Airline and Regional Rail Code Shares

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Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,423
I agree with the goal of combining trains and planes (and buses) in a manner that leverages their strengths while diminishing their limitations, but doesn't this whole process need to start with a solid foundation of proving we can properly introduce and manage frequent and dependable passenger rail in new and potentially hostile territory? Even if you built a rail spur right in the middle an airport terminal would it do anyone any good with infrequent or unreliable rail service? If you were a politician or transportation authority would you feel confident that putting your neck on the line for a scheme like this would pay off, or would you be concerned that it would put your career at risk? I feel like the concept has rational goals worthy of support, but just because it makes sense doesn't mean it wont be at risk of bad faith negotiating and third party interference. Whoever pursues and promotes this kind of project needs dependable support behind them, but I don't see how such a foundation is expected to be built here.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Messages
26,008
I once took a flight from ATL to Chattanooga. As I was on a connecting flight and on a FFM award, I flew First Class on that flight.

I was the FOURTH passenger served my beverage. As the FA was getting my order, the pilot said “We have started our descent into Chattanooga“!:oops:
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,168
I think the extended Piedmont service would be better justified by the goal of taking cars off of I-85 and perhaps getting some Clean Air Act credit. If they get a few people connecting to the Atlanta or Charlotte airports, or even an airline deciding to code-share, that would just be a little extra gravy.
Yes but the existing NS line and I-85 quickly head into SC out of Charlotte (actually after Gastonia station). SC, with Greenville against it, would be loathe to support service that takes away air traffic and that's in a Red State that is not likely to be in favor of putting up $$$ anyway.

Note: I would love to have the Piedmonts continue to Greenville. It's 45 minutes from me and it beats driving to Cary (4 1/2 hrs) or Raleigh (5 hrs) to catch a Silver north or south (or to get to my state capital). And a high speed train that went to Atlanta would be a wonderful way to visit the little grandkids. It would also permit me to fly long distance from Charlotte or Atlanta (if Amtrak continues its LD decline) or to visit the grandkids then continue on to NOL to the west to visit our hearts back in NM.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,523
Cites love having their own airport and everyone wants their name on the Title so it's Greenville/Spartanburg, not Greenville. Part of it is that corporations want to build near where there are commercial airports whereas it used to be near freight trains. However, that wouldn't preclude NC from paying SC's bill but w/o Georgia in there, it's more difficult. Without GA and SC, it's only a dream and neither have been interested.
I think even if you extended the Piedmont just to Greenville without going to Atlanta the service would be fairly well patronized. Even without a codeshare. It would also pave the way for an extension down to Atlanta as well. The issue like you say is when you get a multiple state train which translates into multiple agency in this case NCDOT, SCDOT, and GDOT. That was actually part of the reason for my theory of making it a codeshare. I don't see anywhere in PIRA that stipulates that a third party in this case American Airlines couldn't pay the state of SC to fund the train. That is the one nice thing about a private company they don't have to worry about petty politics.

I think the extended Piedmont service would be better justified by the goal of taking cars off of I-85 and perhaps getting some Clean Air Act credit. If they get a few people connecting to the Atlanta or Charlotte airports, or even an airline deciding to code-share, that would just be a little extra gravy.

It's not clear to me what the level of service is to GSP, anyway.
That was also my thought to a degree. Part of the reason I suggest a code-share is that brings guaranteed ridership in the beginning of the service, and would help justify multiple frequencies daily to make the service more appealing to take cars off I-85. Now if there was a way that the revenue could be split between AA, Amtrak, and the state if American Airlines would even fund it for the trips that don't involve an airline journey.

Between Charlotte, NC and Greenville, SC American Airlines Regional carriers operate 9 flights per day. Those flights offer 524 economy seats and 102 first class seats. Departures are roughly 90 minutes to 2 hours separated. Aircraft used are a mixture of CRJ700, and CRJ900 which are approaching 20 years of age on earlier hulls. Bombardier also has closed the order books with the last aircraft of this type expected in 2020. However the line has been bought by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries but it remains to be seen if they re-open the orders and production of the popular CRJ 700 line and variants.

You've obviously done your homework; too bad you don't have someone's "ear" to actually suggest this.
I like to do my homework before I open my mouth. I try to give the most accurate information on anything I post because I realize potential employers might look at my statements. And I really do want to find work with an Airline. I actually would love to work for American Airlines overseeing rail-codeshares. Then I would get the best of both worlds working for an airline with all of the benefits, and I would still get to work with trains my first love. Some might say I over think things. I say I go into every last detail to perfect a plan before putting it in operation.

I actually do know some people high up in the rail division of the NCDOT that I probably could submit something to. At least as a service enhancement for the existing Carolinian and Piedmont.

Would a single freight railway be positioned to serve Atlanta airport and points south, or would it require a Dallas-Fort Worth style arrangement like the one that handles the Texas Eagle? Although some new trackage would be required to access an ATL airport station, I would think the objective would be to get to existing rails as soon as possible with as few "partners" as possible.
Atlanta Airport has a rail line on both sides of the field. On the west side is the CSX former Atlanta, & West Point to Montgomery, AL via Auburn, AL, and on the east side is the Norfolk Southern former Central of Georgia route to Macon, GA. From Macon you can go east to Savannah, GA, Brunswick, GA, and south to Jacksonville, FL.. The ideal rail terminal in my opinion would be a wye off the former A&WP under the MARTA South yard running under the terminals. Place the station at Concourse C because that is fairly central to all gates. If you followed the example of the München S Bahn which has an exit platform and an entrance platform on each track in the center city tunnel to expedite loading. The waiting room could be still be in the secure area of the airport while the exit platform would have its own private TSA checkpoint that is only open when trains are arriving into the station. Have a set baggage connection between the trains and the airlines.

Have one Atlanta Airport CSR employee on board the train who can handle checking baggage for the airlines to be handed over on the platform. Leaving the station area I would swing north east to have another wye connection with the former CofG by the Kimpton hotel and the Porsche Experience. By having a loop one could have a train like the Crescent come in and leave without having to wye the consist. As well as having trains from the south continue north without having a backup move or needing a NPCU or cab car.

Yes but the existing NS line and I-85 quickly head into SC out of Charlotte (actually after Gastonia station). SC, with Greenville against it, would be loathe to support service that takes away air traffic and that's in a Red State that is not likely to be in favor of putting up $$$ anyway.
The difficult part would be the local politicians in Greenville signing onto any proposal that lowers demand for their local airport. They were really ecstatic when Southwest launched service to GSP, however for the first few years the only flight went to Atlanta, now it goes to Baltimore, MD as well.

Currently GSP has 5 mainline airlines Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, and Southwest. I'm honestly a bit surprised that Alaska Airlines hasn't launched a service or JetBlue looking at their route networks it would fit. AS has a flight to CHS, ATL, and RDU. I'm also surprised they haven't expanded into CLT. If my proposal would be one hundred percent implemented with no local flights to Atlanta or Charlotte the airport would lose 23 percent of it's ridership or 607,740 passengers per year. However I would expect even if you were running codeshare trains you would still see limited local flights to Atlanta and Charlotte, because with rail equipment utilization, and speeds it isn't one hundred percent practical. To truly replace planes you would need to have a train running roughly every ninety minutes with a significantly faster run time especially in the case of Atlanta.

The Southern Railway right of way while it is scenic, and for the most part it is a straight shot it still has capacity issues because in the 1950s under Brosnan they removed the second main. And it has never been truly fluid ever since. Now the Charlotte-Greenville trains could do really well because its only about 100 miles on a line with a 70 mile an hour track speed on average can do it in about an hour and a half with padding, and a few intermediate stops in Greer, Spartanburg, and Gaffney (Home of the Peachoid).
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,523
Here are some fun facts about the traffic and load factors between the various cities I've mentioned code share trains out of Charlotte for.

1. Greenville, SC
-Ridership (2019): 179,090
-Yearly Flights (2019): 3,276
-Seats Operated Per Year (2019): 180,736 (Economy), 37,128 (First)
-Average Duration: 1:10
-Load Factor (Based upon ridership divided by seats per year): 78 Percent

2. Columbia, SC
-Ridership (2019): 130,000
-Yearly Flights (2019): 2,548
-Seats Operated Per Year (2019): 136,864 (Economy), 18,564 (First)
-Average Duration: 1:05
-Load Factor (Based Upon ridership divided by seats per year): 83 Percent

3. Greensboro, NC
-Ridership (2019):165,530
-Yearly Flights (2019): 3,276
-Seats Operated Per Year (2019): 231,504 (Economy), 28,392 (First)
-Average Duration: 1:00
-Load Factor (Based Upon ridership divided by seats per year): 63 Percent
-Note: This route uses 2 A320s per day (for peak travel periods) while the rest of the route is Regional Jets.

4. Raleigh, NC
-Ridership (2019): 369,000
-Yearly Flights (2019): 3,276
-Seats Operated Per Year (2019): 484,848 (Economy), 48,048 (First)
-Average Duration: 1:05
-Load Factor (Based Upon ridership divided by seats per year): 69 Percent
-Note: This is the only one of these markets made up of exclusively American Airlines Mainline craft. No regionals.

The most popular domestic destinations for Charlotte, NC
1. Orlando, FL: 684,000
2. Newark, NJ: 577,000
3. Chicago, IL (ORD): 561,000
4. New York, NY (LGA): 536,000
5. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW): 532,000
6. Atlanta, GA: 524,000
7. Baltimore, MD: 519,000
8. Boston, MA: 518,000
9. Philadelphia, PA: 493,000
10. Phoenix Sky Harbor, AZ: 460,000

Note that all except one are not within a reasonable short distance train between each other. Now how much of that is connecting traffic or not I can't say between CLT being American's No. 2 hub, and Atlanta being Delta's No. 1 hub. I would assume a fairly large portion of that market is connecting passengers. I would love to see the data for where the connections go.

In my more detailed essay that I'm writing I get into the carbon output of the smaller aircraft per passenger mile, vs the train, and parallel Interstates. I am someone who really likes details, and I am very good at finding them. In fact I have the ridership statistics and load factors for every excursion train that Amtrak has operated since 2010.

If there are any routes you would like me to look at for the load factors if I can find the data (which I normally can) I would be happy to crunch the numbers for you. Now imagine what I could do if I had access to the American Airlines internal computer where I could see which destinations are frequently connecting to which other destinations. With that just imagine how I could restructure the network. And the funny thing is researching stuff like this is a hobby to me. I've never applied for a position in it.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
7,943
Now how much of that is connecting traffic or not I can't say between CLT being American's No. 2 hub, and Atlanta being Delta's No. 1 hub. I would assume a fairly large portion of that market is connecting passengers. I would love to see the data for where the connections go.
I would have to agree with your guess...almost that entire list are 'hubs' or 'focus airports' for one airline or other.
 
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