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How much would it cost for Amtrak to build their own tracks nationwide?

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jiml

Conductor
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Feb 27, 2019
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Too many variables. The number for doing so while preserving the existing route map would be quite different from that of a properly planned new network.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
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Feb 19, 2016
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Too many variables. The number for doing so while preserving the existing route map would be quite different from that of a properly planned new network.
In some places, it might be possible for Amtrak to co-exist with other freight tracks and simply “lease” one track for its own use from the host railroad. And then lease back operating rights for freight on schedules that won’t interfere with passenger train operations. Amtrak dispatchers would decide.


This might mean upgrading track, if it already exists beside other tracks, for faster speeds that make the train a better option than private autos. It would not need to be “high-speed” tho.


Other places it would involve brand new tracks.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
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Oct 21, 2015
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I say $50 billion.
Umm.... even the low estimate for Los Angeles to San Francisco was over that and currently it’s over double. That’s not even the entire state of California. So yeah... at least 100 billion per state if you are starting from scratch.
 

MIRAILFAN

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Mar 2, 2014
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Umm.... even the low estimate for Los Angeles to San Francisco was over that and currently it’s over double. That’s not even the entire state of California. So yeah... at least 100 billion per state if you are starting from scratch.
That was high speed rail. But I'll up my estimate to $500 bi llion.
 

Qapla

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Gator Country Florida
The cost would be the only part of the problems. By the time they got done with the law suits that would try to stop the construction of new tracks, the cost of the litigation would supersede the cost of construction - not to mention the years such litigation would set back the construction process - and then the increased cost to the original price due to inflation and cost of living increases during all those years of delay.

This could potentially push the cost into the trillion dollar range
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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Oct 25, 2019
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The cost would be the only part of the problems. By the time they got done with the law suits that would try to stop the construction of new tracks, the cost of the litigation would supersede the cost of construction - not to mention the years such litigation would set back the construction process - and then the increased cost to the original price due to inflation and cost of living increases during all those years of delay.

This could potentially push the cost into the trillion dollar range
Then you wonder why American infrastructure has been decaying and any actual necessary solutions to solve it ends up getting shot down and craven half-measures to appease the NIMBYs that ultimately don't do jack are passed.
It seems people like to call out high speed rail as being pharaonic yet they don't bat an eye when the country's wasting away more than a trillion dollars on unneeded wars that ultimately benefit no one but the arms companies and defense contractors (as if they didn't have enough money as is already)
 

MIRAILFAN

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Mar 2, 2014
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Then you wonder why American infrastructure has been decaying and any actual necessary solutions to solve it ends up getting shot down and craven half-measures that ultimately don't do jack are passed.
Litigation happy society and redundant overreaching environmental regulations.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

Service Attendant
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Oct 25, 2019
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Litigation happy society and redundant overreaching environmental regulations.
It seems the only way out is for America to fundamentally change its politics, which is going to be borderline impossible unless a collapse to society, like something akin to the Great Depression hits America (it's not out of the possibility though).
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

Service Attendant
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Oct 25, 2019
Messages
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So you think Amtrak should build their own track so they can travel the exact same speeds??? I’m totally lost.
In numerous places, Amtrak is going to have to build their own tracks, especially in places that have heavy freight traffic. Case in point, the Cajon and Tejon pases.
 

zephyr17

Conductor
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Jul 22, 2009
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Washington State
In numerous places, Amtrak is going to have to build their own tracks, especially in places that have heavy freight traffic. Case in point, the Cajon and Tejon pases.
That will generally be up to the states and the practice has generally been that states fund rail improvements in exchange for greater frequency or improved schedules. Washington paid for a third track through Kelso, Oregon paid for a new siding in Oregon City are two examples, but they aren't new lines and are not owned by the states or Amtrak but remain under the control of the RRs. With the Point Defiance Bypass, Washington did take ownership rehab a low speed industrial lead lead, but that is only like 20 miles (and engaged BNSF for dispatching services).

PS. The freight traffic over Tejon Pass consists solely of trucks. There is no rail line over Tejon Pass and there never has been. Even California's High Speed Rail isn't being planned to use Tejon. Santa Fe studied it in the 20s and did some preliminary engineering, but the Depression stopped it.
 

ehbowen

Conductor
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Mar 22, 2011
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Houston, Texas
Keep in mind, also, that the present rail routes were chosen specifically because they were the "best" (read: shortest, lowest grades, and least curves) feasible routes between the chosen end points. And, for the most part, they were built during a time when right-of-way was essentially free...existing towns regularly offered bonuses to ensure that they wouldn't be bypassed. Contrast that to today!

There is one caveat to the above; essentially all lines were built with (and for) 19th century technology. Today we have more efficient and capable options for construction and the motive power we employ is more powerful and no longer tethered to the availability of a plentiful water source. Nevertheless, our options for new construction are very limited...unless you have limitless amounts of taxpayer money to throw at the problem, as when the Interstates were conceived....
 

philabos

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
70
Not to mention the capital requirements of maintaining such a system would be enormous.
The NEC costs expanded across the entire network.
As to construction, just look at the brickbats Amtrak endured for just studying the New London bypass.
Never going to happen in the US.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

Service Attendant
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Oct 25, 2019
Messages
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PS. The freight traffic over Tejon Pass consists solely of trucks. There is no rail line over Tejon Pass and there never has been. Even California's High Speed Rail isn't being planned to use Tejon. Santa Fe studied it in the 20s and did some preliminary engineering, but the Depression stopped it.
The only reason CAHSR went for Tehachapi over Tejon was bias in favor of the Antelope valley and that they deliberately made the Tejon route an inferior choice to make Tehachapi more desirable. Clem did a study debunking these claims and pointed out the many benefits with using Tejon over Tehachapi.
I would also like to point out that the Tejon rail line is primarily a passenger rail line and it designed to ease traffic on I-5, especially during the winters when extreme weather closes it several times
 
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