• North Coast Hiawatha Study

  • 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 east point
 
If a NCH went the river route CHI - MSP then a second EB route MSP - CHI becomes very important giving 3 RTs MSP - CHI
  by gokeefe
 
Which would destroy the value of a high frequency corridor. There's a far better case to be made for a second frequency of the Empire Builder than there is for spending $1B on a resurrection of the North Coast Hiawatha. Amtrak would do just fine with a rebirth of the Western Star.
  by eolesen
 
There's no redeeming value in a new CHI-MSP frequency that doesn't mirror the EB's routing.
  by Rockingham Racer
 
gokeefe wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:02 pm Which would destroy the value of a high frequency corridor. There's a far better case to be made for a second frequency of the Empire Builder than there is for spending $1B on a resurrection of the North Coast Hiawatha. Amtrak would do just fine with a rebirth of the Western Star.
THe Western Star did not follow the current route either. It missed Milwaukee, and west of St. Paul, ran to Fargo via Willmar and Moorhead.
  by bill613A
 
The pre-Amtrak EMPIRE BUILDER didn't serve Milwaukee either
  by gokeefe
 
Thank you for the reminder on routing. For the purposes of this discussion I would suggest a second frequency to be named the Western Star which would run on a complementary schedule to the Empire Builder using the current route.

While in the grand scheme of things it may not matter I think using anything associated with the NP or the MILW would be a mistake for a name as it might accidentally imply (however vaguely) a routing other than the current one.

If there was ever a service improvement in Montana in 2020 that was worthy of consideration this would be the one. The Atlantic Coast Service is a really good example of why this could work.
  by Arborwayfan
 
I can't help wondering the method, they choose, to come up with the $400,000 figure.
If 400 tourists took the train to Cut Bank and spent $1000 each? I'd think People for Glacier Park would go to Glacier, but maybe there's hunting, dude ranches if such things exist any more, that kind of attraction -- something kind of expensive.
  by mtuandrew
 
My thoughts: if there is to be a new North Coast Hiawatha or Western Star or Mainstreeter or whatever, I suggest it pick either Portland or Seattle as a destination - perhaps Seattle via Portland. No bothering to switch out cars.
  by ryanch
 
eolesen wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:11 am There's no redeeming value in a new CHI-MSP frequency that doesn't mirror the EB's routing.
While I see greater value in 2/day via Milwaukee, and somewhat greater value in providing 2/day to the other WI cites on the route, I think as the east coast LDs show, there can be value in serving a different set of smaller towns while adding 2/day to the main termini. If this came down to no slots to Milwaukee because of Glenview/Lake Forest intransigence, and the freights to Dubuque and north were willing ...

Seems unlikely.
  by gokeefe
 
I would agree that shifting between routes in Wisconsin and Illinois could be fine. This would be especially true on routes also served by Metra.

On the other hand this proposition doesn't hold true at all in Montana.

Has corridor service on ex-NP in Montana ever been considered? Perhaps end points of Fargo, ND and Sandpoint, ID to connect with the Empire Builder? Not sure how long that run takes by train. I'm assuming 12 hours (or more).
  by mtuandrew
 
gokeefe wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:58 pmHas corridor service on ex-NP in Montana ever been considered? Perhaps end points of Fargo, ND and Sandpoint, ID to connect with the Empire Builder? Not sure how long that run takes by train. I'm assuming 12 hours (or more).
Actually, the Empire Builder takes 24 hours Fargo-Spokane (but only 22 1/2 hours FAR-Sandpoint lol.) I expect the North Coast Hiawatha would be similar,
  by Station Aficionado
 
FWIW, the ex-NP across southern Montana and North Dakota has been hosted a lot of coal traffic coming out of the Powder River Basin. That traffic is in decline, and the decline is likely to continue. That could open more space for passenger service.

On the eastern end, I’d concentrate trains on the Milwaukee routing—spread the fix costs over more trains. On the west end, I’d favor keeping both Seattle and Portland sections, especially if it calls at Spokane in daylight hours.

Finally, I’d go full old school on the name—North Coast Ltd.

All that said, will only happen if Congress orders it (but I do see it as the best of the LD-expansion ideas).
  by gokeefe
 
Station Aficionado wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:28 pmAll that said, will only happen if Congress orders it (but I do see it as the best of the LD-expansion ideas).
I think a return of the Silver Palm is more compelling especially if it can run via the FEC or if it improves performance for Amtrak in Florida through other means.

Extension of the Silver Meteor to Boston is also attractive or a return of the New England States as a separate train from the Lake Shore Limited. New England States could serve Cleveland (and the rest of Ohio) during daytime hours which would be a huge step forward.

None of these options require a $1B investment plan.

If I were going to choose a plan for areas without servuce currently it would be the Gulf Coast proposal, the Heartland Flyer extension through Wichita or a number of other proposals which are not public.
  by east point
 
The Empire Builder weather problem this week over the Cascades points out a capacity problem Spokane - Seattle. Would propose that both the Columbia River route of 27 - 28 and Stampede pass route needs more capacity of more 2 main tracks and more sidings. That would provide good overflow capacity for when the Cascade tunnel route gets blocked as has happened the past couple days. Then a second train over the north route will become more attractive. No Builders until 48 hours have passed with no more slides on the Cascade route.. l
  by Westernstar1
 
I would like to see a 2nd Empire Builder from Chicago to the Twin Cities. Or, is it Chicago to St. Cloud?

Thanks, dgvrengineer, for mentioning the travel time from Miles City to Spokane for the North Coast Limited. A 10:45 PM arrival time for Spokane seems quite late.

Here is an article, from back in October, regarding the interest in a passenger train through central Montana:

https://www.missoulacurrent.com/busines ... l-service/

The cost estimates are from 2010, but they don't seem all that exorbitant.

If a Billings to Spokane passenger train could arrive into Spokane at a reasonable time, I think it would be very popular. Plenty of great recreational areas within driving distance of Spokane. Or, dittos for an eastbound Cascades train from Seattle to Spokane.

Didn't the Western Star once travel to Great Falls, MT?

WS

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