• 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

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  by njtmnrrbuff
 
It the suburban area of a metropolis is huge, then that's one thing in terms of adding multiple stations in that area. For example, for Amtrak trains involving Upstate NY in their journeys-they pass through all of the Hudson River Towns in Westchester County but there are two stations in that county along the Hudson-Yonkers and Croton Harmon. Yonkers is more of a city station but surrounding it, there are many suburbanlike communities(Bronxville, and believe it or not, Riverdale, located in the Bronx). Mainly, regional trains stop at Yonkers. Further north along the Hudson but still in Westchester County is Croton Harmon which is mainly just a park n ride lot. It's not that accessible to major highways. The closest ones are 287/87 which are a little further down in Tarrytown and then you have to take Rt. 9D, I think. Croton Harmon is pretty close to a lot of other towns in Westchester County and it's not terribly far from Rockland County either. Just about every Amtrak train stops at CRT including 49 and 48.

in general, Amtrak doesn't need to have multiple stations within major city limits unless if the cities are huge and the main commercial areas go on and on. For example, it's fine that Boston has two NEC stations given the fact that there is a lot of commercial development that continues for a bit. In Los Angeles, north of LAUS, the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight route may leave the City of LA for a little bit running through Glendale and Burbank but then it enters the City of LA again stopping at Van Nuys(both Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight). The westernmost station in LA on Amtrak is Chatsworth, only served by Pacific Surfliner trains. Chatsworth is still several miles from Downtown LA.
  by west point
 
Surban stations on various current routes appear very important. We can look at Back Bay and Rte 128 in Boston, Alexandria in Virginia as good examples that work now. Orlando alreaady has with Winter Park and Kissimee. Ashland for Hunington. For locations that have no commuter rail or othe transit we can think of several possible locations.

Naturally I would think of Atlanta. Suburban stops at Austell and Doraville / Buford would work very well. A stop at New Orleans airport is another. Houston if it ever gets daily service could use one on each side of downtown. Dallas east of town. Ft. Worth south of town. Richmond has the potential of Main street and RVR now. CLT airport maybe but with the present Cresent times in the middle of the night not useful. Bessemer south of BHM maybe. Cleveland airport not with present trains at late night. If Phoenix ever getss the sunset back a stop at Scottsdale. Alburque somewher south of Publeo?. Certinly others can think of other cities.

Now these stops would need nothing more than a platformfor single car ADA boarding ramp. A quick track machine at each location. The schedule should be set for the fastest time from last station as a flag stop to start. Conductors will get notifications of boardings and will know of departures.
  by west point
 
Surban stations on various current routes appear very important. We can look at Back Bay and Rte 128 in Boston, Alexandria in Virginia as good examples that work now. Orlando alreaady has with Winter Park and Kissimee. Ashland for Hunington. For locations that have no commuter rail or othe transit we can think of several possible locations.

Naturally I would think of Atlanta. Suburban stops at Austell and Doraville or/ Buford would work very well. A stop at New Orleans airport is another. Houston if it ever gets daily service could use one on each side of downtown. Dallas east of town. Ft. Worth south of town. Richmond has the potential of Main street and RVR now. CLT airport maybe but with the present Cresent times in the middle of the night not useful. Bessemer south of BHM maybe. Cleveland airport not with present trains at late night. If Phoenix ever gets the Ssunset back a stop at Scottsdale. Alburque somewhere south of Publeo?. Certinly other posters can think of other cities.

Now these stops would need nothing more than a platform for single car ADA boarding ramp. A quick track machine at each location. The schedule should be set for the fastest time from last scheduled station as a flag stop to start. Conductors will get notifications of boardings and will know of departures. Passengers need tobe at station 10 minutes before schedule time or later time notification.
  by BandA
 
Minor points, Back Bay in Boston (BBY) is in no way a suburban station. And the Lake Shore Limited lacks a highway accessible suburban Boston station. (I'm not counting Framingham)
  by Arborwayfan
 
Right, BandA, Back Bay is absolutely not suburban, and Framingham is not an easy drive from anywhere, maybe not even from Framingham. :wink:

But stopping all Amtrak trains at Back Bay (unless they are rerouted via Fairmount for trackwork or something) is a pretty obvious choice. Around 40,000 people live in Back Bay and the South End; there are big office buildings right there; you can walk inside from the station to at least two hotels and a convention center, and outside to several other hotels; all the trains have to go right past the platforms anyway; the T maintains the station for busy commuter traffic; and the easiest way from South Station to Back Bay is by train, not subway, cab, or walking. (I don't think anyone's arguing with that here, but I enjoyed writing it all down.)

If some other city had Amtrak trains running through a second downtown station in a similar situation I would think they should/would stop there, too. Build a new station? Not so much. Do a backup move to serve a second stub terminal in the same downtown? Probably not unless that backup move was a lot faster than a cab or walking and the other station and all needed connecting track already existed.

If we ever get to having multiple daily trains on the Boston and Albany, then a highway-accessible Amtrak stop out that way might be worth it. Or if the T decided to build a specific park-and-ride station on the Framingham-Worcester line.
  by BandA
 
This is a national topic, and although Boston is or was the Hub of the Universe the folks in Peoria may not be interested in townie issues... Back Bay is very close to Boston South Station (BOS). Trains are not traveling very fast, and the NEC trains makes a ~~60 degree turn anyway (Lake Shore Ltd. goes straight), baggage service isn't provided, so it basically just adds dwell and it's worth it for the number of passengers. We think of it like it is a terminal, but it's just another through station. If NYG was a through station instead of a terminal, it would be a no-brainer for Amtrak to stop there just like they do at BBY.

As for suburban stations, the New Haven was still trying in 1953, created Route 128 station which was quite popular. The NYC/Boston & Albany Newtonville station had a similar function in the pre-interstate era. When the alignment moved to a modern highway, if they had built their own 128 station (in Weston and in conjunction with the branch trolley conversion) it would have become quite busy. But the NYC had already decided on disinvestment in passenger service and state planning in Massachusetts seems to have been fragmented between different agencies and authorities.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
Back Bay is truly in the city of Boston while Route 128 is just outside of the Boston City Limits in Westwood.

As for the DC area, Silver Spring is not served by Amtrak but by both MARC and Metro. Amtrak's Capitol Limited passes through Silver Spring. The suburban DC stop for the Capitol Limited is in Downtown Rockville, also served by MARC and Metro Red Line. New Carrolton is served mostly by Amtrak NER trains along with MARC trains. Metro's Orange Line ends there. The station is a true park n ride lot just outside of the District. It's within easy reach of 95.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
Then why isn't Cornwells a successful suburban station? A large park/ride, direct ramps off I-95... Just a few
weekday Keystones. Might as well ax PHN in favor of CWH.
  by Tadman
 
Keep in mind there's a big diff between having more than one big city terminal and having a big city terminal plus a few outliers like Back Bay or Homewood. Useful outliers allow suburbanites to ride without backtracking downtown. Different big city terminals allow trains to terminate in efficient manners without routing around the city in a bypass or shuffle that adds time and complexity that make it a less attractive travel option.

Imagine if Brighton trains had to circle London to the north side and use Euston or Saint Pancras. Of course, that's almost impossible. When the Sleeper detours down the east coast main, they often run into Kings Cross because the bypass shuffle to Euston is so hard that it's easier to completely re-diagram the entire operation into (3) eight-car trains and use KX because the platforms are too short for the usual (2) 16 car trains.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Tadman, do you have any cities in mind other than Chicago? (and any Chicago routes in mind other than the old IC?)
Are you thinking about whether Amtrak should go back to using Grand Central Terminal? Amtrak go back into Suburban Station? I can't think of any other cities where Amtrak has multiple routes running into a station that's awkward for some of those routes,
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:15 pm Different big city terminals allow trains to terminate in efficient manners without routing around the city in a bypass or shuffle that adds time and complexity that make it a less attractive travel option.
I consider multiple terminus stations to be an unnecessary complexity for most US cities. Especially with Amtrak's traffic levels. Imagine London with the passenger rail traffic level of Chicago. Each major station hosting one or two trains per day. Efficient?

What sort of "if only" discussion are we having? Are you suggesting "if only" the Chicago stations didn't consolidate to Union Station that Chicago would have the traffic levels of London or other major European cities? Are you suggesting Amtrak decentralize their service and run in to the nearest Metra terminus (which would affect few trains since most lines terminate at CUS/Oglevie)? Are you suggesting Metra needs to decentralize (beyond the planned move of SWS to LaSalle)? Are you suggesting that any of these changes would increase ridership to the levels seen in London?

If only Chicago had the intercity rail passenger traffic level of London it might make sense to make changes. But they don't. And I don't believe they would create London level traffic by decentralizing the Amtrak station.
  by Tadman
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:44 pm Tadman, do you have any cities in mind other than Chicago?
The first that comes to mind is Boston. It's already a two-terminal city for both carriers in town, and it illustrates the point perfectly. Having the downeaster shuffle around the city to South Station just because it can terminate cross-platform from the LSL or NEC is the worst idea ever. We've discussed it ad nauseum around here and every time we get to the conclusion that it would be a long slow awful way to penalize passengers. It's the winning case #1 right there.

The second proven winner that comes to mind is Lorton and Sanford. Each is in the metro area of another terminal, but Amtrak doesn't try to shoehorn the autotrain into an existing terminal because no passengers are connecting and most passengers are going to get in their car and drive another hour or three. Forcing autotrain passengers to wait in WAS while their cars are unloaded and moved into that parking garage above the station would be a fool's errand, another long slow penalty.

A third proven winner is Buffalo. LSL only stops at Depew, while most other trains go to Exchange. We could make the argument all day that LSL should backtrack downtown but they probably never will.

So what cities have multiple terminals? Chicago, New York, Miami, MSP, Philly.

Because 30th and Suburban are tied together, that's basically out. I foresee Miami continuing to be a three-terminal city as none of the carriers seem to interested in switching.

Chicago has a few opportunities to make a healthy adjustment to some corridor trains by sending existing or new-start trains away from Union Station. For example, the new Rockford and Quad Cities trains. As of now they are a mish-mash of 2-3 class 1 hosts, which is a lot of complexity for a short route. If the Quad Cities train were to run the ex-Rock route the whole way downtown, it eliminates a handoff to CN at Joliet, which has proven to be a tough customer for new start routes.

Regarding New York, the commuter carriers see a billion dollar value in having multiple endpoints, otherwise they wouldn't be doing ESA. Perhaps it is worth exploring the use of GCT again, or having Hoboken as an endpoint for some regionals or even Acela. Keep in mind most Acela passengers turn over at New York.

We're also seeing evidence that new starts in Detroit and MSP might not use the existing terminal. The Canada link would be a tortured connection to use the current New Center station. The Minneapolis commuter train made a very conscious choice to use Target Field over SPUD because it's far away and across a congested terminal, and there's a very real chance the new Duluth train will do the same.

Bottom line is we have already seen quite a few new-start services skip the "one terminal fits all" rule to make a more timely and reliable arrival. This is not a buff dream, this is reality.
  by Tadman
 
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:55 am
Tadman wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:15 pm Different big city terminals allow trains to terminate in efficient manners without routing around the city in a bypass or shuffle that adds time and complexity that make it a less attractive travel option.
I consider multiple terminus stations to be an unnecessary complexity for most US cities.
From what perspective? That of a railfan looking at a map wishing to connect dots or that of a passenger trying to get somewhere as soon as possible? Passenger A going to Champaigne or Detroit does not care what station they leave from downtown, but doesn't want an extra hour waiting for Norfolk Southern or BNSF at the Union Avenue interlocker.
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:55 am Especially with Amtrak's traffic levels. Imagine London with the passenger rail traffic level of Chicago. Each major station hosting one or two trains per day. Efficient?
Define efficiency. There are quite a few carriers that only run 2-4 trains into a given London terminal. They pay a fee proportionate to the usage, the owner uses that fee along with many others to keep the lights on and toilets clean. That model is far more efficient than adding and hour to the timetable just to get every train into one place, often for no good reason.
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:55 amWhat sort of "if only" discussion are we having? Are you suggesting "if only" the Chicago stations didn't consolidate to Union Station that Chicago would have the traffic levels of London or other major European cities? Are you suggesting Amtrak decentralize their service and run in to the nearest Metra terminus (which would affect few trains since most lines terminate at CUS/Oglevie)
If certain Amtrak trains didn't go to CUS, it would be a less congested operation. Certain new starts like Quad cities should not use CUS. Certain existing trains like Illini would be better off somewhere else as well. The reduced complexity would result in far more reliable trains and shorter running time, which would certainly increase ridership. I don't know that it has to be related to London's ridership level, but the model shows it works.
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:55 am Are you suggesting Metra needs to decentralize (beyond the planned move of SWS to LaSalle)?
No, Metra seems to have a workable model at multiple stations and robust ridership. There's not any more stations to use if you know Chicago very well.
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:55 amIf only Chicago had the intercity rail passenger traffic level of London it might make sense to make changes. But they don't. And I don't believe they would create London level traffic by decentralizing the Amtrak station.
I has enough regionals that there is multiple problems. One, CUS is overcrowded; Two, there are handoff complexities between host railroads that cause reliability issues; Three, the circle/diversion/bypassing to get into CUS adds time to short routes. I don't think getting to London traffic levels would prove this a success, just fixing existing problems would. London is a much bigger city with quite a few more stations and a national capital.
  by mtuandrew
 
Chicago Union overcrowding could be partially solved by directing some MD and NCS trains to Ogilvie (Northwestern) Station. Metra could do that next week if it wanted, no new track required, and could expand the station in the future to take ALL north and west service. Build a few new switches and a few hundred yards of track at the eastern foot of the SCAL Bridge, and Metra could redirect some or all BNSF and HC trains to LaSalle Street too. I’d rather see Metra consolidate its stations than have Amtrak expand theirs.
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