Long haul train travel times

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adamj023

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Have any of Amtrak’s long haul trains seen travel time reductions due to infrastructure improvement projects outside of the Northeastern corridor?

I do know the Northeastern Corridor travel time will be decreasing with the new train sets and infrastructure projects that are underway.
 

caravanman

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I believe Amtrak trains run at the maximum speeds permitted over existing long distance routes, and am not aware of track or signalling upgrades that have made much difference.
The long distance slow times are mostly due to freight trains getting priority, there is a lot of "padding" in many timetables to accomodate the freight activity.
 

Cal

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Have any of Amtrak’s long haul trains seen travel time reductions due to infrastructure improvement projects outside of the Northeastern corridor?

I do know the Northeastern Corridor travel time will be decreasing with the new train sets and infrastructure projects that are underway.
Not that I know of
 

Cal

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When the Point Defiance bypass opens in Washington State, it will shave a few minutes off the running time between Tacoma and Olympia.
Oh, yep. Although isn't that primarily focused towards Cascades? Rather the Starlight

And this is selfish, but I do wish the Starlight could use the old route which is much more scenic,
 

adamj023

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I remember that Acca Yards had the bypass completed which probably saved some time for the east coast trains going north to south. Also the new locomotives seem to be rated for 125MPH vs 110 on the old ones which will start arriving this year. So there should be minor speed increases on long haul in parts. But nothing significant. Also some freight railroads may have downgraded Amtrak speeds on certain trackage over time.
 

me_little_me

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The only chances of real improvement on the LD routes will come if and when there is a plan that can pass court appeals that requires priority for Amtrak trains.

Other alternatives like the government taking ownership of the tracks, are more fantasy than possible.
 

Cal

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So there should be minor speed increases on long haul in parts. But nothing significant.
I doubt it, no train west of Chicago runs at more than I believe 90mph, even though the cars and engines are all rated for 100-110. If they wanted to upgrade, they would've already. The only portion I could see being upgraded is the 110 section on the LSL line.

And that's also assuming the freight railroads will want to fund upgrades for Amtrak only.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I remember that Acca Yards had the bypass completed which probably saved some time for the east coast trains going north to south. Also the new locomotives seem to be rated for 125MPH vs 110 on the old ones which will start arriving this year. So there should be minor speed increases on long haul in parts. But nothing significant. Also some freight railroads may have downgraded Amtrak speeds on certain trackage over time.
Most LD routes are limited to 79 mph, so it doesn't matter if the engines can do 110 mph or 125 mph. As Cal said there are a few areas that allow 90 mph.
 
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Willbridge

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Oh, yep. Although isn't that primarily focused towards Cascades? Rather the Starlight

And this is selfish, but I do wish the Starlight could use the old route which is much more scenic,
I'd like that except that the Tacoma station for the Fort Lewis route isn't on the Point Defiance line. It's at Freight House Square, shared with Sounder commuter trains and the Tacoma Link streetcar and potentially the former Milwaukee Road line to Mt. Rainier. The streetcar will take passengers up to the old Union Station, several hotels, the Glass Museum and some restaurants.

The Fort Lewis line parallels I-5 until it makes an abrupt move to cross it. There's not much to look at on it except to watch traffic. My grandfather got to know the dirt and gravel there (glacial moraine) in 1918, my father in 1943 and me in 1968. It's a great place for an army base because there's not much else that humans can do with it. The indigenous settlement is closer to the water at Nisqually and their community is visible from the trains.
 

Siegmund

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Significant LD schedule improvements happened a number of times in the (now-ancient) past. The most recent that comes to mind was the Cardinal between Indianapolis and Cincinnati in the first few years after it moved onto that route in 1986.

Small improvements have happened on many of the shorter runs. Chicago-Detroit and Oakland-Bakersfield are both 20 or 30 minutes faster than they were in the 70s (but the improvement happened 25 years ago and has just been maintained.)

Conversely we see trains slow down as the freight road gets downgraded. Coast Starlight was 32 hours (31 when it bypassed Sacramento) , lengthened to 36 around the time of the UP-SP merger, and now hovers around 34 or 35. I suppose you can give UP "credit" for an "upgrade" since it's not 36 anymore?
 

railiner

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Over Amtrak's history, besides the ups and downs of speed limits over various section's, several reroutes have also affected most long haul trains. The SWC takes over three hours longer end to end then when Amtrak began. It has been rerouted between Chicago and Galesburg, between Kansas City and Newton, and between San Bernardino and Los Angeles. The Cardinal takes over two hours longer between Chicago and Cincinnati, then its predecessor train did, over a different routing...
 

Cal

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The SWC takes over three hours longer end to end then when Amtrak began. It has been rerouted between Chicago and Galesburg, between Kansas City and Newton, and between San Bernardino and Los Angeles.
Well the re-routing onto the SB sub is convenient for me so, I like it.
 

mlanoue

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Maybe--in time--the upgrades to the UP line in Illinois will help the Texas Eagle slightly, but that doesn't seem to be happening any time soon.
 

Maglev

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Maybe--in time--the upgrades to the UP line in Illinois will help the Texas Eagle slightly, but that doesn't seem to be happening any time soon.
When I rode the Eagle from Los Angeles to Chicago, I was all excited waiting for a smooth, fast track after St. Louis. Smooth and fast never happened, but I did see lots of new fancy fence work along the tracks in populated areas.
 
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Cal

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When I rode the Eagle from Los Angeles to Chicago, I was all excited waiting for a smooth, fast track after St. Louis. Smooth and fast never happened, but I did see lots of new fancy fence work along the tracks in populated areas.
Do they now have smooth, fast track?
 

mlanoue

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When I rode the Eagle from Los Angeles to Chicago, I was all excited waiting for a smooth, fast track after St. Louis. Smooth and fast never happened, but I did see lots of new fancy fence work along the tracks in populated areas.
Yes, definitely a lot of fences!
 

adamj023

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I was pricing out a roomette from NYC to Los Angeles, CA. Seems to be availability and prices are still higher than flying but you get a private room during the pandemic. Lake Shore Limited to Southwest Chief seems to be the fastest based on Amtrak’s assigned times but I guess others could be faster if delays occur. Bedrooms are nice but significantly more expensive. I don’t see any track work scheduled to affect Lake Shore Limited to Southwest Chief based on Amtrak’s website so I assume line should be in good shape.

Some portions of track should be replaced on long distance lines and some more electrification where it makes sense.
 
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Cal

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I was pricing out a roomette from NYC to Los Angeles, CA. Seems to be availability and prices are still higher than flying but you get a private room during the pandemic. Lake Shore Limited to Southwest Chief seems to be the fastest based on Amtrak’s assigned times but I guess others could be faster if delays occur. Bedrooms are nice but significantly more expensive. I don’t see any track work scheduled to affect Lake Shore Limited to Southwest Chief based on Amtrak’s website so I assume line should be in good shape.

Some portions of track should be replaced on long distance lines and some more electrification where it makes sense.
Unless there are major delays, the LSL/SWC should always be the fastest.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Unless there are major delays, the LSL/SWC should always be the fastest.
Yes, unless the LSL were to miss the connection in Chicago that would virtually always be the fastest, as the SWC is about 20 hours faster than the TE. However, if traveling eastbound the SWC to CL to Pennsylvanian is slightly faster than SWC to LSL if both options are close to on time.
 
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zephyr17

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I was pricing out a roomette from NYC to Los Angeles, CA. Seems to be availability and prices are still higher than flying but you get a private room during the pandemic. Lake Shore Limited to Southwest Chief seems to be the fastest based on Amtrak’s assigned times but I guess others could be faster if delays occur. Bedrooms are nice but significantly more expensive. I don’t see any track work scheduled to affect Lake Shore Limited to Southwest Chief based on Amtrak’s website so I assume line should be in good shape.

Some portions of track should be replaced on long distance lines and some more electrification where it makes sense.
Sleepers are almost always more expensive than flying and pretty much always have been.
 
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