Lakeshore Rail Alliance - Advocating for More Service Along Lake Shore Limited Route

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I found out about a new rail advocacy group called the Lakeshore Rail Alliance. Seven rail organizations are joining together including All Aboard Ohio. The lead group is All Aboard Erie.

Advocates Push for Increased Lakeshore Route Service - Railway Age

Lakeshore Rail Alliance Website:
Home | Lakeshore Rail Alliance (lakeshoretrain.org)

Possible schedule:
CHI_NYP_Discussion_Timetable_detail.jpg (2234×1580) (hsrail.org)


Obviously I would prefer a train from Chicago to New York via Philly but I wouldn't be against multiple CHI-NYP trains along the LSL route. I feel New York is better for me than Washington or Pittsburgh since I can use more frequent New Jersey Transit trains to get back to Trenton or Hamilton, NJ. The problem was last time the train that was supposed to get in around 6:30pm got in after midnight and I didn't get back to New Jersey until the middle of the night. If there was a train getting into New York earlier in the day, that would be way better for me (they can still keep one cleanup train for the West Coast passengers).
 

neroden

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I am surprised they didn't email me before announcing this, given, y'know, that I know half these people and they know that this is the thing I've been actively advocating for. But that's OK. I asked them to keep me in the loop.

The hsrail.org proposal for trains #280 and #283 would become my go-to overnight trains between Syracuse and Chicago.

I have contacted them regarding proposed schedules. Perhaps less obviously, a new train departing Chicago around 1 PM, Syracuse around midnight, and arriving NYC around 5 PM; and another departing NYC around midnight, Syracuse around 5 AM, and arriving Chicago around 3:30 PM; would be my go-to for going to New York City, so that I could sleep on the train and avoid paying for expensive NYC hotel rooms. I think the opportunity for trains running overnight from NY to Syracuse has not been fully recognized. IT just so happens to make for really nice daytime schedules west of there, too.
 
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John Santos

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I am surprised they didn't email me before announcing this, given, y'know, that I know half these people and they know that this is the thing I've been actively advocating for. But that's OK. I asked them to keep me in the loop.

The hsrail.org proposal for trains #280 and #283 would become my go-to overnight trains between Syracuse and Chicago.

I have contacted them regarding proposed schedules. Perhaps less obviously, a new train departing Chicago around 1 PM, Syracuse around midnight, and arriving NYC around 5 PM; and another departing NYC around midnight, Syracuse around 5 AM, and arriving Chicago around 3:30 PM; would be my go-to for going to New York City, so that I could sleep on the train and avoid paying for expensive NYC hotel rooms. I think the opportunity for trains running overnight from NY to Syracuse has not been fully recognized. IT just so happens to make for really nice daytime schedules west of there, too.
Is that a typo? In the other direction, the time between NYC and SYR is 5 hours, so I think this should be 5AM, not PM.

Arriving at 5 AM, it would be good if they let you stay on the train to sleep in for a while, shower and get breakfast. Maybe they could stop at NYP to deboard people who wanted to get off, then pull forward into Sunnyside and park there for a couple of hours, then back up into NYP again for final unboarding at about 7:30. Of course, they would have to pay the staff for an extra 2-3 hours. (Stating this explicitly for the benefit of the people who object to any proposal like this because the OBS aren't paid after arrival.) Alternatively, the train could become a 5AM NER to Boston, arriving at 9:30 to 10AM.
 

ShiningTimeStL

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Thank you. I was going to create this thread the other day but haven't had time. Incredibly exciting development. Reject modernity, return to 20th Century Limited!
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Thank you. I was going to create this thread the other day but haven't had time. Incredibly exciting development. Reject modernity, return to 20th Century Limited!
Or embrace modernity and have frequent passenger rail service. Like the rest of the world has.
 

neroden

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Is that a typo? In the other direction, the time between NYC and SYR is 5 hours, so I think this should be 5AM, not PM.
Yes, that's a huge typo. :)

Arriving at 5 AM
The other nonobvious advantages of this arrive-very-early, leave-very-late schedule are staying completely out of the NJT/LIRR rush hour traffic. NJT and LIRR should have no objections to it. I think the only obstacle is convincing people that there really is a market for it.
 

fdaley

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Regarding the overnight schedule between western New York and NYC, there were, until the mid-1960s, separate set-out sleepers for Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo on a train that left New York about 11 p.m., and eastbound on a train that arrived in NYC about 7:30 a.m. And right up until Amtrak Day, the Penn Central still had a remnant of this service in the form of a slumbercoach that left Buffalo at 10 p.m. and arrived at GCT at 7 a.m.; westbound it left New York at 10:30 p.m. and was due in Buffalo at 7:45 a.m.

Amtrak briefly experimented with a similar schedule in about 1994-95 when it ran a weekend overnight service with VIA from New York to Toronto. Initially it ran Fridays and Saturdays westbound and Saturdays and Sundays eastbound, but later they dropped the Saturday night runs both ways. I never got a chance to use it so don't know how well patronized it was. But I had the sense it disappeared in part because the heritage sleepers and slumbercoaches were being phased out and replaced by a smaller fleet of Viewliners, not necessarily because the service was a flop.

At any rate, overnight on the east end would be a logical thing to try if there were to be a second frequency running through to Chicago. Does Amtrak have enough Viewliners now to try such a service?
 
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Just-Thinking-51

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I think there only three sleepers that have not been delivered.

No national plan for deployment yet.

Like the idea of set out sleepers, however none of the station have the capacity for this. Sure lots of cash will fix this. Just not sure the return on investment is worth it.
 

Tlcooper93

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I think there only three sleepers that have not been delivered.

No national plan for deployment yet.

Like the idea of set out sleepers, however none of the station have the capacity for this. Sure lots of cash will fix this. Just not sure the return on investment is worth it.
This is a major issue.
Amtrak isn’t interesting in providing non ultra LD sleeper trains (and those routes were kind of grandfathered in), and isn’t interesting in owning a lot of sleeper rolling stock to begin with, hence the cap at 25 new VLII’s.

As has been stated many times in about ten threads on this forum alone, sleeper trains can fill a really important and convenient market in certain circumstances. If more trains like the NE regional can be deployed, people would take them. Ohio politics are the only thing (mostly) standing in the way of better, varied rail service.
 

fdaley

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I wasn't really advocating for a return of the set-out sleepers of old. But I was trying to point out that there was once a pretty serious market for sleeper service between New York City and western New York. And Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse are places where there's still a good pool of riders who are already in the habit of using Amtrak, including sleeper service on the Lake Shore. So if there were to be a second NY-Chicago frequency on this route, which would need to have a sleeper anyway, scheduling overnight on the east end would make a lot of sense. Also, early morning arrival in New York and late night departure westbound would work well (i.e., probably better than the Lake Shore) for people going to/from Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.
 
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If there is a 2nd LSL, the priority should be to give Cleveland and Toledo service outside of the graveyard shift. Something that has been discussed in the past is to go via Michigan instead of South Bend and give Michigan passengers a one seat ride to New York as well as connect Toledo and Michigan/Detroit. The route would be longer but portions of the Michigan route are faster and the South Bend route already has the LSL and the CL.
 

Exvalley

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Here is a thought:
1) Add frequency on the Lake Shore Limited route.
2) Re-route the Capitol Limited from Pittsburgh through Columbus, Dayton and Indianapolis. (Does the track exist to do this?)
 

cocojacoby

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I know it's not what this group wants, but I would like to see the LSL run through Canada and serve Detroit. Running on higher-speed less-congested routes (Wolverine and Empire) would allow a shorter better schedule for an overnight train through the area. With their proposed increased day time service during more reasonable hours through Cleveland, which is poorly served by the LSL anyway, they can afford to let the Lake Shore go. The freight railroads might just ask to make that part of any agreement. I think NYP - DET is a potentially good pair and NYP - CHI would be more appealing with better arrival and departure times at both ends. Time for a revived "21st Century Limited".
 

Bob Dylan

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I know it's not what this group wants, but I would like to see the LSL run through Canada and serve Detroit. Running on higher-speed less-congested routes (Wolverine and Empire) would allow a shorter better schedule for an overnight train through the area. With their proposed increased day time service during more reasonable hours through Cleveland, which is poorly served by the LSL anyway, they can afford to let the Lake Shore go. The freight railroads might just ask to make that part of any agreement. I think NYP - DET is a potentially good pair and NYP - CHI would be more appealing with better arrival and departure times at both ends. Time for a revived "21st Century Limited".
This is an excellent idea, but reality tells us that there is a better chance of rerouting this Train via the Moon than through Canada.

Obviously running a Second Train on the Current Routing with a 12 Hour difference in time would be better and more doable.

Running a Train between Toledo and Detroit, in place of the Thruway Bus, that connects with Trains to/from Chicago is also doable if State Governments agree to fund said Trains.( Ohio would be a problem)
 

cocojacoby

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This is an excellent idea, but reality tells us that there is a better chance of rerouting this Train via the Moon than through Canada.

Obviously running a Second Train on the Current Routing with a 12 Hour difference in time would be better and more doable.

Running a Train between Toledo and Detroit, in place of the Thruway Bus, that connects with Trains to/from Chicago is also doable if State Governments agree to fund said Trains.( Ohio would be a problem)
Funny but just after I read your post this popped up in my news feed:

Congress wants to make it easier for Americans to take Amtrak to Canada in the new $1 trillion infrastructure bill

 

Bob Dylan

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Funny but just after I read your post this popped up in my news feed:

Congress wants to make it easier for Americans to take Amtrak to Canada in the new $1 trillion infrastructure bill

Let's hope this happens in our Lifetime!
 

sttom

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If more trains like the NE regional can be deployed, people would take them. Ohio politics are the only thing (mostly) standing in the way of better, varied rail service.
This is the reason why the discussion needs to switch tonpeocideing dedicated funds, part of which should be distributed proportionately with a mandate for service instead of tinkering around the edges. It's not up to the states to determine the minimum amount of road spending or social security, why should services like Amtrak be on the "well it depends on you" playing field when other things are just off the table?
 

jiml

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I know it's not what this group wants, but I would like to see the LSL run through Canada and serve Detroit. Running on higher-speed less-congested routes (Wolverine and Empire) would allow a shorter better schedule for an overnight train through the area.
The gain that could be achieved through Michigan and elsewhere would be lost by routing through Canada. Without even considering Customs, the route that the previous versions of this train took has been severed in more than one place and the alternative (via Bayview Junction) would add well over an hour to the trip. That is why, while this proposal has been frequently discussed here, it is usually dismissed.
 

cocojacoby

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Actually the available route looks pretty direct and it's mostly good quality rail with lots of straight tangent track. About half of it is also double track:

1280px-CorridorVia2.svg.png
 
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cocojacoby

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That map significantly distorts distance, direction and running time. Amtrak allows 2 hours on the Maple Leaf schedule between Niagara Falls and Aldershot. Do the math.
Okay just for fun . . . . and this is only a quick approximation of what I found:

VIA CLEVELAND

NYP to CHI - Lake Shore Limited via Cleveland

TOTAL TIME - 18 hrs 10 mins

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

VIA CANADA

NYP to Aldershot - Maple Leaf - 10 hrs 37 mins (NOTE: I removed the 1 hr 12 min customs stop at Niagara Falls, Canada which may not be necessary in the future with pre-boarding procedures or if the train is sealed).

Aldershot - Windsor - 3 hrs 37 mins

Detroit to Chicago - 4 hrs

TOTAL TIME: 18 hrs 4 mins

So roughly it looks like the routes are pretty much the same if you compare the actual running times as they are right now.

Other things to consider:
Customs if not eliminated or done enroute.
Eliminating the stops in Canada between Niagara Falls, USA and Detroit if the train is sealed.
Eventual future higher speeds on the Wolverine and Empire routes.
Avoiding the heavy freight train congestion south of Lake Erie which hinders the LSL reliability.
Avoiding host railroad objections of running so many trains through Cleveland in this Lakeshore Alliance Plan.
Major New City Pair: NYP - DET

This is just some fun food for thought for what it is worth.
 
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neroden

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Not only is the international political situation making it impossible, but you have to factor in that the Canadian line is currently owned by CN, which has a reputation as an extraordinarily irresponsible host railroad who delays trains terribly -- and even worse in Canada, where VIA Rail doesn't have any legal right to be on time, than in the US, where Amtrak at least has some on-paper legal powers.

None of this is insurmountable, but it does mean that getting the international political situation cleaned up and getting the VIA lines out of the hands of CN would need to happen before considering this routing.
 

Deni

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I'm curious about the group's reasoning for the times of trains #29 and #30. I definitely see the need for a round trip beginning/ending in Cleveland but why do these serve Cleveland in the middle of the night as the end station? It's great that their plan calls for Cleveland to be served by some more reasonable hour trains but I'm scratching my head wondering why the dedicated Chicago-Cleveland trains have those schedules? Even the interim stations' times don't seem that great.
 

Eric S

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I'm curious about the group's reasoning for the times of trains #29 and #30. I definitely see the need for a round trip beginning/ending in Cleveland but why do these serve Cleveland in the middle of the night as the end station? It's great that their plan calls for Cleveland to be served by some more reasonable hour trains but I'm scratching my head wondering why the dedicated Chicago-Cleveland trains have those schedules? Even the interim stations' times don't seem that great.
Trains 29 and 30 are the Capitol Limited which runs east of Cleveland to/from Washington, so it doesn't originate/terminate at Cleveland.
 
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