Daytime Corridor Routes

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neroden

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Of these, I got the impression that the idea about swapping Chicago departure times and running the LSL via Michigan came within weeks of implementation, and was then scrapped since apparently timetable issues could not be worked out with all concerned parties.
So, good work which definitely should have happened, sabotaged by someone. We don't know which "concerned party" it was, I suppose. This is the sort of thing where a strong federal administration committed to improved passenger rail could bang some heads together and make it happen.
 

MARC Rider

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I made the cross-platform transfer at Toledo back in the late '80s and early '90s, and it worked fine. I would rather see that restored than to reroute one of the through trains and thereby lengthen the schedule substantially for through travelers. One challenge is that the new station in Detroit is not well located for continuing onward to Toledo.
It seems to me that the obvious service expansion is to add Toledo - Detroit - Flint and maybe Saginaw, too. Frequent trains through the day to take traffic off of I-75. Convenient cross platform connections to the E-W LD trains in Toledo. Cross - platform connections in Detroit to Dearborn and Ann Arbor (there should probably be commuter train service.) Connections at Flint for Lansing and Grand Rapids. Connecting service to Canada if the two counties ever get their act together about an efficient border control process; otherwise, might as well just take a taxi to/from the VIA station in Windsor.
 

jis

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Trains changing direction of travel at terminal stations to continue their journey is not rocket science. It already happens at LA Union Station and Philadelphia 30th St.. It should not be a problem to institute same at a hypothetical future Detroit Station at the Ford facility.
 
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fdaley

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There is already daily service from Chicago to Detroit via the Wolverine, Buffalo to New York via the Maple Leaf, and Pittsburgh to New York via the Pennsylvanian. I would much rather bridge the gap between Detroit and either Pittsburgh/Buffalo by extending one or more of those trains, rather than messing with an existing long-distance route. I think a section of the Maple Leaf could continue to Detroit, or there could be a cross-platform transfer at Buffalo to a Buffalo-Detroit train
I agree with all of this. Certainly historically there was a lot of rail service linking Detroit and Cleveland to Buffalo and Pittsburgh, and there are still a lot of people who live and travel between that network of cities. The challenge with extending the Pennsylvanian and Maple Leaf is that you begin to push the limits of day-train scheduling if you're keeping New York as the eastern terminal. You'd wind up with a couple of trains that would arrive in Detroit at 11 p.m. westbound and would leave at 6 or 7 a.m. eastbound. If we had the ability to add a second New York-to-Chicago frequency, running overnight on the eastern end, it would help to feed traffic to multi-frequency Michigan-Toledo and Cincinnati-Cleveland corridors.
 

Seaboard92

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I agree with all of this. Certainly historically there was a lot of rail service linking Detroit and Cleveland to Buffalo and Pittsburgh, and there are still a lot of people who live and travel between that network of cities. The challenge with extending the Pennsylvanian and Maple Leaf is that you begin to push the limits of day-train scheduling if you're keeping New York as the eastern terminal. You'd wind up with a couple of trains that would arrive in Detroit at 11 p.m. westbound and would leave at 6 or 7 a.m. eastbound. If we had the ability to add a second New York-to-Chicago frequency, running overnight on the eastern end, it would help to feed traffic to multi-frequency Michigan-Toledo and Cincinnati-Cleveland corridors.
The Palmetto essentially does this on the main North-South core line and does just fine. Yes the end point times are a bit rough and can easily be made worse by delays but it isn't a bad run. I would argue you could get a Palmetto style day train on quite a few routes that make sense.

New York-Detroit via Cleveland
New York-Cincinnati via Cleveland
Atlanta-New York
Atlanta-Chicago via Nashville, Louisville
Charlotte-Miami via Columbia
 

fdaley

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The Palmetto essentially does this on the main North-South core line and does just fine. Yes the end point times are a bit rough and can easily be made worse by delays but it isn't a bad run. I would argue you could get a Palmetto style day train on quite a few routes that make sense.

New York-Detroit via Cleveland
New York-Cincinnati via Cleveland
Atlanta-New York
Atlanta-Chicago via Nashville, Louisville
Charlotte-Miami via Columbia
Oh, my point wasn't that a Palmetto-style schedule wouldn't work between Detroit and New York. I think it's a good idea -- and so are the Atlanta day runs you suggest. But for Cleveland, Detroit and Cincinnati, you'd make the service useful to more people -- and promote more local travel between city pairs in the region -- if you had additional frequencies in the Midwest that would be helped by connectivity with an additional overnight schedule to the east. Also, if you just extend the Pennsylvanian to Detroit and change the schedule to make for palatable times at Detroit, if that's still your only train west of Harrisburg in PA, you wind up with schedule times there that may not be as attractive for local travel between western PA and the east.

When Amtrak puts out a map that shows them perhaps adding service on the 3-C corridor in Ohio, I just wonder how any of us in the east would connect to that new service, given that the only through trains now pass through Ohio in the wee hours. A day run on an extended Pennsylvanian or Maple Leaf would help, but I think you'd want more than that.
 
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Michigan Mom

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There are tracks out of Ann Arbor that I believe, but don't know for sure, (not much info out there) that run all the way to Toledo, hardly ever used. Owned by the old Ann Arbor railroad, a freight company. Oh the possibilities! Also don't know where the tracks terminate in Ann Arbor.
 

IndyLions

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There are tracks out of Ann Arbor that I believe, but don't know for sure, (not much info out there) that run all the way to Toledo, hardly ever used. Owned by the old Ann Arbor railroad, a freight company. Oh the possibilities! Also don't know where the tracks terminate in Ann Arbor.
Ann Arbor-Toledo would certainly be the easiest connectivity between the east and Michigan, with Toledo to Dearborn the second easiest. Unfortunately, both those routes bypass Detroit. So even though it’s more difficult, I’d prefer to see Toledo-Detroit as the connector, then head off to Dearborn, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor westbound.
 

Tlcooper93

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Speaking of daytime trains, why do I seldom see mention of Chicago - Denver, which is actually doable?
I always wondered why Chicago - Denver wasn't a more utilized market. Amtrak 5 has a great overnight service.
If only they could manage to electrify that corridor. Its very straight, and speeds could probably get high enough to have a HrSR service.
 

IndyLions

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Speaking of daytime trains, why do I seldom see mention of Chicago - Denver, which is actually doable?
I always wondered why Chicago - Denver wasn't a more utilized market. Amtrak 5 has a great overnight service...
Chicago to Denver IS a great overnight service - but a day train needs to stop where people want to get off.

If you look at the Zephyr route, only the endpoints and Omaha are major destinations.

Now if a daytime CHI-DEN train service included the Quad Cities, Iowa City, Des Moines AND Omaha - that would be a different story.
 

jis

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Chicago to Denver IS a great overnight service - but a day train needs to stop where people want to get off.

If you look at the Zephyr route, only the endpoints and Omaha are major destinations.

Now if a daytime CHI-DEN train service included the Quad Cities, Iowa City, Des Moines AND Omaha - that would be a different story.
We should refrain from refusing to work on the good awaiting the perfect perhaps? ;)
 

Seaboard92

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Atlanta to New York block time is somewhere between 17 and 19 hours. It is hard to do a reasonable daytime train with non-unfriendly end times. However, it is possible to do an Atlanta to Washington DC daytime train, and historically I believe that is what was done, when such existed. Or you could take something like 65/66/67 and extend it all the way to Atlanta. That would be fesible too, and possibly quite lucrative too.

Similarly Miami to Charlotte may be difficult, but Orlando to Charlotte may be possible, depending on how slow or fast Columbia to Charlotte is.

I am also dubious about the time tabling of a Palmetto style train between Atlanta and Chicago. Can Atlanta to Chicago be done in about 15 hours, like the Palmetto?

OTOH Chicago to Memphis would be eminently doable, even with plenty of daylight to spare in the summer.

Speaking of daytime trains, why do I seldom see mention of Chicago - Denver, which is actually doable?
I do think you might be able to stretch Atlanta to Chicago. For the most part it's all 60 mph freight lines which means it is FRA Class IV so it is good for 79 MPH. I think when I worked out the schedule a few months back I had an early departure from Chicago like 6 AM or something like that with an 11:30 PM departure from Atlanta continuing to Florida. But I also included a long stop in Louisville to combine a train out of Detroit into the consist as well. Indy to Louisville is the only stretch that I think is less than 60 MPH for freight I believe that is 40 MPH Freight so 60 for Passenger. So I do think that is doable. What would also be useful is speeding up the CSX routing from Indy on up to Chicago.

As far as Columbia to Charlotte the R Line is rated 49 MPH in it's current status. But it's only 103 miles from the Charlotte Amtrak Station to Columbia. If you could get that up to 60 MPH it's only an hour and a half without stops. Add about seven minutes in so you can get a stop in Rock Hill and Winnsboro in. And it should be doable. I would actually consider ending that one in Tampa which would be doable I believe.
 

Michigan Mom

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Ann Arbor-Toledo would certainly be the easiest connectivity between the east and Michigan, with Toledo to Dearborn the second easiest. Unfortunately, both those routes bypass Detroit. So even though it’s more difficult, I’d prefer to see Toledo-Detroit as the connector, then head off to Dearborn, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor westbound.
Yes, that's a good point. I like the upside of the Detroit-Toledo possibility. OTOH there is already a tortuous bus route that connects Lansing, Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Detroit to Toledo.... a train from ARB to TOL would shorten the bus connections, there could be one bus trip from Detroit and Dearborn to Ann Arbor, and another from Lansing, maybe including Battle Creek... by the time you get to Kzoo you might as well connect in Chicago. Seems like this would encourage feeder traffic to the coast.... then again if my ideas had any merit someone at Amtrak would have thought of it already.
 

Willbridge

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Probably to avoid a lot of missed connections from trains 4, 6, 8 and 22.
I made it from Train 6 with literally five minutes before the highball. And boy was the guy annoyed who thought he had two seats to NYP for the night. When I had to ask him to move his stuff he did, but...

The ideal single improvement for long-distance service would be a Chicago - Philadelphia train departing Chicago at somewhere between 10:30 and 11:45 p.m. It would have connections from Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Carbondale at least and possibly from future corridor trains. Westbound it would arrive in Chicago at 6:30 a.m. NEC trains in both directions would be available at Philadelphia. And, of course, there were trains in those slots on both the NYC and the Pennsy into the 1960's. This would free up the scheduling of CHI>NYP trains.

Whether Amtrak would have the capability of adding cars when western trains are delayed is a good question, but often the delays are known long before arriving in Chicago.
 

Willbridge

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Probably because western Nebraska and eastern Colorado are best “seen” at night time....🤣
Of the twice daily intercity buses running the DEN<>OMA segment the overnight bus is consistently most popular.

I've thought about a CHI<>DEN Daylight but in today's situation it would have no connections other than commuter trains on each end and the slightest delay would miss the last trips on those lines. The two longest daylight (non-sleeper) streamliners, the Shasta Daylight and the IC's City of New Orleans, both had specific advantages that the Denver Daylight would not have.
 

jiml

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Yes, that's a good point. I like the upside of the Detroit-Toledo possibility. OTOH there is already a tortuous bus route that connects Lansing, Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Detroit to Toledo.... a train from ARB to TOL would shorten the bus connections, there could be one bus trip from Detroit and Dearborn to Ann Arbor, and another from Lansing, maybe including Battle Creek... by the time you get to Kzoo you might as well connect in Chicago. Seems like this would encourage feeder traffic to the coast.... then again if my ideas had any merit someone at Amtrak would have thought of it already.
I'd be interested to see a spreadsheet of passenger numbers for the Detroit area stations, broken down by specific train times. It's been a few years since our last Michigan trip, but before that there was some experience to draw on and passenger services there have always fascinated me. Skipping International trips to focus on the lower corridor, it always seemed like the suburban Detroit stations had way more traffic than downtown, except for Pontiac (crickets). This was particularly true of Ann Arbor, with lengthy stops for (I assume) college kids - in both directions. It has me wondering if you're onto something - if one daily frequency to/from Chicago was diverted at Ann Arbor to Toledo would the gain be greater than the losses east of there? It would be an interesting study. (Obviously another separate train would be even better.)
 

jiml

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The ideal single improvement for long-distance service would be a Chicago - Philadelphia train departing Chicago at somewhere between 10:30 and 11:45 p.m. It would have connections from Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Carbondale at least and possibly from future corridor trains. Westbound it would arrive in Chicago at 6:30 a.m. NEC trains in both directions would be available at Philadelphia. And, of course, there were trains in those slots on both the NYC and the Pennsy into the 1960's. This would free up the scheduling of CHI>NYP trains.

Whether Amtrak would have the capability of adding cars when western trains are delayed is a good question, but often the delays are known long before arriving in Chicago.
Now if only a similar-routed train had run in the past to provide a template. 🤔 All it would need is a catchy name.
 

jis

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Another daylight train candidate is Los Angeles - (Phoenix/Maricopa) - Tucson, although as with all other routes across the vast mountain west, the number of riders available may be an issue.
 

Palmetto

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Now if only a similar-routed train had run in the past to provide a template. 🤔 All it would need is a catchy name.
Amtrak ran one of those several years ago for awhile, but dropped it. The time frame escapes me now.
 

Michigan Mom

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'd be interested to see a spreadsheet of passenger numbers for the Detroit area stations, broken down by specific train times. It's been a few years since our last Michigan trip, but before that there was some experience to draw on and passenger services there have always fascinated me. Skipping International trips to focus on the lower corridor, it always seemed like the suburban Detroit stations had way more traffic than downtown, except for Pontiac (crickets). This was particularly true of Ann Arbor, with lengthy stops for (I assume) college kids - in both directions. It has me wondering if you're onto something - if one daily frequency to/from Chicago was diverted at Ann Arbor to Toledo would the gain be greater than the losses east of there? It would be an interesting study. (Obviously another separate train would be even better.)
This isn't data, of course, just my observations pre-pandemic, but yes Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo are heavy boarding stations, lots of students at both. Over the last 20 years, boardings have increased at all Michigan stops, the Detroit station is also very busy, and as you said, Pontiac not so much. Battle Creek used to be a fairly quiet stop and now has evolved into a mini-hub, they do crew changes there. All 3 Wolverine departures in both directions are (were) generally full, so, as long as I'm dreaming, the dream is to add a train to TOL... but then I don't know what they would do with the corridor equipment once it got there. Market research would be needed to know how much travel demand there would be for an overnight train originating in SE Michigan to WAS/NYP, with flights only taking 1.5 hours. My theory is such a market exists, simply because you see this in other markets where people are booking LD trains instead of short flights... the experience I have had with TOL is that the Michigan bus is primarily composed of passengers connecting to the Cap. Once 30 leaves, around midnight, the waiting area has only a few people left waiting for 48 LSL - 3 am is not a very desirable boarding time. The fare savings was a definite plus, but I will now pay more, take the Wolverine west to Chicago and connect there instead, as opposed to a 2 hour bus ride followed by 5 hours in the TOL station, delightful as the place is. That last wasn't sarcasm, I actually think it's a cool place, just that the middle of the night experience is something where the novelty wears off.... Thanks for indulging my dreaming... I'll stop now :)
 

Seaboard92

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I've never understood why the Wolverine's continue on to Pontiac from Dearborn to be honest. Yes I understand that Oakland County has a large swath of riders and that Pontiac is in the dead center of the county but it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me to be honest. The train isn't time competitive between Pontiac and Ann Arbor mostly because of the slow routing across Detroit the only advantage is avoiding traffic at that point.

I think a better end point would either be Toledo or Toronto. I would even say you could extend one train all the way up to Saginaw and Bay City via Flint so you can keep the city pairs in Pontiac. But to me Pontiac has always made more sense as a commuter train than any actual inter-city rail service.

I actually love the Toledo station as well a very interesting place. I've actually done the LSL from there east and it is rather late and an even more interesting place in the middle of the night.
 

hlcteacher

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i have never had a problem with the late night schedule through cleveland; somebody has to have service at night
 

Tlcooper93

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i have never had a problem with the late night schedule through cleveland; somebody has to have service at night
Agreed, but Amtrak stations in the Cleveland area suck, and are very dangerous. If you're a guy, its probably not so bad, but otherwise definitely need someone waiting with you.

If the stations were better, and there was a daytime train, I have a feeling Ohio would be a big railroad state. Talk about day-trains. CLE - Columbus, CLE - Cincinnati, CLE - Buffalo, just to name a few. I could envision a Brightline level resurrection of Inter-city rail in Ohio with the major hub being Cleveland.

Image if Union Tower Terminal in downtown were still in use, and could connect you to the light rail/city center easily. We'd probably see passenger numbers much closer to NEC stations.

All of this short-sited de-railing (pun intended) of train infrastructure years ago really hurt us.
 
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