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Best Chicago-Florida Route?

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What's the best Chicago-Florida route


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Dakota 400

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A pretty good Ohio Rail Transportation Map is found here.

According to this 2009 plan, the 3-C route was supposed to follow Norfolk Southern from Cleveland to Berea, CSX from Berea to Columbus, and Norfolk Southern from Columbus to Dayton. As of 2009, 58 miles of the line from Columbus to Dayton was single-tracked including speed restrictions of 15, 20, or 25 mph through Springfield.
I ordered a copy of the map. I wonder if I will receive it.

Thank you for the link and the information!
 
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Qapla

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Yes, you could - but that would not connect Jacksonville to Atlanta.

It would be nice to have one route from Chicago-Atlanta-Jacksonville while restoring the SL from NOL to JAX. Though it would not be direct, it would give two options to get from JAX to BHM.

Having something from Atlanta to Chattanooga would allow for two options also. One could run to CUS via Louisville and Indianapolis and another could run to St Luis via Nashville - that leg could possibly join the CONO or the TE

There may not be tracks there now - but, there should be :)
 

Dakota 400

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Good luck getting it. I ordered mine years ago and it still hasn't arrived.
Their web site indicated that there might be a delay due to the "present conditions". I wonder when that statement was posted. I thought it might be this year. Maybe not.

Oh well, if it comes, great. If not, so be it. The Sun will still rise tomorrow morning. I expect.
 
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I like the idea of connecting to one of the East Coast Trains, what about the Palmetto and bring it back to the Silver Palm. Combine it in either Savannah or Jacksonville and run it down the A line to Orlando and Tampa.

Just an observation but I believe Mid-Westerners prefer the West Coast of Florida (Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers) vs. Northeasterners who gravitate to Pam Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
 

neroden

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I hadn't thought about it (where I am, Chicago to Florida is not personally relevant), but based strictly on population, it's obvious that "via Atlanta" is the way to go. This might mean that it should be thought of as two potential services: Atlanta to Florida and Atlanta to Chicago. Atlanta to Chicago is much harder technically speaking, but Atlanta to Florida seems to have much less political will. Hmmmph.
 

west point

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you are correct. Politicians around Atlanta in positions of governor, state and local officials, down to dog catcher are not interested either. It is all about Delta airlines. I would expect that the number of passengers passing thru ATL on a CHI - Florida route would only be about 15 - 20 %. Passengers north of the OHIO river traveling to / from south of Jacksonville will probably only be 5 - 10 %.

The train will probably be patronized mainly of passengers traveling to intermediate stations? That metric will cause any route studies to discount the intermediate stations loads that will be the main number of passengers. to travel this route. The result ? Faulty ridership projections.

Now what stations does this train serve? South of Atlanta it will be straight forward with Macon , Tifton Valdosta, Jacksonville. Unfortunately Columbus Ga has lost direct connections to ATL and also to Valdosta over Class 1 short line track. Maybe a thruway ? But south of Jacksonville we have the problem that more mid-west persons prefer the west coast of Florida. Is that enough for routing this train on the east coast or west coast to Tampa and then to SE Florida ? Now if the train had 8 or 10 revenue cars it might split at JAX to 4 to 5 each way ? A lot would depend on it being enough on time at JAX to arrive early split then combine with the Star to TPA / MIA ?

North of Atlanta Chattanooga , Nashville seem the best. North of Nashville probably Louisville and Indianapolis to CHI.

The bypassed Major cities.
1. Birmingham could be served south bound by the Crescent from BHM and a thruway bus to Nashville.
2. Knoxville thruway busses. If there would be enough passengers for Nashville and beyond ? ?
3. Memphis Thruway busses to Nashville and BHM
4. Cincinnati / Dayton / Toledo / Detroit / Columbus, OH / Akron / Cleveland may have to wait for additional trains to Louisville ?

The final nail in the coffin will be that at least 5 probably 6 train sets will be needed. Only if Amtrak gets an infusion of cash to order the 50 - 60 cars and 12 - 15 additional locos needed above all the other present routes that need more equipment.
I count at least 12 new stations that will need ADA platforms that will be needed from day 1.
 
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John Santos

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Jun 24, 2018
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[...]

The final nail in the coffin will be that at least 5 probably 6 train sets will be needed. Only if Amtrak gets an infusion of cash to order the 50 - 60 cars and 12 - 15 additional locos needed above all the other present routes that need more equipment.
I count at least 12 new stations that will need ADA platforms that will be needed from day 1.
That's the final nail in any proposal for new or expanded service. Amtrak needs more train cars. A lot more train cars. Just replacing the older cars doesn't really help because the older cars are worn out, need refurbishment, don't meet current safety or ADA standards, cost a lot more to maintain, and if they put old cars on new routes, they won't be nearly as attractive to new riders. Also, quite a few of them have been wrecked or are otherwise beyond repair.

Same with engines,

There's a circular argument:
  1. We can't buy new cars except to replace those on existing services because we can't financially justify them.
  2. We can't justify them because the ridership is zero.
  3. The ridership is zero because these trains currently don't exist.
  4. We can't add new trains because we don't have the equipment.
This is probably the worst possible time for Amtrak to be adding new service, but they should definitely be planning it for post-Covid and possibly experimenting with routes using surplus equipment normally used for canceled or reduced trains. There's enough equipment to run almost all the LDs 7 days/week, but most of them are only running 3 days/week. What is that equipment doing the other 4 days?
 

20th Century Rider

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Atlanta and Indianapolis option seems to be best... Atlanta is a large city and should have more hub options to more destinations... also there is a lot of potential ridership between IND and CHI given better frequencies and choices of times. Florida is a draw from all destinations and I would personally like to see more options.

BTW let us not stop hoping for the Sunset Limited to be extended back into Orlando... the tracks have long been repaired; in fact... the Amtrak System needs to be growing in this time of environmental impact of road transportation combined with the specter of fuel shortages.

Still there are dreamers out there wanting to see passenger rail transportation expansion. And yes, I personally am one of those dreamers! 😇

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west point

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Atlanta to Cincinnati on the NS and then follow the Cardinal route to Chicago.
As much as I would like to see that route it does not serve any cities other than Chattanooga that has any significant population on the RAT Hole. Austell and Dalton Ga are not any population greats. Also Cincinnati - Chicago needs major upgrading to just 79 MPH.
 

crescent-zephyr

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As much as I would like to see that route it does not serve any cities other than Chattanooga that has any significant population on the RAT Hole. Austell and Dalton Ga are not any population greats. Also Cincinnati - Chicago needs major upgrading to just 79 MPH.
You’d hit the Knoxville area and Lexington KY.
 

crescent-zephyr

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This is the most direct route with major cities and it is all heavy duty mainline with PTC. But of course that's the problem. CSX would never agree. This is the Dixieland from the 1940 OGR that was discussed in a current thread on Timetable World. Such is progress.


View attachment 20214
Only major cities are Nashville and Atlanta.
 

Palmland

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I'd say the two fastest growing towns in the south are significant. The problem with including Cincinnati or Louisville is that it takes longer as there really isn't a good route, as we all know from the painfully slow Cardinal.

I guess you could make a case for splitting from the Cardinal at Indianapolis and taking the LIRC to Louisville. CSX has spent a lot of money upgrading that line. as one of their north-south gateways. But it's still very slow north of Indianapolis. To be viable, you've got to have a well maintained good route that doesn't take forever.
 
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west point

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if you routed NS ATL - CHA Knoxville is way out of the way. As well Knoxville to Oakdale Harriman on the Rat Hole is very slow with a back up at Knoxville needed if a station is located any where near the old Knoxville station.
Knoxville - Oakdale - Lexington = 2"20 + 6"00-= 8"20/
The Carolina Special - October, 1964 - Streamliner Schedules
Knoxville Chattanooga 2":50
The Birmingham Special - December, 1941 - Streamliner Schedules
the Royal Palm 6"15 CHA - Lexington no stops on Rat Hole ( time change )
The New Royal Palm - March, 1951 - Streamliner Schedules
So it would be at least 2"00 more by Knoxville not counting the necessary back up move at Knoxville/ It might be more advantageous to operate a thru way on I-40 ~ 42 - 45 miles.
 

crescent-zephyr

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There’s a few options on the NS depending on which towns you want to hit. It doesn’t really matter if you hit Chattanooga or Chattanooga area, same with Knoxville. My opinion only of course.

Of course we really shouldn’t have to choose... there should be a Chicago to Florida train that hits cincinatti south on the NS, AND Nashville!
 

Seaboard92

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I really wish right about now we had a direct train from the south to the midwest now that I am commuting to and from Indianapolis once a month because it would be far cheaper for two sleepers than the current four I am paying for now. But we aren't that lucky these days.

If I was going to route one I would seriously consider doing the CHI-IND-Louisville-Nashville-Chattanooga-Atlanta-Jacksonville-Miami. If you timed it right you could hit everything north of Atlanta in day time schedule similar to how the Palmetto runs SAV-NYP. Then overnight across one of the dullest states in the country in my opinion, and be in Jacksonville just about day break without really upgrading any of the infrastructure. If you really wanted to go for the gusto split the train in Louisville or better yet Nashville and send a section up to Detroit via Cincinnati and Toledo. That would make a really nice well utilized route.

I also don't think it would take 6 sets. I will have to play with it some but I think I can get it down to 5.
 

Palmland

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I really wish right about now we had a direct train from the south to the midwest now that I am commuting to and from Indianapolis once a month because it would be far cheaper for two sleepers than the current four I am paying for now. But we aren't that lucky these days.
Well, Seaboard, all we have to do is open up Saluda and you could be in Inidianapolis in 24 hours. This from the Timetable World '60 Guide. It even had a 10-6 Chicago to Columbia.

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