Amtrak Hubs

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NSC1109

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Is there an agreed-upon list of Amtrak hubs? The only thing I can find online is the list of busiest stations on Wikipedia and they don't fall into "traditional" order of hubs being the busiest stations.

This is what I have, in no particular order:

NYP
DC
Boston South
Chicago
Seattle
LA


Are there any "central" Amtrak locations that I am missing?
 

the_traveler

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The only “hub” (as in hub & spoke) where connections are made between 2 trains is really Chicago. To a lesser extent, NYP, WAS and LAX and PDX can have connections made.
 

Thirdrail7

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The answer depends on your personal view of "hub." Personally, I would also throw in Richmond VA, Oakland CA, Portland OR, Albany NY, San Antonio TX, and New Orleans LA. If I'm being a bit more liberal, I could probably justify St Louis MO, Fort Worth TX, Springfield MA as well as New Haven CT.
 

west point

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Maybe the Nor Cal area can be considered as a single hub. That is San Jose, Oakland, Emeryville, Sacramento .
 

PVD

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I don't think NYP is in doubt at all. Lots of Empire Service/NEC/Carolinas/Florida exchange in addition to LSL/Cardinal/Crescent connections from point North
 

NSC1109

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The only “hub” (as in hub & spoke) where connections are made between 2 trains is really Chicago. To a lesser extent, NYP, WAS and LAX and PDX can have connections made.
The answer depends on your personal view of "hub." Personally, I would also throw in Richmond VA, Oakland CA, Portland OR, Albany NY, San Antonio TX, and New Orleans LA. If I'm being a bit more liberal, I could probably justify St Louis MO, Fort Worth TX, Springfield MA as well as New Haven CT.
In this case, I would be defining a hub as a point with both a major crew base and maintenance facilities as well as a terminus for both long and short distance services (Albany has a crew base as well as maintenance facilities but without a terminating LD service I would be hesitant to call it a hub, more of a focus city).

I feel that Amtrak can help themselves organize a little bit better by designating areas where they want to expand drastically by adopting a variation of the hub and spoke model and totally define WHAT exactly those cities are and HOW they fit in to the network. Does anyone know if Amtrak management has done anything like this?
 

NativeSon5859

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I’d say NOL is a hub. Not a large one, but a hub nonetheless. When the Gulf Coast trains return, you’ll once again be able to travel in four directions from the city. Amtrak has a decent sized crew base plus a large yard with quite a few storage tracks as well as maintenance and engine shops there. The “hub” infrastructure is there. Hopefully more connections and more trains will be added in time.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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I don't think NYP is in doubt at all. Lots of Empire Service/NEC/Carolinas/Florida exchange in addition to LSL/Cardinal/Crescent connections from point North
I agree; it is the busiest station in the network and a major terminal for both LD and regional trains. While there are only routes in 3 directions, there are only 4 stations in the system with more than that (Chicago, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Springfield).
 

John Santos

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Would you count in the "directions served" direct connections to local or commuter rail? In that case, NYP would serve East (LIRR), NE (NEC), North (Empire, LSL, Canada), and West (NEC, NJT.) By the same toke, I don't think Emeryville could count as a hub because there is no direct connection to local rail (e.g. BART) there. But maybe CalTrain serves Emeryville? Do the trans-bay buses count?
Boston South only serves 2 directions: West (LSL) and South (NEC). The Downeaster uses North Station. (The fact that there is no direct rail link between BOS and BON has been a major source of local controversy for literally decades. There was supposed to be a rail tunnel included in the Big Dig but it was canceled at the last minute to save a relative pittance in construction costs. Thanks, Charlie.)

Or maybe the criteria for a hub should include the number or percentage of travelers making connections at the station?
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Would you count in the "directions served" direct connections to local or commuter rail? In that case, NYP would serve East (LIRR), NE (NEC), North (Empire, LSL, Canada), and West (NEC, NJT.) By the same toke, I don't think Emeryville could count as a hub because there is no direct connection to local rail (e.g. BART) there. But maybe CalTrain serves Emeryville? Do the trans-bay buses count?
Boston South only serves 2 directions: West (LSL) and South (NEC). The Downeaster uses North Station. (The fact that there is no direct rail link between BOS and BON has been a major source of local controversy for literally decades. There was supposed to be a rail tunnel included in the Big Dig but it was canceled at the last minute to save a relative pittance in construction costs. Thanks, Charlie.)

Or maybe the criteria for a hub should include the number or percentage of travelers making connections at the station?
There is no Caltrain service anywhere in the East Bay including Emeryville. If you include local rail, defining an Amtrak hub in the San Francisco area gets difficult since the only BART connections are at Richmond and Oakland Coliseum, both of which are only minor Amtrak stations. San Jose has Caltrain, ACE, and VTA but doesn't have particularly high Amtrak ridership and isn't served by the San Joaquin or California Zephyr. Even though the Bay Area has more total ridership, the largest single Amtrak hub station in Northern California is Sacramento. It has the highest ridership, service in the most directions, terminates some trains, and is a local rail connection.
 

dogbert617

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I’d say NOL is a hub. Not a large one, but a hub nonetheless. When the Gulf Coast trains return, you’ll once again be able to travel in four directions from the city. Amtrak has a decent sized crew base plus a large yard with quite a few storage tracks as well as maintenance and engine shops there. The “hub” infrastructure is there. Hopefully more connections and more trains will be added in time.
Yeah, I think you could make an argument that NOL is a hub station, since trains in 3 directions do serve it as of now. And of course whenever the Gulf Coast Limited to Mobile restarts again in the next few years, that it'll become 4. Too bad that to transfer between trains there, that essentially you have to overnight in NOL to transfer between trains. And of course it sucks too, that Sunset Limited still only runs 3 days a week. :(

I do hope that one day, maybe Denver could at least get up to the level of being a partial hub, the way Seattle, Portland, Kansas City, and Saint Louis are? Meaning that for the former 2 that they serve the Coast Starlight, one of the 2 branches of Empire Builder, and of course Cascades trains. Washington state DOT(WSDOT) was proposing one day for state train service to run from Seattle-Auburn-Yakima-Pasco-Spokane(dunno if I forgot any stops, the proposal I read at least does go through these places on a Washington state train route map I read w/that Auburn/Yakima/etc proposal), which I think would be a nice idea. KC and STL do serve Missouri River Runner state trains, besides the Southwest Chief and Texas Eagle respectively for those 2 cities. Would be nice if the La Junta-Denver through train service idea, where a coach car and a sleeper car, could be added/removed from the train in Denver could be done. Along with for Kansas City(and Chicago too), that a through car could be added/removed from the Southwest Chief in Newton, KS for an extended Heartland Flyer train route north from OKC. Now that I think about it Fort Worth could potentially also become a partial hub, considering it gets the Heartland Flyer, Texas Eagle, has local commuter rail service, and that maybe someday train service could be revived between Fort Worth and Denver? And one last thing for Saint Louis, you also can pick up Metrolink(light rail for the St. Louis area) trains at a station immediately outside of the St. Louis Amtrak station, along with also local city bus routes.

There is no Caltrain service anywhere in the East Bay including Emeryville. If you include local rail, defining an Amtrak hub in the San Francisco area gets difficult since the only BART connections are at Richmond and Oakland Coliseum, both of which are only minor Amtrak stations. San Jose has Caltrain, ACE, and VTA but doesn't have particularly high Amtrak ridership and isn't served by the San Joaquin or California Zephyr. Even though the Bay Area has more total ridership, the largest single Amtrak hub station in Northern California is Sacramento. It has the highest ridership, service in the most directions, terminates some trains, and is a local rail connection.
Caltrain I think only serves SF peninsula suburbs south of San Francisco, right? I thought that was the case, but not 100% serve. There are some California state only regional Amtrak trains that do serve East Bay places such as Emeryville, Oakland, and probably others I'm forgetting. Altamont Commuter Express(ACE) runs between San Jose and Stockton, as I remember. And there's a commuter rail train called Sonoma-Martin Area Rail Transit(SMART), that runs in Marin County(including Santa Rosa) north of San Francisco.
 
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NSC1109

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Yeah, I think you could make an argument that NOL is a hub station, since trains in 3 directions do serve it as of now. And of course whenever the Gulf Coast Limited to Mobile restarts again in the next few years, that it'll become 4. Too bad that to transfer between trains there, that essentially you have to overnight in NOL to transfer between trains. And of course it sucks too, that Sunset Limited still only runs 3 days a week. :(

I do hope that one day, maybe Denver could at least get up to the level of being a partial hub, the way Seattle, Portland, Kansas City, and Saint Louis are? Meaning that for the former 2 that they serve the Coast Starlight, one of the 2 branches of Empire Builder, and of course Cascades trains. Washington state DOT(WSDOT) was proposing one day for state train service to run from Seattle-Auburn-Yakima-Pasco-Spokane(dunno if I forgot any stops, the proposal I read at least does go through these places on a Washington state train route map I read w/that Auburn/Yakima/etc proposal), which I think would be a nice idea. KC and STL do serve Missouri River Runner state trains, besides the Southwest Chief and Texas Eagle respectively for those 2 cities. Would be nice if the La Junta-Denver through train service idea, where a coach car and a sleeper car, could be added/removed from the train in Denver could be done. Along with for Kansas City(and Chicago too), that a through car could be added/removed from the Southwest Chief in Newton, KS for an extended Heartland Flyer train route north from OKC. Now that I think about it Fort Worth could potentially also become a partial hub, considering it gets the Heartland Flyer, Texas Eagle, has local commuter rail service, and that maybe someday train service could be revived between Fort Worth and Denver? And one last thing for Saint Louis, you also can pick up Metrolink(light rail for the St. Louis area) trains at a station immediately outside of the St. Louis Amtrak station, along with also local city bus routes.

Yes, I did intend to include NOL on the original list and I completely forgot.

This photo shows what I would consider being hubs:

Current Hubs.png

Current Hubs:
CHI
PHL
NYP
BOS
WAS
NOL
LAX
SEA

This photo shows my updated map, including both new hubs (in red) and focus cities (in yellow).

Focus Cities are defined for this purpose as a city with smaller terminals (usually with crew bases) with the potential to expand into more regional routes, for example, Detroit-Cincinnati, Portland-Boise, etc. At the same time, a focus city allows for service extensions to areas without service that wouldn't justify a direct connection to an Amtrak hub.

Updated Map.png

New Hubs:
Sacramento
Denver
Atlanta
Minneapolis

Focus Cities:
Detroit
Pittsburgh
Charlotte
Albany
Portland
St. Louis

Clearly, this updated map represents a significant investment on Amtrak's part; however, this would allow Amtrak to expand service to new areas.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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In this case, I would be defining a hub as a point with both a major crew base and maintenance facilities as well as a terminus for both long and short distance services (Albany has a crew base as well as maintenance facilities but without a terminating LD service I would be hesitant to call it a hub, more of a focus city).
I would agree that a "hub" would need to be a station where LD train service starts or stops. I'll add that it would also need to be an express train that ran between two hubs.

The only Amtrak train I can think of that would fit that, would be the Autotrain.

While this doesn't exist, a Silver could be such a train, if it (for example) stopped/started at Orlando, and from Orlando, passengers would transfer to a "local" Sunrail train to continue onto other Florida cities.

Airlines are moving away from the hub city service strategy, and why 747's and A380's sales have died off.
 

west point

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what about WASH as a hub. Certainly all LD trains except the Capitol travel thru WASH. As well many regionals also pass thru WASH. If in 10 - 20 years Atlanta becomes a hub many of the LD trains will pass thru and not terminate at ATL..
 

Palmland

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I’ll nominate Jacksonville as a hub because it used to be. Both the Meteor and Star used to split there for west and east coast sections operating via Orlando and Ocala and the Palmetto originated there. In the future that split would be between west coast trains via Orlando and east coast via the FEC route (or a Brightline connection) and the Palmetto returns.

I doubt if the Sunset will return but more likely is state supported trains to Tallahassee perhaps connecting to Amtrak gulf coast service. Of course it is now a crew change point for the Silvers and has the track infrastructure to do switching or originate trains.
 

Seaboard92

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Historically in railroad lore here is a list of hubs.

Northeast
-Boston
-New York/Jersey City
-Philadelphia
-Washington
-Pittsburgh
-Harrisburg (For the PRR mainly)

South
-Atlanta
-New Orleans
-Birmingham
-Jacksonville
-Houston
-San Antonio
-Dallas/Fort Worth

Midwest
-Cleveland
-Detroit
-Cincinnati
-Indianapolis
-Chicago
-Memphis
-St. Louis
-Kansas City
-St. Paul
-Omaha

West
-Denver
-Los Angeles
-The Bay Area
-Spokane
-Seattle
-Portland
 

PVD

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There are places that are busy, with a good amount of traffic, but the implication of a hub as it has evolved in modern usage, is as part of Hub & Spoke, where travelers connect LD to regional or shorter distance travel or LD to LD or regional like Chicago...
 

jiml

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This is an interesting discussion, but perhaps is being over-thought. I would suggest that a true hub is one with multiple "spokes" that allow travel on trains originating there in 3 different directions or more. Therefore I'd agree with those who suggest Amtrak's hubs are Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, NYP and Boston. (Boston could have an asterisk, since its "third spoke" is not attached.)
 

StanJazz

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This is an interesting discussion, but perhaps is being over-thought. I would suggest that a true hub is one with multiple "spokes" that allow travel on trains originating there in 3 different directions or more. Therefore I'd agree with those who suggest Amtrak's hubs are Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, NYP and Boston. (Boston could have an asterisk, since its "third spoke" is not attached.)
Using this definition of a hub Portland is a hub. There are several Cascade trains that start at Portland and go north to Seattle, one of which usually goes to Vancouver. There are 2 Cascade trains that start at Portland and go south to Eugene. The Empire Builder starts at Portland and goes east to Chicago.
 

jiml

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Using this definition of a hub Portland is a hub. There are several Cascade trains that start at Portland and go north to Seattle, one of which usually goes to Vancouver. There are 2 Cascade trains that start at Portland and go south to Eugene. The Empire Builder starts at Portland and goes east to Chicago.
Good point. I had only counted the Empire Builder and northbound Cascades that originate in Portland. I was unaware that the Eugene trains weren't run-throughs to/from Seattle. I have an outdated timetable and they're shown as either that or buses.
 

me_little_me

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This is an interesting discussion, but perhaps is being over-thought. I would suggest that a true hub is one with multiple "spokes" that allow travel on trains originating there in 3 different directions or more. Therefore I'd agree with those who suggest Amtrak's hubs are Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, NYP and Boston. (Boston could have an asterisk, since its "third spoke" is not attached.)
I don't see that a train has to originate there. If one can arrive and depart on two or more different trains going to different cities (the reverse of your train doesn't count), it's a hub. Raleigh would not be a hub as you can arrive from Southwest - arrive Carolinian/Piedmont and depart north towards NYC and south to Florida but arrival from NYC or Florida allows only one change of direction. Sacramento would be a hub as you can go east/west from multiple trrains in different N/S directions and vice versa.
 

railiner

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There are lots of places where you can depart on three or more different directions, but I would hardly call places like Vancouver, WA, or Everett, or Fullerton, etc., as "hubs"....
 

Dakota 400

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Cincinnati and Cleveland too.
Not sure about Cleveland, but Cincinnati has been a significant hub for Delta until this pandemic. International flights from there that had been anticipated might fly from DAY. An entire new concourse was built at DAY with the expectation that Delta would use it for both international and domestic flights. Moth balled for years, yet, we, the taxpayers are still paying for the debt that was incurred to build that unused facility.
 
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