• Amtrak NEC Virginia Regional Service

  • 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 jp1822
 
Looks like they will be extensions of trains traveling the entire NEC to Boston and Lynchburg. I had originally though they were looking for a Northeast Regional train that turned at NYC rather than Boston, but I suppose the times don't match up.

What I find somewhat detrimental is the fact that the new trains 171/176 will be scheduled so close to train 19/20. Local traffic from 19/20 will certianly be offloaded onto 171/176. This may help free up some coach space needed on 19/20 south of Lynchburg for example. But still one would think the trains would be spaced out a little to offer some flexibility for passenger choice. Even if 171/176 (although they wouldn't be numbered that) had a 9:00 a.m. departure from Lynchburg, returning at 6:30 p.m. to perhaps avoid some of the VRE and MARC commuter rush hour.

The current scheduling reminds me of when the Three Rivers and Pennsylvanian used to operate so closely together from Pittsburgh to NYP. If the Three Rivers was late (in this case it would be the Crescent) one was often on the markers of the other. I even remember being aboard when the eastbound Three Rivers was held outside Altoona for the eastbound Pennsylvanian. The Three Rivers was supposed to be dispatched ahead of the Pennsylvanian - the later making more stops and being more of a "local train" - but when we were "nose to nose at Pittsburgh ready to depart," the Pennsylvanian was dispatched ahead while we waited another 10 minutes for it to get further down the line. Our dwell time aboard the Three Rivers was 30+ minutes.

I also noticed that 171/176 is carded for a Mon-Fri slot at present, or at least two timetables ago when NEC schedules were printed. I noticed it doesn't have a weekend running schedule. Is it supposed to - or just weekday? The train actually may have more riders towards the weekend as people look for weekend trips in this current economy.

At any rate, it's good to see the "extension" of this train to serve Lynchburg! It doesn't require any more coaches for Amtrak to operate - just an extra P42 diesel engine to handle the train south of Washington DC. Better utilization of equipment!

Hopefully the other Virginia trains traveling to Richmond will have similiar operations (extension of existing trains south of Washington DC to serve Richmond).
  by Matt Johnson
 
It's a step in the right direction! I'd really be interested in an extension to Roanoke, as that's something I could actually use. Is the line from Lynchburg to Roanoke capable of supporting passenger train speeds? Is there a facility in Roanoke that would make a suitable station?
  by SwingMan
 
Matt Johnson wrote:It's a step in the right direction! I'd really be interested in an extension to Roanoke, as that's something I could actually use. Is the line from Lynchburg to Roanoke capable of supporting passenger train speeds? Is there a facility in Roanoke that would make a suitable station?
From what I know, the tracks are good, but they would have to make a second set of equipment and build a station in Roanoke. For now its Greyhound (located above the Amtrak station),car rental (down the block),or nothing.
  by ejones
 
Matt Johnson wrote:It's a step in the right direction! I'd really be interested in an extension to Roanoke, as that's something I could actually use. Is the line from Lynchburg to Roanoke capable of supporting passenger train speeds? Is there a facility in Roanoke that would make a suitable station?
Living in Roanoke, I may be able to offer some helpful perspective, but others will have to fill in some of the blanks. The Lynchburg to Roanoke tracks appear to be maintained as you would expect NS to keep up an important main line. I do not know, however, if they can support passenger train speeds up to 79 mph. In any event, one stretch would certainly have slower speeds: the famous Blue Ridge Grade east of Roanoke. As for facilities, one would think that with two east-west lines and one north-south line converging in Roanoke and with a NS yard here, Amtrak would find the necessary facilities if it so chose. There have been some efforts in recent years to extend service to Bristol, but I do not get the sense they have made much headway. Here is the "Trans-Dominion Express" website. The former Roanoke passenger station, by the way, is now the O. Winston Link Museum, well worth a visit, but as for restoring passenger service there, there is little parking nearby, the tracks are well below street level, and I do not recall any easy access from street to trackside.
Last edited by ejones on Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by chefwrg
 
Wasn't there another passenger station in Roanoke? I seem to recall seeing pictures of it being rebuilt recently after a fire or it was just about falling down or something......
  by SwingMan
 
chefwrg wrote:Wasn't there another passenger station in Roanoke? I seem to recall seeing pictures of it being rebuilt recently after a fire or it was just about falling down or something......

I believe the station you are talking about was torn down.
  by ejones
 
chefwrg wrote:Wasn't there another passenger station in Roanoke? I seem to recall seeing pictures of it being rebuilt recently after a fire or it was just about falling down or something......
Hadn't thought of that. It's the former Virginian RR station, heavily damaged in a big fire more than eight years ago. There are efforts underway to restore it. Don't know if Amtrak trains could be conveniently routed into this station.
Last edited by ejones on Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by ejones
 
Matt Johnson wrote:What is this building?
That's the former N&W station, now the Link Museum. The fancy new art museum is at the top, and the Hotel Roanoke is to the right (this is the former N&W-owned hotel, across the street from company's former headquarters to the hotel's right.) The East End Shops that built the prized N&W steam engines is just out of the picture to the left. You can drag the photo for an excellent view. Returning to topic, Amtrak last served Roanoke in 1979 with The Hilltopper, which did use the the former station you have pictured. Here is the timetable, courtesy of Wikipedia. Note that The Hilltopper took a far more circuitous route to make its way across Virginia than anything being considered now.
  by Matt Johnson
 
ejones wrote:Here is the timetable, courtesy of Wikipedia. Note that The Hilltopper took a far more circuitous route to make its way across Virginia than anything being considered now.
Wow, thanks for the link! It's kind of weird to see Christiansburg/Blacksburg on an Amtrak schedule! Having rail service would've been nice when I was a student at Virginia Tech with no car. I'd really like to see Blacksburg connected via rail to the rest of civilization once again, but I'd settle for Roanoke, with a car rental place convenient to the station.
  by Ridgefielder
 
ejones wrote:
Matt Johnson wrote:What is this building?
That's the former N&W station, now the Link Museum. The fancy new art museum is at the top, and the Hotel Roanoke is to the right (this is the former N&W-owned hotel, across the street from company's former headquarters to the hotel's right.) The East End Shops that built the prized N&W steam engines is just out of the picture to the left. You can drag the photo for an excellent view. Returning to topic, Amtrak last served Roanoke in 1979 with The Hilltopper, which did use the the former station you have pictured. Here is the timetable, courtesy of Wikipedia. Note that The Hilltopper took a far more circuitous route to make its way across Virginia than anything being considered now.
Circuituous is an understatement! Was this one of those early-Amtrak routings designed mainly to satisfy some particularly powerful Congressman (a la "Harley's Hornet")? I can't imagine any other reason to run a train from Washington to Ashland, KY by way of Petersburg and Roanoke.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
The first N&W Amtrak train was named The Mountaineer Norfolk Cincinnati roundly on the schedule of The Pocahontas. That started during 1974. During 1977 that was replaced with the Wash-Cincinnati Hilltopper operating over the N&W Petersburg Cinci on roundly the Powhatan's Arrow's schedule.

Remember this was in addition to the various Harley's Hornet routings, as well as of course the surviving Cardinal. All of these were Daily once upon a time.

Suffice to say, service through Appalachia has been "rationalized" over the years.
  by afiggatt
 
chefwrg wrote:In this morning's Times Dispatch, looks like they're going to try and do the Acca Yard Bypass:
Reading the article, the Acca Yard bypass is $90 to $100 million of the total project application / projected cost of $590 million. The rest of the project includes new platforms at the Main Street station and rail improvements for the Richmond metropolitan area "from Acca Yard to Centralia to the south, and reaching to Varina to the east." Doing some searching, Varina appears to be around the Richmond airport? Are there plans to add a station at the Richmond airport? Which would make sense.

There was a recent VRE oriented press release that VA will be submitting a $72 million application for the $8B HSR stimulus money to add a 3rd track from Powell's Creek in Dumfries down to Stafford county. A news article which is mainly a rewrite of the press release can be found at: http://www2.insidenova.com/isn/news/loc ... ins/41172/. The overall VRPT plan appears to be add a 3rd track working south from northern VA in segments eventually getting most of the way down to Richmond. While the article is about VRE running higher speed express trains, once there is a 3rd track down to Fredericksburg with the tracks upgraded to 90 mph or maybe 110 mph, it would obviously help speed up Amtrak Regional and LD trains. With so many states clambering for a piece of the $8 billion dollar pie, Virginia is not going to get anywhere near all they want, but by submitting smaller parts of a bigger project, they might get funding for adding another segment of 3rd track and the Acca Yard bypass as fixing major bottlenecks while waiting for more HSR & intercity rail funds to be made available in the next 6 year federal transportation bill.
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