Is restoration of the National Limited feasible?

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Cal

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A lot of AU'ers would undoubtedly love to see a coast to coast service restored... and attempts with the Sunset to FLA have gone nowhere... the trackage wiped out by a single storm; Hurricane Katrina... never to be restored and used again? Seems like just another part of the trend towards passenger service elimination.

Now... the possibility of NYP to LAX is certainly intriguing but without CHI I don't see how they could get the ridership it would require. A routing directly through STL and KC certainly doesn't seem to have the arterial connections found at CHI... and would then double up on the SWC route in KC.

But I do like the idea of pairing up with the Capitol with the Eagle through CHI which has been discussed before; and would allow for Superliner service all the way through... certainly energizing ridership for both trains.

And I'd bet the ridership would be 'through the roof!' Not just between WAS and LAX, but single train service for intermediate pairs as well, such as PIT and STL and etc.

That said, Amtrak should not only upgrade its deteriorating offerings on both trains... but should take it beyond with a premier train concept... including the SSL, dining car, and perhaps another entire car devoted to cafe service... plus additional sleepers.

A lot of dreaming goes on at AU but wouldn't many of us like to see restoration of coast to coast service on the Sunset Limited, and ALSO a match-up of the Capitol and TE... making them both premier trains???

Ya Betch'a!!!
I don’t think the Eagle is the ideal choice for a coast to coast train considering its 65 hours from CHI-LAX. Adding more to that is a tough sell.
 

uncleboots

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Okay I found the article.Tester added an amendment to the Surface Transportation Investment Act, which would require The Department Of Transportation (Not Amtrak) to evaluate the restoration of The National Limited, The North Coast Hiawatha, along with the other discontinued Amtrak Long Distance Trains. The bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee . That was as of June 2021.
 
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I don’t think the Eagle is the ideal choice for a coast to coast train considering its 65 hours from CHI-LAX. Adding more to that is a tough sell.
We can only daydream about a cross country service; knowing it would probably need infrastructure for superliners; and while the TE would take an extra day making it that tougher sell... what about the SWC? At one time it was as much of popular rail culture as the 20th Century Limited in the East.

But here's the problem... track issues are threatening to the SWC all together as the owning freight company no longer uses the trackage. Who knows... remember the threat of that 'bus bridge' between KC and ABQ? Would congress step in? Who knows as the government is preoccupied with so much other 'stuff.'

Then there's the very popular and always booked CZ... but would a through train to WAS overburden it's already full capacity? Lots of possibilities for daydreaming!

Meanwhile restoration of the Sunset to FLA remains undone.

What do others think???
 

danasgoodstuff

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I think a link westward from DC could be a good thing. To St. Louis and on to KC perhaps. And maybe one west from Atlanta to Dallas as well. But given the struggle to get anything to run on time and the havoc created when things get way backed up, I don't know that a single coast to coast train by any route is a great idea. It would eat up an inordinate amount of resources, both physical and human to operate. Better to have connecting corridor trains with enough service to allow for disruption without catastrophic consequences. Chicago is a natural pivot point for much service, but having everything go through there is a little dysfunctional. Also, using the same number of train sets and personnel to try out several corridor services would allow for trying something else more easily if one thing didn't generate sufficient usage. Amtrak needs some successes to build on.
 

zephyr17

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track issues are threatening to the SWC all together as the owning freight company no longer uses the trackage.
That is pretty much old news. BNSF came to an agreement with Amtrak and the states of Colorado and New Mexico that if the states and Amtrak would fund capital improvements on the line (Raton and Glorietta subs), such as CWR and replacing signals, BNSF would continue to maintain it. The capital improvements reduce maintenance costs. Anderson tried to weasel out of it even after Amtrak got grants for it, but Amtrak ultimately came through.

BNSF track and signal gangs are working on the improvements on the line right now and have been for the last couple of years.

The line is now in no immediate danger.

At much higher risk is the CZ route west of Grand Junction, which has kind of flown under the radar. UP runs no through freights at all there, the only traffic is the CZ and one BNSF trackage rights train. Traffic is light enough that PTC is not required and is not implemented there. I think the only reason why UP is keeping it is that per the UP-SP merger conditions, if they abandon/embargo it, BNSF would get its rights transferred to the Overland Route and UP really doesn't want that.
 

railiner

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At much higher risk is the CZ route west of Grand Junction, which has kind of flown under the radar. UP runs no through freights at all there, the only traffic is the CZ and one BNSF trackage rights train. Traffic is light enough that PTC is not required and is not implemented there. I think the only reason why UP is keeping it is that per the UP-SP merger conditions, if they abandon/embargo it, BNSF would get its rights transferred to the Overland Route and UP really doesn't want that.
I doubt if the BNSF would want to acquire it, either, or they would have asked for it as a condition of the UP-SP merger...they're better off with the trackage rights agreement they did get.
 

zephyr17

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I doubt if the BNSF would want to acquire it, either, or they would have asked for it as a condition of the UP-SP merger...they're better off with the trackage rights agreement they did get.
Yeah, I don't think they want it either. If UP abandoned/embargoed the west end of the former D&RGW, I doubt BNSF would pick it up. They'd happily accept trackage rights on UP's Overland Route, which UP would have to provide if they closed the former D&RGW. I honestly think UP not wanting BNSF on the Overland Route is the only thing keeping the line open.
 

MikefromCrete

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A lot of AU'ers would undoubtedly love to see a coast to coast service restored... and attempts with the Sunset to FLA have gone nowhere... the trackage wiped out by a single storm; Hurricane Katrina... never to be restored and used again? Seems like just another part of the trend towards passenger service elimination.

Now... the possibility of NYP to LAX is certainly intriguing but without CHI I don't see how they could get the ridership it would require. A routing directly through STL and KC certainly doesn't seem to have the arterial connections found at CHI... and would then double up on the SWC route in KC.

But I do like the idea of pairing up with the Capitol with the Eagle through CHI which has been discussed before; and would allow for Superliner service all the way through... certainly energizing ridership for both trains.

And I'd bet the ridership would be 'through the roof!' Not just between WAS and LAX, but single train service for intermediate pairs as well, such as PIT and STL and etc.

That said, Amtrak should not only upgrade its deteriorating offerings on both trains... but should take it beyond with a premier train concept... including the SSL, dining car, and perhaps another entire car devoted to cafe service... plus additional sleepers.

A lot of dreaming goes on at AU but wouldn't many of us like to see restoration of coast to coast service on the Sunset Limited, and ALSO a match-up of the Capitol and TE... making them both premier trains???

Ya Betch'a!!!
I see no reason for either proposal. The Sunset East was basically a failure. There's no need to make CL and TE into one train.
 

Cal

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I see no reason for either proposal. The Sunset East was basically a failure. There's no need to make CL and TE into one train.
Didn't the Sunset East have absolutely horrible timekeeping? Maybe with better timekeeping and speeds it a transcon train would fare better?
 

Bob Dylan

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Didn't the Sunset East have absolutely horrible timekeeping? Maybe with better timekeeping and speeds it a transcon train would fare better?
The Sunset East was Infamous for 24 Hour Delays, and based on what's going on with Railroads in this Country now, I would look for such a Train or Thru Sleeper to be just as Bad or Worse!!!🥺
 
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The Sunset East was Infamous for 24 Hour Delays, and based on what's going on with Railroads in this Country now, I would look for such a Train or Thru Sleeper to be just as Bad or Worse!!!🥺
Service complaints by so many AU'ers are a sign that Amtrak should prioritize repairing, upgrading, and acquiring rolling stock, as well as trackage... to simply maintain a decent service level. True... since Anderson, there has been nothing but deterioration of passenger service that discourages ridership. Route expansion is fun to speculate and discuss... but only after operational problems are corrected.
 

toddinde

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The National Limited was originally intended to run through to Denver on UP’s Kansas Pacific line. That would have provided excellent service to Manhattan and Topeka, KS. But this concept is pretty easily replicated today. The Cardinal has frequently been considered for a St Louis terminus. But why not Denver? The only stretches without Amtrak service would be Indianapolis to St Louis and Kansas City to Denver, and both those lines are in excellent condition. That train could theoretically connect to the California Zephyr if we get timekeeping addressed, the Southwest Chief in Kansas City, and the City of New Orleans in Effingham. That would be a marvelous ride and also create some amazing connectivity throughout the Amtrak system. It’s low hanging fruit that sadly, Amtrak’s current management and board, lack the vision to carry out.
 

JWM

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That is pretty much old news. BNSF came to an agreement with Amtrak and the states of Colorado and New Mexico that if the states and Amtrak would fund capital improvements on the line (Raton and Glorietta subs), such as CWR and replacing signals, BNSF would continue to maintain it. The capital improvements reduce maintenance costs. Anderson tried to weasel out of it even after Amtrak got grants for it, but Amtrak ultimately came through.

BNSF track and signal gangs are working on the improvements on the line right now and have been for the last couple of years.

The line is now in no immediate danger.

At much higher risk is the CZ route west of Grand Junction, which has kind of flown under the radar. UP runs no through freights at all there, the only traffic is the CZ and one BNSF trackage rights train. Traffic is light enough that PTC is not required and is not implemented there. I think the only reason why UP is keeping it is that per the UP-SP merger conditions, if they abandon/embargo it, BNSF would get its rights transferred to the Overland Route and UP really doesn't want that.
The National Limited was originally intended to run through to Denver on UP’s Kansas Pacific line. That would have provided excellent service to Manhattan and Topeka, KS. But this concept is pretty easily replicated today. The Cardinal has frequently been considered for a St Louis terminus. But why not Denver? The only stretches without Amtrak service would be Indianapolis to St Louis and Kansas City to Denver, and both those lines are in excellent condition. That train could theoretically connect to the California Zephyr if we get timekeeping addressed, the Southwest Chief in Kansas City, and the City of New Orleans in Effingham. That would be a marvelous ride and also create some amazing connectivity throughout the Amtrak system. It’s low hanging fruit that sadly, Amtrak’s current management and board, lack the vision to carry out.
The original route of the Amtrak "National Limited" ran from Colombus, OH and Indianapolis. That track is gone to my knowledge. On another note, after all these years I could never understand how Union Pacific was allowed to take control of the Rio Grande and Western Pacific. BNSF should have those two lines to compete with UP.
 

danasgoodstuff

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The original route of the Amtrak "National Limited" ran from Colombus, OH and Indianapolis. That track is gone to my knowledge. On another note, after all these years I could never understand how Union Pacific was allowed to take control of the Rio Grande and Western Pacific. BNSF should have those two lines to compete with UP.
Yes, but it could run through Cincy (which has a nice station but inconvenient schedules now) and connect to other things there and continue on to Louisville, St. Louis, etc. But as much as I think there should be ways to go west without necessarily going through Chicago, I don't think it should necessarily be one train the whole way through.
 

toddinde

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The original route of the Amtrak "National Limited" ran from Colombus, OH and Indianapolis. That track is gone to my knowledge. On another note, after all these years I could never understand how Union Pacific was allowed to take control of the Rio Grande and Western Pacific. BNSF should have those two lines to compete with UP.
Right on the National Limited. That’s why the Cardinal is the best we could do easily right now. Totally agree about the approvals of the absurd consolidations that killed railroad competition. Today’s STB is much better, but it’s late in the game.
 

toddinde

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Yes, but it could run through Cincy (which has a nice station but inconvenient schedules now) and connect to other things there and continue on to Louisville, St. Louis, etc. But as much as I think there should be ways to go west without necessarily going through Chicago, I don't think it should necessarily be one train the whole way through.
And it would connect to the Three C corridor in Cincy which would be an effective connection.
 

zephyr17

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The original route of the Amtrak "National Limited" ran from Colombus, OH and Indianapolis. That track is gone to my knowledge. On another note, after all these years I could never understand how Union Pacific was allowed to take control of the Rio Grande and Western Pacific. BNSF should have those two lines to compete with UP.
STB required trackage rights over both for the BNSF.

It wasn't one merger. First, UP took over MP and WP in the Mop Up merger in the 80s. Then Anschutz/D&RGW took over the financially prostrate SP, and renamed the surviving company SP. Finally, UP took over the SP, which now included the former D&RGW.
 

west point

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If the Crescent went thru Mobile and Montgomery to ATL and there was service from ATL to JAX the enrooute time would be be same as the Sunset east. . Pensacola and Tallahasse would be missed but traffic potential thru ATL is much greater.

The present route of the Crescent would work as well.
 
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