Can Union Pacific bring back their own passenger trains?

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D&RGW was the third RR that did not join Amtrak. The reason was not that of the CRI&P (couldn't afford it) or the Southern (which as I recall had its doubts as well as resources to continue passenger service), but I forget D&RGW's reason or at least the one I did read at the time (perhaps in Trains magazine or the Passenger Train Journal).
IIRC Rio Grande was already down to 3/week on DEN-SLC, which only needed one set to run, and in-season it was still profitable because of the scenery. I think that meant that the back-of-the-envelope calculations broke in favor of keeping it even with off-season losses. [Edit to add: I think there was also a rumor that Amtrak wanted to throw additional trains on the route, hence the carte blanche concerns mentioned above.]

The GA situation was due to a tax break, and that "train" was a coach on an already-scheduled mixed freight for which "scheduled" was reportedly a generous term.
 
There have been attempts to do this, for example France had a postal TGV service for many years until decreasing letter volumes put it out of service.

There have also been proposals to carry air-freight containers on high-speed trains. There is no technical reason this can't work. But I guess economically it's difficult to make it pay. Otherwise I am sure somebody would have done it by now.

One of the problems is that air freight has become increasingly affordable over the years. Furthermore it represents a worldwide distribution system whereas trains would always be specific to certain routes. You would furthermore be competing in a sector that is at the same time too price sensitive to use air freight but also too high value to use normal intermodal trains. I think that sector is probably fairly constrained.
So, the constraint is probably cost more than pure feasibility with equipment. There's probably a maximum speed you could "safely" do with, say, open double-stack containers operations, and the added throughput from double-stacking likely outweighs any other benefits. Santa Fe ran the "Super C" as an express freight train back in the 70s, but it eventually faltered due to a lack of demand.

If you wanted to do this you would need to rework a lot of lines. Blowing along at, say, 125 MPH from Chicago to Denver is fine, but you'll lose a lot of that advantage in the mountains without expending a lot of dynamite or doing a lot of boring.

Also, don't forget the different weight, acceleration, etc. profiles of those freight trains, which would probably mess with any attempt to integrate them into ongoing passenger operations. The acceleration profile of a TGV is not going to be the same as a 50-car double-stack container train.

Having said all of that, the best way for something like this to become feasible would be serious restrictions on air freight as a matter of policy. If you functionally banned domestic/continental air freight (say, via heavy taxation) outside of certain narrow exceptions, then yes UPS, FedEx, Amazon, and the USPS might pool resources and pony up for fast(er) freight so as to preserve 2-3 day delivery anywhere in CONUS save for isolated corners. Going via Amtrak routes, NYC-CHI-LAX runs about 3215 miles (using the LSL and SWC). If you could maintain an average speed of 67 MPH, you can do that in 48 hours. Dropping that to 42 hours (two hours from pickup to station, two hours for switching, and two hours for station to delivery) would require averaging about 77 MPH. And if you push the average speed to 85 MPH, that gets you down to about 38 hours (allowing a larger distribution radius or some intermediate "swapping" stops).

The problem is that for something like this to become viable, you'd probably need something like $1tn in investment (since you'd need a network of 125 MPH+ tracks, probably mostly on greenfield alignments, plus the trains themselves and in-station infrastructure to do quick swaps of mail/package loads). The trains you might be looking at would be something like "X cars of passengers, Y cars of mail/light freight" (something like 10-12 and 4-6 comes to mind), and you'd need a lot of them to enable efficient switching (since outside of maybe some big hubs, you'd be loading/unloading car-loads instead of pallet-loads).

[FWIW, if the policy decision was made to get rid of almost all air freight,
 
Possibly talk of an efficient and fast facility to compete with or even replace airfreight might be something in Hyperloop territory. Fully size shipping containers would not fit in the hyperloop but palette-sized loads or airfreight containers (possibly) would.

Such a project would we well outside of UPRR's scope of interest and would also be of interest to a different customer segment, so detraction from their present market segment would be minimal to zero. They might stand to benefit from some of the construction traffic though.

Before going for the trans-continental lines, I guess such technology should first be made to prove itself on shorter hops, within the NEC for example or in other established corridors. Right now all we have are back of the envelope type calculations which are probably extremely over optimistic.
 
Possibly talk of an efficient and fast facility to compete with or even replace airfreight might be something in Hyperloop territory. Fully size shipping containers would not fit in the hyperloop but palette-sized loads or airfreight containers (possibly) would.

Such a project would we well outside of UPRR's scope of interest and would also be of interest to a different customer segment, so detraction from their present market segment would be minimal to zero. They might stand to benefit from some of the construction traffic though.

Before going for the trans-continental lines, I guess such technology should first be made to prove itself on shorter hops, within the NEC for example or in other established corridors. Right now all we have are back of the envelope type calculations which are probably extremely over optimistic.
If not using the same air freight (baggage) containers for an express train - the Post Office could have a whole
car of mail moving city center to city center distribution hubs better and more frequently than the contracted
truck/airlines service.
 
Going via Amtrak routes, NYC-CHI-LAX runs about 3215 miles (using the LSL and SWC). If you could maintain an average speed of 67 MPH, you can do that in 48 hours. Dropping that to 42 hours (two hours from pickup to station, two hours for switching, and two hours for station to delivery) would require averaging about 77 MPH. And if you push the average speed to 85 MPH, that gets you down to about 38 hours (allowing a larger distribution radius or some intermediate "swapping" stops).
If you drop the idea of using shipping containers and instead go for postal cars, based on passenger cars, as railroads did in old times, you can travel at 125mph+ passenger-type speeds (which you probably can't do with double stacks) and also do sorting while on the move (maybe using sorting robots or cobots, reducing on-train staff to the minimum?). This would mean when the train pulled into the arrival station, your parcels would already be sorted by destinations so you wouldn't need to first take them to a sorting depot to do that, thus offering further time gains. You could load them straight into distribution trucks from the trainside and they would reach their final destination soon after.
 
When you go to extreme high speeds with freight trains, aerodynamic resistance becomes a major factor in the need for power, and with it extra units to pull the train. In fact, at high speeds aerodynamic resistance is THE major component of train resistance. Since aerodynamic resistance is proportional to V^2, not directly speed, if you go to 120 mph, the aerodynamic component is four times what it would be at 60 mph. As to the hyperloop: It is science fiction, not science, period.
 
When you go to extreme high speeds with freight trains, aerodynamic resistance becomes a major factor in the need for power, and with it extra units to pull the train. In fact, at high speeds aerodynamic resistance is THE major component of train resistance. Since aerodynamic resistance is proportional to V^2, not directly speed, if you go to 120 mph, the aerodynamic component is four times what it would be at 60 mph. As to the hyperloop: It is science fiction, not science, period.
Just as a clarification, at higher speeds the power needed to overcome aerodynamic resistance is proportional to the third power of velocity. The aerodynamic resistance is proportional to the second power of velocity.

I agree Hyperloop is just random nonsense. The things that have so far been constructed and mentioned as examples of Hyperloop are all basically Linear Motor driven Maglev variations. It is pointless to bring it into the discussion of real projects to build usable public transit.
 
Just as a clarification, at higher speeds the power needed to overcome aerodynamic resistance is proportional to the third power of velocity. The aerodynamic resistance is proportional to the second power of velocity.

I agree Hyperloop is just random nonsense. The things that have so far been constructed and mentioned as examples of Hyperloop are all basically Linear Motor driven Maglev variations. It is pointless to bring it into the discussion of real projects to build usable public transit.
???Not sure of where your V^3 comes into play. I do know it is there, but not at what speed it becomes a consideration. In the Japanese formulae they use V^2 up to 300 km/h, which is as far as they go with any information they let us have. Can't give you their formulae as it is proprietary, and they also vary slightly with the different Shinkansen trainsets. There is also an open track and an in tunnel formula for each. Tunnels increase aerodynamic resistance significantly. Your V^3 may come in at lower speeds in tunnels. I suspect it does, as in speed ups on existing Shinkansen lines they have had sonic booms preceding the train around the outbound end of tunnels. This is not a factor in all tunnels but only certain lengths. Again, they are playing their analysis very close to the chest.

Perhaps what you are thinking about is that driving force for any given horsepower decreases with speed. That is why you cannot apply full power from a stopped position. You will spin your wheels.
 
???Not sure of where your V^3 comes into play. I do know it is there, but not at what speed it becomes a consideration. In the Japanese formulae they use V^2 up to 300 km/h, which is as far as they go with any information they let us have. Can't give you their formulae as it is proprietary, and they also vary slightly with the different Shinkansen trainsets. There is also an open track and an in tunnel formula for each. Tunnels increase aerodynamic resistance significantly. Your V^3 may come in at lower speeds in tunnels. I suspect it does, as in speed ups on existing Shinkansen lines they have had sonic booms preceding the train around the outbound end of tunnels. This is not a factor in all tunnels but only certain lengths. Again, they are playing their analysis very close to the chest.

Perhaps what you are thinking about is that driving force for any given horsepower decreases with speed. That is why you cannot apply full power from a stopped position. You will spin your wheels.
There is a nice article in Wikipedia.... on the basic Physics of it, which is all I know from my Graduate Physics background.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_(physics)
 
RM is a different type of passenger railroad operation - it is not destination oriented for travel between cities.
The RM is a day time rail scenic excursion rail - night time hotel accommodation.
The charges/expenses are far way and above first class rail fares and non-train sleeper accommodation.
This is the exact point. The price that RRs need to charge to make passenger services profitable is way above what railfans think they ought to charge. The only real way to make money is to offer 'rail cruise' operations -- or offer to run trains at commercial rates contracted to state/regional transit authorities.
 
IIRC Rio Grande was already down to 3/week on DEN-SLC, which only needed one set to run, and in-season it was still profitable because of the scenery. I think that meant that the back-of-the-envelope calculations broke in favor of keeping it even with off-season losses. [Edit to add: I think there was also a rumor that Amtrak wanted to throw additional trains on the route, hence the carte blanche concerns mentioned above.]

The GA situation was due to a tax break, and that "train" was a coach on an already-scheduled mixed freight for which "scheduled" was reportedly a generous term.
Art Lloyd (Amtrak Western P.R.) told me that their contract was to have the right to run a second section.

Two other issues influenced the Rio Grande. When they learned that the UP Overland Route would not have the "burden" of passenger service they also learned that if they did not join Amtrak then the UP would be stuck with a passenger train.

The second political issue is that the Moffat Tunnel is publicly owned. The then independent Moffat Tunnel Commission wanted service, but it didn't have to be Amtrak.
1992 Moffat voter001.jpg
1992 Moffat voter002.jpg
 
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If passenger trains were long enough they should get close to a small profit or at least break even. Wonder if UP's city of every where broke even especially the portion CHI - Ogden. Look at Auto Train that seems to break even with about 14 revenue cars at most and up to 4 non revenue cars and loco expense of hauling auto carriers. As well the salaries of maintaining the auto carriers and the auto drivers is a cost not borne by other trains.

Also Auto Train has a higher ratio of sleeper cars v. coach passengers may help revenue. That is one metric that many posters say all the LD routes need more sleeper space.
 
The Rio Grande service was run in an old-fashioned style. Be sure to read the attached letter from a name I knew before I even moved to Denver.
 

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There is a nice article in Wikipedia.... on the basic Physics of it, which is all I know from my Graduate Physics background.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_(physics)
Yeah, the *force* needed to overcome aero drag is the square of the velocity, the *power* required to overcome aero drag is the cube of the velocity. We always used the power equation in our presentations because EPA engine emissions standards are expressed in units of mass emissions per power output (usually gm/brake-horsepower-hr), so we expected that emissions improvements due to lowering drag were more related to power output, at least for the stuff we were testing, which was lowering drag.
 
The Rio Grande service was run in an old-fashioned style. Be sure to read the attached letter from a name I knew before I even moved to Denver.
I believe Mr. Bernstein was being entirely too modest. He was very much the reason for the very high standards provided by the RGZ, right up to the cutover to Amtrak.
I used to see him regularly when I worked in Denver Union Station. He would come into the ticket office to check on sales of the train.
He would provide us with a couple of cars to sell, retaining the rest in their offices. When our cars were full, he would sometimes add another car for us to sell. We did it the old-fashioned way, using cardboard Pullman style car diagrams.
On train day’s, he’d be up early…hours before departure to make certain the train was ready, fully stocked, and fully crewed. He took great pride in that train.
He was a soft-spoken, true gentleman…
 
If passenger trains were long enough they should get close to a small profit or at least break even.
Theoretically, I suppose, but that assumes you can keep fares at their current level. Since fares are determined by supply and demand, you'd probably have to lower fares to fill the increased capacity. Lower fares would be good for customers of course, but they likely would make it harder to break even.
 
The only real way to make money is to offer 'rail cruise' operations -- or offer to run trains at commercial rates contracted to state/regional transit authorities.
Even the rail cruise business is littered with stories of failure. Iowa Pacific, American Orient Express etc. Or ideas that never took off such as X-train.

So just being able to tap into the high-end price segment is no guarantee of success.
 
If passenger trains were long enough they should get close to a small profit or at least break even.
An increase in service is probably needed more than longer trains. It gives passengers more options and also helps spread out the fixed costs of operating stations.
As a sidebar, readers of this thread may want to look up video of the train UP is running to the Super Bowl - there are several sources. The train is enormous and shows just how much equipment the railroad retains and maintains.
Those cars are in great shape too! I've been lucky enough to ride in them a few times behind the 844 and later the Big Boy.
 
An increase in service is probably needed more than longer trains. It gives passengers more options and also helps spread out the fixed costs of operating stations.

Those cars are in great shape too! I've been lucky enough to ride in them a few times behind the 844 and later the Big Boy.
Yes, their equipment is in better shape than many of the other companies' trains of the 1960's.

When we think about some future private operator, though, it might more likely be Flix on a corridor route. They have real world experience that the UP long ago retired. They have bloody experience with fighting their way onto legacy rail lines. And while they are dismantling big chunks of the Amtrak Thruway network, they now own the feeder bus lines that could make long coach trains feasible.

A 4-hour sample of Flix trains on this coming Friday:1707260732834.png
 
This is the exact point. The price that RRs need to charge to make passenger services profitable is way above what railfans think they ought to charge. The only real way to make money is to offer 'rail cruise' operations -- or offer to run trains at commercial rates contracted to state/regional transit authorities.
That's only about half of the story. There is 2 parts to this problem.

The first is that you are partially correct the price needed to make passenger rail profitable is high if you were to take the average across America. But we should be removing any form of public transit and profit entirely. There are some routes that are profitable, but at the end of the day, if we're going purely profit, we might as well just have the NEC and cancel all the rest of the lines. Sound stupid? That's exactly what we would do with airlines if we held them to the same standard. Here is a report from 2013 even that nearly 70% of all airports are operated at a loss but we keep flying there because the tax payers all pick up the bill with federal grants,tax waivers etc.
https://www.icao.int/meetings/atconf6/documents/workingpapers/atconf.6.wp.088.2.en.pdfRMX isn't even trying to be profitable from a reasonable standpoint. They have cars that seat less people than the Zephyr, multiple lounge cars, it's about extravagance.

The second part is that RMX is possibly the worst example to use for what the cost would be. It's and entirely private entity designed to siphon as much possible money from the upper class as physically possible. It's priced as high as it is, because like any private company it has investors, and similar to most private companies investors right now are all in a single mindset. "What's my payout in 2 years or less?" The reason is directly tied to the age of investors. Which is almost entirely boomers. One of the biggest shifts over the last 20 years is in the way investors now don't want to take long term investors because the closer they get to death, the faster the turn around has to be to get investors. The fact the Denver-Moab line went from announcement to operation in 3 years is insane for American rail lines, but also, there is no way they would have gotten the investors otherwise. Now they gotta pay their investors off as soon as quickly as possible, and prices are set to reflect that. Operational costs, have little to do with it.
 
Years, ago, I read a joke in the book "A Harvard Education in a Book".
"It is a myth that the ostrich can't fly. An ostrich can fly, all it needs is a running start, a take-off ramp, rocket assist, good luck, and the body of an entirely different bird"
From this discussion, it is possible that freight railroads could start passenger service...all they would need is a subsidiary business unit with its own management, a pair of tracks between new stations that are close enough that it is quicker than flying, but too far to drive, a favorable regulatory climate, a great advertising and marketing scheme, and a totally different economic climate.
By the time the freight railroad had their own passenger trains, we would be dealing with such a different economic climate that many other things could be possible as well.
 
From this discussion, it is possible that freight railroads could start passenger service...all they would need is a subsidiary business unit with its own management, a pair of tracks between new stations that are close enough that it is quicker than flying, but too far to drive, a favorable regulatory climate, a great advertising and marketing scheme, and a totally different economic climate.
That's a bit of a stretch. Yes, there would need to be a dedicated team specifically for the passenger operations, but that team could be pretty small at first. The pair of tracks already exists, stations can be as simple as a platform and trailer, all the frieght companies already employ a huge marketing team. "Close enough that it is quicker than flying but too far to drive" - isn't the math as Brightline is proving. You can fly from Orlando to Miami, or you can drive, or take several bus lines... or you can take Brightline. People choose all options when given the choice.
 
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