Lawmakers want Amtrak line from Atlanta to Nashville

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iliketrains

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It seems like these route proposals get tossed around and an eventual service never starts. Maybe this will end differently.
 
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The Atlanta Nashville route would have a better potential if it was extended to Memphis or Indianapolis. The service from Bristol would connect to her northeast. Ideally that route would be extended to Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis. Imho connections to other states and parts of the country are key to success.
 

west point

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The first thing is TN legislators getting Georgia Pols on board with a new station in ATL. Otherwise, a nonstarter. We have discussed the problems of going to Bristol and on to the NE. Yes, Nashville does need connections towards CHI either thru Louisville or connecting to the CNO which limits schedule times.
 

danasgoodstuff

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ATL to Nashville is on the 2035 ConnectUS map, so presumably more likely than some others discussed here which aren't?
 

George Harris

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Would some of the people behind these schemes PLEASE get someone with a reasonable understanding on the limitations of speeds that the curves on these routes would require. At the very least, they should go back to some mid 1950's passenger timetables and look at the elapsed times in these schedules that existed between these various proposed service points that are being kicked around in these schemes. Then, recognize that you are not even going to be able to go that fast with current realities even if you install many miles of second mains and longer passing tracks. Now, compare this to reasonable driving times between these points. I've said it before, but I will just stick it in here as well:

When people talk about Nashville – Atlanta service, I regard this as near hallucination. The current railroad line is 287 miles of what is for the most part a very curvy and indirect route. The best ever schedule was just over 6 hours for trains that were the company’s pride so they were virtually given the railroad to run their schedule. Anything under about 8 hours given current realities would require megabucks in order to happen. To have anything that would get anywhere near driving time would require a nearly complete new alignment, plus double tracking most/all of any of the current alignment that would be used. By the time we do this we are not that far from the cost of a high speed railroad between these points. It is highly doubtful that the passenger loading would justify the cost of this sort of thing.
 
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GoAmtrak

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The Atlanta Nashville route would have a better potential if it was extended to Memphis or Indianapolis. The service from Bristol would connect to her northeast. Ideally that route would be extended to Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis. Imho connections to other states and parts of the country are key to success.
I absolutely agree with you. The video was a positive surprise as state cooperation is considered in rail projects, even among Republicans.

Not being an insider, I have somewhat the impression some states lack cooperation if a railway project crosses borders. "We like to benefit, but we don't to want to pay anything." I remember the Downeaster from Massachusetts to Maine which crossed New Hampshire which wasn't interested to contribute.

I can imagine if Toledo and Detroit would be in the same state, things would go forward faster to re-connect that city pair as well. Discussions between Minnesota and Wisconsin did also occur on the question who funds how much of a second daily train between Saint Paul and Milwaukee.

I'm not sure how realistic a connection between Atlanta and Nashville is, but in minimum some politicians give it a consideration and it is also on Amtrak's 2035 plan.
 

Ziv

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If Georgia can get this going, a big "if", but if they can do it, then extending the line would make sense. I was thinking to St. Louis and then on to Kansas City ( ≈ 805 miles) or to Louisville and then on to either Columbus ( ≈ 640 miles) via Cincinnati or Nashville to Indianapolis ( ≈ 540 miles). I doubt they can pull off the first part but you do get to dream.
805 miles is more than 750 miles and is a bit long for a day train at 79 mph max, so maybe Atlanta/Nashville/Louisville/Cincinnati/Columbus at ≈ 640 miles would be slightly less pie in the sky'ish. A run time of around 12 hours would would give the train a nice distance to cover. But can Amtrak clean and store trains overnight in, or near, either Atlanta or Columbus? I don't think they can. Oh well. It looks good on paper! LOL!
The Atlanta Nashville route would have a better potential if it was extended to Memphis or Indianapolis. The service from Bristol would connect to her northeast. Ideally that route would be extended to Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis. Imho connections to other states and parts of the country are key to success.
 

west point

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OK here is a link to an all NC&SL timetable of !56"16 each way (time changes west of Chattanooga). Now if NS is used from CHA <> ATL is 3-1/2 hours vs 3:15 CSX.

The Georgian - August, 1963 - Streamliner Schedules
The New Royal Palm - March, 1951 - Streamliner Schedules
However, that is not the full picture.
The CSX route CHA - Dalton GA is only 37 miles whereas NS is approximately 65+ miles same CHA - Dalton. The CSX line from Dalton is very slow especially Marietta - ATL. NS (SOU) did some major work around the IM terminal increasing MAX allowed speeds. So best way would be CSX to Dalton and NS on to ATL probably under 6 hours? The two RRs cross at grade at Dalton but cannot remember if there is a connection going south from CSX to NS?
 

George Harris

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Please, people, start thinking with your headbone, not your wishbone. I would love to see these services as much as anybody, but without megabucks on alignment changes they simply will not be fast enough to be practical. It would be great to pop into Memphis Union Station, and run up to Nashville in about 3 hours or less to see the parts of the family up there, but such is not to be.

For that part of this discussion, the pre-Amtrak Memphis-Nashville day train died sometime in the early to mid 1950's and was down to one coach in its final year, and this was a train heavily promoted by the NC&StL at the time of its immediately post WW2 inception. Simply put, a 5 hour plus a little schedule was about what you could manage on the line as it existed at that time. There has been no improvement permitting higher speed since. This was close to what you could drive on pre-Interstate US 70, so it had no hope even then on speed, and now the driving time is regarded as being a little over 3 hours. Since the late 1960's even the track for its route through Jackson is gone, so you would have a route somewhat slower and having only small to middling size towns between Nashville and Memphis. Plus, over half this distance has no signals, so it would be 59 mph maximum.

Again, Louisville to Cincinatti is slow, about 110 miles if I recall correctly, but a 3 hour run at best. Signaled, plus lots of curves, with even some street running through one of the towns in between.

The NS line between Dalton and Atlanta is no racetrack, either. Whatever work NS has done you can bet it did not have 79 mph plus in mind.
 
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There seems to be some fixation about comparing train time with driving time on the interstates. That may be worth thinking about, but consider that Pittsburgh to Harrisburg is 3 - 3/13 hours by driving the Turnpike, whereas the Pennsylvanian takes 5 hours 20 minutes. Yet the Pennsylvanian does a good business, and, in fact, the state of Pennsylvania is now in talks with NS and Amtrak to for a second frequency. This is a route with major mountains and curves, too.

Speed isn't everything, and the Pennsylvanian serves additional small towns along the route that have no other public transportation, as well as people who can't or won't drive. And while most of the drive might be fast on an interstate, the driving around once you get to one of the large cities can be slow and stressful.
 
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There seems to be some fixation about comparing train time with driving time on the interstates. That may be worth thinking about, but consider that Pittsburgh to Harrisburg us 3 - 3/13 hours by driving the Turnpike, whereas the Pennsylvanian takes 5 hours 20 minutes. Yet the Pennsylvanian does a good business, and, in fact, the state of Pennsylvania is now in talks with NS and Amtrak to for a second frequency. This is a route with major mountains and curves, too.

Speed isn't everything, and the Pennsylvanian serves additional small towns along the route that have no other public transportation, as well as people who can't or won't drive. And while most of the drive might be fast on an interstate, the driving around once you get to one of the large cities can be slow and stressful.
I agree. Brunswick ME to Boston is 3 hours 20 min on the train vs. 2 1/2 hours driving but only a lunatic would consider driving in downtown Boston. Plus you need to take out a 2nd mortgage to afford to pay for your parking there.
 

rs9

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In regard to car vs. train travel time, I would keep in mind all the people whose work lives now include work-from-home. If Amtrak can ever make wifi reliable, you can spend your travel day working on the train instead of taking a day off.
 
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In regard to car vs. train travel time, I would keep in mind all the people whose work lives now include work-from-home. If Amtrak can ever make wifi reliable, you can spend your travel day working on the train instead of taking a day off.
I do it all the time now. I just use my work data. My company is more than happy for me to be working while commuting/ traveling using their data plan as opposed to “windshield time” where working is dangerous.

Of course, if Amtrak wants to make their Wi-Fi better – that’ll be better for even more people.
 

Seaboard92

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Well the problem with Atlanta is the rail network is very condensed. Here is a zooming in of the 1952 passenger rail network in Atlanta.

Color Codes
Green: Southern Railway
Red: Seaboard Airline
Gray: NC&STL (L&N)
Dark Blue: Georgia Railroad
Light Blue: Atlanta & West Point
Yellow: Central of Georgia
Purple: Atlantic Coastline
Screen Shot 2022-03-06 at 10.27.41 AM.png
Here is the Atlanta Region more broadly. Of these only the Seaboard Airline west of where it crosses the NC&STL has been torn out. And a small portion of the ACL routing into the Atlanta Station is gone too.

Screen Shot 2022-03-06 at 10.28.38 AM.png
This is a more detailed looking of whats going on in the downtown area. That part from Inman Yard to the ACL is still active, but where they meet to the Atlanta station is gone.

Screen Shot 2022-03-06 at 10.29.12 AM.png
This is downtown Atlanta where the old stations were located. Everything except the Purple Line is still in place.

Ideally the best sited place for a new station is where Union Station or Terminal Station used to be in downtown Atlanta but it will cause a major problem on the Crescent route because it now has a few mile back up move on a busy line with lots of trains jostling for space.

So ideally this is what I would do I would reroute the Crescent onto CSX via Montgomery, and Mobile. If we kept with the current times it could actually replace the morning departure from Atlanta to Montgomery, and the evening from Montgomery to Atlanta on a corridor train. One less train for the states to fund.

Next I would throw a section of what I call the Crescent Star into the game. It would drop down the Silver Star's route to Columbia from New York, cross over to Augusta on the NS R line (light freight traffic), onto the Georgia Railroad (CSX Light Traffic), and jump back onto NS in Atlanta to go to Birmingham, and Meridian. But here is where I would differ I would then shoot the train out over to Dallas via Jackson, and Shreveport. And again if you timed it right you could get a corridor train in for one of the Atlanta core corridors.

Now that we have the station taken care of we can throw on a Chicago-Miami service again and now we get two potential routings. We could throw it to Macon-Savannah which is a longer time route but it can fill in the Atlanta core corridors, or we can drop straight down to Cordele and over to Waycross to Florida. Lots of options, and with that being a national network train gets Tennessee and Georgia off the hook for a corridor service on their joint corridor.

Atlanta is very much fixable the problem is you need the political wherewithal to do it.
 

bms

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There are a lot of people in Atlanta and in Nashville who don't have a car. Traffic is also completely awful in that area and gas costs $4.50. If train service began between those cities, I'd be shocked if it wasn't successful, even if it was slow because of the terrain.
 

west point

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Seaboard: ACL even back in the 1960s ran from Stonewall on ACL that crossed under Inman yard, ACL freights turned north there to Tilford. Today CSX seldom will route freights if the NC&SL, NS(CofGA). A&WP route thru downtown is blocked. Passenger trains after passing under Inman immediately turned south on the NC&SL into Union station.

Now the ACL line is accessed by going on the A&WP south to Stonewall CP and a full spur to the ABC (ACL) line. That is how CSX freight is now routed from Tilford to get on the Manchester ACL line. The A&WP route gives faster access to the Manchester ACL route.

Although I have not been downtown around the demolished train stations at one it appeared that a loop could be built there with a station preventing any need to backup to or from Howell CP.

Still any station in downtown ATL for Amtrak and a possible future commuter RR will require the CSX line crossing NS will need probably CSX ducking under NS. Trackwork to combine Howell to downtown ATL NS/CSX 2 each main tracks into one 4 Main track operation.
 

west point

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For ATL - Nashville is about 300 miles, Potential passengers would have an older car at best able to do 20 miles per gallon. = 15 gallons. Gasoline in a few months will probably be $5.00 / Gallon. = $75.00. So if fares could be around $50.00 for 1 or 2 persons then if a potential passenger can make first mile / last mile easy then you will get that passenger on Amtrak.

How many persons every day that would use this service is a great unknown. Also, the intermediate cities of Murfreesboro, Arnold, Chattanooga, Dalton, Austell or Mariettas may provide some? Then if times are correct connections to Crescent will provide a few passengers each day.
 
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I would throw a section of what I call the Crescent Star into the game. It would drop down the Silver Star's route to Columbia from New York, cross over to Augusta on the NS R line (light freight traffic), onto the Georgia Railroad (CSX Light Traffic), and jump back onto NS in Atlanta to go to Birmingham, and Meridian. But here is where I would differ I would then shoot the train out over to Dallas via Jackson, and Shreveport.
I guess you could call that train the "Crescent Star Eagle". :)
 

irv818

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To be of any practical use, MARTA would have to have an intermodal Amtrak station, just like it has a stop inside the airport. Where would that be?
 

west point

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To be of any practical use, MARTA would have to have an intermodal Amtrak station, just like it has a stop inside the airport. Where would that be?
There are several non-ideal locations. Alanta airport, East Point, Several locations east of downtown, Doraville. The only location really useable is downtown at the Union station - Terminal station with a balloon track to allow quick turn arounds for NE to north and to west trains. Example Crescent which does not go to downtown Atlanta..ouAu
 

daybeers

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For ATL - Nashville is about 300 miles, Potential passengers would have an older car at best able to do 20 miles per gallon. = 15 gallons. Gasoline in a few months will probably be $5.00 / Gallon. = $75.00. So if fares could be around $50.00 for 1 or 2 persons then if a potential passenger can make first mile / last mile easy then you will get that passenger on Amtrak.

How many persons every day that would use this service is a great unknown. Also, the intermediate cities of Murfreesboro, Arnold, Chattanooga, Dalton, Austell or Mariettas may provide some? Then if times are correct connections to Crescent will provide a few passengers each day.
I'll never understand how people compare modes with the cost of driving including only fuel. Maintenance, parking, tolls, insurance, registration, crashes, all that adds up and contributes to a higher per mile cost. No way a 300 mile trip costs $75 with gas at $5/gallon.
 
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