Environmental Research paper help: Could we extend the Auto-Train to Chicago, Boston, Montreal and New York?

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Siegmund

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 19, 2018
Messages
378
Location
northwestern Montana
I guess you have to write a paper on the chosen subject, but is not the whole idea of "taking your auto on the train" a bit non environmentally sound?

IMO, no, it's quite sound. The point isn't just taking your own car, but taking a carload of stuff with you (sometimes everything you need for months at your second home in Florida) that you don't have to carry, don't have to pack into carrier-approved luggage, don't have to check, don't have to worry about getting lost, etc.

As to the gasoline usage... pencilling it out roughly, if a train engine gets 500 ton-miles per gallon, and am empty autorack weighs ~55 tons and each auto placed on it weighs ~2 tons, Amtrak is burning about 1 gallon per 6 miles, to move 12-18 autos. That is a bit better than doubling the fuel efficiency of driving those cars on the highway (72-108 car-miles per gallon).

A better concept might be for passengers to ride in the train, and rent an electric vehicle at a sensible cost at the destination?

That's a different concept entirely --- a very good one. Easy access to car rentals when disembarking from the train makes traveling by (non-Auto-)train much more appealing in many destinations.
 

MccfamschoolMom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
363
Location
Dwight, IL
I live in a small town in central Illinois, and feel fortunate that there is an Amtrak station in our town which allows us to ride the Lincoln Service up to Chicago or down to St. Louis and beyond (via the Missouri River Runner). There are no inter-city buses to other towns in our area, however, so any shopping for things I can't find in my hometown, or trips to the local courthouse for my attorney husband, have to be done by car. We're making fewer out-of-town trips due to current gas prices, but we still need our cars. As to electric vehicles, although there are charging stations for them in my hometown, charging stations are nowhere near as numerous, as well-distributed, or as consistently open and available for use, as are gas stations, and currently-available electric vehicles are both extremely expensive and have a shorter driving range between charges than do conventional automobiles (especially the more fuel-efficient models) between fill-ups. Automobiles are essential in rural areas, which comprise a far larger portion of the USA than many people in urban areas realize.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
4,311
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
The OP mentioned Montreal as a potential extension candidate in the title, but given the difficulties getting just people across the border by train (as discussed on an ongoing basis) can anyone imagine the headaches with fully loaded vehicles? Inspections would take days. I think we can rule out transborder Auto Trains. This isn't Europe.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
983
Many parts of the world view private vehicle usage very differently than the US. Often, the best videos I can find to explain certain topics to my classes (like Vehicle to Grid or Offshore Wind) are from Europe, because they far ahead of the US on the implementation of such things..

(Retired from electrical/telecommunications industry but teach classes on alternative power for electrical apprentices and journeypersons)
PVD, that is true, but when you talk to people in countries that tend not to have private cars, a large portion of the 20'somethings really would like to have one for themselves. When I travel it is pretty obvious that I am an American and since I am pretty outgoing when I travel (which is odd because I am not when I am home) locals tend to talk to me fairly frequently. And from Krakow to Samosir Island, the second question I get half the time is, "What kind of car do you drive?" The first being which state I am from, and usually they know the state capital, even if they mispronounce it as badly a New Yorker would.
There is a fascination with cars among a portion of the young the world over. And among an entirely different portion who are interested in old muscle cars or pickups. That having been said, the current 20'somethings in the US do tend to have a much lower fascination level when it comes to cars.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
983
Auto carrier facilities exist all over the country but we rarely think about them because they're usually located deep in an industrial area, next to an assembly plant, or inside a multimodal interchange. Maybe some disused facilities could be repurposed and some in-use facilities could be shared with a future auto train. It's a long shot idea but building big and leveraging economies of scale may be the only way to make more auto trains viable under current conditions.
It would be cool if you could drive your car from Long Island etc. to Newark and pull into a secure auto carrier loading facility for an overnight autotrain trip to Florida. There are a few rather major obstacles but it is a nice thought exercise!
 
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
1,441
There is really no need for an Autotrain service to a) run on an existing Amtrak/passenger route or b) service an existing station - in fact, probably a 'remote' location is better for drive up operations. Who would want to drive to the loop in Chicago or the west side in Manhattan to load their car?
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
33,179
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
There is really no need for an Autotrain service to a) run on an existing Amtrak/passenger route or b) service an existing station - in fact, probably a 'remote' location is better for drive up operations. Who would want to drive to the loop in Chicago or the west side in Manhattan to load their car?
An Auto Train terminal should be close to a major highway to provide easy access from the highways system. Afterall there is no point in dumping a bunch of cars in the middle of a local neighborhood by a regular station with commuter oriented development around it. So yes, I agree.
 
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
1,441
An Auto Train terminal should be close to a major highway to provide easy access from the highways system. Afterall there is no point in dumping a bunch of cars in the middle of a local neighborhood by a regular station with commuter oriented development around it. So yes, I agree.
True, I didn't mean in the middle of nowhere literally, but not 'downtown' for the most part.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,294
Location
Washington State
Just for the East Coast extension I would add a terminal in Springfield, MA, and Newark, NJ. I think those two locations, with Lorton, VA would cover the east coast quite nicely.
I was thinking somewhere in northern NJ, but a bit further south than Newark so it would be good spot for those in and around Philly, too.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
3,588
Location
SW ATL airport
Interesing automatic coupler on that yard switcher. So an actual way to automatic couple to link and pin european system. Had often wondered about the safety of car men when coupling up the link and pin system. Carmen would still need to go between cars coupling cars together.
 

Just-Thinking-51

Very bored and cranky pundit
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
2,585
Location
USA
I was thinking somewhere in northern NJ, but a bit further south than Newark so it would be good spot for those in and around Philly, too.
Newark was a general land mark. I do agree with you. Interstate 287 on the southern side would do nicely. But the concept of across the river from NYC would my goal. Just like Springfield, MA might work or just a few miles east closer to the AFB.

You do need some space to put a terminal in.
 
Top