Amtrak Hubs

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Woodcut60

Lead Service Attendant
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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.
I agree, that's also what I'm thinking of when I hear the word 'hub'. New Orleans maybe as well, e.g. when you're doing a coast-to-coast train trip (Sunset Limited and Crescent).
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
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Apr 5, 2011
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2,001
Here are your previously listed criteria for a hub:





Based upon your definition, I'm struggling to see why you are considering PHL a hub and ALB a "focus." Especially since ALB is known to terminate/originate the Lake Shore Limited during disruption and fans out in four different directions to cover service. No long-distance trains EVER originate or terminate at PHL and prior to the pandemic, ALB originated more regional service (6 starts) than PHL (3 starts.)

If you honestly feel PHL is a hub, you are definitely entitled to feel that way. However, it flies in the face of your own definition.
The presence of associated commuter rail at the same station should have some relevance as to whether you consider a station a "hub." It increases the number of connections available. In the case of Albany, there's no associated commuter service. In the case of Philadelphia, there's lots, including connections to Atlantic City.
 

Devil's Advocate

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May 24, 2010
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I suppose some of them are stretching the definition a little bit, but given how skeletal the LD system is it's hard to leave out any transfer points.
I see where you're coming from but I think it's better to be realistic rather than force a description that deviates from the original meaning. In my view Amtrak's long distance network has one big hub in Chicago along with a number of focus cities found along the coasts. There is no doubt that LAUS is a hub for transportation in general but in the context of Amtrak LD service it's really more of a focus city. Locations like NOL, FTW, and SAS may feature more traffic and services than a typical stop but calling them focus cities just doesn't feel right. Perhaps we need a new term to cover these situations.
 
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railbuck

Service Attendant
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May 26, 2011
Messages
214
I see where you're coming from but I think it's better to be realistic rather than force a description that deviates from the original meaning. In my view Amtrak's long distance network has one big hub in Chicago along with a number of focus cities found along the coasts. There is no doubt that LAUS is a hub for transportation in general but in the context of Amtrak LD service it's really more of a focus city. Locations like NOL, FTW, and SAS may feature more traffic and services than a typical stop but calling them focus cities just doesn't feel right. Perhaps we need a new term to cover these situations.
Perhaps the major endpoint stations like LAX and NOL could be referred to as terminals, and smaller connecting points such as FTW, STL, PGH as "transfer stations" since that is their network function.

The term "focus city" is used in the airline industry to denote an airport where service is being added in an attempt to gain market share (or as a consolation prize for former hubs like CLE and CVG) and which has service to non-hub destinations. It really doesn't translate well to Amtrak's context.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
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Apr 5, 2011
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If you're talking about long-distance (or "national network") trains, than, yes, I guess that Chicago is the only real "hub." However, Long distance service, while important, is only part of the Amtrak mission. Thus, other places where there's a lot of transfers between Amtrak trains, between Amtrak trains and commuter trains, and between commuter lines can also be considered "hubs," as well.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
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Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,369
Here is a list of all the US routes with both direct airline and Amtrak service. While not specific to Amtrak, it gives an idea of the largest transportation hubs. I was thinking of making another list which factors in bus service, but it isn't as easy to find a comprehensive list of bus routes. Destinations were defined as MSAs, which is why Phoenix and San Francisco are on the list. The cities with 10 or more such routes are:

Chicago 65
New York 39
Philadelphia 32
Washington 32
Los Angeles 26
Baltimore 21
Dallas 19
Seattle 18
San Francisco 16
Charlotte 14
Portland 14
Miami 13
Phoenix 13
Boston 12
Minneapolis 12
Atlanta 11
New Orleans 11
Denver 10
Raleigh 10
 
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