• Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

  • 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 Ridgefielder
 
west point wrote: Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:52 pm Acceptable walk distance is one thing in the summer. However in the throes of the many down east winter storms ?
I lived in Manhattan for 16 years. I didn't own a car. During that time I probably took hundreds of trips on local, regional and long distance trains. I don't think it ever even occurred to me to walk to Grand Central or Penn Station with my luggage to catch a train-- even though I could reach GCT in a ~20min on foot. Similarly I don't recall arriving in Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Albany-Rensselaer, Chicago, etc. and being annoyed that I couldn't walk from the station to my hotel.

I think the focus with Portland should be improving the operational efficiency of the station itself. Being within a pleasant walk of downtown is a secondary consideration. After all there are plenty of legitimate big city stations that are off on the edge of the central business district: 30th Street, Philadelphia comes to mind.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
[quote=sicariis post_id=1519313 time=1567777737 user_id=277642]
[quote=njt/mnrrbuff post_id=1519301 time=1567770325 user_id=2821]
It’s possible that while I’m spending a few days in Boston, I’m going to take a daytrip on the Downeaster from Boston to Dover. The plan would be to take 691 north and coming back, take 694 south.
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If the journey is for the enjoyment of the train trip alone, may I suggest getting off in Durham, enjoying lunch in the restored 1896 station that now houses the UNH Dairy Bar, with plenty of time to check out campus a bit before catching 694 back to BON.
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This trip, I would love to go to a station that is within walking distance of a downtown area and within about an hour and a half train ride from BON. From doing my research, Dover, NH came to my mind. I also want to photograph the old mill buildings there. Originally I thought about going to Saco and then ubering to the Seashore Trolley Museum but given the amount of activities that I want to do in and around the greater Boston area, I thought that taking the train to Saco and then going to the museum from there would take up too much time in my schedule. I’ll probably be in Maine in a few years for about a week so I’ll save Saco and the Seashore Trolley Museum for that trip.

The current Amtrak station in Portland, though not in downtown, is still in a good location. It’s very close to a few highways that provide easy access to and from other towns in the state plus its two miles from downtown. Consider that distance being ok as there are plenty of Amtrak stations that have more frequent rail service that aren’t super close to downtown areas-Richmond Staples Mill Rd comes to mind. That station is probably eight miles from Downtown Richmond but it’s within easy reach of 95 and other highways. It’s great if you are getting off in the western suburbs of Richmond. There are probably plenty of hotels in the Richmond area that provide their own transportation to the Staples Mill Road Station. Public bus service serving the station is probably meager.
If a person is traveling by Amtrak or even a commuter train with a suitcase to a station, they might not always feel comfortable walking with the suitcase, even for a mile.
When I’m in Boston in a few weeks, I’m staying in Quincy, about 8 miles from South Station. Obviously that’s beyond too far to walk but I’ll take the Red Line to Wollaston Station, six miles from my hotel. I may decide to walk from Wollaston with my suitcase or I might take a bus but doing the bus would mean having to walk a few blocks east of the station to the bus but the bus stops in front of the hotel.
  by markhb
 
The notes that were passed out at the August board meeting are now posted, but there are no further details on the Portland station (and none were presented at that meeting). That meeting DID include a fair amount of discussion about the Wells siding and the plan to build a second platform on the second track, including the means of access to it (Patricia said she's leaning towards elevators on both sides, as the proper ADA ramps would require 250 feet of travel on each side of the tracks).

There is actually a very nice trail along Fore River Parkway which leads to the waterfront and misses most of the cloverleaf, so if one were heading towards those hotels that section provides a better walk than you'd have from St. John St. which is... not our best foot forward. But regardless of station location, you'd have to walk West Commercial which gives you overgrown wildland on one side and the container port on the other... not something you'd be eager to walk alone because even if it's safe it feels deserted and creepy. And going to the center of town means hiking the hill of Congress St. through another run-down neighborhood and unending Maine Med construction. Long story short, if I were planning to arrive in Portland by train walking to any destination farther than the Clarion Hotel or Espo's Trattoria wouldn't be in my plans.
  by gokeefe
 
Take a closer look at the Executive Session descriptions. I would hazard a guess that the item regarding Concord Coach, the PTC and an as yet unidentified property is a pretty clear indication that they have some possible options.

It could be that they are considering buying the PTC itself but that makes no sense in the context of the public conversation. I think they have a site identified and a willing seller.
  by markhb
 
gokeefe wrote: Fri Sep 06, 2019 6:42 pm Take a closer look at the Executive Session descriptions. I would hazard a guess that the item regarding Concord Coach, the PTC and an as yet unidentified property is a pretty clear indication that they have some possible options.

It could be that they are considering buying the PTC itself but that makes no sense in the context of the public conversation. I think they have a site identified and a willing seller.
They very well may (I arrived exactly as the crowd was allowed to enter the meeting room after the executive session); I was just saying that nothing was brought up in the public session except for a brief mention and my question about whether the wye is completely off the table. The next board meeting is the October Annual Meeting so that may be the time for a big announcement.
  by gokeefe
 
Cumberland County, Registry of Deeds, Book 35557, Page 88.

This document details a plan for a major expansion of the parking lot at the PTC. However, no station modifications appear to be considered. This transfer took place in April 2019.
  by markhb
 
gokeefe wrote: Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:05 pm Cumberland County, Registry of Deeds, Book 35557, Page 88.

This document details a plan for a major expansion of the parking lot at the PTC. However, no station modifications appear to be considered. This transfer took place in April 2019.
I've seen that expansion going on, but I've been unable to find it via the city permitting website. Concord Coach (or their real estate subsidiary) bought the land, which makes sense as that's their parking lot and they've been expanding their service (more Lewiston service, the "Plus" service to NYC).
  by MEC407
 
Ridgefielder wrote: Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:31 pm I lived in Manhattan for 16 years. I didn't own a car. During that time I probably took hundreds of trips on local, regional and long distance trains. I don't think it ever even occurred to me to walk to Grand Central or Penn Station with my luggage to catch a train-- even though I could reach GCT in a ~20min on foot. Similarly I don't recall arriving in Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Albany-Rensselaer, Chicago, etc. and being annoyed that I couldn't walk from the station to my hotel.
I suspect this is the case for the vast and overwhelming majority of travelers.
  by troffey
 
swist wrote: Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:12 am This goes back to Concord Coach policy of building their own (cheap) stations on cheap land on the outskirts of the towns they serve, regardless of what other stations may already exist. Boston South Station being an exception. The absolute worst is in Bangor where it is way out of town, and *supposedly* near the airport except that there are two 10000' runways between it and the actual airport terminal.
As Mega Bus found out as well, there's a city ordinance in Boston requiring off-street boarding. The state put South Station Bus Terminal there, why no use it?
  by MaineCoonCat
 
gokeefe wrote: Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:05 pm Cumberland County, Registry of Deeds, Book 35557, Page 88.

This document details a plan for a major expansion of the parking lot at the PTC. However, no station modifications appear to be considered. This transfer took place in April 2019.
Page 88 returns a "not found". Page 89 is page 1 of a 5 page drainage maintenance easement to MaineDOT from Langdon Street Real Estate ("Concord").
.
PTC drainage easement.PNG
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  by gokeefe
 
Try Book 35557 Page 84, Deed recorded on April 3, 2019. Page 88 (which is at the top of the margin) is the last page of the deed.
  by MaineCoonCat
 
gokeefe wrote: Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:44 pm Try Book 35557 Page 84, Deed recorded on April 3, 2019. Page 88 (which is at the top of the margin) is the last page of the deed.
Thanks, gokeefe!!!
For those interested:
ptc deed 3.PNG
ptc deed 4.PNG
ptc deed 5.PNG
See "Meaning and intending to convey", PTC lot page 4.
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  by gokeefe
 
Existing site is in light grey in the background with planned construction in bold in the foreground. They're basically going to fill in right up to the drainage.

The timing of the land transfer is interesting to me as it occurred at almost the same time that relocation of the station very suddenly became an issue.
  by Suburban Station
 
Ridgefielder wrote: Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:31 pm I lived in Manhattan for 16 years. I didn't own a car. During that time I probably took hundreds of trips on local, regional and long distance trains. I don't think it ever even occurred to me to walk to Grand Central or Penn Station with my luggage to catch a train-- even though I could reach GCT in a ~20min on foot. Similarly I don't recall arriving in Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Albany-Rensselaer, Chicago, etc. and being annoyed that I couldn't walk from the station to my hotel.

I think the focus with Portland should be improving the operational efficiency of the station itself. Being within a pleasant walk of downtown is a secondary consideration. After all there are plenty of legitimate big city stations that are off on the edge of the central business district: 30th Street, Philadelphia comes to mind.
thousands upon thousands of people walk to penn station and grand central. for short routes like the downeaster or hiawatha people often make the trip frequently and without much luggage.
albany is a terrible location as well and is just one more reason why the train is not competitive. I do appreciate that DC is easy to get to capitol hill but when it comes to going to VA I opt for driving since there is no easy way to get to VA from union station. I do often walk to my hotel from south station and it's also convenient to the business district. As development around 30th st has increased, station utilization has improved but for commuter rail suburban station is by far the busiests station because it is walking distance to more jobs than any other station.
it is true, the US is full of stations in poor locations with suboptimal ridership often dating from a time when costs were being cut or track space being repurprosed. that isn't a good reason to continue to have a poor station site. nobody is talking about ending the downeaster in haverhill instead of north station or the NEC trains end at Route 128 instead of south station.
chicago has been another underperformer but as development near the station has increased so has ridership.

why would you take the train from brunswick if you still need to pay for a taxi? why not just drive? coming from the nec transfer twice and and up on the wrong side of town or just take the bus.
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