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

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NeueAmtrakCalifornia

Service Attendant
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Oct 25, 2019
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149
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....
I think we can get that larger amount of taxpayer money from taxing Wall Street and shifting all the money away from pointless wars to infrastructure and other critical needs
 

cirdan

Conductor
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Mar 30, 2011
Messages
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If you want rail to be genuinely competitive on something like a coast to coast line, even HSR isn't fast enough to be a genuine alternative to airlines. You'd have to look at something like maglev or a hyperloop for that. The costs would be immense.

One of the strengths of Amtrak's LD trains is that they serve many smaller places and provide connections between them. The question with a maglev or hyperloop is whether they would also do that, or just go for the big city to big city connections. So even if there was a super fast train from coast to coast, I think there would still also be a case for an LD network. Updated of course with modern amenities and technology, but still essentially in today's format.
 

Tom Booth

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Jul 5, 2019
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161
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Jersey City
If you want rail to be genuinely competitive on something like a coast to coast line, even HSR isn't fast enough to be a genuine alternative to airlines. You'd have to look at something like maglev or a hyperloop for that. The costs would be immense.

One of the strengths of Amtrak's LD trains is that they serve many smaller places and provide connections between them. The question with a maglev or hyperloop is whether they would also do that, or just go for the big city to big city connections. So even if there was a super fast train from coast to coast, I think there would still also be a case for an LD network. Updated of course with modern amenities and technology, but still essentially in today's format.
You make a good point. A lot of us end to end route people forget that Amtrak is vitally important to the sometimes scores of small towns enroute. Amtrak is their connection.
 

AGM.12

Train Attendant
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Jan 3, 2018
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77
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SC
It would seem that there is a movement afoot in some states to provide Amtrak with its own trackage. Michigan has already done this for the Wolverine service. VA and NC are in the process of doing this as well. Even in states not receptive in supporting corridor trains Amtrak is taking the steps in this direction, such as Florida where they acquired a 50 some mile section of the CSX A line north of Deland to Palatka. I would not be suprised to see Florida unload the line through Orlando as well as the line Tri Rail uses from WPB to Miami onto Amtrak.
 

zephyr17

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Jul 22, 2009
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Washington State
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
Never said it was impossible, Santa Fe was prepared to do it almost 100 years ago, and I agree, CAHSR not using a direct route over Tejon is one of many mistakes of CAHSR.

That does not change the fact that Tejon has no rails, and thus no rail freight congestion or interference over Tejon. Your post stated that Tejon was a busy point of rail freight congestion. It isn't. Either you fumbled the language in trying to make your point, or you are a fan of alternative facts.

PS, if the State of California isn't going to do it, no matter how poor the reasoning, Amtrak itself certainly will not.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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Oct 25, 2019
Messages
149
Never said it was impossible, Santa Fe was prepared to do it almost 100 years ago, and I agree, CAHSR not using a direct route over Tejon is one of many mistakes of CAHSR.

That does not change the fact that Tejon has no rails, and thus no rail freight congestion or interference over Tejon. Your post stated that Tejon was a busy point of rail freight congestion. It isn't. Either you fumbled the language in trying to make your point, or you are a fan of alternative facts.
Seems I fumbled then. I know Tejon has no rails and thus no freight trains, but it is heavy with passenger automobile traffic. This, combined with Tehachapi being extremely heavy in freight traffic, was the reason I brought up building a Tejon rail line if Amtrak California wants to connect the San Joaquins to LA
 
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zephyr17

Conductor
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Jul 22, 2009
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Washington State
It would seem that there is a movement afoot in some states to provide Amtrak with its own trackage. Michigan has already done this for the Wolverine service. VA and NC are in the process of doing this as well. Even in states not receptive in supporting corridor trains Amtrak is taking the steps in this direction, such as Florida where they acquired a 50 some mile section of the CSX A line north of Deland to Palatka. I would not be suprised to see Florida unload the line through Orlando as well as the line Tri Rail uses from WPB to Miami onto Amtrak.
Agree, it is up to the states and some are stepping up. And so it will be piecemeal, in sections that have Corridor service, good potential for Corridor service or commuter service that Amtrak piggybacks onto, like SCRRA's fairly extensive network of owned track in Southern California.

But it isn't Amtrak that will be funding or building it, and it certainly will not be national.
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
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May 24, 2010
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Texas
I'd imagine that $500 billion would go a long way toward duplicating many freight miles if it could be focused entirely on building infrastructure. Unfortunately you would probably need another $500 billion just to fight endless legal battles and stalling tactics with airlines, vehicle manufacturers, trucking companies, anti-rail politicians, and NIMBY's.
 

MARC Rider

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Baltimore. MD
If you want rail to be genuinely competitive on something like a coast to coast line, even HSR isn't fast enough to be a genuine alternative to airlines. You'd have to look at something like maglev or a hyperloop for that. The costs would be immense.

One of the strengths of Amtrak's LD trains is that they serve many smaller places and provide connections between them. The question with a maglev or hyperloop is whether they would also do that, or just go for the big city to big city connections. So even if there was a super fast train from coast to coast, I think there would still also be a case for an LD network. Updated of course with modern amenities and technology, but still essentially in today's format.
While this is true, why would anyone ever want rail to be genuinely competitive with flying for long distance travel? If I'm going to be traveling hundreds of miles per hour, I'd rather be up at 30,000 ft. where it's less likely I'm going to run into anything. Long distance trains, as you point out, are for the 10% who can't fly for medical reasons and for people living in smaller places in between the major airports, and, yes, for those of us who enjoy the experiences of traveling long distances at slower speeds. If they can get the average station-to-station speeds of the trains up to 60 mph or so, it would be very competitive with driving, which is all you really need on the speed front. This wouldn't require 150 mph+ trains, it would just require better signaling and more capacity at chokepoints. Oh, and it might be nice to build some new right-of-way across mountainous terrain that doesn't twist and turn and require 300 rail miles to connect two cities that are 250 miles away by highway (I'm talking to you Washington, DC and Pittsburgh!).
 

Thirdrail7

Conductor
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Jul 9, 2014
Messages
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It cost Virginia almost 4 Billion for part of the RF&P, the Buckingham Branch and the S line, which is abandoned and almost half a billion dollars to add constant tension and new cat poles to 32 track miles of the NEC, build a substation and upgrade the signal system.

We're way past billions for this enterprise.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
149
It cost Virginia almost 4 Billion for part of the RF&P, the Buckingham Branch and the S line, which is abandoned and almost half a billion dollars to add constant tension and new cat poles to 32 track miles of the NEC, build a substation and upgrade the signal system.

We're way past billions for this enterprise.
So I take it we're not gonna electrify between DC and Richmond for the time being.
 

Thirdrail7

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So I take it we're not gonna electrify between DC and Richmond for the time being.
I wonder if CSX made any provisions related to electrification in the sale. They definitely didn't allow it on the New York Empire sale (although that is a lease.)
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
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Gator Country Florida
[satire]
Yes, but the Interstate Highway System doesn't operate at a loss. It always makes a profit and pays for itself. It is certainly NOT subsidized by tax dollars like Amtrak is
[/satire]
 

sttom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
548
Well Amtrak runs on approximately 20,800 miles of track it doesn't own. The cost to build a mile of single track on flat land is $1 million. So for a single track Nationwide outside of the NEC would be at least $20.8 billion for conventional track. The more bridges, tunnels and hills you add, the higher the cost would be.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,224
Wonder what it will cost to re lay track on previously used ROW. Of course preparation of sub grade costs will depend on how long dormant. That is grubbing out vegetation and application of non pours cloth under sub grade.
 

neroden

Conductor
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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
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Ithaca, NY
I wonder if CSX made any provisions related to electrification in the sale. They definitely didn't allow it on the New York Empire sale (although that is a lease.)
That sort of restriction is against public policy, not to mention stupid, but I wouldn't worry about it; the restriction can be bought out whenever it is time to electrify. CSX's incompetence is notorious though.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
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Ithaca, NY
Not as part of the current $4+ Billion that VA has embarked upon.
Long Bridge and L'Enfant design specifically left *space* for future electrification, last I checked. They do not want to have to redo concrete if they electrify later (which they will since everything has to electrify eventually)
 

west point

Conductor
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Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,224
About electrification. It may be if MARC wants thru service to at least the Pentagon that Amtrak or Va cold add wire to past ALX station or thru MARC trains ?
 

neroden

Conductor
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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,858
Location
Ithaca, NY
About electrification. It may be if MARC wants thru service to at least the Pentagon that Amtrak or Va cold add wire to past ALX station or thru MARC trains ?
Sure. Once they have a new Long Bridge and passenger-exclusive tracks as far as Alexandria. :p You're right that they should include them in engineering -- they're leaving space for it but not planning to build it so far.
 
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jis

Conductor
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Gathering Team Member
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Aug 24, 2003
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Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Are they adding any reversing siding(s) south/west of Alexandria? I doubt that they will turn a train on the main line tracks in Alexandria station. There is space available for uch around AF interlocking.
 
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