provided the inter terminal shuttling, as GBN noted

One size fits all didn’t work 70 years ago and it’s still a tough fit now.
  by justalurker66
 
I'm not sure why NICTD keeps getting targeted to help Amtrak. The good news is that they are getting their double track all the way to Michigan City (helping most of the Michigan trains). The bad news that while they were an interurban built like a steam line (not wrapped around every courthouse and improved to remove most street tracks) they still pass through neighborhoods. They are planning to add West Lake trains to the west end of their line. Do they need more trains on their line?

Then add the east coast trains ... would you figure out a way to get them over to NICTD or keep them on the NS?
  by STrRedWolf
 
justalurker66 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:25 pm I'm not sure why NICTD keeps getting targeted to help Amtrak. The good news is that they are getting their double track all the way to Michigan City (helping most of the Michigan trains). The bad news that while they were an interurban built like a steam line (not wrapped around every courthouse and improved to remove most street tracks) they still pass through neighborhoods. They are planning to add West Lake trains to the west end of their line. Do they need more trains on their line?

Then add the east coast trains ... would you figure out a way to get them over to NICTD or keep them on the NS?
Which route has less train traffic on them?
  by mtuandrew
 
justalurker66 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:25 pm I'm not sure why NICTD keeps getting targeted to help Amtrak. The good news is that they are getting their double track all the way to Michigan City (helping most of the Michigan trains). The bad news that while they were an interurban built like a steam line (not wrapped around every courthouse and improved to remove most street tracks) they still pass through neighborhoods. They are planning to add West Lake trains to the west end of their line. Do they need more trains on their line?

Then add the east coast trains ... would you figure out a way to get them over to NICTD or keep them on the NS?
NICTD South Shore is a passenger railroad and built to function like one - short signal blocks, relatively high speeds, less congestion, existing stations that wouldn’t require Amtrak to maintain anything but a QuikTrak, lots of potential slots for making up lost time. West Lake would need to be beefed up of course (extra crossovers, triple track in areas, as would any & all segments used by Amtrak. NRPC hasn’t been a good host, but would have to be a better tenant.

And to your point about LDs, I’d like to see Amtrak route them over NICTD from South Bend-Bendix Station all the way to Kensington Junction, via Michigan City where the route would pick up Michigan Service as well. That requires a decision though - route Amtrak via 11th Street, or rebuild the Trail Creek Bypass as the Nickel Plate once owned. It also requires a significant rebuild of that line, from raising the wire to clear Superliners without de-energizing the wire, to undercutting & reballasting, to building more passing sidings.
STrRedWolf wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:18 am Which route has less train traffic on them?
NICTD South Shore has fewer trains and far less tonnage than NS Chicago Line, though the CSX Porter Sub from Porter to Kensington has even less traffic - but at a slower speed. I don’t know the comparative tonnage or train volume between the existing CSX-CN-UP-Metra-Amtrak route and the proposed NICTD West Lake.
  by kato
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:43 pm That's because Europe fully funds and maintains their rail infrastructure while ours is painfully lagging behind due to lack of funding which is directed towards consumer products and other stuff.
The difference is mostly that rail infrastructure projects in Europe draw from a multitude of funding sources. For projects like the ones named in Germany the share drawn from federal infrastructure funds rarely exceeds 25%, and Deutsche Bahn's share tends to be recovered from real estate sales within a project. Around 70% tend to be financed by local (city/district) governments, state governments and from European Union infrastructure funds.

Due to how government finances are distributed between different levels the same kind of financing sourcing would realistically be impossible for Amtrak in the US.
  by justalurker66
 
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:50 am NICTD South Shore is a passenger railroad and built to function like one - short signal blocks, relatively high speeds, less congestion, existing stations that wouldn’t require Amtrak to maintain anything but a QuikTrak, lots of potential slots for making up lost time. West Lake would need to be beefed up of course (extra crossovers, triple track in areas, as would any & all segments used by Amtrak. NRPC hasn’t been a good host, but would have to be a better tenant.
West Lake is a single track rail that will not connect to anything other than NICTD (at Hammond). They will be building bridges over other railroads and running along the side of the CSX track, ending in Munster just north of the Dyer Amtrak station.

Amtrak's Michigan trains (pre-COVID) stop three times per day in Hammond (one outbound, two inbound) and three times per day in Michigan City (two outbound, one inbound). I would not expect them to stop at NICTD stations ... although the new Hammond Gateway station would be a good stop.
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:50 am I don’t know the comparative tonnage or train volume between the existing CSX-CN-UP-Metra-Amtrak route and the proposed NICTD West Lake.
West Lake is zero. Currently abandoned rail not connected to other rail systems. NICTD plans to run 24 passenger trains per day (initially using the 1982/1992 South Shore single level cars). 10 of those trains (5 each direction) would run through to Millennium Station on weekdays. The remainder would run as shuttles between Hammond and the end of the line (a 14 minute trip).

NICTD runs roughly three trains per hour on peak. Adding West Lake will make that four or five trains per hour. Off peak is used for CSS trains.
  by eolesen
 
I can think of one disadvantage moving the IC trains over to Millenium... I'll believe Tadman's correct there's not a lot of Amtrak to Amtrak connections at CUS, but I'd be willing to bet there's a fair number of Amtrak to Metra connections, particularly students with homes in the suburbs.

My niece at Illinois State takes Metra to Olgilvie and Amtrak to Bloomington, and I have a nephew who did it to Macomb. I did it as a student to/from Urbana. Sample size of three out of my extended family probably isn't statistically relevant, but as a daily commuter I'd see a lot of rolling suitcases and duffels moving thru Olgilvie and across Madison looking for an elevator...
  by mtuandrew
 
For Chicago specifically, this sounds like a job for a reopened Englewood Transfer station to get people off Michigan Service, the Cap & LSL, and the CONO, Saluki/Illini and Cardinal when rerouted via Grand Junction. The north, west, and southwest sides already have transfer points (except the UP-N, UP-NW and UP-W, but Amtrak doesn’t interface with those lines.)

—————

To a larger extent, this really does illustrate the need to cross-ticket nationally. Tad is right, the “we can’t do that because we’ve never done that” attitude needs to go, and we should all be reaching out to Amtrak to push for such a thing. The relevant agencies should give us the option to book a Charlotte Lynx LRT ticket, Amtrak from Charlotte to Washington, and MARC from Washington to Laurel in one transaction. Amtrak took a step forward with its Lyft partnership, I don’t really want to schlep bags onto a bus when there’s a car waiting for me (especially in a COVID-managed America) but we need more.

Our Amtrak and Canada’s VIA are some of the only networks in the world that don’t offer such a thing. I know, connections, but that isn’t the commuter roads’ fault.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 20