• 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 Tadman
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:02 pm
Tadman wrote: Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:15 am Keep in mind that the point of this thread is to solve a serious problem that occurs in a space from 10 miles out to downtown. This problem will never be solved otherwise. We can address station crowding, connections, mass transit, et al... but none will fix the main problem unless the trains go back to their natural stations.
You may see it as THE MAIN PROBLEM, but I see it as PART of the MAIN PROBLEM. Moving back to separate terminals is all fine and dandy, but people need to get to those terminals, or else they get into their cars... and you end up wasting money on a failed solution that makes train travel much worse.

Which is what we're telling you. You must look at the bigger picture.
No. I am the original poster. The main idea of the thread is fixing the problems associated with forced bad ideas in the metro areas of larger terminal cities. If you want to discuss something else, start your own thread.

On a side note, as a 15 year resident of Chicago and frequent traveler to New York and Boston, I can firmly tell you that when traveling from outside 5-8 blocks distance from one specific terminal, the average travel time is the same whether its BOS or BON; NYS or NYG; CUS or Randolph or LaSalle.
STrRedWolf wrote: Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:02 pm Out of your plans, ask yourself these:
  • Do the natural stations still exist and can fully service/restock the trains?
  • Can the trains get to those stations with minimal handoffs?
  • Can people actually get to those stations easily without a car or bus?
  • Can people get from one station to another easily without a car or bus?
Yes, Yes, yes. Remember - it works just fine in Boston to do all this.
STrRedWolf wrote: Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:02 pm You're aiming to spend a lot of money, but the less you spend and the more "bang for your buck" you get, the better it is for the long haul -- but don't cut it all the way down to "oh, just run everything into CUS, it'll be fine" ($0 of course).
I'm looking to spend virtually no money. The goal is to send trains back to their normal terminals not to build anything new. Less running time. Less unplanned delays. More customers. That's a net positive.
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:40 pm So to recap, it sounds like Chicago Union Station needs

1) much more flow-through capacity (not a fleet of 20-car platforms, sorry west point)
2) a dedicated passenger-friendly approach from the south and east (probably but not necessarily government-owned), like those from the north and west (which split the difference between government and corporate ownership without apparent operational issue)


and more controversially

3) shared ownership and control of CUS between Amtrak and Metra
Shared ownership is tough. You either have a majority and minority partner, where the minority partner basically has the rights of a non-owner, or you have 50/50 partners and deadlock whenever they are opposed. Talk to your attorney, they will heavily advise you not to sign up for a 50/50 business. It's one of those basics they teach in law school as an awful idea.

The concept of flow-through is also not that great, as no trains flow through other than (3) Metra/day and 1 LD/day. The Hi's stay on the north end until one needs shopped. 95% of Metra trains go to a shop on their respective side, whether BN on the south side or MILW on the north side. Three Metra Heritage trains have been assigned to MILW for one reason or another.

And the concept of a dedicated passenger approach is interesting but tough as well. There are two routes in that have extra space - ex-NYC/PRR and e-IC. It still doesn't solve the problem of where the new Rockford or Quad Cities trains go. It still doesn't get IC trains to a terminal any sooner to put them on dedicated ROW. CN is pretty quiet north of Markham and has four tracks at some points.

It just keeps going back to the original problem:
1. There are unplanned delays due to backups and handoffs every day.
2. There is extra running time scheduled due to bypass and work-arounds necessary to get those trains into a bad terminal.

No joke, I have been on the CofNO when backing out of CUS and somehow a brake hose popped and the whole train came to a halt half way from CUS to Union Avenue interlocker. Now the crew has to get out and walk the train that is blocking CUS approach. That is a bad unforced error.
  by mtuandrew
 
Tadman wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:27 amShared ownership is tough. You either have a majority and minority partner, where the minority partner basically has the rights of a non-owner, or you have 50/50 partners and deadlock whenever they are opposed. Talk to your attorney, they will heavily advise you not to sign up for a 50/50 business. It's one of those basics they teach in law school as an awful idea.
I should have phrased that as “joint control” like PSCC, shared between Amtrak and MTA. A jointly-owned Chicago Union Station Company, Inc. would be wise though, even if split 51/49 - gives Chicago and the region some skin in the development and station accessibility.
The concept of flow-through is also not that great, as no trains flow through other than (3) Metra/day and 1 LD/day. The Hi's stay on the north end until one needs shopped. 95% of Metra trains go to a shop on their respective side, whether BN on the south side or MILW on the north side. Three Metra Heritage trains have been assigned to MILW for one reason or another.
But why can’t they flow through? It’s outdated thinking to only keep BNSF trains on their playground, MD trains on theirs, UP trains on theirs, RID trains on theirs...
And the concept of a dedicated passenger approach is interesting but tough as well. There are two routes in that have extra space - ex-NYC/PRR and e-IC. It still doesn't solve the problem of where the new Rockford or Quad Cities trains go. It still doesn't get IC trains to a terminal any sooner to put them on dedicated ROW. CN is pretty quiet north of Markham and has four tracks at some points.
I wish Amtrak and CN would just play ball with each other on using the ex-CCP route all the way to Dubuque too, it’s also quiet inside the EJ&E Beltway.
It just keeps going back to the original problem:
1. There are unplanned delays due to backups and handoffs every day.
2. There is extra running time scheduled due to bypass and work-arounds necessary to get those trains into a bad terminal.

No joke, I have been on the CofNO when backing out of CUS and somehow a brake hose popped and the whole train came to a halt half way from CUS to Union Avenue interlocker. Now the crew has to get out and walk the train that is blocking CUS approach. That is a bad unforced error.
Your story could take place on a Crescent out of Hoboken, a Lincoln Service out of LaSalle, a Hiawatha from Ogilvie, or an Empire Builder northbound from Target Field. The common denominator is that Amtrak needs investment, not that other roads need to dilute Amtrak’s problems.
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:19 am The main idea of the thread is fixing the problems associated with forced bad ideas in the metro areas of larger terminal cities.
By forcing different bad ideas?
Tadman wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:19 am I'm looking to spend virtually no money. The goal is to send trains back to their normal terminals not to build anything new. Less running time. Less unplanned delays. More customers. That's a net positive.
How does a Michigan Service train get to LaSalle Station? Cut through the yard where they are loading intermodal trains? With no connection at Englewood you would need to build one. "Not build anything new."

How does a CN-IC train get to Van Buren? You have claimed it would take "a couple of switches" (so much for not build anything new). Two switches at 27th St would mean running against the current of traffic.
The closest existing interlockings would be at 67th St ... eight miles from Millennium station. Move one crossover on the CN-IC and put your two switches there to connect the two railroads (eight miles under wire with conflicts with MED and NICTD trains). The closest no build option would be 115th St 14.5 miles away with 6.5 miles of running against the current of traffic.

How far can you get in three hours? The run to Milwaukee is 90 minutes - does that need to leave CUS? 3, 5, 381 and 383 on BNSF serve Galesburg around 2:40 away from Chicago. No major cities would be gained by leaving CUS. 21, 301, 303, 305 and 307 serve Bloomington around 2:15 away from Chicago. No major cities would be gained by leaving CUS. The CN-IC trains (59, 391 and 393) serve Champaign around 2:10-2:30 from Chicago. No major cities would be gained by leaving CUS.

I agree with spending zero dollars on your plan.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Tadman wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:19 am On a side note, as a 15 year resident of Chicago and frequent traveler to New York and Boston, I can firmly tell you that when traveling from outside 5-8 blocks distance from one specific terminal, the average travel time is the same whether its BOS or BON; NYS or NYG; CUS or Randolph or LaSalle.
You're a native. I'm not -- I'm from Baltimore. In Chicago I'd be a tourist (and did so twice).

That said, there's a difference. Boston North/South stations have a subway connection right at the station. The same for NYP to NYG. CUS? No, walk a few blocks south. Ogilvie (Randolph)? No, walk a few blocks north or cross the river and walk a few blocks east. LaSalle is the only one with a subway right at the station.

Average speed of a human is 3-4 MPH. Subways are at least 5 times faster.

Let me put it this way: I can take grabbing a Regional from BWI to Boston South Station, then two subways to get to North Station and grab a DownEaster. I can take a Regional up to NYC, take two subways, and then the next Empire service to Albany (when they ran to Grand Central). But taking a Capitol Limited up to LaSalle or even Millenium in the dead of winter, then having to walk several blocks with bags in tow, freezing my ass off in Chicago weather, just to make a connection to the Empire Builder to spend a holiday with a friend? No, I did that with my first trip up there for Midwest Furfest near O'Hare, flying in on Southwest to Midway. It was damn cold getting that train at Rosemont on the way back, and I was bundled up like Nanook of the North!
Yes, Yes, yes. Remember - it works just fine in Boston to do all this.
...
I'm looking to spend virtually no money. The goal is to send trains back to their normal terminals not to build anything new. Less running time. Less unplanned delays. More customers. That's a net positive.
And my point is "You're building something new." You need connections between the terminals. Boston has 'em. NYC has 'em. Chicago doesn't have 'em.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 12:48 pm
Tadman wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:27 am.... It still doesn't solve the problem of where the new Rockford or Quad Cities trains go. It still doesn't get IC trains to a terminal any sooner to put them on dedicated ROW. CN is pretty quiet north of Markham and has four tracks at some points.
I wish Amtrak and CN would just play ball with each other on using the ex-CCP route all the way to Dubuque too, it’s also quiet inside the EJ&E Beltway.
What's the big problem should the Black Hawk be restored over the IC as Illinois DOT wants to do?

Having ridden the Black Hawk (fortifying my distaste of RDC's), leaving CUS, it simply makes like the G,M&O to where it interchanges with the IC at Ashland Ave, then its off to Elmhurst (Amshack @ York Rd) then Rockford.

That was the same route taken during '72 by Amtrsk/IC trains before Amtrak was granted access to the SCAL. Talk about a backup, that was some three miles.
  by Anthony
 
Canadian National Railway didn't play nice during the two years of track access negotiations with IDOT, so the state switched to the Metra/UP route. Service to Dubuque won't happen until CN is willing to play nice, as they're the only route west of Rockford.
Last edited by GirlOnTheTrain on Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Nesting quotes are baaaaaaaad.
  by Tadman
 
justalurker66 wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 4:13 pm
Tadman wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:19 am The main idea of the thread is fixing the problems associated with forced bad ideas in the metro areas of larger terminal cities.
By forcing different bad ideas?
They're bad ideas in your head. The fact is (and we cannot dispute facts, for they are Euclidean points) that the original routes were shorter. The fact is that the original routes worked for 70+ years. The fact is that there are daily documented problems with the current and new routes. The fact is that you have offered absolutely no data or evidence to show that the original routings won't work. At this point you are a railfan with a beef, which is where you have been in past arguments.
  by justalurker66
 
Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:55 pm They're bad ideas in your head. The fact is (and we cannot dispute facts, for they are Euclidean points) that the original routes were shorter. The fact is that the original routes worked for 70+ years. The fact is that there are daily documented problems with the current and new routes. The fact is that you have offered absolutely no data or evidence to show that the original routings won't work. At this point you are a railfan with a beef, which is where you have been in past arguments.
And you once again try to argue with insults. Please, cut it out.

The original routings don't work because they no longer exist. Stations are gone. Connections are gone. Tracks are gone. As the proponent of change it up to YOU to prove that your plan will work better than the current services. You have failed to do so. You have made claims that these would be "no build" solutions yet it has been pointed out building is required. You have yet to prove your proposal is worth another word of discussion. The onus is on you.
  by mtuandrew
 
Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:55 pmAt this point you are a railfan with a beef, which is where you have been in past arguments.
Tad, you literally started this thread because of a beef against Amtrak’s operational pattern (I’ll save you the citations about Carbondale service), and since you aren’t in the industry, you are in fact also a railfan. :P

Also, a great deal has changed in the last 50 years as justalurker points out. What worked for 70+ years doesn’t necessarily work anymore. Even if your proposal has some positives (yes, it’s potentially faster point-to-point for some trains to terminate at Millennium) the cold fact is that Amtrak is the player and Union Station is the arena for regional and LD traffic. Your no-build solution is to have Amtrak explicitly offer Boston-Back Bay type transfers at Homewood and Joliet; travelers can decide if they’d rather have the convenience of a one-seat ride downtown or the speed of a Metra train to a different terminus.
  by justalurker66
 
Amtrak Saluki/Illini CUS to Homewood 41 minutes, CoNO 49 minutes.
Amtrak Homewood to CUS padded to 76/78 minutes or 91 minutes.
Metra Homewood to Millennium Station 45-53 minutes.
Actual travel time is fairly close - the padding makes the comparison difficult.

Amtrak CUS to Joliet about 50 minutes. Joliet to CUS padded to 61-68 minutes.
Metra Joliet to LaSalle 70-89 minutes. Joliet to CUS 67 minutes.

The intermediate stations on Metra seem to be the biggest benefit.
  by Tadman
 
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:46 pm
Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:55 pm They're bad ideas in your head. The fact is (and we cannot dispute facts, for they are Euclidean points) that the original routes were shorter. The fact is that the original routes worked for 70+ years. The fact is that there are daily documented problems with the current and new routes. The fact is that you have offered absolutely no data or evidence to show that the original routings won't work. At this point you are a railfan with a beef, which is where you have been in past arguments.
And you once again try to argue with insults. Please, cut it out.
How would you describe yourself? Do you have any business at or with the railroad? Have you provided any evidence? No.
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:46 pm The original routings don't work because they no longer exist. .... The onus is on you.
Dude... Roosevelt Road is there. So is LaSalle. That's the focus. It's there, it works, it sees thousands of passengers per day.
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:44 pm
Tadman wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:55 pmAt this point you are a railfan with a beef, which is where you have been in past arguments.
Tad, you literally started this thread because of a beef against Amtrak’s operational pattern (I’ll save you the citations about Carbondale service), and since you aren’t in the industry, you are in fact also a railfan. :P
I'm actually a contractor to the railroad and have sold them capital equipment. I have safety credentials to go into places most can't. I have negotiated contracts with Amtrak. I see how the sausage is made from the inside out. I am a fan, but I also get paid to deal with them. When I make statements like this, it's not just "I like trainz and I think we should make em go faster and connect the dotz and have more dinerzzzz!!!".
mtuandrew wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:44 pm Also, a great deal has changed in the last 50 years as justalurker points out. What worked for 70+ years doesn’t necessarily work anymore.
Right. So why are we trying to have one united station when that idea failed? Why are we trying to right the ship by having the best 1971 railroad out there? Right now the empirical evidence shows that cities with truly good regional and commuter service do not have nor plan to have one central terminal, and many are building more stations rather than less.

mtuandrew wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:44 pm Even if your proposal has some positives (yes, it’s potentially faster point-to-point for some trains to terminate at Millennium) the cold fact is that Amtrak is the player and Union Station is the arena for regional and LD traffic. Your no-build solution is to have Amtrak explicitly offer Boston-Back Bay type transfers at Homewood and Joliet; travelers can decide if they’d rather have the convenience of a one-seat ride downtown or the speed of a Metra train to a different terminus.
I have no idea where the idea of transfers at Homewood or Back Bay or Joliet came up. I'm not for it and have never said that. Lurker kept saying something about Portage, too. That's not part of this.
  by mtuandrew
 
Let me rephrase: all of the solutions you’ve proposed involve building something, even as minimal as a QuikTrak or signage. If you’re truly committed to building nothing yet improving customer transit times into Chicago from the south, I don’t see a better option than to recommend customers transfer at Homewood. The other Chicago lines either don’t have the problem of delays, are just as slow as the equivalent Metra, or don’t have a direct transfer point.

Also, I used to sell coffee to an Amtrak conductor every morning - does that mean I’m in the industry too? :P
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:10 am Let me rephrase: all of the solutions you’ve proposed involve building something, even as minimal as a QuikTrak or signage. If you’re truly committed to building nothing yet improving customer transit times into Chicago from the south,
The alternatives are this: (1) go back to original routes, spend $10m on switches. (2) keep up the incompentency. (3) talk about building a billion dollar feature to improve access to union station like a middle schooler talks about sex, maybe it happens some day, questionable impact because we're still handing off too many trains.
mtuandrew wrote: Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:10 am Also, I used to sell coffee to an Amtrak conductor every morning - does that mean I’m in the industry too? :P
I know this is an attempt at levity, but the closer one gets to the sausage factory, the more they know about making sausage. You certainly know more than the coffee guy at JFK, who probably knows more about Delta than you do. What I'm trying to say here is that when you've done a few deals with a company, you understand the culture and values, how the people work, how the company plans for the future and spends money. It's not a casual observer.
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