Amtrak Line Plans FY20-25 Released

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NSC1109

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Aug 14, 2016
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As some of you may be aware, Amtrak released their FY20-25 asset line plan recently. Some of the details have been discussed in other threads, but I figured this can be a central location to discuss anything and everything from the document.

Here are the big things, in my own opinion:

1) California is proposing several service improvements and expansions in California, including the Coast Daylight and an as-yet un-named service to the Coachella Valley from LA

2) Major infrastructure improvements nationwide, including double-tracking the AML between Kalamazoo and Niles, building a third main between Ragan and Brandy in Delaware, two new interlockings in the Northeast, re-configuring North Penn, the Hudson Tunnel Project, and replacing Portal North.

3) Master plans have been or are being developed for most major stations on the system, including Chicago, NYP, WAS, PHL, and Baltimore.

4) The system-wide maintenance backlog is estimated to be at $33.9 billion.

5) 75 ALC-42s have been ordered; exercising the options will depend on the AMF I replacement that is chosen as well as any national network changes that arise out of Amtrak's reauthorization. The first unit is to enter service next summer with all 75 being delivered by 2024.

6) All Talgo service with Amtrak Cascades will be transitioned to AMF I replacement. In the meantime, once all CALIDOT cars have been delivered, the AMF and Horizon units will be redeployed to service the Cascades and increase frequencies or start new services elsewhere. Talgo VIII units are short-term only.

7) Amtrak is seriously considering dual-power modes for services that operate both on and off the NEC to eliminate power swaps.

8) Superliner replacement is on hold for the time being pending a study on whether replacing or rebuilding the Supers is the most cost-effective option as well as any NN changes post-reauthorization. AMF II replacement is also on hold pending AMF I replacement choice and if the AMF I replacement is a viable candidate to use for the AMF II replacement as well as changing some services over to corridor units, such as what is happening with the Palmetto.

9) Bag and bag/dorm cars may see reduced service on the Carolinian, Pennsylvanian, and NE Regional trains 66/67, with those services potentially transitioning to trainsets, as well as potential changes to the NN pending reauthorization.

10) Amtrak is considering modifying the Viewliner II diners for the "Flexible Dining" program, potentially allowing for such diners to be deployed to the Silver Star and Cardinal.

11) Amtrak plans to use 25 V-II sleepers to increase capacity as well as potential deployment on 66/67.

12) New routes outlined for FY21-25:
FY 21: Ethan Allen extension to Burlington, VT; Pacific Surfliner 14th round-trip between LA and SD; Richmond round-trip extended to Norfolk

FY22: Capitol Corridor extended to Salinas w/ 2 new RTs between SAC and OAK; Roanoke 2nd RT to Lynchburg; Gulf Coast service (NOL to Mobile)

FY23: Hiawatha RTs 8, 9, and 10; Keystone 14th RT; Pere Marquette connection to New Buffalo; Twin Cities service (CHI-MSP)

FY24: Piedmont 4th RT; Pennsylvanian 2nd RT; Chicago-Moline service

FY25: Chicago-Rockford service

TBD: Extending the Vermonter to Montreal.

13: New initiatives for the LDSL include just about everything from fleet planning and acquisition to introducing an entirely new class of service. It's just too long to put in here but it's interesting. I will say that Amtrak is still toying with the Southwest Chief, but it doesn't give specifics.


Link to the documents:
Asset Line: https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/projects/dotcom/english/public/documents/corporate/businessplanning/Amtrak-Asset-Line-Plans-FY21-25.pdf

Service Line:
 
Last edited:

rickycourtney

Conductor
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Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,772
Here are my sort of clarity notes.

1) The service improvements and expansions in California are from the 2018 Rail Plan made by the state -- these aren't Amtrak's proposal.

5) I found this bit interesting... "The ALC-42’s TSSSA (Technical Services and Spares Supply Agreement) provides stiff penalties for Siemens if the new units do not achieve significant reductions in both the frequency of en route failures as well as in the time necessary to receive spare parts." My question is... as compared to what? Compared to the failures of the P42s? That's a pretty low bar to clear. Compared to the failures of the SC-44s? That would be an aggressive provision in the contract (and one that would be welcomed by crews).

6) I wouldn't expect to see a bunch of Horizon and Amfleet I equipment moved anytime soon. Amtrak already rustled up some Horizon cars for the Cascades. Between that Horizon set and the two ODOT-owned Talgo Series 8 trainsets, that will keep the Cascades covered the minimal COVID schedule. Once full service is restored, two more trainsets are needed. If the full expansion is realized, four more trainsets are needed. No matter what, it seems that except for the ODOT sets, the Talgo's days are numbered.

7) For the Amfleet I replacement... I would go further and say that, based on the wording of this report, Amtrak is almost certain to move to a "multiple unit" trainset product that will come in diesel-only power, catenary-electric power and dual-power propulsion varieties.

8) This report was the first time I heard that Amtrak had commissioned a Superliner Life Extension Study.

11) I thought it was interesting that, for the first time, Amtrak specifically said that the 25 Viewliner II sleeping cars will operate on separate routes from trains operating with Viewliner I sleeping cars. Amtrak cites the fact that pairing them with Viewliner I sleeping cars will be problematic because they have different numbers of rooms per car and have a different restroom set-up (no toilets in roomettes). Specific route assignments have not yet been determined. The new cars will allow sleepers to be added to the overnight Northeast Regional trains.

Also -- this document made it officially official -- Wisconsin is buying Siemens Venture cars. It's not surprising, but it wasn't official before now.
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
316
Here are my sort of clarity notes.

1) The service improvements and expansions in California are from the 2018 Rail Plan made by the state -- these aren't Amtrak's proposal.

5) I found this bit interesting... "The ALC-42’s TSSSA (Technical Services and Spares Supply Agreement) provides stiff penalties for Siemens if the new units do not achieve significant reductions in both the frequency of en route failures as well as in the time necessary to receive spare parts." My question is... as compared to what? Compared to the failures of the P42s? That's a pretty low bar to clear. Compared to the failures of the SC-44s? That would be an aggressive provision in the contract (and one that would be welcomed by crews).

6) I wouldn't expect to see a bunch of Horizon and Amfleet I equipment moved anytime soon. Amtrak already rustled up some Horizon cars for the Cascades. Between that Horizon set and the two ODOT-owned Talgo Series 8 trainsets, that will keep the Cascades covered the minimal COVID schedule. Once full service is restored, two more trainsets are needed. If the full expansion is realized, four more trainsets are needed. No matter what, it seems that except for the ODOT sets, the Talgo's days are numbered.

7) For the Amfleet I replacement... I would go further and say that, based on the wording of this report, Amtrak is almost certain to move to a "multiple unit" trainset product that will come in diesel-only power, catenary-electric power and dual-power propulsion varieties.

8) This report was the first time I heard that Amtrak had commissioned a Superliner Life Extension Study.

11) I thought it was interesting that, for the first time, Amtrak specifically said that the 25 Viewliner II sleeping cars will operate on separate routes from trains operating with Viewliner I sleeping cars. Amtrak cites the fact that pairing them with Viewliner I sleeping cars will be problematic because they have different numbers of rooms per car and have a different restroom set-up (no toilets in roomettes). Specific route assignments have not yet been determined. The new cars will allow sleepers to be added to the overnight Northeast Regional trains.

Also -- this document made it officially official -- Wisconsin is buying Siemens Venture cars. It's not surprising, but it wasn't official before now.
Yeah that Amtrak/California thing was on me. It has been changed to reflect that.

And we’re definitely not gonna see anything moving out of Chicago yet until all of the trainsets are in and they show to be working properly. Once that’s done, we’ll see the cars deploy elsewhere, either to shore up Cascades, shore up California, or start new routes out of NOL and DEN.
 

Andrew

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
444
Here are my sort of clarity notes.

1) The service improvements and expansions in California are from the 2018 Rail Plan made by the state -- these aren't Amtrak's proposal.

5) I found this bit interesting... "The ALC-42’s TSSSA (Technical Services and Spares Supply Agreement) provides stiff penalties for Siemens if the new units do not achieve significant reductions in both the frequency of en route failures as well as in the time necessary to receive spare parts." My question is... as compared to what? Compared to the failures of the P42s? That's a pretty low bar to clear. Compared to the failures of the SC-44s? That would be an aggressive provision in the contract (and one that would be welcomed by crews).

6) I wouldn't expect to see a bunch of Horizon and Amfleet I equipment moved anytime soon. Amtrak already rustled up some Horizon cars for the Cascades. Between that Horizon set and the two ODOT-owned Talgo Series 8 trainsets, that will keep the Cascades covered the minimal COVID schedule. Once full service is restored, two more trainsets are needed. If the full expansion is realized, four more trainsets are needed. No matter what, it seems that except for the ODOT sets, the Talgo's days are numbered.

7) For the Amfleet I replacement... I would go further and say that, based on the wording of this report, Amtrak is almost certain to move to a "multiple unit" trainset product that will come in diesel-only power, catenary-electric power and dual-power propulsion varieties.

8) This report was the first time I heard that Amtrak had commissioned a Superliner Life Extension Study.

11) I thought it was interesting that, for the first time, Amtrak specifically said that the 25 Viewliner II sleeping cars will operate on separate routes from trains operating with Viewliner I sleeping cars. Amtrak cites the fact that pairing them with Viewliner I sleeping cars will be problematic because they have different numbers of rooms per car and have a different restroom set-up (no toilets in roomettes). Specific route assignments have not yet been determined. The new cars will allow sleepers to be added to the overnight Northeast Regional trains.

Also -- this document made it officially official -- Wisconsin is buying Siemens Venture cars. It's not surprising, but it wasn't official before now.
If Amtrak does, in fact, move to trainsets, what would happen to the Sprinter Locomotives? Would they likely be sold to NJ Transit, Septa, Marc, and MBTA?

I thought that dual-powered trainsets were not allowed in the Hudson Tunnels? (So, instead of dual-powered trainsets, dual-powered locomotives pushing or pulling trains would run trains into and out of Penn Station).

Does anyone know which companies are the front-runners to getting the Amfleet Replacement? (I think that Siemens is a contender, but it is my understanding that their Venture coaches do not meet the platform level of NEC Stations).

Finally, I could see Amtrak moving their Keystone fleet to multiple-unit train-sets.
 

Heading North

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Apr 27, 2008
Messages
159
Parts of the plans are quite positive, but reading between the lines I don’t see how this bodes well for LDs. If the movement is toward self-powered trainsets including on routes like the Palmetto, and aggressive fleet retirements, the equipment pool needed for a full slate of overnight trains may not be there. Separated out from other uses of equipment it’s easier to languish. Granted, the reports do punt heavily to Congress to make up its mind on these and other factors.

As a total aside, are there MU sleeper components anywhere in the world or are the physical demands just not there (in other words, nowhere for beds etc. because of the space taken up by propulsion equipment)? If that’s somehow possible, I could see a teeny tiny silver lining as it could be a very cost-effective way to do one-night services as a minimum if, say, the FC space is replaced with sleeper space. Trains like 65/66/67 or East Coast-Chicago Service if there are some fast enough segments. Just a thought.
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,772
If Amtrak does, in fact, move to trainsets, what would happen to the Sprinter Locomotives? Would they likely be sold to NJ Transit, Septa, Marc, and MBTA?

I thought that dual-powered trainsets were not allowed in the Hudson Tunnels? (So, instead of dual-powered trainsets, dual-powered locomotives pushing or pulling trains would run trains into and out of Penn Station).

Does anyone know which companies are the front-runners to getting the Amfleet Replacement? (I think that Siemens is a contender, but it is my understanding that their Venture coaches do not meet the platform level of NEC Stations).

Finally, I could see Amtrak moving their Keystone fleet to multiple-unit train-sets.
What happens to the Sprinters is the 466 million dollar question.

Delivery of all the trainsets will stretch into the late 2020s... so the Sprinters will still be used until delivery is complete. Also, the long-distance trains on the NEC that utilize Amfleet II and Viewliner cars will still need Sprinters. So they'll still be around... but Amtrak would need fewer and they probably won't get the chance.

I would think that Siemens would be a front-runner, as would Alstom (who's building the next-gen Acela trainsets). I would imagine CAF would be at the bottom of the list. I also get the impression that Talgo would be unlikely (Talgo builds what it wants to build). Bombardier has built a lot, but considering their quality problems, I don't see them winning.

But here's the thing... this contract is huge. 75 trainsets would be roughly 525 railcars (five times larger than the Viewliner II order) and if the option for 50 additional trainsets is exercised it swells to 875 railcars. With a contract that large, we could see a lot of "dark horse" bidders, companies that don't often bid on US projects like Kawasaki or Hitachi.

The holy grail for this project would be if a company is willing to make all of the possible options. For example semi-permanently coupled trainsets, married pairs, and individual cars (like what Siemens is currently building for the states). Also, with variants that are unpowered, diesel-only powered, electric-only powered and dual-powered. That would create one national fleet, with interchangeable parts that could be built into whatever Amtrak needs... but it would be incredibly complex... perhaps too complex.
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,772
Parts of the plans are quite positive, but reading between the lines I don’t see how this bodes well for LDs. If the movement is toward self-powered trainsets including on routes like the Palmetto, and aggressive fleet retirements, the equipment pool needed for a full slate of overnight trains may not be there. Separated out from other uses of equipment it’s easier to languish. Granted, the reports do punt heavily to Congress to make up its mind on these and other factors.
I think the purchase of the 75 new ALC-42 diesel locomotives bodes well for the long-distance network... or at least it bodes well for some level of passenger rail service in the middle of the country.
 

Andrew

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
444
What happens to the Sprinters is the 466 million dollar question.

Delivery of all the trainsets will stretch into the late 2020s... so the Sprinters will still be used until delivery is complete. Also, the long-distance trains on the NEC that utilize Amfleet II and Viewliner cars will still need Sprinters. So they'll still be around... but Amtrak would need fewer and they probably won't get the chance.

I would think that Siemens would be a front-runner, as would Alstom (who's building the next-gen Acela trainsets). I would imagine CAF would be at the bottom of the list. I also get the impression that Talgo would be unlikely (Talgo builds what it wants to build). Bombardier has built a lot, but considering their quality problems, I don't see them winning.

But here's the thing... this contract is huge. 75 trainsets would be roughly 525 railcars (five times larger than the Viewliner II order) and if the option for 50 additional trainsets is exercised it swells to 875 railcars. With a contract that large, we could see a lot of "dark horse" bidders, companies that don't often bid on US projects like Kawasaki or Hitachi.

The holy grail for this project would be if a company is willing to make all of the possible options. For example semi-permanently coupled trainsets, married pairs, and individual cars (like what Siemens is currently building for the states). Also, with variants that are unpowered, diesel-only powered, electric-only powered and dual-powered. That would create one national fleet, with interchangeable parts that could be built into whatever Amtrak needs... but it would be incredibly complex... perhaps too complex.
I would bet that Siemens gets picked to replaced the Cascades trainsets but that the NEC Equipment will get Alstom rolling stock.

(Alstom has their factory in Upstate NY, and having more trainsade in NY will please Governor Cuomo).

For regional trains that operate between Boston and DC, would multiple-unit trainsets without locomotives be the best option? (This way, what used to be locomotive powered trains with 8 cars could become 9 car multiple unit train-sets).
 

NSC1109

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I would bet that Siemens gets picked to replaced the Cascades trainsets but that the NEC Equipment will get Alstom rolling stock.

(Alstom has their factory in Upstate NY, and having more trainsade in NY will please Governor Cuomo).

For regional trains that operate between Boston and DC, would multiple-unit trainsets without locomotives be the best option? (This way, what used to be locomotive powered trains with 8 cars could become 9 car multiple unit train-sets).
The AMF I replacement isn’t just NEC. They’re still used out of Chicago as well for corridor trains. While the states are getting equipment to update those services, those AMFs are going to be deployed elsewhere to start new routes or increase frequencies. They’re gonna need to have the ability to run off-NEC too.
 

Willbridge

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I would bet that Siemens gets picked to replaced the Cascades trainsets but that the NEC Equipment will get Alstom rolling stock.

(Alstom has their factory in Upstate NY, and having more trainsade in NY will please Governor Cuomo).
A pause to remember the selection committee at Edmonton Transit that chose the Siemens DueWag LRV in 1977, in spite of pressure to wait for a domestic product. (The first cars arrived with German language safety warning stickers.) Here is a pre-grand opening session filming a television commercial. For a few years there was a fear that the new manufacturer's cars would become orphans. Siemens had to be talked into entering the market, because they thought it would be too small.

1978 062.jpg

And now back to their important role in today's market....
 

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lordsigma

OBS Chief
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My local service (the new haven - Springfield line) has actually gained some coaches in the last couple weeks. The 400 series trains (“Hartford Line”/“Valley Flyer”) We’re running with three cars this week.
 

Andrew

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Messages
444
) Master plans have been or are being developed for most major stations on the system, including Chicago, NYP, WAS, PHL, and Baltimore.

4) The system-wide maintenance backlog is estimated to be at $33.9 billion.

5) 75 ALC-42s have been ordered; exercising the options will depend on the AMF I replacement that is chosen as well as any national network changes that arise out of Amtrak's reauthorization. The first unit is to enter service next summer with all 75 being delivered by 2024.
Does the master plan include Penn Station South?

Regarding Amfleet replacement that operates on both diesel and catenary electric power, would it make sense to have an Sprinter locomotive on end of the train, and a Charger on the other, or should Amtrak order catenary diesel Charger locomotives?
 

John Bredin

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FY23: Hiawatha RTs 8, 9, and 10; Keystone 14th RT; Pere Marquette connection to New Buffalo; Twin Cities service (CHI-MSP)

FY24: Piedmont 4th RT; Pennsylvanian 2nd RT; Chicago-Moline service

FY25: Chicago-Rockford service

TBD: Extending the Vermonter to Montreal.
These seem, umm, unambitious to put it mildly. :oops:

I know additional Hiawathas will require track & yard improvements, and Pere Marquette to New Buffalo will require new switches. But is there 3+ years worth of track improvement needed for a 14th Keystone or a second Twin Cities train, or a 4th Piedmont?

I know a new track connection is needed at Wyanet to get trains to Moline, but unless the tracks from Wyanet to Moline are rusted to powder and need to be relaid from scratch, it shouldn't take 4+ years to make the requisite improvements considering the line from Chicago to Wyanet is the multi-track fast BNSF line already supporting four (in normal times) Amtrak round-trips. Not to mention this project has been pending for a dog's age and Moline already built a station except for platforms.

Ditto 5+ years for Rockford service. I understand getting past Rockford to Galena and Dubuque is a matter of CN intransigence* but this is another project that's been pending forever. Sorta like Moline service, Rockford service would use a multi-track line already supporting frequent passenger service -- Metra Milwaukee West to Big Timber -- and then require a new track connection to reach an existing freight line that isn't as nice but shouldn't take 5 years to bring up to snuff.

And ditto the Vermonter to Montreal: service already goes to St. Albans. Again, unless the tracks from there to Montreal are cr*p, it shouldn't take 6+ years to improve them and to put up the requisite ugly fencing :) for one platform at Montreal station to make a Vancouver-style facility. I know the blockage to such a facility is political will to staff and operate a "border" facility there rather than at the border itself, but that will won't come into being by sheer passage of five years, and if/when the will exists, proper enclosure, etc., at Montreal won't take long to construct.


*Illinois DOT plans to get from Big Timber to Rockford on UP trackage, but its plans to get past Rockford are on hold because the only tracks between Rockford and Galena are CN. Who would have thought 20+ years ago that cooperative CN and intransigent UP would "flip" attitudes? 🤔
 

Andrew

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Messages
444
Could a dual-powered Charger accelerate as quickly as a Sprinter locomotive and still go 125 mph in electric mode?
 

jruff001

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And ditto the Vermonter to Montreal: service already goes to St. Albans. Again, unless the tracks from there to Montreal are cr*p, it shouldn't take 6+ years to improve them and to put up the requisite ugly fencing :) for one platform at Montreal station to make a Vancouver-style facility. I know the blockage to such a facility is political will to staff and operate a "border" facility there rather than at the border itself, but that will won't come into being by sheer passage of five years, and if/when the will exists, proper enclosure, etc., at Montreal won't take long to construct.
Of course Amtrak used to have an extended Vermonter to Montreal once upon a time, called the Montrealer.

U.S. border formalities were completed at the station stop nearest the border in St. Albans, VT, though, not Montreal.

(And yes the tracks between there and Montreal were horrible.)
 
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I thought I'd seen something about Quad Cities service coming online sooner (maybe once the Siemens cars start to arrive)?

So nothing about that mythical Tennessee service someone from a freight posted about a while back? They said that they were told Amtrak would be using their route, iirc from Chattanooga to Nashville?
 

NSC1109

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Messages
316
I thought I'd seen something about Quad Cities service coming online sooner (maybe once the Siemens cars start to arrive)?

So nothing about that mythical Tennessee service someone from a freight posted about a while back? They said that they were told Amtrak would be using their route, iirc from Chattanooga to Nashville?
Chicago to Memphis was proposed a while back as a day train but I’m not sure where it stands right now.
 

NSC1109

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Joined
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Messages
316
These seem, umm, unambitious to put it mildly. :oops:

I know additional Hiawathas will require track & yard improvements, and Pere Marquette to New Buffalo will require new switches. But is there 3+ years worth of track improvement needed for a 14th Keystone or a second Twin Cities train, or a 4th Piedmont?

I know a new track connection is needed at Wyanet to get trains to Moline, but unless the tracks from Wyanet to Moline are rusted to powder and need to be relaid from scratch, it shouldn't take 4+ years to make the requisite improvements considering the line from Chicago to Wyanet is the multi-track fast BNSF line already supporting four (in normal times) Amtrak round-trips. Not to mention this project has been pending for a dog's age and Moline already built a station except for platforms.

Ditto 5+ years for Rockford service. I understand getting past Rockford to Galena and Dubuque is a matter of CN intransigence* but this is another project that's been pending forever. Sorta like Moline service, Rockford service would use a multi-track line already supporting frequent passenger service -- Metra Milwaukee West to Big Timber -- and then require a new track connection to reach an existing freight line that isn't as nice but shouldn't take 5 years to bring up to snuff.

And ditto the Vermonter to Montreal: service already goes to St. Albans. Again, unless the tracks from there to Montreal are cr*p, it shouldn't take 6+ years to improve them and to put up the requisite ugly fencing :) for one platform at Montreal station to make a Vancouver-style facility. I know the blockage to such a facility is political will to staff and operate a "border" facility there rather than at the border itself, but that will won't come into being by sheer passage of five years, and if/when the will exists, proper enclosure, etc., at Montreal won't take long to construct.


*Illinois DOT plans to get from Big Timber to Rockford on UP trackage, but its plans to get past Rockford are on hold because the only tracks between Rockford and Galena are CN. Who would have thought 20+ years ago that cooperative CN and intransigent UP would "flip" attitudes? 🤔
I think Amtrak is counting on delays thanks to freight railroad and other defensives in allowing these services to develop. One of the villages on the Hiawatha route held a vote or something to try and block CP/IDOT from making improvements to the line to increase frequency.

Detroit-Toronto is still out there somewhere too, and I’m hoping that when they bring that back, they’ll take the Lake Shore Limited off the Chicago Line and run it down the AML, through Canada (not stopping), and into Boston/NYP. That leaves a “slot” open to develop a daylight train or two between Cleveland and Chicago.
 
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I think Amtrak is counting on delays thanks to freight railroad and other defensives in allowing these services to develop. One of the villages on the Hiawatha route held a vote or something to try and block CP/IDOT from making improvements to the line to increase frequency.
Glenview didn't want an additional siding if I remember right.
 

Eric S

Conductor
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Dec 19, 2009
Messages
2,515
Glenview didn't want an additional siding if I remember right.
That's what I recall as well. Glenview (and possibly other nearby suburbs) was concerned about locomotives idling next to homes. Projects in Wisconsin have continued to move forward (second platform at MKA, Muskego Yard improvements, etc.) while Illinois was going to look into alternatives to that siding that would still allow additional Hiawatha frequencies.
 
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