Amtrak should have an overnight LA-Bay Area train

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west point

Conductor
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Jun 9, 2015
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best overnight train?  Leave LAX late get to San Jose split train and put SFO cars onto rear of Caltrain to SFO rest of train to Oakland.  This might not be possible if  all Caltrain become EMU.
 

sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
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Besides trying to save money and scrounge a few extra rider, I never understood why Amtrak (or any train operator really) decided to split trains. When I was on a train that split in Poland, it added at least 20 minutes. Some people will ***** about that at the outset. If Amtrak were to start an overnight express service, it should just pick one city pair and live with it. It could always try to add a train to Sacramento and connect Oakland that way if it really is/becomes a priority or the other way around for that matter. Also if this would be just overnight service, would it also lack food service? If it does, adding any delay like splitting a train could be seen as a negative to taking the train over some other form of transportation. 
 

Anderson

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I found it to be beautiful, but I think it helps that the scenery is also rare (and so "fresh" for frequent riders).
 

sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
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Is Tehachapi busy 24/7? Or could a over night amtrak train sneak through in the early hours either way?
Yes Tehachapi Pass is busy 24/7/365.
-UP, Whenever there is the prospect of a passenger train.
 
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JustOnce

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Mar 19, 2019
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Yes Tehachapi Pass is busy 24/7/365.
-UP, Whenever there is the prospect of a passenger train.
It was hard for me to understand at first, but freights just don't quit for the night. Often a train will be run for 12 hours straight (unless it reaches a crew-change point on time), be recrewed possibly with several hours delay (depending on crew availability and how busy the crew vans are) and sent out again. Things are a little different if the train stops to "work" a yard: then the yard crew takes over, builds the train, and a road crew is called to take it out again. Along the way, it might have to wait for unfavorable signals at single track sections and diamond crossings.

In areas with higher passenger traffic, the freights often run during the overnight hours only.
 

sttom

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In areas with higher passenger traffic, the freights often run during the overnight hours only.
The railways have been dragging their collective feet over using Tehachapi Pass since the state started pushing to expand Amtrak California back in the 90s. And it's in an unpopulated comparatively speaking. Yeah their might be traffic, but rail traffic is declining thanks to us burning less coal. So it's not beyond reason to wonder if the railways aren't lying when they say literally every line in the country is at 150% of capacity and growing or whatever they are saying.
 

JustOnce

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The railways have been dragging their collective feet over using Tehachapi Pass since the state started pushing to expand Amtrak California back in the 90s. And it's in an unpopulated comparatively speaking. Yeah their might be traffic, but rail traffic is declining thanks to us burning less coal. So it's not beyond reason to wonder if the railways aren't lying when they say literally every line in the country is at 150% of capacity and growing or whatever they are saying.
It's still a single track bottleneck near Tunnel 9 up to the loop and I believe it's ~25 mph. It's shared with BNSF due to an earlier SP-era trackage rights agreement. It's still UP's (and BNSF's) main link between SF and the Pacific Northwest and the southern transcontinental routes. FRA crossing data suggests 30 trains a day. Knowing how CTC dispatchers "fleet" groups of trains running in the same direction before switching the running direction of the line, I imagine they could get 2 Amtraks a day through, but Amtrak wouldn't be happy with timekeeping performance. If Amtrak's the fifth westbound to arrive and the line's set for eastbounds, Amtrak will have to wait for all the eastbound to pass and then follow the 4 westbounds until a passing opportunity may open up. Also I've heard some rumblings that they don't run trains during the hottest parts of the day.

If you really want to know how active the line is, watch the live cam. It has 12 hour rewind so you only need to visit twice a day and skim the footage rather than watch all day.

I agree that some host railroads may want too much in the way of improvements for additional passenger trains but sometimes it's warranted. CSX wants full double tracking between Springfield and Worcester for any expansion beyond 448/449. I thought this was bunk until I actually looked at the symbol guide and realized there were a lot more daily trains than I thought. CSX also wants a third track on Long Bridge (DC-VA) before additional trains are added. I'll partially agree with that one although I do believe there are more train slots, just not during daylight hours.
 

sttom

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That still doesn't mean we should just take the railroad's word for it when they have show to be intransigent. I wish California was a bit more logical and would just threaten the railways with eminent domain to get better deals on upgrading the line. I doubt UP and BNSF would be willing to let that happen vs allowing the state into a fairer deal for added passenger trains.
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

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Jul 25, 2015
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That still doesn't mean we should just take the railroad's word for it when they have show to be intransigent. I wish California was a bit more logical and would just threaten the railways with eminent domain to get better deals on upgrading the line. I doubt UP and BNSF would be willing to let that happen vs allowing the state into a fairer deal for added passenger trains.
Doesn't have to be Tehachapi, if Amtrak can run along the Coast Starlight/Pacific Coast route overnight, it works for me. It's ridiculous there's only one train between Los Angeles and the Bay Area (can't even say San Francisco because there are ZERO trains between Los Angeles and San Fran).
 

sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
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Doesn't have to be Tehachapi, if Amtrak can run along the Coast Starlight/Pacific Coast route overnight, it works for me. It's ridiculous there's only one train between Los Angeles and the Bay Area (can't even say San Francisco because there are ZERO trains between Los Angeles and San Fran).
I've wondered about adding a second run of the Starlight. It does connect five different urban areas to each other and they don't really have that great of connections to being with. A coast line overnight train would also work. I'm suspect as to if running an over night train into SF would even be worth it considering it lacks a connection with any other part of Amtrak. I am also against splitting the train because that would take time while people are awake and the loss of the cafe car on one leg could be a reason to not take the train.
 

west point

Conductor
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Jun 9, 2015
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2,157
This will never happen but ------- Run a overnight train up the coast Split off the rear potion and attach it to a Gilroy train to downtown San Francisco. Rest of train to Oakland / Emeryville or maybe even Sacramento. Gilroy train because San Jose Caltrain service will become probably all EMU . Might not be all EMU if traffic becomes greater than planned. Another problem is the short platforms on the Caltrain route but that problem could be mitigated ?

Reverse process and add SFC cars to south bound at SJC.

Equipment could be serviced every other day at LAX

Once service to Transbay terminal begins then probably need to be separate train ?
 

desertflyer

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Jul 29, 2013
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I do think an overnight train would be very popular. I, for one, would take it often. Especially if it served downtown SF to downtown LA. Unfortunately, the bus company mentioned in the OP (Cabin) has gone out of business.
 
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It's still a single track bottleneck near Tunnel 9 up to the loop and I believe it's ~25 mph. It's shared with BNSF due to an earlier SP-era trackage rights agreement. It's still UP's (and BNSF's) main link between SF and the Pacific Northwest and the southern transcontinental routes. FRA crossing data suggests 30 trains a day. Knowing how CTC dispatchers "fleet" groups of trains running in the same direction before switching the running direction of the line, I imagine they could get 2 Amtraks a day through, but Amtrak wouldn't be happy with timekeeping performance. If Amtrak's the fifth westbound to arrive and the line's set for eastbounds, Amtrak will have to wait for all the eastbound to pass and then follow the 4 westbounds until a passing opportunity may open up. Also I've heard some rumblings that they don't run trains during the hottest parts of the day.

If you really want to know how active the line is, watch the live cam. It has 12 hour rewind so you only need to visit twice a day and skim the footage rather than watch all day.

I agree that some host railroads may want too much in the way of improvements for additional passenger trains but sometimes it's warranted. CSX wants full double tracking between Springfield and Worcester for any expansion beyond 448/449. I thought this was bunk until I actually looked at the symbol guide and realized there were a lot more daily trains than I thought. CSX also wants a third track on Long Bridge (DC-VA) before additional trains are added. I'll partially agree with that one although I do believe there are more train slots, just not during daylight hours.
I've read that they have started double tracking part of the Tehachapi over the last 7 years. Since the state pays for part of the upgrade, wouldn't it make sense to allow passenger trains on that route that could connect up with the future high speed rail in Bakersfield?
 

Eric S

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Dec 19, 2009
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I've read that they have started double tracking part of the Tehachapi over the last 7 years. Since the state pays for part of the upgrade, wouldn't it make sense to allow passenger trains on that route that could connect up with the future high speed rail in Bakersfield?
Do you have a citation or link for that upgrade project? I was unaware that the state was funding any sort of capacity expansion in that area.
 

sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
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We would just need the equipment and the railroad not being squirrelly and we could have it. Or the state being smart enough to not expect a JPA to be formed to handle it.
 

TheTuck

Train Attendant
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Jun 1, 2009
Messages
48
The LA-BFD buses do a fine job since the train ride over the tehachapis would take twice as long (on a good day). For a daylight corridor service like we have now, trains don't make sense (not to mention UP would balk). An overnight service wouldn't be as bad.

A better idea would be if California bought the coastline between San Jose and Moorpark and built a modern conventional passenger railroad from Norcal to Socal. This could allow a number of combination surfliner/capitols or daylights/larks to run between north and south. Of course it wouldn't be cheap and would need lots of upgrades. But if Caltrans really wants a useful rail transportation system, this is where I'd start.
 

Palmetto

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May 12, 2014
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The title of this thread should read: Amtrak should re-instate The Spirit of California. I forget how long that train ran, but it was pretty short-lived.
 

Anderson

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Nov 16, 2010
Messages
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It was there for about two years (spread over three FYs). It went away because...well, bluntly, Jerry Brown was a dolt and decided to try to become Senator instead of staying as Governor.
 

seat38a

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
2,025
The title of this thread should read: Amtrak should re-instate The Spirit of California. I forget how long that train ran, but it was pretty short-lived.
It was there for about two years (spread over three FYs). It went away because...well, bluntly, Jerry Brown was a dolt and decided to try to become Senator instead of staying as Governor.
Maybe you should ask the tax payers of California first. ;) You know it's us who's going to end up having to pay 100% of the cost under current rules. Frankly, our tax money are better spent on other in State rail projects than some overnight sleeper train.
 

sttom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
494
Honestly, CalTrans and my legislature should put up or shut up when it comes to Amtrak California. California should have 200+ Intercity train trips per day including a handful of overnight trains. I'm ok with paying a little extra in taxes if it means we have an intercity rail network to rival countries like Poland. And that's something that most people would be fine with if someone made the case for it.
 
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