Midwest Rail Plan Final Report

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"But highway funding is a job creating investment! Few people ride trains!" Naturally, when the option isn't even given.

Amtrak's proposal for Ohio is a job creating investment. One of a few reasons why the incumbent Governor is showing interest in their proposal. Besides, a campaign season looms for the gentleman.
 

neroden

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True, but the members of our General Assembly seem to have difficulty hearing the voice of the people.
Well, the party which holds the majority in the Ohio General Assembly (the Republicans) has gone out of their way to pass *FIVE* unconstitutional gerrymanders (struck down by the state supreme court) in order to keep themselves in power, so I think they know perfectly well that the people don't like them, and are quite deliberately trying to do the opposite of what the people want.
 
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I think they know perfectly well that the people don't like them, and are quite deliberately trying to do the opposite of what the people want.

And, I don't think they care. That's a concern of mine with regard to the 3C+D plan. If the people want it and the Governor supports it, their reaction will be what?
 

jis

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In an attempt to get this thread out of the Ohio morass, let us try to see the overall picture of the Midwest:

Going clockwise from the North in the FRA Midwest Regional Rail Plan Network map as seen in Post #2:

1. Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul: Looks like Hiawatha additional frequencies and a second St. Paul frequency are on the cards and will happen in the near future. Not clear when Madison will happen though

2. Michigan: Looks like incremental improvement to Detroit is going to take place. Two things that would be interesting are the restoration of service to Detroit Central and service through there to Toronto. The latter has some very significant challenges to overcome.

3. Indiana (Frot Wayne) - Ohio (Toledo,Cleveland) - Pennsylvania Pittsburgh: No clear discernible progress, and we have discussed Ohio ad nauseum as one of the barriers to progress. Indiana is no slouch as far as being a barrier goes, though Indiana does fund NICTD and good things are happening there. Surprisingly this does not include the NY leg to Buffalo, which would probably become much more relevant put together with the circumferential Detroit - Toledo)

4. Indy - Louisville - Nashville: Not clear who is the champion for this that is in a position to do anything about it, given Indiana's apparent lack of interest so far.

5. Champaign - Carbondale: an added frequency to maybe all the way to Memphis would be nice, but no major movement so far.

6. Lincoln Corridor - steady but slow progress
6a. River Runner - Kansas holds the cards which is probably not a good omen.

8. Quad Cities - Des Moines - Omaha: Looks like Quad Cities is about to happen. Beyond that, who knows?

Some additional ones that I would like to see happen are mostly filling in circumferential:

1. Dearborn/Detroit - Toledo, perhaps diversion of one of the Chicago east trains via Dearborn.

2. Indy - St. Louis

3. The whole subgraph in Ohio

4. The St. Louis - Kansas City - Des Moines - St. Paul.

And I am sure there a re a few more that I am missing.
 
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In an attempt to get this thread out of the Ohio morass, let us try to see the overall picture of the Midwest:

Going clockwise from the North in the FRA Midwest Regional Rail Plan Network map as seen in Post #2:

1. Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul: Looks like Hiawatha additional frequencies and a second St. Paul frequency are on the cards and will happen in the near future. Not clear when Madison will happen though

2. Michigan: Looks like incremental improvement to Detroit is going to take place. Two things that would be interesting are the restoration of service to Detroit Central and service through there to Toronto. The latter has some very significant challenges to overcome.

3. Indiana (Frot Wayne) - Ohio (Toledo,Cleveland) - Pennsylvania Pittsburgh: No clear discernible progress, and we have discussed Ohio ad nauseum as one of the barriers to progress. Indiana is no slouch as far as being a barrier goes, though Indiana does fund NICTD and good things are happening there. Surprisingly this does not include the NY leg to Buffalo, which would probably become much more relevant put together with the circumferential Detroit - Toledo)

4. Indy - Louisville - Nashville: Not clear who is the champion for this that is in a position to do anything about it, given Indiana's apparent lack of interest so far.

5. Champaign - Carbondale: an added frequency to maybe all the way to Memphis would be nice, but no major movement so far.

6. Lincoln Corridor - steady but slow progress
6a. River Runner - Kansas holds the cards which is probably not a good omen.

8. Quad Cities - Des Moines - Omaha: Looks like Quad Cities is about to happen. Beyond that, who knows?

Some additional ones that I would like to see happen are mostly filling in circumferential:

1. Dearborn/Detroit - Toledo, perhaps diversion of one of the Chicago east trains via Dearborn.

2. Indy - St. Louis

3. The whole subgraph in Ohio

4. The St. Louis - Kansas City - Des Moines - St. Paul.

And I am sure there a re a few more that I am missing.
Thanks, a nice comprehensive list. The one that seems to be happening, albeit slowly, very slowly, is Chicago-Rockford service. We'll see if that ever comes to pass.
 

MisterUptempo

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Didn't see the need to create a new thread for this, not yet, anyway.

So, IDOT, along with the City of Peoria, has released its feasibility study for Chicago-Peoria service. Here are the basics-

1) Five round trips between Chicago and Peoria
2) Anticipated travel times of 2 hours 37 minutes
3) Average speed - 62mph
4) Stations - CHI, JOL, Morris (MOR), Ottawa (OTT), LaSalle-Peru (PER), and Peoria (PEO), plus a flag stop at Utica (UTC) for access to Starved Rock State Park.
5) Typical trainset - 1 loco, 1 business class/café, 2 coaches; 10 trainsets sought.

Here are some presentation boards, showing the two potential sites for a Peoria station.
.....
.....

6) Oh, the price - the numbers are very preliminary, but after adding 25% for "soft costs" (which may be low) and a 40% contingency (which IDOT acknowledges is too high)......well.....$2.54 billion.

Not included in the price tag-

1) Any costs associated with CHI-JOL
2) Any capacity demands host railroads might make
3) Any maintenance demands host railroads might make
4) Operating subsidies for the route
5) Property replacement costs. Two possible properties are mentioned - The Goodman Theatre scenery shop if the 40th Street connector between NS and Metra-Rock Island was built, and the Will County Adult Detention Facility (which is erroneously referred to as "Joliet Correctional Facility"). If you view the crazy proposal for connecting the CN/Heritage Corridor tracks to the Rock Island tracks west of Joliet Union Station, you'll see the new tracks running right through Will County ADF.

In some ways, it's a tale of two reports, pre-Air Line Connector and post-Air Line Connector. While the Connector is never mentioned by name, the IDOT portion, which seems to have been written earlier, mentions CHI-JOL via either Metra-Rock Island with a connection at 40th Street or by CN/Heritage Corridor.

Further into the report, in a ridership forecast report by a consultant, the route map clearly shows CHI-JOL on the Metra-Rock Island route. This portion was put out in June, after the Air Line Connector announcement was made.

One wonders why IDOT even bothered drawing up the CN alternative at all. The STB has already told Amtrak that they must get Lincoln and Texas Eagle off the CN and onto the Rock at some point. Does anyone seriously believe that CN would relent and allow ten more passenger trains on the line? And considering how frustratingly difficult they are to work with, would anyone really want to deal with them at all, if it can be avoided? Yes, it rewards really bad behavior on CN's part, but until the day comes that the feds are serious about slapping uncooperative Class Is around, we have to select the best available alternative. CN ain't it.

The costs for the project were much higher than I expected, but, then again, the condition of much of the track is marginal at best(CSX-40mph, IAIS-25mph, TZPR-10mph). It might be indicative of just how poor much of the nation's rail infrastructure is and how much work will be required to bring even a portion of it up to respectable passenger speeds.

I hope this works out, but I have my doubts. The route was never even mentioned, IIRC, in the FRA Midwest Rail Plan, and if it had, it would have likely been considered "network-independent", and not included in the final plan. Along the route, you would be dealing with two less-than-cooperative railroads in CSX and IAIS. Who knows what trouble G&W might be regarding use of the Tazewell and Peoria? The decision has been made to continue the process. I wish them luck.

Interestingly, the report proposes (but does not explore) extending the Peoria service to Springfield (or perhaps as a stand-alone route; it doesn't say), as well as connecting Peoria to Galesburg, which seems odd. If parts of an Illinois circumferential route were ever built, Peoria to Galesburg would not be my choice for an inaugural segment. Peoria itself, in 2013, explored the possibility of "commuter rail" between Peoria and Bloomington-Normal. Why not suggest that segment instead? If direct CHI-PEO service doesn't get approved, perhaps a PEO-BNL connection may be a consolation prize.
 
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MccfamschoolMom

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Didn't see the need to create a new thread for this, not yet, anyway.

So, IDOT, along with the City of Peoria, has released its feasibility study for Chicago-Peoria service. Here are the basics-

1) Five round trips between Chicago and Peoria
2) Anticipated travel times of 2 hours 37 minutes
3) Average speed - 62mph
4) Stations - CHI, JOL, Morris (MOR), Ottawa (OTT), LaSalle-Peru (PER), and Peoria (PEO), plus a flag stop at Utica (UTC) for access to Starved Rock State Park.
5) Typical trainset - 1 loco, 1 business class/café, 2 coaches; 10 trainsets sought.

Here are some presentation boards, showing the two potential sites for a Peoria station.
.....
.....

6) Oh, the price - the numbers are very preliminary, but after adding 25% for "soft costs" (which may be low) and a 40% contingency (which IDOT acknowledges is too high)......well.....$2.54 billion.

Not included in the price tag-

1) Any costs associated with CHI-JOL
2) Any capacity demands host railroads might make
3) Any maintenance demands host railroads might make
4) Operating subsidies for the route
5) Property replacement costs. Two possible properties are mentioned - The Goodman Theatre scenery shop if the 40th Street connector between NS and Metra-Rock Island was built, and the Will County Adult Detention Facility (which is erroneously referred to as "Joliet Correctional Facility"). If you view the crazy proposal for connecting the CN/Heritage Corridor tracks to the Rock Island tracks west of Joliet Union Station, you'll see the new tracks running right through Will County ADF.

In some ways, it's a tale of two reports, pre-Air Line Connector and post-Air Line Connector. While the Connector is never mentioned by name, the IDOT portion, which seems to have been written earlier, mentions CHI-JOL via either Metra-Rock Island with a connection at 40th Street or by CN/Heritage Corridor.

Further into the report, in a ridership forecast report by a consultant, the route map clearly shows CHI-JOL on the Metra-Rock Island route. This portion was put out in June, after the Air Line Connector announcement was made.

One wonders why IDOT even bothered drawing up the CN alternative at all. The STB has already told Amtrak that they must get Lincoln and Texas Eagle off the CN and onto the Rock at some point. Does anyone seriously believe that CN would relent and allow ten more passenger trains on the line? And considering how frustratingly difficult they are to work with, would anyone really want to deal with them at all, if it can be avoided? Yes, it rewards really bad behavior on CN's part, but until the day comes that the feds are serious about slapping uncooperative Class Is around, we have to select the best available alternative. CN ain't it.

The costs for the project were much higher than I expected, but, then again, the condition of much of the track is marginal at best(CSX-40mph, IAIS-25mph, TZPR-10mph). It might be indicative of just how poor much of the nation's rail infrastructure is and how much work will be required to bring even a portion of it up to respectable passenger speeds.

I hope this works out, but I have my doubts. The route was never even mentioned, IIRC, in the FRA Midwest Rail Plan, and if it had, it would have likely been considered "network-independent", and not included in the final plan. Along the route, you would be dealing with two less-than-cooperative railroads in CSX and IAIS. Who knows what trouble G&W might be regarding use of the Tazewell and Peoria? The decision has been made to continue the process. I wish them luck.

Interestingly, the report proposes (but does not explore) extending the Peoria service to Springfield (or perhaps as a stand-alone route; it doesn't say), as well as connecting Peoria to Galesburg, which seems odd. If parts of an Illinois circumferential route were ever built, Peoria to Galesburg would not be my choice for an inaugural segment. Peoria itself, in 2013, explored the possibility of "commuter rail" between Peoria and Bloomington-Normal. Why not suggest that segment instead? If direct CHI-PEO service doesn't get approved, perhaps a PEO-BNL connection may be a consolation prize.
My daughter's undergrad college was in Monmouth, IL, about 15 miles W of Galesburg. All the Chicago-area students would take Amtrak Chicago-Galesburg, and a shuttle bus from the college would meet them at the station and take them the rest of the way to Monmouth. Our family, on the other hand, always had to drive across the state, because there was no direct rail connection from our town to western IL. A "commuter rail" train Bloomington/Normal to Peoria to Galesburg would have simplified matters a lot, as our daughter could then have taken Amtrak's Lincoln Service down to Bloomington, and then the "commuter rail" across to Galesburg.
 

MisterUptempo

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My daughter's undergrad college was in Monmouth, IL, about 15 miles W of Galesburg. All the Chicago-area students would take Amtrak Chicago-Galesburg, and a shuttle bus from the college would meet them at the station and take them the rest of the way to Monmouth. Our family, on the other hand, always had to drive across the state, because there was no direct rail connection from our town to western IL. A "commuter rail" train Bloomington/Normal to Peoria to Galesburg would have simplified matters a lot, as our daughter could then have taken Amtrak's Lincoln Service down to Bloomington, and then the "commuter rail" across to Galesburg.
I'm all in favor of an Illinois Circumferential that would stretch from at least the Quad Cities to Danville. With a developing rail system in Illinois that is very much hub-and-spoke, connecting some of the spokes away from the hub makes the whole network more valuable. Such a route would likely have to be built in stages, and if one needed a proof of concept segment, I just didn't think Peoria to Galesburg was the best choice.

In addition to the Circumferential, to show you where my head is at, I envision (though its highly unlikely ever to happen) a return of the interurban, serving a zone that includes Peoria/East Peoria/Pekin, Bloomington/Normal, Champaign/Urbana, Decatur, Springfield, Lincoln, and Danville - a cluster of cities and towns all within close proximity to each other that would benefit greatly from having single or double-unit MUs connecting them together with 30 minute headways utilizing clock-face scheduling.

But I'm wandering into Amtrak Fantasy League territory again.
 

MisterUptempo

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5) Typical trainset - 1 loco, 1 business class/café, 2 coaches; 10 trainsets sought.

That is a ridiculos small train set. Does not sound as if a longer set(s) are planned. How in the world will the anticipated intermittent surges be handled.
It's all very preliminary. Just a scoping document, so everyone can get a clearer picture of what's being proposed when the project is being discussed. They also needed to put some sort of price tag for the whole shebang into the report, so they utilized a "current IDOT trainset design set" to determine approximate rolling stock costs.

Once the Tier I EIS process gets started, then the broad brush strokes of this study will give way to much finer detail work.

To illustrate, when presenting the two possible locations of a Peoria station, the trainsets in the overhead illustrations show, not a loco and three cars, but a loco and four cars.

To be clear, because of all the fiery hoops that need to be jumped through with this project (environmental, funding and the battles with the hosts), and that no formal work has even started, a timeline to completion of as long as ten years has been mentioned. Considering the difficulty the state has been having getting everything to line up for routes to Rockford and the Quad Cities, it's probably best they aren't overselling when the first train, with three cars or not, arrives in Peoria.
 

MisterUptempo

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An interesting analysis of the benefit from Midwest High Speed Rail:


Interesting, to be sure. Too bad citynerd didn't bother to even mention the FRA Midwest Plan, much less attempt any analysis of the report or the methodology employed in the report used to justify their conclusions.

In the citynerd piece, he scores the CHI-MSP corridor relatively low and likely unworthy of high-speed rail service, while the FRA report indicated that if any corridor in the region should be built as high-speed (Core Express) on Day 1, it should be CHI-MSP. CHI-STL, CHI-DET, and CHI-IND were all ranked as Regional/Core Express, meaning they could be built to either standard, or a hybrid, employing both, or be built as Regional initially, eventually being upgraded to Core Express over time.

I know it's probably easier and more fun to kick around a high-speed fantasy map than to go through the FRA's work, and, to be frank, the author of that map seems to assume high-speed long distance routes, which isn't really being considered. The author may have concluded that since many current east-west long distance routes are channeled through Chicago that high-speed long distance routes would as well.
 

MisterUptempo

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I've tried to watch a couple of citynerd's videos before, just cannot stay awake.
I actually think he does a pretty good job on a number of subjects, such as the true cost of driving. His delivery is definitely dry, but I don't find it difficult to watch. I just wish he had been a little more thorough on this one.
 

NorthShore

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I actually think he does a pretty good job on a number of subjects, such as the true cost of driving. His delivery is definitely dry, but I don't find it difficult to watch. I just wish he had been a little more thorough on this one.

I find it to be an intriguing counterpoint to the hype over Midwest Highspeed Rail. I don't think he's, necessarily, arguing a system should not be built out. But, as a way of comparing rail trips to flight/drive, it's a useful metric. He notes that legitimate studies will determine detailed options. For instance, his charts suggest Indianapolis/Cincinnati/Columbus has some of the best potential. Yet, it's most in need of upgrades and state political will to be practical.

As for the Chi-Msp route, I see where he's going with it. The numbers are a bit challenging because of the mileage, distance, and limited number of large intermediate cities. Having ridden both Amtrak and Greyhound/Megabus many times on this route, I usually end up asking myself why the hell I didn't just fly (much as I'm happy being on the train or content with the bus) considering the time. Once, I left on. Sunday while the Sox played the Twins. At some point, I realized that the visitors were back in their home town before I arrived there.

I do think that the contrast to his Northeast & Atlantic corridor analysis are striking.

Still, even his toying around with this Midwest map metric make clear the value and potential in the Michigan routes (all the more so with a Toronto extension) and an Indiana/Ohio corridor. To the biggest critic of rail improvements, such ought to be telling.
 

MisterUptempo

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Still, even his toying around with this Midwest map metric make clear the value and potential in the Michigan routes (all the more so with a Toronto extension) and an Indiana/Ohio corridor. To the biggest critic of rail improvements, such ought to be telling.
And that's one of the problems with some of these routes - a decided lack of connecting options.

Take, for example, CHI-STL, which is the one potential high speed route that Illinois would likely be leading, considering it's the only one where the majority of tracks are located within state limits. Once one arrives at St. Louis, there are only two options - continue onto Kansas City on the River Runner, a route that Missouri is barely keeping alive, or the Texas Eagle, which one could have jumped on in CHI or any number of stops along the way. This is no knock on St. Louis, just that a high speed route would be much more effective, and likely better utilized, if STL itself served as hub.

Indianapolis seems to have the greatest potential at this point, of the four high speed endpoints, of becoming a vital hub. Connections to Louisville and onto Nashville and the South, to Cincinnati, to Columbus and the East Coast via Pittsburgh, as well as potentially connecting St. Louis and the Southwest to Detroit, the NEC and Mid-Atlantic, by-passing Chicago. At just under 200 miles between CHI and IND, it's a perfect distance for HSR.

The reality is much different, in light of Indiana's and Ohio's rail phobia. Ohio has "expressed interest" in 3C and that's as far as it's gone thus far, and CHI-IND isn't even on the radar right now. Since first issuing the "Amtrak '35" report, Amtrak has only issued promotional material touting 3C, connecting Phoenix, New Orleans-Mobile, and the three PA routes (Allentown, Scranton, Reading). In the 3C material, it anticipates startup "by 2035" (!).

And a connection from Indy to Dayton and Columbus will need to go through Cincinnati first. Ridiculous. Only goes to show how incredibly short-sighted the nation has been for decades regarding vital infrastructure like the rails.
 
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MisterUptempo

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I'm not following this - what's ridiculous? Shouldn't Indy to Columbus go through Cincy?
There should be a direct connection between Indy and Dayton, just as there used to be when the National Limited ran between Kansas City and NYC. The tracks went through Richmond between Indy and Dayton. All that exists now is a trail, and good luck getting that right-of-way back.

Amtrak '35 is pushing 3C, which is great, but over and above that, Columbus is largely isolated when it should be connected to towns from the east and west, as well as Cleveland and Cincy.

As it is, Amtrak '35 shows a time of 2:35 to connect Indy and Cincy (123 miles) with an average speed of 48 MPH. The report also suggests a time between Cincy and Columbus (about 125 miles) on 3C of 2:38, an average speed of 47 MPH . So, that's 248 miles, taking 5:13 to get from Indy to Columbus. And this assumes through running at Cincy, as opposed to changing trains. Add more time if a connection needs to be made.

On the old National Limited, using the former routing, Indy to Columbus was 181 miles. Using an average speed of 48 MPH (though a rebuilt, dedicated line would be much faster), the trip would take approx. 3:50, saving 67 miles of travel, 1:23 of travel time, and a possible layover at Cincy, which could be the difference between success and failure.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Conrail, when it lorded over most of the rail network of the northeast quadrant of the US, rip up the connection between between Indy and Dayton either to eliminate redundancy or to stave off competition? Dumb.
 
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