Downtown Hub for Amtrak in Atlanta proposed

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jis

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Several Atlanta City Council members say Amtrak’s planned expansion of passenger rail should include Downtown where private developers are pouring billions of dollars to revitalize the city’s center.

 

Just-Thinking-51

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The Atlantic City Council see “other people money” and want some.

Well at least they know that they have passenger rail that go through Atlanta. I guess that a first step. Now if they would secure a area for a station and the tracks to access it. That would be so helpful in getting service. Otherwise the area is getting developed by private for profit companies that will not leave any space for a railroad station.
 

west point

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The proposed station at the old locations of Terminal and Union stations good choice. It will need to be shoehorned into the present commercial development. There are 3 items IMO that are needed.

1. A loop, if possible, that will allow the Crescent and other future trains (both NS and CSX) to come in from the north and departure to the north. Otherwise, the present station WYE will need up grading (all 3 WYE legs are CSX).
2. The 2 NS main tracks and 2 CSX (NS west and CSX east) from the Gulch to the complicated Howell RR crossings need to be consolidated into 4 main tracks with a universal CP between Howell and new station to allow more flexibility. CSX freights south of the Gulch can take western track(s) (NS) avoiding the station.
3. A duck under at Howell for CSX so it can go under all NS has to be built to end the many times NS or CSX gets in each other's way. Also, CSX often interferes now with the Crescent. The duck under will give a CSX a grade that is flatter northbound. Future plans for any commuter service from the north means the duck under must be completed first.

Routes going thru proposed station location.
From the north
NS from Birmingham, Chattanooga, Knoxville, CLT, Inman yard.
CSX - Chattanooga, Knoxville, Athens / Hamlet, Tilford yard. North bounds going to Tilford or beyond often block Howell CP for NS and Crescent.
Georgia NE RR - Marietta / Canton future commuter.
Not all trains from north go thru proposed station area.

Routes from south CSX - BHM, Montgomery, Manchester, JAX, Fairburn intermodal.
NS - Macon/ JAX, 2nd route Macon / Savannah.

From east. CSX = August / CHS.
 

cirdan

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The Atlantic City Council see “other people money” and want some.

Well at least they know that they have passenger rail that go through Atlanta. I guess that a first step. Now if they would secure a area for a station and the tracks to access it. That would be so helpful in getting service. Otherwise the area is getting developed by private for profit companies that will not leave any space for a railroad station.
I think there are two aspects here

1) space for an "immediate" relocation of the present station, which would be good enough with one platform plus space for ticket office, baggage handling, waiting room etc. Maybe also additional tracks to reverse train or hold additional cars etc.
2) space for potential future station with more trains (both Amtrak and commuter) with a tbd number of platforms and facilities.

The problem is that it's a high price to demand that large swatches of space be kept empty by developers for something that may or may not ever happen.

In my view a good solution is to allow the space to be put to other uses but to ensure that nothing is built that cannot easily be removed should the need arise, and to have contracts with the tenants to ensure that is understood and respected.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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In my view a good solution is to allow the space to be put to other uses but to ensure that nothing is built that cannot easily be removed should the need arise, and to have contracts with the tenants to ensure that is understood and respected.
Again this would be need to be done by someone such as the City of Atlanta. Simple as applying a zoning law that this swap of land is for a train station. Master plan is when and where you need to apply it. Then the private developers can build around the zone.

Master plan need to take in account of any access roads, fire station, police substation, water, and sewage needs. Master plan can easily fit in a train station too. If the city want a new train station, allocated space for it before any other developments are started would be key.
 

MikefromCrete

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Building something on a space allocated for a new passenger station will only delay and increase the cost of the station. These multi-million dollar developers can build their condos and office buildings on other sites.
 
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A downtown station would be out of the question for Amtrak since I don't think they would agree to a 30+ minute backup move to get in or out of the station. The track which would have allowed it, locally referred to as the "Beltline" was removed and will not be returned. The GDOT had an opportunity to build a station in what as know as the "Atlantic Station" area which would have been convenient for both passengers and Amtrak, but had no interest and ultimately sold the property. Georgia is not a passenger rail friendly state.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Well Georgia may not be a passenger rail friendly state. It seem some council members in the City of Atlanta is at least aware of passenger trains. Got to start someplace. No reason why the city can’t do this themselves. Not much hard than place a new fire station in a new development. Determine the need, determine the foot print, acquire the space, then built it.
 

west point

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GaSteve:
I believe Atlantic station would have been more inconvenient back up than Howell to downtown. When studying Atlantic location could not find enough space for a loop track.
When we look to more future a thru train going or coming to south or east to Augusta would need to back out of Atlantic. That is NS from Chattanooga or BHM. CSX from CHA, Knoxville, and Athens (SAL) would need to back out.

I rode both SOU and SAL backups to Howell. SAL went on to their own WYE beyond then proceeded. It took about 5 minutes at most. However, those times were reduced due to that RR attaching a switcher at Terminal station to back up a train to Howell. The front engine gave a boost out of Terminal to achieve track speed then just coasted. Another speed up was that Howell at that time was a manned CP by SOU who immediately cleared the train's route once the backup was beyond Howell's switches. Does anyone know Amtrak's max backing speeds are with no grade crossing?

At the downtown location there still appears room to build a loop track. If that is not possible then a train can pull past a wye switch and just back the short distance past the other wye switch. Then it would then pull into the station. Or the opposite maneuver depending on how a train's makeup is split. The station master can operate the powered wye switches remotely.

A small yard will need to be built to service any lay over or bad order cars or locos. The old Pullman facility is no longer available.

The possible commuter future service would definitely need the downtown station.
 
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GaSteve:
I believe Atlantic station would have been more inconvenient back up than Howell to downtown. When studying Atlantic location could not find enough space for a loop track.
When we look to more future a thru train going or coming to south or east to Augusta would need to back out of Atlantic. That is NS from Chattanooga or BHM. CSX from CHA, Knoxville, and Athens (SAL) would need to back out.

I rode both SOU and SAL backups to Howell. SAL went on to their own WYE beyond then proceeded. It took about 5 minutes at most. However, those times were reduced due to that RR attaching a switcher at Terminal station to back up a train to Howell. The front engine gave a boost out of Terminal to achieve track speed then just coasted. Another speed up was that Howell at that time was a manned CP by SOU who immediately cleared the train's route once the backup was beyond Howell's switches. Does anyone know Amtrak's max backing speeds are with no grade crossing?

At the downtown location there still appears room to build a loop track. If that is not possible then a train can pull past a wye switch and just back the short distance past the other wye switch. Then it would then pull into the station. Or the opposite maneuver depending on how a train's makeup is split. The station master can operate the powered wye switches remotely.

A small yard will need to be built to service any lay over or bad order cars or locos. The old Pullman facility is no longer available.

The possible commuter future service would definitely need the downtown station.
Commuter rail service is a pipe dream. They've been trying for 25 years with several studies done, some paid for by private funds.
 
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Atlanta metro area has too many counties involved with their own agendas. Best outcome would be establishing a joint powers authority that could make decisions for the city and counties involved as is done in California and New England.

We recently had the misfortune to drive from Macon to Cobb county (south to north right through downtown). It was horrible and not even rush hour. Don’t know how they could add more lanes to I-20,75,85 and beltway I-285.
 
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"Best outcome would be establishing a joint powers authority"
That will never happen in Georgia. They tried something like that with MARTA and only 2 counties originally agreed, finally got one more, but one large county will never agree.
A regional agency for transit in metro ATL was created a couple of years ago - Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority - ATL
 
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Redraw the counties lines. Why would greater Atlanta be in more than one county anyway.
Um, I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean. Dozens of metropolitan areas around the country involve a large city, surrounded by several counties around it, all of whom constitute a large and active part of the "greater city." It's not like this is unique to Atlanta. In fact, it probably describes the vast majority of metro areas in this country.

And redrawing county lines in most states is a lengthy, costly, and highly-charged process, politically speaking, that involves the state legislature, and ultimately, the courts. Again, this is by no means unique to Georgia, so the comment is more than a bit baffling.
 
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Deni

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Atlanta metro area has too many counties involved with their own agendas. Best outcome would be establishing a joint powers authority that could make decisions for the city and counties involved as is done in California and New England.

We recently had the misfortune to drive from Macon to Cobb county (south to north right through downtown). It was horrible and not even rush hour. Don’t know how they could add more lanes to I-20,75,85 and beltway I-285.
Adding lanes doesn't help anyway. If 285 is a parking lot with 10 lanes it'll be a parking lot with 16 lanes too. It's insane there. My wife has to go for work next week and I've already told in no way should she take a cab from the airport, only Marta.
 
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Um, I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean. Dozens of metropolitan areas around the country involve a large city, surrounded by several counties around it, all of whom constitute a large and active part of the "greater city." It's not like this is unique to Atlanta. In fact, it probably describes the vast majority of metro areas in this country.

And redrawing county lines in most states is a lengthy, costly, and highly-charged process, politically speaking, that involves the state legislature, and ultimately, the courts. Again, this is by no means unique to Georgia, so the comment is more than a bit baffling.
Oh sure putting all of the city, the suburban counties, and even some of the surrounding exurban semi-rural areas under a single metropolitan government with uniform city-sized tax rates would be great, but given the political reality, the likelihood of that happening can be described best by the phrase "snowball's chance in Hell."
 

Deni

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Um, I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean. Dozens of metropolitan areas around the country involve a large city, surrounded by several counties around it, all of whom constitute a large and active part of the "greater city." It's not like this is unique to Atlanta. In fact, it probably describes the vast majority of metro areas in this country.

And redrawing county lines in most states is a lengthy, costly, and highly-charged process, politically speaking, that involves the state legislature, and ultimately, the courts. Again, this is by no means unique to Georgia, so the comment is more than a bit baffling.
Though I would say that the problem is worse for Atlanta than for most (maybe even any) metro areas. Georgia counties are so small they are second only to Texas for number of counties despite being the 24th largest state by geographic size. Metra in Chicago involves seven counties, if Atlanta wanted a commuter system with a similar service area size it would be like 20+ counties.
 

TWA904

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Georgia has 159 counties. I remember when 285 on the west side of Atlanta was the edge of the Atlanta metro area. Now, I believe the metro area extends all the way to the Alabama/Georgia state line.
 

neroden

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If the city decides to fund it themselves and bypass the state legislature, then it could happen. Here's hoping. Otherwise, it'll have to wait until after the anti-rail, anti-Atlanta Republicans are kicked out of the state legislature, which could take a decade.
 

Amtrak709

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With respect, I cannot imagine a happy ending to all this no matter where in downtown Atlanta they might build an Amtrak terminal. Although I was born in Georgia, live in Georgia now and have for a good part of my life, and Amtrak's Brookwood-Peachtree station is the closest Amtrak to my home, I have driven to Anniston AL (ATN) over a hundred times (and NOT once to ATL) to board the Crescent over the last 22 years. Why? driving to Atlanta Amtrak is a "miserable" drive to get to a "miserable" station. Even if Atlanta adopted the notion of building a suburban station on the mainline like Clifford Lane in Jacksonville FL or Staple Mills RD in Richmond VA, they might have to go nearly to the Alabama border line (admittedly an exaggeration) to find an appropriate location. I think I may have drifted a little off the subject of this thread and subject, but just wanted to express an opinion.
 

McIntyre2K7

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I wish there was regional services for Amtrak that made Atlanta a hub for the southeast. I was in Atlanta last weekend. I had to drive my mom as she does not like to Fly and I did not want here taking Greyhound/Megabus. How long would it take to run an Atlanta/Jacksonville/Orlando/Tampa/Miami route?

Fun note: While in my hotel room I did see a tv commercial for Amtrak. I've known they have been around longer than me but I thought they never advertised on tv.
 

Deni

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I wish there was regional services for Amtrak that made Atlanta a hub for the southeast. I was in Atlanta last weekend. I had to drive my mom as she does not like to Fly and I did not want here taking Greyhound/Megabus. How long would it take to run an Atlanta/Jacksonville/Orlando/Tampa/Miami route?

Fun note: While in my hotel room I did see a tv commercial for Amtrak. I've known they have been around longer than me but I thought they never advertised on tv.
They used to have a lot of commercials. I can't say that I've seen one myself in the last 20+ years. I have some memory of Jeter and/or A-Rod doing an Amtrak commercial in the 90s but I can't find it with a Google search so maybe I imagined it. I did smoke a lot of weed in those days...
 

west point

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709. Yes Columbus to ATN is correct especially late hour at ATL. Commuter rail from the south and east might be possible. North of downtown no way unless Howell is changed so CSX goes under NS.,
EDIT. If howell was made manned during passenger trains passing then just a big maybe. It used to be manned and that person did a great job keeping trains fluid.
 
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