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

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

basketmaker

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 19, 2018
Messages
101
Look at the freight carriers that Amtrak utilizes assets. BNSF=$59B, UP=$59B, CSX=$36B, NS=$36B, CN=$29B, CP=$21B and AMTK=$22B comes to $266B. That was just with a very quick Google search.
 

ehbowen

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
2,323
Look at the freight carriers that Amtrak utilizes assets. BNSF=$59B, UP=$59B, CSX=$36B, NS=$36B, CN=$29B, CP=$21B and AMTK=$22B comes to $266B. That was just with a very quick Google search.
And further keep in mind that much of that is depreciated. To build new from scratch...just wow.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,060
Can you say "All the Money in the World and More!!"( Cost overruns are a sure thing!)
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,745
In any case, lack of political will is the primary problem. If there is political will, money can always be found. Just curtailing a few of the fancy aircraft and sea craft programs of the DoD will be enough to fund a significant part of the basic network. LOL!
 
Last edited:

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,060
In any case, lack of political will is the primary problem. If there is [political will, money can always be found. Just curtailing a few of the fancy aircraft and sea craft programs of the DoD will be enough to fund a significant part of the basic network. LOL!
Paging Ryan!! lol
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
1
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.
This is true in terms of speed, but speed isn't the only thing that matters when people are making transportation decisions. If a government seriously dedicated to GHG reductions built out then started heavily subsidizing rail because of environmental and social benefits, I suspect it would become a primary choice even for long distance transportation. Sure, people with extreme efficiency needs/time constraints might fly (sort of how private jets work today) but if it only costs $20 (or nothing!) to travel from LA to Chi, and $50 will upgrade you to a sleeper pod or roomette, then a lot of people would likely choose the slower, more leisurely option.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,778
Look at the freight carriers that Amtrak utilizes assets. BNSF=$59B, UP=$59B, CSX=$36B, NS=$36B, CN=$29B, CP=$21B and AMTK=$22B comes to $266B. That was just with a very quick Google search.
So, pretty cheap then. We spend roughly 3 times that much on the US military every year, and the US military appears to exist primarily to threaten our national security by angering and alienating foreign govenments and foreign citizens -- it certainly hasn't won any wars. At that price, we should just do it, nationalize the railroads, it's cheap. Of course, what prevents this is political -- we have a lot of Congressmen who like blowing money on completely counterproductive military spending (probably because they get kickbacks) but reject any spending which might actually make life better for Americans. (Yes, I am cynical.)
 

drdumont

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2017
Messages
205
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.

Wow! Would that it could be the case! So many of the railroads have ripped up "surplus to needs" tracks that could have been turned into a revenue source.


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.

Agreed.


Other places it would involve brand new tracks.
 

dogbert617

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 19, 2016
Messages
836
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.
Speaking of Florida Amtrak routes, what was the reason Amtrak stopped running through Ocala, FL? It's too bad you no longer can take a train, to there. And also to a station (I think Waldo), which wasn't too far from Gainesville. Am I right in think Amtrak no longer doing train service to Ocala, was because of Amtrak no longer running the Silver Palm(IIRC now the Palmetto to only Savannah) through central Florida?

And of course, don't need to get started on the sadness about Sunset Ltd. no longer running through Pensacola, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, etc.
 

AGM.12

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 3, 2018
Messages
77
I believe that, in addition to state funded improvements to the ex SAL route to central Florida, CSX would part with the A line through Orlando on the condition that passenger service would be focused there and not on the S line, which will become freight only.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,011
Yes, the station in Waldo, Fl is just east of Gainesville.
1595714845507.png

It has been closed for many, many years although it is listed as a depot for the thruway bus

The building was built in 1963 to replace the old on - which had, at one time, been a divisional headquarters for the Seaboard Air Line Railway.
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
517
It's simply too late for even thinking of building a rail network across private lands... not even worth speculation; land is simply too scarce and expensive. We need to think of negotiating and upgrading existing track and rights of way along already existing utilities, pipe lines, and interstate / federal highways.
 

pennyk

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
10,288
Yes, the station in Waldo, Fl is just east of Gainesville.
View attachment 18250

It has been closed for many, many years although it is listed as a depot for the thruway bus

The building was built in 1963 to replace the old on - which had, at one time, been a divisional headquarters for the Seaboard Air Line Railway.
Thanks for posting the photo. It brings back wonderful memories. I traveled to and from Waldo many times. In fact, when I first traveled to college, it was by train (pre Amtrak) to Waldo.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,157
Yes Waldo ~ 12 miles NNE of Gainesville. SAL once served Gainesville on a branch line from Waldo to Cedar Key that was abandoned by SCL. The University of Florida has a lot of potential passengers but being on a branch line it would never have been able to get Amtrak service. Now in the distant future a new HSR line ? ? I believe the "S" line missing the Orlando area was its death knell ?
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,011
There are no longer tracks in Gainesville that would allow service to go anywhere ... rails-to-trails have claimed the connecting tracts that would link the Ocala area to Gainesville :(

There are also NO direct tracks between Gainesville and Tallahassee - connecting the two Universities by rail
 

McIntyre2K7

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
35
There are no longer tracks in Gainesville that would allow service to go anywhere ... rails-to-trails have claimed the connecting tracts that would link the Ocala area to Gainesville :(

There are also NO direct tracks between Gainesville and Tallahassee - connecting the two Universities by rail
Which is strange considering the amount of open land in that part of the state. There should be a Florida west coast line that runs from Miami to Atlanta using the right of way on Interstate 75. You would have stops in Naples, Ft. Myers, Sarasota, Tampa, Ocala, Gainesville. Then once it crosses into Georgia it would stop in Valdosta, Macon before ending in Atlanta. You could crate a station near the I-75/I-10 interchange that would connect with a Jacksonville to New Orleans route using the right of way from Interstate 10.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,002
All new tracks just for passenger rail seems to be overkill. It seems that it might be better to purchase partial ownership arrangements and build an extra track and sidings on current right of way so that both passenger and freight can coexist peacefully.

However, there are places where all-new right of way might be in order -- for both passenger and freight. Nearly all of the US rail network was laid out during the 19th century under technological constraints -- both in construction technology and the performance of rail vehicles -- that don't apply today. Most of the routes over mountainous areas twist and turn following stream valleys to be able to keep to the low grades needed by old time steam locos and the limitations of 19th century earthmoving capabilities. The network is thus not very direct in many places, and has difficulty competing with road traffic, given that the Interstate Highway network was designed and built from the mid 20th century on. Even though the highways don't cross the mountains in a straight line, they are a lot less twisty than the railroads. Imagine trying to drive a model year 2020 18-wheeler tractor trailer across the country using the highway network of, say, 1940. That's what the American railroad system is like.

The rail mileage between Washington and Pittsburgh, for example, is about 50 miles longer than the highway mileage. Furthermore, much of the rail mileage is so curvy the trains can't go much faster the 40-50 mph. On the other hand, once you merge on to the freeway in DC, you can drive nonstop at 60-70 mph (if you're the type to actually observe speed limits) all the way to Pittsburgh. (OK, there's a couple of traffic lights in Breezewood, and one might need to take a bathroom break, you get the idea.) From the perspective of passenger service, the NS main across Pennsylvania happens to bypass State College, one of the largest urban conglomeration between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. I could definitely see an advantage to building a new rail corridor that would serve State College along the Harrisburg - Pittsburgh line. We clearly need to take a closer look at our rail system and bring it up to date to better serve our total transportation system.
 
Top