Auto Train Why not more routes?

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wildchicken13

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 19, 2022
Messages
42
I think there is definitely demand for a Midwest to Florida auto train. There are plenty of Midwesterners who winter in Florida that would like to bring their cars with them but would prefer not to drive the entire distance. It only takes a few hours to drive from Milwaukee to Chicago or Indianapolis to Louisville, but driving from Chicago to Miami takes at least two days. Even if the train only goes to Orlando like the current Auto Train, that still significantly reduces the total driving distance.

However, the cost would be prohibitive. Amtrak does not even have regular passenger service from the Midwest to Florida, so a new route would need to be inaugurated and that would most likely require expensive infrastructure upgrades needed to maintain higher speeds if there is any hope of maintaining a competitive schedule.

Then there's the problem of where to locate the Midwestern terminal. Chicago is a natural choice, but not everyone in the Midwest lives in or even near Chicago. Would it be terribly difficult to add autoracks along the way? I can envision a future auto train that starts with a small number autoracks and picks up a few at major cities along the route. But even if the autoracks are loaded prior to arrival, that would still increase the amount of time spent at each stop and make the schedule that much less competitive, and it would require expensive terminal facilities to be constructed at each station.

I think it can definitely be done, but it would require some planning and initiative. A new terminal would most likely need to be constructed in the Midwest, and Amtrak would need to find a railroad willing to host this new train, even if it's only seasonal.
 
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tgstubbs1

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
645
I think it can definitely be done, but it would require some planning and initiative. A new terminal would most likely need to be constructed in the Midwest, and Amtrak would need to find a railroad willing to host this new train, even if it's only seasonal.
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If Claytor hadn't persisted we wouldn't have Auto Train, one of the most successful LD trains Amtrak operates.
 
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tgstubbs1

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
645
The Auto Train concept was inspired by a USDOT study. Eugene Garfield took the idea and without his work we probably wouldn't have any Auto Train.
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Pretty good considering he only had $56k to start it.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2022
Messages
1
Location
Manassas, VA
The Baltimore train station and tunnels are being upgraded. perhaps now is the time to reconsider extending the Autotrain from Lorton north to Brunswick, Maine. The Autotrain stations should be separate from the regular Amtrak stations to provide ease of auto access. For example, the Autotrain station in Baltimore should be located in the BW Airport area, where there is plenty of room for it. This is the most highly used corridor in Amtrak and it needs a full Autotrain route.
 
Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
651
Location
Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Baltimore train station and tunnels are being upgraded. perhaps now is the time to reconsider extending the Autotrain from Lorton north to Brunswick, Maine. The Autotrain stations should be separate from the regular Amtrak stations to provide ease of auto access. For example, the Autotrain station in Baltimore should be located in the BW Airport area, where there is plenty of room for it. This is the most highly used corridor in Amtrak and it needs a full Autotrain route.

Of course, you're not serious given that this is impossible.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
678
Location
Lubec, ME
The Baltimore train station and tunnels are being upgraded. perhaps now is the time to reconsider extending the Autotrain from Lorton north to Brunswick, Maine.
To begin with, getting from the NEC to the line to Brunswick would require a new and circuitous routing probably via Worcester and Ayer over a Pan Am freight only track good for maybe 25 mph at best. Plus the current Superliner equipment cannot run on the NEC so you would need all new single level equipment to do this.
 

irv818

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 3, 2021
Messages
21
Location
toccoa
Not many people live on the east coast and "winter" in California.
Lots spend the winter in Fla.
The only time you want to spend a lot of money to haul your car along is if you plan to spend months there - otherwise, a rental is cheaper.
Lots of Canadians also winter in Fla.. Maybe the Auto train should run to Toronto?
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,609
Location
Baltimore. MD
The only time you want to spend a lot of money to haul your car along is if you plan to spend months there - otherwise, a rental is cheaper.

You might not need to spend months there -- Last week I spent about $500 to rent an SUV out of Boston for a week. I don't know how much of the Auto Train fare is for Vehicles, but car rentals are getting more expensive. Also, getting a rental killed about 2 hours between arrival in Boston and hitting the road. How long do you have to wait after arrival on the Auto Train before your car is ready for you?
 

Palmland

Conductor
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
1,121
Location
Central Florida
It is certainly becoming more feasible to extend Auto Train in the northeast with the clearance projects underway. Once CSX enlarges Howard St tunnel in Baltimore for double stacks there is no reason A-T couldn’t use the route - maybe to the site where there is a auto unloading ramp in Twin Oaks,PA between Philly and Wilmington.

Big IF - there is room and Amtrak is willing to pay CSX the going rate for freight traffic. At one time CSX had a rate for a special train when a customer had to have his freight now. Can only imagine what that is now.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
3,325
Location
SW ATL airport
Many oldsters should not travel I-95. It has the highest rate of fatalities per 100 miles of any interstate. However, these figures do not break the numbers by state.

#1. I-95
- Fatalities: 379

- Fatalities per 100 miles: 19.7

Along the East Coast, I-95 is infamous for bad traffic and accidents, but that might be expected with a highway that runs through 15 states from northern Maine to Miami. You’re bound to find major snarls going through Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., or Jacksonville, Florida.

In 2020, I-95 certainly earned its place atop this list, with a number of big fatal crashes up and down the coast, including a four-car crash that left two people dead in Delaware. However, the worst night on I-95 in 2020 may have been Nov. 1 in Rhode Island, when three people were killed in three separate crashes within 20 minutes.

Here is link to the top ten!
10 interstate highways with the most fatalities (msn.com)
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,609
Location
Baltimore. MD
Along the East Coast, I-95 is infamous for bad traffic and accidents, but that might be expected with a highway that runs through 15 states from northern Maine to Miami. You’re bound to find major snarls going through Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., or Jacksonville, Florida.

Not just in those big cities. On a trip up I-95, I had the experience of dealing with traffic snarls (1) crossing Laker Marion in South Carolina, (2) around the major metropolises of Lumberton, NC and (3) while trying to get around Fayetteville, NC. I mean it was Capital Beltway style stop and go for miles on end. I'm sure it happens in other places along the route where you least expect it.
 
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