• 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 mtuandrew
Most likely ARL will get their act together before ALX, for many reasons including larger influxes of cash, high unmet demand for a better transit hub, and a more progressive attitude re: mass transit. I don’t see Amtrak *moving* out of Alexandria Union ever, but the Arlington Crystal City stop does seem like a no-brainer for Amtrak to use with both Regional and LD trains. (Think of the easy connections to RVR and RGH!)
  by BAR
Any information on the upcoming time change for the morning Northeast regional train northbound from Newport News? New time being shown at Williamsburg is 5:40 AM compared to the current 9:25 AM.
  by Matt Johnson
BAR wrote:Any information on the upcoming time change for the morning Northeast regional train northbound from Newport News? New time being shown at Williamsburg is 5:40 AM compared to the current 9:25 AM.
Wow, glad it ran at a more convenient time when I was at William & Mary. That switch would definitely have made my travels a little more painful!
  by BAR
As a frequent Amtrak passenger entraining at Williamsburg the inconvenience is what I am concerned about.
  by Arlington
back on page 15 of this thread....
Arlington wrote: ...
Do click on the link for a current-vs-improved schedule comparison
http://drpt.virginia.gov/media/2687/hr- ... ekends.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It shows that NFK & NPN are swapping their evening southbound returns, moving NFK's earlier so that NFK can also get the latest evening return to the metro area.

In a nutshell, NFK gets a super business-oriented schedule
Northbound Dp = 615a & 900a
Southbound Ar = 7:00p & 1030p (1.5 hrs earlier and 2.0h later that the current 8:30)

And NPN gets a "get to the Pentagon and back" timing on its train that isn't the NEC night train
Northbound Dp= 5:20a (3.7hrs earlier) & 455p (the night train)
Southbound Ar= 11:30am (the night train) & 8:20pm (the commuter return train that NFK currently gets)
Basically, business travel and business scheduling are now primary, and I would presume the student &leisure market is going to have to accept that.
  by njtmnrrbuff
I agree that that that 5:20 departure from NPN and 5:40 departure from Williamsburg is very early, but unfortunately, there are plenty of people who live in and around Williamsburg and Newport News who might work a few days a week in an office in Northern Virginia and DC. Those people will benefit greatly from the very first northbound NE Regional Departure being moved up on weekdays. As for the last southbound departure from DC to NPN, it's not too bad. The downside is though that if you have to be at a meeting for eight hours in DC, then the train wouldn't be a good option if traveling from NPN or Williamsburg. Eventually, it would be nice for Virginia to let Amtrak run a third daily trip to Newport News. For the tourist who wants to take a mid week trip to Busch Gardens from NJ, you will want to get up very early. On the weekend, you could sleep in a bit though.

As for Norfolk, I agree with the times pretty much. For the business traveler who might have a long meeting at an office in Northern VA or DC, the times are good for you. If you plan to put in eight hours in an office though in Northern VA or DC, then that won't work out.

General comments about both the proposed changes combined, if you are starting your trip below the Hampton Roads body of water, you will be better off taking the train out of Norfolk. If you are starting your trip northeast of the Hampton Roads, then NPN is where you would pick the train up.
  by dgvrengineer
Virginia runs bus service from Norfolk to Newport News and vise versa. I have used this service and find it very convenient. It runs station to station with no other stops in between. So using this service, both Norfolk and Newport News have 4 times daily service. Williamsburg is the only station with a significant schedule impact. I have no idea how many people from north of Richmond use Amtrak to visit Williamsburg, but the new schedule is ideal for a day trip to the park or Busch Gardens from cities to the north.
  by BAR

Thanks for the reference to page 15. I missed it when first posted.

  by njtmnrrbuff
Yes, if you live in DC or northern Virginia, then you can make a daytrip to Williamsburg but unfortunately, it looks like you might have a little less time at Busch Gardens than you do right now. In general, the train schedule has always permitted people to make daytrips from DC and Northern VA to Williamsburg, Newport News, and Norfolk. In 2009, while visiting friends in the DC area, I took a daytrip to Norfolk by way of 67 to NPN from ALX and then I took 66 back to ALX.
  by Arlington
BAR wrote:Thanks for the reference to page 15.
You are most welcome. I'm sorry that W&M is losing its "comfortable" northbound departure slot, but I have to say that it was something of a minority in the whole south-of-DC network University markets where for every 9am that seems perfect, there seem to be two 6ams* where the real purpose was to create scheduled good for the "supercommuter" trying to get to WAS

LYH = 6am & 7:40am (and Blacksburg about 1:30 earlier than that)
CVS = 7am & 9:am (one of the better)
CLT = 1:46am & 6:45am
RGH = 9am & 10am (also very "civilized")

As also noted (someplace upthread) my goal would be to have a 5am or 6am start from all of these, with the goal being that, given a simultaneous start from staggered locations, they'd effectively (1) deliver service every two hours through Richmond and Charlottesville and (2) beat the local rush hour(s)

*which is funny that it feels that way, since obviously and technically, it is the opposite: every 6am start also makes a 9am somewhere, but every 9am start did not make a 6am.
  by Tadman
I've shuttled between NPN, Richmond, and DC perhaps 10 times in the last few years. One thing that bugs me is the "must run the corridor" mentality. That means the NPN-Richmond and Richmond-DC markets, with their own needs, are subsidiary to the DC-NYP-Boston market. Because all of the Richmond and NPN trains come out of Boston or New York, any problems at one end of the line ripple through the rest of the system. For example, a train delayed due to problem with North River tunnels, NJT, or LIRR will be really late into DC, miss its slot on CSX, and be tragically late into NPN. Same thing in reverse - a train late due to a coal train in the tidewater is going to really screw up NJT when it shows up hours late, at rush hour, when track is at capacity or more already.

I've always like the idea of hourly coach trains between DC and Richmond, and Richmond to NPN. If one train is late, the passengers cool their heels and squish into the next hourly train at a connector point like DC or Richmond. That way, the delay effect does not ripple through the system and passengers in distant markets are not inconvenienced. You also can provide for NPN service adjunct to Silver trains and Carolina trains, which cannot run directly to NPN because they run to their own southerly destinations.

You also have the ability to shorten time at DC. The current motor change takes like 45+ minutes. If the NYP-DC train met a Richmond train cross-platform, you could do the transfer in 10 minutes. This also gives turnaround time for consists to be cleaned and provisioned more often. A consist that travels NPN-Boston can only be cleaned once a day, leading to foul conditions. A set that ping-pongs Richmond to DC could be cleaned 4x/day and/or swapped out if something especially noxious happens.
  by gokeefe
There are a lot of things driving that decision but perhaps the biggest is actual passenger demand for service to destinations well north of WAS. If you turn some or all of the Virginia trains in Washington you dump northbound passengers into already heavily sold Northeast Regional and/or Acela trains.

At the end of the day the real answer seems to me long term infrastructure improvements and perhaps a protect trainset in Washington.
  by Tadman
gokeefe wrote: If you turn some or all of the Virginia trains in Washington you dump northbound passengers into already heavily sold Northeast Regional and/or Acela trains.

I'm confused. If in 2018, let's say either 95 or 67 runs 8 cars the full route, but half empty south of DC.

In 2020, 95 or 67 only runs north of DC. Passengers have a ten-minutes change at DC from a 8-car NE regional to a Virginia regional at 4 cars (maybe no cafe). We haven't removed any capacity north of DC, just south of DC where there is no need for it.

And, you've freed up four cars across three trainsets, which might allow for more frequent Richmond or Tidewater service without buying new equipment.
  by Arlington
I think Virginia wants to encourage lots of trips that start someplace in Virginia and end at WAS, such that no matter how frequent the trains get, they'd rather have to fill the train (and have a big train to fill) at low fares.

I don't think there's been a problem filling Virginia-WAS seats such that they turnover at WAS and then balance what Amtrak wants to sell WAS-northward. So while I love the idea of hourly ping-ponging, if they ever get to hourlies, they'd probably want high-capacity trains anyway.

And given that slots across the Long Bridge and on CSX/NS will always be valuable, I don't see them ever trading down to smaller trains as the price of being more frequent.

Meanwhile I'd like to show where Virginia could be adding more stops (marked in an X) to complement its existing stops (marked with ~15 mile bulls eye)

From Left to Right you have
Bristol X (BUS I propose as an extension of the virginiabreeze.org bus, simply tagging a 2 hour extension on the start and end of every existing bus)
VaTech Blacksburg-Christiansburg (NRV RAIL but is a Bulls Eye thanks to the virginiabreeze.org bus, but let's wait 'til the bus proves "beyond RNK" demand)
Bedford X (RAIL INFILL they've asked for an infill, I think they should get it, if only as an "easy parking" ploy)
Gretna X (RAIL INFILL 'zactly halfway between Lynchburg & Danville)
Winchester X (BUS Will probably get a Route 7 Bus Winchester-Berryville-Purcellville-Leesburg-Ashburn-Dulles which ties to the Silver Line rather than fight traffic into DC, but it could do HOV all the way to West Falls Church)
Ashland/Kings Dominion (RAIL INFILL halfway between Richmond and Fredericksburg)
Bowers Hill VA (RAIL INFILL @ I-664, I-264, & US 58) Alternate Downtown Suffolk VA
  by mtuandrew
Ashland doesn’t already have a stop? Not even a seasonal? That surprises me.

Winchester is tough - I find it hard to see how you’d connect it directly to the Virginia rail network. Easiest way to connect it into the public transportation network here seems to be a bus to Martinsburg, WV; I can’t imagine it having the kind of pent-up demand that would call for a rail shuttle via either Martinsburg or Front Royal.

Staunton seems like another likely infill proposal, which really ought to be coupled with daily WAS-CHW service either via Cardinal or with a stand-alone train. That station would also fetch the kids in Lexington and Harrisonburg, albeit poorly.
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