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MARC Rider

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Those who think that people won't ride trains until we have 200 mph HSR should stop by Chicago Union Station some time. I don't know what all those people pouring out of those 79 mph (and slower) Regional and commuter trains are riding on, but I suspect it's a train, and I know it's not 200 mph HSR. In the Northeast, even the Regional trains are faster than driving, and that's before you account for traffic congestion. I think if Amtrak can provide reliable, reasonably on-time service with good frequencies and a point-to-point average speed of 60 mph, they can compete fine with driving. But it might be a good idea for some to keep pushing for HSR, which can be offered up to the rail-haters in exchange for support for non-HSR rail. That way the opponents of HSR can feel like they have won a victory over the "effete bi-coastal elites", while going along with funding the improvements that Amtrak needs to attract riders.

Also, these journalists need to do more research and learn about the concept of point-to-point average speed. Then they can rightly say that a true HSR like, say, the Eurostar runs at 100 mph, whereas the Acela Express runs at 80 mph (between New York And Washington). Not such a big difference, after all. And even the slowpoke Amtrak long-distance trains run at 50 mph, if they're on time. (A big "if", of course.) :)
 

Cal

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Those who think that people won't ride trains until we have 200 mph HSR should stop by Chicago Union Station some time. I don't know what all those people pouring out of those 79 mph (and slower) Regional and commuter trains are riding on, but I suspect it's a train, and I know it's not 200 mph HSR. In the Northeast, even the Regional trains are faster than driving, and that's before you account for traffic congestion. I think if Amtrak can provide reliable, reasonably on-time service with good frequencies and a point-to-point average speed of 60 mph, they can compete fine with driving. But it might be a good idea for some to keep pushing for HSR, which can be offered up to the rail-haters in exchange for support for non-HSR rail. That way the opponents of HSR can feel like they have won a victory over the "effete bi-coastal elites", while going along with funding the improvements that Amtrak needs to attract riders.

Also, these journalists need to do more research and learn about the concept of point-to-point average speed. Then they can rightly say that a true HSR like, say, the Eurostar runs at 100 mph, whereas the Acela Express runs at 80 mph (between New York And Washington). Not such a big difference, after all. And even the slowpoke Amtrak long-distance trains run at 50 mph, if they're on time. (A big "if", of course.) :)
Exactly. We really don't need HSR. It just needs to be as fast as, or faster than driving and reliable.
 

PaTrainFan

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Those who think that people won't ride trains until we have 200 mph HSR should stop by Chicago Union Station some time. I don't know what all those people pouring out of those 79 mph (and slower) Regional and commuter trains are riding on, but I suspect it's a train, and I know it's not 200 mph HSR. In the Northeast, even the Regional trains are faster than driving, and that's before you account for traffic congestion. I think if Amtrak can provide reliable, reasonably on-time service with good frequencies and a point-to-point average speed of 60 mph, they can compete fine with driving. But it might be a good idea for some to keep pushing for HSR, which can be offered up to the rail-haters in exchange for support for non-HSR rail. That way the opponents of HSR can feel like they have won a victory over the "effete bi-coastal elites", while going along with funding the improvements that Amtrak needs to attract riders.

Also, these journalists need to do more research and learn about the concept of point-to-point average speed. Then they can rightly say that a true HSR like, say, the Eurostar runs at 100 mph, whereas the Acela Express runs at 80 mph (between New York And Washington). Not such a big difference, after all. And even the slowpoke Amtrak long-distance trains run at 50 mph, if they're on time. (A big "if", of course.) :)
You're spot on: the car is the competition in most of the country. What's key is consistent, predictable and reliable on time service that riders can count on with a decent on board experience. Eliminating bottlenecks, cleaning up appraches to major stations, getting the host railroads to play ball.
 

me_little_me

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Exactly. We really don't need HSR. It just needs to be as fast as, or faster than driving and reliable.
I would disagree with that. HSR has its place just as regional and long distance do. Do we need HSR from NYC to California or even Chicago? I don't think that's a priority but where HSR can make important city pairs reachable in a couple of hours, I say we need that. Acela is pretty good between NYC and WAS (with a few exceptions which should be fixed) but NYC to BOS needs more work. CHI to STL, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Detroit would be good examples.
Regional trains do the fill-in where city pairs are too far apart for HSR or between the lesser cities along the HSR route ala along Acela route; where HSR would be too expensive to implement now with higher priorities; along LD routes as possible feeders to them and for shorter routes (Major airport to nearby cities - like ATL to Macon, GA) to reduce puddle-jumper planes.
LD with at least 2X/day to provide reasonable service to cities that have late-night on single train routes and for those distances that are not reasonable for daytime-only trains should cover the rest of the country.

They all have their place.
 

Cal

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I would disagree with that. HSR has its place just as regional and long distance do. Do we need HSR from NYC to California or even Chicago? I don't think that's a priority but where HSR can make important city pairs reachable in a couple of hours, I say we need that. Acela is pretty good between NYC and WAS (with a few exceptions which should be fixed) but NYC to BOS needs more work. CHI to STL, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Detroit would be good examples.
Regional trains do the fill-in where city pairs are too far apart for HSR or between the lesser cities along the HSR route ala along Acela route; where HSR would be too expensive to implement now with higher priorities; along LD routes as possible feeders to them and for shorter routes (Major airport to nearby cities - like ATL to Macon, GA) to reduce puddle-jumper planes.
LD with at least 2X/day to provide reasonable service to cities that have late-night on single train routes and for those distances that are not reasonable for daytime-only trains should cover the rest of the country.

They all have their place.
They do. However we should really walk before we run. And Amtrak was close to making a profit before COVID with the current slow trains. I'd rather upgrade them (and add more) so we have reliable trains that are faster than driving. It's a more realistic (but honestly still far off) goal that would still attract ridership.
 

Palmetto

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Exactly. We really don't need HSR. It just needs to be as fast as, or faster than driving and reliable.
Not for people who don't drive it doesn't. That's part of the problem here. America's love affair with the automobile. I hear the millennials don't have that. In fact, if one were to take a cross country train trip, I believe it would be quite a bit faster than in a car, unless one were to drive non-stop.

Or just for comparison to a long train trip in Europe. Paris to Istanbul by train takes 2 days by train and it's about 1,000 miles. That's about the distance between Chicago and New York, and Amtrak does it in a little over half the time. It's all relative, I guess, because we tout European trains as being superior to ours. For short trips, definitely. For trips like Amtrak LD, not so much.
 
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MARC Rider

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but NYC to BOS needs more work.
Well, they could get some immediate speed-ups with little expense if someone with sufficient power could whup Metro-North upside the head to allow consistent 70 mph running on the stretch between New Rochelle and New Haven. I'm not sure what it would take to allow 90 mph running on that stretch, but if they could do, they should do it. That would probably be enough to make NYP-BOS consistently faster than driving.
 

MARC Rider

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Or just for comparison to a long train trip in Europe. Paris to Istanbul by train takes 2 days by train and it's about 1,000 miles. That's about the distance between Chicago and New York, and Amtrak does it in a little over half the time. It's all relative, I guess, because we tout European trains as being superior to ours. For short trips, definitely. For trips like Amtrak LD, not so much.
I believe you have to change trains in Vienna, Budapest, and Bucharest. Plus I've read accounts of hours-long waits at the Bulgarian-Turkish border for customs and immigration. Only enthusiasts or adventurers actually take a train all the way from Paris to Istanbul.
 

tricia

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I would disagree with that. HSR has its place just as regional and long distance do. Do we need HSR from NYC to California or even Chicago? I don't think that's a priority but where HSR can make important city pairs reachable in a couple of hours, I say we need that. Acela is pretty good between NYC and WAS (with a few exceptions which should be fixed) but NYC to BOS needs more work. CHI to STL, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Detroit would be good examples.
Regional trains do the fill-in where city pairs are too far apart for HSR or between the lesser cities along the HSR route ala along Acela route; where HSR would be too expensive to implement now with higher priorities; along LD routes as possible feeders to them and for shorter routes (Major airport to nearby cities - like ATL to Macon, GA) to reduce puddle-jumper planes.
LD with at least 2X/day to provide reasonable service to cities that have late-night on single train routes and for those distances that are not reasonable for daytime-only trains should cover the rest of the country.

They all have their place.
How about we work on getting decent frequencies on reliable, non-HSR trains to all these places (and points in between) ... and then maybe add HSR?
 

Cal

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Not for people who don't drive it doesn't. That's part of the problem here. America's love affair with the automobile. I hear the millennials don't have that. In fact, if one were to take a cross country train trip, I believe it would be quite a bit faster than in a car, unless one were to drive non-stop.

Or just for comparison to a long train trip in Europe. Paris to Istanbul by train takes 2 days by train and it's about 1,000 miles. That's about the distance between Chicago and New York, and Amtrak does it in a little over half the time. It's all relative, I guess, because we tout European trains as being superior to ours. For short trips, definitely. For trips like Amtrak LD, not so much.
I was generally talking more about corridor service. However, I wouldn't mind increasing speeds on the LD network either. Yeah it's already faster than driving when you account for stops, but it'd be nice to have quicker running times.
 

jis

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Or just for comparison to a long train trip in Europe. Paris to Istanbul by train takes 2 days by train and it's about 1,000 miles. That's about the distance between Chicago and New York, and Amtrak does it in a little over half the time. It's all relative, I guess, because we tout European trains as being superior to ours. For short trips, definitely. For trips like Amtrak LD, not so much.
I believe you have to change trains in Vienna, Budapest, and Bucharest. Plus I've read accounts of hours-long waits at the Bulgarian-Turkish border for customs and immigration. Only enthusiasts or adventurers actually take a train all the way from Paris to Istanbul.
Indeed that comparison is mostly GIGO.

Paris to Istanbul rail distance is about 1400 miles. As you point out, 🤷‍♂️ there is no single seat ride from Paris to Istanbul anyway.

New York to Chicago rail distance is about 960 miles.
 

MARC Rider

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Indeed that comparison is mostly GIGO.

Paris to Istanbul rail distance is about 1400 miles. As you point out, 🤷‍♂️ there is no single seat ride from Paris to Istanbul anyway.

New York to Chicago rail distance is about 960 miles.
You can read Paul Theroux's account of the journey in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. He took it in 2006 or thereabouts. I'm not sure whether they still run a through sleeper from Paris to Vienna anymore. (Actually, when he rode it, the sleeper wasn't attached to the train until Strasbourg.) He also has a hair-raising account of the dining car service on the Budapest - Bucharest train that will make you beg for Flex dining. Come to think of it, his description of the dining car service on the Trans-Siberian also suggests that Amtrak offer their catering expertise to the Russians. He ended up making instant-noodle breakfasts using hot water from the samovar in his car and buying smoked fish and other stuff from vendors on the platform.
 
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jis

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You can read Paul Theroux's account of the journey in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. He took it in 2006 or thereabouts. I'm not sure whether they still run a through sleeper from Paris to Vienna anymore. (Actually, when he rode it, the sleeper wasn't attached to the train until Strasbourg.) He also has a hair-raising account of the dining car service on the Budapest - Bucharest train that will make you beg for Flex dining. Come to think of it, his description of the dining car service on the Trans-Siberian also suggests that Amtrak offer their catering expertise to the Russians. He ended up making instant-noodle breakfasts using hot water from the samovar in his car and buying smoked fish and other stuff from vendors on the platform.
I had traveleled by the "pedestrian" Orient Express when it was still running between Paris and Vienna. Nothing to write home about. I traveled by First Class Couchette. That was many moons ago sometime in the '90s. when we were participating in a EC funded research project via AT&T (UK). We used to have these review meetings with the EC folks every three months. I tended to fly into some other city and then get to the meeting city by trains, which baffled the company travel folks, but somehow they allowed it, perhaps due to their unfamiliarity with Europe in general.This was to attend a meeting in Vienna.
 
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dlagrua

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Flynn keeps talking about "Corridors" and seems to ignore the importance of a national LD network. If Amtrak ever decided to stop the voodoo accounting by adding unrelated NEC expenses to the LD trains, they might be profitable. IMO, the reason why LD ridership is down is simply cost. More passengers will use the LD network if it is competitive or at a lower cost than airline travel. Getting back to more corridor routes, the problem here is Amtrak may be getting into a battle with private industry.
 

jis

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Getting back to more corridor routes, the problem here is Amtrak may be getting into a battle with private industry.
If Amtrak is actually able to excite enough private industry to take on corridor routes that would be a win for all I'd imagine. At present all the private industry in corridor routes can be counted on at most a couple of fingers, and at least one of them is trying very hard to avoid being a common carrier.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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Or states that have no interest in corridors such as Alabama.


Flynn keeps talking about "Corridors" and seems to ignore the importance of a national LD network. If Amtrak ever decided to stop the voodoo accounting by adding unrelated NEC expenses to the LD trains, they might be profitable. IMO, the reason why LD ridership is down is simply cost. More passengers will use the LD network if it is competitive or at a lower cost than airline travel. Getting back to more corridor routes, the problem here is Amtrak may be getting into a battle with private industry.
 

neroden

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Not for people who don't drive it doesn't. That's part of the problem here. America's love affair with the automobile. I hear the millennials don't have that. In fact, if one were to take a cross country train trip, I believe it would be quite a bit faster than in a car, unless one were to drive non-stop.
It is. Chicago to upstate NY (which I do regularly) is faster by overnight train than by car, because if you're not crazy, you have to stop overnight at least once in the car.
 

neroden

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You can read Paul Theroux's account of the journey in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. He took it in 2006 or thereabouts. I'm not sure whether they still run a through sleeper from Paris to Vienna anymore. (Actually, when he rode it, the sleeper wasn't attached to the train until Strasbourg.) He also has a hair-raising account of the dining car service on the Budapest - Bucharest train that will make you beg for Flex dining. Come to think of it, his description of the dining car service on the Trans-Siberian also suggests that Amtrak offer their catering expertise to the Russians. He ended up making instant-noodle breakfasts using hot water from the samovar in his car and buying smoked fish and other stuff from vendors on the platform.
That's what I'm currently stuck doing on Amtrak except there are no smoked fish vendors on the platform. So, the Russians are doing better.
 
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