Extension of the Night Owl to Charlotte

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bms

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Amtrak recently added sleeper cars to trains 65-67, the overnight service between Boston and Washington. These trains currently continue to Newport News, Virginia, albeit without sleeper service south of Washington.

I think this train could get much more patronage if it instead continued to Charlotte, North Carolina. The late departure and early arrival in Washington would allow this train to serve every city in North Carolina at reasonable times. The sleeper cars should be carried throughout the route. This would also be the first one-seat service between Boston, New Haven, and North Carolina. And one thing the Night Owl has going for it is that the Cafe Car is open all night.

I made up this schedule, it's not showing the stops between Boston and Washington because they'd be the same as the current Night Owl. Only the parts south of Richmond Staples Mills Road Station are different, and I got those times by copying the headways of a similarly timed train.

If Amtrak continued 65/66/67 to Charlotte and upgraded to high-quality equipment and service, this could be a popular and profitable service. Of course it would ideally go on as far as Atlanta, but the current Georgia government has zero chance of supporting new rail service.

Screenshot 2021-04-23 12.25.42 AM.png
 
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Cal

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However, there are no facilities or places for OBS to stay I don't believe.+
 

bms

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However, there are no facilities or places for OBS to stay I don't believe.+
Yeah if they were going to get serious and make it a 936-mile sleeper trip, they should probably have a Bag/Dorm and a Viewliner Sleeper.
 

jiml

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With that timetable it would appear you could save a trainset by terminating in Raleigh and have a connection to the local the rest of the way. How much through sleeper traffic could be anticipated south of Raleigh?🤔
 

jis

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Yeah if they were going to get serious and make it a 936-mile sleeper trip, they should probably have a Bag/Dorm and a Viewliner Sleeper.
It becomes an Amtrak LD train as it runs more than 750 miles. Incidentally Amtrak is trying to get the 750 miles reduced to 500 miles, so they may not be against such trains becoming LD trains.
How many trainsets do they need for the current schedule? Would this require more?
Two. To Charlotte or Atlanta it would require one more set. To Raleigh it might squeak by with two, but that an awfully short turnaround time for an LD train given that CSX is involved. ;)
 

bms

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With that timetable it would appear you could save a trainset by terminating in Raleigh and have a connection to the local the rest of the way. How much through sleeper traffic could be anticipated south of Raleigh?🤔
North Carolina is pretty heavily populated along the entire I-40 corridor, so I thought it was worth continuing another 173 miles to bring in all the intermediate cities as well as Charlotte.
 

west point

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That train could continue on to Atlanta. The times are near the proposed 2nd daytime train to / from Atlanta. The train could combine with a element to / from NPN at RVR.
 

Mailliw

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If the Palmetto was flipped back to a night train it could provide overnight service between the Carolinas and NYC.
 

railiner

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This would also be the first one-seat service between Boston, New Haven, and North Carolina.
Not quite...;)


Apparently, the Silver Meteor/Champion had some thru cars combined with the Southern Crescent that season, between Washington, or New York and Boston. It is interesting that the timetable shows no local traffic anywhere between Washington on Boston on the Silver Meteor, but does allow it on the Southern Crescent. Of further interest, is that for that brief period, you could go all the way from Boston to Los Angeles in the transcontinental sleeper, including an overnight stop in New Orleans...:cool:
 
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Just-Thinking-51

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Lots of options south of DC.

Sure the current route would miss there direct train to Boston.

Maintenance is always a issue, and having the time to do it.
 

jis

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That train could continue on to Atlanta. The times are near the proposed 2nd daytime train to / from Atlanta. The train could combine with a element to / from NPN at RVR.
RVR will need additional facilities to actually be able to split/join trains there though. It can be done sort of at present, but not very reliably.
If the Palmetto was flipped back to a night train it could provide overnight service between the Carolinas and NYC.
I don't think Amtrak's Palmetto has ever been a night train through the mid-Atlantic. It and its sibling the Silver Palm has always been a day train between New York and Savannah. Any extensions further south has been overnight south of Savannah.
 

Heading North

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I like the idea of extending the train. I think it depends on how the other corridors evolve for connectivity. Coming from ALX, 66/67 are great for day trips to Richmond (due to the stop at RVM!) and even Williamsburg, and I think you’d still need a corridor train on that route.

But, what about taking NS to Greensboro-Charlotte instead of CSX? It’s slightly faster, which would make Atlanta easier down the road. It would allow a morning departure/day trip from WAS-ALX to Charlottesville. And if the Piedmont corridor is built out, an easy connection in Greensboro for Raleigh/Durham. Or, instead of Charlotte it could (in part, like the Hilltopper before it?) serve Roanoke... and then go on to Bristol/Knoxville/Nashville/etc.

Which reminds me—yes, off-topic—has anyone tried to figure out the most efficient duration of an overnight train? I’m thinking in terms of accounting for delays, how grody a train gets after a day or two, food inventory, having enough time for turns but not too much, etc. If the train had, say, 11 hours overnight in Atlanta and 13 hours in Boston, the run time and layover time comes out about even. No idea if that’s great or subpar but the idea of trains sitting idle for 20+ hours (like the Cap in DC) seems like a waste.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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General speaking if your running night trains, Having them parked for maintenance at night is not the best use of your equipment.

Russian RZD had a night train that consist of two full days on board and one night. They flip it to two full nights, and one day. Moscow to Paris.

So in general leave after dinner (avoid the dinner cost) arrival before lunch. Give yourself 8 hours to turn the equipment. Yes it can be done faster, but 8 is a simple number to avoid delays due to late equipment. Added bonus the whole work day thing too.

The passenger also have demands. Business travelers want to arrive at the start of the day. Maybe leave with time for a drink or two before bedtime. Tourists want to leave later but not necessarily arrive before the business day starts. Got find a spot, to fill the needs of your customers.

Anyways random thought, feel free to laugh, correct, and provide your thoughts.
 

toddinde

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Not quite...;)


Apparently, the Silver Meteor/Champion had some thru cars combined with the Southern Crescent that season, between Washington, or New York and Boston. It is interesting that the timetable shows no local traffic anywhere between Washington on Boston on the Silver Meteor, but does allow it on the Southern Crescent. Of further interest, is that for that brief period, you could go all the way from Boston to Los Angeles in the transcontinental sleeper, including an overnight stop in New Orleans...:cool:
I rode that sleeper although it might have been the New York version in ‘78. The Southern Crescent was quite a train. The Sunset had a California Zephyr dome observation lounge. What a trip.
 

west point

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QUOTE "RVR will need additional facilities to actually be able to split/join trains there though. It can be done sort of at present, but not very reliably".

JIS:; You bring up a very important point. Cannot remember anything about the station, I looked at the open RR map of the area and on reflection it appears that the state of VA has not really addressed the problems in Richmond with auto parking, train storage, off main track station tracks, and ease switching cars on and off trains. There appears need for major renovations if the planned number of NEC trains terminate there in the future.

Several questions.
1. Is the track #1ADV just a non singled siding and is there room for another track east of it in the future ?
2. The platform between 4 & 5. Is it as long as appears ? Is it high level or low level and if low could an intermediate crossover be installed for better switching ?
3. Same questions for platform between 4 & 5.
4. Could track 5 be extended north and / or south? Or make spurs north and south?
5. Is that an abandoned track or road west of track 5 ?
6. How are platforms accessed ? Track level, overhead, or underground ?

What is a shame is that the Broad Street station ( now science museum ) is not an option as it still has 4 platforms with no track connections.
 

railiner

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I rode that sleeper although it might have been the New York version in ‘78. The Southern Crescent was quite a train. The Sunset had a California Zephyr dome observation lounge. What a trip.
Yours must have been a New York<>Los Angeles, since they only ran thru cars to Boston for a few months mid-1972

Besides that example, the Montrealer also had a thru sleeper to Miami via New Haven at one time...
 

west point

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Just thinking" Not all night routes will have the same layover times for turning. That makes for some not efficiencies.
1. For a route leaving at 2100 and arriving at 0700 the equipment could not be turned for a short RT day trip.
2. Same for a route leaving at 1900 and arriving at 0830. Both these great for daytime PM.
3. If a day train runs the same route as a night train then there is the possibility that at one end of route ( probably a non maintenance location ) train could quick turn approximately 2 hours after arrival for a short RT to arrive 2 hours before night departure. Might even be the full route. Each route is of course different so we cannot get a common type operation nation wide. Unfortunately this would require a private contractor to clean and install various passenger items at the quick turn locations..
 

Just-Thinking-51

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RVR Richmond Staples Mill Rd Station

There space to expand if need. Fix up the station and track layout could be done, if someone felt the need and had the funds. The bridge to the south is probably the pitch point. I do recall a much smaller one a few year back, when I deliver to that industry area. The track between Richmond and DC are planned for upgrades. So maybe it could be here where a train is split up to multiple destinations, rather at DC. The change of power from electric to diesel would be a key point, of course the capacity of the rail line is a key issue too.

That said the equipment Amtrak may be getting, may be able to MU up and roll north as one train with little or no improvement to this station.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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West point

Try google maps, I be thinking your open source railroad map is out of date.
 

jis

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Yeah, if they consistently use bidirectional train sets they can be turned much quicker at the end points than if you have to Wye them or turn the power from end to the other. Parting/joining of trains can be faster too, and even more spectacularly faster if some variety of Scharfenberg Coupler is used.

As for required space, it may be possible to get away with not much at an outer point even with many trains coming and going, if a proper schedule diagram can be put together that does not require significant stabling, other than perhaps overnight. And overnight stabling tracks do not have to be at the station.

Current plans call for adding six more round trips to RVR from Washington by 2030. Some of the new trains will run through and some will turn. It is not clear that you need a huge new expansion to just serve six more round trips through the station in a day. But of course VDOT should invest some in the station to replace the large Amshack by something a little more charming.

What is not clear to me is whether the turning trains will be turned at RVR or RVM, since the plan appears to be route all trains that stop at Richmond via RVM, in which case RVR will just be a passing through station and require not much further development, though an off mainline additional platform would be a nice thing to have so that all platforms can be high level without bickering with CSX. There is room for an additional main line track on the far side of the station.
 
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west point

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Termination at Richmond main (RVM). Are there still just 2 stub tracks at RVM It has been too long but as I remember the 2 stubs were between the "S" line 2 MT and the Newport 2 Main tracks ? The map just shows track for each branch ?
 

jis

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QUOTE "RVR will need additional facilities to actually be able to split/join trains there though. It can be done sort of at present, but not very reliably".

JIS:; You bring up a very important point. Cannot remember anything about the station, I looked at the open RR map of the area and on reflection it appears that the state of VA has not really addressed the problems in Richmond with auto parking, train storage, off main track station tracks, and ease switching cars on and off trains. There appears need for major renovations if the planned number of NEC trains terminate there in the future.

Several questions.
1. Is the track #1ADV just a non singled siding and is there room for another track east of it in the future ?
2. The platform between 4 & 5. Is it as long as appears ? Is it high level or low level and if low could an intermediate crossover be installed for better switching ?
3. Same questions for platform between 4 & 5.
4. Could track 5 be extended north and / or south? Or make spurs north and south?
5. Is that an abandoned track or road west of track 5 ?
6. How are platforms accessed ? Track level, overhead, or underground ?

What is a shame is that the Broad Street station ( now science museum ) is not an option as it still has 4 platforms with no track connections.
I have absolutely no context for your questions so I have no clue what you are asking about. 🤷🏻
 

bms

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I like the idea of extending the train. I think it depends on how the other corridors evolve for connectivity. Coming from ALX, 66/67 are great for day trips to Richmond (due to the stop at RVM!) and even Williamsburg, and I think you’d still need a corridor train on that route.

But, what about taking NS to Greensboro-Charlotte instead of CSX? It’s slightly faster, which would make Atlanta easier down the road. It would allow a morning departure/day trip from WAS-ALX to Charlottesville. And if the Piedmont corridor is built out, an easy connection in Greensboro for Raleigh/Durham. Or, instead of Charlotte it could (in part, like the Hilltopper before it?) serve Roanoke... and then go on to Bristol/Knoxville/Nashville/etc.

Which reminds me—yes, off-topic—has anyone tried to figure out the most efficient duration of an overnight train? I’m thinking in terms of accounting for delays, how grody a train gets after a day or two, food inventory, having enough time for turns but not too much, etc. If the train had, say, 11 hours overnight in Atlanta and 13 hours in Boston, the run time and layover time comes out about even. No idea if that’s great or subpar but the idea of trains sitting idle for 20+ hours (like the Cap in DC) seems like a waste.
I think trains 65/66/67 should eventually be extended as far as Atlanta.
Not quite...;)


Apparently, the Silver Meteor/Champion had some thru cars combined with the Southern Crescent that season, between Washington, or New York and Boston. It is interesting that the timetable shows no local traffic anywhere between Washington on Boston on the Silver Meteor, but does allow it on the Southern Crescent. Of further interest, is that for that brief period, you could go all the way from Boston to Los Angeles in the transcontinental sleeper, including an overnight stop in New Orleans...:cool:
Good post, I didn't realize that! Too bad I was born too late to take the Southern Crescent!
 
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