FRA's Corridor ID Program and new Amtrak routes

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MisterUptempo

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Good points all around, perhaps it is too far along to qualify

In regards to the tier II EIS I don’t remember hearing about restarting it but if I remember the unfinished part was to deal with the Chicago to Joliet upgrades. The preferred route was to use the Rock Island with a connection at 40th st. With the potential of the Chicago Access that connection moves further north but still allows trains on the Rock.

Only thing I’ll say about the Illinois Rail assessment was the cost for the Chicago-St Louis corridor still had the trains using the heritage corridor. 4 expensive flyovers would’ve been required as part of the fixes. Doesn’t seem like there was great coordination when coming up with that 7 billion number. Adding double and triple track through the corridor was expected to cost ~2 billion in 2012 dollars.
The Rail Needs Assessment was issued in July, 2022, which was around the same time as the announcement to pursue the Chicago Access Program, which includes the St. Charles Air Line Connector. The Feasibility Report for the connector had been completed long before that. My guess is that they just used an outdated graphic showing the Heritage routing to Joliet.

The Tier I EIS did show the 40th Street Connector, as well as triple-tracking the Rock Island between Chicago and Joliet. I also recall that there was serious consideration given to grade separating quite a few crossings as well.

The Springfield 10th Street Rail Consolidation Project is in the needs assessment, and has been broken out as a separate project and now under construction. Estimated completion by end of 2025.

The Springfield Flyover is in the report as well, though no funding has been found for that $100 million project yet.

And in the Granite City to St. Louis segment, the Merchants Bridge has been rehabbed and reopened yesterday. So, there is important work going on with the project that doesn't get a whole lot of attention.

Here's a brief description of scope of the remaining work, under "Project Description and Need" -
Previous federal and state investments in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor were used to construct infrastructure enabling Amtrak service at speeds of up to 110 mph, including track and station reconstructions, siding extensions, bridge rehabilitations, PTC implementation, and grade crossing upgrades. This project would leverage these previous investments by completing the full build improvements, most notably double tracking the entire corridor. This will improve both passenger and freight rail operations between Chicago and St. Louis and enable increased service on a key spoke of the Midwest "Hub" Network
As far as flyovers on the Heritage route are concerned CREATE has already started the process of getting reports together for the Brighton Park Flyover as well as CP Canal, for the sake of Metra as well as freight rail decongestion, as the STB ruled long ago that Amtrak had to get the Lincoln Service and the Texas Eagle off CN's Chicago-Joliet corridor as quickly as they're able.
 
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TransitTyrant

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because breaking 80mph in most cases isn't an option, most mainline track is class 4 60mph freight 80mph pax, theres a bit of class 5 where freight wants to do 70mph then you can get pax to 90mph with PTC.

Now I am frustrated the connect US plan is so limited in frequency, 5-6 should be the base unless theres a LD train along the route, then that can use one of the slots.
Yes running faster than 79 would require a lot of investment and probably wouldn’t be worth it to start. 3 trains a day is a small number but these services have to start somewhere. The San Diegan started as 3 round trips and now it’s up to 13 a day.
 

TransitTyrant

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The Rail Needs Assessment was issued in July, 2022, which was around the same time as the announcement to pursue the Chicago Access Program, which includes the St. Charles Air Line Connector. The Feasibility Report for the connector had been completed long before that. My guess is that they just used an outdated graphic showing the Heritage routing to Joliet.

The Tier I EIS did show the 40th Street Connector, as well as triple-tracking the Rock Island between Chicago and Joliet. I also recall that there was serious consideration given to grade separating quite a few crossings as well.

Here's a brief description of scope of the remaining work, under "Project Description and Need" -

As far as flyovers on the Heritage route is concerned CREATE has already started the process of getting reports together for the Brighton Park Flyover as well as CP Canal, for the sake of Metra as well as freight rail decongestion, as the STB ruled long ago that Amtrak had to get the Lincoln Service and the Texas Eagle off CN's Chicago-Joliet corridor as quickly as they could.
When did the STB rule that? I’m fully in favor of anything that allows those trains to reach a speed higher than 30 for the first ~10 miles of the trip.
 

MisterUptempo

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When did the STB rule that? I’m fully in favor of anything that allows those trains to reach a speed higher than 30 for the first ~10 miles of the trip.
My mistake. Not the STB, but the FRA.

I'm going to look for the Record of Decision on the FRA website when time allows, but in a presentation given by Amtrak's Marc Magliari on April 16, 2021, available on the High Speed Rail Alliance's You Tube channel, he makes mention of the ROD.

The presentation is about the CREATE Project, but at the 25:55 mark he mentions that the FRA ruled Amtrak must move the Eagle and Lincoln off CN's line between Chicago and Joliet and onto the more passenger rail-friendly Rock Island District, which helps explain Amtrak's interest in CREATE.

It likely also explains why Amtrak is the lead agency in applying for a MEGA grant for the Chicago Access project.
 
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GDRRiley

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Yes running faster than 79 would require a lot of investment and probably wouldn’t be worth it to start. 3 trains a day is a small number but these services have to start somewhere. The San Diegan started as 3 round trips and now it’s up to 13 a day.
the state increased it pretty fast, from 76-80 it grew to 7RT a day which was back upto where it was from 1940-60 (not counting weekend extras).

I'll use the Atlanta - Montgomery corridor as an example as to why from the start they should push the bar higher.
3RT a day planned 3:20
with plenty of margin you should be able to get a RT done in 8 hours. With a 2nd crew you could have that same set do a 2nd RT. Your other crew would start on the opposite side and should be able to do the same.
2 sets of equipment, 4 crews doing 4RT in a day.

Atlanta — Birmingham
1RT a day planned 4:10
they'll already need 2 sets so why aren't they just planning 2RT a day. a RT should take 9 maybe 9:30 hours which could be the same crew, no need for them to stay overnight on each end
 

railiner

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The presentation is about the CREATE Project, but at the 25:55 mark he mentions that the FRA ruled Amtrak must move the Eagle and Lincoln off CN's line between Chicago and Joliet and onto the more passenger rail-friendly Rock Island District, which helps explain Amtrak's interest in CREATE.
Whatever happened to the BNSF (former Santa Fe) line between Chicago and Joliet? Does it still exist? Just curious if that could be a good alternative?
 
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I'll use the Atlanta - Montgomery corridor as an example as to why from the start they should push the bar higher.
3RT a day planned 3:20
with plenty of margin you should be able to get a RT done in 8 hours. With a 2nd crew you could have that same set do a 2nd RT. Your other crew would start on the opposite side and should be able to do the same.
2 sets of equipment, 4 crews doing 4RT in a day.

Atlanta — Birmingham
1RT a day planned 4:10
they'll already need 2 sets so why aren't they just planning 2RT a day. a RT should take 9 maybe 9:30 hours which could be the same crew, no need for them to stay overnight on each end
Seems to me that all the various proposals for service in the Southeast depend on a new expanded station for Atlanta, The present facility is barely adequate for the 2 trains a day that call there.
 

jis

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Whatever happened to the BNSF (former Santa Fe) line between Chicago and Joliet? Does it still exist? Just curious if that could be a good alternative?
It will have a phenomenal amount of freight interference since it is BNSF's freight trunk out of Chicago.
 

MisterUptempo

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------------NEW ADDITIONS TO EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST AS OF SEPTEMBER 26. 2022----------------

27) Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission -- Filing two separate EOIs

The Commission filed one Expression of Interest for a new route connecting Eau Claire, WI to Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, and another submission for Twins Cities to Chicago service via Eau Claire

28) Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority

Restoration of the North Coast Hiawatha. Amtrak abandoned the route in 1979. Notes that while its primary focus at the moment is the restoration of the North Coast Hiawatha, the Authority intends to identify other new passenger rail routes that would serve Montana and the Northwest US.

Also voices support for the restoration of Amtrak's former Pioneer route, between Salt Lake City, UT and Portland, OR.

29) California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) AND Caltrans Division of Rail and Mass Transportation & Joint Powers Authorities (two entries)

Caltrans submits its entire state intercity rail network vision for consideration. Rather than me doing copy/paste for the whole list, you can click here to link to the document yourself.

30) Lone Star Rail District

Expresses interest in establishing a new passenger rail corridor utilizing existing Union Pacific trackage, between Austin, San Marcos, New Braunfels, and San Antonio, TX. Potential extensions north to Dallas-Fort Worth and south to Laredo. Cites California's Capitol Corridor as a model.

31) Kansas Department of Transportation AND Oklahoma Department of Transportation (two entries)

Expression of interest and support for the Heartland Flyer Northern Extension project. Both entries submitted a letter drafted jointly by Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas DOTs expressing support for the extension.
 

GDRRiley

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29) California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) AND Caltrans Division of Rail and Mass Transportation & Joint Powers Authorities (two entries)
for those who don't want to download it here it is.
Yep every line they are looking at in the state for service, not a surprise
1664423385703.png
 
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30) Lone Star Rail District

Expresses interest in establishing a new passenger rail corridor utilizing existing Union Pacific trackage, between Austin, San Marcos, New Braunfels, and San Antonio, TX. Potential extensions north to Dallas-Fort Worth and south to Laredo. Cites California's Capitol Corridor as a model.
This was the route of the short lived Inter-American which ran Fort Worth to Laredo where you could connect with N de M's train to Mexico City. The Inter-American later morphed into the present day Texas Eagle.

The Inter-American near New Braunfels, taken sometime in the early 1970's (from a scanned slide, not the best quality).
PICT0017.JPG
 

Bob Dylan

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This was the route of the short lived Inter-American which ran Fort Worth to Laredo where you could connect with N de M's train to Mexico City. The Inter-American later morphed into the present day Texas Eagle.

The Inter-American near New Braunfels, taken sometime in the early 1970's (from a scanned slide, not the best quality).
View attachment 29773
I rode this Train several times to Laredo to catch the Aztec Eagle to Mexico City!
 

TransitTyrant

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This was the route of the short lived Inter-American which ran Fort Worth to Laredo where you could connect with N de M's train to Mexico City. The Inter-American later morphed into the present day Texas Eagle.

The Inter-American near New Braunfels, taken sometime in the early 1970's (from a scanned slide, not the best quality).
View attachment 29773
Wouldn’t all these proposals for long distance trains fall under the FRA study and not the corridor ID?
 

MisterUptempo

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Wouldn’t all these proposals for long distance trains fall under the FRA study and not the corridor ID?
DFW to Laredo is less than 750 miles (465 miles), so it qualifies on that count. Also, that the proposed route is a revival of a former Amtrak route, The Inter-American, it again qualifies, as with Corridor ID even a partial revival is acceptable. And, on a third count (possibly), the route might be considered an enhancement of Amtrak's Texas Eagle, though that's a stretch.
 

Larry H.

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I’m disappointed IDOT didn’t add the Lincoln Service corridor. Most of first phase of the “High Speed Rail” project is done, minus the 110 speed which is supposedly close. Now is the time to get money to begin adding more double track to the corridor. For the money invested 4 trains a day isn’t enough service.
I looked at the list wants by city hubs and wondered where missouri was especially St. Louis which at one time was the biggest hub in the nation.. Couldn't they at least try to restore the routes to Omaha, Memphis, Oklahoma City, and maybe Pittsburg so we had connections to a lot more routes without having to pay to go though Chicago with every thing?
 

jis

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MODERATOR'S NOTE: A number of posts regarding Mexican passenger rail service and the fate of passenger rail service in the world have been moved to its own thread and out of this thread. They can be found at:


Please use this thread only to discuss matters pertaining to the FRA Corridor ID program.

Thank you for your understanding, cooperation and participation.
 

MisterUptempo

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I looked at the list wants by city hubs and wondered where missouri was especially St. Louis which at one time was the biggest hub in the nation.. Couldn't they at least try to restore the routes to Omaha, Memphis, Oklahoma City, and maybe Pittsburg so we had connections to a lot more routes without having to pay to go though Chicago with every thing?
At one time, MoDOT had explored plans for a route between STL and KC via Springfield, as well as extending the Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg to Hannibal, as well as beyond Hannibal all the way to STL, retracing part of the Burlington's Mark Twain Zephyr. Those concepts would qualify under Corridor ID.

But that was long ago. Guess we should be glad that Missouri reinstated the River Runner. As it was, Amtrak forgave $6.5 Million owed it by the state. Considering the current makeup of the state government, I'm not sure you'll see much else.

STL to Oklahoma City would be a good idea. At one point there was talk about a route between Tulsa and OK City, so you might be able to generate interest from OK to partner on the project. Building a route that went STL-Springfield-Joplin-Tulsa-OK City could also potentially lead to a second CHI-Dallas LD route, if the numbers add up.

STL-PIT, while it would qualify as either a new route or a restoration, would likely require cooperation with all the states where the route would run. Illinois is rail-friendly, but unlikely to provide a lot of support for a route that would probably only serve Vandalia and Effingham(if the route is the same as Amtrak's National Limited), or Centralia(if you are proposing a route via Louisville and Cincy). And Indiana and Ohio have been rail-phobic as of late. Amtrak is still trying to convince Ohio to permit 3Cs.

STL-Memphis could work. The route could run on the same tracks as the Texas Eagle to Walnut Ridge then turn SSE thru Jonesboro to Memphis. Or run thru Cape Girardeau. Jonesboro has about twice the population as Cape Girardeau. Missing Jonesboro likely means AR won't support it; not running thru Cape Girardeau might mean MO won't support it. If either would get behind it at all. A new LD could be developed - KC-STL-Memphis-Jackson-New Orleans, or at least KC-STL-MEM, with a connection to CONO, though KC-STL-Centralia would have the same effect and likely a lot less expensive.

KC-OMA would provide Missourians with a connection to the California Zephyr, but the likely routing would require cooperation with IowaDOT. Iowa rejected funding to extend the Quad Cities train 60 miles to Iowa City. How much more luck will MO have convincing IA to develop 60 miles from the state border to Omaha?
 

MisterUptempo

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------------NEW ADDITIONS TO EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST AS OF OCTOBER 04. 2022----------------

32) Riverside County Transportation Commission

Requests inclusion of the Coachella Valley Rail Corridor, which, as envisioned, would eventually provide five round trips between Los Angeles and the city of Coachella, a 144-mile trip.

33) Utah, Nevada, and Idaho Departments of Transportation (1 entry)

A letter composed jointly by the three DOTs expressing interest in establishing two passenger rail corridors-

a) The Intermountain Corridor between Salt Lake City, UT and Boise, ID
and
b) The Desert Wind Corridor between Salt Lake City, UT and Las Vegas, NV

34) Vermont Agency of Transportation

-Extension of Amtrak's Vermonter from St. Albans to Montreal Central Station
-Enhancements to Amtrak's Ethan Allen Express
-Connecting the Ethan Allen Express with the Vermonter at Essex Junction, VT
-Enhancements on the Vermonter to support a connection from Springfield, MA to South Station in Boston, MA
-New passenger service on the Albany-Bennington-Burlington freight route to supplement the Ethan Allen Express service.

35) County of Rock, Wisconsin

Expressing support for an extension of Amtrak's Hiawatha from Milwaukee to Madison, WI
 
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MisterUptempo

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------------NEW ADDITIONS TO EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST AS OF OCTOBER 11. 2022----------------

36) Northern Flyer Alliance, Inc., City of Norman, OK, City of Wichita KS, City of Shawnee, KS, City of Fort Worth, TX, Oklahoma State Senate (6 separate entries)

Expressions of Interest and support for the proposed extension of Amtrak's Heartland Flyer, from its current northern terminus of Oklahoma City, OK to Newton, KS

37) Texas Department of Transportation

• Additional train sets on the Heartland Flyer between Oklahoma City Amtrak Station to Fort Worth Central Station.

• Additional train sets on existing Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited routes between Houston Amtrak Station, Amtrak Station San Antonio, and Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station in Dallas.

• Renewed intercity service between Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station in Dallas and Houston Amtrak Station.

• New and enhanced, conventional intercity service options studied in the Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study that would include connecting Amtrak Station San Antonio to the Rio Grande Valley.

• New service east of Marshall, TX connecting the Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station in Dallas to the Meridian, Mississippi Union Station.
(bullet points lifted directly from TxDOT's letter to FRA)

38) Maricopa Association of Governments

Expressing support for an intercity passenger rail alignment from Tucson to Phoenix to Buckeye, AZ, and onto Los Angeles, CA

39) Michigan Department of Transportation

Enhancements to Amtrak's Blue Water, between Port Huron, MI and Chicago, IL, Pere Marquette, Between Grand Rapids, MI and Chicago, IL, and Wolverine, between Pontiac, MI and Chicago, IL, with possible extensions to Windsor and Toronto, ONT, as well as possible extensions to Toledo and/or Cleveland (or perhaps a separate new route)

Improvements to the rail infrastructure between Chicago, IL and Porter, IN (South of the Lake)

An interesting comment made by MDOT about the Corridor ID program-
Simultaneously with the rollout of the Corridor ID Program, MDOT has begun discussions surrounding the prioritization of rail needs throughout the state. To aid in this effort, MDOT has contemplated undertaking Service Development Plans (SDPs) for various current and/or proposed future passenger rail routes in the state, as well as updating the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac SDP. It is our understanding that SDPs contain the appropriate information that would allow us to properly prioritize corridors for participation in the Corridor ID Program. While it is understood that the first major product of the Corridor ID program will be an SDP, we see some challenges designating a corridor for participation in the Corridor ID Program prior to commencing SDPs.
 

TransitTyrant

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------------NEW ADDITIONS TO EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST AS OF OCTOBER 11. 2022----------------

36) Northern Flyer Alliance, Inc., City of Norman, OK, City of Wichita KS, City of Shawnee, KS, City of Fort Worth, TX, Oklahoma State Senate (6 separate entries)

Expressions of Interest and support for the proposed extension of Amtrak's Heartland Flyer, from its current northern terminus of Oklahoma City, OK to Newton, KS

37) Texas Department of Transportation

• Additional train sets on the Heartland Flyer between Oklahoma City Amtrak Station to Fort Worth Central Station.

• Additional train sets on existing Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited routes between Houston Amtrak Station, Amtrak Station San Antonio, and Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station in Dallas.

• Renewed intercity service between Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station in Dallas and Houston Amtrak Station.

• New and enhanced, conventional intercity service options studied in the Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study that would include connecting Amtrak Station San Antonio to the Rio Grande Valley.

• New service east of Marshall, TX connecting the Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station in Dallas to the Meridian, Mississippi Union Station.
(bullet points lifted directly from TxDOT's letter to FRA)

38) Maricopa Association of Governments

Expressing support for an intercity passenger rail alignment from Tucson to Phoenix to Buckeye, AZ, and onto Los Angeles, CA

39) Michigan Department of Transportation

Enhancements to Amtrak's Blue Water, between Port Huron, MI and Chicago, IL, Pere Marquette, Between Grand Rapids, MI and Chicago, IL, and Wolverine, between Pontiac, MI and Chicago, IL, with possible extensions to Windsor and Toronto, ONT, as well as possible extensions to Toledo and/or Cleveland (or perhaps a separate new route)

Improvements to the rail infrastructure between Chicago, IL and Porter, IN (South of the Lake)

An interesting comment made by MDOT about the Corridor ID program-
I’m curious to see what the updated SDP of the Wolverine route entails. I believe the old plans included up to 9-10 round trips a day.
 

NES28

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Where can I find the responses to the FRA Request for Expressions of Interest that are being summarized here?
 
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