A Modest Proposal

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Notelvis

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My definition of a modest proposal would be something along the lines of -

1) Extend one Missouri River Runner from Kansas City up to Omaha so that passengers in St. Louis can connect to/from Denver and the Bay Area without going through Chicago.
 

Tokkyu40

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My definition of a modest proposal would be something along the lines of -

1) Extend one Missouri River Runner from Kansas City up to Omaha so that passengers in St. Louis can connect to/from Denver and the Bay Area without going through Chicago.
Oddly, when I slipped into Dreamworld, I was thinking of bringing back the Wabash Cannonball by running Omaha to KC, then St Louis, Indianapolis, Columbus and Detroit. With appropriated intermediate stations along the way.
 

neroden

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The time for fantasizing about improvements and expansions was back in 2009. 2015 will be a whole new ball game with new players and new rules.
... politically, look to November 2016, 2018, and most importantly 2020. Nothing is going to happen at the federal level for the next two years. I expect politics in this country to be blown wide open in the next 15 years, though. There are a bunch of trends going on which are very similar to the ones which, in the past, have led to massive party realignments and the collapse of old political parties.
 

neroden

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(and who knows what's going to happen in IL, since the new Governor seems open to working on train stuff in at least some form).
Out of curiosity, I spent a while researching Rauner. He appears to be a classic borrow-and-spend Republican. We have had many such politicians in the Republican Party since Reagan (who epitomized the type), though they are becoming rarer. He'll probably spend lots of money on big infrastructure projects -- and he has advocated doing so -- while simultaneously cutting taxes. This will probably include funding for more passenger trains (which he explicitly said were important), but almost entirely from bonds. The only question is how long he can keep issuing bonds, since Illinois can't print money the way the Feds do.
 
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Ryan

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The time for fantasizing about improvements and expansions was back in 2009. 2015 will be a whole new ball game with new players and new rules.
... politically, look to November 2016, 2018, and most importantly 2020. Nothing is going to happen at the federal level for the next two years. I expect politics in this country to be blown wide open in the next 15 years, though. There are a bunch of trends going on which are very similar to the ones which, in the past, have led to massive party realignments and the collapse of old political parties.
I think you're spot on. The post-2010 redistricting was done by state governments done in a non-Presidential election year, when apparently Democrats don't think that it's worthwhile to go out and vote, leading to some truly screwed up district drawing that artificially inflates the number of Republicans in the House.

Come 2020, it'll be a Presidential election year, so the redistricting that follows will hopefully be far less biased.
 

MikefromCrete

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(and who knows what's going to happen in IL, since the new Governor seems open to working on train stuff in at least some form).
Out of curiosity, I spent a while researching Rauner. He appears to be a classic borrow-and-spend Republican. We have had many such politicians in the Republican Party since Reagan (who epitomized the type), though they are becoming rarer. He'll probably spend lots of money on big infrastructure projects -- and he has advocated doing so -- while simultaneously cutting taxes. This will probably include funding for more passenger trains (which he explicitly said were important), but almost entirely from bonds. The only question is how long he can keep issuing bonds, since Illinois can't print money the way the Feds do.
Wow, you know a lot more about Rauner's plans, than I do, and I've had to suffer through a year of his political ads. He's very slippery on what he exactly wants to do. Of course, the Democrats remain firmly in control of the Illinois House and Senate, so he'll have to do a lot of negotiating with the leadership, including House Speaker Mike Madigan, who's been the real political leader of Illinois for longer than I can remember. I do think the Amtrak Illinois trains are safe and the expansion to Rockford and the Quad Cities will continue on schedule. These trains are more important to the downstate Republican communities than they are to the Chicago area, so I expect the bipartisan support for these trains will continue.
 

jis

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Come 2020, it'll be a Presidential election year, so the redistricting that follows will hopefully be far less biased.
Or at least biased somewhat in a way that we like more. Frankly just getting the districts back to something rational will take a lot of doing in a very biased way towards rationality. It will take quite a bit of doing to untangle the mess that was created by the 2010 and follow on redistricting in many places.
 

Tokkyu40

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I think you're spot on. The post-2010 redistricting was done by state governments done in a non-Presidential election year, when apparently Democrats don't think that it's worthwhile to go out and vote, leading to some truly screwed up district drawing that artificially inflates the number of Republicans in the House.
Come 2020, it'll be a Presidential election year, so the redistricting that follows will hopefully be far less biased.
Ha ha! You have a good sense of humor. Both sets of crooks will do everything to make sure the opposition gets no more than a few token seats. I'm just hoping for districts that don't look like tapeworms squirming over the map.

Which Republicans look good on rail? The mayor of Fresno, Ashley Swearengin, is working to get the California train built and Newt Gingrich wanted High Speed Maglev across the country (a little too much right now?) but who else is a Paul Weyrich Republican right now.

I hope Governor Rauner works out.
 

Bob Dylan

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What's the over and under on the new Illinois Gov ( as well as tbe outgoing one) joining the previous ones in prison??
 

WoodyinNYC

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... If you've heard that a lot of money is being wasted on routes

with very few trains, you may need to change your radio dial. LOL.
Oh... any spending on rail is good in my view.

Thanks for the run down.... Glad that work is being done, will hope for the best in Virginia.

And Illinois is slowly but surely getting there.. and we have Michigan... and the Keystone... and Empire Service is getting work done too right?

I mean we are getting A LOT considering this is Amtrak in 2014.
Most of all, the next phase of upgrading the Wolverines route means

building a dedicated set of tracks for passenger trains "South of

the Lake" ... Seven Amtrak trains

each way (3 Wolverines, the Blue Water, the Pere Marquette,

the Capitol Ltd and the Lake Shore Ltd.) pass thru this horribly

congested segment where NS has lost control of its own schedules

as well as Amtrak's. But Michigan's DOT is working on the planning

for passenger-only tracks that would cut another 50 minutes or so

from the runs South of the Lake. Early estimates of the cost range

from $1.5 Billion to $2 Billion [figures corrected}.

...

...

Anyone looking for big bang for the buck investments in

passenger rail has to put the South of the Lake project high

on the list, probably as the Number One outside the NEC.
Wow. I feel late to the party but this is the first I've heard of this "South of the Lake" project and it sounds like a great thing. Chicago really could become a great rail hub. Yes this is exactly the type of upgrades that make sense, benefiting Michigan trains, Lake Shore, Capitol, Cardinal, future Hoosier State Corridor Trains (hopefully) AND future Cleveland Corridor Trains (hopefully) all at the same time. If you could REALLY cut down the trip times so drastically, and the equipment and funding were there... (I know now I'm starting to day dream) a 3 rivers and an extended Pennsylvanian could be possible too.
Don't feel bad. The Draft Environmental Impact study was only

recently released. So now it's getting closer to being a thing. LOL.

They got it down to four alternative routes. Next select the preferred

alternative, which will firm up the estimated cost. Break down the

mega-project into "incremental" bite-sized projects. Then start trying

to line up the needed funds.

I should have provided a link:

http://greatlakesrail.org/~grtlakes/index.php/site/public-hearings

Recommend the Self Guided Presentation on the left side of the page.
 

neroden

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Come 2020, it'll be a Presidential election year, so the redistricting that follows will hopefully be far less biased.
Or at least biased somewhat in a way that we like more. Frankly just getting the districts back to something rational will take a lot of doing in a very biased way towards rationality. It will take quite a bit of doing to untangle the mess that was created by the 2010 and follow on redistricting in many places.
California's independent redistricting commission looks like it's actually going to work. For the state legislature (though not the US House), Iowa has a fairly successful independent redistricting commission too.

...unfortunately those appear to be the only non-gerrymanderable states. The state legislatures of Vermont and New Hampshire could theoretically be gerrymandered, but in practice it appears that they aren't (perhaps having a huge number of extremely small districts makes it a lot harder to gerrymander).

The super-corrupt NY legislature, worried that the Republicans would be thrown out of the state senate again, just created an incumbent-controlled redistricting commission (a fake reform) for the purpose of gerrymandering the state senate in favor of Republicans even *after* they lose control of the chamber. Yeech. However, at the US House level, NY is no longer gerrymandered, because the corrupt Republicans and Democrats can no longer agree on how to gerrymander it!

Washington state has a complete incumbent-protection gerrymander.

Arizona passed a referendum to take Congressional redistricting completely out of the hands of the state legislature... the antidemocratic Republican leadership of the state legislature is now trying to get the referendum declared unconstitutional.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-court-redistricting-20141003-story.html
 

neroden

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Which Republicans look good on rail? The mayor of Fresno, Ashley Swearengin, is working to get the California train built and Newt Gingrich wanted High Speed Maglev across the country (a little too much right now?) but who else is a Paul Weyrich Republican right now.
"Emperor" Rick Snyder of Michigan really seems to be a very strong passenger rail supporter. He's certainly not a supporter of local democracy -- he's most famous for removing power from local elected governments and centralizing it into the hands of his personal appointees. But frankly, that centralization probably helps with getting rail lines improved!

I hope Governor Rauner works out.
Me too. I did find a statement indicating he supports passenger rail improvements.
From http://altondailynews.com/news/details.cfm?id=111148#.VGPR8N2Vtpg :

Financier Bruce Rauner says the passenger rail system is part of a big, important picture. “To the degree we don't have the money to invest,” Rauner said, “we should form creative public-private partnerships to help finance investments in our infrastructure so it's world class.”
This means bonds and a heavy degree of private corporation "skimming" of money -- but it also means actually building the passenger rail improvements. To me, this seems very typical for Illinois.
 
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Tokkyu40

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Which Republicans look good on rail? The mayor of Fresno, Ashley Swearengin, is working to get the California train built and Newt Gingrich wanted High Speed Maglev across the country (a little too much right now?) but who else is a Paul Weyrich Republican right now.
"Emperor" Rick Snyder of Michigan really seems to be a very strong passenger rail supporter. He's certainly not a supporter of local democracy -- he's most famous for removing power from local elected governments and centralizing it into the hands of his personal appointees. But frankly, that centralization probably helps with getting rail lines improved!

I hope Governor Rauner works out.
Me too. I did find a statement indicating he supports passenger rail improvements.
From http://altondailynews.com/news/details.cfm?id=111148#.VGPR8N2Vtpg :

Financier Bruce Rauner says the passenger rail system is part of a big, important picture. “To the degree we don't have the money to invest,” Rauner said, “we should form creative public-private partnerships to help finance investments in our infrastructure so it's world class.”
This means bonds and a heavy degree of private corporation "skimming" of money -- but it also means actually building the passenger rail improvements. To me, this seems very typical for Illinois.
Public-private partnerships have the advantage that one party wants to make money, so the private partner wants the rails to run where they'll have the greatest return.

The politicians wants to run the rails where they get the most favorable political patronage.
 

MikefromCrete

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What's the over and under on the new Illinois Gov ( as well as tbe outgoing one) joining the previous ones in prison??
Gov. Pat Quinn is probably the most honest person to ever hold the job. He is long-time populist who sort of fell in the job, after Blago was removed from office. Unfortunately he's probably too nice a guy to be an effective governor.

Rauner is so rich it's doubtful that he would be interested in any funny business. And, one of his many TV ads boasts that "he can't be bought."
 

Bob Dylan

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Good to know that Illinois finally had a couple of honest politicians! Its been awhile since " Honest Abe" for sure!
 

toddinde

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Here's an idea for some long term changes at Amtrak. Let's bounce them around and see what happens.

First, lets pretend that we can actually get the rolling stock just to meet the current demand. The next step in increasing demand would be to make the trains faster. The Sunset runs from LA to San Antonio in a theoretical 30 hours. If the trains ran at a reliable 110mph it should be possible to bring the time below 20 hours, making the trip practical as transportation instead of a destination in itself.

To facilitate this, Amtrak would need more reliable rail access. I would recommend partnerships with state DOTs to buy surplus and abandoned tracks in viable transportation corridors. The Wellton Cutoff would provide an easy run into Phoenix from Yuma.

Daily service would be nice, but it would be better to have double service at 8 to 12 hour intervals to provide daylight service where the trains currently run at night. Splitting the Eagle and the Sunset would provide that without officially adding new trains. This opens the market to new passengers. The Eagle could diverge at El Paso and head up through Pecos, Odessa and Abilene to Ft Worth, opening a completely new market.

Longer routes join more city pairs, providing a greater market base. Transfers depress demand by lowering the convenience. Trains that meet end-to-end could be paired on each other's routes at complementary schedules to double the frequency and reduce transfers. The Texas Eagle could run to New York while the North Shore Limited could continue to Los Angeles. Ditto for the Sunset Limited and the Crescent. This is a return to tradition, since SP's Sunset previously offered through sleepers to New England via Southern's Crescent.
The Sunset route should add stops at Marfa, Uvalde and Hondo, which are large enough to support a stop, if not a full station.

This would run 4 trains a day between El Paso and Los Angeles, boosting service considerably in the high traffic Tucson - Los Angeles corridor. Further service would be run by the Arizona DOT between Tucson and Yuma.

A similar arrangement between the Empire Builder and the Capitol Limited would provide Cleveland, Ohio's second busiest station, with four daily trains. Two of them when people are awake to catch a train!

Any thoughts or comments?
This is a great idea. Don’t listen to the naysayers. They must not fly or drive. I fly a lot! Half the time I’m delayed. I drove to Phoenix yesterday and spent an hour of hell in stop and go traffic. If these guys love gridlock so much, great. Improved rail gets you where you need to go efficiently and with a minimal carbon footprint. Yes folks, climate change is real and needs to be addressed. Yes, reliable, 110 in places, would be fine. And yes, there is a huge market for the DFW - El Paso - Tucson - Phoenix - LA market.
 

Larry H.

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My definition of a modest proposal would be something along the lines of -

1) Extend one Missouri River Runner from Kansas City up to Omaha so that passengers in St. Louis can connect to/from Denver and the Bay Area without going through Chicago.
While this is a good idea I would suggest you run the same equipment east to Carbondale which gives the a much faster link to the City of New Orleans than going though Chicago. When I first moved to Centralia they ran one coach between here and ST. Louis, but connecting Omaha and Kansas City, St.Louis to a shorter route seems like it would be a natural again. It could also carry one sleeper for those who are traveling overnight in either direction. Those cars used to be transferred in Carbondale.
 

TWA904

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My modest proposals would to extend the Crescent from New Orleans to Houston. Second proposal is to add a train from New Orleans to Dallas and then on to Denver.
 

jis

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It would be more interesting at least to an operations geek like me if the modest proposals included at least some analysis of what equipment will be needed, and an estimate of how many sets of crew will be needed. That will give at least some basis to discuss viability or lack thereof, specially if someone can come up with some credible expected ridership estimates, even if it is by merely multiplying the population of the population points passed by some small factor.

Without that these proposals are merely connecting the dots on a map. Of course it would be cool to connect my Podunk 1 to your Podunk 2 somehow. :) Not that I am suggesting anyone would consciously want to do that.
 

dogbert617

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While this is a good idea I would suggest you run the same equipment east to Carbondale which gives the a much faster link to the City of New Orleans than going though Chicago. When I first moved to Centralia they ran one coach between here and ST. Louis, but connecting Omaha and Kansas City, St.Louis to a shorter route seems like it would be a natural again. It could also carry one sleeper for those who are traveling overnight in either direction. Those cars used to be transferred in Carbondale.
If you didn't know, there is some sort of bus connection(not sure who operates it) listed on the IL/MO services timetable and also for the Texas Eagle, between Saint Louis and Carbondale. I like your idea of extending the MO River Runner to Omaha, since as of now the only way one could connect to Denver for those riding the SW Chief train without going all the way to Chicago would be to get off at say Raton, NM or Trinidad, CO, then catch a bus north to Denver. Not sure at the moment(would have to look up bus schedules, later) how long the layover in say Trinidad or Raton, would be. Am sure it'd suck, if say the place Greyhound(or another bus company) picked up wasn't near the train station and was by the expressway, as too often is the case in a lot of towns. I.e. in Osceola, IA one time when I looked up Jefferson Lines' bus service for I-35 towns and cities, that the bus serving there picks up at some place west of Osceola's downtown, requiring one to either do a taxi/Uber/Lyft or a long walk to get over to that place(gas station?), to catch a Jefferson Lines bus. I finally did just now look up the bus stop location in both Raton and Trinidad, and while it's nice Greyhound picks up at Raton's Amtrak station, one would have to either walk the few miles south in Trinidad to the gas station where Greyhound stops at, or find a local taxi/Uber/Lyft that'd take them there. Will have to look up the bus schedules, later.

My modest proposals would to extend the Crescent from New Orleans to Houston. Second proposal is to add a train from New Orleans to Dallas and then on to Denver.
This has been suggested by others on this board, and honestly myself I'd like to see the delays between Tuscaloosa and Meridian on Crescent reduced, before this is considered. I worry if this is done, you'd start to see much bigger delays for Louisiana passengers riding the Sunset, at stations west of New Orleans. And moreso than anything else, make Sunset Limited a DAILY train! Also as a side note for Crescent, the overcrowding situation with Atlanta's existing Amtrak station should be dealt with, so that it has a bigger station to handle passengers.

Honestly I'd like to see Amtrak consider new 'Crescent Star' service on a railroad route paralleling I-20 between Meridian, MS and Dallas, as was once proposed by some local passenger railroad advocacy group. IIRC, Crescent Star was what this train proposal was called, and it'd be a nice idea for places like Jackson to have extra train service, and for places like Monroe and Shreveport to have train service for the first time. Plus as long as there was a daily Fort Worth-San Antonio train, I wouldn't mind the Texas Eagle going west through places like say Abilene, Odessa, Pecos, etc. before it hit El Paso. Maybe to me it'd be better to keep TX Eagle on its existing route towards San Antonio, and for the Crescent Star idea to be further extended west to El Paso? Sigh, I have this weird feeling it won't occur anytime soon, but who knows. Also would be nice if Laredo could once again have Amtrak service, since it's train going north to San Antonio(Inter-American? correct me if I'm wrong on the name) was eliminated.
 
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brianpmcdonnell17

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Passengers connecting between the SWC and CZ do not currently have to go all the way to Chicago; there is a same-day connection available at Galesburg.
 

Qapla

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There are 4 major colleges in Florida, three state owned and one private. Miami is a terminus for the trains from NY. That takes both the SS and the SM through Orlando where UCF is. However, the other two schools, UF and FSU, both "big name schools", have NO train service!

There has been efforts to restore service to Tallahassee but, even though the tracks from Jacksonville to New Orleans have been fully restored, those efforts have gotten nowhere. The tracks and the depot that were once in Gainesville no longer exist.
 

pennyk

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There are 4 major colleges in Florida, three state owned and one private. Miami is a terminus for the trains from NY. That takes both the SS and the SM through Orlando where UCF is. However, the other two schools, UF and FSU, both "big name schools", have NO train service!

There has been efforts to restore service to Tallahassee but, even though the tracks from Jacksonville to New Orleans have been fully restored, those efforts have gotten nowhere. The tracks and the depot that were once in Gainesville no longer exist.
In 1970, before I started college, I lived in Miami and traveled to college (for the first time) in Gainesville (Waldo) by train (pre Amtrak). I have relatives in Tallahassee and am so disappointed that I am unable to visit them by train. I am fortunate that I live in Orlando and have my choice of 2 trains where the station could be walking distance from home. It is easier for me to go to NYC than to the State Capital of Florida.
 

Qapla

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@pennyk If you live within walking distance of the Depot in Orlando - maybe you would like to ride to Kissimmee on SunRail when I head down there to have pizza (well, actually, it is to ride the train - I drive to DeBary and catch SunRail to Kissimmee)
 

jis

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And I usually catch SunRail at Kissimmee, a straight shot on US192 from Melbourne.
 
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