• 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 justalurker66
 
Is CUS overcrowded because of Amtrak or because of Metra? (Third option, because of poor passenger routing.)

Assuming one targets the Metra terminals for Amtrak trains what changes? CoNO and the CN-IC trains going to Millennium Station? Something else going to LaSalle?

Once one has decentralized the terminal stations (noting that terminal means "the train ends here" not adding one more stop before the terminal station) where does one maintain the trains? Back at CUS? Deadhead equipment adding to Chicago's congestion by running back out from a terminal to run over to CUS and then reverse the process so a train is available for the outbound run? More engineer and conductor time to get the train to and from the station from the yard over railroads not controlled by Amtrak. Once one has decentralized the terminal stations one has to add staff at each terminal (a loss of efficiency). Unless one wants the terminals in a major city to be QuickTix and no baggage at a commuter platform.

It seems that the desire to decentralize is a railfan dream - a nightmare for operations - but a dream for a fan who wants the train to terminate 30 minutes earlier so they can compare the run speed to something done 50-80 years ago. Never mind that the terminus is a half hour from the city center - you cut 30 minutes off the train running time. Which is great if one is not going to the city center - even better if one is going somewhere close to the new terminus - but not a solution for all travelers.
  by STrRedWolf
 
njtmnrrbuff wrote: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.
New Carrolton is also very close to US 50, which is a major highway (traffic like I-95) that carries traffic from DC to Annapolis and the Eastern Shore.
Tadman wrote: 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.
Two terminal, but two subway rides to get between them. Boston Back Bay was proposed earlier as a terminal... which I see may not actually have the capacity (room/time) to do it.
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.
I wouldn't extend the AutoTrain past it's borders. I would make the NER stop at Lorton to transfer passengers who aren't taking their car.
Because 30th and Suburban are tied together, that's basically out.
Tied by a subway, a trolley, and actual rail lines. I would contend that Philadelpia doesn't have a terminal station in the city as SEPTA's regular MO is to run it's trains through 30th and Suburban stations.
I foresee Miami continuing to be a three-terminal city as none of the carriers seem to interested in switching.
Wait, Miami actually has train transit outside of Amtrak? I google around and all I see is a mess.
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.
This is where you need to dig into more passenger traffic data and do more studies. Going Regional to Ethan Allen or LSL? I've done that before (Anthrocon '98 in Albany). How about Hoboken to lower Manhattan? Do most going to NYC hit the subway to go to WTC and back? That may call more for a rail line to WTC.
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.
Which one is in the heart of Detroit (wait, Detroit has a heart? Maybe core engine...)?
  by Tadman
 
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:35 am Is CUS overcrowded because of Amtrak or because of Metra? (Third option, because of poor passenger routing.)
It doesn't matter. Do anything you want to improve CUS. Whatever train you try to force off the IC or Rock Island to Union Station would be better at Randolph or LaSalle. There is no getting by the extra 45 minutes.


justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:35 amIt seems that the desire to decentralize is a railfan dream - a nightmare for operations - but a dream for a fan who wants the train to terminate 30 minutes earlier so they can compare the run speed to something done 50-80 years ago. Never mind that the terminus is a half hour from the city center - you cut 30 minutes off the train running time. Which is great if one is not going to the city center - even better if one is going somewhere close to the new terminus - but not a solution for all travelers.
Consider me not a railfan for the purposes of this post. I'm a business traveler with all kinds of mileage under my belt. I know the secret of these trains, which is that they are run for one reason: to move people. No customers? No train.

30 minutes or more of extra running is a very big deal to people, especially those that don't live downtown. British Rail did research and they found that the corridor riders prize trips under three hours. Above that and flying jumps in viability. This is not my assertion but scientific fact based on intensive research. So you lost 1/6 or more just hopscotching around Chicago, waiting for drawbridges, interlockers, class 1 handoffs.

You can tell me all day that this is a railfan dream but such assertion is denying science. Nobody wants to spend their first or last 30-60 minutes moving around the Chicago terminal at walking speed waiting for CN or UP.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:56 pm
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.
How about Hoboken to lower Manhattan? Do most going to NYC hit the subway to go to WTC and back? That may call more for a rail line to WTC.
I do like the idea of a Acela roundtrip to HOB serving the Lower Manhattan crowd ("Wall Street special"), but the Waterfront connection has a longer running time to HOB than PATH NWK-WTC (22 minutes).
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:29 am 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.
Amtrak doesn't try to shoehorn the autotrain into existing terminals because it would be a real pain to unload car carriers at the other stations. It is an autotrain ... people can ride in the consist with their cars, but the train is for autos. And fortunately they can offload autos miles from where people want to go with no local connections because people have transportation (as you noted).

Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:41 pm
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:35 am Is CUS overcrowded because of Amtrak or because of Metra? (Third option, because of poor passenger routing.)
It doesn't matter. Do anything you want to improve CUS. Whatever train you try to force off the IC or Rock Island to Union Station would be better at Randolph or LaSalle. There is no getting by the extra 45 minutes.
Can you pick a number? 30 minutes, 45 minutes and hour? And as far as "do anything you want to improve CUS" how about kicking out the renters? Send north side Metra upstairs to Oglvie and south side Metra to Lasalle. CUS belongs to Amtrak - if anything should be forced out it should be the renters.

It is as if you are renting a room in your house to someone who hogs the bathroom. Your solution would be to move out and find somewhere else to live instead of evicting the renter at the first legitimate opportunity?

This is the Amtrak forum, so I assume you are talking about decentralizing Amtrak. If you want to decentralize Metra that is an entirely different question.

Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:41 pm You can tell me all day that this is a railfan dream but such assertion is denying science. Nobody wants to spend their first or last 30-60 minutes moving around the Chicago terminal at walking speed waiting for CN or UP.
So your theoretical traveler would rather spend 30-60 minutes getting around Chicago to get to one of the various stations? As I have stated several times before, it is easy to cut the trip early and dump the passengers where they don't want to be. Terminate the Michigan trains at Porter. Terminate the CoNO and CN-IC at Homewood. I'm sure a suburb nearby could be chosen for each Amtrak run. Then deadhead the train to CUS for maintenance.

Decentralizing is a disadvantage to passengers. Sure "science" says passengers want a three hour run. But they also want to get to their destination - not just three hours away from where they started.

Isn't the type of person who just wants to ride a train for three hours, the destination less important than the journey, a railfan?
  by Anthony
 
Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:29 am
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.
If the proposed extension of one of the Wolverine RT's to Toronto ever happens, Amtrak would likely return to Michigan Central Station. To preserve service on the Pontiac dogleg, a new commuter rail line running between Pontiac and MCS could be implemented with the long-mothballed MI Train bi-levels.
  by David Benton
 
Once Grand Crossing is modified, all trains will have a straight run into CUS . spend the money on trackwork , not a new station.
London is a bit different from most cities. St Pancras was almost redundant before they moved the Chunnel trains there, and they were moved there because it had a lot of spare capacity. The excellent Tube system was largely built around connecting the stations. Some of the paths are hardly direct . The London Bridge , Waterloo east , various inner London stations routing is slow , and indirect. London Bridge is the most popular , and many bail train there , to walk or take the Tube into to the city , rather than stay on the train to the inner city stations.
  by justalurker66
 
David Benton wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 5:44 pm Once Grand Crossing is modified, all trains will have a straight run into CUS . spend the money on trackwork , not a new station.
London is a bit different from most cities. St Pancras was almost redundant before they moved the Chunnel trains there, and they were moved there because it had a lot of spare capacity. The excellent Tube system was largely built around connecting the stations. Some of the paths are hardly direct . The London Bridge , Waterloo east , various inner London stations routing is slow , and indirect. London Bridge is the most popular , and many bail train there , to walk or take the Tube into to the city , rather than stay on the train to the inner city stations.
Exactly.
  by rcthompson04
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:56 pm
Because 30th and Suburban are tied together, that's basically out.
Tied by a subway, a trolley, and actual rail lines. I would contend that Philadelpia doesn't have a terminal station in the city as SEPTA's regular MO is to run it's trains through 30th and Suburban stations.
I would agree with this statement and it makes Philadelphia a bad comparison unless you are using it justify connecting all the downtown stations. 30th Street is arguably a terminal station for some trains operating on the Reading side and all Keystones currently. For other trains that do not operate on both sides of the system, there are a number of terminal locations including Temple University (for trains operating on the PRR side), Penn Medicine (old University City)(for some Reading side trains), Suburban for a few (I don't think any at the moment)(for a handful of PRR side trains), and Jefferson (for a handful of PRR side trains).
  by Tadman
 
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:48 pm
Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:41 pm
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:35 am Is CUS overcrowded because of Amtrak or because of Metra? (Third option, because of poor passenger routing.)
It doesn't matter. Do anything you want to improve CUS. Whatever train you try to force off the IC or Rock Island to Union Station would be better at Randolph or LaSalle. There is no getting by the extra 45 minutes.
Can you pick a number? 30 minutes, 45 minutes and hour? And as far as "do anything you want to improve CUS" how about kicking out the renters? Send north side Metra upstairs to Oglvie and south side Metra to Lasalle. CUS belongs to Amtrak - if anything should be forced out it should be the renters.

It is as if you are renting a room in your house to someone who hogs the bathroom. Your solution would be to move out and find somewhere else to live instead of evicting the renter at the first legitimate opportunity?

This is the Amtrak forum, so I assume you are talking about decentralizing Amtrak. If you want to decentralize Metra that is an entirely different question.
That will never ever happen. You want to talk about fantasy land, it's moving BNSF and MILW trains out of CUS. Never ever ever. No place, no route, no need.
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:48 pm
Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:41 pm You can tell me all day that this is a railfan dream but such assertion is denying science. Nobody wants to spend their first or last 30-60 minutes moving around the Chicago terminal at walking speed waiting for CN or UP.
So your theoretical traveler would rather spend 30-60 minutes getting around Chicago to get to one of the various stations? As I have stated several times before, it is easy to cut the trip early and dump the passengers where they don't want to be. Terminate the Michigan trains at Porter. Terminate the CoNO and CN-IC at Homewood. I'm sure a suburb nearby could be chosen for each Amtrak run. Then deadhead the train to CUS for maintenance.

Decentralizing is a disadvantage to passengers. Sure "science" says passengers want a three hour run. But they also want to get to their destination - not just three hours away from where they started.

Isn't the type of person who just wants to ride a train for three hours, the destination less important than the journey, a railfan?
You're throwing like 3 false equivalencies into this and making it absurd.

Decentralizing terminals does not mean terminating at Homewood or Porter. Porter isn't even in the state let alone the city. If you want to be ridiculous about this you can go to the NYO&W forum and stop wasting our time.

It means using stations that are on the route they serve to reduce 30-40 minutes of timetabled running time and reduce delays and complexities from hand-offs between class 1's that cause unscheduled delays. A 20 minute wait for CN or UP plus 30-40 minutes of slow running over connectors takes one of three hours allotted for a successful corridor run. It's game over before the city limits. It's a very real problem that I have experienced on Hoosier, Lincoln, and Wolverine trains over half the time I ride.

And now we're shooting for Rockford and Quad Cities routes over multiple carriers all forced into CUS. It's unnecessary complexity that harms the viability and ridership numbers.
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:48 pm So your theoretical traveler would rather spend 30-60 minutes getting around Chicago to get to one of the various stations?
And I want to make sure we address this directly. It sounds like you've never lived in the city. Let me explain the discrete steps of riding the train:
1. Ride the L or cab to the terminal - 30 minutes
2. Wait at the station
3. Boarding process
4. Train leaves terminal and does connection to another host road - 30-40 minutes
5. Travel down host
6. In case of certain carriers, transfer to another host - wait 20 minutes

We're trying to remove steps 4 and 6. You will never remove step 1, regardless if it's CUS, LaSalle, Hoboken, GCT, one always has to get to the originating station. You can fix or adjust that station or their tenants (even kick out BNSF) all you want, it has no bearing on 4 and 6. They're always going to be a mess.
  by Tadman
 
David Benton wrote:Once Grand Crossing is modified, all trains will have a straight run into CUS . spend the money on trackwork , not a new station.
London is a bit different from most cities. St Pancras was almost redundant before they moved the Chunnel trains there, and they were moved there because it had a lot of spare capacity. The excellent Tube system was largely built around connecting the stations. Some of the paths are hardly direct . The London Bridge , Waterloo east , various inner London stations routing is slow , and indirect. London Bridge is the most popular , and many bail train there , to walk or take the Tube into to the city , rather than stay on the train to the inner city stations.
1. I don't hold my breath on Grand Crossing. It's been about to happen for like 20 years.
2. We're not building any new stations, just letting trains run into the stations they were designed to run into.
3. London Bridge is in the city and it is a partial terminal. Those trains that do not terminate continue just over the bridge to Cannon or Charing Cross, where they were always intended to go. I don't see how that has anything to do with this.

If you want to talk London, let's review how many stations they have - Paddington, Marylebone, Euston, Saint Pancras, Kings Cross, Victoria, Waterloo, Cannon, Charing Cross, Broad Street, Liverpool, Moorgate...

Now let's look at Marlyebone, a rather unimportant terminal that sends a small amount of train to Oxford and Birmingham. By current Amtrak wisdom, they should pick those trains up and send them to Euston or Paddington. But the Brits know that would be silly and add needless complexity. They also know the current route has a nice terminal in London, and have no idea why they would want to incur all that cost and extra time when the B'ham trains can just run as they always did to Marylebone. Nobody has made any noise about ending the train at Watford like Lurker, they'd laugh you out of the pub.

The same thing happens in:
Paris
Barcelona
Buenos Aires
Beijing
Moscow
Saint Petersburg
Rome
Madrid
Shanghai
Glasgow
Melbourne
  by mtuandrew
 
Tadman wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:10 amThat will never ever happen. You want to talk about fantasy land, it's moving BNSF and MILW trains out of CUS. Never ever ever. No place, no route, no need.
You said on the last page that CUS is overcrowded, so therefore you’re contradicting yourself. As for the route and the place, twelve posts upthread I reminded you that by pulling a few different switch levers at Tower A2, MILW and NCS could move to Ogilvie next week. As a Chicago railfan you know this as well as anyone :P

If Ogilvie is also overcrowded right now, that’s a problem for Metra and not for Amtrak.
mtuandrew wrote: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.
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 9:34 am
Tadman wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:10 amThat will never ever happen. You want to talk about fantasy land, it's moving BNSF and MILW trains out of CUS. Never ever ever. No place, no route, no need.
You said on the last page that CUS is overcrowded, so therefore you’re contradicting yourself.
There is literally no place for BNSF trains to go other than CUS or just toss 'em in the river. It's the busiest line with like 40,000 riders/say. Short of a billion dollar project to send them up over the B&O bridge and into the empty space once used for Grand Central Chicago, and then you have changed the problem. Now there is a big hole in CUS budget, plus we're still forcing all these corridor trains into a terminal that doesn't make any sense.

If you're keeping score at home, now BN traffic goes into B&O terminal, B&O & Michigan Central traffic goes into BN's terminal, IC traffic goes into BN, Rock goes into BN...

Image



mtuandrew wrote: As for the route and the place, twelve posts upthread I reminded you that by pulling a few different switch levers at Tower A2, MILW and NCS could move to Ogilvie next week. As a Chicago railfan you know this as well as anyone :P

If Ogilvie is also overcrowded right now, that’s a problem for Metra and not for Amtrak.
Assuming you're right that Amtrak and Metra can agree to this, Ogilvie is full, too. It may be Metra's problem, but they're not just going to cancel hundreds of trains because the station is full.

We're getting so caught up in railfan what-if's and mental exercises that send trains around the horn of South Africa.

We need to get back to basics. Trains should go where they can terminate the fastest. The legacy terminals that were intended to use by profit-making railroads. Per Amtrak managers, there is minimal transfer business. Corridor trains don't have diners or baggage or sleepers. The service needs are minimal.

Line 'em up and let 'em rip.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
mtuandrew wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:32 am
A few hundred yards of track gets Heritage Corridor into LaSalle. Just saying :wink:
Just did a Google Maps Flyover of the area. The tracks are already there. HC trains come down the NS, and just south of the 21 St. bridge there's a connection to the ex Santa-Fe which , in turn, connects with CN's SCAL line at the 16th St. Crossing. [I think it's under Metra's control.] Metra RI, the SCAL, and the ex ATSF line all converge at the 16th St. Crossing What is NOT there at present is a connection where the ex RI 16th St. tower was located. The CN crosses Metra RI there at a diamond. There's room for a flyover though, that would take HC trains over the SCAL and onto the RI tracks, where their main line goes from 2 tracks to 3 and on northward up to the La Salle St. Station. Possible? Yes? Probable? Don't think so.

And to Tad: IF a connection [not a flyover] from the SCAL to Metra RI were constructed at 16th St., some BNSF Naperville commutes could conceivably run over to La Salle St.

Having lived in Blue Island and used La Salle St., I can safely say that La Salle St. is underused with its 8 tracks. I would imagine that CN would not be too happy with that idea, however!
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