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Could Amtrak acquire trackage anywhere?

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Joined
Aug 24, 2020
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West Texas
The best thing Amtrak as for itself are routes they own in manage in heavy transportation areas, such as NC and Keystone Service. My question to you are their any routes in which it makes sense for Amtrak to acquire and manage? The first thing that pops in my head is the Raton Pass line, but it makes no sense with the amount of trains currently on it. I would think it makes more sense for the state to purchase it and run service connecting New Mexico to the Front Range.

Are there any others out there that would work?
 

jiml

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They already own and operate some key connecting tracks in Michigan. Presumably the criteria is trackage essential for frequent passenger trains, especially where they outnumber freight. When there is only one or two Amtrak trains a day it wouldn't make sense.
 

sttom

OBS Chief
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I know the idea of buying the Martinez Subdivision from the Martinez/Benicia Bridge to the Port of Sacramento has been mulled by some, but that hasn't really been thought through. But there are a lot of ideas for the Capitol Corridor outside of the improvements between Oakland and San Jose that have been mulled by not thought through. The same group proposing track ownership also wants to build a new line through Franklin Canyon, but haven't realized they'd need a tunnel to link this proposed bypass to the part of the Martinez Subdivision they'd like to buy.
 

west point

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The long term lease of the line from Poukeepski to Albany is Amtrak controlled. Amtrak still has not completed upgrades of that route.
 

neroden

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Amtrak has picked up bits and pieces of lines, as did various states. I have a list of the government-controlled/passenger-operator-controlled trackage memorized. Examples: Trackage near the station in New Orleans, & in Chicago, Niagara Falls (including the bridge), Albany-Poughkeepsie and Albany-Schenectady-Hoffmans and Post Road Branch from Albany towards Boston, Michigan Line (Porter IN-Battle Creek and Battle Creek-east of Dearborn), NEC, Springfield Branch, Keystone, NCRR, everything owned by commuter operators. And Virginia just bought half the ROW from DC to Richmond; VA and NC own the route for the Southeast High Speed Rail.

I agree. Any more lines they can acquire for "passenger priority" will help. Frankly any of the lines they currently run on or any of the proposed new service routes would be helpful.

How practical it is to actually buy these lines is more complicated. I think in some sense any line can be acquired for the right price -- the DC-Richmond segment was expensive -- but the feds & the states aren't always willing to put up the right price.
 
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Eric S

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We'll see how the Pan Am sell-off proceeds, particularly now that CSX has expressed interest. But there are certainly some lines of interest there.

Also, I think of missed opportunities in the past, when there was a chance to pick up portions of the CHI-STL and CHI-MKE lines in the 1990s.
 

TheTuck

Train Attendant
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Jun 1, 2009
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Amtrak should buy the coast line from the UP. From San Jose to Moorpark, this line sees virtually no freight traffic and could be rehabbed into a higher speed passenger corridor. Their state partners from the north and south would benefit from enhanced connectivity and reliability. This same model should also be applied to the surf line between Fullerton and San Diego. The managing bureaucracies of SCRRA and NCTD have siphoned this route from reaching its true potential.
 
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IndyLions

Lead Service Attendant
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I’d actually like to see the State of Michigan (or Amtrak) purchase the rail line that connects Detroit with Toledo. This could help re-establish service from Detroit to/from points east thru Toledo.
 

west point

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Detroit - Toledo is complicated by more than one line none which are in the best good state of repair. o
 

neroden

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Detroit - Toledo is complicated by more than one line none which are in the best good state of repair. o
There are four tracks and even more right of way from Detroit to Toledo. The ownership is a mess, the state of repair is a mess, and they all criss-cross very busy lines somewhere. That said, yes, the state of Michigan should buy at least one corridor through there and upgrade it; might be worth doing an Alternatives Analysis or something.
 

CAQuail

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My personal opinion is that any future service going south from Detroit should be routed Pontiac-Detroit-Dearborn-Wayne Junction then south on CSX to Toledo. The CSX route is almost entirely double tracked with just a small section of single track around Romulus. This would require reinstalling a connection at Wayne in the southeast quadrant of the junction. My general impression (and I may be wrong it has been awhile since I lived in Detroit) is that there is less traffic on CSX as opposed to the NS/Conrail/CN line through Downriver so better chance of less freight interference.
 

neroden

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Hmmm. The CSX route still has heavy *local* freight traffic and is hemmed in by factories on either side.

The CN/NS/Conrail route has a lot of space, enough that you could actually build additional passenger-exclusive tracks if you rearranged things a bit.

The Ann Arbor Railroad route would be the easiest to acquire for passenger service (low freight traffic) but would require a connection at Ann Arbor, and isn't the fastest way from Detroit to Toledo. It might be worth considering though; reroute the through trains from Chicago over the Michigan Line to Ann Arbor then back down the Ann Arbor Railroad to Toledo, while changing trains at Ann Arbor to get to Detroit. Hmm.
 

bms

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I think the CN/NS/Conrail route is the most viable alternative for the reasons stated by neroden, but there would have to be at least twice daily service to make it worth adding another track. Can't imagine that happening for a reroute of the Capitol Limited or something like that.
 

Siegmund

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northwestern Montana
The Ann Arbor Railroad route would be the easiest to acquire for passenger service (low freight traffic) but would require a connection at Ann Arbor, and isn't the fastest way from Detroit to Toledo. It might be worth considering though; reroute the through trains from Chicago over the Michigan Line to Ann Arbor then back down the Ann Arbor Railroad to Toledo, while changing trains at Ann Arbor to get to Detroit. Hmm.
Might not be too crazy of an idea if the Ann Arbor-Traverse City service actually gets off the ground. One can imagine a future world where trains from Traverse City, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Detroit, and Toledo all interchanged at an Ann Arbor hub, and Ann Arbor-Detroit had frequent commuter service.
 

jiml

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Might not be too crazy of an idea if the Ann Arbor-Traverse City service actually gets off the ground. One can imagine a future world where trains from Traverse City, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Detroit, and Toledo all interchanged at an Ann Arbor hub, and Ann Arbor-Detroit had frequent commuter service.
I had wondered the same thing regarding an Ann Arbor hub. Frequent (hourly maybe?) commuter-style trains between there and Pontiac feeding into a hub where trains converged with "spokes" to Toledo and points south, Chicago and other points in Michigan... definitely interesting.
 

toddinde

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Sierra Vista, AZ
The Wellton Cutoff/West Line out of Phoenix would make a lot of sense for an Amtrak acquisition. It’s currently out of service, but could be rebuilt to 110 right away, and could even be high speed someday. LA-Phoenix-Tucson is a corridor with a lot of potential.
 

bms

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Cleveland
Might not be too crazy of an idea if the Ann Arbor-Traverse City service actually gets off the ground. One can imagine a future world where trains from Traverse City, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Detroit, and Toledo all interchanged at an Ann Arbor hub, and Ann Arbor-Detroit had frequent commuter service.
My mother lived in Ann Arbor from 1977 to 1980 and used commuter trains to get to an office job in downtown Detroit. Do you know what specific service she might have used?
 
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