Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

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Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:18 pm

Mr. ExCon, go to the Nightjet page where they have maps on how to get to their auto carriage ramps.

Apparently, passengers load their autos themselves (don't even THINK about that, Amtrak) over there and sre accommodated in whatever line space they choose to spring for.

Once again, on Nightjet, the auto routes are quite limited and are only end to end. For example, one of the auto carriage lines is Feldkirch-Vienna. There are no intermediate stops, such as Landeck (gateway to the Austrian Tyrol) or Salzburg.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:22 pm

Referencing my earlier route proposals, La Junta to Albuquerque by auto (Mr. Google behind the wheel) takes 4'45"; Chief takes 7'25. In short, if someone was of mind to make a same day continuation from ABQ, they could.

In short why should Amtrak burn up their gas over a stiff mountain pass when the auto owner gives it no thought whatsoever.

Victorville? Once again, why burn up Amtrak's gas to go over Cajon? More to the point, the entire "LA Basin" can be accessed without any "backtracking".
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.

ExCon90
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by ExCon90 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:28 pm

It was the Vienna diagram which prompted my question; it looks like there's a bit of hike involved to get from where they drop their car to the passenger platform, especially carrying any hand baggage they may want with them on the train, plus an umbrella if it's raining. And offhand I can't think of locations in the US within anything like walking distance of the passenger station--certainly not in Chicago.

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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by mtuandrew » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:21 pm

Nah, anyone who chooses to ship their car by stand-alone freight train and then take Amtrak from another location would have to be driven between the two. I don’t think Amtrak would be able to quickly transfer cars between a remote yard and a station even within five miles, not without unduly delaying the passenger train, and no self-respecting freight line would allow Amtrak to run its own autorack-only freight trains (as opposed to the mixed Auto Train) over their lines.

electricron
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by electricron » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:33 pm

mtuandrew wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:17 pm
A few criteria we need to meet, to run another Amtrak-style auto train service:
-autorack clearance on the route, which means...
-a few spare Superliner trainsets with which to start service, as well as a lot of Amtrak-pattern autoracks
-something like the NEC-Florida market with multiple metro areas within 4 hours drive on either end

Only additional ones that come to mind, to me, are NEC-Chicagoland, Chicagoland-Texas, and Chicagoland-California. Mr. Norman’s Victorville suggestion isn’t a bad idea at all.

As for Chicago, I found what I feel is a very good locale to serve the region effectively: BRC 87th Street Yard. Immediately off I-94, more or less unused and vacant, on a jointly-owned terminal railway, central to the suburbs (though slightly less convenient to points north), and right behind a shopping complex with many name-brand stores. (Amtrak would need to provide very good security of course, south side Chicago does still have high burglary rates.) But, that site could serve trains going in any direction.
The only one of your suggested routes that the train can do in 17.5 to 18 hours is Chicagoland to the NEC. It’s 959 rail miles and 18-19 hours using the Lake Shore Limited route and 780 rail miles and 16-17 hours using the Capital Limited route. Do people from either city spend an entire season, especially winter, in the other?

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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by mtuandrew » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:39 pm

Doubtful that they spend an entire season in one or the other cool-to-cold locales. However, another market is the “want to drive on either end, not in the middle” crowd, especially in inclement weather along I-80/90. I think there’s a fair number of people who would prefer their own car regardless of the extra cost implicit in loading it on a train.

As for other routes, they may need extra trainsets and have routes longer than 24 hours. I’m not sure there isn’t a market for that either.

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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by John_Perkowski » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:15 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:51 am
Gilbert B Norman wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:57 pm
They went bust, Mr. SRY. How is the business model any different today?
There’s a larger population and thus more potential riders in certain areas.

Plus interest rates are far lower, and obtaining capital is easier.
Auto Train Inc was able to buy a fleet of well maintained, relatively young domes and sleepers from the Union Pacific and the Santa Fe at relatively inexpensive prices. Today, a new startup would have to buy brand new rolling stock.

Also, the cost of capital is low, but the volume of capital needed is large.

As an investor, this looks like a fools errand to me.
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east point
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by east point » Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:06 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:17 pm
If we're talking about a blank-slate new service I think it's a mistake to assume it would use off-the-shelf auto racks, for what it's worth.
Can someone tell us if present auto racks are limited to 70 MPH speeds? Also auto racks on present trains has the problem of braking systems. Present Auto Train uses freight style braking. It would cause all sorts of problems to need to switch passenger cars to freight and back when they are not pulling auto racks/.r
1

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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by John_Perkowski » Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:06 pm

Present auto racks on freight railroads are freight cars. On FRA Class 4 track they can run at 60 MPH. On FRA Class 5 track the limit increases to 80 MPH.
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mtuandrew
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by mtuandrew » Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:38 pm

John_Perkowski wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:06 pm
Present auto racks on freight railroads are freight cars. On FRA Class 4 track they can run at 60 MPH. On FRA Class 5 track the limit increases to 80 MPH.
One wonders whether Amtrak could order a version that the FRA could qualify as a “baggage car”, substantially similar to a normal auto rack above the frame but riding on GSC-70 trucks and equipped for both HEP pass-through and graduated braking. That kind of car would theoretically be good for 80 mph on Class 4 track, and up to whatever speed Amtrak wanted to certify them for on higher-speed lines.

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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by AgentSkelly » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:45 pm

I’ve mentioned elsewhere I think there is merit to an East-West AutoTrain; I know I suggested Chicago area eastern terminal but perhaps St Louis might be the better option. I’m going with an Las Vegas western terminal so that it can both serve California and Arizona hotspots. Another educated guess could be Sacramento.

However, west coast snowbirds are a different breed than your typical New York/Florida ones, so a 2nd AutoTrain study might be in order. My experience is that west coast snowbirds are more forgiving with distances so the single overnight concept on the Florida train might not apply.


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ThirdRail7
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by ThirdRail7 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:24 am

mtuandrew wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:38 pm
John_Perkowski wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:06 pm
Present auto racks on freight railroads are freight cars. On FRA Class 4 track they can run at 60 MPH. On FRA Class 5 track the limit increases to 80 MPH.
One wonders whether Amtrak could order a version that the FRA could qualify as a “baggage car”, substantially similar to a normal auto rack above the frame but riding on GSC-70 trucks and equipped for both HEP pass-through and graduated braking. That kind of car would theoretically be good for 80 mph on Class 4 track, and up to whatever speed Amtrak wanted to certify them for on higher-speed lines.
The current Amtrak cars are limited to 70mph. However, if anyone remembers the Amtrak box cars (not the MHCs), they were modified to operate at 90mph. I suppose it would be possible for 90mph trucks on auto carriers, assuming the actual car could handle it.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:26 am

ThirdRail7 wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:24 am
. I suppose it would be possible for 90mph trucks on auto carriers, assuming the actual car could handle it.
Not with MY AUTO aboard will they!

During some of my "voyages", I have been laying awake thinking "can't they slow down a little bit"?

Oh BTW, a "Voyage 25" next year has not been ruled out; especially if it's to be after the "amenity introduction" and without the fare "pushing my obscenity button".

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Re: Revisiting the

Post by STrRedWolf » Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:28 pm

AgentSkelly wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:45 pm
I’ve mentioned elsewhere I think there is merit to an East-West AutoTrain; I know I suggested Chicago area eastern terminal but perhaps St Louis might be the better option. I’m going with an Las Vegas western terminal so that it can both serve California and Arizona hotspots. Another educated guess could be Sacramento.

However, west coast snowbirds are a different breed than your typical New York/Florida ones, so a 2nd AutoTrain study might be in order. My experience is that west coast snowbirds are more forgiving with distances so the single overnight concept on the Florida train might not apply.
I can see St. Louis being a "middle terminal" for East/West from Las Vegas and from ether DC or Baltimore... but it looks like you'll need to build up infrastructure no matter what (even to reuse Lorton to follow the Cardnial route).
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Re: Revisiting the "more auto train" idea

Post by Paul1705 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:03 pm

Just wondering - Amtrak's Auto Train needs a subsidy, does it not? Would it be possible to make it or other routes profitable? If not, what public purpose does it serve? Does it or other potential routes take a significant number of autos off the highways?

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