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Anderson

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I think you could get the BB to play ball. A useful-level DMU service would be their biggest customer. CSX is the issue (along with NS, of course, but I have a Peninsula-based view on this).
 

City of Miami

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I've been thinking awhile maybe a DMU service on BBRR from CVS to Staunton would be helpful and popular. Could start in Orange and include Gordonsville and Crozet and Waynesboro. 2 r/t daily. 1 car. :)
 

Anderson

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The issue is that there's no good reason to originate it in Orange. You'd want to either start out of DC, Richmond, or Hampton Roads (the former two because of connectivity, the latter for an added batch of traffic which could connect at RVR). Staunton would't be a horrid endpoint (given that it would be pulling teeth to get WV involved), though you might end up with Clifton Forge just due to track configuration issues.
 

Palmland

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In Staunton the BB has a small yard with engine service facility, office with a dispatcher, and a couple tracks. It’s a head on connection just west of the station. Might be able to service a couple DMU’s there.

It’s a small town ( does have Mary Baldwin college) but certainly growing along I-64 corridors over to Waynesboro and I-81 up to Harrisonburg (with James Madison U.) If marketed properly, could generate some revenue. Good connection in Charlottesville with the Roanoke train would be important.
 

Seaboard92

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While we’re at it why not add another Roanoke regional except route it. Roanoke-Waynesboro-Front Royal-Manassas-DC
 

Anderson

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While I wouldn't be opposed to that...when did that route lose pax service (at least up to Front Royal)? I know there was a train that went up into PA on it back in the 50s, but it was one of those all-stops locals.

I did ponder about the idea of extending some limited VRE service out to Front Royal (perhaps 2-3 trains per day) once or twice, particularly since the folks in Nova are examining long-term plans to extend commuter buses towards Winchester.
 

Seaboard92

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Actually I’m 1952 there were two trains on the route from Roanoke to Hagerstown. One was an all stops local. The second made quite a few stops but it skipped quite a few. While one train went all the way into Harrisburg and I believe a thru car to Philadelphia. The thru train was a night train.

The Southern B like I believe didn’t have service in 1952.

Roanoke itself in 1952 had multiple frequencies to Norfolk in two routes, service to Winston Salem, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Deepwater, and the aforementioned Shenandoah Valley trains.
 

Palmland

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Seaboard, that was one of my earliest train memories: riding N&W trains 1&2. At that young age I don’t remember much except after boarding in Paoli my brother and I were in a upper/lower berth in a heavyweight sleeper due to mix up in our reservation and no room in the regular assigned 10-6. Parents in a bedroom. Both cars originated in NY on PRR and to N&W in Harrisburg. Next morning I had to eat breakfast fast in the diner before we arrived at our destination, Buena Vista, VA. Also recall the glow from the firebox of the K class as it came into the station on our return.

For Amtrak era I’d settle for a DMU but suspect NS would have other ideas! But with Amtrak owning the Keystone route, that might be a more viable option than going into Washington.
 

west point

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Any additional trains to / from DC to VA needs long bridge expansion to 4 tracks over the Potomac. At the pace now showing for the expansion the end appears 10 years in the future. The only way to add more trains now is---------------------
Combine / split VRE trains at ALX and Amtrak trains at Richmond and ALX.. Have no idea how much that would cost but $25 M at each location for trackwork and signals is a low ball guess.. The problem of course is the necessity of having on duty car knockers and other servicing personnel. An extra cost that Amtrak and
VRE would not like to take on permanently ?
 

City of Miami

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Problems mentioned above are why I was thinking BBRR only (Staunton to Orange) and DMU service. There is a lot of commuter traffic into CVS from both directions, esp Waynesboro. All these communities have poor or no rail or bus service now. Seems like low-hanging fruit to me.
 

jis

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Any additional trains to / from DC to VA needs long bridge expansion to 4 tracks over the Potomac. At the pace now showing for the expansion the end appears 10 years in the future. The only way to add more trains now is---------------------
Combine / split VRE trains at ALX and Amtrak trains at Richmond and ALX.. Have no idea how much that would cost but $25 M at each location for trackwork and signals is a low ball guess.. The problem of course is the necessity of having on duty car knockers and other servicing personnel. An extra cost that Amtrak and
VRE would not like to take on permanently ?
I am certain that CSX will have conniptions, neigh throw a major hissy-fit if anyone even mentions combining/splitting a train on their main line trackage in ALX. So IMHO you can pretty much forget about it.
 

west point

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Combining splitting on the main line(s) of course is why the capital costs at ALX and Richmond would be so high. Getting the passenger trains off the main line at those stations will have many benefits. You are building a straw dog that was never contemplated. Still the money needed for signal and trackwork will not come cheap if completing is only way to meet passenger demand.
 

LookingGlassTie

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Actually I’m 1952 there were two trains on the route from Roanoke to Hagerstown. One was an all stops local. The second made quite a few stops but it skipped quite a few. While one train went all the way into Harrisburg and I believe a thru car to Philadelphia. The thru train was a night train.

The Southern B like I believe didn’t have service in 1952.

Roanoke itself in 1952 had multiple frequencies to Norfolk in two routes, service to Winston Salem, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Deepwater, and the aforementioned Shenandoah Valley trains.
This was back when the Norfolk passenger train station was at (or near) Lamberts Point, right? IIRC, the Mountaineer route ceased operation in 1977, not long after I was born.
 

Anderson

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Combining splitting on the main line(s) of course is why the capital costs at ALX and Richmond would be so high. Getting the passenger trains off the main line at those stations will have many benefits. You are building a straw dog that was never contemplated. Still the money needed for signal and trackwork will not come cheap if completing is only way to meet passenger demand.
Actually, this has more-or-less been contemplated. In the case of RVR (in particular), there are a few solutions (adding a new freight track on the far side of things as a trade for the outermost track, putting another two-track platform on the far side but leaving the tracks "in the middle" for freight-only use, or if only two tracks are needed, moving to just use the two tracks nearest the station outside of unusual situations). ALX is far more constrained, thanks to the Metro; simply running everything to WAS probably makes more sense in that case (especially since you have yard facilities and so on there).

If you were dead set on doing a split-and-combine show, you'd have more luck at Crystal City (where a look at a satellite picture suggests that you at least have room for one more track within the ROW; you might even be able to jam in a little more if you extend the ROW and are willing to encroach on some parkland).

To be fair, combinations are a bigger issue than splitting trains.

Oh, and a fun trivia point: The Google Maps satellite picture of ALX has a NB Amtrak train in the station. It is eight pax cars plus a Viewliner II bag; I think it might be the Carolinian, though it could be a late-running Meteor. [1]

[1] Ok, it has a bag, so that limits you to the Star, Meteor, Palmetto, Crescent, Cardinal, or Shoreliner (66/67). We can safely eliminate the Shoreliner due to time of day (NB it doesn't get to ALX until well after 2030). We can probably eliminate the Cardinal due to a mix of that and consist length (it is too long). On the one hand, it looks like it has a Heritage diner fourth from the rear (which would mean the Meteor); on the other hand, that would also imply only three coaches (which feels short). So my guess is the Carolinian.
 

Palmland

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I’m not sure why trains couldn’t be combined/split at RVR now, if done during daytime when the train that terminates there is gone. This is especially so since the recent lengthening of the station track and the conversion a few years ago of the former stub track to run through.
 

jis

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Actually combining/splitting even on a main line, given appropriate equipment is quite conceivable, but only if the managers of various pieces of the system wish to actually work proactively to provide services.

If DEMUs with Scharfenberg couplers are used, something that apparently every other country in the world is capable of doing, except the US, then a train can be split or joined in a minute or two more than it takes to just service passengers. And as a seasoned railwayman in another board said, anything can be done that is adequately planned for. The question is, whether there is the willingness to do so.

So the main reason that such split/joins are infeasible in the US is because of pointless obduracy of the management of one or more outfits involved.
 

Thirdrail7

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Oh, and a fun trivia point: The Google Maps satellite picture of ALX has a NB Amtrak train in the station. It is eight pax cars plus a Viewliner II bag; I think it might be the Carolinian, though it could be a late-running Meteor. [1]

[1] Ok, it has a bag, so that limits you to the Star, Meteor, Palmetto, Crescent, Cardinal, or Shoreliner (66/67). We can safely eliminate the Shoreliner due to time of day (NB it doesn't get to ALX until well after 2030). We can probably eliminate the Cardinal due to a mix of that and consist length (it is too long). On the one hand, it looks like it has a Heritage diner fourth from the rear (which would mean the Meteor); on the other hand, that would also imply only three coaches (which feels short). So my guess is the Carolinian.
It sounds more like the Crescent or Star.

I’m not sure why trains couldn’t be combined/split at RVR now, if done during daytime when the train that terminates there is gone. This is especially so since the recent lengthening of the station track and the conversion a few years ago of the former stub track to run through.
It can be done but what happens when the connection is late (which is extremely likely?) Additionally, what is the real point when you're probably spending the majority of your trip on the most populated portion of the route on a combined train, subjecting them to additional delays?


Actually combining/splitting even on a main line, given appropriate equipment is quite conceivable, but only if the managers of various pieces of the system wish to actually work proactively to provide services.

If DEMUs with Scharfenberg couplers are used, something that apparently every other country in the world is capable of doing, except the US, then a train can be split or joined in a minute or two more than it takes to just service passengers. And as a seasoned railwayman in another board said, anything can be done that is adequately planned for. The question is, whether there is the willingness to do so.

So the main reason that such split/joins are infeasible in the US is because of pointless obduracy of the management of one or more outfits involved.
There are a lot of things that are "possible" but is it worth it. NJT uses spear type couplers which can be separated and joined in a matter of seconds. However, that STILL doesn't relieve them of the Blue Flag rules and the need for additional brakes tests, which are required by the FRA(which doesn't govern "every other country in the world but governs the United States.) Additionally, if you try to attempt to use the train crews 9t avoid the blue flag regulations), you are now setting up SOFA rules. This is not a big deal in a yard, but on a main track, if you foul another rail or come within four feet of an active rail with the potential to foul railroad will now have to establish a hold on that adjacent track. So, you are not only occupying an active rail, you are now closing an adjacent track.

Sure, you can do it. You can also have a do a dance every time a train crosses an interlocking.
 
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west point

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The only reason that we proposed the combining splitting is because there are no more slots for passenger trains available on Long Bridge. So if VRE or Amtrak wanted to add more trains something drastic has to be done to add those trains. VRE about once a month will combine a Manassas train and Lorton train at WASH. It does not really matter which route leads. The leading train pulls away from following train at ALX and then following train proceeds after brake test.
Am not aware that VRE ever combines at ALX.

To make this combining work two thru sidings would be needed to remove that work off any main line at ALX or RVR. Following train couples to a leading train and both proceed when brake test completed.

Mid platform switches would be needed for the WASH north end combining and splitting function as well.

Combining Amtrak has the additional problem the thru control wires of locos are not installed on every single level Amtrak car. That would require engineer of following train to operate it as freight RRs operate mid train helper sets.

Hopefully this type of operation would only need to operate for the 10 - 14 years in the future to get Long bridge capacity expanded.
 

jis

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There are a lot of things that are "possible" but is it worth it. NJT uses spear type couplers which can be separated and joined in a matter of seconds. However, that STILL doesn't relieve them of the Blue Flag rules and the need for additional brakes tests, which are required by the FRA(which doesn't govern "every other country in the world but governs the United States.) Additionally, if you try to attempt to use the train crews 9t avoid the blue flag regulations), you are now setting up SOFA rules. This is not a big deal in a yard, but on a main track, if you foul another rail or come within four feet of an active rail with the potential to foul railroad will now have to establish a hold on that adjacent track. So, you are not only occupying an active rail, you are now closing an adjacent track.
For two units connected together using a Scharfenberg coupler that are either separating or joining, why would there be any train crew on the ground? Why would one need to block adjacent tracks? No one that uses those puts any crew on the ground and blocks adjacent tracks to protect non-existent people on the ground.

Yes. There are many things that cannot be done in the US simply because no one wants to figure out how to do it, and say what is the point? That was my point.

These are not things that are inherently impossible. There are human made impossibilities, which the rest of the world does not suffer from, and there is no evidence that their operations are any less safe than in the US, specifically in places where quick split-joins are done hundreds of time a day in Europe and Asia. I find it hard to believe that Americans are inherently more accident prone than the rest of the world. So I surmise that it is sort of like the current impossibility for Amtrak to introduce a train that has a run of 750 miles or less without bugging some state or the other.
 

Thirdrail7

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For two units connected together using a Scharfenberg coupler that are either separating or joining, why would there be any train crew on the ground? Why would one need to block adjacent tracks? No one that uses those puts any crew on the ground and blocks adjacent tracks to protect non-existent people on the ground.
So, how are these people doing their walking inspection of the brake line and continuity test, which is required when you add (or drop) equipment?

Oh...wait....don't tell me....they don't do that in other countries. I suppose they don't inspect the coupling area to make sure it is clear of debris or lined up. They just barge in a hope the self centering portion works as intended. Of course, you can keep ramming away until the self centering portion does its on work I suppose.

Yes. There are many things that cannot be done in the US simply because no one wants to figure out how to do it, and say what is the point? That was my point.
Orrrr..maybe they are reacting to things that happen and trying to limit them happening here....like a runaway freight train incinerating a town...or the high speed train that broke apart, hit a bridge, derailed while the crew was looking at puncture instead of asking the engine crew to stop ( I mean you may be reluctant to pull the emergency brakes but you could still ask the crew to stop...well, now you can.)

Again, most of the regulations are written in blood. There are countries where people apparently ride on the outside of the trains without much issue. I guess we should figure that out here and then we wouldn't have to worry about high capacity seating, a surge fleet or clean windows. I mean if a few people fall off, that's just the cost of doing business, right? Inside the coach can be business class.

So, again, what happens in the rest of world isn't really relevant or applicable. The regulations (whether they are helpful, overkill or really help or promote safety instead of being knee jerk reactions that really mean little since people probably weren't following the existing rules to begin with...so we added more rules to not get followed is the real debate) exists...here. Most of them probably didn't exist 50 years ago, a great deal of them didn't exist 30 years ago and a large amount of them didn't exist 10 years. We deal with the operating environment that exists....here.....and now.
 
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IndyLions

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Nov 6, 2016
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I don’t think anyone is saying “rules be damned”. But it is hard to deny that in this country we have to deal with a government entity with all of its inefficiencies on one side, and a hostile host railroad on the other side. The end result is an inability to get anything done. That can easily be interpreted as a lack of will.

Other countries are typically just dealing with inefficient government entities - one less hurdle.
 

IndyLions

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Riding NER156 today, Roanoke to NYP in Business Class. First time I have ridden refurbished Amfleets. No substitute for new equipment, but the interiors are much better. The vestibules still leak when it rains, which isn’t ideal. 160 people are getting on in Charlottesville - I’d say they are using the service.
 

NES28

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The only reason that we proposed the combining splitting is because there are no more slots for passenger trains available on Long Bridge. So if VRE or Amtrak wanted to add more trains something drastic has to be done to add those trains. VRE about once a month will combine a Manassas train and Lorton train at WASH. It does not really matter which route leads. The leading train pulls away from following train at ALX and then following train proceeds after brake test.
Am not aware that VRE ever combines at ALX.

Hopefully this type of operation would only need to operate for the 10 - 14 years in the future to get Long bridge capacity expanded.
I think that Long Bridge is likely to be in place before Virginia adds much more service into DC. See the website: http://longbridgeproject.com/
 

Skyline

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Feb 19, 2016
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The funny thing is we're all guessing destinations. From his article:



That's all well and good but what is the priority? Which areas should be tackled first? Should a train to say Luray (an important tourist area) come before adding another train to NFK?

As for cross-state trains, is this necessarily an Amtrak function? Perhaps a VRE type of operator could tackle this and meet up with Amtrak at a point.

I would be helpful if the author if the article posted his vision for where he thinks tourism will be bolstered. After all, it has his state (with CSX's nudging) that willingly stabbed Williamsburg (in my opinion).

I would LOVE passenger service in Luray, as I live here! Our train station has even been completely re-done as a Visitor Center which includes a very well done trains exhibit. Not sure if the station could be re-imagined to include actual train travel. Maybe...

However, our prime tourist market is rather seasonal (summer and fall foliage), with modest tourism -- at best -- the rest of the year. A lot of our visitation involves people from the NE Corridor and nearby. To enjoy all the attractions here -- headlined by Luray Caverns and Shenandoah National Park -- having a car is essential. It is unrealistic to expect tourists from a place like Washington DC to abandon their autos to travel to a destination where they MUST have a car.

Several years ago, Enterprise attempted a satellite auto rental presence hear. Big fail.
 

jis

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So, how are these people doing their walking inspection of the brake line and continuity test, which is required when you add (or drop) equipment?

Oh...wait....don't tell me....they don't do that in other countries. I suppose they don't inspect the coupling area to make sure it is clear of debris or lined up. They just barge in a hope the self centering portion works as intended. Of course, you can keep ramming away until the self centering portion does its on work I suppose.
I think you misunderstand my position.

I am curious have you ever seen Scharfenberg couplers in use say for coupling together two Turbostars (in UK) coming in from two different routes to quickly form a joint train to proceed to a terminal, or for that matter two TGVs, ICEs or Shinkansens being joined or separated? Your comment suggests that you may not have.

The first time I saw one in live action was in Japan when I rode the Akita Shinkansen to Akita (of course). Back then the train departed Tokyo consisting of two Shinkansen units (the front unit a single level one to Akita and the rear a bilevel to Aomori (the Hokkaido extension through the undersea tunnel had not been built yet). At Morioka, the train comes to stop at the platform. The new crew for the rear unit headed to Aomori came on board, talked to the crew up front in the cab of the Akita section (via radio), then what appeared to be pressed a switch in the cab of the rear unit, which released the coupler and the two trains separated. Apparently the trains are equipped to check brake integrity of each unit from the cab. The passenger stop there is two minutes, which begins upon the completion of the separation. The front section left at the end of the two minutes and headed off to Akita, and the rear section left a minute later headed to Aomori. Incidentally, the Japanese Shinkansen network has better safety record than anything in the US.

In the reverse direction the Aomori section arrived first followed by the Akita section. The Akita section pulled up close to the Aomori section and then gently tapped onto the Aomori section. There was a click and a hiss sound and the two sections were coupled together. Scharfenberg couplers have active elements that align and couple together. The train integrity test was carried out, and then the train was opened for passenger work. It left two minutes after the scheduled passenger stop.

In case you are wondering, I actually stopped off at Morioka just to watch this operation. Having a Japan Railpass I could just hop on and hop off any train since Shinkansens (most of them) have non-reserved accommodation (in addition to reserved accommodation). AFAIK, only the Nozomis on Tokkaido Shinkansen require reservation, and a substantial supplement if using Japan Railpass (if it is allowed at all anymore).

Nobody is saying that the rules that are in place are inappropriate. All that I am saying is that when the configuration of the equipment being used contains additional provable invariants and safety enforcement facilities, then modified rules can be used taking advantage of such to operate that specific equipment more efficiently. No one is talking of using Scharfenberg couplers to connect individual freight or passenger cars together. They are used typically to attached/detach two sets that have what in effect amounts to permanently coupled set of cars constituting each set.

For trains not adequately equipped for such operation they do as much brake testing and train walking on the ground elsewhere as is done here. So we really don't need to discuss that at length or throw a hissy-fit about it.
 
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